Under this heading I propose to describe briefly what is being done in connection with Cookery Instruction in the places mentioned. Now the principal object I have in view is to further the teaching of Cookery to girls during school life. It will, however, somewhat strengthen my advocacy if I refer to the beginning of this movement in England, for it undoubtedly had its origin in causes quite outside of any educational system. There is no question but that the increased facilities for communication, resulting from the advent of steamships and railways, gave to travel an impetus it never before experienced. And as a result thousands of people in the old country acquired a practical knowledge of Continental life, which would otherwise never have been theirs. These travellers saw for themselves the perfection of Cookery in countries like France,and naturally their eyes were opened to the neglect which culinary matters received in their own land; at least, this seems to me a satisfactory explanation of what has occurred, and I put it forward, therefore, purely as a matter of personal opinion, and whether this is the right reason or not, it is quite certain that a desire for improvement in this direction is insensibly coming over our English people.
It would seem that Mr. Buckmaster gave a series of lectures in the Cookery School at the International Exhibition in 1873 and 1874. As a considerable portion of space was devoted to food, it was rightly thought that some practical remarks on the subject would prove of distinct advantage. Just about this time, too, in 1874, a good start was made by the establishment of a National Training School for Cookery at South Kensington. From its inception success seemed to smile upon it. Its numbers began to increase, steadily at first, and afterwards by leaps and bounds. It clearly filled a place that had been wanting; and moreover, the objects it had in view were identified with all that was praiseworthy. It was proof positive of the long cherished opinion as to the neglect of Cookery in a girl's education.
Its courses of instruction are for educated persons who desire to qualify themselves to become teachers of Cookery; for students and cooks; and for those who wish to be able to cook in their own homes. Its distinctive feature, however, lies in its artisan kitchen. It is by means of this that families, which spend from seven to twenty shillings weekly in the purchase of food, will be so greatly benefitted. Nothing can exceed this in importance, for any improvement in the Cookery of the whole bulk of the people becomes a matter of national welfare. A conspicuous instance of the success which has attended the establishment of the National Training School for Cookery is the almost annual appearance of a new edition of its hand-book, which is published under its auspices. Therein will be found a most detailed account of the steps necessary for the preparation of innumerable dishes, and the different instructions are given with a minuteness which leaves nothing to be desired.
At this period, also, the Masters of the Cooks Company, not to be outdone in anything calculated to promote the progress of the culinary art, had several young girls brought from ward schools, and taught in the artisan kitchen already referred to. Indeed, they were instructed entirely at the expense of the Company. This was liberality of the most commendable kind, and it is satisfactory to see a corporate body acting in such a practical fashion. An ounce of practice is worth a pound of theory.
This growing recognition of the importance of Cookery in the old country at last spread to the educational world, although it has not yet obtained that position which it must eventually acquire; but the ball has been set rolling in the right path, and the necessity for instruction in the culinary art is so self-evident, that there can be no doubt as to the ultimate result. It is gratifying in this connection, therefore, to know that the kindred subject of Elementary Laundry Work has now become part of a girl's education. The Education Code of 1890 contains specific reference to the fact that special and appropriate provision has been made for the practical teaching of Laundry Work, and is also accompanied by instructions to the effect that the appliances and methods employed in teaching should be those which are possible in the homes of working people. I have referred to this in passing, as it directly concerns the point at issue.
It would have been a matter of considerable difficulty for a private individual like myself to have collected authentic information relative to the present status of Cookery in English and Australian schools. Under these circumstances, therefore, I deemed it best to apply directly to head-quarters for official statements. Mr. Edwin Johnson, the courteous Under-Secretary for Public Instruction in New South Wales, willingly undertook to place me in possession of all the facts I required as far as England and this colony are concerned. I shall, therefore, give his account of what is being done in the old country; and next condense from his remarks the substance of what has taken place in New South Wales with regard to this vital matter.
In England, the Education Department conditionally grants aid to Cookery Instruction in connection with State Aided Primary Schools under the following stipulations : that provision as to buildings, etc, has been made for Cookery Instruction in accordance with the conditions prescribed. The Department then grants aid at the rate of four shillings per head in day schools, and two shillings per head in evening, or, as they are sometimes called, "continuation" schools, on the number of pupils in the fourth and higher standards presented for examination in Cookery. The classes are taught by ordinary Primary School Teachers who have been trained in Cookery work, and have obtained certificates of qualifications. Under the London School Board, Cookery classes are established in different centres in connection with a large number of the schools; and to a less extent similar classes are organized by the School Boards of some of the larger country towns. Grants from the Education Department are annually obtained for the work by these schools.
In New South Wales, the teaching of Cookery in connection with the Public Schools has long been advocated; and about ten years ago, special lectures on the subject, and demonstrations, were given under authority; these did not, however, then lead to any practical results. Early in 1886, Mrs. Faweett Story, who had previously taught Cookery successfully in connection with the Sydney Technical College, was appointed, on probation, lecturer and demonstrator in Cookery and Domestic Economy to the students at Hurlstone Training College, the object being to qualify such students as Instructors of Cookery for schools in which they would in the future be employed as teachers. After three months successful work at Hurlstone, Mrs. Story's appointment was confirmed and she has continued to carry on the work. At first appointed " Instructress," she now takes rank as "Directress of Cookery."
In 1889 a Cookery class was established at the Fort Street Public School, and this proving successful, the instruction was extended to other schools. Three classes of work were embodied in the plan arranged to be carried out, namely : -
1. An Elementary Cookery Course,
2. A Plain, or Intermediate Cookery Course,
3. A Teachers'Course, and at the close of 1890 the numbers receiving instruction had reached 270.
In 1891 the work was extended to the Sydney and Suburban Schools. Classes were also established in connection with those of Bathurst and Goulburn, and arrangements for training a class of Pupil Teachers in this important work were made and carried out. In 1891 the number under Cookery Instruction in connection with the school reached 757, and during the year 1892 arrangements were also made for extending Cookery Instruction among the masses of the people on the basis already described.
It should also be remembered that classes for Cookery Instruction have for some years past been established in connection with the Technical College in Sydney, and more recently in the similar colleges of the larger towns and centres.
As far as Victoria is concerned, I am under considerable obligation to Mr. T. Brodribb, the Secretary of the Education Office, Melbourne, for the following information. It would appear that although the subject has not been systematically taught throughout the schools, instruction in Cookery has been given by experts to the elder female pupils in a number of Metropolitan State Schools for the past two years; two courses of 12 lessons being undertaken in each school between the months of April and November. The instruction has consisted of the preparation of plain wholesome dishes and sickroom Cookery; the proper care and arrangement of the various utensils employed forming an important part of each lesson. Reports obtained from Head Teachers show that, in most cases, the lessons were productive of much benefit to the children, and were thoroughly appreciated. At present, however, the teaching of the subject has been temporarily interrupted; but it is to be hoped that before long a recognition of its vital importance will enable measures to be taken for its permanent continuance.