Page images
PDF
EPUB

some one else without being expected to render any reasons. The point is not that Examiners should be total strangers, but that there should be some third party, a perfectly competent and disinterested authority, to whom their account is to be rendered.

I think it will be seen by Governors and Committees, as well as Head Masters of Schools, that this plan is of great value. It will supply them with a guarantee of efficiency far better calculated to gain public confidence than any they can at present offer. And to private Schools it presents what really is to them the one thing needful. At this time it must be owned every man's hand is against them. How far they deserve this general reprobation I cannot say. Many I know to be utterly unworthy of confidence, in fact a public pest, but on the other hand I also know many private schoolmasters to be most worthy men and able teachers. At present these have nothing to rely upon but the uncertain discernment of parents. Regular and well-conducted Examinations with published Reports would soon separate the wheat from the tares. And whatever raises the character and promotes the efficiency of private Schools must be accounted a public benefit; for good or bad, it is clear that it will be a long time before we can do without them.

Neither will this plan be unfruitful of good to the Universities themselves. It will familiarise them with the views and wants in regard to education of a class of people with whom they have hitherto scarcely come in contact. Many large schools rarely or never send a pupil to the University. This I hold to be a bad thing. The presence of a few boys, even no more than one or two, who aspire to the highest education that can be got, raises the level of teaching throughout the school. And it might not seldom happen that the friends of a promising boy would be encouraged to change his destination from commercial or official life to the church or the bar. Many fathers, whose means and position in the world would fully justify their sending their sons to College, forbear to do so from want of confidence in their own judgment and the advice of some one they can trust.

Before concluding this paper it may be well to remark that it is the duty of Examiners not merely to report upon the proficiency of the boys in Latin, Greek, and Mathematics, but to speak particularly of their appearance and conduct, in short, the general tone of the school. On this indeed mainly a favourable or unfavourable judgment ought to be founded. It is true that in a well-taught school a certain standard of

excellence will generally be reached by the majority of boys, and there will probably be some who will rise above it, but if Examiners look to find this in every school on every occasion they will be disappointed. The absence of boys of more than average powers, whose example and influence keeps up their companions to a certain point,-for boys, like hounds, pack a good deal-or other accidental circumstances, will sometimes prevent it. In particular this will occur in new schools. It takes a long time to get a good staple. In schools composed chiefly of boys intended for active life it is well-nigh impossible to get it at all. Their stay is so short, coming late and going early, that just when their master is gaining influence over them, and they are beginning to learn something, it is time for them to leave school. If they came young enough one would not care. Something at any rate would be done between eight and fifteen. But as things go now, people often keep their boys in the nursery or at ladies' preparatory schools till eleven or twelve, and then they come bringing nothing with them but refractory and disobedient habits, often, as I know from weary experience, scarcely able to read, much less spell.

The condition "that no Report be received which is not founded on an Examination of the whole School" should be firmly enforced. To see that the little boys and those of inferior ability are well attended to is the very head and front of an Examiner's duty. The mere adjudication of prizes is the most trifling part of it.

It may be taken for granted, it is said, that where the cleverest boys are best taught, there the laglasts will be whipped up most sharply. Still a conscientious man will desire to ascertain for himself how backward the one as well as how forward the other may be, on the same principle as an accurate observer of the atmosphere watches the minimum as well as the maximum of heat. He will frame his report at least as much on the data furnished by boys scantily endowed with the gifts of nature as by their abler companions. And it is satisfactory to have explicit testimony that slow boys are not neglected. For after all there are idle teachers in the world of school-life, and the idlest will take some pains with a quick boy, if for no better reason than that he helps to teach the class.

I will finish this paper by remarking that the opportunity might be taken of obtaining some valuable statistical information. A table might be required of something like the subjoined form:

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

A list of Latin, Greek, and English books in ordinary use in the class might be appended. The writing-master with the help of one or two boys from each class would do it with very little trouble. The results of these tables would be worth publishing with the Reports.

T. M.

V. CLERICAL EDUCATION.

PROPOSAL FOR A PASS EXAMINATION IN DIVINITY

AND MORAL SCIENCE.

It has been long felt that there is a large proportion of those who take the ordinary degree of B.A. with a view of entering Holy Orders, to whom the University might render more assistance with regard to the profession they have in view than it has hitherto done, and now that many changes are in progress in consequence of the new Statutes, it is well that serious attention should be directed to this matter.

The question is a difficult one, because the two main considerations tend in precisely opposite directions. On the one hand it is felt to be very desirable to give some special instruction to this class because there are some branches of their professional studies, Biblical exposition and English composition for instance, in which oral teaching and personal guidance are especially requisite, and because, moreover, many would take a far greater interest in studies bearing on their work in life than in those which seem to be only a prolongation of their scholastic course.

On the other hand, it is most true that it would have a very injurious and depressing effect on the students if they were to receive a purely theological education instead of a liberal one, and be plunged into questions of dogma and doctrine before their minds had been hardened enough to deal with them properly.

It is a most valuable characteristic of our English Church that her clergy are not set apart for their special office till they are full-grown men, that in their youth they engage in the same studies, the same sports and pursuits, as others of the same age, and so bring to the final decision of the question of their profession some experience of the world and some knowledge of themselves. Purely theological seminaries have their value, and may have great value as places of immediate preparation for ordination, but that our clergy should receive from them all the education they get at that time of life when the mind is solidifying would be a monstrous evil; it would tend more than anything to turn our clergy into an ecclesiastical caste, and deprive them of all manly qualities and genial sympathies with their lay brethren. "Our forefathers

were wise in this, that they held theology to be the crowning height of a long course of studies not to be approached until men had learnt to walk surely over less difficult ground. Now we find it sometimes made the boast of institutions that they teach their students nothing not necessary for them to know, that is, nothing but what they must pass in to be ordained by the bishop. We find it almost regarded as a grievance that the Evangelists should have written in Greek, or at least that our prelates will not be contented with the English Version of the New Testament.

It is most mischievous for men, bringing with them no distinct conceptions in any branch of learning, and having, therefore, no criterion in their minds by which they can determine whether they thoroughly understand a difficult question or not, to be hurried through a course of theology, and to fancy themselves great divines. Such a training is found to produce inordinate conceit, and this, in the clerical profession, is sure to engender wild doctrine and extravagant pretensions. But the social effects of this early professional segregation in Theological Colleges are even worse than the intellectual ones; narrowmindedness, and class feeling, and the self-complacency arising from the low standard of a confined society, are its deplorable fruits.

It is well then for the University that she is fully alive to the dangers besetting the question upon this side. But it may be possible for students who are not very dull or illprepared to compress their general education into the first five terms, and to apply the remaining four, -not indeed to subjects of dogmatic or doctrinal theology,- but to a more systematic training in those portions of divinity which we at present recognize as parts of a general education, and to the acquisition of some knowledge which, valuable to all, will be especially so to the clergy. Now that a Degree can be obtained in nine terms most of our Students will have two years before them, in which to prepare for ordination, and so we should not consider our instruction with a direct reference to the Bishop's examinations, but endeavour to put our young men in the way of pursuing their after-studies by themselves; our business is, in fact, not to sow the soil, but so to dress it as to suit it for the crop which it is intended to bear.

To give the discussion of this matter a practical turn, and to shew the sort of thing intended, it will be well to draw up a rough outline of a scheme for providing an education of the kind we contemplate; it being understood that the details are only introduced to make the outline more intelligible.

« PreviousContinue »