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12 to about 16.

Attention especially
directed to the building
up of character and
ideals, with a view to
establishing self-control
and practical ability.

Study (experimental
and, when possible,
with some domestic and
practical application) of
elementary physics and

Nature study continued in expeditions and out-
of-school pursuits.

About 16 to 19.

As 12 to 16.

Some study of the
laws of life through
hygiene, biology and
physiological botany.

6. While much evidence has been received as to the
excellence of moral training through organised games,
it has been pointed out that the virtues thus cultivated are
valuable only in proportion as they are applied to all the
relations of life, and that the tendency to regard skill in
games as an end in itself must be combated by the simul-
taneous cultivation of other more permanent and helpful

7. Want of purpose and of definite after-school occupa-
tion is, in the case of many girls, a most serious hindrance
to effective moral education. It behoves girls' secondary
schools to use every endeavour to discover the real inter-
ests of each individual girl, and to turn them in some

222 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

helpful direction, if possible, before leaving school. This
implies an elastic curriculum and possibly the provision of
alternative courses from the age of sixteen onwards.

8. Striking testimony has been borne to the value of
continuity in moral education. The apparent success or
failure of girls' secondary schools is largely determined
by the influences which surround early childhood and
those which dominate the critical years immediately
following school life.

It is also dependent to some extent on the length of
time spent at a particular school. In moral education
" the slow changes are, as a rule, the permanent ones ".



Communications from
Mrs. WOODHOUSE, President of the Association of Headmistresses;

Headmistress of the Clapham High School, S.W. (Girls' Public Day

School Trust).
Miss FLORENCE GADESDEN, a member of the Executive Committee of the

Inquiry; Headmistress of the Blackheath High School, S.E. (Girls'

Public Day School Trust).
Miss CHARLOTTE M. MASON, Founder of the Parents' National Educational


Miss P. LAWRENCE, Roedean School, Brighton.

Miss H. BYLES, Headmistress of the Salt Girls' High School, Shipley.
Miss W. HOSKYNS-ABRAHALL, and others.

(i) The comparative ethical value of different school
studies. Is it desirable that more practical work and
manual training should be introduced into the curri-
culum ?

(i) Reply from Mrs. Woodhouse :

History and literature are the subjects in the curriculum
that offer the best, because most natural, field for the train-
ing of moral judgment, for the moving influences of ideals,
and for the deepening of sympathy and insight.

The introduction of more practical work and manual
training is, in my opinion, desirable, not simply on utili-
tarian grounds, but for the sake of an increased correlation
between theory and practice, and for the encouragement of
every effort towards the expression of an idea.


224 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

^(2) Reply from Miss W. Hoskyns-Abrahall :

Granted that the teacher has the right ability history
and biology would be found to be two of the most fruitful
subjects. Literature, to be effective in this way, should
not be a school study, but simply read for its own sake.
Work in physics and chemistry tends to the development
of a love of truth in older pupils. It is highly desirable
that more practical work and manual training should be
introduced into the curriculum.

(3) Reply from Miss Charlotte Mason :

My general impression accords with that of Herbart,
that morality is not to be expected from the uneducated ;
and I would add that there can be no intelligent morality
without much intelligent occupation with what are called
the " Humanities ". It seems to me that intellectual in-
anition during school life is responsible for many of the
moral defects we deplore : for example, loose opinions,
lax principles, certain evils in schools, want of finality in
judgment and decision, unworthy or frivolous pursuits in
after life, the shirking of responsibility, etc.

Also, it appears to me that our educational advances
are rather in the way of improved methods of teaching
than in that of affording the scholar a wider field of such
knowledge as should tend to the gradual and unconscious
formation of principles and opinions. Direct moral
teaching cannot supply the place of wide and intelligent

[Miss Mason proceeds to refer to the curricula of the Parents' Union
School (P.N.E.U., 26 Victoria Street, S.W.) as a practical illustration
of her view.]

(4) Reply from Mrs. Mumford(with the co-operation of
Dr. A IfredMumford) , Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester:

Ethical value of mathematics great :
i. The distinction between right and wrong in mathe-
matical work is clear and definite ; it is not a question of

Moral Training in English Secondary Schools 225

taste or judgment. The work is either right or not ; if
not right, it can be demonstrated to the child beyond a
doubt ; in the beginning of mathematics such proof should
be made by the child itself.

2. It follows from this that mathematics trains the
child in the habit of accuracy accuracy of thought,
accuracy of statement. An inaccuracy which may seem
to the child small and unimportant may occasionally be
shown to invalidate the whole conclusion ; the moral
application of this is self-evident on the most casual

3. Training in accuracy of statement is part of the
larger process of training in the art of reasoning the de-
duction of correct conclusions from given premises. The
power to reason is needed in the formation of moral

4. Mathematical work is, however, much more than
merely a process of simple deductive reasoning. Insight
into the problem is required ; this a child is capable of
learning at the age of say twelve to fourteen. She can then
learn to split up the special problem given for solution
into the smaller problems involved in it. Some of these
smaller problems have been solved already, some are self-
evident ; only a part requires to be examined anew. The
same need of insight into the question at issue occurs when
the child in its simple way is called upon to face moral
problems. In the process of deliberation, of weighing in
the balance the opposing forces, the growing child can be
taught to detect certain clear and definite lines of right
action, can see what is new in the particular combination
of circumstances which makes it difficult to decide what
action is right. If the child is so trained the question
can more easily be solved as in the case of a somewhat
complicated mathematical problem. As in mathematics
when the child is started on a piece of new work she feels

VOL. I. 15

226 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

" I know that and that for a start," so in moral problems.
The power of analysing a difficulty into its component
elements, and by dealing with these in detail realising the
solution of the whole, is not only a possibility but a
necessity in life, as it is in mathematics. Many grown-up
people appreciate a difficulty but cannot analyse it, they
remain helpless in front of it, and being helpless become
hopeless, and the opportunity for action becomes lost.

5. The benefit of mathematics for girls is that it com-
pels them to meet difficulties in an unemotional way, and
to realise that there are things which cannot be dealt with

6. Much of the value of mathematical work depends
on the pupil arranging her material in proper sequence.
Orderly arrangement means orderly thought the habit
of orderly thought encouraged by good mathematical work
is of infinite moral value.

7. Especially in mathematical work (but the same will
hold true of all good school work) I have felt the necessity
(if the best results are to be obtained) of children having
to find out and correct their mistakes for themselves. In-
tellectually and morally, in adult life as in childhood, there
is not sufficient development of the powers of wholesome
and effective self-criticism.

(ii) How far, under existing conditions, are systematic
moral instruction and training given to the pupils, through
the religious lessons or otherwise ?

Reply from Mrs. Woodhouse :
Instruction is regularly provided for by

1. Scripture lessons twice a week, one on the Old Testa-
ment, the other on the New.

2. Daily learning and repetition of verse from Scrip-

3. Addresses at the beginning of the term to each form

Moral Training in English Secondary Schools 227

by the form mistress, who takes some portion of the rules
and shows how it is based on principles. These informal
talks are directed towards the practical realisation and ap-
plication of some group of ideas or leading thoughts.

4. Addresses at the beginning and end of term by the
headmistress to the lower and upper school respectively,
when the concept of some cardinal virtue, such as loyalty,
or courtesy, is analysed and applied, or some special aspect
of the meaning of Christmas or Easter is dwelt upon.

In addition to systematic instruction, some training in
faith and duty what to believe, and what to do cannot
but be given to those under her influence by the teacher who
is awake to her opportunities and consequent responsibilities,
and who uses them aright.

(iii) Do you think that in addition to the influence ex-
erted on the pupils by the tone of the school, by the organisa-
tion of its work and play, and by the personality of the
teachers, more should be done to provide systematic moral in-
struction and training as apart of education ? If so, should
it be,

(a) though systematic in plan, almost entirely indirect in
method, e.g., given through the teaching of literature and
history; or

(b) arranged as part of the definite religious teaching of
the school ; or

(c) planned in the form of regular lessons making a
graded course of moral instruction on non-theological lines ;
or is some combination of these methods the more efftca-

* JJ

cious ?

(i) Reply from Miss Harriett Byles :

One lesson a week is arranged on the time-table for
each class in " Ethics " ; this term is used to cover a com-
bination of definite religious teaching, though entirely
unsectarian, with moral instruction on non-theological


228 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

grounds. Bible lessons are not always ethical teaching,
and the preparation of a Gospel for examination purposes
tends to obscure the moral instruction. Conversation or
questions from a Bible lesson often suggest a topic to dis-
cuss in an upper class, e.g., " Culture and Restraint," from
" the strait gate and the narrow way ". It seems desirable
to give short courses on citizenship, on the life and ideals
of people of other lands, great events of ancient history,
Buddha, Confucius, the Stoics, etc., sometimes to deal very
directly with schoolgirl morality. It would be difficult to
use the teaching of history and literature for systematic
moral instruction. These subjects have undoubtedly a
high ethical value, and the cultivation of a literary taste
is a bulwark against vulgarity, frivolity, etc., but they
must be taught as history and literature and not didacti-

(2) Reply from Miss Hoskyns-A brahall :

A graded course of moral instruction is desirable.

Yet more is needed a definite idea of the different stages
of moral development in children, and a progressive
standard of conduct and ethical consciousness for each
successive stage.

(3) Reply from Mrs. Woodhouse :

The living personalities of the teachers, and the tone and
influence of the school in accordance with its best traditions,
form by far the most effective and pervasive means of moral
education. In the last resort, everything depends upon the
character and influence of the staff. The teaching of
Scripture would lose more than half its value if it were per-
formed perfunctorily as a mere subject of detached instruc-
tion, and not reinforced by living example, by the ideals
animating and underlying the whole work of the school.
The keynote is set by prayers as the first act and aspira-
tion of the school day, and as far as possible the time-table

Moral Training in English Secondary Schools 229

is arranged so that the first and the last lesson of the week
is Scripture.

In addition, however, to this indirect influence, systematic
moral instruction and training should find a further foot-
hold in education by

(a) the teaching of literature and history. In connection
with this such training will be of most value when it is
spontaneous, arising naturally from reflection on the subject-
matter ;

(<) the definite religious teaching of the school.

" Regular lessons making a graded course of moral in-
struction " do not seem, in my judgment, likely to be as
efficacious as the combination of (a) and (b).

(4) Reply from Miss Mason :

Though the personality of its teachers must needs have
great influence in a school, it is an influence which should
not be consciously exerted. I believe that what is called
" personal magnetism " in a teacher represses unduly the in-
dividuality of his scholars. Personal initiative is apt to be
lacking in pupils who consciously bring their whole conduct
to the test of the teacher's approval. On the other hand,
as for definite religious teaching, I think its aim should be
that indicated in St. John xvii. 3. Ethical teaching flows
naturally from the study of the Gospels, as also from that
of the Old Testament and of the Epistles. I have not tried
the effect of a graded course of moral instruction on non-
theological lines. Such a course seems to me unphilo-
sophical and likely to result in the production of persons
whose virtues are more tiresome than their failings.

(5) Reply from Miss Punch (member of the Bournemouth
Education Committee) :

A combination of graded moral instruction with lessons
in history and literature might be given with great advantage
in the junior classes.

230 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

(6) Reply from Miss Mary Scampton (member of the
Coventry Education Committee) :

I deem it very important that systematic moral instruc-
tion and training be given to the elder children. The years
fourteen to eighteen form the most plastic impressionable
period when the why and the wherefore are consciously
realised, and the attitude of a lifetime begins to bud. I
think moral teaching, indirect in method, should strongly
pervade the whole school work and play ; but also that what
makes for character and both public and private responsi-
bility should be intellectually clearly grasped as well. This
conviction has grown during the years in which some 200
girls of this age have passed through my hands as pupils.

(7) Reply from Miss Florence Gadesden (Headmistress
of the Blackheath High School, and member of the Executive
Committee of the Inquiry] as contained in her answers to
questions at a meeting for oral evidence :

I cannot conceive such a school as mine benefiting at
all by special lessons in morals. Moral instruction goes
through the whole of school life and teaching, and should
be a matter of guidance and example rather than of
direct teaching. I should shrink from putting on the
school time-table that certain hours would be devoted
to moral instruction. Occasions may, and often do, arise
when a " talk " with a form on some moral point is of
the greatest assistance to the children, but the subject
should be one of living interest to them at the time. A
set of lessons which might not be adapted to their wants
at the moment or to their environment would leave them
uninterested and cold. But lessons on patriotism and
civic duties can be given.

I believe that " direct systematic moral teaching " would
quickly become mechanical, dead whereas "indirect

Moral Training in English Secondary Schools 231

moral teaching" following, as it must, on the personality
and influence of the sympathetic teacher and on the
present needs of the pupil can but be human, spontaneous
and living.

(8) Reply from Miss P. Lawrence (Roedean School,
Brighton) as contained in the memorandum prepared by
her after giving oral evidence to the Committee :

[After saying that "the whole of school life and discipline is arranged
with a view to moral training and in that case is systematic in that it has
a purpose behind it " ; that " the most important matter is the creation
of a good tone, i.e., an atmosphere in which certain primary virtues are
taken for granted and in which public opinion is shocked at transgression " ;
that the discipline of the school must be sound; that the personality
and example of the teacher are very important factors in moulding the
character of the young ; that " the school work has its chief ethical value
in teaching thoroughness, attention and concentration of mind, persever-
ance and the punctual performance of a given task at the right time " ; that
" the study of history and literature, in so far as they appeal to the
imagination and call out nobler emotions, have a decided moral effect " ;
and that " organised school games give daily practice in good temper, in
co-operation for the common good and in subordination of self to the
common welfare," Miss Lawrence pointed out that all this moral training,
though continuous, is indirect and mostly unconscious. "A girl does
not consciously go to the playground and learn to be unselfish : she goes
to play the game and finds that she must put self aside to a certain extent
if she is to enjoy it." She then analysed the more direct influences which
are consciously brought to bear upon the young in order- to train their
moral sense, remarking that these are " the weakest of the agencies
which we have at our command ".] Her memorandum proceeds :

First, religious instruction. The religious lessons may
often be the vehicle of direct ethical instruction ; but this
instruction cannot be systematic in the sense in which
mathematical and historical instruction is systematic.
The ethical questions must be discussed as they occur in
the subject-matter.

Secondly, school addresses, Sunday talks and sermons.
These again cannot be systematic. To be effectual they
must grapple with the need of the moment, must take
hold of something that has actually occurred in the school
or in the life of the individual, and, if successful and
sufficiently impressive, they may move the children to

232 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

abstain from some wrong course of action in the future
or stimulate to greater effort in the right direction. On
the whole, however, the immediate effect of any address or
sermon is not great. The cumulative effect of religious
lessons, sermons and addresses is to make a kind of moral
background to the life of the individual which has a cer-
tain influence and which it might not be safe to omit, but
the indirect influences are a thousand times more potent.

The only direct influence that can at all be counted on
to have any practical effect is private talks with the in-
dividual child.

No doubt a clever and sympathetic teacher could ela-
borate a course of graduated lessons in morals which would
interest the class. But whether these lessons would pro-
duce the smallest effect on the daily conduct of the class
is, I think, open to doubt.

Such classes would have to be put down on the time-
table at a certain hour each week. But the moment when
one human being can influence another comes rarely, like
an inspiration, and is dependent on the mood of both
teacher and taught alike. And how can this mood be
counted on to occur mechanically at a given moment each

You might get splendid discourses and essays on the
beauty of truth from the habitually untruthful and the
value of unselfishness from the most selfish. Knowing is
not being able to do. The same objections do not apply
to religious instruction. The subject-matter is so sacred
that the appeals to the emotions need only be made oc-
casionally when the mood is there, and the moral talk, if
it comes, comes as a surprise and arises out of the subject-
matter under discussion ; there is a reason for its intro-
duction. Moreover, there is the sanction of custom and
tradition for religious teaching 1,900 years old, if not
older ; it is accepted by all as the right and natural thing.

Moral Training in English Secondary Schools 233

Moral instruction, as a class subject, would have to ex-
plain and justify its position, and would therefore be less
sure of its effect.

(iv) What special difficulties have teachers to contend with
in connection with the home life of their pupils, e.g., luxury ;
social claims upon the child 's time ; want of home discip-
line ?

Reply from Mrs, Woodhouse :

The teacher has a real difficulty in the face of such facts
as the lack of power to " endure hardship," the dread of
pain and of dulness, which children see in only too many
of their homes. It is this kind of thing, rather than positive
luxury, that is a hindrance in a middle-class school. Many
parents have not realised that the " power to do without "
is an invaluable preparation for life under any conditions,
and make no effort to train their children therein.

The encroachment of social claims upon a schoolgirl's
time can be avoided to a certain extent by the observance
of the unwritten rule (to which parents will usually try to
conform) to refuse evening engagements except for Friday
and Saturday.

(v) Could more be done, without undue interference with
school work and discipline, to encourage parents to take
more personal interest in the schools, with a view to closer
relationship between school and home ?

Reply from Mrs. Woodhouse ;

The work of the Parents' National Educational Union
here deserves recognition and extension.

(vi) How far are the schools at present successful in con-
necting their work with their pupils' subsequent duties in
life, e.g., the training of girls for the duties of home life?

234 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

(i) Reply from Mrs. Mumford:

As regards young mothers, the very large majority of
these in the middle classes are utterly unprepared in every
way for the duties of maternity. They are frequently
badly prepared in house management and domestic details,
and (this is to my mind even more important) they are
almost invariably badly prepared as to any knowledge
of the right upbringing of children. The monthly nurses
that are in attendance after childbirth are only very in-
efficiently equipped to provide any other knowledge than
the mere physical care for the first few months of infancy.
There is nowadays greatly increased care of the mother,
and a wiser knowledge of the physical needs of the first
few weeks of infancy ; but this improvement in training
does not extend to the physical care of children after the
first few months, nor does it in any way touch the mental
or moral questions involved in upbringing. A course of
child study combined with a housewifery course among
the upper classes of girls at a high school would be of
benefit whether or not the girls subsequently became
mothers. Should they marry and have children the benefit
is obvious ; but greater understanding of child nature on
the part of all grown-up people would be an infinite gain
both to the grown-up people themselves and to the children.
Moreover, it would serve as a basis for a study of human
nature and of mental and moral problems in their widest
sense. School education must of necessity be academic
in its first stages ; connecting links must constantly be found
to bring these academic studies into contact with rear life.
A girl needs to have some basis for understanding human
nature quite as much as dressmaking, housewifery or earn-
ing her living in any capacity.

(2) Reply from Miss Hoskyns-Abrahall :

Preparation for ordinary home life and for parenthood
should form part of the curriculum of all boys' and girls'

Moral Training in English Secondary Schools 235

schools. The lack of this lies at the root of many social

(vii) Advantages and disadvantages of co-education of
boys and girls, especially during adolescence.

Reply from Miss G. B. Ay res :

The girls of a mixed secondary school often suffer from

Online LibraryMichael SadlerMoral instruction and training in schools; report of an international inquiry .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 45)