« EelmineJätka »
State of Education in France. From Recollections of Paris, in 1802-34-5. By J. Pinkerton. Vol. I.
HE state of education, in any country, is of infinite consequence to its prosperity and glory. It may be doubted whether even the form of government have such decided influence on the talents and happiness of the individual.
In the Roman Catholic countries of Europe, education had become extremely neglected, before the Jesuits lent their attention to this department. Their method of education has been highly praised and it is to be supposed that they studied the character of the youth entrusted to their care, and, by the spur of a predominant passion, instigated them in the path that was most adapted to their capacities. It is, however, to be wished, that some patient writer would, from their own publications on this subject, delineate the complete plan of education practised by the Jesuits.
Numerous universities were also scattered over the kingdom; but the mode of education there followed, was far from being the best, as, instead of changing their forms, and adapting themselves to the progress of national illumination, they re
tained a pedantic routine and jargon, wholly useless in the high road of human affairs. This obstinacy led, as usual, to their own destruction; as they could not bend they must break while some colleges, as that of Louis the Great, still exist, because the professors did not choose to sacrifice an useful institution to their own obstinacy or caprice.
As it often happens in human affairs, that the useful is sacrificed to the splendid, the foundation of universities, of very dubious utility, supplanted that of common schools, which may be regarded as the chief pillars of national education. For, if we except divinity and medicine, in which regular degrees are bestowed, it may be questioned whether the education at the French universities, were of the smallest advantage to any other class of mankind. As the military schools have been found to confer such great advantages, it would seem to follow that similar institutions might be allotted to other professions, after the bias of the child has been discovered, which may generally be done about the age of twelve years; before which period the gymnastic exercises ought to be the chief part of education, but might be interspersed with
the native language, writing, and arithmetic. To these, in a French education, ought to succeed a long course of the mathematics, in order to allay the volatility and evaporation of the character.
In the parochial, or common schools, might therefore be taught horsemanship, swimming, fencing, and other gymnastic exercises, and amusements, interspersed with the French language, writing, and arithmetic, and followed by the course of mathematics, which would be found useful in every possible profession. If the conscription must be continued, it is to be regretted that the lots are not drawn at the age of twelve, that needless care and expence might be saved in the education of the boy for another pursuit. At the age of twelve, the boys might be transferred to the Lyceums, or to the special schools for each profession. This separation at the age of twelve, would also be attended with certain beneficial effects, moral and physical, which may easily be divined by parents; the mixture of little boys with those more advanced being of so pernicious a tendency, as to require prohibition by positive laws. In some schools, containing generally boys from the age of seven to that of twelve, a great lad of seventeen or eighteen arrived from some colony for the first rudiments of his education, has been known to corrupt the morals and health of thirty little boys, who before had not even an idea of vice.
After these considerations the present plan of the Lyceums cannot be approved, as there is a great mixture of ages, while they ought not to be permitted to receive any scholars till after the age of 12 years complete. Other foundations might be allotted
to the earlier years of the children of officers killed in battle, or others deserving the public care, an institu tion, by-the-bye, worthy of imita tion. Such foundations might still be styled Prytanées, as maintaining those who have deserved well of their country; while the Lyceums derive their name from a famous university at Athens.
At present the primary school are those which deserve the greatest attention, and would attract the chief care of an enlightened go vernment; but the masters of the Lyceums, and other persons com sulted on education, unhappily esther affect a contempt for the primary schools, which can alone diffuse a general national education, open the bud of the village rose, increase its scent, and destroy its thorns; ot regard them as rivals who may with draw a part of their gains. Hence in conversations with directors and professors of the Prytanées and Ly ceums, I have been not a little hurt by their apparent spirit of monopoly, and their estrangement from the idea of a national education, which might deeply influence the public character, and by opening the mind to modera tion and modesty, the usual conco mitants of knowledge, prevent recurrence of scenes of outrage and blood, the fruits of ignorance ducted by knavery. These effects of rivalry and jealousy, between the Lyceums and primary schools, would also be effectually prevented by the division of ages above proposed.
There were formerly two Pryla neums in France, one at Paris, an ther at St. Cyr, chiefly destined, as the name imports, for the children of men who had deserved well of their country, though they ako
boarded and educated other scholars. But within these two years the name has been formally changed for the common appellation of Lyceums. The most important is that at Paris, formerly the college of Louis the Great. The director Champagne, a member of the Institute, and a man of considerable talents, gave me a plan of the education here pursued, with a work written by himself, on the organization of public in struction. The importance of the subject will merit a few extracts and observations.
It was under the administration of François de Neufchâteau, that the new name of Pry aneum was adopt ed; and when Chaptal became minister of the interior, one hundred and eighty scholarships were granted at the public expence, and soon after one hundred others, all to be named by the first consul. It was at the same time permitted that other children might share the advantage of the careful education proposed, on paying a moderate salary. This institution is immediately under the care of the minister of the interior, who names the directors and professors. Mass is celebrated every morning, but no blame is attached to those who do not attend: gymnastic exercises are also mingled with instructions in the moral duties towards their parents, their country, and the Supreme Being; but each scholar is at perfect liberty to follow his own mode of worship.
Instead of the old pedantic routine, simple and practical methods have been adopted. Instead of a general tinge of superficial knowledge, the talents and inclination of the schoJars are carefully observed, and directed to such studies as they may pursue with most advantage.
The course of study is divided into three distinct parts. Children are first taught the French language and grammar, a first and indispensable branch, which is never neglected during the whole period of instruction. The Latin tongue is carefully taught by the methods of Condillac and Dumarsais, which spare the time, and sometimes prevent the disgust of the scholars. In this first course, all are taught the elements of arith metic.
To this course, merely elemental and grammatical, succeeds another, in which the scholars are taught composition; and instituted in the elements of literature, French, Latin, and Greek.
In the third course, the education is completed by that kind of instruction which is adapted to their talents and inclinations: rhetoric, philosophy, and the mathematics, with mechanics, surveying, and the first principles of astronomy and chemistry, are laid before the students. Geography is not only studied, but accompanied with the practical art of drawing maps and plans. history, the scholars write down the lessons, so as to form a little collection of their own composition. In the second and third course all are taught the German and English languages; and the study of drawing is alike universal. A fencing master and a dancing master are each charged with a class, of twenty-five scholars, chosen for their good behaviour; but any may be taught these arts, and music, at the expence of their parents. Gymnastic and military exercises, and swimming, are practised by all on the days of vacation. The instruction is not uniform, a plan rather calculated to enchain than to develope the facul
ties, but is varied according to the in gymnastic exercises, swimming talents, dispositions, and future and such little exercises in gardezviews. A select and ample library ing and agriculture, as they may is open to the scholars. choose.
They are divided, according to their age and studies into classes of twenty-five; each forming a separate habitation, with a school and sleeping rooms, under the care of an experienced teacher, who watches over their manners and conduct, assists their inexperience in literary toil, forms their character by remonstrating on their faults and teaching them their duties, sees that they read no improper books, and that they write regularly to their friends. He presides over their repasts, attends when they rise and go to bed, in short, never quits them, except when he brings them to the professors, adopting every care of a good master and father of a family. A careful servant confined to each class or division, is charged with the physical care of the children, their dress, and personal cleanliness. It may not be improper to add, that they sleep alone, and are carefully watched by the teacher, who is placed in the centre of the division; and that the domestic and a night watcher walk through the sleeping rooms, to guard against the smallest accident or impropriety.
The games and recreations of the children are always superintended by the masters, and their walks in particular are well watched. A regulation approved by the government, forbids them to leave the house upon any pretence, except during the vacations, when they may visit their families. They are, however, indem nified by the extent of their own domains, even those at Paris passing the summer days of vacation at the large house and park of Vanvres,
Although sickness be rare, a phy. sician and surgeon constantly reside in the house; and there is an inmary where the sick children are attended with the same care as i they were in their own families. A: the same time every attention is ped to the general health. The ba and rooms are well aired, a regular warmth distributed in winter, the food of a salutary nature, and the beginning of any disease carefuls marked and opposed.
Such is the general plan of this institution, in which there is doubtless much to be praised; but in the division of the courses, it may be doubted whether the Latin sbouk enter into the first course, where writing might supply its place; and, in fact, this first course ought wholly to belong to the primary schools. Yet, upon the whole, the education is excellent, and the ci tribution of the prizes, which take place before the summer vacation. forms a very interesting and crowers spectacle. After discourses by the director, and by the minister of th interior, or any other member of the administration named to dignity the ceremony by his presence, the names of the boys who have disti guished themselves in each branch are solemnly proclaimed, with flotrishes of music, and the plaudits the audience. The boy advance is embraced by the minister, w places on his head a wreath laurel, and gives him some valuab book. The catalogue of the victory and prizes is afterwards published, to the great sati-faction of parent and friends.
Let me not be accused of being tedious on a subject of such infinite importance as practical education, the subject of innumerable books, but of difficult execution, as what seems true and salutary in theory, often in practice proves false and detrimental. Nor shall an apology be offered for some further illustrations of this interesting topic, and which though sometimes minute, may be of lasting consequence to the community.
The board at the Prytanée, now the Lyceum at Paris, is nine hun dred francs a-year (not thirty-eight pounds sterling), but each boarder must pay quarterly, and by advance. Each boarder must bring a trunk, containing the following articles;
A great coat of broad cloth, colour, iron grey-the uniform of the school.
An uniform coat of iron grey, with blue collar and sleeves.
Two waiscoats, &c. of the same. Two white waistcoats, one of cloth the other of dimity.
Two pair of sheets of ten ells. One dozen napkins. One dozen of shirts. Two bed-gowns. Twelve handkerchiefs. Six cravats of double muslin, and two of black silk.
Six pair of cotton stockings, of mixed blues, and two white.
Six cotton night caps.
Two combs, and a comb brush.
A plate and goblet of silver, or other metal, at the choice of the parents, and marked with the number of the scholar, which is also put on his other effects, that no other may use them.
After this first equipment, no further expence is incurred for the children, whether sick or in health. The dress and all the other articles are renewed at the expence of the institution, during the whole course of the studies, except losses positively ascertained to have been made by the scholars themselves. For books, maps, and paper, used in the third course, there is an additional charge of twenty-five franks, or a guinea a year. The trunk, except the sheets and napkins, is returned when the scholar leaves the Lyceum; and as only French manufactures are permitted, the articles, in case of diffi culty, may be easily procured at the house.
The boys educated at this seminary are very numerous, generally appear stout and healthy, and possessed with an interesting emulation. The military part of their education is rather to be regretted; but it is to be feared that the ambition of France will render it necessary in other
The work of Champagne, the director, on Public Education, is valuable, as the production of a practical man; but several of his ideas are objectionable. That education should be connected with politics seems illusory, it ought rather, like a national bank, to be independant of the government, and an absolute silence observed on political subjects. Of what consequence are the politics of a boy? Even a thinking man finds it difficult to choose, when there are faults on all sides, and attended with such dismal and unforeseen consequences. He supposes the primary schools are between six and seven thousand, a number certainly too small for the extent of France; and he justly observes great defects