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the special knowledge necessary to a schoolmaster;* but it is still a reproach to us that England does not possess one training-school which affords anything approaching to an adequate course of study and preparation for the masters of popular schools. And there is probably no other country in Europe in which the profession of education is left so much at the mercy of ignorance and quackery.
for the esta
of a central
Nearly five years since, the sum of £10,000 was Parliamen
tary grant, voted by Parliament towards the erection of 'normal 1835. or model schools,' for training schoolmasters. This sum, from whatever cause—but chiefly, it would seem, from the want of some central authority, able efficiently to watch its appropriation,-remained wholly unex- 1840. pended until the present year. On the formation of the Educational Committee of Proceed
ings of the the Privy Council, the appropriation of this grant be- Committee came matter of immediate consideration; and it appeared to the committee that its object would be best attained blishment by founding “a school in which candidates might ac- normal quire the knowledge necessary to the exercise of their school. future profession, and be practised in the most approved methods, both of moral training and of instruction.......
“ Such a school” (in the opinion of this committee) “necessarily included a model school in which children might be taught and trained, and it appeared expedient that it should comprise children of all ages, from three to fourteen, in sufficient numbers to form an infant school, as well as a school for children above seven. A considerable portion of the children were to board and lodge in the establishment, in order that the means
* See the evidence of the Rev. W. Johnson, clerical superintendent of the schools of the National Society, before the select committee of the Commons on Education.
of moral training might be proportionately more complete, and opportunities be afforded to the candidate teachers for acquiring a knowledge of the method of regulating the moral condition of such a household, greater than any which could be obtained in a school attended solely or chiefly by day scholars.
“The model school, thus formed, would have afforded examples of approved methods of instruction in each stage of proficiency, and in each department of knowledge. The earliest information of all improvements would have been obtained; they would have been systematically examined, and introduced when approved, in that form which might appear to render them most easily applicable to the wants of the country. Industrial and moral training were to be developed, so as constantly to give a practical tendency to the entire instruction of the school, supplying the future handicraftsman, or domestic servant, with the knowledge required in his station, and reducing precept to habit.
“The model and normal schools were to have been beneath the superintendence of a rector, acting under the regulation of the Committee of Council. The selection of teachers and of candidates for the office of teacher would have been a subject of great difficulty and importance. Diligent enquiry, under direction of the committee, concerning their previous habits and associations, an examination of their attainments, evidence of gentleness of disposition, and a fondness for the duties of an educator, together with a sense of the secular and religious responsibility of the office, would have been essential preliminaries to the admission of a candidate.
“The internal organization of the model school indicates the method of instruction which was to have been adopted. The Committee of Council proposed to arrange the classes in separate rooms, or in sections of the same apartment divided by partitions, so as to enable the simultaneous method to be applied to forty or fifty children of similar proficiency. The committee intended also to use the gallery, commonly employed only in the infant school, as a means of giving lessons on objects of sense, or lessons requiring illustrations from objects of sense, to the older children, in larger bodies than when assembled in the classes for mere technical instruction. The gallery would also have been used at periods when the teacher desired to assemble the children for serious moral admonition.....
......“ Means were to have been provided for the instruction of the candidate teachers in the theory of their art, and for furnishing them with whatever knowledge is necessary for success in it. The superintendence of their studies and the general regulation of their conduct would have devolved on the rector. He would have given lectures on the method and matter of instruction, and the whole art of training children...... Each course of study would have been conducted by him, as well as the reading, and the exercise and examination of the candidate teachers. The order in which they were admitted to the practice of their art in the school, and at length intrusted with the conjoint management of the classes, together with their ultimate examination and certificate, would have been chiefly regulated by him."*.........
The regulations proposed to be established with re- Proposed spect to religious instruction in the school, were these: regulations
respecting “Religious instruction to be considered as general religious
instruction and special.
in the cen“Religion to be combined with the whole matter tral normal of instruction, and to regulate the entire system of school. discipline.
* Recent Measures, etc., pp. 62-6.
“Periods to be set apart for such peculiar doctrinal instruction as might be required for the religious training of the children.
“A chaplain to be appointed to conduct the religious instruction of children whose parents or guardians belong to the established church.
“The parent or natural guardian of any other child to be permitted to secure the attendance of the licensed minister of his own persuasion, at the period appointed for special religious instruction, in order to give such instruction apart.
“A licensed minister to be appointed to give such special religious instruction, wherever the number of children in attendance on the model school, belonging to any religious body dissenting from the established church, is such as to appear to this committee to require such special provision..
“A portion of every day to be devoted to the reading of the Scriptures in the school, under the general direction of the committee and superintendence of the rector. Roman catholics, if their parents or guardians require it, to read their own version of the Scriptures, either at the time fixed for reading the Scriptures, or at the hours of special instruction."*
But, unfortunately, the latter portion of this planhaving reference to the provisions for religious instruction-met with so much opposition from the great majority of the clergy, as to give rise to long discussions and severe conflicts in Parliament, which at length resulted in the abandonment by the Committee of Council of their projected school, or at least in its postponement, until their motives and objects in establishing it should become better understood.
• Minute of the Committee of Council, April 11, 1839. Sessional papers, No. 177.
This submission on the part of the government has been strongly censured by some as needless and pusillanimous. In this censure, I confess, I cannot concur, believing, as I do, that while many of their most active opponents on the question were impelled by merely party motives, very many others were actuated by their conscientious opinions. The latter, indeed, I believe to have misapprehended the real character and tendencies of the plan, but their convictions must be altered, not overborne. In consequence of this step the immediate duties of Appropria
tion of the the committee, with respect to normal or teacher, up schools became limited to the appropriation of the of normal
schools. grant of 1835, which was accordingly offered in equal portions to the National School Society and to the British and Foreign School Society, on condition that the schools so aided should be subject to the committee's inspection, agreeably to the regulation laid down in their minute of the 3d of June, already quoted.
By the British and Foreign Society their offer was immediately accepted, but the National Society refused to accept it with the annexed conditions. One half of the sum, therefore, remains unappropriated. A grant of £1000 has been made in aid of the normal school at Glasgow from the general educational fund of the year.
It is much to be desired that the National School Society should cease to narrow its own means of usefulness by refusing to concede the point of inspection; but in the mean time it is gratifying to perceive that the society is at length making some efforts to improve the education of masters at its central school, and that similar efforts are now being made by most of the recently-established diocesan boards of education throughout England.
But it is not enough that means should be taken to