Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

labours. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, I feel little doubt that an annual supply of 200 teachers of both sexes is required by the Church schools in the metropolitan district. That the number does not fall short of this computation appears to me quite certain, but it probably may far exceed it. I am surely justified in assuming that the supply in future will be mainly furnished by the male and female pupil-teachers. Some of those go to the various training schools at the end of their apprenticeship; others are at once engaged in elementary schools as independent teachers; some few may find appointments as assistants; and others obtain situations which remove them altogether from national schools. Now, supposing that every pupil-teacher became a master or mistress, 400, the actual number in my district, would only supply 80 each year. Making allowance for failure of health, unfitness or disinclination for the profession, advantageous in openings other callings, I very much doubt whether 50 each year (some 30 boys and 20 girls) will ultimately be employed as teachers in national schools. This supply is far under the demand. The evil, which might be altogether obviated, is mitigated but slightly; and, while the improvement of existing schools is checked, the greatest advantage expected from the system will be but partially obtained. With reference to other possible objections, I would urge that no money spent upon schools produces so much immediate and prospective good as that paid to the apprentices. The money is not wasted if they engage in other pursuits at the close of their apprenticeship. They have done the work for which they were paid. It is no slight benefit to society to send out annually a large number of young men so well trained and educated as are the majority of the pupil-teachers. Far from feeling disappointed when the apprentices are unable from want of money or other causes to enter a normal school, many parents, whom I have seen, consider that the abilities and character of their sons will secure for them a higher rate of remuneration than they will probably obtain as schoolmasters. And finally, supposing that the calculations which I have made, so far as they proceed upon uncertain data, (and all calculations must so proceed at present,) should be fallacious,

-supposing that the number of teachers required be less, or their average length of service greater, than I have assumed,

- yet this is certain, that, the actual demand enormously exceeds the supply, and that employment could be found for a much larger number of masters than can be trained in our elementary and normal schools for many years. These opinions have not been lately adopted. I felt the same conviction last year, but deemed it right to await the result of another tour

[ocr errors]

of inspection, and to ascertain the views of persons engaged
in the management of schools, before I summitted it to your
Lordships' consideration.
With regard to the course of instruction given to the pupil- Attainments

of
teachers I have little to add to the statements made in former teachers.
reports. The examination papers generally bear indications
of careful teaching on the part of the masters and mistresses,
and of industry and intelligence in the pupils. But I have
frequently had occasion to remark their comparative deficiency
in knowledge of the English language. This might have been
expected, considering the unfavourable external circumstances
under which most of them have received the first rudiments
of education ; their earliest impressions have been derived
from imperfectly instructed parents, and their habitual lan-
guage is of necessity materially influenced by intercourse with
relations and comrades in their original station of life; but it
is a serious evil, and no pains should be spared to counteract

a
the tendency. It appears to be very evident that greater
stress should be laid upon the correct use of language, in
written compositions of a simple character and in oral exami-
nations, both at the commencement and during the course of
the apprenticeship ; and I am of opinion that the standard
of attainment required as a qualification for apprenticeship
might be advantageously raised in this very essential point.
A boy who habitually uses vulgar, ungrammatical, and irra-
tional expressions is not a fit teacher for any class of children,
and is likely to do most harm to the youngest, who will pro-
bably be placed under his charge. There is, indeed, a great im-
provement since the first appointment of pupil-teachers, but
not sufficient to satisfy just expectations. I am convinced that
persons who have been educated in our national schools speak
their own language less correctly and understand it less dis-
tinctly than the same class in any other country. This is some-
times accounted for by the mixed character of our vernacular
tongue ; but the advantage which the Germans undoubtedly
possess in the homogeneity of their language is more than
counterbalanced by the difficulty of its construction; and the
Frenchman rarely knows the etymology of words, which he
uses correctly because he attaches to each a definite meaning,
and because he has been carefully taught. I am happy to
believe that the managers of our normal schools are generally
aware of the great difficulty and vast importance of correcting
the written and spoken language of the students, and conse-
quently that a progressive improvement may be reasonably
expected. In the meantime it is advisable to direct the
attention of teachers as much as possible to the necessity of
improving their own style, and of bestowing increased pains

[ocr errors]

upon the exercises and oral examinations of the pupil

teachers. Grammar. The papers on grammar in general have not been satis

factory. It is not uncommon to find very bad parsing, and incorrect application of the elementary rules of syntax, in papers which bear undoubted marks of industry and general intelligence. The answers on etymology are seldom of any value. It may be expedient for an intelligent pupil to commit to memory a certain number of roots in extinct languages from which whole families of words in common use are derived, and to learn the use and meaning of prefixes and affixes. It certainly serves to illustrate the history of language, and to show that words for the most part are rational developments or expressions of ideas, and not merely arbitrary signs. No one can have observed the delight with which an intelligent youth watches the analysis of a difficult word, and learns the meaning of its constituent parts, without admitting the value of such instruction, when given by a judicious and well informed teacher. But it requires an unusual extent of information, and a cultivated and welldisciplined mind, to teach this subject without making gross mistakes, conveying incorrect impressions, and incurring the not unjust imputation of superficiality and presumption. It is a sound principle for a teacher to adhere to, indeed it should be an axiom with every one-in elementary as well as in the highest subjects, that he should not attempt to teach what he does not thoroughly understand ; and I do not see how a person unacquainted with the rudiments of Latin, Greek, and other difficult languages can attempt to explain words derived from them without violating this principle; the pupil-teachers who attempt it in my presence are invariably unsuccessful. If attempted at all, it should be confined to the most advanced class of pupils; and, unless a master possesses some knowledge of the language which he uses, he ought to state the sources

from which he derives his information. Geography. Geography is an interesting and useful subject. The pupil

teachers in my district can generally draw the maps of the countries which enter into the annual course of instruction, with neatness and precision, either on paper or on the black

board. Elementary I have reason to hope that the managers of schools in LonIrawing

don will generally take advantage of the arrangements made under your Lordships' sanction, and form classes for drawing. Many pupil-teachers evince a real taste and some talent for this accomplishment, which is of equal importance to those who are destined hereafter to be schoolmasters, and to many of those who may find other openings in life. I have taken

classes.

and mathe

every opportunity of conferring with local managers on the subject, and expect to find that many will have adopted the plan in the course of this current year. It is, however, far from easy to introduce any general system, which involves either expense or trouble, into a district where school managers have so many claims upon their time. Committees are assembled rarely and with difficulty, and are hardly kept together a sufficient time to go through the ordinary routine of business. The establishment of classes in convenient situations, and the offer of gratuitous admission to pupilteachers, upon the application either of their parents, schoolmasters, or managers, will probably bring the vast majority of boys, and a fair proportion of girls, under regular instruction in the art of linear drawing. Specimens of their drawings, attested by the teacher of the class, might be submitted to your Lordships together with the examination papers every year, but it would not be practicable to give this as an additional exercise before the Inspector ; at present it is scarcely possible to get through the written examination in the time which can be allowed in one day.

The progress of pupil-teachers in subjects of a scientific Arithmetic character is generally satisfactory. Exercises which require matics. acuteness rather than refinement of intellect present peculiar attractions to youths educated under such influences as I have previously described. It is, however, of great practical importance that this course of instruction should be carefully directed in the best channels. Arithmetic in all its applications is now well taught ; failures in the higher branches of decimals and fractions are comparatively rare. Book-keeping appears to be taught upon a good system ; the text-book in most general use being that published by the Commissioners of Education in Ireland. But the greatest improvement that has been made hitherto in the course of instruction is the substitution of Euclid for mensuration and mechanics; it meets a great want, and corrects a dangerous tendency. The habits of close and continued attention to one chain of thought, of precision and completeness in formning conclusions, and of applying clear principles to the analysis or combination of cumulative propositions, are just those in which pupil-teachers are likely to be most deficient, and which are most favourable to their intellectual development. Those habits were, comparatively speaking, but slightly affected by the previous course of mechanical instruction, but are now formed and developed by the study of geometry under judicious teachers. The religious training and instruction of the pupil-teachers, Religious

knowledge. under the authority and, in many cases, under the personal and regular superintendence of the parochial clergy, is the

a

most promising feature of the entire system. It would not be difficult to prove that the intellectual education of these youths is more effectually promoted by the study of the Word of God than by any portion of their secular instruction. Some persons do not appear to be aware how many first principles of thought on all subjects are derived from revelation; and how manifold are the influences of inspiration upon the judgment, the reasoning powers, and the imagination, as well as upon the heart and affections, of man. The difference between a Christian and a heathen thinker consists not merely in strength of principles and in perception of divine truths, but in justness as opposed to sublety of thought, and in lucidity as distinguished from brilliancy of intellect. A youth who has studied history in the Bible knows more of the causes which affect the destinies of nations and individuals than the readers of Gibbon. Loftier and more heart-stirring appeals to the reason and feelings are made by the prophets and evangelists than by the most gifted thinkers of heathendom ; and even an unbeliever might admit that the many sided development of a mind conversant with the deepest and most practical problems of existence gives a greater intellectual importance to the writings of St. Paul than to any historical or philosophical works which could possibly be brought to bear upon the instruction of these youths. I have been peculiarly struck by the goodness, soundness, and reality of the religious instruction, considered under a purely intellectual point of view, as compared with the vagueness, inaccuracy, and superficiality of the knowledge attained by pupil-teachers in subjects of historical, political, or social interest, so far as that knowledge has been derived from secular sources. But, my Lords, whether I am right or not in this conviction, there can be no question that, in the most essential of all considerations, the religious training of the pupil-teachers is of the highest importance. And having now lived many years in the midst of a district with peculiarly favourable opportunities of ascertaining the state of education and the opinions of the clergy, I feel deep gratification in being able to record my opinion that the system in operation is raising up a body of teachers weli acquainted with Holy Scripture, trained in babits of devotion and reverence, and attached by bonds of grateful affection to the church and constitution of this land.

The remarks which I made last year on the subjects of instruction in the schools, might this year be repeated with little variation. There is evidently a steady improvement in the methods of teaching elementary subjects, or rather in the quality of the instruments by means of which those methods

Instruction in schools.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »