§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
, in rising to move—That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable to modify the New Code of Regulations issued by the Committee of the Privy Council, in such a manner as to give more encouragement to the teaching of history, geography, elementary social economy, and the other so-called extra subjects, in the Elementary Schools of the Country,said, that at an earlier period of the Session the attention of the House had been called by the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) to the New Education Code, but the discussion, did not then turn on the manner in which the payments were allotted. It was in no spirit of hostility that he asked the attention of the House to that subject, because he regarded the Code as a decided step in advance. Indeed, it provided a scheme of payment for other subjects besides reading, writing, and arithmetic, but unfortunately this provision was practically rendered almost nugatory by other stipulations. The Revised Code rendered a great service to education in the introduction of the principle of payment by results; but unfortunately, by discouraging all so-called extra subjects—namely, all subjects except reading, writing, and arithmetic, it exercised a very evil influence upon elementary schools. The Committee of that House so ably presided over by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson) directed particular attention 103 to the evidence of the Rev. Thomas Cromwell, principal of the training school at Chelsea, who stated that the tendency of the Revised Code had been to diminish the efficiency of elementary education. Putting arithmetic on one side for a moment, it must be admitted that though reading and writing were the very groundwork and foundation of education, they were not education itself. Still, if the introduction of other subjects interfered with the acquirement of reading and writing, there would be a good reason for deferring them until a mastery over reading and writing had been acquired. But the very reverse was the case. Thus, Mr. Moseley, in his Report on Dean Dawes's King's Somborne School, remarked that—Here, where so many other things are taught besides reading, the children are found in advance, in reading, of other schools, in the majority of which scarcely anything else is taught.And he continues—And this is always the case, and a fact which seems to point to the expediency, if not the necessity, of teaching children something else besides reading, that we may be able to teach them to read.In his opinion—The singular slowness with which the children of our National Schools learn to read is, in some degree, to be attributed to the unwise concentration of the labours of the school on that single object.Both Dean Dawes and Mr. Moseley expressly attributed the success of the King's Somborne School to the fact that in addition to the usual subjects, the children were instructed in "the simple principles of natural science applicable to things familiar to the children's daily observation." It had by some been assumed that the great success of that school was due to some extraordinary merit on the part of the masters; but Mr. Moseley expressly stated that he considered their qualifications not to have been above the average, that the success was due to the system, and that it would be quite possible to create such schools generally throughout the country. Mr. Lingen, Secretary to the Committee of Council on Education, when giving evidence, in 1868, before Mr. Samuelson's Committee, was asked—Is it not true that those schools, where other objects than the three rudiments—reading, writing, and arithmetic—are taught, are the most successful, and that even reading, writing, and arithmetic themselves are better taught in those schools.104 To which he replied—"Yes, decidedly." That opinion was most important, and was, moreover, very generally entertained by those most competent to judge. The Council of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, last year unanimously adopted a resolution similar to that which he now proposed, and appointed a deputation to urge the question on the consideration of the Education Department. The Executive Committee of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science adopted and presented to Government a Memorial, in which they also strongly expressed the same opinion. The London School Board Committee had unanimously recommended, and the School Board had also unanimously decided, that the essential subjects in every elementary school for children of seven years old and upwards should be—a, morality and religion; b, reading, writing, and arithmetic; c, systematized object lessons, embracing in the six school years a course of elementary instruction in physical science, and serving as an introduction to the science examinations which were conducted by the Science and Art Department; d, the history of Britain; e, elementary geography; f, elementary social economy; g, elementary drawing. The Committee appointed by that House in 1868, after taking a great deal of valuable evidence, recommended—That elementary instruction in drawing, in physical geography, and in the phenomena of nature should be given in elementary schools.Thus his Resolution was no visionary proposal, or individual crotchet, but was founded on recommendations deliberately adopted by four bodies eminently qualified to speak on such a subject. In the general principle all these eminent authorities agreed, but there was some difference of opinion as to the selection of subjects. He rejoiced to see that the London, School Board included elementary social economy, in reference to which the evidence taken before Mr. Samuelson's Committee was peculiarly strong. Thus, Professor Huxley was asked by the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Akroyd) this question—Agreeing as I do with you entirely, in the importance which you attach to social science, which is, in fact, a milder name for political economy, do you not think that if full information were conveyed on the subject in our elementary schools throughout the country, and in our working 105 men's colleges, it would tend to promote a much better understanding between employers and employed, and obviate that ignorance which tends to strikes?To which he replied—I think that to communicate a knowledge of social science to all classes is the only chance for society. I think society will go to pieces unless men are made to understand the true conditions of human welfare; until that is done you will never have society in a state of stable equilibrium.Mr. Cochrane, partner in some large collieries, who was commissioned to give evidence before Mr. Samuelson's Committee as the representative of the Northern Institute of Mining Engineers, was asked by the same hon. Member—Do you not think that strikes in many cases arise from total ignorance of the first principles of political and social economy, and those laws which govern the rate of wages?To which he replied—"Undoubtedly, that is the ultimate reason." The hon. Member then continued—A little instruction in such matters would, perhaps, prevent much misunderstanding between employers and employed?And Mr. Cochrane answered—Yes, I think political and social economy should be embodied in any course of instruction which is offered to the people.The Committee of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science again strongly urged that instruction in social economy should be introduced into elementary schools, considering it to have been conclusively proved by Mr. William Ellis and others that—Such instruction can be rendered both comprehensible and interesting even to very young persons.As regarded other subjects, the evidence taken before Mr. Samuelson's Committee was also very strong. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Platt), himself one of the largest employers of labour in this country or in the world, finding occupation, as he did, for from 5,000 to 7,000 persons, expressed his decided opinion that the time had come when it was necessary that workmen should be acquainted with the science of mechanics. Indeed, the Committee reported—Nearly every witness speaks of the extraordinarily rapid progress of Continental nations in manufactures, and attributes that rapidity, besides other causes, . … to the elementary instruction which is universal among the working population of Germany and Switzerland. All the witnesses concur in desiring similar advantages of education for this country, and are satisfied 106 that nothing more is required, and that nothing less will suffice in order that we may retain the position which we now hold in the van of all industrial nations.If, however, no substantial inducement were offered to schoolmasters, school managers would find it very difficult to induce them to teach extra subjects. What, then, were the provisions of the New Code in this respect? At first sight they appeared very fair. 6s. were allotted for each scholar for attendance; 4s. each for reading, writing, and arithmetic; 3s. each for any two extra subjects. 3s. seemed very reasonable and sufficient; but, unfortunately, the promise was illusory and delusive. In the first place, no child could go in for examination in an extra subject until he was in Standard IV.