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games, especially in towns. While there is cordial ap-
proval of gymnastics, military exercises find few sup-
porters, and neither of these forms of physical culture is
so heartily favoured as are swimming, football, cricket,
hockey and tennis. In Edinburgh great interest has
been taken in this department of school life. The School
Board has paid ,5.000 for a playing field and has estab-
lished a Games Committee, which includes representative



458 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

teachers. Competitions have been arranged between
different schools in Edinburgh, and teams have been
selected to play football matches in London and Glasgow.
A field has been rented for the use of the higher grade
schools, in connection with which it is also proposed to
form a golf club.

In the primary schools of various cities are to be found
scholars' and ex-scholars' clubs where indoor games,
simple dances, music and readings are indulged in. These
clubs have a marked effect in developing character and
giving a sense of responsibility, and an appreciation of
organisation. Wherever I found them, I also found senior
pupils co-operating with the teachers in the class-room, in
the school generally, and in the playground, in carrying
on the work and maintaining good order. These pupils
are also found helpful in connection with visits to public
buildings, picture galleries and other places of interest,
such visits being now a common feature of school life.
They are made either by the pupils on their own account
or by classes in charge of teachers.

Home Life of Pupils and Physical Culture. All this
kind of work does something to counteract the evil effects
of the home life and social environment that, in so many
cases, tend to thwart all the efforts and influence of the
teachers. In connection with this part of the inquiry I
have had access to much valuable material collected by
various investigators, but the limits of my space do not
allow of more than an indication of its significance. In
some districts nearly every influence which touches the
child outside the school is evil ; nearly all that the child
learns or hears of what is good or beautiful comes from
the teacher, and I have been absolutely astounded to find
what has been achieved by men and women of high char-
acter in the face of conditions too dreadful for description.

Grave obstacles to effective work are also presented by



Moral Instruction in the Schools of Scotland 459

the physical condition of many children, but that matter
has now been thoroughly investigated, and medical in-
spection of schools is rapidly becoming part of the routine.
In connection with such inspection the services of the
teachers have been enlisted, and this has helped to enforce
the necessity for reducing the number of pupils in a class.
It is felt that the individual attention necessary to super-
vise the physical, intellectual and moral education of
children is impossible in a class that exceeds forty in
number. This individual attention is often directed to-
wards preventing, detecting and checking particular bad
or vicious habits, and of late vigorous efforts have been
made to put down juvenile smoking. Various plans have
been tried instruction in the evil effects of the practice,
the personal influence of the teacher, the formation of anti-
smoking societies, or actual punishment, but most masters
agree in deploring the continued prevalence of the practice,
and the difficulty of checking it. Persistent vigilance and
activity are required, and teachers feel that they ought to
be supported by legislation on this subject. Physically
and morally, the boy victim of cigarette-smoking is unfit
to play his part in the battle of life.

A boy's chances of getting a good start at school are
brighter than ever. The institution of industrial, com-
mercial and agricultural courses in primary schools was a
wise step, and it remains for teachers, pupils, parents and
employers to make the most of them. Household courses
for girls have also been established, and no doubt further
experience will enable these and the other courses just
mentioned to be more precisely adapted to the actual needs
of society. It is among the pupils attending such courses
that it has been found possible to excite an interest in
public libraries, the managers of which are always most
willing to co-operate with the teachers.

Continuation Classes. Many regret that the good work



460 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

done in the supplementary classes is often lost because it
is not carried farther in continuation evening classes, and
there is considerable favour shown to the proposal to make
such classes compulsory up to sixteen or seventeen years
of age. This could hardly be done, however, without the co-
operation of employers, since the addition of evening school
attendance to a full day's labour would in many cases be
a physical impossibility. As it is, inspectors report find-
ing pupils at these classes so manifestly exhausted as to be
incapable of mental effort, even if they are not actually
asleep. Even in primary schools I have found instances
where a boy was working twenty hours a week for 2s. 6d.,
and another who was working thirty hours a week for I s. 6d.
In Edinburgh steps have been taken to ascertain what
subjects employers think might suitably be taught in
continuation classes. This may be the beginning of a
movement to bring employers of labour into more intimate
relations with the work of the education authorities, and,
if this were done, they might well take the important step
of granting partial exemption to their employees on the
days when the evening classes met.

INDUSTRIAL AND REFORMATORY SCHOOLS.

The general impression seems to be that the abundance
of practical work in these schools has an excellent effect on
the character of the pupils, while it is found that they
readily secure employment as apprentices or improvers.
My correspondents seem to think that enough is done to
keep in touch with the pupils after they leave school, but
that this work has to be carried on with great circumspec-
tion, so as not to draw attention to their past circumstances.
In the matter of general education complaint is made that
the schools are understaffed ; otherwise satisfaction is ex-
pressed with what is attempted and accomplished.

