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Webster Barnes, material assistance without which the

1 The names of the Executive Committee are prefixed to this Introduc-
tion.



Introduction xxi

inquiry could not have been completed upon the pro-
jected scale. The American Committee, however, must
not be held responsible for the conclusions submitted in
this Introduction.

In order to collect the materials required for their
report, the Executive Committee (after preparing and
circulating lists of topics which indicated the scope of the
inquiry) 1 proceeded (i) to invite communications from
all members of the Advisory Council; (2) to receive
oral evidence from selected witnesses; 2 and (3) to com-
mission investigators to prepare reports upon the methods
of moral instruction and training in the schools of Great
Britain and Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland,
Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand and Japan.

The representatives of the Committee received un-
stinted help and indispensable guidance from the teachers
in all types of schools, and from educational administrators
in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Permission to
visit schools in different countries was obtained through
the kind offices of the Board of Education and the Foreign
Office, and to both the thanks of the Committee are due.

III.

The evidence shows that, in all the countries from
which we have received reports, those who have special
knowledge of social needs regard the moral influence
which may be exerted by the schools as being of primary
importance to national well-being. The question of moral
education is the heart of the modern educational problem.
If this is neglected, education is a peril. Economic and

J The lists of topics and the names of the special investigators are
given on pp. li and 490, respectively.
2 See list on p. 492.



xxii Introduction

social changes, the inrush of new knowledge and new
ideas, the weakening of ancient traditions, the shifting of
old landmarks of custom and belief, have thrown upon
the schools a responsibility beyond precedent and ex-
pectation. But the reports show no reason for regarding
the crisis with dismay. Their tone is hopeful and
encouraging. They prove that everywhere the teachers
are grappling with the difficulties of their task ; that ex-
perience justifies a strong belief in the moral power of
education when given under conditions which allow it to
exert its due influence ; that as the gravity of the problem
is more clearly realised, the work of the schools receives
increased support and encouragement from the public ;
and that greater readiness is being shown to provide the
means for healthy, physical development and for thorough
intellectual training which, however valuable in themselves,
are still more important when viewed in their bearing
upon moral education and as factors in the formation of
character.

But, it may be asked, is not this disposition to turn to
the schools as a chief means of moral education, only a
sign of a despairing abandonment of other agencies, the
result of a conviction that the latter have proved incapable
of dealing with the problem, and that therefore some
substitute must at any cost be found for them ? This, it
seems, is far from being the true explanation of the move-
ment in opinion which has converged upon the question
of moral instruction and training in schools. The schools,
it is seen, are only one out of many instruments in moral
training. The care of children during the earlier years of
infancy, when habits are first formed, is only in rare cases
committed to them. The work of the schools can never
take the place of the character-forming influences of a
good home. Again, in a day school (and only a small



Introduction xxiii

minority of children are educated in boarding schools), a
child is under the teacher's care during not more than one-
third of his waking hours, or if holidays are taken into
account, during not more than a quarter of them. It is
true that the concentration of the school upon the object
of training gives special power to its work, but it is only
one out of many influences in the life of a child, and its
work is most effectively done when it can combine its
efforts with those of the home and of the religious society
to which the parents of the child belong. By the nature
of the case, however, there can be no sharp division of
functions, limiting the province of the school to physical
and intellectual training and reserving the task of moral
training for the exclusive care of other agencies. Moral
influence of some kind the school must have. The
practical question, therefore, is how can the moral training
which it helps in giving be made most inspiring in its
appeal and most permanent in its influence upon conduct
and character. Various causes have increased the urgency
of this question and explain the close attention which is
now being given to it in all countries. The feeling of
social solidarity has grown in strength, and with it a
clearer consciousness of the neglect from which multitudes
of children suffer at home and of the evils which that
neglect inflicts upon the life of the whole community. At
the same time experience has shown how much can be
done by educational methods to counteract the evils
resulting from home neglect; and thus along with the
more vivid sense of need there has come a stronger hope
of being able to deal with it, in some degree at any rate,
by means of improvements in the schools, combined with
other measures of social reform. 1 Again, economic and

1 Dr. F. A. Sibly, a member of the Executive Committee, while in entire
agreement with the idea that a spirit of service to the community should



xxiv Introduction

other forces have changed the conditions of life, to some
extent in the country and to a far greater degree in the
towns. The social problem has taken a new form, more
hopeful in some respects, more menacing in others, and
calls for a spirit of service to the community, a spirit which
the schools may help to evoke and may in part direct.
Beyond this, it is felt that a systematic effort should be
made to foster a stronger sense' of national obligation,
including in our own case a stronger sense of our obliga-
tion towards those who are our fellow-subjects in different
parts of the Empire. Nor must national duty be so taught
as to make the mind insensible to the wider responsi-
bilities which each people bears towards other members
of the commonwealth of nations. But if such an effort is
to succeed, the co-operation of the schools in it is more
than ever necessary, because industrial changes, while
affording to great numbers of the people a much higher
standard of comfort and wider opportunities of advance-
ment than were formerly enjoyed, have also disturbed the
traditions of home-life, and by multiplying opportunities
of early employment have in many cases weakened
parental authority.

It is clear, however, that what is sought for is not simply
better provision for moral instruction and training but
also some more direct application of moral principles to
the duties of life under modern conditions and to the
civic obligations of the members of a self-governing com-
munity, especially a community which, like our own, is
dependent in the main for its livelihood upon competitive

permeate the life of every individual, desires to dissociate himself from the
idea that such collective action of the community as is spoken of in these
paragraphs is a legitimate function of the State, and to emphasise his
belief that, however beneficial the immediate results of such action may
prove, it tends ultimately to the destruction of the personal liberty and
responsibility which he believes to be essential to individual development
arid to social progress.



Introduction xxv

industry and commerce. The value of character and
principle can only be judged in the light of a moral and
social ideal. The latter alone can determine our judg-
ment as to what types of character are good and what
applications of principle are salutary. This hungering for
a social ideal which may command unfaltering allegiance
and may guide conduct through the temptations and
perplexities of daily experience is, with many, the true
cause of dissatisfaction with what the schools now provide
in the form of moral instruction. That the schools might
hold up such an ideal and inspire a love for it is the belief
of those who have pressed upon the thought of the nation
the need for more systematic moral instruction in the
schools. On the other hand, many of those who agree
in thinking that the moral instruction now generally given
is defective, are reluctant to impose any more stringent
obligation upon the teachers in this matter, because they
believe that the definition of a social ideal, in terms suf-
ficiently precise to be made the subject-matter of instruc-
tion in schools and sufficiently compatible with the facts
of the economic struggle to serve as a sure guide through
the real difficulties of life, is a task which no public au-
thority, central or local, could in present circumstances
venture to undertake in such a community as our own.
But though the defects of our knowledge and other
reasons may prevent us from formulating in detail a social
ideal which would meet with general acceptance, we may
nevertheless fairly say that there is in our country an
ideal of practical morality which for practical purposes
can be taken as a basis for school-teaching by thinkers
of almost all schools of thought. On this point all our
witnesses, with few exceptions, agree. That such a basis
exists is shown by the fact that the admirable definition
of the aims and scope of moral instruction and training



xxvi Introduction

contained in the English Code for public elementary day
schools has been approved by all sections of public opinion.
And that the subject-matter of the course proposed by
the Code is well adapted for school use is proved by the
evidence which is contained in these volumes. Moreover,
there is, in this country at all events, no thought of impos-
ing upon all schools the duty of imparting a minutely
regulated body of doctrine on social questions. The
matters upon which there is a general agreement are
sufficient to provide all the subject-matter usually required.
And, beyond this, the dangers of mechanical uniformity
on the one hand and of stirring up social controversy on
the other are materially lessened by the fact that the
administrative freedom of our educational system allows
variety of experiment in moral instruction and would,
within reasonable limits, give liberty to local authorities
and school managers to meet the convictions of the parents
of the children attending the schools.

But a graver difficulty lies behind. Whatever measure
of agreement we may expect in regard to the subjects
with which moral instruction should deal, there is great
divergence of conviction as to the sanctions to which, in
imparting it, the teacher should appeal. 1 We recognise
three such sanctions (separable in thought but intertwined
in practice), (i) the religious, (2) the social, civic or
patriotic, and (3) the personal. It is true that in regard
to many subjects which form the topics of moral instruc-
tion (e.g., cleanliness, the love of fair play, kindness to
animals and love of country) the personal or social sanc-
tion, or a combination of the two, would usually be
invoked by teachers of all schools of thought. But when

1 The word " sanction " is here used in a more general sense than
usually attaches to it. It means " considerations " in general, not merely
or necessarily " pains and penalties ".



Introduction xxvii

endeavouring to inculcate the duty of reverence, of truth-
fulness and honesty, and of gentleness to the weak, most
teachers would also wish to give to their teaching the
further sanction of religion. Certain necessary parts,
therefore, of any comprehensive system of moral in-
struction raise the question what religious sanction should
be recognised in schools, including those which are under
public management and are supported by public funds.
Moral instruction must not be regarded simply as a
convenient way of escaping from difficult questions which
arise in regard to religious teaching in publicly supported
schools. It is inseparably connected with the sphere of
religion. In this connection, of course, the word " re-
ligion " is used as signifying one or other of many forms
of faith. In view of Japanese experience the word must
be understood to include non-Christian religions as well
as the different forms of Christian belief. Again, in many
of the State schools of France there are teachers whose
work is inspired by real religious feeling though they
cannot accept the Christian Creeds. But, whatever the
religious belief of the teacher, it must in some degree
govern parts of his work in moral instruction.

As to the degree of necessary connection between moral
instruction and religious teaching there are four contrasted
views. Some maintain that religious training and moral
training are throughout inseparable. A second view is
that moral instruction and training are wholly separable
from religious teaching, and those who hold this opinion
maintain that moral instruction in schools supported by
public money should rest exclusively upon a non-theolo-
gical basis. A third view is that, though the ultimate
sanctions of moral education are found in religious faith,
instruction in those sanctions should be entrusted to the
family and to the religious bodies, the day school content-



xxviii Introduction

ing itself with an appeal to those moral instincts and
convictions which are shared by all. A fourth view is
that moral training and religious teaching are in some
essential points interdependent ; that though the spheres
of the two are in some respects distinct and separable
(e.g., in the teaching of manners and of many points of
civic obligation), both are necessary for true education,
i.e., for that part of education which is given at school as
well as for that imparted by the family or the religious
body; and therefore, that while, so far as the great
majority of schools are concerned, it is possible to secure
both moral and religious teaching in forms acceptable to
the parents of almost all the children in attendance, it is
also necessary that, in view of differences in religious
conviction, a due place should be given within the frame-
work of national education to schools which are closely
associated with religious bodies and which can give full
expression to the principles of their corporate life. 1 Among
those whom we have consulted each of these four views
has strong supporters, but it is to the view last mentioned
that the majority of our English witnesses seem to incline.
Some, however, believe that the light thrown by psycho-
logical investigation upon the way in which spiritual
truths are apprehended by young minds will make it
possible to frame for school purposes forms of religious
teaching which may meet with acceptance by the ad-
herents of different faiths. But others, and probably the
majority, are of opinion that changes in educational
method will not touch the fundamental differences of

1 It is not implied that freedom to establish and maintain such schools
should be confined to organised religious bodies. Other forms of con-
viction, which do not conflict with the principles of social order, may (in
the judgment of those who hold the view summarised above) justly claim
a like consideration.



Introduction xxix

conviction, though they may gradually abate some parts
of present controversy.

To sum up : Our evidence shows that in every country
there is an ideal of personal and of civic obligation which
may be taken as a basis for school teaching by adherents
of almost every school of thought. 1 This greatest common
measure of agreement may form an important constituent
of moral education in the national schools, but cannot
rightly be employed by the State as if it were the sole
foundation of morality. In regard to the most vital
questions of conduct, the appeal lies to sanctions in regard
to the definition of which there is amongst us pro-
found difference of personal conviction. Freedom for the
effective expression of those different convictions is there-
fore (in the judgment of the large majority of the Com-
mittee) essential to the welfare and true unity of an
educational system in such a countiy as our own. But if,
within the limits imposed by consideration for others and
by a sense of right reserve, due freedom is given to the
individual teacher, and if no belief feels itself debarred
from the opportunity of expressing itself through the
corporate life and religious observances of schools sufficient
in number to meet the needs of the children of those
parents to whom such form of belief is dear, there is
reason to think that the measure of practical agreement,
in regard to those questions of duty and conduct with
which schools are necessarily concerned, will be found so
large amongst us as to permit a general, though not
unanimous, assent to certain common principles which will
serve as a basis for moral instruction and training in the

1 An admirable statement of this and other aspects of the question will
be found in Prof. J. S. Mackenzie's presidential address to the Moral
Instruction League, 1908, published in The International Journal of
Ethics for April, 1908.



xxx Introduction

great majority of our schools. Substantial unity of moral
effort is more likely to be achieved through permitted
freedom of reference to divers sanctions than through any
attempt to secure moral unity by imposing statutory
limitations upon freedom of spiritual appeal. If freedom
is given to the teacher, the best interests of moral education
are furthered, and the liberty thus accorded is honourably
used.

Our evidence further shows that school-training, es-
pecially when supported by the influence of the home
and by the influence of the religious body to which the
parents of the child belong, may make a deep and last-
ing impression upon individual character, and may, as in
Japan, diffuse to a remarkable degree throughout the
nation a sense of personal duty towards the State. And,
though in this task the influence even of the best schools
will not alone suffice, it is certain that the intellectual and
moral training which they furnish can, in individual cases,
counteract the poison of an evil environment, can kindle
new ideals of duty, and can give necessary help in the
secret struggle against personal temptation. 1

IV.

By what methods then, it should next be asked, can
schools most effectively help in the formation of char-
acter? By what means can they impart, with the best
hope of permanence, a high moral arid social ideal ?

The experience of all teachers reminds us that the

1 In order that there may be more individuality of training in elementary
education, it is important that there should be a considerable reduction in
the size of the classes. Nor should it be forgotten that the fulfilment of
all high ideals in education depends upon the personal interest and de-
votion not only of teachers and of educational officials but of a large
number of individuals engaged in other callings in life. The latter should
be encouraged to take part in the management of schools and to promote
their improvement by gifts and personal service.



Introduction xxxi

growth of a good character is a complex process, involving
the right direction of sentiment, the bracing of the will,
and the clear intellectual apprehension of an ideal of duty.
For our guidance in such a gradual and delicate process
no single formula can suffice. Individual pupils, even
members of the same family who have received an almost
identical upbringing, differ from one another to an ex-
traordinary degree in the measure and direction of their
moral, as of their intellectual, development. In the nature
of each individual are inherited factors which respond to
the stimulus of environment with results that the wisest
cannot foresee. At different ages, again, different forms
of moral influence and instruction are appropriate. The
necessary factor of authority, for example, will find
different forms of expression according to the needs of
infancy, of childhood and of adolescence. Further, the
problems of moral training are different in day schools
and in boarding schools; and again different methods
are often needed in dealing with boys and with girls,
while yet other needs arise (though some, urgent under
other conditions, may disappear) when boys and girls are
educated together during the years of adolescence. In
such variety of circumstances no one formula of moral
training and instruction can serve. Nor is anything more
important than to leave to the teachers (granted that they
be well fitted and well prepared for their duties) very large
freedom in the choice of methods and in determining when
and how to speak the word in season, whether it be incident-
ally as opportunity may present itself, or in private conver-
sation, or in some address or lesson planned for the purpose.

(l) Our evidence shows how widespread among those
best qualified to form a judgment is the conviction that
the most potent factor in moral education, more potent
VOL. I. c



xxxii Introduction

even than the corporate influence of an honourable com-
munity, is the personality of the teacher, whether he who
teaches be parent, or teacher in the narrower sense of the
word, or employer, or elder comrade in home, school or
place of business. And, difficult though it is to analyse
this power of personality, its transmission may be traced
first, and above all, to some kindling ray of sympathy and
insight, but also to the influence of example, to the moral
force of a clearly apprehended ideal, and to the wise,
though often instinctive, choice of the method of approach.
Again, in the choice of methods of moral training and
instruction much must depend upon the spirit of the
time. To withstand, for example, the insidious and
corroding influence of moral scepticism (a danger not less
serious, especially in adolescence, because it is often
hidden and unsuspected), there is needed not only the tact
which is indispensable to all wise training but a thorough-
ness of ethical analysis and discussion which in simpler
cases might prove disturbing or repellent and be in either
event injurious. Nor can the teacher safely overlook the
degree to which the different ethical needs of his pupils
are effected by the milieu in which their habitual standards
of conduct and of moral judgment have been formed.
Not only do nations differ in the emphasis which they
throw upon different virtues, but even in the various
strata of one local community different degrees of im-
portance may be attached to the same virtue, and a very
unequal measure of disapprobation attached to one and
the same fault, though it may well be true that the
undervaluing of one virtue is counterbalanced, if not com-
pensated, by the exceptionally high regard paid to another.
Some of these differences in ethical habit and judgment
are perhaps due to racial inheritance ; more of them may
be traced to the subtle pressure of an almost invisible



Introduction xxxiii

web of social tradition. But, whatever their extent and
origin, any such differences in ethical presupposition and
outlook will be treated by the experienced teacher with
sympathy and watchful care.

Despite, however, all these differences in educational and
social circumstance, it is clear from our evidence (the
agreement of which in this report is all the more striking
because it has been reached by so great a number of
independent observers in many lands) that certain broad
principles may be laid down for our guidance in regard to
moral training in schools. The most essential things of all
lie in the personality of the teacher in sympathy, in moral
insight, in an almost pastoral care, in a sense of justice,
in candour of heart, in self-discipline, in consistency of
conduct, in a reverent attitude of mind, and in a faith in
things unseen. The service of those who are most faith-
ful in the ministry of teaching comes from nothing lower
than a sense of vocation. We can only be thankful that
so many (and, not least among them, some of whom the
world hears little) hear and obey the call, and that in its
calendar of heroes every nation has placed those of great
teachers, men and women, among the unforgotten names.



Online LibraryMichael SadlerMoral instruction and training in schools; report of an international inquiry .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 45)