—that was to say, as he could not go in for Standard I. until he was seven years of age, no child could be presented for examination in an extra subject until he was 11; and they know that in country districts the great majority of children left school at that age. But the provision, to which he would specially call attention was that which limited the grant to 15s. a-head on the average attendance. He did not complain of that limit, and he had guarded himself against asking for any extension of it. Distributed, however, as proposed in the New Code, it seemed evident that little or nothing would be given for extra subjects. Let them take, for instance, the case of a school with an average attendance of 100 children. The maximum grant would consequently be 1,500 shillings, or 15s. a-head. Now, in the first place, these 100 children would have earned 6s. each for attendance, making 600 shillings. Now, suppose that 50 children passed in the reading, writing, and arithmetic, that would give 50 times 12, or 600 shillings; and if 30 passed in two subjects, that would be 240 shillings; and assuming 5 per cent to be unavoidably absent on the examination day, if the remaining 15 children passed in one subject only, earning 60s., the school would have gained its whole 1,500 shillings, and could not receive a penny for any extra subject. Or take another illustration. Assuming again a school of 100 children, giving 600 shillings for attendance, if 75 per cent of the children passed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, which was no unreasonable 107 proportion, the 75 would earn 900 shillings, making, with the 600 for attendance, the maximum of 1,500. Thus, not only need no extra subject be taken up in order to secure the maximum of 15s., but a quarter of the children need really learn nothing at all. It was thus clearly shown that any average school might obtain the whole grant of 15s. a-head, without teaching anything except reading, writing, and arithmetic. That very unsatisfactory state of things was aggravated by a subsequent Order, under which 1s. a-head would be deducted from all schools where music was not taught. In such schools, if 70 per cent of the children passed in the three necessary subjects, they would secure for the school the maximum grant. Under these circumstances, it appeared evident that no real encouragement was given by the New Code to the teaching of extra subjects. There were several other points in connection with the New Code which required consideration, and to which he wished to call the earnest attention of the Government. One great drawback to the efficiency of schools was the early age at which the majority of children left, and which applied more particularly to agricultural schools, as distinguished from those in the cities and large towns. The New Code, however, assumed that children would not remain at school after 13, and therefore offered them no inducement to do so. Again, the choice of extra subjects was left entirely to managers, the masters of the school, or the committee, according as the government of the school might happen to be vested. That latitude seemed necessary for the present; but it placed before the country an entirely erroneous ideal of education, and the Education Department would, he trusted, before long be able to adopt the far better system of the London School Board. Again, the school books now in use were very unsatisfactory. If little science were taught in our village schools, that little, at least, ought to be correct. Now, he commended to the attention of Government the books used in elementary schools. He had looked through a set adopted by our two largest educational societies, and adapted to the New Code. They were full of ambiguities and errors. In the pages devoted to geography, Iceland was said to be in America. In the botanical portion, sap 108 was said to be, "according to some eminent authorities, not exactly black, as it appears, but of a dark blue colour." The seed of the sweet pea was described as not much larger than a small pin's head, and yet as containing, "compactly folded up, a large, branchy, flowering plant." Seals, whales, shrimps, and prawns were said to be fish. In the part devoted to insects they were told that they were of great use, and, as an illustration, that "the fly keeps the warm air pure and wholesome by its swift and zigzag flight." Elsewhere air was asserted to be purer in the morning. A boy who was joining his comrades in robbing an orchard was described as silencing his scruples by the consideration that his companions were determined, and that the owner would lose his fruit any way, so that—Since they will take them, I think I'll go too;He will lose none by me, though I get a few.That, no doubt, was a quotation from a well-known poet, but the poem was not given entire, and the verses quoted, being detached from the context, conveyed a meaning the very reverse of that which Cowper intended. In the lesson book for the Third Standard is the autobiography of a man who had raised himself from a very low station to that of a wealthy manufacturer. After describing how at the age of 28, by industry and self-denial, he had saved £700, the following passage occurs—At the recommendation of a friend I laid out this money on a mercantile adventure; in short, I risked its entire loss. I was successful, and made my £700 as much as £1,000. Again I risked this sum, for it seemed a sure trade; and so on I went for several years, increasing my capital both by profits and savings. … . I now returned to England; was for several years a partner in a concern, where I again risked my earnings, and at the end of 15 years retired with £90,000.Thus in the few passages devoted to such subjects, they found most ambiguous and incorrect statements, and the most dangerous and injudicious examples; and he would like to ask hon. Gentlemen if they thought such lessons fit for children? Were the working classes to be taught that the way to get rich was by risking their savings over and over again? Yet these absurd statements, and many others which he might have quoted, were contained in books most extensively used, and which had been adapted to the new Education 109 Code within the last few months. The main object in view on the present occasion was to press on Government the desirability of making arrangements to give greater encouragement to the study of extra subjects; but if he did no more than induce the Government to supervise the books used in elementary schools, it would be a great advantage to the cause of education throughout the country. Whatever the Government might do, however, he trusted they would not concentrate the grant on mere reading, writing, and arithmetic, which, as he had before said, were the groundwork of education, but not education itself. In that respect the Scotch schools were much ahead of them. In Massachusetts the law provided that every township should maintain a school in which, besides reading, writing and arithmetic, the children should be taught grammar, geography, and history. He would not enter into the subject of foreign schools, with which his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) was so much better acquainted; but he might observe that during the late war not only every German officer, but almost every soldier carried a map in his pocket, and seemed to know as much about the roads, bridges, fords, and bridle-paths as the country people themselves. It would not be said that what was done elsewhere was impracticable in this country. Indeed, that was conclusively proved by the result of the science classes, as tested by the examinations conducted by the Science and Art Department at South Kensington. These classes afforded strong evidence of the growing desire for scientific instruction which there was in this country. Thus, in 1860, the number of science schools was 9, and of pupils 500; in 1862, the number of schools was 70, of pupils 2,500; in 1864, the schools were 91, the pupils 4,600; in 1866, the schools were 153, the pupils 6,800; in 1867, the schools were 212, the pupils 10,500; in 1868, the schools were 300, the pupils 15,000; in 1869, the schools were 516, the pupils 21,500; and in 1870, the schools were 810, and the pupils 30,000. Thus there had been a marked increase every year, and that in 1870 was the largest of all. The examinations were held in 23 different subjects; and in one of them alone, that of physical geography, more than 700 110 of those who passed were under 13, and more than 1,000 under 14. The result of the examinations for Queen's medals was, perhaps, still more remarkable. They were open, as the House knew, to artizans of all ages, and yet out of 60 no less than 10 were gained by young persons under 14 years of age. But while bringing forward these facts, which seemed very striking, he did not wish to introduce abstruse or difficult subjects of study into elementary schools—far from it. No one who had looked at the New Code would say that the requirements as to extra subjects were unreasonable or excessive. At the age of 10, for instance, if geography was the subject chosen, the requirements, according to the New Code, were "a knowledge of the chief divisions of the world and of the meaning of a map;" in history the regulation was—Select some chief event of importance in the history of England, and let the children know something about it in detail.These were sufficient as illustrations, and showed that no unreasonable demands were made upon the children. They could not make the children of agricultural labourers great geologists or astronomers; but if they refused on that account to teach elementary natural science, they might as well give up arithmetic because they could not carry the children into the higher mathematics. What were the objects they ought to aim at in their elementary schools? One, no doubt, was that any child of remarkable ability should be able to avail himself of the faculties with which he was endowed; that genius, in whatever rank of life, might be rendered available for the common benefit. A second, and as many would think an even more important object, was that all children should be so brought up as to render them good men and useful citizens. Their present system appeared to fulfil neither of those requirements. The child of an agricultural labourer, even if he had the genius of a Milton or a Newton, would, in all probability, be taken away from school at 12, to help with the plough or to frighten away the rooks. Nor was the system satisfactory as regarded ordinary children. Placing before themselves a low ideal, they had as yet failed even in that, and that want of success was greatly due to the unwise concentration of instruction on reading, writing, and 111 arithmetic; the two former at least of which, though the very groundwork of education, were tedious and uninteresting in themselves, while it was of the utmost importance that lessons should be made attractive to children — that they should not be regarded as mere tasks. If he was told he was asking for too great variety, his reply must be that variety was in itself most desirable. One reason for that was the difference between different minds. Some preferred one subject and some another. Many a child had been regarded, and, what was worse, had regarded himself, as a dunce, merely because subjects in which he would have equalled, or perhaps excelled others, had formed no part of his educational course. A still stronger reason, however, was that, as everyone who knew anything about them would admit, children required change of thought. Variety of mental food was as necessary as change of bodily diet. Hon. Members themselves could not, in that House, concentrate their attention long on one subject at a time. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: The Ballot Bill.] He should like to ask hon. Members who had been engaged for very long that afternoon upon the Ballot, if they had any definite idea of all that had passed. The Bishop of Manchester, in his interesting Report, said that in the primary schools of America the received maxim was that lessons should be "short, many, and varied," frequently alternating with drill, marching, or calisthenic exercises. Lord Palmerston forcibly said, in a Minute issued in the year 1854, that the great mistake—Hitherto committed in elementary schools had been that more attention had been paid to loading the memory than to cultivating and exercising the mental faculties of the children. I have witnessed," he added, "an examination, the whole and sole subject of which consisted of the geography of places, and the family pedigree of persons mentioned in the Old Testament. For all useful or industrial purposes the children might as well have got by heart the topography of China, or the dynasties of Abyssinia.For his own part he (Sir John Lubbock) had no wish to lengthen the hours of study in elementary schools. He had taught a good deal in them himself, and the hours seemed quite long enough. Indeed, the fault of their system seemed to be that they loaded the brain instead of educating the mind; they taxed the memory instead of cultivating the intellect; 112 and, in fact, had too much instruction and too little education. They wearied children by the mechanical art of writing, by the interminable intricacies of spelling; they oppressed them by dates, by lists of kings and places which conveyed no definite ideas to their minds, and had no apparent relation to their daily wants and occupations. Thus they defeated their own object, rendering education wearisome; and, far from wishing to continue their studies through life, children so treated were only too happy when the time came for leaving school. If he were told that there was not time to teach all these things, he should reply that the less time, the more reason for making the lessons as interesting as possible, so as to give the children an inclination to continue their studies after they left school. In his opinion it was even more important that children should like their lessons than that they should learn them; so that in that way they might acquire a wish to teach themselves afterwards. They should trust more than they did to the instincts of children, and try to interest them in their school work. A child who left school at 14, knowing much, but hating his lessons, would at 20 have forgotten almost all he ever learnt; while another who at 14 had learnt little, but had acquired a thirst for knowledge, would by the time he was 20 have taught himself more than the other ever knew. Children by nature were eager for information. They were always putting questions. That feeling they should encourage, for the education which was most attractive would also be most useful to them. It would be both very interesting and most useful to them to learn something about the common objects which they saw in every lane, street, or field; about the names and habits of their native animals and plants, about the nature and properties of air and water; the causes of day and night, of summer and winter, and of the various ordinary phenomena by which they were surrounded. In short, they should be trained to observe and to think, and in that way there would be opened out to them a source of the purest enjoyment and occupation for leisure hours: to use an old phrase, they would thus make the man the better workman, and the workman the better man. He had endeavoured to show—firstly, that his Resolution 113 solution expressed the opinion of their two largest scientific associations, of their principal School Board, and of a Committee expressly appointed by that House itself to investigate the subject: secondly, that they would effect no great improvement in their elementary schools while they neglected those important branches of human knowledge; that, far from interfering with reading, writing, and arithmetic, those subjects would actually benefit by the introduction of others: and, lastly, that the encouragement apparently afforded by the New Code to the so-called extra subjects was in reality delusive and unreal; and under those circumstances he earnestly hoped that the House and Her Majesty's Government would assent to the Resolution which he now had the honour to move.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
, in seconding the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock), said, he must disclaim any idea of underrating the value of the educational measure of last year, which was the first serious attempt to deal with one of the greatest and most important questions that House had ever taken into consideration. The more, however, he reflected on that measure, and examined its working, the more he was satisfied that, excellent as it was, it was partial and incomplete. The reason was, that in this country their measures were always tentative; they took their steps by careful measurement, and ascertained beforehand what they were about to do. They had formed school boards that were full of zeal and activity, and were about to deal with education in a manner very different from that in which it had been dealt with hitherto. But they could not believe that the measure under which those school boards were formed in the Metropolis and our large manufacturing towns was perfect, so long as in the very suburbs of our large towns the local authorities, on the plea of keeping down the rates, were permitted to determine that there should be no compulsory attendance at school, and the education of children was left in the hands of parents who had no appreciation of the value and importance of education. Nothing could be more humiliating than the protracted discussion which was held in that House yesterday as to the necessity of teaching electors to mark their cross against the name of the candidate for 114 whom they might be disposed to register their votes; and he was satisfied that the great danger lay in the fact that there was a feeling in this country that the education question was settled — that they had done all that was needful for education. What they wanted in this country was not only a great extension of education, but a vast improvement in the quality of education. Their ideas of education were too low. If the working classes got possession of the throe R's—if they could read and write fairly, and knew the first four simple rules of arithmetic—they thought they had done quite sufficient to help them on their way in the world. There could be no greater mistake than that, for half-education itself was a most dangerous thing, and their institutions could only be defended by making their people intelligent and appreciative. Education should be brought to bear upon the questions that arose between capital and labour. He could not believe that if children were taught at school something of the elements of political economy, they would continue to have those contests between capital and labour that occasionally desolated their manufacturing centres. He agreed with Mr. Cobden that they should be taught something of the political geography of their country, and of its relations with their glorious colonies, and then in agricultural districts labourers would no longer be content to rot on 8s. a week. A week or two ago he was in a parish in the West where wages were only 8s. or 9s. a-week, and that could only continue whilst the labourers were totally uneducated. They might as well tell labourers in that district that labour was scarce at the North Pole as that it was fetching a higher price in the North of England. It seemed also to him that education had a great bearing upon their institutions and their politics. The English working man, when a thing was brought fairly before him, was a just man, but it was almost impossible for him to judge the value of money or his own interests. A great outcry had been raised in this country about the dowry of a Princess. £6,000 a-year, and £30,000 paid down, seemed an enormous sum to an English workman who was in receipt of his 30s. a-week; but that was only because he had no capacity for making comparisons; had no idea of the vast resources of the 115 country; and had no conception of its vast expenditure. If the great masses of the working classes were to be made loyal to the institutions under which they lived, they must give them more intelligence. They ought not to be content with English education until it was as good as that of any other country in the world. Then, again, they must not lose sight of the fact that employers as well as workmen were ignorant. They had no knowledge of the laws which, governed the relations of capital and labour, and the result was a want of that fair judgment which ought to prevail on questions of that kind. He knew he should be told that it was not their intention that the British child should be placed in a less advantageous position than that of other children. He, however, regretted to say that their Revised Code discouraged all those extra subjects which he contended it was essential for their children to be instructed in. The British and Foreign School Society sent a copy of his hon. Friend's (Sir John Lubbock's) Resolution to all their schoolmasters in the country, and in about 100 answers which he had seen, he found almost all the writers saying that the Revised Code discouraged the extra subjects. It was not to be expected that the schoolmasters would take upon themselves to teach those extra subjects when they knew that they would receive no compensation for that additional trouble. What he simply asked was, that the education of English children should be as good, as useful, and as thorough as the education given to the citizens of any other country in the world. He had spent about three months at the close of last Session in America, and was much struck by the excellence of the schools there, although he should not take their system of education as the highest standard that could be given. He would, however, unhesitatingly say that the system of education in America was as far above that of England as the education in Germany was above that of America. Some of the details of the system of education in America were, however, he thought, far above any other country in the world, and were such as to render the schools most attractive to the children, and the associations connected with them most charming to their recollections in after life. Now he believed there was no thoroughly 116 good elementary school in this country. ["Oh, oh!"] That, no doubt, was an extreme statement to make. He did, not, however, mean to say that the schoolmasters were not good; he meant to say that they had not that combination or arrangement which was so necessary in the constitution of an elementary school. They had not, he believed, in any of their schools that thoroughly good arrangement which they could have if they combined the American school-building with the German system of teaching. The designs emanating from the head of the Board of Works for schools were as bad as they could be. They had schools in which all classes, from the highest to the lowest, were taught in the same room. ["No, no!"] He knew that in some of them there were portions of the room divided off by curtains; but they had not a system of class rooms or class teachers. Now, in every school which he had visited in Boston there was one class room for every 50 children, with a master and a mistress for each class. Every child had a comfortable chair, by which his back was supported, and a desk before him, quite different from the knife-board on which their children were forced to sit, with their shoulders contracted and their spines curved; the whole arrangement showing a wonderful economy of the system of teaching. He maintained it was a matter of the first importance in the education of children that their bodies should be at case when they were studying, and he begged to draw the attention of hon. Members to the admirable suite of school furniture in the Swedish department of the International Exhibition. Germany, although possessed of the highest standard of education, had not, however, acquired the same excellence in school-building as America. It might be asked what was the result of the school system of Boston? From a Report of the Committee upon Accounts who managed the schools in that city, it appeared that the estimated expenditure upon education for the year 1870–1 was $1,693,000, or for 35,000 children, in a population of 240,000, as nearly as possible £300,000, large sums being voted for music, drawing, and other accomplishments. The number of children in Boston, as before stated, was 35,000, and the number in the higher schools was 18,058, the average daily 117 attendance being 93.5 per cent of that number. Little black children sat side by side with the white children, and learnt algebra and mathematics. He would compare this state of things with that which existed in this country. Out of the 1,700,000 children in the English and Welsh primary schools, only 24,000 were able last year to pass the VIth Standard, which consisted in reading a short ordinary newspaper paragraph, writing a few simple lines from slow dictation, and doing a sum in bills of parcels. He complained that their standards were all too low as compared with those of Switzerland and Germany. The beneficial result of adopting a high standard of education had been exemplified in Switzerland, because whereas 40 years ago the chief dependence of the inhabitants of that country was upon being employed in mercenary war, the Swiss merchants of the present day, who had all been educated in their ordinary schools, conducted the principal business of the French people. The Prussians had been described, in a despatch written from Berlin to the Emperor Napoleon, as the most highly educated in the world, and as forming a strong, earnest, and intelligent nation, endowed with every social virtue as well as patriotism. Well, the rapid progress made by Germany was mainly the result of the system of education taught in that country, for the system of education taught in North Germany embraced the extra subjects referred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone. It was the manner in which the extra subjects were taught to the children in Germany that enabled every German to carry his fortune in his hand. As a confirmation of that, he believed that somewhere about 1,000,000 of Germans had settled in this country during the last 15 years, and that hardly one of them was dependent upon workhouse relief. He must say, in conclusion, that as long as their people were kept in ignorance they would have a difficulty in settling social questions, and questions of capital and labour, and they would have wages eked out by poor relief in this country. Their ideas of the education which ought to be given to the working classes were altogether too low to make them useful to themselves, or appreciative of the advantages which this country and the colonies offered to 118 them, and he did trust that something would be done to give them a knowledge of the subjects to which his hon. Friend had directed the attention of the House. He trusted his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council would do something in the direction of the Motion.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is desirable to modify the New Code of Regulations issued by the Committee of the Privy Council, in such a manner as to give more encouragement to the teaching of history, geography, elementary social economy, and the other so called extra subjects, in the Elementary Schools of the Country,"—(Sir John Lubbock,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that owing to his late occupation, he was not so well prepared to discuss the subject before the House as he could wish; but he would, however, admit that it was quite refreshing to take even ever so small a share in it. Before he entered upon the Motion, and the two eloquent speeches made in support of it, he must briefly notice two by-subjects: First, with regard to books, the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) had amused them with quotations from some of the books used by some of the educational societies, and he dared say in some of the elementary schools. Now, he always doubted whether it was fair to lay hold of special extracts without their seeing the context; but, certainly, from what the hon. Member had read, the extracts appeared to be open to objection. The Educational Department, however, were not responsible for any books. It might, perhaps, be said, why did they not issue books? But the fact was, they had come to the conclusion years ago, after inquiry, that it was not their business to find books, or to attempt to stereotype the education given. What they relied on chiefly was the examinations. If the results of the teaching were bad, the examiners would find it out, and in that way the evil would be reached, and the books would be changed. That might seem a roundabout mode of managing the matter, but it was almost the only effectual one 119 they could adopt. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had also found fault with the school-buildings of that country as compared with those of America; but he must know the American schools better than he did the English. It was a very rare thing now in this country to have no class-rooms and for the infants not to be separate from the adults. That was a matter which the Department cultivated to the utmost of its power. It was not quite fair to compare the large school-rooms in such a city as Boston, where almost for a century they had been attending to education, and where they graduated their schools with the schools spread over this country. [Mr. MUNDELLA: They had just as good schools in the villages of Massachusetts.] He thought that would depend on the size of the villages. They would not in America have two or three rooms where there were only about 50 children, any more than they did in this country. But he did not deny that many of the schools in America were better than theirs, as they certainly ought to be, considering the enormous sums spent upon them, and the length of time that education had been regarded as the business of the State. Yet, while he allowed the great success of the Americans, he could not help thinking that some of our good elementary schools were not so inferior to theirs. The Report of the Bishop of Manchester—an impartial witness—showed that our best elementary teaching, which had been the most encouraged by the State, and which could be looked upon as anything like our ideal teaching, would very fairly bear comparison with the average teaching in the American elementary schools. For himself, he confessed that he envied the way in which the hon. Member for Maidstone was able to view the whole question. It was delightful to have one's theories and aspirations, and to say that they ought to be carried out; but if the hon. Member were in his (Mr. Forster's) office for a few weeks, he would probably find the task was not so easy an one when they had the hard facts of the ignorance of the people to deal with. Not, indeed, that they ought to be contented with the state of things which they had now reached. The hon. Member for Sheffield seemed to think it possible the Government might feel that they had already 120 attained their ideal, and would not want to go any higher; but no man in that House, much less in the Education Department, would hold that notion for a moment. They knew that they were just beginning, and that to rest satisfied with what they had arrived at would almost be downright treason to the great work they had to perform, and to the interests of the extensive class they were trying to amend. But he could not accept the present Motion, because the hon. Member was judging their plans before he had any means of finding out what they would effect, and because it would be unwise and unfair to alter the scheme of the Education Department before they had any opportunity of discovering how it was really working. No doubt England would be in a safer position if every child in it were taught the sound principles of social and political economy. He would not go so far as to say, with the hon. Member for Maidstone, that society must go to pieces without such a general knowledge of social science, because society here had long held together without very much of that knowledge; but, certainly, society would be safer if the poor, as well as the rich—and he might even say if hon. Members of that House—all thoroughly understood the principles of social and political economy. But while they aimed at a higher standard they must not be discouraged and disheartened because they had not realized it. In Germany, and perhaps also in some parts of France, they might be in advance of us in those matters; but, whatever might be the teaching of those countries on those subjects, it did not prevent the existence of extraordinary ideas in regard to social questions. He imagined that the Communists of Paris, for example, with all their strange notions, were still tolerably well educated for their station; and he did not suppose that those who supported them would compare disadvantageously, not to say with England only, but also with America. The object of his Department was to get as much education into the heads of little children as was possible, and to teach them as much of the principles of social economy, and of geography, and the history of their own country as they could find time to learn. Nor was the teaching now given them utterly dry, but in many of the schools 121 much of it was of a lively character; a good deal of information was imparted to them about the meaning of words and of things in a way which often astonished him, and made him think that the children of the poor were not placed at so great a disadvantage as might be supposed with children of the same age belonging to the classes above them, but were perhaps, in some respects, even better taught than they. The hon. Member did not seem to him thoroughly to bear in mind the absolute necessity of laying the ground work by instruction in reading, writing, and ciphering. It was, however, useless attempting to teach geography and political economy until such a foundation had been laid, and that foundation he was prepared to maintain could only be successfully laid while the children were very young. Many children went to the schools without any knowledge of reading whatever, and it was dull work driving that knowledge into them, but it must be done. It would be giving them but half an education, and a very poor half, if they tried to teach those extra subjects before the children had got hold of reading and writing. They were not, however, to be content with teaching them the "three R's," but as soon as they had acquired these, they must seek to send both the boys and the girls out with some knowledge of their duties as citizens, of the great facts of life, and of the history of their country and its position in the world. He looked forward himself with hope to that being done, although he thought the hon. Member was rather too pressing and too exigent, if he thought they could immediately accomplish it, and was rather forgetful of the ignorance they had to grapple with. He now came to the practical purport of the Motion, which was that they ought to have a modification of the New Code before they had time to try it. When he first submitted that Code to the House, he had a very difficult task to perform, because he had to fulfil the promise he had previously made that an increased grant should be given, and given in a way that was likely to do most good. The hon. Member thought the increased grant was of no use as regarded the extra subjects, because there was no stimulus to any of the schools to earn the 15s. But if he reckoned up the bill for the year, he 122 would find that the case was different. The grant they gave for elementary subjects, and for extra subjects together, was so arranged that in the general run of schools throughout the country they were not earning more than 12s. 6d. Now, they could earn 15s. if the children generally learnt the extra subjects. Consequently there was at least 2s. 6d. given as a stimulus. His experience led him to believe that that year at least a strong impetus would be given to the immense majority of schools to earn the extra sums; and possibly it would be found the whole standard of education was higher than was supposed. If so, it would be proper to give a larger sum to the higher branches of education, a proceeding which at present he was convinced would be unsafe. All would agree that it would not be wise to depart from the provision that one-half the sum for educating children should be provided out of local sources, and perhaps the cost of education might increase. The Motion of the hon. Member was, on the whole, in accordance with the principle of action adopted by the Government, but it would not be wise to adopt it at that point, considering how recently the Elementary Education Act had come into force. It would be unfair and unreasonable to expect an alteration in a system that had scarcely been in force for five months. He believed the right course had been adopted in discarding the idea that all they had to do was to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. The principle he laid down was that they should give the greatest amount of education they could to the children during the time they remained at school. The Government was seeking to get as much for its money as possible; and it was his daily endeavour to string up the standard of education, though, at the same time, that must not be done without securing that the children were thoroughly well grounded in the elementary branches. Much of this must be left to the school boards, and he was delighted to see the London School Board had set itself a high standard. It was true their work was still before them, but if they did not achieve the whole of their plan, they would not be much to blame. The attempt they were making was worthy of all praise, though he feared they would experience no slight difficulties in dealing 123 with the mass of ignorance existing within the Metropolis.
§ DR. LYON PLAYFAIR
said, he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) had raised his question opportunely, as they were entering upon a new system of national education for England, and considering that they must soon pass in review the systems which prevailed in Scotland and Ireland. As regarded Scotland, indeed, the failure of one Education Bill after another in that House mainly depended upon the want of faith of the Scotch people in the intentions of Government regarding the character of elementary education in schools. Higher education, engrafted on elementary schools, was an article of faith with Scotchmen, and they feared the deterioration of their schools under the influence of the Privy Council system; and that fear lay at the whole root of the opposition which sprang up in Scotland to Government measures of education. He thought that jealousy would have been abated by the introduction of grants for extra subjects in the last edition of the Revised Code; but it was soon seen that the Code contained conditions which rendered those grants more nominal than real. The system of payment by results had its merits and its defects. The latter consisted in the natural tendency to win the payment in the easiest way possible. If they could win the maximum sum by attendances of pupils, and by the A B C of learning, what inducement was held out for the study of higher subjects? The first three steps of a ladder could be climbed by everyone without the weakest head being made giddy in the ascent; the upper steps required more encouragement and head to surmount. The Revised Code, for the first time, put new steps into the ladder, but it was indifferent whether anyone ascended them or not; at all events, it made no condition that they should be mounted. Here, then, came the kernel of the whole question. Should primary schools be confined to the A B C of learning, and should the State attempt no more as its part of the duty? Should the Education Department treat scholars as the Poor Law Board treated paupers, and dole out education in the same parsimonious way as the latter doled out State relief? That would be to confuse a productive purpose 124 of the State with a totally unproductive duty. Yet it could not be denied that both in England and in Ireland that lower view of elementary schools had its ardent supporters. Perhaps the two views of the objects of elementary education found their most practical expression in the sentiments of Cardinal Cullen on the one hand, and of the London School Board on the other. That eminent Prelate, in his evidence before the Irish Education Commission, said he would confine elementary schools to the three R's, to religion, and to the history of the Scriptures and of the Church.Too high an education," said his Eminence, "will make the poor oftentimes discontented, and will unsuit them from following the plough, or from using the spade, or from hammering iron or building walls.The Cardinal had no idea of having higher subjects in a school, in order, as he expressed it, "to cultivate the talent of a miserable minority." He quoted the opinions of that distinguished Prelate, not only because they had great force in one division of that kingdom, but because they fairly represented the views of many persons in England. The scheme of the London School Board gave expression to the opposite views. It included as essential subjects those which were referred to in the Motion of his hon. Friend, and it strongly recommended the very essence and principle of the Endowed Schools Act (which nevertheless were strangely ignored on a recent occasion in "another place"), that it was of greatimportance to the efficiency of popular education that means should be provided by which scholars of more than average merit should be enabled to pass from elementary into secondary schools.So that the London School Board actually thought it was worth while to look after the "miserable minority" of talent; for Cardinal Cullen was right in saying that talent was always in a minority, though he (Dr. Lyon Playfair) thought wrong in believing that it was not the interest of the State to increase the amount of its intellectual fund, of which he should like to see the country that ever had too much. Well, it was because such opposite notions prevailed of the character and object of national education that he thought his hon. Friend (Sir John Lubbook) was right in enabling 125 that House to give expression to its views, for the guidance of the Education Department. Confessedly, whether rightly or wrongly, England was far inferior to other countries in the facilities for higher education which it afforded to the working classes; yet she lavished much more of Imperial funds on this object than any other nation But what was the difference? In Continental States the Imperial duty was chiefly limited to inspection of lower instruction, and to the encouragemen of higher education. The cost of lower instruction was thrown mainly on the locality. It was considered a local duty, and not an Imperial achievement, to teach children their ABC, while the Imperial subsidies were devoted to making the A B C of the localities develop into something useful to the State. That would always be a difficulty in their way until it was thoroughly recognized. England, in the aggregate, in proportion to its population, spent much less on education than other countries of high rank in civilization, when their local rates were added to their Imperial taxation applied to this purpose; but they did with the latter what no other coun-country did — they spent it upon the A B C of learning, and then grudged every penny that was devoted to its higher purposes. In fact, they sowed the seed upon uncommonly stony places, never gave it any manure, and then were surprised to see the young plant wither away soon after it had sprouted; while other countries left it to the proprietors of the land to sow the seed, but they gave to it a liberal supply of manure, and the young plants grew up in vigour and health, to the feeding of the whole nation that followed that wiser policy. There was something to him inexpressibly melancholy in their educational doings. They went on, year after year, pouring treasure upon their schools, and every annual Report of the Committee of Council told them that only the lower sections of their very low standard were turned out in the great majority of cases, and that those soon vanished in the wear and tear of life; so that their population grew up as ignorant as if four-fifths of the national treasure, which they so freely expended on schools, were pitched into the sea that washed their insular kingdom. He was not speaking in metaphor, but in the 126 sober language of Inspectors, as recorded in their Blue Books; for the former told them that nothing under Standard IV. sufficed for permanent use in life; and the Reports of the Education Department stated that four-fifths of the children, at the ages when they left school, passed only in lower standards. Let him remind, the House of the melancholy fact, that they were even then in the midst of their long and weary discussions considering how they could enable voters to vote in secret who could not read the names of candidates on a printed paper put before them. And that was the result and the miserable outcome of more than a generation of State-aided education. Well, they had tried the low style of education recommended by Cardinal Cullen, and had a dismal failure both in Ireland and England; and it might be worth while to try the opposite system, which Scotland had so long pursued, and, as that country believed, with the result of making its population peaceful and prosperous. The Privy Council was likely to answer them by saying—"We have failed to introduce the lower standards of education among the people, and you weaken our efforts by asking for higher ones?" They denied that this would be the result. They did not wish any money to be paid for the higher subjects until the lower had been passed, and they asserted that the former infused a life and vigour into the whole school which the three R's never attained. Besides, the principle of compulsion, which had been admitted in the Education Act, however timidly and hesitatingly, had for its object to extend the lower standards, but would as certainly compel managers of schools to introduce higher subjects of instruction into them, as it would compel boys and girls to attend the schools; for it would be an unmitigated hardship to compel boys and girls to stay at school till 13, merely to learn what they could readily attain by eight years of age. They must, therefore, as a corollary of compulsion, introduce higher subjects into the school course. The Committee of Council no doubt saw that when they inserted extra subjects into the Code; and that all that that Resolution asked was, that the Code should be framed so as to carry out its object. He did not conceal from himself, or from the House, that they could not go on swelling their 127 educational Estimates without re-considering the whole principle on which their educational expenditure was conducted. It must be made more productive than it was. Before long there would be some one moving in that House a Resolution which could not possibly be in better words than that proposed by Lord Brougham in the House of Lords on the 4th May, 1835, and which was as applicable now as then. Its terms were—That the kind of education given in the greater number of schools now established for the poorer classes of the people is of a kind by no means sufficient for their instruction, being for the most part confined to reading, writing, and a little arithmetic; whereas, at no greater expense, and in the same time, the children might easily be instructed in the elements of the more useful branches of knowledge, and thereby trained to sober, industrious, prudent, and virtuous habits."—[3 Hansard,He would like to preach a sermon on that text if time were now available. Hon. Members should recollect the difference between the children of their class of life and those who attended the primary schools to which the State contributed. Both up to eight years of age learned the same elements; but their children acquired them as a beginning — with the working classes they got them as an end. What an equipment was that thin veneer of knowledge as an armour-plate for the battle of life. No wonder that the Inspectors told them that it were off as soon as they entered into the conflict. Two years ago the hope of educationalists was that a new era had begun for education in England, for they saw their endowed schools opened up to the higher education of the poor by the Act of 1869. Their hopes were based on the explanations and promises of his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council when he introduced that Bill, for he told them that the endowed and primary schools would be closely linked together; and let him (Dr. Lyon Playfair) remind him that the only links could be those higher subjects which they now discussed. Well, the House passed the Act on that understanding; but the first important scheme presented under it had been considered and rejected "elsewhere," not on its merits or defects, but on account of the very principle which lay at the bottom of the whole Act, and was its merit in their eyes. 128 That rendered it the more important that they should adopt the Resolution of his hon. Friend, for if the educational endowments of this country were not to be freely opened to the "miserable minority" of the talented poor, let them give them that higher instruction in the elementary schools that would enable them to know what was the purpose and object of the elements which they had learned, not for the purpose of flinging them away, like their worn-out boyish small-clothes, as soon as they began to win their daily bread, but to use for their advancement as intelligent beings in whatever position and occupation they might be placed.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
said, he thought the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) had done great service to the cause of education by the very admirable manner in which he had brought forward that subject. He (Sir Charles Adderley) had not intended to speak at all on the question, but he must say a very few words on one or two points. He thought the debate had gone far beyond the scope of the proposal itself. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had given them another of his eloquent harangues, depreciatory of all he found with reference to elementary education in his own country, and painting in glowing colours the superiority of such education in other countries which he had visited. When he listened to the hon. Member, he (Sir Charles Adderley) always felt at least a desire that the state of things he described should exist, but never any conviction that it did exist, except in the warm imagination which painted in glowing colours rather what he wished than what he saw or ever could see. The object of education was to qualify men mentally and morally to take their part in life in the situation in which they found themselves. He did not mean to say that the amount of knowledge communicated in elementary schools was as much as they could wish, but what was intended by money grants for education in England was not to provide, as in America, education for the whole community, but elementary education for the children of the labouring classes who were unable to provide it for themselves. What was attempted by public means was not only that very limited amount of education for the labouring 129 classes, but not the entire provision of that; but they only proposed to subsidize that which was provided either by denominational or other local exertions. The proposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone was that, in order to carry out what was the object of the Elementary Education Department of the State, it would be wiser to modify the last draft of the Minutes of Council, so that the grants given for the higher class of instruction, in history, geography, and social economy, should be larger in proportion to the grants for rudimentary instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic. At present 4s. was given for every pass in reading, 4s. for writing, and 4s. for arithmetic, and there was an additional 3s. for the higher class of subjects. The hon. Baronet thought it would be better to reduce the rudimentary class and increase the higher. It should, however, be borne in mind that that subsidy towards the cost of primary instruction was not meant to give a scheme of education, but only a minimum test of something being done, without which no subsidy would be given at all. The supplementary grant of 3s. was therefore an inducement not to be content with the minimum, but to attain a higher stage. Besides, it must not be forgotten that, together with that elementary basis, the Endowed Schools Commission were beginning to open a still higher prospect to such boys of the labouring classes as showed special proficiency of passing from those schools to middle-class schools, and even to Universities. It seemed, therefore, that if all were carried out the scheme was now perfect; all that was wanted was that it should be thoroughly understood and acted upon. He thought it quite right that the Education Department should not publish books; but a better class of books, especially on geography and natural history, were much required. Many of the books used at present were of the most faulty description—consisting of little more than unconnected fragmentary extracts, very good perhaps for teaching to read, but useless for anything like a consecutive treatment of any subject or progressive exercise of mind. The subject of social economy might be regarded as embracing domestic industrial knowledge, perhaps taken with natural history, and its application might offer a fair field for 130 inductive study and mental training for the few years of schooling which labourers' children could enjoy, and that suggested that industrial schools ought to be placed under the Education Department. That was what he had always maintained to be essential, and he understood the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Education Department last year to hold out some prospect of his being able to propose some measure for that purpose. He might be excused for not having fulfilled the engagement this year; but it was to be hoped the matter would not be lost sight of, and he should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could state that he still had the matter in his mind, and that he would introduce such an arrangement when he had the opportunity. All elementary schools, whether industrial or reformatory, if supported by public funds or out of the rates, ought to be under the Education Department, instead of being placed, some as matters of police, under the Home Office, and others, as matters of poor relief, under the Poor Law Board, others, not so exceptionally educational, under the Privy Council. If we were to have an Education Department worthy of the country it ought to have charge of all publicly-aided schools. Much as he felt indebted to the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone who had introduced the subject, he did not quite concur with all that seemed to be in that hon. Member's mind, and feared that there was a danger of their overlooking the necessarily limited scope of their elementary schools. If they attempted to make their elementary schools too high, there would be a danger that they would attract other classes than those for whom they were intended, and who could pay for themselves, and thus deprive the lower and poorer classes of the means of instruction specially intended for them.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
