§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
, in rising to move—That it would be desirable to modify the Code of Education by adding Elementary Natural Science to the subjects mentioned in Article 19, c. 1,said, that by natural science he did not mean anything difficult or abstruse, but simple explanations of the ordinary phenomena of nature, and of the world in which they lived. According to the provisions of the clause just referred to, the sum of 4s. per scholar was granted if the classes from which the children were examined in Standards II. to VI. passed a creditable examination in any of the following subjects:—namely, grammar, history, elementary geography, and plain needlework. It was evident, in these circumstances, that no other subjects could practically or would be taught to any extent in elementary schools. In the whole of England and Wales, according to last year's Report, out of 3,100,000 children in their elementary schools, history, geography, and grammar formed part of the examination of more than 1,000,000. This was in itself, no doubt, a matter of congratulation and a very considerable improvement. Nevertheless, it was obvious that under the existing regulations, all other subjects were very much discouraged. To prescribe any exact course of education to be followed in all elementary schools, independent of circumstances, was a mistake. Having too long left education entirely unregulated, they had now gone to the other extreme, and taken it almost entirely out of the hands of local bodies, the control being practically centred in Whitehall. Under this and other clauses, the Code of education laid down such minute rules as to what was to be taught that school committees and even schoolmasters had little voice in the matter. The best men would gradually cease to serve on School Boards if they were deprived of any voice as to the education to be given. It must be a mistake to prescribe an exact canon of education until we were quite sure what system was the best; but on this point the highest authorities were much divided. The Education Department practically excluded science. But the Committee of 778 this House, which sat in 1868, under the presidency of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson), strongly recommended that "elementary instruction in the phenomena of nature should be given in elementary schools." Again, the Royal Commission presided over by the Duke of Devonshire reported that in their opinion instruction in the rudiments of physical science should form a recognized part of the school course. He could quote numerous high authorities in support of the same opinion, but was reluctant to occupy the time of the House. Dean Dawes, for instance, and Mr. Henslow, who founded two of the most excellent of village schools, attributed much of their success to the introduction of elementary science. He (Sir John Lubbock) did not ask for anything difficult or abstruse, or beyond the power of a child's comprehension; but simply desired that they should be instructed in the simple every day phenomena of nature, such as the causes of day and night, heat and cold, summer and winter, the reason why the moon had phases, and not the other heavenly bodies; the difference between planets and stars, the causes of eclipses and tides, the composition and ordinary properties of air and water, and the characteristics of soils; in chalk districts, dwelling especially on chalk, in coal countries, on coal; the simple forces, the lever, pulley, wheel, screw, and wedge; the ordinary rules which regulate health; to which he should also like to add some knowledge of the commoner objects by which children were surrounded. These matters should be treated in a very simple and easy manner, and would become within the comprehension of children extremely interesting to them. Their education was at present entirely bookish, and the contact with things, with actual objects, would prove extremely beneficial. He could prove to them by the most abundant testimony from many of their best schoolmasters and of their most able school inspectors, and by the actual cases of schools in which the experiment had been tried, that science properly taught was most instructive and delightful to children. He was not proposing to make science obligatory; he only wished that an option should be given to school authorities: that a knowledge of the elementary facts of nature should in our elementary schools be 779 put on the same footing as history, geography, and grammar. Last year, new conditions and limitations were, in the Scotch Code, attached to the teaching of science subjects, not because they were too difficult, but on the express ground that they were learnt by the children too easily and quickly. This change of front seemed to be founded on the Report of the Board of Education for Scotland. Hitherto, science had been discouraged on the ground that it was too difficult. In Scotland, nevertheless, it had proved so interesting to the children, that it began to force its way into the schools, and the Board at once took alarm, and recommended new conditions unfortunately adopted by the Department, in order to discourage it. If children learnt the amount prescribed so easily, surely the proper course was to demand a little more? Mr. Matthew Arnold, whom he had hitherto supposed to be of a different opinion, had, in his last Report, expressed himself as follows:—I should like to see what the Germans call naturkund knowledge of the facts and laws of nature added as a class subject to grammar, geography, and English history. I would require the teaching of all four as class subjects in every elementary school to all scholars above the Third Standard, girls as well as boys. For the Second and Third Standards I would have grammar as at present, and, in addition to grammar, the element of nature kund.Perhaps Mr. Arnold's proposal might be at present impossible, because their teachers had not yet received the necessary training; but the course now proposed would prepare the way for its adoption eventually. Some high authorities were of opinion that history and grammar, as taught in their elementary schools, were by no means suited to occupy the exclusive position now assigned to them. Of history, what was taught in elementary schools was little more than lists of dates, and kings, and wars; and it might be a serious misfortune that they accustomed their children to regard war as almost a normal state. As to grammar, the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), in a speech made in connection with an educational institution, said—If there is any lad here who is engaged in learning grammar, I will undertake to say that he will say it is the very driest and most unpleasant study that any person ever put himself to. When I was at school, which is a long time 780 ago, we learnt a grammar written by Lindley Murray. Lindley Murray's grammar had a great reputation then, and, for anything I know, has yet; but if it has, I pity the lads that have to learn it—there are no end of rules and no end of examples, rules within rules, and exceptions of all kinds; and I have now a feeling of utter confusion in my mind in endeavouring to understand all the rules of Lindley Murray's grammar. My opinion is that it is very difficult for any person who reads well-written books, and understands them, not to acquire a very competent knowledge of Grammar.Göethe, also, he might mention in passing, had expressed a very similar feeling. Surely such opinions, from such authorities, were entitled to very great weight? He did not, however, ask that grammar should be excluded. He merely wished that it should not be put in such a position as to exclude other subjects. He only asked that school authorities should be allowed the option. Moreover, even supposing that the Amendment he had ventured to move was adopted, and that a school elected to give a certain amount of instruction in natural knowledge, this need not by any means exclude any of the existing subjects, because some might be taken up for one part of the school course, some for another. But even supposing that all educational authorities were agreed upon an ideal system, still to impose one identical course on all schools alike would even then be undesirable. As regarded the upper Standards, at any rate, some consideration should be given to locality, and the education given in a village school would naturally differ, in some respects, from that given in a school situated in a great city. Was it not advisable that some reference should be made in some schools to the staple industry of the district? This could be done, and made interesting to the children, without being in the nature of technical instruction. In their great mining districts, useful knowledge might be imparted which would be found valuable in after life. It was not unreasonable to suppose that if their coal miners had been fully impressed in their youth with the nature of fire-damp, many of the disastrous explosions so destructive to human life would have been avoided. The idiosyncrasies of the masters also ought to be considered, one man being peculiarly fitted to give instruction in a particular subject, while another was better qualified to deal with a different branch. Surely, then, to lay down such 781 minute rules in the Code was a great mistake? It was, moreover, remarkable that the Government, to a certain extent, admitted this, because they did not impose on Scotland or on Ireland the same system as on England. The Scotch people were continually objecting to their system of education being reduced to what they described as the "low level" of England; but he should like to know why English boys and girls should not be taught the same subjects as children in Scotland? He did not know whether he should be told it was not desirable to modify the Code again; but even if we admitted that it would not be desirable to adopt any Resolution which would impose additional obligations or requirements on schools, the objection did not apply to such an alteration as that now proposed. He asked nothing new of the schools, of the Education Department, or, indeed, of anyone. His Resolution was entirely permissive in its character. If school committees did not notice the change, or did not care to avail themselves of it, no harm would be done. They would only give them an option, which they might use or not, as they thought best. Their eloquent countryman, Mr. Ruskin, had truly said that—The whole force of education, until very lately, has been directed in every possible way to the destruction of the love of nature. The only knowledge which has been deemed essential among us is that of words, and next after it of the abstract sciences, while every liking shown by children for simple natural objects has been either violently checked or else scrupulously limited to hours of play, so that it has really been impossible for any child earnestly to study the works of God, but against its conscience; and the love of nature has become inherently the characteristic of truants and idlers.Hitherto he had urged this Resolution on educational grounds; but he should like to say a few words on another aspect of the question. There was always, in every country, a tendency to, and a danger of, centralization. The advantages of each step in this direction were obvious; the dangers, perhaps, all the more perilous, because they were below the surface. Their municipal institutions were a great bulwark of their Parliamentary liberties; local self-government was an almost necessary training for Imperial self-government. From this point of view, also, it seemed very important that the power of local 782 authorities should not be unnecessarily curtailed. He had attempted to show that the Code in its present form laid down unnecessarily minute rules for the conduct of schools, that one branch of human knowledge was practically excluded, that the highest educational authorities were still divided in opinion as to the best course to be pursued, that the Amendment now proposed was permissive in its character, and that it simply gave to local authorities a power which, until recently, they possessed, and which there was no allegation that they in any way abused. The introduction of science would make their lessons more interesting to the children—what Ruskin said of ornament applied equally, perhaps more, to education—The right question to ask is simply this—Was it done with enjoyment, was the workman happy while he was about it? So he would say of education—Was the child happy while he was about it?He would appeal to Her Majesty's Government not to hamper education unnecessarily, or to exclude one great branch of human knowledge from their elementary schools. Education was not a mere matter of schools, forms, and registers; it was not enough to force children into the schools; they must induce them to learn when they were there. He believed that the knowledge which their children would acquire by the introduction of elementary science would not only be useful in itself, but that it would render their lessons more interesting, and, therefore, make them more instructive. In that belief, he commended his Amendment to the favourable consideration of the House.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it would be desirable to modify the Code of Education by adding Elementary Natural Science to the subjects mentioned in Article 19, c. 1,"—(Sir John Lubbock)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
SIR UGHTRED KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
said, that he had understood that his hon. Friend (Sir John Lubbock) intended to make the same proposal this year which he had in former years 783 submitted to the House—namely, that the so-called extra subjects, or specific subjects of the Code should be increased in number by the addition of a larger proportion of scientific subjects. Although he had a general sympathy with the hon. Baronet's object, he had not felt sure that that proposal had been the best mode of promoting this object; and he had, therefore, not been strongly in favour of it. He preferred the plan advocated by Mr. Matthew Arnold, in his Report, as Inspector of Schools, for 1876, and he was glad to find his hon. Friend now adopting that plan, and proposing in his Motion to add some elementary science, not to the extra subjects in the 4th Schedule of the Code, but to the grammar, geography, and history, taught as class subjects in the higher Standards under Article 19, C. i, of the Code. His hon. Friend had referred to Mr. Matthew Arnold's Report. He (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) would state a little more completely to the House what were Mr. Arnold's recommendations. He began by rejoicing over the introduction of the class subjects, which had done away with the notion that everything beyond certain minima of reading, writing, and arithmetic, was an "extra subject." He went on to say a special word in favour of grammar, as an exercise of a child's wits, whereas much of his other instruction was but an exercise of memory, pointing out that grammar was always included, even in French elementary education. He (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) had been sorry to see a speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), depreciating grammar as a subject of elementary instruction. Now, grammar was one of the few subjects at present taught that would give something like a scientific training to a child's mind. But everything, of course, depended on the manner in which grammar was taught. Hon. Members possibly thought, having learned little or no English grammar themselves, that it need not be taught to a child at an elementary school. But they must not forget that they had all learned Latin and Greek grammar, and thus had acquired the principles of the science of language. Mr. Arnold went on to advocate class-teaching above the Third Standard, as distinguished from preparation 784 for certain Standards of Examination, and to suggest that such class-teaching should include not only grammar, geography, and English history, but also what the Germans call naturkunde—elementary knowledge of the facts and laws of nature. Those were the proposals which he (Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth) desired to support. During the past year he had studied the system of an elementary school in a small town in Germany. He found that there was no practical difficulty in teaching these naturkunde to every child above a certain age. Each child was supplied with a reading book, in which all that it was deemed necessary to teach the child in history, geography, natural history, and natural philosophy, was contained. They received simple instruction as to the plants, animals, and minerals of the locality, and as to their uses, their cultivation or extraction, and so forth. The principal phenomena of nature were explained to them; they were taught something of such machines as the steam-engine, and fire-engine, and telegraph, and of common instruments—the thermometer, barometer, &c. He did not think that instruction of this kind could be pushed very far in their elementary schools; but the present proposal of his hon. Friend was the right one, and he had much pleasure in supporting his Motion.
§ MR. D. DAVIES
said, he was always in favour of education, and had done his utmost to promote it; but he feared the school boards were going a little too fast, and making the cause of education unpopular. As chairman of a school board, he found that there was a growing difficulty with the parents of the children, whom it was difficult to convince that all this education was necessary. Many parents in agricultural districts had an idea that if their children were taught in such subjects as elementary natural science they would never be any good for the farm. A very respectable farmer said to him the other day—"I pay £6 every year for the education of these boys, and here is one of them, 13 years of age, and the first thing he does is to take up a newspaper, and if I tell him to get on with his work, he snubs me by telling me he knows more than I do." The farmers objected to the very name elementary natural science, and he hoped whatever the Government 785 might do, they would not make such teaching compulsory. They were, he was afraid, going on too fast in that direction, and it would be better to allow the older generation to die off before they pushed education much further. He recommended, therefore, that they should proceed more slowly in this matter for the present. If there wore any boys in an elementary school who desired to obtain a better education, let it be provided for them by voluntary subscriptions and in other schools, and not in the board schools and at the expense of the rates.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
agreed that scientific instruction should form part of the elementary education in their schools, and that it could be taught without going into anything of an abstruse nature. Though the Inspectors of schools did their work thoroughly and well, their University training usually prevented them from having much knowledge of natural science, and he wished for the appointment of competent Examiners as well as of competent teachers. The great number of alterations made in the Code had been mentioned in the debate, and had rendered it almost impossible for the noble Lord to object to one more, which, if it resulted even in the reconstruction of the Code, would do no great harm. Before the House consented to the first Vote in the Estimates, the noble Lord ought to tell them how Scotland would be placed after the present system, which came to an end in a few weeks, had disappeared.
§ MR. RAMSAY
remarked, that the speech of the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. D. Davies) afforded an illustration of the fact that the people generally, who were interested in the education of the young, approved of the progress made in the schools; while there were many who objected to that progress, because the young people made a show of their education at times. He could only say if that was the case, there must be a great defect in the education of people who made such objections, for it was not often that anyone could say that a person was over-educated. However highly a person might be educated, it did not incapacitate him for manual labour; and if the whole population of this country was educated highly, it would not benefit manufactures only, but also agriculture. There was no branch of industry which required the attention of scientific men 786 and the application of science more than agriculture. Knowledge was power, and if the people were raised by a higher education, the country would be largely benefited. But this question was dealt with in different parts of the country according to the sentiment of the population. An hon. Member had complained that a certain class of the people were opposed to the teaching of such subjects as the hon. Baronet proposed; but he would assure the House that the sentiment of the people in the North was different. The people in Scotland raised no such objections to children being taught those sciences, and the labouring poor were proud of the education of their children when they had capacity to distinguish themselves in the schools. And he was of opinion that it would be well to interest and educate children by means of lectures and addresses from the teachers, as it would fit them to proceed with the higher subjects in after years. In Scotland there was altogether a different sentiment in regard to this question than existed in England, and a different ideal was entertained as to what constituted a good education. In Scotland there was a considerable number of scientific institutions where specific subjects were inculcated, and in many of the schools there they taught mechanics chemistry, animal physiology, light and heat, physical geography, and botany. Any of those subjects, if taught in a popular way, were calculated to interest the young. ["No!"] An hon. Member said "No;" but he (Mr. Ramsay) had had considerable experience in schools, and that experience had led him to see that it very much depended upon whether the teacher was fitted to communicate such instruction to the young in such a manner as to enable them to benefit. With regard to Scotland, he would ask the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council if he would favour the Scotch Members by stating how and in what manner the education of Scotland was hereafter to be managed? He was not prepared to stand there to advocate that the action of the Board of Education in Scotland should be applied to England. On the contrary, his contention was that the system adopted in the respective countries should be duly considered by those who had the responsibility as to what results 787 were obtained, and whether those results were such as each country might expect in return for the large sums of money paid out of the Imperial Treasury. But he wished the noble Lord to inform them what was to be the future Board to administer Scotch education. In the Education Act it was provided that, at the expiration of the powers and duties of the Board of Education, the whole of those powers and duties conferred by the Act of 1872 should devolve upon the Department. But he wished to say that they had no knowledge of what the Department was. The noble Viscount the President of the Board of Trade (Viscount Sandon) was unable to answer the question except by saying that they had never met. Now, he thought that a body who never met must be a body of a very peculiar description, and one which the people of Scotland could hardly be expected to look to with much deference or respect. He was informed, however, that it was too much to say that the Department never met, as there had been a meeting lately, when the Lord Advocate was present, and was appointed——
§ MR. SPEAKER
I would remind the hon. Member that the question of the constitution of the Board of Education of Scotland is not the subject before the House.
§ MR. RAMSAY
apologized to the House if he had made any irrelevant remarks. He simply wished to say that the administration of the Education Department came on as the first Vote on the Estimates down for to-night; and he considered it expedient, before the House was asked to vote any money, that some information on this point should be afforded to the House. That information, no doubt, they would get at a future stage; but he had thought it would be better that the Speaker should not leave the Chair, and that they should postpone the consideration of the matter until the noble Lord could give the information. He felt the matter to be one of considerable importance, but he did not make these remarks in any way antagonistic to the executive of the Department. He would take a subsequent opportunity of expressing his views, without trespassing further at the present time upon the attention of the House. He would say this, however, that while approving of the highest 788 possible education being given to all the population of the United Kingdom, he felt that the teaching of elementary natural science might be introduced with benefit. But until they could get the children generally to take advantage of education in the higher Standards of the Code, there was little to encourage him to look forward to the teaching of the subject proposed by the hon. Baronet.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) had so well stated the case in favour of his Motion that there was very little to be added to his arguments. Although, hitherto, he had himself felt considerable doubt in respect to that Motion, he confessed that he was now entirely inclined to support it. He had in previous years understood that the hon. Baronet wished to make the teaching of elementary natural science more or less compulsory in all schools. He did not think that they had yet got to that point. He sympathized a good deal with what the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. D. Davies) had said in reference to the prejudices they had to encounter; but those prejudices must not altogether prevent them from legislating where legislation was necessary or desirable; and he did not think they could afford to say they would not educate their children because the farmers were ignorant. The boy who snubbed his employer because he could read a bit out of a newspaper and his employer could not was hardly likely to be made more uppish by learning a little geography. The fault of such bad manners would probably arise not so much from what the boy had learnt as from what he had not learnt. But if they said all the children were to be taught elementary science, they would not, in the first place, get it done; and, secondly, they would frighten the ratepayers throughout the country. That, however, was not what the hon. Baronet asked for. As they had now come to the conclusion that, in order to obtain a certain part of the grant, the children in the higher Standards must pass a creditable examination in any of the following subjects:—grammar, history, geography, or plain needlework—all that the hon. Baronet asked was that elementary science should be put on a par with those subjects. There might be some 789 schools in which it was more desirable to teach elementary science than grammar, or history, or geography; and they ought to leave room for some choice on that point. He did not think he himself could pass an examination in even elementary science, and perhaps some other hon. Members might be in the same position. If so, they might be a little frightened by that proposal. For himself, however, he wished that he had been taught as much science as history and geography; and he did not think that as it would be arranged to be taught, it would be one whit more difficult to learn elementary science than to learn history or geography, and it would not be found so difficult as grammar. There might be parts of the country where it was desirable, if they went beyond reading, writing, and ciphering, that they should teach elementary science. Professor Huxley and other eminent scientific men had been considering how they could make the elementary facts of natural science easy to be acquired by children. His hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone asked them to take advantage of that. In some cases a master might be better able to teach elementary science than any of the other subjects, and why should he not have the option of doing it? There was no reason why that should not be put along with the other extra subjects. That would involve some alteration in the Standards, and the noble Lord could consult with those who were most competent to advise him as to how the thing could be best carried out. If the noble Lord did not at once accept the Motion, he hoped that he would not put it altogether aside, but would consider whether it might not be adopted at the next revision of the Code. In making that request, he was not suggesting that they should pester all the children's brains with more subjects. But he thought that, both as regarded the real knowledge it would give them, and as regarded their preparation for the callings in which many of them would have to earn their bread, it would be desirable to place the teaching of elementary science alongside of grammar, geography, and history.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, that the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone was, in substance, identical with those which he 790 had made on two previous occasions. The hon. Baronet had certainly succeeded in making a considerable number of converts to his proposals. The right hon. Gentleman who had spoken last had admitted that he was prepared, to a certain extent, to support them. The speech of the hon. Baronet was characterized by his usual ability; but it was one thing to make an able speech and to support it by a number of plausible arguments, and it was another thing for a Member of the Government to accept a proposal which he had the responsibility of seeing carried out. It appeared to him, from the limited experience he had had of the Department with which he was now connected, that there were very grave difficulties in the way of adopting the present Motion. If the suggestion of the hon. Baronet were adopted, the teachers on the one hand, would have great difficulty in determining what subjects they should teach, and the Inspectors, on the other hand, would not be certain in what subjects the children were to be examined. So long as the system of payment by results was continued, so long must there be a considerable amount of rigidity in order to insure uniformity in the subjects