Page images
PDF
EPUB

EDUCATION.

PLANS FOR THE INSTRUCTION OF BOYS IN LARGE NUMBERS. *

This is the work of a very inge- of it may have been chiefly to them, nious man, and records the most ori- but also to the education of the rich; ginal experiment in Education which and in fact it is well known that the in this country at least has been at- Madras system (so far from being tempted since the date of those com- essentially a system for the poor) has municated by the Edgeworths. We been adopted in some of the great say designedly “in this country; classical schools of the kingdom.t because to compare it with some con- The difference is more logically tinental schemes which have been stated thus—that the Madras system only recently made known to the En- regards singly the quality of the glish public (and not fully made knowledge given, and (with a view known even yet) would impose upon to that) the mode of giving it: whereus a minute review of those schemes, as the system, which we are going

which would be, first, disproportion- to review, does not confine its view ate to our limits-secondly, out of its to man as a being capable of knowbest situation, because it would be ledge but extends it to man as a being. desirable to examine those schemes capable of action, moral or prudenseparately for the direct purpose of tial: it is therefore a much more comdetermining their own absolute value, prehensive system. The system bea and not indirectly and incidentally fore us does not exclude the final for the purpose of a comparison. The purpose of the Madras system: on Madras system, again, is excluded the contrary, it is laudably solicitous from the comparison—not so much for for the fullest and most accurate comthe reason alleged (p. 123—5), by the munication of knowledge, and sugauthor before us — as though that gests many hints for the attainment system were essentially different from of that end as just and as useful as his own in its purpose and applica- they are enlightened. But it does tion: the purpose of the Madras sys- not stop here: it goes further, and tem is not exclusively economy of contemplates the whole man with a expense, but in combination with reference to his total means of usethat purpose a far greater accuracy fulness and happiness in life. And (and therefore reality) in the know- hence, by the way, it seems to us ledge communicated than could be essential that the whole child should obtained on the old systems; on this on this system be surrendered to account therefore the possible appli- the school; i. e. that there should be cation of the Madras system is not no day-scholars ; and this principle simply to the education of the poor, we shall further on endeavour to estathough as yet the actual application blish on the evidence of a case re

Plans for the Government and Liberal Instruction of Boys in large Numbers ; Drawn from Experience. London : 1822. 8vo.

+ The distinguishing excellence of the Madras system is not that it lodges in the pupils themselves the functions which on the old systems belong to the masters, and thus at the same blow hy which it secures greater accuracy of knowledge gets rid of a great expense in masters : for this, though a great merit, is a derivative merit: the condition of the possibility of this advantage lies in a still greater-viz. in the artificial mechanism of the system by which, when once established, the system works itself, and thus neutral. izes and sets at defiance all difference of ability in the teachers—which previously determined the whole cess of the school. Hence is obtained this ligious result—that henceforward the blessing of education in its elementary parts is made independent of accident, and as much carried out of the empire of luck as the manufacture of woollens or cottons. That it is mechanic, is no conditional praise (as alleged by the author before us) but the absolute praise of the Madras system i neither is there any just ground of fear, as he and many others have insinuated, that it should injure the freedom of the human intellect.

lated by the author himself.* On the because the result of a system of whole therefore we have designedly education cannot express itself in any stated our general estimate of the one insulated fact, it will demand as author's system with a reference to much judgment to abstract from any that of the Edgeworths ; not only limited experience what really is because it has the same comprehen- the result as would have sufficed to siveness of object, and is in some de- determine its merits à priori without gree a further expansion of their me- waiting for any result. Consequentthod and their principles; but also ly, as it would be impossible to exbecause the author himself strikingly onerate ourselves from the necessity resembles the Edgeworths in style of an elaborate act of judgment by and composition of mind; with this any appeal to the practical test of single difference perhaps, that the the result-seeing that this result. good sense and perception of pro- would again require an act of judgpriety (of what in French would be ment hardly less elaborate for its sacalled les convenances), which in both tisfactory settlement than the à priori is the characteristic merit (and, when examination which it had been meant it comes into conflict with any higher to supersede,---we may as well do quality, the characteristic defect), – that at first which we must do in the in him is less coloured by sarcastic end; and, relying upon our own unand contemptuous feelings; which derstandings, say boldly that the in all cases are unamiable feelings, system is good or bad because on and argue some defect of wisdom this argument it is evidently caland magnanimity; but, when direct- culated to do good or on that argued (as in the Edgeworths they some- ment to do evil, than blindly protimes are) against principles in hu- nounce—it is good or it is bad, beman nature which lie far beyond cause it has produced-or has failed the field of their limited philosophy, of producing such and such recoil with their whole strength upon effects; even if those effects were those who utter them. It is upon easy to collect. In fact, for

any conthis consideration of his intellectual clusive purpose of a practical test, affinity with the Edgeworths that we the experience is only now beginning are the less disposed to marvel at his to accumulate: and here we may estimate of their labours: that, for take occasion to mention that we had instance, at p. 192 he styles their ourselves been misinformed as to the work on education “ inestimable,” duration of the experiment; for a and that at p. 122, though he stops period of four years, we were told, a short of proposing “ divine honours" school had existed under the system to Miss Edgeworth, the course of his here developed: but this must be a logic nevertheless binds him to mistake, founded perhaps on a footmean that on Grecian principles note at p. 83 which says—" The such honours are “ due to her.” So plan has now been in operation more much for the general classification than four years:" but the plan there and merits of the author, of whom spoken of is not the general system, we know nothing more than-that, but a single feature of it-viz. the from his use of the Scotticisms- abolition of corporal punishment: in “succumb,” “compete,”—and “in the text this plan had been repreplace of” for “instead of” he ought sented as an immature experiment, to be a Scotchman: now then for having then “ had a trial of nine his system.

months" only: and therefore, as Of this we may judge by two more than 3 years had elapsed from criteria-experimentally by its re- that time to the publication of the sult, or à priori by its internal book, a note is properly added deaptitude for attaining its ends. Now claring that the experiment had sucas to the result, it must be remem- ceeded, and that the author could bered that-even if the autho of “ not imagine any motive strong any system could be relied on as an enough to force him back to the old impartial witness to its result-yet, practice." The system generally

* We have since found that we have not room for it: the case is stated and argued in the Appendix (p. 220_227); but in our opinion not fairly argued. The appellant's plea was sound, and ought not to have been set aside.

however must have existed now (i. e. marked and antithetic shapes and November 1823) for nearly eight the only question upon it, which years at the least : so much is evi- arises, is thism are these terms justident from a note at p. 79, where a fied in their application to this case ? main regulation of the system is said That they are, will appear

thus :to have been established “ early in Amongst the positive objects (or B) 1816." Now a period of seven or of every school, even the very worst, eight years must have been sufficient we must suppose the culture of moto carry many of the senior pupils rals to be one: a mere day-school into active life, and to carry many of may perhaps reasonably confine its the juniors even into situations where pretensions to the disallowance of any they would be brought into close thing positively bad; because here comparison with the pupils of other the presumption is that the parents systems. Consequently, so much undertake the management of their experience as is involved in the fact children excepting in what regards of the systems outliving such a com- their intellectual education : but, parison—and in the continued appro- wherever the heads of a school step bation of its founder who is manifest- into the full duties of a child's natuly a very able and a conscientious ral guardians, they cannot absolve man, so much experience, we say, themselves from a responsibility for may be premised for the satisfaction his morals. Accordingly, this must of those who demand practical tests. be assumed of course to exist For ourselves, we shall abide rather amongst the positive objects of every in our valuation of the system by the boarding-school. Yet so far are the internal evidence of its composition laws and arrangements of existas stated and interpreted by its au- ing schools from at all aiding and thor. An abstract of all that is promoting this object, that their very essential in this statement we shall utmost pretension is that they do now lay before our readers.

not injure it. Much injustice and

oppression for example take place in What is the characteristic differ. the intercourse of all boys with each ence, in the fewest possible words, other; and in most schools “ the of this system as opposed to all stern edict against bearing tales,others ? 'We no where find this causes this to go unredressed (p. 78): stated in a pointed manner: the au- on the other hand in a school where thor has left it rather to be collected a system of nursery-like surveillance from his general exposition; and was adopted, and “ every trifling therefore we conceive that we shall injury was the subject of immediate be entitled to his thanks by placing appeal to the supreme power” (p. it in a logical, if possible in an anti- 80), the case was still worse.

