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Nature herself will lend her beautiful helping hand. Nor in the social relation is the gentle and affectionate law of nature contravened; for God's own loved family institution is the model for imitation. This is the rock on which all our institutions of a similar character split. May God befriend those who are made to leave the genial influence of home, and go to a boarding-school, or rather educational hospital, to receive the advantages of a first-class education ! How fatal an exchange these monasteries and runneries of youth, (as the Rev. Dr Robert Lee so truly and so fearlessly calls them,) for the natural and unconstrained liberty of home, whence the young and trembling heart can gradually fathom the hollowness of life, and whither it can retreat for sympathy when the world's cold grasping hand arrests the bound of its ardent spirit.
There is appended a very forcible and elegant translation, by Miss M'Clelland, of a Report on Agricultural Colonies, read at the “ Ré-union International de Charité” (held at Paris in August, 1855,) by M. Demetz, honorary councillor at the Imperial Court of Paris. The reasonableness of the principles on which this class of reformatory institutions is founded, is exhibited in the following paragraph:
“It is no new idea, that of employing in agricultural labour those children whom bad dispositions or evil example expose without defence to the dangers which surround them, in the centres of great populations. The influence of agriculture on the manners of the people was recognised in early times; antiquity proclaims it by the voice of Cato:
“He who tills the ground,' says this wise man, does not think of doing evil.' The agricultural labourer has indeed but poor pay, yet he suffers nothing from the distractions of city life, nothing from the ruinous habits which make a higher rate of wages unavailing, and nothing from the frequent suspension of employment, which subjects the town workman to unlooked-for destitution; nor is the field labourer exposed to those frequent checks from want of work, which so often leave the other in destitution, his improvidence not always enabling him to foresee them. I will not dwell further on this point, it is so incontestable a truth, and has been so victoriously demonstrated, that we do not think it necessary to bring it more at length before you."
Then follows an account of Agricultural reformatories, from the time of the great Pestalozzi, who may be considered their founder, ending with those of France, which are here shown to have made real and successful progress in the conduct of such institutions. While theorising and gathering data concerning reformatories, other countries were visited, and most valuable lessons obtained. Witness the following criticism on the Dutch and Belgian institutions :
“All these colonies had been established in the midst of heaths, in barren districts. They seem to have thought more of improving the soil by agriculture, than man by the love of work. This idea of bringing in waste land by the help of till then useless, by means of colonies, is tempting, and at first sight appears just: the cultivation of barren land gives the undertaking a more manifestly penal character, and it makes use of those men whose lives have hitherto been troublesome and dangerous, and on whom it is reasonable to impose hard labour. We should truly have nothing to reply to this theory, if we were speaking only of men who inerited severe punishment, and if these colonies had only punishment in view; but it seems to have been forgotten, that their principal object is the moral improvement of the unhappy creatures whom they receive.
“They gave barren lands to be cultivated by unwilling (boys) bands, and failure was the necessary consequence. We do not hesitate to state that the sterility of the soil on which they have been established, has been the principal cause of the want of success of the Belgian and Dutch colonies.
“ To make industrious habits and a love of work take root among men whom dissipation, indolence, or laziness, has reduced to the last state of want, this work must present at least some attractions, and some quick and satisfactory results must recompense and encourage these unsteady efforts. And if these considerations hold good for the adults, how much more, then, do they not apply to the child whose flighty imagination cannot look forward and wait, and whose ardour, so easily excited, is just as easily quenched, and whose future is tomorrow?
“ "To deserve to be sent here,' said one of the Belgian colonists to me one day, with an accent of despair, ‘one ought to have killed one's father and mother; every blade of grass is produced by the sweat of our brows.' Can it really be imagined, that by provoking such repugnance, and such rancour, there can be a hope of conquering the dislike of work in natures so obstinately opposed to it?”
A model was at last found at Hamburg, which is thus described —
“It is near the village of Horn, in a picturesque and fertile country on the side of a hill, which looks over the beautiful valley of the Elbe and Bill, that the Reformatory School called the Rauhe Haus, is situated, and there we visited it. We will not stop to describe this establishment, which has become celebrated, and which has been much added to, since we saw it. We will content ourselves with noticing some of its principal characteristics. It was founded towards the end of the year 1833, by the worthy M. Wichern, for the reception of young children, whom vicious habits threatened to pervert, or had already branded. The wise founder sought in family associations a means of improvement—he tried to excite in those young hearts the soft and salutary emotions which family life produces, and which either had become, or had always been, strangers to the breasts of these unhappy creatures.
