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II. THE SCHOOL: ITS AIMS AND
We are to consider now the nature and functions of business of a School. a School generally. The Art of Teaching or Didactics
as we may for convenience call it falls under two heads, general and special. And before seeking to investigate the several subjects usually included in a school course, one by one; and the methods appropriate to each, it seems right to take a vue d'ensemble of the whole work of a School, and to ask ourselves what it ought to aim at, and what it cannot do. We shall not gain much from any preliminary speculation as to what Education is. Nothing is more easy than to define it as the awakening and training of faculty, the co-ordinate development of all the powers both passive and active of the human soul, the complete preparation for the business of life. In the view of many who have written on this subject there is no one element of perfectibility in the human character, no one attribute, physical, intellectual, or spiritual, which it is not the duty of a teacher to have in mind, and which does not form part of the business of education. We may leave for the present all such speculations. They are unquestionably true; because all the experience of life is a training, and men are educated from infancy to the grave, by all the sights and sounds,
the joys and sorrows which they encounter, by the character and behaviour of their friends, the nature of their surroundings, and by the books they read. But we have to ask which and how many of these formative influences are within the control of professional teachers. The home and the family influence do much, and these have to be presupposed. The out-door life, and the contact with its facts and experience will do still more ; and this also must be taken into account. The school The limits comes in between these, and seeks to control some of of its work. the forces which act on the young life from seven years old to 15 or 18; and for a very limited number of the hours of each day. It is for a school to supplement other means of training, not to supersede them; to deal with a part and not with the whole even of youthful life. It can never safely seek to relieve parents of their own special moral responsibilities; or to find for the child fit surroundings in the home or in the world. The teacher may properly set before himself the ideal perfection of a life. He will do well to study Herbert Spencer's description of the purpose of Education as a means of forming the parent, the worker, the thinker, the subject, and the citizen. But the practical question for him is what portion of the vast and intricate work of attaining such perfection is to be done in a school, and under the special limitations and conditions to which a professional teacher is subject. After all, he is not and cannot be to his pupil, in the place of the parent, the employer, the priest, the civil ruler, or the writer of of books, and all these have in their own way educative functions not inferior to his. It is well also to remember that some of the most precious teaching of life comes to us obiter, and without special provision or arrangement, while other knowledge can hardly come to us at all
except we get it at school. We cannot therefore measure the claim of a given kind of knowledge to become a part of a school course, by considering merely its worth per se. We must also consider whether it is a kind of knowledge which is capable of being formulated into lessons and imparted by a teacher. For otherwise, however valuable it may be, it is for the purpose now in view
no concern of ours. Its true
Now a school can operate on the education of a functior:s.
scholar in two ways: (1) by its discipline and indirect training, and (2) by positive instruction. Of discipline in so far as it is moral and affects the growth of character, we have to speak hereafter. But of instruction, and the special intellectual and practical discipline which may be got by means of definite lessons, we may usefully take a brief preliminary view now.
I suppose that if we seek to classify the objects of instruction (lehr-stoff), so far as they lie within the pur
view of a school-teacher, they are these : Five de (1) The attainment of certain manual and mechanical partments arts e.g. those of reading, writing, drawing and music. of instruco
With these you try to train the senses, and to develope a certain handiness and readiness in the use of physical powers, and in the solution of some of the practical problems of life.
(2) The impartation of certain useful facts—of the kind of information which is needed in the intercourse of life, and of which it is inconvenient, and a little disgraceful to be ignorant. Such are the facts of geography, and history, and a good deal of miscellaneous information about common things, and about the world in which we live. It may be safely said that quite apart from all consideration of the intellectual processes by which knowledge of these facts finds entrance into the mind,
Five forms of School-instruction.
and of the way in which it is systematized or made to serve an intellectual purpose, such facts are in themselves useful, and ought to be taught.
(3) Language, including the vocabulary, grammar and literature of our own and other tongues; and all exercises in the meaning, history and right use of words.
(4) Pure Science, including Arithmetic, Mathematics and other studies of a deductive character, specially intended to cultivate the logical faculty.
(5) Applied Science, including Natural History, Physics, Chemistry, and the Inductive Sciences generally.
Now under these five heads may be included nearly Their all the secular teaching of a school; and I think we may relative im
portance. roughly say that, if you take the whole period of a child's school life, supposing it to be prolonged to the age of 18, the time would not be ill-divided if about one-fifth of it were given to each. All five are indispensable. But the proportions of time which you give to them respectively will vary much according to the stage of his career which the child has reached. At first the first second and third will occupy the whole time. As the arts of Reading and Writing are acquired, i.e. after the age of 8 or 9, practice in them will become less and less important; and in a year or two later, exercises in what may be called Art will only be interspersed among the lessons of the school as reliefs from intellectual labour. Thus more time will become available for the subjects of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th groups. And of these it should always be remembered, that the second is of the smallest value educationally, and that in just the proportion in which you deal wisely and successfully with the other branches, the acquisition of information about history, geography and common things may be safely left to the private reading, and
intelligent observation, for which your purely disciplinal studies will have created an appetite. Moreover these classes of knowledge are not quite so sharply divided in fact, as they seem to be in a theoretical scheme. Much depends on the mode of their treatment. For instance, much of the work done under the name of arithmetic, is often taught more in the nature of a knack, or mechanical art, than as a mental discipline. Grammar too, considered as the art of correct speaking is matter of imitation rather than knowledge. And Physical Geography may easily, if well taught, become lifted to the rank of a science, and fall under the fifth rather than the second head. On the whole, the staple of school discipline and instruction will be found in the third, fourth and fifth groups, and you cannot go far wrong, in allotting the best of the time in the case of older pupils, in about equal proportions to these three departments of intellectual effort. We shall have to consider more fully hereafter the reasons which justify the teaching of each of these subjects. At present, it may suffice to say that you teach language in order to enlarge a learner's vocabulary, to give him precision in the use of words, and a greater command over the resources of speech considered as an instrument of thought. And an ancient language, which is fully inflected, a modern language which we learn for purposes of conversation mainly, and our own vernacular speech, all in their several ways conduce to the same end, though each has processes peculiar to itself. And we teach besides arithmetic some branch of mathematical or deductive science, because this furnishes the best training in practical logic, in the art of deducing right inferences from general or admitted truths. And as to the sciences which are not to be investigated deductively; but depend on experience, observation, and a generaliza