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English Language and Literature. In Moderations five were in the Classical List, four in Mathematics and one in Modern Languages; a total of 21.
In the Cambridge Tripos lists two were Wranglers, two were Senior, four were Junior Optimes, three were in the Classical lists, five in the Natural Sciences, ten in the History, five in the Modern Languages; total 31. Fourteen took a London M.B., M.A., or B.Sc. degree, one a Durham, and three a Victorian degree.
The total number representing 26 schools-70 for one year.
The great progress which cannot fail to be recognised in our Schools is due:
1. To improved methods of teaching.
2. To the improvement in the teaching power of Schools, notably by the employment of Specialists and trained teachers. 3. To the view now taken of the place of Examinations in School work.
Improvements in certain directions have also resulted from the conferences held from time to time, at which Papers on special subjects are read by experts and discussed by persons practically engaged in teaching them.
That there is much still to be done I should be the last to deny.
The problem how best to fit girls for their home duties and for the occupations of life and for the professions has been met; but how to make the most of the girl with rather less than average ability, the girl who is so little benefited by the ordinary High School curriculum; how to enforce the training which should bring with it to a greater number of girls the real love of learning and the desire to continue learning when the guidance of school is at an end: all these and many other problems remain to be solved we hope in the schools of the future. Time does not allow me to say all I should like to on the modern teaching of important subjects.
S. M. L.
With regard to mathematics I do not propose to enter into the improved methods of teaching any of its branches. I will only compare the words of Professor Maurice, "We are aware that our pupils are not likely to advance far in mathematics," and those of one of the Royal Commissioners, "It would be an affectation to say a word on behalf of the Arithmetic taught by ladies; it is always meagre and always unintelligent," with the numerous mathematical scholarships won at the Universities by schoolgirls and the report of the Oxford and Cambridge Schools examiners in arithmetic for 1899, "The result showed that arithmetic has been carefully and systematically taught in the Schools-that in nearly all the classes some girls, and in some classes a considerable proportion of the girls, had acquired a thorough grasp of the subject and reached a high degree of excellence as arithmeticians." The teachers in all cases were women. Equally good reports are given on the Euclid and Algebra.
Modern languages:-In the early days of High Schools these were taught by means of written exercises full of stereotyped sentences, English into French or German, French or German into English. Grammatical rules were learnt, great stress being laid on all the exceptions to the rule, and any curious and unimportant (to the general learner) peculiarities of form and language. Translation followed, but the number of books thought suitable for school use was lamentably deficient. Conversation as part of the School teaching was not recognised. There was method in the work and a certain amount of training and education to be got out of it, but the results were not to be compared with those which follow the consecutive and continuous teaching on a more modern scheme.
In the excellent scheme of which I have some personal experience, teaching in the lower forms is chiefly oral, but the pupils all through the lower and middle forms are encouraged in every possible way to apply for themselves in sentences and
translations the vocabulary and rules they learn. They learn and act scenes from history and fairy stories in French and German. Some grammar has to be learnt, and the greatest stress is laid on what is learnt being learnt and applied accurately, but it is the grammar which is necessary for the correct speaking and writing of the language, not the grammar of pedants and academies. Thus the foundations are well and truly laid for the advanced work of the Upper Forms.
The manner and style of University examination papers in modern languages has immensely improved, and now generally consists of unseen translation from French or German into English, translation from English into French or German, and prepared books with comprehensive grammatical questions. To do well on these papers the teacher had to make the pupil pay great attention to idioms and construction, to accuracy and to the improvement of style.
Conversation is greatly encouraged by the formation of small conversation classes under a foreigner who possesses the right temperament and who can interest her pupils and make them talk.
What we aim at is :
1. Facility in understanding a foreign language-spoken by a foreigner.
2. That the pupil should express herself with facility and accuracy in the language, and that her accent should be as true as possible.
And, most important-that the pupil's interest should be so thoroughly aroused in what she is learning that she will feel a wish to go on with the language and its literature when she leaves school and not put away her books with her school days. SCIENCE: Science subjects have been introduced into girls' schools in the order in which they are usually taken up, in any one school fairly well equipped for science work. But all in the past have been taught as more or less isolated subjects and in a fragmentary way. Object lessons and
Natural History followed by Botany were first introduced, and the work in them was almost entirely observational, completed by some attempt at Classification.
That is now usually the first stage of science teaching, but it has become more truly "Nature Study," since it is recognised that animals and plants should be studied in relation to their surroundings and that attempts in this direction can be made even in schools in large towns. But Botany as a class subject could not be continued as an experimental Science, and after the early stages it was either taught didactically, and became a mere exercise for the memory, or for it was substituted a series of demonstration lessons, illustrating the elementary facts of physical science of little if any higher educational value.
Not until the report of the British Association Committee on Science Teaching was published in 1889 was public attention drawn to the educational possibilities of Science as a School subject, and the demand which it made upon time and resources has retarded its development in girls' schools. But after 10 years, Science has a fair footing in the curriculum of many High Schools. Science Rooms which allow of free movement, and are provided with firm benches, and gas and water supplies, are being universally fitted up. The constant outlay for material is gladly met, the one lesson per week is increased to at least two or three, smaller classes are arranged, and the teaching staff consequently increased. The aims and ideals of the teachers it is true vary considerably. The heuristic method is adopted in most schools where a course in elementary physics and chemistry follows the nature study of the lower forms. But in many cases the teaching is still entirely on the old didactic lines with the addition of practical work, and the Science teaching is thus deprived of nearly all the moral and intellectual value which is claimed for it.
DRAWING: Here again there is a strong contrast between the teaching of the present and the past. The influence of Mr Ablett's schemes and methods is happily well known and
generally appreciated. Therefore little need be said here. There is no copying. The pupil is taught to look at what is before her and render it in her own way. The powers of observation and memory are trained and developed, the eye is awakened to see and discover, the brain to remember and create. In the schools of to-day drawing, not as a handiwork only, but as a means of training is taught to every child.
The excellence of the method has enormously increased the pleasure of the pupils in their work; it has added to their equipment for their pursuits and work after school days are over; it has worked widely for good in the general curriculum of our schools.
The last point in the development of girls' schools with which I have to deal concerns the physical education and training given and encouraged. Here too the development has been all to the good.
Professor MacCunn in his excellent book on “The Making of Character" asserts,--and no one will contradict him,—that moral development is conditioned by bodily health.
health is a prime condition of practical energy. For energetic constitutions enjoy an advantage that goes far beyond the mere superior ability to do what others cannot.
"We may not impute physical languor and weakness with their attendant idleness as a sin; yet we must as little refuse to face the fact that a weak or sickly body is a grievous moral disability."
That our girls shall not have weak or sickly bodies is our keenest desire.
In many schools periodical examinations of backbones, and ankles and eyesight are made. Records are kept, skilled and scientific physical training is carried out. Nothing is neglected which can serve to make the body straight and strong and to develope perfectly all its powers. The benefit to the present generation of girls of the skilled care and training of their bodies cannot be exaggerated.