“The colonists were divided into groups, each containing twelve individuals, which took the name of families. This denomination was justified by the cords of firm affection and continued benevolence, which they endeavoured to establish between the members who composed it. To each of these families was attached a chief or guide, whom the children call father. They inhabited a small separate house, constructed by their own hands, and separated from the neighbouring house by gardens or orchards. Four existed at the time of our visit; they were like a little village, and had no communication with each other, save what the administration of the house required.
“The discipline of the colony was firm and severe, but still we must say, tempered with paternal tenderness—moral reform was its aim; energetic and persevering work, and, at the same time, profoundly religious education, were the means. There is a journal kept, stating the progress of each pupil or his relapses; the tender solicitude of the guardians does not interfere with the severity, sometimes necessary, in an institution which maintains, in the main, its reformatory character, and you could scarcely imagine, without having witnessed it, the strong sympathy which attaches to the colony, those poor children who have become honest men.
“It will be seen that the basis on which the colony of Horn rests, and to which it owes the accomplishment of these wonders, is the reconstruction of the family principle.”
True success in this, as in other things, is best achieved by an imitation of Nature. Hence, Cowper, who had the penetration of a true educator, exclaims
Oh, how unlike the complex works of man!
No meretricious graces to beguile-
Majestic in its own simplicity. None of your flash drilling impositions; these are man's—that are mechanically perfect, but spiritually dead. No; the simple family institution, as old as Adain and as heaven-derived, is the most perfect, because the most natural for developing or reforming the mental, moral, and spiritual habits of human souls, and the reason may be drawn from these paragraphs :
“It is an unhappy tendency of our times, to economise too much in the staff of agents, where the education of childhood is concerned. Moral action cannot be efficacious, save when it is met person to person, heart to heart, intelligence to intelligence, with those whom we would initiate into the habits of love and goodness.
“It is a singular combat to which we must give ourselves up, and if great efforts are necessary, do not let us be astonished; for we must acknowledge that the leanings of our minds are all more or less towards evil.
“If we have not seen much good come of education, it is because the desciplinarian system has been too often substituted for moral influences.
You may maneuvre a regiment at the word of command, or a ship's company by means of the whistle, but that will not suffice for the improvement of a child's morals."
Here it may not be inappropriate to note the radical defect of a training system well known in this part of our own country, which has arrogated to itself the title of normal—that elaborated by Mr Stow, a well-intentioned and much-respected gentleman of Glasgow.
Is Stow's Training System entitled to be called a normal system? If by normal be meant conformity to acknowledged specified rules, it does deserve the appellation so far; but if these rules are the exponents of false principles, it cannot justly claim the designation, but should rather be termed abnormal. In the process of education, individuality is the main source and main spring of every thought. and action. The bare natural process must be gone through by the individual subject—external aid should only be employed to facilitate the action of that process. Again, one mind differs from another, and with the full power of its distinct nature, asserts its own modes and means, and resolutely refuses all others. Therefore, it is the educator's duty to study each pupil individually, and in his necessary classification never lose sight of that individuality. Thinking is a subtle matter to analyse, but the process is most natural, and easy because natural, if it be not hindered and marred by a blind non-recognition of the fundamental essential attribute of every thinking soulindividuality. This is the charge, and it is a serious and fatal one, we bring against the Stow system. It is a beautiful piece of well-fitting machinery. We mean to blame—not to praise. Perhaps a better illustration of what we mean is its resemblance to a well-disciplined army that performs all its movements with a brilliancy and precision that excites astonishment. Well, this is its condemnation. Indivi
duality is ignored. The units of the army have no individual will of thought and action
" Theirs not to reason why
Theirs but to do and die."
The reason is obvious. Combined-not individual thought and action -are required. Not so in training for the battle of life. There, individuality is the basis of everything. Force of individual character wins the day, and this Stow's Training System is not calculated to develop. What very absurd things we sometimes catch ourselves doing! We train a horse or a dog individually, but we train boys and girls by the gross or hundred. Dare we complain of a dearth of true thinkers, when we have so many establishments for the imposition, and so few for the education of thought. It is no new dogma that education is a subtle and delicate operation, requiring the broadest talent and the finest genius to superintend it. But here are establishments manufacturing it on a grand scale at reduced prices, like carpets and broadcloth. It is as absurd as it would be to form factories for the production of the fine arts. No! the educator must be an artist in the highest sense of the term, and must employ not machinery but manipulation. This is almost our sole objection to the system, but it is a radical
It seems to have been suggested to a thoroughly commercial spirit by a well-known manufacturing principle, that by the agency of machinery more useful effect can be produced than by the single power of the hand. We have endeavoured to show that to education this principle is inapplicable. But we are so commercial, and love so much everything that looks business-like, that we are strongly tempted to admire and believe in the neat, ready, and superficially imposing manner which undoubtedly characterises this system.
The family system is peculiarly fitted to draw out the individual bent of mind; and that system of public tuition which approaches most nearly to that, will achieve most real positive success. Institutions founded on such principles deserve to succeed; and it is with pleasure we receive fron M. Demetz the statement that the Metray Institution, on the founding of which such pains were bestowed, is so successful in its practical working, and so productive of useful effect.
THE SPIRIT OF THE DEBATES IN THE HOUSE OF
COMMONS ON EDUCATION. Debate on moving the vote for Educational purposes, (on the 13th June,
1856.) Debate on Mr Walpole's motion on Education in Ireland, (on the 18th
June, 1856.) Debate on Mr Fortescue's motion on Education in Ireland, (on the 24th
June, 1856.) Our readers may remember that we, with the public in general, were thrown into no little perplexity, if not dismay, by the strong opinions in
favour of Voluntaryism expressed by a majority of the House of Commons; and that not only in word, but in the deed of spurning the resolutions of Lord John Russell, even though reduced to a simple proposal for the extension of the existing system of the Committee of Privy Council. Nothing short of restoration of Voluntaryism to undivided sovereignty, seemed an adequate corollary to such high-flown plaudits, and no wonder that Mr Baines, of Voluntary celebrity, was encouraged to raise his voice for the discontinuance of State interference altogether. We knew too well the advantages conferred by the Privy Council's system--we do not venture to say on its proper objects—but on the interests represented by honourable members, who were not blind to them, though apparently to anything like a vision of consistency-we knew these too well to anticipate such an issue. We therefore regarded the debate on the Vote for Educational Purposes, with more curiosity than alarm; for while we hoped to lear how the demand could be acceeded to, we did not dare to look for a manifestation of heroic disinterestedness-a manifestation, howbeit, which we should not have hailed with gladness. No; so long as half a million of money is expended—some say squandered-in furtherance of an educational system-even though faulty, ay, even to the very core—so long have we a lever left us to raise aloft the testimony that State interference is necessary; and the hope may still be cherished that the voice of religion and justice may yet prevail, and divert this large fund from misapplication to a moral and just employment.
It is because this voice has found utterance, unheeded we fear, but yet expressed; because the chaotic state of our educational appliances for the three kingdoms, in the debates on Irish Education and the Maynooth Grant, has been revealed in all its glaring inconsistency and want of principle, that we have deemed it expedient to cite them into court with a view to displaying the errors which have been committed--the errors which men have tried to commit, and the fallacy of some of the principles appealed to in justification of these erroneous acts.
În the simplicity of his heart, Mr Walpole proposes the recognition of schools on the English model, by the Irish Educational Board, but meets with a rebuff—not so direct as a less timorous government would have consented to, but still, as we are prepared to show, a veritable rebuff. Hear, again, the answer given by the Committee of Privy Council, to a school founded in England on the Irish National system, which applied for assistance the other day: “ Their lordships could not in England give the money of the State to support the Irish system of national education; because, under it the Holy Scriptures were not an essential part of the general instruction.” But what of the Scottish Parochial School system, which, if we may take the Duke of Buccleuch's word for it, is truly a national system, if anything can be said to be one? We venture to say that the idea of recommending its adoption in any other portion of Her Majesty's dominions is too absurd to have entered even his admiring mind. It follows that what is a paragon in England, Scotland, or Ireland, has only to be transplanted to any other element of the trio, emphatically denominated Britain, to be voted worthless. In the late debates, we have had questions put like the following :-“What material did the noble lord, (Lord John Russell,) think the Irish Protestants were composed of? Did he think that that which was not good enough for the British and Foreign School Society-which was not good enough for the Wesleyans of this country, and which the lords of Council did not approve and would not recognise in England, was yet good enough for them ?” We also would ask a question-a more rudimental question: "When did principle cease to be of universal application? what material are the