« The thetic, shape. In order to this, we indulgence of this querulousness in ask-what is a school ? A school is creased it beyond all endurance. Bea body of young persons more or less fore the master had time to examine perfectly organized-which, by means the justice of one complaint, his atof a certain constitution or system of tention was called away to redress arrangements (A), aims at attaining ar.other; until, wearied with investia certain object" (B); Now in all gation into offences which were either former schemes of education this A too trifling or too justly provoked for stood to Bthe positive quantity sought punishment, he treated all complainin the relation of a logical negative ants with harshness, heard their ac(i. e. of a negation of quantity = 0), cusations with incredulity, and thus or even of a mathematic negative tended, by a first example, to the (i. e. of x) :but on this new re-establishment of the old system." system of the author before us The issue in any case was—that, (whom, for the want of a better apart from what nature and the name, we shall call the Experimen- education of real life did for the talist) A for the first time bears to child's morals, the school education B the relation of a positive quantity. did nothing at all except by the posiThe terms positive and negative are tive moral instruction which the sufficiently opposed to each other to child might draw from his lessons confer upon our contradistinction of i. e. from B. But as to A, i.e. the this system from all others a very school arrangements, cither at best

their effect was = 0; or possibly, by tity: and this will determine the mecapricious interference for the regu- rit of the execution. Let us now lation of what was beyond their therefore turn to the details of the power to regulate, they actually dis- book. turbed the moral sense ; (i. e. their The book may be properly diseffect was = - X.

x.). Now, on the tributed into two parts: the first of new system of our Experimentalist, which from page 1 to page 125 inthe very laws and regulations, which clusively (comprehending the three are in any case necessary to the going first chapters) unfolds and reviews on of a school, have such an origin the system : all that remains from and are so administered as to cul- page 126 to page 218 inclusively tivate the sense of justice and mate (i. e. to the end)-comprehending rially to enlarge the knowledge of four chapters—may be considered as justice. These laws emanate from a second or miscellaneous part, treatthe boys themselves, and are admi- ing of some general topics in the nistered by the boys. That is to say, business of education, but with a A (which on the old system is at best continual reference to the principles a mere blank, or negation, and some laid down in the first part. An aptimes even an absolute negative with pendix, of twenty pages, contains a regard to B) thus becomes a positive body of illustrative documents. The agent in relation to B-i. e. to one of first of the three chapters, composing the main purposes of the school. what we have called the first part, is Again, to descend to an illustration entitled “ Outline of the System:of a lower order, in most schools and, as it is very brief, we shall exarithmetic is one part of B: now on tract it nearly entire. the new system it is so contrived that what is technically termed calling

A schoolmaster being a governor as well over, which on any system is a neces

as a teacher, we must consider the boys sary arrangement for the prevention both as a community and as a body of puof mischief, and which usually ter- pils. The principle of our government is minates there (i. e. in an effect=0), the hands of the boys themselves : To this

to leave, as much as possible, all power in becomes a positive means of culti- end we permit them to elect a committee, vating an elementary rule of arith- which enacts the laws of the school, subject metic in the junior students—and an however to the vetu of the head master. attention to accuracy in all: i. e. We have also courts of justice for the trial here again, from being simply = 0, of both civil and criminal causes, and a A becomes = + x in relation to B. vigorous police for the preservation of orA school in short, on this system, der. Our rewards consist of a few prizes burns its own smoke: The mere ne- given at the end of each half year to those gative conditions of its daily goings whose exertions have obtained for them the on, the mere waste products of its marks which are gained from time to time

highest rank in the school; and certain machinery, being converted into the by exertions of talent and industry. These positive pabulum of its life and mo

marks are of two kinds: the most valuable, tion. Such then, we affirm, is the called premial* marks, will purchase a hobrief abstract--antithetically ex- liday ; the others are received in liquidation pressed—of the characteristic prin- of forfeits. Our punishinents + are fine ciple by which the system under re- and imprisonment. Impositions, public view is distinguished from all former disgrace, and corporeal pain, have been for systems : In relation to B (which some years discarded among us. To obtain suppose 20 x) A, which heretofore rank is an object of great ambition among was =- X, or at best = 0, now be- the boys; with us it is entirely dependent comes = + x, or + 2 x, or 3 t, as it on the state of their acquirements ; and our may happen. In this lies the merit arrangements according to excellence are so of the conception : what remains to

frequent--that no one is safe, without conbe inquired—is in what degree, and boys learn almost every branch of study in

stant exertion, from losing his place. The upon what parts of B, it attains this classes, that the master may have time for conversion of A into a positive quan- copious explanations; it being an object of

