§ Debate, adjourned from Wednesday last, resumed (according to Order).
My Lords, this debate, which is now in its third day, was raised on the question of the training of the nation, but the bulk of the discussion so far has turned rather upon methods of instruction, curricula, classification of schools, and so forth. But I hold strongly that in considering what is needed for the training of the nation we ought, far above all matters of this sort, to put the public system of education. I put the formation of the character of boys and girls with a view to their growing up capable citizens of the country higher than the training of them to fitness to earn their livelihood in any particular direction.
In the course of this debate we have had glances at Germany, as if in the field of efficiency we had a great deal to learn from that country. I was glad to hear several speakers disclaim setting up a German pattern for English people. Even if the German pattern had resulted in good for Germany, I think that national characteristics and national history make it undesirable to transplant a pattern which may be indigenous in one country and make it a type for another. I think this war has shown that our educational system, or want of system, has really produced better results than all the what is called "discipline," but which I prefer to call "drill," of Germany. We do not want as the type of character a submissive acquiescence in orders from higher quarters and from the Government. We do not want our people to have their initiative and their individuality atrophied in order that they may become the subservient organs of a higher command; and that, I think, is what the whole German system throughout tends to produce. Taking an illustration from ancient nations, the German ideal was rather that of Sparta, where the State exacted and demanded everything from its citizens and left no freedom to them. I would say we want the ideal of Athens; the great boast of the Athenians was that their mode of life was not dictated to them from above, but that every citizen, no matter what his station, was invited to take his share in the guidance of the policy of the community.
I think that this war has shown that we have produced a better result in the field 923 by our system than have the Germans by theirs. Our Navy, of course, has a very full professional training and is always an effective mobilised Service. But look what has happened to our Army? From a few hundred thousands there have been called into existence millions, with officers drawn from the Universities, from the public schools, from Officers Training Corps in various organisations, from training colleges, from the teaching profession, secondary schools, and what not. Everybody agrees that our soldiers have shown the finest qualities of soldiery. They have shown not only courage, discipline, cheerfulness, and good temper, but they have shown what are, perhaps, the greatest qualities of all—forbearance, consideration, and generosity to the enemy, wounded and prisoners, and have not allowed themselves to be provoked by the cruelties which have been imposed by the Higher Command in Germany, whose order went out that the German Armies were to add to the "frightfulness" of war. It is a great boast for any country to be able to say that they had kept their good temper and reasonableness when tried by this terrible strain of war. I will not say that it has been always possible to maintain a perfectly even balance and a perfectly calm mind in such a stress of emotion as we are going through in this gigantic struggle, greater than the world has ever known before. It would be surprising if we did not a little lose our balance, our perfect calmness and impartiality, and be sometimes carried away. But in spite of the atrocities which we have read of in German prisons, though some few voices have been raised here for retaliation the almost unanimous voice of the country has been that we must treat our enemies in a way due to our self-respect if not due to their own merits. All that is, I think, evidence that the training of this nation in peace has not fallen short when it came to the days of war.
What are the ideals of Germany? I think Germany set up two aims. There was to be official patriotism and official religion. The official patriotism has resulted in any person who ventures to criticise the Government being treated as a criminal offender, and the official religion has resulted in the Emperor treating Providence as his ally and sometimes even as his subordinate, I do not think that is a state of mind which we wish to see stimulated or developed in the English people. Therefore I would urge that in the training of our nation in the schools—namely, in the formation of the 924 character of the nation—we should not aim at any extension of Governmental interference and Governmental regulations. My belief is that it is in the free play of public opinion locally, in the calling out as much as possible of local interest, local activity, and local responsibility, that we shall get the greatest securities for a progressive system of national education. And as I hope for a future increase in local interest and local administration, I recognise, of course, that where you give rights you give the possibility of abusing them as well as using them; and I am quite willing to pay the price of some inequalities and local shortcomings, some parsimony and want of imagination, because I say that the more we trust local activity the more we shall develop local vitality, which tends to become cramped and destroyed by too much dependence upon bureaucratic regulations, codes, and circulars issued from Whitehall. Therefore I insist very strongly that whatever ideal we set before ourselves in the development of our education, we must hope that it will be done through local activity and not through Governmental dictation.
In local activity another element to which I look for securing the real growth of our public education is a great respect for the freedom and the individuality of the teachers. If you are to get the best out of your teachers, you must encourage them to think for themselves and to have freedom in their methods, and for that you must secure that those who have the appointment and promotion of teachers should be so constituted that they should have regard only to the efficiency and character of the teachers as teachers in appointing and promoting them. I wish for no subsidiary aims of another character. I do not wish any teacher to feel that outside of his school he is fettered or hampered in the free expression of his thoughts as a citizen, and that if he does or says anything unpopular with his governors he will endanger his rights of security and promotion. After all, it is on the vitality and character of your teachers that you must depend for a really vital imparting of instruction and character to the pupils, and anything which tends to lower the self-respect of the teachers will be an injury to national education.
I should like to touch on one point that was mentioned by the most rev. Primate. Some people ask for a fuller amount of ethical teaching. Here is touched the 925 dangerous question of religious instruction. There can be no school which is not daily and hourly a school of ethical teaching if you take the ordinary duties imposed—punctuality in attendance, honesty in regard to the performance of the lessons, and order in the school and in the playground; and in the teachers there is the perpetual example which any efficient teacher must set of patience, kindliness, and at the same time firmness. All those qualities, which are exercised every hour, every minute almost, in the school, are a constant and permanent ethical training for all concerned. It is the atmosphere of the school in its daily conduct which is the vital and valuable element in ethical teaching, and not a formal lesson which may be easily distorted to something prescribed from above, which does not become genuine or real either to the person imparting it or to the one to whom it is imparted.
I now pass to what I think is the most important part of this problem of the training of the nation from the educational side—the instruction. While, of course in some respects all education is one, I should be very sorry if we were too much to run away with the idea, which some people are always advocating—what they call "the ladder of education"—that each grade of education is to lead up to and prepare for the grade above. Your elementary system must to a large extent be a self-contained system, and the same applies to your secondary system. I do not think you can expect that more than 10 or 15 per cent. of the children attending the elementary schools will pass on to the secondary schools; and I certainly do not believe, even dividing your secondary schools into two types—the type which ceases at sixteen and the type which goes on to eighteen—that more than a moderate percentage of those who go to the secondary schools will go on to places of higher education, whether to Universities, technological schools, or institutions of that sort. But there is a good deal of passing to higher education which does not appear in our statistics, because there are many professions which have a special training apart from the Universities. There are the medical profession, the legal profession, the engineering profession, and so on. They have a very extensive higher education which does not come into our figures of University education. Therefore we may easily take too gloomy a view of the number of pupils who are receiving adequate training for the higher branches of industrial and 926 commercial life if we look only at those who pass through what are called places of higher education.
Coming to what I have in my life had most to do with, the elementary schools, I say that before we can improve our elementary schools we must get rid of the vicious doctrine prevalent in England that elementary schools must be kept down and limited to what people are pleased to call strictly elementary education lest they should compete with the secondary schools. As I say, only about 10 per cent. pass from the elementary schools to the secondary schools; yet the bulk of those who go into the secondary schools, aided by public funds, pass from the elementary schools, and you cannot have a good system in the secondary schools unless you have a good and liberal foundation in those who come from the elementary schools. The same thing holds good, of course, from the secondary schools to the Universities. The noble and learned Viscount who initiated this debate touched upon that matter when he pointed out that our places of higher instruction suffer very much from the inadequate preparation of young people who go up from our secondary schools. But I do not so much want the State to devise curricula as to be liberal in encouraging local effort in having an expanding system. I do not want to go to Germany. I am quite content to cross the Tweed for an example of what we want. In Scotland they have a largely developed system of higher grade schools. These have naturally grown out of the elementary schools, which are closely associated with them, very often under the same headmaster; and though in the last few years the Governmental codes have made a distinction and tried to class the higher grade schools more as secondary education, yet in the history of Scottish schools they are an essential part of the elementary system of Scotland. And in addition to these higher grade schools you have there the supplementary classes in the purely elementary schools. These are classes into which scholars pass when they are twelve years of age. They pass with a free curriculum, liberal grants, and every encouragement. In England we have nothing of that kind.
