The Work Of Individual Endeavour
( Originally Published 1921 )
THE prophets prophesied mainly during the "fifties" and " sixties," but it took some time before the gradual leavening of national thought resulted in producing a state of mind capable of devising and supporting a State system of post-elementary education. In the technical sphere up to the passing of the Technical Instruction Act of 1889, in the secondary sphere up to the Bryce Commission (1894-1895), and in the university sphere up to the giving of government grants in 1889, we may call this the age of individual endeavour.
As regards secondary education, this endeavour was naturally most successful at the' upper end of the social scale, where there was least need of financial assistance from the State. Many of the schools which had been set on a sound financial basis as the result of the Commission began to do excellent work; they copied all the best points in the Arnoldian tradition, and sent their most promising pupils to the universities, where they held their own well with the products of the older schools. These schools were less expensive and appealed to the professional class; and they avoided more than the older schools the tradition of idleness and the new tendency to over-athleticism. But there were still lamentable gaps. Most of the reforms by which the educational value of the newer subjects have been brought out belong to a more recent date: witness the new geometry, the direct method of teaching languages, and reformed geography. The majority of the schools founded modern sides but relegated to them all their unpromising pupils. Classics continued therefore to be the great educative agent. The non-classical "middle" schools were deficient in numbers, lacked a clear-cut educational programme, and, till the rise of newer universities and places of professional and technical instruction, led nowhere.
In describing the work of individual endeavour, it is easiest to take some one outstanding example; and, in this case, it would be generally agreed that the premier place belongs to Edward Thring of Uppingham, who gathers together the effects of all the movements described in the last chapter. He was the first notable example of a head-master who realised the effect of an artistic element in the school environment, who introduced manual training into the secondary school, and who used school missions to awake in the minds of his own class an understanding of the workers and sympathy for them. The introduction of the first school gymnasium likewise connects him with the hygienic movement. In the novelty of his ideas, the force of his personality, his influence over his contemporaries and his reputation after his death, he is almost the equal of Arnold; but he does not possess the supreme importance of breaking up entirely fallow ground.
Thring was educated at Eton and King's College, Cam-bridge. Even in boyhood his experiences at Eton turned his attention to the evils of the public schools of those days before the Commission. The material conditions of "Long Chamber" were so bad and the tone so low that, though Eton foundationers had the privilege of automatically proceeding as scholars to King's, with a good chance of a fellowship to follow, Thring's father like many others sent him at first as a paying pupil and entered him for a scholarship at the latest moment compatible with his holding it for the necessary three years. As a "colleger" he and many other boys could only work by getting up in the middle of the night when the other pupils were asleep. At King's, as at New College, Oxford, there existed the curious privilege by which undergraduates obtained their degree without undergoing the University examinations. Thring was thus cut off from the hope of winning a first class; but he proved his scholarship by gaining the Porson Prize and subsequently, as a fellow, he took part 'in abolishing the obnoxious regulation. Possibly to a mind so bubbling over with intellectual interests as Thring's, the opportunity of working in his own way free from examinations was an advantage and may have had some-thing to do with his subsequent policy of laying stress on the literary and artistic sides of school work which do not help to win scholarships. After his ordination he was for a time curate at St James's, Gloucester; and of all the branches of his clerical work that which interested him most was his teaching in the National school connected with the church. He regarded it as experimental work; he felt that education in all its grades was based on bad foundations, and the task which he set himself was to look for better. All his life he looked back to this time as his formative period: thus his views took shape before he ever began to teach in a secondary school and, though expanding in detail, were never substantially changed. He became profoundly convinced that, the younger the pupil, the more was teaching ability needed, that few teachers ever really got into the minds of their pupils, that they thought too exclusively of the subject-matter, and that they were committing a grave injustice in confining their interest to their clever pupils. He regarded a stupid boy as a most interesting problem, as a challenge to his skill as a teacher. When ill-health compelled him to abandon parochial work, he undertook private coaching as a form of light duty, and thus, like Arnold, passed directly to a headship without ever being an assistant. As in Arnold's case, this private tuition opened his eyes to the need of dealing with individuals as individuals and not losing them in the mass, which is a cardinal feature of his educational theory. In 1853 he was appointed headmaster of Uppingham, at that time a small country grammar school with two masters and twenty-five boys, and, in spite of much opposition from the governors, he raised it to a school of thirty masters and 320 boys, beyond which limit he refused to allow it to increase.
It will be best to consider the leading features in his character before we pass on to his work. The first was his thoroughness. "An archbishop was asked What kind of a man is Edward Thring?' The archbishop was about to poke the fire. Why, he was this kind of a man; if he were poking a fire, he would make you believe that the one thing worth living for was to know how to poke a fire properly1." Another man said, "I do not believe he would have omitted one portion of the day's routine, if that omission had injured a single boy, for the position of the highest eminence his country could bestow2." The effectiveness of this quality is obvious ; but it had one disadvantage —it made his writings seem somewhat exaggerated : his condemnations of politicians, officials, his governors, and others who did not agree with him, at first sight suggest a man who could see no good in anything which was not in accordance with his own ideas. Yet no man was less conceited.