in which the children were examined. But it ought to be borne in mind, in dealing with this question, that all the alterations which had recently been made in the Code were alterations which deliberately went in the direction of increasing the discretion of the teacher as to the subjects which might be taught, and the only limit upon that discretion was that which it was necessary to impose in order to render it compatible with the system of payment by results, which was based upon an annual examination. Therefore, before the House expressed an opinion in favour of the proposition of the hon. Baronet, it ought to consider what was now taught, and how far the suggestion of the hon. Baronet would upset the equilibrium of the present Code. In 1871, immediately after the Education Act was passed, the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone made a Motion to the effect that encouragement should be given by the Education Department to instruction in something more than mere reading, writing, and arithmetic. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford acceded in substance to his proposal, and 791 in the next year very considerable alterations were made in the Code. The Code had been in existence for several years, and had worked well; and therefore he thought the House should pause before adding to the already complicated regulations which it contained. History, geography, and grammar, had been added to the class subjects, in which all children above Standard II. were to be taught; and, although there were differences of opinion as to teaching grammar, he could not help thinking that that kind of instruction was necessary. He would not be so audacious as to allude to speeches made in that House; but observations of speeches sometimes made on other occasions led him to think that instruction in grammar would considerably improve the style of British oratory. In addition to these three class-subjects, there were 10 other subjects in which children above Class 4 could be examined, and could receive payments by results. It was impossible for the Inspectors to exactly know what were the subjects in which they would have to examine the children, and one of the first acts of his noble Friend the President of the Board of Trade, after he became Vice President of the Council, was to make serious alterations in the Code. The hon. Baronet proposed to add natural science to the subjects of instruction. That would make a great alteration. It would be necessary, for that purpose, to re-model the whole of the Code. What was natural science? It was very well for the hon. Baronet to say that he did not mean anything difficult. At the rooms of the Royal Society, which was established for the promotion of natural science, he (Lord George Hamilton) found lectures had been delivered in biology, chemistry, natural history, mechanics, astronomy, mathematics, and botany. The subject was so wide, that teachers might give instruction in almost any conceivable subject, and unless the House was prepared to add very largely to educational expenditure, it would be impossible to add natural science to the subjects taught. Under these circumstances, although he cordially agreed with the greater part of the observations of the hon. Baronet, he could not accept the Amendment which he had moved. Its object was, undoubtedly, good. It was to give to the Code as much elasticity as possible, so 792 that children might be trained in some of the elements of knowledge which would be connected with their future occupation in life. He could assure the hon. Baronet that any proposal which in his (Lord George Hamilton's) humble judgment was practical would meet with no opposition from him; but when a proposal so wide as that which the hon. Baronet had made to-day was brought forward, he had no alternative but to ask the House to reject it; and he thought the hon. Baronet himself used one argument which justified him in rejecting his proposal. The hon. Baronet alluded to the great differences of opinion that existed amongst most eminent men as to the best course of elementary education. If, then, there was so great a doubt on that matter, was this the right time to make a great alteration in the Code?
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
said, he was afraid the noble Lord had misapprehended the object of his hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone. The noble Lord quoted the wide extent of science by stating the subjects of study on the part of the Royal Society. He must remind the noble Lord that the Royal Society was not a Society for the promotion of elementary science, but for the promotion of the highest investigation in the most abstruse sciences. The noble Lord, in saying that elementary science could not be added to the subjects taught because it covered so wide an area might as well have said that history, for the same reason, could not be one of the subjects taught. The noble Lord said it was impossible to introduce such subjects into the Code. [Lord GEORGE HAMILTON: Without great alteration.] He (Mr. Lyon Playfair) could speak with a little knowledge on this subject, because the Education Department had been good enough to adopt several outlines of study for special subjects in science which he had prepared at their request. All that they required to do was to add to their Standard a little of elementary knowledge—he was not going to call it science—because it was the term elementary science which confused and frightened people. What was meant by elementary science? It was simply an intelligent acquaintance with the objects by which the poor children would be surrounded, perhaps, throughout their lives. He observed opposite him his hon. Friend 793 the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read). Now he, at least, would appreciate teaching agricultural labourers. Such knowledge would enable them to understand how crops extracted food from the air and from the soil. Farmers' children would be no worse if they learned how manure was damaged by letting ammonia escape into the air or phosphoric acid run off into the drains. The children of miners would be better if they were taught the properties of air, and of fire damp and choke damp. Accidents would be less numerous if such knowledge was prevalent. It was not less knowledge because it was made useful. His hon. Friend had done good service in drawing attention to the subject; and it was one of all the more importance that foreign Governments were giving practical effect to that which his hon. Friend suggested.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 68; Noes 37: Majority 31.—(Div. List, No. 195.)