« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
him in his own body, and utterly unversed in the first principles of that law of the land under which he lives. To sum up in a word, I mean this-that the end of all human teaching is human action ; that that teaching is most valuable which tends to direct and economize action ; that such teaching must concern itself mainly with two things——the laws which govern inanimate nature and the laws which govern man; and that whatever does not add to our knowledge on one or other of these subjects is, comparatively speaking, of little value. And herein, as I think, one great merit of institutions like these consists, that, being tied down by no statutes, no founders' wills, no traditions of immemorial antiquity, they not only supply instruction to the people, but they supply that kind of instruction for which a popular demand exists. They follow the national taste ; they do not in attempting to direct that taste pervert it. Long may this state of things endure ; and in education, as in other matters, may the transition from past to present habits of thought take place, as in England such transitions mostly do, by no demolition of that which exists, by no sudden disruption of ancient ties, but by the greatest and almost imperceptible accommodation of all intelligent minds to that which all perceive to be inevitable in the course of events !
SIR JAMES P. Kay SHUTTLEWORTH, who was knighted by the Queen for his devotion to the cause of popular education, and who is the author of the system now administered by the Committee of Council on Education, followed Lord Stanley in an address from which we make the following extracts :
Educational Progress of the Country. I remember the time--it is not distant -when a large part of these valleys were almost deserted portions of remote parishes, without schools, and almost without chapels--forlorn, destitute almost of religious instruction ; but now we see, on every hand, the spires of religious edifices rising throughout the whole country, and to most of them are attached schools, themselves often buildings of great beauty, and the whole organization for the instruction of the youth of our population is gradually approaching to perfection. Forty normal schools, educating 2,000 students, and sending out 1,000 teachers annually, have been founded ; 8,000 pupil-teachers are now aiding in the instruction of schools, and undergoing the apprenticeship which is to issue in their passing two years in the normal school, and afterwards becoming certificated teachers. Besides these arrangements, the Government has expended, on various other objects, moneys which amount in the whole to nearly 500,0001. per annum. Then, the means of support are of a like general character, consistent with the institutions of the country. A very large part of the support has been of a purely voluntary character. About 11s. 3d. has been derived from local subscriptions, and about 68. 9d. has been derived from the contributions of the school-pence of the childrenmaking altogether, 188. per head per scholar in each school. Now, the Government, besides this, has contributed at the rate of about 128. per head for the augmentation of the salary of the teacher, and for the payment of the stipends of the pupil-teachers ; and, recently, it has likewise contribut
ed a capitation grant, amounting to 4s. or 58. per scholar, so that we thus arrive at the total resources of the school ; and in this way sufficient funds may be obtained to secure the efficiency of the school, and that without resorting to any means inconsistent with self-government.
How can children be retained longer under instruction.-It appears from the late census that 20,000 poor children have left school before they were ten years of age ; 35,000 more poor children before they were eleven years of age; 28,000 more poor children before they were twelve years of age ; and after the age of twelve scarcely any were left at school. Even in the towns, and in the more commercial districts, the inspectors report that few children are at school at a greater age than from ten to eleven. Now the causes effecting these results are also disclosed by the census. It appears that of the children who were not at school between the ages of three and fifteen, 978,179 boys, or 40 per cent., were not at work ; and 1,218,055 girls, or 53 per cent., also were not at work. On the other hand, the number not at school, but at work, was comparatively small ; 318,776 boys, or 16 per cent., were at work between the ages of three and fifteen ; and 218,055, or per cent., of girls. It appears that 57 per cent. of the children of the population of Great Britain, between the ages of three and fifteen, remain without education, chiefly because of the indifference of their parents. Now, this is a sad state of things ; but there are also some other features which have been remarked by the inspectors greatly affecting the success of the school. Mr. Watkins, inspector of the West Riding of Yorkshire, complains greatly of the fluctuation of the attendance of children, owing to various causes affecting the manufacturing interests of that county ; and he says that, in the majority of the schools of that district, 88 per cent. of the children leave the school annually; only 12 per cent. of them remain. Now, you have had great experience in this district of the operation of the half-time act. I believe that, with whatever feelings the half-time act was at first received in this district, there is now a general satisfaction with its operation. I believe that, both on the part of the parents and on the part of employers, the gradual growth of the children in civilization, the improvement of their manners, and increase of their intelligence, and the greater value of their labor, are acknowledged ; and that these results have been obtained without any considerable disturbance of the manufacturing operations, or without any interruption of commercial operations. Now, the extension of the half-time act to the whole of England would send 2,000,000 of children to school whose life is at present spent in idleness ; and it would double the number of those who are now employed in remunerative labor. One of the inspectors, Mr. Cooke, says with great emphasis, that no measure could be adopted which would have so large an effect in raising the condition of the working classes throughout the rural districts of this country. At eleven years of age, the inspectors report that the children who have been taught in efficient schools know as much as any of the children who are taught in the schools that have been created on the continent of Europe, notwithstanding that their organization has been completed for a great number of years. But, in the free communities of Switzerland, where each canton manages its own affairs and the most democratic system of voting exists, every canton has a law, that no child shall be taken away from school before he is fourteen years of age. Now, in England, the difference is amazingly great, for between the ages of twelve and thirteen only 6.44 per cent. are at school ; between the ages of thirteen and fourteen only 3:64 per cent. ; and between the ages of fourteen and fifteen only 2.34 per cent. The proportion in Scotland is even not higher than 1} or 2 per cent. more than England. That is a fact which tends to show that, even in a country which since the Reformation has had the advantage of a parochial system of schools, dependence cannot be placed on the parents who support themselves by manual labor to send their chil. dren to school till the age of fourteen. Improvements in the schools have also, as has been universally reported by the inspectors, had no appreciable effect in extending the school age. There have also been various benevolent schemes recently adopted, particularly in the mining districts, to attract the children to school. Prizes have been offered for classes, which have been competed for by the children of large districts. Those prizes have been given with great publicity, and have been accompanied by certificates which have been intended to be of great use in the market of labor in those districts. Those schools have been supported by the principal firms in the mining districts, and some results as respects those districts have been attained ; but generally speaking the evil has not been reached. I cannot help saying that my own opinion is that this great difficulty, as respects the rural districts and the mining districts of England, cannot be overcome without the adoption of the Half-time Act, with such modifications as may be necessary to meet the period of harvest and peculiar employments of different trades, in order that the children of those districts may enjoy the same amount of advantage that has been obtained in these.
Instruction to children after leaving school.-—What provision is there yet made in this country that the child who then becomes a youth and goes to work for the whole of the day, either in some rural employment or in some manufactory, and spends his leisure time in listless idleness, and learns nothing but what can be taught in the streets,—what provision is there made, what institution is there to carry on the instruction of the school from the period of 13 to the period of 17 ? The mechanics' institutions, the lyceums, have sprung up in all the great towns of the country ; but even they do not exist in the rural districts; and there is no institution as yet which peculiarly meets the want of the youth between the age of 13 and 17.
It would seem to me possible, for example, that, taking such a town as Oldham, surrounded by manufacturing villages at a moderate distance, that connected possibly with this lyceum, or if not connected with this lyceum, then with some central school, there might be formed a group of subsidiary institutions - evenings schools — in the neighboring villages ; and that for such a group of schools there might be an itinerating master, who might, for instance, teach classes in some central school on two evenings of the week, and might go out and teacb at the other schools on the remaining four evenings of the week, either one each evening, or giving two evenings at each school; and by combinations of this kind we might greatly diminish the expense of the individual schools, while very greatly increased efficiency might be given to them. I would also remind you that the Department of Science and Art has recently been training masters for the instruction of drawing classes and the application of art to all industrious and mechanical employments ; and it would be quite possible, in connection with this lyceum, to have a drawing master who might teach on certain evenings of the week in this institution, and who might teach on other evenings in some of those evening schools.
