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blessing to the teacher, and in extending the hand of fellowship at this, the season of expressing "good-will towards men," we trust that the encouragements they have met with in their work since the summer months will outweigh any forebodings they may have of difficulties to come when the school re-opens after Christmas. The praise of men is a reward that comes to but few in this world, and as it seems to be measured out mostly to those who can flatter the weaknesses of mankind, the teacher need not regret its loss, in face of his or her own earnest endeavours to improve mankind. The exaltation of the office in general terms is a favourite theme in the mouths of those who find such lip-exaltation serviceable to their own advancement: let us hope that the time is approaching when some true friend of the teachers of our province will step forward and advocate the pecuniary improvement of a position which comes in for such a large share of commendation in the abstract, as the old schoolmaster would say. Meantime we sincerely wish all our readers a pleasant holiday season.
The letter which appears elsewhere, as addressed by Mr. Hubbard to the Sherbrooke Gazette, is worthy of careful consideration; and yet it must be said, that these facts have been before the public ever since the Course of Study was framed.· The editor of the Gazette, by way of reply to Mr. Hubbard's plain statement of facts, asks him to explain why there exist so many complaints. "Mr. Hubbard," the editor says, “should be from his position as school inspector, and doubtless is, well-acquainted with the working of our elementary system, but we feel sure that if he could carry out his real sentiments as to the mode of teaching, the qualification of our teachers and the text books prescribed by the Protestant Committee of Public Instruction for use in our elementary schools, he would be able to suggest many important changes and improvements in these particulars referred to. But if things are working as well as Mr. Hubbard would intimate as present, how is it that we have so many complaints from all over the country of the inefficiency of our elementary school system?"
A query of this kind involves a more serious investigation into the workings of our school system than either Mr. Hubbard or the editor of the Gazette is in our opinion inclined to demand; and it is, as far as we can judge, an injustice to blame either teacher, parent, or inspector for a condition of affairs which has given rise to the complaints that are to be heard on all sides. When complaints arise people are prone to look for a scapegoat, while the blame may rest altogether upon the system itself and
the fundamental fallacies upon which it rests. Mr. John Whyte, in his sensible address before the Teachers' Convention, pointed out several of the difficulties which lie in the way of making our elementary schools as efficient as elememtary schools ought to be, classifying these as difficulties all but insurmountable, and obstacles which may in time be overcome. Of the insurmountable difficulties, he mentioned our sparse population and our dual system, of the others he referred to our insufficient inspection and our untrained teachers. At the same Convention, the Rev. Mr. Taylor pointed out the insufficiency of the grants, while the paper read by Mr. Tomkins has laid the whole question of "How to Increase the Efficiency of Our Elementary Schools" before the public. In presence of what these gentlemen have advanced, we cannot but think that the defects in our system are fundamental; and before the public can lay the blame upon any part of the administration, they must be made acquainted with all the facts of the case. These facts the EDUCATIONAL RECORD has been endeavouring to place before the public from time to time, and we trust that the spirit of enquiry at present awakened in the province will not rest until all the facts are calmly examined or re-examined. The spirit of the age seems to be born of man's inherited tendency to find fault. In criticism the negative attitude precedes the positive: it ought not to be is father to the fiat let it be otherwise. All fault-finders, however, are not of the faith that longs for improvement. The co-ordination of their complaining is no doubt a great social force, but there is in it no germ of progress until the desire for advancement comes into play. The spirit of true progress is a spirit of rectification. The man who never rises beyond the mere raising of an objection is a fool for his pains. The pioneer is born of better stuff: he has in most instances to complain against himself; he has to make of his own mistakes the rungs that lead to success. And thus it is that true progress is to be found only in the age that dares to own up to its own mistakes, in such an age as ours, in which the system that is above criticism, on account of this man's smile or that man's frown, will soon have no place. The dogmatism that thinks to crucify criticism is about to be out of date, whether that dogmatism arises from the prejudice of professionalism, the ridicule of the many who care not, or the prestige of caucus foresight in its own behalf. Even the smile of the syren is but a fleeting influence, when in the song of the syren there is once detected the discordant note of self-seeking. And hence it is, with the spirit of the age for their protection, the people of the
province, in there aim to make of the present system more than it is, should arm themselves with the facts of the case, in order to find out whether we have been endeavouring to accomplish an impossibility, namely to build up an efficient system of elementary instruction on an insufficient foundation. The writer has frequently pointed out, in anything but a spirit of cavil, some of the fundamental defects upon which our system rests, and these have been further emphasized, as we have seen, at the late Convention. These fundamental defects are insufficient grants, inadequate supervision, and untrained teachers; and until the people come to their senses, and, instead of raising complaints against secondary matters, rise in their might and demand an increased subsidy for our elementary schools, an increase in the number of inspectors, and the utilizing of our Normal School in such a way as to place within a given period, say four or five years, all our schools in the hands of trained teachers, having due regard of course to the vested rights of our present teachers, all attempt at administrating the present system will be more or less futile.
-Dr. Mowry has lately been examining the problem, “Do our Schools Meet the Demands of Practical Life?" and we lay his remarks on "What is Education?" before those of our readers who may be inclined to divide the subjects in the Course of Study into practical and " unpractical." The school-house, as he says, is the place where an education is obtained; the school teacher is the person who aids the pupils in securing an education. The object of the school is not that they may acquire information. It is not that they may secure knowledge. It is not that they may learn to read, write, and cipher; it is not primarily to store the mind with facts or principles which may be useful in after life. One may go to a commercial school and learn the art of book-keeping, and yet, possibly, not acquire thereby the principles of an education. If, however, he studies the science of book-keeping, and from it derives the method, he may in this way add to his true education. The
object of the schools is then not, primarily, to aid a boy or a girl in getting a living, in earning a livelihood. Hence the schools are not to teach trades, and even the most ardent advocates of Industrial Education in the public schools are understood to have receded already from the position that the schools should teach the elements of trades because they will prove useful to those learning them. To-day, the leading advocates of Industrial Training in connection with our public school system base their advocacy of it upon the educational power of Manual Training,
The expression to-day is not the training of the hand and the eye,' but the training of the mind through the hand and the eye.' If the above reasoning be correct, then, it will follow that the question which is so frequently heard, 'Will this study or that study help the boy to get a living?' is not the true question to be asked. In this country, in the present condition of society, with all the various avenues of industry open, even to every child, there is no difficulty in earning one's bread. Absolute poverty is unnecessary in this country, except from crime and from unusual misfortune. The question should rather be, not what will aid the child to get a living, but what will aid him to become a man; what will best conduce to develop the mind of the boy into the higher type of manhood, and the girl into the best and highest womanhood."
-The above statement of the educationist's standpoint has been enunciated much in the same way ever since the "New Education" was born. And yet Dr. Mowry must know that people will not believe in such a doctrine, however clearly it may be enunciated. For example, Grant Allen continues to say, in the tones of the popular cry, " It is unfortunately impossible to educate our educators. Two grand errors still pervade all their thinking: First, that mental training is more important than knowledge, second, that useless things train better than useful things. The best kind of training is the acquisition of knowledge, and the knowledge itself is more important than the mental gymnastic of obtaining it." Nor is the editor of the Sherbrooke Gazette behind hand in his thoughts upon this question :
"We are inclined to think that it is not the parents who wish their children placed in higher grades than their attainments warrant, but that it is the teachers, who, for the sake of showing how many marks their pupils can obtain in the examinations, crowd pupils forward and give a mere superficial smattering of too many subjects, more theoretical than practical, more showy than useful."
-In the above, there is an impartial presentation of the case from the two opposing standpoints, and it is for our teachers and educationists to examine themselves in this matter to see whether there is, in their advocacy of the former definition of education, any of that prejudice of academic professionalism which stands as the blindest of all forms of conservatism. The majority in this case is evidently against them for the time being, and though the majority is as often in the wrong as in the right, yet the voice of the people is seldom for long altogether
in the wrong. There is generally some wool to their cry, and though Dr. Mowry's definition of education is the only definition that can ever be accepted, yet as he says: "The definition, aim, and design of education as here given should not blind us to the fact that our free schools are public institutions, and hence depend upon popular vote and popular will. Whatever the majority of the voters wish put into the schools will be put into them. Whatever they wish left out will be left out. Moreover the instincts of the people are frequently more nearly right than their logic may be. So, doubtless, we shall find that many things for which a public clamor is created will be found, possibly, contrary to the reasons on which they base their demand, after all, right and best, and to be desired, even in accordance with the highest principles of psychology and pedagogy." And in trying to find a mean between the views of our educationists and the desires of the people, we have only to read what the Sherbrooke Gazette declares the people want. "What we contend for," says that journal, " is that instruction in all of our educational institutions should be devoted more than formerly to such subjects as will be found calculated to prove useful in future life; and when our youth can only give a limited time to study, their time should be spent on those branches they will find necessary in attending to their daily avocations hereafter-that is, a more practical education than theoretical the latter being soon forgotten, not being required for practical, steady use."
In such a statement of the case as the above, the question of the curriculum in our Superior Schools is directly impugned, while the condition of our elementary schools is for the moment separated as a distinct issue. Mr. Hubbard in his letter says, "if parents will persist in crowding their children, who ought to be in the elementary schools, into the classes of the Model Schools and Academies, they must not be surprised if they find them overworked." In other words, Mr. Hubbard blames the parents, and the Gazette blames the teachers, just as Judge Lynch has blamed the Protestant, Committee and their administration of the law. It is more than a marvel that no one has thought to blame the School Commissioners, since they, as a general thing, are no less eager to accept a large grant than the Protestant Committee are willing to bestow one, or the teachers to earn it. As has been said, the people in a complaining mood are sure to find some scapegoat or other, on whom they may lay as a load the errors of their indignation. In this case, however, the blame, if blame there be, is altogether impersonal, and in our