The second striking characteristic of Thring was his sympathy. This quality was combined with an absolute masterfulness. Arnold was sympathetic with very small boys and, at the other end of the scale, he won the friend ship of his Sixth Form, but his sternness was somewhat awe-inspiring to boys in the middle of the school. But it must be remembered that Arnold had to reform a school where bad traditions had taken root, whereas Thring could build up what was practically a new school on his own lines and, beginning with a few boys, was able to get into such touch with them at the beginning that he never lost it. Nevertheless, in spite of Arnold's remark that he should resign as soon as he could no longer run up the library stairs, one has a feeling that Thring had something of the boy in him which Arnold never had; and his impulsiveness, his tendency to rush from gloom to the full enjoyment of a holiday, and his unwillingness to brook opposition are all characteristics of a bubbling, boyish nature which made him understand boys. Unlike Arnold, he had too a strong sense of humour. He was ready to do anyone a good turn either by help, time, or money. He kept in constant touch with his old boys. In his diary little school incidents seem to occupy his attention as much as big questions of administration: he was always thinking of individuals. Gratitude or confidence shown by pupils touched him deeply and misconduct made him miserable.
Thirdly, we have already spoken of his masterfulness. Up to a point all great headmasters are masterful, at least in their dealings with their pupils; but it was not mainly with his pupils that Thring showed this quality. Though he made it clear that he took a serious view of misbehaviour in class, this was a natural outcome of his securing smaller classes, better masters, and more congenial surroundings. He considered that he had done away with the causes which naturally led to idleness and inattention and that he could justly claim a higher standard of order. He secured his higher standard, but he was no martinet. "A master came to him and said,' A must be caned; he has been very insolent.' Thring agreed and A was caned. A week later the master came and said, 'A must be crushed; he has repeated his insolent conduct.' Thring turned and said, 'A shan't be crushed; he is a very good boy, but just at present he is standing at bay like a rat in a corner. Punish him slightly for this, for the next month shut your eyes resolutely to everything you are not obliged to see.' The plan answered1." Though we find from Thring's diary that he was strict with his staff on such points as being late for school and going off to read the newspaper, and though at first there was some little inclination among them to regard him as faddy on matters which seemed to them to be trifles, yet he had their solid support in all his great struggles with the governing body. He insisted firmly on his absolute right to dismiss his assistants, but he was too kind to use it on the rare occasions when he had a master who. was not up to his usual standard. In fact his masterfulness was not displayed against those who were under him but against those who claimed to be over him. He held an autocratic theory as to the independence of a headmaster and showed an almost rebellious spirit to any power, whether the State or the governors of the school, who claimed to limit that independence. His fighting instincts were aroused by opposition. When he engaged new masters, he made it clear that, even though they were sinking money in the school by the conditions on which they took boarding houses, his right to dismiss them was real, that he was no constitutional ruler, much less the instrument of a committee, that even when he asked for advice he was not bound to act on it, and that the masters' meetings were merely advisory. The least sign of opposition on the part of the governors is met by an outburst of wrath in his diary; and against the Commissioners appointed under the Endowed Schools Act he declared open war. He has nothing too bad to say of government interference in education or about any attempt to impose inspection on secondary schools.
Lastly we may notice his religious earnestness. His diary reveals an almost Cromwellian belief that every detail of life is specially determined by Providence for some end. It was the humility and constant searching of heart which this belief inspired which prevented his master-fulness from becoming of such a kind as to over-ride the legitimate claims of others. His religion was very practical: it led him to found the first school mission in a slum and to take an active part in working the local "Mutual Improvement Society," to which he gave a less formally religious turn than that which hitherto prevailed in such organisations. Nowadays, perhaps, religious bodies are inclined to run to death the idea of reaching the people by means of amusements; but the danger then was in the opposite direction. This society therefore, with its concerts, classes, lectures, and tennis and cricket clubs, was a move in the right direction, an attempt to educate informally. His scripture teaching left a deeper impression than any part of his work, though it would have surprised any examiner. He used the supposed matter of the syllabus merely as a peg on which to hang his own ideas, which were always marked by freshness and individuality; he would sometimes devote a whole month to a single chapter.
We pass now to his leading ideas, which, as has already been stated, were formed before he went to Uppingham.
He lays it down as the main point of difference between his own practice and that of the old public schools that a school, to be honest, must educate every single pupil and not concentrate its main endeavours entirely on the ablest. Even at Rugby, which had since Arnold's death come to be popularly regarded as a model—a view which Thring somewhat resents—he declares that there were three forms which averaged over sixty boys and that in the headmaster's house there were between sixty and seventy. (In justice to Arnold it should be said that the restriction which he had set on the total number of the school had been removed since his death.) He attacks, as "the greatest heresy against educational truth ever ex-pressed," the belief that " the first, second, and third duty of a schoolmaster is to get rid of unpromising subjects1." If he is attacking Arnold, the charge is hardly fair; for Arnold only removed boys whose moral influence he believed to be bad: but he has more show of reason if he is attacking the system of "superannuation" recommended by the Public Schools Commission and since pretty generally adopted in the public schools, by which any boy who fails to gain his promotion to a particular form by a given age is automatically removed. No stigma attaches to such removal; the plan is due as much to the tremendous competition for places in these schools as to the acceptance of Arnold's theory that intellectual dullards are more often than other boys a bad moral influence. Thring's champion-ship of the claims of the average boy is eminently reasonable, though he seems to have pushed it too far in claiming the right of the stupid boy to remain at school after sixteen. Surely the true principle is that, so long as the boy is at school, he has a right to his fair share of attention, but that there must be an age at which it is not worth while wasting the energy of teachers in continuing the education of less able pupils. It is merely an application of the law of diminishing returns. Thring's sincerity on this point was so well-known that he felt it a cause of grievance that certain parents sent their less able children to Uppingham and the clever member of the family elsewhere !
Though his personality was doubtless the largest factor in his success, he himself attributed it largely to organisation. He was always emphasising the need of adjusting every detail in the school to the fulfilment of its aims, with this object in view he began with the buildings. "The almighty wall is, after all, the supreme and final arbiter of schools1." We are used to this doctrine now; it was revolutionary in the days of ill-lighted, ill-ventilated class-rooms, their heavy oak desks carved with the names of countless generations, without a picture on the walls, ink everywhere, and everything of such a colour that the day's dirt made no difference. "Never rest till you have got all the fixed machinery for the work the best possible. The waste in a teacher's workshop is the lives of men." "There is a large percentage of temptation, criminality, and idleness in the great schools to be got rid of even by mere mechanical improvements. Bullying is fostered by harshness in the masters and by forcing boys to herd together in promiscuous masses. Lying is fostered by general class rules which take no cognisance of the ability of the individual to keep them. Idleness is fostered when there are so many boys to each master that it becomes a chance when it will be detected. Rebellion is fostered when many boys who are backward or want ability find no care bestowed on them. Sensuality is fostered when such boys are launched into an ungoverned society without any healthy instinct."
His general principles thus glide into the careful working out of minutiae. To begin with, he limited the number of boys to 320, and in his later years had one big fight with his governors on this point. "As long as a headmaster knows every boy," he used to say, "he is headmaster"; otherwise, if a boy whom he does not know is reported to him by one of his staff, he must take the master's opinion and the latter "is so far headmaster" and the head "sinks into the position of his policeman1." He likewise limited the size of houses to thirty and of forms to about twenty-five boys.
Though he loved architecture, he denounced the building of stately piles which were intended for architectural effect rather than to serve their purpose of training boys. As soon as he was able to collect the money, he built a hall to hold the whole school (1863) and a chapel (1865), in order to provide for their life as a community. As we have already said, he was the first headmaster of a large school to see the bad results of the old bare untidy class-room, of which the worst existing elementary school which survives in some isolated parish gives us but a faint idea. " Another grave cause of evil," he writes, "is the dishonour shown to the place in which work is done. Mean treatment produces mean ideas. Honour the work and it will honour you2." So he instituted well-lighted comfortable class-rooms with autotypes on the walls, installed new desks which he would not allow the boys to cut, and insisted on tidiness.
"Every boy can do something well": this was the principle on which he dealt with the problem of the " stupid boy." He confined the ordinary school subjects--classics, mathematics, English composition (on which he laid great stress), English grammar, scripture, history and geography —to the morning : in the afternoon came music and the various optional subjects, of which every boy had to take one or two, viz. French, German, chemistry, drawing, carpentery, and turning. The gymnasium, which was opened in 1859, was the first in any English school. So were the workshops, laboratories, school garden, and aviary. Though not particularly musical himself, he attached great importance to music, wrote the words of school songs, engaged good musicians as teachers, and instituted school concerts. Before his time a school choir for the chapel services and a little music on speech-day were all that any school ever attempted, and most public school-boys would have been as surprised to be offered instrumental music, which a large percentage of Uppingham boys learned, as their successors would be if they were expected to learn sewing. Sport was of course already well established in schools and Thring often turned out to play football with his boys; but he may be considered as the originator of the other activities which no less than the class-room form part of the educational machinery of the modern school.
As regards curriculum, though he was thus a pioneer in the work of introducing the aesthetic and hobby subjects into schools, he was opposed to the superficiality which he believed would come from an overloaded curriculum. He was a firm believer in classics. His point of view was not exactly that of the old-fashioned "scholarship" nor yet Arnold's, in which the emphasis was laid on the thought of the authors. His old pupil Nettleship writes to him, "The way in which you taught what they call 'scholar-ship' tended distinctly to make one think of the form of ancient and modern artistic expression rather than of language as a subject of philological or even (primarily) grammatical interest1." Thring replies, "Philology I look on as a scientific toy totally unfitted for school training. I have always striven to make our literary training here a great artistic lesson in the sense you speak of art; to make it a living thing, to join together the ages, and show how thought in heathen times worshipped form and beautiful shape, and how thought in Christian times worships expression and beautiful life, and to weave together the principles of skilful power at work so as to show the proper proportions, the true sources, the right use, and enable a right judgment to judge correctly of each2." Similarly in English, he regarded all teaching of the history of the language, which was just beginning to find advocates, as pure cram, but, like Matthew Arnold, he retained the old disciplinary idea that English grammar, treated inductively, furnished the best basis for language teaching, and he wrote several grammars intended for younger pupils. English composition was to his mind as important as classics. He does not seem to have taught English literature, doubtless believing that to insist on reading it in the class-room was the surest way to prevent it from being read anywhere else. Latin verses still found in him a defenders. Like the Public School Commissioners he was opposed to modern sides, believing in the German system of establishing separate Realschulen.
He was one of the first secondary school teachers in England to become conscious of method as such. He was interested in the training of elementary school teachers, but we are not aware of any evidence that he definitely contemplated the establishment of a system of training their secondary colleagues. He wanted everyone to think out his own methods. "In teaching, the structure of the work is everything, and the power of turning out the perfect result nothing. If for one year all rules and lesson books could be swept clean out of the world and the per-formers be brought face to face with mind, the little boy mind, and be compelled to trade on their own resources and forced to meet the real problem of mind dealing with mind, there would be much tearing of hair, but a new creation would have begun2." The first sentence of this quotation possibly shows his attitude towards the professional training of teachers. As conducted in elementary training colleges in Thring's time it was naturally affected by the unfortunate necessity imposed on teachers by the Lowe Code of aiming at " results." Secondary training, he may have thought, would have followed the same lines. Possibly too he may have feared lest it would cause the teacher to lose his originality and not to think for himself. The same fundamental views may lead two men at different periods to directly opposite policies on what seems to be the same issue. Training now aims less at inculcating cut-and-dried rules than at encouraging the student to think out things for himself.
It was a somewhat novel thing for a headmaster to write books on his educational views. Thring, however, felt that he had a message and he delivered it in his Education and School (1864) and Theory and Practice of Teaching (1883). In these publications he shows himself not so much as the author of a system but as a suggestive writer, with a penetrating intuition dealing with a variety of practical points and setting out his intuitions after the manner of an essayist. They owe their value to his thorough understanding of boy nature..
His interests were not confined to his own school. He was a keen supporter of the movement for the better education of girls and women, and invited a conference of headmistresses to Uppingham. He strove to promote adult education among the townsfolk and inaugurated various classes for discussion and the teaching of cookery and handwork. He was the first headmaster who conceived the idea of using a public school as a means of interesting the wealthier classes in the social conditions of their poorer brothers: his mission in North Woolwich and subsequently in Poplar was the forerunner of numerous university and public school settlements. Herein we see the effect of the social movement started by Maurice and Kingsley.
An account of Thring's work would be incomplete with-out a reference to one of the best-known incidents in his headmastership, the outbreak of diphtheria and removal of the school for a time to an hotel at Borth on the Cardigan-shire coast. The incident illustrates Thring's invariable promptitude, energy and resource.
There died in 1919 an Uppingham master who followed in Thring's footsteps and proved that the twentieth century can still produce men in the old heroic mould. This was G. W. S. Howson, who was appointed in 1900 to be headmaster of Gresham's School, Holt, by the Fish-monger's Company, the endowments of the school having suddenly increased. Like Thring he started with such small numbers that he was able to follow his own lines. He carried the system of trusting boys' honour successfully beyond the point at which Arnold and Thring had left it. He had no written rules, and an absolute minimum of punishments. He did not lock the doors at "lock-up ; he proceeded on the assumption that boys were the same beings at a boarding-school as at home and would respond to the same treatment. On one matter only did he break away from Thring; he abolished Greek. But he gained many scholarships in non-classical subjects. His school was thoroughly conducted "on public school lines"; he limited its numbers, however, like Arnold, to 250, and on the same grounds; he trusted to surroundings as much as Thring; and he kept out the modern over-athleticism. He dealt a final blow to the "natural enmity" theory between teacher and taught.
We have reserved to the end the story of Thring's war against government control. It began with the Schools Inquiry Commission, before which he gave evidence. He was received in a thoroughly friendly spirit, but the report contained no reference to his views, and he soon showed his disapproval of its tenour. He described it as "a great indirect glorification of the old and new shams1." "I feel quite certain that the question 'What constitutes a good school?' must be raised." "The Commissioners have not raised the question at all but-tacitly assumed" that the seven public schools "are models" and that "a happy combination of ability and fortune may possibly raise some others to this level. "What great school, even in theory, has faced the problem of teaching and training each boy in the best way? " "I desire to separate my lot entirely from the fashionable schools and to cast it in, come weal come woe, with the smaller schools."
When the Act was passed and the Commissioners who were appointed under it drew up their scheme for Upping-ham he resolutely fought it on the following grounds. (1) The masters who had practically been the financial reconstructors of the school were only to be represented on the governing body by two members. (2) The functions of governors should in his opinion be strictly limited, where-as " there are sundry things in the scheme which practically give absolute control of the construction of the school to the governing body, and that deadest of all dead hands, the hand of living external force, can at any moment be applied to the heartstrings of the work and the workers here'." (3) He feared the loss of the Church character of the school: He was a stout believer in denominational teaching, holding that under an undenominational system "religion must be treated as a by-subject of intellectual knowledge"; "but religion is education2." On all three points the Commissioners gave way. It is natural to sympathise with a man like Thring who was really originative and felt that an educational experiment was at the mercy of committees who can never originate. It must not be forgotten, however, that the policy of a body like the Commissioners has to be based on the Kantian principle so to act that the principle of your action may be able to serve as a universal law. It would be impossible and, if possible, undesirable for all local grammar schools to be turned into big first-grade schools. It would be equally harmful for all the headmasters of grammar schools to waste their energies in a useless competition to be the few who succeeded, as all would have neglected their own proper work, whether they succeeded or not, in doing that for which they sought to exchange it. Thring's case was in its nature an exception to a general rule : the Commissioners wisely treated him as an exception, as pioneers and men of genius necessarily are; but Thring had no right to claim that exceptions should determine general rules. History necessarily selects big men to illustrate their time; in so doing it often sees things through the eyes of big men and from their standpoint; and it sometimes forgets that there is any other standpoint. In this particular case of Thring's struggle to make Uppingham into a " new model," it is easy to forget, for instance, that there was an Oakham standpoint. Oakham was a sister grammar school on the same foundation, founded for the same purpose as a local grammar school for Rutland, and till Thring's time it was the more successful school of the two. Yet Thring proposed to convert it into a preparatory school for Uppingham !
In order to secure a permanent machinery for resisting encroachments, as he considered them, by the State, Thring took the lead in turning a special meeting of headmasters, convened to consider the Bill of 1869, into an annual Headmasters' Conference. At first the old public schools held aloof, but they soon came in. After fifty years we can only look on the Conference with mixed feelings. It was almost the earliest of scholastic associations. The National Union of Teachers was founded in 1870, the Headmistresses' Association in 1874, the Private Schools Association in 1883, the Assistant Mistresses' Association in 1884, the Teachers' Guild in 1885, the Headmasters' Association in 1890, the Assistant Masters' Association, the Headmasters of Private Schools' Association, and the Headmasters of Higher Grade and Organised Science Schools Association in 1892. Sectional societies were necessary before any solidarity could be gained in the scholastic profession: sectional they had to be if their deliberations were to deal with the practical problems which their members had to handle every day; and in 187o anything but sectional bodies was impossible. At any rate the Conference has done something to put an end to the separation of the old public schools from a hundred smaller schools doing the same work. But it has proved an ultra-conservative body. Its first work was to anticipate the danger of a State examination by inducing the old Universities to set up an examining body of their own for first-grade schools—the Oxford and Cambridge Joint Board. Probably this was a good piece of work. Most examinations have led to cram, but the Joint Board least of all. It is hard to pronounce a verdict on an examination which never existed outside the minds of a Royal Commission; but we do not believe a State examination would have been so good. State examination in the case of elementary schools was as bad as it could possibly be. On the other hand a State examination would have not only performed the work of the Joint Board, but it would have absorbed a hundred other examining bodies whose multiplicity was forty years later revealed to be working havoc with school timetables. But, after it had done this, it is difficult to point to any-thing else which the Conference has ever done. Probably Thring was right in insisting that its discussions should be merely designed for the interchange of views and that it should make no claim to pass binding resolutions. But it is hard to imagine anything which would so bind the members of the Conference to adhere to set paths as Thring's action in preventing the very discussion of making Greek optional by threatening to resign his seat. From that time onwards the Conference has tended to become a trade guild for preserving traditional customs and to miss its chance of becoming an educational cabinet which should convert ideas into working realities. There is not much use in an educ educational House of Lords which accepts new ideas only after everyone else has accepted them, even if its members are wiser than some persons outside it in seeing the value of old ideas. People who are all agreed need not come together to tell one another that the world needs literature as well as science, and character as well as instruction : they would be better employed in preaching these truths to those who have forgotten them or never knew them.
Thring's opinion that government action in education was essentially evil may need modifying into a statement that government action about 188o was accidentally but invariably evil, and we can then dissent from his premises while we recognise the value of the action which he based on them. The foremost belief which he regarded as rooted in the mind of government officials as such was an unlimited faith in examinations. "Where examinations reign, every novelty in training, every original advance, every new way of dealing with the mind, becomes at once impossible. It is outside the prescribed area and does not pay." " Do our universities, the government, and the parents want memory or mind? Do they want knowledge or strength?' " " The inspector destroys teaching because he is bound by law and necessity to examine according to a given pattern, and the perfection of teaching is that it does not work by a given pattern." He feared too that, by insisting on additional subjects, the government would produce superficiality. "The government during the last twenty years has practically been legislating against the schools, demanding everywhere either fresh subjects or a different kind of them or both, thus calling into existence an army of crammers and pulling down the schools in the direction of more branches of superficial knowledge1." In 1885 he writes: "The professional body are beginning to chafe under this terrible slavery. The present exponents of education in London won't do. As far as I know them, they are the strangest mixture of red tape, crude dissatisfaction, narrow sciolism, revolutionary fumes, unworkable old and unworkable new, kneaded up into an infallible pudding, that can be imagined'," The important thing to note is that this kind of talk, which assumed that the Education Department was incurable, has cured it. State education under Robert Lowe would have been a curse; under Mr Fisher it may be a blessing. Long after Lowe's time the central authorities treated teachers as the army before the Boer War treated recruits--" their's not to reason why."
The result was that a progressive educationalist like Thring was led, on the political side of education, to a high Toryism which would strike the present generation with amazement. He denounced free elementary education as theft, and the arguments which he uses against it would logically apply to all State subsidy of schools. (1) You place judgment on educational questions in the hands of the general community, i.e. the ignorant. (2) You place the teachers who are skilled workmen under officials who are amateurs. (3) You decide all questions on authority and so prevent experiment and improvement. (4.) You prevent individuals from starting new types of school.
(5) When parents pay or subscribers subscribe, they are interested in the education which they maintain; when they are taxed, they wash their hands of the whole matter.
(6) State education must be undenominational, and he did not believe that undenominational education could be really religious. The weakness in Thring's conclusion does not arise from any fault in his arguments—there is much truth in many of them—so much as from his failure to see the considerations on the other side. The essential fact was that there was a huge gap which private endeavour in the years between 1868, when the gap was made clearly evident by the Schools Inquiry Commission, and 1894, when the Bryce Commission was appointed, entirely failed to fill. It was the work of the prophets to arouse the country to a sense of the meaning and value of education; it was the work of progressive schoolmasters like Thring to set examples of it in concrete form; but either it was the work of the State to diffuse it on a large scale, or else such diffusion must be pronounced to be impossible.
We have had numerous occasions to refer to the in-creasing hold which examinations were gaining upon schools, and it is time to treat their history a little more fully. Perhaps the belief in their efficacy originally dates from the part which they were supposed to have played in the recuperation of the old universities. It was rife every-where by 185o. England succeeded in imposing the incubus not only on itself but even over other countries with which it came into contact. Examinations have been the bane of Indian education. They were undoubtedly encouraged at home because of their use for competitive as well as testing purposes. Some substitute for appointment by influence was needed in government departments; and examination afforded an obvious method of ensuring fairness though it does not necessarily secure efficiency. They were first adopted for the Indian Civil Service in 1854; the higher positions in the Home Service followed almost immediately; within twenty years the system had spread to all branches of the civil service, to entrance into Woolwich and Sandhurst, and to commissions on passing out of those institutions. We have already seen how Oriel opened its fellowships to competitive examination, how the Universities Commissions extended competition to all scholarships, how the Public Schools Commission insisted on competition for scholarships in the large secondary schools, and how Robert Lowe in 186o introduced the system into elementary schools. Its defects were ignored.
As a means of entrance into the State service, it was forgotten that examination at its best tests only certain kinds of ability, and that a good examinee may from the lack of other qualities prove a very poor civil servant. At its worst it only tests memory or even luck in choosing an expert "crammer" who can "spot the questions" likely to be set. Our scholarship system is excellent in intention, since it is an attempt to open our educational institutions to poorer candidates of ability; and its application in the universities was successful in encouraging industry and did something towards admitting poorer pupils. Its adoption in the public schools was a more doubtful blessing, since its direct effect was to encourage premature specialisation in expensive preparatory schools.
But it is of examinations for testing purposes that we here wish particularly to speak. Five main examinations have been invented for testing the work of pupils at schools.
(1) The College of Preceptors, founded in 1846, began its work of examining in 1853. Its examinations were of three grades, and it provided mainly for the lower branches of secondary education. It did a useful work in its early days in the way of widening curricula and giving something for private schools to aim at; but later on its examinations were used as an easy mode of advertisement, and young pupils were greatly harmed by being kept constantly in an examination atmosphere. This danger has in recent times been mitigated by the refusal of the Board of Education to allow pupils in grant-earning schools to be sent in for external examinations below the age of fifteen; but it lasted throughout the period of which we are now speaking.
(2) The Local Examinations (1858) of Oxford and Cam-bridge were of a higher standard and intended for second-grade schools. The authorities proceeded to add a junior and a preliminary examination which fostered the same evils as the examinations of the College of Preceptors; but their senior examination has on the whole stimulated and guided.
(3) The Oxford and Cambridge Joint Board Examination, of which we described the origin in the account of Thring, is intended for first-grade schools. Girls were admitted in 1878, and a junior examination was added in 1882. On the principle that less harm is done by examinations to older than to younger pupils, the " Joint Board " has been the most innocuous examination of all.
(4) The London Matriculation Examination was not intended as a school testing examination but came to be used for this purpose. To avoid the evils incident to applying to one use an examination intended for another, London and other modern universities have in recent times instituted school-leaving examinations.
(5) The South Kensington examinations in science and art (1861) were intended to test evening and other classes rather than full-time schools. Some of them (1859-1867) were also intended as qualifications for teachers of science and art—a poor substitute for a proper course of training. This particular incursion of government into examination was due to the fact that, at the time these examinations were instituted, science and art were supposed to lie quite outside the scope of secondary education. They had the further peculiarity that they were a part of the grant-earning machinery, like the later examinations of Robert Lowe's Code. When science classes developed into schools of science (1872), these examinations became a part of the regular examination machinery of schools which would now be considered as secondary, and completely dominated them, with very uneducational results, till the reconstitution of these schools as Schedule A Schools at the beginning of the new century (1902). South Kensington was a branch of the Board of Trade from its full constitution in 1853 to 1856; but it had already become attached to the Education Department when it started its examining work; however, it retained substantial independence till the passing of the Board of Education Act, 1899. It is difficulty to say whether more good was done by securing that science was taught at all or harm by encouraging bad methods of teaching it.
But these five by no means exhaust the list of examinations taken by school pupils. The number was ever in-creasing. At the end of the period there were examinations in technical subjects such as those of the City and Guilds Institute and the London Chamber of Commerce, and examinations conducted by various professional bodies for admission to their respective professions, such as those of the Law Society, the General Medical Council, the Chartered Accountants, Actuaries, Architects, Civil Engineers, and Pharmaceutical Society. Though in time these bodies came to recognise other examinations, they still retained their own. Indeed the Consultative Committee of the Board of Education discovered in the early years of the present century that there were more than a hundred examinations for which school pupils were being entered; and the Board has set itself to reduce their number, to co-ordinate those which remain and determine their equivalence, to abolish examinations at the junior stages and to approximate to the Prussian system of two examinations, one intended for pupils aged about sixteen and the other for pupils aged about nineteen. An examination at the end of a pupil's career is inevitable; but it does not involve either a sub-ordination of the whole school teaching to what will " pay " in examinations or the incessant taking of the machinery to pieces to see how it is working. By the end of the century it had actually come to pass that a pupil was frequently sent in for the same examination several times from pure motives of advertisement; and schoolboys and schoolgirls came to be so used to working for an examination every year that they lost the power of working without such a stimulus. University scholarship examinations, which test promise rather than performance, have, however, rather mitigated than augmented the evil.
The years from 1868 to the end of the century witnessed a growing encouragement of school activities outside the class-room. The old public schools gave us games, the school magazine, and debating societies, at an earlier date; and these have of course become well-nigh universal. During this period games came to be so emphasised at the old type of school as to arouse considerable misgiving.
A games master became a regular institution, and athletic ability came to count too much in the appointment of his colleagues. The love of playing—but, alas ! too often only of watching—games spread to the whole nation. It was during these years that football, both Rugby and Association, came to be played at the universities, where rowing and cricket were already well-established, that both forms of the game became an adult as well as a boys' amusement throughout the country, that League football almost surpassed the turf as a national institution, and that Australian cricket teams began to visit the mother country. Cricket had already produced its greatest exponent in W. G. Grace before football gained its popularity. The exaggerated stress which is laid on sport in boarding schools must not blind us to the good effects of its spread ii day schools, where it would appear that its physical and moral advantages can be secured without its monopolising attention. At many day schools games are now compulsory, and, from a wide point of view as to the nature of education, the arguments for this course would appear irresistible. Since Thring's time all large schools have built gymnasia; but gymnastics have not become so popular as games have. Herbert Spencer, the apostle of physical education, regarded them as an artificial substitute; and his testimony is that of a cold-blooded scientist, not that of an athletic enthusiast. Popular opinion regarded them as a foreign importation. Educational theorists called to mind the saying of Plato, the founder of educational theory, that those are wrong who hold that "gymnastic," i.e. physical training, is for the body and "music," i.e. intellectual training, for the soul, but rather both are for the soul. They argued that the modern gymnasium, however much it might develop the muscles, fell far short of games in its influence on character. Finally, modern hygiene showed that muscular development and health are by no means identical, and that enjoyment is a great factor in giving bodily exercise its health-giving value. Nowadays systems of physical drill which take account of the internal organs as well as of the muscles are tending to supersede the parallel and horizontal bars and the other appliances of the gymnasium.
Plays, concerts, and natural history societies are of later growth. Latin plays were a regular school institution in the days which followed the Renaissance, but the Westminster play was the only survival. The Bradfield Greek play, acted in a disused chalkpit and reproducing the original methods of staging, is the most famous of modern developments in this field. The decline of the Puritan hostility to stage plays has been followed by their recognition as a legitimate form of art, to which equally with other forms a school education should introduce its pupils. The recognition of play-writing and play-acting as a training in self-expression, especially for the younger pupils, is a more redent development. Musical teaching in boys' schools developed out of the chapel services which in large boarding schools, partly through Arnold's influence, quite superseded attendance at the parsih church; but music is now established in its own right. Natural history societies are of course an offshoot of the scientific movements and are probably a more effective way of reviving the interest of boys in the animal and plant world, which the predominance of games had tended to displace, than any formal lessons in " nature study." In the old days boys' natural instincts had tended to satisfy themselves in poaching, birds'-nesting, and other undesirable exhibitions of the Englishman's motto: " It's a fine day; let's go out and kill something " ; and headmasters had naturally discouraged such activities. During the last thirty years photography, boys' magazines, and the modern scientific trend have provided better outlets for the open air instincts.