Courses of Lectures have ceased to attract and interest.— The old institutionsthose of the Andersonian University of Glasgow, the London Mechanics' Institution, the Manchester and the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institution--set out with the intention of having complete courses of lectures, and they expected, in those great cities, to attract the more intelligent members of the working-classes to those courses of lectures, which were to extend to from 60 to 90 lectures; and those lectures were to be accompanied by examinations, and were to assume almost all the forms of instruction in uni. versities. In some of these institutions the lectures had great success. I believe they had great success, originally, under Dr. Birkbeck, in Glasgow; they had great success in the institution which Sir Benjamin Heywood was chiefly instrumental in founding at Manchester, and also in Liverpool, and, I believe, in London ; but the history of mechanics' institutions has shown that these complete courses of lectures, even in the great towns, have gradually been abandoned. The lectures have also become less and less scientific, and more and more literary and general; and the number, of course, has greatly increased, while the number of lectures in each course has greatly diminished. Thus, in the union of Yorkshire institutions, it is reported that out of a thousand lectures given in certain institutions there, 594 courses consisted of only two lectures each. Now, I relate these facts chiefly for the purpose of drawing the attention of the members of this institution to the exceeding importance of class-instruction.
Class-instruction. The instruction given in these institutions must, necessarily, at first be elementary. The classes will be devoted to a very great extent to such subjects as reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, and similar matters. The students attending these classes need to be brought immediately in contact with the mind of the master, and they need to be assisted at every stage; they need that the whole course of instruction should be thoroughly logical, that it should be accompanied by constant examinations, and that it should be tested from time to time. When you approach the higher subjects, it seems to me that this form of class-instruction is also greatly preferable to general instruction by lectures untested by examination, or even to the very extensive courses of lectures I have adverted to, when they were tested by examination.
Competitive Examination and Prizes.—But in order to increase the degree of interest which is felt by young men of the working classes in these courses of instruction, the Society of Arts has of late put forth a scheme of prizes. It has offered prizes to the whole of the mechanics' institutions of the country that have entered into union with it. In the first year, 1855, owing perhaps to some defects in the mode in which this scheme was worked, very few candidates offered themselves for examination. But, in this year, 52 candidates have appeared in London, and a very interesting report has been published of the examinations which there occurred. I am very glad, also, to be informed by the Secretary of the Society of Arts that it is intended to hold an examination in the north of England, probably at Manchester, and that the mechanics' institutions and Lyceums of this country will be invited to send students to compete for the prizes at that examination. I believe, likewise, that the Bishop of Manchester has made a recommendation to the Lancashire Union of Mechanics' Institutions, that a local examination, I believe of a somewhat lower order as respects the subjects and quality of the examination, should be instituted in that union ; and I believe that steps will be taken to communicate from the Secretary of the Lancashire Union of Institutions, with the respective local institutions, concerning that examination. There is also another proposal which seems to me to have considerable merit, and that is, that not merely should a prize be given, but that the prize should be accompanied with a certificate, and that the certificate should set forth in it the period during which the holder of it has attended the mechanics' institution, the several studies through which he has passed, the degree of attention which he has paid to those studies, and should define the proficiency which he has acquired. Provided the heads of manufacturing firms would agree to give these certificates a commercial value, I think great importance might be attached to them, and they would have a great effect in stimulating young men to go to the mechanics' institutions, there to acquire, by persevering attention to their studies, a certificate which the masters would value as a proof of merit.
Instruction in Science in its Applications.—I cannot conceive a district, which owes almost all its commercial prosperity to the steam-engine, where it would be proper in a great town like that of Oldham, to be without diagrams and models illustrating the theory of heat, and also the mechanical combinations and the history of the steam-engine. I am quite certain that thoroughly practical lectures upon the subject of the theory of heat and of the mechanism of the steam-engine would be attractive among the working classes. Now, we are not dependent upon any country for the inventions dependent upon machinery. The Americans are active rivals with us; we find that in almost every department of trade they make some improvements in the machines which have been introduced in this country. Even in agriculture we receive machines from America ; but there is no great desire in this country to ascertain what is being done in other countries in machinery. It is far otherwise with every thing that relates to art. We have agencies established in every part of the world, to give us at the first moment the French designs as soon as they appear in the market; and we are to a very great extent dependent in our print,