« 前へ次へ »
deep obligations. Here, as always, the highest morality is the best policy. 'Justice works out its own expediency,' to use the expressive phrase of the greatest of living poets. Most essential interests of society are involved in a due appreciation of the office of the educator ;' and doubtless before that office can receive its proper estimation, the real importance of its duties must be thoroughly and sincerely felt. We think the discussion of the subject is one most efficient means of producing this result, and therefore cheerfully devote a few of our pages to an examination of it.
The prize essayist, Mr. Lalor, has eloquently and justly described the present position of the class of schoolmasters.
* The bulk of professional instructers are persons to whom education, as a business of life, is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. By very few is it adopted with free will and deliberation, as the mode of exertion best fitted to their characters and most conducive to their happiness. On the contrary, it is the general, but last resource of those who, having received some degree of education, find every other avenue to livelihood shut up. It is taken up with reluctance, and often with struggles of mortified pride, but generally in a state of mind the most unfavorable for its successful prosecution. With numbers, perhaps with most, it is meant to be a temporary resource which they hope will lead to something better. With such, it is a mechanical routine often gone through when the thoughts are far away. Their meditations, their hours of freedom, are spent in a brighter world. Their business receives little of their energy, none of their affections. It is a drudgery needful for the supply of food ; an intellectual treadmill to which they are condemned for a season, and from which they are to escape to life, and liberty, and happiness. These bright hopes are often, most often, disappointed. No hour of deliverance arrives. The spirit may long to try its pinions in the free unbounded space, within the range of vision ; but inexorable necessity, the necessity of to-day's and to-morrow's bread, wills not. It may beat the bars of ils cage until its plumage is stained with its heart's blood ; its wasted strength must fall back into its prison. Year after year, hope struggles with disappointment; it flashes fitfully before the aching eye and sickening heart, until it goes out in despair. In the beginning of its course, the energy of such a mind was called elsewhere ; in the end, energy is gone, extinguished, with hope. Young beings entrusted to its charge, have grown up unregulated, and have ripened into maturity under their own wild impulses. The education is doubly unfortunate : it has cost the happiness of the instructer—its effects will be scarcely less disastrously felt in the future career of the children.
• Others of the class of teachers by necessity, having less keen susceptibilities or more good sense, adapt themselves resignedly to their inevitable lot. They plod on quietly in the beaten track, performing the duties which custom has established with a respectable diligence. They have little pleasure in teaching, and no love for it. They have perhaps, no enthusiasm for any thing, but least of all for their daily task-work. It is drudgery-sheer drudgery—but in this hard world every one must drudge ; and they are not much worse off than their neighbours. Even the lowest standard of education cannot be realized by such instructers. The merest intellectual culture cannot take place without thought. Mechanical routine will teach nothing but routine. Thought alone can ercite and develope thought. But far less can moral education be accomplished. The highest work of man—to enlighten his brother man and to elevate his moral being-must hare the mind's entire force of thought and passion concentrated upon it.'
This striking picture is, alas ! too true; and therefore the result is as Mr. Lalor justly says, that education fails—miserably fails, ‘it brings no germ of intellectual or moral greatness to maturity,
and for this all-sufficient reason, that those to whom its business ‘is entrusted are incompetent to the task : to the most arduous duties they bring the least qualifications. The highest interests are intrusted to the meanest hands. Society tolerates an unfitness in those who profess to form its young minds, which it would not endure in the lowest menial offices that minister to its material interest or enjoyment.'--p. 66.
We feel that the experience of all our readers must at once recognize the truth of these positions, and shall not stay to enforce them. We must assume the existence of the crying evil; and the important and interesting question arises - How is it to be remedied?
Various useful suggestions are thrown out by the different essayists, a perusal of whose compositions we earnestly recommend. They all agree in assigning as the main cause of the low position occupied by the educator in public estimation, the really unsatisfactory character of the education at present given to the wealthy classes of society, and enforce with great power, though in different modes, the paramount importance of impressing a completely new character on our system of education itself, so as to make it produce fruits that shall be at once felt to be of inestimable value, and which shall consequently confer on those who cultivate them a position of honour. Å favorite object with all the essayists is the establishment of some description of corporate body of teachers, although they seem to differ in the details of the institution. Another subject of considerable importance into which they enter is the propriety of licensing schoolmasters. We confess we feel inclined to concur in the valuable suggestion of the Rev. Edward Higginson, that it should be open to all teachers to obtain a diploma or certificate of their skill' in the didactic art, but that no exclusive legal privilege should attach to any such certificate. Such a monopoly,' he says, "would justly be condemned, as not only oppressive to other teachers, but also as
tending, according to the general spirit of monopolies, to render the privileged teachers indifferent to their own sufficient qualifi“cations, and supine in their work. Let competition be therefore still left free; and if it be found that the teachers sent forth from our institutes are qualified in a superior degree for their office, the institutes will deservedly be frequented more and more, and their certificates may be trusted as a better guide to the choice of instructers, than the casual opinions of friends and neighbours.' -p. 307. He therefore proposes to rely on the moral effect, and that alone, of the certificate of skill. Of course, all the essayists propose a normal school, or establishment for training of teachers. It has not been yet sufficiently understood that teaching is itself an art which requires peculiar skill and protracted study. The common opinion of society has been and is, that the greatest proficient in any department of knowledge must be necessarily the best teacher of that department. But this is one of the many vital mistakes which at present pervade society upon education, The didactic art, or art of communicating knowledge, is itself a peculiar one, and demands qualifications entirely independent of the extent of information. "It frequently happens that a man with less information than another on any given subject is a much better teacher, from his superior sympathy with his pupils and greater moral power. Differing, therefore, as they do in details, all the essayists concur in recommending the foundation of some description of normal school, where the
didactic art itself may be taught. Our limits prevent our going into detail on this subject. We must, therefore, content ourselves with earnestly directing the attention of our readers to it, and shall conclude by one or two extracts illustrative of the views of the writer before us.
Mr. Lalor thus concludes his excellent essay.
• It appears, further, that the inefficient state of the educational profession is mainly caused by the low position which it holds in public estimation; and that a change of opinion with regard to it would soon create a supply of appropriate skill and energy.
• It also appears in the highest degree probable that the desired change in public opinion is destined to come to pass. For, as the other professions have successively risen in estimation in proportion as their influence on the happiness of society has been felt, education, when its capacities are developed, must rise also. Whatever adds to the power which the educator wields over the well-being of his fellow men, raises him in their estimation : and if we can communicate force of character and professional aptitude to a few, we may, by the attention and respect they command, induce many to direct their zeal and talents to this despised but noble occupation. We can do this by establishing institutions for the scientific training of educators, which shall send out a small number devoted to their profession, with much positive skill in it, and with a great capacity for increasing that skill, from having distinct views of the objects to be aimed at, and of the methods of investigation by which the art can be carried forward. Further, the establishment of a system of national education would tend to the elevation of education and its professors, and to the growth of a numerous body of effective teachers, by holding out to men regu. larly qualified the prospect of a moderate independence; by investing the place of schoolmaster with the dignity of an established institution; by opening a field for honorable ambition through a system of promotions ; by introducing the principle of associations among teachers, for mutual instruction and assistance; by the large improvement which the changes thus brought about must stimulate in private teachers; and, lastly, by the general intelligence which the discussions arising from so great an educational movement must spread among the community.'--p. 129.
The essay by the Rev. Edward Higginson is distinguished by excellent sense, and is written in a style of remarkable perspicuity. We select a passage (by no means the most striking) which concisely gives his views on this subject.
• The chief means, then, of elevating the profession of the educator in general esteem, must be the ordinary means of appeal to the minds and hearts of men. We must act upon the generally prevailing notions and feelings respecting education, by those slow yet sure appeals both to argument and to experience, which become, in the course of time, the means of establishing great truths and effecting great social improvements. All moral effects must be promoted by moral agencies. The great living heart of society can only be moved by living influences. Law, enjoining a conviction or a feeling in favor of education, would be a dead letter. The living spirit would be the cordial assent of society welcoming the educational law when given, or a strong and earnest feeling of society calling forth the law into existence.
• The formation of teachers' institutes would, it is to be expected, contribute greatly towards raising the general estimation of education. They would not only train teachers for the coinmunity, but in some measure train the community to a right estimation of teachers. By putting advantages within easy access, people are taught to desire and aim at that which they might otherwise not have striven to attain, through ignorance of its value or distrust of its possibility. The supply may, to a certain extent, stimulate the demand, as well as the demand call forth the supply ; but other things must concur to make that demand effective ; and institutes, such as we have described, might be formed in vain, unless there is a probability of bringing the public mind into a condition to appreciate them when formed. To raise the standard of educational taste, then, is the main object to be pursued, whether by the formation of new educational agencies, or by other means of acting upon the public mind. This alone will reach the root of the matter.'-p. 308.
This essay is followed by one from the pen of James Simpson, Esq., an advocate at Edinburgh, and the author of several popular works connected with education. He adopts as his motto the expressive words Video Meliora,' and the whole of his paper is distinguished by warm and sanguine anticipations of glorious results, if the system of education prevalent through this country, possessed more of a religious and moral than of an intellectual character, based upon principles of affection. In the following indignant passage, Mr. Simpson eloquently asserts the claims of the educator to emolument and honor.
• The value in the incalculable improvement of the social state which, in all the relations of life, domestic and public, all would experience and acknowledge,--in the relations of parent and child, brother and sister, husband and wife, governor and governed, man and man,-in the happier face of society, the greater safety and comfort of existence, all of which would be the fruits of a sound education extended to the entire people, -the triumphant answer to those who ask what is education to them'-such value we repeat warrants us in placing those who deal in it, in the high places of society; and while we never deny to our agricultural produce, our raw materials, and our manufactured goods, the full value which they are calculated to add to human happiness, is it not a proof, and a strong proof, of the want of sound education in ourselves, to deny to a species of value which transcends them all in itself, and tends demonstrably to increase those very valu. able productions themselves, its well-earned return in the liberal endowment of that most valuable of functionaries, the educator? We claim for him, then, a fair share of that worldly wealth of which so disproportionate a part goes, and that without a grudge, as if it were the necessary course of things, into the coffers of the noble and the landed gentlemen, who make no return; of the physician and the lawyer, who sell us their advice; nay of the manufacturer, the merchant, and the banker, who produce and distribute the means of our material accommodations, and tell out its metallic sign, or its paper representative ; for we do not anticipate contradiction, from those sufficiently informed at least, when we say that the educator offers us a value for our money which transcends all these put together. Away, then, with that miserable, grudging, niggard heart, which ignorance and prejudice has shut against society's truest and best benefactor, the schoolmaster ! Away with all the associations which sink him below the grade of the handicrafts, and starve him, while we are enriched by him! Let us reward the educator, as he ought in character to be, fully up to his real intrinsic value, and we shall soon find that we are in little danger of overdoing our duty:'-p. 420.