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ART. IX.-Schools for the Industrious Classes: or, the Present State of
Education among the Working People of England. Published under
the Superintendence of the Central Society of Education. London:
Taylor and Walton. 1837.

We believe there cannot be a greater mistake than to suppose that education among the working people of England has of late years been making rapid advances, either as regards the number taught, or the nature of the instruction communicated. To be sure, the number of schools and of school-societies has been vastly increased, and the improvements suggested in the art of communicating all manner of instruction-that which is termed elementary not excepted -great and various; but that the real practical and aggregate results have borne no suitable proportion to all this promise, is a fact of which those who have investigated the subject are fully aware, while to all who have not ere this directed attention to it, the publication before us will carry complete conviction that the truth is as we have indicated. Nay, it is not only the fact that the industrious classes of England are, in respect of education, far behind those in countries which cannot boast of our privileges, or of our advancement in many other capacities, but that unless some great and general improvenient be made, the classes referred to will become the most ignorant and uncivilized in Europe. We are of opinion, also, that unless government take the matter in hand, and establish some national system of education, no individual or private efforts will be of avail in behalf of this paramount interest. To awaken the public mind, therefore, to the real state of the matter, is a duty which cannot be too promptly or zealously performed; for thereby alone can we hope for the concurrence and active measures of the supreme power in the state. This duty has been ably executed in the present pamphlet, and being published at a price every one may command, we have hopes that it will do more than has ever before been accomplished towards the fulfilment of the most salutary steps that can be taken in behalf of the community in a moral and social


Hitherto, the principal objection that has been urged against a national provision for the education of the people is, "that it would check, and finally put a stop to, the working of the voluntary school system, and throw the burden of existing free schools upon the government." To this objection the author of the pamphlet before us immediately addresses himself, and by a series of arguments, facts, and inferences, triumphantly answers it, showing it to be a fallacy.

After stating that, looking at the question as one of political economy, it is of very little importance by which mode the funds

for providing education to the working classes be raised-whether by the public (supposing the public willing to contribute to the full amount required) or paid in the shape of a school-rate-for that in both cases the money for the most part would come out of the same pockets-the writer, by a just appreciation of the claims which the industrious classes possess, and of the feelings and tendencies of human nature, makes it manifest that elementary instruction should not be dependent upon charity, or private benevolence; because all schools supported in this manner have an injurious influence both on parents and children-in short, a pauperizing effect. While the charity school system tends to defeat the cultivation of a spirit of self-reliance and independence on the part of the parents, and of that valuable pride which never can be more effectually or beautifully gratified than when the heart is conscious of having provided the mental sustenance of a son or daughter, and of having done all that is requisite to elevate the enjoyment and character of those so related, who must soon be left to their own resources; on the children the effect of the same system is not less prejudicial, for every recipient of this kind of charity is in his very first position in life, when beyond the precincts of his parents' cottage, nothing better than a receiver of alms. Now this situation, while it must at first invest its unfortunate subject with feelings of shame,— which feelings are inculcated at public dinners, where the recipient is paraded before the donors, and also in charity sermons-in the course of time is regarded with a callousness that can never be separated from states of mind and sorts of habits, the reverse of all that is ennobling in sentiment and conduct. The very garb and badge which are made to distinguish many a charity school boy and girl seem to perfect the system of degradation.

There are other general arguments which our author adduces to show that the charity school system works badly, and that were it entirely dropped, and the whole burden of such schools thrown upon the government, the country would be greatly benefited. For example, he shows that if the pauperizing tendency of the present system is to be allowed to continue, it will ever be tending to render a bribery principle more prevalent, till at length every working man will require to be bribed to send his children to school. The principle already operates potently and extensively; for it is to the schools where the most clothing is given, not those where the best instruction is to be found, that the labouring man is for the most part tempted to send his child.

Another reason stated why elementary education should not depend upon the charity of individuals or committees of private persons is, that the system directly serves to perpetuate the distinctions and dissensions of sects in religion. The charitable motives of all such benefactors are never allowed to be disjoined from the suspicion

that to propagate a particular class of religious opinions has also been in contemplation. The appearance of a free school in a village or country town is accordingly the signal in general for the commencement of hostilities between different religious parties. The early consequence of this new erection is an opposition school, which, instead of increasing the means of education, too often divides that support which one establishment of the kind would require-rendering the two altogether inefficient. Besides being a signal for bitter rivalry among parents and sects, such voluntary schools must gradually administer the poison of uncharitableness to the hearts of the young themselves.

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The evils naturally resulting from schools set up by private benevolence would not attend a government establishment. The latter could not be regarded as charitable institutions, nor the education they afforded as a favour conferred or received; neither would the government ever be suspected of preferring one religious sect to another, if the law and the central administrators of it adopted a generous and enlightened system of conduct.

But passing from such general considerations, let us follow the present writer in his inquiry and conclusions, concerning what is really done by means of private subscriptions and public charities, for the purpose of raising the moral and intellectual character of the working classes. In this inquiry he considers the different orders of schools which prevail in England, beginning with the Sunday schools in which the great mass of the agricultural population now receive the only instruction they obtain. We believe that few of our readers are aware of the fractional amount to which the elementary education received at these schools may be fairly reduced-that is, the education which consists in being able to read and write. The writer before us has in his remarks upon this, and the other classes of schools for the working classes, displayed extraordinary research and acquaintance with facts; and as most of his conclusions are corroborated by the testimonies of individuals who were the best witnesses to be found-often the poor miseducated or uneducated scholars themselves of the schools in question-whose situation and prospects in life are generally sketched, an interest is attached to the work, far superior to what could belong to general theorizing, however plausibly put forward, or eloquently urged.

