Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Popular And Technical Education

( Originally Published 1921 )

HITHERTO we have been considering mainly the improvements in the existing supply of education : henceforward we shall principally be tracing its spread to classes of the population which hitherto had been unable from lack of funds or lack of tradition to avail themselves of it.

The new universities claim our first attention. Of the foundation of London University and its subsequent reduction to the position of an examining body we have already spoken. The requirement of a College certificate of attendance was abandoned in 1858; at the same time, in order to give some indication to candidates whether they were pursuing their studies on right lines, the intermediate examination was added. The two original colleges continued to do good work of a real university kind; and even the external examinations, though falling short of the university ideal, encouraged many persons to pursue higher studies who would not otherwise have done so. One especial advantage in the new degrees was the encouragement of study in subjects which lay outside the restricted range of classics and mathematics, to which the older universities almost confined themselves. It is true that these subjects were not studied by methods which brought out their full educational value ; "cram" was tolerated in order to secure that the subjects should be studied at all. Among the subjects which thus received encouragement was natural science, but the unwillingness to accept a course in scientific subjects alone as a qualification for the time-honoured degree of B.A. led to the institution of a special B.Sc. degree; and the newer universities have herein all followed the London precedent. Whether this divorce was advantageous educationally is doubtful; certainly it was not justified by the historical meaning of the word " arts," for the original "liberal arts" included three branches of natural science—arithmetic, geometry, astronomy—as well as three linguistic subjects—grammar, logic and rhetoric—and one fine art, music.

The second of the new universities, Durham, attempted to reproduce Oxford and Cambridge, and was not a university of the newer type. Strangely enough, Oliver Cromwell was the original author of the idea of setting up a university for the North of England at Durham out of the cathedral funds; and it was a little strange that the Church should herself revert to the plan of old-time spoiler. A university with residential colleges, situated on the banks of a river in an old cathedral city, clearly belongs to the old order; but its absorption in 1882 of the Newcastle medical school brought it into touch with the life of a large modern industrial town and it now combines within itself the two elements, the old represented by the Arts side permeated by a strong clerical influence and housed under the shadow of the cathedral, and the new by the Armstrong College of Science situated in busy Newcastle.

It is with the foundation of Owens College, Manchester, however, that we come to the rise of the special type of university college, and afterwards of university, which the nineteenth century made its own. The history of Owens is largely reflected in that of its successors. It is possible that, had the Universities Tests Act been passed twenty years earlier, we should never have seen this type. But Owens College was just in time to win indisputable success before the Act was passed. It is curious that the College must be jointly assigned to Owens, a radical and non-conformist, and Faulkner, a tory and churchman. Owens wished to make Faulkner his heir, and Faulkner suggested the idea of a college. Owens left 97,000 and wisely laid down that the money was mainly to be spent on staffing before elaborate buildings were erected. It started in 1851 with five professors, two lecturers and sixty-two students. At first its prospects did not appear promising. By 1857 the number of students had sunk to thirty-three and the newspapers pronounced it " a mortifying failure." But from the appointment of Greenwood (1857–1889) as principal, it never looked back. In 1861 it absorbed the Working Men's College, founded in 1858 on the lines of F. D. Maurice's efforts in London. By 1864 it had 127 day and 312 evening students. It is curious to reflect that, even in 1868, when money was required for building, both Disraeli's and Gladstone's governments refused to give it State assistance. Probably the government exactly reflected the popular failure to realise that anything was being done which in the future would be regarded as a landmark in educational history. Outside their own towns the modern universities in their earlier days were treated with worse than opposition—they were ignored. Manchester as a city may look back with pride to the days when it saw its university through, unhelped and untalked of from without. The College devised a new constitution in 1871, opened its new buildings in 1873, began to admit women in 1874, and pro-posed to become a university in 1875. The previous year Yorkshire, however, had taken steps to start a college at Leeds; for it is a law of nature which rests on the surest inductive evidence that if Lancashire has anything to its credit, Yorkshire will not be long left behind, and that if Yorkshire has found anything good, Lancashire will not be left in the cold. Neither Lancashire nor Yorkshire, however, wished to pursue a dog-in-the-manger policy, and it was eventually arranged that the new university should be federal, and should be so constituted as to em-brace Owens College from the start, the Yorkshire College at Leeds as soon as it had completed its organisation, and a college at Liverpool as soon as it could be found. The new university received its charter under the name of the Victoria University in 1880.

The Yorkshire School of Science was opened in 1874 and was, even more definitely than Owens, primarily a technological institution; but from the start W. E. Forster, the author of the Education Act of 187o and M.P. for Bradford, foresaw that it might develop into a university. With the prospect of becoming a constituent college in Victoria University, the College developed an Arts side and dropped the words " of Science " from its title. The growth of the older studies and the technological branches side by side is shown by the dates at which various departments were added; biology, engineering, mining, and classics in 1876; English and history in 1877; French and German in 1878; philosophy and dyeing in 1879; the inclusion of the medical school and its complete equipment in 1884; art and accountancy in 1887; leather, agriculture, a teachers' training department and organic chemistry in 1891; metalliferous mining in 1898; electrical engineering and law in 1899; economics in 1902, not to speak of later developments. The Clothworkers Company gave buildings for textile industries and dyeing in 1880 and a new set of buildings for arts and science was erected in 1885.

University College, Liverpool, was founded in 1881 and was designed from the first as a constituent college of Victoria. In 1884 Liverpool, like its predecessors, took over the pre-existing medical school. Among the characteristic schools which it had already developed, before the time when it sought incorporation as a separate university, were those of agriculture, commerce, law, marine biology, tropical medicine, hygiene, and dental surgery.

The federal system was for a time accepted as the natural form of organisation for provincial universities. It was adopted in Ireland and in Wales. The Welsh Colleges were founded in the early " eighties" and, like all other university colleges before they attained university rank, began by preparing for London degrees. Their development into the University of Wales in 1893 will be traced in the special chapter on Wales.

Before the end of the century the federal system was found to have grave disadvantages. What these were comes out in the discussion which arose when Liverpool proposed to defederalise Victoria University. This step was hastened by the incorporation of Birmingham University as a single institution. Birmingham has had two colleges. The first, Queen's, was founded as a medical and theological school; but the medical school grew while the theological withered away. In mid-Victorian days we presume that the atmosphere which suited Mr Bob Sawyer was uncongenial to the budding curate. But the College from which the university sprang was Mason College, founded in 1870 by Josiah Mason " to promote thorough systematic education and instruction adapted to the practical, mechanical, and artistic requirements of the manufactures and industrial pursuits of the Midland District," "to the exclusion of mere literary education and instruction, and of all teaching of theology." The present generation is in danger of forgetting that, till the day when Joseph Chamberlain resigned from the Home Rule Cabinet in 1886, Birmingham stood for everything which was modern, radical, practical, businesslike, efficient, bourgeois and anti-clerical in English life and politics. Manchester was modern, but it was not consciously hostile to what was venerable. Birmingham was the natural home for a university which should have nothing to do with a "mere" literary education. But even Josiah Mason was obliged to make concessions in order to secure recognition for his college from any institution empowered to grant degrees. The college was opened in 188o and in a supplementary deed of 1881 he allowed Latin and Greek and "such a course of study as shall qualify for degrees in arts and science in the Victoria University or the London University or any other university of which the institution shall form part," though it was still to bear the name of the Mason Science College. The deed clearly contemplates the destiny of Mason College as being to enter Victoria or to form part of a new federal university. But by 1900 the idea of entering Victoria as junior to Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds did not satisfy the ambitions of Birmingham. Joseph Chamberlain was the most powerful man in the British Empire and was identified, as no other statesman has ever been identified, with his native town. So Birmingham became the first university in England which was instituted for a single provincial city. Though it no longer felt any revolutionary thrill of pleasure in defying tradition by incorporating the sentiments of Tom Paine in its title-deeds, you cannot look at its buildings without feeling that you are dealing with something new and unprecedented, of which you must take time to judge. The buildings of most modern city-universities mean nothing. They are just intended to keep out the rain and wind. But Manchester and Birmingham speak, and they say just opposite things. The Gothic quadrangle of Manchester speaks very quietly; it whispers to you that perhaps you find the bustle of modern life too wearing. "I know you cannot leave it for long; but step aside for a few minutes; in ten steps you are out of the twentieth century and you can remember that man has two sides to his nature; whenever you wish, in another ten steps you can be back." But the huge semi-circle of Birmingham, surmounted by its Eifel Tower, speaks to you through a megaphone. "You are great, Birmingham ; indeed you are great ; but it is I, Modern Science, who have made you great and keep you great ; therefore I will mount up and look down on your city and watch you, lest you fall behindhand in the race of competition, for which the prizes go only to those that make the application of knowledge to industry the aim of every moment of their lives and cast all else aside."

The example of Birmingham gave a spur to the Colleges of Victoria. Time is money in these northern towns, and the waste of time involved in travelling to Manchester for business meetings of the University caused the government to fall mainly into the hands of those on the spot. In order to carry on the internal management, Liverpool and Leeds professors had to leave their classes ; and, naturally, meetings were reduced to a minimum, and long delays took place before necessary things were done. The examinations became more like those of an examining body such as London, the teaching being adjusted to the examinations rather than the examinations to the teaching. Before the close of the century Liverpool was petitioning for separation. Leeds, however, felt that it was not strong enough to stand on its own feet. A counter-agitation was started, and carried some weight with graduates who felt that Victoria degrees had attained a prestige which would not be associated with the degrees of single-college universities. Till the system was tried, there was some genuine alarm lest a system by which a teacher had more weight than anyone else in passing or failing and giving classes to his students would open the door to personal idiosyncrasies and favouritism. Even under-cutting as regards standard between the three universities was prophesied. Manchester however supported Liverpool, the two Colleges gained the day, and none of the fears of the alarmists have proved well-grounded. The academic conscience and tradition of standards has proved equal to the trial, and the work of external examiners, who were instituted as a necessary safeguard, is now mainly confined to fostering an inter-change of views between various universities.

Since Victoria was separated into three universities, all have added new departments and removed any surviving doubt as to their claim to be worthy of the name of university. Sheffield (1875) and Bristol (1876) university colleges have been also constituted universities, and Nottingham is looking in the same direction, though it is interesting to note that Leicester and Derby have put in a plea for a federal university, just as Leeds and Liver-pool did in the case of Victoria. As they all more or less reproduce the history of the universities which we have already considered, it will not be necessary to trace their growth individually.

