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country can be established upon the ordinary education given in, a sound basis, the means for sup- our elementary schools ? plying it would not be wanting. Before passing to review any Either public opinion would de- facts which may lead to a decision mand that the resources required upon this important point, it may for its maintenance should be pro- be well to clear the way by pointvided from public sources; or else ing out that in the views of educaprivate enterprise—whether in the tional reformers there are two obshape of private munificence, or of jects constantly held up to the a readiness to pay the price for public view, and constantly conwhich alone an article of higher fused with each other, which are value can be supplied—would fill not only entirely distinct, but are the blank. But it is not the to a large extent inconsistent, and purpose of the present article to even contradictory. These two consider the question of " ways and objects are—(1) the attainment of means." That is a question which a higher standard of education; is rather political than educational and (2) the wider diffusion of eduin its character, and has nothing cation. It is impossible to explain to do with the decision of what adequately this distinction without is strictly a technical educational touching on the question of uniquestion—viz., whether secondary versity education and university education is or is not an article reform ; but as it is not my intendiffering wholly in kind from ele- tion in the present article to enter mentary education, and requiring upon the university question as a a totally different set of conditions whole, I shall only do so in so far for its maintenance, development, as may be necessary to throw light and success. Putting, therefore, upon the particular point which is for the present, all questions of now being discussed. finance aside, the question of the It has long been the familiar moment is to ascertain whether boast of Scotland that her schools there is any evidence of a plain of every grade have made it their and practical kind which can be aim to pass on their best scholars, adduced to show not only that the drawn from every rank of life, present condition of secondary however humble, to the univereducation in Scotland is unsatis- sities; and it has been the factory—for upon that point all special boast of the universities educationists agreed — but that they are in touch with the that the special reason why it is nation as a whole,—that they draw unsatisfactory is that the distinc- their students from no special rank tion between secondary and ele- or class, but open their gates to mentary education is not practi- all who have the talent, the incally observed in our school system, dustry, or the ambition, to turn to and that the importance of the practical account the opportunities distinction is not sufficiently recog- of instruction which they afford. nised by the public. Can it be The ringing of the changes on this shown that there is an intellectual theme has formed the main staple development which can be expect- of educational oratory, in so far as ed, on the whole, to be supplied by it has been expended on the uniwell-organised secondary schools, versities. That the universities and which cannot be looked for, are national institutions; that except in exceptional cases, from they include students from every the extension or development of rank of life; that in every village
school germs of genius are being sequences that may follow in fostered which may some day be another. It is impossible to comdeveloped into professional or liter- bine the merits of two conflicting ary distinction by the university systems; and if we are not preincubator,—these are topics which pared to face the adverse results of have been dwelt upon times with- a proposed change, it is vain to out number by those who have enumerate its advantages. contrasted the Scotch university In the various recent discussions system with that of England and which have taken place upon uniother countries. The fact is true, versity reform, two essentially difand the praise is just. There are ferent objects have been mixed up hundreds—thousands—of men who together. The main charge against have risen to eminent or important the universities, brought up over positions, encouraged by our pop- and over again both by the schools ular universities to turn talents and by the public, is that their to account which, under a more standard of education is not suffiexclusive system, might have re- ciently high; that they admit all mained unknown or undeveloped. and sundry to their classes withBut there is another side to the out distinction or inquiry into the picture; and there has been no lack character of the previous educaof critics in these latter times to tion they have received ; and that proclaim loudly the deficiencies the whole standard of university and shortcomings of our Scotch teaching and university work is university system.