said, that in his opinion the complaint of the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) had not yet been met. That complaint was that while encouragement was supposed to be held out under the Revised Code for teaching extra subjects in good schools, no such encouragement was really given. In good schools (and only in good schools could these extra subjects be expected to be taught) the 15s. could be readily earned 131 without any attempt to teach these subjects, as was clear, according to the calculations of the hon. Baronet, which were beyond dispute. The root of the evil was in the training schools, in which, under the Revised Code, everything except a small modicum of instruction had been discouraged, and if the schoolmasters were not trained they could not be expected to teach the children those subjects which should be taught to them. The first step in education was to train the teachers well. It would be interesting to know whether any of the Inspectors recently appointed had been selected with reference to their knowledge of science, for, if common rumour was to be credited, like the ordinary run of University men, they had little acquaintance with it. There was no greater mistake than to suppose that elementary subjects must necessarily be taught first and extra subjects afterwards. Both could go together from a very early age, with the greatest advantage to each. So far from the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) having used the language of an enthusiast with reference to America and the Continent, he could bear witness that what the hon. Member said of the schools of Switzerland and Germany was literally true, and the facts showed that the education which had been described could be acquired by children of nine and ten simultaneously with their instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic. He wished that some hon. Members could witness a reading lesson in a Swiss elementary school. Many a time during the last three weeks he had wished himself listening to the reading in a Swiss or German school rather than to speeches delivered in that august Assembly. Of course, the school efficiency which they aimed at could be attained only by degrees, but it would never be done at all unless they made a beginning; and the first thing required was not so much a grant of money as encouragement to the training of teachers in the subjects they wished to see taught. In efficient schools, books were scarcely used at all, and the greater part of the instruction was given orally and by illustration on the black board; and that was what they should aim at, although he did not deny the use of good elementary books. As to its not being the business of the Department to issue 132 books, that was an open question; that which the Education Department declined to do was done in Ireland, where the National Board had issued elementary school books, some of which were acknowledged to be the best of their kind. For the improvement of elementary education he relied chiefly on the proper training of schoolmasters in their training schools. The subject would not be allowed to rest where it was; the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Education Department himself could not allow it to rest; and in its present position good service had been done by the hon. Member for Maidstone.
§ MR. RATHBONE
said, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would carry out the views of the hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock), and urge the Inspectors to give their attention to the intellectual improvement of the schools rather than to what might be termed the mechanical part of the teaching.
said, many hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that anything should be taught rather than reading, writing, and arithmetic. This was, at all events to him, an original view of the subject.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
said, he thought there was neither rhyme nor reason in their schools at the present time. Instead of the scholars working with the teachers they far too often worked against them, the result being that they soon forgot what they had been taught. The great object to be aimed at was the connection of the playground with the schoolroom, in order that the children might learn that there was a principle in and a reason for everything they beheld around them. They ought to know why a kite flew, why a balloon rose, what was the principle on which they played at marbles, why a top spun, and what made chimneys smoke. If they could get children to inquire into the natural objects surrounding them, they would have taken the first step towards creating a people with a scientific habit of mind. The trades and occupations of their working men ought to become a perpetual source of education to them; but at present they were placed at a great disadvantage in consequence of their want of elementary scientific knowledge. In the case of cabinetmakers there was a constant 133 waste of time on account of the workmen being deficient in scientific knowledge — on account of their not having acquired sufficient knowledge for planning their work, and not being able to work up to their plans. There was also a great want of scientific knowledge with respect to the health of towns. People generally did not understand the danger arising from living in small rooms with closed windows, and the benefit which would arise from their enjoyment of fresh air at the sea-side, neither had they sufficient scientific knowledge to enable them to defend themselves from the evils caused by adulteration of food. Working men desired that scientific education should be given in their schools, and such authorities as Professor Huxley, Professor Tyndall, and Mr. Norman Lockyer were in favour of the proposal, and had pointed out the advantages which would result from working men being able to observe with scientific minds that which came under their notice.
§ MR. BIRLEY
said, he thought that in regard to that important question they should not at that moment knock at the doors of the Privy Council Office, but should rather rely on the school boards and individual exertions in their own neighbourhoods for improvement of the system. He agreed with the hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Dr. Lyon Playfair) that they ought to promote secondary schools, to give higher education to promising boys in the primary schools; but, on the other hand, he did not believe that the efforts of the last 30 years had been so fruitless as had been suggested. Admitting that they were behind the United States and Switzerland and Saxony—although as foreigners they might be apt to overrate the attainments of children educated on the Continent — it must be remembered that they had made wonderful progress in engineering works. The improvements in engineering made in Lancashire and Yorkshire, in Scotland, and in Warwickshire, were the admiration of the Continent; and in his county it would be found that there was a good deal of scientific knowledge on these subjects. He trusted every effort would be made by hon. Members, both in their private and legislative capacities, to raise the general educational level of the country.
§ MR. C. REED
said, he hoped that nothing that had been said would discourage his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) with regard to the object of the Motion. He could answer for it that the London School Board were anxious that prominence should be given to those extra subjects; and, although the experiment of introducing them might be attended with many difficulties, and required care and prudence, yet he hoped that a great stimulus would have been afforded by that discussion. He was satisfied that it was the opinion of the country that extra subjects ought to receive a considerable amount of attention, and if the Education Department would only make it clear that it meant to encourage attention to them, that would give a tone to education generally.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.