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in fine, of any effectual system of Welsh education must be the complete acquisition of English. /
So far I have been dealing chiefly with the importance of the subject, and the length to which this preface has run may seem disproportionate. I question, however, whether it could have been curtailed with advantage. It is quite as important to awaken the public mind in Wales to the gravity of the question, to show how the whole future of the Principality depends upon its solution, as to propound any definite cut and dried scheme.
Examining the existing educational machinery, we see that in Wales, as in other countries, teaching institutions divide naturally into three classes-(i.) lower or elementary schools; (ii.) middle or intermediate schools; (iii.) higher schools or universities. I propose to treat of each of these in turn.
(a) By common consent the elementary schools are regarded as the most perfectly organised part of the Welsh educational system, and there is no doubt that if statistics are to be trusted, their success has been remarkable. In spite of the fact that at least half the children attending them enter without any appreciable knowledge of English, the percentage reaching the various standards is fully up to that attained in similar English schools, in some cases even beyond it. Yet there are some points in connection with them that deserve serious consideration.
In the opinion of many able men, amongst them several school inspectors and many of the most successful elementary teachers, the system, as at present worked throughout the United Kingdom, is vitiated by at least one serious defect. People have begun to see through the pretensions of the system which arrogated to itself the title of Payment by Results, from the shelter of which it is most difficult to dislodge it. Question-begging names play a large and sinister part in the history of nations and institutions. A critic who attacks the system is at once met with the triumphant objection, "Then you propose to pay without reference to results!" The fallacy lies in the assumption that the results thus produced, tabulated and rewarded, are educational results. Now while admitting that in numbers of cases boys who pass a standard are educated in the true sense of the word up to that standard, i.e., have assimilated and not merely taken in the quantity of information required, I altogether deny that the test provided is adequate to distinguish between the two cases, between education proper and "cram." Knowledge really assimilated strengthens and expands the mind and furnishes at the same time a store of material for the work of after life; facts which are "crammed," on the contrary, are available only for the particular examination in view, and actually impair mental vigour and freshness. It is not exaggeration to say that a child or man who has “crammed "
a subject is actually worse fitted for the struggle of life than if he had never touched it at all. I do not mean, of course, that he will fail to pass the competitive examination which may be the entrance to his profession; but he will be no better furnished with knowledge than before, and worse with brains. the remedy for this? For the proposal of any detailed scheme I feel I have not sufficient experience; but I think it will be found that any that will solve the difficulty must proceed on the principle of giving more latitude to the individual masters in the choice both of subject and of method, and of recognising that examination by marks alone is often most misleading.
To another point, which has long seemed to me defective, attention has been less called. In a completely organised scheme of national education the Elementary Schools have two functions to perform. Of the children they receive, the rank and file will finish their schooling when they leave the Elementary Schools, and will then begin to earn their own living; there will remain a residuum of clever boys and girls who will be passed on to the Intermediate Schools. To neither of these two classes is full justice done at present. It is of the highest importance that children of real ability should not sink down into the ruck of the ordinary labour market and become lost to the nation for speculative study and professional work. A considerable portion of this class are children of parents who cannot afford to continue their schooling. Unless help is extended their education ceases and the country is so much the loser. It was this consideration which led, a few years ago, to the formation of an association whose object it was, by a system of scholarships and exhibitions, to enable clever boys and girls from the Elementary Schools to pursue their education in the Intermediate. So marked has been its success, that public opinion will, we hope, demand that in any re-organisation of our schools the programme of the North Wales Scholarship Association shall be in its main lines adopted.
But it is to the treatment of the children whose schooling terminates with the Elementary School that attention should be specially drawn. The Scholarship Association has extended its influence far and wide, and it may be assumed that when the time comes its members will make their voices heard; but their programme affects only the fortunes of the smaller class of children who are fit to proceed to higher intellectual studies. Is all being done that should be done for the larger class, when they are taught to read, write, and cipher? Has the question of technical education in the Elementary Schools received the attention it deserves? Is it not rare to hear it so much as mentioned? Yet I hope to show reason for believing that in it may be contained the solution, at all events the partial
solution, of some of the difficulties which beset primary education on the one hand and manufacturing prosperity on the other. Consider for a moment the probable effect of teaching, side by side with the "three R's" carpentry, shoemaking, or some similar trade. The natural objection will doubtless rise that this extra subject would involve a sacrifice of time that ought to be spent in head work, a sacrifice the less justifiable because in all probability the opportunity for book learning will never return. If this be true, the objection is most serious. The slight material advantage of greater mechanical skill might be bought too dear, if the price were the mental development of the workers. But would such be the effect? I believe, on the contrary, that far from impeding, it would actually assist the prosecution of the ordinary school work. We must not be misled by the antithesis of head-work and hand-work. The hand is only the instrument of the head after all, and many kinds of skilled mechanical labour demand a high exercise of intellectual quickness and resource. Again in the teaching of children of ordinary ability, is not one of the greatest difficulties found to be their incapacity for taking interest in what is not material and tangible? The self-willed relapse into sullenness and oppose a passive resistance to what they regard as the unreasonable demands of their teacher, the more obedient load their memories with information which they do not understand, and which has no relation in their minds with the real world around them. Such a method of acquiring knowledge affords no intellectual training. Now it is exactly this class who would be intellectually benefited by being obliged to use their hands. Hand-work requiring skill would at once interest them and make them think, and, the lesson of thinking once learnt, they would be in a far better position to derive profit from their books than if these occupied their whole time. This is not mere conjecture. The intellectual advantage of actual physical work with the hands has been forced upon my attention by two sessions of college work. In a country where English is only partially understood, one of the chief difficulties we have had to contend against has been the tendency to memorise without understanding. This is most marked in the case of students who have never been to any Intermediate School. The difficulty in these cases is to get the student to think and reason. Sometimes it is a whole term before any change in mental attitude is produced, and even then there remains a tendency to relapse into the old ways. My uniform experience has been that the best way to accelerate this change is to prescribe a course of practical work in one of the scientific laboratories. No one can manipulate a delicate instrument, or attempt to conduct an experiment, without being forced to fall back on his common
sense, and when once the learner finds out that common sense is as necessary in study as in the ordinary relations of life, half the difficulty of teaching is gone. That the introduction of hand-work into the Elementary Schools would raise the standard of head-work I have, so far, endeavoured to show. That it would also tend to improve the quality of English labour, and thus to give an advantage to English manufactures in the international market, is so obvious that it need not be dwelt upon.
