Page images

sand, they all look attentively to their monitor, waiting for the word, and instantly fall to work, with military precision, upon receiving it. All these little inventions keep children in a constant state of activity, prevent the listlessness so observable in all other institutions for education, and evince (trifling as they appear to be) a very original and observing mind in him who invented them.

The boys assembled round their reading or arithmetical cards, take places as in common schools. The boy who is at the head of the class wears a ticket, with some suitable inscription, and has a prize of a little picture. The ticket-bearer yields his badge of honour to whoever can excel him; and the desire of obtaining, and the fear of losing, the mark of distinction, creates, as may easily be conceived; no common degree of enterprize and exertion. Boys have a prize when they are moved from one class to another, as the monitor has also from whose class they are removed. Nr Lancaster has established a sort of paper cur-, rency of tickets. These tickets are given for merit ;-two tickets are worth a paper kite ;-three worth a ball ;-four worth a wooden horse, &c. &c. &c.

• It is no unusual thing with me to deliver one or two hundred prizts at the same time. And at such times the countenances of the whole school exhibit a moit pleafing scene of delight : as the boys who obtain prizes, commonly walk round the school in proceffion, bolding the prizes in their hands, and an herald proclaiming before them, These good boys have obtained prizes for going into another class. The honour of this has an effect as powerful, if not more so, than the prizes themselves.'

A large collection of toys, bats, balls, pictures, kites, is suspended above the master's head, beaming glory and pleasure upon the school beneath. Mr Lancaster has also, as another incentive, an order of merit. No boys are admitted to this order but those who distinguish themselves by attention to their studies, and by their endeavours to check více. The distinguishing badge is a silver medal and plated chain hanging from the neck. The superior class has a fixed place in the school; any class that can excel it may eject them from this place, and occupy it themselves. Every member, both of the attacking and defending classes, feels, of course, the most lively interest in the issue of the contest. • Mr Lancaster punishes by shame rather than pain ; varying the means of exciting shame, because, as he justly observes, any mode of punishment long continued loses its effect.

The boys in the school appointed to teach others are called monitors; they are in the proportion of about one monitor to ten boys. So that, for the whole school of 1000 boys, there is only


one master ; the rest of the teaching is all done by the boys themselves. Besides the teaching monitors, there are general monitors, such as, inspectors of slates, inspectors of absentees, &c. &c.

In what Mr Lancaster says upon the subject of religion, it is clear that he has no desire to convert, and no intention to be converted. Either let the religion of Quakers be taught, if a Quaker school is founded upon this method of teaching writing and reading; or I will confine myself to those general practical principles which are suitable to all sects, if you chuse to found a general school for the instruction of indigence; or I will meddle only with the temporal instruction of my pupils, and you may confide their religious instruction to whom you please.' So says the member of a religious sect, which, of all other religious sects, has showed itself the least desirous of making converts. This is so moderate, and so reasonable, that, if we are rightly informed, Mr Lancaster has at last not only succeeded in allaying the jealousy of some of the rulers of the English church, but has even raised himself up some patrons out of their numbers.

These we believe to be the leading features of this establishment. For the many interesting particulars which, in so short an abstract, we have been compelled to omit, we refer to the book itself. It is not badly written, though somewhat quaint and quakerish : but we have no objection to the Obadiah flavour, and do not wish that Quakers should write books like other people ;-there is something interesting and picturesque in their singularities.

The improvements which Mr Lancaster has made in education, are, in the cheapness of schools, their activity, their order, and their emulation. The reading, cyphering, and spelling cards, suspended for the successive use of 3 or 400 boys; the employment of sand and slate instead of pen and ink, and particularly of monitors instead of ushers, must, in large seminaries, constitute an immense saving. The introduction of monitors, an extremely important part of the whole scheme, is as great an improvement in schools, as the introduction of noncommissioned officers would be in an army which had before been governed only by captains, majors, and colonels: they add that constant and minute attention to the operations of the mass, without which, the general and occasional superintendance of superiors is wholly uselets. ulher hates his talk, and is often ashamed of it; a monitor is honoured by it, and therefore loves it: he is placed over those who, if their exertions had been superior, would have been placed over him; his office is the proof of his excellence. Power is new to him; and trust makes him trustworthy,-a very common effect of confidence, and exemplified in the most striking manner in Mr VOL. XI. NO. 21.



Lancafter's school. Nor is the monitor at all detained by tenching to others what he has already learnt ; at least not unprofitably detained ; for, if a boy be at the head of the first spelling class, it is clear that a delay of fix or eight weeks in teaching to others what he has already i arnt, will perfect him in his new acquirements, and rivet them in his memory. After this, he is made a private in some superior regiment, and his post becomes an object of honour and competition to the lads whom he has taught. He is very wisely allowed to have a common interest with the boys whom he instructs; and to receive a prize equal in value with any prize obtained by any individual among them. In some instances, the monitor teaches and learns at the same time: for, in dictating the sum as in paragraph (C), the monitor is furnithed with a key; and therefore, in dictating, only reads what others have written for him ; but in so doing, it is plain his attention must be exercised, and his memory impressed as much, if not more, than those of any boy in the class; and, whatever good is produced in others by that mode of instruction, must be produced in him in an equal, or superior degree. The extraordinary discipline, progress, and economy of this school, are, therefore, in a great measure, produced by an extraordinary number of noncommiffioned officers, serving without pay, and learning while they teach.

When we consider the very dull and distant motives for improvement which have hitherto been presented to children, it is not surprising that education should be often so unsuccessful-always so tedious. The day is fine, the sun shines brightly through the window, and a fine young animal, with his veins quivering with health and activity, is not only forbidden to trundle a newly purchased hoop, but set down before a black slate to do a sum in tare and trett; or, in greater schools, to make a copy of Latin verses about Troy and Æneas.- What are his motives for undergoing this present misery? Has he a wife and family to support, like the thresher who goes to his daily task? Is he refreshed by immediate fees like the accomplished pillulist, who drives from fistula to fever, and from ague to atrophy? Is he certain, like an author, of losing his dinners for the ensuing week, if his task is incomplete ? --- The only motives held before him are, that he will please his father, and be a great man in after life; and that Latin and Greek are necessary accomplishments for a gentleman. Alas, the eternity of six months must elapse, before the parent is made acquainted with the general progress he has made ;-that 14 years should pass away, and he himself arrive at man's estate, is quite impossible ;--and, if it is possible, he has an uncle or a cousin of large fortune, universally respected, and powerful at the quarter sessions, who does not know whether Brutus killed


Cæsar, or Cæsar Brutus; and who believes Tully and Cicero to be two distinct persons. Such are the remote and powerless motives with which children have hitherto been stimulated. The bats, balls and kites of Mr Lancaster, we conceive to be admirable auxiliaries of education, and to afford that strong and prem sent stimulus which best overcomes the vis inertia, and establishes the difficult and unnatural habit of application. It is all very well to talk about studying from a sense of duty. Mature, bearded men, who fall into this cant, require the immediate stimulus of a guinea ; or, at least, a return for their labour in a month or a year; expecting, in the mean time, that the poor child for whom they cant, the miserable and inexperienced cantee, should exert himself for benefits which, it is very doubtful, whether or or not he will reap when half his life is elapsed. Nothing, in our opinion, can be so preposterous as the objections made to an order of merit in a school. In what way are such extraordinary services ever obtained from mankind at so cheap a rate? Tie two guineas worth of gold to a red ribbon, and call it the order of the golden cannon, or the golden swivel, or what not;,and in every battle you will have a thousand young men of spirit performing the most daring actions to obtain it. A garter is vacantor, in other words, the privilege of telling the passer by, by means of a bit of gold at the knee, and a bit of silver on the belly, that you are a man of high birth and large fortune. The cabinet, however, sit in grave consultation on the distribution of this honour; the greatest men of the country are sleepless in their palaces, and the minister loses or gains the lord of a province by his gift;~and yet we are half angry that a breechless boy should struggle day and night for a shining lump of tin, which tells the passer by that he is diligent and good. We do not mean, by these observations, to express the slightest degree of disrespect for the established honours of the country,--quite the contrary

We are convinced, that such institutions are thoroughly founded in good sense, and knowledge of human nature; and that they are eminently useful. We approve, in the most decided manner, the courage and originality of that man who has carried into education those institutions, which, in the business of the world, are the most powerful of all motives. Vanity is the word on which all these objections are founded ; and it unfortunately happens, that we have no word in our language to signify the good and useful love of praise ; for, that the love of praise is, under certain regulations, one of the most beneficial passions to society, will not, it is presumed, be denied ; nor ought it to be characterized by the inculpative term of Vanity, except when its object is frivolous, or when it is the sole and absorbing passion.


It must not be forgotten, that in Mr Lancaster's school every boy is every moment employed. It is obvious, that in the class assembled round the suspended card for reading and spelling, -the wand of the monitor pointing to the particular letter, - the taking places,-the hopes of obtaining a ticket;-must keep the children constantly on the alerts When they read, spell, and write at the same time, as in paragraph (A), or when the monitor dictates sums, as in (C), it is impossible for any individual to be inattentive. In common schools, the scholar is set to learn bis. spelling, or his cyphering, by himself; and, after a certain time, the master hears him his lesson, and judges of his attention by his readiness in performing it. The learning part of the business is left entirely to the boy himself, and his time often whild away in every species of idleness. The beauty of Mr Lancaster's system is, that nothing is trusted to the boy himself; he does not only repeat the lesson before a superior, but he learns it before a superior. When he listens to the dictating process in arithmetic, and adds up as he is commanded, he does that under the eye and command of a master, which, in other schools, he would be trusted to do by himself. In short, in these troops the appointed officer sees, that the soldier shoulders his musket twenty times a day, who, by doing it often, cannot avoid doing it well

. In other troops, the officer tells the soldiers how it is to be done, and leaves them to practise by themselves,—which they do, of course, very unwillingly, and very imperfectly, if they do it as all. Such are the principles upon which Mr Lancaster has planned his improvements in the education of the poor, and carried them into execution with such success, that one thousand boys may now be educated in reading, writing, and arithmetic, by one person, at an expense not exceeding 300l. per annum.. A more beautiful, a more orderly, and a more affecting scene, than the school of Mr Lancaster, it is not possible to behold. The progress of the children is rapid beyond all belief ;, and evinces, in the most gratifying manner, the extraordinary effects which are produced upon, the human mind by the arts of cultivation.

When a poor lad is educated, many valuable principles of religion, morals and politics, may be fixed on his mind, which could not be conveniently taught to him by any other means. At school he is under the influence of the master; for some years afterwards at home, under the influence of the parent. They have an interest in directing his newly acquired power aright, and in turning the bias of his mind to what is good; and this, at a period, which generally decides the character of the future man. It is very trite to say, that reading multiplies the innocent resources and amusements of the poor ;, but we cannot see why this is not


« PreviousContinue »