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Advantages of great schools.
schools. As I have already said, parents, schoolmasters, and school-fellows have separate functions in education; and even in the smallest school the master can never take the place of the parent, or the school become the home Children at home enter into the world of their father and mother; the family friends are their friends, the family events affect them as a matter of course. But in the school, however small, the children's interests are unconnected with the master and the master's family. The boys may be on the most intimate, even affectionate terms with the grown people who have charge of them; but the mental horizon of the two parties is very different, and their common area of vision but small. In such cases the young do not rise into the world of the adults, and it is almost impossible for the adults to descend into theirs. They are "no company " the one for the other, and to be constantly in each other's presence would subject both to very irksome restraint. When left to themselves, boys in small numbers are far more likely to get into harm than boys in large numbers. In large communities even of boys, "the common sense of most" is a check on the badly disposed. So as it seems to me if from any cause the young cannot live at home and attend a day-school, they will be far better off in a large boarding school than in one that would better fulfil the requirements of Erasmus,* Saint-Cyran, and Locke.
*"Plerisque placet media quædam ratio, ut apud unum Præceṛ tɔrem quinque sexve pueri instituantur: ita nec sodalitas deerit ætati, cui convenit alacritas; neque non sufficiet singulis cura Præceptoris; et facile vitabitur corruptio quam affert multitudo. Many take up with a middle course, and would have five or six boys placed with one preceptor; in this way they will not be without companionship at an age when from their liveliness they seem specially to need it, and the master
Choice of masters & servants. Watch & pray.
17. As Saint-Cyran attributed immense importance to the part of the master in education, he was not easily satisfied with his qualifications. "There is no occupation in the Church that is more worthy of a Christian; next to giving up one's life there is no greater charity. The charge of the soul of one of these little ones is a higher employment than the government of all the world.” (Cadet, 2.) So thought Saint-Cyran, and he was ready to go to the ends of the earth to find the sort of teacher he wanted.
§ 18. He was so anxious that the children should see only that which was good that the servants were chosen with peculiar care.
§ 19. For the masters his favourite rule was: "Speak little; put up with much; pray still more." Piety was not to be instilled so much by precepts as by the atmosphere in which the children grew up. "Do not spend so much time in speaking to them about God as to God about them :" so formal instruction was never to be made wearisome. But there was to be an incessant watch against evil influences and for good. "In guarding the citadel," says Lancelot, "we fail if we leave open a single gateway by which the enemy might enter."
§ 20. Though anxious, like the Jesuits, to make their boys' studies "not only endurable, but even delightful," the Gentlemen of Port-Royal banished every form of rivalry Each pupil was to think of one whom he should try to catch up, but this was not a school-fellow, but his own higher self, his
may give sufficient care to each individual; moreover, there will be an easy avoidance of the moral corruption which numbers bring." Erasmus on Christian Marriage quoted by Coustel in Sainte-Beuve, P. Riij, bk. 4, p. 404.
No rivalry or pressure. Freedom from routine.
ideal. Here Pascal admits that the exclusion of competition had its drawbacks and that the boys sometimes became indifferent "tombent dans la nonchalance," as he says.
8 21. As for the instruction it was founded on this principle: the object of schools being piety rather than knowledge there was to be no pressure in studying, but the children were to be taught what was sound and enduring.
§ 22. In all occupations there is of necessity a tradition. In the higher callings the tradition may be of several kinds. First there may be a tradition of noble thoughts and high ideals, which will be conveyed in the words of the greatest men who have been engaged in that calling, or have thought out the theory of it. Next there will be the tradition of the very best workers in it. And lastly there is the tradition of the common man who learns and passes on just the ordinary views of his class and the ordinary expedients for getting through ordinary work. Of these different kinds of tradition, the school-room has always shown a tendency to keep to this last, and the common man is supreme. Young teachers are mostly required to fulfil their daily tasks without the smallest preparation for them; so they have to get through as best they can, and have no time to tnink of any high ideal, or of any way of doing their work except that which gives them least trouble. "Practice makes perfect," says the proverb, but it would be truer to say that practice in doing work badly soon makes perfect in contentment with bad workmanship. Thus it is that the tradition of the school-room settles down for the most part into a deadly routine, and teachers who have long been engaged in carrying it on seem to lose their powers of vision like horses who urn mills in the dark.
The Gentlemen of Port-Royal worked free from school
Study a delight. Reading French first.
room tradition. "If the want of emulation was a drawback," says Sainte-Beuve, "it was a clear gain to escape from all routine, from all pedantry. La crasse et la morgue des régents n'en approchaient pas." (P.R. vol. iij, p. 414) Piety as we have seen was their main object. Next to it they wished to "carry the intellects of their pupils to the highest point they could attain to."
§ 23. In doing this they profited by their freedom from routine to try experiments. They used their own judgments and sought to train the judgment of their pupils. Themselves knowing the delights of literature, they resolved that their pupils should know them also. They would banish all useless difficulties and do what they could to "help the young and make study even more pleasant to them than play and pastime." (Preface to Cic.'s Billets, quoted by SainteBeuve, vol. iij, p. 423.)
24. One of their innovations, though startling to their contemporaries, does not seem to us very surprising. It was the custom to begin reading with a three or four years' course of reading Latin, because in that language all the letters were pronounced. The connexion between sound and sense is in our days not always thought of, but even among teachers no advocates would now be found for the old method which kept young people for the first three or four years uttering sounds they could by no possibility understand. The French language might have some disadvantage from its silent letters, but this was small compared with the disadvantage felt in Latin from its silent sense. So the Port-Royalists began reading with French.
25. Further than this, they objected to reading through spelling, and pointed out that as consonants cannot be pronounced by themselves they should be taken only in
Literature. Mother-tongue first.
connexion with the adjacent vowel. Pascal applied himself to the subject and invented the method described in the 6th chap. of the General Grammar (Carré, p. xxiij) and introduced by his sister Jacqueline at Port-Royal des Champs.
§ 26. When the child could read French, the Gentlemen of Port-Royal sought for him books within the range of his intelligence. There was nothing suitable in French, so they set to work to produce translations in good French of the most readable Latin books, "altering them just a little-en y changeant fort peu de chose," as said the chief translator De Saci, for the sake of purity. In this way they gallicised the Fables of Phædrus, three Comedies of Terence, and the Familiar Letters (Billets) of Cicero.
§ 27. In this we see an important innovation. As I have tried to explain (supra pp. 14 ff.) the effect of the Renascence was to banish both the mother-tongue and literature proper from the school-room; for no language was tolerated but Latin, and no literature was thought possible except in Latin or Greek. Before any literature could be known, or indeed, instruction in any subject could be given, the pupils had to learn Latin. This neglect of the mothertongue was one of the traditional mistakes pointed out and abandoned by the Port-Royalists. "People of quality complain," says De Saci, "and complain with reason, that in giving their children Latin we take away French, and to turn them into citizens of ancient Rome we make them
strangers in their native land. After learning Latin and Greek for 10 or 12 years, we are often obliged at the age of 30 to learn French." (Cadet, 10.) So Port-Royal proposed breaking through this bondage to Latin, and laid down the principle, new in France, though not in the country of