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The Courier and Advertiser, Wednesday, October 16th 1963.

'Courier' readers have their say

"A Question of Living", the book by Mr. R.F. Mackenzie, has caused a great deal of controversy among "Courier" readers in Buckhaven, Methil and Methilhill.

Mr. Mackenzie, headmaster of Braehead Secondary School, Buckhaven,
gave his views on education in his book.He attacked the examination system, and gave examples of the activities at Braehead.
These include extensive field study courses in the Highlands, and sailing.

On navigation courses, Mr. Mackenzie thought that the most important thing was for the
children to get out in a boat. The theory could be learned in the classroom.

Mr. Mackenzie also thought that something was wrong with our education system when a child was considered
       a failure at 11 years old.

Different kind
Mr. Dan Thompson, 8 Shakespeare Avenue, Buckhaven
, commenting on the activities of the school said, "These take the children away from their school education, but through them, the children get an education of a different kind".
However Mr. Thompson disagreed with Mr. Mackenzie's views on the importance of exams. "Exams", he said, "are the only way parents can judge their children's progress."

Mrs. Mary Forsyth, 482 Methilhaven Road, Buckhaven, thought that too much importance was being placed on the extra-curricular activities at Braehead.

"These field study courses are all very well if they're kept in their proper place", she said. "But they are no use if they are interfering with normal classroom education."

"When my generation were at school they took examinations in their stride. Nowadays, so much stress is given to examinations that children are bound to buck at them".

Learning more
Mr. William Westwood (42), miner, 37 Laburnum Road, Methilhill
, has four children aged 2 to 17.
One of his sons was at Buckhaven High School, and another is at present attending Aberhill Secondary.

"I think the children at Braehead are learning more with these trips to the Highlands and their tuition in sailing," he said.
Mr. Westwood disagreed with Mr. Mackenzie on the importance of examinations, but thought that the 11-plus was unfair to the children who were late in developing mentally.

Exams Important
Duncan Dewar (14), 274 Den Walk, Methil
, a pupil at Kirkland Secondary School, thought that too much emphasis was placed on sport and outdoor activities at Braehead.

"Exams are important," said Duncan, "and surely it is better to sit them at school than when you go and try to get a job."

"The only way an employer can know how intelligent you are is from the school report of your examinations."

A Methil grandmother didn't approve of the youngsters going sailing.
"It's all right teaching them to build boats," she said, "but I don't think the pupils should be allowed to sail them out in the Forth."

Should girls learn to look
after children
Opinions were sharply divided on a proposal by Mr. Mackenzie that girls should be taught to look after children.

Mr. Rodger, 78 Kirkland Walk, Methil, said: "It's quite a good idea. If left on their own they would know what to do. In fact it would not do boys any harm either."
"It would help to give children a sense of responsibility and show them how to do things properly."
A mother also from Kirkland Walk, was of the same mind. "Some mothers with first babies are very nervous, and it makes the babies nervous.
"If the girls were taught at school it would give them confidence in handling small mites."

A good thing
Mrs. Watson, 35 Eagle Road, Buckhaven
, said, "I think it would be a good thing. Children would be able to lend a hand at home if the mother was ill."

But Mr. and Mrs. Mills, of 12 Eagle Road, Buckhaven, were both against the idea.
Said Mr. Mills, "They have enough to learn at school, expecially in High School. It is a thing that comes naturally to them. I did not know about changing nappies - but I soon learned."
Mr. Mills said: "I do not think it is a necessary part of a school curriculum."
And Mrs. Henderson, 6 Den Walk, Buckhaven, said: "I think they should learn that at home, not at school."

He doesn't agree
Mr. Gordon, of 24 Ruskin Crescent, Buckhaven
, said: " I do not agree with it at all. The should stick to more basic things - especially English."

But Mrs. Logie, of 31 Institution Street, Buckhaven, had a different view.
"I think it is a very good idea for them to learn to handle a baby," she said. "Besides that, it would give them another interest and help to keep their minds occupied."

Mr. Taylor, of 4 Shanwell Street, Buckhaven, was all in favour. She cited the success of the existing homecraft units.
"I could not get my husband's collars starched in exactly the way he wanted, but my daughter did it perfectly after being shown how at school."

Mrs Findleton, 18 Stark Street, Buckhaven, thought it would be a good thing. "In fact it would not do the boys any harm.
But I still think they need more English."

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