David Storrar Meldrum.

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for instruction.

The first lad is the son of a fairly successful boer.
He, like Jaap, passed the six classes of the primary
school at thirteen, after which he joined his father on
the farm. During the next three years he attended


the evening continuation school in his village. This
instruction, and the practical experience gained in his
daily work, has enabled him to enter the nearest Winter
School of Agriculture. Since it is fixed in a town some
distance from his home, he lodged there during the
session, from November to April. The curriculum, over
two semesters, is drawn up with a view to the special
industry of the district which the school serves. Willem
receives instruction of a theoretical kind from professors
of chemistry and physics ; a case, perhaps, of a little fish
and very big whales, for Willem is not brilliant. He
takes classes also in dairying, the nature of soils, tillage,
and the raising of crops. For all this, and more, with
the use of first-rate apparatus, he pays a comparatively
small fee about twenty shillings a year, I believe, and
this is remitted to some of his class-fellows whose parents
are unable to pay it. He will be eighteen when he
passes (as he hopes) his examination at the end of the
second term he is now in his first and that will
complete his agricultural instruction, which has been
more extensive than most young farmers receive in any

The second lad he is now nearly twenty-one is the
son of a Westland gardener, or rather of a Westland
man who is experimenting with its special cultures a
little farther afield. The father is an enterprising, hard-
working grower, always to be found in his hothouses.
He speaks French fluently ; he has no English, but has
been in England, and can tell you most of what there is
to know about his own culture there. He has been to
Paris also, but the French gardeners, he says, taught him
less than the English. In fact, he told me that Dutch
intensive gardening sprang from Norfolk. His son, now
with him in the garden, is the product of a higher-burgher
school with special commercial classes. The family


is Roman Catholic. This son was seventeen or eighteen
when he attended the Winter School courses, getting
instruction in botany, natural history, and meteorology,
chemistry, flower-, fruit-, and vegetable-culture and the
like. He did not sit any leaving examination. It was
in the course of his studies that he visited Belgian
gardens, of which he speaks interestingly in fair, business-
like English.

So much for the representatives of the young working
farmers, gardeners, and florists who show enterprise in
educating themselves in their business. Take the case
now of their cousins in the towns. I have one in view :
the son of a workman living in Amsterdam, working in
a joiner's shop there, and attending an evening trade-
school and school of design ; like any artisan among
ourselves, attending science and art classes. With this
Amsterdam lad I shall take another of whom I know
nothing, except what I learnt from himself when visiting
a day trade-school in a very small town. In it he was
practically serving an apprenticeship to the trade of a
smith, which he intends to follow. Between them these
two youths represent many thousands of their class
and age throughout Holland receiving trade-school
instruction, an eighth of them (I have been told) free
of fees.

Now for such lads as these the question at thirteen
is not higher-burgher school or gymnasium, but an
immediate or a postponed wage. Most have no choice;
they must become wage-earners at once. There has
long been provided for them the so-called burgher night
schools. The training in these schools, so far as it goes,
was designed to be technical, in a liberal sense. The
instruction is theoretical, with a practical application to
the local industries ; and is continued over two to four
years. All communes with a population of 10,000 were


obliged to equip such a school, and many smaller ones
have done so voluntarily.

On the other hand, there were always boys of the
working class whose parents were able to pay for further
day schooling, and therefore sent them after the primary
school to the burgher day school. But the burgher day
school was a failure. It was found that lads who passed
through its two-years' course, issued equipped, not as
workmen, but as clerks. For the curriculum of these
burgher day schools was in the main literary and
theoretical ; at any rate, it was not practical not at all
so practical as in the night schools. Moreover, it was
just as literary (and as non-technical) as, rightly, was
instruction in the higher-burgher schools which we have
just been considering, and by and bye the boys for whom
it was designed found their way instead to the higher-
burgher schools with a three-year' course. That was
only one year more than in the other, and the additional
cost was not great.

Thus the burgher day schools suited no one. Had
the object been to turn out clerks, they might as well
have been turned out at the higher-burgher schools. But
seeing it was workmen who were wanted, the burgher day
schools were not sufficiently practical to supply them.
Not one of these schools remains.

It was in these circumstances that there emerged the
trade-school (ambachts school), that excellent institution
for the industrial instruction of her artisans, which in the
last ten years has modified Holland's whole educational
system. Beginning through private effort, the ambachts
scholen have splendidly justified their existence, and the
money which State, province, commune, and various
societies expend upon them. The Government subsidy,
spread over some fifty schools, considerably exceeds
30,000, and as much again comes from other sources.


There is no large town without a trade-school, and some
have two, and Amsterdam has at least four (one of them
for girls). The one in which I found the second lad I
have referred to, working in a smith's shop with two
forges, was in a village of a few thousand inhabitants,
with hamlets scattered around it. The course is gener-
ally for three years ; and the carriculum, both theoretical
and practical, varies only slightly, according to local
needs. There are, on the other hand, considerable local
differences in the fees, which run from a guilder or two
at Den Bosch to forty at Middelharnis. But then at
Middelharnis many pupils are received free, or on pay-
ments in accordance with income.

I need not strain at figures ; nor shall I follow the
development of the evening ambachts school. The pur-
pose of this chapter is not to complete a digest of Dutch
secondary education, but to indicate the ideals which its
most notable institutions illustrate. The establishing of
the trade-school is a fine piece of work. Dutch education
was overbuilt in a historical and literary direction, and
the trade-school has masoned it up strongly on the
industrial side. Yet it is already being asked if the trade-
school has not achieved its success almost too signally.

There appears to be no doubt that the ambachts
school does its business. It turns out workmen. All
those concerned with its direction are strong in the
assurance that its product is far superior to the workshop-
trained 'prentice. I state their opinion as they expressed
it ; but I must add that my inquiries outside the partial
environs of the schools elicited the information that their
pupils are much sought after by employers. The danger,
say some friendly critics of the ambachts school, is that
the workmen whom it turns out go through 'the mill too
easily for themselves, and issue from it too wholly work-
men and nothing more.


Theirs, of course, is the view which fears an excessive
technicality in education, as it fears over-regulation in
life. I should say that it is widely held. The Dutch
are onlookers (who, as we know, see most) at a game
in which they regard Germans and English as the rival
sides. A native orderliness inclines them to favour
German system, but they are not blind to its defects.
They are not admirers of our own free-and-easy methods,
but they are often frank in praise of their results. The
appreciation of these is greatest in the men who are
nearest the practice of industry. It is probably, as yet,
in the country rather than in the schools that there is
recognised a something resulting from the English train-
ing which is valuable and has not been achieved by the

Be that as it may, there is noticeable, at least faintly,
a reaction from any system of industrial instruction
which will spoon-feed the artisan, and turn him out
secure in a workman's wage, but without the " character "
which it ought to be the aim of secondary education
to foster. The success of such a system would keep
back many a working lad who has it in him to rise
above the workman's estate in which it only confirms
him. It seems likely, therefore, that the development
of trade-school education in the immediate future will
be in the direction of intermediate technical schools,
like the new one in Utrecht, providing a wider culture
than that at which the ambachts school at present aims.

The Dutch girl has much the same education as
the Dutch boy, and in a great many cases they receive
it together. There are no gymnasiums for girls alone,
and no University colleges for women. Separate schools
for extended elementary and secondary instruction are


provided, and are largely used. In the bigger towns
are " higher-burgher schools for girls," as they are always
called, though they are not officially recognised by that
title. Middle-class opinion, I should judge, prefers them,
but as often as not for reasons arising out of local
conditions rather than from any objection to the prin-
ciple of co-education, about which I have not found
any tempestuous opinion in Holland. One father of
daughters said to me, " I would send my girls to a
mixed higher-burgher school if work were everything :
the boys must work, and they keep the girls up. But
if I send them there, they will in all likelihood spoil their
lives by overwork." His is probably a common case.

