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pecken and steel my turn from evil speak and lawing and slanders not to civet nor desar othermans good but to lern laber trewly to git my own leaving and to do my dooty in that state if life and to each it his please to god to call men.”.
“They did promis and voal three things in my name first that I should pernounce of the devel and all his walks pumps and valities of this wicked wold and all the sinful larsts of the fesh.”
A story equally characteristic has recently appeared in the Glasgow Commonwealth. It relates that a traveller in one of the western islands of Scotland was assailed by a pert and communicative little boy, who offered to repeat to him the names of all the capitals in Europe, and who did so without error or apparent difficulty.
The traveller, being a person of inquiring mind, rather sceptical as to the value of the lad's acquirements, asked him if he knew the name of the island he lived in (Skye) ; and, to prevent any misapprehension of the question, it was repeated in Gaelic, but no name was forthcoming. He knew the name of the parish, and of almost every capital in the world, but not of the island he lived in. The traveller then ventured another question, “Now, my lad," quoth he, “you have told us the names of nearly all the capitals in the world ; is a capital a man or a beast ?" "It's a beast," said the boy, quite decisively.
" The paraphrase of the Catechism recorded by Mr Brookfield has been often quoted; but we have thought it worthy of reproduction here, if only on account of the observations which that gentleman has made concerning it. He remarks, very justly, that the error is not a mere matter of spelling, not a phonetic expression of ideas that are understood, but that it involves absolute non-apprehension of the meaning of the passages. He is startled by the discovery of this non-apprehension, and thinks it traceable to the almost obsolete language of the Catechism, while he believesin the general intelligence of the children, as shown by their power of writing what was not nonsense about certain objects. We cannot, of course, express an opinion otherwise than from the facts before us; but we are strongly tempted to believe that these objects were familiar to the children out of school, and that their knowledge of them was gained from experience rather than from teaching. We have observed similar non-apprehension, over and over again, of matters expressed in current phraseology; but school teachers and managers seldom observe it, because they seldom look deep enough. They are mostly unacquainted with the complexity and extent of sensational operations in the young; they have scarcely ever been accustomed to analyse the acts of the mind, and they think they have probed the depths of intellectual consciousness before they have even approached the surface. Working with the intelligence themselves, and feeling more or less a sense of discomfort in connexion with what is obscure, a besoin de comprendre, a necessity to puzzle, they have no experience of that tranquil resting upon remembered sensations which is, we believe, the most frequent result of their tutorial labours.
We have already referred incidentally to a learned pig, and to the parallelism between its training and some kinds of human education. Persons familiar with the tricks taught to animals are aware that these may all be described as muscular actions performed each consecutively to its proper signal. On hearing the finger nails of the master click together, the animal does something in obedience to the sensation ; nods its head, or shakes its head, or stands erect, as the case may be. It has no idea that the nod is an affirmation, or the shake a negation, and probably has no thirst for knowledge about the matter, being content to play its part correctly, and to escape the whip. In the case of children, the medium of communication is different, and the kind of response is different; but the faculty in action is commonly the same. The words of the pig's master are mere by-play, intended to amuse the audience, and the signal is convoyed by other sounds. The words of the human teacher or examiner, his questions for instance, are the signals to the child, each requiring its appropriate answer; but like the signals to the pig, they are aural sensations, capable, as such, of producing muscular action through the medium of the sensorium alone. The responses of the child are in words—that is to say, in sounds that he has been taught, and that he remembers, but of which he need not understand one iota in order to repeat them, any more than the pig need understand the affirmative or negative character of its nod or shake. In the human species articulate speech is an act precisely analogous to locomotion, requiring the combined and harmonious working of several muscles, and the guidance of sense, but in no way essentially connected with the intelligence; and the child may make the right noises in the right order, just as the pig does not nod its head when the signal requires it to be shaken.
A general idea of the facts which we have endeavoured to state was conveyed to the public, many years ago, by a phrase now almost forgotten.
Educationists found, by experience, that cbildren managed to retain sounds without meaning, and they called the process "learning by rote." Books, pamphlets, and speeches bore witness to the practical inutility of such learning, and were full of suggestions for improving upon it. But these suggestions, to the best of our recollection of them, did not go to the root of the matter, and were mainly based on the assumption
that learning by rote was characterized by some sort of deficiency only, and not by a radical error in the kind of impression made upon the pupil. It was not distinctly stated, or commonly conceded (although often implied in phraseology), that the action of the child's mind was of a nature essentially distinct from that which it would be the object of a wise instructor to excite; and the cause of the error was mainly sought in teaching not carried far enough to be beneficial, or not continued sufficiently long to produce permanent results, We conceive that the recent development of nervous physiology entitles us to maintain that learning by rote is at once the effect and the evidence of operations limited to the sensorial ganglia; and that such operations have no tendency, however they may be complicated or prolonged, to excite those functions of the cerebrum which are the peculiar attributes of humanity.
Our brief remaining space must be devoted to an examination of the effects of sensational learning, both as it exists, pure et simple, in most schools for the poor, and also in the form, more or less modified, which may be found in other institutions.
Physiologically speaking, the effect of purely sensational learning will be to stimulate the nutrition and increase the vigour of the sensorial tract at the expense of neighbouring and related organs. As we have seen, the sensorium has a natural tendency to predominance in the encephalon; and this tendency will be increased in every way, absolutely by direct excitation, and relatively by neglect of the intellect and volition. The sensations by which the stimulus has been given will not be long remem. bered, being superseded by fresh ones arising out of events, as the apparatus of the gympasium would be superseded by the instruments of actual conflict. With the exception of being perhaps able to read with labour, and to write with difficulty, the pupils must not be expected, six months after leaving school, to possess any traces of their “education” beyond an invigorated sensorium and a stunted intelligence.
The transitory nature of the so-called learning is abundantly shown by the reports of her Majesty's Inspectors. One of these gentlemen, with admirable naïveté, italicises the following question :-" To what purpose in after life is a boy taught, if the intervention of a school vacation is to be a sufficient excuse for entirely forgetting his instructions?"
Now, when it is remembered that present sensations are the source of the least exalted kinds of animal gratification, and that sensations, either present, or remembered, or conceived, when combined with a feeling of pleasure or pain, constitute the emotions which so powerfully influence human conduct, it must be admitted that the sensorium is at least the seat of developNO. XIV.-NEW SERIES.
ment of those passions and propensities which society, for its own good, is compelled to keep in check, and which every consideration of right teaches individuals to subdue. When, therefore, we reflect upon the operation of predominant emotions in producing, among other evils, chorea, hysteria, epilepsy, and insanity, or when we consider the aggregate of misery produced, especially among the lower orders, by the unbridled indulgence of various appetites, we cannot altogether concur in the propriety of a system of education which has a direct tendency to raise the source of these emotions and appetites to an undue and unnatural prominence in the organism.
As evidence of the stunted intelligence of children withdrawn from elementary schools, we have to offer the simple theory of the process, the testimony of H.M.'s Inspectors, and the results of personal observation.
Under the first of these three heads it is only necessary to point out the effect of habitual sensational activity in rendering the pupil content with sense perceptions. The besoin de comprendre, the love of knowledge inherent in all minds, will not survive the continual and energetic repression of a teacher, who says practically to the children—"You must learn this lesson, or work this sum by rule; but you must not take time enough to understand what you are doing." The class thus treated will not only cease to think about their tasks, but they will leave school prepared to act without thought in all the relations of life. Few of them, under any training, would be eminent in philosophy ; but fewer still, perhaps, would have been left by nature the utterly unreasoning animals that they frequently become.
The testimony of her Majesty's Inspectors, as contained in their annual reports, will hardly admit of quotation within the limits of our space.
It is apparent that these gentlemen endeavour to discover the best features of the system which they superintend; and their most damaging admissions are often obscured by an unconscious circumlocution arising from a constant balancing of the praiseworthy against the blameable. The educational blue book for 1855-6 we have already mentioned as containing more reference than many others to the real efficiency of schools; and having thus indicated a source from which abundant materials for the formation of a correct judgment may be drawn, we will content ourselves with the following very brief citations :The Rev. F. Watkins
says: « On all sides you hear of the little regard paid by young people to parental authority, of the great love of dress, and carelessness about running into debt, of pleasure-seeking at cost of time, money, and character, above all, of the increase of drunkenness, that fruitful
mother of all vices. It is impossible to hear all these constantly reiterated statements, and to be convinced of their general accuracy, without feeling that, whatever may have been earnestly and rightly attempted towards the education of the working classes, there is but little yet really done.”
The Rev. W. J. Kennedy says:
“I think there is truth in the statement that those who leave our national schools deteriorate intellectually rather than improve."
Dr. Woodford says:
“Boys who were employed in extracting square and cube roots, and who were pretty successful in bringing out the right result not only could not express, but had no idea of what was meant by the term root in relation to that of square or cube.”
The test of personal observation must always be difficult to apply, and liable to the fallacies which invalidate conclusions drawn from a limited number of instances. But, in our own experience, we have met with so many examples of what may be called habitual non-reflection in young people who had been, six months before, among the most glib and fluent pupils at a sensational school, that we fancy we can recognise a kind of stupidity thus induced, and that we can readily distinguish it from anything at all similar that is purely natural. The former variety bears a strong general resemblance to animal instincts, as they are sometimes displayed under circumstances which must obviously defeat their purposes (thus a captive beaver will construct an useless dam in his place of confinement), so as to prove to demonstration that the creatures exhibiting them have no conception of the objects which, in a state of nature, they blindly but unerringly attain. Our readers may easily note for themselves examples of conduct similarly aimless, or may hear of them from any lady who has ever attempted to train, as a household servant, a girl from the village school. The examples will mostly resolve themselves into this, that directions given are acted upon, like instinctive impulses, "prior to reflection.” The particular cases in point are mostly trivial; but we cannot abstain from placing upon record that a budding domestic, being told by her mistress to put wire gauze covers over various eatables on the shelves of a larder, piled all the covers, Ossa upon Pelion, over one dish, and left the remaining ones at the mercy of the flies of August. Unquestionably, great pains must have been bestowed
Apart from such consequences to the children, there are others, not unworthy of note, which affect the parents or the community. Educationists raise their voices and wail, because the attendance of the pupils is irregular, and their removal commonly prematurè.