Слике страница
PDF
ePub

general character of his mental culture and literary attainments. Having, moreover, heard each read,* and each teach a class in the practising school, I have recorded, by the aid of the same letters, the estimate I was led to form of the respective merits of these efforts.

The reading of the students is, generally, remarkable for justness of expression, often for great feeling. In no other respect do the humanizing influences of the course of instruction they have received seem to me more apparent. With a very few exceptions, they spell correctly. In respect to the general character of their mental culture and literary attainments, so far as these may be judged of from the papers before me, there are great and remarkable contrasts. The Institution is not without its share of youths of limited capacity and slight attainments. On attainments thus inadequate it is, however, probable that, in the cases to which I refer, more labour and pains have been bestowed than on those of students in respect to whom the course of instruction has been most successful. A more careful selection of the students admitted, had the opportunity for it been afforded, would have spared them this disappointment, and the cause of education so great a loss.

It is a more agreeable task to me to speak of that class of students whose attainments do justice to the instruction they have received. The exercises of those indicated by the numbers 8, 76, 73, and 92, appear to me to be of great promise.

The students may be described as, generally, well versed in Scriptural Knowledge and in Ecclesiastical History, and in the doctrines of the Church of England as set forth in her Catechism and Articles. In no other subjects have they answered so satisfactorily. In English History they have acquitted themselves well. In the selection of the questions, and the method of answering them, I have nevertheless perceived a tendency to dwell upon those features of history which are comparatively unimportant. This tendency, which has not disappeared under the influence of the superior course of instruction given here, is the decided characteristic of the knowledge of history to be found in our elementary schools. Beyond the succession of our sovereigns, all that a National-school boy will be found to have recollected of history is, perhaps, the tale of King Canute and his courtiers, of the death of William Rufus, or of Wat Tyler and Guy Fawkes. These are things which have somewhat in common with those which are daily passing under his own observation, and which are familiar to his ihoughts, and hence they derive an interest to him which throws all the rest into the shade, and engrosses his conception of the subject. This fact, of which everybody accustomed to examine

а

* The book used was Milton's' Paradise Lost.'

a

children in such matters must, I think, have liad experience, appears to me to suggest another form of elementary instruction in history than that usually adopted in our schools, and to make it worthy of consideration whether the dry outline of the subject might not with propriety be left to the teaching of chronological charts and other similar expedients, and readings in history devoted more especially to pictures of the social condition of the people in its several periods. A child would be more likely to be interested in knowing about the people who formerly inhabited our country ---things of like nature with those which are of daily occurrence to himself-than in the history of events which by their very mag; nitude are placed without the sphere of his sympathies, and in the biography of kings and queens, whose very existence he finds it difficult to realize. Whilst there would be more interest to the mind of a child in history under this form, and greater simplicity, it will readily be admitted that there would be more phi. losophy.*

So far as this Institution is concerned, any deficiency that may at present be found in the philosophy of history is likely to be fully supplied. The Principal has taken that subject into his own hands. I had the gratification to be present at one of a course of lectures which he had very recently commenced on Political Geography. Possessed, as every person acquainted with Mr. Coleridge must be, with a sense of the great ability which he would bring to the discussion of a subject such as this, I must confess that I was not prepared for the masterly development of it which this lecture presented to me.

And I could not but feel sanguine of the destinies of elementary education, as connected with this Institution, could the constant action of such a mind as Mr. Coleridge's be brought to bear upon it in the treatment of subjects of this peculiar class.

In the separation of the office of Vice-principal from that of Precentor, and the entire devotion of the labours of the Vice-principal to its literary department, the Institution has made a great accession of strength. With extensive attainments in literature, the Vice-principal unites an intimate acquaintance with some important departments of experimental science : and an opportunity is thus afforded of adding to the course of instruction here, an element in which it is essentially wanting.

In its scientific department, although the progress of individual

* Another observation which I have made on the knowledge of history acquired in our elementary schools is that it is partial. The children rarely get beyond the reign of Henry VIII. If they know anything of the subject, it is that part which is apo cryphal—the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods, and perhaps the Norman Conquest and the Wars of the Roses. The link wbich binds it to " the present " is always wanting. Of no period is the ignorance so general and so complete as of that in which we live. To examine the children of a national school as to the principal events of the reign of Queen Victoria or King George III. would, I imagine, be the most certain way to perplex them. Surely it would be better to read history backwards.

students has been far greater than at any previous period, and the evidence of mathematical power is, in respect to these individual students, far more direct and conclusive, yet, looking at the results of my examination as to the whole body of students, it is obvious to me that scientific knowledge is yielding its ground in the Institution. Only seven of that class of twenty-six students who are about to enter on the office of schoolmaster have exhibited any knowledge whatever of mechanics and hydrostatics, and the like number of geometry. Of these last, only three have been able to solve correctly any of the easy propositions from Euclid which were placed before them. Their exercises in algebra are scarcely more satisfactory; and in solving the arithmetical questions proposed to them, I have observed that perpetual tendency to fall back upon algebraical methods of investigation which affords the most certain evidence of an imperfect acquaintance with the resources of arithmetic. A similar feebleness is apparent in their knowledge of astronomy and of those branches of geography which involve questions of physical science. I am at a loss to find an explanation of the deficiencies which I have pointed out.

They bear testimony to a very low state of mathematical and of general scientific knowledge.

In Experimental Philosophy, no means of information are afforded to the students, or in Natural History.

In the department of Vocal Music, the Institution has not been deprived of the valuable aid of the late Vice-principal, the Rev. Mr. Helmore, by his appointment to the Chapel Royal : he still fills the office of Precentor. At my request he has been obliging enough to favour me with a detailed account of the course of instruction in vocal music which has been pursued here with a success so remarkable and so generally appreciated. I have .appended this important paper to my Report (Appendix D.) The task of examining the students in vocal music has been on i his, as on previous occasions, obligingly undertaken by Mr. Sterndale Bennet, Professor of the Royal Academy of Music. It is gratifying to me to be able to record the favourable opinion of a musician of so much eminence.

I have appended, moreover, a Report from the Drawing Master (Appendix E.) Some of the drawings of the students are very beautiful.* The department in which they excel most is not however, perhaps, that "object drawing "-which is most directly applicable to the business of elementary schools.

Summary, I have always felt it to be a difficult and a responsible task to present to your Lordships the views I have been led to form of the

a

a

a

Those who have acquitted themselves the best are indicated by the numbers 69, 75, 82,

tendencies and the progress of this Institution in its connexion with the great question of National Education. It is impossible, nevertheless, not to perceive in' it elements calculated to exercise a powerful influence on the working out of that question. Its founders were men in earnest ; they had a confidence in the principles they have embodied in it, and have laid its foundations deeply.

Its system appears to me to be based in a profound sense of the sacredness of the office of the teacher, a just appreciation of its responsibilities, and a firm faith in its destinies. A solemn and a religious character pervades it. It is to be seen in the grave but gentle deportment and dedicated spirit of the students, the general good order maintained, apparently without effort, and a sense of duty everywhere present and operative. To this religious character of the place, of which every one who has had an opportunity to form an opinion in respect to it must, I think, have become conscious, the daily services of the chapel cannot but have contributed. Its influence in the formation of the character of the elementary schoolmaster is, in my judgment, priceless.

I am desirous that the expression of this opinion should be received without reference to those questions which at present divide the Church. My judgment has been formed, I trust, irrespectively of them, and it would ill become me to carry into the business of my inspection, or mingle up with my Report, any allusion to my own views in respect to them.

To the formation of that pervading character of the Institution in its moral and religious aspect, to the excellence of which I am prepared to hear an unqualified testimony, the judgment and ability with which its discipline is administered have, I doubt not, eminently contributed. It is evidently of an ameliorative character-formed on the study of the individual dispositions of the students, having for its object to counterbalance that which is evil by strengthening that which is weak and developing that which is good; punishments seem to have little place in it.

From its commencement, this Institution has affixed a high standard to the education of the elementary schoolmaster, and prescribed an elaborate course for it. It receives its students at an earlier age than any other,* and keeps them a longer time: it has thus placed itself in advance of the existing educational movement. In respect to its course of secular instruction, there appears to me, however, to be little to distinguish it from other schools of the upper and midddle classes, or as a place for the education of teachers rather than of any other class of persons. It has—like King's College or University College-a classical department, and a department of general literature, undertaken by

* Of 18 students admitted since my last inspection, 10 are but little more than 16 years of age.

a

the Principal and the Vice-principal, and a scientific department placed in charge of the mathematical tutor. Experimental science iakes, however, no part in its course; nor has it any obvious development in the direction of practical knowledge, or the scier.ce of common things. Receiving its students at so early an age, its success, with reference to the purposes for which it was established, cannot, I think, be fairly judged of until a period of at least ten years shall have elapsed from its foundation.' My

My own impression is, that it will by that time be found to have created a body of men grave, devout, earnest, and of a dedicated spirit; in remarkable contrast with the present race of elementary teachers—humble, of a patient and enduring spirit, and gentle dispositions. They will be men, I think, fond of study, and desirous of self-improvement. Whether, in the estimate they may have formed of the subjects proper to the education of the industrial masses of this country, or in the knowledge they may possess applicable to it, they will be found equal to the exigencies of the times, remains to be proved.

I have the honour, &c.,

HENRY MOSELEY.

To the Right Hon, the Lords of the

Committee of Council on Education.

« ПретходнаНастави »