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would be reclaimed; and that would be truly accomplished which the most sanguinary criminal code has defeated, but which the most wisely contrived s stem of mere punishment never can attain.*
But it is not only from the great deficiency of infant schools that the education now existing in England is imperfect. The schools which exist every where, and to the number of so many thousands, give a most meagre instruction to the vast body of children which they affect to teach. They neither profess to teach what they ought, nor do teach what they profess. Reading, writing, and a very little ciphering is the whole amount of instruction which the great bulk of those seminaries pretend to teach; and with most of them even that is but a pretence. Almost all the children who frequent them can read a little; but the greater number cannot read so easily as to make it sure they will, when they leave school, continue to read with ease; and if they do not, there needs no argument to prove that, unless in some cases of necessity, they will never read at all. A good deal of this is owing to the parents not allowing them to remain at school after they can earn some trifle by their labour;—perhaps a good deal more to their not enforcing a constant attendance. But the principal fault lies with the teachers. If they were sufficiently skilled in their useful and difficult art, above all, if they could teach the elements of useful knowledge, as well as merely give the means of acquiring it,parents, as well as children, would regard the school with very different eyes; more regular attendance, for a longer period, would be given, and much more would be gained, even by the attendance at present allowed. In the kind of instruction, and in the quality of the teachers, England is far below all those countries in Europe, to say nothing of America, where proper attention is paid to the education of the people. In France, Switzerland, Germany, there are schools every where formed for the training of teachers;
*It is not at all intended by these remarks to dispute the necessity of penal infliction; but there can be no doubt that punishments will be effectual to their object, in the exact proportion in which infant education has proved successful; that is to say those whom nothing else can deter from crimes will be deterred by the force of penal example, if they have been trained to habits of reflection and forethought. It may safely be asserted, that punishments would produce little or no effect upon those whom early habit had not in some degree accustomed to reflection upon those whom we generally term reckless. Yet how many of the children of the poor are brought up with little, if any such
and the poorest of the people are taught in the common schools, besides reading, writing, and arithmetic--geography, natural history, practical geometry, linear drawing, and music. The two latter are of especial use; not only because drawing gives habits of correct observation, and is of positive advantage in many occupations; but because both drawing and music afford a source of harmless gratification, and turn the mind aside from the grosser enjoyments of sense. Until the schools which abound in England, and profess to teach about a million and a half of children, shall be able to convey instruction in these branches of learning, as well as in civil history, and the more simple and important principles of political and moral science, we may talk of education, and, by a courteous and complimentary form of speech give that name to what occupies schools pretty generally scattered over the country; but the thing, or any semblance of the thing, is indeed far enough from us.
From what has now been stated, there follow certain conclusions of fact altogether irrefragable. In the first place, we find existing in England and Wales about forty thousand day-schools, professing to teach near a million and a half of children, and which assuredly could, if well managed, teach considerably more; these are principally supplied by voluntary contributions, and by the payments of the scholars; about one-tenth being endowed, and the other nine-tenths having no endowment whatever. Secondly, The wants of the community require a considerable increase in the number of schools; there being a necessity for affording the means of instructing about twice as many children, in order that the whole people may be educated. Thirdly, The chief defect in amount is of infant-schools, which require to be increased not less than sixfold, in order that the larger towns alone may enjoy their benefits; and upon the supposition that they need not be extended, at least in the first instance, to villages and country places. Fourthly, The other schooling is exceedingly deficient, both in the qualifications of the masters for what they profess to teach, and in the scantiness of the instruction professed to be given. To these conclusions from the foregoing statements, we may add a fact which is intimately connected with them-that the fund existing in various parts of the country for the purposes of charity amounts to nearly a million a-year under its present management; that its amount might probably be considerably increased by improved administration; that of this income, between a third or fourth is destined to education by the strict tenor of the gifts,-though the understanding under which it is given, and the changes that have taken place in the circumstances of the country, render it far less available to useful pur
poses than it ought to be; and much of the fund given for general purposes of charity is uselessly directed, and not a little of it hurtfully.
From these propositions of fact, certain inferences follow, as we apprehend, very easily and plainly. In the first place, it is clear that a Board or department of education becomes necessary for supplying the defects which exist in the present system, and for correcting its errors. This necessity is proved by the great amount of the schooling, such as it is, already provided by individual exertion-for no one can think of superseding this by a measure which shall at once substitute the requisite number of new schools in the room of the old ones; and great care will be required in so bestowing public grants of money, and levying other funds, as not to destroy the existing institutions, which it should be the great object to improve and to multiply. No general plan could be worked all over the country in such a way as to accommodate itself to local circumstances; nor could any other means than the direction of a Board be divised for administering the funds allotted to the service differently in different places, according to the circumstances of each, so as not to interfere with the schools already planted, except by improving them.
