Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

knowledge is valuable, and furnishes a slight idea, at least, of the nature of history; but as to the next stage, the instruction of the higher classes, two different modes have been suggested. The first, to commence from the earliest period in our annals, and go down age after age as near to our own time as possible the other, to proceed backwards, taking first the Hanoverian sovereigns, then the Tudors, Plantagenets, and so on. Something unquestionably may be said in favour of the latter method, espe. cially since the more recent portions of our history are frequently neglected when the other plan is adopted. Mr. Mosely remarked, several years ago, that the knowledge of English history among National School children rarely extended down to the present time. It is frequently limited,' said he,' to those apocryphal periods which precede the Conquest, and seldom extends beyond the reign of Henry VIII., or Elizabeth. It is begun at the beginning, but never finished. The link which would establish in the child's mind a relation between the times of which it reads and those in which it lives is never completed. It would surely be better to read history backwards.** But a little reflection will convince any one that such a method would, to a large extent, invalidate the advantages of the study. We lose thereby the order, the concatenation, the sequence of history. Are we taking up the period of the revolution of 1688 ? Surely it is expedient that we should trace the progress of liberty througlı the times of the Plantagenets, its partial eclipse under the Tudor princes, and its gradual recovery, mainly, from the aggressive proceedings of the Stuarts during the seventeenth century. I think, therefore, that it is better to adopt, in the higher classes, the old method ; while it is comparatively easy to avoid the disadvantages referred to by Mr. Mosely.

“What, then, should be the course adopted in the second class. Trace briefly, but graphically, the history of the country from the earliest time to such a period as the acquisition of the Great Charter ; then the salient points down to the accession of James I., and afterwards the Stuart period, as fully as time will allow. Great pains should be taken in making them masters of the line of sovereigns, and the date of their accession.

“ In the first class it would be profitable to review the same ground, expanding your remarks on the more important reigns, and bringing before the pupils the leading events up to the present day. Want of time would necessitate brevity in most parts of the course ; but each year, it appears to me, it would be best, in addition to this short sketch, to concentrate the attention of the scholars on some given period, dealing with it in all its bearings, civil, constitutional, social, religious.

Having briefly referred to the regular course of historical teaching, I will notice, under detached heads, several other matters that suggest themselves :

“1. The teacher should take advantage and make use of any historical incidents connected with the locality in which his school is situated. These would be most calculated to interest the pupils, and might form the nucleus of a large amount of information.

“ 2. The teacher might also give appropriate lessons on the anniversaries of days celebrated in our history.

"3. Biographical sketches of leading historical characters might be given, and so arranged as to furnish a fair sketch of any stated period. The biographies of Wolsey, Cranmer, Burleigh, Raleigh, Buckingham, Cromwell, and Shaftesbury, might be so related as, with a few connecting remarks, to afford a respectable view of the times from Henry VIII. to Charles II. The biography of Sir Robert Walpole gives us a pretty full view of the reigns of George I. and George II. Some lives also might be selected which have no immediate reference to politics, as that of the benevolent Howard, from which the children might learn something of the miserable condition of our prisons in the eighteenth century. It would likewise be profitable, as Isaac Taylor has suggested, to introduce in connexion with some of your lessons what might be called

* Minutes of Council for 1846, vol. i., p. 164.

historical portraits, not of individuals, but of classes---such as the abbot, the bishop, the monk, the crusader, the troubadour, the pilgrim, the burgess. One of the sources most available for such sketches is the prologue of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

“4. It is necessary for the clear comprehension of history that the genealogies of sovereigns and their connexions should be well known, as many important points turn on the rights of the respective claimants. The War of the Roses' was a successive war, and cannot be properly understood unless the genealogical table of the descendants of Edward III. is well graven on the mind. So, for several reasons, it is indis. pensable that the genealogies of the Stuarts and the Hanoverian sovereigns should be thoroughly comprehended.

"5. In going over the history of campaigns, the map should be constantly used, and, if possible, the course of the campaign marked out on the black board.

“ 6. History should sometimes be illustrated by poetry, and graphic sketches might be profitably committed to memory, especially in the case of the elder scholars and pupil-teachers. Almost numberless passages are to be found in the writings of our poets, and I would suggest that when you meet with such passages, in the course of your reading, you should note them down, so as to have the advantage of an ample selection.

"7. The history should be illustrated, as much as possible, by reference to the manners, customs, and condition of the people. Take, for instance, the character of the residences of the great body of the people at various times; it would be very interesting to point out what great improvements have been brought about by the advance of civilization. They might be told, 'that in the reign of Henry VIJI. the luxury of a chimney to the houses, even in considerable towns, was unknown; that the houses were nothing but watling, plastered over with clay; that the people slept on straw pallets, and had a good round log of wood under their head for a pillow, while almost all the furniture and utensils were of wood;' that even in the middle of Elizabeth's reign one of the most splendid castles of England contained not more than seven or eight beds, and that in none of the chambers were there chairs, or glasses, or carpets.

“ Again, references should be made to the food of the people, of different classes and at different times, and the straits to which the people were often put from the failure of the crops, due to imperfect agriculture. Thus, in the course of the thirteenth century, wheat varied in price from sd. to 6s. 8d. per quarter. In the Teign of Elizabeth, we learn from Harrison that the poor people never tasted wheat bread, but had to be contented with rye or barley bread, and, in times of dearth, it was made either of beans, peas, or oats, sometimes mixed even with acorns.

It may be said that, however valuable the knowledge may be relative to the con dition of the people at various epochs in our annals, the teacher cannot give satisfactory lessons on the subject for want of definite information. I grant that those who have the largest knowledge of these matters fail to reproduce, with perfect vividness, the life of the past ; but still, just in proportion as we are able to surround ourselves, so to speak, with the external conditions of early times, so we can understand what was the general character of the people. And I would strongly recommend all teachers to note carefully all references to the social history of our country, which they meet with in their reading. These references are scattered up and down our current literature; and, by way of illustration, I will introduce an extract from an article in the last number of the · Edinburgh Review,' on Female Industry :

“There is no reason to suppose that women's lives were less laborious than now, in the early days when they had no responsibility about their own maintenance. When there was no middle class, and no shopping and marketing, the mere business of living was very hard work both to men and women. They belonged to somebody, except the few who owned the rest; and the owners had, perhaps, as much on their hands as their dependents. The gentlewoman of ancient times had to overlook the

preparation of every article of food, clothing, and convenience for a whole settlement, in days when corn had to be grown, reaped, and dressed at home; and the wool and the hemp the same; and all the materials of building, furnishing, and adorning. The low-born women had to grind the corn before they could make the bread; to spin the wool, and dye and weave it, before they could make the clothes. Every process was gone through on every estate. Every step of daily life was laborious, and all working men and women were slaves. Not a few of them were called so, in the days when the Irish used to purchase their workpeople from England. The spindle side of the house, as King Alfred called the gentlewomen, ascertained how many hands were necessary to do the women's work on the establishment; and the useless were got rid of, by one method or another, and chiefly by sale to Ireland, or the estate suffered. In those days there was no such idea afloat as that of self-dependence for subsistence. The maintenance was a matter of course, and hard work a common necessity, everywhere outside the convent.'

“8. A series of lessons should be given on the constitutional history of our country, on the nature of our present constitution, and on the rights and duties of citizens. It may be remarked here, that teachers would find great advantage from reading some simple text-book on the laws of our country. A strong outcry was raised, a while ago, against the use of Warren's 'Blackstone' in our training colleges, and perhaps justly, because much of the subject-matter is useless and much obsolete; but a work of about the same size, containing the pith of a modern edition of Blackstone's Commentaries, would be of great service to a teacher, who wishes to study history to advantage ; for there are numerous terms in treatises on history which few, but those who have studied law a little, clearly understand; such words, e.g., as fee, entail, accroach, corporation, impeachment, attainder, wager of battle, escheat, prerogative.

“9. Some matters that it is important for persons to be acquainted with, might, perhaps, be taught by example, e. g., trial by jury.

“10. Pictures of striking events in our history might, with profit, ornament the walls of our schools ; such as John signing Magna Charta, the trial of Charles I., the dissolution of the Long Parliament by Cromwell, and many others.

“11. Most of the historical teaching in schools should be in the form of oral lessons, which should be given by the master in the higher, and perhaps by the pupil-teachers in the lower classes. The heads of the lessons prepared by the latter should always be reviewed by the master, and the whole course mapped out by him. In those classes in which the children could compose fairly, they should be allowed to take notes of the lesson as it proceeded, and its systematic reproduction would form a profitable home.exercise.

"Much that has been already mentioned will apply to pupil-teachers as pertinently as to the scholars. In their case the master should not be satisfied with complying with the meagre requirements of the Government in this branch, but should see that they com. mence, or if they have been pupils in the school, should continue the study from the beginning of their apprenticeship. Our annals pretty naturally divide themselves into five parts ; and one of these should be the chief study for each year. 1. To the Norman Conquest. 2. To the death of Richard III. 3. To the execution of Charles I. 4. To the death of Anne. 5. To our own time. While the pupil-teacher has some particular text-book, and should make himself master of it, he should also peruse such standard histories as come within his reach. I need hardly remark that they should carefully study our constitutional history, and should not merely know that the Magna Charta, Petition of Right, Habeas Corpus Act, Bill of Rights, and Act of Settlement, have been passed, but should be conversant with their chief provi. sions, and their influence in promoting the advancement of liberty and order.

“I am not so sanguine as to expect that the plans I have suggested will be adopted in their entirety, but I am convinced that they are based on sound principles, and that such a course of study in history would be found to be interesting, invigorating, and decidedly profitable. The instruction would be received by the imagination as well as the reason, and would be branded in the mind. A love for the study would be induced, and the teacher might with confidence entertain the expecta. tion that a pupil, when he left school, would not cease to be interested in the past events of his country, but would carry on the study for himself.”.

NEW MINUTE OF COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL ON EDUCATION.

May 4th, 1859. BY THE LORDS OF TAE COMMITTEE OF HER MAJESTY'S MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNCIL ON EDUCATION.

Their Lordships resolved :

1. To cancel so much of the Minute dated 2nd April, 1853, as provides that the rate of aids towards building schools shall not " exceed 6s. for every square foot of area in the school-rooms and class-rooms, if the plans include a teacher's residence, or 4s. if they do not include such a residence," and in lieu thereof to fix the rate of aid, subject to the condition that the grant shall not exceed the value of the local contributions, as follows :- viz.,

(a) 4s. per square foot of superficial area in the school-rooms and class-rooms, so long as this rate does not give more than 40s. per child, according to the number to be accommodated.

(0) £100 for each teacher's residence.

2. To make no grants whatever for repairing or altering the buildings, fixtures, or furniture of schools erected with the aid of grants at any of the rates in force since 2nd April, 1853; the addition of a teacher's residence where there was none before, and an extension of the school-rooms and class-rooms to meet an increase in the attendance of scholars, to be treated pro tanto as a new case.

3. In schools erected with the aid of grants at the rates in force before 1853, to reduce to one half the proportion now granted (two thirds) of the cost of new floors and of new desks and benches.

4. To allow no grants for building upon the plea that premises already in use for schools are to be settled in permanent trust for the same purpose, but to treat the extension of such premises as a new case pro tanto.

5. To cancel section 9 in the Minute of 20th of August, 1853, and in no school* to allow pupil-teachers to be hereafter apprenticed at the expense of the Parliamentary Fund (a) in a greater proportion than one pupil-teacher for every 40 scholars in average attendance during the year preceding the date of inspection, nor (6) in a greater proportion than four pupil-teachers to the same master or mistress.

6. To extend (after 31st March, 1860) the Capitation Minutes to Scotland, allowing the grant to each school where the number of pupil-teachers falls within, or as soon as it falls within, the limit defined by the last section herein-before.

7. To cancel so much of the Minute dated 31st December, 1857, as provides that " the sum of £5 be allowed for every child received under the Acts 20 and 21 Vict. c. 48, or 17 and 18 Vict. c. 74., into industrial schools during the year preceding the date of inspection ;” and, in lieu thereof, to fix the rate of aid as follows ;-viz., 6d. for each day, up to a maximum of £7 10s. per annum for each child received as aforesaid, and being in the establishment on the day fixed for its annual inspection.

* The word “school” is here understood to mean any single establishment, inclusively of all separate departments.

INSTRUCTIONS TO HER MAJESTY'S INSPECTORS ON THE FOREGOING MINUTE.

Committee of Council on Education,

Council Office, 5th May, 1859. SIR, I am directed to furnish you with the following remarks upon the objects of the several clauses in the Minute of the 4th instant:

1. (a) School-rooms are often built upon a much larger scale tban is ever likely to be necessary for purposes of daily instruction. The extra space, beyond a certain point, is not only superfluous, but injurious. It entails additional expense in building, in repairs, and in warming; and it originates usually in an intention to use the premises for purposes to which the Parliamentary grant is not applicable. Their Lordships will agree with the promoters, at the commencement of each application, upon the maximum number of children for whom accommodation in the proposed new school is to be provided, and they will not permit the amount of their grant to exceed the rates either of 4s. per square foot in the school-rooms and class-rooms, or 40s. per head, according to the number agreed upon.

(6) Their Lordships do not make grants for the erection of residences which are not sufficient to accommodate a married teacher, with a family comprising children of both sexes. A more limited provision is apt to prove an inconvenient form of endowment. The cost of a teacher's residence, therefore, is nearly cunstant, and bears a greater proportion to that of a small than of a large school-room. But small schools, no less than large ones, are benefited by the addition of a residence, and it is just to equalize the allowance in all cases.

2. The rates of aid were raised in 1853 for building schools (only) from 1s. 8d. to 4s, per square foot, and for building schools with residences from 2s. 6d. to 6s. Since that date, the capitation grant has been introduced. Their Lordships consider that sufficient public provision is made by these means towards providing, maintain-, ing, and improving all necessary premises and furniture.

3. My Lords consider it to be a sound principle, not to continue to grant more than is locally raised. Such a check affords the best security that the work is necessary, and that it will be turned to proper account.

4. Several instances have occurred in which proprietors, having built schools at their own expense, and (on quitting the neighbourhood, or from other causes) wishing to be reimbursed, have offered to convey such premises in permanent trust for education, on condition of receiving the usual grants. It rarely, or ever, happens that the plans of such premises would have been approved, if they had been submitted in the first instance for examination; and the original outlay is no criterion of the value which the owners of such premises could realize by diverting them from education. You cannot too carefully impress upon the promoters of schools that my Lords will not make grants ex post facto for building. The Minute does not apply to premises which are not already in use for schools, but are purchased bona fide for conversion.

5. There are few schools, in which apprenticeships are completed, that do not now furnish Queen's scholars. The reasons for special encouragement, which were legitimate in an earlier stage of the present system, have ceased. In returning to one uniform vote, their Lordships have determined also to limit the number of apprentices whom they will allow to be engaged at the public expense to the same teacher at one time. It is not, as a rule, desirable to build single school-rooms on a scale to contain several undreds of children. But where such rooms exist, the place of pupil-teachers (after the first four) must be supplied by probationers, under the Minute of 26th July, 1858; or by monitors paid by the managers out of the capitation grant; or a second certificated teacher must be retained. The number of pupil-teachers must be regulated with some regard to the ultimate demand for trained schoolmasters and schoolmistresses; and, as apprenticeships become general throughout the schools of the country, the standard of allowance in individual schools must be from time to time reviewed.

6. The operation of the Capitation Minutes in Scotland was suspended in: prospect of legislation ; but the continued exclusion of that part of Great Britain from public aid, which is afforded to the rest, does not appear to be justifiable.

7. Their Lordships have considered that they might extend to industrial schools, certified under the recent acts, an increased allowance upon the children received into them by magisterial order, without thereby incurring those risks of abuse to which the absence of the securities imposed by the Legislature might afford occasion in other instances.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant, To Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools.

R. R. W. LINGEN.

« ZurückWeiter »