London University has at last reorganised itself as a true teaching university. The movement in this direction commenced in the two original colleges, University and King's, which felt that they represented the true intention of the University, which had been snowed under by its examining functions. The Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons also wanted the right of conferring medical degrees, since the University had been so sparing in granting the degree of M.D. that students were driven elsewhere in the most important years just before they began to practise, in spite of the fact that London hospitals afforded an unrivalled field for getting experience. An association for promoting a teaching university for London was formed in 1884, but the university, though favouring the idea, could not be induced to agree on any concrete scheme for realising it, and it was necessary to resort to the usual expedient of a Royal Commission. The Commission reported in 1889 that the university should be reformed on a teaching basis, that the right of becoming constituent colleges should be con-fined to institutions situated within the County of London, that the colleges should be adequately represented on the governing bodies of the University, that the medical organisations should not be given the right of conferring degrees but that the university ought to grant medical degrees more freely, and that the work of external examining should be retained but subordinated to the internal work of the university. It was left to the university itself to frame a scheme to give effect to this policy. The problem of producing order out of chaos in London was, from the point of view of sheer organisation, the most complex that has ever presented itself in academic history. There were more students in London than in any city in the Empire, yet they were scattered amongst a host of utterly dissimilar institutions. There were whole-time students and evening students; general students, professional students, technical students; men, women, boys, and girls; middle-class students and artisans. The two old colleges; the women's colleges; the medical schools attached to the hospitals; the Inns of Court; technological institutions like the Government School of Science, South Kensington, and the City and Guilds Institute; working-men's institutions such as the City of London College, founded in 1838, with 2000 students, Maurice's Working Men's College with 500 students, and the Birkbeck Institute; various training colleges for teachers and theological colleges; all these existed without any organic connection, with totally different histories, and many of them. almost unconscious of each other's existence. We are not altogether surprised that the university entirely failed to devise a scheme of union. Public opinion came to look on London University as a steam roller that had broken down and stuck in the mud, if we take a metaphor suited to its unwieldy bulk, or as Humpty Dumpty after his fall, if we think rather of its fragmentary condition.

University and King's in despair now reverted to an earlier project of leaving the existing university by the roadside and starting a new teaching university which, in memory of the Elizabethan worthy who had first conceived the idea of a teaching university for London, should be called the Gresham University. Parliament vetoed this proposal and set up a new Royal Commission, which in many words said ditto to the previous commission. " On a general review of the evidence laid before us on" the subject of internal versus external examining, "it would appear that the stress laid by witnesses on the importance of placing examinations in the hands of teachers has been in proportion to the extent to which they were regarding the higher and more progressive departments of study and the effect on the individual minds of the taught rather than the conditions to be imposed upon pass students, or the necessity of exacting for the professions a rigidly uniform standard of qualification." The last clause refers to the fact that the medical schools were the only teaching institutions which still supported the external system. Eventually a constitution was worked out and accepted in 1900, but in complexity it rivals that of the British State and it would be impossible to expound it in detail without writing a second volume. It is chiefly based on the fact that the greater part of the teaching institutions with which it is connected are of a specialistic kind. Hence its main principle is organisation by faculties, the various institutions being recognised as "schools of the universities" in one or more faculties. University and King's Colleges have been incorporated within the University (the former in 1907, the latter in 1910), and the University maintains several other teaching institutions of its own for specific purposes. The women's colleges, Bedford and Holloway, are schools in the faculties of arts and science; the medical schools of the hospitals in the faculty of medicine ; and in various faculties the East London College, the Imperial College of Science and Technology, the Royal College of Science and Royal School of Mines, the City and Guilds College, the South-Eastern Agricultural College, and the London School of Economics are recognised. An interesting feature which has been carried out as a result of the 1895 commission, which would have been impossible at an earlier period, is the formation of a faculty of theology which includes six " schools," two Church of England, two Congregational, one Wesleyan and one Baptist.

