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doing Greek Iambics, the history specialist is reading Mommsen and Stubbs, and the mathematical specialist is doing the Binomial Theorem or Trigonometry.
An exactly similar conception prevailed until this very year 1900, in the Primary Schools. History was an option which might be taken or left at the discretion of the schoolmaster, with the further provision that it must not be taken if any two other class subjects were selected. Thus if Geography and English Grammar were taught at any Elementary School, ipso facto History was excluded.
This extraordinary view of knowledge-that you can cut it into slices like a melon, and that it is unwholesome for any one person to take more than two or three of these slices for himself, has practically destroyed within the present century the idea of an 'all-round' liberal education in England. That idea does not exist at our Universities; it does not exist at our Public Schools; it does perhaps, exist, though precariously, at some of the Girls' High Schools; it has sprung into existence again in the Primary Schools, through the introduction of the Block Grant in this present year of grace.
But at the moment we see the paradoxical result that the emergence of History as a distinct subject from Literature, so far from securing it a safe place in the curriculum of a general education, threatens to relegate it to the limbo of alternative specialisms, along with Organic Chemistry and the Integral Calculus. Poor Clio! scarcely had she once more taken her place among the Muses, welcomed by her sisters of Poetry and Science, than she and the rest of them are torn from the lovely group in which they moved with arms intertwined, and shut up by the grim inquisitors of mysterious Examination Boards, into separate compartments, where, in spite of their shrieks, they are cut up into subdivisions, such as archaeology, palaeography, anthropology, epigraphy, and I know not what. Every subdivision is carefully dried into mummy, and then labelled
Part I Division II of Subject xxxiii (c) in some University Calendar.
We all of us know the forces which have relentlessly driven us in this direction. The difficulty is truly a great one. The field of knowledge has been extended and deepened during the last 75 years to a degree unparalleled in the previous history of mankind, and the question how to give a general education which shall be at once wide and at the same time not superficial, has been made immensely more complicated. It is to that question, on the solution of which our intellectual vitality in the future more than on any other depends, that we shall have to address ourselves in the twentieth century. I venture to think that Herbart in theory, and Arnold in practice, have done much to suggest the practicable solution. We must lighten our curricula not by throwing away this or that indispensable limb of the organic unity of knowledge, but by making those curricula consciously represent that unity, by showing the organic connexion of their different parts and obliging each subject to play into the hands of all. When we seriously set ourselves to carry out that task, we shall find that history, in its widest sense, as the record of the process by which man has come to be what he is, already furnishes a subject by means of which it will be possible to correlate the various aspects of knowledge, as they have in positive fact been correlated in the gradual upward progress of humanity.
SCIENCE TEACHING IN SCHOOLS.
THE subject of this lecture is such an extremely wide one that I propose to devote my attention almost exclusively to the teaching of experimental science and botany, because it is in these directions that very special attention has been given in recent years to the methods of teaching.
In tracing the history of science teaching in schools, it is important to notice the very powerful influence that has been exerted by the Science and Art Department. It has become the fashion in recent years to abuse this Department in season and out of season for all the shortcomings in methods of scientific instruction, and undoubtedly its influence on the teaching in schools has been far from an unmixed good. It would, however, be impossible to overestimate the beneficent influence it has exerted in adult instruction in science and art throughout the country. The reason of its comparative failure in the schools in the past is not difficult to explain.
In 1835, schools of design were established by the Government under the Board of Trade for the purpose of extending a knowledge of art and design among the manufacturing population. In 1852 this was extended to elementary schools, under a separate department, the department of practical art. In
1857 the control and direction of science and art teaching was taken over by the Committee of Council, and grants were instituted for art, so that localities desiring to have them, could start schools of art, which were subsidised in this way by the Government. In the following year a department of science was formed to bring under one management the control of the science, trade, and navigation schools which already existed.
The declared object of the Science and Art Department from the first was to give higher education, and it was only some time after its institution that certificates were granted to teachers to teach science in the schools. In 1861 the first May examination in Science and Art was held, and in 1862 the principle of payment by results was adopted. Thus from the first, in art teaching as well as science teaching, the instruction was mainly intended for adults, and was only subsequently introduced into the schools. This goes far to account for the shortcomings of the system.
The syllabuses of the examinations in science were based entirely upon the information required by the average man in his daily work, and the educative value of the course laid down and the method of approach of the various subjects were matters of subordinate importance. For the purpose for which they were intended these syllabuses were undoubtedly admirably adapted, and if they had been confined to adults all would have been well. But the work of the Science and Art Department extended very rapidly, and, under certain conditions, children in day schools were admitted to the examination, in many cases, I fear, rather with the view of obtaining grants than for the appropriateness of the subjects chosen for educational purposes. It was in this haphazard way, which is so eminently characteristic of educational movements in England, that the general idea arose that the one object of education in science was to give information which would be of value in the after-life of those attending the classes.
The time-honoured maxims, "learn by doing,"
teach a child that which he can learn by himself," and others which convey the same idea, are well known to all interested in the theory and practice of education. That the science teaching in English schools has, generally speaking, been in direct opposition to such maxims is also well known. Here comes in the great difficulty which has been the most important factor in retarding the progress of rational teaching in this country-the absence of any direct influence of those immediately concerned in the teaching of children with those who are responsible for drawing up the syllabuses of public examinations.
Mr Reeves, who was for a long time Minister of Education in New Zealand, read a paper at an Educational Congress a short time since, on Education in New Zealand. In that paper he described how in that go-ahead colony they have a Central Department, with its Minister of Education, exercising control over powerful Local Education Boards throughout the country, these being aided again by district school committees responsible for the inspection of the schools, supplemented, of course, by Government inspection. And what, to my mind, is a matter of supreme importance, they have an Educational Institute, which is practically a national union of teachers, which is recognised by statute, is consulted continually by the Central Department and the Local Boards, and exerts a very considerable influence, to the great advantage of teachers and administrators.
Had there been any such official connection between teachers and the public departments concerned in education in this country the old style of science teaching in schools would long since have disappeared. Unfortunately, those in control of public educational institutions are not necessarily qualified to judge of the value of the instruction being given. But it is quite remarkable how many people, otherwise modest and estimable, persuade themselves without the slightest foundation that they are competent to judge on all matters relating to