Next, it plainly follows, from the same facts, what the chief functions of the Board ought to be, and what the principles that should guide them in the exercise of those functions. In some places, chiefly in the cities and large towns, more new schools will be required than the exertions of individuals can set agoing; although those exertions, with the payments from the children, may suffice to maintain them when once begun. In other places, of an opposite description, though very few schools may be wanted, there may be an equal defect of resources to establish them. In both the one kind of place and the other, the grants of public money given yearly since 1833 may be most beneficially employed to help individuals who are desirous of planting schools, and are prevented by the original expense; an outfit may be given, and the rule should be, generally speaking, to give a certain proportion only of the first cost, upon the neighbourhood undertaking to furnish the rest. This principle has hitherto been adopted with great success; many scores,—indeed some hundreds, of schools have been established by means of this aid; and the affording it has occasioned an increased exertion on the part of individuals, instead of causing any relaxation of their praiseworthy efforts. But the rule should not be inflexible; for there are situations in which little or no exertion can be expected from the neighbourhood, and in which it will be
the duty of the Board to afford assistance from the funds placed at their disposal. With respect to infant schools for the greater towns, it will plainly be necessary that a considerable increase of the former grants should be made; and one of the first duties of the Board will be to provide a large supply of those invaluable seminaries. It is calculated that a sufficient number for the whole of London might be established in the course of five years, for the sum of L.30,000 each year. The current expenses would then have to be provided of about 150 schools; and if it were found impossible to meet this yearly charge by the payments of the children, or by private beneficence, recourse must be had to the powers with which it is necessary to arm the Board and the local authorities jointly, and of which we must now speak.
It is manifestly most expedient to do nothing which shall interfere with individual exertion; both because of the enormous expense which would be thrown upon the state, were all the charge to be thus defrayed; because of the dislike which this would tend to bring upon education; and because of the great advantage derived from those individuals who support schools attending minutely to their management, and encouraging the labouring classes to take advantage of them. Nevertheless, it is necessary that power should be lodged in the local authorities to make the burden lighter upon the benevolent, by rating the whole community, wherever there is a majority of its members favourable to the establishment of schools. In a place where the prevailing opinion is the other way, this course may be objectionable. But no harm can be done by levying a rate where most of the inhabitants are willing to pay it; and where compelling the minority to contribute can never tend to bring odium upon education. It is proposed, therefore, that the common council, in all corporate towns, as chosen by the inhabitants, and representing their opinions and feelings, should have the power of establishing such schools as may be wanted, with the approbation of the Board, and of levying a rate upon the community subject to their jurisdiction, for supporting such schools-the Board first to be satisfied that the rate is wanted, and is properly apportioned. The regulations for conducting the schools thus established are also to be subject to the approval of the Board; but no power is given to the Board of prescribing any rules contrary to the opinion of the council. Thus both the Board and the council must agree before the school can be established; and undue influence from the Government or the Board is excluded, as well as the operation of narrow-minded views among parties on the spot. A similar concurrent power must be given to the sessions in places where no municipal corporations exist. Had
VOL. LXV. NO. CXXXI.
judicious combination of public with private management this may be effected in a great degree. Notwithstanding all precautions, considerable harm will be risked, and no little abuse will be occasioned; but the great and paramount object of securing a universal diffusion of the means of knowledge among the people is sufficient to justify the risk, and its inestimable advantages counteract the evil. There cannot be the same excuse for establishing a systematic interference with the whole intellectual pursuits of the adult part of the community. If the Government removes all obstructions to the diffusion of knowledge, discountehances all monopolies, gives up all taxes pressing upon learning, and affords countenance and encouragement to such undertakings as are, by their magnitude, placed beyond the reach of private enterprise, it perhaps does as much in this direction as can be either reasonably expected from it, or safely intrusted to it.
While we are upon this important topic, we may mention the chief defect in the constitution of Mr Wyse's Board, because it is connected with the risk to which we have been adverting. The Chief Secretary is to be the Minister of Public Instruction. To this there is the objection, both that his official duties must render it impossible for him to give any adequate attention to this department, and that, unless a majority of the Board are independent of the Crown, the whole department will become a mere Ministerial board, and liable to the charges both of jobbing and undue influence. Now he proposes to have five lay-members named, and, we presume, during pleasure, by the Government; together with a Protestant and a Catholic Archbishop, and a Presbyterian Clergyman. As it is unlikely that the three clerical members should agree, and as, if they do, they are outvoted two to one by the others, the voice of the Government must be preponderant in every case. It seems to us absolutely requisite, that all the members except those in office whose co-operation with the Board is useful, and whose control over its expenditure is necessary, should be appointed, like the Judges, during good behaviour—that is, only removeable by a joint address of the two Houses of Parliament. Some members of the Government ought to be on the Board; but the majority of the whole should be independent of the Crown, both to preserve uniformity of proceeding, and to guard against abuse or undue influence. All the members who are not in any other office; that is, all the working members, upon whom will devolve the business of the department, should be of this description. The addi
tion of others connected with the Church, seems to be necessary in the peculiar circumstances of Ireland; on this we profess not to have any opinion, when we observe that Mr