I say that if we want to improve our elementary schools it is essential that the Board of Education should take an entirely different point of view from that which they have taken hitherto. We had a very 927 grudging concession, made by the Board of Education in 1902 or 1903, of higher elementary schools after the Cockerton Judgment came and extinguished some of the advanced work of the elementary schools; but any one who studies the history of it will see that this concession was made so grudgingly that it was made almost impossible. The curriculum was a narrow one heavily loaded with science, and with not enough encouragement for the general cultivation of the mind. It was costly in the structural premises it demanded, and instead of being closely linked with and growing out of the elementary schools the Board of Education absolutely demanded a complete severance in premises, staff, and everything else. That was doing everything that ought not to be done, and refusing to do everything that ought to be done; and I say we have a right to ask that in any progressive steps taken for the improvement of education, the elementary school system shall be put upon a more liberal footing. People imagine that every boy or girl who wants to stop after the seventh standard and up to fifteen or so ought to be raked into a secondary school. There is no greater mistake. A large number of pupils whose parents wish them to get a good education and who do not go into trade or apprenticeship until they are about fifteen or so, will be all the better for going on in the surroundings to which they are accustomed, and not taking a little section out of a new kind of education which they can never follow properly to the end. In Scotland they have not the age limit which we have. The age limit in England is up to 15½ or so, and the Board of Education, if they choose, can extend it. But the Board have been very reluctant and unwilling to press local authorities to extend education, and I am sorry to say that the local authorities themselves in England have not shown any desire to extend it.
But that is not enough. You cannot have this more liberal system of elementary education unless you have a much more liberal conception of the kind of teacher who is wanted. In Scotland at this moment the great mass of the teaching staff are not only certificated but trained teachers and the regulations of the Scottish Board of Education contemplate that in their educational system there will be practically none but trained certificated teachers. They have abolished what was known as the acting teachers' examination, and have therefore closed, the door to people 928 from outside who do not come through the training college. In England our staff is very largely made up of young women over eighteen years of age, who have really nothing but their age to their credit, and of ex-pupil teachers, uncertificated assistants, who have nothing like the grip or knowledge that will make them fit to give a liberal teaching to the children. All these things are wanted in our elementary schools to make them fit.
After that we go on to our secondary schools. I think that the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane, was perhaps a little unfair when he talked of the "lamentable" or "deplorable" waste that was going on. In one sense that is quite true. But Lord Haldane should remember that even at this moment there is no obligation, no statutory provision, by which it is the duty of any local authority to provide education beyond elementary. It is quite true—Lord Haldane was a member of the Cabinet at the time—that this was met in the draft scheme of an Education Bill which would have come on in 1914, perhaps, had it not been for the war. It was there proposed to translate the power which local authorities have into an obligation. One or two things have been done. I forget in which year it was, but an Act was passed by which the whisky money, instead of being at the discretion of the local authorities to spend on education, had to be so spent. And as to the Universities and higher colleges, some towns have voluntarily, more in England than in Wales, given considerable aid to their colleges—Birmingham, and so forth. But that has been purely voluntary. It is quite clear that if we want our educational system to progress we must make those who are chargeable with the duty of providing it realise that their duty includes not only elementary but higher classes. I will say nothing about the interesting question of how we are to provide for working boys from fourteen to seventeen. This is an important matter, but it constitutes the fringe compared to the giving of sound machinery by which local effort, local enthusiasm, and local public spirit can take up this problem and work it on local lines.
A question has been raised as to classics and science, and all that. Whether the schools should be modern, as it is called, or of the older type, has really been settled, because we know that the local authorities 929 in counties and county boroughs and other great authorities who have initiated these schools have practically started them all on modern lines; and the new Universities which have sprung up are all on modern lines. Mr. Mason, who founded the Mason College at Birmingham, was very fanatical for science, and in his charter he provided that there should not be a scrap of literature taught; but the governors appealed to Parliament in the matter, and the scheme was amended. What is shown to be the want of the country through the local authorities is the strengthening of the modern side of education. I am not going to discuss the question between the humanities and science. I think that if you have teachers who are enthusiastic you can do a great deal to stimulate character by both. But whether you are going to teach the humanities or to give a scientific training, what I do want to plead is that we should warn our local authorities not to be in too great a hurry to give a practical application to general training. They all want to cut short preliminary training in order to come to the practical application. You cannot have any really advanced work done in connection with the great industries unless the men of science who are employed are first-rate in scientific knowledge. The great mass of your children leave the secondary schools at the age of sixteen. Up to sixteen you ought to be teaching the boy and girl to get the power of thinking for themselves and to get the desire to go on acquiring knowledge after leaving school; and if you have taught them these two things, you have given them a good equipment so that when they go out at sixteen to the workshops or elsewhere they will have got something which will stick by them through life—a pleasure in study and a real grip of what little they have learned. Then afterwards, whether in practical schools or otherwise, you can come to practical application. It is to the local people that I look for a real vivifying interest in our schools, and to them I appeal not to be in a hurry to get results, but rather to sow their seed and patiently wait for the crop.
There are one or two things which Parliament can do and which I think it ought to do. I have a good deal of experience of the Welsh secondary schools. We think that we have made good progress in Wales considering all things. At this moment in the schools under the Central Welsh Board we have 15,000 pupils, of whom 90 per cent. 930 come from the elementary schools; and all that has been a growth of about twenty-one years. In England there has also been a great growth, and there would have been a greater but for the war; but we are brought up short by the want of money. I think I may say that, certainly in Wales, local resources are exhausted; and considering what the demands will be upon everybody after the war, I do not anticipate a great fund of money and willingness to subscribe in England. But there are two or three things which are essential for the foundation of our captains and non-commissioned officers of industry. We want better salaries for the teachers; we want the man who goes into the profession of teaching to feel that he can marry and bring up his children in some decency; and we should see that he gets better wages than a highly skilled mechanic. Again, what was found necessary for the elementary school should be extended to the secondary school; and there should be a scheme of pensions. The work of teaching children is much more arduous than that of teaching young men and women. A man can teach at a University with less strain than at a grammar school. I think the pension should begin at least at the age of 60, and I should be glad if it could begin at 55. Then we want money for better premises and for improved equipment. The demands on the authorities are very exacting, bat if you are to teach, say, geography you want the latest maps and things of that sort; and people are now clamouring for a separate gymnasium for the physical training of the young as distinct from the assembly hall, which is a useful and necessary part of the school. I do not say that all these things are equally necessary, but they are all desirable; and as people get keener about these things, however burdened we may be with taxation, considerable financial assistance will be demanded. A paper has been brought out by the Advisory. Committee about scholarships from 16 to 18, and so forth, but I am not going into that question. I am sure it would be desirable to help young people, whose parents would otherwise take them away from school at 16, to have two years of secondary education; but I think it is more important that the schools where the children are educated should be well staffed than that a few children should be enabled to go on further in their education. The school itself should come first, in my opinion, and the other matter should come second.
931 This is all I wish to bring before your Lordships as to my idea for the improvement of the nation's education. First, not to allow ourselves to be drawn away from the paramount duty of having a true spirit of civic freedom, self-reliance, and independence generated in our schools, with proper self-respect and formation of character; and then to recognise that the standards of our elementary education should be raised as high as possible, at least as high as the Scottish. The State should help with staff equipment and other things, and with reasonable pensions for retirement; and also I would wish to press that while I think the Central Government should advise, help, and persuade, the State ought to be very much on its guard not to allow that advice to drift into dictation and peremptory orders. I think that the stress of the war will leave such an influence on the character of our young people at our schools that while they are keenly alive to the opportunities of making the best of their lives they will have a greater sense of obligation to the State, and that all will go into the work of the preparation for life with a sense that what they are preparing themselves for is not only to their own advantage but for the welfare of the community to which they belong.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, I agree very largely with the noble Lord who has just sat down. I think it is most important that we should not allow anything in the nature of an all-pervading officialism to take away what has been a great feature—namely, individual initiative and free action in our system of national education. But I think there is a danger, because in his great speech, if I may so call it, the noble and learned Viscount put organisation almost in the first place. What we have to realise is that organisation is at most a means to an end, and we ought by every method in our power to preserve that spirit of freedom both as regards the individual and as regards our local institutions to which the noble Lord who has just spoken referred.
I should like to say a word of general caution upon another point. There were prophets of evil who, before the war broke out, suggested that the spirit of courage, heroism, and self-sacrifice had fallen to a low ebb as regards our national character and our national training. I think if there is one lesson to be learned from the war more than another it is that those prophecies 932 have been falsified, and that the traditional methods of education in this country have, so far as national character and national energy are concerned, been more than justified by the heroism and self-sacrifice of our soldiers during the present war. And in what I am going to say I do not want to appear to differ too much from the noble Viscount's views on other points. But I enter a plea that those elements in our nation which are of a special character and which do not come into anything like a German system of organisation should be carefully safeguarded, in order that the traditional qualities which have been shown in the present war may be preserved as regards our system of national training in the future.
I do not myself believe that after the war we are going to have what is sometimes called a new heaven and a new earth. I believe that we shall have a large number of our problems still to be thought out and solved—I mean the same problems as confronted us before the war. Upon that point I am in agreement with what was said by Viscount Bryce the other night, and also by Lord Sydenham. It would be a mistake of a most serious kind in dealing with the whole fabric of our national training to think that the war—war, after all, is not a maker of character but a test of character—has got rid of all the difficulties with which we were confronted in old days, and that we can fold our hands and regard our national character and traditional courage as safe for all time. If for a moment I might refer to the humanities, which often put matters of this kind in the right perspective, I suppose all noble Lords have in mind the well-known saying in Horace—Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona Multi;And if we look back to the way in which our Empire has been built up we shall find many men who in times past have shown the same heroism and the same self-sacrifice which are admired so much and for which we are so grateful as a nation at the present time.
The first special point upon which I wish to say a word or two is the question of our public schools. The noble and learned Viscount, in his speech, paid a well-deserved compliment to the national training of our public schools. But I want to go much further. I should like to be assured that in any new general scheme of national 933 education the main fabric and principles on which our public schools have been framed and now exist will be preserved and safeguarded. I have no doubt whatever that one lesson of the war is that the moral and physical training of our great public schools has stood the test. I will say a word or two in a moment on the question of efficiency of education, in reference to which I can give some particulars which may be of interest. But let me say this, and I think the noble Viscount is entitled to the benefit of what he has done. When he was dealing with physical training in our public schools he dealt with the question of the cadet corps and the Officers Training Corps. There are two factors as regards our public school life with which the noble Viscount will always be connected. One is that he allowed all schools which came under certain definite tests—and the school with which I am specially connected, Winchester, came within that test—to send certain of their boys to the military training colleges free from the ordinary entrance examinations, on the recommendation of the headmasters that they were fit and proper persons in matters of leadership. I think that was a very important start, and a very important factor. Secondly, he started in connection with both our public schools and our Universities what has been a source of the greatest strength and resource under the special difficulties of the present war—I mean the Officers Training Corps. What has been the effect? He will tell me if the number I am quoting is wrong. At the outbreak of the war there were about 24,000 members of the Officers Training Corps; of those, no fewer than 20,000 had been contributed from our various public schools. Although the noble Viscount has been subject to certain attacks, I think insufficient credit has been given to him for what he did in this matter of national training, which put at the resource of our country this large number of officers at a time of great national crisis.
I agree entirely with what was said by the Lord Bishop of Ely the other day, that valuable reform comes from within; and I want to point out that in the case of one great public school, at any rate, reforms have been initiated which go a very long way in the direction desired by the noble Viscount. The school to which I refer was founded by a great Churchman between 500 and 600 years ago, and in spite of its antiquity it is in the green vigour of a vigorous young life at the present moment;— 934 I mean Winchester, which has been the model on which other public schools have been framed in our country. I became a scholar at Winchester more than, I am sorry to say, half a century ago. If the noble Viscount had seen Winchester in those days he would have shuddered at its inefficiency. The name of science was unknown; mathematics was partly a lesson and partly a joke—the subject hardly took a part in our real curriculum. And as regards modern languages, they consisted in a stormy time for a French and German master, whose life, I am afraid, was made anything but pleasant under the conditions which then existed. I admit that before I left Winchester reform had already begun, because the then headmaster was a great reformer as regards educational methods at public schools. But forty years after I left Winchester I had the privilege of being connected with it again as a Fellow and as a member of the governing body. Now what is the position there at the present time? Of course, you can always have improvement; but I think the noble Viscount himself, if he studied the conditions, ought to be satisfied at the reforms which have been made. We have there an admirable system of scientific education, well-equipped laboratories, and teachers of the highest eminence in matters of physical and chemical research; and I should like to give an instance of the results. I was specially interested a few years ago in a boy at Winchester who had been educated on the scientific side. The education enabled him to obtain a scholarship at Oxford, but instead of going to Oxford he came to London in order to be under the teaching of that great scientist of European reputation, whose loss we are now mourning—Sir William Ramsay. He went under Sir William Ramsay at University College, and Sir William Ramsay, whom I knew well, gave me this testimony. He said, "I have been told that the provision for scientific education at the public schools has been neglected, but my experience from this boy is that he has been thoroughly and well taught and efficiently trained in all the first principles connected with scientific chemical education." As I say, you never ought to come to an end of reform. But as regards science, although Winchester is a school dedicated in a special sense to the humanities, although it is a school for all time connected with classical scholarship, yet by internal reform it has brought itself up to modern requirements and at the 935 present moment has a perfectly and well equipped scientific system and laboratory.
I agree in the doctrine that there is ample room for education in the humanities as well as in modern directions. They are complementary to one another, and there is no reason why they should jostle against one another in order that one should have the supremacy. At Winchester mathematics are admirably taught; I do not know how better teachers could possibly be obtained. As regards modern languages, they are taught by English teachers; and a boy leaving Winchester at the present time has had ample opportunity of making himself thoroughly well acquainted with the first conditions of education as regards modern languages. Of course, I assume that anybody who desires to perfect his education as regards foreign languages is likely to go to the particular country where the language is spoken in which he wants to become specially proficient.
There is one other point as regards the experience of Winchester that I want to mention to Lord Sheffield. We have been enabled to do what I agree with him is absolutely essential as regards the future of the teaching profession in this country. We have been able to institute a pension system, and we have instituted it on the basis that the master is entitled to a pension at the age of sixty. Therefore I claim as regards this old school founded 500 or 600 years ago, that it has come up to the best modern test of efficiency put forward by the noble Viscount, and that it has come up to the last test as regards the financial treatment of its teachers referred to by Lord Sheffield. It surely is a splendid instance of reform from within that the oldest of our public schools should have brought itself up to modern conditions in all these respects.
Everybody who has studied educational methods will agree that the teacher is the pivot of the whole system. It is impossible to have any satisfactory system of education without you have adequate and efficient teachers. Let me begin at the top for a moment. I take the case of the great public school where you can give special inducements to attract good teachers. I believe that even in the case of a school like Winchester you must increase the inducements. There has been too little inclination to increase the inducements in order to get the best teachers; whereas at the same 936 time there has been a very large number of competing inducements which take away some of the best of the representatives of our Universities at Oxford and Cambridge. But when we come to the national schools the difficulty is far greater. It is very little good saying that you want this or that done at your national schools without you provide capable teachers to carry out your intention. Let me give a figure or two, because, after all, figures are worth more than a mere general statement in a matter of this kind. I have been closely connected for some years with the Church of England training colleges. I take them only as a test. We have spent something like £500,000 in providing efficient training colleges in order to get trained Church teachers. At the outbreak of the war we had twelve colleges; at the present time only six are open; yet, of course, in the future there will be the same demand for teachers that there has been in the past. Let me tell your Lordships what our experience is; and I think it is much to the honour of these training colleges, although it emphasises the difficulty as regards teachers in the future. I will take St. John's Training College in Battersea. In January, 1914, there were 150 pupils; in the autumn 140 of them voluntarily joined the Forces in order to perform the highest of patriotic duties—93.3 per cent. of the students of that training college were withdrawn from training influences. That is a case in which the Church of England has spent a sum lately of over £20,000. I will take one other instance, that of St. Mark's, Battersea, where we have lately spent a sum of about £30,000. Just before the war there were 136 pupils there; of those, over 120 volunteered for national service, again a splendid instance of patriotism at a time of great national necessity. But the question is, What are we going to do to provide efficient teachers in the future? That is one of the great practical questions which has to be dealt with, and which I think was not dealt with by the noble Viscount in the speech that he made. He said, quite rightly, that teachers were to a great extent the pivot of the educational system. And I noticed that when the Minister for Education made his annual speech in the House of Commons the other night he spoke of the teacher difficulty. But I should like to ask the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, if he is going to speak in this debate, Have the Government made any general provision for education in the 937 future in the sense that they can guarantee that there will be trained teachers sufficient to carry on our great system of education and national training when the difficulties of the war come to an end?
The next point I want to say a word or two about is one on which I thoroughly agree with Lord Sheffield. I took my part—on the other side of the House to that on which the noble Viscount sat—in the debates which ended in the Education Act of 1902. One of the great questions then debated was the drawing of the line between the freedom of the local authorities and the power of the central authority. On every occasion I supported the freedom of the local authority, and I have a thorough belief that it is only in the freedom of the local authority that we can get what we want as regards a popular system of education in this country. We want to reduce the interference of Whitehall to a minimum. Of course, there are questions which have to be decided centrally, in order that the local authorities may carry out their duties fairly and properly; but, apart from that, I would grant our great county councils and our great municipalities the freest possible hand in order to give the form of education required in their particular counties or towns. It is only in that way that you will get popularity, and without you secure popularity you will find a stone wall against you as regards suggested reforms in our educational system.
I am not quite sure that I followed what the noble Viscount meant regarding training—a most important point—between the ages of 13 or 14 and 18. Did he mean in the main what would be equivalent to a system of compulsory apprenticeship, because that would be very much in accord with the system in Berlin. If he means that, I am thoroughly in agreement with him. What has made education unpopular is that, instead of having what was the equivalent of a system of compulsory apprenticeship, you have had a lot of matters taught which, in the opinion of everybody, were of little value as regards the progress and advance of boys in their world's work and life. Once convince the people of this country that what you want to give in your continuation classes is real utility work, coming in the place of the old apprenticeship system—which was one of the best systems known in the world—you need not fear unpopularity. And that is why again I say that a system of that kind can 938 only be carried out by the maximum of freedom being allowed to the local authorities either in the counties or in the towns.
Let me give an illustration of what I mean. It is a matter which has been raised year after year, and I am afraid I raised it myself very often in another place. I am very interested in agriculture, and in what is called maintaining and increasing the population in our rural districts. We want our rural districts to be stronger and better populated than they are at the present moment. What is the system by which that can be brought about? If you had a real system of apprenticeship during these succeeding years, healthy and health-giving and easily provided, you would at once solve what is so often professed to be a great difficulty and keep in the country districts a large number of those who now leave because their education wholly unfits them for rural and agricultural pursuits. And why should not you do it? We hear so much about small holdings and schemes of that kind. I am generally in favour of those schemes. But the bottom of the whole thing is this, that you should so educate a number of your children that they should be specially equipped for rural and agricultural life; and there is no reason whatever why this should not be done under the scheme which has been sketched out by the noble Viscount. I think the reason why it has not been done is this. My experience is that Whitehall is always adverse to any real practical scheme which means utility in education or in national training. The Department is bound up with mere book learning and book education, which, after all, is only one side of what we mean by national training. Let us get rid of that, and let us have what I call a system of compulsory apprenticeship, by which you would both popularise education in our various districts and do the best to make the children of the future efficient for the work they are intended to undertake.
To my mind the most important topic is that of religious education. My view is that no system of education can be of real national value unless religion has its proper and real place as part of it. I quite agree with what has been said, that in one sense you cannot separate spiritual and religious education from education as a whole. But that is not enough. If you want religious education to be followed in this country you must see that opportunities are given to the parents of children themselves to select 939 the form of religious education which they think best for the future progress and welfare of their children. That was the policy adumbrated by the noble Viscount. In this respect he has been rather lonely and solitary, I think, amongst those with whom he has generally acted in political life. After all, this is no question of theological discussion. We can put that on one side. The lay Churchmen of England have discussed this matter and passed resolutions upon it again and again, and as chairman of the Canterbury House of Laymen I can say on their behalf that what they believe and think is this, that you can never settle this question except on the basis of absolute equality of treatment of every child in this country, to whatever denomination he belongs, in accordance with the wishes which his parents may indicate. We do not want and are not asking for anything in the nature of a privilege or anything of that kind, but we do feel in the strongest way that when the principles of national training are being discussed in this House proper attention ought to be paid to spiritual and religious training, and that we ought not to part from a question of this kind without seeing our way to solve the difficulties which have arisen in the sense of the speech of the noble Viscount.
There ought to be co-ordination and co-operation between all the spiritual and religious bodies in the country, and they ought to respect the earnest endeavours of those who desire to secure that the children should have an efficient system of education in accordance with the requirements of their parents. I make this plea—one of the most important that can be made in the sphere of education—not on behalf of the Church to which I belong. I think that would be wrong. I make it on behalf of every parent, to whatever denomination he belongs, who desires that his children should be brought up in what is to him the best and most efficient form of religious training. One can hardly doubt that in a matter of this kind the training in the school ought to be in accordance with the training in the home; and you can only get the religious education you want by making the school the continuation of the religious teaching which a boy in the first instance has been taught at his mother's knee.
I want to make one quotation in order to show what a serious matter this is. It is a quotation from a speech by a right rev. 940 Bishop, who, in talking about the teaching of religion in our national schools, said—It has been found by the chaplains to our Forces in the Field that, while there were soldiers who had an intelligent and earnest grasp of religion, on the other hand there was a number of men who might as well have been brought up in a heathen land, knowing nothing of the fundamental facts of the Christian religion.In my view as long as that is true it cannot be said that we have an efficient form of religious and spiritual training in this country. Everybody in your Lordships' House recognises the importance of this subject. My own view is that we do not talk of it enough; we are apt to keep matters of this kind in the background. They ought to be kept in the foreground, and I hope that in any scheme of general national training this question of spiritual and religious instruction will be given the foremost place to which it is entitled if we believe that national training is a system of the training of character and morality.
I do not speak as a pessimist. I believe that we have been and are making great progress as regards our national training. I hope we shall not follow the system which has led to such frightful results in the case of a great Continental Power. I hope that we shall keep alive the special features of our own system, especially in our public schools. Above all, I do not believe that any system is likely to succeed unless the local authorities are given a maximum of opportunity and the dead hand of the central authority is kept within minimum limits.
§ LORD GRENFELL
My Lords, before I say a few words on the question of national training I should like to join with the noble and learned Lord (Lord Parmoor) in his high appreciation of the action of the noble and learned Viscount in the creation of the Officers Training Corps. The movement was welcomed highly in the Army when it was first initiated, and after the war had progressed for about a year I do not know what we could have done to supply officers for the Army had it not been for this corps which the noble and learned Viscount so wisely formed. Only a few days ago I was at Winchester and inspected a detachment of the Officers Training Corps there. About twenty of these young men were going away to regiments, and were so highly trained that they would require but a very short time before they would be able to join their units at the Front. Winchester has already lost fifteen officers killed and 941 many wounded, and has supplied an extraordinarily large number of officers through this corps.
The most rev. Primate, in his speech on the second day of this debate, referred to a corps with which I am connected and about which I wish to say a few words. As was stated by the noble Viscount, at the age of 14 a boy, as a rule, changes his habits; he breaks away from all moral, social, and very often religious influences, and that is the time when he most requires a guiding hand. I think that the various cadet corps are most useful at that particular period. Of the one with which I am connected, the Church Lads Brigade, I have been governor and commandant for eight years; I was preceded in the commandant-ship by my noble friend Lord Methuen, and before him by Lord Chelmsford; and I may say that now, after twenty years' hard work, the brigade has arrived at a very great state of efficiency. Your Lordships will pardon me if I speak about my own corps, but in doing so I do not wish to depreciate in any way the work of other boys brigades which are doing such excellent work.
In the Church Lads Brigade we have now 60,000 lads in England all under training; and in Australia, Africa, Canada, Newfoundland, and the West Indies we have companies of the brigade. The other day, when I was inspecting a battalion which had been raised from this brigade, I noticed two very dark-looking youths. I asked who they were, and was told that they had paid their passage from the West Indies, they having been members of the Church Lads Brigade there, to come over and join a battalion which was then going out to the Front, which shows the enthusiasm these lads display for the Service. In addition to the 60,000 youths that we are now training as best we can, we have a system of an old comrades association, and when the war broke out I asked Lord Kitchener if he would permit me to raise a battalion from those ex-members of the Church Lads Brigade. He said he would be glad if I did so, and I proposed to provide a battalion of 1,100 strong. In a few days I had offers of 2,500. That was at the very beginning of the war. Out of them I was able to form one of the finest battalions of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, which I served in and of which this battalion now forms a part. This battalion, I regret to say, is now very greatly diminished in strength. 942 It lost in one of the attacks during the last week nearly half its strength, and more than half the number of its officers. But I am glad to say that it behaved with the greatest possible gallantry. The colonel, writing to me, wounded as ho was, from one of the dressing stations, said—The objective was a trench 1,000 yards distant, with unbroken wire before it, and enfiladed on one flank by the German machine guns, but the battalion was as steady as if on parade; the men behaved splendidly.And he added that there were hardly any officers—only two that he knew of—who had come back unwounded. I do not mention this as anything peculiar, because every battalion of the New Armies has behaved in that gallant way; still it is a great satisfaction to those who have taken an interest in the Church Lads Brigade to know that these men, all drawn from its ranks, should have behaved in such a gallant manner.
I believe that the training which these lads get in the various brigades—especially so in the Church Lads Brigade, because it is connected with religion—is most valuable, and we owe the deepest thanks to the most rev. Primate for his assistance and for the interest he has taken in the movement. But I do not speak of soldiering only. In various walks of life we keep up with these boys; most of them belong to the old comrades association, and in nearly every walk in life we find that the boys who have passed through these brigades—not only our brigade—succeed a great deal better than if they had not passed through the curriculum which we give them. Therefore I am anxious, as a finale to my few remarks, to press upon the Government the great advantages of these cadet corps. At present we get no grant. We do not particularly ask for one, because we do get transport occasionally, and we get bands, and armament, and occasionally munitions. But we hope that this question, after the war, will be taken up seriously in the elementary schools. We know what a great advantage this training is, and we trust that this question will be taken up and cadet corps initiated generally. There are very few at present; in fact, the Church Lads Brigade consists of half of the whole of the cadets in England. We should like to see our brethren growing up round us in greater numbers. And when the question is taken up we hope that the existing corps will be left alone, to a certain extent at least, to manage their own affairs, and that some 943 scheme may be arranged whereby the various new corps may be as similar as possible to the corps which at present exist. I feel sure that the education they get can rightly be considered as part of the training of the nation, and I sincerely hope that this matter will be seriously taken up at the end of the war.
THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF CREWE)
My Lords, I feel sure that nobody will be tempted to dispute the eminent qualifications of my noble and learned friend below the Gangway for starting this debate, of which we are now in the third day. For many years, indeed I suspect for all his life, my noble friend has been immersed in interest for education, both in Scotland and in England, and he has taken every advantage of exploring the minds of those most expert in it and best qualified to consult upon it. In the second place, he, as chairman of different Committees, has had opportunities of watching over the application of science for different national needs; and, in the third place, as Secretary of State for War he carried out those functions which have been so sympathetically alluded to both by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Parmoor) and by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal (Lord Grenfell). It is true that my noble and learned friend (Lord Haldane) has been a student of German philosophy, and in the minds of some that appears to be scarcely compatible with the highest patriotism; but I think the country is not likely to forget that he was the creator of the Territorial Army and of the Officers Training Corps.
It might be argued by some that a debate of this kind is inappropriate at the moment, because we all ought to be devoting our complete and sole attention to the conduct of the war. The answer to that criticism is supplied by another argument which has been often used, that the actual conduct of the war ought to remain in a very few hands, and that public men generally ought not to interfere with the proceedings of those who are most qualified to superintend it. On the other side, we all recognise now a certain intensity of national impulse, which is not merely devoted, although of course it is principally devoted, to the securing of victory in the war, but of which evidence is also found in other directions, since it stirs the country—as was so eloquently pointed out by the most rev. Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury—to realise more and more 944 the serious aspects of life, to recognise more fully the increasing purpose that runs through the ages; and of that impulse those who are interested in the training of the country desire to take the fullest advantage. It may be taken in two ways—first, by prompt action in directions in which immediate action is possible; and, secondly, by laying even now the foundations upon which a great structure may rise in future years. We feel that if consideration of these subjects is postponed the crowding issues of peace—social, financial, and military—are likely to divert public attention from many things which it is quite possible to consider now. I also agree, and His Majesty's Government agree, with what has been stated by more than one speaker—namely, that this is a subject on which we dare not restrict expenditure. It is true, as was pointed out by my noble friend opposite (Lord Cromer), that we have before us undoubtedly many years of heavy taxation, and there will be other clamorous calls for expenditure in different directions. So far as a wise economy can be exercised in national education, as in other things, we shall all be for it. There may be directions in which some paring down may be possible without destruction of efficiency; but we will not have anything of the false economy which would starve national education because its results may not be momentarily apparent, as are the results of some other forms of national expenditure.
Well, my Lords, what is our proposed action to be? We have to look over the whole field of national education if we are to make valuable progress in any branch of it. With this view a demand has been made by some for the setting up by His Majesty of a Royal Commission, a proposition which may have a certain attraction, but which I note, not altogether without satisfaction, has received no support from any quarter in the course of this debate. It is evidently felt—I think not without reason—that the course of a Royal Commission on such a subject as this is not unlike that of the River Nile, which flows with a strong and powerful current through much of its course, but which, when it nears its close—before it reaches the sea—is dissipated into a thousand channels, so that it is difficult to say where its actual exit into the ocean takes place. A Royal Commission manned by able and active men acquires a vast fund of information. It, so far as it can, digests that information into a Report; but in a great 945 number of cases that is the sum of the whole business. Nothing follows, or nothing may follow, for reasons which are well known to your Lordships and to the country.
If, then, there are objections to a Royal Commission, what form ought the Inquiry to take? I am under the impression that the country will demand two things. In the first place, it will demand that the Inquiry should not be too exclusively political, at any rate in the Party sense. The action of Governments, as a rule, under our system of Parties invites opposition from many, and the discussions which arise from it are apt to degenerate into mere squabbles, in the course of which the main purpose of the occasion is lost. Here, however, we are more advantageously placed. There is a superior chance in the atmosphere of a Coalition of taking action or of laying plans without those risks to which I have referred. And it has to be noted—and this makes me return to the main objection to a Royal Commission—that if action on such a subject as this is not closely connected with politics and with political persons the probability is that little or nothing will be done, and also that the public funds which are invariably required for the purpose of carrying out the reforms will not be obtained. That has been the experience, as I have indicated, of many Royal Commissions.
In the second place, I think the country will demand that the Inquiry should not be too bureaucratic. It is evidently necessary to get the advantage of all the expert knowledge that can be obtained, but it is not advisable, as I believe the country will think, to hand the subject entirely over to the management of experts. I am not quite sure that in saying this I shall have the complete adhesion of my noble and learned friend below the gangway (Lord Haldane). But I would put to him the somewhat parallel case of a subject in which he has himself won such distinction—I mean that of Army reform, which is not otherwise than akin to the subject we are discussing. When we talk of Army reform we think of Lord Card well creating the modern Army and the system of linked battalions; we think of Sir George Trevelyan hammering away year after year in the House of Commons for the abolition of the system of purchase in the Army; and we think of the noble and learned Viscount himself creating the Territorial Army. It is quite true that without such men as Lord Wolseley and 946 Sir Henry Brackenbury in the past, and without the expert professional assistance that my noble and learned friend had, the work could not have been done. It is equally true, if and when our military system has some further reorganisation to undergo, that such men as Lord French and Sir Douglas Haig and Sir William Robertson will obviously play their parts in assisting whoever is entrusted with the work. But that business has never been left to the experts alone.
We propose, therefore, to set up a Committee to review generally the whole field of national education, composed partly of members of the Government and partly of public men of large Parliamentary experience. This Committee will be closely bound up with the general Committee on Reconstruction, of which the Prime Minister has spoken in another place and over which he himself presides. It will attach to itself for various purposes all the best expert knowledge that it can obtain, not confined only to knowledge which may be defined as that of the profession of instruction or of the administration of education, but including in the broadest sense those who are concerned with the maintenance and elevation of the national character, as well as with the acquisition of knowledge. We desire to make the survey as large and complete as possible, not, of course, forgetting the experience to be gained from the Scottish system of education, of which we have heard mention this afternoon and which stands so deservedly high in public repute. And it clearly will be the duty—I hope also the pleasure—of this Committee closely to examine once more those propositions with which the noble and learned Viscount is so closely connected, and with which I also have had some concern and to which we devoted time in the year 1913. Therefore we think that there should be a review of education as a whole. But while, as we all know, it is possible not to be able, as the proverb goes, to see the wood for the trees, yet it is also possible to be so very much interested in the contour of the wood as not to realise the particular trees of which it is composed; and we consider it therefore also necessary, while conducting this general review, to engage in the study of some particular branches of education.
My noble and learned friend, very naturally, dwelt to some extent on the existing shortcomings in our national 947 system, and upon one or two of those I will say a word later, and I will say something of the progress which has been made or is being made. But before doing either I should like to allude to a sentence which my noble and learned friend used, in which he implied that the Board of Education was for the time being practically without a President. It is true that my right hon. friend Mr. Henderson, with his special qualifications, as one of the most distinguished of Labour Members, for dealing with a number of particular difficulties, has had much of his time taken up by work at the Ministry of Munitions and with Labour questions generally; but it would not be right to suppose that his interest in his Office has thereby been in any way diminished, although his work there must necessarily have suffered; and still less would it be reasonable to conclude that the work itself of the Office, with its capable permanent head and officials, has deteriorated in consequence of its Parliamentary head, like, I may say, the Parliamentary heads of some other Offices, having been called to do a great deal of other work. And while making this explanation I should like to enter a mild protest against the somewhat severe way in which the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Parmoor) spoke of "White hall," as being something like, if not a home of lost causes, at any rate the opponent of all reasonable progress.
Among the alleged shortcomings of our national system, the one which has attracted the greatest notice is what has been described as the neglect of science. Your Lordships will remember a protest which appeared in The Times of February 2 last, signed by many gentlemen of the highest eminence in science, giving voice to this sentiment; and the particular defect to which at that time they desired to draw attention was the failure to include science as a regular and compulsory subject in the examination for the Civil Service, they holding that if that comparatively simple step were taken, educationally the best results would follow to our schools and Universities, who would thereby be encouraged to alter their curricula in this respect. I may say, in passing, that while the examination for the Civil Service ought to undergo, and will undergo, close inspection as part of our general review, I think it is possible to exaggerate the benefits which would follow its alteration in favour of science. At any rate, whatever those benefits may be, it clearly must take a 948 considerable time for them to come into full play, and supposing it to be desirable to make an alteration of this kind, in all probability it should be accompanied by other steps which would produce a more immediate effect.
The whole body of professors of the Imperial College also made two protests, both addressed to me as chairman of the governing body of that institution, and they particularly alluded to another change which in their opinion ought to be made—namely, the establishment of a far larger number of scholarships and bursaries for knowledge of science. What is called the neglect of science is very largely a matter of the estimation in which science is held compared with other subjects. At the great Universities, for instance, the principal honours have been in the main for a long time awarded to proficiency in the humanities, with almost the solitary exception of the high credit which has attached to distinction in mathematics in certain cases. But, in addition to that, the solid advantages attaching to the more literary education are familiar to us all. I rather think that in the course of this debate some figures were given of the proportion of scholarships at Oxford which can be awarded for literary efficiency as compared with those which a science man might possibly obtain. It cannot, I think, be denied—and this is one of the principal points of inquiry to be conducted—that the most promising and brilliant minds among our young men are intentionally directed into the humanistic road. My noble friend opposite, Lord Cromer, made a most interesting speech on the first day of this debate in defence of humanistic teaching, and I am quite sure that what he said won no little sympathy from many noble Lords who heard it.
On the other hand, it is fair to point out—and this I can say from personal knowledge, at any rate to a certain extent—that the best scientific minds, the most eminent men in the scientific world, desire that the education of the young should be what is generally called a liberal education. To give a particular instance. If any noble Lord were to inquire at one of the great engineering colleges what kind of education it was preferred that a lad should arrive with on entering the college, I think he would in most cases be told that what the professors and teachers would prefer is a boy with a sound general education, not too technical; and that the lad who arrives 949 with a considerable store of what might appear to be useful technical knowledge does not get on so fast, or as a rule so well, as one whose mind has been expanded by an education of the more general sort. But the fact is—as has been already said in this debate—there is not, and cannot be, any real conflict between the two things. It ought not to be regarded that a man's education can be purely literary or purely scientific. May I quote a very eminent instance, that of the present Poet Laureate? There is no writer of English, whether he employs the vehicle of poetry or prose, who possesses a more exquisite command of it than does Dr. Bridges, and yet, as we all know, the education of the Poet Laureate was largely scientific, and he devoted a number of years to the application of the science in which he had been trained.
The most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York, in developing a similar argument, spoke of what is really wanted as being scientific method as applied to the subjects taught, whatever they might be. I believe that is profoundly true, although I do not think that it at all absolves us from paying closer attention to the neglect of one class of subjects in favour of another, and seeing whether at the public schools, and also at some of the other secondary schools and at the Universities, an improved method of scientific teaching cannot be devised. There are undoubtedly certain marked gaps in our teaching of science. My noble and learned friend drew attention to one in a statement, which, on the face of it, would seem to anybody startling, of the number of chemists employed by four firms in one industry in Germany, numbering, I think he said, about 1,000, whereas in this country there were only about 1,500 chemists altogether. In one respect I thought that my noble friend's statement made the story rather worse than it is, and in another respect perhaps not quite so bad. When he spoke of the four chemical firms in Germany which employed 1,000 chemists, it is only fair to state that those four firms make up the great combine which practically includes the whole colour industry in Germany, with a capital, I think, of something like from £14,000,000 to £15,000,000. Therefore the number "four" might tend to mislead those who supposed it was only four out of a large number.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
Yes, but that is only the colour industry. The 1,500 chemists are all we have for the 150 industries that there are here. What number of chemists the Germans employ besides the 1,000 it would be impossible to say; it would be an enormous number.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I was going on to explain that, as I said, in some respects the case was even stronger than my noble and learned friend stated; and for this reason—that the 1,500 British chemists include all the chemists employed in industries in which chemists are presumed to be required, including those who are only capable of what a scientific man would describe as routine analysis.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Whereas of the thousands who are employed in these four great alkali works and mainly in the dyeing industry and also in the preparation of drugs and some other subjects, a good many are undoubtedly men who are thoroughly qualified in research and decidedly of the higher grade of chemist. I am glad, therefore, that my noble and learned friend brought this striking practical instance before the House. I think it would be only fair to add that probably up to the time of the war there were as many chemists trained in this country as there was any demand for. The output of chemists who might be taken to rank with the 1,000 whom my noble friend mentioned is somewhere about 150 or 160 a year; and I venture to state with confidence that in the reconstruction of our industrial life after the war a very much larger number than that will unquestionably be required. The result of the necessity of filling these gaps is the appointment of a small Committee, over which I have been asked to preside, to look into this question of scientific teaching.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
It is a separate one which will deal entirely with the question of scientific teaching. It will be a small Committee with some men on it who are experts in a representative sense of education generally, a few leading men of science, and a few first-rate exponents of business, if we are lucky enough to secure, 951 as I hope we shall, their services, because it is evident that the application of science to business must necessarily be one of our principal lines of inquiry.
Another small Committee on the same lines is being appointed to inquire into the study of modern languages. There, again, as will be evident, the connection of the Inquiry with the claims of business is necessarily close. What the future of the teaching of particular modern languages in this country will be it is not altogether easy to foretell. We may assume, I think, that there will be some who will not desire to forego the pleasure of studying master pieces of German literature in the German language, and that for some branches of business a knowledge of German will still be necessary; but it must be a considerable time before the reciprocal residence of inhabitants of each country within the confines of the other becomes as frequent as it has been of late years. It is sometimes assumed, perhaps not entirely with warrant, that everybody in England knows French; but at any rate I think we may venture to conclude that the study of the language of our gallant Allies, the French, for whom everybody in England entertains not merely an enhanced affection but an increased respect, will be further promoted. I should hope, too, that the study of Italian, which was the foreign language usually studied by the generation just before mine, certainly I think more commonly than any other except French, will be further continued. There will be, I hope, a number of bold spirits who will tackle the difficulties of the Russian language in order to enjoy the splendid literature of Russia; and as the value of Spanish for commercial purposes goes on increasing more and more, as we know it does, I have no doubt that there will be many who will give themselves to the application of the noblest of the modern Latin languages.
We all heard with admiration and with deep interest the replies that were given by my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal on behalf of Oxford, and by the Bishop of Ely on behalf of Cambridge. So far as charges were brought against the two ancient Universities, their champions so completely covered the ground in their defence that it is quite unnecessary for me to add a word on the subject. But I should like to say something of the general progress which has been made of late, and which is being made, in our national system. My noble 952 and learned friend spoke generously of one of the visible signs of that progress in the foundation and the ever-growing efficiency and dignity of the new Universities. It is also right to point, as my noble friend Lord Sheffield did, to the work which has been done by local education authorities in their secondary and technical schools. To those tributes I should like to add the conviction that in my own opinion more has been done for the education of girls at secondary schools of late years, certainly a great deal more in proportion, than has been done for the education of boys. There is no education superior of its kind to that at some of the high schools which are under the care and management of local authorities, and I would venture to say the same of an institution, the Girls Public Day School Trust, of which I am chairman. I succeeded the late Lord Spencer, who we know was a life-long friend of education, and I venture to say that some of those schools rank with the very best in the country. But we all agree that much remains to be done apart from those two particular gaps, the study of science and the extension of the study of modern languages, to- which I have alluded and to which special attention is to be devoted.
More has been said this afternoon than on the former days of the debate with regard to the area of primary education. What has been called the religious difficulty has been and is a real difficulty, because many earnest people on both sides and with differing convictions feel so strongly about it. If, as time goes on, it can be solved by the general realisation that education is in large measure the training of character and that to some the training of character absolutely demands the religious sanction, then all will be well. One does venture to hope that the national temper will be even more earnestly directed to the discovery of a solution of the difficulty than it has been on the different occasions when the question has been the subject of Parliamentary discussion.
In the second place there is what is called the "14 to 18 problem" to be dealt with, as my noble and learned friend indicated, in some measure by an improvement in the last year of the elementary school, and possibly by methods for avoiding blind-alley occupations, as they have been so freely called. Your Lordships may remember that a Committee has been appointed, under the chairmanship of Mr. Herbert Lewis, to 953 study education with special reference to the finding of employment for young persons who need it. I say without hesitation that the foundation, if it be possible, of a system of educational continuation apprenticeship, whether precisely on the Munich line or upon some kindred plan, must possess a warm attraction for anybody who has looked into it. I venture to think that a laurel crown will have to be found for anybody who discovers the best and most practical method, and one suited to the genius of this country, for solving this difficulty of the combination of education and employment during those critical years. Another matter which has to be looked into is the whole question of examinations, including, as I have said, those for admission into the Public Service. The more that entrance examinations can be replaced by a system of leaving certificates, which have been favourably spoken of in this debate, the better.
There is one other point on which I have always held strong convictions, at any rate so far as the two great English Universities are concerned—namely, that earlier transit from school to the University would be for the general advantage. In my opinion boys go far too late, as a rule, to Oxford and Cambridge. The matter was particularly brought to my notice, at the time when I was at the India Office, in connection with the. Civil Service examination and the age at which young Civil Servants who chose the Indian career were able to undertake it; and I believe that the application of such a change would be beneficial in a much wider sphere than that.
Then there is the question of the proper and reasonable allotment of scholarships and bursaries. That possesses, I believe, great possibilities, but it would be an error to regard it as anything but one method, or as a panacea for the ills which may exist in our educational system. As my noble friend behind me pointed out, it is not only a question of the boys and girls who are intelligent enough to get these special advantages and benefits, but also of those who run through the ordinary career. Although it may be, and of course is, desirable to aid the more gifted to climb the ladder and to get the advantage of every grade of education from the elementary school to the University, yet in a national system the training of the average boy and the average girl must be a matter of paramount importance. Therefore, while 954 doing all we can for the one, let us by no means forget the other.
My noble friend Lord Bryce, in a vein of, for him, unusual pessimism, deplored the general indifference which besets both the parents and the students in relation to the work which has to be done. I am not quite sure that the class to which most of us in this House belong comes out very well in one respect in answer to this charge. A very large proportion of us are interested in land and own land. Land-owning is a business, and agriculture is a science. But I am bound to say—I am not speaking specially of this House, but of the class to which most of us belong—that the number of young men who own land or who are to own land and are brought up to any intelligent or, at any rate, scientific knowledge of the business of land-owning is, I fear, somewhat small, and the fact is not altogether easy to understand. My impression is that the older generation, for whom travelling was very difficult and who consequently went less about the world, knew more concerning their estates and their management than the present, or at any rate the rising, generation does. There have always been in this House men most eminent in agricultural knowledge and experts in the business of estate management. I need only mention one—I think he is our oldest and certainly one of our most regarded members—Lord Ducie; but, of course, there are many others.
Then, my Lords, the matter of the teachers has been a theme for more than one speaker. If the training of the nation is to be advanced there must be greater honour for the teaching profession in its different grades. There must be, speaking generally, an improved standard of pay; there must be—a subject which has again been mentioned to-night—the possibility of making a full provision for old age; nor do I forget what my noble friend behind me (Lord Sheffield) said, the necessity of maintaining and safeguarding the independence of the teacher in leading the life and expressing the opinions which he or she is entitled to hold. Lord Parmoor gave us some interesting facts about the training of teachers, and asked me whether I could say that the supply of trained teachers would be maintained after the war. With such figures as my noble friend gave us—and his experience, of course, is not unique—it is evident that the maintenance of the 955 supply of trained teachers, so many having gone to fight, is bound to be a matter of great difficulty; but I can assure him that every effort will be made to see that the youth of the country do not suffer from a lack of teachers.
My noble and learned friend also said something on the question of physical training. It seems now almost absurd to speak of the dread entertained by some people of militarism as attaching to such educational improvements as cadet training and even the institution of Boy Scouts and of the brigades to which the noble and gallant Field-Marshal alluded in his interesting speech. In one respect, so far as there was a controversy on the subject of physical and military training it has, I think, gone some way to settle itself. For this reason, that in military training the more barren and soulless exercises of the barrack yard and the parade ground have, in a great degree, given place to physical training in its different forms, and also to various plans for cultivating the faculty of observation in those who are drilled. Drill, of course, and discipline remain necessary, but the lines of military training are far more devoted than they were to cultivate the intelligence of the individual and it will be found, therefore, that military training and the kind of physical training on military lines which is possible in a universal system approximate now far more closely than they would have a few years ago.
What is our aim in making this general review of national education, and what results do we hope to achieve? We may venture to say that so far as anything admirable is to be found in the German system we would desire to attain to German thoroughness without the servile discipline which disfigures the German Army and the German nation in time of peace, and the kind of ferocious docility which in war seems to make it as easy and simple for a German soldier at the word of command to burn a church or to shoot a hostage as it is for him to advance to attack a position. What we hope to attain is, besides wider knowledge, the development of character, which has been so frequently urged in the course of this debate. I remember some years ago talking to a German gentleman of distinction who knew this country well, and he expressed his conviction that England was now the only country in Europe which could be said to be a religious country in the strict sense. I asked him if he did not include his own country in such a category, 956 and he said that most distinctly he did not. Whether all the other nations of the world would accept exclusion from the list I, of course, am not in a position to say. One is tempted to discuss the bearing of his observation, assuming it to be true, upon what we know of the acts and the temper of Germans during this war. At any rate, we shall all agree that the more serious outlook which we know the nation will possess after the war must be of assistance to us in undertaking any reconstruction of our national system. I can assure the House that this debate will be a distinct stimulus to the Government in doing their best, in spite of the many pre-occupations which we all have, to further the cause of an improved national training, and in starting a united nation on the road of progress leading not only to national and Imperial efficiency, but to the moral advancement of our race.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, I will ask your Lordships to allow me to reply, but only for the very briefest period. I think we may congratulate ourselves that the three days which this House has devoted to this great subject have not been thrown away. We have had a discussion more full than any discussion that I remember in either House of Parliament for a very long time on the topic of education; and what my noble friend has said must be a satisfaction to us all, because it is clear that my noble friend, and presumably the Government—
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
Are giving close attention to this question, and that we have something to expect from them. Nothing could have been more admirable than the spirit in which my noble friend approached the whole question and the width of view with which he dealt with the various parts of the educational organisation. For example, he told us that it is not merely by putting science into Civil Service examinations that you solve the question. I entirely agree with him; and I rejoice to think that he is going to be the chairman of a Committee—one of the special Committees—upon the teaching of science. That brings me to the substance of what he has announced on behalf of the Government—part of it satisfactory, and part of it I am not so sure about. The noble Marquess said one thing which I 957 think is of great importance. I attach, and I think the country will attach, the greatest significance to what he announced when he said that the Government have come to the conclusion that in the field of education there is no room for economy, and that we cannot afford to be sparing of public money, even in times which may be very hard, on this great subject That is an observation of the greatest importance, and I am sure it will give rest to the minds of a great many people who have been very anxious upon this subject.
Then my noble Mend went on to deal with the plan of the Government. There is to be no Royal Commission. We are all glad of that. But I was not quite so clear as to the significance of what he went on to add. The special Committees on the teaching of science and the teaching of modern languages, I understand; but then he spoke of a more general Inquiry, to be conducted partly by Ministers and partly by persons not Ministers but experienced in public life, who were, I gathered from him, to survey the whole field of education and to give us in fact a policy. There, again, I repeat my objection. We have still got the tide, but it is an ebbing tide. The tide has passed the flood and is slipping from us; not because we have not been making progress—we have made a great deal of progress—but, as I said before, other nations have been making progress with a rapidity which much outstrips ours. Whether you turn to the United States in the New World, or to some of our own Dominions, such as Canada, or to countries like Switzerland and France, or to enemy countries like Germany and Austria, you see a rapidity of progress and an amount of energy put into this matter such as we have not compassed; and I feel myself that to lose a year or two years on an Inquiry like this may be an error which will prove fatal to the effort which we have to make to keep our feet.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
May I explain? I fear I did not make myself entirely clear with regard to the operation of this Committee. One of the arguments against the institution of a Royal Commission was that while its inquiry was taking place all educational progress and Departmental action would necessarily be stopped. With this Committee that is not the case. There is nothing whatever to prevent any action which is found and proved necessary being taken as early as possible and while the general review is proceeding.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
I am very glad to hear that, and it to some extent—I am afraid not wholly—takes off the point of my criticism. If you have a great Committee of this kind reviewing policy in a matter like education it is inevitable that policy will be checked and held up while the review is taking place. No doubt a certain number of things might be done while the Committee are at work, particularly if the Minister for Education is himself a member of the Committee and knows what he can safely do without running across the lines of the policy which the Committee are shaping. But let me take what we have had to-night from the noble Marquess. Ho has given us an indication of views, probably his own views; he did not put them forward specially as the views of the Government—
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
An indication of views so excellent on a number of points that the one thing needful which I wished to hear was that my noble friend himself was going to have the commission of the Government to put them into practice. There are points about which there is agreement, and where the expert comes in, not in taking policy out of the hands of Ministers, but in assisting in working out a solution of the problems stated on lines which generally commend themselves. To my mind the proper course of the Government is to act at once in this matter of education. There is no time to lose. It is an ebbing tide; it is not a tide that is going to give us much opportunity.
Therefore I come back to my feeling of regret that the Government are taking away so much of the time of the Minister for Education as to preclude him from throwing himself into this matter with the energy which is absolutely requisite. I am not reproaching my right hon. friend Mr. Henderson; I am reproaching the Cabinet which takes him away, because of his very admirable gifts for the settling of great questions between Labour and Capital, and which distracts him from education and sets him to other things. It may be right, but what I think would give most satisfaction to the people of this country would be if—Mr. Henderson being indispensable for the other work—my noble friend, for instance, who knows so 959 much about education and has cared about it so much, would himself, with the commission of the Cabinet, set to work and, with the experts, translate into fact the educational policy he has so admirably sketched to-night.
The most rev. Primate and Lord Cromer and Lord Curzon all protested very strongly against my statement that while the training of the old Universities was admirable for the senate and the forum, it was no good so far as administration is concerned. And they seemed to be under the impression that they had answered me when they pointed out that the most admirable administrators were those who had been educated at Oxford and Cambridge. There is the old-fashioned fallacy—the attribution, because of post hoc, of the quality of propter hoc. It is a fallacy. A great many men have come from the old Universities who have proved distinguished Ministers, and there is no doubt that the very fine education they received there developed their natural faculties and assisted them to become so; but a great many Ministers have suffered very much from the tendency—which the new Universities certainly do not diminish—to regard the work of the senate and the mastery of epigram as something of as much importance as, and perhaps greater than, the administration of a great Office.
Now administration—and here is my quarrel with my critics—is a thing that can be made the subject of science and of teaching just as much as any other subject. I do not wonder at people in this country falling into the confusion of which I have spoken, because it is hardly taught at all; it is taught, but it is not taught in the regions where it ought or where you would expect it to be taught. If those of your Lordships who are interested in these things will wander into the neighbourhood of Lincoln's Inn you will find there a busy building, busy because of the students who are flocking out and in and for whom there is scarcely accommodation. I am referring to a college which was devised by a man to whom London education owes a great deal, Mr. Sidney Webb—I mean the London School of Economics. Here administration is studied and taught as a science, and every branch of it is brought within the field. The study of comparative systems of local governments in different countries, the study of all sorts of questions of transport and the fifty and one things that 960 go to make up industrial and commercial life, the study of the methods which can be best adopted in Public Offices and of the attainment of the clear objectives which any great administrator must have in view—these are the kind of topics of everyday work at institutions such as I have spoken of; and they abound, I am sorry to say, more in foreign countries than in ours, although we have that very excellent institution to which I have just referred—the London School of Economics. But in the old Universities it does not seem to have occurred to the authorities that administration can be in itself a subject of teaching. Nor in the new Universities yet, although I think at Birmingham there is something substantially of the kind, but that is almost the only case of which I know. I am quite certain that if the administrative mind were developed by proper teaching we should have even more remarkable sets of administrators than we get from the natural aptitude which our race possesses, and which is the real reason why we have good administrators despite the very unsatisfactory character of the training which we give them.
My noble and learned friend Lord Parmoor, in a very interesting speech, referred to compulsory apprenticeship as an ideal. I entirely agree with him. I am myself appalled by the 90 per cent. whose education stops at the age of 14, and I want to see some compulsion—I will not go into the question of the form of it—applied which will continue education through the only medium through which it can be continued, the vocation in life of the boy or girl. And there, again, we have a subject in which everything is threshed out, and in which I do not think any line will be got from any general Committee of inquiry which the Government can appoint.
As regards the humanities, there is just one word I should like to say before sitting down. I received yesterday a letter from one of the most distinguished scholars and thinkers in this country, a man who has led a great school of serious thought. And what he writes is, I think, profoundly true—As to the controversy of the humanities, there is nothing in it; a pure mathematician whose mind has been trained exclusively in mathematics will be as great in the quality of humanities, if only he has been taught and has thought up to a high level, as if he had been brought up on the classics.961 My correspondent is himself a great classical scholar. It is entirely the level of the thing, the spirit and the method of the teaching of the subject. If it is a high enough level yon will get as much out of one as out of the other if you have the aptitude. That does not dispense with the necessity of special training in special subjects afterwards, but it does point to the enormous importance of getting a great, broad basis for the training of the mind, whether it be a training in Greek or Latin, or in science, or in some other more practicable form of activity. I am pleased to think that there 962 has been on the wide meaning of education so much agreement in the course of this debate, and I am glad to know from the noble Marquess who leads the House that the debate has been of use in bringing to the mind of the public subjects in which the Government are desirous they should be interested, and with which the Government themselves wish to deal in a practical fashion.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes before Eight o'clock, till to-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.