Percy Arthur Barnett.

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lating and suggestive.

The history of the English language is not literature,
The History but it is an undoubted fact that we appreciate
of Language literature the better if the language is felt to
have a continuous existence and to have its roots far
back ; and so much of our finest literature is more or
less archaic, that some knowledge of the structure and
nature of the growth of English is indispensable to a
proper enjoyment. But the scientific study of language
is as truly a " science " as the thorough investigation ol
any other complex physical phenomena ; and not memory
alone, but reasoning power too, is called into play.
Historical Grammar and the History of Literature go
together as illustrating and helping to constitute history
proper, but the school cannot be expected to go very
far with either. "History" is in the main social and
political history ; the history of literature illustrates these,
and is in turn illustrated by the history of grammar and
the like.

Miss Wardale says that " the ideal preparation for
Preparation University study at school would be as much
for Univer- sound training in English grammar and Latin
sity study as possible, and a little special work at Old
English grammar and translation for perhaps the last;
year. Failing this, some Chaucer would not be difficult
and would be helpful in bridging over the gulf betweenj

Literature and Formal Linguistic Study 187

Modern English and that spoken before the Conquest."
But the first alternative must be the course for those who
are to specialise, in pursuit of a degree. For the ordinary
pupil it may be admitted that the outlines of Historical
Grammar, with or without the Chaucer, is all that our
curriculum allows us. On the claims of Latin we shall
have something to say when we come to our chapter
on the Classics.

Incidental teaching in morals, love of country, and
the like, may well centre round the literature incidental
lesson ; but any ostentation, any display of set teaching
purpose in such teaching, is the surest way to render it
ineffectual. No teacher lacks opportunity for the teach-
ing of morals ; but the literature lesson covers so much
ground, may bring up so many topics in the ordinary
course of work, that it must needs touch the pupils in
many different ways. A few words during the lesson on
a character or a sentiment should be a power- No special .
ful sermon, and for this reason it would seem ists for
to be desirable that whatever other subjects English
are assigned to specialists, every form-teacher should
qualify himself to superintend the lesson in literature in
which opportunities for this so often occur. One may
be excused for distrusting the multiplication of specialist
teachers in schools praeter necessitate. By this practice
we get a large number of persons all acquainted with a
small part of each pupil ; and it would therefore seem to
be a sound principle to assign " the ordinary English
subjects " of one form as much as possible to one person.
The great teachers have been people who taught more
than one subject to their pupils, and had thus many
lights on each individual character, and means of culti-
vating a many-sided personal interest. And we may go
farther, and say that no one is properly qualified to teach

1 88 Common Sense in Education

any subject without a strong tincture of letters, if only
because a literary sense is one of the most powerful of
impulses to a multiform sympathy.

Set lessons on morals, love of country, and the like
Morals and may be ineffectual and worse. A class will
patriotism in regard them as pretence because they lack
literature ^he rea iity which comes from circumstances
of immediate application. Even sermons to adults, de-
livered solemnly in sacred places, often fail to produce
their effect because there is nothing, saving the eloquence
of a preacher, to bring them home. But the morals of
the story of Washington and his father's apple-tree, and
of Hamlet and his indecision, are effective in their vastly
different ways and for pupils of different stages, because
circumstances, that is the interest of personality and
action, give them life. Love of country may be stimulated
by a very few words after you have read Herodotus'
account of the battle of Marathon, or the fine apostrophe
in Shakespeare's "Richard II.," to pupils of different ages.
But if you teach a blind reverence for a name or a flag,
however eloquently, you sacrifice the substance for the
shadow, and you may pervert patriotism into mere un-
reasoning prejudice. This preaching of conduct or morals
without immediate application does indeed make pedants
and Pecksniffs. Children learn a cant as quickly as
their elders ; and unless we can point our moral from a
historical or contemporary fact which is real to them,
they may learn the language of virtue without its

Under ordinary circumstances, the best text book that
the accomplished teacher could prescribe for

