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to Lord Ashburton, I have found by far more interesting and promising than any other branch of secular instruction.
Some misapprehension may arise from the idea of attempting, in a few lectures, to impart any knowledge connected with physiology and medicine. The common-sense character of the little which is brought before the pupils in these subjects may be suggested by the following remarks, taken as a specimen of the instruction given in this Training School.
If we merely tell a child that he ought to keep his whole body washed clean, it is not likely that he will take the trouble of doing this; but let him be convinced that nearly half the weight of the solid and fluid food which we take must be thrown off by our skin and lungs, that our bodies are covered with little funnel-shaped openings for this matter to pass through in perspiration, that if we suffer these little funnels to remain choked up for want of washing ourselves, then we shut in those impurities which will make us scrofulous or consumptive, the child will naturally be concerned about the cleanliness of his skin and the ventilating of his home, so far as he can control it. Children will comprehend and appreciate such things, if they are plainly and sensibly placed before them, with a facility almost incredible to such as have not made the trial, and humanity alone will commend such simple means of promoting health.
If humane motives do not dignify, may they not at least avert reproach from the little attention which is here given to the food of the poor, and especially of the sick. The village schoolmaster can scarcely increase the pecuniary resources of his poorer neighbours, but he may render them no less substantial a benefit by teaching their children how the elements of nutrition frequently lie in what is costless; for example, in cold water, when rice is allowed to absorb it largely before boiling; or by exposing those practices whereby ordinary food is rendered less nutritious-for example, the making butter oily, perhaps rancid, by spreading it on hot toast. A few plain suggestions will enable the future servant of a Christian family to turn to account for the poor those fragments which contain nutriment as substantial and little less delicate than that which is more costly. Many a family which would hesitate to provide calf's-foot jelly for their indigent neighbours in sickness, might, without any chemical skill, supply them a gelatine, scarcely inferior in any respect, from portions of some joints which are removed before dressing for their own table. And humanity may further plead for a little attention to those neglects from which serious and even fatal consequences may result. The children need not to be taught actual chemistry before they can see the danger of an acescent mixture remaining in a metallic vessel, nor do they need medical knowledge to comprehend how the stomach of an invalid may detect and nauseate the rancid atom.
I have here glanced at a section only of the range of useful knowledge which is reducible under Lord Ashburton's science of Common Things; but it is the section most liable to remark. The importance of teaching the poor to manage a small farm, or garden, or live-stock, upon rational principles, has long been felt, and encouragement has been given in many ways. I have found the reducing of these subjects under the elementary principles of science admirably subservient to the purposes of education in the training school, and I earnestly hope it may receive encouragement from the patrons of our National Schools. At present some moral courage is required in every schoolmaster who can venture to introduce novelties of so humble a character where they will need time to become appreciated. But may not the man who will do so, under a desire of benefiting his neighbourhood, especially look to the ultimate success of Oberlin; and, pursuing his work in the same spirit, feel confident of a blessing in the end?
During the recent progress of intellectual education in our National Schools, no corresponding advance has been made in respect of industrial training. This deficiency is the more to be regretted, as increasing mental culture must render the poor more sensible of domestic inconveniences which they are not taught to obviate. And another consideration may combine with regard for the domestic comfort of the poor for claiming attention to this point, in the education of their offspring. Indifference or prejudice often induces them to remove their children from school at an earlier age than was formerly done; so the ultimate progress even of secular education is baffled, while the children's character is fearfully endangered by their being taken prematurely from the eye of the schoolmaster and clergyman, to associate with promiscuous persons in the field or workshop.
Parents would make greater sacrifices for keeping their children at school if they could be convinced how valuable their education would prove to them. Then might not the schoolmaster abate their prejudices and secure their sympathies by a larger attention to that line of instruction which the parents could comprehend and appreciate ?
* See the estimate quoted in Combe's Physiology.
The Bishop of Winchester once observed to me, on looking over the Students' Allotment Gardens in this Training School, that " every thing is pleasing to the eye if kept to its proper place;" every thing is valuable if applied to its proper use. Might not such a homely and practical remark guide the master who is versed in the science of Common Things through a course of instruction which would be most valuable to the children in after-life, and immediately interesting, as well as instructive, to the parents?
The last reports of Canon Moseley and Mr. Brookfield show how gladly they would recognise such a course for a leading feature in our government system of education; nor can we doubt that the parochial clergy and patrons of schools would rejoice in assisting the poor towards reducing it to actual practice.
I have been asked what text-books are used in the Training School for Common Things. The following are the more popular books, though others are needed for scientific information: Ten Minutes' Advice to Labourers-Useful Hints of the S.P.C.K., 2 vols.-Combe's Principles of Physiology applied to the Preservation of Health-Johnson's Catechism of Agricultural Chemistry-The Agricultural Class-Book of the Irish Board.-I am, &c. JOHN SMITH,
Wolvesey, August 18, 1855.
To the Rev. ———.
Hereford Diocesan Board.
The following account of the meeting which took place on the 25th September is taken from a local paper.
"The Diocesan Board of Education having invited the teachers of the diocese to assemble, for discussion on matters connected with teaching and school-work, they attended the Cathedral service at 11 o'clock, and afterwards adjourned to the common room of the College, which was kindly put at their disposal. A numerous body of teachers were present, and several of the clergy, including the Bishop, the Dean, Archdeacon Freer, Archdeacon Waring, Lord Saye and Sele, the Revs. Canon Morgan, H. Hill, T. T. Lewis, B. L. Stanhope, C. Smith, T. Moore, W. Poole, &c.; and though the meeting was not publicly announced, we were glad to see a few of the laity present, showing their interest in the proceedings of the day. Among them were Lady E. Foley, Mrs. Hampden, the Misses King, Lord W. Graham, R. M. Lingwood, Esq., &c.
The Bishop opened the meeting, and expressed his gratification in seeing so many present; he alluded to the importance of the teacher's office, as the planter of Christian principles in the rising generation, and was confident that, under the many difficulties that beset their path, it would be a comfort and advantage to take counsel of each other, and of their fellow-workers, the clergy. The harvest-meetings were for a time discontinued; but he trusted this would, in some sort, stand in its place, and reach to a class of teachers who would not have required that assistance. He concluded by giving them a hearty welcome, and wishing them much profit from their present meeting.
The Dean of Hereford said, that his experience in this diocese was chiefly confined to a few schools in Hereford; and the conclusion he arrived at from them was not favourable to the state of education in this county. He had classified schools simply according to age, and found that, between the ages of nine and eleven, very few children could read a simple narrative easily. He was convinced that, throughout the county, 90 per cent of the children of these ages would fail to do so. He should recommend teachers to test their schools by this method. In arithmetic, also, he thought that our progress was not satisfactory; while in "common things," in which he had taken great interest, he feared we had hardly made any advance at all. Mr. Bowstead's report did not bear out the good condition of education among us, as the statistics of attendance were worse in Herefordshire than in any other county, except Monmouthshire.
The Secretary said, that this applied to schools under Government inspection, which was not available to a large portion of the schools in Herefordshire, owing to the smallness of the parishes. A great proportion of those attending school in this county were not included in Mr. Bowstead's estimate. He explained, that Mr. Norris and Mr. Bellairs, the inspectors, had only been applied to a short time before, as the Board hardly anticipated so successful a meeting as this proved to be. That was why they could not attend.
The thanks of the meeting were then given to the Bishop for his kindness in presiding, and the meeting adjourned.
At two o'clock a party of between forty and fifty partook of an excellent dinner, at the City Arms Hotel, the Ven. Archdeacon Freer presiding. On the cloth being re
moved, business was immediately entered on; and the subjects appointed for discussion were brought forward and discussed. These were, first, the best mode of obtaining good reading in a school; second, the most efficient way of conducting a night school; third, how to keep up connection with pupils after their leaving school; fourth, how to make English history instructive and interesting to children. On each of these subjects a good deal of interesting matter was brought forward, and the results of different plans, and the experience of different teachers, were compared; and some practical conclusions drawn, which will no doubt be found useful in many schools. Among those who took part in the discussion were the Dean of Hereford; Archdeacons Freer and Waring; Mr. Lomax, late organising master; Mr. With, of the Blue-coat School, who acted as vicepresident; Mr. Cotton, Alderbury; Mr. Lochlin, Westbury; Mr. Easton, Scudamore School; Mr. Yapp, St. Peter's; Mr. Sandwick, Staunton-on-Wye; Mr. Lingwood, Mr. Poole, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Hill, &c. At five o'clock tea was served, and the party soon afterwards separated, having spent a day which it is hoped will be marked in their memories as neither uninteresting nor unprofitable."
Diocese of Llandaff.
HARVEST MEETING OF TEACHERS AT ABERGAVENNY.
September 17th, 1855.
REV. SIR,-In sending you an account of the proceedings of our Seventh Annual Harvest Meeting of Teachers for the Diocese of Llandaff, I am happy to have to present a favourable report.
Although the number of teachers present has been smaller than on two previous occasions, our meeting cannot be otherwise regarded than as a successful one, both numerically and as respects the character and attainments of the teachers assembled.
Of the conduct of the teachers during the four weeks they have been here I cannot speak in terms of too high commendation. And I feel assured, that all who have had opportunities of judging will be ready to bear witness that they have seemed conscious of the responsibility of their position as Christian teachers, and have behaved accordingly. It has been the most harmonious of a series of meetings, all of which have been characterised by harmony and kindliness of feeling.
Our number (including pupil-teachers) consisted of 20 male and 32 female teachers. Last year we had 23 male and 48 female teachers. Of these 52 teachers 11 had been trained, and 6 held Government Certificates. 2 had been present at every Harvest Meeting, 3 had been at 5 previous meetings, 5 at 4, 3 at 3, 10 at 2, 12 at 1, and 18 were present for the first time. A larger proportion of the teachers than usual remained during the last week to observe the practice in the school after the children had reassembled.
Successful as have been our meetings, and great as is the good which I am convinced they have accomplished, I cannot, however, but feel that a considerable number of the teachers in the diocese stand aloof from our gatherings from some mistaken idea of the nature of our proceedings.
As a means, therefore, of showing how these meetings have been regarded by those who have attended them, I propose to examine into some of the statistics connected with those which have been held; and I hope to show, that the majority of the teachers who have attended once have generally been anxious to come again; and if so, I think I may safely infer that they have felt they derived some benefit from their attendance. As I was not at the first meeting, and only held a subordinate post in the second, and have consequently no nominal return of the teachers who attended, I shall confine my remarks to those teachers with whom I have come in contact at the last five meetings. There were present:
Now, if from this total of 157 we deduct the 18 who attended this year for the first time, we get an average of nearly two visits for each of the others. But several of these attended the first meeting at Abergavenny, and the second at Cardiff, of which I have taken no notice. Had these been included, the average would have exceeded two visits for each. The fact I wish to show may, however, be put in a stronger light still. There have been present:
Of these last, 6 male and 12 female teachers were present this year for the first time. Therefore, deducting these, we have to account for 21 males and 34 females who have only attended one of the seven meetings, and who were not present this year. Of these,
Taking male and female teachers together, 48 have attended three or more meetings, and of the remaining 109, 29 were at Abergavenny this year, and 56 may be accounted for as above; leaving only 4 male and 20 female teachers unaccounted for.
The above facts will, I think, sufficiently show that the majority of those who have once attended these meetings have been anxious to come again. Nor is this confined to the teachers of humbler attainments; for of 9 certificated teachers who have attended at different times, 7 have been present at three or more of the meetings, and 3 have attended at least five.
To the teachers of higher attainments, I am, in fact, mainly indebted for the character which I have endeavoured to give to our meetings, and for the degree of success which we have experienced.
This year I have had an additional advantage in the presence and assistance of Mr. Haworth, one of the National Society's Organising Masters. Notwithstanding his valuable aid, however, I found it desirable to avail myself of the services of Mr. Webber and Mr. Walker, two of the certificated teachers present, who, on all occasions, have been most ready to fall in with my plans, and to oblige me in every possible way.
As on previous occasions, a portion of our afternoons has been devoted to the discussion of questions bearing on the work of instruction and education. In accordance with your request, I have this year drawn up an abstract of the results of these conversations, which is appended to this report. In drawing up the abstract, those subjects have been omitted respecting which we seemed to have arrived at no satisfactory conclusion.
I would take this opportunity, on my own account, and also on behalf of the teachers assembled (all of whom would most cordially unite with me), of expressing our thanks to the Rev. T. Williams, of Trinity, for his unremitting kindness and attention to us. We have been also much encouraged, and greatly assisted, by the constant attendance and kind co-operation of a numerous body of visitors, of whom, without I trust appearing to make invidious distinctions, I may mention yourself and Sir Thomas Phillips, who, having taken an active part in our proceedings, are justly entitled to our thanks.
In conclusion, I would humbly thank the Giver of all good for His mercy and kindness in having vouchsafed us health and all other needful blessings, and in having enabled us to bring another of these meetings to so happy and successful a close. May that we have been enabled to do tend to the promotion of His honour and glory.—I have the honour to be, &c. ALEXANDER STAMMERS, Organising Master.
The Venerable Archdeacon Williams, Llanvapley.
1. Is corporal punishment necessary or desirable in elementary schools?
The general opinion was, that that was the best managed school in which the rod was most seldom required; but that it was scarcely practicable, or even desirable, that the cane should be excluded from the schoolroom.
It was also considered, that the teacher should not carry the rod about with him, or use it as a pointer; but should generally keep it out of sight; and that when used, it should be in a strictly judicial manner.
A question arose out of the above, whether a child should be caned in presence of the other children? The general opinion in reply seemed to be, that each individual case must be decided by .ts own special circumstances; no general rule applying to the question.
2. Do not tasks, given as a punishment, tend to produce a distate for learning? With a few exceptions, the opinion was that they do not produce any such results.
3. Assuming that tasks are given as a punishment, what is the best form in which to give them? As memory lessons, or something to be written out?
The general opinion was in favour of writing out something. Firstly, because the work is more quiet; secondly, because it need not detain the master; and thirdly, because you have a greater security that the child is able to do what you set him, and have a means of ascertaining how far he has or has not been performing the appointed task.
4. In a school where no pupil-teachers are employed is it not desirable that the class from which the monitors are taken should have additional instruction at a time when the other children are not present?
The question evidently contemplated that the class 'would contain some children who would not ordinarily act as monitors.
The general opinion was, that the class should be strictly a monitor's class, and that at least one hour's additional instruction should be given daily. Also, that the instruction so given should be of a higher character than that given to the rest of the school, so as to make the position of the monitor a desirable privilege.
5. When is the best time for giving lessons to pupil-teachers and monitors?
In schools having only pupil-teachers-in the morning before school hours in summer, and in the evening in winter.
In schools with only monitors-from twelve to one, or from one to two o'clock.
In schools with both pupil-teachers and monitors, the pupil-teachers should have half an hour or three quarters in the morning or evening as above, and the remainder of their time with the monitors in the middle of the day.
6. How long should school be held each day?
The general feeling was, that five hours well employed are quite enough; and that when children are detained in school six hours, the last of the six is worse than useless.
7. Is it advisable to give home lessons? And if so, what subjects are best adapted to that purpose? It was generally agreed that such lessons are desirable; but doubts were entertained whether in the winter they would be practicable, on account of the difficulty some children would experience in obtaining candles to enable them to see to learn them. It was suggested, that the lessons so given should not be longer than could easily be learned in about half an hour.
As regards suitable subjects, there was a pretty general agreement respecting grammar, geography, tables, poetry, and the giving a few sums to be worked at home. But much diversity of opinion existed as to giving texts or portions of Scripture as subjects for home lessons; some regarding such practice as making the Scriptures too common, and tending to the irreverent use of them; while others strongly advocated the practice, as advantageous and necessary. One master, who took a prominent part in the discussion, makes his home lessons voluntary, in order to meet the case of those who can ill afford to buy books, except those from Scripture, which are compulsory. He stated, that these are always learned the best. All who had been accustomed to set home lessons from Scripture, concurred in the opinion that no such ill effects as those anticipated by their opponents arose from the practice. Such lessons, too, appear the most popular with the parents.
8. When should home lessons be heard?
It was generally agreed that they ought to be heard in connection with the oral lesson on the same subject; that is, home lessons in grammar, with the grammar lessons, &c., and that, in fact, the home lessons should be preparatory to these oral lessons.
9. In a mixed school, where there is only a mistress, what lessons are advisable for the boys during the time the girls are sewing, and when, consequently, the mistress's time is taken up with them? Slate work was considered the best employment; either ciphering or copying out something from their reading-books.
10. How soon should children be taught to write?
In any but purely infants' schools, as soon as they come into the school First, in order to find a greater variety of employment; and secondly, with a view to their more efficiently learning to spell. (See question 14.)
11. Should writing be commenced on slates or on paper?
The general opinion was, that if paper could be obtained, it would be better to begin on it. As this, however, was likely to prove too expensive, slates were deemed better for the younger ones. For though the beginning to write on slates to a certain extent impairs the handwriting, yet the ulterior advantages, arising from a capability of writing at all, outweigh this advantage.
12. Is large hand necessary in teaching writing?
The general opinion was in favour of beginning with a hand about the size of what is commonly called text-hand
13. When is it desirable to question children on their reading-lesson? While the reading is in progress, or at the end of the lesson?
This was held to depend a good deal upon the degree of intelligence possessed by the class to which the children might belong.
In the case of a class of somewhat superior intelligence, it was thought better to question at the end of the lesson, in order to promote a habit of close and steady attention while reading. For the same reason, it was deemed advisable that such a class should occasionally sit down, and read silently a portion of some book, upon which they were afterwards to be questioned. And that occasionally, after reading a portion, either aloud or to themselves, they should be required to write out an abstract of what they had read.
With respect to younger children, and those very little advanced in knowledge, it was thought better to question as the lesson proceeded, so as to break up the subject to the measure of their understanding, and thus enable them to feel an interest in what they were doing.
14. What steps are best for teaching spelling efficiently?
The old-fashioned plan of teaching from spelling columns was unanimously condemned, as being utterly inefficient; and the following steps were suggested as well adapted to secure good spelling: In spelling viva voce, to use the words in the reading-lessons in the order in which they occur; not selecting such as the teacher might regard as the harder words, and passing over the smaller ones. Writing, however, was regarded as the only efficient means of obtaining any considerable success; for which reason it was judged necessary to teach writing early (see questions 10, 11); and as soon as the children had learned to write the letters of the alphabet, to proceed pretty much as follows:
Firstly, let them write words. These words ought, for the most part, to be the names of things with which they are familiar, and which would be better elicited from themselves, either by presenting the objects to their view, and requiring them to name them, or by appealing to their memory. The words thus elicited should be written on the black-board, and the children afterwards required to copy them on their slates. After some few exercises of this kind, the black-board might be turned, and the children required to write correctly such of the words as they could remember. This exercise might be greatly varied and extended, and might be made useful in promoting habits of observation and classification. By teaching the children too to combine adjectives and verbs with nouns, it might, though only designed as a spelling-lesson, be instrumental as an elementary lesson in composition.