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problems and difficulties which he is specially prepared to solve. There is an unreality about all this which children detect even more readily than their elders, and which causes them as a rule to feel some distrust and not a little resentment at the docile little interlocutors of the 'Evenings at Home,' or 'Sandford and Merton. Real dialogues have a great charm for children; but not manufactured dialogues, too obviously written to serve the purpose of a lesson.

Written We have now to consider the use of written examinaexami

tions. For the moment we will put out of view the fact nations.

that they are the chief means whereby outside public bodies estimate the work of schools, and whereby examiners select candidates for the army and for various branches of the public service. We cannot escape the consideration of examination as a means of selection, and of awarding the prizes of life. But we shall do well to think of it first as an aid to education, as a device which we should adopt on its own merits, whether the

pupil is likely to be examined by other authorities or not. What they

Now, what is it that a judicious examination in writing can test.

does for a pupil? Of course, it tests his knowledge. But it is also a valuable educational instrument. It teaches method, promptitude, self-reliance. It demands accuracy and fulness of memory, concentrated attention, and the power to shape and arrange our thoughts. “Moreover,” as Mr Latham well observes, “behind all these qualities lies something which a mental physiologist would call massiveness or robustness of brain, or which we call energy of mind. Of this, so far as it is brought out in dealing with books or ideas, we can judge fairly from a written examination. We see that knowledge has been got, and know that brain-work has been

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done to get it, and in addition we note indications of strength or feebleness of will, we can find out pretty well from a set of papers whether a man knows his own mind or not.” Written work will call out qualities which could not be revealed by viva voce questions. The oral examination is good for intellectual stimulus, for bracing up the student to rapid and prompt action; for deftness and brightness. But oral answers are necessarily discontinuous and fragmentary. The pupil receives help and suggestion at every moment from the play of the teacher's countenance, from the answers given by his fellows. Whatever of unity and sequence there is in the treatment of the subject is the teacher's work, not the pupil's; and until you subject him to the test of writing, you' have no security that he has grasped the subject as a whole, or that he is master of the links that bind one part of that subject to another.

Nevertheless we have to postulate here that there are What they certain very valuable qualities which are not revealed in cannot a written examination, and which the habit of exclusively relying on such examination does not encourage. Except in so far as diligence and obedience are concerned, examinations do little to test moral qualities, or active power. They do not tell you whether the action of mind has been rapid or sluggish, nor how far the pupil has been influenced by a sense of duty or by strong interest in his work. Still less do they help you to guage those attributes on which success and honour in life so much depend; sympathy with human beings, deference for superiors, the power of working with and influencing others; address, flexibility, manner. Let us once for all acknowledge that either for educational purposes, or for testing and selection, with a view to the requirements of a University or of the public service; the

test.

F. L.

I2

best examinations do not test the whole man, but leave some important elements of character to be ascertained by other means; and we have still to ask, within what limits examinations are valuable, and how we can get the maximum of good out of them. If we get at wrong results by trusting to examinations, it is not because examinations are misleading or inequitable, but because we use them too exclusively, and do not also make a due use of other means of judging.

It often happens that pupils who present themselves for some public examination for the first time are hindered by flurry and nervousness from doing themselves justice. But this is because the conditions of the examination, the silence, the printed paper, the isolation, the utter impossibility of getting a friendly hint, or word of encouragement, or any assurance that they are in the right way, are entirely new to them. But these conditions ought not to be new, for they are in themselves a discipline in self-possession and self-mastery. We do well therefore to accept them, not as a grievance, but as having a value of their own; and if our pupils are looking forward to any public examination, to make that examination subservient to our purposes as teachers;

not to allow ourselves to be dominated by it. False In making up our minds on this subject we must metaphors. beware of being misled by false metaphors. We are told

sometimes that the habit of probing children often, either by written or oral examinations is like digging up the root of a flower to see how it grows, and those who talk thus say much as to the value of stillness and meditation, and the importance of leaving scope for silent growth and for the natural action of the child's own mental powers. But there is no true analogy here. The act of reproducing what we know, and giving it new forms of

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expression is not an act of loosening, but of fixing. We must of course abstain from needless and irritating questions, but we may not forget that with a child, to leave him unquestioned and untested is not to give better room for the spontaneous exercise of his own faculties, but simply to encourage stagnation and forgetfulness.

There is another still more unpleasant metaphor often Cram. used in connexion with the subject of examinations. They are said to encourage cram ; and this word has come to be currently used as a convenient term to designate any form of educational work which the speaker may happen to dislike or wish to discredit. But we should try to clear our minds of illusions on this point. If by this term we mean dishonest preparation, hasty and crude study, a contrivance by which persons may be made to seem to know more than they actually understand; we are all alike interested in denouncing it. But it is not necessarily encouraged by examinations. On the contrary, this is precisely what every good examination is meant to detect. And every examiner who knows his business can easily discern the difference between the knowledge which is genuine and has been well digested, and that which is superficial and is specially got up to deceive him. Dishonestly prepared men undoubtedly come up for examinations, but they do not pass, and the blame of the transaction rests with those who send them up, not with the examinations themselves.

It is plain that this ugly term cannot properly apply to reading, writing and arithmetic. A child can either perform these acts or he cannot; whether he can perform them or not is ascertainable by a simple test, and if he can perform them well he has acquired an accomplishment of permanent value. He may have been unskil

problems and difficulties which he is specially prepared to solve. There is an unreality about all this which children detect even more readily than their elders, and which causes them as a rule to feel some distrust and not a little resentment at the docile little interlocutors of the Evenings at Home,' or 'Sandford and Merton. Real dialogues have a great charm for children; but not manufactured dialogues, too obviously written to serve the purpose of a lesson.

Written

We have now to consider the use of written examinaexami

tions. For the moment we will put out of view the fact nations.

that they are the chief means whereby outside public bodies estimate the work of schools, and whereby examiners select candidates for the army and for various branches of the public service. We cannot escape the consideration of examination as a means of selection, and of awarding the prizes of life. But we shall do well to think of it first as an aid to education, as a device which we should adopt on its own merits, whether the

pupil is likely to be examined by other authorities or not. What they Now, what is it that a judicious examination in writing

does for a pupil? Of course, it tests his knowledge. But it is also a valuable educational instrument. It teaches method, promptitude, self-reliance. It demands accuracy and fulness of memory, concentrated attention, and the power to shape and arrange our thoughts. “Moreover," as Mr Latham well observes, “behind all these qualities lies something which a mental physiologist would call massiveness or robustness of brain, or which we call energy of mind. Of this, so far as it is brought out in dealing with books or ideas, we can judge fairly from a written examination. We see that knowledge has been got, and know that brain-work has been

can test.

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