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National Education means anything, it necessarily includes not only primary education, but secondary, university, technological and professional education also. It involves a thinking out of the aims and types of each and all of these, of their place in the system of which severally they are parts, and of the responsi bility which should be borne in regard to each of them by nation, province, and municipality alike. All kinds of national education, if any, will need to be brought into subjection to the one influence, assuming that it is desirable that one influence should animate the whole. Supposing that a State really wished to control opinion and economic welfare, there is a good deal to be said for the view that the Universities are, of all educational institutions, those which it could least afford to allow to be free, and higher technical institutions those which it would feel it most risky to leave to haphazard growth.
Nor again, in order to keep a grip on the real life of a place of education, is it enough to control the examinations, even if salaried offices for life are attached as prizes to the successful passing of them; nor is it enough to keep a watch by a system of inspection on the methods and drift of the teaching. For, is not educational influence (as distinct from merely temporary thought-transference and from more or less acrobatic performances of skill and memory) usually much less a matter of set lessons, or even of cogent argument, than the outcome of personal example, and of the infection of intellectual interests, or of a sort of riveting power of the will, or, conversely, of repulsion or of contrariness on the pupil's part, or of a generally healthy reaction against views too zealously championed or unfairly expressed? And do we always allow quite enough for the impervious shell which a boy's mind is able to present to anything of the nature of a lesson? Some of our modern educational theories seem to imply that children never miss a lesson, or sleep while it is going on, or forget it when it is over. If these things were so, the human race would seem to be changing more rapidly than scientific reformers have dared to hope.
Yet even if we were to suppose the State capable of really controlling what is taught, and what is implied, and what is learnt (or forgotten) in all schools and colleges, how is its authority going to touch public opinion as it exists among the boys or undergraduates themselves? It would be a difficult matter to interfere with that. It would be hard even to get an exact idea of it. And yet in English boarding schools it is perhaps the most potent influence of all. I remember hearing of some parents who gave an immense amount of trouble to themselves (and other people) in choosing the right preparatory school for their little boy. Finally they selected one, on the ground that, while all were excellent, this was preeminently distinguished by the quality and quantity of the food supplied to the boys. "They were quite right about there being lots of food and good food too," the boy himself told me years afterwards, "but what they didn't know, and couldn't ever have found out, was that there was a fixed idea among the boys themselves that the food was bad and therefore that it wasn't to be eaten. We thought it bad form to touch more than we could possibly help, and we used to wrap up our sausage at breakfast in a bit of paper and bury it afterwards." I believe that it would be comparatively easy for the State to get English boys to echo the sentiments, say, of Captain Mahan or Sir John Seeley or any other equally engaging writer on practical political philosophy, but extremely difficult to induce them to turn up their trousers a term before school etiquette permitted that symbolic performance.
Then besides the educational regulations which may be laid down by the State, besides the work of the masters and mistresses in the schools, and besides the mutual influence of the pupils whom they are engaged in teaching, there is a third thing to be considered, namely, the power which upholds the system, and insists on its being rightly and thoroughly carried out-I mean the standard which the parents and the nation expect the schools and all connected with them to maintain.
It is on this that the real working of the system chiefly depends, and the causes for its flourishing in one country, for its flagging in another, and for its presenting a nipped and discouraged appearance in a third, seem to deserve somewhat closer analysis than they generally get. This attitude of the nation towards its schools, the kind of thing it expects schools to do for it, the degree of respect which it unconsciously displays for them-these are evidently the outcome of long years of experience, of training and of habit, and the state of mind which they imply is partly conscious and rational, but largely unconscious and traditional.
However, even when things are at their best, and perhaps especially when they do seem at their best and most mechanically complete, are we not sometimes in danger of ascribing to schools and places of instruction a larger share than they deserve in the work of national education? A school even at its worst is not quite a closed chamber, shut against all outside things. Even when it is drowsy and inefficient; the boys have time to talk. And if a schoolmaster were to set himself, or to be set by the State, to withstand the spirit of the age, how elusive of his efforts, how perversely penetrating, he would find the spirit of the age to be. Currents of outside opinion pass through schools as the wind blows through the wires of a birdcage, or as the tide drifts through a net at sea. So many influences meet and fluctuate and recur as they weave round each group or generation of us the invisible meshes of the net which holds us together. How little of it is conscious or formulated or prescribed how much traditional, intangible, impersonal. There is such a repercussion of influence, such a stir of suggestions, so much that falls upon the mind unsought and unobserved and colours the disposition and affects the sympathies. Early influences of home training; reactions against old halfavowed ambitions; drawings towards new points of view; cold currents or hot from this speculative interest or that; some long remembered criticism or harassing doubt; slow
changes in the standard of judging right and wrong in public affairs; the push upon the mind of some strong current in national feeling; some great crisis in national history; an almost paralysing sense of the complexity and intermixture of things; the sense of an invisible conflict being waged all around us, silent, unceasing and for infinitely important issues; deepening gratitude and loyalty to the living tradition of ancient institutions; some new and deeper sense, perhaps, of the meaning of what had been rather read than felt before;surely, if we mean by national education that which shapes the judgment and forms the habits of life, we must take into account all these imponderable and permeating influences which, far more than any school lessons, touch the imagination and the conscience, and so affect conduct. But I would beg not to be taken to imply a belief that education consists solely or chiefly in a fine web of searching but impalpable influences under which the growing, changing mind and character lie passive and inert. On the contrary, I am only pleading that these subtler forces should not be forgotten or ignored. Direct teaching, the skilful development of interest, the winnowing discipline of exact and pointed criticism, the unfolding of new fields of study-these must ever be the dominant things in school life. But should we not agree that even more important than these, though (under right conditions) helped by these, is the play of the learner's will, its strengthening exercise, the informing of it with the necessary knowledge, its gaining power to use its surroundings, but also to rise above these, and if needful to change and reform them?
These things being so, how could we ever think of National Education as a mechanical thing, or a mere affair of codes and buildings and subsidies?
National education, then, I would urge, though it necessarily comprises many material things such as buildings, equipments, books, laboratories, and works of art, and much systematic organisation such as rules for the order of studies, for the
licensing of teachers, for the conduct of inspection and the apportioning of money grants, is, in itself, not a mechanical fabric of codes and subsidies. On the contrary, national education, in the true sense, is a spirit of living influence, a spiritual and intellectual atmosphere. It may, or it may not, partly exert its influence through some mechanism, new or old, either expressly set up for the purpose or by traditional convenience employed for it. When Monsieur Cousin in his report on German education in 1831 incidentally referred to England as "all bristling with prejudices, Gothic institutions and semibarbarous customs, over which there is awkwardly thrown the mantle of a wholly material civilization," he showed, as one might expect, a real insight into the queer jumble of things through which partly, though only partly, English education in those days made itself felt. But when thirteen years later Mr Horace Mann remarked in the Report of his Educational Tour in Europe that "England is the only one among the nations of Europe, conspicuous for its civilization and resources, which has not and never has had any system for the education of its people," he showed, not only that he was unfamiliar with the history of our social institutions, but that the habit of identifying national education with an organised system of publicly inspected and publicly managed primary schools, mainly for the working classes, and with that alone, had led him to ignore the lineaments of the very important educational fabric which did exist and which-as England was admittedly conspicuous for its civilization and resources-must, if higher education has any bearing on such matters, have been not altogether destitute of influence and success.
But, though I have laid stress on the fact that some of the most penetrating and subtle influences in education are spiritual