Copyright
Michael Sadler.

Moral instruction and training in schools; report of an international inquiry .. (Volume 1) online

. (page 32 of 45)
Online LibraryMichael SadlerMoral instruction and training in schools; report of an international inquiry .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 32 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Sunday school teachers received from clergy and others :

(a) All our teachers are communicants. There are teachers'
classes held every week by the clergy and notes of lessons are
drawn up (these are sent round to those who cannot attend).
At the meeting of the Teachers' Association held three times a
year, addresses on methods of teaching are given and also model
lessons.

(ft) In our Sunday schools men and women, out of love for
children and from a longing to do something which shall awaken
in the children the germ of the Divine life, which shall open to
them the sense of God's presence and love, give their best selves,
untrained as they are, to the children. They do not give much
instruction prudential, moral, physiological, biblical or theologi-
cal but they are giving love, power, ideals, aims, hopes,
standards ; they are nourishing the nascent human soul of the
child by the only food it can assimilate a process far more
effective for character-forming than all instruction contained in
some text-book given by a Master of Method !

(c) As regards the training of teachers, a five minutes' lesson
by the superintendent to the school or some section of it is best,
I think. It is very hard to get teachers together in the week.



The Sunday Schools and the Adult Schools 369

One clergyman writes :

My best teachers are those who began, as soon as they were
confirmed, to sit by a good teacher and then took a small class.
The moral witness of the Church's system is reflected in her
Sunday schools ; in those in which the Church Catechism and
the Church's Seasons form the basis of teaching morals are
being, so long as the teaching is real, most explicitly taught,
and these two are the staple subjects of teaching in average
Sunday schools.

Where all this (i.e., the Church Catechism teaching respecting
renunciation, faith, obedience, the sacraments of the Church,
God's grace and the moral state which the Church requires of
all her children) is realised and put into practice, there is a good
citizen, one who realises that God may at any time call him to
a different state of life, and that it is necessary for him to do
his " duty in that state of life into which it shall please God to
call" him. The modern decline of manners and behaviour
has often been ascribed, even by parents, to the want of
thorough teaching of the Church Catechism.

Another writes :

The science of applied religion has been hitherto, for the
most part, the missing link in Sunday schools. But now,
more particularly when the method of St. Sulpice is in use,
and this method is gradually spreading, the Ten Command-
ments are employed systematically as the groundwork of
moral instruction. Thus, in the Three Years' Course very
generally adopted, the subject for the second year is entitled
" Morals " and comprises lessons on the Ten Commandments, on
grace and prayer (on the ground that God's grace is requisite
for duty, and if we need that help we must ask for it). In this
year the introductory lessons are on "Charity" with its old
definition of " a supernatural virtue, by which we love God for
His own sake and above all things, and our neighbour as our-
selves for the love of God " ; charity opening out into our duty
towards God and our duty towards our neighbour with the text
of the Prayer-book as a running commentary, and a parable such
as that of the Good Samaritan as a descriptive picture.

" Morals " thus forms the central subject of one year's work
in the " Catechism " and is treated incidentally in the other years.
It is also a part of this method to conclude every " Instruction "
VOL. I. 24



370 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

with a " Practical Lesson ". The Gospel and Homily, forming
the third section of the exercise, is followed by five minutes'
" Exhortation " addressed to the heart and designed to stir the
will to act upon the lesson. One lesson runs like a thread
through the hour, being fastened in the memory by the ques-
tions spread out before the understanding in the instruction and
addressed to the heart and will in the Gospel and Homily.
" Hear ye " is the first word, " and understand " the second,
" happy are ye if ye do " the third.

So far as this method is on the increase, the tendency
to systematic moral instruction by religious teaching is
on the increase.

A clergyman of great experience states :

" There are, and always have been since the days of Socrates,
people who believe that virtue can be taught, and that vice,
selfishness and injustice are the result of one cause ignorance.
They think that ignorance can be removed by instruction, and
hence the value of an educational agent or influence or system
is, they think, to be measured by one test what moral instruc-
tion does it convey ? If there is any educational theory in the
whole history of educational theories that is demonstrably un-
true to facts, it is this ! The educating power of a system or
institution depends on the personality of those who work it,
and is far subtler than such people suppose. It has no direct
relation to method, or matter of instruction, or training of the
teacher. Of course, those who exercise such influence do give
some instruction, have some method, and some training, but these
are merely incidental and are in no degree proportional to the
moral and character-forming influence of the teacher."

Many correspondents put the greatest weight on the
personality of the teacher, and certainly the influence, ex-
ample, disciplinary power, and self-sacrifice of a good
Sunday school teacher have been factors of supreme im-
portance in the work. But one clergyman sounds a note
of warning and fears lest " the personal equation " be too
great. The " method of the catechism " is valued by
some and dreaded by others from this very point of view.



The Sunday Schools and the Adult Schools 371

It masses the children together under one Catechist and
loosens the personal touch.

Both from town and village one hears of well-worked
parishes in which the bond formed by the Sunday school
develops in numerous and various organisations, such as,
Communicants' Guilds, Adult Bible Classes, Temperance
Societies, Girls' Friendly Society, Church Lads' Brigade
as well as more purely recreative associations. These
carry on the work 'begun in the Sunday school and the
moral effect is undoubted. Many testify to the strong
moral influence of the Church Lads' Brigade ; its physical
exercise, the self-control which it demands, its corporate
life, accompanying instruction, its strong stand for a religious
life have caused it to be the making of many a lad, and its
ranks are supplied from the Church Sunday school.

One vicar, speaking of the old Sunday scholars in his
parish, says : " They are the backbone of our Church ".

Another writes : " It is quite impossible to gauge the
moral results and value of Sunday school. I believe them
to be very great. The good consists much more in will-
training and character-building than in informing the mind.
The influence centres very largely round the personality
of the teacher."

A modern authority on the subject states : " In a well-
worked Sunday school of the old system, the pastoral aspect
has been the prominent feature and the personal influence
of the teacher the principal power. This personal and
pastoral aspect often makes up partially for imperfect teach-
ing and insufficient discipline at the time of the lesson itself."

By making children realise their incorporation with a
society, their membership in a spiritual body, the Sunday
school, with its intimate dependence on the Church, gives
that kind of help to right living upon which recent socio-
logical thought throws emphasis.

Many parish priests sadly admit that in many Sun-
24*



372 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

day schools the present good gained is greatly impaired
by poor scrappy teaching and weak inadequate discipline.

The following witness on this point is interesting :
" Probably there is no time in the life of a parish priest
in which he realises the immense boon which Church
Sunday schools have been and are, comparable with that
of visiting the sick. In many cases he finds that the life's
effort was begun through the teaching of Church doctrine
in our Sunday schools; in others, where the sick person
is one who has fallen into deep sin, the priest's task of
working for a moral reformation seems insuperable, unless
he can build upon foundations laid in childhood through
such teaching as that of the Church Sunday school.

To sum up, the evidence shows that the Church Sun-
day school is a great force for moral instruction and
training, through the inculcation of good habits, the estab-
lishment of helpful personal relations, the instilling of true
principles, and the development of religion as a moral force
working on the personal and social life of boys and girls,
and that most strongly at the difficult age of adolescence.
But there has been much waste of this force through poor
methods of teaching. Great reforms, however, are now
being attempted. By bringing full Church teaching to
bear on the practical issues of life, by keeping boys and
girls under its influence as they grow to youth and man-
hood, by enlarging its work so as to cover all the interests
of their life, by good methods of teaching, psychologically
adapted to every stage of life, the Sunday school may lay
foundations on which the character can be truly built.

III. CATHOLIC SUNDAY SCHOOLS.
By Right Rev. Mgr. W. F. Brown.

Owing to the fact that for the most part Catholic
children whether in elementary or secondary schools re-
ceive daily religious instruction from their teachers, the



The Sunday Schools and the Adult Schools 373

Catholic Church in England and Wales has not had to
depend very largely upon Sunday schools for the giving
of religious instruction. It is true that there are localities,
particularly of recent growth, where no Catholic schools
exist, and where Sunday schools have to take the place of
the daily religious instruction these children would receive
if they attended a Catholic day school. In such cases
every attempt is made to organise the Sunday school as
efficiently as possible, and to supplement its work by giving
religious instruction on week-days when the scholars can be
gathered together for this purpose. A Sunday school
attached to an English Catholic church is usually held in
the afternoon, presided over by one of the clergy assisted
by volunteer teachers who as a rule are not the ordinary
teachers of the day school. It has to be held in the
afternoon because the children are bound by the law of
the Church to hear Mass every Sunday, and as Masses
are being celebrated at frequent intervals from early
morning till about midday, particularly in the large
churches, the clergy are fully occupied and the church
building is in constant use by a succession of congregations.
Generally each of the clergy celebrates more than one
Mass, and in every church there is at least one sermon, and
in many two or three, in the forenoon. The hour for the
special Mass for the children where the greater part of
the church is reserved for their use is generally not earlier
than 9.30 or later than 10.30. Some have attempted to
hold a Sunday school before Mass, but in very few places
has this been successful, owing to the practical difficulties in
its way. Where the children live at a considerable dis-
tance from the church such a plan would have great
advantages as it would save them a second journey to
church, but it has not been found possible as a rule to get
the children sufficiently early for them to receive religious
instruction before their Mass. It should be remembered



374 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

that other religious bodies generally combine the children's
Sunday service with the Sunday school instruction, with
the result that the children have only to make one visit
to church, but this is impossible for Catholics who have
to satisfy a definite obligation of hearing Mass early in
the day. Unfortunately Sunday schools, particularly in
the large towns, are not very strong institutions. Earnest,
careful parents see that their children attend and benefit
by the simple familiar instruction which is usually given
in the Sunday school, but the children of less careful
parents either come very late or amuse themselves by
going out in the streets and parks instead. In all fairness
it should be stated that the work of religious instruction
having been carried on so thoroughly in the Catholic day
schools for so many years Catholics have not felt the
same necessity for providing Sunday schools as other
religious bodies. On the Continent and in the United
States Sunday schools are a necessity, and in many cases
are exceedingly well organised. In some of the large
American towns directly the children's Mass is over a large
band of teachers begin the work of teaching the catechism
to the children in classes in the church building itself, such
provision being absolutely necessary because the children
receive no religious instruction in the day schools, but in
England so far it has not come to that stage, and the
Sunday school for the most part is used for imparting
simple religious instruction rather of a devotional character
than of the doctrinal character of the catechetical instruc-
tion given in the day school.

IV. SUNDAY SCHOOLS OF THE NONCONFORMIST CHURCHES
(ENGLAND).

By the Rev. J. Estlin Carpenter, D.D.

The conditions under which Sunday school teaching are
carried on vary widely according to local circumstances.



The Sunday Schools and the Adult Schools 375

No external authority controls the buildings with fixed
standards of accommodation, tests the fitness of teachers,
prescribes the methods of teaching, or appraises the results.
In country districts where the population is slowly diminish-
ing small schools are maintained, often with heroic courage
and devotion, on the scantiest resources. They must fre-
quently be held in little chapels, without separate school-
rooms or vestries, sometimes even with no back-door.
The wooden arrangement of the pews is unsuitable ; the
supply of books is meagre ; tattered Bibles are not effective
instruments of ethical training ; libraries hardly exist ; and
the general equipment is lamentably inadequate. On the
other hand, flourishing urban congregations, and the active
and energetic churches of the great manufacturing villages
of the north, take a just pride in the provision of well-
planned buildings, with suitable halls and separate class-
rooms. In some cases artistic decorations, good photo-
graphs or engravings, and superior furniture, suggest the
idea of a cultivated home, and contribute to moral refine-
ment, to self-restraint, gentleness and courtesy.

The inquirer into the general significance of Sunday
schools as instruments of moral training is met at the out-
set by the difficulty of separating their results from the
corresponding educational influences of the day school.
The elementary moral habits which the Sunday school
helps to form regular and punctual attendance, cleanli-
ness, attention, obedience, truthfulness, sobriety, honesty,
purity, and the like cannot be discriminated from those
inculcated on the week-day or nurtured in the well-ordered
home. There may be no Sunday school morality which
can be isolated as a separate product, but the wide
difference of conditions and practice undoubtedly gives the
Sunday school an important place as a special and supple-
mental agency. On the day set apart by the nation for
leisure from industrial occupation it opens its doors, and



376 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

invites all who will to come in. It offers a particular
kind of teaching designed for the guidance of young
people to the Christian life. It provides an indescribable
atmosphere of devotion, enthusiasm, reverence, affection,
self-sacrifice, as the medium through which religious and
moral impressions can be best conveyed. It thus appeals
to the heart rather than to the head. Its teachers may,
it is true, lack professional training ; but many of them
bring a wide knowledge or a varied experience of life to
the service of growing minds and developing characters. 1
In small classes personal ties of friendship are formed which
often possess life-long force. The continuance of member-
ship in the school through adolescence into adult years
three generations of the same family may sometimes be
found together secures a continuity of influence which
is of very high value. Various agencies for physical, in-
tellectual, and social culture gather round the central aim,
extend its scope and apply it to different departments of
activity. A large and vigorous school which has con-
tributed men of light and leading to the local community,
acquires a tradition and repute, and generates a corporate
spirit capable of sustaining younger scholars under sudden
temptation. And in proportion as such a school is re-
garded as a young people's church, it is distinctly linked
to the wider fellowship of Christian faith and effort.

The Sunday school is now, however, visibly entering on
a new phase under the influence of the day school. During
the last century, even for many years after Mr. Forster's
Education Act had covered the country with board schools,
the Sunday school was still largely occupied with the

1 While some correspondents deplore the lack of teachers of superior
education, one Cheshire pastor writes : " The best lessons given by our
teachers are generally those drawn from their own daily experience.
They will talk to the scholars of the evils of intemperance, gambling, and
betting, and speak of the importance of being strictly straight." Most of
the scholars go to business in the city, and this kind of teaching, from
actual experience, is invaluable to them.



The Sunday Schools and the Adult Schools 377

attempt to supply the deficiencies of popular ignorance.
It is happily no longer necessary to spend precious time in
such task-work, and the way is free for the concentration
of energy on religious and moral teaching. But the
immense improvements in educational method, the study
of child-psychology, the formulation of definite principles
of training, which are rendering the work of the element-
ary schools (from which Sunday scholars are almost
wholly drawn) so much more efficient, have necessarily
begun to affect the whole conception of Sunday school
method.

The contrast between the aptitude of the professional
and the muddling ways of the amateur can no longer be
wholly covered by superior energies of personal devotion.
Here, too, problems of organisation and class-methods
must be bravely and thoughtfully met. " Instinctively the
desire has arisen to be brought into line with the best
things to which educational practice is slowly finding its
way." The efforts which first expressed themselves in
the production of comments and lesson-notes, have recently
taken more definite shape. The Sunday School Union
the oldest Sunday school institute in Great Britain has in
the last few years organised courses of lectures to teachers
on the methods of moral education and the art of teaching,
which have drawn the attention of hundreds of workers
in all parts of England. " The admirable lectures and
demonstrations of Mr. G. Hamilton Archibald, Extension
Lecturer of the London Sunday School Union, have brought
new views of their work to tens of thousands of teachers of
all denominations. The Universities have recently adjusted
their Extension Lecture courses to this new demand ; and
the Extension Committees of the Universities of Manchester
and Liverpool have adopted schemes which are proving in
a marked degree useful and popular." The use of illustra-
tive material in pictures and models, and the employment



