07 December 2015

Kate Henderson and "A Meeting of the School Trustees"

I have always been fond of this painting of an 1880's schoolmarm, making her case to the Board of Trustees.

A Meeting of the Board of Trustees, by Robert Harris

It looks like she wants something that they are disinclined to grant her.

The subject of the image (though not the actual artist's model) is a teacher from PEI named Kate Henderson.
That's about all the information readily available about this painting.

So it was a very pleasant surprise to me to find that someone has taken this painting I like so much and dramatized it:
One-minute film

But what is the real story behind the painting? -- I couldn't find it.
this week, Loops asked me to bring her some children's library books on "how to teach," and in one of them I espied suddenly the name "Kate Henderson".

Here's the story.
One of Kate Henderson's responsibilities in Pine Creek School, PEI was to teach Bible. She found that the children were merely reading aloud, not grasping the content; so she set them to acting out the stories.
This went over very well with the children, and when they came home they told their parents all about how they got to play Pretend in school with Bible stories.
The parents opined that this was sacrilegious; and issued a call: Fire the teacher!
The members of the Board -- the shopkeeper, the miller, the doctor, and the minister -- met and summoned Miss Henderson to defend herself. In the end, they suspended her for a week.
The minister had his doubts about the issue of sacrilege involved, noted that the children had seemed unusually interested in his sermon that week, and that Sunday he got up, asked some children to act out a Bible story, and preached on the subject of new ways of understanding the text.
Miss Henderson was reinstated and everyone lived happily ever after, the end.

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