*" Premial marks :" this designation is vicious in point of logic: how is it thus distinguished from the less valuable ?

† “ Our punishments," &c. This is inaccurate : by p. 83 “ disability to fill certain offices" is one of the punishments.

great anxiety with us, that the pupil should patriotic party. Hitherto however be led to reason upon all his operations. the reigning sovereign has shown so Economy of time is a matter of importance laudable a desire to strengthen those with us: we look upon all restraint as an

checks upon his own authority which evil, and to young persons as a very serious

make him a limited monarch-that evil : we are therefore constantly in search of means for ensuring the effective employ- habit of attending the committee's

“ only one teacher has been in the ment of every minute which is spent school-room, that the boys may have ample meetings.” (p. 5) : and, where any time for exercise in the open air. The teacher himself happens to be intermiddle state between work and play is ex

ested in the question before the house tremely unfavourable to the habits of the (e. g. in a case of appeal from any pupil : we have succeeded, by great atten. decision of his); "it has lately been tion to order and regularity, in reducing it the etiquette" for that one who does almost to nothing. We avoid much con- attend to decline voting. Thus we fusion by accustoming the boys 'to march;

see that the liberty of the subject is which they do with great precision, headed on the growth : which is a şure arby a band of young performers † from their own body.

gument that it has not been abused.

In fact, as a fresh proof of the eterSuch is the outline of the system nal truth-that in proportion as huas sketched by the author himself: man beings are honourably confided to us however it appears an insuffi- in, they will in the gross become worthy cient outline even for “ the general of confidence, it will give pleasure to reader” to whom it is addressed : the reader to be informed that, though without having “ any intention of this committee “ has the formation reducing the system to practice,” the of all the laws and regulations of the most general reader, if he asks for school (excepting such as determine any information at all, will ask for the hours of attendance and the remore than this. We shall endeavour gular amount of exercises to be pertherefore to draw up an account of formed),” yet “ the master's assent the plan somewhat less meagre, hy has never even in a single instance separating the important from the been withheld or even delayed.” “I trivial details. For this purpose we do not remember," says Sir William shall begin-1. with he GOVERN- Temple in 1683 to his son, ever to MENT of the school; i. e. with an have refused any thing you have deaccount of the legislative, the execu- sired of me; which I take to be a tive, and the judicial powers, where greater compliment to you than to lodged-held by what tenure-and myself; since for a young man to how administered. The legislative make none but reasonable desires is power is vested in a committee of yet more extraordinary than for an boys elected by the boys themselves. old man to think them so." A good The members are elected monthly; arrangement has been adopted for the boy, who ranks highest in the the purpose of combining the benefits school, electing, one member; the of mature deliberation with the vitwo next in rank another; the three gour and dispatch necessary for sudnext a third ; and so on. The head- den emergencies : by a standing ormaster as well as all the under-masters der of the committee a week's notice are members by virtue of their office. must be given before a new law can This arrangement might seem likely be introduced for discussion: in cases to throw a dangerous weight in the of urgency therefore a sort of orders deliberations of the “ house” into of council are passed by a sub-comthe hands of the executive power, mittee composed of two principal especially as the head-master" might officers for the time being: these pursue Queen Anne's policy under may of course be intercepted in lithe Tory ministers—and, by intro- mine by the veto of the master; and ducing the fencing-master—the danc- they may be annulled by the general ing-master-the riding-master, &c. committee: in any case they expire under the unconstitutional equivoca- in a fortnight: and thus not only is tion of the word “ teachers,” carry a a present necessity met, but also an favourite measure in the teeth of the opportunity gained for trying the ef

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »