Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

and the evening being tranquil and warm, the windows were thrown up, and we shortly afterwards heard them sing in excellent harmony. As soon as this song had ceased we sent a message to request another, with which we had become familiar in our visits to the Swiss schools; and thus, in succession, we called for song after song of Nageli, imagining that we were only directing them at their usual hour of instruction in vocal music. There was a great charm in this simple but excellent harmony. When we had listened nearly an hour, Vehrli invited us to ascend into the room where the pupils were assembled. We followed him, and on entering the apartment great was our surprise to discover the whole school, during the period we had listened, had been cheering with songs their evening employment of peeling potatoes, and cutting the stalks from the green vegetables and beans which they had gathered in the garden. As we stood there tbey renewed their choruses till prayers were announced. Supper had been previously taken. After prayers, Vehrli, walking about the apartment, conversed with them familiarly on the occurrences of the day, mingling with his conversation such friendly admonition as sprang from the incidents, and then lifting his hands he recommended them to the protection of heaven, and dismissed them to rest.

“We spent two days with great interest in this establishment. Vehrli had ever on his lips, • We are peasants' sons. We would not be ig. norant of our duties, but God forbid that knowledge should make us despise the simplicity of our lives.'

We were greatly charmed in this school by the union of comparatively high intellectual attainments among the scholars, with the utmost simplicity of life, and cheerfulness in the humblest menial labour. Their food was of the coarsest character, consisting chiefly of vegetables, soups, and very brown bread. They rose between four and five, took three meals in the day, the last about six, and retired to rest at nine. They seemed happy in their lot. Such men, we felt assured, would go forth cheerfully to their humble village homes to spread the doctrine which Vebrli taught of peace and contentment in virtuous exertion; and men similarly trained appeared to us best fitted for the labour of reclaiming the pauper youth of England to the virtues, and restoring them to the happiness of her best-instructed peasantry.”-p. 208.

There are some particulars of the Dutch schools well worth attention, but we must pass them over, as we are anxious to give some extracts from the account of the result of these observations, the training school established by these gentlemen on their return. We cannot however, deny ourselves the pleasure of extracting a short notice of the labours of some of our Catholic fellow Christians, as we, in common with many others, have believed that form of Christianity less favourable than others to this peculiar field of charity :

“ The philanthropy of the Brothers of the Christian Doctrine, who devote their lives a cheerful sacrifice to the education of the poorer

classes of France, can be understood best by those who have visited their noviciate and schools at Paris. From such persons we expect acquies. cence when we say, that their example of Christian zeal is worthy of the imitation of Protestants. Three of the brothers of this order are maintained for a sum which is barely the stipend of one teacher of a school of mutual instruction in Paris. Their schools are unquestionably the best at Paris. Their manners are simple, affectionate, and sincere. The children are singularly attached to them. How could it be otherwise, when they perceivethat these good men have no other reward on earth for their manifold labours than that of an approving conscience ?

“ The regime of the Noviciate is one of considerable austerity. They rise at four. They spend an hour in private devotion, which is followed by two hours of religious exercises in their chapel. They breakfast soon afterwards, and are in the day schools of Paris at nine. They dine about noon, and continue their attention to the schools till five. They sup at six, and then many of them are employed in evening schools for the adults from seven to nine, or from eight to ten, when, after prayers, they immediately retire to rest.

“No one can enter the schools of the Brothers of the Christian Doctrine without feeling instinctively that he is witnessing a remarkable example of the development of Christian charity.

With such motives should the teachers of elementary schools, and especially those who are called to the arduous duties of training pauper children, go forth to their work. The path of the teacher is strewn with disappointments, if he commence with a mercenary spirit. It is full of encouragement, if he be inspired with the spirit of Christian charity. No skill can compensate adequately for the absence of a pervading religious influence on the character and conduct of the schools master.

As there seemed no immediate prospect of Government establishing any school giving the desirable training, Dr. Kay and Mr. Tufnell say, we “thought that as a last resort we should not incur the charge of presumption, if, in private and unaided, we endeavoured to work out the first steps of the establishment of an institution for the training of teachers, which we hoped might afterwards be entrusted to abler hands. We determined therefore to devote a certain portion of our own means to this object, believing that when the scheme of the institution was sufficiently mature to enable us to speak of results rather than of anticipa. tions, the well-being of 50,000 pauper children would plead its own cause with the Government and the public, so as to secure the future prosperity of the establishment. We were led to select premises at Battersea, chiefly on account of the very frank and cordial welcome with which the suggestion of our plans was received by the Hon. and Rev. Robert Eden, the vicar of Battersea. Mr. Eden offered the use of his village schools in aid

of the training school, as the sphere in which the pupils might obtain a practical acquaintance with the art of instruction. He also undertook to superintend the training school in all that related to religion.”

They intend having boys bound from fourteen to twenty-one, that they shall receive instruction in Battersea training school at least three years; then be employed at least three hours a-day in the village school for two years, and the remainder of their time act as assistant-teachers under good masters in some of the pauper schools of industry. They have twenty-four of these pupils now in the school, selected chiefly from orphans in the Norwood establishment. They have, besides these, nine young men training for the schools of personal friends.

“ The subjects of instruction were divided, in the first instance, into two departments, which will be described in this Report ; and over each of these departments a tutor was placed. Mr. Horne arrived at the opening of the school, and Mr. Tate on the 22nd of March 1840.

“ The domestic arrangements were conducted with great simplicity, because it was desirable that the pupils should be prepared for a life of self-denial. A sphere of great usefulness might require the labours of a man ready to live among the peasantry on their own level- to mingle with them in their habitations—to partake their frugal or even coarse meals—and to seem their equal only, though their instructor and guide. It was desirable, therefore, that the diet should be as frugal as was consistent with constant activity of mind, and some hours of steady and vigorous labour, and that it should not pamper the appetite by its quality or its variety.

