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superior to the untrained, but are in every respect but one positively good' (ib., p. 168). This single exception brings us very close to the charge on which the condemnation of the existing system rests, and we shall therefore reserve the consideration of it for the present.
From teachers we pass to instruction given. Instruction in schools may be bad, either in consequence of the subject-matter being unsuitable, or else from the teaching itself being either unintelligent or uneven. The Commissioners make no complaint on the first head. The necessary subject-matter of instruction is religious knowledge, reading, writing, spelling, ciphering; to which is added in girls' schools plain sewing. There is nothing here that could be omitted. To this are added in the better schools geography, grammar, English history, and, in some exceptional cases, drawing and music. But these subjects are only taught at the discretion of the managers and schoolmasters, and in very rapidly decreasing proportions, and do not form a necessary condition for the receipt of a Government grant. They give scope both to teachers and to pupils, when the latter are capable of being carried beyond the threshold; but they are not compulsorily taught, and inspectors have very properly refused to examine in them when dissatisfied with the examination in Scripture, reading, writing, and arithmetic. The Commissioners' commendation of certificated and pupil teachers shows that they cannot believe that lessons are given in a slovenly or unintelligent manner. Their complaint is, that children are unevenly taught. 'The lower classes,' they say, 'are neglected' (p. 154). The junior classes in the schools, comprehending the great majority of the children, do not learn, or learn imperfectly, the most necessary part of what they come to learn-reading, writing, and arithmetic' (p. 168). If this damaging charge be true, in the sense in which it is ordinarily accepted, we cannot understand how the Commissioners should have given so much undeserved praise to teachers. We shall presently inquire how far it is true. We now give Mr. Cook's estimate of the attainments of boys of twelve in a good school. It is quoted by the Commissioners as a true picture :
A boy, of fair average attainments, at the age of twelve years, in a good school, has learned
1. To read fluently, and with intelligence, not merely the schoolbooks, but any work of general information likely to come in his way.
2. To write very neatly and correctly from dictation and from memory, and to express himself in tolerably correct language. The latter attainment, however, is comparatively rare, and has been one which I have specially and repeatedly urged upon the attention of school-managers. C 3. To
3. To work all elementary rules of arithmetic with accuracy and rapidity. The arithmetical instruction in good schools includes decimal and vulgar fractions, duodecimals, interest, &c. Much time and attention are given to this subject, but not more than are absolutely required. Indeed, when I have been consulted upon alterations of the time-tables, I have invariably recommended a larger proportion of time for this subject.
4. To parse sentences, and to explain their construction. But the progress in English grammar is not satisfactory, and, though much time is given to the subject, it is not taught with sufficient energy and skill in a large proportion of schools which in other respects are efficiently conducted.
5. To know the elements of English history. A good elementary work on this subject is still a desideratum; but the boys are generally acquainted with the most important facts, and show much interest in the subject.
6. In geography the progress is generally satisfactory. In fact, most persons who attend the examinations of good schools are surprised at the amount and the accuracy of the knowledge of physical and political geography, of manners, customs, &c., displayed by intelligent children of both sexes. Well-drawn maps, often exccuted at leisure hours by the pupils, are commonly exhibited on these occasions.
7. The elements of physical science, the laws of natural philosophy, and the most striking phenomena of natural history, form subjects of useful and very attractive lectures in many good schools. These subjects have been introduced within the last few years with great advantage to the pupils.
8. The principles of political economy, with especial reference to questions which touch on the employment and remuneration of labour, principles of taxation, uses of capital, &c., effects of strikes on wages, &c., are taught with great clearness and admirable adaptation to the wants and capacities of the children of artisans, in the reading-books generally used in the metropolitan schools. I have found the boys well acquainted with these lessons in most schools which I have inspected in the course of this year.
9. Drawing is taught with great care and skill in several schools by professors employed under the Department of Science and Art.
That any addition can be advantageously made to this list I do not believe, considering the age of the children; nor am I of opinion that any of these subjects could be omitted without practical detriment to the schools.'-(Minutes, 1854-5, p. 393; Rep. p. 237.)
In Dr. Bell's day, to teach writing and ciphering universally was an Utopian scheme,' which he repudiated as impossible. It is not proposed that the children of the poor be educated in an expensive manner, or all of them be taught to write and cipher. It may suffice to teach the generality on an economical plan to read their Bible, and understand the doctrines of our holy religion.'
* Experiments in Education,' p. 90.
The method of teaching writing was at this time that of tracing the letters of the alphabet in sand, and this, as well as syllabic spelling, was regarded as a most valuable discovery. Mr. Lancaster improved upon Dr. Bell's plan, and rejoiced over a system which afforded him as a result
'2,000,000 total words spelt by 100 boys per annum !'*
At the same time Mr. Lancaster invented a system of rewards and punishments; a nonsensical system of logs, and shackles, and yokes, and cages, and blankets, and dying speeches, and paper crowns, and boys and girls slapping each other's faces, from which we turn with relief to the almost perfect order, tone, and discipline of the better schools under certificated masters at present. The Inspectors report the discipline to be excellent, good, or fair in 94 out of every 100 schools receiving annual grants, and in 75 per cent. of other schools visited by them. The Commissioners say,
'The moral effect produced by the schools is more important than the instruction given in them, although not so appreciable. The standards by which it can be measured are less definite. We believe it to be very great, and we should be astonished if it were not so. We have seen that the managers of the public schools are almost all of them men whom strong religious convictions and feelings have impelled to found and to maintain schools at a considerable, sometimes a very great expenditure of trouble and money. We have seen that the pupil-teachers and masters have generally been selected for their moral as well as their intellectual character, and have received an education more religious than any other that is given in England. Among the higher classes in society the teacher is not socially superior to his pupils; often he is their inferior; often the difference in cultivation and refinement between the school and home is unfavourable to the school. But among the labouring classes the teacher is almost the only educated man with whom they daily come in contact. The school, when compared to the home, is a model of neatness and order. We might assume, therefore, even if we did not know it to be so, that the religious and therefore the moral influence of the public schools over the children must be very great, and we have also much evidence in support of that opinion.'-(Report, i. p. 266.)
If schools are increasing and well supplied with scholars, if teachers are efficient, if the subjects of instruction are suitable, and if discipline and tone are good, there is no doubt that education is in a prosperous state. With respect then to numbers -With these exceptions (the children of out-door paupers and of parents viciously inclined), all the children in the country capable of going to school receive some instruction.' (Ib. i. p.
* Improvements in Education,' p. 59.
84, see also pp. 88, 293.) Next as to teachers. So late as 1846 the best teachers were ignorant and unskilful.' (Ib. p. 99.) Now the effect of the presence of pupil-teachers upon the condition of the schools is very beneficial' (Ib. p. 102); and trained teachers are in every respect but one positively good.' (Ib. p. 168.) This exception is, as we have seen, the now frequently alleged neglect of the junior classes for the higher, of elementary for more ambitious subjects. Supposing this to be general, or even universal, it is remediable, and does not imply a want of ability or of character on the part of the teacher. As to subjects of instruction, no alteration is proposed by the Commissioners. As to tone and discipline, they report that the religious and moral influence of the public schools appears to be very great; to be greater than even their intellectual influence. A set of good schools civilises a whole neighbourhood. The most important function of the schools is that which they perform best.' (Ib. p. 273.)
