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Electricity; Magnetism; Galvanism; Electro-magnetism and Light; Cosmography.
Chemistry, the Elements; French; German ; Drawing, and (optionally) Latin.
This examination is partly written and partly oral. It is not public, but conducted in the following manner :
Five examiners are appointed by the minister of war to examine the candidates at Paris, and at the several towns named for the purpose throughout France.
Two of these examiners conduct what may be called a preliminary examination (du premier degré,) and the other three a second examination (du second degré.) The preliminary examiners precede by a few days in their journey through France those who conduct the second examination. The written compositions come before either.
The preliminary examination (du premier degré) is made solely for the purpose of ascertaining whether the candidates possess sufficient knowledge to warrant their being admitted to the second examination; and the second examination serves, in conjunction with the written compositions, for their classification in the order of merit.
Prior to the examination, each candidate is called upon to give in certain written sheets containing calculations, sketches, plans and drawings, executed by him at school during the year, certified and dated by the professor under whom he has studied. Care is taken to ascertain whether these are the pupils' own work, and any deception in this matter, if discovered, excludes at once from the competition of the school.
This done, the candidates are required to reply in writing to written or printed questions, and to write out French and German exercises; great care being taken to prevent copying. This written examination occupies about twenty-four hours during three and a half separate days, as shown in the following table. It usually takes place in the presence of certain official authorities, the examiners not being present. First Sitting.
Second Sitting. Arithmetic, · · · · 1 Algebra, · · Geometry, · · · · 1 History, geography, and Latin, · · · ·
French, • •
Hours. . 1
Third Sitting. Descriptive geometry, and dia
gram, or sketch, ·
· 24 hours. Next, each candidate is examined orally for three-quarters of an hour, on two successive days, by each of the two examiners separately, and each examiner makes a note of the admissibility or nonadmissibility of the candidate.
At the close of this oral examination, the notes relating to the various candidates are compared, and if the examiners differ as to the admissibility of any candidate, he is recalled, further orally examined, and his written exercises carefully referred to, both examiners being present. A final decision is then made.
The preliminary examiners then supply the others with a list of the candidates who are entitled to be admitted to the second oral examination. On this occasion each candidate is separately examined for one hour and a half by each examiner, but care is taken that in all the principal subjects of study the candidate is examined by at least two out of the three examiners.
Each examiner records his opinion of the merits of every candidate in replying, orally and in writing, by awarding him a credit varying between 0 and 20, the highest number indicating a very superior result:
This scale of merit is employed to express the value of the oral replies, written answers, or drawings. It has the following signification, and appears to be generally in use in the French military schools :
20 denotes perfect.
7 denotes bad.
4 " very bad.
2) « almost nothing. passable.
of " nothing. 10. " middling
14 13 12 11
Considerable latitude is granted to the examiner engaged in deciding upon the amount of credit to be allowed to the student, for the manner in which he replies to the various questions. He is ex
pected to bear in mind the temperament of the candidate, his confidence or timidity, as well as the difficulty of the questions, when judging of the quality of the reply, more value being given for an imperfect answer to a difficult question than for a more perfect reply to an easy one.
The reports of the examiners, together with the various documents belonging to each candidate, are sent from each town to the minister at war, who transmits them to the commandant of the Polytechnic School to make out a classified list.
Very different value of course is attached to the importance of some of the subjects, when compared with others; and the measure of the importance is represented in French examinations by what are termed co-efficients of influence, varying for the several subjects of study and kind of examination. The particular co-efficients of influence for each subject in these written and oral examinations, are as follows:
Influence. Oral examination analytical mathematics,.....
German language, .........
descriptive geometry, drawing, and
6 physics or chemistry, .....
Total, ....................... In order to make out the above mentioned classified list, the respective credits awarded by the examiners to each candidate are multiplied by the co-efficients representing the weight or importance attached to each subject; and the sum of their products furnishes a numerical result, representing the degree of merit of each candidate.
A comparison of these numerical results is then made, and a general list of all the candidates is arranged in order of merit.
This list, and the whole of the documents from which it has been drawn up, are then submitted to a jury composed of the
Commandant of the School.
It is the special business of this jury carefully to scrutinize the whole of the candidates' documents, drawings, &c., and they further take care that a failure in any one branch of study is duly noted, as such failure is a sufficient reason for the exclusion of the candidate from the general list.
As soon as this general list has been thoroughly verified, it is submitted to the minister of war, who is empowered to add onetenth to the number actually required for the public services; and thus it may happen that one-tenth of the pupils may annually be disappointed.
The conditions and mode of admission to the Special Military Schools, for Engineers and Artillerists at Metz,-for the Cavalry and Infantry at St. Cyr,—for the Staff at Paris, in France; and for the Engineers and Artillery at Berlin, and for the other Military Schools of Prussia, can be consulted in Barnard's “Military Schools and Education in France and Prussia," published by J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, as well as in this Journal, Vol. XII.
The experience of England in the application of the principle of Competitive Examination, not only in appointments and promotions in the Military and Naval Schools, but in the East India Service, and the Civil Service generally, will be presented in the next Number, or Volume of this Journal
II. ALDEN PARTRIDGE.
NOTE. As an Appendix to our Memoir of Capt. Alden Partridge, we republish the following Memorial by him to the Congress of the United States, not because we approve the objects or the arguments of either document, but as part of the educational history of the country.
MEMORIAL OF ALDEN PARTRIDGE, Relating to the Military Academy at West Point, and praying that young men educated at other military schools may have an equal chance for admission to the army as those young men have who are educated at West Point. January 21,
1841. Referred to the Committee on Military Affairs. To the Honorable Congress of the United States : The memorial of Alden Par
tridge, President of the Norwich University, at Norwich, State of Vermont, respectfully showeth:
That your memorialist holds it to be a cardinal principle of our republican institutions, that stations of honor, trust, and emolument should be equally open to all our citizens, to which all have an equal right to aspire, and from which none can constitutionally be excluded by any law, rule, or regulation whatever. Your memorialist has, however, witnessed, with deep regret, a direct violation of this vital principle of our constitution, by the rules and regulations adopted for the organization and government of the Military Academy at West Point. The cadets of that institution, all of whom are educated at the public expense, have, for many years, monopolized nearly, if not quite, all of the stations of honor, trust, and emolument, above that of a non-commissioned officer, in the military establishment of the United States, to the utter exclusion of those who are equally well qualified, equally meritorious, and who are educated at their own expense. But, in order to place this subject more clearly before your honorable body, your memorialist would call your attention to the law of the 29th of April, 1812, entitled, "An act making further provision for the corps of engineers." By the provisions of this act, no candidate can be admitted into the Military Academy who is under fourteen, or over twenty-one, years of age. The effect of this provision is to exclude every young man in the United States who is above twenty-one years of age from the appointment of cadet, while the rules of the War department require that none except those educated at this academy can be commissioned in the army of the United States. The effect, then, of the law and regulation is to utterly exclude all the youth of our coun. try, except such select few as the President may think proper to place in this "public charity school," from the military service of their country, who are above twenty one years of age, unless they will enter in the humble capacity of privates or non-commissioned officers. And can such a system be in accordance with the principles of our constitution? Your memorialist believes not. On