Page images
PDF
EPUB

The co-ordination of Studies.

41

tion from a multitude of phenomena; we teach them not only because they make the student acquainted with the beauty and the order of the physical world; but because the mode of attaining truth in these matters corresponds more nearly than any other to the mode by which right general opinions are formed about all the principal subjects which for the purposes of practical life it behoves us to know. You can hardly conceive a completely educated man Their co

ordinawhose faculties have not been trained in each of these

tion, ways.

But while this three-fold division of studies may always be held in view; it does not follow that every one of them should be pursued uniformly and co-ordinately all through a scholar’s course. When elements have been learned and the scholar has got to the age of 13 or 14, you will do well, often in a given term or half year to concentrate special attention on two or three subjects, and for a while, to do little more with some others than take measures for keeping up what has already been gained. It is unsafe to specialize too soon, till a good general foundation has been laid for acquirement in all departments; but when this foundation has been secured, it is a great part of education especially in the higher classes, to shew what may be done now and then by a resolute and steady devotion to a particular department of work. It is only by doing so, occasionally, and in doing this, by sacrificing for a time the theory of proportion which ought always to prevail in your scheme of instruction considered as a whole, that you will give to your elder pupils a due sense of their own power, and prepare them for that duty which is so often needed in after life—the duty of bringing the whole faculty, and effort and enthusiasm to bear on one subject at a time. Do not be afraid therefore of giving an extra proportion

The three kinds of Schools.

of time to Latin or to Literature, or to Natural Science; when you find the pupils have just caught the spirit of the work and are prepared to do it unusually well. For though relatively to the particular month or term the distribution of time may seem inequitable, it is not so relatively to the whole period of the school life.

We have, in fact to keep in view the general principle that every school ought to provide in its own way and measure, instruction and training of several different kinds —the practical arts, so that the pupil learns to do something, as read write or draw; the real or specific teaching, so that the pupil is made to know something of the facts and phenomena round him; the disciplinal or intellectual exercise whereby he is helped to think and observe and reason; and the moral training, whereby he is made to feel rightly, to be affected by a right ambition, and by a sense of duty. But in applying this general view to different schools we must make great modifications. Whether a school is intended for girls or for boys, for young children or elder, for boarders or for day scholars, must be first considered before we determine its curricu. lum. And after all, the most important consideration which will differentiate the character of various schools, is the length of time which pupils are likely to spend in them. Roughly we may say that a Primary School is one the majority of whose scholars leave at the age of 14; a Secondary School, one in which they remain till 16, and a High School one which may hope to retain them till 18 or 19, and to send them direct to the Universities. The problem may be further modified by special professional aims and by the necessary differences in the training of boys and girls, especially in relation to the side of art culture; but mainly we may keep these three divisions in view.

The Three Kinds of School.

43

Now the work of a Primary school begins earlier, and 1. The is much more usually founded on infant school discipline School. than the work of either of the other two. From 5 years old to 7, the playful kindly discipline of the Kindergarten, may be made to alternate with hort lessons on reading, writing, drawing and counting, and with manual and singing exercises. And during the age from 7 to 14 it is not too much to expect that the child of the poor man who is to earn his living after that age, shall learn to read with intelligence, to write and express himself well, to know something of the structure of his own language, and to understand the meanings of words. The purely logical part of his training will be gained by instruction in the principles and the practice of arithmetic, and the elements of geometry; his knowledge of facts will be mainly that of geography and of history; the scientific side of his training will be obtained through the elementary study of mechanics or chemistry, or physiology, Erdkunde or Naturkunde, and the æsthetic side by vocal music and drawing, and the learning of poetry. And if to this can be added sufficient instruction in the elements of any foreign grammar, say French, to enable the pupil to pursue the study of another language than his own, by his own efforts after leaving school, the primary school may be considered to have done its work, and to have given him relatively to the limited time, in which he has been under instruction, a complete, coherent, and selfconsistent course. The curriculum of the Secondary School, which ex 2. The

Secondary hypothesi is to be carried on at least to the age of 16, School. should from the first aim at all that is attained in the primary, with some additions. It may reasonably include the elements of two languages other than the pupil's own, of which it is expedient that one should be Latin and the other

[blocks in formation]

French or German. It should on the side of pure science, be carried to algebra and geometry; and in the department of applied science should include at least, one such subject as chemistry, physics or astronomy rather fully treated. On the side of the humanities it should recognize the study of a few literary masterpieces, and some knowledge of the history of thought as well as of events. But it should not in my opinion, attempt to include Greek, nor any exercise in Latin versification or composition ; simply because it is not possible to carry discipline of this kind far enough within the limits of age to achieve any real intellectual result,

The public school of the Highest grade necessarily and rightly adjusts its course to the requirements of the University, for which as a rule its pupils are destined. It keeps in view the same broad distinctions, and the same general scheme of the co-ordination of studies; but it may from the first lay wider and deeper foundations ; it may proceed more slowly, and may fitly give heed to niceties of scholarship, which would be unsuitable in a shorter course. The scheme put forth by the Oxford and Cambridge Joint Board for the final examination in schools, which is to be regarded either as a terminus ad quem relatively to the public school couse, or a terminus a quo relatively to the University; and is to serve either for a leaving certificate or for matriculation, arranges studies in four groups on this wise : I. (1) Latin, (2) Greek, (3) French and Ger

man, II. (1) Scripture knowledge, (2) English, (3) His

tory, III. (1) Mathematics (elementary), (2) Mathema

tics (additional),

What is a 'Liberal' Education?

45

course

IV. (1) Natural Philosophy, (2) Heat and Chemistry,

(3) Botany, (4) Physical Geography and

elementary Geology, and requires candidates to satisfy the examiners in at least four subjects taken from not less than three different groups.

Having determined the course of instruction by con- Each sidering the age to which it is likely to be prolonged, rounded we have to secure that within this probable limit there and comshall be unity of purpose, and a distinct recognition of Plete. the claims of each of the four or five principal means of training. The course should be rounded and complete as far as it goes, on the supposition that, except in the case of schools which are preparing for the University, there is little or no chance that the time of formal school instruction will be prolonged. It is by losing sight of this, that we often commit the grave mistake of conducting the school education of a boy on too pretentious a plan, and on the assumption that he is to make a long stay at school. And the incomplete frustum of a higher course is not of the same value as the whole of a scheme of instruction which from the first has a less ambitious aim. The nature and extent of a foundation must be determined by the character of the superstructure you propose to build on it. The course of instruction should be begun with a reasonable prospect of continuing it. Otherwise it may simply come to nothing, and represent a weary waste of time.

And thus, we are to have in view, for schools of all And each kinds, an education which may well deserve to be called

a 'liberal ‘liberal,' because it seeks to train the man, and not course. merely the good tradesman or doctor or mechanic. What we may call the 'real' elements of a school course, the acquisition of power to read and write and do certain

in a sense

« PreviousContinue »