It is interesting to note an experiment just started by the
Edinburgh School Board. By means of a Day Industrial



Moral Instruction in the Schools of Scotland 461

School managed by a special committee, which consists
partly of co-opted members, it is hoped to get hold of older
boys and girls who require control, and, in consultation
with their parents, to place them in suitable occupations.
Each pupil so placed would be under the supervision of
some individual member of the committee who would act
as guardian and adviser. There are great possibilities in
the plan, and its development will be watched with interest.

PREPARATORY, SECONDARY AND HIGHER SCHOOLS.

The Curriculum. Of the subjects in the curriculum,
Scripture, literature and history are most in favour as
ethical studies, but several teachers have been careful to
point out that, in the hands of a competent teacher, any
subject may be made to contribute to the formation of
character, and that mathematics and science, for example,
give an excellent discipline. There is an almost unani-
mous opinion that the amount of manual work and
practical training is sufficient. Within recent years,
science in the laboratory and in the field has become
a prominent feature in the curriculum, while in connection
with mathematics and geography it has become usual to
carry on practical work, often in the open air.

Moral Instruction. While the ethical value of educa-
tion is emphasised by every one, there is very little liking
shown for systematic moral instruction. The tone of the
school and the personality of the teacher are relied upon
as the chief factors in a sound training. Even in boarding
and Church schools less reliance is placed on formal
treatment of the moralities than on the whole influence
of the teaching, the atmosphere of the school, and the
chapel services. Bible lessons are usually given in the
day schools, either by the class masters or by the head-
master to the whole of the upper school, while others take
charge of the lower school, and the moral teaching sug-



462 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

gested is touched upon but not obtrusively. There is a
marked objection to preaching to the scholars unless some
occasion has been given. Where an opinion was ex-
pressed in favour of lessons on health and morals, it was
with the proviso that these ought to be given by an expert
say a medical man or woman not by a regular member
of the staff. I found a widespread reluctance to face the
question of sexual morality, the prevailing attitude being
that, when proper vigilance is exercised, when the pupil's
time is fully occupied, and when actual offences are dealt
with, all is done that is either possible or desirable. Very
few are prepared to take the risk of supplying the know-
ledge that might be a safeguard, although some recognise
that, where biological science is taught, it might be utilised to
remove the ignorance that is sometimes so severely punished.
Home Influence. There can be no doubt that, espe-
cially in the case of private schools, the tone of the
school is lowered and its influence damaged by frequent
changes of school, by irregular attendance, by delay in
beginning the school year and by failure to complete it.
Most of these evils affect all the higher class schools, and
the facts have been commented on in official reports.
Nearly all teachers complain of these hindrances and very
many lament the indifference or the weakness of parents,
who do not seem to realise the harm that is done to the
children in this way, or to be able to stand between them
and the distractions which interfere with their school duties.
There seems to be no doubt that schools suffer severely
from the amount of time taken up by dances and other
social engagements, by the exaggerated emphasis put in
some homes on pleasure, and by the lack of parental
authority. In consequence, while the general feeling in
Scotland is against boarding schools, it is recognised that
the circumstances of some children make it eminently
desirable that their education should be obtained in one.



Moral Instruction in the Schools of Scotland 463

Where, however, the home influence is either sympathetic
or not injurious, the day school is preferred.

Corporate Life. In most of the day schools a good deal
has been done to secure something of that wholesome cor-
porate life which is characteristic of the good boarding
school. The form master or mistress has special oppor-
tunities of getting to know the pupils, and therefore of
moulding their characters. School games of all kinds are
common, and in many schools there is a games master or
mistress, who is in a particularly favourable position for
becoming intimate with the boys or girls. In large towns
the drawbacks are the distance of the recreation grounds
from the school and the consequent loss of time. While
the games are not compulsory, the love of the school is such
that all the scholars share in them to some extent. Where
a cadet corps has been established, its influence is said to
be excellent.

School societies and magazines are found in most schools,
but in many cases it is difficult to keep them in vigorous
life ; the distance of the school from the homes of the
scholars and the claims of Church and other societies being
the chief obstacles. Much depends on the lead given by
the older pupils, and that again depends on the position
assigned to them in the school. In some schools there is
a captain, who, with the help of other seniors, assists in
maintaining a good tone ; in others there is an ephorate or
school council ; in others a system of monitors or prefects.
On the whole, one gets the impression that a great deal is
being done to make the school tone wholesome and helpful.

What seems to be most desired by the teachers is a
keener interest on the part of parents in their children's
work. Some schools invite the parents to visit the classes
on certain days ; others try to enlist their sympathy by
means of exhibitions and sports ; all issue reports at
intervals, although doubt is expressed as to whether these



464 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

reports are very carefully studied. It may be worth while
to record the suggestion of a prominent woman teacher
that no pupil should be accepted without a certificate of
character, and with this may be taken another suggestion,
that the school reports should be fuller and franker.

