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JOURNAL OF EDUCATION:
SPECIALLY DESIGNED AS A
Medium of Correspondence
HEADS OF TRAINING COLLEGES, PAROCHIAL CLERGYMEN, AND ALL
SCHOOL TEACHERS, ETC.
JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
ON MAKING GRAMMAR SCHOOLS MORE AVAILABLE
AS MIDDLE SCHOOLS. In our Journal for October we were led to consider the necessity of improving middle-class education and the best means of doing so, by a sermon of the Bishop of St. David's, preached on the occasion of the opening of St. John's School, Hurstpierpoint. At that institution boys are boarded at a very moderate cost, under the superintendence of the clergy, and others capable of judging of the education given, of the qualifications of the teachers, and of the progress of the pupils; as also of providing that the work be intrusted to persons devoted to it, fully conscious of its nature and importance, and not influenced by mere motives of gain. Such a plan warrants a confident expectation that the great object proposed will be kept steadily in view, and we may add, if it be conducted upon the principles which we pointed out as recommended by the bishop, it can hardly fail of proving successful.
This plan, however, though possessed of many advantages and promising much usefulness, is far from being such as will provide for all the deficiencies of the present state of middle-class education, or meet all its existing wants. Although the payments are as low as possible, they are necessarily too high for many who wish for this kind of education, but who require it to be brought to their own locality by means of day schools. And in very large places, as Manchester or Liverpool, there are commercial schools entirely for day pupils, who are supposed to be under parental control when not at school. In such cases, parents have the option of keeping boys at home or of sending them entirely to school, and of securing in either case the advantage of a good guaranteed education. And if a district or town is wealthy and generous, there will probably be little difficulty in providing either such schools as that at Hurstpierpoint, or commercial day schools, under proper supervision and control.
But there still remains another case much more difficult to meet; namely, that of the populous country village and parish, with its proportion of farmers and other respectable inhabitants. The difficulties of this case have been stated, and some valuable hints upon the subject suggested, in a pamphlet* recently published by the master of a grammar school in a district of this description at Worfield, in Shropshire. In the dedication of his pamphlet to the trustees of the school, the author says, that, from being an old mis-used endowment of no great
* "Some Thoughts, Observations, and Hints on Middle-class Education.” Ву Samuel James, A.B. Pp. 24. London: Longmans. Bridgnorth : Rowley. 1853.
VOL. XI. NO. I.
amount, it has become a useful middle-class place of instruction for the parish and agricultural neighbourhood of Worfield, and that it is attended also by pupils from neighbouring towns. As the evil, which in this instance has thus been remedied, is one which has as yet engaged but little attention, and is far from being uncommon, it may be well to lay before our readers the author's observations upon the subject, and the mode of proceeding which he recommends.
In rural districts the poor formerly received scarcely any education at all ; and the farmers' sons, when they did not attend schools in neighbouring towns, came to the village school for the best instruction that could be obtained there. Now the village school is filled with the children of labourers, whose intelligence and knowledge bid fair rapidly to outstrip what their_future masters at present seek for in other schools. The plan of Dean Dawes to graft the middle on the village or elementary school has been attended with good results in some cases, where there is no other provision for the farming agricultural classes, and where the district is remote or isolated, or thinly peopled, or, if populous, where the instruction is peculiarly good. But whilst our author fully allows all this, he very justly observes, that really and on sound principles of argument the middle class is as fairly anxious for its own appropriate schools as is the class immediately above it. He considers them as free from class-prejudice in the matter of education as other grades; and he thinks that their desire for a complete and thorough, and, where it is practicable, a separate system of education, is most reasonable and proper.
To carry out this idea, in country districts, there will, he says, generally be found, out of some half-dozen neighbouring parishes, one in which there is an endowment available for agricultural middle-class education; and a school of the kind will often get support from towns which lie near. Such a case has, in more than one instance, come under the author's own observation. The benefits of these country grammar schools, as indeed of all schools, depend mainly on the kind of education they offer. In a rural district, a class for agricultural chemistry and surveying are, he considers, the distinctive marks which should characterize them to the subordination, but certainly not to the exclusion, of grammar and Latin. Although English yeomen have in the course of events been subjected to much unmerited contempt, and to a considerable amount of actual abuse, they are inferior to none in natural capacity, and quite equal to their trading brethren in all that is considered to constitute the nobility and excellence of the national character; but they have somehow been unable to keep up with the headlong and sweeping current of the age, and they seem almost to remain stationary amid the onward course of other bodies. Educate them properly, and they will take their place with the foremost. Their knowledge has hitherto been hereditary and only practical, and the success of an amateur, like Mr. Mechi, whom all must respect, shows the room there is for improvement.
But in making provision for distinct agricultural instruction in country grammar schools, after giving attention and prominence to agricultural subjects, the liberal and polite elements must not be lost sight of. It is because they have hitherto been omitted, or badly taught, in the education of those devoted to agricultural pursuits, that agriculture has, in the opinion of some, become synonymous with ignorance and
stupidity. If the Latin grammar had been freely instilled into the heads of farmers of late generations, and followed up by kindred subjects, they would probably have been spared much of the contumely that has been heaped upon them. There are certain subjects necessary as the groundwork and foundation of all education, whether classical, agricultural, commercial, or elementary, and the knowledge of language is perhaps the most improving and available of all those general subjects. This, we need hardly remind our readers, has often been asserted in our pages; and we entirely agree with our author in considering the study of grammar and language, in its place and in measure, second to no human study in interest and importance. To be discontented with the education that consists of Latin and Greek as its sum total is one thing; but to discard these auxiliary studies on account of the monopoly they have exercised is quite another, and, however natural, quite an unreasonable proceeding.
Agriculture and commerce should go hand in hand, for they are intimately connected; their position in the social scale is very much the same, and up to a certain point the same education suffices for both. An enumeration of the subjects common to them both would include arithmetie, book-keeping, the writing a neat and intelligible hand, a thorough acquaintance with the principles of grammar to be obtained by the study of Latin, a knowledge of the events that have occurred in connection with our country, a skill and readiness in geography, some knowledge of the why and the wherefore of what takes place in the kingdom of nature, and all in subordination to an intimate familiarity with the great subject of religion. To this may be added an aptitude in drawing and similar handiwork; and the history of some of the great nations of antiquity should not be omitted. Middle schools will generally consist of both farmers and tradesmen. The fees at agricultural schools, varying from 41. to 121., will be similar to those at commercial schools ; the masters of both will be men of similar acquirements; and the subjects taught, will, as just pointed out, be to a great extent common to both. Hence, as has been already proved by experience, if the village in which an agricultural grammar school is founded be near a town, shop-keepers will send their sons to the farmers' school; and when there is a good commercial school under proper management in a country town, it will be largely supported by neighbouring farmers. When, therefore, in a large and complete commercial and agricultural grammar school, the fundamental instruction is well advanced, the young farmers may be made into an agricultural class or form; the embryo tradesmen into a commercial class ; and the future professional men, if there be any, into a language class ; each with its own teacher, who would also take a share in the general instruction of the junior classes, on each coming by turns under the instruction of the head master.
In order better to assist in explaining and exemplifying his observations, the author has given the following plan for increasing the usefulness of grammar schools, as being one which he considers free from all valid objections. He supposes a town of some 25,000 inhabitants with one grammar school educating twenty free scholars, the endowment liberal and the school accommodation good; but the commercial class not deriving extensive benefits from such provision, owing to its limited application. He further supposes the fee for non-foundation pupils to be twelve and eight guineas. In such a case, he proposes that the num