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pre-eminently as the most fitting channel. Poetry is
pleasing to the ear, is easily memorised, gives scope to the
imagination, and the lesson to be learned comes naturally
and is easily assimilated. Take these two lines from
Kipling's " L'Envoi " from The Seven Seas
And only the Master shall praise us,
And only the Master shall blame.
299



300 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

When the children realise that " the Master" is their con-
science, what an amount of ethical teaching lies in these two
lines alone ! Children memorise lines, which may not im-
mediately be of service, but years after the lines may recur at
some opportune moment, and then may be both a guard
and guide. Biographies also are of great value, as giving
examples of the virtue specially under consideration, and
providing ideals of character for imitation at a very early
age. [This point is also emphasised by Dr. Paton.]

Nature Study is a good handmaid to literature. Children
should be taught to love glorious sunsets, the lovely forms
of clouds, and, where possible, fine scenery. If the beauties
of Nature can be felt through a teacher's interpretation,
then a great and ever-abiding lesson has been given. Such
a lesson can be given in any of the parks of the towns, to
which all schools now have access, by one who " brings a
heart that watches and receives ". Nature Study must not
be limited to dissecting and watching growth of plant and
animal life.

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

(1) Reply from Miss F. H. Ellis :

Moral instruction is given through the Scripture lesson,
but of course the value of the ethical training would be of
little use were it limited to the time devoted to religious
instruction only. Every day some time should be given
to " systematic moral instruction," the literature lesson
being the best and easiest lesson through which to give it.
But great care should be taken that it is not restricted to
this one lesson.

(2) Reply from Rev. Canon Brooke :

The religious lessons must always have for their end
and aim the setting before the pupils a high moral



Evidence of Teachers on Moral Instruction 301

standard, and this aim I believe is kept well in mind by
the great majority of teachers in Provided and Non-Pro-
vided schools. The syllabus of Scripture instruction in
both kinds of school has this for its end, and by giving in
the infant schools simple Bible stories and building upon
these the fuller Bible truths, in a graded and progressive
series of lessons, most excellent work is done. Personally
I am of opinion that the present law is most unfair to
children so far as Provided schools are concerned, as it
forbids the teacher to tell the child much that would be
useful to it in the way of help and grace which God has
so liberally provided for all. My experience gained
by dealing with children of all ages in preparation for
Confirmation confirms me in the opinion that a great deal
of moral instruction in Provided schools misses its point
because it is necessarily nebulous and indefinite. Un-
denominational ism is an impossible substitute for the
Christian Faith not only as to the truths which are taught
but as to the influence on the everyday life of the child.

(3) Reply from Miss Hermione Unwin :

The pupils in the Shipley Schools receive systematic
moral instruction both through

1. The religious instruction lesson when they learn
hymns and passages from the Bible. Explanations of
the passages are given by the head teacher. No special
creed is taught in the Provided schools.

2. Through the use of the syllabus of the Moral In-
struction League, which has proved helpful to the teachers
in suggesting practical points about conduct by which the
religious instruction lesson may well be supplemented.
This syllabus is viewed more favourably by some teachers
than i by others.



302 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

(4) Reply from Dr. Gregory Smith :

In the Duties (especially) in the Church catechism, and
less directly by the teacher.

(5) Reply from Dr. Paton:

(a) The common life of the school can be uplifted and
charged with finest moral influences by the simple prayers
and hymns and the quiet reverential worship in which the
whole school, including the teachers, engage at the open-
ing of the school.

(b~) I have never met a teacher who did not assure me
that his influence and the enforcement of moral lessons
would be weakened if he were not able to bring the
sanctions and motives of religious faith to bear upon the
mind and heart of the children.

(c) The child, in a remarkable way, manifests faculties
that indicate its spiritual nature, and which cannot be
trained healthily apart from religious faith. The child is
instinct with curiosity, with wonder, with strong impulses
to fear and to faith, and the child's imagination naturally
soars at once beyond the present and material world that
is seen and felt. It believes in the unseen ; it questions
wonderingly the origin of things and must have an answer.
If no answer is given, it will create its own imaginings as
to the unseen. Surely it is of infinite importance that the
child should know of God who is the perfectly Good
One, the Origin, the Sustainer, the Ruler of all persons
and things ; who favours and blesses the good and who
opposes the evil. How that thought, which the child
willingly accepts because it is accordant with its nature,
illumines the imagination, delights the soul and at once
inspires and reinforces the will of the child ! The child
cannot possibly be trained for life by mere negations with
regard to the unseen world. The child resents such
vacuity; and, on the other hand, what cosmological or



Evidence of Teachers on Moral Instruction 303

ontological doctrine can you teach that will be so easily
apprehended by the child, or can so awaken delight, and
inspire and sustain and ennoble the moral life of the child
as that primary and all-embracing doctrine of our Father
God, the Being from whom all are derived and to whom
all are continually related, who is perfect Goodness, the
Ideal, the Source and the Upholder of Justice and Love.

In all honourable life there must be reverence. How
can reverence possess and imbue the soul apart from the
thought of God ? The greatest peril in our age is the
down-draught to materialism, which makes life vulgar and
sordid, without high aspirations, without serious thought or
any sweet odour of sanctity. To exile God from the
schools is to exile the child into a far country to feed on
swine's husks. I know that for many refined natures,
poetry and the arts supply some ideal elements that
nourish a higher life. But for the mass of the people it
is religion alone that can supply these elements, and to
extinguish these is to debase and destroy the true life of
the child.

(iii) Do you think that, in addition to the influence ex-
erted on the pupils by the tone of the school, by the organi-
sation of its work and play ', and by the personality of the
teachers, more should be done to provide systematic moral
instruction and training as part 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
efficacious ?



304 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

(1) Reply from Miss F. H. Ellis :

(a) It should be systematic in plan, but entirely indirect
in method. It may, or may not, take the form of definite
lessons, but it should permeate the whole atmosphere of
the school. Supposing the school is taking " self-control "
as the moral to be practised that week, then during the
arithmetic lesson the children will resolve not to let their
thoughts wander. In a composition lesson they will not
copy ideas from another's paper. In the cloakrooms
they will try not to talk, because it is against the rules.
Practice must go hand in hand with precept.

(b) The weakness of a " graded course " lies in the fact
that often when the lesson is given it is pigeon-holed and
forgotten. It is like being good on Sundays only.

(2) Reply from Rev. Canon Brooke :

I am strongly of opinion that more might be done, and
should be done, to provide systematic moral instruction,
but I do not think that anything will be of any lasting
effect, not even the definite religious teaching of the school,
unless the teachers themselves are men and women of
strong character and thoroughly infused with the desire to
get the children to make the best of themselves. The
personality of the teacher is really the key to the whole
position. You may have the best system in the world,
but unless you have the right person working that system
the whole thing will be a failure. A really good teacher
will turn any lesson into a means of imparting moral in-
struction, but, in my opinion, it is only the religious teacher
who can touch the soul, and no child is really being edu-
cated unless the whole being material and spiritual is
being dealt with, (a) I fear moral instruction given through
the teaching of literature and history will find but a poor
resting-place in ninety-nine out of any hundred children.
(c) Systematic moral instruction in the form of regular



Evidence of Teachers on Moral Instruction 305

lessons making a graded course of moral instruction on
non-theological lines, I should consider, an impossibility,
and if it were possible a profanity, and I believe (b) all
moral instruction should be arranged as part of the definite
religious teaching of the schools. Moral instruction must
have a foundation ; otherwise, at the best, it is a matter of
expediency rather than of principle ; the foundation is that
man is made in the image and likeness of God and other
foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus
Christ.

(3) Reply from Miss H. Unwin :

I think it is certainly desirable that special systematic
moral instruction should be made part of the education
given in all schools. The influence of the tone of the
school on the pupils, the organisation of its work and play
(though there is little of the latter in elementary schools),
and especially the personality of the teachers, are all im-
portant, but the children need more direct help than these
can give to prepare them for the daily battle of life. A
combination of the methods suggested in (a), (b) and (c)
seems to me likely to be the most effective, partly because
it would help them to realise more clearly that life cannot
be cut up into a number of separate compartments having
little or no connection with one another. On the other
hand, unless such instruction is given in the right spirit
it will do more harm than good. If the lessons become
perfunctory, or if the teacher attempts to teach things which
he does not really believe, the children will instinctively
feel his insincerity, which is bound to have a bad influence
on them.

(4) Reply (part of) from Miss M. Scampton (Coventry
Education Committee}:

I am convinced it would be good, in addition to those
more essential points, the tone of the school, personality of
VOL. I. 20



306 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

teachers, etc., that systematic moral instruction and training
should be given to the elder pupils

(a) Indirect in Standards IV. and perhaps V.

(b) and (c) Direct as part of the definite ethical teaching
of the school, as well as indirect, in Standards VI. and
VII. and perhaps V. certainly in V. where the leaving age
is low.

(5) Reply from Mr. A. R. Pickles (extracted from the
memorandum based by him on his oral evidence to the
Committee} :

We want a thorough reform in our moral and Biblical
instruction. We want not dogmatic but religious teaching.
The cramming of a diocesan syllabus is not the best way
to make a good citizen. I should be extremely sorry to
give up religious teaching in elementary schools, but I am
of opinion that the best form of religious instruction would
be to take those portions of the Bible which can be best
applied to the life and conduct of the child, and to supple-
ment these lessons by short talks on conduct, hygiene and
temperance.

If we could extend the school age to fourteen all over
the country, and largely revolutionise our curriculum and
our conception of the aim and object of school life, we
should be quite certain to make a wonderful alteration in
the next generation of children, and, consequently, upon
the daily life of the generation after that.

There are certain phases of school life which have a
great if indirect bearing upon conduct. It is well for the
teacher to record (not necessarily for publication) the
characteristics and general aptitudes of each child, in fact
to keep a sort of dossier wherein physical, mental and
moral good and bad points are set down. Then it may
be found possible when classes are made of reasonable
size by individual attention, to develop and stimulate



Evidence of Teachers on Moral Instruction 307

that which is good and to repress as far as possible that
which is bad. I am a great believer in medical inspection
followed up by medical advice. Plenty of fresh air, daily
breathing exercises in the open air, record of growth and
increase in weight, examination of eyes, teeth, etc., are all
to the good. I believe, too, in much more active and
constructive work in our curriculum than generally obtains
now. I would abolish set desk work in the afternoon,
and mental effort of the old-fashioned elementary school
kind arithmetic, reading, English and the like. I would
put all that kind of work into the morning, reserving the
afternoon for music, drawing, physical exercises, games,
lessons on hygiene, conduct and temperance : these deal
mainly with the physical and aesthetic sides of the edu-
cation of the child. In the last two or three years of the
child's school life, I would have for boys a systematic
handicraft course, and for girls a course in housecraft, but
to do this, we must get rid of large classes and unqualified
teachers, not so rapidly, of course, as to harass and hamper
local education authorities, but gradually. There are a
large number of local authorities that have a scale of
staffing much more generous than the Code minimum, and
it is high time that that minimum were further raised.

I set down here a record of the talks on conduct in one
class corresponding to Standard V. during the last six
months.

Cleanliness : in person, clothes, habits, work, etc.

Good manners. Courtesy and respect towards all.
Passing in front. Raising cap, etc.

Industry, its value. Perseverance in hard or distasteful
tasks ; in self-improvement. Value of hobbies.

Prudence, providence, forethought. Children may cause
suffering to others owing to lack of these.

Manners. Quiet behaviour in street. Standing in cars,
trains, etc.

20 *



308 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

Manners. Modesty and self-respect.

Patriotism. Deeds of valour rather than jingoism.
What children may do.

Hope and perseverance ; leading on to courage.

Kinds of courage : soldiers, explorers, etc.

Consideration for aged and nervous. Danger attendant
on fireworks, etc. (This lesson was given shortly before
5th November.)

Tale-telling. Half the truth. Inquisitiveness. If
nothing good to say, say nothing.

Table manners. Correct use of knife, etc., etc. (Corre-
late with Domestic Science.)

Kindness ; to each other in the home, school, street ;
at work, at play.

Kindness to domestic animals, birds, etc., etc.

Respect and consideration for parents and elders ;
brothers and sisters as companions.

Industry ; value of, and need for different kinds of
work.

Industry, and kindness to the less fortunate at Christ-
mas time. (Lesson given 2ist December.)

Courage, when alone. Cheerful endurance of little
pains, etc. Confess faults.

Courage to say " no ". In relation to creatures. Pres-
ence of mind.

Tale-telling. Exaggeration. Half the truth.

(6) Reply from Mr. Graham Wallas (taken from the
memorandum based by him on the oral evidence which he
gave to the Committee} :

I have never taught in an elementary school, and I think
it possible that the experience of many of the children in
such a school of any general view of the moral aspects of
the problems of life may be so narrow, and their vocabulary
so restricted, and discussion of that kind of matter in their



Evidence of Teachers on Moral Instruction 309

homes so infrequent, that much which would appear to me
absolutely flat, would be to them a matter of vital interest.
It is possible, too, that I underestimate generally the
interest of such lessons. With regard to this point I can
give you one piece of evidence from history. I had to
write the life of a man called Francis Place, who was
born in 1771, and was a very efficient and laborious
politician. He was educated in a court off Fleet Street,
in one of the private adventure schools of the time, where
a little ineffective starving schoolmaster lived on fees and
conspicuously failed to keep order in the school. He
used, however, to give moral instruction, and Place's account
of these lessons indicates that they were perhaps vague
but sincere. The fact that conduct could be a matter of
knowledge and instruction had never occurred to Place
before, and it did influence the whole of his life. His
father and his brother went to the bad, but Place succeeded
in driving himself forward and becoming an eminently
useful person, and he attributes this to a set of lessons
which I suppose that I should have thought flat and dull
to the last degree.

But is it not possible in some other way to arouse an
admiration for, or a desire to imitate, types of conduct ?
I think, for instance, that the telling of prepared stories
would provide for young children better illustrations of
moral conduct than would be likely to occur to a teacher
at the moment of enunciating a moral principle. There
of course you get what is really a branch of literature
teaching. In many American schools the literature
teaching at an early stage consists mainly of story-
telling. The story told is very carefully prepared by the
teacher and derived from the best collections, and the
children are taught to tell the stories too. It seems to
me that this form of instruction may be made an ex-
ceedingly important part of any well-balanced school



310 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

curriculum in the younger classes. But I should like to
emphasise the fact that the stories, if they are to be
effective, must be good stories, illustrating points new to
the child and illustrating them well. There are very few
good stories available in the world. I will take an instance
of a story I found in a paper sent me by a Japanese
educational official. It was about a celebrated Shogun
whose page died in battle over his master's body. This
page was on one occasion doing " sentry-go" outside the
bedroom of the Shogun, and the latter slipped aside the
partition of the bedroom and saw the page counting the
rings of his long sword-handle. The Shogun gently
closed the partition, and that night, waving the sword-
handle in front of the household, he offered a considerable
prize to any one who could guess how many rings there
were on the handle. They all guessed except this boy,
who was scolded for not doing so, and at last he explained
that, having that morning counted these rings, it would
not be fair to guess when there was a prize going. That
is a good story, and illustrates a point of morals which
might be familiar in an English Public School but would
not perhaps be so familiar in a school of another type.

Then comes the further question as to how, otherwise
than by deliberate moral instruction, we can at a later
stage circulate, so to speak, a higher moral currency, by
giving the children words and moral ideas which they
would not of themselves possess. I am inclined to think
that this effect could be produced by a course of literature
so constructed as deliberately to illustrate aspects of
conduct and thought. My friend, Percival Chubb, who
is a teacher at Dr. Felix Adler's Ethical School in New
York, has written a book on the teaching of English
(published by Macmillan) in which he sketches a series of
types of literature lessons which would, while not ceasing
to be literature instruction, nevertheless act as a very



Evidence of Teachers on Moral Instruction 311

efficient form of moral instruction. It is not a book to
be adopted straight away, because necessarily a larger
share is given in it to American literature than we on this
side of the Atlantic would assign, but at the same time
it gives a very admirable suggestion for an eight years'
course. My own experience as a teacher indicated that
in dealing with rather clever boys, chiefly between eleven
and twelve, most of whom perhaps had been able to read
since they were five or six, it was easier to excite the
emotion of admiration through the study of fine literature
than through anything expressed in unpremeditated words
from the mouth of the teacher. Perhaps I exaggerate a
book's power of exciting emotion, but I used to notice
that quite small boys were able to feel strongly certain
sides of fine literature. In a passage like the end of the
Pluzdo it seemed to me that the moral lesson did seem
to come home to them, and certain passages of English
poetry had a much greater moral effect than I could have
exercised if I had been using my own words. A certain
amount of learning by heart ought, therefore, to be part
of such a literature course. But just as good stories are
very few, so the amount of literature suitable for that
kind of work is not very large. The piece chosen must be
within the possible range of a child's knowledge and
experience. It must be a fairly complete work of art.
A child rejects the mere snippets which a man can fill up
with his general knowledge of the subject. Mr. Chubb, I
remember, said that he found Carlyle's essay on Burns
admirable. Of course it may be argued that that is a
somewhat difficult essay, but my experience is that you
may exaggerate the difficulty considerably. It is better
to take a thing which seems at first a little bit over the
heads of the children. By the time you have taught it,
it will be familiar to them, and it is better to err by going
above them than below.



312 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

(7) Part of the oral evidence of Mr. X. (name withheld
by request}, an assistant master in a London Church of
England elementary school.

"Is it desirable to attempt in our schools any method of
direct moral teaching, or should indirect means only be em-
ployed ? If direct moral teaching is possible and desirable,
how should it be given?" My answer to that question
is both. Direct moral instruction should certainly be
employed, in accordance with my experience. I was dis-
satisfied with the moral results of the direct religious in-
struction, so I took a little time from the religious instruction
and tried to give direct moral instruction in some other way
apart from the religious side. I found the boys much more
satisfied with it. They asked for it sometimes in preference,
and so it gradually developed until at last we got it on the
time-table. It.has had results. I had a boy of about thirteen
or fourteen whom I could not get at in any way ; he took no
interest in his school work. I had an opportunity lately
of a quiet talk with him several days following, and asked
what interested him. In the end I found that the one
lesson of the week he cared for was the moral instruction
lesson, and through that I think I shall be able to influence
him a little. In the arrangement of my course the head-
master allows me latitude.

(8) Part of a memorandum, based on her oral evidence
to the Committee, prepared by Miss B. A. Jones, Head-
mistress of 'St. John 's Church of England Girls' School, Red
Lion Square, London, W.C.

Of moral instruction, apart from religious teaching, I
know nothing, nor does the subject seem worthy of separate
consideration when one has the privilege of teaching the
Christian faith, which covers the whole ground and treats
of moral obligations in the most direct, simple and far-



Online LibraryMichael SadlerMoral instruction and training in schools; report of an international inquiry .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 27 of 45)