Our first extract contains a great deal of important information.

"It appears from the education returns that the number of children attending Sunday schools, in England and Wales, is I,548,890; of these, it may be safely asserted, that one half do not attend day schools, or any other kind of school. There are, at the least, 750,000 children who have no other opportunity of learning to read or write, but that which is afforded by Sunday schools. What, then, is the degree of efficiency of these schools, as far as it relates to this object?

"The answer is, first, that in many Sunday schools, the children are not allowed to learn to read or write. The reason assigned is, that to teach these or any other mechanical arts, on the Sunday, would be a desecration of the Sabbath. The schools in which neither reading nor writing is taught on the Sunday are, in England, chiefly confined to the connection of what is termed the high evangelical party. In Scotland, in the Sunday schools, teaching children even to read is not practised, excepting in very rare instances: the instruction is wholly religious. In London, there are, among others, three Sunday schools of this description, under the superintendence of the Hon. and Rev. Baptist W. Noel, of St. John's Chapel, Bedford-row. One of the schools meets in the chapel, another is a girl's school in Baldwin's-gardens, and the third a boy's school in the same neighbourhood. When we visited, a few months since, the Sunday school in Baldwin's-gardens, there were about 120 children present, out of whom, the mistress stated there were as many as eighty unable to read. We inquired, as they were not allowed to learn to read, what they were taught, and were informed that a verse of a hymn, or a passage of scripture was read to them, until they were able to repeat it by heart :-that the meaning of a chapter in the New Testament was explained :—that the teachers addressed them on the subject of religion, and endeavoured to impress their minds with a sense of its vital importance. The elder children who had learned to read, were expected to learn during the week, a portion of the Catechism, or of some chapter from the Bible, and to repeat it by rote, on attending school the next Sunday. The school is opened for an hour and a half previous to divine service in the morning, and for two hours in the afternoon. Some few of the children attend for several years, but the majority do not remain in the school for more than six months.

"The Sunday school held in St. John's Chapel is ly open for one hour and a half in the morning. In this school, only those are admitted who are able to read. There are about 200 children. They assemble in the galleries; the boys sitting in one, the girls in another. Thirteen young men, and the same number of young women, attend to teach the children their religious duties. The mode of instruction will be best described in the words of the Rev..Daniel Wilson, (now Bishop of Calcutta), the former Minister of this Chapel, and who was examined before a Committee of the House of Commons, 1816. Since this period, no alteration has been made in the management of the school, beyond the introduction of one or two new religous books.

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We teach the Catechism of the Church of England, and the Collects. We teach the children that are old enough the Epistles and Gospels. We require them to learn the texts of the sermons they have heard the preceding Sunday; and, when they have time, we occasionally set them to learn the Articles of the Church of England. These several lessons are not taught them, at the time, on the Sunday;-they learn them during the week, and repeat them only on the Sunday, at the time of their attendance at Chapel.'

"În Liverpool, Manchester, and in many other parts of the country, there are similar schools, in which it is held to be a violation of the Sabbath to teach children to read, althoug they may have no other opportunity of learning; but the number of these schools is, as yet, but inconsider

able, compared with those in which reading is professedly taught. The vast majority of these schools, however, teach only reading. Mr. Latter, the secretary of the Sunday School Union, is of opinion that there is not above one Sunday school in a hundred, in which writing is taught.

"The Sunday School Union is a society which has been formed for the purpose of supplying Sunday schools with suitable books, but the circulation of them is chiefly confined to the schools in connection with Dissenting chapels.

"The Sunday schools established in connection with the Church of England, are supplied with books by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge; and although the books supplied by both societies are of a similar character,—even in this respect, pains appear to have been taken to build up that middle wall of partition, which every real, and not mistaken, friend of religion would wish to see thrown down."

Taking England generally the pamphlet states, that here and there a Sunday school may be found, in which children are allowed to learn both to read and write; and in a very few cases arithmetic is taught. In Scotland, it ought to be observed, the parochial schools, at which elementary education can be obtained at a remarkably cheap rate, allow the Sunday teachers to confine their instructions to such as are of a moral and religious nature. But to abide in England-teaching the art of reading is all that is professedly done in the great mass of Sunday schools; exclusive of moral and religious instruction, much of this education in reading in many cases consisting of learning long columns of spelling, which to children who are not to be taught to write seems an idle work for the Sabbath. Now, it is necessary to inquire whether ever reading is effectually taught in these schools. We again quote.


To estimate properly the value of a Sunday school education, it would be desirable to ascertain what number of children there are, who, without learning from their parents, or without attending day schools, have acquired the ability to read, exclusively from the instruction given in a Sunday school. Were it possible to ascertain the number, we have no doubt, from all our observations on this subject, it would be found very inconsiderable. In this respect a Sunday school may be very useful as subsidiary to a day school-the progress made during the week may be confirmed on the Sunday or the lesson given on the Sunday, may be of use when followed up during the week; but that Sunday school instruction alone, is generally efficient for teaching the art of reading, excepting in comparatively rare instances, is what may be reasonably doubted. We have questioned many agricultural labourers, who have told us that although they were once taught to read a little at a Sunday school, they never learnt to read with ease or satisfaction to themselves, and had now entirely lost the little they had acquired.


The following answers we received to similar inquiries from a farmer's boy, a tall strong lad of fourteen, out of work:

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'My name is Thomas Diprose. I live at the Village of Ash, (Kent).

I went to the Sunday school at Meopham church for three years.

Used to

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