C. E. Beeby
C. E. Beeby
Clarence Edward Beeby
16 June 1902
Meanwood, Yorkshire, England
|Died||10 March 1998(aged 95)|
|Known for||The development of the education system in New Zealand|
(m. 1926; died 1991)
Clarence Edward Beeby ONZ CMG (16 June 1902 – 10 March 1998), most commonly referred to as C.E. Beeby or simply Beeb, was a New Zealand educationalist and "described as the architect of our modern education system". Beeby's educational ethos is best summarised as "every person regardless of background or ability had a right to an education of a type for which they were best suited".
Beeby had an enormous influence of the development of the education system in New Zealand, first as a director of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) from 1936, and then as Director of Education (head of the Ministry of Education) from 1940, initially under the First Labour Government. He also served as ambassador to France and on the UNESCO executive. In the Queen's Birthday Honours 1956 Beeby was appointed a Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George and on 6 February 1987 was the second appointee to the Order of New Zealand. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Canterbury, University of Otago, and Victoria University of Wellington.
Beeby's wife Beatrice was one of the founders of the New Zealand Playcentre movement, and his son was the distinguished New Zealand diplomat and international lawyer, Chris Beeby, portrayed in Ben Affleck's film, Argo.
Early life and education
Beeby was born in Meanwood, Leeds, Yorkshire, and immigrated with his family to New Zealand in 1906. He was educated at New Brighton School and Christchurch Boys High School, and initially studied law at Canterbury College, before switching to Christchurch Training College to study primary teaching. Beeby met Beatrice Newnham while they were both undergraduate students and they were married in 1926. Beeby gained an MA in 1926, and had been working as a part-time lecturer during the latter part of his studies. He worked for a PhD at Victoria University of Manchester, under the tutelage of Charles Spearman. Spearman's belief in a strong hereditary component to intelligence was to influence Beeby's later educational beliefs. Beeby was not fond of his given names, and elected from an early age to be known by his surname.
On returning from England, Beeby worked as a lecturer and then acting professor at Canterbury College, before taking up the position of director of NZCER. During this time, he developed a belief that all students had a right to continuing education, not just the most academically gifted. During this period, Beeby was noticed by Peter Fraser, the Minister of Education, and in 1939 was appointed Assistant Director of Education. Beeby became Director of Education just prior to Fraser's ascension to Prime Minister.
After leaving the Ministry of Education, he served as Ambassador to France from 1960 to 1963, and also was assistant director-general for UNESCO. Following the end of this term, he held positions at Harvard University and the Institute of Education University of London. In 1968 he returned to New Zealand, and continued to play an active role as researcher and consultant in both New Zealand and overseas.
- Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry.
- The New Zealand Oxford English Dictionary.
- Beeby, C.E. (1992) The Biography of an Idea. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. ISBN 0-908916-21-3 [memoir]
- Renwick, William L. "Clarence Edward Beeby". On the UNESCO website Thinkers on Education. Originally published in Prospects: the quarterly review of comparative education, XXVIII, no. 2, June 1998, p. 335-348.