The Schools and Life. The teaching of civics in one
form or another is common in the schools, and in this con-
nection I may mention the proposal to get citizens who are
engaged in public life to give lectures in the schools on
the municipal departments with which they are connected.
Patriotism does not seem to be taken up as a separate
subject, but many teachers, by cultivating school patriotism,
by impressing on their scholars their 'future duties and re-
sponsibilities as citizens, and by making good use of history
lessons, reach the desired end by indirect means. The
opinion was frequently expressed to me that patriotism is
a natural product of boy-nature and requires purification
rather than cultivation.

Many schools are interested in social and charitable
work, contributing to philanthropic objects such as Fresh
Air Fortnight Schemes, supporting a cot in a Children's
Hospital, helping in Guilds of Play, and so on.

The schools are so controlled by the demands of external
examinations that, except in so far as these are in harmony
with the future life, not very much direct preparation is
made for subsequent duties. Girls learn to sew and
sometimes to cook, but beyond this nothing seems to be
done. But in the towns there are, of course, institutions
or classes where special instruction can be got.

It may be said in conclusion that nearly all authorities
are opposed to co-education during adolescence. They
think that girls should be taught by women, and boys
by men, if the intellectual education is to be the best
possible, and if moral questions are to be treated with
adequate fullness and frankness.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

IRISH EDUCATION AND IRISH CHARACTER.
By Mr. STEPHEN GWYNN.

EDUCATION in Ireland has been organised by the State
in accordance with English ideas. Had English influence
been able to bring about any large measure of conformity
between the two countries, there would have been little or
no need for a separate paper on moral training in Irish
schools. But what conformity there is, is purely super-
ficial ; and although free development has been hindered,
and Irish institutions for teaching are less characteristic
than they would have been if entirely left to themselves,
still the moral influences which emerge wherever pupils
and teachers are brought together reveal themselves in
Ireland, and reveal themselves as Irish. The object of
this paper, then, is to illustrate, so far as possible, the
nature and the symptoms of these distinctive influences.

First of all, it may be said broadly that no ordinary
person in Ireland contemplates the possibility of teaching
morality apart from religion ; and by religion is meant
emphatically this or that particular creed. Almost every
school maintained by the State is managed locally by a
clergyman, who appoints the teacher, and public feeling
is so strong on the matter that in any neighbourhood even
a small group of families of any particular denomination
is always provided with a separate school of its own. Of
late, indeed, opinion has begun to agitate for associating the
laity with the clergy in the management of schools ; but
VOL. I. 465 30



466 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

this does not indicate any desire to lessen the importance
given to the part played by religion in education.

Further, so far as Catholic Ireland is concerned, an
immense proportion of the teaching both in primary and
secondary schools is done by members of religious orders,
and in these, of course, there is no conception of separating
moral influences from religious. There is, however, no
evidence known to me that even in the few Protestant
schools which are partly or wholly under lay control any
duties, other than those of ordinary school work, are in-
culcated except as part of a Christian's religious obligations.
This entire state of things is due to the fact that positive
Christian belief, and the practice of religious observances,
are everywhere in Ireland very general, and among the
Catholic population almost universal. It is also hardly
necessary to point out that in many respects the standard
of Irish morality is so high that the example of Ireland
may be quoted with confidence in support of the view which
makes moral teaching necessarily a part of religion.

But from such broad generalities there is not much to
be gathered, and I proceed to examine in some detail the
existing institutions beginning at the top with higher
education.

It follows from what has been said that, in the general
opinion of Irishmen, there can be no positive moral in-
fluence where there is no religious teaching ; and for that
reason a university without a school of theology or arrange-
ments for corporate worship is, to Irishmen, a university
deficient in moral safeguards. This accounts for the fact
that Catholic opinion was much less opposed to the Protes-
tant University of Dublin than to the more modern Queen's
Colleges, which, designed by England to provide for the
wants of Ireland, excluded religion entirely from their pur-
view. This provision has satisfied no one, except to some
extent the Presbyterians, who accepted Queen's College,



Irish Education and Irish Character 467

Belfast, with some alacrity, though in practice demanding
that its head shall always be a staunch professor of their
own persuasion. But Catholics as a body have refused to
accept either the University of Dublin with its Protestant
atmosphere or the " godless " Queen's Colleges ; and since
Ireland is mainly a Catholic country, it is clear that not
much can be gleaned on the subject of Irish ideas of moral
training from Irish universities.