After this record of isolated events and facts, the reader naturally asks what has been the combined effect of the whole movement. In the first place, higher education has been opened to all classes. The child of a working-man who wins a scholarship from the elementary school may by the aid of scholarships continue his or her education till twenty-three or twenty-four and enter any occupation to which he is suited. The working-man who grows up a working-man may receive any form of scientific or industrial education which fits him for his craft, or evening instruction to improve his general culture. Ability can move more freely where it can be most effective and the nation makes a better use of its original supply of brains. In the second place, education is brought nearer to the doors of those who desire it. Every city of 300,000 inhabitants has its university and a map showing the distribution of universities will readily bring out that every big area, save possibly the extreme south-west, is served. In the third place there has been a revolution in the conception of the subjects which are suited for university studies. The humanities have indeed been spread more widely than ever before, since there is no single university in which there are not a considerable number of "arts" students. There is a more thorough study of the subjects required for the old professional faculties—theology, law, and medicine. But these changes are overshadowed by the revolution which has been produced in the attitude of the industrial world towards technological work. American manufacturers discovered the use of university men in their works before England; but England is rapidly following suit. Engineering, mining, metallurgy, chemical industries, textiles, leather, dyeing, even brewing, look to the universities for researchers and managers. Even the oldest and most conservative of all industries in the world, agriculture, has begun to send its pupils to college. Short-sighted critics sometimes complain that culture is being sacrificed to materialism. They forget that a system which confines educational prestige to the humanities makes directly for the production of what the Germans call Hungerkandidaten, young men with a degree but unable to earn a living. An unsuccessful intellectual class is the breeding-ground of revolutions. The Jews of old taught every boy a trade as well as the law and the prophets. Every university man should be taught a profession. It is true that in the two old professions of the Christian ministry and of teaching general culture plays a large part and that a graduate with a good record and a certain innate fitness for those occupations is well-advised to devote more time to the humanities than to theology or pedagogy; but he must be sure that he has the innate qualities. There are, besides these professions, a very few openings for the picked few, and it is well that only those who are likely to be among that picked few should take up a course of studies which does not obviously lead anywhere. But the great bulk of those who receive a higher education with special reference to their occupation would never receive a higher education at all, if the only kind open was of a purely cultural character. And even the most specialised technological education at the higher stages results in a considerable bye-product of cultural education. Applied science can only be built up on a good foundation of pure science, and pure science in its turn needs a previous training in mathematics and in the exact use of language, and benefits by a knowledge of modern foreign languages. Further, the longer that education is continued and the more that technical instruction is accepted as a natural part of the university course, the less effort is made to encroach on school days, which are left freer for a general development of those parts of our nature which fit us for the right use of leisure, and for instruction in those subjects which bear on citizenship.

It is no loss to accept brewing and dyeing into the university curriculum if we thereby restrict the range of book-keeping and type-writing in schools.

The extension of universities and university colleges was mainly the work of private generosity and municipal patriotism; but the time came when Parliament recognised it as a matter of national concern, and to-day it would be impossible for the work to be continued on an adequate scale without help from public funds. The first treasury grant of 15,000 was voted to university colleges in 1889. Most provincial universities are considerably aided out of the rates ; and, in addition to direct grants, access to them is aided by municipal exhibitions. The final step was taken at the close of the War when the two old universities of Oxford and Cambridge applied for state aid, and a Royal Commission under the presidency of Mr Asquith was set up to consider on what terms it should be granted. State aid of course means a certain measure of State control. This has mainly been exercised in securing that universities should maintain a really high standard of university work, and in particular in the encouragement of research. After all, State control is no new thing in academic history: nothing that is now likely to happen will compare with the sweeping changes effected by the Crown in the century which followed the Reformation or possibly even with those which resulted from the Victorian commissions.

The extension of education, other than elementary, to the working classes and the supply of technical and technological education considerably overlap, though of course there is a considerable area of working-class education which was intended primarily to be cultural and a considerable area of technical education which by its nature removes the recipient from the category of working men in the ordinary use of the term. We propose to treat briefly the spread of cultural education to working men up to the time of the Technical Instruction Commission first, then to devote more space to the organisation of technical instruction, and finally to make a short survey of the spread of working-class education in more recent times.

Birkbeck's movement, the first of its kind, was technical in much of its subject-matter, though it was distinctly cultural in its results. But, by an almost inevitable trans-formation, the Mechanics' Institutes became less and less working-class and more and more middle-class in their membership; and many survived only as institutions for providing libraries, reading-rooms, and occasional popular lectures. The decline was marked after 1848. But there were numerous exceptions; the highly successful Birmingham and Midland Institute was established in 1853. Those which retained their original purpose were able to take advantage of the South Kensington grants after 1859, of grants from the City and Guilds Institute after 1879, and of the "whiskey money" after 189o. Thus there has been continuity from beginning to end and the original Birkbeck Institution is now a part of London University'.

The Co-operative movement, as an effort of the more thoughtful and independent workmen, who were considerably fired by the enthusiasm of Robert Owen and of the Chartist leaders, produced a certain educational stimulus amongst its adherents and led to the foundation of a number of evening schools and lending libraries.

The Young Men's Christian Associations were a cultural agency which can be said to have furthered the cause of education in the wider sense. They originated with the assembly of a few young men, mostly drapers' assistants, under George Williams in 1844, and developed rapidly in the decade between 1855 and 1864. Their object was primarily religious, but from 1845 educational lectures were given in Exeter Hall for the next twenty-one years; mutual improvement and literary societies were formed; and from 1849 reading rooms and libraries were instituted. Their main function may be defined as an organisation of the rational use of leisure.

The University Extension movement may next be noticed. In the middle of the century the term had not acquired its present significance, but was applied to any steps which might be taken for the admission of poorer students to the older universities or for the foundation of newer institutions of higher learning. In its modern sense it arose, as we have seen in the chapter on women's education, out of the invitation given in 1867 by a committee of ladies in the north of England, to Mr James Stuart, a fellow of Trinity, to lecture to their organisation. He followed up his course to the ladies by arranging similar courses to working men in several northern towns, and the main features of University Extension—the course of lectures as opposed to the single lecture, the printed syllabus, and the written exercises—were thus fixed before the movement received official recognition in 1873 from the University of Cambridge. London followed in 1876 and Oxford in 1878. The movement spread rapidly. In the North of England in particular it appealed to working men ; and many were the instances where severe economies were practised and long distances covered to be able to attend the lectures. Probably the payment of a fee caused them to be more highly valued than would have been the case had they been gratuitous. It is easy nowadays to criticise the system; in spite of the written exercises and the voluntary examination at the end, it trusted mainly to the efficacy of oral addresses to large audiences. The lecturers were generally men who knew how to present a subject clearly and in a manner calculated to excite the interest of a popular audience; yet, except with trained hearers, lectures to large assemblies are bound to lack many of the elements which go to make up real teaching. The lecturer is only indirectly able to infer whether his points are understood; and, what is more important, the listener is liable to confuse a vague impression for a clear under-standing. The first thing to do with the untrained mind should be to make the learner realise the precise meaning of everything which is presented to him, and conversation and questioning are usually the only methods by which this can be secured. But we must not under-rate the importance of the Extension system as a means of arousing interest in intellectual matters, which is a condition precedent to true intellectual training. Even if it goes no further, a man with intellectual interests is a nobler being than one with none. In particular an appreciation of literature and a wider outlook on the development of human history could be given without making severe intellectual demands. Economics, a subject of profound interest to working men, is on the other hand a subject to the profitable study of which previous intellectual training and accurate thinking are indispensable; and natural science is so technical that the lecture system rarely attempted to deal with it. Outside the north of England the Extension lectures could get good audiences, but they appealed less to the working man, and the hearers were more largely people of leisure, especially women who had been brought up in the days when girls' schools gave little satisfaction to minds keen for information and women's colleges were few. The summer meetings of extensionists at a university town began in 1888. The movement has by no means lost in popularity up to the present day, but the development of a better system of intellectual training by means of Tutorial Classes has diminished its importance as a means of adult working-class education.

Of Maurice's Working Men's College enough has been said in a previous chapter. One lasting effect of his work was to interest many minds in the universities in the lives of their fellow citizens in the slums of great towns, and so to revive that connection between the universities and the masses which was so large a factor of their influence in the Middle Ages but had been completely lost since the Reformation. This influence is specially associated with the name of Arnold Toynbee, who was appointed a tutor of Balliol in 1879. Unhappily his career was cut short in 1883; but in this short space of four years he had helped to create a new atmosphere. At the university he was engaged in humanising the teaching of economics. Orthodox economics till that time was for the most part unctuously optimistic.. Its tone savoured of that adopted by the exponents of "design" in the early years of the century. In the one case natural and in the other case economic laws were so arranged as to lead to the greatest happiness of the greatest number with the least possible trouble or inconvenience to anyone. The reign of tooth and claw was ignored by the one, the squalor and misery of the slums by the other. Toynbee turned attention from economic theory to economic history, from the ideal to the reality. He emphasised the meaning of economic laws in their effect on the lives of men. Outside the university he gained the confidence of the working classes by his lectures and his social work in Whitechapel, where his friend Barnett was vicar of St Jude's.

In 1884 Canon Barnett, as he afterwards became, founded the first university settlement in the slums and called it Toynbee Hall in memory of his friend. It had a large number of successors, which benefited the slum-dwellers by the cultural influences which they brought to bear and the university men who came to reside there by the know-ledge which it gave them of the conditions under which the submerged tenth lived. The problem of the slum has not yet been solved ; for it is one of the saddest social laws that the classes who suffer most are least able to remedy their lot, and it is probable that in the future, even when the working classes as a body improve their position by their own efforts, the help of the intellectual classes whom Barnett and his imitators enlisted in the cause will be needed to work out practical steps for the rescue of the class which has sunk too low to know of any path along which it can seek its own redemption.

Polytechnics bring us more closely to the sphere of technical education and the modern State system of education. In their initiation, however, they were as much a private and philanthropic effort as any of the other institutions which we have been considering. In 1880 Mr Quintin Hogg obtained a building in Regent Street, known as the Polytechnic, which had been used by Pepper of Ghost fame as a kind of scientific entertainment hall, and converted it into an institution which has preserved the name, but given it an entirely new sense. His objects were partly religious, partly social, and partly educational; his methods may be described as a combination of those of Maurice and those of the Y.M.C.A. He aimed at getting the young men of the shopman and artisan class; and, when polytechnics became an organised type of institution, the age was defined as being from sixteen to twenty-five. His institute comprised a library and a gymnasium, and its activities included concerts, debates, a natural history society, a savings bank, excursions, swimming, and rowing. Its teaching side developed more rapidly than he had ventured to hope. The first year he had 6800 members, who paid ten shillings a year or three shillings a term. The classes were mainly in connection with the City and Guilds Institute, the teachers being registered by the Institute and paid by results. Among the industries taught were brick-laying, metal- plate work, electrical engineering, plumbing, watch and clock making, carriage building, photography, tailoring, and printing.

It so happened that a royal commission on the parochial charities of London had reported in 1880. The original purpose of most of these charities was shown to be unsuitable to modern needs, and an act of 1883 appointed a body of trustees to deal with all except those of five large parishes. The charities of a secular character were found to bring in an income of 50,000 a year. After allotting a part to such educational purposes as free libraries, the trustees assigned the rest to the promotion of polytechnics. They laid down as their principles that the institutions which benefited should give instruction in the principles of the arts and sciences which underlie crafts and in the application of such principles to particular trades, that they should be a supplement and not in substitution for the workshop or place of business, that they might give instruction suitable for intending emigrants and hold lectures and concerts, encourage gymnastics, drill, swimming, and other forms of bodily exercise, and institute clubs and societies, libraries, museums and reading-rooms, that their educational facilities should be equally open to both sexes, that the fees should be small, and that drinking, smoking and gambling should be prohibited.

Among other institutions which benefited by these charities one may be singled out for special notice. The scheme suggested by Sir Walter Besant in All Sorts and Conditions of Men materialised in the "People's Palace," which received £7000 from the Drapers' Company and developed on its educational side into the East London College which now forms a "school" of London University in the faculties of Arts, Science, and Engineering. There is after all something to be said for our haphazard way of letting our educational institutions grow. If London University had been planned as Berlin was and had been made according to pattern, it would have been fully equipped and would have had magnificent buildings, with departments for every kind of learning and facilities for every kind of research, but would it have included a college in the East End to bring university education to the doors of the people? Just because the English educational system is so hard to describe and bring to rule, it is flexible enough to meet all needs.

We now turn from the movements which aimed primarily at bringing education, whether cultural or vocational, to the working classes, to the series of steps by which technical instruction was carried forward with an eye rather to national efficiency in the arts of production and exchange than to the raising of the culture of its recipients. It is becoming usual to use the words "technological" and "technical" to distinguish the two grades which, in the sphere of general education, are known as university and secondary: but as both grew up together and to a large extent independently of other forms of education, it is simplest in a historical summary to treat them in a single section.

The demand for technical instruction was the result partly of the scientific movement and partly of the fear that England was falling behind its industrial rivals. Great Britain had established its industrial supremacy during the Napoleonic wars, while the Continent was fully en-grossed in the struggle, by developing its mines, its metal industries, and its textile manufactures. It had therefore been able to turn to the fullest possible advantage the invention of machinery for spinning and weaving and the discovery that coal could be used to develop steam power. England had the benefit of being first in the field, and its rivals had to look for some counter-advantage. To some extent this had been found in developing the skill of the workers even as early as the great Exhibition of 1851, which first suggested that this country was in some respects falling behind, and led to some demand for the technical instruction of workpeople and for. a development of scientific teaching. It was in this year that the School of Mines and of Science as applied to the Arts, known since 189o as the Royal College of Science, was founded. In 1853 the science section of South Kensington was added to the art department of the Board of Trade, and in 1856 this Science and Art department was transferred to the Committee of Council on Education. We have already seen how it distributed grants to local science classes and science schools and conducted examinations in science for teachers (1859–1867) and for pupils (since 1861), and how these Schools of Science were reorganised by Huxley in 1872. This last change was due to the Devonshire Commission on Scientific Instruction (1871–1875).

But a marked accentuation of the demand for technical education took place about this date. Two powerful rivals entered the field, Germany and the United States. After its unification in 187o under the far-seeing rule of Bismarck, Germany had found two great weapons for wrenching Britain's industrial supremacy from her. One was scientific research as applied to industry; the other was technical instruction. The United States, which were fast changing from an agricultural into a commercial nation, followed suit. The more observant English manufacturers and merchants began to realise that our technical instruction was a mere skeleton and that any training which would produce scientific researchers among the highly educated classes was non-existent.

The report of the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction issued in 1884 shows the progress which had been made up to that time. The institutions for technical training were of course far fewer than now—otherwise the labours of the Commission would have been in vain—but a start had been made. We will summarise their account of existing institutions, following their order, namely, first London, then the rest of the country.

University and King's Colleges are mentioned first. The former had recently built chemical, physical, and engineering laboratories, had instituted a department of applied chemistry, and employed a professor of engineering who, in American fashion, was engaged in private practice as a consulting engineer. King's was not far behind, though its engineering was of a more directly practical type.

The Normal School of Science and Royal School of Mines, South Kensington, the foundation of which in 1851 under a slightly different name we noticed above, had been reorganised in 1881. It was primarily intended for the training of science teachers and for "the instruction of students of the industrial classes selected by competition in the annual examinations of the Science and Art Department," but fee-paying students were also admitted. Its regular three years' course was unspecialised and consisted of mathematics, mechanics, physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, mineralogy, and drawing; in the last year students specialised in mechanics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, agriculture, metallurgy, or mining. It offered twelve exhibitions of £5o, six free studentships, twenty free places for intending teachers, and free places for local exhibitioners.

The School of Design, which had since 1857 been con-ducted at South Kensington as the National Art Training School, contained 128 students and gave preliminary or "art teachers'" certificates and certificates of the third grade. An elaborate system of examinations was conducted by the Science and Art Department to encourage the teaching of art throughout the country, comprising twenty-five branches of art and divided into grades suited respectively for elementary school pupils, for secondary school pupils, for teachers, and for art masters.

In 1877 the London City Livery Companies, after enquiry abroad, had set up a committee to prepare a national system of technical instruction. As a result, in 188o they founded the City and Guilds Institute, which subsidised existing educational establishments, encouraged evening classes in the chief towns, maintained model technical schools in London and inspected and examined classes else-where which were likely to become the nuclei of technical colleges. The Royal Commission took Finsbury Technical College (1883) as an example of their technical schools. It was intended as a "model trade school for the instruction of artisans and other persons preparing for intermediate posts in industrial works." It consisted of a day and an evening school, the latter giving systematic instruction to those engaged in the staple industries of the district, e.g. cabinet-making. Exhibitions were offered to pupils of middle-class schools. Mathematics, practical mechanics, physics, chemistry, electrical technology, freehand, model and machine drawing, workshop practice, French and German were taught ; and there were evening classes in carpentery and joinery, metal-plate work, brick laying, drawing, painting, modelling, and design. The City and Guilds Central Institution in Exhibition Road, South Kensington, which was completed in 1884, was meant to train teachers of technical subjects, managers of works, engineers and industrial chemists, and was conveniently situated for the science schools and museums of South Kensington: it now forms part of London University.

The Commission also notice Cooper's Hill, established in 1871 for Indian Government engineering students but afterwards thrown open to engineering students generally; the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, intended for giving instruction in marine engineering and naval architecture, which was mostly frequented by government students; the Crystal Palace School of Practical Engineering; and the newly founded polytechnics.

Outside London the institutions noted are chiefly those which have now assumed university rank, whose progress has already been noticed earlier in the chapter. A few words must, however, be added as to the progress of science and technology at the older universities. The Commission found little to write about at Oxford save the new Museum in the Parks; but science was already throwing forth vigorous shoots at Cambridge. Till 1871 there had been no practical teaching in science at that university except in chemistry. Then the Cavendish laboratory was built for physics, and Lord Rayleigh presided over it at the time when the Commission visited Cambridge. What it has subsequently become under his guidance and that of Sir J. J. Thomson, the present master of Trinity, it is unnecessary to describe. Already, the Commission note that Maxwell had introduced physical problems into the papers for the mathematical tripos, and that Michael Foster had brought the biological sciences to the fore, and they are able to notice among the names of distinguished Cambridge scientists those of Stokes, Humphry, Liveing, Dewar, Vines, Coutts-Trotter and Balfour. But they are compelled to remark that still "few students have time or inclination for original research" : Sir James Thomson and others could now tell a different tale. Indeed the discoveries by Oxford and Cambridge physicists and chemists which helped to win the war will probably not be fully known for some time.

In the more strictly technological sphere the Commission noticed specially James Stuart's mechanical workshops for forty-two students. " The system of tuition is arranged on the basis of an actual mercantile establishment. The rate of wages for each student is fixed, the cost of material and the time employed being accurately noted and entered in a ledger so that the cost of every article produced can be ascertained."

The Mechanical Sciences (or Engineering) Tripos was the first noteworthy technological development at the older universities, but it would take too long to enumerate all the new studies which they have encouraged in recent years. Where a subject is not admitted into the degree course it has a diploma. New laboratories are constantly being built. Practical arts such as agriculture and forestry, the oriental-languages needed by Indian and Egyptian civil servants, social, economic and hygienic subjects required by public officials, are all taught. Post-graduate research work, long in being recognised, has found that the libraries of Oxford and Cambridge give facilities unrivalled except in London. Though the number of universities which are doing the work expected of such institutions fifty years ago may be multiplied still further, yet the higher research work will tend to find natural centres as in America, and the old universities have at last recognised their possibilities as such centres.

The Royal Commission, whose report we have been largely engaged in summarising in the last few pages, forms a landmark in the history of technical instruction. It was appointed in 188o and reported in 1884. The Commissioners enquired not merely into the provision of technical instruction in the narrower sense, but also on the teaching of science, on which it must necessarily be based, from the elementary school upwards. Its report woke the country to the need not only of specialised technical instruction but of getting the preliminary work done in secondary schools, and indirectly to the necessity of providing a better supply of secondary schools generally. Its direct outcome was the Technical Instruction Act of 1889, but it played no small part in leading up to the Bryce Commission on Secondary Education and to the Education Act of 1902. These, however, properly belong to the chapter on the development of our modern State system of education.

It remains to take a glance at the further development of working-class education since 1889 so far as it has depended on private initiative, though of course the State has stepped in with financial assistance whenever any institution justified its existence. Such assistance has secured the permanence and progress of pre-existing institutions. The Mechanics' Institutes and Working Men's Colleges, however flourishing for a time, had struck on two rocks, the difficulty of obtaining funds when the first enthusiasm had passed away, and the lack of a sound elementary and secondary system of education as a basis.

They were dependent on obtaining the voluntary services of good lecturers, had no whole-time staff, and ran the risk of being supposed to give "popular" instruction instead of promoting continuous and serious study. In the case of the surviving institutions founded by these movements, all this passed away. The polytechnics, which were still in the heyday of their first enthusiasm when State aid came, were preserved from undergoing any subsequent decline. The State left them complete freedom as regards the social side of their activities, but required on the educational side that they should have a whole time principal and staff, proper laboratory and workshop instruction, classes of a reasonable size, and a test to secure that those who were admitted had been properly prepared. Thus they have become in the fullest sense a part of the educational system of the country.

Further institutions have been founded to meet the requirements of London. The Goldsmiths' Company presented their Institute at New Cross to the University in 1904; it was opened as Goldsmiths' College in 1905. The Northampton Institute, besides providing for whole-time and evening students, introduced the "sandwich" system for seasonal workers by which they could take their courses during the less busy half of the year. This apparently new device was in reality following a very old precedent; the Scottish universities sat for a single session, which covered the six winter months, to allow their students to work on the farms during the summer. In these Institutes internal degrees are open to evening students, and the literary side of education is found to be in demand as well as the scientific.

In 1899 an experiment was made in the direction of bringing adult working-class education into touch with the older universities by the formation of Ruskin College at Oxford. It is managed by a council consisting partly of university men and partly of representatives of the trade unions, who finance it. Its object is not to provide a degree course for its students but to give a civic training to men who are likely to take a lead in working class movements.

Economics, sociology, and politics thus form the staple of its course of instruction, and there are no formal examinations or diplomas. Economy is aimed at, before the war the students doing their own house work and the cost not exceeding '52 a year. The chief danger to this institution that has revealed itself is that, though in intention non-political, education may receive a party bias.

The most definite organisation, however, of adult working-class education in a form likely to secure a continuous course of studies and definite intellectual training has been secured by the conjoint activities of the Workers' Educational Association and the University Tutorial Classes Committees. The Workers' Educational Association was formed in 1903 to arouse interest amongst the workers in education, to find out demands, and to organise the supply. It consisted of a central authority, district authorities, and local branches. Under its auspices a conference of working-class and educational organisations was held at Oxford in 1907 which, "affirming the growing desire on the part of workpeople for higher education, and anxious for the further co-operation of Oxford in the systematic teaching of historical, economic and other liberal subjects," appointed a committee which reported in the following year in a volume entitled Oxford and Working Class Education. The report, after a short historical account of the various movements for working class education and of the work of universities in the past, proceeded to discuss the defects in the system of extension lectures by which the universities had for the last forty years been trying to supply teaching to the workers. They came to the conclusion that the system by which each centre was expected to be self-supporting made a large attendance necessary if a deficit was to be avoided. The results were, first "that both the lectures and the subject to be studied must be chosen not solely or chiefly on account of their educative value, but with a view to the probability of their drawing such large numbers that the lectures will 'pay'," in other words that the lectures became popular in the worst sense of the term; secondly that with such large classes "individual students rarely receive the personal guidance and supervision which is offered to an undergraduate in Oxford 1," in other words that tutorial work was out of the question. In order to obviate these disadvantages they proposed the new system of tutorial classes by which "in certain slected industrial towns classes should be established of not more than thirty students; that these classes should pursue a plan of study drawn up by workpeople and representatives of the university in consultation; that Oxford should appoint and pay half the salary of the teachers by whom such classes are taught; and that such teachers should receive a status as a lecturer in Oxford2." In order to secure that the teaching should really meet the demands of the workmen, the classes should be organised by the local branch of the Workers' Educational Association. A continuous course of study should be followed for two years. The type of method suggested was one in which an hour's lecture was followed by an hour's discussion. There should be close contact between the lecturer and the students; a fortnightly essay and regular home reading should be expected; and the lending of books should be carefully organised.

Work was immediately started on the lines of this report, and the example of Oxford was speedily followed by the other universities and university colleges. A Central Joint Advisory Committee was then formed by the tutorial classes committees of the several institutions. The Board of Education agreed to contribute L30, subsequently raised to L45, to the support of each class, and the Gilchrist Trustees gave valuable financial assistance. Summer schools came to be held regularly and the number of classes increased from eight in 1908—9 to 145 in the year preceding the war, the students increasing from 237 to 3234.

It is difficult to foretell on what lines adult working class education will develop in the new period which began with the close of the war. The supply of an efficient system of secondary schools, the improvement of the machinery for choosing county scholars and "free placers," and the other steps for substituting an open highway for the "ladder" by which the elementary school pupil can climb to the university, have till recently been the main educational demands of the workers. "Equality of opportunity" was the phrase which summed them up. But it is plausible to argue that the adult workmen of to-day who join tutorial classes are precisely those who, had they been born twenty or thirty years later, would have been caught up by the scholarship system and would in the end not have been manual workers at all. If the system of selection could ever be made perfect it would thus mean that all the best intellectual material would be gone, and the working class of fifty years hence would really be a mentally inferior class and not a body of persons who had had less opportunity to develop their native aptitudes. Nevertheless the present course of events seems to suggest that we are about to pass through a stage of political development in which the government of the country will largely rest in the hands of such working men as become trade union officials. The labour leaders of to-day are the men of innate capacities who grew up when no ladder existed: they are therefore able to combine sound intellectual qualities with real experience of their trades. But the education of future labour leaders cannot be properly envisaged till we know who are to succeed the Clyneses and Hendersons. Will they be boys of working-class parentage who have received a higher education and have never worked at the trades of whose unions they are officials? Will they be the accidental omissions of the scholarship system? Will they be—we hope not—persons who from a belief in the natural antagonism between manual workers and brain workers have refused to train their intellects as if they were by so doing committing an act of treason to their class? Dare we hope that there will be many who, after receiving a high academic training, will pursue manual occupations for a time so as to represent the experience of their class? Or will the scholarship system work so efficiently that they will really be taken from those who were incapable of profiting by an academic training, and, if so, will they have other practical abilities which will make up for the absence of the qualities which schools and universities value? We admit that the problem seems so far to be an insoluble riddle; but on it turns the whole problem of future adult working-class education, and the continuation schools only seem to mitigate but not to solve the difficulty.

Home | More Articles | Email: