HotFreeBooks.com
Cambridge Essays on Education
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The spirit which is characteristic of a university in its best aspects, linked with the spirit which is inherent in the ranks of working people, has on more occasions than one set on foot movements for the education of the people. One of the most notable instances of this unity found expression at the Oxford Co-operative Congress of 1882, when Arnold Toynbee urged co-operators to undertake the education of the citizen. By this he meant: "the education of each member of the community as regards the relation in which he stands to other individual citizens and to the community as a whole." "We have abandoned," he said further, "and rightly abandoned the attempt to realise citizenship by separating ourselves from society. We will never abandon the belief that it has yet to be won amid the stress and confusion of the ordinary world in which we move." From that day to this co-operators have always had before them an ideal of education in citizenship and have organised definite teaching year by year.

Another instance of even greater power lies in the co-operation between the pioneers of the University Extension Movement at Cambridge and the working men, particularly of Rochdale and Nottingham, to be followed later by that unprecedented revival of learning amongst working people which took place in Northumberland and Durham in the days before the great coal strike. At a later date, in 1903, the same kind of united action gave rise to the movement of the Workers' Educational Association, which has always conceived its purpose to be the development of citizenship in and through education pursued in common by university man and working man alike. The system of University Tutorial Classes originated by this Association has been based upon an ideal of citizenship, and not primarily upon a determination to acquire knowledge, although it was clearly seen that vague aspirations towards good citizenship without the harnessing of all available knowledge to its cause would be futile. After exception has been made for the body of young men and women who are determined to acquire technical education for the laudable purpose of advancing both their position in life and their utility to society, it is clear that no educational appeal to working men and women will have the least effect if it is not directed towards the purpose of enriching their life, and through them the life of the community. The proof of this lies in the fact that, after they have striven together for years in Tutorial Classes, they ask for no recognition—in fact they have declined it when it has been offered—and have devoted their powers to voluntary civic work and the work of the associations or unions to which they belong, as well as in very many instances, to the spreading of education throughout the districts in which they live. It is largely due to the leaven of educational enthusiasm which has thus been generated that there is a unanimous movement on the part of working people towards a complete educational system including within it compulsory attendance at continuation schools during the day.

The problems that hedge about continuation schools are many, but it is clear that they will be regarded by educationists and by at least some employers as above all else training for citizenship based upon the vocation to which the boy or girl may be devoting himself or herself in working hours. The narrowness of the daily occupation, divorced as it is from the whole spirit and intent of apprenticeship, will be broadened directly the consideration of daily work is placed in the continuation school both on a higher plane and in a complete setting.

The compulsory evening school will fail unless it induces a demand for recreation of a pure kind which may be associated with the voluntary evening school and continued along the lines of study into the years of adult life. And even if it is impossible for every student of capacity in the continuation school to pass into the university or technological college, it may be hoped that there need not fail to be opportunities for reaching the heights of ascertained knowledge in the University Tutorial Class. In the future, as now, only in greater degree, such classes will be regarded as an essential part of university work, and will provide opportunity for the study of those subjects which are most nearly related to citizenship.

It is one of the fundamental principles of the Workers' Educational Association that every person, when not under the power of some hostile over-mastering influence, is ready to respond to an educational appeal. Not indeed that all are ready or able to become scholars, but that all are anxious to look with understanding eyes at the things which are pure and beautiful. Tired men and women are made better citizens if they are taken, as they often are, to picture galleries and museums, to places of historic interest and of scenic beauty, and are helped to understand them by the power of a sympathetic guide. It is by the extension of work of this sort, which can be carried out almost to a limitless extent that the true purpose of social reform will be best served. It is by such means that the press may be elevated, the level of the cinema raised, the efforts of the demagogue neutralised.

The Workers' Educational Association is based upon the work of the elementary school and of the associations of working people, notably the co-operative societies and trade unions. The democratic methods obtaining in those associations have themselves proved a valuable contribution to citizenship, and have determined the democratic nature of all adult education. The right and freedom of the student to study what he wishes finds its counterpart in the reasonable demand that man shall live out his life as he wills, provided it moves in a true direction and is in harmony with the needs and aspirations of his fellows.

It has seemed in this review of the relation of schools and places of education to the development of citizenship that the fact of the operation of social influences has been implicit at every point. In any case there is, and can be, no doubt that the school, whilst instant in its effect upon the mind of the time, is always being either hindered or helped by the conditions obtaining in the society in which it is set. The relations existing between society and school are revealed in a process of action and reaction. Wilhelm von Humboldt said that "whatever we wish to see introduced into the life of a nation must first be introduced into its schools." Among other things, it is necessary to develop in the schools an appreciation of all work that is necessary for human welfare. This is the crux of all effort towards citizenship through education. In the long run there can be no full citizenship unless there is fulness of intention to discover capacity and to develop it not for the individual but for the common good. This is primarily the task of an educational system. If a man is set to work for which he is not fitted, whether it be the work of a student or a miner, he is thwarted in his innate desire to attain to the full expression of his being in and through association with his fellow-men, whereas, when a man is doing the right work, that for which he has capacity, he rejoices in his labour and strives continually to perfect it by development of all his powers. The exercise of good citizenship follows naturally as the inevitable result of a rightly developed life. It may not be the citizenship which is exercised by taking active and direct part in methods of government. The son of Sirach, meditating on the place of the craftsman, said:

All these trust to their hands: and every one is wise in his work. Without these cannot a city be inhabited ... they will maintain the state of the world, and all their desire is in the work of their craft[4].

The times are different and the needs of people have changed, but the true test of a citizen may be more in the healthiness of dominating purpose than in the possession and satisfaction of a variety of desires. To "maintain the state of the world" is no mean ambition.

If it is difficult for a man to become the good citizen when employed on work for which he is unfitted, it is even more difficult for the man to do so who is set to shoddy work or to work which damages the community.

The task laid upon the school is heavy, but it does not stand alone. The family and the Church are its natural allies in the modern State.

All alike will make mistakes, but, if they clearly set before them the intention to do their utmost to free the capacity of all for the accomplishment of the good of all, wisdom will increase and many tragedies in life will be averted.

Thus lofty ideals have presented themselves, but they will secure universal admission apart from the immediate practical considerations which bulk so largely and often so falsely in the minds of men, and which are frequently suggested by limitations of finance and lack of faith in the all-sufficient power of wisdom.

It is in the consecration of a people to its highest ideals that the true city and the true State become realised on earth and the measure of its consecration, in spite of all devices of teaching or training however wise, determines the true level of citizenship at any time in any place.

[Footnote 1: Wisdom of Solomon, vii. 24.]

[Footnote 2: Interim Report of the Consultative Committee of the Board of Education on Scholarships for Higher Education, 1916.]

[Footnote 3: J.R. Green, A Short History of the English People.]

[Footnote 4: Ecclesiasticus, xxxviii. 31-34.]



SOME BOOKS ON CITIZENSHIP

[1]American Political Science Assoc. The Teaching of Government. 1916. Macmillan. 5s. 0d. net.

[1]BAKER, J.H. Educational Aims and Civic Needs. 1913. Longmans. 3s. 6d. net.

[1]BALCH, G.T. The Method of Teaching Patriotism in Public Schools. 1890. New York: Van Nostrand.

[1]BOURNE, H.E. The Teaching of History and Civics. 1915. Longmans. 6s. 0d. net.

[1]DEWEY, JOHN. Democracy and Education. 1916. Macmillan. 6s. 0d. net.

[1]DEWEY JOHN. The School and Society. 1915. Chicago Univ. Press. 4s. 0d. net.

[1]DEWEY, JOHN and EVELYN. Schools of To-Morrow. 1915. Dent. 5s. 0d. net.

FINDLAY, J.J. The School. 1912. Williams and Norgate. 1s. 3d. net.

[1]HALL, G. STANLEY. Educational Problems. 2 vols. 1911. Appleton. 31s. 6d. net. Ch. 24. Civic Education.

[1]HENDERSON, C.H. Education and the Larger Life. 1902. Boston: Houghton. 6s. 0d.

[1]HUGHES, E.H. The Teaching of Citizenship. 1909. Boston: Wilde. 6s. 0d.

HUGHES, M.L.V. Citizens To Be. 1915. Constable. 4s. 6d. net.

[1]JENKS, J.W. Citizenship and the Schools. 1909. New York: Holt. 6s. 0d.

KERSCHENSTEINER, GEORG. Education for Citizenship. Tr. A.J. Pressland. 1915. Harrap. 2s. 0d. net. The Schools and the Nation. 1914. Macmillan. 6s. 0d. net.

[1]MONROE, PAUL. (Ed.) Cyclopedia of Education. 5 vols. Macmillan. 105s. 0d. net.

MORGAN, ALEXANDER. Education and Social Progress. 1916. Longmans. 3s. 6d. net.

Oxford and Working Class Education. Clarendon Press, 1s. net.

PATERSON, ALEXANDER. Across the Bridges. 1912. Arnold. 1s. 0d. net.

SADLER, M.E. (Ed.). Continuation Schools in England and Elsewhere. 1908. Manchester University Press. 8s. 6d. net.

SCOTT, C.A. Social Education. 1908. Ginn. 6s. 0d. net.

WALLAS, GRAHAM. The Great Society. 1914. Macmillan. 7s. 6d. net.

See also:

Board of Education. Reports.

Civics and Moral Education League Papers, 6 York Buildings, Adelphi, W.C. 2.

[Footnote 1: American.]



VI

THE PLACE OF LITERATURE IN EDUCATION

By NOWELL SMITH

Head Master of Sherborne School

Education is a subject upon which everyone—or at least every parent—considers himself entitled to have opinions and to express them. But educational treatises or the considered views of educational experts have a very limited popularity, and in fact arouse little interest outside the circle of the experts themselves. Even the average teacher, who is himself, if only he realised it, inside the circle, pays little heed to the broader aspects of education, chiefly, no doubt, because in the daily practice of the art of education he cannot step aside and see it as a whole; he cannot see the wood for the trees. The indifference of laymen however is mainly due to the fact that educational theory, like other special subjects, inevitably acquires a jargon of its own, an indispensable shorthand, as it were, for experts, but far too abstract and technical for outsiders.

And his technical language too often reacts upon the actual ideas of the educational theorist, who tends to lose sight of the variety of concrete boys and girls in his abstract reasonings, necessary as these are. We are apt to forget that what is sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the gander, and still more perhaps that what is sauce for the swan may not be sauce for either of these humbler but deserving fowl. But it is certain that in discussing education we ought constantly to envisage the actual individuals to be educated. Otherwise our "average pupil of fifteen plus" is only too likely to become a mere monster of the imagination, and the intellectual pabulum, which we propose to offer, suited to the digestion of no human boy or girl in "this very world, which is the world of all of us."

In considering, then, the place of literature in education, I propose to keep constantly before my eyes the people with whose education I am personally familiar, namely, myself, my children, and the various types of public school boy which I have known as boy, as undergraduate, as college tutor and as schoolmaster. I say various types of public school boy; for although there still is a public school type in general which is easily recognisable by certain marked superficial characteristics, the popular notion that all public school boys are very much alike in character and outlook is a mere delusion.

Again, I propose, when I speak of literature, to mean literature, and not a compendious term for anything that is not science. The opposition that has in modern times been set up between science on the one hand and a jumble of studies labelled either literary or "humanistic" studies on the other is to my mind wholly unfounded in the nature of things, and destructive of any liberal view of education. It may perhaps be held that literature in its most literal sense is a name for anything that is expressed by means of intelligible language—a use of the word which certainly admits of no comparison with the meaning of science, but which also leads to no ideas of any educational interest. But I take the word literature in its common acceptation; and, while admitting that I can give no precise and exhaustive definition, I will venture to describe it as the expression of thought or emotion in any linguistic forms which have aesthetic value. Thus the subject-matter of literature is only limited by experience: as Emile Faguet says somewhere—without claiming to have made a discovery—la litterature est une chose qui touche a toutes choses. And the tones of literature range from Isaiah to Wycherley, from Thucydides to Tolstoy; its forms from Pindar to a folk song, from Racine to Rudyard Kipling, from Gibbon to Herodotus or Froissart. And while no two people would agree in drawing the line of aesthetic value which should determine whether any given verbal expression of thought or emotion was literature or not—a fact which is not without importance in the choice of books for forming the taste of our pupils—yet, for the purpose of discussing the place and function of literature in education, we all know well enough what we mean by the word in the general sense which I have attempted to describe.

As this is not a tractate on education as a whole, I must risk something for the sake of brevity, and will venture to lay down dogmatically that the objects of literary studies as a part of education are (1) the formation of a personality fitted for civilised life, (2) the provision of a permanent source of pure and inalienable pleasure, and (3) the immediate pleasure of the student in the process of education. None of these objects is exclusive of either of the others. They cannot in fact be separated in the concrete. But they are sufficiently different to be treated distinctly.

(1) Hardly anyone would deny that some knowledge and appreciation of literature is an indispensable part of a complete education. The full member of a civilised society must be able to subscribe to the familiar Homo sum; nihil humanum a me alienum puto. And literature is obviously one of the greatest, most intense, and most prolific interests of humanity. There have always been thinkers, from Plato downwards, who for moral or political reasons have viewed the power of literature with distrust: but their fear is itself evidence of that power. Thus literature is a very important part both of the past and of contemporary life, and no one can enter fully into either without some real knowledge of it. A man may be a very great man or a very good man without any literary culture; he may do his country and the world imperishable services in peace or war. But the older the world grows, the rarer must these unlettered geniuses become. Literature in one form or another—too often no doubt put to vile uses—has become so much part of the very texture of civilised life that a wide-awake mind can scarcely fail to take notice of it. And in any case we need not consider that kind of special genius which education does little either to make or mar. No one is likely seriously to deny that for taking a full and intelligent part in the normal life of a civilised community—in love and friendship, in the family and in society, in the study and practice of citizenship of all degrees—some literary culture is absolutely necessary; nor indeed that, subject to a due balance of qualities and acquirements, the wider and deeper the literary culture the more valuable a member of society the possessor will be. The lubricant of society in all its functions, whether of business or leisure, is sympathy, and a sufficient quantity, as it were, of sympathy to lubricate the complex mechanism of civilised life can only be supplied by a widespread knowledge of the best, and a great deal more than the best, of what has been and is being thought and said in the world. Personal intercourse with one another and a common apprehension of God as our Father are even more powerful sources of sympathy; but literature provides innumerable channels for the intercommunication and distribution of these sources, without which the sympathies of individuals may be strong and lively, but will almost always be narrowly circumscribed. It is very true that to know mankind only through books is no knowledge of mankind at all; but ever since man discovered how to perpetuate his utterances in writing it has been increasingly true that literature is the principal means of widening and deepening such knowledge.

This object of literary studies, the formation of a personality fitted for civilised life, may be summed up in the familiar graceful words of Ovid, who was thinking almost entirely of literature when he wrote

ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes Emollit mores nec sinit esse feros.

And it is only the lack, in so many of the greatest writers, and the neglect, in so many educators and educational systems, of that due balance of qualities and acquirements of which I spoke just now, which have induced in superficial minds a distrust and often a contempt of literature as a subject of education. The good citizen or man of the world—in the best sense of the phrase—must not be the slave of literary proclivities to the ruin of his functions as father or husband or friend or man of action and affairs. The world of letters, if lived in too exclusively, is an unreal world, though without it the actual world is almost meaningless. Now the genus irritabile vatum, even when their thoughts, as Carlyle put it, "enrich the blood of the world," have very generally appeared to the plain man of goodwill as very defective in the art of living. If their aspirations have been above the standards of their day, their practice has often been below them in such essentially social qualities as probity, faithfulness, consideration for others. Moreover their outlook upon life, intense and inspiring though it be, is often a very partial one. Even so, it does not follow that because a poet or a philosopher is not in every respect "the compleat gentleman," a citizen totus teres atque rotundus, his works are not profitable for the building up of that character. If it did, we must by parity of reasoning discard the discoveries of a misanthropic inventor and the theories of a bigamous chemist. We go to Plato and Catullus, to Shakespeare and Shelley, for what they have to give: if we go with our own pet notions of what that ought to be, we are naturally as disgusted as Herbert Spencer was with Homer and Tolstoy with Shakespeare. Tolstoy is indeed a case in point. He is one of the giants of literature, whose masterpieces are already classics; and this position is unaffected by the various judgments that may be formed either of his critical or of his practical wisdom.

The lack then of a due balance of qualities and acquirements in so many authors, and we may add other artists, is a cause, but no justification, of that belittlement and even distrust of the literary side of education which are on the whole marked features of the English attitude to-day. But a more potent cause and a real justification of this attitude is the neglect of due balance of qualities and acquirements by so many educators and educational systems. Great educators have themselves rarely been narrow-minded men; but the traditions they have founded have gone the way of all traditions.

What begins as an inspiration hardens into a formula. The ideals of the Renascence were caricatured in their offspring of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Not only did the evolution of modern life with its cities, its printing press, its gunpowder, its steam engine and the rest, destroy the need of the well-to-do to be trained in the practical arts of chivalry, of the chase, of husbandry, even of music and design, so that the bodily activities of boys became relegated to the sphere of mere games and pastimes; but as books usurped more and more of the hours of boyhood, so the instructors of youth fell more and more into the fatally easy path of formal and grammatical treatment. The subject-matter of education was indeed literature, and the very noblest literatures, mainly those of Greece and Rome: but there was little of literary or humane interest about the study of it; its meaning and spirit were concealed from all but the few who could surmount the fences of linguistic pedantry and artificial technique with which it was surrounded.