Textbooks .

his class would be one without notes. He
could then make sure of two conditions essential to a
rapid first-hand knowledge of the book studied : that the

Literature and Formal Linguistic Study 189

book itself would be read, and that he could securely
direct the attention of his class to the points which they
ought to notice, undistracted by learned notes on matters
of little relative importance. If notes must be used (and
it is to be feared that most teachers are too diffident
and some too incompetent to dispense with them), then
the briefest are the best ; and, of these, those that tell
students where they can get information if they want it.
" Introductions " and notes alike should be read after the
book has been once publicly read and discussed on
general or aesthetic grounds ; its general meaning, its
various parts, its arguments, its characters, and so on.
Then, having so comprehended it, let the class take the
parts themselves to pieces, and set about mastering the
text and all the lore which their examiners are likely to
look for. The process, mutatis mutandis, is the same in
all stages ; first the general idea, then the parts, then the
exegetic details. But always, where our class is likely
to profit by it, let us use the text for lessons in rhetoric
and " composition," graduated, of course, according to the
capacity of the class.

The school library will vary in constitution according
as we are providing for pupils found in the The school
primary grades or other grades above them ; library
but one principle may be laid down for all they should
be a little way beyond the strict standard of school. A
library that is made up of books just on the level of those
who have to use them will fail in one of its chief pur-
poses, the suggestion of a field of attraction beyond the
customary commonplace. Thus, if your library contains
novels and romahces, as it should, they should be
specially selected so as not to represent the sort of
literature that boys and girls find most commonly ready
to their hands in the periodical literature which is easiest

190 Common Sense in Education

of access. This principle goes farther than we suspect.
It is from the reading book that is just a little hard for
him that the primary scholar learns most. If you write
down exactly to his level, you deprive him of the
advantages which the children of another rank get by
wholesome " browsing/' which is profitable to them
exactly because much of it is beyond them.

In the primary school, however, teachers have to
consider as paramount the necessity for cultivating in
their pupils a taste for any sort of reading at all, a
problem of much less consequence in the secondary
grade speaking, of course, generally. In the primary
school, therefore, the library must be mainly books of
the more obviously interesting kind, story books. All
boys may be got to love Scott, Stevenson, Blackmore,
some Marryat, Besant, Dickens, some Fenimore Cooper,
some Mayne Reid, Charles Kingsley, and Tom Hughes,
some Haggard, and with a little encouragement even
Thackeray. This encouragement of book-reading is
the most important service performed by the library of
the primary school, where the traditions and methods
so often keep the children from first-hand acquaintance
with real literature. But even the primary school should
have its real if modest supply of books of reference,
dictionaries of various sorts, larger manuals of history
and geography, and natural history, geology, physics,
chemistry and the rest, to which pupils should be referred
occasionally for information and which they should be
warmly encouraged to use. One type of a bad school-
book is a book that explains everything.

In the secondary schools the implanting of a taste for
reading is of less pressing importance because their
pupils will be more likely to get the books and the
opportunity for reading in their own homes. The point

Literature and Formal Linguistic Study 191

to be secured here, in stocking the library with the
lighter prose literature, is the inclusion of nothing but
the best, and the choice should be determined either
iby a specially qualified member of the school staff or
a vigilant committee. You would not include all the
novels of all the authors just mentioned, and you would
add a hundred names here omitted.

Secondary schools, according to their grade and re-
spective resources, should consider a library as an indis-
Densable part of their equipment. Circumstances must
determine whether the school requires a copious supply
of novels and romances in its lending-library, but there
can be no doubt that as many of the best and latest
Dooks as possible, of real authority, should be placed
landily for general use. Even if the collection must
needs be a very limited one, such a stock may well be
expected to make the ordinary work of the school more
real by connecting it with the great w r ork done elsewhere,
to light here and there the sacred flame of original
individual interest, and cultivate a taste for sober reading.
The library, indeed, takes up the teacher's task at the
point where the teacher must needs leave it, where the
pupil is left to himself to make his own investigations
and face his own difficulties. It stands midway between
the intellectual training which the school undertakes to
give, and the merciless experience which a man has to
look for when he gets into the world where there is no
help or guidance.

Formal Grammar has sometimes occupied far too large^X,
a space in school teaching. It has been a Formal
singularly arid study, perhaps largely because Grammar
it has been the stronghold of the vicious old method of
"teaching rules," the abstract and general before the
concrete and particular. It may be safely affirmed that

192 Common Sense in Education

unless in the study of grammar language is treated lik
other material about which we ascertain laws (that i
rules, generalisations) by induction, then it fails to hav
its due effect either as a gymnastic or as an art Forme
Grammar is an investigation of the usages of language
of the laws or rules followed in combining words int
sentences. It does not teach us how to speak, but it ma
tell us how to avoid formal errors in speech by analysin
for us correct and incorrect schemes of speech, eithe
word for word, or clause for clause. Its purpose as
science is to discover the rules determining the order c
words meant barely to convey information : its purpos
as an art is simple propriety, that is, the prevention c
incorrect ordering of speech ; its purpose is not " com
position " ; not clearness, nor force, nor elegance thes
belong to rhetoric.

We could, indeed, teach the body of formal Englisl
grammar to English pupils at a very early stage, for th
" rules " discoverable are few. A fairly intelligent clas
averaging eight or even seven years of age, by the use o
such inductive methods as those set forth in Abbott's Hoz
to Tell the Parts of Speech, or in Fitch, chapter ix., shoulc
easily learn how to tell the parts of speech and to pars<
sentences in the course of a year's work. No books anc
no "exercises" are needed if the black-board is usec
faithfully. There should certainly be no formulation o
rules or definitions followed by " examples ". If pupils cai
be got to generalise by themselves from the example
which you present to them, they learn a good deal mod
than formal grammar. To be sure, we must suppb
them with names for the families of words that they dis
cover, but we must not begin by naming or defining fo
them. In this way, the grammar lesson, so dull anc
tiresome to most children, may bring with it all th

Literature and Formal Linguistic Study 193

delights of scientific discovery, for speech is, after all, not
less interesting as material for investigation than flowers
or chemical compounds ; and the material and apparatus
is a good deal cheaper than those needed in the study
of botany or chemistry.

But formal grammar and grammatical analysis, as
regular parts of the curriculum, can and should be
dropped, for every pupil, at the stage at which a formal
study of the grammar of a classical or modern language
is begun. It would seem desirable to get the formal
grammar over early rather than late, because it is quite
easy if taught inductively, it is exceedingly interesting,
even to the child of seven or eight, if so taught, and the
classification of words according to their function is both
a fine gymnastic in itself and one of the best means of
teaching young pupils the meaning of scientific classifica-
tion in general. The American Committee of Ten would
postpone grammar teaching of this sort until the twelfth
year, but for the reasons here assigned, this would seem
to be undesirable. Of course, all through the study of
books, appeals must be made again and again to formal
grammar for elucidation and comprehension of passages
otherwise obscure ; but it should never be forgotten that
people can and do learn to speak and write good English
with little or no aid from this study ; and it is certain that
some of the writers of the noblest English could not parse
or analyse as well as most children in the sixth standard
of a public elementary school.

For pupils who are to learn Latin, procedure will differ
from that followed in the case of those whose analysis
of grammatical form is likely to be confined to modern
languages. In the case of the former, conjugations and
their nomenclature are of much less importance, and
formal grammatical analysis may be safely reduced to a


194 Common Sense in Education

minimum. On the other hand the simple analysis of an
English sentence is undoubtedly not without use as pre-
paration for the disentanglement of a Greek or Latin
complex sentence. For instance, the pupil who has
learnt the secret of the Noun-Sentence in English will
be less puzzled at the behaviour of " Accusative and
Infinitive " construction in Latin ; and the early habit of
analysis will certainly make anacoloutha less distressing
experiences than they would otherwise be.

But as soon as possible this exercise of grammatical
analysis might with the greatest profit make way for
logical analysis and the elements of formal logic, if only
because the study of formal logic helps us not merely to
speak with propriety, but to draw inferences justified by
what has gone before.

Something must be wrong if it is true (and it
probably is true) that thousands of the children in
our schools can " analyse " admirably in the grammatical
sense, but cannot construct a single periodic sentence
correctly or detect a simple fallacy in argument. Gram-
matical analysis is an excellent tonic and test a tonic if
it teaches the pupil to avoid an unnecessarily complicated
style, and an excellent test of simple accuracy where a
construction appears to be involved and obscure. But
to become a permanent or even prolonged part of a
school scheme, a study should lead somewhere. If
grammatical analysis is given too large a place, to the
exclusion of a more copious practice of synthesis or
" composition/' it does more harm than good, for it seems
to become an end in itself and a meaningless gymnastic.

For reference : Laurie's Lectures on Language and Linguistic
Method. Whitney's Language and the Study of Language. Glaze-
brook in XIII. Essays (Percival). H. Courthope Bowen On

Literature and Formal Linguistic Study 195

Teaching English. Abbott's Teaching of the English Language.
Gow's Method of English. Messrs. Barnett and Martin in Teaching
and Organisation. The Report of the (U.S.) Committee of Ten.
Harris in Report of (U.S.) Committee of Fifteen. Miss Lumby in
Work and Play in Girls' Schools. Messrs. Beeching and Allcock
in Essays on Secondary Education.




A soldier's work lasts for an age, a scholar's for ever.


OF all the branches of study pursued in school, Latin
Theanti- anc ^ Greek have left their marks deepest on
quityofthe the character of English education. They
study of the have not so long a past as some other
classics subjects, considered as a part of general

European education. To Plato the beginning of all
wisdom was geometry ; and the contemporaries of Plato
felt themselves under no obligation to learn foreign
tongues, or to do more than master their own tradi-
tional literature and acquire the art of talking. But
Greece in captivity conquered and civilised her captor
Rome, and a century after the defeat of Philip V. of
Macedon every Roman gentleman learned Greek as a
matter of course. In the time of Cicero Greek was
much more to the Roman man of affairs than even
French is to us ; more truly speaking it occupied the
position taken by French in relation to Scotland oi
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. But with the
rise and development of the Christian Church in the
West, Greek, oddly enough, had to give way to Latin,
The earlier Christian writings and controversies had, oij
course, turned on Greek writings and the interpretation

Latin and Greek 197

of Greek texts and doctrines formulated in Greek ; but
the separation of the Eastern empire from the empire of
the West, the ultimate separation of the Church towards
the end of the fifth century into two distinct sides, one
| with its centre at Constantinople and the other at Rome,
naturally promoted the use and growth of Latin in the
West at the expense of Greek.

Christianity and empire together being once established
in Rome, Latin there became the chief Ian- The triumph
guage of controversy, of exposition, of prayer, of Latin
as it had so long been of business. It is worth while to
remember that the first book ever printed long after-
wards to be sure was the Vulgate, the Latin version
of the Scriptures made at the end of the fourth century
by St. Jerome.

Now the Church was the one society in the welter of
West Goths, Franks, and Burgundians, which preserved
the tradition of a great common central organisation,
whether it was protected by a Catholic like Clovis in
Gaul, or an Arian like Theodoric in Italy ; and with its
common tradition it conserved also the literature, forms,
and formulas of Roman origin. It is true that when
Romans combined with those whom they found in pos-
session to form the " Romance" nations, new languages
ultimately sprang up in common use which were neither
Roman nor native, but something made up of both
elements. On the other hand the teeming Goths and
other Teutons were captured spiritually and morally by
the Romans who came under their nominal sway. These
Romans long kept their own language and their own
laws, the clergy being necessarily Roman because the
Romans had more learning and a longer tradition at
their backs. And in the midst of the vulgarising of the
older Latin into the later Romance spoken dialects, the

198 Common Sense in Education

clergy and other men of learning preserved good Latin
for general literary purposes, just as to this day literary
Arabic and spoken Arabic differ from each other. Now
Christianity being based on a historic tradition and its
western centre being Rome, it is obvious that the clergy
would scrupulously preserve the Latin of the early
organised Church in their religious services as in their
religious literature ; and the tradition abides with us
to-day. The central and most significant of all Roman
Catholic religious ceremonies must still, the whole world
over, be performed in Latin.

Latin then was first established as the language of
learning generally, being of course incomparably more
fixed, polished, and stately than the unstable dialects of
the Teutons ; and secondly it remained the language of
the Church because the Church was Roman. These two
influences maintained it for literary, political, and ecclesi-
astical purposes in every part of Europe, even so late as
the days of the English Commonwealth ; for every school-
boy knows that Milton was Cromwell's Latin secretary.
Latin was the current language of the universities and
of the schools, for both universities and schools were for
centuries mainly great theological establishments and
nurseries of theologians. Books that were meant to live
were almost invariably written in Latin ; and as late as
the time of Bacon, Latin still occupied so commanding a
place as the repository and instrument of learning that the
great philosopher hastened to get what he regarded as his
greatest work translated into Latin, so that his contribu-
tions to philosophy might not share the decay and ob-
livion which he was convinced were to be the fate of books
written in more modern tongues. It is true that some
history and some poetry of first-class importance and
destined to a long life, were in later medieval times written

Latin and Greek 199

in English and in French, but the traditions of learning and
the long supremacy of the Latin Church still maintained
the language of ancient Rome in a commanding position.

Greek in the meantime was almost forgotten. Greek
scholars were rarer and rarer until the fall Therevival
of Constantinople and the break-up of the last O f Greek and
vestiges of the Eastern Christian empire scat- its stimulus
tered learned Greeks over Europe and stimu- to the study
lated a study of their language amongst the
Rome-shadowed nations of the West. The Greek tongue
could never, of course, displace the long-established Latin ;
and it actually gave the Latin more importance, because it
set people comparing the Roman authors and authorities
with the Greeks from whom they traced much of their
origin, material or spiritual. Greek was taught with Latin
in most of the universities of Europe, and acted as a
powerful solvent in modifying and stimulating to effectual
ends the opinions of religious controversialists.

But the world was long unable to emancipate its
literary instincts from the influence of the Latin tradition.
The supreme greatness of the Greek literature was, in
any general sense, the discovery of the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. The restrained, often imitative,
and even somewhat narrow Roman literature was much
more to the taste of our forefathers than the bolder and
more spontaneous writings of the Greeks.

On the other hand, the place occupied by Latin, and
assured to it by immense achievements as the language
of the people of the greatest administrative capacity
known to the world, is almost in itself sufficient justi-
fication for the preference accorded to it as a subject
of study. Knowledge of Roman history and affairs of
Roman personages and statesmen had been continuous
and was on continuous record. There had hardly been a

2OO Common Sense in Education

break, too, in the continuity of Latin literature, either as
poetry or philosophy. So Latin maintained itself in the
schools, and gave only a grudging place to Greek right up
to the beginning of this century, when a sounder literary
instinct and revolt against the medieval tradition raised
the estimation of Greek literature to the higher place that
it properly occupies. But though people were not unwill-
ing to admit the literary and philosophical superiority of
Greek, Latin still remained the more important school
study. Let us see why.

First of all consider its established place as a school
Latin the subject. It had never left the schools. The
more im- " grammar " schools were the schools where
portant for Latin was taught. Text books, such as they
were, were Latin, and the Latin grammar
written in Latin survived to our own day. In the
next place, consider its position, already noted, as the

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Online LibraryPercy Arthur BarnettCommon sense in education and teaching; an introduction to practice → online text (page 15 of 25)