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Report on the Normal School for Training Regimental School masters, and on the Model School at the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea; by Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools, the Rev. H. MOSELEY, M.A., F.R.S.
24 August 1849.
IN compliance with your instructions, communicated to me in the letter of your Secretary of the 4th June, I devoted the week commencing with the 23rd July to an examination of the students of the Normal school for the instruction of regimental schoolmasters at the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea, established by Royal Warrant, bearing date the 21st November, 1846. I find that it is placed under the general control of a Board of Commissioners, of whom the following are constituted a School Committee:-The Secretary-at-War, the Bishop of London, the Paymaster-General, the Judge-Advocate-General, the Deputy Secretary-at-War, Viscount Hardinge, and the Righ. Hon. Sidney Herbert.
The Inspector-General of Military Schools has, moreover, free access to the schools for the purpose of inspecting and reporting upon the same.
Under the authority of this Warrant there are also appointed—
4. A first-master of the Model school.
For the management of all that does not belong to the education of the children, and for their charge and supervision out of school-hours there is, moreover, appointed a staff of military officers, consisting of a commandant, an adjutant and secretary, a quarter-master and steward, a surgeon, a quarter-master sergeant, and one sergeant-assistant for every fifty boys.
The following are the officers in the educational department of the institution :
The Rev. W. S. O. Dusautoy, head-master and chaplain.
Mr. John Hullah, singing-master.
Mr. H. Gandee, drawing-master.
Mr. W. M'Leod, upper-master and master of method.
Mr. G. Renwick, third-master.
Mr. T. Dexter, master of the Infant school.
The masters of the Model school are assisted by eight paid monitors, destined eventually to become students of the Normal school. This number is hereafter to be increased to 16.
The students of the Normal school are wholly maintained at the public expense. Such vacancies as occur are made public, and the candidates for admission being examined by the InspectorGeneral, the best qualified are appointed on his report to the Secretary-at-War. They enter into a bond to enlist in Her Majesty's service at the expiration of their course of instruction, of which the prescribed period is two years. The office they are then to hold in the army is designated in the Warrant as that of schoolmaster-sergeant; they are to rank with the sergeant-major, and have the same pay and appointments. They are to teach the children of soldiers from 9 to 11 o'clock daily, and the adult schools of soldiers and recruits at such hours as may be ordered in each regiment. Recruits are required to attend these adult schools two hours daily. With soldiers after they are discharged drill, attendance is voluntary.
The apartments assigned to the students in the Asylum are situated in one of its wings. They were formerly occupied by the boys, when the full number were resident. But few changes have been made in these apartments to adapt them to their present use. Such changes are obviously required, and I am informed that they are to be made. The number of students at present resident is 26; their ages vary from 19 to 25 years, and the period during which they have resided, from nine months to two years. Their previous attainments appear generally to have been superior to those of the students of other Normal schools which I have examined; they have for the most part been educated at private schools, many having followed very laborious callings, and the greater part affording in their manners and deportment the evidences of a respectable parentage. I have adverted to this fact thus particularly, because I consider it to be in some degree characteristic of this institution as compared with others. I find no advantages in the condition of a regimental schoolmaster, as compared with that of a national schoolmaster, to account for the difference, and can only attribute it to the fact that the career in life of the military schoolmaster is the more adventurous one,that the entire expense of the students' residence in the Military Normal school is borne by the Government, and that the appointments are thrown open to public competition. In the estimate which may be formed of the advantages of thus providing for the
supply of a class of students superior in general intelligence and previous instruction to those of other similar institutions, it is, however, to be taken into the account that the local patronage by which the expense of the students in the National Society's Training schools is frequently borne, and that active recommendation of the clergy which is in every case required, afford guarantees for personal character which it must be difficult by any other means so effectually to supply.
I have appended to my Report a copy of the Time Table of the Normal school (Appendix A.) The subjects of instruction may be classed under the following heads :
I have also appended (Appendix B.) a statement of the progress made by the students in each of these subjects, and a list of the text-books used.
As the general result of my examination I may state, that in the class of subjects which I have placed first, the students have scarcely acquitted themselves so well as I could have wished. Their scriptural knowledge is certainly not so great as is possessed by the students of other similar institutions. In all the subjects which I have placed under the second head, except geography, they have done satisfactorily, and in one of them, history, remarkably well. I have not met with the same accurate knowledge of the facts of history, ancient and modern, elsewhere. They are generally good penmen, spell correctly, and write grammatically. Great pains have been taken to make them read well, and the majority of them read passages from Milton correctly, and with a just expression. It is, however, in respect to the third class of subjects, that which includes the elementary mathematical sciences, that I record the results of my examination with the greatest confidence. The majority of the students of the first division have a respectable knowledge of six books of Euclid, and some of them are
thoroughly versed in those books. I think that for the purposes of such an institution as this it is impossible to over-rate the value of that discipline of the mind which is implied in this knowledge.
Their progress in algebra does not correspond to that in geometry, and both in this subject and in geometry I have sought in vain for the evidence of that independent power of mathematical research which is given by practice in the solution of problems, unassisted by books or teachers. I may, perhaps, be permitted further to observe, that the course of instruction appears to be incomplete with reference to that class of subjects which is known under the general designation of the Experimental Sciences.
I am far from thinking that it would be well to make any such addition to the present subjects of instruction as would cause anything which the students now acquire well to be acquired hereafter less perfectly. It is consistent, however, with experience, that there is a suitableness of the subjects of instruction to the mind to which it is to be imparted, and an unsuitableness; that there are phases of the same mind by which it admits of being developed, rather than by others; and departments of knowledge which may be made the useful acquisition of one mind and the means of its education, but not of another. With reference to the two great divisions of scientific knowledge, Mathematical and Experi mental, I believe this to be specially true. I have, indeed, found in my experience as a teacher, that there are understandings without aptitude for a mathematical investigation, and on which, as a means of education, mathematical teaching is thrown away, which are yet capable of large acquisitions in the direction of experimental science. Under these circumstances I would suggest it as a question worthy of consideration, whether it would not be expedient to add to the course of instruction in this Institution a department of experimental science, and at the expiration of the first year of the course to give that direction to the studies of those students who appear to have no aptitude for mathematical research. The same close application, and the same positive acquisitions, to whatever extent they may go, should be required of the students who follow the one course of study as the other, but the highest rewards might be reserved for excellence in the mathe matics.
Having completed my examination, so far as the knowledge acquired by the students was concerned, I proceeded to inquire into their skill in communicating that knowledge to others.
It is by practice in the Model School, under the direction of Mr. McLeod, the head-master, that they acquire this skill; and I have great pleasure in recording the very favourable opinion I have formed of the qualifications, as teachers, of the majority of those who are about to leave the Institution. Their manner in teaching is, for the most part, firm and self-reliant; sometimes a little wanting in energy, but generally characterized by a judicious
arrangement and a competent knowledge of the subject matter of instruction. To this last observation all such lessons as suppose a knowledge of the elements of experimental science are however exceptions; and as a large proportion of the reading lessons in the books of the Irish Commissioners (used in the school) are of this class, the exception is a notable one. As these books will probably be used in all the schools they will have to teach, it would be a great advantage to them to study carefully each series of lessons in them, under the direction of persons competent to instruct them, not only as to that which is actually contained in the lesson, but as to that collateral matter which is necessary to the full intelligence of it. For recording such information each should be provided with an interleaved series of lesson books.
The favourable opinion I have expressed of the qualifications of the students as teachers must be received as a general one, to which there are exceptions; and the obvious difficulty of providing for these exceptional cases, in the office of regimental schoolmaster, renders it in this Institution more than others desirable that care should be taken not to admit students wanting in the qualities, out of which a good schoolmaster may be formed. The period of probation assigned to each student supplies an opportunity for testing their qualities. Persons experienced in such matters rarely fail to recognise them. Their judgment in the matter should be rigorously exercised and implicitly followed.
The Model School.-Having reported to your Lordships on the state of this school two years since in unfavourable terms, it is with great satisfaction that I am enabled to bear testimony to a great and remarkable improvement in it. The incompetent teachers to whom the instruction was then entrusted have been replaced by four experienced masters, at the head of whom is that able teacher, Mr. M'Leod, formerly master of the Village School at Battersea, and lecturer on method in the Training School there.
The course of instruction, before limited to Religious Knowledge, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, has been greatly extended. The dietary of the boys, of which I have appended a detailed account (Appendix C.), has been greatly enlarged. The injudicious regulation by which, at an early hour in the evening, the boys were shut up in their dormitories, not to be released until the next morning, has been cancelled. They now stay up until halfpast 8 o'clock, and a library of entertaining books has been provided for their use, and a room in which they may read them. The effect of these changes is apparent in a more healthy and cheerful aspect of the school, and a higher standard of intelligence among the children. Of this improvement my inspection has furnished me unequivocal evidence.
The school is at present composed of 339 boys, 11 being wanted to complete the regulation number of 350. All above the age of