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From the VERY Rev. H. GOODWIN, Dean of Ely.
The Deanery, Ely, April 1867. In the event of any legislation affecting cathedral grammar schools, it appears to me that it might be desirable to give the capitular bodies power to allot to their schools separate estates, representing what miglit seem to be the fair proportion of the capitular property. These estates should be vested in trustees for the benefit of the schools.
My chief reason for recommending this course is, that it would make it possible to interest in the schools others besides the dean and chapter, and so to give extension to the working of the schools. Suppose, for instance, new buildings are required for a school ; suppose it should be thought desirable to erect a boarding house for the purpose of enabling boys at a distance to enjoy the benefits of the school; the dean and chapter will probably have no funds at their command by which a great improvement of this kind can be made, and it is difficult to appeal to the public for aid, because the feeling would be that the dean and chapter, having the entire management and control, ought to bear all the expense. Whereas if the constitution of the school were of a more popular kind, it might be very possible to raise funds for any large work of improvement.
I would give to each school a body of governors which should consist of the dean and chapter, ex officio, and (say) four laymen, to be nominated in any manner that might seem desirable, as by the bishop of the diocese, or otherwise.
It will be seen that my desire is not to break the connexion between the school and the cathedral, but to add a popular element, which would in my opinion strengthen the school and give it greater facility of expansion.
From FREDERICK FLOWERS, Esq., on means of providing
Accommodation for Boarders. MY LORD,
August 18, 1866. I AM anxious to draw your attention to the frequent want of house accommodation for boarders at our endowed grammar schools.
I venture to suggest to your Lordship that Government should be empowered to lend money for building purposes, to be repaid by instalments as is usual when money is advanced under the Public Loan Acts.
I think school trustees would in many cases readily borrow money if Government were the lender, and I submit to your Lordship that houses built or altered so as to be adapted for pupils on plans to be approved by the Charity Commissioners or some other competent authority would tend greatly to revive these old foundations and restrain the rush to our overcrowded public schools.
In a correspondence that appeared in the “Times” last January Dr. Kennedy shows the value he attaches to proper masters' houses, for he says, “new houses at Shrewsbury are absolutely essential to the future prosperity of the school.”
Good men from the universities are far more anxious than formerly to become schoolmasters, and it can hardly be doubted that the school which has a convenient house to offer would command the best of these, even though a sharp rent were demanded to pay off the loan, which when paid off would leave the endowment enriched in an important particular.
I have, &c. The Right Honourable
FREDERICK FLOWERS. Lord Lyttelton.
From P. LE NEVE FOSTER, Esq.
Society of Arts, Manufactures,
John Street, Adelphi, London, DEAR LORD LYTTELTON,
January 7, 1867. My three elder sons to whom you refer left school at the age of 16. The first and second received the principal part of their education at the College Communal at Boulogne. The third was also there a short time, but for reasons not connected with the teaching of school, I removed him thence after a twelvemonth's stay there. The teaching and system of the French school is good. The school has two divisions when boys arrive at a certain stage in it, one devoted to classics and literature, the other to the teaching of the elements of physical science, including chemistry, the objects being to prepare the lads for taking their places in industrial pursuits. This teaching includes mathematics and natural philosophy in their application to the ordinary affairs of life. The French appear to me to be ahead of us in this respect. When we teach mathematics, we begin in the rigorous way, as if everybody was ultimately to be a mathematician. We attempt to drive Euclid strictly and rigorously into every boy, and thereby soon disgust all but one or two. The French, on the contrary, content themselves by teaching a few of the main and most useful points in geometry, leading up further on to the practical parts of trigonometry. I admit such teaching will not make a mathematician, but that is not wanted. The same remark applies to the teaching of mechanics and other branches of physical science
. The leading useful facts and phenomena are taught, and the boy at a very early point sees the utility of what be is learning, and its applicability to a variety of things.
I know the old remark about "a little learning, &c.,” and “a smattering ” of science being “ a dangerous thing.” But I think this is answered by drawing the distinction between teaching a little soundly, and the teaching or the attempting to teach a great deal unsoundly; let what is taught be carefully selected and soundly and perfectly taught as far as it goes. Again, let what is taught be adapted to the age of the boys and their powers of thought. No young boy can understand Euclid, indeed I know many even arrived at manhood who would find a difficulty in thoroughly appreciating the methods of Euclid. The French have a number of excellent little treatises for the use of their schools, such as we do not possess. They give just as much as is necessary to be known for all the ordinary purposes of life, and familiarize boys with terms and modes of thought which will be of great service to them should they desire at a future time to take up any one study more systematically, and which, in the meantime, will be found of service to them in whatever walk of life they may happen to be.
I am not in the least surprised to hear what is said of the inefficiency of the mass of our schools for the middle classes. As a rule, with some few exceptions, they are in the hands of incompetent men, whose only object is to make them pay commercially, Truly may they be designated “Commercial Academies.” I have long known all this. I could write pages on this theme, for it is an old grievance of mine, but I forbear to bore you any longer with it.
My boys on leaving school went, the eldest into an engineer's workshop as a pupil, and afterwards took to civil engineering; the second, after taking his degree of Bachelor of Sciences in France, went to the Government School of Mines in Jermyn Street, and there prosecuted his science studies as a geologist and miner, where he carried off the highest prizes, and after studying for 12 months at the Mining College of Freiberg in Saxony was placed on the Geological Survey of Great Britain, which, however, he has since left, having better prospects elsewhere. He also gained a scholarship in science at the University of London, and has taken his degree there of Doctor of Science. The third boy after leaving school, and after private tuition, went into an engineer's workshop as a pupil, and has stuck to mechanical engineering, and at the age of 23 is chief engineer to Prince Halim Pacha in Egypt. On taking him away from the French school early, as I have before mentioned, I had him taught by a private tutor the elements of geometry and the natural sciences, much in the same manner as is taught in France. I have thus given you an account of the training my three elder boys have had.
There is one point about the French schools I have omitted to mention, which to you as a School Commissioner may be of interest, viz., the cost. My boys as boarders at the Boulogne school cost about 321. per head and no extras. They were well fed and well housed; I never heard a complaint on that score. In addition to the masters for hearing lessons, there were a number of study masters who saw and helped the boys to prepare their lessons. Depend upon it the art of teaching is more advanced in France than in this country. I am not pres pared to say that everything there is perfect, but I do say their system is better than ours. I do not refer, of course, to our great classical schools ; I say nothing about them, as their's is not the class of school to which I am calling attention. They provide for the luxuries of learning, the middle-class schools should provide for the necessaries of industrial life.
Pray excuse this lengthened epistle, and also my delay in answering yours, which has arisen from my being occupied when it arrived with matters which required very immediate attention, and I was anxious not to write until I could write somewhat fully.
I have, &c. To the Lord Lyttelton.
P. LE NEVE FOSTER.
From John GOODALL, Esq.
Long Holidays in Middle-class Schools. SIR,
Dulwich, December 6, 1865. HAVE the goodness to bring under the notice of the Schools Inquiry Commission the following remarks on a phase of educational reform which has not hitherto attracted much attention.
Many of our large metropolitan and suburban schools, and perhaps a majority of schools for the middle and lower middle classes throughout England, have in recent years so largely increased the duration of school vacations, and at the same time diminished the hours for daily attendance, that the time available for instruction has been curtailed to an extent which is hardly credible until the facts of the case are examined. Schools which ten or a dozen years ago used to give two or three weeks at Christmas, three or four weeks in the summer, with a few days at Easter, are now giving seven weeks in summer, five or six at Christmas, two at Easter, and quite one more week in odd days through the year, making 16 weeks in all. Moreover, two half holidays in every week of school attendance, instead of only one as formerly, is now the general practice. These schools have no Sunday work, so that they are really available on only five days per week for 36 weeks in the year, or 180 days for school work against 185 days for holidays or rest. Sickness and other causes still remain to reduce still further this number of 180 available days for work. The minimum attendance required in schools under Government inspection as the condition of a share in the Parliamentary grant is much above the possible maximum attendance in the class of schools to which I am now inviting attention. (See Article 40 (a), Revised Code.)
Concurrently with the great extension of the periodical vacations, the hours of daily attendance bave been generally curtailed from 6, 61, or 7 as formerly, to 51, 5, and 43.
In the case of the affluent and highly-placed ranks of society, who can afford to prolong the school life of their offspring to the age of early manhood, it may be a matter of small moment whether the yearly vacation amount to a large or a small proportion of the year. Eton, Rugby, and Harrow boys enjoy resources for the disposal of a protracted holiday such as have no counterpart in the case of boys whose destination is the desk, the warehouse, the shop, and humbler avocations. These last have to finish their school life at the age of 14 or 15, and it is a pernicious waste of their opportunities to thrust on them two or three times more idle days than fell to the lot of their fathers at the corresponding period of life.
If the Schools Inquiry Commission can devise some effectual check on the evil to which I now most earnestly, yet most respectfully, request their attention, they will confer a substantial boon on the present and succeeding generations of middle-class youth.
I have, &c. The Secretary,
JOHN GOODALL. Schools Inquiry Commission.
From the same (second letter). · SIR,
Dulwich, November 23, 1866. In a letter dated 6th December 1865, I ventured to lay before the Schools Inquiry Commissioners a general statement on the subject of excessive holidays in middle-class schools. At that date I thought it advisable, on several grounds, to avoid the mention of any case by name, in illustration of the general assertions and conclusions contained in my statement to the Commissioners.
I have since been in correspondence on the holiday question with the authorities of Dulwich College, an institution in which I am, as a parent, locally interested, and of which, as a former master, I have a personal knowledge, reaching back almost a quarter of a century. My representations, although most courteously received by the governors and masters, have remained without effect, and I therefore no longer hesitate to submit to the Schools Inquiry Commissioners the facts of this typical case, in proof of the need of some external authority to initiate a reform which is unlikely to be attained through the action of private individuals.
The Dulwich holidays have been largely augmented within the memory of residents in the neighbourhood. In 1842-3-4 they