For the girl, as for the boy, the gymnasium is the
main gateway to higher education. The higher-burgher
school girl, therefore, is seldom " blue." She is equipped
for the posts educational, scientific, artistic, and those
of the Civil Services in which she is permitted to
compete against or alongside of her brother. Or pos-
sibly she specialises at the Conservatorium or the
Academy of Art (perhaps the Dramatic School), until
she marries and forgets or renounces her artistic ambi-
tions. Most often the daughter of the comfortable
homes in Holland seems ready to devote her liberal
education to a routine of domestic duties, or (shall
we say, rather?) of domestic life. Revolters are not
unknown ; they are more numerous than anyone prob-
ably dreamed of ten years ago. Yet when she leaves
school at sixteen or seventeen, the bakvish tusschen
servet en tafellaken (" between napkin and tablecloth ")
though she may not be very handy in the house,
has rarely developed the unrest in the slow housewifery
round exhibited by the high school girls of other lands.
Those who explain the last as being unsexed through
having had a man's training, are confronted by an im-


posing argument in the domesticity of the co-educated
Dutch woman. Certainly marriage has not ceased to
be the career of her ambition.

At the other end of the social scale, where, as we
have seen, the woman so constantly adds to the income,
the girl, like her brother, at thirteen is faced with the
problem of the immediate wage. So urgent is it, that
a private society pays the parents of a few of the
children at a trade-school in the Hague is. 3d. a week
to compensate for the consequent loss of earnings. The
complaint is made also that the specific trade-schools
for men are frequently shut to their sisters ; so that the
humblest girls have scarcely been swept at all into the
movement for the industrial education of women that
of recent years has been wide and rapid. Education,
like the Factory Acts, has rather made their lot harder.
Curiously, in Holland, the farmers' daughters have
evaded the opportunities of agricultural education so
avidly seized by them in Denmark, for example; only
those in the enterprising fen-colonies, so far as I know,
showing any initiative in instruction.

It is thus from the bourgeoisie mainly, the classes
immediately above the humblest, that come the house-
keepers, kinder- juffrouwen, nurses, lady's maids, linen
maids, costume-makers, and domestic servants who are
being turned out by the industrial and trade schools
for women. These schools show the widest local variety.
They are not State-organised. The schools have their
own diplomas, and pupils in many of them are granted
the certificates issued by unions of the teachers. After
the Dutch manner we know now to look for, the private
effort which created and directs these schools is sup-
ported by State subsidies, as well as by others from
communal aud private treasuries. They have in common
the admirable aim of catching the girl whose schooling


is over when she leaves the elementary school at thirteen,
and providing her with systematic training. Their
variety exhibits the whole range of opinion, as we have
already observed it in the educational opportunities of
the lads, concerning the extent to which a general
culture ought to be associated with industrial instruc-

The scope of their teaching is illustrated in the
trade-school for girls at the Hague (^s-Gravenhaagsche
Vakschool voor Meisjes} over which I had the privilege
of being shown the other day in working hours by the
directress. It has completed its ninth year, and stands
a little apart from the others in the directness with
which it brings its pupils to their business. The Hague
ladies sometimes take its courses. It is a haven to
which sometimes the newly affianced girl flees, panic-
stricken, on realising that her splendid education and the
experience of her domesticated home will not have taught
her how to cook a potato for a husband, or to attend to
his dress shirts. At night, domestic servants follow their
young mistresses through the crafts of kitchen and laundry,
and the decoration of the table.

But the " full training " is the thing. The girl
entering on it at sixteen issues forth two years later
the complete housekeeper, assured, I am told, of a
situation, and a commencing salary of 2$, which
strikes one as modest in view of the long list of her
accomplishments: cooking, ironing, laundry, domestic
economy, cutting-out and drawing of patterns, white
seam, costume-making, darning, Swiss darning, mending,
hygiene and bandaging, knowledge of stuffs and wares,
pedagogy, botany, the management of young children.
This miracle is performed for 25 a year. The training
as juffrouw and the lady's and linen maid costs from 2
to 3 a year only.


In the earlier classes, on the day I visited the school,
girls from thirteen to sixteen were attending two-yearly
courses as domestic servants, four- and six-yearly courses
in costumes, three-yearly courses in the management
of the linen-cupboard and wardrobe. I was certainly
struck, as I had been in the ambachts scholen, by a
liberal and responsible atmosphere in the classrooms.
The scheme showed traces of Dutch elaboration. A
juffrouw was being taught (so far as may be) the art
of telling stories. A lady's maid, who presumably will
travel, had lessons in geography. And in the last room
which I was shown a kind of night nursery in its
furnishing a nurse was playing games with two mites,
workmen's children kept on hand as models for the
kinder-juffrouw to try her 'prentice art upon.


THE recognised approach to the Academic, if we
except that of Delft, as has been mentioned, is
through the gymnasium. Towns with a population of
20,000 inhabitants, unless specially exempt, are obliged
by law to provide, and partially maintain one, and all
have done so except Den Helder, which is too poor, and
Tilburg, whose Protestants are mainly artisans. The
small town of Tiel, on the other hand, having on its
hands an old Latin School, modelled it as a gymnasium ;
which brings up the number of these institutions to
thirty. There are enrolled at them over 2100 students,
a fourth of them girls. Owing to the objection to
co-education among Roman Catholics, girls were de-
barred from the gymnasiums at Hertogenbosch and
Maastricht, in the Roman Catholic Provinces, until a few
years ago. In addition there are ten special gymnasiums,
Roman Catholic and Reformed.

The fees vary the average lies between fl. 50 and
fl. 100 per annum but the curriculum for the six
years' course is the same in all. Naturally it is the
classics that receive most attention ; probably only a fifth
of the students who go forward from them to the Uni-
versities aim at a Science degree, to which there are
other roads open. Hebrew is an optional subject in

many of them ; so is calisthenics, which, however, yearly



becomes more popular, 75 per cent, of the students at
the Hague and Amsterdam taking out the classes in it.

The subject of these gymnasiums is a little colourless
for the reader, and the years spent at them are for the
students, one imagines, a period of rather grim hard
work. To enter them at any class, a stiff examination
must be passed. Once entered, the student receives in-
struction that is excellent, as indeed it ought to be, since,
I have estimated, it costs the State and the Communes,
together or separately, from six to seven times the
amount of his fees, and is imparted to the 2 1 oo students
by over 450 teachers, quite two-thirds of them possessing
(as indeed they must before they can be appointed) the
degree of Doctor in the subject they profess. At the
end of his course the student, whether at the public or
the private gymnasium, can sit an examination, and if
successful receive a diploma, which admits him to the

The interest of the Dutch Universities for the foreigner
lies in their history, or in the personalities of the many men
in them such as Dr. Heymans and Dr. Kapteyn of
Groningen, and Dr. Hugo de Vries of Amsterdam who
have already taken places beside their great predecessors
in service to the intellectual life of Europe. Both interests
demand another pen than mine ; which contents itself
with indicating the presence of the Universities in the
scheme of national education which these chapters

They number five; Leyden, established in 1575;
Groningen, in 1614; Utrecht, in 1634; Amsterdam, an
erection of the municipality, founded last century, with
a history earlier as an Athenaeum, dating back to 1630 ;
and the Technical School at Delft, the old Polytechnic,
recently raised to University rank. There is also the
" Free " University of Amsterdam, a Calvinist institution


for the study of Theology, Law, Philosophy, and Letters,
and a monument to the religious strife of the last half-

The students at Delft, as has been indicated, advance
there mainly by way of the higher-burgher schools, not
of the gymnasiums. In spite of the fee of fl. 200 per
year, for a course of four years, which for Holland is
high, they crowd to it in increasing numbers there
were 800 in 1901 ; 1243 in 1907, and passing through
it go out equipped for the highest posts as engineers,
architects, and naval architects.

In each of the other Universities (the " Free " Uni-
versity of Amsterdam excepted) there are five faculties :
Theology, Jurisprudence, Medicine, Mathematics and
Physics, and Philosophy. To obtain the degree of Doctor
the student must pass a professional examination and
a doctoral examination ; after these follows the public

The degree of Doctor is given in

I. Theology.

II. The Sciences of Law or Politics.

III. Medicine, Surgery, and Obstetrics.

IV. (a) Mathematics and Astronomy, (<) Mathe-
matics and Physics, (c) Chemistry, (d) Mineralogy
and Geology, (e) Botany and Zoology, (/") Pharmacy.

V. (a) Classical Literature, (fr) Semitic Literature,
(c) Dutch Literature, (d) Language and Literature of
the Indian Archipelago, (e) Philosophy. There is, it
will be observed, no degree in History.

All students at the Universities, however, do not aim
at a Doctor's degree: most theological students, for
example, after passing the candidate's examination, go
before a commission of clergymen and are admitted as
" Proponents." Then they are eligible to be " called " to
a Protestant Church. Many medical students, again, are


content to pass the State examination, the essential
scientific examination which gives one the title of
physician (arts), without writing and defending the thesis
which wins the ornamental title of " doctor." Indeed,
many medical students are not eligible for the " doctor's "
degree, for they come from the higher-burgher school,
and the " doctor's " degree can only be obtained by
those who have gone through the gymnasiums or have
passed an equivalent examination.

Utrecht, the centre of Orthodox opinion, sends out
the greatest number of theological students, whereas
Leyden, which teaches a more liberal theology, is
strongest in law. At Utrecht and Leyden there are
observatories, and it is in them that astronomy is chiefly

Dutch Universities, like the Scots, are not residential.
The students live with their families or in lodgings in the
town, each of them a link of interest, or of self-interest at
any rate, between the University and the citizens. In
some of the Dutch university towns there have been
times when the relations between town and gown have
been strained ; the burghers, or some of them, have
resented the extravagance of the students, which they
compare with their own straitened or frugal mode of
living. In Holland, as in other countries, students are
apt to be spendthrift, and it may be they appear to be
more excessively so than they really are in a country
where the rest of the community are so orderly in their

With the society of the towns many of the students
are on an intimate footing ; but there are some who hold
aloof, ostensibly with the view of preserving their liberty
of action. The Dutch student leads a singularly un-
trammelled life. For him there is no Chapel and no Gate.
The dull lectures he is at liberty to avoid. Sometimes


he misuses his freedom. We have heard of students
spending years at the University without entering a class-
room. Generally these are young fellows of private
fortune, studying in the Law, without any intention of
practising their profession later, who look upon the years
at the University as a time for gaiety and pleasure

There are fewer such now than there used to be,
The gymnasium system has had the effect of sending
lads to the University later in life and presumably with
more wisdom than formerly ; it is admitted that most of
the students work well. But many who work well, and
take a brilliant degree, are irregular in their attendance
on lectures. There are easier and quicker roads than
through the classroom to the knowledge necessary for
the examinations. Law students go regularly to lectures
for two or three years only out of the six or seven of
their course. There is the same freedom in the other
faculties, but for several reasons it is not so generally
taken advantage of. The thorough practical knowledge
demanded before a medical degree is granted, can only
be attained by attendance on the demonstrations of the
professors. Theological students, again, are constrained
to attend classes more regularly than their fellows by a
sense of honour as well as by the instigation of prudence.
They pay less, and might be suspected of seeking to live
their student life on false pretences did they not follow
the classes closely. They have to keep in view, also, the
good conduct leaving-certificate, without which advance-
ment in their profession might be difficult.

The Dutch student is his own master, and for what
he does is accountable to no one, except his parents, it
may be, and the canton judge, willy-nilly, if in his pursuit

Online LibraryDavid Storrar MeldrumHome life in Holland → online text (page 24 of 31)