§ VISCOUNT HALDANE had the following Notice on the Paper—
§ To call attention to the training of the nation and to the necessity of preparing for the future.
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
Before the noble Viscount directs your Lordships upon foreign policy, I suggest that he should explain his past conduct in misleading Great Britain on the German dinner, and in misleading Germany on British policy.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, we are not about to discuss foreign policy; and I have only to say, in answer to the noble Duke's question, that nobody more than myself desires that the whole facts should be brought out as to what was 656 done before the war and the preparations that had been made. There has been an extraordinary stream of misrepresentations, untruths, and inaccuracies; and the sooner these things are brought to the test the better. Nobody desires the moment to come for the most complete judgment of the nation upon the full facts more than I do. That is all I have to say to the noble Duke.
My Lords, it does not require any words from me to remind your Lordships of the momentous and urgent importance of the subject upon the Paper. Indeed, there is only one preliminary remark which I desire to make. We are at this moment engaged in a tremendous struggle in which our life and freedom are at stake, and we ought all to be jealous of anything which could even seem to distract the concentration of nerve and muscle upon the utmost effort which can be made to win victory. The combined strategy of the Allies and the splendid gallantry of our soldiers and sailors and of the soldiers and sailors of our Allies have given the war an aspect which fills us full of hope; though that does not mean that we can in the slightest degree relax the supreme effort to attain a lasting victory. But while that is true, I must remind your Lordships that the war which is going on is not the only struggle in which this country is engaged There is a larger rivalry, a rivalry more peaceful, less obvious, less rapid in its progress, but not less decisive in the end, in which we have to hold our own if we are to maintain our place; and that rivalry is one in which knowledge, skill, and foresight are required as urgently as they are in the war.
It is necessary, in order to make good the meaning of what I have said, to go as quickly as possible to the concrete, hard facts, because it is in these concrete, hard facts that conviction rests. I shall therefore address myself to a survey, which must necessarily be very imperfect, of a field which has had my own close attention for twenty years past, and which has had the attention of much abler men, who have spoken but have not been listened to as much as it would have been good for the nation if they had been listened to. We must turn to this task now, because we dare not be caught unprepared. It is not upon us that the brunt of the struggle will rest. It will rest upon the future generation, that 657 coming generation who will have to bear the Flag of the nation and the Empire as their forefathers have striven to bear it, who will have to hold it up, and on whom it will depend whether that Flag is carried forward undimmed and unstained, the memorial of the great position which this nation holds among the peoples of the earth.
But although the struggle may not in the main rest on the shoulders of us who are growing old, still we not the less have a tremendous responsibility and a great duty. We have to do our utmost to prepare the future generation, to prepare it intellectually, morally, and physically, to endure the strain which it will have to face. It is not that we have not done much in the past. We have done great things in the past. We are doing great things in the present. But other nations have been coming up and devoting themselves with an assiduity and a science which are in excess in some respects of our own; and it is from that excess of assiduity on their part that the danger to us arises. We must see to it that we are not caught unprepared in the struggle. The reforms which are necessary are reforms which will involve the direction of energy. We have abundant energy in this country; we have magnificent quantities. I hold my countrymen in some respects higher than the people of any nation I know. But where we have been lacking has been in the scientific direction of that energy, and in order to attain that scientific direction training and education are necessary of a kind which we have not yet known, which other nations are putting in practice, and which if we do not learn and apply we shall find ourselves inevitably, by the hard laws of nature, left behind.
I was thankful that at the Conference in Paris, at which my noble friend Lord Crewe represented this country, allusion was made to the necessity on the part of the Allies of developing expert training. To my mind that was one of the most important things touched upon at the Conference. I own that I desire to know more before approving other proposals which were made there for tariff walls and arrangements which may or may not be good—we are not here to discuss them to-day—but which at all events will avail nothing for our assistance in those neutral markets where our energy and directed skill alone can secure us supremacy. But I am glad to think that the attention of the Allies, as, indeed the attention 658 of all nations, is becoming progressively directed to the necessity of that system of training, of that preparation of the mind of the coming generation, to which I have alluded. What is the real difficulty we have, to face? As I have said, we, are a nation full of splendid energy, but we have never been ready to take in new ideas. I do not think that democracies suffer from any peculiar inaptitude for taking in new ideas, but our democracy has been rather a slow one. A great teacher and preacher, to whom this country owes more in connection with the, subject of education than to any other man, Matthew Arnold, writing and speaking fifty years ago, told us that it was this inaptitude for new ideas which We must train the minds of our people to overcome, so that we might not be left behind in the rivalry of talent.
As I have said, for twenty years I have taken the deepest interest in education, and I have done all that I could, in and out of office, to advance that cause, often with very indifferent success; but at least I have been privileged to watch and observe progress, and it is to me a source of gladness that so much progress has been made in these matters since the beginning of the present century. But, my Lords, if we have been making progress, other countries have been making progress too, and making it more rapidly than we have. I am not talking of enemy nations at the moment. It is sufficient for me to take the case of two neutral nations, one a small one, the other a very large one—Switzerland and America. Switzerland puts us to shame in respect of her national system of education and in the training which she gives to the mind of the young, particularly of those who are engaged in the great industries; and there is a keenness and an activity at this moment everywhere present in the United States which shows the sort of rivalry we shall have to meet if we are to preserve our great industrial and commercial position. Our problem, therefore, is to make education, which is a tiresome word to most people in this country, interesting, by showing its concrete nature and by showing what it means, not only theoretically but practically. It means not mere examinations, not the mere putting of science into the test to which people who are aspiring as candidates for office are subjected. It means something far more than that. It means the training of the mind in the widest and most 659 comprehensive sense, so that the youth of the country may be able when the time comes to turn, it may be to science, it may be to the humanities, it may be to any of the thousand and one subjects which are covered by the field of knowledge in this twentieth century.
My noble friend Lord Cromer is going to speak in this debate, and I know how keenly interested he is in the preservation of the position of the humanities and the recognition of their value. I agree with him about that. I have said before, and I say now, that on the whole, and for the general training which is most designed in some cases to bring out the best in a man, probably classical training is the most perfect. But everybody has his aptitudes. Some have an aptitude which is greater in science and less in the field of the humanities, and it is necessary to take account of these differences and to train men according to their aptitudes. I take the case of two extremely highly educated men—the present and the late Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith and Mr. Arthur Balfour. Mr. Asquith is an example of the splendid education which can be produced by classical training, and Mr. Balfour of the not less perfect education which can be produced by a training which is more nearly scientific. What I mean is that the field of training and its methods must be wide enough to include every aptitude in every branch; and if you wish to produce more science in the country the indispensable preliminary is to produce more of that general education in the wide sense of which I have spoken and which is not to be attained by altering examination papers. It is to be attained by making the examination follow the curricula, not by subordinating curricula to examination. What I have said refers to the necessity of the organisation of a living national system of education if we are to produce in the future those who will maintain our position.
These are reforms which will cost money, a good deal of money. I have said before in this House, and I repeat, that it is an expenditure on which you dare not economise. You must spend more, not less. As readily save the money that is necessary for preparing the field to yield the crop as save the money necessary to train the future generation of industrial experts to retain the position of this country in the markets and factories of 660 the world. There is no worse economy possible than on education, and I am glad to think that people seem to be realising this more at the present time than they did some months ago. Speaking for myself, if I had a limited amount of money to spend I would spend it first, not on special subjects, not on this or that branch of science, not on this branch of training engineers or the other; I would spend it on improving the profession of teachers throughout the country, particularly the quantity and quality of the teachers in the secondary schools.
So far I have merely endeavoured to convey the general principle which seems to me to lie at the root of the whole problem of reform in this direction, and I must now come a little to the hard and painful facts which are so much ignored and yet are so important. It is an appalling reflection, yet true—and I will give your Lordships the proof of it a little later on—that in this country 90 per cent. of our young persons, nine out of ten, get no further education after the age of 14. What chance have they of rising? Very exceptional talent may rise, but even that is probably lost. I have often wondered how many Watts's, Kelvins, and Darwins have been lost in the vast mass of untrained talent which the children of the working classes afford. Our greatest mistake in this country has been in concentrating upon the education and training of the well-to-do. We do not recognise that a bifurcation takes place about the age of 13. At that time compulsory elementary education ceases, and for the child of the workman what provision is there unless he has a very exceptional and keen father? Why, none whatever. Whereas it is the custom and invariable practice among the middle and upper classes to send their sons and daughters to schools where they will get further training, in the case of the working classes there is no such provision, with the result, as I say, that 90 per cent. of our population have not that education which is required if we are to make the best use of our available talent.
Now, my Lords, let us see exactly what our deficiencies are; and I will best, I think, bring home those deficiencies by taking the case of the most formidable enemy of this country with whom We shall have to enter into acute rivalry in neutral markets after the war is over—Germany. I am not taking Germany because I have any special admiration for everything in 661 the German system. On the contrary, I shall point out to your Lordships its several great defects, defects which would make it most unwise that we should try to copy it. But it has also some great virtues, virtues of long standing, and I do not wonder that the German Government of to-day, whatever other economies it is making, is keeping up, as I am informed, its education expenditure to the full in view of the tremendous effort that it is going to make to wrest the markets of the world from us as soon as the waris over.
In Germany there is elementary education just like our own, but it goes on a year later than in England—namely, to fourteen. Fourteen is the age in Scotland and in Wales, although it is not the age in England. I do not think the system of elementary education in Germany is better than, if it is as good as, ours here, but it has one advantage which ours has not. In the last year of the elementary course the boy—in his fourteenth year—is taken and given in the elementary school, if he is likely to go into an industrial profession, some kind of technical training in the workshop attached to the school, or in other ways. Then he is asked what his ideas of his future are, and if he has none he is encouraged and stimulated to choose a profession. Suppose he wants to become an electrical engineer. The authorities see to it that he has the means of being apprenticed to an electrical engineer, and the electrical engineer is bound to train him for four years. But that is not all. The system is a revival in modern form of the old apprenticeship system which had its value in this country but which is now dead. The employer is bound to send the boy for some hours during the day to the special trade school of the engineering industry in the locality. It is a very simple affair. There are a great many of these trade schools. There the boy is taught not only the theoretical part of his trade, about metals and a certain amount of chemistry and physics and things useful to him as a workman as well as stimulating to his mind, but he also gets further general education. They have recognised that if the problem of how to provide for the education of children of the working classes is to be solved it is necessary that these children must earn money for the families to which they belong and for their own maintenance after the age of fourteen, which is the end of the Compulsory period of elementary 662 education. It may be that the wages are not large, but that is compensated for by the instruction which the employer and the continuation school give. No workman gets his journeyman's certificate, without which he cannot get on and obtain a place when he comes to the years at which he wishes to be independent and to marry, unless he has shown that he has gone through the course. A journeyman's certificate, which he can get at eighteen, makes him a fully trained workman, and if he likes to go on and take a further certificate in the evening classes he may become a master workman, and then he is very much sought after. That is a new and scientific system which has been set up in Germany especially for the purpose of providing the army of trained workmen who may overcome us in the neutral markets which we have dominated to so large an extent in the past; and I think it my duty to call prominent attention to this, because I feel that the gravity and danger of the problem which confronts us are being very much overlooked even at the present moment.
The German system provides in the way I have described for the artisan. There are twenty-six States in Germany, and in twelve of them the system of which I have spoken is already compulsory. It was instituted only some few years before the war, and it owed its origin to the genius of one remarkable teacher in Munich, who devised the system. It is now, as I have said, compulsory in twelve of the German States. There is local option to make it compulsory in ten more; and only in four do they have the happy-go-easy system which we have in this country. This is very important for another reason. I do not know whether any of your Lordships have read a remarkable book by Mr. Alexander Paterson, called "Across the Bridges." It is a description of boy life in the South of London after the boy has just gone through the elementary school. Of these boys a large proportion go into what he calls "blind-alley" occupations. They run messages, they look after carts, they take dinners to the workmen, and do the hundred and one odd jobs that boys are ready to do untrained for about 7s. a week, thereby earning something to take to their families. But to point out the disastrous character of this blind-alley occupation. At the age of eighteen the boy, not trained, like the German boy, 663 goes to look for employment, without skill and without training, and he lapses into the ranks of the unskilled and too often into the ranks of the unemployable, and it is in that way that we recruit our hooligans and our wastrels. It is the consequence of there being no provision for looking after these boys when the compulsory age of thirteen is passed.
I pass now from that great class to what is to me the most important class, which we literally throw away for want of a proper system and which contains a reservoir of potential benefit and profit to the nation. I go to that other class which can go up the educational ladder, the 10 per cent. who have the keenness and the opportunity to go to the secondary school and then on to the University. Now between the German system and ours there, again, there is a great difference. In Germany the secondary school is the strongest point in the whole educational movement; it is thoroughly organised, and although it is not compulsory it is virtually compulsory, because unless you go through it and get a military certificate you will have to serve two or three years instead of serving only one year. Moreover, unless you go through it and get the leaving certificate you cannot go to the University and get a degree. And the courses are so much longer than ours. What are called preliminary studies are not taught at the Universities in Germany; they are taught in the secondary schools there, but they have to be taught here in the Universities. It is a great feature in the German secondary schools that they teach these preliminary studies.
I will now tell your Lordships where the weakness of the German system comes in. It is purely class. There is practically no means for the child of the workman to get on to the educational ladder and go to the secondary school. It is a defect in the whole. German organisation, which has shown itself in this war and which has shown itself in the national life of Germany for a long time, that a hard-and-fast line is drawn between various classes of the nation the aristocratic class, the middle class, and the democracy. We are more fortunate in this country. We do provide the means not merely for the small 10 per cent. getting up the educational ladder, but for the children of the workmen, who by bursaries and scholarships have a chance, if they have exceptional 664 aptitude, of getting the benefit of secondary education. Now here is our weakness. Out of the 10 per cent. only a small proportion go up the ladder, and when they do get up the ladder they are hampered and hindered by the chaotic condition of secondary education in this country. With Germany secondary education is the strongest point; with us it is the weakest.
In Scotland, however, there have been great reforms. In 1908 there was an Act passed, with which, in the planning, I had something to do. It was the work of the best educational experts in Scotland, and the Prime Minister took it up and passed it rapidly through. Under it great changes have been made in Scotland. Not only has something in the way of trade continuation schools, of which I spoke in connection with Germany, been introduced, but great opportunities have been given for developing secondary education; and that had been preceded by a form of educational endowments.
But when one comes to England the position is enough to make one weep. Not only are there not enough secondary schools, but such as there are are indifferently organised and staffed, compared with what is necessary if they are to do the real work which the country requires to be done. An Education Act was passed in 1902 by Mr. Balfour's Government. It was in many ways an admirable Act—I can speak of it because I think I was the only member of my Party who supported it in the House of Commons—and I do not think I was wrong in the anticipation which I then formed that out of that Act would come immense good. It broke down a great many of the barriers which hindered the development of secondary education, and it gave to the new education authorities the power to do a great deal. Much has been done under that Act for secondary education, but not nearly enough. In regard to the numbers of the teachers and the quality, and the number of the schools and the standards, reform is urgently required. Practically there is very little provision, in the secondary schools which are available, for the middle class and the lower middle class boys and girls after sixteen. The result is that when they go on to the University—such as do go on to the University—they have to do over again the work that ought to have been done in the secondary schools. Therefore I say 665 that the problem of the secondary school is one of the most pressing that we have in this country.
Look at the defects of our system. We have no last elementary year, as in the foreign system. We do not go to the boy and girl in the last year at the elementary school and ask them what they wish to be in life, and tell them that they shall not only be taught by their master in the trade school but be made fit persons in the occupations they choose. We have nothing of that kind that counts. And then when you come to the secondary school, again we are deficient. It is quite true that those deficiencies arise a good deal from a certain want of outlook. We suffer from them even in the great public schools, which are in some respects very remarkable institutions. Our great public schools have the quality, which is much admired on the Continent, where they have striven so far vainly to imitate them, of training boys to be rulers of men; they have that in a fashion which no Continental school possesses in any degree approaching it. On the other hand, increasingly science and the application of science are becoming a necessity for the training of a very large portion of our well-to-do class. But they discourage that, and they discourage it, not by not making some provision, but because nearly all the scholarships and bursaries are allocated to the classics. The dead hand, which did that many years ago when people did not see what would be the necessities of to-day, ought to have its grip relaxed by legislation, so that some chance of getting a University education should be given to boys at Eton, Winchester, Harrow, and other great public schools on the same footing as when they go in for a classical career.
I am surveying one or two defects in older to bring out the difficulties that attend the situation. The result of all these things has been that people have come to think that education is impracticable in this country. An education debate is not a very popular debate in the other House of Parliament, and I am afraid it is not always a very popular debate in this House. The reason is that we make education so uninteresting; we have taken it out of contact with life and have not made it take its place in the whole of the great system of national training which should train, not only for theoretical activities, but for practical activities. 666 which should aim at giving the very highest excellence and refinement, cultural, moral, spiritual, and physical, which it is possible for an education system to attain. Therefore it is not enough to do anything short of reforms which will improve our training system itself, which will improve the quality and quantity of the teachers, and make education more interesting and more comprehensive, so that when boys wish to go forward to a career of industry and science, they may at least go with their minds so trained, so apt, that they may be able to take up and absorb the scientific ideas which they are to put in practice in the industries which they undertake.
Let me illustrate what I have said by one or two concrete instances. We suffer in this country from want of experts. Instead of experts being diffused, as they are in Switzerland, which has a most admirable system of training them, and as they are becoming diffused in the United States, where that very practical people are waking to it, we have taken no steps to produce experts. It is no use saying to the manufacturers, "Employ more chemists." There are not the chemists to employ. Our training machine is not adequate to produce the supply we require. At the beginning of the war I was chairman of a technical committee which had to go into one of the great chemical industries, and I found, rather to my horror, that we had become dependent upon Germany to an alarming degree; in fact, to such an alarming degree that in regard to great discoveries that we had made in this country it had been left to the Germans to produce what we wanted. I asked why it was, and I was told, "We cannot get the chemists. The Germans organise so well and make the product in such a way that it is our best course to buy from them." When the war came, one result of this was that we were without aniline colours, and your Lordships will remember the acute distress that was caused in the dye trade owing to that want. It was entirely due to our not training men who were required for an industry which was originally a British industry but which we had allowed to languish.
The other day I had occasion to inquire how many trained chemists there were available for the hundreds of chemical industries that there are in this country, because I had been struck by the 667 fact that many of the chemical works were without chemists. On inquiry at sources on which reliance could be placed I found that there were only 1,500 trained chemists in this country altogether, and the reason was that we had not the means or encouragement to produce them. Our public schools do not aim at preparing an aptitude in the boys' minds for the study of chemistry; nor do our secondary schools; nor have we any trade continuation schools which stimulate the working man's son of exceptional talent to go on with this. Nor are our Universities equipped to produce these men in large number. But we have made progress in that direction, as I shall point out later. We have only 1,500 trained chemists in this country. On the other hand, four large German chemical firms which have played havoc with our trade employ 1,000 highly trained chemists between them. Those men were trained and produced by the great technical schools which exist there for that purpose.
I will take another illustration of what we suffer because of the want of experts. I had the honour of knowing the late Lord Kelvin, who often used to talk to me about energy, and I used to ask him about the possibilities of using the energy of the sun and the tides in case of the giving out of our supplies of coal. Lord Kelvin used to smile and say, "A pound of coal is worth far more than anything you can hope to get from the sun or the tides or anything else; there is plenty of it for a long time to come, if you will only use it economically." And I got to know this the other day from a well-known expert, that whereas the ideal capacity of a pound of coal—what you could get if you had the proper scientific appliance—would be one horse-power per hour, as a matter of fact and in practice it requires five pounds of coal to produce one horse-power per hour, which one pound would produce if properly used. Another great chemical expert has calculated that we could, by the use of expert knowledge which exists, produce the whole of the motive power which we use in this country from one-third of the coal which we actually consume in doing so. My noble friend who sits near me and who knows these things in practice [Lord Joicey] knows what I mean when I speak of the wonderful transformation of coal into electrical energy in the North, and the splendid scientific way in which it has been done by certain engineers.
668 Then take another case. It has been calculated by high experts that every year in the various stages of consumption and of the making of by-products, and so on, we waste as much coal as would pay the interest on £500,000,000 of War Debt after the war. That is a compassable practical figure, and it is only a question of applying the requisite expert knowledge and the requisite methods. But we have not got the experts, although the expert knowledge exists. It is a great mistake to suppose that in this country we have not got the very highest science. We have the very highest science and knowledge, but we have not enough individuals possessing that high science and knowledge to go round. The result is that we suffer.
I have spoken apparently somewhat gloomily of the situation, and I will, before going further, turn for a moment to the very great progress that has been made. Since the beginning of the century ten new teaching Universities have been called into existence. London has become a teaching University. Much remains to be done there, but it is not for the want of trying that we have not got further. Then there is Birmingham, in which connection so much is owed to the late Mr. Chamberlain; others are Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol; the Armstrong College has been added to the University of Durham, and what is practically a new teaching University has been established there—that is eight; and two new teaching Universities have been established in Ireland, which make up the ten. That is a great step forward, and, given time and, above all, improvement in the system of secondary schools so that we may send up more pupils with their minds prepared to take the benefit of the University work, we should get an immense deal out of it.
I remember well the beginning of those new Universities, and, in this connection, an incident in the history of education in this country which has never been recorded, I do not know why. Liverpool wanted a charter, and it was opposed on the ground that it was not desirable to break up the examining body, which constituted the then Victoria University at Manchester, for Liverpool, Leeds, and Manchester; and the matter was referred to a most remarkable Committee of the Privy Council, which was presided over by the late Duke of Devonshire, and which had on it Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Lord James of Hereford, Sir Edward Fry, and Lord Rosebery. 669 They called evidence. I was myself the first witness for Liverpool, because I took a, keen interest in these things; and in the result they reported in favour of the policy of increasing the number of Universities and of granting charters to them, adding that with proper precaution and provision there would be no suffering in the quality of University education. I think that Report has been substantially justified. At all events, it has led to the creation of these Universities.
Then there was the Education Act of 1902, and there have been previous Education Acts. A great deal has been accomplished under the Act of 1902. As I have already alluded to it, I will not say more than that we should have accomplished more had we not had religious controversy mixed up with it. I have always deeply regretted the religious controversy, and regarded it as arising entirely from a want of national interest in education. If we had been sufficiently keen about education we should not have had the religious controversy. In Scotland, where people are keen about education, there has been a give and take about religious controversy which has solved the problem. I cannot help thinking that here there is a load of educational sin on the backs of the right rev. Prelates and an equal load on the backs of the Nonconformists; but the real sinner educationally has been the indifferent average Englishman who did not care about education, who was very much bored with it, and left the matter to turn into a controversy between those who felt that what they regarded as sacred rights were being infringed.
We have now reached a stage when the nation is taking far larger views about these things. One thing that fills me full of hope is that we have now reached a stage when we are thoroughly awakened to the necessity of action. Everywhere you see the most magnificent public spirit. People are ready not only to contribute their money and pay any taxes that are asked, but the sons and daughters of every class of the community—of your Lordships in this House, and of the poorest workmen—are ready to throw their energies and abilities into the things necessary to bring victory in this war. That spirit has come to stay and to influence us profoundly, and we shall be influenced still more profoundly by those who come back from the war. If that be the national spirit, then 670 I think it will be possible to do justice to both sides of the education subject on the religious aspect. I have always thought that it should be the right of every one to educate his children in the religion he wished, and, if necessary, to have the right of access to the schools to see that that education was given. I have always thought that that principle, if once accepted, would get rid of the controversy about details, and a practical way of working things out would have allowed us to take the full advantages which the Act of 1902 undoubtedly did confer.
There have been great advances in other parts of the country. Since the Intermediate Education Act was passed for Wales, in 1889, Wales has got a far better system of schools; and I have already alluded to the steps forward which have been made in Scotland. I should like to go to one concrete illustration about the effect of the reform of education in Scotland. The Hebrides is a congested area, thickly populated by crofters who previously were able to provide but little education for their children. Then there came compulsory elementary education, and the sons of the crofters used to go to school; but after school was over there was no provision for them under the Education Endowments Act. What was called the Nicolson Institute at Stornoway was turned into a secondary school, and the effect upon the Hebrides has been extraordinary. The sons and daughters of the crofters go there, many of them with little bursaries which they get through the county council. They get a secondary school education at the Nicolson Institute, and from there they go out into the world to become teachers, doctors, lawyers, and ministers; the effect also on the social life of the Hebrides has been very remarkable. I give your Lordships that as an illustration of what reform will do if it is judicially and simply applied.
My noble friend Lord Crewe presides over a special Committee of the Privy Council which superintends the Advisory Council charged with the business of supervising research and the application of science to industry. That is a most valuable Advisory Committee; it is presided over by Sir William M'Cormick, and on it sit men like Lord Rayleigh and Sir Charles Parsons. It owes its existence to Mr. Pease and Dr. Addison, and is part of a larger movement which was set on foot 671 at an earlier stage. There is no doubt that this Committee is doing good work and has accomplished a certain amount of progress.
Then the necessity for continuation schools is growing up. People are becoming well aware in this country of the peril to which we are exposed for the want of a system of training the son of the workman in the expert knowledge which is required if he is to attain to high excellence in his industry. A well-known Birmingham merchant, Mr. Best, has written a book upon it, in which he describes the peril in which Birmingham stands by being without the provision, which a much less important city like Munich possesses, for equipping the workmen of Birmingham properly in order to carry on the industry which sustains it. Then there are the books published by the able education officer of the London County Council, Sir Robert Blair, in 1914, and I would advise your Lordships to read them. There you will see a picture of what is being done on the Continent; also you will see how keenly interested the London County Council have been in this matter, and how they are struggling, without legislation and without adequate funds, to make matters different. Also in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other towns the movement is taking root. But it is a movement of such vast importance and so essential to be put into operation on a full scale that, of course, it is not enough to rest with these things.
Another sign of the times is that the Ministry of Munitions has issued a circular called the Boy Welfare Supervisors Circular. That is a most valuable document. It recommends the firms with which the Ministry of Munitions is concerned to employ for the supervision of the, boys engaged in the industry a supervisor who will not only look after them morally and physically, but who will make suggestions to them for their future careers. There you have the germ of the special trade continuation-school system of which I have spoken. The Ministry of Munitions has done good work in making a start in that direction. But it is not confined to Government Departments. This I heard the other day of a great engineering works. It is actually sending its apprentices—provided they have gone through a secondary school before coining to the works, and after a year in the shops—at its own expense, to be trained at high technical 672 schools; and it even sent them abroad before the war in order that they might learn certain things which are not easily learned in this country. All that shows how we are awakening to the absolute necessity of dealing with these things.
But per contra I heard the other day of a case of energy in this direction which certainly shows that, if we are beginning to be energetic, other countries have been more so. There was a great photographic apparatus works in the United States which came to the conclusion that it could very much extend its business by encouraging research and by developing laboratories of its own in which more perfect apparatus and chemicals could be produced. Making inquiries, the conclusion reached was that the best person they could secure was to be found in this country. As I have said, we have very remarkable scientific brains in this country, but they are very few. This firm heard of this man, who was the chemist at a small photographic works in this country, and they tempted him with an enormously large salary. But no. He was loyal to his own works, and would not go to them. They were not content; they bought up the whole of this British works in order to get him, and now he is spending for them £20,000 a year alone for research in their laboratories. And it was observed the other day that, notwithstanding that expenditure, their increase of profit has been enormous. I heard, again, of a great electric lamp company in the United States which has set up fifteen separate laboratories for experimental processes for perfecting its filaments and its lamps, together with a construction department for making perfectly modelled examples of what has been worked out in the laboratories to be reproduced in the trade. These are the things that make one sad. Yet every now and again one comes across something which fills one full of hope and enthusiasm.
I am at this moment chairman of a Royal Commission on University Education in Wales, and when I was in Wales the other day with the Commission—at Swansea—I was very much struck with the really big interest which was taken in education there, not merely by the people, but in scientific education by the manufacturers and by the workmen themselves. They were not Liberals—I think they like Liberals even less than they like Unionists 673 —they were Socialists of the most pronounced kind, but they were tremendous educationists. They said, "We wish you to see what has been done in this neighbourhood of Swansea, and what ought to have been done more." I had the opportunity of choosing what I would like to see, and I chose the new process which is being carried on in Swansea for the production of nickel in a fashion quite unrivalled by any country in the world.
With your Lordships' permission I will describe what I saw. Nickel, as your Lordships know, is a metal of extraordinary value, but it is extremely difficult to recover, because it is got in an ore which contains a great many other things and from which the nickel is very difficult to extract. But a great industrial chemist, the late Dr. Ludwig Mond—of Brunner, Mond and Company—who was a Swiss of great ability, in conjunction with Dr. Langer, the manager of the Mond nickel works at Swansea, made a great discovery. Their discovery, which took fifteen years to perfect, was that by passing a deadly gas, carbon monoxide, over the ore, the carbon monoxide entered into combination with the nickel and produced a still more deadly gas called nickel carbonyl, and when the nickel carbonyl was subjected to a high temperature the nickel in a purified form dropped off, and the gas went back to do its work on other masses of raw material. I was shown that by Dr. Langer, who is a remarkable chemist, and who was trained like Dr. Ludwig Mond at the Chemical School in Zurich. There was a gas chamber, the nickel being deposited at the other end, and all the chemical combination was going on with the utmost precision inside the tubes; and, deadly as the gas was, not an accident had happened because of the intelligence of the workmen employed. The firm provide the workmen with admirable clubs and houses to live in; and in consequence they get workmen of high intelligence and efficiency. Last, but not least—I saw it in the newspapers a few days afterwards; they did not tell me this—they bad declared the respectable dividend for the year of 7 per cent. on the preference shares and 20 per cent. on the ordinary shares, besides carrying a large sum to reserve. That is what I call a really beautiful illustration of what can be done by applying high scientific knowledge to industry, and if we had only more people of the enterprise 674 of this great firm and other great firms winch I could mention, this country would not be in the peril it is in at this time with regard to competition after the war from neutral and enemy countries.
The Universities in America are taking up the question of research in a practical way. I think myself that it is something rather perilous for a University to do, but at Pittsburg they have taken up research into the smoke question at the instance of the Chicago authorities. It has been calculated that the smoke particles, which by proper expert processes could be completely converted into gas and not wasted, do a large amount of damage to the city of Chicago, damage of not less than £10,000,000 a year; and very naturally they have taken steps to set the University at work to make researches into this question. I do not forget that in this country that kind of research is also being undertaken. There is the Imperial College of Technology, of which my noble friend Lord Crewe is the president. At the head is Sir Alfred Keogh. Sir Alfred Keogh is a man who, as your Lordships know, rendered immense service when I was Minister for War in organising the Medical Service. I kept him as long as I could; I kept him two years over his time. And when it was really necessary for him to go it so happened that, having had a good deal to do with the Imperial College, I was asked to look out for a rector for them, and I said "They are not easy to find. Will you be shocked if I recommend to you an Army Medical General?" They were very much astonished by the suggestion, but they were wise people and they chose Sir Alfred Keogh, because he was one of the greatest organisers this country possessed. He has come back recently to the War Office, and it would be difficult to describe the great work which he has done in alleviating suffering and in transforming the state of things we had to face at the beginning of the war by organisation which he had worked out in time of peace. This is not the place to describe what he has done. But he set to work; he set the Imperial College to work on research.
I know a good deal about the Imperial College, having been one of its founders. I went over to Charlottenburg, where there is a great technical college, and saw what a tremendous institution it was, and what a peril it was that we had nothing of the 675 kind. I spent some time studying it there. Then I met Mr. Cecil Rhodes, a man of great imagination and large ideas about these things. He introduced me to his partners, Sir Julius Wernher and Sir Alfred Beit, and they said, "We will give you a large sum of money for this." Sir Ernest Cassel also gave a large sum. Sir Francis Mowatt threw himself into the work, and got the Government to hand over the Royal College of Science and the School of Mines. Then the City gave us a College; and then, through the influence of King Edward, carrying out the ideas of the late Prince Consort, the University Commissioners furnished a site. The Metallurgists gave a large sum of money also. The result is that my noble friend Lord Crewe presides over an institution as well equipped as any in the country
There is only one thing I will say about the amount of research to order which institutions like the Imperial College and the American Universities are undertaking. Manufacturers come and say, "We want an expert. Will you train him?" and they do so. That is most useful work, and I hope there will be a great deal more of it. But your Lordships must not leave out of account that the German colleges have suffered very badly, in the opinion of experts, by the divorce that is likely to arise between life in such an institution and high University life. Applied science is founded on pure science. Pure science flourishes only if there is a University atmosphere. Therefore I trust that the Imperial College will not cut itself off from any movement in London which would bring it into intimate connection with the University life of the metropolis. I instance these things as showing that while a great deal is going on a great deal more will have to be done. Our present position is a really appalling one, appalling so far as the waste of great masses of talent is concerned and the denial of opportunity which takes place.
I will sum up what I have to say by giving your Lordships a few figures; they are new figures, but they have been calculated by very high authorities. In England, out of 2,750,000 boys and girls between 12 and 16, nearly 1,100,000 get no further education after the age of 13. Of the remaining 1,650,000, the great bulk are educated only for a very short time, mostly in the elementary schools until 14. Only 250,000 go to proper secondary schools, 676 and they are there only for a short time in most cases. Thus quality as well as quantity is deficient. I now pass to the period after 16. Between 16 and 25 there are in England and Wales 5,850,000 young persons, roughly. Of these, 5,350,000 get no education at all; 93,000 only have a full time course for some period, which is generally a very short period; 390,000 have a part time course, which may also be a very short period, at the evening schools. Are not these appalling figures—390,000 only out of somewhere near 6,000,000! What chance have we against other nations which are administering their affairs on a diametrically different plan and setting stress on power and knowledge to stimulate industrial activity and industrial capacity?
In England 917 per 1,000 get no education during the period I spoke of; and in Scotland 832 per 1,000 get none. In England only 18,000 enter University institutions of some kind, and I am including the Agricultural Colleges. In Scotland it is much better. With less than 5,000,000 of population, 7,700 enter University institutions annually. That is a deplorable state of things. It means this. We are entering upon this great struggle when there is this splendid willingness of the nation to do what is necessary to save itself, when there is in every class just now the spirit which is willing to undertake new enterprises and rise above the indifference of the past: and I say that a great responsibility will rest upon our rulers if they do not rise to the occasion and take the lead in directing the acquisition of opportunities for that vast neglected class, that vast reservoir of undeveloped and undiscovered talent, which may contain for all we know men and women who would raise the genius of the country in every walk of life.
I wish to say something about the physical side, about the training of the future generation. It is impossible to speculate as to what form the organisation of the future Armies of this country will take. It is too soon to know; it depends on the result of the war and the state of the world. But this I think is certain, that whatever system we adopt, whether it be a purely voluntary system, one which throws everything to reserve, or whether it be some compulsory form of Army organisation, we shall be very much the better if we attend to the physical side of the question, and attend to it early. I begin 677 very early, because I begin before birth. The birthrate is a very important thing, particularly with the diminution in the birth rate, from other causes, which is a striking feature of the situation not only in this but, in other countries. It has been estimated—and here I am touching on ground which Lord Sydenham knows more familiarly than I can—that 15 per cent. of the children who might be born into this world are not born owing to causes which are preventable. There are two scourges mainly responsible, both of which in a large measure are capable of being dealt with in such a way that this 15 per cent. could be very much diminished. Then, again, after birth 10 per cent. of children die in the first twelve months whose lives might with care be preserved and made healthy. Needless to say, if these two economies in the wastage of life were effected we need not trouble about the reduction in the birth rate. I am not at all sure that that is a bad thing, because it shows that people are more careful about the status they can give to their children. However, it is a wide and controversial question, and there is not only one side to it. But it is important that the wastage in birth and in child life should be attended to.
Then between the end of the first twelve months and the school age, there is the care of the child. Splendid work has been done by Dr. Newsholme, of the Local Government Board, and by Sir George Newman, of the Board of Education; and I am glad to sec that Mr. Walter Long, who is energetic in these matters, is taking the subject up and directing practical attention to these questions. But when you have got the child through that period into the elementary school, what then? To my mind it is essential, if you are to have a complete system of elementary education, that the physical training should be looked to. I should like to see the Boy Scout system made an integral part of elementary school education up to 13 or 14. I think the country owes far more than it knows to Sir Robert Baden-Powell for his great discovery of the Boy Scout system. Then you pass to the secondary school, and, I hope, in the future to the continuation schools. I should like to see cadet training from 13 or 14 on to 18; I should like to see it a part of the whole system of education—as large a part of the schooling as the teaching of Latin or the teaching of science. I think it is most important that in connection with the schools you should 678 organise cadet training, including annual camp training, and it is certainly a thing that can be done. Attention was given to it a little time ago, and it was only the outbreak of the war which precluded further attention being given. When you reach the later stage, the University, then come the Officers Training Corps, which give an opportunity to every young man of talent to qualify himself for an officer; and I need not remind your Lordships of the value of the Officers Training Corps in this war.
Perhaps I may take this opportunity of dispelling one of the numerous myths, a myth nearly on the same footing as those to which the noble Duke referred earlier in the evening. It has been said that in the Territorial Forces Bill there was a clause introducing compulsory cadet training which was dropped out owing to the opposition of the Labour Members. That is one of the many myths which have no foundation in fact. I think when the war ends and the great Tribunal is instituted, I shall be a long time in the box dispelling myths, as I hope to do. This particular myth arose from the circumstance that in the Bill as it stood we enabled the County Associations, if they chose, and out of funds which were not specially provided, to make contributions for cadet training in schools; and the House of Commons made rather a mountain out of a mole hill, and took up the point that this should not apply to boys under 16 in the State-aided schools. It was not worth fighting about. We should probably have lost the Bill, and it did not make the smallest difference. I refer to that to dispel the illusion that there was at one time compulsory cadet training in the Territorial Forces Bill, and that through feebleness and weakness it was abandoned.
I come now to the last thing I have to touch upon in this connection, and that is the ethical and the religious side of the training in these schools. I am quite sure that there can be no system of national training, no comprehensive system which will make the future generations fit to bear the burdens that will devolve upon them, if moral and religious training is left out of the schools. I know the enormous difficulty of the subject, and am quite aware of the controversy which it raises. I do not think the State is at all good at giving religious education, but I think the teachers can inculcate truthfulness, honesty, courage, 679 and other virtues; and then I think the parents who desire religious education for their children ought to have the means of giving it to them, not necessarily through the officials of the schools, but through people who should have access for that purpose. I hope that one of the results of the larger outlook which will be taken when the war is over will be that we shall get rid of this controversy. My sympathy is with the parents who desire these things, and, whether right or wrong, they should be able to ask for what their consciences require. I hope that we shall have a system which will provide for moral and religious training in the schools, and deal with the religious question on a footing which may make these things effective and real.
Before I sit down, there is one question I must ask. I must turn to the Government Benches and ask what they are doing to bring these things about. I know they are doing some things. I have already alluded to some of them. My noble friend Lord Crewe made a speech on June 30 at the Imperial College in which he said—for which I was devoutly thankful—that there was to be no Royal Commission on this great question. A Royal Commission imply means an opiate to send restless people to sleep, the putting of things off and nothing being done for four or five years. We cannot wait for four or five years. The avenger of our remissness in the past is upon us, and we have to act at once. Every week is important. Therefore, as I say, I was thankful when my noble friend said there was to be no Royal Commission. But one ought to say that there were to be special committees, and particularly a committee on the teaching of science. These committees are admirable things. But what I wish to say most emphatically is that there must be no delay in the beginning of some such system as I have tried to describe to-night—a system on which all the experts are agreed in its main outline, and much of which could be put in hand without delay were the Government prepared to act.
Yes, it will cost money; but we cannot afford to economise in this. The point is that the thing must be done. How? The plans were worked out long ago. My noble friend remembers that in the years 1913 and 1914 education came into the King's Speech on both occasions, and for a good reason we had been applying ourselves closely to the subject. My noble friend and 680 I worked together, and it fell to me to preside over a large Hybrid Committee. I only refer to it because it got into the newspapers at the time. That Committee consisted not only of Mr. Lloyd George, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and others, but also of experts. The Committee surveyed the whole field and devised plans. These plans got on so far that they were in shape when the Budget of 1914 was introduced; money was taken for the accomplishment of this purpose, and had the war not come we should now have been in possession of a system based on what I have been saying to your Lordships to-night. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had assented to it and provided the money, and everything went smoothly until the tremendous disaster of the war took place.
We have the advantage of possessing in this country the most admirable educational experts. I have seen a good deal of educational experts, and have lived with them, but I do not know finer expert minds than we have in Great Britain at the present time. All you have to do is to put this thing in the hands of the experts and make a beginning. I will indicate the beginning in a moment. But what are you doing at the present time? The Minister of Education is a right hon. friend of mine, a man who has rendered and is rendering great service to the nation. He has great gifts. But the Government have taken him away from education and set him to solve labour disputes. Nobody is better than he at that. But he is entirely absorbed by his work at the Ministry of Munitions, with the result that the Board of Education is without a Minister at the present time. It is impossible for Mr. Henderson to do the work. You ought to set him free to devote himself with his whole energy and knowledge to working these things out and carrying them into immediate effect. The experts are there; the machinery is ready; all you have to do is to set it going; and the only thing to set it going is the resolution and decision of the Government to act at once. I am not reproaching the Government for these committees. As I say, they are very valuable. But for Heaven's sake do not let us have any committees on a thing which your experts understand thoroughly, and which can be put into operation without a day's delay. The plans are worked out. All that is wanted is the decision of the Government to give effect to them.
681 If this debate has any effect in interesting the public in the present position and in bringing home what our situation is, it will have been a valuable debate. I hope something may come of it. I feel that too few people; take an interest in this tremendous problem which is confronting the nation. I am not reproaching the Coalition Government. They have had their hands full of the war, and it is their chief problem. But it would not interfere with their attention to the war if they took action and set this thing going. I have never known a Government that was not really indifferent to education. Cabinets are all more or less indifferent, and education is squeezed into the last moments of the sittings of the Cabinet. The Cabinet reflects Parliament, and Parliament reflects the opinion of the nation. Matthew Arnold was fond of speaking of out inaptitude for ideas, and the nation has been very unhappy with regard to ideas about education. This is reflected in the Cabinet, in Parliament, and in the country. Therefore the only way is for the leaders to take a definite decision without waiting for any particular mandate, and carry out what is absolutely essential if the national life is to be preserved at its ratio of strength.
I think that this indifference is partly the result of the training of the old Universities. I know I tread on difficult ground. That training is magnificent for the senate and for the forum, but no good for administration. You make splendid debaters and splendid rulers, but that precise habit of mind necessary for administration you do not train and never have been interested in training. The new Universities may produce men of a different stamp. But while I hope for the larger outlook, I do not forget the splendid things that the two old Universities have done. I remember having a remarkable conversation with the late Mr. Chamberlain. I was, with him, looking at the University in Birmingham, and we were talking of this very question and of the indifference displayed. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain was a man who had a very Teal interest in education. He saw with his practical instinct what was necessary, and he had shown his great driving power in what he had done in connection with Birmingham University. He cared for education because he saw that it was a national deficiency. I remember him saying—Now let us, in the work we are trying to do, agree about one thing. Do not let us do anything 682 which will in the slightest degree injure the atmosphere and tradition of Oxford and Cambridge. They are splendid and irreplaceable.I entirely agree with what he said. But we want not merely this training for the senate and the forum, but training for administration; and when we have got that there will arise in the Government a keen interest in education such as we see in other countries. We lack the reflective habit of mind, the reflective habit of mind which likes thought before action; and our lack of it is reflected in every stage of social life. It was all very fine in the days when we had no competitors, when our energy had made us what we were. What is necessary now is energy directed by high science; and I am appealing to-night for the high science that is essential if that energy is to be directed to the result which will maintain our place.
If I were to say what could be done practically, I would suggest this to the Government. Let the Minister for Education devote his whole time to the question of education, and he might be relieved from his Cabinet duties for this purpose. Let him devote his attention, first of all, to improving the last year at the elementary school, so as to give that choice of direction of occupation to the pupil there of which I have already spoken. Then develop the continuation schools and the boy supervision policy of the. Ministry of Munitions. I am not suggesting that you can do everything at once, but you can make a beginning, and if the beginning is made the progress will be rapid. Then improve the teaching and number of the secondary schools. Also carry out the Report of the Consultative Committee—my noble friend knows what I refer to—of five years ago, which was directed to instituting the leaving certificate of the secondary school and freeing the University from preliminary studies which ought to be conducted in the secondary school. And, lastly, there is that physical training in the schools of which I have spoken, and which I think might be introduced without friction and without delay. If money is spent on these things it will come back, not ten times or a hundred times, but a thousand times. It is vital to us. The old order is passing away, and we are face to face with a new order. Our old methods will not avail us any longer. That is why one hopes that the Government will take the lead in preparing the nation for the struggle which lies before us as soon as this war is over—a struggle not less deadly 683 and not less terrible, because, as I have said, it will not be obvious and it will be slow. The sands are sinking in the glass. When the war is over, this struggle will be on us almost immediately. At present we have taken no adequate steps to prepare ourselves. Let us see to it that we do prepare ourselves. Shakespeare put into the mouth of Brutus words which apply to this position—There is a tide in the affairs of men,Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;Omitted, all the voyage of their lifeIs bound in shallows and in miseries.My Lords, let us see to it that the nation, with a great emergency looming in front of it, does not lose the tide.
§ THE EARL OF CROMER
My Lords, I will not make any attempt to travel over the whole of the very wide field which has been covered by the noble and learned Viscount in his interesting and instructive address, all the more so because the noble and learned Viscount's principal remarks were devoted to elementary and secondary education, a subject on which I cannot venture to speak with the least authority. I am going to address myself mainly to what is called higher education—that is to say, education in Universities and public schools. I entirely agree with what the noble and learned Viscount said, that we should bestir ourselves betimes in order to prepare for the general revision of our educational system which must certainly take place when the war is over. The question of how we shall prepare ourselves presents certain difficulties.
I entirely agree with what Lord Haldane said in congratulating the Government on their decision not to appoint a Royal Commission. For my own part I should deprecate any hasty and ill-considered changes which in their ultimate results might affect the vital interests of the nation; on the other hand, I should very much deprecate a very long delay such as would certainly be involved were a Royal Commission appointed. What we want is action, not hasty, but reasonably speedy, after fair consideration. The idea of dealing with the subject by one or more separate committees is, I think, a happy one. On this point all I have to say is that I trust, whether there be committees or commissions appointed, that the utmost care will be taken in selecting the right men to serve upon them. It would be simply deplorable if the result of all the interest which is now 684 being taken in educational subjects was that the discussion degenerated into an undignified and unseemly wrangle between the advocates of science and the humanities. To the best of my belief the highest and best authorities both on the humanities and on science are fully agreed that they should arrive at some fair compromise which would conciliate the claims of the rival and conflicting schools.
It is almost inevitable, in considering this subject, that we should be to a certain extent influenced by what has been happening in Germany. We have been told that Germany has shot ahead of us in scientific knowledge and research. I am afraid that, broadly speaking, that charge is correct. But there is another side of the question which ought to be considered. I should certainly be the last person to underrate the value of science and scientific training. I remember perfectly well that eminent scholar, Sir Richard Jebb, who said at the time when the humanists had it all their own way in this country that they abused their position and denied to science its proper place in our educational system. There is nothing very surprising in that—all monopolists abuse their position. Since Sir Richard Jebb made those remarks a great deal has been done. I believe I am right in saying that the teaching of science is compulsory in all the secondary schools under Government control. Moreover, I believe much greater facilities are now given at the Universities and public schools for scientific training than was formerly the case. But I can quite believe that a great deal more remains to be done.
Whatever now is done in the way of scientific instruction, we should never forget, as the noble and learned Viscount very truly pointed out, that there is a vast deal of difference between instruction and education, although the two subjects are very often confounded. Instruction furnishes the intellect with knowledge; education, properly so called, trains the character. The two terms are by no means synonymous and interchangeable. I have no sort of wish to rate the claims of the humanities, and particularly of the classics, too high. I fully agree with Professor Freeman that the classics should be the objects of a reasonable homage and not of an excessive superstition. At the same time when I observe, as happened at a meeting the other day, that some of the extreme advocates of science are prepared to deny 685 the classics any claim to be formative of character, I must respectfully enter an earnest protest. That is not by any means the case. I have always felt that the classicists are under a great disadvantage in this connection. They are under this disadvantage, that they are frequently asked the tantalising, and I think the very empirical, question, "What is the good of reading the Odes of Pindar or the Ethics of Aristotle? What use will it be to a young man in after life?" Unless a satisfactory answer can be given—that is to say, an answer that would prove the classicists' case as a proposition is proved in Euclid—it is considered that they have suffered a dialectic defeat. This is a very short view to take of the question. I can conceive nothing more disastrous than to base the whole education of the country on a strictly utilitarian basis. The advantages of classical education have been recognised by most of the learned men in the past. Sir Henry Maine and M. Renan once said that outside the domain of religious teaching true progress must always consist in developing the ideas which Greece originally conceived. And some of your Lordships may be familiar with what the greatest historian this country has ever produced said on this subject. Gibbon gave up the study of science because he thought that the habit of demanding rigid demonstration for everything hardened his mind and deadened him to the finer feelings of moral evidence.
Now consider what has happened in Germany in connection with this subject—I do not mean in respect to any particular branch of intellectual life, but as regards the national life of Germany as a whole. The total moral collapse of Germany—for such is what I should call it—is one of the most extraordinary, and, I think, rightly understood, one of the most tragic events recorded in history. It cannot be doubted that side by side with a great advance in material prosperity and scientific knowledge there has been a vast deterioration of the German character. That deterioration is due, I do not doubt, to many causes, several of which lie entirely outside the domain of the subject which we are now discussing; but I cannot help thinking that one of those causes is that the atmosphere created by humanistic study and humanistic literature has lost its hold on German public opinion. In fact, the whole national mind of Germany appears to me to have become materialised; and 686 that is what I should very much fear if not sufficient attention were paid to humanistic, particularly classical, education in this country. There are, of course, German scholars of vast erudition, particularly erudition in the realm of the encyclopaedic arrangement of knowledge. I do not think this country can show any counterpart to such a work as Rosscher's colossal dictionary, and many others I could mention. But I venture to suggest that the real value of classical and humanistic education is not so much to turn out a few men of deep learning as to create a certain atmosphere of thought and to give the whole upper educated mind of the country a certain direction and tendency. That is, I think, the principal importance to be attached to education of that sort.
It is frequently stated, though I am glad to see that the noble and learned Viscount does not back up that statement, that the educational system of this country has been almost a complete failure. I am not prepared to say that it does not require very great revision, but I cannot at all admit that it has been so great a failure as many people appear to think. I have had special opportunity of judging of the sort of young men who were turned out from our Universities and our colleges. I have seen them at work in the villages of the Nile delta, in the sands of the Sudan, in the rice fields of Bengal and Burma, and in the most remote portions of the Himalayas. It is very rare to come across any one of these young men who is not capax imperii in the very best sense of the term. It is very rare to come across any one of them who is not regarded as an honoured representative of a beneficent administration and as a sure refuge from oppression in all forms. With those examples before my mind I cannot admit that our national system has been a failure.
Now can Germany produce men of this sort? Can Germany produce the incomparable Imperial agents which are to be found dotted all over the British Empire? I reply most emphatically that she can do nothing of the kind. It is well known that a distinguished German, before the war, sorrowfully said that although their Universities could turn out many men of varied accomplishments, they were quite incapable of producing that invaluable product of this country, nature's gentleman. It should be also remembered that humanistic and classical education and study is by no 687 means inconsistent with the pursuit of the more practical problems in life. A great many instances might be quoted of distinguished military men—General Wolfe, the hero of Quebec, is one—who in the exercise of their profession gained great advantages from what they learned from the classics. Grote, the historian of Greece, was a banker; so was Hodgkin, the author of "Italy and her Invaders," and so also is Dr. Walter Leaf, who is now recognised as one of the greatest authorities on Homeric study.
The noble and learned Viscount alluded, in the course of his interesting speech, to what was happening in America. I also should like to turn for one moment from Germany to America, and inquire what has happened there. Nothing struck me so forcibly when I was in America many years ago as the fact that the education of the women was vastly superior to that of the men. All the young American men from the age of 16 or 17 onwards seemed to me to be thinking of nothing but of turning "the almighty dollar." Since that time I believe a considerable change has come over American thought. The greatest thinkers in America have been alive to the danger of materialising the whole life of the nation to a high degree, and the result has been that Harvard and other Universities are year by year turning out an ever-increasing store of very valuable works on classical literature.
Let me turn from these general considerations to make one or two remarks upon the practical issues involved. In the first place, I should like to say something about the examinations for the Civil Service. I hear it often stated, especially by the advocates of scientific training, that the arrangements of these examinations are such as to favour unduly the humanists and to disparage to a great extent the scientists. I am not prepared either to deny or to affirm that statement. It would seem an easy matter on which to form an opinion by a cursory examination of the papers, but on examination it proves to be by no means a simple matter. It requires really an educational expert to understand fully what conclusions can be drawn from the actual number of marks assigned. I venture to suggest to His Majesty's Government that, amongst the committees which the noble Marquess alluded to the other day, it would not be a bad thing to form a small Departmental 688 Committee to examine this question and to bring out the facts and the conclusions to be drawn therefrom. I say that because I find that different men, all arguing with a very firm desire for the best, take up the same facts and arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions.
Then there is the question alluded to by Lord Haldane at the close of his speech—namely the question of University reform. I speak on this subject with some hesitation, for I did not, like so many of your Lordships, have the advantage of a University education in early life—a fact which I have always regretted. I cannot for my own part, however, think it can be possible to deal with this subject thoroughly unless it is taken up seriously. I think the present moment is singularly opportune for taking it up. It is well known that this question of University reform in normal times excites a good deal of Party feeling and animosity; but at this moment we have a Coalition Government. We have heard a good deal of late of some of the disadvantages of a Coalition Government. Let us at all events, therefore, reap whatever advantages can be obtained from the present system; and one of its advantages, I cannot help thinking, is that the question of University reform may be dealt with on its own merits without raising the Party feeling which would have been displayed in other times.
I am told by people who speak with authority on the subject that the governing bodies of the old Universities would be inclined to adopt reasonable and liberal reforms, but that when it comes to any drastic measures they are powerless to do so; and the reason was explained the other day at a meeting which was presided over by Lord Rayleigh, and at which the advocates of scientific training assembled. They said the real reason was that the moment any thorough reforms were proposed some "four thousand half-educated curates who had obtained the M.A. degree came up and barred the way." I think that was a very harsh and unjust expression to use about a valuable body of men. It may very well be that the members of the Church of England sometimes, after they leave the Universities, fail to keep up with the knowledge requisite for the times, but it should never be forgotten that they are scattered all over the country, and that each in his separate circle exercises a humanising and moralising influence the 689 value of which I think it is difficult to exaggerate. Neither can it be doubted, quite apart from their religious training, that the moralising and humanising influence to which I refer is in part due to the fact that they have received a classical training at the Universities. But I can quite understand that it is not desirable that they should have such a preponderating vote in the administration of the Universities as is at present the case. I therefore hope that this question of University reform will be taken up by the Government, and that, if necessary, legislation will be introduced.
Then there is the further question, the burning question of compulsory Greek. I think it is now admitted by almost all who have gone into the question seriously that compulsory Greek will have to go. That is, however, no reason why Greek study and Greek learning should be stifled in this country. Far from it. For my own part, I have sufficient confidence in a knowledge of Greek and of Greek literature that I believe it will save itself on its own merits. There will always, I think, be a sufficient number of young men in this country who, partly from literary tastes and partly from a wish to ponder over the deeper problems of life when they come to years of discretion, will, apart from religious matters, turn to the literature of ancient Greece for advice. But if compulsory Greek is to go, the study of Creek will have to begin a good deal later than is at present the case. There will be no harm in this provided it is not begun too late. On this point perhaps I may be allowed to state my own personal experience. I did not begin to study Latin and Greek until I was long past the schoolboy age, and although I have now a smattering of the languages, at the same time I have felt that I have never been able to make good all the drudgery, the limoe labor et mora, which the schoolboy undergoes in his life. Therefore I would say, "Do not begin Greek too late." I should say 15 to 16 was the proper age. As to the method by which the languages should be taught, my own view is that they ought to be taught as living languages. That is what is done, I believe, already in some of the schools of the country, more especially at the Perse School at Cambridge and I think that plan should be adopted in other schools.
There is another important point to which the noble and learned Viscount alluded, 690 which I cannot go into now—the financial considerations. I agree that it would be false economy to stint education if we can afford the money. At the same time I am bound to confess that I very much fear that our financial situation at the end of the war will be such as will render it impossible for us to spend as much money on education as many of us would certainly like
I thank your Lordships for the patience with which you have listened to these remarks. I am perfectly well aware that the noble and learned Viscount has much too wide and thorough a grasp of this question to depreciate in any way the study of the humanities, and I was particularly glad to listen to the remarks he made on that subject. At the same time it cannot be doubted that outside this House a considerable onslaught has been and probably will further be made on classical study; and I therefore thought I should be rendering a useful service if I broke a lance, however feeble, in favour of the humanists.
THE LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
My Lords, I do not think I need apologise for rising from this Bench to take part in this debate, for we and those whom we represent are profoundly interested in this question. I am quite sure that the House is of one mind in saying that we owe to the noble and learned Viscount a great debt for the speech, so comprehensive, so stimulating, and so practical, which he has delivered; and no one can doubt that it is most timely. We are beginning to hope that the time may not be so very far distant when we can turn our backs upon these dark and lurid years of the war and look to the future. But the future will not be less difficult than the time which lies behind it, and it will soon begin to challenge us in the most peremptory manner. The noble and learned Viscount has alluded to the fact that this country will be engaged in campaigns and struggles not less intense than, though happily of a different character from, those which are now raging. But over and above that which deals with our international relations, I suppose we shall feel that there will have to be campaigns in this country between the forces of movement and progress and those which resist. It will be plain to all men, I suppose, that matters of this kind will challenge our attention; but we are very 691 glad to know what already, even in the midst of all this turmoil, the present Government have done and are proposing to do. That is most encouraging to us, and stimulates our desire to do anything we can to increase that opinion upon which more than anything Governments must rely in the handling of matters which do not appeal so much to ordinary Party considerations, but which are very far from being less important on that account.
I observe that a very able young educationist has written this morning in one of our leading newspapers in terms which appear to show that he regards the future of the education question as a decidedly militant affair, not militant perhaps quite in the form of some of our past controversies about it, but militant in overcoming resistance. It seems to me that there is one most favourable circumstance in the matter, and on that the noble and learned Viscount has with characteristic force seized. There is, it appears to me, a definite objective upon which we might concentrate our force, or almost all our force, and if we could carry that point we should carry so much that we might well be content if other things were left to follow—I mean, of course, the case of our young people between the ages of 13 and 18. There, I think, is the key of the question. A man to whom practical sociology owes a large debt—the late Canon Barnett—pointed this out in a speech ten years ago in a way which for the first time made me realise the full importance of it. If we could conceive such a thing as members of this House banding themselves into an association, I think there would be no association which they could form which would be more practical and useful than that of a "13 to 18" Association.
We have heard the case finely put to-night. I do not know whether any of your Lordships happened to read the Observer of last Sunday. If you did, you would have found what the noble and learned Viscount has probably read, and what I think he would agree with my calling an effective and brilliant statement about this point by our distinguished novelist, Mr. John Galsworthy. Any one who wants to realise how much this thing bulks in the life of the community, if he has not gathered it from the noble and learned Viscount, would certainly gather it there. I do feel that our failure to deal adequately with the case of these young 692 people is to a significant degree part of the policy of drift to which we have been so much addicted. We are now disposed to accuse ourselves as a nation of not having thought as we ought to have done in many things. Certainly thinking has not been one of our strong points. When I think of the scale and the importance of this matter, and of the numbers of our young people between those years who have gone on the downward way into unemployment, to the wasting of the good that is in them, the strength that is in them, the moral worth that is in them, which is lost to the country and to themselves, I do feel that we are all to blame.
Speaking as one who was for some years a Bishop in South London—I am speaking against myself as much as anybody here—I say that we are to blame in that we have not compelled the country to deal with this question before. It was one of my duties in those years to go down to the Farm School Reformatory Camp at Redhill, a place which Sir Algernon West said when he was on the Prison Commission had been the one gleam that had brightened his labours. I saw there young boys who had been recruited from the Police Courts of London and our great cities; I saw them at their athletic work, and they were as fine specimens of young Englishmen in that respect as our public schools could have produced. We proceeded from their athletic work into the chapel, where they were presented to me as candidates for Confirmation; and in that other aspect I saw nothing that was not encouraging and hopeful. Often I wished that some of those boys who had not been convicted of offences might be added to the number of those who were benefiting by this admirable training.
I should like, if I had the words or the force, to bring home the greatness and the scale of this problem—its quality and its quantity, its keenness and its intensity—to any members of this House who are not aware of it, not merely in an abstract way but in a practical way, as something which ought to compel our energies for reform. I believe that in this as in many other cases we have made a beginning. I believe we have already, for instance, at the Borough Polytechnic, in the trade continuation schools there, the beginnings of what ought to be done on a large scale. I think if we all set ourselves to the doing of this it would be a fruitful thing and a practical thing, and I am sure it would be 693 a generous tiling, because we should be doing for the young men and young women of another class than our own what we should resent not being done for the young of our own class.
We have had some personal confessions this evening. I remember my own case, and it must be the case of many. I was rather a good and virtuous and industrious schoolboy, and I got some prizes in the years between 10 and 13. But I can perfectly recall the time—I think it was in my fourteenth year—when for the first time, reading, I think it was, Prescott's Charles V, I really found that work of this kind had an interest of its own, and I desired to go on and read more. Had I been in one of the elementary schools I should have been turned into a newspaper boy at that period, and though it is not for me to estimate the amount of loss which the country would have suffered thereby, it would have been, I think, perceptible. And that is what happens in a multitude of cases.
What form should this education take? Here I congratulate the noble and learned Viscount on the term he used; he used the word "training," not the technical and somewhat hackneyed word "education." Training suggests to us that here we have a young human being—what are we going to do with him? The answer, of course, must be that what we do with him must depend on what we want to see him become; and if we apply that standard and then have a generous conception of what a citizen is, we shall be pretty likely to arrive at something like a useful result. Of course, the first thing we should say would be, "We want him to be efficient"; and here, no doubt, Germany comes in to teach us a great deal. Whatever else Germany has been, we will all agree that she has been painfully and frightfully efficient. I suppose that the name of Germany will be introduced into our controversies and our conversations constantly in the next few years—sometimes as an example, but more often probably as a bogey. Possibly to the noble and learned Viscount it might be said, "You have drawn your ideas from Germany; we want no Germanised ideas; and the fact that you have been able to recommend your proposals very much by German examples is enough to discredit them in our eyes." The answer which the noble and learned Viscount would make, 694 with his dialectical power, would very likely be that he supposed his critic was quite satisfied with things British and wanted nothing else, precisely as our Prussian enemies are content with things Prussian and desire nothing else. At any rate, I do not think it is very likely that we shall not welcome efficiency in the future.
It must be said, I suppose, of German efficiency that it has not been altogether a narrow efficiency. I think the noble Earl on the other side (Lord Cromer) said something about the extreme development on the mechanical side by Germany. No doubt that is true; but it is not exclusively true. The German is too systematic and too comprehensive for that. He has certainly produced a type of mind which we have found to our cost alert, strenuous, and adaptable, and not mechanical. It is, I think, clear that we shall have to meet, and I hope with the greatest sympathy, one large claim—I mean the claim of science to a greater place in our ordinary education. We want not merely that a large number of people should know a larger number of facts of the scientific kind, but we desire that science should be used for the purpose for which it can be so well used—to produce a vigorous and thoughtful mental quality; that is, science skilfully and stimulatingly taught. I think we may take it for granted that there will be a much larger place for scientific training in the future. The noble Earl said he hoped very much that we should not dislodge our old classical training. He is thinking, doubtless, of those with whom his distinguished services in other countries have brought him into contact—those gentlemen who represent the Empire abroad. I do not think it matters very much how much science they know. I think that, those who want to learn science will certainly learn it, and I am sure that if science enters more largely into general education it will force up sufficiently that side of education in our public schools.
But there is one thing which we might rightly consider, and that is the larger place which physical training should have in our education, not merely for the greater development of the body, but because of its value in a conspicuous way—as so much of the training in our camps, and so on, has shown—from the point of view of discipline. Both as regards extension to other kinds of education from 14 to 18 and as regards 695 physical training, we look to our Government with hope that they will not be reluctant to bring to bear the power of the State in these matters. I believe that the State and the State alone can adequately deal with these problems. No doubt the experience of the war will have greatly increased our readiness to submit to the power of the State in this matter. Your Lordships must remember that though this of which we are speaking is so good, yet we shall come up against a good deal; we shall come up against interests of different kinds, or, at any rate, against the less thoughtful and less worthy representatives of industry in different shapes. We shall also come up against the self-interest of the very class that we want most to benefit. I quite understand the desire of parents to get something out of the earnings of their children. All that must be considered. But I am certain that nothing but a well-considered resolution on the part of Parliament and the Government to use the power of the State to put a thing of this kind through on a great scale will suffice for the purpose. The noble and learned Viscount uttered what I believe to be an absolute and literal truth when he said that what was done in this way would return a thousand fold in profit. But it takes a certain amount of venture to embark on any speculation, even though the prospects of profit are held out.
The noble and learned Viscount reminded us that if we are really going to train the youth of the country we must not only attend to their efficiency on the practical side, we must not only attend to their ability to serve the State as good and sound and disciplined citizen-soldiers, but we must also attend to their moral and spiritual life. We are apt to distinguish between the material side of human beings and the other side, which, by the use of a somewhat vague and ambiguous word, we call the spiritual side. Now if we look at the type of German education we cannot honestly say that Germany has neglected that side. Was there ever a nation—I speak under correction from so great a student of Germany as the noble and learned Viscount—was there ever a nation more sentimental than the Germans? And yet when the test came German sentiment proved the most fragile of all influences for restraining the policy of the nation from things which have shocked the world. We might almost say that German 696 sentiment has culminated in an awful climax in the "Hymn of Hate." Or take, again, the ideals with which philosophy deals, those things which have in them so much that is greatest in the work of the human mind. Is it not true that the German professorial mind has proved equally powerless to hold back Germany from the paths which she has followed?
Although it is not for one in my position to speak of the matter, it seems to me that what is wanted is something of sovereign power, something which claims to control and to guide ideas and sentiments of men as much as it claims to control their passions or their material aims. To conform to such a description there can be only one thing, and that is what we call, with differences of individual interpretation, religion—faith in a Fatherhood which gives value to every individual life and a Providence which shapes the careers both of nations and of men. For the control, for the help, of religion the noble and learned Viscount turns to us here; and we know that we ought in some degree to be able to contribute to its forces. We remember that those forces have been wasted; the consequence of which is that the words "dogmatic" or "undogmatic" religion were the watchwords. Neither dogmatic nor undogmatic religion can be trusted for the purpose for which you now appeal. It must be a religion which is real, a religion which is vital, a religion such as our soldiers have largely been learning in the trenches; and we must combine according to our several lights and several convictions to see that it takes its place in the future education of the young men and young women of England, to whom in the coming years the fortunes of the country are to be entrusted.
§ VISCOUNT BRYCE
My Lords, I am glad to join in the tribute which was paid by the right rev. Prelate to the very interesting and comprehensive speech of my noble and learned friend beside me. He raised an enormous number of questions for us, and stated his views in favour of them with perfect lucidity. The very width of the area which he covered makes it extremely difficult to follow and to comment on his remarks, and I should be taking up too much of your Lordships' time were I to attempt to do so. I shall not enter into the ancient controversies which were referred to by my noble 697 friend; but he will not suppose, I hope, because I do not, touch upon those controversies, that I am now more of his opinion than when we sat side by side in the House of Commons. But I do wish to commend to your Lordships' attention those practical questions which my noble and learned friend raised. We all feel, as was said by the right rev. Prelate, that this is a time when, if ever, we must bend our minds to consider what can be done, under the stimulus of the crisis through which we are passing, to set our house in order in every way.
I think my noble and learned friend presented somewhat too dark a picture of the condition of our education, particularly out secondary education. I entirely agree with him in the view that it is the secondary school which is the really important feature in education so far as the general intellectual and moral progress of the nation is concerned. It is the superior minds that lead the world and the nation, and what the secondary school, and the University following upon it, ought to do is to try to get at the best minds of the nation and give them the best training, and for that purpose there is nothing more important than the system which we have been happily following for a good many years past—the system of enabling promotions to be made from the elementary school to the secondary school, and from the secondary school to the University. Had I time, I could tell your Lordships some extremely interesting cases in which children of humble parents have risen from the elementary school through the secondary school to the University, have obtained high distinction there, and have passed into walks of life in which they are likely to be most useful to the commonwealth.
In my opinion my noble and learned friend exaggerates the state of things when he speaks of our secondary education as chaotic. I have had special opportunities of knowing something about it. I served, fifty-one years ago, as an Assistant Commissioner to the Commission—whose inquiry set on foot the reform of secondary education—presided over by Lord Taunton in the year 1865, and which issued a tremendous Report, of something like twenty volumes, three years later. It would have been perfectly true then to say that the position of secondary education 698 was not only chaotic but in many parts had been non-existent. There were many large towns and considerable rural areas in which there was no proper secondary education obtainable. Many years later—in the year 1894—I became chairman of a Commission which investigated again the whole state of secondary education; and the change was amazing. The amount of good work that had been done to create and equip secondary schools between 1865 and 1894 was perfectly extraordinary. I should think that on the whole that is the greatest education era that has passed over England certainly since the sixteenth century. And the most remarkable part was that it included women as well as men. There was exceedingly little good secondary education available for women in 1865, but in 1894 there were admirable secondary schools for girls in the larger towns. That development has gone on since. I have no authority to speak of the last few years, and I do not attribute most of such improvements as have occurred to the Act of 1902, as my noble and learned friend does. But there has been a continuation of the improvement which we noticed in 1894; and although many of the recommendations of that Commission—whose Report, I may add, was unanimous—were not carried out by the Governments which followed, still I think the Report may have had some effect; at any rate, it enabled us to record the immense progress that had been made. I dwell particularly on what was done for the education of women, because not only has it added immensely to the industrial and intellectual force of the country, but it has tended to raise education in general to a higher level than before women were admitted to its advantages.
