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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
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The Limitations of the School Part 1

by G. F. Bridge, Esq.
Volume 12, 1901, pgs. 101-106


". . . appreciation of literature is an intellectual grace seldom acquired in schools. The active, bustling, noisy life of a school is not a favourable soil for the growth of such a delicate plant. Of this truth I become more and more convinced every year that I teach--that the boy who comes to school with no love of reading, and no appreciation of what books and literature can tell him, will profit little by all the literary teaching he receives in the school, and will leave the school--whether he leaves in the fourth or the sixth form matters little-will leave the school dead to all the pleasures and elevating influences of literature.
What I have said of the appreciation of literature applies with even greater force to the love of the fine arts. Public school life, the tendency of which is to keep both boys and masters in a state of intense, and indeed somewhat feverish activity, is unfavourable to the growth of the quiet, thoughtful spirit; it is not likely to foster any appreciation or love of art."


The late Bishop of London in addressing an educational meeting some time ago, spoke of boarding schools as being "half barracks, half workhouse, places to which parents send their sons in order to get rid of them." In considering this utterance, we ought, no doubt, to make allowance for that spirit of mild jocularity which Bishops so often see fit to import into their episcopal utterances; but, nevertheless, it points to a real danger. There is, I believe, a legend of a machine at Chicago, into one end of which the workman drops pigs and from the other end of which emerge sausages. So possibly some parents, and perchance some schoolmasters, think that you have only to drop a child into the bottom of a school, and in due tome a fully educated man, perfectly developed in all his faculties, bodily and mental, will emerge from the top.

Coleridge, in his autobiography, tells us that when he went to Christ's Hospital, the master said to him:--"Boy, the school is your father! the school is your mother! the school is your brother, your sister, your first cousin, your second cousin, and all the rest of your relations! Let's have no more crying."

Yet it is quite certain that the school cannot in this way perform its own functions and the functions of the home too. The school is the realm of law and discipline, the home of affection and freedom, and the boy--and, for that matter, every human being--needs the latter no less than the former. School life cultivates mainly the masculine virtues of obedience to law, courage, industry, public spirit, self-reliance; the home the more feminine virtues of gentleness, pity for the weak, purity and tender feeling. The man needs the feminine virtues as much as the masculine, the woman needs the masculine as much as the feminine. Boys brought up altogether in schools would be barbarians, boys brought up altogether in home would be weaklings. The school and the home are the corrective the one of the other. It is good, no doubt, to remember Wellington's saying (if he did say it) that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton; but it is good also to remember that while every citizen ought to be able to fight if the needs of his country require it, yet that fighting forms, happily, a very small part of human life.

However it is not so much of moral as of intellectual education I propose to speak to-day. But before I plunge into that subject I should just like to call your attention to what John Stuart Mill said of the parts played by the home and the school in the moral training of the child. In his Inaugural Address at St. Andrew's University, this great thinker said, "We must keep in view the inevitable limitations of what schools and universities can do. It is beyond their power to educate morally and religiously. Moral and religious education consist in training the feelings and the daily habits, and these are in the main beyond the sphere and inaccessible to the control of public education. It is the home, the family, which gives us the moral and religious education we really receive, and this is completed and modified, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, by society, and the opinions and feelings by which we are surrounded."

If there is one thing more than another which many years' teaching impresses on the teacher's mind, it is how little in many respects class-room work does for a boy. How many boys who enter a school, ignorant and stupid, go out of it only a little less ignorant and stupid than they came in. In how many cases the school seems powerless to develop mental ability, or love of knowledge, or taste for any intellectual pursuits.

The truth is that the school can only build on the foundation which nature and the home have laid. A real intellectual bent, or a love of some particular intellectual pursuit, is seldom given by the school: it is the gift of nature or it is implanted in the home in the child's earliest years; the most that the school does is to give it opportunity of development. Reading the other day the life of Shelley, I came across this remarkable utterance of the poet's: "I have no fear for the future of my children, for I believe in the omnipotence of education." That is the expression of a man who had had no practical experience of education. Had he spent a few years in a class-room, he would probably have been more inclined to believe in the powerlessness of education.

Take one point only. One object of school education--not the primary one perhaps, but still a very important one--is supposed to be to give a boy a love of knowledge and of learning. Yet he would be a rash man who would venture to assert that the school succeeds in implanting this love of knowledge in more than a few pupils. If you find a man with a strong love of literature or science or natural history, in nine cases out of ten, if you knew the history of his mind, you would find that either he owed that love to his early surroundings and his home training, or else that it was simply a natural instinct. Read the biographies of great men, of men of genius, and see if in most cases they did not owe far more to the home than to the school. How much of Shelley's poetic imagination, of Darwin's passion for natural history and power of observation, and Shaftesbury's piety and benevolence was due to school training? And if you say (what I entire agree with) that schools are not meant for geniuses, but for the average man, then take as many cases as you can find of ordinary men who have a special intellectual bent or pursuit, and see in how many cases they owe this to the school. The truth is, intellectual pursuits do not flourish in the schools of the present day.

This is no mere opinion of my own. Writing some years ago in the Nineteenth Century, the present Bishop of Calcutta, then Headmaster of Harrow, said of the public schools, "They fail in intellectuality." And Matthew Arnold told us long ago that "our school system, though properly an intellectual agency, has done and does nothing to counteract the indisposition to science, which is our chief intellectual fault." Matthew Arnold, too, was only the first of many observers of German schools who have remarked on the difference of tone with regard to the things of the mind which prevails in those schools, and who have noticed how much larger the proportion of boys who take a serious interest in literary or scientific work.

The reasons for this comparative neglect to the intellectual side of education in English schools are various. To a large extent, it is simply the reflection of a national characteristic. As a nation we are indifferent to learning, and our schools, which follow public opinion far more than they lead it, simply reflect this trait. Education in England is indeed dependent on public opinion to a greater extent probably than in any other country in Europe, and as long as the public remains indifferent to the training of the intellect and the cultivation of intellectual habits, so long, it is to be feared, will schools consider these things as little worthy of attention.

A second and even more potent reason is the conception of education which reigns in our public schools. The aim of our public schools is to make boyhood a time of practical activity. The boy is to live as the man lives: a life of business and pleasure; not a life of learning. The whole tendency of public school life is to make a boy throw the whole energies of his heart and soul into the active social life of the school, the games, the debating society, the field-club, the cadet corps, the periodical concerts and theatricals, and, in the case of older boys, the government of their juniors. And placed side by side in the boy-mind with the keen excitements and the healthy ambitions of this social life, study must indeed appear a dull and colourless thing.

Of the splendours and the glory of public school life, let one speak who was only half an Englishman, yet who seems to have felt to the full the fascination of his English boy-life. Lord Beaconsfield, in one of his earlier novels, speaks thus of Eton: "That delicious plain, studded with every creation of graceful culture; hamlet and hall and grange, garden and grove and park; that castle palace grey with glorious ages; those antique spires, hoar with faith and wisdom, the chapel and the college, that river winding through shady meads, the sunny glade and the solemn avenue; the room in the Dames' house, where we first order our own breakfast and first feel that individual mind that leads, conquers, controls; the emulation and the affection; the noble strife and the tender sentiment; the daring exploit and the dashing scrape; the passion that pervades our life and breathes in everything, from the aspiring study to the inspiring sport. Oh! what hereafter can spur the brain and touch the heart like this--can give us a world so deeply and variously interesting--a life so full of quick and bright excitement, passed in a scene so fair?" Ay, it is an invigorating and healthy life: the life of a public school. Do not imagine I think lightly of it; it is our principal contribution to the science of education; it is the admiration and the envy of foreigners. But we pay the inevitable price for it. Learning does not flourish side by side with such keen pursuit of pleasure. Class-room work comes to be looked upon as a dull and stupid interruption to real genuine life--a feeling which, I am bound to remark, is by no means confined to the boys of the school.

A third reason for the carelessness about the intellectual training of the average boy which is characteristic of so many schools, is the excessive importance at present attached to examinations. Getting boys through examinations seems to be the only part of class-room work in which the majority of parents take a lively interest. Schools are judged mainly by their successes in winning scholarships and preparing their pupils for examinations. The tendency therefore to give an undue share of attention to boys who are going in for examinations is inevitable. Examining drives true teaching into the background. In this matter, public opinion is sadly in need of education. If it would only demand thorough training for young boys, examinations could be left to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, the public and our educational authorities seem to be like a farmer who thinks he need pay no attention to the crop till the time comes for reaping it. If parents, first, and those who bear rule over our public education, secondly would only insist on the infinite importance of the first fourteen years of life, education might be a very different thing!

I have spoken in general terms of what seems to me to be a weakness in the schools of the present day and I have done so, not because I wish to criticize my professional brethren, but because I wish to hint to you where the home must supplement the efforts of the school. Let me speak now of two or three other points in which the schoolboy of to-day seems to me specially weak. The first is general information. Those who have never taught in a school will find it difficult to credit the ignorance displayed by even the best boys of a school in matters of knowledge of which everyone is inclined to take for granted. I have known, for instance, a sixth form boy [grade 10-12], a promising classical scholar, ignorant of the quarters of the heaven in which the sun rises and sets. Every general knowledge paper, of which I have looked over a good many, contains evidence of wonderful ignorance on the part of boys. No doubt what I am saying does not apply to all boys--many lads are remarkably quick at picking up knowledge and acquire an amount of information respecting butterflies, and stamps, and ships, and other boyish delights far exceeding that of their teachers. Most schoolmasters, indeed, would probably readily confess to having learnt much from their pupils. Still, the fact remains that emptiness is the mental characteristic of a good many of even the clever boys of a school. Schools might do more perhaps than they now attempt to give information about common things, but, as things are at present, if that kind of knowledge is not cultivated in the home in early childhood, the boy will probably go through life without it.

That great thinker whom I have quoted before, the late John Stuart Mill, looked upon it as an absurdity that history and geography should be taught in schools at all, and his reason for this opinion was that no one ever really learnt history and geography except by private reading. I doubt whether Mill would find many practical schoolmasters to agree with this dictum of his, for considerable information on these subjects can be acquired by class-room work, but undoubtedly, in such subjects as these there is a great opportunity for encouraging interest by reading and conversation. To understand history and geography, little technical knowledge is needed, and the interest of the subjects is such that it appeals to most intelligent human beings. Parents can do much to encourage interest in these subjects in their children by talking to them about them, by showing them pictures and by placing in their hands interesting works. Of books which are instructive without being heavy there is nowadays a vast stock. Such are biographies of national heroes, such as Macmillan's "Men of Action" series and some of Froude's works on the Elizabethans, accounts of travels and adventure in foreign lands, historical novels, especially [Sir Walter] Scott's, volumes of light science, such as Hutchinson's works on extinct animals. Of considerable help to a boy in his historical studies is an intelligent reading of the daily paper, not the mere mechanical reading of it, but such an intelligent reading as means a clear apprehension of the present condition of the world, so far, at least, as the boy can comprehend it. To take the instance which most naturally occurs to one at the present moment. How much a boy's understanding of the wars of history will be increased by an understanding of the war that is going on in South Africa to-day! Much as war has changed, there is much in war that is unchangeable--the difficulties of feeding and moving large bodies of men, the fundamental principles of strategy and tactics, the dangers, the hardships, the excitements and the dulnesses, and the boy who has digested the dispatches from correspondents and the letters from soldiers at the front will assuredly be better able to understand the wars of Wellington and Marlborough.

(To be continued.)

Vol 12 pg 186-195 The Limitations of the School, part 2
By G. F. Bridge, Esq.

(Continued from page 106.)

One of the most conspicuous weaknesses of the British boy is to my mind what I would call his illiterateness, by which I mean the slight comprehension he has of the meaning of language, and his incapacity in many cases to understand any language beyond that of the playground or the sporting columns of the newspapers. Let me give two examples of what I mean. I have known a sixth form [11th/12th grade class] where there were only two boys who knew the meaning of the word "abyss," and I have known a fifth form [10th/11th grade class] only one boy which could explain the meaning of the proverb, "It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good." This ignorance of the mother-tongue is, in most cases, the greatest obstacle in the way of teaching boys foreign languages, a fact recently brought before the Headmasters' Conference by so eminent a teacher as the headmaster of Marlborough College. The modern language master is hampered, not by the inability of the English boy to learn foreign languages--an inability which is in most cases quite imaginary--but by having to teach English at the same time as he teaches French and German. The study of English authors, which ought to be one of the pleasantest tasks of the schoolboy, and indeed rather an intellectual relaxation than a task, becomes a laborious spelling out of the meaning of difficult sentences, and Shakspere and Milton are as obscure to the boy as if they were written in a foreign tongue. I am quite aware how much the school itself is to blame for this illiterateness. The study of the mother-tongue is, I know, shamefully neglected in our public schools. Teaching boys to read intelligently--and this really lies at the bottom of an intelligent comprehension of language--is looked upon as beneath the dignity of public school masters. English as taught in the lower forms of schools too often means simply the study of grammar in its most barren and mechanical aspect or else the unintelligent learning by heart of poems wholly unsuitable for the young.

But whilst I fully admit that schools ought to do their share in helping children to an understanding of language, I venture to point out to you that this is a case in which the atmosphere of the home has a very considerable influence on the progress of the child's mind. The understanding of literature and a feeling for poetry are, like the higher moral graces, things which are seldom acquired at all if they are not acquired in early childhood. The literary education of a boy begins when he learns simple childish poems at his mother's knee, or reads simple childish books with someone who takes care that he shall understand and appreciate them. The foundation of the understanding of language and of books is laid in this way, and if it is not laid in this way, the language teaching of schoolmasters will be for the most part but a building of houses upon the sand. This kind of elementary teaching means mainly three things: (1) the understanding of the meaning of words, whether used singly or woven in sentences; (2) the ability to read aloud; (3) the acquisition of the fundamental ideas of grammar; and the more of this kind of training the child receives in the home, the better equipped will he be for the literary teaching he will receive at school. I may add to this that appreciation of literature is an intellectual grace seldom acquired in schools. The active, bustling, noisy life of a school is not a favourable soil for the growth of such a delicate plant. Of this truth I become more and more convinced every year that I teach--that the boy who comes to school with no love of reading, and no appreciation of what books and literature can tell him, will profit little by all the literary teaching he receives in the school, and will leave the school--whether he leaves in the fourth or the sixth form matters little-will leave the school dead to all the pleasures and elevating influences of literature.

What I have said of the appreciation of literature applies with even greater force to the love of the fine arts. Public school life, the tendency of which is to keep both boys and masters in a state of intense, and indeed somewhat feverish activity, is unfavourable to the growth of the quiet, thoughtful spirit; it is not likely to foster any appreciation or love of art. It is true that secondary schools have made great strides in the teaching of drawing, and there are now, I imagine, few schools where that subject is not taught to at least a considerable percentage of the pupils, and it is true also that music is cultivated more or less in the great majority of public schools, but the practice of drawing--valuable as it is for practical purposes and as an education for hand and eye--will not of itself help a boy to appreciate pictures, nor, I imagine, will singing in a class inspire a taste for the music of Beethoven or Mozart. The cultivation of the aesthetic faculty is quite a different thing from the acquirement of practical skill, and either may exist without any tincture of the other. For the cultivation of the aesthetic faculty, it cannot be said at present that schools do anything. Go into any school and observe the bare walls of the class-rooms, ask how many pictures there are in the school which boys ever get a chance to see, ask how many times a year the scholars ever have their attention called to a beautiful work of art. And yet if we believe, as surely we must believe, that art is a refining and elevating influence, we ought to try to do something to give our children the advantages of such an influence. Is it altogether a good thing that children should spend all their working hours surrounded by ugliness? Is it not something of a pity that they should never see one of Raphael's pictures, or even one of Landseer's? And yet, while you blame schools for their carelessness in this matter, I would ask you to remember that the love of beautiful things, like all the finer feelings, cannot be taught like Latin and Greek, but is rather, like religion itself, an inspiration caught by one individual from another, and the individual from whom the child catches it is, in nine cases out of ten, the parent.

While I have been speaking of literature and art, I expect it will have occurred to some of you that much of what I have said applies only to exceptional boys, and not to the average boy. There is no doubt some truth in this, though much more might be done than is done to help the average boy to an appreciation of these great products of human thought. Still, of course, it is true that there are many children whom nothing could render sensible to the gracious influences of noble thought and beautiful form. And schools being necessarily fashioned to suit the requirements of the average boy, clearly art and literature will have small chance in them. But surely this makes it all the more incumbent upon parents who have children whose tastes are different from those of the average child, to see that those tastes are carefully cultivated. The quiet, thoughtful boy, the boy with literary, or artistic, or musical tastes hardly gets his fair chance in a school--see that he gets it in the home. You have considerable opportunity for doing this, for, owing to the remarkable length of the holidays in English schools, you have your children entirely to yourself for between three and four months every year. In those three or four months, at least, let individual tastes and faculties be cultivated, and let us take care that all our children are not, by too much rubbing together, made as like one another as pebbles on a sea beach.

I proceed now to speak of much smaller matters, and to point out to you that in class-room work a schoolmaster has great difficulty in teaching anything that only one boy can do at a time. This applies principally to whatever has to be done by the voice. You may have a hundred boys writing or drawing in a room at the same time, but obviously you can have only one boy speaking, reading, or talking French. In all the arts connected with the use of the voice, therefore, the power of the schoolmaster is strictly limited. There are three arts of this kind which every child, or nearly every child, ought to learn--reading aloud, recitation, the speaking of foreign languages. I might, perhaps, add a fourth--speaking to a number of persons, to the extent, at least, of being able to tell a story or describe a scene clearly and intelligently in the presence of a class. It can hardly be claimed for schools that they are successful in cultivating any of these forms of skill. More might be done for them in schools than is done, no doubt, especially in the matter of reading aloud, the gross neglect of which is a thing which a good many schools go out of their way to make painfully apparent to the public; but these vocal arts will hardly be thoroughly well taught except where the home co-operates with the school. Take the reading and speaking of French and German, for example. An easy sum in arithmetic will show you that if a master has a class of twenty boys, and has two hours a week to give to reading or talking French, each boy will be uttering French for just six minutes a week. Now the fluent reading or speaking of a foreign language will hardly be secured by six minutes' practice a week. It is often borne in upon me when I hear boys read French or German, but particularly French, how helpful to modern language masters would be the co-operation of parents who have some knowledge of foreign tongues, and who would be willing to listen to their children reading for, say, ten or fifteen minutes three or four times a week.

This leads me to make a remark about French and German conversation. It is much discussed amongst teachers whether it is or is not possible to "teach" (as the expression is) French or German conversation in the class-room. The answer to this question appears to me to mainly depend on what you mean by "teaching conversation." Conversation is properly speaking the free and fluent exchange of information and ideas, and in this sense French conversation is impossible in the class-room. On the other hand, it is certainly possible to give boys a considerable amount of practice in the utterance of French and German. But see what an immense advantage the parent has over the schoolmaster in this matter! The parent can carry on a real conversation with the boy, the master only a very artificial one; the parent can talk with the child for a quarter of an hour on end, the master for not more than two or three minutes. In fact, the difference between French conversation of the home and that of the school is the difference between the sham fight and the real battle!

The same principle applies to the special difficulties individual boys find with their work. The master dealing with the mass deals with the difficulties which experience has shown him are the rocks over which the average boy stumbles; but as no two boys are exactly alike, it follows that the individual boy will often find difficulties which the master has not explained. Every schoolmaster, therefore, who really cares about the progress of his pupils, will welcome any assistance given in the home which is directed towards clearing away the obstacles in the boys' path. Most teachers, indeed, view with distrust the practice of giving boys such an amount of help that their work is practically done for them, for this tends to make lads helpless instead of self-reliant, and also prevents the teacher from knowing what progress the pupil is making; but this is quite a different thing to helping a child over a stile which he cannot be fairly expected to surmount himself. The general principle in all teaching is to do nothing for the pupil which he can do for himself; but in the most carefully set home work, things will turn up which a backward or dull boy cannot do if left entirely to himself, and anyone who assists him in these difficulties renders a service both to the boy and to the school.

I have said so much of what the class-room work does not do, that you may fairly retaliate by asking me what it does do. My answer is that it does mainly two things for a boy's intellect--it disciplines the mind and it develops power. The continual wrestling with difficult problems, the effort to learn the hard piece of grammar, or to get the meaning out of the troublesome foreign author, all the daily exercise of the powers of mind under the varied stimuli of healthy rivalry, sense of duty, respect for his teacher, a sense of the importance of education, and a score of other motives, give power and self-reliance. And yet I am not sure that the principle that the main object of class-room work is discipline, and not the acquirement of knowledge, is not carried somewhat too far in these days.

"The object of teaching is to teach a boy how to learn."

"Not knowledge, but development of faculty, is the true end of schoolwork."

Phrases like these are repeated so constantly wherever those interested in education are gathered together, that there seems to be a danger of other important aspects of education being lost sight of altogether. It may be well therefore to remind ourselves, after all due respect has been paid to the work of discipline and training of the faculty--work which I would not have you suppose for a moment that I set less store by than other schoolmasters--I say, it may be well to remind ourselves that youth is emphatically the time for learning, that is, for laying in a stock of knowledge, and a store of ideas, and also for the acquirement of many forms of skill. The educational necessities of the time tend rather to obscure this side of schoolwork. It is an age of language-teaching. Never before in the history of the world has the unfortunate human boy or girl had to learn so many foreign tongues. Nearly every child in first-grade schools learns two languages, the majority learn three, some--I hope only a few--learn four. This is a species of education which is quite peculiar to the second half of the nineteenth century. The Greek boy learnt no foreign language; the Roman one at most, i.e., Greek; the modern European, till quite recently, two at most--Latin and Greek. French and German have been super-added during the last thirty or forty years to the classical tongues, and the consequence is, and I said, that most boys in first-grade schools now learn three languages, and that, consequently, at least half their school hours are spent in linguistic studies. Languages, either classical or modern, are undoubtedly one of the finest, if not the very best instrument for disciplining and developing the mind that can be found.

Many educationalists regard a boy's language studies as the most valuable mental discipline that he gets. Still it must not be forgotten that linguistic work is in the main disciplinary only, and does not add largely to a boy's knowledge or stock of ideas. Half of the child's working hours is a big slice to give to what is, after all, only the study of words, and a considerable fraction of the other half is occupied with the study of mathematics, another study the disciplinary effect of which it is hard to exaggerate, but which is, be it remembered, the study of numbers and abstractions. What I sometimes ask myself is--Where does the study of things come in? If the boy spend three-quarters of his time, and more than three-quarters of his energy, thinking and learning about words and numbers, how much brain will he have to spare for the study of the world and all that is in it, for nature and the numerous sciences connected with it, for man and his countless activities, to name but a few of which such as government, trade, war, art, open up before us immense vistas of knowledge? Does it not seem that mental discipline gets a little too much attention in schools at present, and the acquirement of knowledge too little? Is not the boy who can write Latin verse, solve mathematical problems, but whose mind is destitute of information, or ideas, or taste, somewhat too common a type? Here is a problem which the schools will surely have to solve in the next generation. What the solution will be, I cannot venture to prophesy, but I cannot help thinking that a considerable reduction in the amount of linguistic work done in the class-room will soon be one of the objects of educational reformers. That reduction will be achieved by the ejection of Latin from many schools, a change which I, for one, would view by no means altogether with satisfaction, but which is inevitable; and in many others by the adoption of improved methods in the teaching of languages, which will permit the pupil to make more rapid progress than at present.

But whatever may be the future, this much at least about the present is certain; that the predominance of linguistic and mathematical studies in secondary schools has a tendency to make education one-sided, and produce a considerable number of skilled classicists and mathematicians, who scarcely know the names of the planets, and would be puzzled to say whether Bismarck was a Frenchman or German.

I cannot bring these fragmentary remarks to a conclusion without briefly noticing two of the many hindrances to good education with which our public schools are struggling. The one is the absence of any satisfactory test of efficiency, the other is extreme poverty. The first point I do not propose to treat at length, because the best method of testing the work done in the class-room is a technical question, but I will venture to urge upon you to consider to what extent the present deficiencies in secondary schools are due to the insufficiency of their funds, for there is no one question on which it is more needful that the public should have clear views. Deficient buildings, old and unserviceable furniture, absence of physical and chemical laboratories, teaching apparatus altogether wanting, or represented only by a few obsolete maps, and two or three broken blackboards--this is too often the provision made for the necessities of education. Of the provision made for the flesh and blood requirements of school-work, I will content myself now with three quotations on the subject from the reports of the Bryce Commission on Secondary Education.

Quotation 1 (which practically contains the essence of the whole question):--"A very cheap school means either a very small staff or a very badly paid one, and in neither case can the efficiency of the worker be maintained."

Quotation 2:--"The statistics we have received from the representatives of the Assistant Masters' Association indicate clearly the existence of a large number of very small salaries, and correspond, without doubt, to the existence in the schoolmaster's profession of many who are mere birds of passage, picking up a small income on their way to other careers, of some, moreover, who are permanently worth for any other career no more than they get, and of better men who are forced to eke out a living by doing other work in time saved by the perfunctory performance of their scholastic duties."

Quotation 3:--"Young women with professional prospects such as Assistant Mistresses have, are not likely to take much pains and spend much money on qualifying themselves as really skilled labourers in education."

You see how clearly the Commissioners trace the inevitable connection between cheapness and inefficiency. That what is low in price is low in quality is a law of nature, from which all our Guilds, and Associations, and Unions, whether of teachers or parents, will vainly endeavour to find a way of escape. If the public refuse to pay more than a third-rate price for education, it must be content to receive in exchange a third-rate article. You must not expect to buy oil paintings for the price of olegraphs. Lord Rosebery the other day appealed to us to put the affairs of the Empire on a business footing. I do not know whether his Lordship regards education as part of the affairs of the Empire, but there is certainly pressing need for it to be put upon a business footing. Schools must be provided with the funds necessary for their equipment, and for the provision of an adequate staff. These funds may be provided for either directly by the payment of increased fees, or indirectly through the medium of rates and taxes, but provided they must be. I urge this upon you, because it is necessary that the public should understand that good education is not purely a schoolmaster's question, but one the solution of which depends largely on this question--What assistance is the public prepared to give? That is the question on which I invite you to ponder.

I trust you will not go away from here thinking that I have a low opinion of that class of schools to which the one in which I hold a post belongs. That would be quite a wrong impression. If I have pointed deficiencies and weaknesses, some of them inherent in the nature of things, and common to all schools in all ages, others such as might be removed or at least alleviated by an improvement in the economic conditions of schools, it is because it seems desirable that parents should know how big a slice of education there is left over for them to grapple with after the school has done its work. There is much that the school does not do and does not profess to do for children; but there is much that it does extremely well. And if we consider education in its broadest aspect--moral, physical, intellectual--it may be doubted whether an English public school, with all its defects, does not at present afford as good a training, discipline and general upbringing for boys as any other educational institution in this confused and defective world.


Proofread May 2011, LNL