« EelmineJätka »
Yet such the fixed inveteracy wrought
Byron's Childe Harold.
Byron adds, in a note-'I wish to express, that we become tired of the task before we can comprehend the beauty ; that we learn by rote before we can get by heart; that the freshness is worn away, and the future pleasure and advantage deadened and destroyed, by the didactic anticipation, at an age when we can neither feel nor understand the power of compositions which it requires an acquaintance with life, as well as Latin and Greek, to relish, or to reason upon.'
Dr. Hodgson solves the problem—how to introduce more of modern languages and physical sciences into the school, which is at once disciplinary, and preparatory in knowledge for the old universities, and for the new higher institutions which are rising to meet the demands of modern life; (1,) by beginning the classical course later in life, and thus allowing time for a good groundwork in English reading, spelling, and writing, the geography and history of the country, the principal practical points in mathematics and grammar, and an appreciation of music, drawing, and poetry ; (2) by beginning the study of either French or German before Latin, inasmuch as their utility in the intercourse of life, the wealth (large and still growing) of literature which they contain, their etymological relationship to the mother tongue entitle them to this precedence. The experience and opinion of Dr. Franklin is cited in favor of this course, as well of Dr. Jerrard, formerly classical lecturer at Cambridge, and later, principal of Bristol College, and classical examiner at the London University. “My experience in Bristol college has convinced me, that twelve or even fourteen would be better than eight or ten, to commence Latin. The technical grammar, required now of very young pupils, is too burdensome and repulsive. Unless the pronunciation of a modern language is fixed early, it is always defective, and discourages the practice of speaking--the want of which is now universally felt.” To exclude either the ancient or modern tongues with their literatures, will leave the curriculum of liberal study incomplete; still cach must take its place according to its relative importance in this age. If comparison must be instituted, we maintain that there is no advantage, intellectual, moral or æsthetic, that the study of the ancient languages can confer, which may not be derived to an almost equal degree, from the modern, while the modern yield peculiar advantages, to which the ancient can make no claiin.
STUDY OF LAXGUAGE IN MENTAL DISCIPLINE. Rev. JAMES MARTINEAU, in his Inaugural Lecture in University Hall, London, indicates the place which language holds in a system of liberal studies.
" And among those central studies," si. e., the literary, which hold the middle ground between the outward and the inward, between the physical sciences and metaphysics) " it is easy to see why language occupies the very focal place, and has been justly recognized as supplying the faculties with their most effective disipline. For here the equipoise between external attention and internal reflection is maintained more perfectly than is possible elsewhere. Who can say whether language is an outer or an inner fact? It is evidently both. As a realized objeet of sense, transmitted from point to point of space, and recorded from age to age of time, it is manifestly external, and spreads its relations visibly before the eye, and lies open, like any material product of physical nature, to the simultaneous notice of innumerable observers. On the other hand, as the mere passage of thought and feeling out of silence, the direct outcome of our intellectual and spiritual life, it is a primary function of the inner mind, the mere incarnation (so to speak) of our highest energy. Accordingly, it has no significance, it is not an object of study at all, except on the condition of self knowledge; its distinctions, its classifications, its shades of relations, its forms of structure, are the very distinctions, and classifications, and relations, and architecture of thought itself; and whoever engages himself with them does but see his own intelligence externalized. Dealing with a fact of physical nature, you have to colleet or guess its place and meaning in the system of things from its grouping or its look; but in handling the phenomena of language, you invert the proceeding, and carry into it from your own consciousness the idea that gives it shape; having the essence at home, you interpret by it the foreign form. I believe it is this necessary action and re-action of acute observation and thoughtful reflection, to which a philological discipline owes its peculiar advantage for training the faculties with less distortion than any other single pursuit.”
PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND CLASSICAL STUDIES.
Prof. H. H. VAUGHAN, Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford, in the discussions which grew out of the Examination and Report of Royal Commissioners on the Studies of Oxford and Cambridge, published a pamphlet entitled “ Oxford Reform,” from which we make brief extracts.
“ Dr. Pusey insinuates or states of these subjects (the physical sciences, which require the aid of the eye) that they only convey information of facts to the gen. eral student, and therefore that they have not been made a subject of general study. The main proposition and the historical inference drawn from it, are both, I conceive, incorrect. The thoughtless and superficial learner will make any instruction whatsoever mere matter of information at the best: and certainly, for such as these, the physical sciences do offer this peculiar advantage, that the information given is, in some sense, real; whereas, in more abstraet sciences Grammar and Logic, or History-the careless or dull receive little but words. When the eye dwells upon an object, it catches some of the properties of the object, at least; when, on the other hand, the word, which is the mere symbol of an object, falls upon the ear, the mind may be vacant of every thing whatsoever, beyond the sounds of the syllables. True it is, therefore, that physical sciences give information more casily, naturally, and therefore more efficiently to the languid student than any other can. But not on that account does such knowledge impart nothing but information. The vital appropriation and application of it involve acts of memory, comprehension, comparison, imagination, deduction; they involve the use of many and admirable faculties, the exercise of which is a discipline truly noble. The intelligent comprehension of a single compound
substance, and the laws under which it is combined ; the intelligent comprehension of the action of one compound on another, under the various given conditions of light, temperature, and electric forces, are quite elementary acts of mind to the earnest student, but may enforce the use of many admirable and useful mental powers. I do not presume to measure how old or how general is the doctrine, that natural science is mere information. But such a view is in itself a proof that opinions may be both trite and incorrect; and it should appear nowhere any longer save in some historical museum which shall preserve the history of prejudice or pretext. Nor do I believe that the absence or neglect of physical science as a subject of general study is practically owing to this impression, so much as to the joint operation of two other causes. The first of these is, that our general education is traditional, and has been handed down (subject to some slight modification by new ideas and convictions) from times in which physical sciences had no definite and acknowledged existence. At such a period they could not possibly form a part of general education ; and when we reflect that men commonly learn but what they have been taught, and teach what they have learned, we can fully understand how it is that changes have not been made in the common subjects or method of instruction, and how it is, therefore, that classical language once established as the instruments and matter of education, have thus long remained so. A second reason is, perhaps, to be found in the fact, that the sciences spoken of are disliked by the jealous teachers of other branches of knowledge, and feared by many, either anxious to preserve the whole body of accepted traditions on all subjects, or fearful lest knowledge, unknown to ancient times, should shake the absolute authority or the traditional interpretation of ancient writings.”
“I cannot assign that very great practical effect to the nctual study of languages, as a means of giving a discipline to the mind, which many claim for them. I conceive that such advocates have before them some ideal, possible, and occasional method of study, not the actual and general cultivation of language as it is realized. Most men begin to learn grammar through the dead languages (and surely they are the finest instruments for the purpose) before the powers of reflection are nearly strong enough to master and appropriate its principles, which are of a nature highly abstract. Rules, therefore, are learned by the ear and by rote, without any digestion of the understanding : a habit is generated of accepting and using words without an insight into their meaning, and of applying principles in practice without a thought of their real nature. This applies to the industrious. Meanwhile sixty out of a hundred boys learn carelessly or not at all; and I believe there is no study which could prove more successful in producing often through idleness and vacancy of mind, parrot repetition, and sing-song knowledge, -to the abeyance and destruction of the intellectual powers,-as well as to the loss and paralysis of the outward senses,—than our tradi. tional study and idolatry of language. Thinking as highly as a rational being can of the discipline which may be given to good natural faculties, well ripened, by linguistic studies, I protest against the one assumption—not uncommon that no other studies could administer a discipline to the reason; or the other assumption, hardly less general, that all the mental gifts have, in most cases, been cultivated and fully developed through this."
THOROUGU KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUBJECT, AND HABITS OF MIND. PROFESSOR A. DE MORGAN, in a Lecture at University College, London, remarks :
There is in every branch of knowledge a beginning, a middle, and an end ; a beginning, in which the student is striving with new and difficult principles, and in which he is relying in a grcat measure on the authority of his instructor ; a middle, in which he has gained some confidence in his own knowledge, and some power of applying his first principles. He is now in a state of danger, so far as the estimate which he is likely to form of himself is concerned. He has as yet no reason to suppose that his career can be checked-nothing to humble the high notion which he will entertain of himself, his teachers, and his suhject. Let him only proceed, and he will come to what I have called the end of the subject, and will begin to see that there is, if not a boundary, yet the commence447
ment of a region which has not been tracked and surveyed, and in which not all the skill which he has acquired in voyaging by the chart will save him from losing his way. It is at this period of his career that he will begin to form a true opinion of his own mind, which, I fully believe, is not done by many per. sons, simply because they have never been allowed to pursue any branch of inquiry to the extent which is necessary to show them where their power ends.
The powers which we expect to give by liberal education, or at least a very consid rahle portion of the whole, may be comprised under two heads, which I will take separately.
Firstly, it is one of the most important points of education that the subject of it should be made a good leurner. What is it that can be done before the age of twenty-one, either at school or college? Is the education then finished ? Is the pupil to pursue no branch of study further ? Nay, does not a professional career open upon him imme liately? He is thrown upon the world to learn, with the resources of his education to rely on, and little other help; for it is well known that, throughout our different plans of professional education, there is found but a small amount of teaching, with free permission for the aspirant to teach himself. Now, in this new career there is no stopping half way, in accordance with a previous system of education, in which many subjects were only half taught. The litwyer or physician must be a finished lawyer or physician, able to investigate his subjects at the boundaries of knowledge, and to carry his previous stu.lics successfully up to that point. So soon as cither has arrived at the height where his education left him, as to the species of mental effort requisite to carry on his subject, from that moment his future professional study becomes, in point of fact, an awkward substitute for the education which his former teachers professed to supply. He must apply himself with pain to an isolated subject, under great difficulties and with small helps, to gain that power which might so much more easily have been gained when the mind was more supple, and formation of habits more easy.
Seconlly, among the educated classes we find those who can readily combine the ideas which they possess, and can turn their previous acquirements to the original consideration of such questions as arise; and we also find those who are slow at snch exercise, or almost altogether incapable of it.
That the ficulty of thinking easily, and originating thought, should be carefully cultivated, needs not to be maintained ; and it cannot be effectively done without a considerable degrec of attention paid to the method of thinking which is chosen.
He must go through the elements, during which he will find neither the materials for his original investigations, nor power to pursue them. He must first patiently collect knowledge, and the power of application will come by very slow degrees, and will not be in that state of activity which will answer the purpose, until something more thai mere elements is effectively learnt. Considerations of the same character apply to every department of knowledge : there is a lower stage in which the pupil can do little more than collect; there is a higher state of knowledge in which he can begin effectively to apply thought to his collected stores, and thus make them help him to useful habits of mind.
Generally speaking, correctness in any branch of knowledge is a result only of much study. However simple the subject may be, however absurd the only possible mistake may be, I believe it may be taken as an axiom that the beginner is always inaccurate, and remains subject to this defect until he has acquired something more than elements. It has always appeared to me that the value of accuracy does not begin to be soon felt, and that it is only when the student has something of considerable extent to look back upon, that he begins to understani how much depends upon correctness. The same may be said as to lucid arrange. ment, of which it is clear that the learner will never see the value, until he has a considerable quantity of matter on which to employ himself.
A small quantity of learning quickly evaporates from a mind which never held any learning except in small quantities; and the intellectual philosopher can perhaps explain the following phenomenon,-that men who have given deep attention to one or more liberal studies, can learn to the end of their lives, and are able to retain and apply very small quantities of other kinds of knowledge; while those who have never learnt much of any one thing, seldom acquire new knowledge after they attain to years of maturity, and frequently lose the greater part of that which they once possessed.
SCIENTIFIC EDUCATION, MATHEMATICS, PHYSICAL SCIENCES. GEORGE BEDELL AIRY, Astronomer Royal, and Fellow of the Royal Society, in his evidence before the Public Schools Commission in 1862, in answer to questions, replied as follows:
The effect of the scientific education at the universities depends in a great measure on the character of the examiners. At the University of Cambridge, which is the only one with which I can profess to be acquainted, the great scientific subject is mathematics in its various applications, and the examiners are for the most part Masters of Arts who have just taken their degrees, and who are put forward at their own wish and through the interest of their respective colleges, as proper persons to be mathematical examiners.
I should like very well that freshmen should have a good deal of what may be called the mechanism of mathematics, and in that I would include algebra generally; but with regard to the demonstrative mathematics I should require the most moderate amount, because I do not think it could be taken up with great advantage till a later period of time; but the study of algebra opens the mind, and the mechanical part could be learned by a boy very well.
I am in the habit of receiving at the Observatory supernumerary computors. They are for the most part the sons of tradesmen in the neighborhood; boys whom I engage at a low rate of payment, and whose parents are very glad to send them to the Observatory for the acquirement of habits of order and so on. I have instituted an examination for these boys,-not a competitive examina. tion, which I tried once or twice, and of which I am effectually sickened, but an examination of efficiency, and I found only two or three days ago, when I examined one of the boys of the age of fifteen, that he mastered algebra very well indeed to the extent of which I have spoken.
There are things with which boys might acquire some familiarity, and which do not involve a strain on the mind, but which would be valuable to them in after life. I remember when I was a school boy learning several things which I did not trouble myself much about at the time, but from which I got ideas which have been extremely useful to me ever since. I remember when I was under a writing master in our school that he would make me go through a course of book-keeping by double entry. I did not care about it, but still I got enough instruction to remember it and to acquire the logic of it, and it has been of infinite value to me since. Now I never cared for that at the time I was at school, and I may say the same in respect to chemistry and electricity, as to their being extremely useful to me. I learned a little in reference to electricity. I cannot say how, but that little has been of great value to me. I mention this to show that knowledge acquired at that age, although not the subject of intense or well ordered study, does prove advantageous afterwards.
In public schools the general tone should undonbtedly be classical; but with the elements of mathematical education, I think there might be added a considerable knowledge of the less severe kind of physical sciences. And with advancing years, as during the years spent at the Universities, I think it very important that sound demonstrative mathematics, with a strong tendency to applied science, should constitute a large part of the education. I think it most desirable that the college course should not be a mere continuation of the school course.