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It K I I IV

LIBRARY

UHIVIASITY Of
CALIFORNIA



LET YOUTH BUT KNOW



LET YOUTH BUT KNOW

A PLEA FOR REASON IN EDUCATION



BY

KAPPA



SECOND EDITION



METHUEN CO.

36 ESSEX STREET W.C.

LONDON



First Published . . November 1905
Second Edition .



The following papers originally appeared in the Westminster
Gazette tinder the title, IF YOUTH BUT KNEW. That phrase
having already been applied to a series of stories by Mr, and
Mrs. Egeiton Castle, the title has been slightly altered to avoid
confusion.



TO

THE UNDERGRADUATE
(WITH APOLOGIES)



CONTENTS

PAGE

INTRODUCTION . . . .9

I. AN UNDERGRADUATE . . . 37

POSTSCRIPT: Is HE TYPICAL?

II. THE CHIEF END OF MAN . r .49

III. ALADDIN'S PALACE ... 58

IV. THE ADVENTURES OF SINDBAD . . 69
V. THE ROMANCE OF RELIGION . . 80

VI. WORLD-ClTIZENSHIP AND STATE-ClTIZENSHIP . 90

POSTSCRIPT : ON THE TEACHING OF HISTORY.
VII. ENTER THE CLASSICS . . . 117

VIII. THE FETISH OF GRAMMAR . . .128

POSTSCRIPT: ON THE CLAIMS OF GREEK.

IX. VERBAL CHESS-PLAYING . . .144

POSTSCRIPT: COMPOSITION ON ITS DEFENCE.

X. THE CLASSICS IN PERSPECTIVE . .160

7



M9075GO



5 CONTENTS

PAGE

XI. ATHLETICS . . , . 172

POSTSCRIPT : ON BULLYING.

XII. ETHICS , . . , .195



APPENDIX OF ILLUSTRATIVE EXTRACTS

A. THE INFINITELY LITTLE . , . 209

B. NATURE STUDY . . . . .211

C. ASTRONOMY . . . . .215

D. THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY . .217

E. PLEASURABLE WORK v. DRUDGERY . . 220

F. A RELIGION OF THE INTELLECT . .230

G. LANGUAGE AND MENTAL TRAINING . . 234
H. THE TIME LIMIT . . . .235

I. THE CLASSICS AND ENGLISH STYLE . 237

K. ASCHAM AND COLET .... 240

L. THE CLAIMS OF THE VERNACULAR LANGUAGES 242

M. CONGESTION OF STUDIES . . .245

N. MUSCLE v. INTELLECT . . . .246

O. THE PLAYING-FIELDS AND THE ARMY . 253



INTRODUCTION

THE circumstances in which the following
little treatise took its rise are truthfully
set forth in the first chapter. When I deter-
mined to put on paper the thoughts on educa-
tion which had for years been germinating in
my mind, I suddenly realised that I had read
little or nothing on the subject. The question
thus confronted me : Shall I read, and then
write ? or write, and then read ? I chose the
latter alternative. Regarding my position as
that of a witness giving evidence in the trial of
the current system of public-school education
(which alone I have in view), I felt that the
value of my evidence must lie in its sincerity
as a record of personal experience and thought,
and could only be impaired by collusion with
other witnesses.

Accordingly I wrote, without any study of
books, the series of papers originally published



io INTRODUCTION

in the Westminster Gazette, and here collected.
I have reprinted them with only the most
trifling alterations. They represented a con-
tinuous process both of thought and feeling ;
so that any recasting, however advantageous
from other points of view, would, it seemed to
me, break up a certain unity of movement
which I hope may be found in them. I have,
however, added some postscripts and footnotes,
either dealing with criticisms, or embodying
considerations originally omitted for lack of
space.

Moreover, I have now read some of the
authorities on education, and realised that to
have done so earlier would have been to nip
this book in the bud. I should never have
dared to say over again so much that better
men had said before me. Yet whatever the
reader may feel on the point I cannot now
regret having re-thought and re-worded so
many of the thoughts of my predecessors.
The very fact that such excellent things had
been said by such excellent men, without,
apparently, producing one jot or tittle of result,
makes me doubly confident of the necessity
that they should be said again and yet again,
and even dinned into the ears of parents,



INTRODUCTION n

teachers, and legislators. It is depressing to
reflect that Herbert Spencer's treatise on
Education is forty-four years old, and that the
public-school curriculum remains what it is.
In other quarters, no doubt, Spencer's work
has done good service ; but the public schools
have resolutely ignored it. Spencer, it is true,
diminished the force of his impact by intro-
ducing a good deal of merely doctrinary matter.
For instance, his exposition of the dependence
of art upon science is evidently a piece of special
pleading, based upon a purely speculative con-
ception of what art really means. Conservatism
doubtless seized upon what was weak in his
argument, to excuse its disregard of what was
strong, cogent, irrefragable. It would be
ridiculous to hope that in the following pages
I have not offered it plenty of pretexts for a
like evasion. Yet, inasmuch as my book is
shorter than Spencer's and my outlook narrower,
I have had less opportunity of falling into error ;
while the extracts from his work which I have
been permitted to make in my Appendix will,
I trust, reinforce my inferior power of exposi-
tion, and drive home some of those fundamental
points on which we are in agreement.

Among other books in which I recognise



12 INTRODUCTION

many of my own ideas, I may mention the
works of Sir Joshua Fitch, late H.M. Inspector
of Training Colleges, and especially his lectures
on Educational Aims and Methods (Cambridge
University Press, 1900). In Sir Joshua Fitch
sound and catholic culture was united to wide
technical experience. It has given me the
greatest encouragement to find him, at several
points, almost verbally anticipating my views,
and at no point in marked divergence from
them.

From The Upton Letters, by "T. B."
(Smith, Elder, & Co., 1905), I have derived
not only encouragement but the keenest
pleasure. I am tempted to apply to this work
a phrase strangely misapplied to a production
of a very different order, and call it "a golden
book of spirit and of sense." The style is as
delightful as the thought is humane, sensitive,
inspiring. Who the author is I do not know ;
but I say with conviction : Happy the school-
boys who come under the influence of " T. B." !

Mr. William James's excellent Talks to
Teachers on Psychology (Longmans, 1903)
have helped to clear my mind on several
points. Two little books by Mrs. M. E.
Boole I have read with extraordinary interest.



INTRODUCTION 13

They are The Preparation of the Child for
Science and Lectures on the Logic of Arithmetic,
both published by the Clarendon Press. My
rank incompetence in mathematics disables me
from forming a definite judgment as to the
validity of Mrs. Boole's more technical doc-
trines ; but her whole mental attitude seems to
me admirably sane and helpful. I have also
found much suggestion in Home Education, by
Charlotte M. Mason (Kegan Paul & Co.,
1905), the opening sections of which form a
most valuable commentary on my third chapter.
Two stories of school life, published within
the past year, have confirmed the impressions I
had elsewhere gathered as to the moral and
intellectual tone of the modern public school.
Though by no means of equal value, both
books are evidently written from intimate and
recent knowledge of the matter in hand.
Hugh Rendal, by Mr. Lionel Portman (Alston
Rivers), describes a school "in the midlands,
among the moors." It is an able book, full of
sound common sense and excellent feeling.
The Hill, by Mr. Horace Annesley Vachell
(John Murray), deals, as its title sufficiently
indicates, with Harrow. There runs through
it a rather sickly strain of sentiment, and one



14 INTRODUCTION

gathers that the typical Harrovian is apt to
be obtrusively conscious of belonging to the
governing classes a characteristic which
might be more briefly, if less politely, ex-
pressed. At the same time there can be no
doubt that Mr. Vachell writes with his eye
on the object, and that his picture is in the
main a true one. Both he and Mr. Portman
believe ardently in the public-school system,
and, while frankly admitting certain blemishes
upon it, are to be accepted as witnesses for
the defence.

Since the body of this book went to press,
there has appeared in the Westminster Gazette
a paper by Mr. H. G. Wells, which I will
venture to describe rather as a most valuable
supplement to my articles than as a criticism of
them. Mr. Wells writes :

" While one agrees with ' Kappa ' and shares
" his alarm, one must confess the remedies he
11 considers indicated do not seem quite so
"satisfactory as his diagnosis of the disease.
"He attacks the curriculum, and tells us we
"must reduce or remove instruction and exer-
" cise in the dead languages, introduce a
" broader handling of history, a more inspiring



INTRODUCTION 15

" arrangement of scientific courses, and so forth.
" I wish, indeed, it were possible to believe that
" substituting biology for Greek, or history with
"models and photographs and diagrams for
" Latin prose composition, would make any
" considerable difference in this matter. For
"so might one discuss this question and still
" give no offence to a most amiable and influ-
"ential class of men. But the roots of the
"evil, the ultimate cause of that typical young
"man's deadness, lie not at all in that direc-
tion. To indicate the direction in which it
"does lie is quite unavoidably to give offence
"to an indiscriminatingly sensitive class. Yet
" there is need to speak plainly. This deaden-
"ing of soul comes not from the omission or
" inclusion of this specific subject or that ; it
" is the effect of the general scholastic atmo-
" sphere. It is an atmosphere that admits of
"no inspiration at all. It is an atmosphere
"from which living stimulating influences have
"been carefully excluded, from which stimu-
" lating and vigorous personalities are now being
"carefully eliminated, and in which dull prosaic
"men prevail invincibly. The explanation of
" the inert commonness of ' Kappa's ' schoolboy
"lies not in his having learnt this or not learnt



16 INTRODUCTION

" that, but in the fact that from seven to twenty
"he has been in the intellectual shadow of a
"number of good-hearted, sedulously respect-
able, conscientiously manly, conforming, well-
-behaved men, who never, to the knowledge
"of their pupils and the public at any rate,
"think strange thoughts, do imaginative or
" romantic things, pay tribute to beauty, laugh
" carelessly, or countenance any irregularity in
"the world. All erratic and enterprising ten-
dencies in him have been checked by them
"and brought at last to nothing; and so he
"emerges a mere residuum of decent minor
"tendencies. The dulness of the scholastic
"atmosphere, the grey intolerant mediocrity
"that is the natural or assumed quality of
"every upper-class schoolmaster, is the true
"cause of the spiritual etiolation of ' Kappa's '
"young friend."

A correspondent, intimate with the modern
public school, who addressed me privately
before Mr. Wells's article appeared, took up
very much the same position, and maintained
that the race of Headmasters was steadily
deteriorating. Upon this point I offer no
opinion, having no materials for forming a
judgment. But I entirely agree with my



INTRODUCTION 17

correspondent in holding the clerical Head-
master a manifest anachronism, a survival from
the middle ages. His abolition would be, as
Carlyle says, " significant of much."

To return, however, to Mr. Wells. Making
large reservation in favour of individuals, and
allowing for some characteristic vivacities of
expression, I in the main agree with him.
But he seems curiously oblivious of the
surely evident fact that the men are the
products not to say the victims of the
system. It is perfectly true that, given
a teacher of genius, or even of strong and
original intelligence, almost any subject may
be made inspiring, awakening, educative in
the highest sense. But geniuses are rare
under the best of circumstances ; and if we
want to have an adequate supply of men of
strong and original intelligence, we must take
reasonable measures to produce them. The
burden of my argument is precisely this, that
the present course of studies at preparatory
and public schools does not tend to supply the
teaching profession, or any other, with men of
strong and original intelligence. If it produces
such men at all, it is by chance, and in its own
despite. Of course it is men we want ; of
B



i8 INTRODUCTION

that there is no doubt ; but it is equally certain
that we cannot find men by simply crying out
for them.

The whole trouble is that public-school
education moves in a vicious circle : the system
begets the masters and the masters maintain
the system. Now, it is often hard to decide
at what point one may best break through a
vicious circle ; but here, as it seems to me,
the system is quite evidently the point to be
attacked. I venture to think that Mr. Wells's
apparent indifference as to the nature and the
proportional adjustment of the subjects com-
posing a school course, is largely assumed for
the sake of enforcing his immediate point.
Let me put the case to him in this way :
Suppose that we could miraculously transform
the acquirements of all our public-school
masters, without altering their character, their
intelligence, or their outlook upon life ; sup-
pose that, while the philistines among them
remained as philistine as ever, we could
to-morrow endow them all with a power to
teach the subjects indicated in my general
scheme, exactly equivalent to their power
of teaching the subjects included in the pre-
sent curriculum ; suppose this miracle effected,



INTRODUCTION 19

would Mr. Wells deny that it would place
us far on the way towards a beneficent
reform ? The hypothesis is a little compli-
cated, but if Mr. Wells will think it out, I am
sure he will see my point. Even assuming that,
in the course of imparting " the new learning,"
the masters themselves gained nothing, the
pupils would at any rate acquire some vital
and relevant, or, as Spencer would say, some
organizable, knowledge, and would, in their
turn, furnish forth a better body of masters to
teach the next generation. But in all prob-
ability the masters would themselves gain
scarcely less than the pupils. In occupying
their minds with real instead of unreal things,
with necessary relations in place of conventions,
they would educate themselves as well as their
scholars, and gradually come to take wider
views of life, its problems, and its possibilities.
This is, indeed, the very ideal of education :
that the teacher should not be a mere conduit-
pipe for conveying knowledge to his pupils,
but that he and they should be mutually helpful
fellow-students in the school of life.

My illustration postulates, of course, a wild
impossibility. But which is more inconceivable :
the schoolmasters of to-day administering a



20 INTRODUCTION

course of studies that would satisfy me, or a
body of masters that would satisfy Mr. Wells
administering the studies of to-day ? I submit
that the latter state of things would presuppose
by far the greater miracle of the two. It is
utterly out of the power of the clerico-classical
curriculum to produce any considerable number
of what Mr. Wells calls " authentic men, taking
a line of their own, and capable of intellectual
passion." But it ought to be quite within our
power to bring about gradually such a change
in the subjects and methods of study as shall,
still more gradually, produce a race of teachers
approximating, as closely as human frailty will
permit, to Mr. Wells's high ideal.

As to Mr. Wells's implied opinion that the
nature of the thing taught is of comparatively
trifling moment, I am tempted to answer him
out of his own mouth. In the Appendix to
his Modern Utopia, he gives a brief sketch of
his own education. He says :

" I had come into pretty intimate contact
"with the harder realities of life . . . before
" I was fifteen. About that age, following the
" indication of certain theological and specula-
tive curiosities, I began to learn something
V of what I will call deliberately and justly,



INTRODUCTION 21

" Elementary Science . . . and then, through
"accidents and ambitions that do not matter
" in the least to us now, I came to three years
" of illuminating and good scientific work. The
" central fact of those three years was Huxley's
''course in Comparative Anatomy at the school
"in Exhibition Road. About that as a nucleus
" I arranged a spacious digest of facts. At the
"end of that time I had acquired what I still
"think to be a fairly clear and complete and
" ordered view of the ostensibly real universe.
" Let me try to give you the chief things I
" had. I had man definitely placed in the
"great scheme of space and time. I knew
" him incurably for what he was, finite and not
" final, a being of compromises and adaptations."
There follows an outline of a comprehensive
course of biological study, ending thus :
" I had checked the whole theory of develop-
" ment again in a year's course of palaeontology,
"and I had taken the dimensions of the whole
"process, by the scale of the stars, in a course
" of astronomical physics."

Mr. Wells is evidently satisfied that the
three years he describes were well spent. And
who shall doubt it? No one, certainly, who
realises what we owe to Mr. Wells, both as



22 INTRODUCTION

a thinker and as an imaginative artist. But
will he tell us that these years would have been
equally well spent in construing and composing
Greek and Latin verse and prose, even under
the most inspiring of masters? Or will he
have us believe that the good effect of the
three years was mainly due to the teachers, and
only incidentally to the things taught ? True,
he came in contact with one teacher of genius
Huxley. But for the rest he does not
indicate, nor is there any reason to suppose,
that his teachers, considered merely as men,
were greatly superior to the average public-
school master. Probably, if the truth were
known, some of them were dry and uninspiring
enough ; for science cannot create the teaching
faculty in a man who has it not. But the vitality,
the reality of their subjects doubtless helped
to bring out whatever power of inspiration they
originally possessed ; and even those who were
dull in themselves could not render their sub-
jects entirely dull to a youth whose whole
course of study was making the universe alive
to him. Where all departments of inquiry are
mutually complementary, the inspiration derived
from one teacher will communicate itself to
the whole course ; wherefore (if for no other



INTRODUCTION 23

reason) it should be one of the chief aims of
a master-educator to make all the subjects
which, at a given time, engage a pupil's atten-
tion, manifestly fit into, or branch out from,
each other. All this, I cannot but think,
Mr. Wells will admit ; and, if so, I do not see
how he is to avoid the admission that in his
Westminster article he laid somewhat too ex-
clusive stress on the influence of the teacher,
as distinct from that of the subject taught.

What remains to be said may perhaps best
take the form of my own criticism upon the
following pages. An author is naturally an
indulgent critic of his own work, but he is
not necessarily blind to all its limitations and
defects.

In the first place, then, the lack of practical
experience in teaching is evident throughout,
and along with it the pure theorist's tendency
to ignore or minimise the element of friction.
The reader may quite reasonably gather from
some of my chapters that I hold education to
be an altogether simpler problem than it really
is. It may seem as though I believed that a
mere change of system would automatically
beget a race of brilliantly intelligent and



24 INTRODUCTION

perfectly virtuous schoolboys and under-
graduates. As a matter of fact, I am no such
visionary ; but, in pleading for an ameliora-
tion of method, one naturally insists on its
ideal consequences, and cannot always be
pausing to allow for the necessity of slowly
perfecting instruments and laboriously clearing
away obstacles in a word, for the tardy move-
ment of sublunary things. If it be admitted
that the changes which I urge would set up a
tendency in the right direction, that is quite
sufficient for my purpose, and I can suffer with
a good grace all reasonable deductions from
my seemingly over-sanguine forecast of results.
Again, it has surprised me to find that none
of my critics has hitherto raised a note of
alarm as to the solemn young prigs, posers,
and sentimentalists whom it may seem to be
my ambition to substitute for the healthy,
harum-scarum boy-barbarians of to-day. The
danger is quite real, and I am not at all
insensible to it. Tactless teaching on the
lines I suggest might overreach itself in one
or other of three ways : it might beget
a shallow self-satisfaction, a purblind and
priggish positivism ; it might bewilder and
crush the youthful mind with a sense of the



INTRODUCTION 25

overwhelming multitude and majesty of pheno-
mena ; or it might, by a mechanical and over-
insistent dwelling on the miracle of existence,
dull that very sense of wonder which it de-
signed to stimulate, and produce a condition of
mere hebetude and apathy. All these evils,
and especially the last, would have to be care-
fully guarded against. As Mrs. Boole very
wisely points out, " an incessant strain on the
imagination and on the perception of the
sublime is unhealthy and deadening." I freely
admit that a premature initiation into natural
theology is no less to be deprecated than the
premature inculcation of dogmatic theology.
No machine-made system of teaching can ever
be right. The best of methods must be
modulated by human insight, sympathy, and
tact. But I conceive that the practice of a
rational method is rather more likely than the
practice of an irrational method to beget and
foster a tactful race of teachers.

One evident flaw in my argument is the
absence of all reference to the examination
system and its influence on education. I
avoided the question, to speak frankly, because
I found it impossible to arrive at a definite
opinion regarding it. I am not even clear on



26 INTRODUCTION

the preliminary question : how far emulation
ought to be utilised as a legitimate stimulus to
endeavour. Where two or three are gathered
together, it would seem very difficult to exclude
this motive ; wherefore I am disposed to think
that the reasonable course is to admit it, while
taking every precaution against its becoming
an overmastering and fiercely egoistic passion.
If the advantage to the winner of an intellectual
race is questionable, the discipline to his losing
rivals is surely not without its value. I see no
reason why examinations should not be devised
which should test progress at every stage of
the course of training I have sketched, without
overspurring emulation or encouraging "cram."
Much more difficult is the question of com-
petitive examinations for public appointments
and the like. It is hard to see how they
could be abolished without reopening the door
to jobbery and corruption ; nor is it clear how
they can be so ordered as wholly to exclude
mechanical mark-hunting. One may perhaps
venture the suggestion that, at the end of a
course of rational education, a short period of
cramming might do no great harm. After all,
the power to master a subject quickly and (for
the moment) thoroughly, in order to meet a



INTRODUCTION 27

temporary occasion, is one of the aptitudes
most frequently demanded in many branches
of the public service ; so that the examinations
which test it are not wholly beside the mark.
Another very important question, but quite
outside the scope of this book, is that of the
sterilising pressure of the examination system
on advanced undergraduate work in the univer-
sities. Taking it all in all, there can be no
doubt that the constant intentness on mark-
getting fostered by our scholarship and tripos
system contradicts the whole spirit of a liberal
education as I conceive it. At the same time,
I am pretty confident that the evils of the
examination system are not the cause (as some
maintain), but rather the consequence, of the
unreason of our whole scheme of education,
and that, in reforming the matter and manner
of our teaching, we should almost inevitably
reform our method of testing results.

It is evident that my ideal of education
demands a larger and (on the average) a more
highly-trained staff of teachers than is at pre-
sent considered requisite for a well-equipped
school. This would mean, of course, that


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