Finally, there can be no doubt that the relations between boys and masters had improved before the bulk of the new schools revived and has been improving ever since. Partnership in games and in hobbies has been of great assistance, but the main cause has been the changed attitude of the teacher towards his work. Improved methods of teaching will probably complete the change; for, so long as boys hated their work, there was always a clash of motive.
They might respect the man, but they were bound to chafe against the taskmaster. This is one reason why discipline has proved easier in girls' schools.
These changed relations are well brought out in the biographies of Edward Bowen, who became an assistant master at Harrow in the sixties, and Almond, headmaster of Loretto (1862).
Bowen's criticism of Arnold shows the points in which the opinion of teachers was changing. He objects to the over-serious, over-dignified master, who will not venture a joke in the class-room; to the stiff attitude of boys in class which was regarded as essential to good discipline; to the excessive use of emulation ; to a half unconscious belief that work which is to be beneficial cannot be enjoy-able; and to a suspicion that a teacher with outside interests cannot be devoting himself wholeheartedly to his school work1. Bowen was one of the first masters in a classical school to value the importance of making the work interesting. Without interest he held it to be impossible to secure the true aim of scholarship, which was to get to know the mind of the ancients, that is from their mode of expression to reach their mode of thought, and from that "to get a kind of intellectual parallax in contemplating the problems of life." He took a vigorous part in the campaign for finally exterminating memorised syntax, he was prepared to legitimise the use of "cribs," and he was so ultra-modern as to oppose compulsory Greek. There was, he held, " a point beyond which the claims of scholar-ship are not paramount," and that point was passed when work was an unwelcome burden. In 1869 he became master of the newly-formed modern side, and fought hard for keeping its intellectual level as high as that of the classical side. But it is not in his fine teaching power and his gift of moral inspiration that he is so strikingly modern as in the way in which, as a house-master, he set the ex-ample of sharing the life of the boys, by writing school songs, by playing football up to the age of sixty-five, and by personal interest in each individual boy.
This changed relation to the boys is the leading feature too in the work of Almond. Almond may be thought to have pressed the claims of athletics too far and to have rated the claims of scholarship too low. His career was one long reaction against contemporary Scottish philistinism. "All work and no play" as a means of getting on in business, with a consequent atrophy of the finer sides of human nature, seemed to him to be the ideal of the Scottish middle-classes. In this spirit he had been brought up till, at Oxford, the river revived the dormant impulses in his nature. He became a fanatical adherent of the mens sana in corpore sano. "The laws of physical well-being are the laws of Godi." The luxury of the rich and the rushing of the poor into towns were undermining the physique of the nation. Only games could save it. But, what was even more, games were the best corrective of a conventional morality which had its true roots in selfishness; they would restore spontaneity, forgetfulness of self, and the pristine joy of living. They would counteract the craving for luxury by revealing that true happiness comes from the unfettered activity of our own nature and not from external possessions. He justified the subordination of scholarship by the order in which he placed the aims of education—" character, physique, intelligence, manners," and last of all "information." He determined, not merely to modify convention by progressive changes, but to break with it altogether. "The English public schools seem to me bound not so much by red tape as by barbed wire2." His position as headmaster of a private school, which, when he bought it, contained only fourteen boys, enabled him to do as he liked. He hated rules. The right use of rules "is one of the chief points of the magnificent training which cricket affords for the greater game of life. Don't be a slave to rules. Use them as short and easy memoria technicas of the principles on which they depend and the ends which they aim at. But always be ready to refer your actions directly to first principles. All the miserable mismanagement of red-tapeism springs from a servile adherence to rules, good in ordinary circumstances, destructive when these circumstances change. Rules are simply a nuisance, and armies and nations, schools and clubs, would be better rid of them altogether, if they are preferred to common sense1." He lived among his boys; and, as their numbers grew from fourteen to a hundred, he still continued to be more a foster-parent than a master. Hints and persuasions, mainly of course to the prefects but not exclusively, were the means by which he introduced, one at a time, those breaches of ordinary convention which became to the outside world the special marks of Loretto and its "mad" head. In 1862 came open windows, tweed knickers, and flannel ties, in 1864 the morning tub, in 1866 the discarding of coats, in 1868 the disuse of waistcoats and the practice of runs in wet weather, in 1869 the sacrifice of "grub" between meals (could there be a greater evidence of a headmaster's persuasive powers?), in 187o the abandonment of hats, in 1872 "anatomical boots" and changing into flannels for games, in 1874 the habitual use of flannels. Some at least of these hygienic reforms have spread to the whole nation. Almond must really close the chapter; for the antithesis to committees and the special contributions of individual endeavour could go no further.