I do not know when the expression "the dead languages" was invented: but certainly Latin and Greek have been treated as very dead languages by the great majority of teachers for a very long time. And as "modern subjects," history, geography, modern languages and literatures, gradually thrust their way into the curriculum, each was subjected as far as possible to the same mummification. There is a theory still widely held among teachers that the value of a subject or of a method of instruction depends upon the amount of drudgery which it involves or the degree of repulsion which it excites. The theory rests upon a confusion between the ideas of discipline and punishment, which itself is probably due to the strongly Judaistic tone of our so-called Christianity. At any rate, far too many schoolmasters suffer from conscientious scruples about allowing the spirits of freedom, initiative, curiosity, enjoyment, to blow through their class-rooms.

There has been, always to some extent, but with gathering force in recent years, a natural revolt against this mixture of puritanism, scholasticism, and dilettantism, which made the intellectual side of public school education such a failure except for the few who were born with the spoon of scholarship in their mouths. The irruption of that turbulent rascal, natural science, has perhaps had most to do with humanising our humanistic studies. It was a great step when boys who could not make verses were allowed to make if it was but a smell; and even breaking a test-tube once in a while is more educative than breaking the gender-rules every day of the week. Many of my friends, who label themselves humanists, are in a panic about this, and look upon me sadly as a renegade because I, who owe almost everything to a "classical education," am ready (they think) to sell the pass of "compulsory Greek" to a horde of money-grubbing barbarians who will turn our flowery groves of Academe into mere factories of commercial efficiency. But fear is a treacherous guide. They are the victims of that abstract generalisation of which I spoke at the outset. I check their forebodings by reference to concrete personalities, myself, my children, and the hundreds of boys I have known. And I see more and more plainly, as I study the infinite variety of our mental lineaments and the common stock of human nature and civilised society which unites us, that literature is a permanent and indispensable and even inevitable element in our education; and that moreover it can only have free scope and growth in the expanding personality of the young in a due and therefore a varying harmony with other interests. I and my children and my schoolboys have eyes and ears and hands—and even legs! We have, as Aristotle rightly saw, an appetite for knowledge, and that appetite cannot be satisfied, though it may be choked, by a sole diet of literature. We have desires of many kinds demanding satisfaction and requiring government. We have a sense of duty and vocation: we know that we and our families must eat to live and to carry on the race. We resent, in our inarticulate way, these sneers at our Philistinism, commercialism, athleticism, materialism, from dim-eyed pedants on the one hand and superior persons on the other, who have evidently forgotten, if they ever saw, the whole purport of that Greek literature the name of which they take in vain. No! La litterature est une chose qui touche a toutes choses; but if we are to shut our eyes to all the "things" which evoke it, it becomes what it is to so many, whose education has been in name predominantly literary, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

(2) The argument has already insensibly led us to treat by implication the second, and indeed the third of our assumed objects. But in our modern insistence upon social relations and citizenship—a very proper insistence, still too much warped and hampered by selfishness and prejudice—there is a real danger of our forgetting how much of our conscious existence is passed, in a true sense, at leisure and alone. It is our ideal on the one side to be "all things to all men": and for any approach to this ideal, as we have seen, the knowledge and sympathy born of literature are indispensable. But on the other side no man or woman is completely fitted out without provision for the blank spaces, the passages and waiting rooms, as it were, to say nothing of the actual "recreation rooms" of the house of life. And there is no provision so abundant, so accessible to all, so permanent, so independent of fortune, and at once so mellowing and fortifying, as literature. Our happiness or discontent depends far more, than on anything else, on the habitual occupation of our mind when it is free to choose its occupation. And, since thought is instantaneous, even the busiest of us has far more of that freedom than he knows what to do with unless he has a mental treasury from which he can at will bring forth things new and old. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of hobbies in a man's own life—and of course indirectly in his relations with his fellows. A single hobby is dangerous. You ride it to death or it becomes your master. You need at least a pair of them in the stable. What they are must depend, you say, upon the temperament, the bent of the individual. True: but our main responsibility as educators consists in our "bending of the twig." It is not temperament nor destiny which renders so many men and women unable to fill their leisure moments with anything more exhilarating than, gossip, grumbling, or perpetual bridge. Perhaps the greatest blessing which a parent or a teacher can confer on a boy or girl is discreet, unpriggish, and unpatronising, encouragement and guidance in the discovery and development of hobbies: and if I may venture on a piece of advice to anyone who needs it, I should say: "Try to secure that everyone grows up with at least two hobbies; and whatever one of them may be, let the other be literature, or some branch of literature."

Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know, Are a substantial world, both pure and good; Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood, Our pastime and our happiness will grow.

(3) At this point I can imagine someone, who recognises the importance of literary culture in the equipment of a man or woman of the world, and perhaps feels even more strongly the truth summed up in these lines of Wordsworth, expressing the doubt whether the second at least of these objects can be secured, or will not rather be precluded, by admitting the study of literature as such into the school curriculum. This doubt, which I have heard expressed by many lovers of literature, notably by the late Canon Ainger, is not lightly to be disregarded. It is to be met, however, in my opinion, by keeping clearly before our eyes the third of the objects which we assumed to be aimed at by literary studies as a branch of education—the immediate pleasure of the student. The two objects which we have already discussed are ulterior objects, which should be part of the fundamental faith of the teacher; but while the teacher is in contact with his pupils they should be forgotten in the glowing conviction that the study of literature is, at that very moment, the most delightful thing in the world. Of course we all know, or should know, that this is the only attitude of mind for the best teaching in any subject whatever. It takes a great deal more than enthusiasm to make a competent teacher; and it is easy to prepare pupils successfully for almost any written examination without any enthusiasm for anything except success. But, cramming apart, a bored teacher is inevitably a boring one: and while unfortunately the converse is not universally true and an enthusiastic teacher may fail to communicate his enthusiasm, yet it is quite certain that you cannot communicate enthusiasm if you are not possessed of it.

But this enthusiasm, indispensable for the best teaching of anything, is, so to speak, doubly indispensable for even competent teaching of literature. On the one hand the ulterior objects of the study, of which I have tried to indicate the importance, are of an impalpable kind. I doubt if there is any subject of the curriculum which it would be so difficult to commend to an uninterested pupil by an appeal to simple utilitarian motives. On the other hand there clings to literature, and particularly to poetry, which is the quintessence of literature, an air of pleasure-seeking, of holiday, of irresponsibility and detachment from the work-a-day world, which must captivate the student, or else the study itself will seem very poor fooling compared with football or hockey. If the attitude of the teacher reflects the old question of the Latin Grammar "Why should I teach you letters?" he would better turn to some other subject which his pupils will more easily recognise as appropriate to school hours.

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, That he should weep for her—

unless indeed he be a candidate for Responsions?

"Ah! it is just as I expected," says my friend Orbilius at this point: "this literature-lesson of yours is to be mere play, a 'soft-option' for our modern youth, who is not to be made to stand up to the tussle with Latin prose or riders in geometry." Softly, my friend! It is quite true that those twin engines of education, classics and mathematics, are adapted partly by long practice, but partly, as I too believe, by their very nature, to discipline the youthful mind to habits of intellectual honesty, of accuracy, of industry and perseverance. It is true that they accomplish some of this discipline—though at what a cost!—in the hands of indifferent teachers. It is true that every other subject of the usual curriculum is much more obviously liable than they are to the dangers of idleness, unreality, false pretence; and that the scoffs, for instance, about "playing with test-tubes," "tracing maps," "dishing up history notes," are in fact too often deserved. But in the first place, if the object to be attained is a worthy one, it is our business to face the dangers of the road, and not to give up the object. If a knowledge and love of literature is part of the birthright of our children, and a part which, as things are, very many of them will never obtain away from school, then we teachers must strive to give it them, even if the process seems shockingly frivolous to the grammarian or the geometrician. And, secondly, it is not true that the study of literature, even in the mother tongue, cannot be a discipline and a delight together. The two are very far from incompatible: indeed that discipline is most effective which is almost or quite unconsciously self-imposed in the joyous exercise of one's own faculties. The genuine footballer and the genuine scholar will both agree with Ferdinand the lover, that

There be some sports are painful, and their labour Delight in them sets off.

And the "labour" of the boy or girl who is really wrapped up in a play of Shakespeare or is striving to express the growing sense of beauty in fitting forms of language, is no less truly spiritual discipline because it is felt not as pain but as interest and delight.

It is fortunately no part of my business to endeavour to instruct teachers in the methods of imparting the love and knowledge of literature. But the value of literary studies in education depends so much upon the spirit in which they are pursued that I may perhaps be permitted a few more words on the practical side of the subject. I have already repeated the truism that no one can impart enthusiasm who is not himself possessed of it: but even the lover of literature sometimes lacks that clear consciousness of aim, and that sympathetic understanding of the personality of his pupil; which are both essential to successful teaching. Just as the clever young graduate is tempted to dictate his own admirable history notes to a class of boys, or to puzzle them with the latest theories in archaeology or philosophy, so the literary teacher is apt to dazzle his pupils with brilliant but to them unintelligible criticism, or to surfeit them with literary history, or to impose upon them an inappropriate literary diet because it happens to suit his maturer taste or even his caprice. No one is likely to deny that such errors are possible; but I should not venture to speak so decidedly, if I were not aware of having too often fallen into them myself. And the only safeguard for the teacher is the familiar "Keep your eye on the object"—and that in a double sense. We must have a clear conception of our aim, and also a living sympathy with our pupils. I have attempted to indicate the aim, the equipment of boy or girl for civilised life and for spiritual enjoyment. It will be sympathy with our pupils which will chiefly dictate both the method and the material of our instruction. In the early stages of education this sympathy is generally to be found either in parents, if they are fond of literature, or in the teacher, who is usually of the more sympathetic sex. The stories and poetry offered to children nowadays seem to be, as a rule, sympathetically, if sometimes rather uncritically, chosen. The importance of voice and ear in receiving the due impression of literature is recognised; and the value of the child's own expression of its imaginations and its sense of rhythm and assonance is understood. Probably more teachers than Mr. Lamborn supposes would heartily subscribe to the faith which glows in his delightful little book The Rudiments of Criticism, though there must be very few who would not be stimulated by reading it.

It is when we come to the middle stage, at any rate of boyhood—for of girls' schools I am not qualified to speak—that there is a good deal to be done before the cultivation of literary taste, and all that this carries with it, will be successfully pursued. In the past, the Latin and Greek classics were, for the few who really absorbed them, both a potent inspiration and an unrivalled discipline in taste: but it is noteworthy how few even of the elite acquired and retained that lively and generous love of literature which would have enabled them to sow seeds of the divine fire far and wide—"of joy in widest commonalty spread." Considering the intensity with which the classics have been studied in the old universities and public schools of the United Kingdom, the fine flower of scholarship achieved, the sure touch of style and criticism, one cannot help being amazed at the low standard of literary culture in the rank and file of the classes from which this elite has been drawn. How rare has been the power, or even apparently the desire, of a Bradley or a Verrall or a Murray, to carry the flower of their classical culture into the fields of modern literary study! And how few and fumbling the attempts of ordinary classical teachers to train their pupils in the appreciation of our English literature!

In recent years a new type of literary teachers has been rising, who owe little, at any rate directly, to the old classical training; and although their zeal is often undisciplined and "not according to knowledge," with them lies the future hope of literary training in our schools. They bring to their task an enthusiasm which was too often lacking in the "grand old fortifying classical curriculum"; but it is to be hoped that, as the importance of their subject becomes more and more recognised, they will achieve a method which will embody all that was valuable, while discarding much that was narrow and pedantic, in classical teaching. And in particular may they all realise, as many already do, what the classical teacher, however unconsciously, held as an axiom, that in order to enter into the spirit of literature, to appreciate style, to understand in any true sense the meaning of great author's, it is not enough for pupils to listen and to read, and then perhaps to write essays about what they have heard and read. They must also make something, exercise that creative, and at the same time imitative, artistic faculty, which surely is the motive power of most of our progress, at least in early life. Nothing has struck me more forcibly than the intense interest which boys will take in their own crude efforts at writing a poem or a story or essay, while they are still quite unable to appreciate with discrimination, or even to enjoy with any sustained feeling, the poetry or prose of the great masters. Not that there is anything surprising in this. I know very well that it was writing Latin verses that taught me to appreciate Virgil, and writing juvenile epics that led me up to Milton. But it is an order of progress which we schoolmasters are apt to overlook, expecting our pupils to appreciate what we know to be good work before they have that elementary, but most fruitful, experience which can only come from handling the tools of the craft. The creative and imitative impulse will die down in the great majority; and we shall not make the mistake of continuing to exact formal "composition" from maturer pupils, who no longer find it anything but a drag upon their progress along the unfolding vistas of knowledge and appreciation. Our object is not to increase the number of writers, already far too large, but to increase the number of readers, which can never be too large, to raise the standard of literary taste, and so to spread pure enjoyment and all the benefits to society which joy, and joy alone, confers. Inspired with such an aim, common sense and sympathy will enable us to overcome the difficulties and avoid the pitfalls which undoubtedly beset the teaching of that most necessary, most delightful, but most elusive and imponderable subject, the appreciation of literature.



VII

THE PLACE OF SCIENCE IN EDUCATION

By W. BATESON

Director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution

That secondary education in England fails to do what it might is scarcely in dispute. The magnitude of the failure will be appreciated by those who know what other countries accomplish at a fraction of the cost. Beyond the admission that something is seriously wrong there is little agreement. We are told that the curriculum is too exclusively classical, that the classes are too large, the teaching too dull, the boys too much away from home, the examination-system too oppressive, athletics overdone. All these things are probably true. Each cause contributes in its degree to the lamentable result. Yet, as it seems to me, we may remove them all without making any great improvement. All the circumstances may be varied, but that intellectual apathy which has become so marked a characteristic of English life, especially of English public and social life, may not improbably continue. Why nations pass into these morbid phases no one can tell. The spirit of the age, that "polarisation of society" as Tarde[1] used to call it, in a definite direction, is brought about by no cause that can be named as yet. It will remain beyond volitional control at least until we get some real insight into social physiology. That the attitude or pose of the average Englishman towards education, knowledge, and learning is largely a phenomenon of infectious imitation we know. But even if we could name the original, perhaps real, perhaps fictional, person—for in all likelihood there was such an one—whom English society in its folly unconsciously selected as a model, the knowledge would advance us little. The psychology of imitation is still impenetrable and likely to remain so. The simple interpretation of our troubles as a form of sloth—a travelling along lines of least resistance—can scarcely be maintained. For first there have been times when learning and science were the fashion. Whether society benefited directly therefrom may, in passing, be doubted, but certainly learning did. Secondly there are plenty of men who under the pressure of fashion devote much effort to the improvement of their form in fatuous sports, which otherwise applied would go a considerable way in the improvement of their minds and in widening their range of interests.

Of late things have become worse. In the middle of the nineteenth century a perfunctory and superficial acquaintance with recent scientific discovery was not unusual among the upper classes, and the scientific world was occasionally visited even by the august. These slender connections have long since withered away. This decline in the public estimation of science and scientific men has coincided with a great increase both in the number of scientific students and in the provision for teaching science. It has occurred also in the period during which something of the full splendour and power of science has begun to be revealed. Great regions of knowledge have been penetrated by the human mind. The powers of man over nature have been multiplied a hundredfold. The fate of nations hangs literally on the issue of contemporary experiments in the laboratory; but those who govern the Empire are quite content to know nothing of all this. Intercommunication between government departments and scientific advisers has of course much developed. That, even in this country, was inevitable. Otherwise the Empire might have collapsed long since. Experts in the sciences are from time to time invited to confer with heads of Departments and even Cabinet Ministers, explaining to them, as best they may, the rudiments of their respective studies, but such occasional night-school talks to the great are an inadequate recognition of the position of science in a modern State. Science is not a material to be bought round the corner by the dram, but the one permanent and indispensable light in which every action and every policy must be judged.

To scientific men this is so evident that they are unable to imagine what the world looks like to other people. They cannot realise that by a majority of even the educated classes the phenomena of nature and the affairs of mankind are still seen through the old screens of mystery and superstition. The man of science regards nature as in great and ever increasing measure a soluble problem. For the layman such inquiries are either indifferent and somewhat absurd, or, if they attract his attention at all, are interesting only as possible sources of profit. I suspect that the distinction between these two classes of mind is not to any great degree a product of education.

It is contemporary commonplace that if science were more prominent in our educational system everybody would learn it and things would come all right. That interest in science would be extended is probable. There is in the population a residuum of which we will speak later, who would profit by the opportunity; but that the congenitally unscientific, the section from which the heads of government temporal and spiritual, the lawyers, administrators, politicians, the classes upon whose minds the public life of this country almost wholly depends, would by imbibition of scientific diet at any period of life, however early, be essentially altered seems in a high degree unlikely. Of the converse case we have long experience, and I would ask those who entertain such sanguine expectations, whether the results of administering literature to scientific boys give much encouragement to their views. This consideration brings us to the one hard, physiological fact that should form the foundation of all educational schemes: the congenital diversity of the individual types. Education has too long been regarded as a kind of cookery: put in such and such ingredients in given proportions and a definite product will emerge. But living things have not the uniformity which this theory of education assumes. Our population is a medley of many kinds which will continue heterogeneous, to whatever system of education they are submitted, just as various types of animals maintain their several characteristics though nourished on identical food, or as you may see various sorts of apples remaining perfectly distinct though grafted on the same stock. Their diversity is congenital.

According to the proposal of the reformers the natural sciences should be universally taught and be given "capital importance" in the examinations for the government services, but, cordially as we may approve the suggestion, we ought to consider what exactly its adoption is likely to effect. The intention of the proposal is doubtless that our public servants, especially the highest of them, shall, while preserving the great qualities they now possess, add also a knowledge of science and especially scientific habits of mind. Such is the "ample proposition that hope makes." Does experience of men accord with it at all? Education, whether we like it or not, is a selective agency. I doubt whether the change proposed will sensibly alter the characters of the group on whom our choice at present falls. Rather, if forced upon an unwilling community, must it act by substituting another group. The most probable result would not be that the type of men who now fill great positions would become scientific, but rather that their places would be taken by men of an altogether distinct mental type. At the present time these two types of men meet but little. They scarcely know each other. Their differences are profound, affecting thoughts, ways of looking at things, and mental interests of every kind. If either could for a moment see the world with the vision of the other he would be amazed, but to do so he would need at least to be born again, and probably, as Samuel Butler remarked, of different parents. No doubt the abler man of either type could learn with more or less effort or unreadiness the subject-matter and principles of the other's business, but any one who has watched the habits of the two classes will perceive that for them in any real sense to exchange interests, or that either should adopt the scheme of proportion which the other assigns to the events of nature and of life, a metamorphosis well nigh miraculous must be presupposed.

The Bishop of London speaking lately on behalf of the National Mission said that nature helped him to believe in God, and as evidence for his belief referred to the fact that we are not "blown off" this earth as it rushes through space, declaring that this catastrophe had been averted because "Some one" had wrapped seventy miles of atmosphere round our planet[2]. Does any one think that the Bishop's slip was in fact due to want of scientific teaching at Marlborough? His chances of knowing about Sir Isaac Newton, etc., etc., have been as good as those of many familiar with the accepted version. I would rather suppose that such sublunary problems had not interested him in the least, and that he no more cared how we happen to stick on the earth's surface than St Paul cared how a grain of wheat or any other seed germinates beneath it, when he similarly was betrayed into an unfortunate illustration.

So too on the famous occasion—always cited in these debates—when a Home Secretary defended the Government for having permitted the importation of fats into Germany on the ground that the discovery that glycerine could be made from fat was a recent advance in chemistry, he was not showing the defects of a literary education so much as a want of interest in the problems of nature, and the subject-matter of science at large. It is to be presumed indeed that neither fats, nor glycerine, nor the dependent problem how living bodies are related to the world they inhabit, had ever before seemed to him interesting. Nor can we suppose they would, even if chemistry were substituted for Greek in Responsions.

The difficulty in obtaining full recognition for science lies deeper than this. It is a part of public opinion or taste which may well survive changes in the educational system. Blunders about science like those illustrated above are soon excused. Few think much the worse of the perpetrators, whereas a corresponding obliviousness to language, history, literature, and indeed to learning other than their own which we of the scientific fraternity have agreed to condone in our members is incompatible with public life of a high order. Both classes have their disabilities. That of the scientific side is well expressed in an incident which befell the late Professor Hales. Examining in the Little-Go viva voce, he asked a candidate, with reference to some line in a Greek play, what passage in Shakespeare it recalled to him, and received the answer "Please, sir, I am a mathematical man." Some, no doubt, would rather ignore gravitation. When, for example, one hears, as I did not long since, several scientific students own in perfect sincerity that they could not recall anything about Ananias and Sapphira and another, more enlightened, say that he was sure Ananias was a name for a liar though he could not tell why, one is driven to admit that ignorance of this special but not uncommon kind does imply more than inability to remember an old legend. We may be reluctant to confess the fact, but though most scientific men have some recreation, often even artistic in nature, we have with rare exceptions withdrawn from the world in which letters, history and the arts have immediate value, and simple allusions to these topics find us wanting. Of the two kinds of disability which is the more grave? Truly gross ignorance of science darkens more of a man's mental horizon, and in its possible bearing on the destinies of a race is far more dangerous than even total blindness to the course of human history and endeavour; and yet it is difficult to question the popular verdict that to know nothing of gravitation though ridiculous is venial, while to know nothing of Ananias is an offence which can never be forgiven.

That is the real difficulty. The people of this country have definitely preferred the unscientific type, holding the other virtually in contempt. Their choice may be right or wrong, but that it is reversible seems unlikely. Such revolutions in public opinion are rare events. Democracy moreover inevitably worships and is swayed by the spoken word. As inevitably, the range and purposes of science daily more and more transcend the comprehension—even the educated comprehension—of the vulgar, who will of course elevate the nimble and versatile, speaking a familiar language, above dull and inarticulate natural philosophers.

In these discussions there is a disposition to forget how very largely natural science is already included in the educational curriculum both at schools and universities. Schools subsidised by the Board of Education are obliged to provide science-teaching. The public schools have equipment, in some cases a superb equipment, for teaching at least physics and chemistry. At the newer universities there are great and vigorous schools of science. Of the old universities Cambridge stands out as a chief centre of scientific activity. In several branches of science Cambridge is without question pre-eminent. The endowments both of the university and the colleges are freely used for the advancement of the sciences. Not only in these material ways are scientific studies in no sense neglected, but the position of the sciences is recognised and even envied by those who follow other kinds of learning. The scientific schools of Cambridge form perhaps the dominant force among the resident body of the university, and except by virtue of some great increase in the endowments, it would be impossible to extend further the scientific side of Cambridge and still maintain other forms of intellectual activity in such proportion as to preserve that healthy co-ordination which is the life of a great university.

At Oxford the case is no doubt very different. The measure in which the sciences are esteemed appears only too plainly in the small proportion of Fellowships filled by men of science. Progress has nevertheless begun. At the remarkable Conference called in May, 1916, to protest against the neglect of science it was noticeable that the speakers were, in overwhelming majority, Oxford men[3].

Among the educational institutions of England there is no general neglect to provide teaching of natural science and much of the language used in reference to the problem of reform is not really in accord with fact. Probably no boy able to afford a good secondary school, certainly none able to proceed to a university, is debarred from scientific teaching merely because it does not "form an integral part" of the curriculum. This alone suffices to prove that the real cause of the deplorable neglect of science is to be sought elsewhere. The fundamental difficulty is that which has been already indicated, that public taste and judgment deliberately prefers the type known as literary, or as it might with more propriety be designated, "vocal." In the schools there is no lack of science teaching, but the small percentage of boys whose minds develop early and whose general capacity for learning and aptitude for affairs mark them out as leaders, rarely have much instinct for science, and avoid such teaching, finding it irksome and unsatisfying. These it is, who going afterwards to the universities, in preponderating numbers to Oxford, make for themselves a congenial atmosphere, disturbed only by faint ripples of that vast intellectual renascence in which the new shape of civilisation is forming. With self-complacency unshaken, they assume in due course charge of Church and State, the Press, and in general the leadership of the country. As lawyers and journalists they do our talking for us, let who will do the thinking. Observe that their strength lies in the possession of a special gift, which under the conditions of democratic government has a prodigious opportunity. Uncomfortable as the reflection may be, it is not to be denied that the countries in which science has already attained the greatest influence and recognition in public affairs are Germany and Japan, where the opinions of the ignorant are not invited. But facts must be recognised, and our government is likely to remain in the hands of those who have the gift of speech. A general substitution of scientific men for the "vocal" could scarcely be achieved, even if the change were desirable. The utmost limit of success which the conditions admit is some inoculation of scientific interest and ideas upon the susceptible members of the classes already preferred. That a large proportion of those persons are in the biological sense resistant to all such influences must be expected. Granting however that a section perhaps even the majority, of our [Greek: beltistoi] may prove unamenable to the influences of science no one can doubt that under the present system of education a proportion of not unintelligent boys in practice have little option. From earliest youth classics are offered to them as almost the sole vehicle of education. They do sufficiently well in classics, as they probably would on any other curriculum, to justify themselves and their advisers in thinking that they have made a good beginning to which it is safer to stick. The system has a huge momentum, and so, holding to the "great wheel" that goes up the hill, they let it draw them after. In their protest against the monotony of the courses provided for young boys the reformers are right. The trouble is not that science is not taught in the schools, but that in schools of the highest type, with certain exceptions, the young boys are not offered it.

Realising the determinism which modern biological knowledge has compelled us to accept, we suspect that the power of education to modify the destinies of individuals is relatively small. Abrogating larger hopes we recognise education in its two scientific aspects, as a selective agency, but equally as a provision of opportunity. In view therefore of the congenital diversity of the individual types, that provision should be as diverse and manifold as possible, and the very first essential in an adequate scheme of education is that to the minds of the young something of everything should be offered, some part of all the kinds of intellectual sustenance in which the minds of men have grown and rejoiced. That should be the ideal. Nothing of varied stimulus or attraction that can be offered should be withheld. So only will the young mind discover its aptitudes and powers. This ideal education should bring all into contact with beauty as seen first in literature, ancient and modern, with the great models of art and the patterns of nobility of thought and of conduct; and no less should it show to all the truth of the natural world, the changeless systems of the universe, as revealed in astronomy or in chemistry, something too of the truth about life, what we animals really are, what our place and what our powers, a truth ungarbled whether by prudery or mysticism.