Nor do the Commissioners confine themselves to giving their approbation to the results which have been produced by the existing system. They not only pronounce it very successful' in respect to schools, training colleges, Government expenditure and local subscriptions, inspection, method (Ib. p. 309), but they proceed further to approve of its principles. No other system has been devised which the nation could be induced to adopt.' (Ib. p. 308.) The merit and the success of the present system is that it supports 'the intelligent management and the religious character of schools.' (Ib.) It excites feelings on the part of the managers which have a most beneficial influence on the whole character of popular education.' (Ib. p. 309.) The existing plan is the only one by which it would be possible to secure the religious character of popular education.' (Ib. p. 310.) 'The controversies which have occurred in the course of the last twenty years, the difficulties which they have thrown in the way of the establishment of any comprehensive system, and their practical result in the establishment of the denominational training colleges and elementary schools, appear to us to place beyond all doubt the conclusion that the great body of the population are determined that religion and education must be closely connected, and we do not think that any other principle than that which is the base of the present system would secure this result.' (Ib. p. 311.) While we are prepared to suggest means both for its modification and extension, we believe that the leading principles of the present system are sound, that they have shown themselves well adapted to the feelings of the country, and that they ought to be maintained.' (Ib. p. 312.)
Vol. 111.-No. 221.
Had the Commissioners stopped here, there would be no doubt of the character of their verdict. They might have recommended a patient adherence to a system which had already wrought so much, adding a few suggestions with regard to details, and a general warning against over-ambitiousness in the training of masters and the teaching of children. But they proceed to recommend, and we find ourselves at once in a new country. An entire dissimilarity of sentiments is found in different parts of the Report-so that disputants on each side shelter themselves under the authority of the Commissioners. No doubt the personnel of the Commission made either compromise or discrepancy on many points necessary. What agreement could there have been when two clergymen of the Established Church sat side by side with a gentleman who declares the Establishment' to be 'a lifedestroying upas,' and pronounces 'the sacred mission of Protestant Dissenting ministers' to be to shatter this image (the Established Church), and give the dust of it to the four winds of heaven '?* The
* Nonconformist Sketch-book,' pp. 16 and 29. May we consider Mr. Miall to have abandoned some of his previously entertained views, or does he still hold them after his late researches ? Some years ago he published his opinion to the following effect:-'The clergy are men who, of necessity, are inimical to all reform; abettors of every abuse; united, organised, and therefore formidable opponents of every progressive improvement.' ('Nonconformist Sketch-book,' p. 72.) The education of the people owes nothing to them.' (Ib. p. 75.) In what page of our national records are we to look for the disinterestedness, the liberality, or the gentleness of the clergy? When do we find them struggling with the people for freedom and independence, or displaying that magnanimity which would prefer their country's welfare to the preservation of their own paltry emoluments? We boldly answer NEVER!' (Ib. p. 74.) Fifteen thousand clergy dependent on the one hand and powerful on the other-to the aristocracy pledged servants, to their own flocks supreme dictators-stationed at convenient intervals over the length and breadth of the land, and thus coming into contact with society at all points. Could mechanism more fatal to religion, or more serviceable to the interests of the upper classes, be framed and put together?' (Ib. p. 69.) But as Commissioner, by perverse fate and the vote of the majority, or, we may charitably hope, by conviction, he was compelled to put his name to the following statement of facts:- In rural districts. .. the burden of supporting the schools falls principally on the parochial clergy, who are very ill able to support it. The heaviness of the burden borne by the clergy is imperfectly indicated even by such figures as these." It frequently happens that the clergyman considers himself responsible for whatever is necessary to make the accounts of the school balance, and thus he places himself towards the school in the position of a banker who allows a customer habitually to overdraw his account. He is the man who most feels the mischief arising from want of education. Between him and the ignorant part of his adult parishioners there is a chasm. They will not come near him, and do not understand him if he forces himself upon them. He feels that the only means of improvement is the education of the young; and he knows that only a small part of the necessary expense can be extracted from the parents. He begs from his neighbours, he begs from the landowners; if he
a A calculation of Mr. Hedley, from which it appears that, in support of eighteen schools, 2561. were annually paid by landowners and occupiers, and 4717. by the clergy.