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PAPERS FOR THE SCHOOLMASTER.
JUNE 1, 1851.
A few months ago we expressed our fears that the Government would not be able to fulfil that portion of their engagement with Pupil Teachers, which refers to the disposal of such as were unsuccessful candidates for Queen's Scholarships. The prospective promise held out to them of occupation in Government offices was evidently contemplated under an erroneous calculation of the working of the plan about to be submitted to experiment, and under the impression that comparatively few would be found to require its aid. The result has shewn the impracticable nature of the promise. But mere regrets for its non-fulfillment will be useless. Self-interest and common sense suggest rather the enquiry what course under the circumstances can best be adopted? There is no reason to despair. Nothing has happened to damp the ardour of the most diligent and promising. The ill-qualified and idle lie beyond our compassion. Our sympathies are therefore simply limited to those who, in spite of their best and noblest efforts, are doomed to disappointment. It is for their encouragement we now state that a large number, if not most or all, of the Candidates who failed last December, in consequence of the restriction placed upon the number allotted to each Normal Institution, were nevertheless received free of expense. If pecuniary circumstances should prevent the like liberal treatment of Candidates in future, there can be no doubt that very substantial Exhibitions will still be offered, bearing a value proportionate to the merits of each unsuccessful Candidate.
This explanation is of the highest interest to Pupil Teachers, and the more so because we find with regret that some have been indueed to accept the charge of schools upon the expiration of their apprenticeship, rather than run the risk of failing at the examination for Queen's Scholarships. Such a step, whereit has been taken, is much to be lamented, as it is taken in defiance of the Committee of Council on Education, and may involve many unsuspecting young people in trouble. . It is at least certain that those who have completed their apprenticeship and accepted the charge of schools without passing into a Training Institution will forfeit their claim, for a term of years, to Government recognition, and also its advantages.
There is, therefore, a very clear path marked out to Pupil Teachers. Upon the expiration of their fourth or fifth year, they should present themselves as competitors for Queen's Scholarships. If they fail on account of the regulation which restricts the number of Queen's Scholars to 25 per cent. in any Institution, the authorities of such Institutions will probably give them the most lucrative Exhibitions, varying in value with the relative position they take at the examination. If they fail, it will still be their wisest and cheapest course to pass through a Training Institution, for whatever be the immediate cost, even though they must depend on a loan from their friends and their late employers and managers, it will be rapidly and amply repaid out of the proceeds of the Government augmentation to which a course of training would lead. In some cases, the Training Institution itself would allow part of the payment to remain until the Pupil -Teacher had completed his term of residence, and received an appointment to a School. At all events nothing is more clear than that the determination to evade the course of training is most suicidal, and that in the worst case every exertion to secure its advantage will be abundantly recompensed.
The following extract from a circular letter sent by the Committee on Education to H.M. Inspectors may prove of use to those who are aspiring to Queen's Scholarships :
Their Lordships will also be prepared to allow Pupil Teachers, who have passed the Fourth year's Examination, with unequivocal success, before Michaelmas in each year, to compete for Queen's Scholarships. If they succeed, they will receive a proportionate payment for the unexpired portion of the current year of their apprenticeship, at the rate of the fifth year, up to the time when their Scholarship commences If they fail they will return to their Schools and will have to pass the Examination for the end of the fifth year in the usual manner.
In order to limit as little as possible the opportunities by which peculiar talents may be exhibited, it is not perhaps desirable to prescribe which of the Subjects of Examination these Candidates shall be at liberty to select, further than to state strongly their Lordships' opinion that they should not attempt answers upon all the Subjects. The following Subjects must not be wholly omitted by any Candidate, viz:-1.-The Holy Scriptures, the Catechism, and the Liturgy of the Church
(in Schools connected with the Church of England). 2.-English History. 3.–Geography. 4.- Arithmetic (including Vulgar Fractions and Decimals.) 5.- English Grammar and Composition. 6.- The Notes of a Lesson, or some observations on the Practical Duties
of a Teacher. Á Candidate who answers in these Subjects really well, may obtain an Exhibition of £20. for one year.
A Candidate who answers in the foregoing Subjects really well, and also in one other Subject really well (to be selected by himself out of those proposed to the Candidates for Certificates of Merit, but with a preference on the part of my Lords for the three First Books of Euclid) may obtain an Exhibition of £25.
for one year
If a Candidate attempts a greater number of Subjects, he will do so on his own responsibility. My Lords could not but be happy to find that he was able to answer in a greater number of Subjects well: but the extent of the Subjects attempted will not be accepted in lieu of mastery over those which are indispensable.
Candidates for Queen's Scholarships in Female Training Schools will not be required to answer questions in Vulgor Fractions or Decimals. For the higher Exhibitions, they will be at liberty to select one of the Subjects proposed to Female Candidates for Certificates of Merit, such as Book-keeping, Biographical Memoirs, or Domestic Economy. Their Lordships would prefer a knowledge of some good Manual upon the last-mentioned Subject, in connection with which they will be prepared to give due weight to Certificates from the Managers of the Candidate's School, attesting her practical knowledge of household duties.
The Exhibitious awarded to Females will be at the rate of two-thirds of those awarded to Males, viz., £13 6s. 8d., and £16 138. 4d., instead of £20. and £25, to correspond with the different expense of boarding in Training Schools, for Males and Females respectively.
It must be the Candidate's endeavour to raise the quality of his knowledge during any interval that he may have for preparation.
My Lords will not grant any Exhibitions of this nature to Candidates whose attainments are not indisputably good, sound, and solid, as far as they go.
As to the number of these Scholarships to be allowed, Their Lordships will confine it within 25 per cent. of the number of Students who shall have been resident in each Training School for one year and upwards at the date of the
Methods of Teaching; Interrogation.
(Continued from No. XV.) ii. Their adaptation. It will readily be perceived by the teacher, that questions admit of adaptation, and that those fitted to exercise the minds of seniors, will be altogether above the comprehension of the younger ones. This adaptation should be made to include both the matter and the language. The teacher must exercise his judgment as to the precise difficulty of the questions put, carefully graduating them according to the standing of the children, so that whilst those for the juniors call for replies based on observation and fact, those for the more advanced should involve the frequent exercise of reflection and judgment; thus ranging from the merely verbal, to those requiring a vigorous mental effort. The best guide both as to the matter and form of the question will be the children themselves, and a few questions will bring out sufficient to inform a practised teacher of their exact position, as to intelligence and command of language; he may then proceed in the light of the information thus acquired.
iii. Their extent. It is quite necessary that interrogation should be kept within due limits, as it is possible to propose many questions, which, though well framed and carefully put, may be perfectly unnecessary, and hence lead to an unprofitable waste of time. With young children questions may descend to trifles, for the purpose of gaining a lively and vigorous attention. In all cases they should be sufficient to ensure a correct apprehension of the terms employed and a clear and vivid conception of the subject of instruction; and keeping this end in view, they may be reduced in number in proportion to the knowledge and attention of the group under instruction. It will often happen, that in the employment of this, as in the other methods, the teacher, from a want of clear views of his proper purpose, or from unwatchfulness, does much to destroy the unity of his teaching, by wandering from the point in hand. It may be necessary to diverge occasionally for the purpose of bringing in illustrations, but the direct course should be returned to immediately, otherwise the subject is lost sight of, in its auxiliaries.
iv. Modes of putting them. From the remarks already made on the kinds of questions, it will have been seen that considerable importance is to be attached not only to the character of the questions proposed, but to the way also in which they are put. The primary consideration in framing a question is, to make it such as will certainly bring out a specific reply, that is, supposing the material to exist where it is sought. To frame such a question, requires the use of such words only, as the children can clearly comprehend, and such a
collocation of these words as shall lead the inquiries of the children in a certain direction. The young teacher should make this point one of special study, by taking a reading lesson, for instance, and writing out the series of questions he would put on the text; and when done should review the whole, testing each individual question, by inquiring whether its language is simple,--fitly framed for the purpose, -and really forming one of a series.
Generally the preceding reply should suggest the following question, so that each may form one of an analytical or synthetical series. One of the axioms in interrogation is, to tell nothing which may be brought out by proposing such questions, as shall lead to any particular point determined on in the teacher's mind. Considerable tact will at times be necessary in managing this process; the child gives a wrong answer, and the teacher is forbidden to correct the errors by the direct mode. This would be the shorter, but not the more efficient way. In such a case, it is the proper plan, by a series of questions, to trace the error back to the false associations, or wrong judgments which led to it; and it is only when this course is pursued that the error is effectually removed.
Questions should generally be put with an easy, pleasant, and sprightly tone, urging them onwards with rapidity, when the memory only is concerned; but whenever the reflective powers are required, with a due allowance of time.
Interrogation is applied analytically, when a whole, by means of a series of questions, is decomposed into its elements. This is the case, when the subject of instruction is given from a text book,—as the reading lesson for instance; the purpose being to reduce the whole into elements of sufficient simplicity to be readily received by the children. A more limited application of analytical questions is required in every lesson given, that difficult terms and expressions may be simplified to any required degree.
Interrogation is applied synthetically when, by means of questions, the children are led from particulars to generals, or from the known to the unknown. This form of it is everywhere useful and of almost universal application. It mostly follows analysis, for the purpose of arranging in their proper sequence the elements arrived at by the analytic process. Many teachers who are tolerably apt at analysis, possess but indifferent skill in synthesis ; this is mainly owing to the want of a clear conception on their part of the necessary and valuable connexion between the two, and is remedied as soon as they are led to see that the process of construction is equally important with that of decomposition.
In whatever way questions may be applied, the series should be