But presented with this ideal the schoolmaster will reply that something of everything means nothing thorough. I know the objection and what it commonly stands for. It is the cloak and pretext for that accursed pedantry and cant which turns every sort of teaching to a blight. Thoroughness is the excuse for giving boys grammar and accidence in the name of Greek: diagrams, formulae and numerical examples in the name of science. Stripped of disguise this love of thoroughness is nothing but an indolent resolve to make things easy for the teacher, and, worse still, for the examiner. Live teaching is hard work. It demands continual freshness and a mind alert. The dullest man can hear irregular verbs, and with the book he knows whether they are said right or wrong, but to take a text and show what the passage means to the world, to reconstruct the scene and the conditions in which it was written, to show the origins and the fruits of ideas or of discoveries, demand qualities of a very different order. The plea for thoroughness may no doubt be offered in perfect sincerity. There are plenty of men, especially among those who desire the office of a pedagogue, whose field of vision is constricted to a slit. If they were painters their work would be in the slang of the day, "tight." One small group of facts they see hard and sharp, without atmosphere or value. Their own knowledge having no capacity for extension, no width or relationship to the world at large, they cannot imagine that breadth in itself may be a merit. Adepts in a petty erudition without vital antecedents or consequences, they would willingly see the world shrivel to the dimensions of their own landscape.

Anticipating here the applause of the reforming party, to avoid misapprehension let it be expressly observed that pedantry of this sort is in no sense the special prerogative of teachers of classics. We meet it everywhere. Among teachers of science the type abounds, and from the papers set in any Natural Sciences Tripos, not to speak of scholarship examinations of every kind, it would be possible to extract question after question that ought never to have been set, referring to things that need never have been taught, and knowledge that no one but a pedant would dream of carrying in his head for a week.

The splendid purpose which science serves is the inculcation of principle and balance, not facts. There is something horrible and terrifying in the doctrine so often preached, reiterated of course by speaker after speaker at the "Neglect of Science" meeting, that science is to be preferred because of its utility. If the choice were really between dead classics and dead science, or if science is to be vivified by an infusion of commercial, utilitarian spirit, then a thousand times rather let us keep to the classics as the staple of education. They at least have no "use." At least they hold the keys to the glorious places, to the fulness of literature and to the thoughtful speech of all kindred nations, nor are they demeaned with sordid, shop-keeper utility. This was plainly in the mind of the Poet Laureate, who speaking at the meeting I have referred to, said well that "a merely utilitarian science can never win the spiritual respect of mankind." The main objection that the humanists make to the introduction of natural science as a necessary subject of education, is, he declared, that science is not spiritual, that it does not work in the sphere of ideas. He went on very properly to show how perverse is such a representation of science, but, alas, in further recommendation of science as a safe subject of instruction he added that the antagonism of science to religion is ended, and that the contest had been a passing phase. Reading this we may wonder whether we are in fairness entitled to Dr Bridges's approval. "Tastes sweet the water with such specks of earth?" Since he spoke of the "unscientific attitude" of Professor Huxley as a thing of the past, candour obliges us to insist emphatically that the struggle continues and must perpetually be renewed. Huxley was opposing the teaching of science to that of revelation. In these days the ground has shifted, and supernatural teachings make preferably their defence by an appeal to intuition and other obscure phenomena which can be trusted to defy investigation. Against all such apocryphal glosses of evidential truth science protests with equal vehemence, and were Huxley here he would treat Bergson and his allies with the same scorn and contumely that he meted out to the Bishop of Oxford on the notorious occasion to which Dr Bridges made reference. As well might we decorate our writings with Plantin title-pages, showing the author embraced by angels and inspiring muses, as recommend ourselves in these disguises.

Agnosticism is the very life and mainspring of science. Not merely as to the supernatural but as to the natural world must science believe nothing save under compulsion. Little of value has a man got from science who has not learned to be slow of faith. Those early lessons in the study of the natural world will be the best which most frankly declare our ignorance, exciting the mind to attack the unknown by showing how soon the frontier of knowledge is reached. "We don't know" should be ever in the mouth of the teacher, followed sometimes by "we may find out yet." Not merely to the investigator but to the pupil the interest of science is strongest in the growing edges of knowledge. The student should be transported thither with the briefest possible delay. Details of those parts of science which by present means of investigation are worked out and reduced to general expressions are dull and lifeless. Many and many a boy has been repelled, gathering from what he hears in class that science is a catalogue of names and facts interminable.

In childhood he may have felt curiosity about nature and the common impulse to watch and collect, but when he begins scientific lessons he discovers too often that they relate not even to the kind of fact which nature is for him, or to the subjects of his early curiosity and wonder, but to things that have no obvious interest at all, measurements of mechanical forces, reaction-formulae, and similar materials.

All these, it is true, man has gradually accumulated with infinite labour; upon them, and of such materials has the great fabric of science been reared: but to insist that the approaches to science shall be open only to those who will surmount these gratuitous obstacles is mere perversity. Men's minds do not work in that way. How many would discover the grandeur of a Gothic building if they were prevented from seeing one until they could work out stresses and strains, date mouldings, and even perhaps cut templates? Most of us, to be sure, enjoy the cathedrals more when we acquire some such knowledge, and those who are to be architects must acquire it, but we can scarcely be astonished if beginners turn away in disgust from science presented on those terms.

It is from considerations of this kind that I am led to believe that for most boys the easiest and most attractive introduction to science is from the biological side. Admittedly chemistry is the more fundamental study, and some rudimentary chemical notions must be imparted very early, but if the framework subject-matter be animals and plants, very sensible progress in realising what science means and aims at doing will have been made before the things of daily life are left behind. These first formal lessons in science should continue and extend the boy's own attempts to find out how the world is made.

I shall be charged with running counter both to common sense and to authority in expressing parenthetically the further conviction that, in biology at least, laboratory work is now largely overdone. Whether this is so at schools I cannot tell, but at the universities whole mornings and afternoons spent in making elaborate preparations, drawings and series of sections, are frequently wasted. These courses were devised with the highest motives. Students were to "find out everything for themselves." Generally they are doing nothing of the kind. It may have been so once, but with text-books perfected and teaching stereotyped, the more industrious are slavishly verifying what has been verified repeatedly, or at best acquiring manipulative skill. The rest are doing nothing whatever. They would be better employed taking a walk, devilling for some investigator, browsing in museums or libraries, or even arguing with each other. Certainly a few lessons in the use of indexes and books of reference would be far more valuable. Students of every grade must of course do some laboratory work, and all should see as much material as possible. My protest is solely against those long, torpid hours compulsorily given to labour which will lead to nothing of novelty, and serves only to teach what can be got readily in other ways. There are a few whose souls crave such employment. By all means let them follow it.

But whatever is good for maturer students, biology for schoolboys should be of a less academic cast.

The natural history of animals and plants has the obvious merit that it prolongs the inborn curiosity of youth, that its subject-matter is universally at hand, accessible in holidays and in the absence of teachers or laboratories, and best of all that through biological study the significance of science appears immediately, disclosing the true story of man's relation to the world. From natural history the transition to the other sciences, especially to chemistry and physics, is easy and again natural. In the study of life many of the fundamental conceptions of those sciences are met with on the threshold, and boys whose aptitudes are rather of the physical order will at once feel the impulse to follow nature from that aspect. Biology is the more inclusive study. A man may be a good chemist and miss the broad meaning of science altogether, being sometimes indeed more devoid of such comprehension than many a philosopher fresh from Classical Greats.

In appealing for a progress from the general to the particular I am not blind to the dangers. Biology for the young readily degenerates into a mawkish "nature-study," or all-for-the-best claptrap about adaptation, but a sure remedy is the strong tonic of agnosticism, teaching one of the best lessons science has to offer, the resolute rejection of authority.

Some take comfort in the hope that all subjects may be taught as branches of science, but the fact that must permanently postpone arrival at this educational Utopia is that a great proportion of teachers are not and can never be made scientific. Nothing proceeding from such persons will by the working of any schedule, regulation, or even Order of the Board be ever made to bear any colourable resemblance to science. Moreover as has already been indicated, there are plenty of pupils also who will flourish and probably reach their highest development taught by unscientific men, pupils whose minds would be sterilised or starved by that very nourishment which to our thinking is the more generous. Were we a homogeneous population one diet for all might be justifiable, but as things are, we should offer the greatest possible variety.

From Rousseau onwards educationists, deriving their views, I suppose, from some metaphysical or theological conception of human equality, speak continually of the "mind of the child" as if the young of our species conformed to a single type. If the general spread of biological knowledge serves merely to expose that foolish assumption there would be progress to record. Dr Blakeslee[4], a well-known American biologist, lately gave a good illustration of this. In a paper on education he showed photographs of two varieties of maize. The ripe fruits of both are colourless if their sheaths be unbroken. The one, if exposed to the light before ripening, by rupture of its sheath, turns red. The second, otherwise indistinguishable, acquires no red colour though uncovered to the full sun. If these maizes were two boys, not improbably the one would be caned for failing to respond to treatment so efficacious in the case of the other. When we hear that such a man has developed too exclusively one side of his nature, with what propriety do we assume that he had any other side to develop? Or when we say that such-and-such a course of study tends to make boys too exclusively literary, or scientific, or what not, do we not really mean that it provides too exclusively for those whose aptitudes are of these respective kinds? Living in the midst of a mongrel population we note the divers powers of our fellows and we thoughtlessly imagine that if something different had happened to us, we can't say what, we should have been able to rival them. A little honest examination of our powers shows how vain are such suppositions. The right course is to make some provision for all sorts, since unscientific teaching and unscientific persons will remain with us always.

