Ireland. National Education Bd.

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

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COMMISSIONEKS OF NATIONAL EDUCATION

IN IRELAND,

FOR THE YEAR .1899-1900.

Section I.— Qenebal Reports on the State 'of National Education

in 1899, by Inspectors and others.

INDEX.



Name of Writer of Report



Position.



Mr. Eardley,
Dr. Alezander,

« Monun, .
Mr. A. N. BonaiMuie-WyBe, ILA,

» W. PMQcyw, B.A..
Dr. H. M. BeattF. •

n Q. Batemaa, .
Mr J. Semple, RA.,

n D
- J.



Dr. J. Steede,
Mr. L. aRelUy, .
n J. a Rovers, BJU
„ W. H. Welply, B.A.,
„ W.P.He»deii,RA.,
„ J.H.Tibb0,BJL,
« D. T. M*Bnery, MJL,
Dr. 3. B. SkefOngton,
Mr.P.J.Fitzgemld,
> J. 8. Ooflsen, KA.,
n Thoa.OarroU,



- -— ■ Sullivan, LL.R, and
Strongei if.A.



Mr. Bardley and Dr. Alexander,
Dr. Moran and Mr. Dewar, ILA.,
Bfiae Prendergast,
Mr. Qoodman,



Head Inspeotor, .

do.,

do.,
District Inspeotor,

do.,

do.,

do.,

do.,

do..

do^

do.,

da,

da,

do.,

da,

do.,

do.,

do.,

do,

do.,

Agricnltnral Superintendent,
Head Inspectois, .

do.,

do,

do..

da,

do.,

do.,

do..

Directress of Needle w^ork.
Examiner in Music,



Subject cf Report.



Londonderry Qronp of Die-

triots.
Cork do.,

Belfast da,

Ballymena Distrlot,

Belfast (Sooth) da,

Newtownards do.,

Idmeriok District,

BaUina District,

Boyle do.

Partly to Bailieborough,
mainly to MuUlngar Dis-
trict.

Dundalk District,

Tnam do.

Partly to Mullincar, mainly

to Bailieborough District.
Qalway District,

Dublin (No. 8) da,

Gtort do,

Ennis District, .

Waterford District. .

Millstreet do.,

Killamey do..

Agricultural Instruction,

All the Training (Colleges,

" Marlborough-street" Train-
ing CJollego. ^ ,

" St. Patrick's" Training Col-
logo.

" Our Ladv of Mercy " Train-
ing Collece.

"Church of Ireland" Train-

** De lA Salle^Training Col-

Pract^l Tests in Teaching
in CollegeB. _ ,.

PraoUcal Tests in Reading in
Oollepes.

Industrial Instruction,

Instruction in Muslo,



Page



1

6

IS

15

38

54
63
70
76

80
88
96
101
106
115
121
180
HI
150
158
172
176
178
179
180
181
182
188
184
190



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The CommlMtoaeni desire It to be dletlnotlsr luderetood that they
do not hold themeelvee reepoBelhle ftor the oplaloae ezpreeeed In these
BeportSy nor do they feel ealled upon to adopt aay eanr^sttMUi they
may eontala.



General Report on the Londonderry Group of Districts by 2!?8^t6^j£
Mr. F. Eakdley, Head Inspector. N»t»onai

^ Education.

Londonderry, January, 1900. ^^JJ.

Gbntlemen, — ^In accordance with your instructions, I beg to submit jn^tor,
the following report on the Londonderry Circuit for the year ended Londoa-
30th September, 1899. d^irj^

There have been no changes in the areas of the several districts, arcuit.
and, consequently, of the circuit itself, during the past year ; but, four
changes have been made in the inspection staff —

D. 6. Hr.M*Glade was sucoeeded by Mr. Mabon.

n 7. Mr.O'OoimaU „ ^ Hr. MaoMillan.

„ 13. Mr.MacMUlan „ „ Dr.Bateman.

„ 15. Mr. Dickie ., „ Mr. (Jonnelly.

The interest taken in the improvement of the school-houses, noticed School-
in former reports, still continues, and is, I am happy to say, not touaes.
merely sentimental, but highly practical. The progress is slow,
limited as it is by site difficulties, as well as financial ; but each year
sees new and suitable structures taking the place of those erected
many years ago in a haphazard sort of fashion, the chief element
of consideration being cheapness of construction. Not a few of the
old school-houses were adapted dwelling-houses, or disused farm offices.
These at the best were necessarily merely makeshifts, and only
tolerated until something better could be had. I have a case before
my mind where a school under one teacher was conducted in a
small two-storied house — one part of the school taught upstairs, and
the other division on the ground floor. Until recently the manager
could not procure a site; but this he has now secured, and a new
vested house will be shortly erected. It is agreeable to turn from
this to the reverse side of the picture, as in Cookstown, where a fine
house, replete with all the modem improvements, sanitary and other-
wise, was erected solely by local contributions. The house cost
£1,600, of which sum the lord of the soil. Lord Dimleith, contributed
£500, besides giving a free site of two acres, in the town itself.

When the aid of the Board is obtained for the erection of vested
school-houses, it is generally understood this aid will amount to two-
thirds of the expenditmre. This is far from being the case in remote
mountainous districts, and, consequently, the poorest, where the
expense of carriage of materials, such as slates, timber, cut stone,
ventilators, from the place of purchase to the site exceeds their
original cost. Thus, to take a case in point in the parish of Lower
Killybegs, post-town Ardara, the manager informed me a horse
can only bring half a ton in a load, and that once a day, from the
town of Ardara to the site of the school-house he is now engaged in
building. Some special consideration would seem equitable in such
cases.



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2 Appendix to Sixty-sixth Report of Commiaaioners [1899.

S?8uto of A ^^ ""'^7 ^^ ^^ ^^^®^ school-houses, though subetantially

NfttiomU ** l>uilt, slated, with boarded floors, and kept in gcwd repair, were

Education, built SO low — walls seven feet high — ^that lightii^; and ventilation

jfr.JT *^® ^*^ unsatisfactory. In fact, in these school-houses — and they

^rdfcy. are not few — ^little or nothing can be done after two o'clock during

iTupeetor. the months of November, December, and January. The pupils have

London- to huddle round the door and windows to see what they are doing.

^^"7' This is the most hopeless class of school; for, since the houses

cannot be called bad, no steps will be taken for their improvement.

Some of the managers to whom I have spoken on the subject

suggested dormer windows, and I have mentioned to others this

expedient, which appears, under the circumstances, to be the most

feasible.

AUoidanco. There is not much change to notice in the character of the pupils'

attendance. Agricultural occupation in the rural districts, and the

poverty or indifference of some parents in the towns, are the chief

causes of Irregularity. To cope with the latter. School Attendance

Committees have been formed in most of the considerable towns in

the circuit, and their action is beneficial, but not to the extent that

was originally anticipated. To the ordinary agricultural operations

for which child labour is in request, such as potato planting and

gathering, weeding, hay-making, and turf-making, must be added

blackberry gathering, which, in some localities, is a remimerative

occupation in the^ autumn months. In the County Donegal, herding

cattle keeps a good many children from school. It is not imusual

to find there a child peiforming the two-fold function of herd and

nurse. This herding is necessary owing to the waut of sufficient

fences to separate the different holdings. In addition to these

remediable causes of irregularity, there are others, non-preventible —

inclement weather and epidemics, such as measles, from which few

localities are free for more than two seasons in succession.

Punctuality f as distinguished from regulariti/, of attendance, is a
good deal in the hands of the teacher, and it is here his efficiency
is shown. When he is engrossed with his work, he will himself set
an unfailing example of this desirable quality; he will make his
school attractive, and so work on the minds of his pupils that
they will let no consideration prevent their attendance at their
morning lesson.

I have before my mind a case in point, and it is not invidious to
mention names when praise, not censure, is to be given. The teacher
of Rathmullen Female — a, school not long in operation — has so
roused her pupils, and impressed on their minds the necessity of
early attendance that, as I was informed by one of the psu^ents, the
children get clamorous for an early breakfast, and will not linger for
the favourite school companion who happens not to be ready when
called for, but will rush on so as to be in good time. On the other
hand, it is, unfortunately, too often the case that teacher and pupils
are quite content when the latter are barely in time for roll call.

As to the latter, a good deal of misconception existed, and in some
carelessly taught schools, there was no early lesson, and no business
commenced until after the rolls were called. The teachers defended
themselves, when reminded they were losing the beet part of the
day, by pointing to the rule, and remarking where was the fatdt
when they gave four hours' instruction after the attendance was
recorded. 'Hie defence and the explanation conveyed to my mind
the idea that the spirit of the teacher's calling was absoit here, .



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1899.] of Natwnal Education in Ireland, 3

The managers are quite alive as to the necessity for both regularity R«po'*» on
and punctuality, and promote both. In Ardara No. 1, the manager, NatkSla ''^
General Tredennick, gives 30«. a year to be distributed in prizes Education,
to pupils who make one hundred attendances in the Results period, j^^ ^
the amoimt to each depending on his regularity. The principle is Sardiev,
good to reward assiduity rather than ability. In most of the towns, fj^tor.
trips to the seaside are organized for the regular attendants. In London-
these trips, the pupils are attended by their teachers, who maintain d«ny.
the slight discipline necessary ; and I think the day so spent should "^
be included in the attendance, as is done in the English schools, when
the pupils are taken to museums, picture galleries, or other places of
public instruction.

After all it is singular to observe how slight a hold the school has
on the attendance, as evidenced by the injurious effect of a holiday
in the middle of a week. The pupils get relaxed just as the school
loses its tension, the feeling of the pupils becomes commimicated to
the parents, who in turn become apathetic, with the general residt —
diminished attendance for the remainder of the week.

There are not many schools in this circuit attended by half-timers ;
still there are some, and the recent raising of the standard for leaving
certificates will be beneficial to these. A pupil leaving after only
passing in Fourth Class, would, except in the favourable circumstance
of a good evening school, or other cause inducing effort, soon qualify
to be classed among the illiterates.

The teachers, as a whole, in this circuit, are fairly earnest, intelli- Teachers,
gent, and capable. As in every large body of men, there are some
backsliders, who either from original ineptitude, or deficient energy,
fail to turn out good or even moderately fair work. It is remarked
that teachers taking charge of schools after a course of two years'
training exhibit a good deal of helplessness in managing their schools.
They can teach a single class well, with vigour, intelligence, and
effect, but to keep all the classes profitably employed at the same
time seems to them a bewildering task. The reason appears to ba
that they had no previous experience. The two years' Queen*s
Scholars had been formerly monitors, pupil-teachers, or merely
advanced pupils, and as such had no further experience than how to
teach a single class; their training advanced them little in this
direction, and hence the difficulty experienced by inspectors in filling
up the special service form of report as to Method of Teaching. The
inspector, on the occasion of his visit, finds the teacher capable of
giving a lesson satisfactory in all its details, while the Results
examination exhibits deplorable defects in the general proficiency of
thie school. Of course, another explanation presents itself, and that
is, when the teacher is put on his mettle before the inspector, he
exerts all his strength, but this effort is spasmodic, and is not main-
tained : hence the ineffectiveness of his teaching. The sample from
which the inspector judges is not of the average quality. As a
rule, it may be said that those who have been monitors in good
schools, or pupil-teachers in Model Schools become, after training,
and a few years' experience, the best teachers.

There is little or no change to report with regard to Reading, Sabjecta of
which retains its main defects — faulty grouping of the words and in- Instr^jon
diptinctness. For the most part, a solid foundation for the first («)««w»n8«
deiect is laid when the pupils are in the First Class. The instruc-
tion of this class is a good deal left to a pupil or a monitor, who
succeeds, in a wooden kind of way, in making the children repeat the

b2



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Aj^tendix to Sixty'sixth Report of Commisioners



[1899.



Beporftion
the State of

Ednflfttion.

BarHeVt

Head

Itupeetor.



dmj.



Writbg.



words without any connection or grouping, just as they would cause
them to repeat the nine digits. The style of reading thus acquired
remains a long time after the pupil has left the First Class. The
habit of reading aloud is not sufficiently practised, and to this
cause^ to some extent at least, I attribute the indistinctness. It
is remarkable that the most distinct reading in the circuit is to be
found in the Irish-speaking districts of the County Donegal.

There are two kinds of reading — nlent, where the person reads for
his own information ; (Uoud, for the inf ormati<m of others. Practically,
it is only the latter which Inspectors test, leaving the former, which is
the more general, as well as the more useful, almost unheeded. In
examination of the senior classes, both might be usefully combined.
Thus, while a junior class is under examination, the pujnls of the
senior could be directed to look down a paragraph, and ascertain
for 'Uiemselves how the words should be grouped, so as to bring
out the sense of the passage, and what words should be emphatic.
This would afford excellent practice in making the pupils help
themselves, and enable one to act on the principle that a pupil should
not be called on to read aloud, imtil he has grasped the meaning of
the passage.

The non-existence of school libraries furnished with suitable books
has been oft^i deplored, but it is quite a mistake to suppose that no
provision exists to satisfy the craving for knowledge other than that
contained in the school books, as connected with churches and
chapels, libraries not consisting of religious works, have been every-
where established, and access to these can be readily obtained by the
scholars.

I do not find the explanation very faulty ; most of the pupils make
a very fair attempt at showing they imderstand what they read. In
poetry it is a different matter, and in both recitation and explana-
tion, there is room for much improvement.

Handwriting throughout the circuit is, for the most part, good.
The numerous series of copy-books on the requisition list are some-
what bewildering to the inexperienced teacher at first; and, after
going the round of a variety of styles, he generally settles into one
which suits. The arrangement for giving out the necessary materials
— ^pens, copy-books — do not, as a rule, reflect much credit on the
teachers tact; and, in the case of one trained teacher, I found the
ink poured out into little pools on the desk, in front of the scholars.
The blackboard, the most important piece of apparatus in the school-
room, is not sufficiently made use of; as, instead of moving con-
stantly through the desks, correcting individual mistakes, the teacher
should occasionally stand in front before the board, illustrate the
prevailing faults, and show how these should be corrected. In this
way the scholars would be prevented from copying their own mis-
takes, bred by repetition, stereotyping them as it were, or at least
making them difficult of subsequent correction. I find, also, too
little attention to the proper use of blotting paper. I do not think
the use of head lines should be abandoned in any class, as the Hand-
writing of even the highest class is so imperfectly formed that the
need of good models continues to exist while the scholar attends
school.

Spelling is, on the whole, well attended to. In transcription, too
little attention is devoted to the punctuation marks, the use of which
might most conveniently be taught in connexion with this exercise,
by pointing out that their occurrence is re^fulated by the sense, with



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1899.] of National Education in Ireland. 6

occaaonal questioning as to why such a mark is here, another there, Reports on
and so on. Were this done, we would not find the letters of the XaiW *'
pupils, as they often are, as devoid of punctuation as an Act of kdueatioa.
Parliament. It would not be too much to expect the comma and «^ "T"
period to be well known as to their situation. BardUu,

Another p<»nt about the letters is that the spelling in these contains impeetor,
ieweac blimders than the Dictation exercise ; and wherei pupils can spell London-
the common words they use in communications, oral and written, ^^^'
they cannot be set down as deficient. Some go so far as to say
it is of more importance that the pupil should know how to spell
"the" and "they" correctly when writing than that he should be
familiar with all the irregular polysyllables in the language. The
subject of Composition should be commenced early by insisting on the
pupils answering, not in single words, but in complete sentences.

The proficiency in Arithmetic is, on the whole, very fair, but should Arithmetie.
be better, as it receives more time and attention than any other branch.
The pernicious system of teaching it by cards exists everywhere, and to
the exclusion of the use of the blackboard, by means of which the
subject might be treated more intellectually. No subject lends itself
more readily to the cultivation of the intelligence. Each new rule
or process should be introduced by blackboard illustration, using small
numbers, then others to be worked out on slates until the pupils are
famihar with the operation, and finally, examples with very small
numbers to be worked mentally. This is the best form of Mental
Arithmetic — ^much better than the " dozen," " score," and " interest "
rules with which the text-books abound. I would not say these
should be excluded, as many of them afford scope for intelligent
judgment; but I mean that Mental Arithmetic should not be con-
fined to such exercises.

The written work is generally ill-arranged, with badly formed
figures, and irregular Unes of separation, showing much want of
neatness and taste. In the junior classes, too, notation is neglected,
and it must be said the tables are not sufficiently known.

Grammar and Geography, as aids to intelhgent explanation of read- Gr»mmar
ing lesson, receive due attention ; but I do not think the pupils are q^^^ j^
so well grounded in them as formerly. A pupil's being able to parse ^*"P ^'
correctly with reference to rules of syntax does not necessarily imply
that he will either speak or write grammatically. His speech wUl
not much depart from what he hears at home, and his written work
wiU correspond. In Geography, it is observed that the pupils in the
Fourth and higher classes soon lose their famiUarity with the Map
of the World ; the new matter they have to learn " crowds out " the
old.

In Needlework a radical improvement is called for. Such a thing as Ne«dle-
a class lesson is never given by the teacher : the instruction is strictly work,
individual, and is just as ineffective as when Reading, Arithmetic,
and the other subjects were treated similarly. But the teachers
themselves would have to be shown how to give class instruction in
this branch. I think it would be well worth while to have a course
of peripatetic instruction given in the different districts. The supply
of materials is for the most part adequate, but not always, as in
die foUowing exceptaonal case — ^"Twenty-two girls present, eleven
above First Class, only two of these sewing, and they had no thimbles."

Where there is an active, intelligent Workmistress, all the girls
are put to some form of knitting or needlework, and the proficiency



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Reports on
the State of
National
Edacation.

Mr,l\
Eardley,
Head
Inspector,

Loadon.
deny.

Singing.



Drawing.



Book-
keeping.



AgricnUore.

Alffebra

and

tieoraetry.



Appendix to Sixty-aixtk Report of Oommisslon^rs [1899

is found to be above, rather than below, the Programme require-
ments. Thus, in some instances, the Second Class can knit with
four needles, and some of the Third can turn the heel of a sock.

In Singing the Tonic Sol-Fa system is gradually superseding the
Staff Notation. It is to be regretted that the subject is not more
generally taught. I think it should be insisted upon where the
teachers hold certificates of competency.

The practice of teaching Drawing is gradually extending, and, like
Singing, it is a subject which might be taught to every pupil attend-
ing school. It is very generally taken as one of the two infants'
subjects, and gives to these young people unquaUfied pleasure. They
make imexpected progress and by the time they reach the Third
Class have not the least difficulty in passing at the Results Examina-
tion. There is generally too much use of india rubber, and too little
blackboard illustration.

In the town schools, Book-keeping is a favourite subject witJi both
boys and girls ; a few understand how to close the accounts, but with
the most it is a mechanical exercise.

This being a compulsory subject, it is everywhere taken up except
in the large towns. The exception is to find it well taught.

The interest in Algebra and Geometry appears to be steadily declin-
ing in this circuit. In some few schools, where the teachers take an
interest in them, the boys acquire very respectable proficiency, and,
singular enough, when taught to girls in a mixed school, the boys do
not take the first place.

I remain, Gentlemen,

Your obedient servant,
F. Eabdley,

Head Inspector.

The Secretaries,

Education Office.



Dr.

Alexander,

Head

Inspector,

Cork.



School
accommo-
dation.



General Report on the Cork Group of Districts by Dr. Alex AJff DEB,

Head Inspector.

Cork, December, 1899.

Gentlemen, — In accordance with the instructions conveyed in your
letter of 23rd February last, I beg to submit the following general
report on the Cork circuit.

The circuit embraces the southern half of the province of Munster.
The great majority of the people Uving in the counties included in it
are engaged in rural occupations.

Steady, if somewhat slow, progress continues to be made in pro-
viding improved school acconmiodation. Apart from the question of
the sufficiency of the funds voted by Parliament for the purpose,
delay in completing the preliminary negotiations is frequently caused
by imforeseen difficulties connected with the proving of title, Ac. In
some cases in which the Commissioners have made grants towards
the erection of new vested houses, the applicants have not proceeded
with the work on the ground that the grants were insufficient. In
one of these cases, the circumstances of which are pretty well known



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189d.j of H'ationaZ Education in Ireland, i

to me, I believe there is much substance in this plea. It is obvious Reports on
that the scale of expenditure which will be quite adequate in one ^^tknla
locality may fall short of the necessities of the case in another. It Edueatioo.
is to be regretted, I think, that a hard and fast line is laid down for _ *"^
the whole of Ireland in the recognised scale of grants. A more Alaeander,
elastic system, in accordance with which the local representative of ^^^.
the Board of Works would be at liberty to recommend special grants
when the circumstances seemed to demand it should, I think, be .^
adopted.

^e ventilation of some of the newer vested houses is not satis-
factory. The arrangements for opening the windows are complicated,
and are easily put out of order. In remote country places it is often
not possible to obtain the services of persons who are capable of
setting matters to rights, and hence weeks may elapse before the
school can be properly ventilated. A simpler plan for opening the



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