Yet Trinity College is well worth study, for in it we have
a free growth, typifying both in its virtues and in its defects
the ruling Protestant class, landed and professional. Here,
unquestionably, the chief moral influence is that of the
Church, felt, as at Oxford, directly through the chapel
services and sermons, and indirectly through the presence
of a large body of theological students. The second of
these influences is specially strong in Dublin, because these
students have an organisation of their own in the Uni-
versity Theological Society, and also because the work of
the Divinity School at Dublin comprises much that is done
in England by the training colleges. I should therefore be
inclined to put the positive influence of dogmatic religion
higher at Dublin than at Oxford.

On the other hand, the vaguer humanitarian enthu-
siasms which are more or less allied to Socialism, and
with which the High Church party willingly allies itself,
have, I think, much less hold in Trinity than at the
English universities ; though the movement which sends
so many brilliant young Englishmen into work (tempor-
ary or permanent) in the East End of London has its
parallel in the recently organised Social Service Society,
which attempts something for the reclamation of Dublin
slums. Again, in regard to more definitely political
aspirations, Irish Protestants are somewhat unfortunately
situated. Trinity as a whole has no sympathy with the
ideals that appeal to Ireland as a nation, and it always

30 *



468 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

seems to lack first-hand touch with the best English
thought, whether Liberal or Tory. This isolation from
the main movement of Irish thought and feeling on
the one hand, and on the other, this enforced separation
from the current of English life, keep the place a little
old-fashioned ; and to generate enthusiasm, ideals and
feelings need a certain freshness. If it be held (as I
should hold) that a university's main moral function is to
produce enthusiasts rather than merely decent citizens,
in this respect, I think, Trinity fails.

In regard to the less direct influences, a good deal may
be noted. The general trend of life in Trinity is towards
frugality, just as at Oxford it is towards extravagance.
Consequently, money is less of an advantage, poverty less
of a drawback than at the English universities; the
standard of living is more uniform ; and in the society of
which the university is typical, and which it influences,
respect for wealth as wealth is noticeably rare. Again,
the idea of education is more disciplinary than in
England. Irishmen go to college, not to acquire culture
by contact, but to learn certain definite things ; and the
university, in its anxiety to find out if the task is being
learnt, multiplies examinations. The same idea pervades
all Irish education the old-fashioned demand for a
positive result in knowledge ; and if it leads to an exces-
sive value set upon these tests, it also goes far to dis-
courage idleness.

In another matter Trinity College is typical of Irish
ideas generally. Games are simply taken as games, not
as a main business of life in which success may even have
a marketable value. Everybody recognises their physical
use, and more than that, their use as a means of bringing
men together. But nobody in Ireland, save here and
there a stray apostle of English notions, talks of the
moral lessons to be acquired by fielding out or patient



Irish Education and Irish Character 469

batting. Compulsory games at school are practically un-
known ; nobody plays unless he wants to ; so that the
duffer does not experience the questionable moral advan-
tage of physical discomfort and frequent humiliation, and
the naturally painstaking or excellent athlete gets no more
than his fair chance of exercising his gifts. And these are
less likely to have an undue importance in their possessor's
eyes, because they will not of themselves lead him to a
position of great distinction in an Irish university.

Unfortunately, Trinity College is the only place in Ire-
land unless perhaps a saving clause should be made for
Queen's College, Belfast which offers what is meant by a
university life. Cork and Galway lack students and lack
tradition. The Catholic University College in Stephen's
Green brings young men together only in classes and in
one or two debating societies ; and it is entirely controlled
by a religious order. Yet even so, I question whether, in
some ways, life does not beat stronger in it than in Trinity ;
whether the moral influences proper to a university, the
enthusiasm, the contagion of generous ideas, are not here
more strongly felt. The reason for this view must be
given.

Trinity has never been the University of Ireland. It is
ceasing to be the University of Protestant Ireland, for
Protestants, who can afford to do so, send their sons in-
creasingly to Oxford or Cambridge, and Trinity, which
has not known how to create a true and special function
for itself, is becoming merely a cheap substitute for these
English institutions. And the reason for this is a moral
reason which goes to the root of many questions con-
nected with Irish education. Should Irish schools and
colleges seek to educate citizens for the Empire, or citizens
for Ireland? During the last half century, while the Im-
perialist idea has been developing in England, Trinity has
thrown all its moral weight into support of that idea.



470 Moral Instruction and Training in Schools

But the Imperialist idea in England is very different from
the same idea as viewed in Canada or New Zealand or
Australia ; and universities in these countries address them-
selves particularly to local needs. In the section of Ireland
which Trinity represents, local patriotism is held to con-
flict with Imperial patriotism, and one has to observe that
Trinity's Imperialism is forwarding tendencies which are
leaving her drained. Nationalists may respect the sin-
cerity of convictions so pressed in defiance of a local interest ;
but a university, whose main emotional appeal is directed



Online LibraryMichael SadlerMoral instruction and training in schools; report of an international inquiry .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 45)