My noble and learned friend also passed some disparaging remarks on the old Universities. I regretted those remarks, because I did not think there was solid foundation for them. My noble friend Lord Cromertook them up, and bore his testimony in a very emphatic way to the qualities which he found among the young men who had served under him in the East and who were graduates of the two ancient Universities. My noble and learned friend beside me admitted frankly that the two ancient Universities prepared men for the forum and the senate; but that would be a comparatively small service to render, because but a small art of the national 699 life ever finds its proper sphere in the forum and the senate. My noble and learned friend said that we had the best educational experts in the world and could desire nothing more. Those have come from Oxford or Cambridge. And when he says that what we want the ancient Universities to do is to train men for administration—well, what is administration but thinking? I have often heard my noble and learned friend complain that there was a want of thinking in this country and that administration was not as good as it ought to be because there was not enough thinking. That is true. But what are the ancient Universities for except to teach people to think? And I venture to say that this is a function which they perform as well as any Universities in the world.
I have had pretty large experience of Universities in both hemispheres and I have never found—I hope I am not partial in saying this; I have tried to observe these things with a dispassionate and detached eye—I have never found any Universities which combined so many advantages as do the Universities in this country. It would take too long to endeavour to prove that statement in detail. I only give it to your Lordships for what it is worth. If you consider the amount of thinking that is done for us, the high quality of that thinking and the literature it has produced, under the inspiration of the two ancient Universities, you will, I think, agree that they do not deserve the censure which my noble and learned friend has visited upon them. I do not deny that they are capable of improvement in some ways (including their government); but I cannot think that this is an apt moment for a Commission, considering that all the younger men are at this time occupied in fighting in the field on behalf of our cause. In that I include not only the undergraduates but to a large extent the teachers also.
My noble and learned friend dwelt very much—perhaps not too much—upon what we might learn from our enemy. I will not repeat the familiar quotation to convince your Lordships that we should do well to learn all we can from Germany. Whatever we think about her conduct at present, she certainly has shown efficiency in an extraordinary degree. But she has shown efficiency largely from causes which cannot 700 be reproduced in a country like ours. Her efficiency and organisation are largely due to the German habit of obedience. The German is trained to obey, and in learning the habit of obedience he loses a good deal of that spirit of initiative, that free individuality, which belongs to the people of this country. I do not deny that we may combine a very much better organisation with the retention of our individuality and initiative. That is a great problem for us to consider. But I beg your Lordships to remember that were we to sacrifice our independence and our individuality for the sake of the obtaining of a more perfect and efficient organisation and acquiring those habits of submission and obedience which are ground deeply into the German nature, we should make a bad exchange.
Coming to some of the details with which my noble and learned friend dealt, I agree with him that the provision for scientific teaching is inadequate. He was far too wide-minded to join in what I would venture to call the unthinking disparagement of humanistic and other language studies of which we hear so much nowadays. He knows perfectly well that these two things must go together, and that language and literature and history are just as essential a part of education as science can be. But I do think it is true that more provision should be made for scientific teaching in schools, in technical institutions, and in the Universities themselves.
When my noble friend talks in the way he did about the great additional sum of money to be given to these things, I would remind your Lordships that it is not so much money that is wanted in education as its proper application. We are spending at present an immense sum of money upon education, and I believe a good deal of it is not well spent. As for that which does involve more money, there is one thing needed more than anything else, and that is the improvement of the quality of the teaching, especially in the elementary schools.
In my belief, my Lords, the thing that is most wanted in our education is to improve the quality of the teaching, and you cannot do that without making the teacher's career more attractive in two ways. You must pay him better and give 701 him a better social status and better opportunities of promotion. Although we have not a caste system, as in Germany, still there has been very little opportunity for the teacher in the elementary school, however wide his knowledge, however great his capacity for teaching, to rise to higher posts. It has not been a career in this country, and if we made it more of a career we should benefit the elementary schools also.
I do not think I need say much on the question of the claims of science to supersede or dethrone classical teaching, because not only did my noble and learned friend not suggest this; but the noble Earl (Lord Cromer) dealt with the subject and stated views which I am sure have the entire concurrence of your Lordships. But I want to say a word about the common argument which is used on behalf of increasing the quantity, of scientific teaching—namely, that it would do a great deal to give interest in learning to boys who are now suffering from having a training only in languages. The distinction in schools is not between boys who show talent for science and boys who show it for languages. The broad distinction is between the boys who are keen and the boys who are slack. The slack boy is the great difficulty of all schools; you do not do much for him by enlarging the curriculum, because the great difficulty about him is that he does not care for knowledge at all. Nevertheless, it is quite true that there are boys who do show a special gift for science. I do not think they are so numerous as boys who show talent for history and language, but those boys ought to have more encouragement and opportunity for it than they have at present.
There is a great mistake which one often dears in talking about scientific teaching. The object is not, I think your Lordships will agree, to turn out a very large number of persons who have a minute knowledge of science; the object rather is to give everyone the opportunity of obtaining a grasp and conception of scientific method of understanding, feeling that he knows the ways of discovering truth which are used in the inductive sciences as well as the methods used in the study of mathematics or history. I cannot claim to have any scientific knowledge myself, beyond the slight knowledge, which I acquired at a University, of two natural sciences; but although I have not 702 been able to keep it up, I have found through life the fact of having known a little about science and having been taught to understand the methods on which science proceeds of the utmost possible value. One would like to see the curriculum of every secondary school at least so arranged as to give every boy who has a taste that way a chance of having an opportunity of forming a scientific habit of mind as well as pursuing the study of language and history.
Let me add that the Germans do not by any means make the mistake of excluding literary and classical culture in favour of science; on the contrary, I have often heard it stated that German experience has been that the boys who have gone through what they call the Gymnasium, which is a classical and linguistic school, turn out to have done better in later life that those who have had the practical training in what they call the Realschule. The result is that the former are preferred to the latter, because it is felt that the wider scope and sweep of mind which instruction in what we call the human subjects gives is of incomparable value when a man comes to deal with other men in his later life.
My noble and learned friend spoke as if what he called the want of scientific experts was chiefly due to the fact that we do not make provision for teaching them. I can not agree with him there. I do not go so far as to say that we might not usefully increase the provision we have now. But he admitted himself that there are a great many chemical experts. The truth is this, that there would be more experts if there were more demand for them. It is not that the institutions are not there to turn out the experts; it is that there is not the demand for the services of the experts which there ought to be. I think my noble and learned friend himself admitted that. I am quite sure, from the observations I have been able to make of the heads of the business community, that the fault lies very largely with them. The truth is that our business men have not, like the business men of America and of Germany, yet come to believe in science; they do not know what services science can render; they do not understand that a scientific discovery may have the most important effect on their business in enabling them to increase their output and their profits and far more than repay any sum that they 703 might spend in getting the best scientific opinion to help and direct them. The Americans and the Germans have learned that, and both practise it with extraordinary success; but our people have not learned it yet. I am glad to say that there are signs of improvement. I believe that the Advisory Committee which has now been formed by the Government, and on which they have some very eminent scientific men, is already beginning to find that the large employers of labour, the heads of large industrial concerns, are responding and beginning to understand how much they can learn by endeavouring to obtain scientific guidance in their work. That is one of the things we most want—to get our business men to understand how much they can make out of the application of science. I heard the other day an anecdote of a very distinguished scientist, to whom my noble and learned friend referred, the late Dr. Ludwig Mond, who, after a life spent in practical scientific discovery, said that the one thing he desired before his death was to make a scientific discovery which had not and never would have any practical value. He found that difficult, because the further he carried his researches into the abstract sciences the more he found that some practical application did suggest itself which ultimately became of value. That encourages us to realise that we ought to cherish not only those branches of science which have a practical application but the abstract ones no less, because it is out of abstract discovery that practical application comes.
The chief cause of the deficiency of our educational system is that the boys and the parents do not care for education. I have heard over and over again from the headmasters of our great public schools that there was nothing more discouraging to them than to find how little the parents cared for the intellectual progress of their boys. They would say, "We want our boy to get into the Eleven, or into the Boat"; but when appeal was made to them to encourage their boys to study, such appeals met with little response. That is at the bottom of most of the trouble. The same quality that appears in the business man, who does not believe in science, appears in the ordinary British parent and boy. It is sometimes attributed to the inordinate passion for athletic sports, but I do not think that is a sufficient explanation. No doubt a great deal of the 704 time of the boy is devoted, not merely to playing sports, but to reading about them in newspapers. But there is something further than that in it—indifference. This indifference to knowledge does not exist in the same degree in each part of the kingdom. It does not exist to the same degree in Wales, nor in Scotland, nor in Ireland. I do not know why it is. As a great Scotsman once observed, "The Celtic peoples"—and he was speaking of Scotland in particular—" have never produced anybody so great as the greatest Englishmen." But in spite of that there is a greater susceptibility to ideas and a greater desire for knowledge in the average Scottish, Welsh, or Irish boy than there seems to be in the English boy.
I believe there are only two ways in which we can deal with the problem; at least I cannot think of any others. One is to make the employer of labour realise how much it is to his interest to get the most intelligent, most educated, as well as the most active boy; and to make the teaching so much better and so much more stimulating that it will awaken those intellectual faculties in the boy which are so often at present deficient. If any of your Lordships will ask any of those who are watching our private soldiers at the Front, especially those who are behind the Front and who have a great deal of leisure on their hands, I think you will hear, as I have heard from a good many observers, that while they are greatly struck by the many good qualities of the British private soldier, they are also struck by the fact that education seems to have produced little impression on his mind. That is, after all, what we want in education—to stir up and waken up the boy's mind; we want to give him curiosity and the desire to know, and if this be wanting there is something wrong with our education. It is to the improvement of teachers that our efforts ought, above all, to be directed.
I join in the hope, expressed in eloquent terms by my noble and learned friend, that the crisis through which we are passing will rouse us all to set our educational house in order, and that the sense which we have obtained of some of our deficiencies and a knowledge of the efforts which we shall have to put forward, after the enormous expenditure of money, and, what is far worse, the enormous loss of life in the war, to maintain our position in the world, will rouse our people to do more for education, to think 705 more about it, and to set greater value upon it than they have hitherto been accustomed to do.
THE LORD BISHOP OF ELY
My Lords, on behalf of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until Wednesday next.
§ On Question, the further debate adjourned until Wednesday next, the 19th instant.