“ A schoolmaster might settle in a situation in which a school-bouse only was provided. Prudence might dictate that he should not marry, and then his domestic comfort would depend on himself.

"No servants, therefore, were provided, with the exception of a matron, who acted as cook. The whole household-work was committed to the charge of the boys and young men; and for this purpose the duties of each were appointed every fortnight, in order that they might be equally shared by all. The young men above twenty years of age did not aid in the scouring of the floors and stairs, nor clean the shoes, grates, and yards, nor assist in the serving and waiting at meals, the preparation of vegetables and other garden-stuff for the cook. But the making of beds and all other domestic duty was a common lot; and the young men acted as superintendents of the other work. ." This was performed with cheerfulness, though it was some time before the requisite skill was attained ; and perfect order and cleanliness have been found among the habits most difficult to secure. The pupils and students were carefully informed, that these arrangements were intended to prepare them for the discharge of serious duties in a humble sphere, and to nerve their minds for the trials and vicissitudes of

life.

“ The masters partook the same diet as the pupils, sitting in the centre of the room, and assisting in the carving. They encouraged familiar conversation (avoiding the extremes of levity or seriousness) at the meals, but on equal terms with their scholars, with the exception only of the respect involuntarily paid them.

“ After a short time a cow was bought, and committed to the charge of one of the elder boys. Three pigs were afterwards added to the stock, then three goats, and subsequently poultry and a second cow. These animals were all fed and tended, and the cows were daily milked, by the pupil teachers. It seemed important that they should learn to tend animals with care and gentleness; that they should understand the habits and the mode of managing these particular animals, because the schoolmaster in a rural parish often has a common or forest-right of pasture for his cow, and a forest-run for his pig or goat, and might thus, with a little skill, be provided with the means of healthful occupation in his hours of leisure, and of providing for the comfort of his family.

"Moreover, such employments were deemed important, as giving the pupils, by actual experience, some knowledge of a peasant's life, and therefore truer and closer sympathy with his lot. They would be able to render their teaching instructive, by adapting it to the actual condition and associations of those to whom it would be addressed. They would be in less danger of despising the labourer's daily toil in comparison with intellectual pursuits, and of being led by their own attainments to form a false estimate of their position in relation to the class to which they belonged, and which they were destined to instruct. The teacher of the peasant's child occupies, as it were, the father's place, in the performance of duties from which the father is separated by his daily toil, and unhappily at present by his want of knowledge and skill. But the schoolmaster ought to be prepared in thought and feeling to do the peasant-father's duty, by having sentiments in common with him, and among these an honest pride in the labour of his hands, in his strength, his manual skill, his robust health, and the manly vigour of his body and mind.”—p. 214.

We recommend the following remarks to the careful consideration of all engaged in conducting schools for the labouring classes,

“ The knowledge of the marching exercise is very useful in enabling a teacher to secure precision and order in the movements of the classes or of his entire school, and to pay a due regard to the carriage of each child. A slouching gait is at least a sign of vulgarity, if it be not a proof of careless habits-of an inattention to the decencies and proprieties of life, which in other matters occasion discomfort in the labourer's household. Habits of cleanliness, punctuality, and promptitude are not very compatible with indolence, nor with that careless lounging, which frequently squanders not only the labourer's time, but his means, and leads his awkward steps to the village tavern. In giving the child an erect and manly gait, a firm and regular step, precision and rapidity

in his movements, promptitude in obedience to commands, and particu. larly neatness in his apparel and person, we are insensibly laying the foundation of moral habits, most intimately connected with the personal comfort and the happiness of the future labourer's family. We are giving a practical moral lesson, perhaps more powerful than the precepts which are inculcated by words. Those who are accustomed to the management of large schools know of how much importance such lessons are to the establishment of that order and quiet which is the characteristic of the Dutch schools, and which is essential to great success in large schools. A notion is prevalent in some of our English schools that a considerable noise is unavoidable, and some teachers are understood to regard the noise as so favourable a sign of the activity of the school, as even to assert, that the greater the noise the greater the intellectual progress of the scholars. The intellectual activity of the best Dutch schools is quite as great as that of any school in this country, and their average merit is exceedingly greater than that of the town schools of England; but a visitor seldom finds in a school of 700 children more than twelve persons speaking in the room at the same time, and those twelve persons are each speaking in a natural tone, and are distinctly heard. Such results do not depend solely or chiefly on the discipline of the drill-master, but they arise, in fact, from the minute attention to all the details of the school organization which secures the greatest amount of attention from the pupil, with the least amount of disturbance to his fellows. In the result, however, attention to the posture and to the movements of the children is by no means an unimportant element.”— p. 212.

That nothing might be wanting to the success of the undertaking that care could supply, Dr. Kay resides in the establishment. Occasionally he has “accompanied them in long walking excursions into the country, in which they spent the whole day in visiting some distant school or remarkable building connected with historical associations, or some scene replete with other forms of instruction. In those excursions their habits of observation were cultivated, their attention was di. rected to what was most remarkable, and to such facts and objects as might have escaped observation from their comparative obscurity. Their strength was taxed by the length of the excursion, as far as was deemed prudent; and after their return home they were requested to write an account of what they had seen, in order to afford evidence of the nature of the impressions which the excursion had produced.”—p. 209.

We cannot resist extracting a part of their sketch of the school as a household.

“ The period which has elapsed since the school was assembled is much too brief to enable us fully to realize our conception of such a

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »