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The next two tables are intended to show the proficiency in each subject of examination attained by the students of the institution who were examined for certificates of merit at the close of 1853 :
The number of successful candidates was twenty-four, being 681 per cent, upon the number presented.
It should be borne in mind, in looking at the comparative failure in regard to the Welsh, Latin, Greek, and French languages, that the institution incurs no responsibility upon this matter. These languages have hitherto formed no part of the course of instruction given, and any acquaintance with them displayed by the students must have been the result of previous knowledge. The questions on mensuration were appended to those on geometry, and many students, from devoting too much time to the latter subject, failed to do themselves justice in the former. The mathematical instruction is for the most part given by the vice-principal, Mr. Fitch, who is equally remarkable for attainment and for skill in the art of communicating knowledge. The lectures on grammar, history, geography, and school-management are given with distinguished ability by the principal, Dr. Cornwell.
The number of successful candidates was seventeen, being nearly 71 per cent. upon the number presented.
It ought perhaps to be explained, in reference to the apparent want of knowledge of natural history, that the questions upon that subject were given only in the form of a supplement to the paper on domestic economy; that it was necessary to answer the questions on domestic economy before proceeding to the others; and that in this manner the time allowed for the paper was, by many of the candidates, wholly expended on the last-named subject. Natural history has long been a favourite study in the institution, and, if a separate paper had been given upon that subject, I believe that a majority of the examinees would have acquitted themselves creditably. Domestic economy, on the contrary, was not even named in the course of instruction for 1853 ; but that omission has been supplied throughout the past year, and I trust that the results of the examination for the close of 1854 will show that this important subject has received due consideration. In practical industrial skill, the results shown in the foregoing table do the greatest credit to Miss Sheppard, who has charge of that department. In arithmetic and geography also, the attainments displayed must be regarded as highly creditable to Mrs. Bennett and Miss Sheppard respectively.
To these Tables it seems desirable to annex similar ones, showing the results of the examination for Queen's scholarships at the close of 1853.
The number of successful candidates was 33, being nearly 77 per cent. of those who tried.
The number of successful candidates was 18, being 69 per cent. of those who tried.
Thus 51 Queen's scholars of both sexes were admitted at the beginning of 1854, and formed the mass of the students of the certificate class for that year. They entered upon their new career with great advantage in regard to previous training; and I trust that in their persons the excellent education afforded in the institution will be carried out with more complete results than any which have yet been presented.
In reference to the examination of the male candidates, it is necessary to explain that the papers on Euclid and algebra were alternative, no student being allowed to answer questions on both. The choice, indeed, extended to three subjects : 1, Euclid ; 2, algebra ; 3, mensuration and mechanics; and it appears that 34 candidates selected Euclid, and 9 algebra, whilst mensuration and mechanics were not chosen by any.
I have had no opportunity of comparing this selection of subjects with that which was made at any other training school; but the 43 candidates examined at the Borough Road consisted of pupil-teachers from various parts of England and Wales, and their unanimous rejection of mensuration and mechanics appears the more remarkable when it is considered that these subjects formed a necessary part of a pupil-teacher's course of study when apprentices were first introduced, whilst geometry was not admitted to its present alternative position until a very recent period. The fact seems to prove incontestably that the study of mechanics has not made satisfactory progress among elementary teachers; and this conclusion is entirely consistent with all that I have observed in my own district. Yet mechanical science is at once interesting and important, and the general neglect with which it is treated by schoolmasters and their apprentices must be founded upon some strong and extensively prevailing reason.
That reason, I have little doubt, is to be found in the mistaken system upon which it has been attempted to teach this branch of knowledge. In most subjects, it is happily still a rule with teachers to begin at the beginning; but in mechanics it has been supposed that the pupil may commence with results, and that he can usefully describe the action or calculate the work of complicated machines without having undergone any adequate course of instruction in those elementary propositions which are necessary to render familiar to his mind the fundamental laws of mechanics. I believe it to be but the natural consequence of this method that mechanics, as taught in our primary schools, have been found to be without any educative effect, and that the study of this subject among pupil-teachers is becoming almost extinct. It is matter of congratulation, under these circumstances, that a different
view of the subject has recently been developed at one of our training institutions, and has resulted in the publication of a treatise calculated to place the study of mechanics on a sound basis. I allude to a little book, entitled “Elementary Statics, by the Rev. R. Fowler, B.A., Vice-Principal of the Chester Training College ; and I trust that it may soon be followed by similar elementary books upon hydrostatics and dynamics.
The model and practising schools attached to the establishment in the Borough Road are upon a very large scale, and have always been cherished with marked solicitude by the British and Foreign School Society. The ordinary daily attendance of children at these schools has not fallen below 1,000 for some years past, and the total number admitted, from the opening up to the 31st of March 1854, was found to be not less than 35,394 boys and 20,442 girls. The boys' school consists of a senior and a junior department, of which the latter may be regarded mainly as the practising, and the former as the model school. The whole is under the able direction of Mr. Langton, Master of Method in the Normal department; but in the management of the primary schools he is efficiently aided by Mr. Ames, a former pupil in the institution, now holding a certificate of merit. I am indebted for the following brief outline of the course of instruction pursued in these schools to an account of the Normal College issued by the society in 1853, but equally applicable to the present time. The peculiarities of the tripartite organization should be carefully borne in mind, in considering the distribution of subjects under the three divisions.
Boys' JUNIOR SCHOOL.
A.-Class Division, 1. Reading easy lessons from Daily Lesson Books, Nos. 1, 2, and Sequel to No. 2, with interrogation and analysis. Each lesson illustrated with objects, black-board sketches and diagrams.
3. Writing easy words from dictation. Each lesson illustrated with objects, black-board diagrams and sketches.
C.-Gallery Division. 1. Lessons on common objects, especially those found in school-room. 2. Lessons on common animals and plants. 3. Lessons on familiar articles of food and clothing.
4. Lessons on number, form, colour, time, space, and the first principles of geography.