Amazing articles on just about every subject...


Education - Changes In Curriculum And Methods

( Originally Published 1921 )

THE last twenty years have witnessed more rapid changes in curriculum and methods than have been seen at any time since the Renaissance. The contributory causes have been numerous. In the first place the changes in the schools have reflected the advances of the subjects themselves and their increasing recognition by the universities. Up to the close of the third quarter of the nineteenth century British universities lagged far behind those of the Continent in the matter of research; but by the beginning of the new century the relation of the universities to two at least of the important school subjects, natural science and history, had been revolutionised; and geography was rapidly taking its place as a coherent body of principles. Secondly, the adoption of new subjects, the challenge to existing subjects, and the frequent failure of the new subjects to fulfil the hopes which had been formed of them—a failure which was generally due to the crude mechanical methods by which they were taught—led to a deliberate attempt to improve the methods of teaching both old and new in order that they might survive in the struggle for existence. Thirdly, the growth of non-classical boys' schools and of girls' schools, for which no traditional curriculum existed, compelled educationalists to think out the whole problem of intellectual education from first principles. The British Association showed a keen interest in scientific and mathematical education. The exponents of new subjects united the teachers of those subjects into societies like the English Association, the Modern Language Association, the Historical Association, and the Geographical Association, with the double object of spreading a conviction of the importance of the subject represented by the particular association and of so teaching it as best to bring out its true value. The older subjects were no less eager to maintain their hold, and the Mathematical and Classical Associations have very considerably modified the spirit in which their two subjects are treated in schools. Finally, the measure of State control which has existed since the beginning of the new century, though it has not originated any new ideas, has exercised an influence in levelling up schools which might otherwise have been content to remain behind their time, and in particular the Reports and Inquiries division of the Board of Education did much to discover what was being done in other countries and to give publicity to it by means of the Special Reports which were entrusted to the editorship of Sir Michael Sadler. These general influences and their results will become more apparent if we now examine the changes which have recently taken place in the teaching of individual subjects.

Classics had attained the zenith of its power as an educative force for the ablest pupils at the top of the school much earlier in the century. While "pure scholarship" still retained much of its pristine glory, sixth-form classics were at the same time made the basis of a comparison of the ancient and modern worlds, and thus formed the introduction of the adolescent mind to that serious reflection on political, moral and economic problems which, perhaps more than anything else, is necessary for the leaders of opinion in a modern state. But, in the newer types of school, the duration of school life and the utilitarian needs of modern society, made a study of Greek up to the point when it would yield a return of this kind impossible; and it is doubtful whether it could ever do so except in the case of the picked pupil. Consequently Greek never gained an entry into the new type of school, and Latin, deprived of her partner, had a difficult struggle to justify her continuance. The entrance requirements of modern universities and of various professions demanded Latin but not Greek: and for some years, owing -to our innate British conservatism, this compromise was generally accepted. Indeed the coming into being of the Board of Education and the reaction against the narrowness of the Organised Schools of Science appeared to give Latin a new lease of life, and it became almost a necessity in schools receiving a government grant. Up to the War, repeated attempts to deprive Greek of its position as a compulsory subject at the older universities and Latin at the newer just failed to win the day. But it was generally felt that the teaching of classics outside the older type of schools was unsatisfactory. By the traditional method the first three or four years yielded little return. The accidence took a long time to master; the differences of construction necessitated a long course of exercises in translation out of English and of " made up " matter into English ; and the fourth year often saw only the power to hammer out slowly portions of Caesar and Livy with the aid of notes which translated all difficult sentences, even if the pupil did not use the further and unauthorised assistance of a literal translation. Thus the majority of boys never reached the stage when they entered into the mind of a Latin or Greek author, or when they derived the real benefit of translating English into Latin, which comes of the necessity of analysing the meaning of the English with the greatest exactitude.

No mere cutting down of the reduced course was of the slightest avail. The full public school classical course could be cut down without removing anything essential. Verses and Greek prose had long disappeared from the German Gymnasien. But it was precisely in the case of the large public schools that no great demand for cutting down existed. Verses are no longer imposed ,on the less able pupils; they have become optional in classical scholarships and in moderations at Oxford; but they still secure marks and give the versifier an advantage. But in the case of the reduced curriculum, lack of thoroughness at the initial stages virtually excluded the pupils from the power to benefit by the later stages. The attempt to do in four hours a week for two or three years what had formerly taken about twelve hours for four or five years was inevitably doomed to failure. Yet all the earlier attempts were to produce text-books which aimed at following the old path but rushing along it at a faster rate.

Such was the situation when a few individuals seized on the "direct method" which had already thoroughly justified itself in the case of modern languages and applied it, mutatis mutandis, to the teaching of Latin and Greek. The Perse School, Cambridge, under Dr Rouse, has, since the beginning of the century, been the pioneer of the new attempt, and the Association for the Reform of Latin Teaching the medium for spreading the idea. At the Perse and in a few other schools the method has been an undoubted success and it has been shown that, by the new method, pupils can be brought even with the reduced hours to the stage when the classical languages bring real returns in greater numbers than under the traditional system. But the direct method succeeds at present only in the hands of real scholars who are at the same time first-rate teachers; and one of the factors in the present situation is that the increase in the number of schools in which Latin up to matriculation standard is taught has made it absolutely impossible for the bulk of them to obtain teachers of the class which is needed. In many small schools Latin is taught in whole or in part by teachers who have taken honours in other subjects or who have not taken honours at all. It is thus too soon to decide whether the new method will withstand the growing attacks of utilitarianism and whether the retention of Latin when Greek, from which the full classical course received the chief measure of its inspiration, is given up will in the long run continue to appeal to the bulk of humanists. It is likewise too early to predict whether the abandonment of compulsory Greek at the older universities will slowly reduce the numbers of classical specialists till the ancient languages become merely a part of the professional training of the theological student.

Mathematics stood in quite a different position from classics. It is true that the growth of natural science has drawn away from the more advanced stages of pure mathematics many candidates who fifty years ago would have taken the Cambridge mathematical tripos; but it has largely increased the number of persons who need to study mathematics beyond the old standard for admission to the university. Mathematics enjoys several other advantages; it has a natural avenue in the universally taught subject of arithmetic, which secures that a pupil whose natural ability leads in that direction is almost sure to be discovered; and, being an exact subject, it is comparatively easy to teach at least passably. The methods of teaching it have undergone radical changes in the last twenty years; but most of them were long overdue, some of them having been anticipated in France by two hundred years! The reforms in the teaching of elementary arithmetic since the days when Matthew Arnold described it as "a special form of the science peculiar to inspected schools " belong rather to the history of elementary than to that of secondary education. More radical was the reform in the teaching of geometry which involved the abandonment of Euclid, whose text-book had held its own for two thousand years ! The Port Royalists wrote a revised geometry in the seventeenth century, and Euclid had already been superseded in every other civilised country. In Great Britain he received his death-blow in a discussion at the British Association in 1901. His long survival is probably to be explained by the persistence of the idea that the study of a work arranged in strict syllogistic form trained the pupil in a type of reasoning which could be applied with success to every kind of subject-matter whatever. Up-holders of this traditional view had failed to disentangle the essentials of this training from its non-essentials. The rationality of everything in Euclid's proofs and order had been taken for granted: Euclid had become the touchstone of reason rather than reason of Euclid. After 1901, how-ever, it was no longer heretical to hint that Euclid could be guilty of a tautological definition, that his postulates had been determined more by the build of Greek compasses than by that of the human mind, or that some of his axioms were less axiomatic than some of the propositions which he thought it necessary to prove. Hitherto the pupil who began by regarding geometry as a fascinating subject had found his progress barred by the pons asinorum—the cumbrous proof of Proposition V; but this terrible obstacle appeared to the innovators merely as betokening a naïve belief on the part of Euclid that a triangle could be turned on its back more easily if a piece were added at two of its corners than if it were left in splendid isolation. A more coherent course of practical work was rendered possible by the discovery that the absence of all reference to number was rather a defect in the geometrical practice of Euclid's day than a merit; while a far more logical arrangement of the order of propositions could be adopted as soon as it was seen that there was no logical reason why "theorems" should wait attendance on "problems" and that Euclid's order in the first book was hopelessly confusing. The result of the attacks was that examining bodies ceased to require Euclid's sequence of propositions and that a variety of text-books containing other orders sprang into being. Among the reformers there was of course a left and a right wing: the left wing allowed more propositions to be treated as axiomatic, accepted a few proofs which, though they were equally convincing to the pupil, were not regarded by Euclidean as conforming to the rules of the game, and aimed at reaching more rapidly the propositions which, like that dealing with the equality of the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle to the sum of the squares on the remaining sides, reveal a relation hitherto unsuspected by the pupil; while the right wing changed little in Euclid but the order.

The "reformed geometry" has made it possible, as Rousseau long ago demanded, to make a class think out the propositions as "riders," to begin problem work from the very beginning, and to substitute a real "feel" of the proofs for an empty form of words. The older "geometrical drawing" which stood in no relation to theoretic geometry has been incorporated. Quantitative problems at the early stages make the connection with arithmetic and mensuration obvious to the beginner, Probably for the average boy or girl, geometry, so far from having ceased to be a training in reasoning, has for the first time come to give such a training. But the maintenance of this position would involve so thorough an examination both of the nature of proof and of the steps whereby the growing mind can best be led to feel proof as proof, that it is impossible to attempt it here.

At about the same time changes were attempted in the teaching of elementary algebra. The traditional order in teaching algebra had been based on the order in arithmetic. After an unintelligent manipulation of symbols came the "four simple rules," and then and not till then simple equations and problems leading thereto, which are the first things which reveal to the beginner the raison d'être of algebra and are not treated by him as mere juggling tricks. The pedagogic and mathematical absurdity of this treatment is well exposed in Dr Adams's The New Teaching, but we fear that reform in the early teaching of algebra has not yet made as great strides as in the early teaching of geometry. At a later stage the earlier introduction of trigonometry and of logarithms and the tendency to re-move cumbersome accretions in favour of those parts of mathematics which are real " tools" in the hands of those who can use them are the outstanding reforms, just as at a still later stage the putting of the calculus earlier in the course is a prominent feature in reformed syllabuses.

Of natural science we have already spoken in a separate chapter. It has made rapid strides since the "eighties," every extension of schools having added to the proportion as well as to the actual number of pupils who make it one of their main subjects. It suffered badly from the effects of written examinations in the early days; for examining bodies had not envisaged the possibility of a subject whose very essence consisted of practical work. A strong reaction against mechanical memorising produced the atmosphere in which the claims of the heuristic method were able to thrive. This method differed fundamentally from the reforms which have been proposed in other branches of the curriculum : the most that can be said against any of them is that they require specially competent teachers, whereas the heuristic method was based on unsound pre-suppositions. It assumed a matured power of holding in the mind a large number of considerations to be present in a child of ten; and it further assumed that the power of balancing those considerations could be learned by practice without the aid of imitation. Experience and psychology have confirmed the suspicions which those who had a practical acquaintance with growing minds all along entertained that till the age of adolescence science cannot be studied scientifically; while, even in the case of adolescents, it is now recognised that the handling of the reins which guide each individual in a class so as to encourage intelligent guess-work is a fine art too delicate to be reduced to formulae.

The teaching of modern languages is being absolutely transformed by the introduction of the direct method, hindered though it is by the lack of trained teachers and of Englishmen possessing a good spoken knowledge of French and German. The older methods, described by Dr Moberley before the Public Schools Commission, have, however, not yet been thoroughly driven out. The direct method was worked out in Germany during the " eighties " and was rapidly accepted in that country and in France; but it has been adopted by Great Britain only since the beginning of the new century. Probably it is used more successfully in girls' than in boys' schools, partly because women have cultivated modern languages more and partly because they are far more ready to give a fair trial to new educational methods.

The term "English" covers a variety of branches of the curriculum—composition, grammar, and literature.

The practice of English composition has been fostered in many ways. As Arnold treated " translation," as opposed to " construing," from foreign languages, it gave a training in English expression. Unfortunately, however, there has been a sad decline in this kind of " translation"; and in many of the newer schools the latinised or frenchified English which is used in the Latin or French lesson must go a long way to counteract the efforts of the teacher of English. The old Latin " theme" was a training in another side of composition; for it compelled the pupil to collect and arrange his ideas as much as an English essay would have done : but in the middle of our period it gave way entirely to translation from English into Latin. In sixth forms English essays have long been effectively used to introduce the pupil to historical, political, critical, and other problems : but the traditional essay set to the middle forms imposed the task not only of making bricks without straw but of combining them into a building without a plan. In other words, the pupils had neither ideas nor guidance in the art of arranging ideas. External examinations, however, began to require English essays, and the newer types of school had to respond to the demand. Cram-books of model essays began to be written, and kinds of essays were found to be capable of classification as readily as problems on clocks and bath-pipes. Pupils preparing for the more elementary public examinations were taught to catalogue the parts of an animal beginning with its head and ending with its tail or to recount the career of a man under headings as precise as those of Who's Who. Variety was slowly introduced; but the discovery of the great superiority of French teachers in the technique of teaching composition and their surprisingly good results has done more than anything to improve the teaching of the subject in this country1.

Much of what is now called English Grammar was taught in the old grammar schools as part of the Latin teaching. Indeed we are now becoming conscious that most of what has passed as " English grammar " is merely the terminology of Latin grammar transferred to a language which it does not equally fit. Matthew Arnold, who was a firm believer in the "logical training" afforded by a study of Latin, was very anxious to see English grammar taught to all pupils who did not learn Latin : Thring too wrote text-books and taught the subject at Uppingham. Modern questionnaires suggest that it is the best hated subject in the curriculum ; possibly this confirmed the high opinion formed of it by the old disciplinarian school of thought. Another merit in the eyes of some teachers was that, being entirely formal and standing in no relation to the world outside the class-room, it did not necessitate any fresh reading to keep abreast of the times or to impart freshness of presentation. It has now become the natural target of all enemies of formalism and believers in making school work a live thing. But it has a great measure of support from the teachers of other languages, who prefer to ease themselves of the grind which might threaten a loss of interest to the early stages of teaching French or Latin. A practical step was taken in 1909, when the teachers of all languages united to agree on a standard grammatical terminology applicable to all languages ordinarily taught in schools. This amounted to an agreement that, as far as schools are concerned, grammar is merely a body of terms used to describe certain phenomena of language and not an explanatory science.

English literature owes its entrance into schools almost entirely to external examinations. The older schools believed that it could not profitably be taught in class, and tried to encourage it by school libraries1, by holiday work, and by occasional readings given to a class as a kind of hour's holiday. The need of introducing it seemed axiomatic to opponents of classics. "Why teach Greek and Latin, even French and German, literature, and not teach the incomparable literature of our own tongue? " It was introduced, and taught exactly as Latin and Greek authors were taught. The author was snowed under by the notes. The notes, like the classical eruditio of Renaissance times, consisted of scraps of isolated information, philological, grammatical, historical, archaeological, biographical, critical. Rarely has a subject suffered so severely at the hands of its friends ! In how many children has the desire to read the English classics been killed by cramming such matter for examinations ! An attempt is now being made to improve the teaching by altering the character of examination questions; but it has yet to be shown that a vernacular literature is capable of being made an examination subject. Teachers are in a dilemma. If it is not examined, while other subjects are, it probably will not be taught at all; if it is examined, it follows that it will be taught badly. Even in the universities, where it now usually forms an honours course by itself, a constant struggle is needed to prevent "English" from becoming predominantly philological.

History was one of the earliest of the new subjects to obtain recognition at the universities, and its importance was admitted by the old-fashioned headmasters ; their difficulty was that they were not willing, like the supporters of some modern subjects, to introduce the subject first and find out how to teach it afterwards. The higher stages, at which thoughtful essays could be obtained, and the lowest stage of all, where history is pure story-telling, soon assumed shape : but the middle stages have suffered from a fair measure of rote memory-work. Dr Keatinge's source method has in recent times attempted to solve the problem of the middle stage, and it has exercised a considerable influence on existing methods, though it has not often been adopted in its entirety1.

Geography was long a bye-word as a mere memory subject. Its transformation in the hands of good teachers since 1900 has been more complete than in the case of almost any subject. Much of this is due to the efforts of Sir H. Mackinder and the late Dr Herbertson at Oxford and to the large number of students who have attended vacation classes there and elsewhere. In the preceding quarter of a century, the men of science, led by Huxley, had done much to develop "physiography," which became a favourite subject in junior examinations, but they had effected too great a divorce between the physical and the human sides of geography. The neo-Herbartians on the contrary tried to correlate geography so closely with history as to deprive it of all organic unity; but their efforts never got far beyond the domain of theory. The synthesis of the physical and the human is the ideal of the new school of geographers. Geography affords a striking instance of the effect on the teaching of a subject in schools which may be produced from the broadening of the subject itself by its non-scholastic exponents.

Drawing entered the lower grades of secondary education first and thence climbed upwards. It was as a utilitarian rather than as an artistic subject that it first appeared. Geometrical drawing was thus in favour; but it was kept strangely isolated from theoretic geometry till the last twenty years. The story of the mechanical teaching of freehand drawing, beginning with straight lines and curves, and continuing with the drawing of copies, belongs more properly to the history of elementary education, as it was due to a Pestalozzian tradition and was spread by the influence of Kay-Shuttleworth. Herbert Spencer's attack did not finally drive it from the schools for thirty or forty years. South Kensington has in the past dominated the teaching of the subject. The Public Schools Commission held that every boy should be taught either drawing or music; but Thring was the first enthusiastic supporter of the artistic subjects in the large public schools. Though the attitude of educationalists to the artistic subjects has now become thoroughly favourable, drawing has still two difficulties to face. The first is that, not being a subject required for the matriculation examinations of universities, many schools allow the pupil to drop it as soon as he possibly can and do not treat it with the same seriousness as they treat the intellectual disciplines; and this is as true of many schools of the new types as of the old-fashioned school. The second danger comes from a section of its own adherents. Latterly a kind of pedagogic futurism and cubism has arisen, which would have us allow children to draw unrecognisable daubs without correction as a means of encouraging "self-expression." We might as well en-courage unintelligible and ungrammatical English with the same object. It is impossible to believe that this craze will hold the field for long, though it is obviously popular with the lazy teacher who would have the world believe that his laziness is an application of the latest educational theory.

Music also owes much to Thring. Few schools fail to encourage it either as a class subject or as an out-of-school recreation or as both, though, where it is treated as a class subject, it, like drawing, often suffers from not being a recognised subject for matriculation examinations.

The manual subjects are beginning to come to their own; but naturally we expect to see them more developed in elementary, technical and continuation schools than in ordinary secondary schools. By a curious irony, they are not allowed to benefit by being utilitarian; for, the moment any utilitarian claim is put forward for them, we are told that we are converting a secondary into a technical school : yet, the moment they are left to stand on their merits as a part of the training of an all-round human being, parents at once forsake them for other subjects which may in the abstract be supported as part of a general education but whose appeal to them is purely monetary. Thus, while we should have expected every human being to aspire to be-come a handy man, no social class seems to favour manual training. To the head-worker it seems to have no market-able value ; and the hand-worker suspects it as a surreptitious device of the capitalist to prevent his children entering the ranks of head-workers. Unfortunately it has not fared well in the United States, where Dewey's idealistic conception of the subject had to yield to commercialism; otherwise his views would probably in a few years have produced a strong impression in this country.

The improvement of methods of teaching every subject is bound up with the question of the training of teachers. A short account of the history of the movement in favour of the training of secondary teachers is therefore in place in this chapter.

Training of elementary teachers has long been the rule, and it is possible that the more rational opposition to the training of secondary teachers, as opposed to that which sprang either from sheer conservatism or from the dislike of an additional year's work, sprang from certain associations of training in general with the specific methods of training at one time in vogue for elementary teachers. It is undoubtedly true that training came into existence in connection with very mechanical methods of teaching. Under the monitorial system, when the teachers were them-selves children, nothing but cut and dried methods could be taught them; and the object of training was precisely the same as that of military drill, to prescribe an exact method by which every act should be performed, and to turn that method into an automatic habit. Gradually the age of teachers was raised till the students were no longer boys but men : but still the fearful grind hindered any real development of initiative. The student was expected to teach all day in school, to prepare his lessons, to undergo a course of general study, and to be trained; save for meal times, he was at work from five in the morning till bed-time. We learn that at one time the method of training was as follows:—the student taught each class in turn; he then went into the training college and assumed the rôle of pupil in each class and was taught every lesson in the regulation manner; he practised some of them on his fellow-students; and at the end he was supposed to know exactly what to do in every lesson in every class and to be ready to go out and do it. Kay-Shuttleworth, the first secretary of the Committee of Council, did much for elementary education; in particular he substituted pupil-teachers for monitors and tried to increase the number of adult teachers. In a private capacity he founded Battersea Training College; and he trusted to training colleges to improve methods of teaching. But the mechanical side of training did not disappear. Kay-Shuttleworth wished to follow Pestalozzi, and it was quite easy to interpret Pestalozzi's principles, in the literal sense of his own phrase, as an attempt méchaniser l'éducation. Kay Shuttleworth's conception of method was to reduce every subject to its logical elements; in reading you proceeded from letters to syllables, from monosyllabic to dissyllabic words, and so on. The method was thoroughly unsound, but it lent itself to a stereotyped procedure; and such a procedure was stamped on training colleges during the critical period when elementary education was taking shape in this country.

It is not our intention to recount the history of elementary training colleges in any detail; for till 1890 they were isolated from the rest of higher education, and convenience suggests that they should be treated along with elementary education. Their great defect was the confinement of the instruction strictly to the subjects which the student would have to teach; and matters were made worse by Robert Lowe who, from motives of false economy, would have liked to destroy them altogether, but, being unable to do so, forbade the founding of any more and limited the curricula of those which existed to little more than "the three R's." Between the time of Lowe and 189o the Government once more came to see their necessity; and, whereas in early days it was found impossible to fill them, the demand now came greatly to exceed the supply of places. The old conditions had been far from satisfactory. The whole day was filled up; students had no private rooms in which to work; there were no facilities for exercise; the staffs were composed almost entirely of old students ; the studies consisted largely in memory-work. The professional training was somewhat unreal; it encouraged the cult of " talk and chalk"; it was tested by "show" lessons before the inspector, in which it was generally believed that the best impression was made by choosing a scientific topic and working a number of "interesting" experiments which the class regarded in the light of conjuring tricks. As such lessons were unlikely to be given by the student in his subsequent career, there was in this an element which struck the outsider as worse than a mistake—as partaking of the nature of a sham.

It must be remembered that the demand for the training of secondary teachers began while that of elementary teachers was still in this unsatisfactory state. It can be readily understood what Temple meant when he said that the business of a schoolmaster was "not so much to teach as to make the children learn." He implied that the teacher was encouraged to be so active as to leave the pupils passive, whereas true education consists in the pupil learning how to teach himself. Or again we can understand the point of Thring's dictum, " The perfection of teaching is that it does not work by a given pattern."

The first believers in training among secondary teachers were mainly women. There must be some reason for this. All the great headmistresses from the very first were in its favour; it was long before any prominent headmaster supported it heartily. Women as a rule have more of the teaching instinct inborn in them than men; hence we should suppose that they need training less. Our own explanation is this. It was a tradition in the old boys' schools that the headmaster should never be in the room to hear one of his staff teach. Women can never hand over the reins in that way; many men would say that they must be interfering. The headmistress soon found out how badly the average beginner teaches—we are not speaking of discipline but of actual teaching. They also learned how much she improved with a little guidance. Contemporary headmasters, never entering a new master's class-room, never realised either fact with equal clearness, but tended to assume that, if discipline were satisfactory, teaching would look after itself.

The College of Preceptors was the first body to institute lectures on the science and art of education for secondary teachers, Joseph Payne acting as professor from 1873 to his death in 1876. Cambridge University instituted lectures during the eighties, and R. H. Quick, who had published his Essays on Educational Reformers in 1868, was invited to lecture. This move seems to have been inspired more by a desire to satisfy an outcry than by a conviction of any good which would accrue. The experiment could not be pronounced very fruitful; casual lectures are not training, in fact they sin against one of the first principles which the lecturer would lay down that an art can be learned only after practice. Not, of course, the advocate of training would add, by unguided practice. Training in teaching is like net-practice in cricket under a professional coach. The old system of education sent the teacher to the wicket without any practice at all; the lecture system assumed that discussions on forward and back play (the theory of education) and a study of the life of W. G. Grace (the history of education) would make a man a cricketer. Quick was a man brimful of ideas ; but it is doubtful whether an "educational reformer," in the sense of a man who believes that education is right off the rails and needs getting back, was the best choice to commend training to a faithless and untoward generation. Such a man is of necessity searching for the right methods, sure that they have not been found; whereas a man with fewer alterations to suggest but perfectly sure of those few would have been more likely to command confidence.

We therefore think that the credit of being the real authors of secondary training in England must go to women like Mrs Grey, who founded the Maria Grey College in 1877, and Miss Buss, who secured the foundation of the Cambridge Training College for Women in 1885. Miss Buss foresaw the danger that training would be neglected by women whose classes in the tripos would readily obtain them posts and might be confined to such as wished to make up in some other way for lack of academic distinction. This has been another cause which has hindered the progress of training. If the training colleges get only inferior material, training will not be justified of its children. It is the same story as that of modern sides; headmasters first relegated to them all their less able pupils and then demonstrated from the results that modern studies were of less educational value than the classics. The spontaneous spread of training among women has since been consider-able. It is noteworthy too that the schools of the Roman Catholics and of the Society of Friends, who are more free from tradition and more ready to examine an educational question on its merits than ordinary schools, have been favourable to training. Meanwhile the elementary training colleges were being transformed. The buildings were improved; each student was allotted a study-bedroom of his own; hours of work were reduced; playing fields were attached; the curriculum was widened; students were encouraged to sit for London degrees ; women principals were required in the case of women's colleges; salaries were improved; and the colleges were encouraged to appoint graduates on their staffs.

An undoubted hindrance to the spread of training was a widely felt suspicion of educational theory for which some of its exponents were in a large measure to blame. It is a curious fact that we have almost completed our story of English secondary education during the last hundred years without having had a single occasion save in a digression on elementary education to refer to any influence exercised by the great continental exponents of educational theory. The three whose views have in turn been brought to Great Britain are Pestalozzi, Froebel, and Herbart. As a philanthropist, indeed as a confessor for education among the poor, Pestalozzi had an influence on the spread of elementary education which is above praise. But as a theorist, if indeed he can be called such, his influence, as we have pointed out, made for a mechanical conception of teaching. Froebel's work was almost unknown in England till the foundation of the Froebel Society in 1874. In spite of some tendency to set the ipse dixit of their founder above experience, Froebelians have, on the other hand, done an immense amount of good, and have revolutionised our ideas of the infant school. The influence of Herbart was later still in showing itself and coincided with the demand for training. The Felkins translated portions of Herbart's writings in 1892, and among a section of "reformers" Herbartianism became a craze. Pilgrim-ages to Jena to sit at the feet of Dr Rein, his great con-temporary exponent, were as obligatory on the faithful as pilgrimages to Mecca in the world of Islam. The arrangement of lessons in five steps—Herbart himself only knew of four—was believed to be all that was needed (unless perchance it were the determination of curriculum on a culture-epoch basis) to bring about an educational millennium. To the old-fashioned headmaster Herbartianism appeared as the very canonisation of soft pedagogics. The truth is that very little of Herbart was left in popular neo-Herbartianism, which was inextricably intertwined with the notions that teaching was a process of exposition in which the teacher did all the work and that it must always be made, in a crude sense, "interesting."

The application of psychology to education was also a matter of suspicion to the practical teacher. The reason for this difference of attitude between the theorist and the practical man is now quite evident. The theorist saw that psychology, as being the science of mind, must be the foundation of education, which is the treatment of mind, just as physiology must be the foundation of medicine. But the practical man saw that the rules of procedure which he was bidden to follow in the name of psychology would not work. How did this contradictory state of affairs arise? Simply because psychology claimed to direct education before its own foundations were securely laid. Till far into the nineteenth century psychology meant the faculty psychology of Aristotle. When, for instance, the psychologist Bain wrote his Education as a Science, he might as well have written an exposition of medicine as a science based on the old Greek theory of the four humours. Nevertheless psychology, in spite of some wise criticisms by Temple in 1858, obtained a lodgment in elementary training colleges, but it meant little more than talking about everyday experience in a very technical jargon. The able student saw through it, while the man of less brains became conceited of his fine-sounding phrases. It is difficult to fix a date at which psychology entered on its modern scientific stage : the transition took place in Germany; the American, William James, was probably the first writer to popularise the new psychology in England; and Ward's article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica is usually regarded as the first important exposition by an English writer. The overthrow of the faculty psychology, however, was not enough to fit the science to be the basis of an educational theory; it rather left a void. Blasting is often necessary before the foundations of a building can be laid; but it is not usual to say that a house is built on a foundation of dynamite. The next stage in psychology was analytic, classificatory, and terminological, that is, it sought to state the results of common experience in exact language before starting to make new discoveries. This stage was quite neutral in its effect on education. It might, for instance, be psychologically more accurate so to define attention as to imply that we are in some measure attending every moment of our lives, but it still remained more convenient for the master to rebuke Smith minor for "in-attention" than on the more accurately expressed charge of dispersed, discontinuous, and fluctuating attention, of a low degree of intensity, and only intermittently directed on the required object.

Suspicion of psychology and suspicion of Herbartianism became in many minds closely associated; for the neo-Herbartians claimed that Herbart had years ago supersede d the faculty psychology by a new system of his own. Curiously enough, headmasters, though reluctant to admit that psychology could have any value in the training of the teacher, had been always willing to carry on educational controversy in terms of the old psychology, which was consecrated by the time-honoured authority of Aristotle: but the proposed substitute was anathema to them. The truth, however, was that the Herbartian psychology, which entirely ignored the innate and hereditary elements in the human mind and regarded education as a process of introducing ideas from without, had never had a wide vogue in the country of its origin, and was quite obsolete before the educational views of the Herbartians were introduced into England. If Herbartianism was the enemy, the head-masters might well have regarded modern psychology as an ally for purposes of the attack upon it.

Psychology has now become an exact, constructive and experimental science. Its educational bearings are obvious at every turn. One caution, however, is still needed. Its work has so far been done, and for some years will probably continue to be done, mainly in regard to what we may call the cruder psychological processes—sense-perception, imagery, and memory. Only when these have been thoroughly examined will the higher processes—conceptual thought, imagination, and reasoning—be properly investigated. Unless the educationalist is careful, he may come to regard the cruder processes as constituting the chief subject matter of education, whereas it is the higher processes which are its main objective. An instance of this tendency is to be found in the extraordinarily crude theories of the function of hand-work in education which are sometimes put forward on the authority of medical men. Then too there is the fact that educational psychology is of German origin and that, while German writers are unsurpassed in the collection of evidence, they are not equally noted for discrimination as to the relative importance of the facts which they have collected. The study of Meumann's standard work on the subject, for instance, is of doubtful advantage to the student unless his teachers encourage him to study the evidence and exercise his critical powers continually on the conclusions. Nevertheless, the claims of educational theory can no longer be denied; it is impossible to discuss educational questions without it; and the alternative to admitting it to a place in a course of training would be to shut out educational discussion altogether.

We may now revert to the history of training colleges, as we have reached the point when the story of elementary and secondary training unites. In 1890 the Government, to meet the lack of accommodation in existing elementary training colleges, adopted a suggestion of the Cross Commission to found "day training colleges" or, as they are now termed, training departments, in the various universities and university colleges. At first only a part of the students studied for their degrees, but in 1907 it was found possible to insist on this in all cases where the department was attached to a university. The professional work, which was the same as in ordinary training colleges, was at first done concurrently with the academic course, but in 1911 it was postponed to a special post-graduate year and the examining was left to the university itself. By this time most universities had already established post-graduate secondary training courses, usually conducted by the same staff as that which carried on the elementary training. A further step in the unification of our educational system was taken in the same year by the substitution for the old promise, which was not legally enforcible, required of every student on entering on a course of elementary training, that he would spend his whole life in an elementary school—for so it was interpreted by the Board—of a legal undertaking to teach seven years in the case of a man or five in the case of a woman in any grant-earning school, secondary or elementary, or training-college. Finally in 1918 students admitted to an elementary training department who succeeded in obtaining a degree with honours were allowed to transfer themselves to the secondary training department, for which the State also provides grants. The distinction is thus now mainly one between the specialist teacher of older pupils and the non-specialist teacher of younger children.

The Board of Education likewise from its first institution set about to liberalise the existing training colleges for elementary teachers. The Act of 1902 permitted county and county borough councils, singly or in combination, to establish or take over training colleges, a concession which has secured a supply of places equal to the demand and has removed the grievance which was previously caused through the bulk of existing training colleges being supplied by the Church of England.

The result of all these changes is that elementary training has begun to react on secondary training. In the new municipal and county schools, which largely absorbed the old higher-grade schools, graduates who had received an elementary training began frequently to appear on the staffs. Further, as the number of teachers required was increased, it became evident that the supply of "teachers by the grace of God" was inadequate to meet the demand; and outside that select band, the trained teacher was found to be superior. It is true that at first his merits were of rather a routine order; he knew how to arrange his facts systematically, to give a consecutive narrative, and to drill his pupils thoroughly. The old-fashioned training hardly gave that power which the "teacher by the grace of God" possessed, of training the pupil to teach himself, of being suggestive rather than didactic. Here, we suspect, was the weak spot which men like Thring had detected in teaching by rule. The old trained teacher certainly tried to " make the pupil think," he generally believed that he had succeeded. But too often he was only exercising an art in which he undoubtedly excelled, the barrister's art of driving the pupil by a series of questions to state at the end what he wished him to state. As, however, the pupil did not know after the cross-examination was over how he had been got to the point of that particular conclusion, he was no better able by virtue of the process to think out any other problem when left to himself. Frequently indeed there were serious fallacies in the reasoning which neither teacher nor pupil detected. But, in spite of obvious defects, it was clear that training could develop potentialities more certainly and more speedily than unguided experience.

The mutual interaction of secondary and elementary tradition has been of undoubted advantage to both. The former, starting from a basis of small classes and older pupils, had laid stress on the work of the individual pupils; the latter, which in its early days had mainly to do with enormous classes of children aged not more than ten, had perfected collective teaching by means of oral exposition. Both have their place; and each body of teacher is learning to value the side which they had previously under-estimated. The secondary teacher has discovered the need of thinking out his procedure, of cultivating narrative power, and perfecting his explanations; the elementary teacher has discovered, especially since a reduction in the size of classes permits of less mechanical procedure, that methods which originally had children of ten in view do too much for pupils of twelve or thirteen. Training is now winning adherents among secondary teachers, while the ideals of what constitutes a sound training are being modified among elementary teachers.

A cause which is likely in the future to force an acceptance of training even in the most conservative quarters is the rise of new methods of teaching old subjects. No untrained teacher can hope to teach languages on the direct method; and the common-sense of parents sees at a glance that a method which enables a pupil to speak, as well as to read and write, a living language is superior to one which only gives the last two facilities. Often the same parent finds that his girl, who is taught by a trained teacher, is able to do all three well, while his boy, who is taught by an untrained teacher, cannot speak at all and is only able to stumble through a piece of translation from either language into the other. This is the kind of evidence which appeals to the practical Englishman, and it is a kind which head-masters will not long be able to resist.

The history of higher education in this country from 1800, when we had but two universities and those only just waking from a long sleep, nine large schools which were still sleeping, and a number of small schools which were well-nigh dead, up to 1918, when the number of educational institutions has become so great and their character so varied that we doubt whether any one person, even an official of the Board of Education, thoroughly knows the work of them all, surely shows what is the work of the State, of the public, and of the individual in improving and spreading education. The individual initiates, public enthusiasm vivifies, the State spreads. The true function of the Government in education is like the irrigation work of British rule in Egypt and Mesopotamia; it can control a huge system which is beyond the power of any smaller organisation. But individuals are the sources of the stream. We see this more clearly in the case of schools where even the names of the chief initiators are known than in the case of universities, the very reason for whose existence is that, by bringing individuals together in a small society, they may pool the brains of all. We see it too in the case of technical and workmen's education; it is due to the initiating work of Birkbeck, Maurice, Toynbee and Hogg that the State has been able to do its later work. But the State has irrigated, that is to say, it has, by means of Royal Commissions and otherwise, broken down obstacles which shut in the life-giving waters of the initiators' ideas; it has financed the construction of channels by which the surplus stores of educational talent could be transferred from an existing place of education to a region hitherto desert; it has spread the waters from universities to schools; it has even by means of reports provided them a channel from abroad. But the early attempts at a State-made teaching of science show the contrast in vitality between the live work of individuals when subsequently spread by the State and the sapless skeleton-like growth which results from the State's own work. But besides the individual initiator and the State organiser there must exist a public to welcome and to demand. It would have been useless to provide a complete system of secondary education for the rural population of England fifty years ago. Wales obtained its system of rural secondary schools first because it was ready for it. A demand can probably be created in time, but it is a slow process.

Let us hope that the functions of all three agencies will be recognised in the future. Let the State allow such freedom that new educational ideas may be developed by individuals. May public opinion not think that, because the State has undertaken the supply, there is no more call for the enthusiasm which enabled the municipal universities, the polytechnics, and the Welsh intermediate schools to be founded. And may the State not think that the work of extension is done or ever will be done.

Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com