Ireland. National Education Bd.

Annual report of the commissioners ..., Volume 66 online

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taste for reading.

Teachers' Associations might, I believe, do much to introduce new
ideas and advance the science of pedagogy if, at their periodic meet-
ings, questions bearing directly on methods of teaching were dis-
cussed; if experiences were compared; and if the successful teacher

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96 Appendix to Sixty -sixth Report of Commissionera [1899.

Reports on communicated the causes of his success to his less fortunate brother.
NittionU ^^ ^^ * ^®^ instances I have induced some of the more prominent teachers
Edncfttion. in these associations to introduce something of this kind, but the
Mr To experiment was not attended with much success, and was abandcmed,
Boier»,s.A^ Owing, it was stated, to the \su:k of interest taken in the discussions by
jMpeefor, the ordinary teacher.

Mullingar. One of the chief causes of the lowness of the proficiency in many
. — schools is the failure of the teacher to make adequate preparatioa
Teachm' before school hours for conducting the school efficiently; and the
ABsocuttions work of the day and the strain on the teacher are enormously in-
to »|d the creased by this omission. The use of Lesson-tables is aimoet
wTwork? universally ignored, and the teacher is often unaware of the particular
Want of lesson each class is reading. No preparation of the lesson has been
ftleqnate made, and the book used by the teacher is taken from some pupil in
preparation ^ji^ class. No selection of the questions he is going to ask, or of the
^ ^"' illustrations he is about to use has been made : these have to be
thought of as he goes along; and, when it is remembered that while
he is instructing the draft immediately before him, he has to superin-
tend the general work of the school, it is not to be wondered at that
his questions are not thorough and judicious, or his illustrations suit-
able. Such a lesson must be of a very inferior kind : the teacher is
attempting what is beyond his capacity, namely, explaining and illus-
trating subjects without previous consideration; and the strain on
him in the performance erf even this kind of teaching must be very
heavy. It is not to be wondered at that he finds himself {^ysically
and mentally exh^vusted at the end of the day. The most efficient
teachers rarely fail to make such preparations, and what they find it
necessary to do ought to be doubly necessary in the case of those
who are endowed with only moderate ability. Several teachers have
stated to me that they put all thoughts of teaching away from them
from the time they lock the school door in the evening until they
open it again the following morning, and the character of the answer-
ing on the day of the examination usually verifies their statement.
On the occasion of an incidental visit I sometimes examine the' pupils
on the lesson they have just been taught, and the teacher is often
surprised at the partial character of his instructicm. There are, of
course, notable exceptions to this rule, but my experience leads me
to believe that in country districts 80 per cent, of the teachers make
no adequate preparation for the work of teaching.
The neglect I believe that Lesson-tables should be carefully drawn up, and that
tabUf. ^ preparation for work should be made in the evening by teacher aa

well as by pupil.
Married The presence of young, married, female teachers in the schools is a

'•"^ serious drawback to the educational interests of certain localities,
and I am strongly of opinion that, as in other branches of the Civil
. Service, resignation ought to be demanded from female teachers cm
their marriage. So serious a drawback is this felt to be by some
managers that resignation on marriage is made a sine qua non con-
dition to the appointment. Local influence, Jiowever, is sometimes
too strong for the manager, and, for the sake of peace, he is led to
subordinate his better judgment to the wishes of those among whom
he has to live. I believe that a large percentage of the managers
would gladly welcome legislation on this subject.

ImproTo- Year by year a steady improvement in the teaching staff is

Saehing*^* observable. Young, trained men and women, with new ideals and

staff. traditions, are superseding old or inefficient teachers. The Training

Colleges also are doing good work for the country teacher, not only

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1899.] of National Education in Ireland. 97

by increasmg his knowledge^ but by introducing him to ideals and Roporto on
phases of life and comfort with which he was unacquainted; but, so ^^1^1*? ""^
far as instruction in conducting a school efficiently is concerned, I Education.
think that much is still to be desired. Candidates appear to me to j^^, j^
leave their Colleges prepared to teach subjects and classes, but in- RoierH,B.A,,
sufficiently instructed in organization ; and if the work done in the f^^ior.
Training College cotdd be supplemented by a further course of instruo- MuUing»r.
taon in oiganization, in the school of which the candidate has charge, —
very much better results would be obtained. oftSr**

The decision of certain managers to appoint to vacancies none but Training
trained teachers is having a most beneficial eflFect. Classed teachers Colleges.
and monitors who lack the ability to enter the Colleges are thereby
excluded, and the appointment of young men and women, whose Decision of
nomination to a school is a calamity to themselves and the locality, ^^'St" *^
becomes an impossibiUty. The handing over of schools to monitors none bat
on the completion of their five years' course is greatly to be depre- ^^^^
cated, and no schools are more poorly taught than those in which such *** *"*
appointments are made. The recent action of the Commis^oners in
promoting teachers for efficient service has undoubtedly given an
impetus to the teaching in many schools, and I have noticed a steady
improvement in the quality of the answering in cases affected by the
new rule. In these instances it is evident that much better work
could have been done by the staff, and I am led to believe that if the
retention of First Class salary depended directly on highly efficient
service, the usefulness of many of the schools now taught by nominal
First Class teachers would be increased.

Considerable injury has been done of late years by the injudicious injudicious
promotion of pupils, and several teachers have destroyed the efficiency promotion
of their senior division by this course of action. The reasons for **' P"P'^-
these injudicious promotions are various. Sometimes they are made
by the teacher in order to prevent the parents of the pupils from
ascertaining that the children have not reached the required standard
at the annual examination. At other times the parents bring pressure
to bear on the teachers — ^non-advancement with the rest of the class
being looked on as carrying a kind of stigma — and the threat of
removal to a neighbouring school is used if their demands be not
complied with. In too many instances a little local popularity has
been purchased at the expense of the efficiency of the school. In these
casee one of two things must occur: the pupil incorrectly promoted
must derive but little benefit from the class teaching, or the time
of the class must be wasted, and its members kept back, on account
of two or three of its worst pupils. In these schools it is not
unusual to find a boy in Sixth Class who is imable to pass in the
requirements of Fourth.

There is also a growing tendency to promote the infants to First
Class at too early an age; and though the effects of this are not
observable in First and Second Class, in subsequent years it tells very*
severely against both teacher and pupil, when the brain of the latter
is not si^ciently matured to grasp such abstract subjects as
Grammar, and some of the Arithmetical processes demanded in
Fourth Class. In the case of such promotions, even in good schools,
it is freqiiently found necessary to retain the pupil in Fourth Class
for a second year, and this has a bad effect on a child who may have
more than average intelligence, but whose faculties are not sufficiently
developed to understand Grammar, Agriculture, or some Arithmetical


Digitized by


C8 Appemlix to Sixty-sixth Report o/ Commiaaioners [1899.

Reporiton The introduction of some of the new Readers has tended to

NLiomd °' aggravate this. Their compilers have either been imacquainted with

Education, the practical working of the Commissioners' Programme, or have

^^ ~ sought to please the teachers by making the Infant and First Book

Boier*,B.A., fatally facile. In more than one of the series generally adopted

Trustor. ^^^^ is the case, and neither the Primer nor the First Book contains

Mullingar. ©nough matter, or matter sufficiently difficult, to occupy the energies

— of the pupil for the Results year. The books are read through and

/be new* ^^ learned by rote long before the year has expired, and the pupil and

Readon on his parent look for a higher Reader in the series, with a corresponding

promotions, transfer to a higher class. Some teachers have sought to meet this

difficulty by adopting a second set of Readers in tbese classes, but

this arrangement has its obvious disadvantages. The rendering of the

Readers too easy in these classes has anoUier serious drawback, for

the pupils arrive in Second Class insufficiently prepared, and the work

which ought to have been done in First Class has to be done in

the Second and succeeding classes.

Ef^ctofthe ^Q publication of the "Revised Instructions to Inspectors with

o?the *°" reference to the Results Examination" has done much to lower the

Rerised quality of the answering in schools taught by lazy or negligent

In«truction» teachers. The minimum requirement which will be accepted for a

Inspectors. " mere pass " is now known, and becomes the maximum standard to

be reached. The Instructions to Inspectors supersede the ordinary

Programme, and the sub-heads, which carry no fee, but which are

frequently as important from an educational standpoint as the pass

mark, are neglected or taught only in a perfunctory manner.

With the exception of poetry, I have practically never heard a

lesson given in any of thorn during the numerous visits I have paid

to the schools.

As no alteration has taken place in the Commissionetrs' Programme
in most of the ordinary subjecfer, and as my views and the circum-
stances of the districts have imdergone no change since I wrote my
last report, I think that it would be imdesirable to repeat what I
then wrote. I shall, consequently, deal in detail with only a few of
Reading: ^^ ^°*^ ^7 pr©sent and my former district the Reading is poor,
its vrant of being neither distinct nor intelligent. Verbal accuracy and fluency
■tyi«- are sought, but most of the teachers appear to be satisfied when these

The cause?, are attained. Distinct enunciation and emphasis are rarefy aimed at,
and the result, in many instances, is that a stranger is imable to
understand what the pupil is saying, and the pupil is unable to under-
stand the meaning of the passage he reads. This poor result may, to
a great extent, be attributed to a low standard of reading among the
teachers, if the Reading heard on the day of examination, as the
teacher reads Dictation to the pupils, be accepted as a sample of his
usual style. Most of the teachers seem to see no faults in the
Reading; they have, as long as they can remember, been accustomed
to nothing else, and are surprised when their attention is drawn to
defects they never noticed. Another cause of this poor style is the
failure of the teachers to read aloud to the class. It is not sufficiently
recognized that Reading is largely an imitative art, and few
teachers impress their style on the pupils; in very few schools is
there any marked individuality noticeable. Similar remarks apply
to the way in which the poetical pieces are repeated.
Want of The greatest defect iu the Reading, however, is its want of

intelligence, intelligence, and the failure of the pupil to grasp the meaning of what

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1899.] of National Education in Ireland, CD

he reads. His vocabulary is very limited, and it is greatly to be A«porta on
regretted that but few efforts are made to enlarge it. The practice n*|Si!^ ^
of getting him to commit to memory the meaning of the words given Ednauaou.
at the head of the lesson is of little use, for the explanations being, in ^^ j^
many instances, as difficult as the words explained, convey no meaning Roiert,B.A,,
to him. I think that the teaching of this most important subject ^[^^,..
ought to be insisted on, for it lies at the very foimdations of all intelli- Mullingv.
gent literary instruction, and is the basis of all self-culture both during —
and after scho(^ days. Its omission seriously militates against suc-
cessful teaching in all the senior classes, for the pupils are able to
give but httle aid to the teacher, and, when they leave school, are
unable to still fiuther prosecute their studies. Its ill effects are very
observable in the case of the candidates who annually present them-
selves for training, many being unable to explain or understand the
meaning of a simple passage of ordinary English prose.

Want of time is the excuse most commonly given for the defect
as regards Explanation. The excuse, however, does not appear to
be a vaHd one, for I find that, in those schools where the Beading is
most intelligent, time is found for all the ordinary subjects, and for
extras as well.

I am sometimes told that the pupils are acquainted with the
meaning of what they read, but are unable to put their ideas into
words. I find, however, that, in most instances, this is a fallacy, for,
whtti pressed for an answer, the pupil either gives one which is
manifestly incorrect, or admits that he is unacquainted with the
meaning of the word.

This want of intelligence is not confined to the Reading ; it is a Home uaki
defect very observable in the way in which the home tasks are learned, in-
I frequently am present during the hearing of these, and am sur- ^^^^
prised, not only at the amount of the matter learned by the pupils, *
but at the accuracy with which it has been committed to memory.
The pupils seem to me to do, in this instance, their portion of the
work thoroughly, and, I am sorry to say, that in but few instances is
this supplemented by the teacher.

There is, I am glad to say, a growing inclination on the part of
the teachers, particularly of the younger men, to recognize the
importance of this part of their duty, and to adequately discharge it.

In some schools Arithmetic is carefully and intelligently taught, Arithmttic
and the recent issue of new cards by the Commissioners has had no
appreciable effect on the answering in any class in such schools.
In others the instruction is of a very poor description : vicious
methods of calculation are acqiiired in the junior classes,
and are carried by the pupil through the entire school
course. In these schools the " doing of a sum consists in
the application of a formula learned by heart, and appUed
with very httle exercise of the reasoning faculties. In such
schools the examples given are mainly those obtained from the Com-
missioners' cards, and the recent change has had most disastrous
effects, few of the pupils passing in the subject. Between these two
extremes the great majority of the schools is placed. In nearly all,
attention is given, in the senior classes, to this subject out of all
proportion to that bestowed on other equally important branches of
the school curriculum; and the universality of this preponderance
makes me think that the course in the senior classes is too extended
for a Programme which is supposed to be framed for the primary
education of " The Poor of IrQland."

H 2


Digitized by


100 Appendix to Sixty-sixth Beport of Commiiasionere


Reports on
the State of

Bogen, PM,,


Tert cards.




Spi 1 ing.




The widely extended abuse of test cards, which, in many in-
stances, are superseding the use of text-books, is doing considerable
harm, and is, I believe, lowering the proficiency in the subject.

It is to be regretted that Mental Calculation is so much neglected.
The subject is of both educational importance and practical utility,
but, as it carries no fee, it is rarely taught, and on the Time-tables
provision is seldom made for it. When properly conducted the
lesson is popular, and does much to develop the intelligence, arouse
the energies, and foster accuracy and quickness of thought.

The requirements of the Commissioners* Programme in Spelling
are, as a rule, carefully observed. In the junior classes, in any fairly
taught school, there are few, if any, failures ; and in Dictation, when
the exercises are carefully supervised, and the pupils are required to
learn the corrections, a high standard of efficiency is attained. The
schools, however, are not turning out good spellers, and the Lettera
of the pupils amply prove this. The ordinary words in their very
limited vocabulary are frequently mis-spelled, and, I think that if the
present Dictation Exercises were supplemented by a small spelling
book containing cmly the words used by pupils in their intercouiBe
with each other, much would be done to eradicate the gross ernnn
into which even the senior pupils frequently fall

Needlework in its various departments, with its kindred subjects-
use of Sewing Machine and Dressmaking — ^is, year by year, being
more carefully taught, and, in the Mullingar district the Cuttang-out
is usually done on scientific principles, the charts used being generally
the property of the pupil. The specimen garments exhibited on the
day of examination are neatly executed, and the formation of In-
dustrial Exhibitions is doing much to foster this branch of educational
work, by exciting a spirit of emulation in both teacher and pupil.
Many of the garments exhibited to me during the current year had
been awarded prizes at these exhibitions.

Very few extra or optional subjects are taught in either my former
or present district. Irregular attendance and a disinclination on the
part of the pupil to come to school before school hours, or to remain
after them, militates very considerably against the teaching of extra
subjects. Occasionally a few boys are presented in Geometry and
Algebra, and usually with satisfactory results. In a few schools
Drawing is taught, and the substitution of charts for the copy-books
hitherto used is tending to raise the proficiency in the subject,
especially in the case of the senior pupils. Vocal Music is taught with
only moderate success. The pupils in Second, Third, and Fourth
Classes are generally well prepared, but in Fifth and Sixth Classes
corresponding progress is not made, and very few pupils, on the con-
clusion of their course, have acquired any considerable degree of
proficiency in the subject. Book-keeping is not well taught; the
pupils, though fairly acquainted with the text-book, having no practical
grasp of the subject.

The school accounts are, on the whole, neatly and accurately kept,
and the recent circulars on the subject, are doing much to eradicate
most of the petty falsifications which existed in a few schools.

I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,

Your most obedient servant,


District Inspector^
The Secretaries of National Education.

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l69&.] bf Kaiwnat Education in tretanoL lOl

General Report on the Galway District by Mr. W. H. Welply, B.A., Jj^'stou Sf
District Inspector. Bd^^SISiii

Galway, November, 1899. wii^i,^'

Gentlemen, — I beg to submit for the information of the Com- DUMei
missioners a general report on the condition and prospects of primary ^^^*^^^'
education in the Galway district. Qalwiij.

The boundaries of this district have undergone alteration since 1 Kztnit of
furnished a similar report three years ago. There were then 137 <^*"**»
schools in my charge, as compared with 146 now.

Towards the end of last year nine schools situated along the
northern and western shores of Lough Corrib were transferred to me
from the Tuam district, and one school at Kylemore from the
Westport district. The Belclare Male and Female Schools were,
however, at the same time, included in the Tuam district, and
Islandeddy School, near the eastern extremity of Galway Bay, in the
Gort district. A new school has been built at Salruck, and the old
Oatquarter Mixed School in Arran Island has been replaced by two
new vested schools.

The 146 schools may be classified as follows : — Claaufioi-

5 Convent schools. ichooli.

138 Ordinary schools.
3 Poor Law Union schools.

The great majority of the school buildings are in a satisfactory con- School
dition, both as regards comfort and repair, and the number of unr buUdingi.
suitable school-houses is steadily, if slowly, diminishing. Bad school*
houses still exist at Shrule, Cornamona, Knockbane, Annaghvane
Island, Inishbarra, Inishtrawar, Knock, Inishturk, Errislannan,
Goidane, Nun's Island Monastery (Galway), Inislacken, and Round-
stone — ^fourteen cases in all — ^but, in nine of these, applications for
aid to build new vested schools are actually before the Board, and I
have strong hopes that, in the near future, a similar course will be
adopted in the remaining five.

I regret to state that only in some eleven instances has much Etidcneat
been done towards the cultivation of flowers and shrubs in the ^^^^ *°
margins of the school plots, but the results in these cases are very promiaot.
gratifying, both as regards the tasteful appearance of the premises
and in their refining effects upon the pupils. A little book dealing
with this subject, and giving practical information to the teachers,
should prove useful on the Board's list.

The managers, with three exceptions, are clergymen of the Roman Mamigen,
Catholic denomination. As a rule they display considerable interest
in the welfare of their schools, which they visit regularly.

At no time, in my opinion, could school fees in the rural portions School foes.
of this district have formed a large portion of the teachers' stipend,
but it is r^rettable to find, as I do sometimes, that, since the abolition
of these fees, some parents have come to consider it a favour
to the teachers to send their children to school at all, where they
expect them to be supplied with books, copy-books, and other
materials gratis.

As a general rule fuel is provided by the pupils, and it is not PuoL
uncommon to see them of a morning carrying along with their books
their daily contribution of peat.

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102 Ajypendix to Siocty-sixth Report of Commissiovers [1809.

the'^tttato of "^^^ Compulsory Attendance Act has been very recently put into
Nfttional force in Galway, but beyond casually learning that the unaocastomed
Ednotion. scarcity of " caddies " upon the local golf links is attributable to this
ifr. w, B. cause, I have not had an opportunity of judging of its effects.
wWp/v, I ii^ occasion, two years ago, to give it as my opinion that for

iHiUict twenty years no more important regulation had been made by tho
^^^' Commissioners than that by which knowledge of the meanings of
^* the words and phrases of the Reading lessons became merged with
Compnltfory Reading proper into one subject, upon which, thenceforward, marka
fcducrtion ^ere to be assigned; and the results have not disappointed my
expectations. I think I can perceive a general advance in Reading
^•■^ing- as regards style and intelligence. The teachers, as a body, have
adapted themselves to the new conditions, and the meanings of words
and phrases of the Reading lessons now receive more or less attention
in every school. Sometimes the narrow and improfitable method of
teaching the meanings of individual words has been adopted, and
enterprising persons have compiled glossaries of such words to
suit each class. So long as the use of one series of Readers was
universal the employment of such means was likely to increase in
any but well taught schools, but the introduction of several series
of Readers has made the market for this kind of wares uncertain.
Writinir. Great diversity is to be found in the teaching of Writing. In s<»ne

schools nothing but praise is due for the excellent imita^cn of the

Online LibraryIreland. National Education BdAnnual report of the commissioners ..., Volume 66 → online text (page 20 of 70)