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M. Rendu was Head of the College of Chambery. The situation of Professor of Physics became vacant, and some unforeseen obstacles prevented the candidate for whom the place was intended from taking possession of it. Although M. Rendu was entirely unacquainted with the science, yet rather than allow the students to remain idle, he set himself to teach it, adopting for his text-book the work of M. Biot. The attempt was successful; he was engaged to continue it; and it was not long before he produced an original and interesting memoir on a point in physics, which attracted the attention and received the encouragement of the great philosopher of Paris whom he had taken for his guide. It has since had the honour of being printed in several scientific collections.* It was only when the teaching was consigned to the Jesuits, that M. Rendu quitted the chair which he had filled with so much credit.
We are far from wishing to deduce from this example, that we ought not to require from candidates a knowledge of the science to the teaching of which they devote themselves; we only desire to show that the condition which is principally insisted on when situations are conferred by examination is perhaps not the most essential.
Examinations have the further inconvenience of alienating from the profession of teachers men who have already acquired a reputation, and who dislike to compromise it by putting themselves in competition with young persons much less learned than themselves, but who have the details of the elementary parts of science fresher in the memory, and to whom the feeling that they have nothing to lose gives an advantageous boldness. When it was determined to elect in this manner the professors in the faculty of medicine in the University of Pavia, the celebrated Scarpa, who disapproved of this mode of election, and saw men the best deserving to be appointed professors thrown out by it, determined, in his vexation, to resign his chair.
But, on the other hand, do not elections with closed doors, where no guarantee is required from the candidates, offer facility to intrigue and favoritism? Even when the electors are scrupulous, in the absence of all means of forming a correct judgment, they may easily be persuaded that the person who is dear to them best deserves the appointment. In both systems, therefore, there seems but a choice of evils. To obviate the difficulty, we propose that a normal school should be founded, similar to that established and now flourishing in the canton of Argovia.
In 1822, the grand council of the canton decreed the esta* Observations on the Crystallization of Bodies.
blishment of a normal school for educating schoolmasters, designed not only to instruct those who desire to embrace that profession, but also to furnish the means of improvement to persons who are already engaged in the business of public instruction. A sum of 6000 Swiss livres (about 8900 francs) was set apart for providing professors, and the means of teaching; and for furnishing aid to those students who were unable to support themselves, or obtain the aid of their commune. The students, to the number of thirty, are required to possess the preliminary knowledge which is taught in the elementary schools. The course of instruction lasts two years, and includes foreign languages, arithmetic, elementary geometry, natural history in its relations to rural economy, the mechanical arts, and daily wants; physical geography, national history, singing, organ-playing, and the elements of design. They pay particular attention to the moral instruction of the scholars, whom they also exercise in the art of teaching the various sciences to others. The eminent services which the Normal School at Paris has rendered to public instruction are well known. This school furnishes excellent professors, not only to the institutions of Paris, but to those of the departments. A great number of its students have acquired an honourable reputation as literary men, and as instructors. M. Cousin completed his philosophical studies in this illustrious place, where he was once tutor. Loyson, whose early death is lamented, had also studied there, and became afterwards one of the professors *.
The venerable M. Guéroutt, the translator of Pliny and Cicero, was for a long time director of the Parisian normal school, and was beloved as a father by numberless pupils. No establishment promises more important services to public instructors. Even in the kingdom of Benin, M. l'Espinat, a schoolmaster in Sénégal, has been directed by the monarch of that African kingdom to found in his capital a Normal School of Mutual Instruction; and at Buenos Ayres a like establishment has been also founded, to teach all those who are called to the office of public instructors. When will England follow the example?
* Mrs. Willard, an American lady, the author of many esteemed works on education, after having founded in her own country, at some distance from New York, a normal school for the education of females, which has for many years furnished a number of skilful and enlightened instructresses, conceived the generous thought of proceeding to Athens to establish there a similar institution, in which females should be fitted to become teachers, and afterwards diffuse in the different parts of Greece the benefits of that education which they had received. Such efforts cannot be too highly admired and encouraged. Mrs. Willard has no wish that her sex should remain behind, and not participate in the progress of civilization.
PUBLIC INSTRUCTION IN GREAT BRITAIN.
THE following are the Treasury regulations for the appropriation of the sum of 20,000l. voted during the last session of Parliament in aid of private subscriptions for the erection of schools for the education of the children of the poorer classes in Great Britain.
1st. That no portion of this sum be applied to any purpose whatever except for the erection of new school houses, and that, in the definition of a school house, the residence for masters or attendants be not included.
2nd. That no application be entertained unless a sum be raised by private contribution, equal at the least to one-half of the total estimated expenditure.
3rd. That the amount of private subscription be received, expended, and accounted for, before any issue of public money for such school be directed.
4th. That no application be complied with unless upon the consideration of such a report, either from the National School Society or the British and Foreign School Society, as shall satisfy this Board that the case is one deserving of attention, and there is a reasonable expectation that the school may be permanently supported.
5th. That the applicants whose cases are favourably entertained be required to bind themselves to submit to any audit of their accounts which this Board may direct, as well as to such periodical reports respecting the state of their schools and the number of scholars educated as may be called for.
6th. That, in considering all applications made to the Board, a preference be given to such applications as come from large cities and towns, in which the necessity of assisting in the erection of schools is most pressing, and that due inquiries should also be made before any such application be acceded to, whether there may not be charitable funds, or public and private endowments, that might render any further grants inexpedient or unnecessary.
It appears that the only object at present contemplated by the education measure of the last session is to distribute a sum of public money in aid of private subscriptions for the building of schools for the poor. This grant is merely a part of another measure which was considered by its advocates as of vital importOne principle, however, is distinctly recognized by this vote of 20,000l., which may probably in time lead to useful results. It is now admitted that it is just to appropriate some portion of
the public income to the purposes of education in England. But as this grant is unaccompanied by any measure calculated or designed to make public instruction a branch of our polity, we do not look in it for any other positive principle than that of the expediency of drawing on the public income for the purposes of public education. It was no doubt a feeling of the impossibility of controlling the proper outlay of this money, there being no department of government specially charged with these duties, that led to the determination of placing it at the disposal of the two great education societies (see No. 4.) And indeed, in the present state of our national education, it would be difficult to say what else could have been done. Education is yet no part of the concern of government; a sum of money is granted for the purpose of building schools, and nobody can know so well where schools are wanted as the National School Society, which has spread its branches all over England, and the British Society, which, though older in years, and not inferior in zeal, is comparatively limited in the extent of its operations. The effect of this measure then will be, to add to the number of schools under the direction of these two societies; and though many may be of opinion, that the principles of neither of these societies are exactly those on which a system of universal instruction should be based, yet they may consider it some advantage that schools at least will increase, and that buildings will be provided which may perhaps some time be opened to pupils on a more comprehensive plan. But we do not clearly comprehend how the two societies will agree to divide this grant between them. The National Society will not and cannot approve of any application to the Treasury, which does not proceed from parties disposed to adopt altogether their plans, and with them the doctrine and discipline of the Established Church. Nor can the other society act differently; they cannot approve of any application, except from subscribers, who will open their school on the terms of the British Society, which, however, as is well known, are of a more comprehensive nature than those of the other society.
The practical working of the thing will probably be this. Wherever a sufficient number of persons can unite to raise the necessary sum, they will apply to one or other of the societies for their approval, and will, of course, form, to all purposes, an integral part of such society. As the National Society is the more wealthy and influential, it is probable that it will be enabled to secure much the larger portion of the grant: the superior zeal of the other society (for nobody can doubt that it really is more zealous in the diffusion of education) will hardly be able, we think, to make up for its inferiority in wealth and other means of influence.
The friends of a still more comprehensive system of education might wish to have seen some of this money otherwise employed, as, for instance, in the establishment of normal schools for the proper training of teachers. The parliamentary grant may increase the number of schools, but it will not tend, in the slightest degree, to improve the teachers; and, of course, can exercise no really beneficial influence on national instruction. But it is much easier to find fault with the mode of applying this money than, under existing circumstances, to have devised a better. When the government is seconded by a House of Commons able and willing to handle the subject of National Education, it will not, we trust, be wanting in zeal towards the accomplishment of this great object, nor deficient in the practical wisdom which will enable it to diffuse sound and really useful knowledge, without offending, in the slightest degree, the religious feelings of any sect, or party.
ON THE STUDY OF GEOGRAPHY.
A COMMERCIAL country, with numerous and extensive foreign possessions, a country whose soldiers and ships are found on almost every coast, and whose travellers visit every country, would seem peculiarly adapted to be the centre of geographical knowledge. That Great Britain has made, and is daily making, very large additions to our knowledge of the earth's surface, is a fact which will be generally admitted; and that hitherto all these accumulated facts have been turned to very little account in systematizing our knowledge is another fact which appears to us equally indisputable. The nation that has now for several centuries made discovery, colonization, and foreign conquest, whenever opportunity offered, part of its political system, had not, three years ago, even a geographical society, and at present there is not, we believe, a single public teacher of geography in the universities and colleges of Great Britain, with the exception of the professor lately appointed in the London University *. The London Geographical Society now forms a point of union for those who are interested in the knowledge of the earth's surface, and by its Journal it invites and offers facilities to the publication of many valuable contributions, which otherwise would never appear. The formation of a library and a collection of maps, which also are part of the Society's plan, together with the communications existing between this and foreign societies, will tend
* Geography has been publicly taught at the London Mechanics' Institute for some time.
OCT., 1833-JAN., 1834.