These critics lowered in consequence. On the speak with many mouths, from other hand, there has been a great many points of view, and with and powerful demand for an various degrees of knowledge or tension of university teaching. of ignorance. They do not all cry has been raised against peragree with each other; they are mitting the universities to mainby no means always consistent tain any longer what has been with themselves. But they have called the “ university monopoly." had no difficulty in pointing to These critics maintain that no certain conspicuous blots upon our special privileges should be accordScotch university system, many of ed to the universities; that uniwhich have long been acknowledged versity education should be disby all competent to form an opinion seminated throughout the country upon the subject; and though the by university lecturers, whether in remedies suggested may not always daily or evening classes, wherever be those most suitable to the case, students are to be found ready to though the objects aimed at are in avail themselves of such advansome cases mutually destructive to tages; and that attendance at each other, it is most advisable that such courses of lectures, delivered the whole subject should be freely under conditions far less continudiscussed with the fullest light that ous and exacting than those recan be thrown upon it; that we quired by the university, should should consider the causes from count for university purposes, and which the educational deficiencies be accepted by the universities as of our universities spring, estimate equivalent to the attendance given the merits that are to be set in their own classes. What these against those deficiencies, and if reformers desire is to popularise, we seek to apply a remedy in one not to elevate, university instrucdirection, be prepared for the con- tion. They object to a “mono
poly”: in their desire to escape it, other; it is another, and quite they rush into the arms of a super- different thing, to desire that there stition. They imagine that the should be certain institutions ormagic of a name is such, that by ganised under special conditions prefixing the term “university with a view to securing the highest to the instruction given to miscel- possible results. It is vain to delaneous classes in short courses of mand that the universities shall popular lectures, the whole results increase the stringency of their of a long continuous education, requirements, and at the culminating in three or four years' time offer all the advantages of attendance at the university itself, university education to those who may be attained. This idea reached have fulfilled none of these conits culminating-point of absurdity ditions, and have exhibited no in a speech recently delivered at standard of proficiency at all. a meeting of the General Council The need of a stringent, or at of Glasgow University, when a least effective, entrance examinamember of Council expressed his tion has been urged for years past indignation that in a report deal- from various quarters, and by aling with university extension, the most all our most prominent eduSenate of the University had in- cationalists; and the late Commisdicated that it would be undesir- sion, though they did not consider able to give university certificates that the evidence justified them of merit to students who had at- in prounouncing unreservedly in tended popular courses—some con- favour of an exclusive entrance sisting of ten lectures each—and examination, recommended a pracso place upon them the same stamp tical equivalent in the shape of a of excellence which is bestowed on First Examination as a necessary students who go through a course preliminary to all degrees. There of five or six months' continuous are, without doubt, as we shall see, work, preparing work carefully difficulties in the way of institutevery day, and successfully going ing an entrance examination that through their oral and written ex- shall at once be really effective in aminations. And yet these same raising the whole standard of unicritics, in the very next breath, versity work, and at the same will denounce the work done in time not impose too sharp and sudthe university classes as insuffi. den a strain upon the school-syscient; they declare the standard tem of the country; but these of teaching is too low; that no difficulties and should be adequate care is taken to see that faced. The main duty which the the students reach that standard; university owes to the nation is and that the universities grant their to maintain the highest possible certificates on far too easy terms. standard of education. It is for
It is hard to answer at once a this purpose that it is assisted by two-edged criticism like this. It is public funds, and invested with scarcely necessary to point out that the privileges which are essential these two different lines of reform to enable it to perform this duty. are wholly distinct, and in many But the duty ought to be perrespects entirely inconsistent with formed; and no amount of extenone another. It is one thing to sion of the higher education on desire to see higher education what is called a wide and popular spread as widely as possible from basis will make up for a dereliction one end of the country to the in what is essentially and peculi
arly the proper work of the uni. future, the universities will not be versity_namely, to provide sys- able to discharge their duty adetematic and reasoned courses of quately unless the students who study in all the branches of higher enter them have been adequately culture, and to secure that in each prepared by the schools. I prothe highest results shall be at- pose, therefore, in this paper, to tained which the educational con- throw what light I can upon this dition of the country permits. fundamental question_namely, the The universities should doubtless amount and kind of previous preassist in whatever way they can paration which entrant students the spread of education, and espe- bring, or ought to bring, to the cially of higher education, through- university; and the sources to out the country; but their aim in which we have to look, in the laying the foundation broad should present educational circumstances be to raise the apex high, and in of the country, for the supply of the arrangements for their own that preparation. It is certain that teaching and their own examina- students cannot derive any solid tions, their first object should be or permanent value from univerto maintain and gradually raise sity instruction unless they come the standard, and keep well up with minds fitted to receive it. abreast of the educational level With a view, therefore, to assist of the times.
in the formation of an opinion During the last twenty-five years upon this all-important point of great progress in this direction has the relation between the schools been made inside the universities and the universities, I venture to themselves. Much more remains offer, from my own experience in to be done. During that period, the University of Glasgow, a few so far as the existing curriculum facts bearing upon the following goes, the whole system of exam- points : inations has been created, and 1. The quality of the supply of placed upon a sound footing. The entrant students; students and the schools know 2. The schools from which they now what to work for. The ex
come ; aminations command the confi- 3. The character of the work dence both of the students and of done at the various kinds of schools, the public, and the question that regarded as a preparation for the remains is mainly, Have we the university; requisite machinery to secure that 4. The effect upon a student's the standard attained by our stu- whole at the university dents is of a really high and satis- of the kind of training which he factory character? The curricu- has received before entering it; lum, doubtless, is too narrow, and and, will be extended under any system 5. The conclusions to which the of university reform; but the sub- results arrived at under the prejects which are now taught will vious heads seem to lead in regard still remain—and though the sub- to the present needs of the counjects to be taught in our schools try in the matter of secondary in future may undergo some modi- education. fication, the relation between the The information which I have schools and the universities will to give will, of course, primarily be unchanged. Whatever the sub- relate
Whatever the sub- relate to classics, and, strictly jects of study may be in the speaking, to Latin only; but for
reasons which will be generally circumstances, whatever direction admitted, a boy's knowledge of public opinion may take, it will classics, especially of Latin, may be a long time before they can be be regarded, in the present state practically developed. of education in this country, as case, whatever development of affording the best available test scientific education may take place of his training and culture as a in the future, the necessity for a whole. That test, of course ap- literary culture will still remain plies only to what we may call for any man who desires to be the human, or the literary and perfectfy equipped for the work historical, side of culture. Ma- which he will have to do in life, thematics and the physical sci- and to acquit himself satisfactorily ences stand apart, as belonging to in those human relations of which the other or non-human side of it is impossible for a man, whether culture; and it is perfectly pos- the main purpose of his life be sible for a student to have a literary or scientific, to divest special aptitude for, and to be himself. I will only add, on the distinguished in, the non-human other hand, that I have no symside of culture, who has little or pathy with the superstition which no capacity for literary develop- supposes that some magical efficacy ment: just as it is notorious that is to be derived from making a many illustrious literary men have mere bowing acquaintance with found an unconquerable barrier in the classical languages; and I mathematics. But languages, lit- should like to see exploded the erature, history, and philosophy, idea which still prevails to so all hang together as subjects of large an extent amongst the pastudy and education; and as in rents of the middle and lower Scotland classics, and especially classes in Scotland, that their sons Latin, have been for centuries the will carry through life some indemain foundation on which the scribable advantage by having literary culture of the nation has crowned the ordinary school course been based, it affords a very fair (to use a common phrase) by taktest of the value of the literary ing “a year o' the Latin." part of a boy's school course. The 1. The first point mentioned question whether Latin and the above-namely, the equality of the classics should continue to hold supply of students which the unitheir position in our national versity is now receiving from the education, or whether a totally schools, and whether or not that different kind of culture, equally quality has as a whole improved valuable, and resting upon the —is a point very hard to decide. mathematical and physical sciences, Some years ago I believed that might not be organised, has no the standard of qualification was connection with the special matter gradually rising; but I do not now now before us. I will only say, feel clear that that improvement on the one hand, that as yet no has been maintained as far as the satisfactory substitute for the ad- main body of students is concerned. vantages of a literary culture has The work done for the Preliminbeen organised in a practical ary and Bursary examinationsand systematic form. The means in which only the best first-year for effecting such a revolution students compete—is distinctly in our educational system do better and more scholarly than it not as yet exist; and under any was. The standard attained in