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Young boys ill taught at school.
this can hardly be considered genteel, so the tendency is, as far as possible, suppressed. It is found, too, that if children are allowed to run about they get dirty and spoil their clothes, and do not look like "young gentlemen," so they are made to take exercise in a much more genteel fashion, walking slowly two-and-two, with gloves on.*
§ 110. At nine or ten years old, boys are commonly put to a school taught by masters. Here they lose sight of their gloves, and learn the use of their limbs; but their minds are not so fortunate as their bodies. The studies or the school have been arranged without any thought of their peculiar needs. The youngest class is generally the largest, often much the largest, and it is handed over to the least competent and worst paid master on the staff of teachers. The reason is, that little boys are found to learn the tasks imposed upon them very slowly. A youth or a man who came fresh to the Latin grammar would learn in a morning as much as the master, with great labour, can get into children in a week. It is thought, therefore, that the best teaching should be applied where it will have the most obvious results. If anyone were to say to the manager
* I shall always feel gratitude and affection for the two old ladies (sisters) to whom I was entrusted over half a century ago. More truly Christian women I never met with. But of the science and art of education they were totally ignorant; and moreover the premises they occupied were unfit for a school. As all the boys were under ten years old, it will seem strange, but is alas! too true, that there were vices among them which are supposed to be unknown to children and which if discovered would have made the old ladies close their school. The want of subjects in which the children can take a healthy interest will in a great measure account for the spread of evil in such schools. On this point some mistresses and most parents are dangerously ignorant.
English folk-schools not Pestalozzian.
of a school, "The master who takes the lowest form teaches badly, and the children learn nothing"; he would perhaps say, "Very likely; but if I paid a much higher salary, and got a better man, they would learn but little." The only thing the school-manager thinks of is, How much do the little boys learn of what is taught in the higher forms? How their faculties are being developed, or whether they have any faculties except for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and for getting grammar-rules, &c. by heart, he is not so "unpractical" as to enquire.
§ 111. With reference to the education of the first of our "two nations," it seems then pretty clear that Pestalozzi would require that the school-coach should be turned and started in a totally different direction.
§ 112. What about the education of the other "nation," a nation of which the verb "to rule" has for many centuries been used in the passive voice, but can be used in that voice no longer? A century ago, with the partial exception of Scotland and Massachusetts, there was no such thing as school education for the people to be found anywhere in Europe or America. But from 1789 onwards power has been passing more and more from the few to the many; and as a natural consequence folk-schools (for which we have not yet found a name) have become of vast importance everywhere. The Germans, as we have seen, have been the disciples of Pestalozzi, and their elementary education in everything bears traces of his ideas. The English have organised a great system of elementary education in total ignorance of Pestalozzi. As usual, we seem to have supposed that the right system would come to us "in sleep." But has it come? The children of the poor are now compelled by the law to attend an elementary school. What
Schools judged by results.
sort of an education has the law there provided for them? The Education Department professes to measure everything by results. Let us do the same. Suppose that on his leaving school we wished to forecast a lad's future. What should we try to find out about him? No doubt we should ask what he knew; but this would not be by any means the main thing. His skill would interest us, and still more would his state of health. But what we should ask first and foremost is this, Whom does he love? Whom does he admire and imitate? What does he care about? What interests him? It is only when the answers to these questions are satisfactory, that we can think hopefully of his future; and it is only in so far as the school-course has tended to make the answers satisfactory, that it deserves our approval. Schools such as Pestalozzi designed would have thus deserved our approval; but we cannot say this of the schools into which the children of the English poor are now driven. In these schools the heart and the affections are not thought of, the powers of neither mind nor body are developed by exercise, and the children do not acquire any interests that will raise or benefit them.
§ 113. An advocate of our system would not deny this, but would probably say, "The question for us to consider is, not what is the best that in the most favourable circumstances might be attempted, but what is the best that in very restricted and by no means favourable circumstances, we are likely to get. The teachers in our schools are not self-devoting Pestalozzis, but only ordinary men and women, and still worse, ordinary boys and girls.* It would be of
Having watched the "teaching" of pupil-teachers, I find hat some of them (I may say many) never address more than one child at a time, and never attempt to gain the attention of more than a single
Pupil-teachers. Teaching not educating.
no use talking to our teachers (still less our pupil-teachers) about developing the affections and the mental or bodily powers of the children. All such talk could end in nothing but silly cant. As for character, we expect the school to cultivate in the children habits of order, neatness, industry. Beyond this we cannot go."
And yet, though this seems reasonable, we feel that it is not quite satisfactory. If so much depends in all of us on "admiration, hope, and love," we can hardly consider a system of education that entirely ignores them to be well
child. So, by a very simple calculation, we can get at the maximum time each child is "under instruction." If the pupil-teacher has but three-quarters of the pupils for whom the Department supposes him "sufficient," each child cannot be under instruction more than two minutes in the hour. The rest of the time the children must sit quiet, or be cuffed if they do not. What is called "simultaneous teaching in, say, reading, consists in the pupil-teacher reading from the book, and as he pronounces each word, the children shout it after him; but no one except the pupil-teacher knows the place in the book.
But perhaps the dangers from employing boys and girls to teach and govern children are greater morally than intellectually. Whether he report on it or not, the Inspector has less influence on the moral training than the youngest pupil-teacher. Channing has well said: "A child compelled for six hours each day to see the countenance and hear the voice of an unfeeling, petulant, passionate, unjust teacher is placed in a school of vice." Those who have never taught day after day, week after week, month after month, little know what demands school-work makes on the temper and the sense of justice. The harshest tyrants are usually those who are raised but a little way above those whom they have to control; and when I think of the pupil-teacher with his forty pupils to keep in order, I heartily pity both him and them. Is there not too much reason to fear lest in many cases the school should prove for both what Chann has well described as 66 a school of vice"? (R. H. Q. in Spectator, 1st March
Lowe or Pestalozzi?
adapted to the needs of human nature. If Pestalozzi was right, we must be wrong. We have never supposed the object of the school to be the development of the faculties | of heart, of head, and of hand, but we have thought of nothing but learning-learning first of all to read, write, and cipher, and then in "good" schools, one or more "extra subjects" may be taken up, and a grant obtained for them. The sole object, both of managers and teachers, is to prepare for the Inspector, who comes once a year, and from an examination of five hours or so, pronounces on what the children have learnt.
§ 114. The engineer most concerned in the construction of this machine, the Right Hon. Robert Lowe, announced that there could be "no such thing as a science of education ;" and as when we have no opinion of our own we always adopt the opinion of some positive person, we took his word for it. But what if the confident Mr. Lowe was mistaken? What if there is such a science, and the aim of it is that children should grow up not so much to know something as to be something? In this case we shall be obliged sooner or later to give up Mr. Lowe and to come round to Pestalozzi.* Science is correct inferences drawn from the facts of the universe; and where such science exists, confident assertions that it does not and cannot exist are dangerous for the confident persons and for those who follow them. Even
* Since the above was written, another "New Code" has appeared (March, 1890), in which the system of measuring by ". passes," 2 ¡ystem maintained (in spite of the remonstrances of all interested in education) for nearly 30 years, is at length abandoned. We are certainly travelling, however slowly, away from Mr. Lowe. Far as we are still from Pestalozzi there seems reason to hope that the distance is diminishing.