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Public Schools, and it need not snap (as the Bryce Commission would have done) the link of fellowship between them.
This Act fully illustrates what have been the prevailing characteristics of educational legislation during the century. It postpones decision on every thorny question, and leaves the decision to the Minister of the day and his advisers.
I. The educational functions of the Charity Commissioners are to be absorbed—when it seems fit.
The Consultative Committee is to have, apart from the registration of teachers, only such duties as may be assigned to it.
3. Inspection is to be optional to all Secondary Schools, public and private alike, and, even then, alternatives [i.e. by the State or by a University] are offered.
As a result, however, though organisation on a national basis is not seriously taken in hand, yet Parliament has authorised a plan of which organisation is the slow but inevitable outcome.
Thus far we have been considering accomplished facts and legislative action, but it appears advisable not to conclude without some reference to the prospect of the early establishment of Local Education Authorities in England. An outline Bill for this purpose was introduced last session by the Lord President. It is in the main, and, so far as it goes, in harmony with the Recommendations of the Bryce Commission: the Authorities which it would constitute would administer a county or a county borough area, and the rating powers seem not unreasonable; but the Bill will need strengthening in more than one direction before it can be considered as satisfactory from an educational point of view: both the constitution and the functions of the Local Authority as proposed lack to some extent that definiteness which is necessary for an effective treatment of the problem.
This defect of indefiniteness is, it is true, shared by the Board of Education Act itself, and proceeds partly from our
national besetting sin of intellectual indolence, that is, shrinking from the trouble of deciding between competing principles of organisation, and partly from a fear of arousing opposition in Parliament.
This shirking of responsibilities does not in the long run attain its end. The administrative machine is set to work without adequate instructions, and the details are gradually filled in a haphazard manner and without any reference to a preconceived principle or plan. This has happened before in every branch of the Public Service in England, and, as regards education, it remains for some great statesman to inform himself on this national question and to interest the public in a policy which he initiates. Without this, nothing fully effective will be done.
We have been advised not to expect too much of the new Office: this is good advice: it is always wise not to expect too much of any institution or of any person. Yet in a matter of national importance one ought not to be content to pitch one's expectation low. To-day educationists and the nation desire to be able to give their confidence to the new Education Office, but confidence depends upon qualities within the Office which no mere Act of Parliament can ensure.
For this confidence there are three requisites
I. The Office must show a knowledge of the facts with which it has to deal, and of similar facts in other countries.
Such information is being collected and disseminated by the Special Inquiries Section, of which I have no hesitation in saying that the publication of its singularly able Reports did more than any other consideration to quiet the apprehensions entertained by the Public Schools and the Universities as to the Education Department absorbing the other Departments. But the knowledge shown in these Reports needs to be digested and applied in the Education Office itself.
2. The Office must show wisdom in selecting and formulating principles and in applying them in detail. For though
a symmetrical system, like that of Prussia, may be pronounced an impossibility for us, we still need some official sanction for educational ideals, and this depends on a right and full use of the knowledge and experience of the Consultative Committee whose members are in touch alike with Schools and with Universities.
3. The Office must encourage in its Inspectors and in its other officers both tact and insight in applying principles. The transition stage is always one of hardship to individuals, and the raising of the intellectual standard is bound to cause loss and distress to many estimable persons.
Thus the choice of a fit and adequate Inspectorate will be a crucial test of the degree to which the new Office is rising to the level of its opportunities. How high this level will be depends upon the nation, upon the tide of public opinion. The Central Authority, in whose hands our national fortunes are now placed, is like a great floating dock: as the tide flows it rises unconsciously and automatically. It cannot be doubted that the tide of interest in education is rising, and has been rising, especially during the last twenty years. As I look round Cambridge and note the new College and University buildings, dating from 1880 and onwards, buildings for the most part raised by the self-denial of those responsible in College and University for the administration of a great trust, I cannot but feel that in Cambridge, as elsewhere, the somewhat selfish individualism of the last generation is giving place not so much to an impersonal collectivism as to a personal feeling of trusteeship-to a recognition that the educational advantages which we owe to the past ought to be repaid by anticipating the needs of the future in order that School and University may never fail to send forth a full supply of men qualified to serve God in Church and State.
S. M. L.
THE EDUCATION OF GIRLS,
DEVELOPMENT OF GIRLS' HIGH SCHOOLS
MISS F. GADESDEN.
In the paper which I have the honour to read to you this afternoon I propose to deal with the education of girls, and its development through public day schools during the last 50 years.
The questions of elementary education, technical education, home education, class education do not come within my scope. As regards the last point, most happily for us, all our High Schools receive, and rejoice to receive, girls of all classes. The whole matter of admission is settled broadly on the grounds of the ability to profit by the curriculum, and of good behaviour.
In a High School all the girls are on the same footing; all enjoy the same privileges, and all are expected to share in the common responsibilities. This is the basis of a Public School
To begin with the History of the movement for the better education of girls :-Miss Zimmern, in the "Renaissance of
Girls' Education"'—a book which I commend to all who desire information on the subject-gives an interesting and in some respects a pathetic account of the condition of things in the first half of the century. She tells how Miss Frances Power Cobbe, in her autobiography, compares the education of her own time unfavourably with that of the end of the 18th century. "Then," Miss Cobbe writes, "there was no packing the brains of girls with facts." Besides "Grammar and geography and a very fair share of history" (Rollin and Mrs Trimmer), they learned to speak and read French with a very good accent, and to play the Harpsicord with taste." On the other hand, at her own school, in 1836, the girls were expected to learn pages of prose by heart and to practise showy and tasteless music, to copy pencil drawings, and to dance. "Not that which was good in itself or useful to the community, or even that which would be delightful to ourselves, but that which would make us admired in society was the raison d'être of each requirement. Everything was taught in the inverse ratio of its true importance. At the bottom of the scale were Morals and Religion, and at the top were music and dancing."
Miss Zimmern quotes also from Miss Catherine Sinclair's "Modern Accomplishments."
"Lady Howard's utmost ingenuity was exercised in devising plans of study for her daughter, each of which required to be tried under the dynasty of a different governess, so that by the time Matilda Howard attained the age of 16, she had been successively taught by eight, all of whom were instructed in the last method that had been invented for making young ladies accomplished on the newest pattern."
At the end of the 18th century there may have been no system; but if Lady Howard is at all a type of the mothers of the first half of the 19th, there was among them no lack of desire to benefit their daughters, and no hesitation in trying new methods. But the desire and experiments were rooted in ignorance and prejudice, and no real advance was made.