378 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

of the blackboard, are more frequent ; and there is a
" freshening consciousness of the teacher's individual re-
sponsibility for his teaching ". Special stress has been
laid on the necessity for " grading," or the division of a
school into departments according to the age and develop-
ment of the scholars, primary, junior, intermediate, and
senior, with sub-divisions if necessary. Each department
must have a suitable equipment of rooms and materials,
as well as appropriate lessons, well-prepared teachers, and
properly adapted methods of teaching. The first portion
of the school to feel the effect of this change is the so-
called " primary ". As the ethical significance for the
youngest scholars is least distinctly isolated from the
general work of the school, it is not necessary to dwell
on the characteristics of this movement, or describe its
machinery of sand-trays and drawing-boards. It is suffi-
cient to point out its quickening effect on the higher
branches, to which it will no doubt extend in due time.
Already, however, the biblical teaching, which is the
chief occupation of the Sunday school, is being adapted
(though not without difficulty and labour) to the widening
knowledge and larger outlook of the time. No doubt
among different denominations, and sometimes among
different members of the same denomination, there are
real differences of view which cannot be wholly embraced
in the same formula. The moral process hidden under
the phrase " bringing the young to Christ " may not be
conceived in quite the same way as that which expresses
itself in "strengthening a man's will to resist evil within
and around him," l or the "building of character," 2 though
the results will to a large extent run parallel, if they do
not exactly coincide. There are divergences of theological

1 Bible Teaching by Modern Methods, pp. xvi., 4.

2 Our Sunday Schools, p. 136 ; cp. Bible Teaching, " Our work is to
mould character rather than to impart knowledge" (p. 58),



The Sunday Schools and the Adult Schools 379

conception which must still express themselves in separate
forms of speech, the older still couched in the venerable
idioms of the past, the younger founded on the psycho-
logical experience of the present. But even when it is
"agreed that the emphasis must always be upon the
religious aim, the educational element, however expanded,
being always subordinate to the evangelical," 1 it remains
true that " the evangelical " will comprise within itself
essential ethical objects such as are involved in the obliga-
tions and duties of Christian discipleship. For the teach-
ing of religion, in this sense, however, the Bible is the
necessary text-book. Christ and His religion must be
supreme ; personal " decision for Christ " is the object ever
to be kept in sight. 2 The first requirement, from this
point of view, is systematic biblical instruction : the
scholar must realise the uniqueness and authority of the
Testaments from which he is taught. In this case the
grounds of moral demand are presented in the form of
external revelation ; the foundations of duty repose on the
sublime declarations of the Divine Will in the past ; and
the moral life is realised through fellowship with the
Person of the Heavenly Christ. The ethical element is
made dependent on and subordinate to the religious.

In the schools taught chiefly by Unitarians this relation
is practically reversed. With the disappearance of the
traditional conception of biblical authority, the teacher is
no longer practically confined within particular historic
limits. He ranges freely through a wider field. He
appeals to the continuous witness of the Spirit of God in
reason and conscience ; he endeavours to awake wonder
and reverence in the presence of the marvels of the world ;
he points to the treasures of goodness in human lives of

1 Bible Teaching, p. xvi.

2 There are even special missions to children to promote it, and a
separate group of books is devoted to it.



380 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

every age ; he illustrates the great sayings of the Bible
by the incidents of modern life, and seeks to bring the
resources of the widest human experience to bear on the
development of character, and the quickening of affection
and endeavour. The foundations of morals are assumed
to lie within the scholar's nature, put there by the Divine
hand, instead of being imposed upon it from without The
process of moral training consequently consists in arousing
the perceptions and invigorating the will by kindling
sympathy with great ideals, enlarging the imagination,
and expanding the mind. In this, of course, the teaching



Online LibraryMichael SadlerMoral instruction and training in schools; report of an international inquiry .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 32 of 45)