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subsequent experience points to other causes for their partial failure. The methods of technological instruction were not then understood. The intentions of the directors were sound, but the teaching was faulty. Courses of lectures, even when illustrated by experiments, and conducted with simple apparatus hastily put together, failed to supply artisans with the teaching they required. Lord Brougham and those who worked with him had not recognised this fact. He tells us: "Many of the most important experiments may be shown with very cheap and simple machinery; and a skilful lecturer may make great progress in teaching his pupils, and enabling them to overcome the difficulties that stopt them in their private studies with hardly any experiments at all'."
This is partly true in teaching children; but the passage quoted shows that the writer had not grasped the problem of technical education, nor realized the appropriate method of instruction in dealing with adult workmen, or trade apprentices. It took nearly a century to discover the kind of lessons best fitted for mechanics engaged in different trades; and the utmost that can be said for the Mechanics Institutions is that they afforded, during many years of educational obscurity, a glimmer of light which enabled a few of the more gifted of the working classes to grope after the knowledge they required.
Even in this brief survey of the history of Industrial Teaching, I must not omit to refer to the influence exercised by the University and King's Colleges of London, now merged into the London University, in meeting the demand for a higher general and professional education which, some little time before the accession of our Queen began to be realised. Birkbeck took an active part in the foundation of University College, which was opened in October 1828. "Unless some advance," he said, was made by those who were called the superior classes, they would not much longer continue superior.
1 Brougham, p. 23.
To find their Carpenters, their Bricklayers, and their Shoemakers with greater knowledge than they themselves possessed would be a strange and dangerous solecism1." This was said when the future of Mechanics Institutions seemed assured. The conditions of graduation in the old University of London, with which the two Colleges were at first so closely and usefully associated, indicated a new educational departure, emphasising the importance to all students of some knowledge of physical science. These Colleges, and later on the Owens College, Manchester, founded in 1851, gave for many years the only available professional education for Architects, Engineers and Chemists. Their schemes of instruction were not very definitely prepared with a view to technical pursuits; but the influence. they exercised is a very potent factor in the subsequent development of the higher technical education.
The establishment in 1826 of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, of which Lord Brougham was President, gave a further impulse to popular education, by providing at a cheap rate a whole library of books on subjects of interest to the industrial classes. A few years later the Penny Magazine was started, and this was followed by the Cyclopedia edited by Charles Knight. These publications helped to disseminate some amount of knowledge among such of the working classes as were able to read, who were still a comparatively small proportion of the population.
In 1834, a very momentous event occurred in the history of education in this country. A grant of £20,000 was made by Parliament to the National and British School Societies. This was the first of the grants which have gone on continually increasing, involving the State more and more in the direction and control of the education of the people. It is interesting to note that the relation of the State to education did not grow out of any sense of obligation or duty to organise and
Godard, p. 90.
direct a system of general instruction for the people, but arose rather from the necessity of safeguarding the public purse and of satisfying Parliament that the annual grants had been usefully expended. It was only very gradually that the Government was induced to take the initiative in suggesting courses of instruction and in controlling education; and even now, when so much has been accomplished, the State lags far behind the popular demand for guidance. At that time, however, and for some years to come, education was left almost entirely to voluntary effort both for its means and its methods.
The opening of the first Exhibition in 1851 is an event of primary importance in the history of industrial teaching, and cannot be dismissed without some comment. "It was," to quote the words of Sir Wemyss Reid, "the starting point in the modern history of English manufactures and arts'." It is not quite clear to whom is due the first conception of this great undertaking, which during the second half of the century has exercised so beneficent an influence, not only in England but throughout the whole civilised world, upon industrial progress. The name of the Prince Consort stands prominently forward, and with him will always be remembered Sir Henry Cole and Lord Playfair. In many ways the Exhibition of 1851 gave an impulse to the promotion of technical education. It afforded for the first time an opportunity of comparing the products of our shops and mills with those of other countries, and showed in strong relief the bearing of Art on manufactures, and the possibilities of improvements which might follow from the alliance of Industry with Science. It was a great object lesson from which we have never ceased to profit. But it was not so much the Exhibition itself as its consequences, which affected the progress of industrial education. The profit from the Exhibition amounted to £186,436. After much consultation this sum of money, supplemented by a Parliamentary grant of
1 Memoirs and Correspondence of Lord Playfair, by Wemyss Reid. 1899.
£150,000 was invested in the purchase of the South Kensington estate, which has since been so closely associated with every important movement in connection with Science and Art instruction, and has now become the permanent home of the Royal College of Science, the Central Technical College and the University of London. In writing to Playfair in August 1851, the Prince Consort said: "I would buy that land and place on it an Institution embracing the four great sections of the Exhibition," and after going into considerable detail as to his scheme, he pointed out that it was "founded upon the presumed necessity of affording instruction to those engaged in the prosecution of arts and manufactures'." In this memorable document the late Prince Consort sounded the note of warning as to the superiority and advantages of foreign systems of education, which has not yet ceased to be heard. Very wisely, and with great prophetic insight, he said: "The nations most likely to afford a public recognition of this fact are those whose fuel and raw materials are chiefly derived from other lands, and who can therefore only carry on a successful competition by continually economising and perfecting production by the application of Science." He did not live to see the extent to which Switzerland and Germany have succeeded in becoming the commercial rivals of other countries enjoying greater natural advantages.
Consequent on the efforts of the Prince and of those who worked with him, and in accordance with his scheme to focus at South Kensington Institutions for industrial teaching, the Science and Art Department was formally constituted in March 1853. Cole was the first secretary for Art and Playfair the first secretary for Science. It cannot be denied that the Department which began work forty-seven years ago, and ceased to have a separate existence in March 1900, has fulfilled in many ways, and to a very great extent, the objects
1 Wemyss Reid, p. 131.
for which it was established. It has fostered the growth of art teaching, and has spread some knowledge of science among the children and adult population of every town throughout the Kingdom. Although its methods may not always have been the best from an educational stand-point, its officers have endeavoured to profit by the criticism which has been freely bestowed upon it, and the widespread system of Technical Education, which is now so largely helping the commercial interests of this country, may certainly be regarded as the outcome of the early efforts of its founders.
After the close of the Exhibition of 1851 the Society of Arts, in whose Council the idea of the Exhibition is said to have originated, organised a series of lectures to draw attention to the lessons which it taught. Playfair delivered two of these lectures, and subsequently made a tour through Europe to learn the system of Technical Education as then developed in different countries. The results of his investigations formed the subject of an interesting lecture to the students of the School of Mines. To Lord Playfair is due our first authentic knowledge of the work of foreign schools, and his speeches and reports gave a great impulse to the study of foreign systems of education. In his diary Playfair says: "Having great faith in the education of public opinion, I began a crusade in fav of Technical Education. It was weary and dreary work. voice sounded to myself as the voice of one preachi wilderness." The experience of others, a quarter of later, has not been very different. Nevertheless, it is c to know that the vibrations of every voice, prea cause, are never really lost. They penet and by ways we cannot at the timer permanent effect. In the Board of its consequences, which will be m hence, we see the results of decades, of many an eas Reform.