Teaching of this universal and undifferentiated sort, provided for all in common, should be continued up to the age at which pupils begin to show their tastes and aptitudes, in general about 16, after which stage such latitude of choice should be given as the resources of the school can provide.

Of what should the undifferentiated teaching consist? Coming from a cultivated home a boy of 10 may be expected to have learned the rudiments of Latin, and at least one modern language, preferably French, colloquially, arithmetic, outlines of geography, tales from Plutarch and from other histories. Going to a preparatory school he will read easy Latin texts with translations and notes; French books, geography including the elements of astronomy, beginning also algebra and geometry. At 12 dropping French except perhaps a reading once a week, he will begin Greek, by means of easy passages again with the translations beside him, continuing the rest as before. Transferred at 14-1/2 to a public school he will go on with Latin, starting Latin prose, Greek texts, again read fast with translations. He will now have his first formal introduction to science in the guise of biology, leading up to lessons and demonstrations in chemistry and physics. At about 16-1/2 he may drop classics or mathematics according as his tastes have declared themselves, adding modern languages instead, continuing science in all cases, greater or less in amount according to his proclivities.

Boys with special mathematical ability will of course need special treatment. Moreover provision of German for all has avowedly not been made. For all it is desirable and for many indispensable. But as the number who read it for pleasure, never very large, seems likely to diminish, German may perhaps be reserved as a tool, the use of which must be acquired when necessary.

Such a scheme, I submit, makes no impossible demand on the time-table, allowing indeed many spare hours for accessory subjects such as readings in English or history. Note the main features of this programme. The time for things worth learning is found by dropping grammar as a subject of special study. There are to be no lessons in grammar or accidence as such, nor of course any verse compositions except for older boys specialising in classics. Mathematics also is treated as a subject which need not be carried beyond the rudiments unless mathematical or physical ability is shown. For other boys it leads literally nowhere, being a road impassable.

All the languages are to be taught as we learn them in later life, when the desire or necessity arises, by means of easy passages with the translation at our side. Our present practice not only fails to teach languages but it succeeds in teaching how not to learn a language. Who thinks of beginning Russian by studying the "aspects" of the verbs, or by committing to memory the 28 paradigms which German grammarians have devised on the analogy of Latin declensions? Auxiliary verbs are the pedagogue's delight, but who begins Spanish by trying to discriminate between tener and haber, or ser and estar, or who learns tables of exceptions to improve his French? These things come by use or not at all.

If languages are treated not as lessons but as vehicles of speech, and if the authors are read so that we may find out what they say and how they say it, and at such a pace that we follow the train of thought or the story, all who have any sense of language at all can attend and with pleasure too. What chance has a boy of enjoying an author when he knows him only as a task to be droned through, thirty lines at a time? Small blame to the pupil who never discovers that the great authors were men of like passions with ourselves, that the Homeric songs were made to be shouted at feasts to heroes full of drink and glory, that Herodotus is telling of wonders that his friends, and we too, want to hear, that in the tragedies we hear the voice of Sophocles dictating, choked with emotion and tears; that even Roman historians wrote because they had something to tell, and Caesar, dull proser that he is, composed the Commentaries not to provide us with style or grammatical curiosities, but as a record of extraordinary events. To get into touch with any author he must be read at a good pace, and by reading of that kind there is plenty of time for a boy before he reaches 17 to make acquaintance with much of the best literature both of Greek and Latin.

Education must be brought up to date; but if in accomplishing that, we lose Greek, it will have been sacrificed to obstinate formalism and pedagogic tradition. The defence of classics as a basis of education is generally misrepresented by opponents. The unique value of the classics is not in any begetting of literary style. We are thinking of readers not of writers. Much of the best literature is the work of unlettered men, as they never tire of telling us, but it is for the enjoyment and understanding of books and of the world that continuity with the past should be maintained. John Bunyan wrote sterling prose, knowing no language but his own. But how much could he read? What judgments could he form? We want also to keep classics and especially Greek as the bountiful source of material and of colour, decoration for the jejune lives of common men. If classics cease to be generally taught and become the appanage of a few scholars, the gulf between the literary and the scientific will be made still wider. Milton will need more explanatory notes than O. Henry. Who will trouble about us scientific students then? We shall be marked off from the beginning, and in the world of laboratories Hector, Antigone and Pericles will soon share the fate of poor Ananias and Sapphira.

I come now to the gravest part of the whole question. We plead for the preservation of literature, especially classical literature, as the staple of education in the name of beauty and understanding: but no less do we demand science in the name of truth and advancement. Given that our demand succeeds, what consequences may we expect? Nothing immediate, as I fear. In opening the discussion it was argued that even if scientific knowledge be widely diffused, any great change in the composition of the ruling classes is scarcely attainable under present conditions of social organisation. Even if science stand equal with classics in examinations for the services the general tenor of the public mind will in all likelihood be undisturbed. Yet it is for such a revolution that science really calls, and come it will in any community dominated by natural knowledge. Science saves us from blunders about glycerine, shows how to economise fuel and to make artificial nitrates, but these, though they decide national destinies, are merely the sheaf of the wave-offering: the harvest is behind. For natural knowledge is destined to give man not only a direct control of the material world but new interpretations of higher problems. Though we in England make a stand upon the ancient way, peoples elsewhere will move on. Those who have grasped the meaning of science, especially biological science, are feeling after new rules of conduct. The old criteria based on ignorance have little worth. "Rights," whether of persons or of nations, may be abstractions well-founded in law or philosophy, but the modern world sooner or later will annul them.

The general ignorance of science has lasted so long that we have virtually two codes of right and duty, that founded on natural truth and that emanating from tradition, which almost alone finds public expression in this country. Whether we look at the cruelty which passes for justice in our criminal courts, at the prolongation of suffering which custom demands as a part of medical ethics, at this very question of education, or indeed at any problem of social life, we see ahead and know that science proclaims wiser and gentler creeds. When in the wider sphere of national policy we read the declared ideals of statesmen, we turn away with a shrug. They bid us exalt national sentiment as a purifying and redeeming influence, and in the next breath proclaim that the sole way to avert the ruin now menacing the world is to guarantee to all nations freedom to develop, "unhindered, unthreatened, unafraid." So, forsooth, are we to end war. Nature laughs at such dreams. The life of one is the death of another. Where are the teeming populations of the West Indies, where the civilisations of Mexico or of Peru, where are the blackfellows of Australia? Since means of subsistence are limited, the fancy that one group can increase or develop save at the expense of another is an illusion, instantly dissipated by appeal to biological fact, nor would a biologist-statesman look for permanent stability in a multiplication of competing communities, some vigorous, others worthless, but all growing in population. Rather must a people familiar with science see how small and ephemeral a thing is the pride of nations, knowing that both the peace of the world and the progress of civilisation are to be sought not by the hardening of national boundaries but in the substitution of cosmopolitan for national aspiration.

[Footnote 1: Les Lois de l'Imitation, 1911, p. 87.]

[Footnote 2: Reported in Evening Standard, 11 Sept. 1916.]

[Footnote 3: Two Cambridge men spoke, one being Lord Rayleigh, the Chairman, and ten Oxford men, besides one originally Cambridge, for several years an Oxford professor.]

[Footnote 4: Journ. of Heredity, VIII. 1917, p. 53.]



VIII

ATHLETICS

By F. B. MALIM

Master of Haileybury College

At a conference held by the Froebel Society in January, 1917, the subject for discussion was the employment of women teachers in boys' schools. With some of the questions considered, whether women should have shorter hours than men, whether they are capable of enforcing discipline, and the like, I am not now concerned; but I was interested to hear from one speaker after another that a woman was at a real disadvantage in a boys' school, because she could not take part in the games. The speakers did not come from the public schools, whose devotion to athletics constitutes, we are sometimes told, a public danger, but mainly from primary and secondary day schools in London. But none the less it was assumed that a boy's games are an essential part of his education. The same assumption is made by the managers of boys' clubs and similar organisations which are endeavouring to carry on the education of boys who have left the elementary schools at the age of fourteen. In spite of the great difficulty of finding grounds to play on in the neighbourhood of great towns, cricket and football are encouraged by any possible means among the working lads of our industrial centres. Games are more and more being regarded as a desirable element in the education of the British boy, and are provided for him and organised for him by those responsible for his environment. But this is quite a modern development. I have been told by one who was at Marlborough in the very early days of that school, that so far were the authorities from providing any means of playing cricket, that the boys themselves were obliged to subscribe small sums for the purchase of the necessary material. The book containing the names of the subscribers fell into the hands of the head master, who gated for the term all boys on the list, assuming without inquiry that they were the clients of a juvenile bookmaker.

When we ask why we have come to regard games as a part of a boy's education, we shall naturally answer first that a full education is concerned with the proper development of the body. For this purpose we may employ the old fashioned gymnastic exercises, the modern Swedish exercises or outdoor games. And of these the greatest is games. "So far," says Dr. Saleeby, "as true race culture is concerned, we should regard our muscles merely as servants or instruments of the will. Since we have learnt to employ external forces for our purposes, the mere bulk of a muscle is now a matter of little importance. Of the utmost importance, on the other hand, is the power to coordinate and graduate the activity of our muscles, so that they may become highly trained servants. This is a matter however not of muscle at all, but of nervous education. Its foundation cannot be laid by mechanical things, like dumb-bells and exercises, but by games in which will and purpose and co-ordination are incessantly employed. In other words the only physical culture worth talking about is nervous culture. The principles here laid down are daily defied in very large measure in our nurseries, our schools and our barrack yards. The play of a child, spontaneous and purposeful, is supremely human and characteristic. Although when considered from the outside, it is simply a means of muscular development, properly considered it is really the means of nervous development. Here we see muscles used as human muscles should be used, as instruments of mind. In schools the same principles should be recognised. From the biological and psychological point of view, the playing field is immensely superior to the gymnasium[1]."

It would be a mistake to under-estimate the value of the Swedish system of physical exercises. Its object is not the abnormal development of muscle, but the production of a healthy, alert and well balanced body. The military authorities in the last three years have been confronted with the problem of restoring promptness of movement, erectness of carriage, poise and flexibility to numbers of men whose muscles have been given a one-sided development by the constant performance of one kind of manual work, or have grown flabby by long sitting at a desk, and the task would have been much less successfully tackled without the aid of the Swedish methods. In schools these exercises may be used with real benefit given two conditions, small classes and a really skilled instructor. For the value a boy derives from the exercises, to a very large extent depends upon himself, on the concentration of his own will. It is almost impossible to make sure in a large class that this concentration is given, and any kind of exercise done without purpose or resolution rapidly degenerates into the most useless gesticulations. But though we may use physical exercises as an aid, I should be sorry to see them ever regarded as a substitute for games. Even supposing that they were an adequate substitute in the development of the body (which I doubt) they cannot claim to have an effect at all comparable to that of games in the development of character. Sometimes the most extravagant claims are put forward on behalf of athletics as a school of character, almost as extravagant as are the terms in which at other times the "brutal athlete" is denounced. I don't think it is found by experience that athletes cherish higher ideals or are more humble-minded than their less muscular fellows; I doubt if they become more charitable in their judgments or more liberal in their giving. We must carefully limit the claims we make, and then we shall find that we have surer grounds to go on. What virtues can we reasonably suppose to be developed by games? First I should put physical courage. It certainly requires courage to collar a fast and heavy opponent at football, to fall on the ball at the feet of a charging pack or to stand up to fast bowling on a bumpy wicket. Schoolboy opinion is rightly intolerant of a "funk," and we should not attach too small a value to this first of the manly virtues. Considering as we must the virtues which we are to develop in a nation, we realise that for the security of the nation courage in her young men is indispensable. That it has been bred in the sons of England is attested by the fields of Flanders and the beaches of Gallipoli. We shall therefore give no heed to those who decry the danger of some schoolboy games. For we shall remember that just as few things that are worth gaining can be won without toil, so there are some things which can only be won by taking risks. Few things are less attractive in a boy than the habit of playing for safety; in the old prudence is natural and perhaps admirable, in the young it is precocious and unlovely. But we need not introduce unnecessary risk by the matching of boys of unequal size and age. The practice, for example, of house games in which the boys of one house play together, without regard to size or skill, is very much inferior to an organisation of games by means of "sets," graded solely by the proficiency which boys have shown. In each set boys are matched with others whose skill approximates to their own; they are not overpowered by the strength of older boys and can get the proper enjoyment from the display of such skill as they possess.

And as we desire our games to foster the spirit that faces danger, so we shall wish them to foster the spirit that faces hardship, the spirit of endurance. That is why I think that golf and lawn tennis are not fit school games; they are not painful enough. I am afraid we ought on the same ground to let racquets go, though for training in alertness and sheer skill, in the nice harmony of eye and hand racquets has no equal. But cricket, football, hockey, fives can all be painful enough; often victory is only to be won by a clinching of the teeth and the sternest resolve to "stick to it" in face of exhaustion. This is the merit of two forms of athletics which have been oftenest the subject of attack, rowing and running. Both of course should be carefully watched by the school doctor; for both careful training is necessary. But a sport which encourages boys to deny themselves luxuries, to scorn ease, to conquer bodily weariness by the exercise of the will, is not one which should be banished because for some the spirit has triumphed to the hurt of the flesh. In a self-indulgent age when sometimes it has seemed that the gibe of our enemies is true, that the most characteristic English word is "comfort," it is good to retain in our schools some forms of activity in which comfort is never considered at all. The Ithaca which was [Greek: hagathe koyrotrophos] was also [Greek: trecheia].

Again no boy can meet with real athletic success who has not learnt to control his temper. It is not merely that public opinion despises the man who is a bad loser; but that to lose your temper very often means to lose the game. It may be true that a Rugby forward does not develop his finest game until an opponent's elbow has met his nose and given an extra spice to his onslaught. But in the majority of contests the man who keeps his head will win. Notably this is true in boxing, a fine instrument of education, whatever may be the objections to the prize ring. So dispassionate a scientist as Professor Hall in his monumental work on Adolescence, describes boxing as "a manly art, a superb school for quickness of eye and hand, decision, full of will and self-control. The moment this is lost, stinging punishment follows. Hence it is the surest of all cures for excessive irascibility, and has been found to have a most beneficial effect upon a peevish or unmanly disposition."

But perhaps the best lesson that a boy can learn from his games, is the lesson that he must play for his side and not for himself. He does not always learn it; the cricketer who plays for his average, the three-quarters who tries to score himself, are not unknown, though boyish opinion rightly condemns them. Popular school ethics are thoroughly sound on this point, and it is the virtue of inter-school and inter-house competitions, that in them a boy learns what it is to forget self and to think of a cause. There is a society outside himself which has its claim upon him, whose victory is his victory, whose defeat is his defeat. Whether victory comes through him or through another, is nothing so long as victory be won; later in life men may play games for their health's sake or for enjoyment, but they lose that thrill of intense patriotism, the more intense because of the smallness of the society that arouses it, with which they battled in the mud of some November day for the honour of their school or house. Small wonder that when school-fellows meet after years of separation, the memories to which they most gladly return, are the memories of hard-won victories and manfully contested defeats.

But victory must be won by fair means. There is a story (possibly without historical foundation) that a foreign visitor to Oxford said that the thing that struck him most in that great university was the fact that there were 3000 men there who would rather lose a game than win it by unfair means. It would be absurd to pretend that that spirit is universal: the commercial organisation of professional football and the development of betting have gone a long way to degrade a noble sport. But the standard of fair play in school games is high, and it is the encouragement of this spirit by cricket and football that renders them so valuable an aid in the activities of boys' clubs in artisan districts. It has been argued that the prevalence of this generous temper among our troops has been a real handicap in war; that we have too much regarded hostilities as a game in which there were certain rules to be observed, and that when we found ourselves matched against a foe whose object was to win by any means, fair or foul, the soldiers who were fettered by the scruples of honour were necessarily inferior to their unscrupulous foe. It has perhaps yet to be proved that in the long run the unchivalrous fighter always wins, and I doubt whether any of us would really prefer that even in war we should set aside the scruples of fair play. But in the arts and pursuits of peace that man is best equipped to play a noble part who realises that there are rules in the great game of life which an honourable man will respect, that there are advantages which he must not take. How often does some rather inarticulate hero, who has refused some tempting prospect or spurned some specious offer, explain his act of self-denial by the simple phrase of his boyhood, "I thought it wasn't quite playing the game." Schoolboy honour is not always a faultless thing; sometimes it means the hiding of real iniquity. But the honour of the playing field is a generous code, and to have learnt its rules is to have learnt the best that the public opinion of a boy community can teach.

The chairman of a great engineering firm recently told the Incorporated Association of Headmasters, that when he went to Oxford to get recruits for his firm, he did not look for men who had got a First in Greats, but for men who would have got a First, if they had worked. For these men had probably given a good deal of their time to rowing or games and had thereby learnt something of the art of dealing with men. The student who sticks to his books learns many lessons, but not this. To be captain of a house or of a school, and to do it well is to practise the art of governing on a small scale. A sore temptation to the schoolmaster is to interfere too much in school games. He sees obvious mistakes being made, wrong tactics being adopted, the wrong sides chosen, and he longs to interfere. He is anxious for victories, and forgets that after all victories are a very secondary business, that games are only a means, not an end, that if he does not let the boys really govern and make their mistakes, the game is failing to provide the training that it ought to give. It is undoubted that schools which are carefully coached by competent players, where the responsibility is largely taken out of the captain's hands, are more likely to win their matches. But much is lost, though the game may be won. The strong captain who goes his own way, chooses his own side, frames his own tactics and inspires the whole team with his own spirit, has had a practical training in the management of men which will stand him in good stead in the greater affairs of life. "We are not very well satisfied" said a War Office official, "with the stamp of young officer we are getting. Many of them never seem to have played a game in their lives, though they are first-rate mathematicians." And there is no doubt that whether for war or peace mathematics is not a substitute for leadership.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse