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The keeping an accurate account of weekly payments and of attendance, is a very important element in conducting a school, and is not sufficiently attended to by the managers. I will add here a form for this which has fallen under my observation, and is grounded on business principles well worthy of imitation in our schools,* and offers a good lesson in book-keeping for those who master it. It is a form adopted by a gentleman connected with commerce, in a school which he has established at a distance from the place where he lives. He requires one of these weekly forms to be duly filled up by the master, and sent to him every week; shewing an amount of interest in the success of schools in a district with which he is connected by property, which one cannot but admire, and which many of our country gentlemen would do well to imitate.
With reference to the subjects taught in our schools, there is one of great importance, to which I wish to draw the attention of schoolmasters, as I fear, it is one, of which they have not much knowledge, and is but little attended to in our Training Schools. I mean a knowledge of those branches of political economy which bear more immediately on industrial life, and on that kind of conduct which is the foundation of " social well-being.”
There are some elementary lessons bearing on this — lessons on money-matters in the Irish reading-books, and published separately also, which are very good; but I find these even less attended to than lessons on other subjects : and I may mention a small book, edited by myself, Lessons on Industrial Life, which is more especially written and intended for the use of teachers in our schools, and for classteaching in Mechanics’ Institutes.
My attention was more particularly called to this subject, and its importance, from visiting some time ago, the Birkbeck Schools at Peckham in Surrey established by Mr. Ellis, and witnessing there the knowledge which the upper boys had of it. These and the object lessons given by the master, Mr. Shiels, in these schools are models of instructive teaching, and well worthy of imitation in other schools.
The master or teacher may not only by his lessons in school, but also in his intercourse with the parents of the
* Form in the Appendix.
children, among whom he lives, do much to promote their social well-being, by conversing with them on such things as—the accumulation of small savings,—the placing them in the Savings' Bank and facilitating their doing so,—the respectability of character which generally attends it; many in our rural districts are hindered from doing so by sheer ignorance of the way to set about it, and from not having their attention called to it. Of this the following is a very strong confirmation :
My friend, Mr. Herbert, our excellent County Court Judge, living in the retired rural parish Goderich, with a population of about 750, circulated a short address among the labourers of his parish, in January, 1855, offering to receive, on the first Saturday in every month, at eight o'clock in the morning, such sums monthly (not exceeding 10s. each, but as low as 6d.) as any of the labourers in the parish might choose to bring, and to repay them, at the end of the year with interest a very little over five per cent. In addressing them, he says — “Each depositor will receive only his own money again, with interest at a rate not very much exceeding the current rate. He will, therefore, be under no obligation to me for any pecuniary sacrifice on my part, beyond the loss arising from that small excess of interest which I choose to incur for the sake of simplicity in keeping the accounts. Some, then, among you may ask, “How shall we be benefited by availing ourselves of this offer? The answer is obvious to every thinking mind : You will be benefited in the only way in which any real and permanent benefit can accrue to the worldly condition of working-men, by learning to rely on your own industry, the use of your own right arm, and the exercise of your own skill, and by practising habits of prudence, sobriety, and self-denial.”
At the end of the year fifty-two persons had deposited £85 6s. 6d., which was repaid them with £2 6s. 6d. interest. At five per cent., the amount of interest due on the deposits would be £2 5s. 4d.; the scheme, therefore, had only cost 1s. 2d. beyond the current rate of interest. And he was able to say to them, “ You may now consider you have only received what is entirely your own. You have now the advantage of a year's experience, to enable you to decide whether it is worth while to continue your subscription during next year. You know the amount of self-denial necessary to keep up the small nionthly payment. You enjoy to-day the benefit of having in hand a comparatively large sum, large enough, either to place in the Savings Bank for future accumulation, or to lay out to advantage in the purchase of warm clothing, or other durable necessaries for your own families. Is the benefit, then, worth the cost ?” They thought so, and continued ; and the gentleman was so pleased with the result, that he extended it to two small neighbouring parishes, at the re. quest of some of them who wished to be depositors. In this way, the Savings' Bank becomes a matter of daily conversation with them, and its benefits are extended.*
Another subject of importance is, Instruction in Elementary Drawing. In this, as a branch of instruction in our popular schools, I had no experience until within the last three years; but it has been introduced in Hereford during that time, where we have a master from the Board of Science and Art, who gives instruction to evening classes and attends on common day schools once a week, for which he receives from each school £5 per annum, and a higher sum for other schools which he attends.
The little instruction which the boys get in this is most useful to all; they learn to draw a straight line, instead of a crooked one-to judge of measures of length and of volume with accuracy : the eye and the hand are in some degree trained--the hand can execute with tolerable accuracy what the mind designs, and accuracy of mind leads to accuracy of thought. All this, even in a small way, is most useful.
Since this drawing school commenced it has been selfsupporting, which is partly owing to the facility of moving about which railroads offer. This enables the master to attend part of the week at Ludlow; and, when there is this facility of moving, the same master can attend two, or even three small towns at no great distance from each other. There can be no doubt, however, if instruction in this subject
* On this subject, a very admirable little book, called Good Times, or the Savings' Bank and the Fireside, by Mr. Sikes, of the Hudders. field Banking Company, is well deserving of being widely circulated among the Industrial Classes. Price 4d. Groombridge and Sons.
is to be introduced generally in our schools, it must be by the schoolmasters being taught the principles of it in our Training Schools, and which of late years has been done.
The success of the morning classes here has not been what was expected, and the greater number of those in the evening classes had learnt a little of drawing in the dayschool — an evident proof that if elementary drawing schools, either for evening or morning classes, are to succeed in our towns, it will be where this instruction has been commenced in the primary school.
A subject of great national importance, and of more than national importance if grounded on an international basis, is the introduction of a decimal system of money, weights, and measures into this country; and it is one on which our schoolmasters ought not to be ignorant, as they may do more to prepare the way for it, and also to promote its success when introduced, by teaching well the arithmetic of decimals in our popular schools, than any other class of men among us.
It has of late attracted the attention of many of our leading mercantile and scientific men, who have called the attention of Government to it. Mr. Gladstone, when this question was discussed in the House of Commons, speaking of it, says, “I cannot doubt that a decimal system of coinage would be of immense advantage in monetary transactions : the weight of authority on that head is altogether irresistible." And The Times, in an article, June 15th, 1855, on this, says: “The man who shall abolish the distinction between simple and compound arithmetic, will be a benefactor to the present and all future generations, so long as man shall continue a ciphering animal.
Space does not allow of any detail here, to shew how much, on any assumed basis, the arithmetic of commerce would be shortened and facilitated by a decimal system ; but Professor De Morgan (and it would be difficult to find better authority on such a subject) says, “It would reduce arithmetical teaching of accounts to one-fourth in point of time, and to one-twentieth in point of complexity.”
In confirmation of this, the following, from one of the Liverpool Financial Reform Tracts, is very strong evidence :
"Mr. Miller, one of the cashiers of the Bank of England, has shewn that the process of ascertaining the duty on three butts of currants, weighing 5cwt. lqr. 16lbs., at 15s. per cwt., takes 172 figures, which have to be checked by five or six hands; and that, in decimals, it may be done with 24 figures only. According to Mr. Hankey, of the same establishment, the mere substitution of 100lbs. for the cwt., and a decimal scale of weights, would save the labour of 200 clerks in the Customs alone, and salaries to the amount of at least £10,000 a year.
If such, or anything like such advantages are to result from a decimal system, its introduction can only be a question of time : that it would greatly simplify the arithmetic to be taught in our schools, there can be no doubt, and it comes peculiarly within the province of the school-master to facilitate it.
The following extract from the address of Sir John Pakington to the members of the Manchester Athenæum, is a striking evidence of the extent to which the people of this country are interested in having good and cheap schools within their reach, and his remarks throughout are well worthy of consideration :-He says—"I doubt whether it is at all generally known how immense is the numerical proportion of our countrymen who are interested in the question of National Education. I doubt if it is known, that out of a population of 18,000,000, in England and Wales, there are only (according to the best sources of information to which we nave access) about 480,000, who derive from any source, an income of £100 a-year, or more : Take the number of 500,000, and allowing the usual average of five persons to a family, there will then remain 15,000,000 of men, women, and children, who are dependent upon incomes of less than £100 a-year : and all present, I trust, will agree with me, that every man whose income is less than £100 a-year, must look to a cheap and good education for his children as amongst the primary necessaries of life. It follows, therefore, that this question is not limited to the poor man, or the labouring man. There ought to be, in every town and village, schools in which the children of the small tradesman and small farmer, in common with the children of the labourer, might