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Education—Classical and Modern.
DEAR MR. EDITOR, —
notice by Mr. Lowe's speech at Edinburgh ;-a speech interesting not so much because the speaker took a high University degree, and is, therefore, in a position to judge fairly the advantages and disadvantages of the present system, as because the subject is itself of the greatest importance to us all.
We often hear of men who have passed their School and College career without great success, doubting whether it is really worth going through so much to gain so little, whether they have not after all spent their money for that which is not Education, and their labour, for that which is no good: and it is natural that such men should have these doubts,—they feel that the amount of knowledge is small compared with the time spent in acquiring it, and they are ready to lay the blame on their education ; but when Mr. Lowe, a man who is certainly far above the average, tells us that the best years of our lives are spent in subjects which are studied only from a “sort of worship of inutility,” we are at first inclined to believe that the teaching of our masters is vain, and that our learning is vain also. We are not, however, compelled to adopt even Mr. Lowe's opinion, and there is certainly much to be said on the other side. It is perfectly true that a man who has learnt nothing but what is absolutely necessary at school and college, is still ignorant of many things which he ought to know, but this is nothing new; the only wonder is, that it should be considered strange, and used as the foundation for the outcry against the present system. But this is the line of argument taken by Mr. Lowe :-he overlooks the fact that much general knowledge is picked up out of school, and brings forward instances of ignorance of this kind of knowledge as tending to prove the deficiency of the general course of Education. In the case of the class which Professor Seely mentions in his lecture on Education, no allowance can be made for reading English literature or picking up any great amount of general knowledge out of school; he states that he is pleading for a class who have ‘no inherited refinement, no common stock of literature forming an intellectual atmosphere around them, a class who, after four or five years spent at school, go into some business and spend the rest of their existence in occupations which afford few opportunities for the cultivation of the mind; for
these it is better to employ the short time spent at school in learning not Greek and Latin, but English, and in reading English literature, so that they may acquire a taste for what is really worth reading, and take pleasure in reading what is useful. But in the case of those who are able to spend a longer time on their education, and who have better opportunities of reading by themselves the best literature of the English language: this reasoning does not hold good, for these, the object of schools is to teach those subjects which most require to be taught, and which form the best foundation for special professional learning; in this case reading out of school may be expected, and it is better to leave for this, books which may be read with both amusement and profit, than to compel us to seek recreation and change in sensational novels. The fact that there are many who act upon the principle that recreation consists in complete mental idleness, and learn nothing but what is driven into them at school, who therefore know more about Ancient than Modern History and Geography, and, as Mr. Lowe said, know how many Archons there were at Athens, without knowing the number of the Lords of the Treasury, does not appear a just cause for condemning our School Education; for there are few, if any, who have not been taught the outlines of History and Geography, and it is entirely our own fault if we have failed to keep up our knowledge of them and to fill up the outline with the more intricate details; the number of the Lords of the Treasury is not a fact of the greatest importance, and might possibly not form a part of the course of education, even in schools where Greek and Latin were neglected, in order to devote more time to English and Science. Nor can we blame our education if we are ignorant of the Bible; we have probably all read of the cave of Adullam, but till it became famous by Mr. Bright's allusion, it was a place of so little importance that it might easily escape the memory. Our deficiency in Anatomy, in Physics, in Arithmetic, and in Spelling, are also brought forward by Mr. Lowe; and lastly we are told that “the most important accomplishment a man can have—Writing, is totally neglected ;' of this category. Arithmetic is as well known as is practically necessary, and to advance beyond this would perhaps be considered mere 'worship of inutility ; ' Spelling is taught, alas! too much; at some schools instead of acquiring it gradually we profess to learn it from spelling books, and if the result is ignorance, it does not generally arise from not spending time on the subject; with reference to Writing-too much of it produces a good shopkeeper's hand; the chief facts of Anatomy, such as those mentioned by Mr. Lowe, may in most cases be picked up without special study; if we learn it superficially, we know just enough to have no faith in doctors,—'a little knowledge is a dangerons thing,'—while a thorough knowledge could scarcely be obtained without an amount of attention to it which cannot be given to any one subject in a school where languages and the various branches of science are taught. And the fact that many are ignorant of the simplest principles of Physics, only shews that there are many who take no interest in them, for any who cared to do so could learn the general principles, such as those mentioned by Mr. Lowe, without interfering with other knowledge; while those who take no interest in the subject would probably find them as little practically useful as Greek and Latin.
Putting aside its moral aspect, the great object of general education appears to be to teach as far as possible subjects which are the best training for the mind, which all should know, and which cannot easily be learnt without teaching : and on the whole the system of teaching Greek and Latin appears best to fulfil this object; for they are considered by many competent judges the best means of devoloping the mind; even those who exalt science most do not put them aside as altogether useless; and the difficulty of learning them would be considerably increased if it were left for casual opportunities of private reading. In the general outcry which is raised for science, there seems to be some danger of falling into the opposite extreme-neglect of language and literature: but it is evident to all who care to keep languages from becoming corrupted into mere barbarous jargons, that languages must be studied either ancient or Modern. To provide for this the latter are now frequently recommended, and perhaps would be just sufficient; but Greek and Latin are still better, for being more accurate and inflected they are better adapted to teach that critical observation of sense and language, which is necessary for the profitable reading of literature, and at the same time we learn languages which though dead are the foundation of most of those now existing.
And if Greek and Latin are worth learning at all, why should we not begin early? It seems more reasonable to learn that part of the languages which must necessarily be 'cram'when memory is the strongest faculty of the mind, than to put it off till the reasoning powers are more fully developed
It cannot be denied that Natural Science has been neglected, but now there appears to be some danger of its being too prominent; it is not sufficient for some of its most zealous supporters that it should be learnt as an extra subject, by those who have a taste for it-a position which it might well hold,— but they want us to spend at least as much time on it as we now devote to Greek and Latin ; ô un yévoito! The time spent at school is long compared with the average results, but is not this rather our own fault than that of our education? Should we not waste the same amount of time, whatever the subjects might be?
Here we have an opportunity of comparing, in some degree, the two systems, and, putting prejudice aside, we would still raise our voice for the Classical.
Our Little Brother at Glifton.
OST people know that there is a Clifton College. Every
one who can should go and look at it. It is very pretty ; so far as the buildings go, it is one of the prettiest of schools. And its position has peculiar advantages. It is close to a Zoological Garden, this garden affords to the Cliftonians as it were a second playground, and an enlarged choice of companions. The advantage to the boys from this free intercommunication is obvious: but the beasts too must remember that they have much to learn.
One matter connected with the garden deserves notice, feeling that something must be done to make the beasts remember Sunday, their keepers give them no food on this day. This does not improve their tempers, and so close are garden and school-chapel that the plaintive moan of the cockatoos, and the agonized howl of the porcupine mingle with the excellent sermons of the Rev. the Principal.
Clifton, like Cheltenham, possesses a Classical and a Modern Department. But, we are almost afraid to write it down the Modern Department at Clifton is replenished by boys who are degraded out of the Classical Department as too stupid to learn! with our right eye fixed upon our thousands of Classical, and our. left eye upon our thousands of Modern subscribers, we are naturally unable to comment on this extraordinary rule. Clifton has other rules not less surprising: for instance, the double-study system prevails, and in one house we understand that the pairs are made up by the boarding house master, on the principle of shutting up together the boys who hate each other most, to see if they will
stop. * Please sir, I can't bear Jones.' 'Ah,' responds the Rhadamanthus, you'll soon have to drop that when you're in a study with him, five feet by six.'
Dat thalamos adimitque, et murmura verbere signat !' is the exclamation of many a small boy, (on the Classical side,) when he first enters the realm of this brunonian law.
Clifton College has just started a magazine. We praise the spirit of the promoters; of the “Cliftonian' itself we have not yet much to say. There is a judicious article by 'An old, though somewhat lazy hand' on paper-chasing and its alleviations. There is a tale of every-day life, which introduces a calf, (we mean the authentic four-legged calf of Zoology,) in a bonnet and
Society differs in different places. And there is an account of a debate in the School Debating Society, where it was proposed and carried, "That the Enfranchisement of Women would prove a great evil to the Country. We are glad to see that Cliftonians have begun to think about politics, for to think wrongly, is the first step to thinking right. It is best to get Conservatism and Chicken-pox over while one is still in jackets. And we are cheered by observing the illustrious character of the four who voted against the motion. The first of these is Bean, who has got an English Essay Prize; - we hope on some similar subject,—and also the English Poem. Respectfully, O, Bean! we address thee,-and if thy initials were given, we would address thee by them too,-go on in thy great career! what has not Poesy done! It has soothed many hearts and elevated many souls, and filled six pages of the Cliftonian. The second hero was C. F. S, Tylecote. His career has been an atheletic one, and it is dazzling. He jumps high, he jumps broad, he jumps hurdles,-for which we are glad to see that Mr. Handsomebody gave him a prize,-he runs miles and half-miles, and steeple chases, and he wins the challenge-cup to the discomfiture of Yockney. But it is in cricket that his triumph is greatest. His average is 44. Cheltonians! would that we had seen the young athlete, as flushed with glory, he made his ninth-his tenth forty-fourth! Bishop Colenso, how much is the forty-fourth of a man? Eighteen inches,' le Maudit gloomily replies. Well to be sure, that does not seem far. Then there is Pearson. Pearson spoke, -spoke, we doubt not, brilliantly, crushingly,-on the Liberal side, and then,-mark what we say !--we find his name in the Magazine no more. We do not wish to hint, to insinuate, to breathe a word, but what are the Editor's politics ? Gentlemen! there is such a thing as a reputation which cannot be stifled. Lastly, there was a fourth who voted justly,