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Common sense in education and teaching; an introduction to practice online

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the average person at some one thing ; and so by himself, !;
or by those responsible for his upbringing, he is put under \
special discipline.

All forms of specialisation may be justified furthermore \
on the ground that they provide the valuable stimulus of r
wholesome emulation. It is good for a man to feel;
that in some particulars he can do very good work;!;

The Manipulation of Curricula 133

work above the average of achievement. If we all have
a special line of activity, this is a real help to healthy
development, to energy, to industry. No class in society
is so hopeless as the class of drudges, the unskilled
labourers ; and for this condition the dead level of their
effective power is a sufficient explanation. With the
consciousness of skilled capacity, hope springs at once
into activity, and a man or woman works and improves.

With the first, the ordinary school has comparatively
little to do. The advent of the genius who makes his
promise manifest during his school career is not a common
thing, and specialised training in this kind is generally
given, if at all, as it was to Mr. J. S. Mill, privately.
The genius for music is the gift of which we hear most
often as detected and trained in youth ; most other forms
of fine natural capacity do not usually manifest them-
selves so early, and are therefore not subject to the pains
and privileges that fall to the lot of the precocious

The second form is the commonest form known to us,
and we ought to make up our minds as to the propriety
and effect of it. Every one can understand that a youth
may leave school or college either more or less able to
enter into the affairs of life with profit ; but it is much
harder to decide what kind of profit we ought to look
for, and whether we are to expect quick or slow returns
for our investments.

Let us see on what grounds the school is called upon
to prepare directly for professions and crafts. The Sc h 00 i
First, there is the pressure of competition, and prepara-
which is so fierce that the man or woman who tion for P r -
starts later than others finds the ground too fessions
fully occupied to give to the beginner even a foothold.
There is, next, the hurry and impatience of actual

134 Common Sense in Education

business, which deprives the senior craftsman or em-
ployer of the necessary leisure for the instruction of his
pupil. There is, thirdly, a growing conviction all over
Europe that, to whatever end directed, the school career
should be longer than it has been for most people hereto-
fore ; that is, public opinion is insisting more and more
on the disciplinary value of school as a preparation for
life, while it is also demanding that the school should pre-
pare more directly for the material struggle for livelihood
a very remarkable fact indeed. Competition is a
present consideration which we must admit to be very
serious ; we must accept also, for we cannot modify, the
disinclination of the employer to teach his journeymen,
a fact not more notable than the parents' abandonment of
most of their duties to the schoolmaster. The question
remains how we can use the growing belief in the dis-
ciplinary efficiency of the school to check or neutralise
the evils of premature competition and the neglect of the
teachers provided originally by nature.

Several times in the course of our investigations we
Speciaiisa- have seen reason for thinking that the bear-
tion and ing of school pursuits on life must in some
interest in measure be brought home to the minds of our

Instruction pupils j n Qrder tQ ensure their i nter est. And

the difference between the secondary and the primary
school in this particular was that the pupils of the pri-
mary school had already a premature interest in and
knowledge of the means of getting a livelihood, and
that therefore the primary school must needs be more
" practical," must sacrifice the formative studies to those
which are of immediate application, writing, ciphering,
designing, industrial science, and the rest ; whereas the
secondary school, keeping its pupils later, can appeal to
reasons of remoter interest the trigonometry that steers

The Manipulation of Curricula 135

the ship, the history that enlightens politics, the geo-
graphy that explains history and helps commerce, and
the language studies that open books and give merchants
of different countries the means of intercommunication.

Specialisation in secondary schools may and should be
based on such a liberal preliminary as would g ecialisa _
be provided by the subjects already discussed tionmustbe
in the preceding chapter. It may, because preceded by
no excessive claims need be made in point the liberal
of time ; it should, because specialisation is
more profitable when the general foundation is good.
We may agree with Mr. Glazebrook in laying it down
that specialisation before sixteen is a misfortune. But it
is a regrettable though inevitable fact that in schools of
a type just above the primary, a sort of specialisation
begins as early as the fifteenth year for commercial and
industrial pursuits. It is still, however, in the power of
the school to modify possible evil effects of this early
diversion to subjects of material importance by providing
that the general education shall proceed side by side
with the commercial arithmetic or the industrial chemis-
try or whatever else it may be that has become the
pupil's main preoccupation.

For youths cut off early from the chance of a more
extensively liberal curriculum, the lessons in

T- i- i i_ r . ,. . The lessons

English become of abounding importance ; in Engl i sh
and this fact has therefore been actually literature
recognised in the constitution of the schools and rhetoric,
known as " Organised Science Schools " under of aboundin *
the Science and Art Department. In schools
of this type we may expect that not more than two-
thirds of the pupil's time should be given, under any
circumstances, to " special" studies; the one-third re-
maining should be most religiously dedicated to studies

136 Common Sense in Education

having no obvious bearing on the means of gaining a

If by giving up even two- thirds of the boy's time
to bread-winning studies we can secure a third of it for
liberal education, and keep the boy at school for another
two years, the gain is enormous. Quite apart from the
moral and intellectual use of the time so employed, the
prolongation of the status pupillaris and the deferring of
precocious responsibility constitute a gain in themselves.
In schools which do not keep their boys much beyond
this age, the class system of teaching is one of the
necessary conditions of school organisation, so that there
is still the great stimulus of companionship, and the
specialisation of study loses much of its harmfulness in
still necessitating the discipline of collective work. This
point also must be borne in mind, that some kind of
rational balance must be maintained amongst " subjects,"
or else none will be properly assimilated. If we cut off
a boy's history in order to teach him more geography,
we do not necessarily succeed even in that purpose ;
geography and history not only help out each other
where they touch and overlap, but in their alternation
afford that variety in mental food which is necessary for

Specialisation of whole schools of a type higher than
Deferred that J us ^- indicated must be even more jealously
specialisation regulated. In the first place, the practical
makes difficulties are greater ; for the later on in life

organisation differentiation of function is carried, the more
specialised it must become, and therefore the
later specialisation is minuter, more complicated, more
varied than the earlier. Thus it is easier to determine a
uniform specialised plan of teaching in a school which
all pupils leave at sixteen than in a school where most

The Manipulation of Curricula 137

stay till eighteen or nineteen ; the basis in the first case
can be frankly "scientific," or frankly " commercial,"
and many pupils can be put through the same mill. But
in the second type of school the difficulties are much
greater. Here we have boys who are to be doctors, boys
who are to be clergymen, boys who are going into
business or industries as managers, boys who wish to get
into the army, boys going to* the universities, and so on.
It is clear that in one school it would be impossible to
provide separate courses for all these distinct classes of
boys ; any such attempt would call for an almost im-
possible complication of the Time Table and would
(worse still) largely disorganise the school by jeopardising
the corporate feeling which results from a large com-
munity of interests and pursuits. On the other hand, in
dealing with pupils of this age and presumed status, we
can count, very obviously, on a larger outlook and on
the operations of a more remote interest than with
younger pupils drawn from narrower surroundings. The
bases of specialisation may thus be pretty broad and not
very many in number. We shall then find that they fall
into three or four fairly well-defined classes.

First we have chiefly to consider the general divisions
which the traditional wisdom of the uni- The broad
versities has laid down as the bases of the bases of
larger specialised teaching provided by itself; spetiaiisa-
and we find that the main lines thus prepared tlon
for us are (i) classics, philosophy, and history, or, shortly,
the classical curriculum; (2) mathematics and the physical
and experimental sciences ; (3) modern languages and
literature. Within these general limits it is possible to
train three different types of mind, and to train them well.
No one type rigidly excludes another, but each represents
rather a predominant study for which a school Time

138 Common Sense in Education

Table may provide, either for individuals or classes, a 1
relatively predominant preparation.

If we consider, in the second place, the future of thosej
pupils not necessarily passing to the universities, the
general types need not be greatly different. The profes-
sions will range themselves under those heads for which
they have greatest affinity ; clergymen will need chiefly!
classics and what is implied in a classical course ; doctors]
engineers, captains of industry, will find the mathematical
and science courses most appropriate ; those going intoj
commerce would be attracted by modern languages, ori
a combination of this and the former type. And this
is what in effect is the practice of the modernj
school ; the essential value, however, of somej
studies great general study or studies Englishj

should ai- Divinity, and the like being never lost from;
ways be view. For though diversity of aim and pro-
cedure is very valuable, community of feeling!

common J J

and interest is more valuable still. And it is
of the highest national importance that those who are
to figure as the effective intelligence of the nation should'
be as much as possible together and get as much as|
possible of their moral and intellectual preparation under
similar refining influences. We ought to be able ta
secure this without treating all our pupils and their
subjects of instruction as if the teaching of the university
was destined to complete the school course in every*
case. Genuine university " extension " should begin in
the upper forms of the school.

We have yet to consider the subjects which stand,!
"Accom- according to the old conventional view, out-
plishments" side the regular curriculum, as things indif-
ferent, as " accomplishments ". Properly speaking, as
we have seen reason to believe, there are certain arts.

The Manipulation of Curricula 139

aesthetic arts, the pursuits that cultivate " taste," which
may well appear to have strong claims to necessary in-
clusion. Class-singing and music are amongst
these. " Plane song " was once a very general
part of the education of gentlehood, and collective sing-
ing has most fortunately established itself from the first
as a part of modern education, at least in the primary
schools. It is a pity that a place has not yet been found
for it in every secondary school also. To put it on its
lowest ground, it is a fine physical exercise ; it culti-
vates very directly a sense of community and common
endeavour ; and it is a very powerful means of stimulating
strong sentiment on wholesome lines. A fine school
song or a fine patriotic song has a value not unlike in
kind that of a notable hymn. And, it may be added,
the reading of music at sight is a necessary foundation
for a more elaborate education in music. A little time
taken every week for training in the art of vocal music
would repay itself many times over. In the meantime,
there seems to be a good deal of danger lest the children
who attend primary schools will have cultivated and
refined in them an aesthetic capacity which children
otherwise better nurtured and educated will lack.

Drawing, too, is one of those subjects which the older
fashion regarded as something " extra/* but
which later practice has insisted on as a part
of general education, systematically connected with other
parts of the usual curriculum. It represents indeed a
very natural transition in the school for little children from
the coarser manipulation of bricks and from modelling in
clay to the reproduction in two dimensions of things seen
in three. It is therefore a most valuable part, in the early
stages of education, not only of that cultivation of manual
dexterity, of co-ordination of hand and eye, but also of

140 Common Sense in Education

the power of abstraction which we know to be of essential!
importance in early training. Later on it serves, as nothing!
else can, to assist the pupil to comprehend and to register]
in permanent form the facts of science, of history, ofj
geography, which might otherwise have no permanent!
place in memory because they would have passed before!
it like parts of a shifting panorama. For by drawing,;
whether it be the drawing of a diagram or of a natural
object, the pupil both observes better, and makes whatj
he observes his own as he would by no other means.
The practice of drawing serves, graphically, to produce!
the same effect as, rhetorically, the continuous reproduc-i
tion of knowledge in an oral paragraph. In each case|
the separate parts of the object of knowledge are joined!
together by the original action and energy of the pupil's!
mind, and they thus become his permanent property.
Drawing, therefore, is a powerful " aid to appercep-
tion ".

The relation of Drawing and Writing is purely acci-
Drawingand dental, and they are mentioned together
Writing merely for the purpose of insisting that writ-
ing should properly come later than drawing and be
counted as a school pursuit of far less importance. It is,
as a school subject, an instrumental or ancillary matter.!
Although it is usually linked with Reading and Arith-
metic, it does not in truth possess the same claims as
these subjects have, in their ordinary developments, to be;
counted as the bases of a liberal education. But again
we must distinguish between the primary and the sec-
ondary schools. In the primary schools, Reading and
Arithmetic, being necessarily restricted by reason of lack
of time to those parts only which are mainly preparatory
to higher purposes, remain almost as severely instrumental
as Writing is, and are cultivated to similar ends. Doubt-

The Manipulation of Curricula 141

less, each of the three can be taught so as to be, for certain
limited purposes, either good discipline or bad ; but we
are constrained to teach them in their earlier stages, not
for what they are in themselves, but for what they in-
troduce. They are instrumental, but not general. In
teaching Writing, we may cultivate accuracy, neatness,
rapidity of execution ; but it would be possible and
perhaps easier to cultivate all these things by other
processes, and without teaching writing at all. Writing
remains, on the whole, then, merely a subject the mastery
of which makes others in certain ways easier. It is prob-
able that we make too much of very good writing, and
that the time so spent would be more profitably spent
in Drawing. We ought all to possess a legible and not
unlovely handwriting, but farther than this, in the en-
deavour to secure uniformity, we ought not perhaps to
go. A fine variety is the best test of successful teaching.
One of the best of the most recent books on the Art of
Teaching, that of Mr. D. Salmon, 1 sets forth sixteen
different specimens of style taught in schools to-day,
most of them hopelessly ugly and mechanical, but worth
careful examination for the purpose of learning what
should be avoided. The most beautiful examples
arranged for teaching purposes are to be seen in the
charming book A New Handwriting, compiled by Mrs.
Robert Bridges, 2 from whose Introduction I venture to
make, and commend for consideration, the following
extract : "The ordinary copy-book, the aim of which
seems to be to economise the component parts of the
letters, cannot train the hand as more varied shapes
will ; nor does this uniformity, exclusive of beauty, offer
as good training to the eye : moreover, I should say that

1 Longmans, 1898. 2 Oxford University Press.

142 Common Sense in Education

variety and beauty of form are attractive, even to little!
children, and that the attempt to create something which
interests them, cheers and crowns their stupendous efforts
with a pleasure that cannot be looked for in the task of
copying monotonous shapes ". The point best worth
consideration in the teaching of writing to young children
is the necessity of teaching a style which does not contortj
the body, or focus the two eyes in different ways, or
puzzle the eyes of the reader by the needless multiplica-
tion and emphasis of uncurved strokes. The beautiful
writing of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries usually
shows a minimum of straight strokes, and is therefore
legible as well as pleasing. We can test the mere legi-
bility of writing by observing at how many angles of
vision it can be easily read ; the more, the better. A
style which requires the result to be held at a particular
angle in order to be legible should be severely shunned.

For reference : Teaching and Organisation, chapters by Messrs.
Pollard, Glazebrook, and the Editor. Laurie's Institutes of Edu-
cation, and the same writer's volume of Teacher's Guild Addresses, etc.
Sadler on Problems in Prussian Secondary Education in Education
Department Special Reports, vol. iii. Rein's Pedagogics (Van
Liew's translation). Miall's Thirty Years of Teaching. Butler's
The Meaning of Education. Harris's " The Correlation of Studies "
in Report of the Committee of Fifteen. Report of Committee of Ten
(U.S., 1893). Bain's Education as a Science. H. Spencer's Educa-
tion. Mrs. Bryant's Educational Ends and the same writer's Cur-
riculum in Girls' Schools in the Education Department's Special
Reports, vol. iii. H. Courthope Bowen's pamphlet The Subjects
which should be Taught in Middle Class Schools. Fitch's Lectures.
Miss Burstall in the Educational Review, Feb. 1899. H. B. Garrod
in the Educational Review, Jan. 1899. W. Dyche in the Educational
Review, March 1899.



LWhat is " pourquoi " ? Do or not do? I would I had bestowed
t time in the tongues that I have in fencing, dancing, and bear-
waiting. O had I but followed the arts !

Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night.


!N most schools, if what is called Reading is taught at
ill, the exercise is a rather perfunctory cere- R ea ding
nony, designed apparently, if there is any Lessons of
design involved, to see whether the pupil various
Dronounces his words intelligibly and renders kmds

in such a way that he is not taken to be a foreigner.

further step is usually made if the teacher endeavours
o cultivate what is called " expression," when the pupil
s required to render the printed words as if they were
neant to be intelligible not as words only but as con-
;ecutive thoughts. A third and more rational kind of
esson in Reading is given when the teacher first of all
illows pupils the time and means to master the meaning
)f their author for themselves, and then gets them to
ender it in the way in which they individually under-
stand it. Their author, as Charles Lamb would insist ;
le is not theirs till they take his meaning, master it,
ippropriate it.

Now each of these exercises is, in its degree, legiti-

144 Common Sense in Education

mate; but every one of them tries to raise a superstructure
before laying truly and well the necessary foundation
They all take a great deal for granted and concerr
themselves at too early a stage with what should b<
developments coming later.

Let us understand at the outset that the Reading lessor
is primarily a lesson in speaking. Both pupi

The penal- , J

ties of anc * teacher are deeply concerned in the culti

misuse of vation of audible speech. First as to men
speech- intelligibility. Clearly, men or women whc

cannot speak without difficulty, or who are no
easily understood when speaking, lack one of the firs
endowments indispensable for social communion ; muc
of what they say must be ineffective, and the mor
ineffective in exact proportion to the numbers addressee
What they say passes by as the idle wind. Easy intelli
gibility is indispensable to the teacher above all other*
The difficulty of maintaining the attention of a class,
class even of adults, is increased beyond measure if th
speech of the teacher distracts or discourages or deaden
effort by its harshness or its inaudibility.

But there is worse behind. Speech that is in an
degree inaudible under reasonable conditions of localit
indicates a physical defect or mismanagement of vocc
organs that brings on the offender a cumulative penalty
every such error repeated tends to the injury and final]
to the destruction of that most delicate mechanism whic
produces voice. Indirectly, too, it may seriously affec;
the general health. No class of the community suffei
from this cause so seriously as teachers, for none us
their voices so persistently and under such hard cor

Let us first consider the relation of the subject t
general health. It turns mainly on the primary nee

Audible Speech 145

for a proper use of the breathing apparatus. No other
exercise can be regarded as a satisfactory substitute, for
no other exercise cultivates the use of the lungs and as-
sociated organs under conditions that can be so exactly
co-ordinated. We are not always playing football, riding
bicycles, or even performing gymnastics ; but we are
always breathing and frequently speaking. Proper care
and training teach us to breathe habitually in such a way
as to use lungs and throat to their utmost legitimate
capacity at all ordinary times. We need not be medical
men in order to recognise what this means. A larger
chest-capacity means more air in the lungs, and more air
in the lungs means more oxygen for the purification of
the blood, which, as we are told, is the whole secret of

The systematic teacher of reading and allied subjects,
then, begins with the gymnastics of breathing ; The gym .
with such exercises as regulate the inhalation nasties of
of breath, strengthen the mechanism of the breathing
lungs, and control the exit of breath in the formation of
sound. Incidentally, and in immediate consequence of
this, the muscular capacity of chest and abdomen is
increased astonishingly, and with it, of course, the capa-
city for storing and using the very fuel of life. The
second great step is voice-formation proper ; the use of
the proper vocal key and the means for securing reso-
nance, sound-carrying quality, and the like ; which to
those who have to live by their voices are matters of
the very first importance.

When the secret of correct breathing and sound pro-
duction is learnt but not till then it may be said that
the more strictly hygienic practice ends and the teaching
of elocution, in its stricter sense, begins. Up to this
point the chief steps have been taken to put the machine


146 Common Sense in Education

into proper order. But it must be remembered that
constant practice is necessary, and if a teacher wishes
his class to retain the lessons which he is giving them,
the reading lesson should very frequently, if not always,
be preceded by breathing exercises to be carried into
effect in the subsequent lesson. This practice is not

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Online LibraryPercy Arthur BarnettCommon sense in education and teaching; an introduction to practice → online text (page 11 of 25)