« ForrigeFortsett »
other motives in your discipline than envy and hatred, and so it turns out, most unhappily, that they grow up full of hatred and suspicion. He who is but young needs gentle treatment-he must be led with milk; cheerfulness, kindness, and love are the means whereby such are to be won to God;" on which it is recorded, that the abbot fell on his face, and consessed his error, and asked pardon of God.
As an appendage to this history, perhaps the following notice of what passed in a ragged school at Bristol, extracted from the newspapers, may be pardoned by your Lordships:
“ Whilst one of the visitors was at the school during last week, a boy of about thirteen was seen to be extremely violent and refractory, a teacher endeavouring to lead him to the bottom of the class for inattention. He obstinately resisted, and stamped with rage. The master observing the conflict, went to the boy, patted him gently on the head and cheek, and begged him to be a good boy. In a minute, before the master had quitted him, it came again to his turn to be asked by the teacher one of the arithmetical questions of the lesson, when he cheerfully and promptly cried out • 48,' the proper answer. The crimson flush of anger had left his face; his countenance was as bright and placid as if the last few moments had not witnessed the storm that had agitated his passions, and he became quiet and docile. The visitor asked the master about him. He replied, “That boy is the most unmanageable one in the school; he is clever, but very passionate. He has kicked my legs (happily he has no shoes); he has pelted me with mud in the streets. I have dismissed him from the school, but allowed him to come again on his earnest entreaty and promise of good conduct. If I had struck that lad when he was so irritated, or spoken harshly and angrily to hin), his fury would have been quite ungovernable, but he can't withstand a word of kindness.'”
This matter of punishment is confessedly one of great difficulty. It is a maxim as old as the time of Augustine, that punishment should be regarded as the work of the physician who loves the patient, and who simply desires to root cut the evil, and that Nihil sic probat spiritualem virum quam peccati alieni tractatio. Certainly, therefore, punishment should not be administered without a good deal of thought and observation as to the characters of those on whom it is inflicted. Habitual severity has a tendency to stultify the mind, and to debase the heart. It has been observed, that a scholar should never be struck unexpectedly, for, by such treatment, the children are filled with fear and inquietude whenever they see the master approach. (" The Christian Teacher,” p. 55.) That a punishment which is not cared for does more harm than good ; that it is not desirable, therefore, that a trivial punishment should be shared by two offenders at once; they will almost enjoy it. (“Advice to Monitors in National Schools.") That it is not the punishment itself that is so much to be regarded as the mode in which it is administered. That there is an advantage in
giving tasks to be done at home, where the teacher is able to enforce their performance, as these tend to improve the offender while they separate him also from his bad companions; that although an offender should be reproved for any particular fault, all general complaints of naughtiness should be avoided ; the pupií should rather be dealt with as one who was struggling to do right, and the admonition should be given as a help to self-correction, which he would himself value as arising from a spirit of true charity on the teacher's part. Opportunities should be taken also of private expostulation; love wins love even in those who are apparently most impracticable; nothing that springs out of this pure source is ever utterly lost; many times the counsel, that has appeared fruitless at the time, has taken effect in the character in later years, when he by whose affection it was administered is laid silent in the grave.
If a teacher is to stand in this paternal relation to his scholars, and to feel himself, in some degree, responsible for all of them, so that no one should pass from his school to habits of idleness and misconduct without causing to his teacher some emotions of regret, our schools must not be of that overgrown size which are still being erected, and the expenditure on which is, in ny judgment, sadly unprofitable. I have previously had occasion to notice buildings that are attended by barely a tithe of the number which they are calculated to contain, and I believe that my experience in this respect can be paralleled by that of some of my brother Inspectors. In such cases, the interest of the money lavished on an empty structure would go far towards providing means for the support of an efficient teacher. I wish to see no school-room, except, perhaps, such as are built for infants, constructed for more than 100 children, and I believe that a smaller number, as eighty, will afford sufficient work for a good master, assisted by a pupil teacher.
It may be said that, supposing this to be assented to, such a state of things is not practicable, and that we must do the best that is practicable under the circumstances. The children must be instructed, educated, and, as we cannot afford to do this in the best way, we must supply such means as are in our power.
But my experience leads me to believe that, while in very many cases the children are not assembled to fill these large rooms, even in those cases where they are so assembled, no one who fairly examines them would, in one instance out of ten, say that the lower part of the school was properly brought under instruction. It is comparatively easy for a master, out of a large number of boys, to work up a showy first class; but, in very many such cases, the fluctuation in the attendance of the lower children will be found to bear witness to the sense entertained by the parents of the little advantage received by their children from attendance at such a school.
It must not, however, be dissembled that, in some rare instances, a considerable amount of real instruction is satisfactorily given throughout a large school. The old National Boys' school at Richmond is a remarkable instance of this; the boys are there very carefully taught, and the discipline is so exact, that a stranger might enter the school, and scarcely observe a single boy lift his eyes from his book, or move a muscle of his body. No one can examine what the master has effected there without feeling strongly impressed by his ability, industry, and faithfulness. But the control of so large a number of pupils has (perhaps almost unavoidably) given rise to a certain strictness of treatment which has not favoured the development of a right moral character in the scholars. Although I have never visited this school without admiration at the results, and without feeling desirous that my own work as Inspector might be discharged with a like zeal and faithfulness to that which I observed in the master, yet, as a place of education, I fear that this school must be regarded as a failure. I learn from good authority, that few of that large number of boys appear to turu out well; it is true that Richmond is a place where the lower classes are subject to peculiar temptations, but a part of what must be deplored in the apparent results of such a school, must, as I think, be attributed to the natural impossibility of provision being made for right moral culture (among a class in whom such culture is most needed) in so large a school.
