Page images
PDF
EPUB

each week are devoted throughout the school to lessons in these branches of knowledge; the instruction in the lower classes being in sciences of pure observation, such as zoology and botany, while in the upper parts of the school instruction is given in the sciences usually called experimental, such as pneumatics, hydrostatics, and others. This system, however, cannot be adopted, unless there is a certain preliminary outlay of money, and it seems unobjectionable that this money should come from an endowment.

II. It would be, in my opinion, a very wise measure to group unendowed schools together in districts, and to form a local board to manage them subject to the control of a central board in London, such, for example, as the Council Board.

One great advantage in thus grouping schools would be the possibility of diminishing the number of schools and of substituting for three or four inferior schools one large first-rate school. Provided that the number of boys does not exceed a certain point a large school is, as a general rule, preferable to a small school. Some of the points of superiority in a large school áre the following :-Ist, they afford facilities for an arrangement of boys in classes by which a larger number of those who have arrived at the same stage of knowledge can be taught together in the same form ; 2ndly, they render it possible to offer higher salaries, and thus to secure the services of first-rate schoolmasters ; 3rdly, they are more likely to supply the means for procuring a well-stored museum of natural history and a good collection of philosophical instruments. There is a limit, however, to the number which can be advantageously assembled in one school ; a limit which can be best ascertained by consulting those who have had practical experience in teaching. The principle which should govern this limit seems to me to be the number which can be brought under the general influence and control of the head master.

The central board ought to have the power of appointing inspectors, who should be ex officio members of the local boards, though without the power of voting. The inspectors should make reports on the condition of schools in their district on the same principle that other school inspectors make their reports at present. The central board should bave the power of insisting on certain general principles in the management of schools, and they should have the power of removing a schoolmaster for incompetency or unfitness. Moreover, no appointment should be final without their sanction.

In regard to the manner in which the local boards should be formed, it seems to me that no sound opinion can be given without a far greater knowledge of details on the subject than I possess.

I may mention, however, one important general principle of universal application, viz., to take care that in the constitution of a board for the election of schoolmasters there may be as few electors as possible who are likely to have relations or intimate friends among the candidates.

III. I am unable to give any information on this head. I presume that nobody is so qualified to furnish the amplest information respecting it as the Charity Commissioners.

IV. I am in favour of training schools, though not so as to prevent the granting of certificates after due examination by a central board.

With salaries as low as the salaries of schoolmasters are likely to be for a long time much difficulty will be found, under any circumstances, in inducing a sufficient number of competent persons to undertake an office so irksome as that of schoolmaster appears to be to those who have not learned to take a hearty interest in their work. Well-conducted training schools are valuable in lessening this difficulty, and in tending at the same time to maintain a high standard of intellectual and moral qualifications for the office.

Restrictions of the office of schoolmaster to clergymen should be wholly abolished, though it would be very undesirable to exclude this class of persons from the right of presenting themselves as candidates in an open competition. If the board of electors is wisely constituted it is well to leave them unrestricted in their range of selection. Sometimes a clergyman would be preferable; in other cases a layman might present himself with far higher intellectual, moral, and religious qualifications than are possessed by any clergyman who is a competitor ; and when this is the case, or when the two competitors are simply equal, it is distinctly for the interests of learning to elect the layman, who may devote his whole life to literature, rather than the clergyman, whose interests are divided, and who, in endeavouring to unite literature with theology, is frequently very superficial in both.

In conclusion. I may be permitted to observe that the objections which exist against gratuitous instruction from charitable sources do not apply to gratuitous instruction, the cost of which is defrayed from local rates, as is the case in New England. It is important to bear this in mind as, although it is highly commendable to make the most of endowments for schools, and to provide that such endowments shall be administered on the soundest principles, yet improvements in this respect alone are comparatively makeshifts, and the humiliating inferiority of England to Germany and New England in popular education will continue until there is a minister with sufficient intelligence and courage to propose, and a House of Commons with sufficient wisdom to pass, a measure for the establishment and support of schools from local rates.

EDWARD TWISLETON.

[blocks in formation]

Ladies' College, Cheltenham, DEAR SIR,

Jan. 1, 1867. As statistics are more valuable than assertions, I have kept in the absence book a very careful account of the causes of absence. I have thought it might be worth while to send it to you, as we

are anxious to remove the very false impression that a right education is injurious to the health of girls.

Of course a six month's account is not worth much, but it includes the month of November, and this has been a damp season. We find our pupils suffer very little from cold, as they go out in all weathers.

Yours faithfully,

D. BEALE,

(Enclosure.) LADIES' COLLEGE, CHELTENHAM. TABLE showing the number of absences due to illness in the

last half-year (1866) commencing Aug. 25th, and ending Dec. 20th ; containing 118 days, Michaelmas-day being the only holiday.

[blocks in formation]

Boarders.

5)

House A.-Average number

18 Not ill one day

- 13 Cases of chicken pox

1 Total number of days pupils have been absent from other causes

9 Average number of days absent from

colds, &c. House B.-Average number

10 Cases of chicken pox

1
Total number of days pupils have been
absent from other causes

12
Average number of days absent from
colds, &c. -

- 1:2 Total average for boarders, excluding the two cases of very mild chicken pox, less than one day.

General Results. 1. There is no single case this half-year in which it is even pretended that study has produced illness.

2. If we except eight very mild cases of chicken-pox, the average number of days, each pupil has been absent from indisposition during the half-year, is less than two.

3. In Class I. it is almost exactly one day, although here, if anywhere, the injurions effects of mental exercise would become apparent.

4. When, as in the case of boarders, we have children entirely under our care, there is almost no sickness; but of 30 boarders (average 28), 19 have not been indisposed one single day, and the total average of absence, if we except two very slight cases of chicken-pox, is less than one day in the half-year.

From J. C. BUCKMASTER, Esq.

St. John's Hill, Wandsworth, S.W., MY LORD,

March 8, 1867. I BEG most respectfully to submit the accompanying letter. If your Lordship should think it sufficiently important I shall feel obliged by your introducing it to the notice of the Public Schools Commission for publication. I believe all power to be intellectual in its nature, it is for this reason that I have for years taken a deep interest in promoting scientific knowledge among the middle and working classes.

I must apologise for troubling your Lordship with this communication. I hear from Mr. Packer of Kinyer that there is a probability of science being introduced in several middle and grammar schools in Staffordshire.

I am, &c. Right Hon. Lord Lyttelton,

J. C. BUCKMASTER. &c.

&c.

SCIENCE INSTRUCTION in GRAMMAR and MIDDLE SCHOOLS.

Immediately after the Exhibition of 1851 public attention was directed to the importance of scientific knowledge as a part of general education. The value of classical learning as compared with science was fully discussed, and an effort was made not only to introduce the systematic teaching of science in some of our commercial schools, but under the name of lessons on common things a good deal of elementary science was taught in our primary schools. The subject, however, never received any hearty support, except from a few advanced friends of education. The masters of grammar and commercial schools were for the most part ignorant of science; every difficulty was thrown in the way of science teaching, and in a short time nothing was left but the broken remains of a little apparatus, Latin and Greek swallowed up the science, and at this time, with the exception of what is being done by the Science and Art Department, which is quite outside our school system, science as a means of training a boy to think and observe occupies a less important position now than it did ten years ago. A few years since, 1860, at the suggestion of Dr. Playfair, I forwarded nearly 200 applications to the masters of grammar and commercial schools in and near London offering to give gratuitously twelve lessons on chemistry, The only school which accepted my offer was a ladies' school near Hyde Park that had accidentally heard of it from the usher of a neighbouring boys' school. In the scheme for the management of Dulwich College some provision exists for teaching science, but so far as I can learn nothing of the kind has been attempted nor will be attempted until science takes equal rank and importance with Latin and Greek. It does appear strange that in a country where the food and employment of the population and the progress of the industrial arts depend on the applications of science as a means of economizing production, there is not in the education of the people one particle of that knowledge which constitutes the chief glory and distinction of the country. What science has done with reference to the arts of war is an illustration of what she might do if the same impulse were given in other directions. We have in this country three distinct classes of schools, the primary school, the iniddle commercial school, and the grammar school. In the primary school scarcely anything is now taught except reading, writing, arithmetic, and Scripture. In the commercial schools we have in addition, history, geography, French, Latin, and Greek. In the grammar schools we have the teaching of the Universities. The boys now attending commercial schools are of the same class of

« PreviousContinue »