(b) Let us pass on to the Intermediate Schools, admittedly the weakest, as the Elementary Schools are the strongest link in the chain of Welsh education. Here again a perfect system would present a two-fold aspect. The pupils divide as before into two classes, (i.) those whose schooling ends when they finally quit the school; (ii.) those of more talent who should be passed on to the University Colleges. Again a double system will be necessary, such as at present can hardly be said to exist in the Principality. Each Intermediate School should have (i.) a Modern Side, corresponding to the Modern side of the English Public School or to the German Real-schulen, in which modern languages, and perhaps Latin, should be studied, along, of course, with history, geography, and mathematics; (ii.) a Classical Side, in which the staple would be Latin, Greek, and Mathematics, supplemented by one modern language. Till we recognise that commercial success will be in future more and more restricted to men who have a thorough familiarity with French, German, and perhaps Italian, a familiarity not confined to reading, but extending to fluency and idiomatic propriety both in conversation and in composition, we must be content to see the best places in our counting houses still monopolised by foreigners. That, it seems to me, is the chief defect of the Welsh Intermediate Schools, as they are at present. And when the long promised reconstruction arrives, it should be the peculiar care of the Welsh residents of Liverpool, the natural representatives and guardians of the commercial interests of North Wales, to see that in the babel of party strife which is sure to arise those interests shall not be neglected.
The mention of the Intermediate Education Bill suggests another danger and another warning. The late Bill spoke of inspection, and some system of inspection there must, of course, be; but the language used, vague as it was, seemed to hint at the establishment of the results' fee system already prevailing in the Elementary Schools. While it is unnecessary to repeat the arguments against that system which have been already given, it should be borne in mind that the principle becomes more disastrous the higher the class of work to which it is applied. It has done harm in the Elementary Schools; it would necessarily do still more in the Intermediate Schools. Some of the defenders
of the system indeed recognise its inapplicability to higher kinds of work, and would confine it entirely to the Elementary Schools; and it may be doubted whether there are any so firm in their allegiance as to advocate its extension to the University Colleges. In itself, then, the system is inimical to true education. But to Wales its further adoption would be peculiarly hazardous. It is the pet principle of the Education Office. Once introduce it into the Intermediate Schools, and the whole management of Welsh intermediate education will fall into the hands of London officials. But if there is one thing in the sphere of education that ought to invite the care of a Welshman more than another, it is that the Welsh schools and colleges should not be forced into a particular groove, formed for a population differing widely in quality of intellect and social organisation. In matters of administration men of all parties are beginning to see more and more clearly that, if local vitality is to be maintained—and local vitality is a prime condition of national vigour-there must be a movement in the direction of decentralisation. The government of Welsh education by a board of London officials, whose acquaintance with the character and needs of the Principality could be but scanty, might no doubt lead to greater uniformity and more perfect mechanism. But uniformity and mechanism. doubtful advantages in education; variety and elasticity are rather needed in the treatment of material so full of diversity, so irreducible to any common denominator as the human intellect. It will be a bad thing for national originality of thought when the head of the Education Department can utter the boast of the French Minister, "I have only to look at my watch to know what book every boy in France is reading." We should insist that the Welsh Schools shall be administered in Wales, if the characteristic qualities of the Welsh mind are to leaven British thought, and not to be eliminated as superfluous or incompatible. It is easy to see also that the future of the colleges is so bound up with that of the schools, that if the latter fall under external management, the independence of the former is not likely to continue. The tendency of the day is opposed to an unorganised system, in which the schools or one section of them are under central and the colleges under local control. The ultimate choice lies between two organised systems, one administered in London, the other in Wales. If we fail to get hold of the schools, we shall probably lose the colleges,
I have called the want of a Modern Side the chief defect of the Intermediate Schools. But there are other and more general complaints of inefficiency which must not be passed These complaints are, I believe, much exaggerated. In many cases they are, perhaps, a survival from a state of things