The Richmond National schools were established in 1713, and for more than a century and a quarter, they were the only public means for educating the children of the poor connected with the Church; consequently, all the legacies left for this purpose during this period were received by these schools. I am informed that the endowment, and other fixed payments attached to these schools, amount now to 2161. 10s. per annum, and that the subscriptions, donations, collections, and children's
increase this sum to an income which, for the last seven years, has averaged 5041. per annum, the expenditure during the same period averaging 4681. per annum. The average attendance of children during the year 1846, was 219 boys and 83 girls; of these, 36 of each sex are clothed. In 1831, a new chapel was built, to which, in 1838, a district was allotted, dividing the parish for ecclesiastical purposes, into two districts, the population of that containing the old church and schools being 4,282, that of the new church of St. John's being 3,346. In the new district (St. John's), two school-rooms, , each accommodating 100 children girls and infants), were opened in 1839, and another school for 120 children (boys and infants), in 1844. It had seemed to some of the directors of the old schools that grants might be made out of their funds towards the support of the new schools, and it was hoped that, under the Act of Parliament, 8 & 9 Vict., cap. 7, sec. 22, a permanent division of bequests towards educating the poor of the parish, might be made between the two districts; but a difficulty has arisen, and although the funds of the old schools are in so flourishing a state, no help has been given to the other, and at the close of last year, the schools in the new district being indebted more than 1191, to the treasurer, the boys' school, which has received aid from your Lordships, is, in consequence of this deficiency, for the present given up.
The managers of a charitable fund must feel themselves bound, within the limits of their trust, to do all that may be in their power to make the fund available to the utmost for those purposes for which it was left. The management of such a fund cannot be regarded as that of a mere commercial enterprise, in which it may be desirable to lay up an annual surplus; and if the inquiry be, how may the children of the poor of a parish be adequately provided with the means of education, as, in my judgment, large schools are undesirable, I cannot regard the establishment of new schools, concurrently with the increase of population, as any improper interference with the monopoly of the old-established firm. Do school committees, with funds at their disposal, do their duty if they only keep up the apparent efficiency of those educational establishments which were set on foot by the great-grandfathers of the present race?
The case of Christchurch, Blackfriars, perhaps ought not to be cited in illustration of this question, for on looking to their last published account (that for 1842), it appears that, although their annual income from rents and dividends amounted to 1881. 14s. 5d., there was a balance due to the treasurer of nearly 541.; the total annual income for the previous year, exclusive of sale of stock, amounted to somewhat more than 3001. The number of children found by me in attendance in 1844 was, 110 boys and 79 girls; in 1846, the numbers were, 135 boys and 82 girls. Of these, the girls did not appear to me to be taught in a satisfactory manner; and of the lower boys, 45 in 1844, and 52 in 1846, were unable to read a word of four letters at sight. This defect could not be charged with justice on the master (who appeared to labour zealously in his vocation), but on the arrangement, in that no provision is made for the instruction of the little ones in an infantschool. No charge is made for admission, and the attendance of the children is, as may be expected, irregular in consequence. These schools, like those at Richmond, were established in 1713, and the only ones connected with the Church for the poor children of the parish, the population of which, at the last census, was 14,616. The accounts exhibit a donation of 61. from Betton's Charity, which donation, to a school so endowed, where no funds are received from the children's parents, seems to me misapplied.
Your Lordships direct attention, in Question 108, to a matter of great importance, namely, the systematic means of keeping up a connexion with the school children after leaving school. The answer given to this question by the managers of the schools attached to St. George's Church, Camberwell, where great pains are taken in this respect, is as follows:
“ By the Sunday school (through classes and teachers);
By enlisting the young soldiers as communicants;
is, to strengthen the bonds of fellowship between the members, one with another, and with the Holy Church universal. Besides these, rewards are given at the annual examinations, for three successive years, to such young men and young women as can produce satisfactory testimonials from their respective masters
and mistresses.” It is a great pleasure to see, of late years, more pains taken in the trust-deeds to associate laymen with the clergyman, in the management of our schools for the poor. As their right education is the interest of all, all that can contribute to it should be led to contribute to it; the several parts and orders of society are cemented together by such acts of charity. There may be circumstances under which the clergyman will be left alone, bearing the responsibility, and supplying the funds without help from his parishioners; but such a state of things cannot but be regarded as a very unhappy one; in one essential respect at least, the pastor, so circunstanced, has failed in supplying the guidance that is needed by his flock.
A good deal of time is spent in some of our schools in learning “First Steps to the Catechism,” “The Religious Primer in Verse," “ Easy Hymns for National Schools." These are not books the use of which I am inclined to recommend. The time spent in this learning might, as I think, be better spent. If an Introduction to the Catechism be needed, it seems to me that a good one might be formed by any clergyman for the use of his school, by arranging some of the simplest practical texts of Scripture as answers to a series of questions on those matters concerning which it is most necessary that children should be instructed aright.* The “ Historical Questions with Answers in the words of Scripture,” if the substance of it were practical and doctrinal rather than historical, seems to me the sort of book, as to form, which is needed; but it is, on some accounts, to be regretted that the references to chapter and verse are printed, since the children's memories are frequently burdened with these figures. Every little
* For example, if the first question in such a catechism were, “ Who are truly happy?" the answer might be some of the beatitudes from the opening of the Sermon on the Mount.