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conditions, at the end of the fourteenth year, and a cur-
riculum so much abbreviated must needs lack much of the
general training which helps the better-prepared pupil
to find out for himself what it concerns him to know in
regard to civic and national administration. Something
must therefore be done to teach the half-educated little
citizen what a vote is, what its value may be, the delimi-
tations of the various bodies for which votes are cast, and,
above all things, the necessity in a civilised community
for ordination and subordination. A boy of fourteen
may easily be got to understand the purpose of the

268 Common Sense in Education

common forms of public organisations in securing protec
tion from external enemies and from internal disorder
The constitution of the navy and army, parliament, law
the policeman, and the rest, may be explained roughly
in the primary school. It is quite worth while, even a:
early as this, to enlist the sympathies of the young 01
the right side, of which they must be got to conside
themselves a part, with " a stake in the country ". It
this grade, the evening school should deal with the mor<
elaborate and complicated organisation of purely loca
institutions, and to some extent with the elements o
municipal and national economy. Such matters as thes<
should certainly be treated in the secondary school, bu
there hardly seems any pressing reason for isolating
them as we are bound to do for scholars of the priman
schools. The history lesson should offer sufficient op
portunity to the dexterous teacher for little excursuse
into civic and economic subjects, but government as ;
system of duties and rights dependent on large question
of political evolution and economy is a special and tech
nical study, and the appropriate province of the Schoo
of Economics.

A word must be said about the historical novel. I
is true that it is often inaccurate, often wildly wrong
both in atmosphere and detail. The " Wardour-Street '
romance is of little value to any one. But if we choos<
well, the harm done is insignificant in comparison wit]
the immense gain in forcing conviction on the ordinar;
unscientific reader. Thackeray, Sir Walter Scott, Si
Walter Besant, Richard Blackmore, and many other
have made dry bones live and planted a taste for histor
which more accurate information would not easily hav

I began with a few lines from Charles Kingsley. I wil

Geography and History 269

md with a quotation from his great adversary, Newman,
rle says of Scott : " The general need of something deeper
md more attractive than what had offered itself elsewhere
nay be considered to have led to his popularity, and by
neans of his popularity he reacted on his readers, stimu-
ating their mental thirst, feeding their hopes, setting
Before them visions, which, once seen, are not easily for-
otten ; silently indoctrinating them with nobler ideas
vhich might afterwards be appealed to as first principles".

For reference : Chapters in Teaching and Organisation by
Withers, Somervell, and Gonner. Freeman's Methods of Histori-
*al Study. Report to (U.S.) Committee of Ten (Washington, 1893).
riarris in Report of the Committee of Fifteen (U.S.). Mary Sheldon
Barnes' Studies in Historical Method. Mackinder on the " Scope and
Methods of Geography" in the Proceedings of the Royal Geographi-
al Society, March, 1887. The same writer's Notes on Physical
jeography, and Address delivered in 1895 to the" Geographical
section of the British Association. Miss Reid in Work and Play
n Girls' Schools. H. Yule Oldham in Aims and Practice of Teach-
'ng. Parker's How to Study Geography.




We, look you, boast ourselves to be far better than our fathers.

Homer's Odyssey.

THE history of education is the history of civilisation.
History of The ideals of a nation, the things that it hopes
Education is for and strives for, are the measures of its pro-
a History of gress. If its ideals are mean or selfish, gross
or pettifogging, we may expect to find either
that it is at a low stage or that its development has
been arrested. Education is an unerring register of the
ideals which a community pursues ; for the systems and
methods adopted in the upbringing of youth record the
things which are understood to determine the future
prosperity of the race and the means by which these
things are to be secured. If people teach their children
this or that, it is because they believe that this or that
will vitally affect their children's future ; if this or that is
omitted, it is omitted either because it is understood to
affect the future very little or not at all, or else because
some other thing is of greater importance. The subjects
of instruction indicate the points upon which the com-
munity is prepared to stake its future existence and
welfare. In a military age or society, the predominant
place will be taken by military arts, because the general
sense of the most powerful part of the community tends
to the belief that excellence in warfare will be most nec-
essary for its continued life. If the basis of society is theo-

Warnings from History 271

:ratic or deeply religious, using the term in its conventional
sense, theological studies will have greatest weight. If
:he ideal of the community is the copious production and
aasy distribution of wealth, the result is felt immediately
;>n the subjects prescribed for the training of youth.

In the same way the bias of individuals betrays itself
n their ideal of education. Enthusiasts for cookery
reaching, for drawing, domestic economy, chemistry,
laundry-work, sewing, may all (or none) be right ; but
[n each several case their emphatic recommendation of
a particular study shows that, for good reason or bad,
dtiey think that these things matter supremely for the
future of the community ; or, as I should prefer to say,

"or the conservation of the essential parts of the existing
iramework of society.

Systems of education are, of course, at once both cause
.nd effect of political and social ideals, a systems of
double character which deserves careful at- Education as
ention. They are almost always determined causes and
n the main by a deep-seated instinct to with- (
itand change, and they testify to the feeling, not by any
neans necessarily selfish, that, on the whole, whatever is,
s best. They are thus, on the one hand, produced by
existing institutions, which are the corporate expression
)f ideals ; and, on the other, their first business is the
ilial duty of protecting and perpetuating the institutions
:o which they owe their existence, by promoting the
deals from which they spring. This principle of con-
inuity is, indeed, a great social safeguard. Condemnation
)f an institution, ecclesiastical or social or political, on the
ground that it goes great lengths in order to maintain its
nfluence and identity by monopolising as far as it can
:he instruments of education, is cheap and easy ; but its
efforts to this end are really both a measure of its belief

272 Common Sense in Education

in itself and a salutary guarantee that social development
or evolution will not be violent.

Indeed, we shall do well to apply these same considera-
tions to all earnest conflicts for the possession

Conflicts for .

possession of * e schools. One of the most convincing

the schools a proofs of the vitality of our own municipal

proof of or local and religious or ecclesiastical institu-

vigour m m- ^-j ons? j s the keenness of the struggle in what

stitutions . , , A . , ,. A . XT r

is known as educational politics. JNo one of
the bodies thus striving for local or national predominance
could give a surer sign of vigorous life than its desire to
perpetuate its ideas in education. Each one believes it
knows best what is of most enduring value to coming
generations, and is prepared to put its heaviest stake,
its own future, on the result of its propaganda. Though
there is no necessary conscious selfishness about these
strivings, it must be pretty clear that no institution
would propagate ideas which it felt to be destructive of
itself. And we may go farther and venture to say that
no institution would spend its energies on propagating
ideas which were not likely to conduce to its own per-
sistence and well-being.

A study of the history of education, then, will materially
help the teacher to understand the purposes
and results of many historical movements which

movements J

throw light might otherwise be obscure. The place of
on general Latin, for instance, in the curriculum of Europe,
History, and as explained in chapter viii. of this book, isj

are^explained & kind Qf epitome Q f Qne side Q f the political,

social, and religious history of Western civili-
sation. Thus also a true appreciation of the place of
applied science in the curricula of our own day explains,
and is in turn explained by, the very complicated social
and religious conditions that obtain amongst us nov


Warnings from History 273

And it is clearly the teacher's business to know for
what reasons and to what ends his course is laid out for
him ; the better he understands what is behind and what
is before him, the better will he be able to shape his

It would, for the rest, be absurd to ignore the history
of education, because at least the more obvious r

9 The history

faults of our forefathers supply us with abun- O f education
dance of object-lessons. There are certain recordswarn-
errors which betray themselves on " inspec- in s s for
tion," for deplorable results must have had educators
similar causes to deplore ; and though the more philo-
sophical and ultimately more satisfactory explanations
may be supplied by psychology, we may be amply
justified in attributing certain facts to certain antecedents
if our own daily experience gives confirmation. There
is a good deal of philosophy in the theories held by the
man in the street. In education, as in morals, the daily
common sense of mankind has constructed, roughly but
effectually, well-understood operative maxims or prin-
ciples, which have been worked out in practice and are
sufficiently illustrated in the history of individuals and
of the race. And it is quite possible to look at our
records and to draw directly from them warnings and
encouragement for ourselves. Some actions which we
have generally agreed to call immoral have demonstrably
bad effects ; we do not therefore wait, before condemn-
ing them, to propound a full-grown theory of ethics.
Nor need we practise a corresponding economy in

The development of education has been twofold : in
organisation, both social, religious, and political ; and in
the procedure used for the discipline of character and the
discipline of the intelligence. It is true that the one side


274 Common Sense in Education

of the development is inextricably interwoven with the
other, and one will condition the other ; but,

The twofold

development generally speaking, the organisation or frame-
ofEducation: work of education has been determined by the
in Aim, and national or communal aim, while the methods
m Methods Q f t ra j nm g anc | instructing have dependec
more directly on current theories of psychology, forma
or implicit. Errors in both kinds show themselves in
unsatisfactory results, but organisation covers a larger
ground and is influenced more directly by common
opinion, social or political or religious ; the details o
training and instruction are more generally left to the
expert, the teacher. The first kind of error tends tc
disappear with more liberal conceptions of social duties
and individual rights ; the second kind, errors of method
reappear with every new teacher.

In this chapter attention will be directed mainly tc
errors of aim as expressed in organisation and demon-
strated by results in history ; errors of method have been
more properly treated elsewhere, and particularly in the
chapters dealing with Discipline. Most of these errors
of aim have their counterparts in modern life, even ii
they do not always present themselves in their. ancient

It is reasonable to suppose that with our remote
ancestors, as with ourselves, the first teachers

The primi- . .

tive aim and were tne P arent s ; it is equally probable that
organisation then, as now, they used the most sagacious
of education, " Kindergarten " methods, the methods sug-
in the family, g estec j b y parental instinct to the mothers o:
most animals, until the pressure of circum-
stances and the need for organisation cut their patienc
short and set them theorising, as rule-of-thumb peof
will, and sometimes, after the manner of those sar

Warnings from History 275

taking short cuts that save no time. The primitive
aim, the aim of the isolated mother or father, is the best
of all aims : the good of the individual children ; and if
there were nothing in the world but parents and children,
organisation would be perfect because perfectly simple.

But as soon as education in the family comes to be
organised in relation to other families, per- Socia i com .
haps the first thing that strikes us is the plications
mysteriousness and exclusiveness that goes and exciu-
with learning. This is, after all, not surprising. slveness
It has always been considered a duty to keep up family
tradition ; but the ancient family tradition appears gen-
erally to have been, as it was undoubtedly amongst our
predecessors in civilisation, the Latins and Greeks, a
tradition of common ancestor-worship, with which were
associated set ceremonies and formulas communicated
only to members of the same gens or sept. The man
who knew what was the right thing to say or to do at
a given ceremonial crisis was the " man of family" ; and t
this is the origin of our own notion of gentle-hood. A
nobler individualism has transmuted this notion, and we
are more generally inclined now-a-days to give the title of
gentleman to any man who bears himself seemly under
any circumstances.

But before we arrived at this stage, even yet not uni-
versal, learning has constantly presented itself Learning as
as the exclusive privilege of a class ; this or a class mys-
that corporation or caste has preserved its ter ^
secrets jealously not merely because the possession of
them conferred distinction, but also because they were
profitable. The priests of ancient Egypt were not merely
the custodians of the temples, but the politicians and
professional men of their day, as befitted members of the
highest caste ; they even had their own cryptic kind of

276 Common Sense in Education

writing. (It is curious, by the way, to notice how in
Egypt whole races have until yesterday still monopolised
certain functions. Even now, the accountants and clerks
in the service of Government are almost all Copts, and
to Copts the like duties have been assigned from time

The caste system of Brahmanic India survives in great
strength, though of course necessarily modified by civilis-
ing agencies tending to break it up. And the whole of
it has tended to the elevation of the highest or Brah-
manical caste above the rest. But even India is a poor
example of the strength of the learned tradition when
compared with China ; for China, not split up into castes,;
yet distributes its highest posts as the direct reward of
mere learning, which is, in the main, interpreted as a
thorough knowledge of prescribed ceremonies, and is, in
fact, confined to a comparatively small class. It is to
be remembered that China is in our own day the very
sanctuary of ancestor-worship.

Learning is, to be sure, not education ; but it will be
The Arts foi- found that the institutions which confine the
low Learning most valuable gifts of tradition to an exclusive
class limit in the same area the practice of those arts
which are felt to refine and civilise. The Persians did
not teach their slaves to ride and to shoot, nor did they
expect them to speak the truth. Amongst ourselves, at
the time when book-learning was regarded as a privilege
of the " upper classes," it would have seemed to be mere
midsummer madness to teach drawing to the " lowei
classes " nor indeed was this done until it was showr
that drawing had an industrial value which could be
expressed in terms of profit to employers.

Exclusiveness is demonstrably most pernicious whe
it is hereditary, as it seems to have been in its earlie

Warnings from History 277

stages, if, at least, we attach any importance to the testi-
mony afforded by the worship of ancestors. Theex
When, however, an exclusive profession recruits c i us i ve ness of
[itself from without, it acquires a strength in corporations
proportion to its power of attracting and assi- recruited
jmilating the choicest spirits. The Roman fromoutside
(Catholic Church of the middle ages and the Renaissance
was the only institution of first-rate importance that
| offered a career indubitably open to talent drawn from
any and every rank. And its prizes, or, at all events, its
patronage, were not confined to any one art ; it could find
room for a Fra Angelico and even for a Fra Lippo.
The Church was not a whit more selfish than the other
guilds and societies that were contemporary with its un-
questioned supremacy ; it was only more catholic.

In truth, the Church contained within itself the
sovereign antidote to the exclusiveness of The Catho-
which it seemed to be, and was, the most HcityofSemi-
striking expression; theologians may, and tlcrell s ion
do, maintain that its exclusiveness as a governing
organisation was only another side of its true univer-
sality. Its greatest gift apart from all questions as
to its claims to be the appointed custodian and channel
of divine grace was the persistent witness which it bore
to the great Jewish conception of the equality of all
souls before God, the equal worth of each individual, his
equal duties and equal rights. 1 The Church could not
give equality of opportunity ; it was not she, as a spiritual
corporation, that could, of right, raise the humble and bring
low the proud ; but every soul had an equal claim to her
sacraments and to what she regarded as the covenanted

1 " I am a Mosaic Radical," said Cardinal Manning in our own
days ; " My watchword is, For God and the People." (Purcell's

278 Common Sense in Education

means of grace. Just as the covenant of Jehovah had
been with his people Israel, with every individual of
the nation, Benjaminite no less than Levite, so it was
with every individual in the Christian Church, layman
or Pope. It is clear, then, that at times when, under
the influence of hereditary or caste claims, society was
still organised in almost impermeable strata^ the Church
preserved the characteristics of a truly democratic body
in, first, admitting all comers on their merits to its
hierarchy, and, secondly, in giving every single human
being an equal right to its ministrations and to its
promised heaven. The greatest of the Greeks never
quite shook themselves rree of the obsession produced
by what they saw in the scheme of things existing
around them ; a man to them was either a freeman or
a bondman ; he still belonged to a class. Having no
working conception of a God before whom all, great and
small, are equal, their schemes of education either provide
for the education of people in the class to which their
original birth-status has confined them, or else prescribe
a course different in every sense for persons destined by
selection to special functions. Even Plato's Socrates
provides for the education of Rulers and Soldiers alone.
There is no proof that Greeks or Romans effectually re-
cognised, except under the influence of Semitic ideas, the
spiritual equality, and therefore spiritual responsibility, and
therefore spiritual freedom, of .man. Equality, Respon-
sibility, and Freedom are three facets of the same gem.

Whether we have liberated ourselves in these days
A "liberal" ^ r m the prepossessions of caste is a question
education for which few of us could answer frankly. But
every "soul j n so f ar as we believe that every man and
to be saved" everv woman has "a soul to be saved/' we
shall be more generous in our views as to what consti-

Warnings from History 279

tutes a claim to a "liberal" education, the education
which is to teach a free being to use freedom properly.
Many a one of us may be prepared to hold, as a senti-
ment, that every individual is equal before God and
should therefore be equally precious in the eyes of his
fellows ; but the sentiment falls short of being a real
belief so long as we are not prepared to take action
upon it. Our service is lip-service, and our talk is cant.

If social and spiritual exclusiveness has proved an
obstacle to the development of the educa- Excessive
tion of man, and has sacrificed the common deference to
man and woman, an excessive deference to lradltlon
authority and tradition, especially literary tradition, has,
in its turn, done its share to contract the conception of
education where it has been undertaken. Social ex-
clusiveness confined the benefits of education, in its
liberal sense, to a few ; deference to tradition tended in
time to give these few not the best education available
but an education too exclusively dependent on written
records. This was natural enough. After all, tradition
is a pretty good practical guide to what is likely to
succeed ; at all events, it represents the wisdom of
experience. The wisdom of experience can be imposed
only as the voice of authority ; and authority, Protean
as it is, acquires most definite form in literature, whether
we call it sacred or profane.

Authority is not, as it has been called, " a necessary
evil " ; it is not necessarily an evil at all,

TT . Authority not

any more than any other power in the Uni- mere i y a
verse is an evil. Inequalities are matters of necessary
fact ; men are not born equal although they evil " but a
are, as spiritual beings, entitled to equal con- 1
sideration. If the world were a cosmos of
equal forces instead of a cosmos of forces harmonised

280 Common Sense in Education

in fluctuating equilibrium, if there were no greater and
less, no higher and lower, no commanding fathers and
obedient children, no straining natural agents harnessed
in the service of man, we should be at a standstill, cease
to exist. We can live only by the perpetual exercise of
and submission to authority. " Conscience," says J. H.
Newman, " is an authority ; the Bible is an authority ;
such is the Church ; such is Antiquity ; such are the
words of the wise ; such are hereditary lessons ; such
are ethical truths ; such are historical memories ; such
are legal saws and state maxims ; such are proverbs ;
such are sentiments, presages, and prepossessions."

The practical problem is to what kinds of authority
we should willingly submit, and how far ; the philo-
sophers and theologians are divided mainly upon this
very question.

Now, for good or evil, the authority of the book has
played an enormous part in the development

The autho-
rity of the * humankind, and notably in the history of

book and Jews, Christians, and Musalmans ; all of them,
reverence for in the language of the last, People of a Book.
its appurten- Reverence for the Bible as revelation we must
not discuss here ; but it is of great importance
to recognise that reverence for the written word as the
depository of divine truth has led, in a remarkable de-
gree, to an excessive, because exclusive, reverence for
its accompaniments, the antiquities and apparatus of
literature. The Book itself being so important, every-
thing that fixes it, illustrates it, explains it, acquires an
all but equal value. So, as a first consequence, you get
a Mishna to explain the Law and a Talmud to explain
the Mishna ; the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and eighteen
centuries of textual commentary ; the Koran and in-
numerable expositors, who count up exactly, as the

Warnings from History 281

Masoretic text of the Jewish Canon was counted, the
words and letters of which the scripture is composed.
And as a second consequence, you get an ineradicable
general reverence for mere literary form in other works,
an almost inevitable result of the additional honour with
which the one Book is invested by the labour spent
upon it.

When this reverence is extended to books not in the
canon, we are permitted to think that it has had too
large an influence on schemes of education. It has fixed

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Online LibraryPercy Arthur BarnettCommon sense in education and teaching; an introduction to practice → online text (page 21 of 25)