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the effect that the prices quoted in the Gazette are the prices for the quarter of eight bushels of such statutory weights.” 1
But nothing happened. Successful as the spirit of the nineteenth century was in drawing a steam-roller over the life of the agricultural labourer and flattening it into a moribund dullness, it failed comically before the marketing peculiarities of the farmer, his master. There was, however, one ground for consolation. In 1891 the farmers were not standing between the country and uniformity, for in the meantime Liverpool had moved on to a weight of its own, different from any used hitherto. Liverpool was now selling by “centals." Mark Lane disliked the innovation and scented an Americanism, but the ex-chairman of the Liverpool Corn Exchange declared that this was untrue. Only California bought and sold by the cental; the rest of America by the bushel of sixty pounds. The cental was adopted in 1858, when the regulation of the weights used in the sale of grain was being agitated in Parliament, and since then it had been carried by merchants in their dealings with millers (not with farmers) over a large part of the country. It “extends up to Carlisle in the north, down the Welsh coast as far as Cardiff; to Oxford in the midlands, to Leicester towards the eastern coast, and to Hull on the far eastern coast; so that the millers and dealers in grain over this enormous area-half England—are entirely familiar with the cental, and yet men talk as if it were an unknown weight.” 3 Liverpocl's dignity was outraged.
The convenience of the cental of 100 pounds, which is employed in these areas at the present day, is that it is more convenient for calculation than the hundredweight of 112 pounds. One sack ---and it is in sacks that the grain is sold from Liverpool-contains 250 pounds, or two and a half centals. “But you told us," Mr. Woodward was asked, “ that you buy wheat 60 pounds to the bushel; does that mean that every bushel must weigh 60 pounds ?” “No, it is scarcely this; the bushel has practically nothing to do with it; you simply shovel so much wheat into the sack and then weigh the sack, and when you have weighed the sack you lose sight of the bushel altogether.” 4 Does Liverpool then of all places pay no attention to quality ? No; for the quality has already been checked and determined by the elaborate system of grading which is conducted in America. England led
1 Report, issued May 15, 1893, p. 7.
? Committee (H. of C.) on Corn Sales, 1893. Evidence of Mr. H. C. Wood. ward, Qs. 505, 599. • Ibid., Q. 522.
• Ibid., Q. 553.
the way with the grading of metals in the eighteenth century, America extended the grading system independently to the great agricultural staples; and it was a pure coincidence that at the time Liverpool was introducing the cental, Chicago was building grain elevators and grading grain.
Therefore we must, in conclusion, ask a question which we have hitherto suppressed, namely–How was a big market like Liverpool able to sell by weight before the days of grading? The answer seems to be that Liverpool did not altogether do so. The grain was weighed in sacks containing so many bushels, so that any serious deviation from the normal weight per bushel could be detected. This means that Liverpool was in effect using a “ weighed measure.” But how did Ireland or any other place ever get on with sale by weight only? The answer seems to be that Ireland was mainly a producer of oats and that in this ruder cereal variation is less important. In England malting barley, which often sells at a higher price than wheat, has hitherto been sold by measure alone; for weight was of no consequence, or rather it was a drawback, the best barley being thin-skinned and light. But grinding barley, which is frequently cheaper than oats, is sold by weight, since the question of quality does not enter in.
There is always a reason for the way in which things are done, even though there are transcending reasons for doing them differently; and a mystery generally ceases to be mysterious when we pry into its historical evolution.
C. R. FAY University of Toronto.
AN EXPERIMENT IN THE TEACHING OF ECONOMICS
AND KINDRED SUBJECTS THE Oxford Conference of teachers of Economics and allied subjects, held last January, spent the greater part of its time discussing teaching methods and the contents of courses. To the younger men present much of this discussion was familiar, for the ground has been frequently traversed at conferences of teachers of university tutorial classes during the past decade. But the presence at Oxford of the heads of departments from most of the English universities, the variety of experiences and points of view expressed—some sessions were almost testimony meetings —and the decision to meet again next year are all indications of probable important developments in the university treatment of Economics and its relatives.
The need for a stock-taking of our teaching methods is urgent. Economics was for long the Cinderella of the Arts Faculty, but during this century it has made such strides in status and popularity that it is in some universities one of the largest subjects in the Arts curriculum, has an Honours School, and serves as the starting-point for a degree in Commerce. Its subject matter makes a strong appeal to those students who are interested in current economic and social questions, and, given right methods of teaching, its educational value can be made as great as that usually attributed to a training in the classics, mathematics, philosophy or the physical sciences.
Given right methods of teaching ! Most of us describe ourselves as “ teachers of Economics,” but place all the emphasis on “ Economics ” and have none left for “ teachers.” We give abundant thought and time to the study of our subject, and devote our spare hours to extending the bounds of economic knowledge. But do we give any thought to our teaching function? Do we consider how the teaching of our special subject should be related to the whole task of producing an educated man? If one-third of our students fail at every examination, is this a reflection on the capacity of the students, on our examination system, or on our teaching methods ? For at least twenty years teachers in elementary and secondary schools have given almost as much thought to method as to matter, and the schools have been
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revolutionised in consequence. But one doubts if there has been any such drastic change in university methods. Men are appointed to positions involving a large amount of teaching work on the strength of their reputation as scholars, without any thought of their fitness for handling students. Teachers adopt the methods prevailing at the university in which they are employed, or those under which they themselves were trained. Thus we get into a rut—one as deep as those which Arthur Young found on some eighteenth-century roads—from the depths of which we are seldom able to gain a view of the broad field of educational aims and purpose.
Without attempting the age-long task of defining the aim of education, we can at least enumerate the qualities we wish to find in an educated man. Well-informed, certainly, but more than that. Thoughtful, critical in outlook, capable of investigating problems for himself, knowing how to search for evidence and how to sift it, tolerant, socially-minded, able to work with and for others, and so forth. To produce these results students of Arts subjects and the social sciences are, in most universities, subjected to strenuous instruction by lectures. In the two old English universities lectures play a subordinate part in the scheme of things, but in the new ones, both in America and the British Empire, students may be compelled to attend up to twelve or fifteen lectures each week. In addition there are text-books to be read, often covering just the same ground as the lectures, and possibly essays to be written, discussion classes or seminars to be attended. But the lectures are the important part of the work, and attendance at a prescribed portion of a thirty, sixty, or even ninety lecture course is required before à person is permitted to sit for examination in the subject.
Now lectures may be a joy to teacher and student alike, and one would welcome the broadcasting throughout Great Britain of some lecture courses given to-day in British universities. Where the lecture is an inspiration to the student, filling him with a burning desire to go and find out more about a subject, or where it provokes him to doubt and a desire to disagree with the lecturer, its educational value may be great. Further, lectures which give an introductory general survey of the field, leaving the more detailed study to be undertaken by the student, and those dealing with special topics on which the lecturer is an authority, are valuable. But against the lecture system as a whole, as it operates in many universities, discerning students and candid teachers would bring some of the following criticisms.
(1) The teacher speaks ex cathedra, and his verdicts are accepted without question.
(2) The student's writing arm is active, but he is mentally as passive as a sponge. He is so busy condensing the lecture into note form, or actually writing down a lecture which is really a dictation lesson, that there is no time for thought or the expression of doubt. The story is told of an Australian lecturer who noticed that one member of his class was sitting, hands in pockets, while other students were writing hard. “You don't seem to be taking my lecture down, Mr. Smith.” “No, sir,” came the reply. “I have my father's notes here.” One wonders of how many teachers the story might be true.
(3) Lectures, especially if compulsory, resemble forcible feeding, and feeding at a standardised pace. The matter of pace is important. The teacher thinks aloud, but not all the members of the class are capable even of keeping abreast of him--especially if they have the distraction of taking notes as well—and many will be unable to digest all the food presented in the lecture. Minds move at different speeds and appetites vary in size; the lecture ignores these facts.
Many other criticisms might be made, such as (a) the tendency of students to assume that a full knowledge of their notes will allow them to scrape through, and the consequent neglect of additional reading; (b) the influence, not always beneficial, of the personality of the lecturer; (c) the possibly demoralising effect on the teacher of repeating year after year the same set of lectures from the same set of notes or actual manuscript; (d) the lack of any personal contact, in the actual teaching work, between lecturer and student.
If the above general criticisms are fair, it is necessary to search for a method of teaching which will render the student active instead of passive, allow him to study at the pace suitable to his mentality, make him a searcher instead of a scribbler, give him the necessary general guidance and then send him out to study and criticise for himself, and allow for co-operation between the student and his fellows on the one hand and between the student and his teacher on the other. Along such lines run the Dalton plan and “ Self-government” experiments which are now being carried out so successfully in an increasing number of schools, and during the next few years students will be coming up to the universities who are in the habit of governing part of their own educational activity, who will know how to work by themselves and will not be content to have dictation lessons and