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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 41

Colleges of Practical Science

Colleges of Practical Science.

Colleges of Practical Science needed.

If the State determines to found a faculty of Engineering and Practical Science in the University, it will be almost necessary to establish schools in which students may prepare for their University course. The high schools, whose plan I have indicated, will do this to a great extent. Pupils who have mastered algebra and geometry, chemistry, botany, French, and book-keeping, will be excellently prepared for the further work necessary to obtain certificates of engineering or commerce. But the two all-important subjects of agriculture and mining require training of another kind, and parts of which may be best given at a distance from Melbourne.

Slate farm at Dookie.

The State has already set apart land for a farm or college of agriculture near Cashel or Dookie, and in the Bullarook State forest. I have visited Dookie, in company with Mr. Wallis, the Secretary of Agriculture, to whom I beg to return my best thanks for the kind assistance he has given me in drawing up a plan for agricultural studentships. The Dookie estate contains land of all kinds and qualities. Part of it is lightly timbered pastoral land, part more or less clear and adapted for agriculture, while part under the hills could be irrigated at no great expense, and is well suited for vineyards and orchards. The first expenses of forming the farms are now almost at an end, and as soon as buildings have been put up, there seems every prospect that the farm will be able to pay its way, supporting a resident staff of a manager, a chemist, and a veterinary surgeon. The farm has of course certain primary uses, which are foreign to my purpose. It is intended to show what crops may be profitably grown in the Ovens district, how land may be improved and made to pay, and what are the best breeds of cattle, sheep, or horses, and how they should be managed. Its chemist will test soils for all the neighbourhood, and its surgeon give advice where there is disease. Meanwhile, such an establishment seems admirably adapted for the training of young farmers. Mr. Wallis holds strongly that a boy should begin farm work at fifteen or thereabouts if he is to page 145 work profitably. I have, therefore, proposed that six scholarships

What agricultural students may learn at Dookie.

should be given every year to students who have completed their second year's course at a high school, and that these scholarships should entitle them to two years' training on Dookie farm and to an exhibition afterwards of £50 for a year's course at the University. This will give twelve students always resident at Dookie, and I assume, what I think it is not unreasonable to expect, that their work will pay or will nearly pay for their board, even with an allowance of two or three hours a day for chemical work in the laboratory, for courses under the veterinary surgeon, and for reading by themselves. Meanwhile they will be gaining insight into the most approved methods of modem agriculture, will see machinery in constant use which they could not see or handle at their own homes, will be practiced in every kind of farm work from bush-clearing to vine-culture, will enlarge their school botany by studying the experimental portions of the grounds, and will be taught the first principles of breeding by a trained farmer.
In the so-called German parts of Austria, with a population of

An Austrian school of agriculture.

twenty millions, the State spent in 1875 about £63,000 on schools of agriculture and forestry. Were this expenditure translated into Australian rates, it would represent at least £10,000 a year on schools of this class, preparatory to the University. I extract the details of one of the chief Austrian establishments from the official report of 1874-5:—

Higher Agricultural District School of Liebnerd Tetschen, in Bohemia, founded in 1850. Course of three years. Language of instruction, German.

Conditions of admission.—Six classes of a gymnasium or oberreal school (high practical school), with credit, or an equivalent education, and proof of a preparatory year spent in practical farm work.

A boarding-house is in connection with the institute.

Age of admission, 17; distribution of time, 24 hours of theory, 12 of practical work.

Size of the institute farm and experimental grounds:—The area of the lands of the Liebwerd farm comprises about 224 acres of arable, 62 acres of pasture, 1? acre of hop garden; altogether about 387?-acres: that of the experimental farm, of the vegetable and of the agricultural botanic garden, about 12? acres.

Number of teachers.—Eight regular, and eight assistants.

Number of students at the beginning of the scholastic year:—In 1873-4, 84; in 1874-5, 88, including 6 extraordinary students. Average, since the foundation of the institution, 44.

Place of birth (a) and education (b) of the 86 students present at the end of March, in the collective courses:—
a.Omitted; all Austrian.
b.Theoretical studies (pursued before entering the college).—Law studies, 2 students; two years at the polytechnic, 1; seven classes in a school of practical science (real-schule); six classes in a real-schule, 11; five classes page 146 in a real-sclule, 6; four classes in a real-schule, 9; three classes in a real-schule, 18; eight classes in a gymnasium (grammar school), 4; seven classes in a gymnasium, 2; six classes in a gymnasium, 2; five classes in a gymnasium, 2; four classes in a gymnasium, 13; higher agricultural institutes and schools, 8; military and commercial schools (Handel-schule), 6.
c.Practical studies.—Eleven years' practical work, 2; seven years' practical work, 2; five years' practical work, 1; four to two years', 24; one year, 46; no preliminary practical studies, 11.

Tariff of yearly fees.—Instruction: Ordinary students whose parents live in Bohemia, £8; ordinary students whose parents do not live in Bohemia, £10; extraordinary students, £12; board and lodging, £31 10s.

Scholarships given immediately to scholars.—Two of £45, given by the Department of Agriculture; three of £60, by Count Straka; four by the Moravian district council, of £40.

Expenditure.—Salaries of teachers, £807; board, £444; household, experiments, administration, &c., £1,140.

Contributed by the district.—Ordinary, £1,200; extraordinary, £10; taken in fees, £704.

Remark.—No account is taken of the students' board in the items of receipt and expenditure.

There are 27 schools of this class in Austria, besides 20 for special subjects such as viticulture, 3 schools of forestry, and 4 of farriery.

Preparatory course for an agricultural student in Austria.

It will be seen that the school of Liebwerd Tetschen tries to exact from its pupils a preparatory course of six classes in a realschule. Six classes mean about seven years' work, and the pupils' time is distributed pretty much as follows:—German, 4 to 5 hours; geography and history, 3 to 4 hours; arithmetic, 6 to 11 hours; natural history, 2 hours; physics, 2 to 4 hours; chemistry, 2 to 6 hours; geometrical drawing, 6 hours; architecture and machinery, 2 hours in the sixth class; averaging rather more than 30 hours' a week for each student, an allowance which seems excessive to English ideas. Besides this, French was taught in 1871 in 25 out of 40 schools, Italian in 20, and English in 7; but the study of these languages was optional. Altogether, the Austrian agricultural student, if he has worked according to programme, will know more mathematics and science than the scholar from a Victorian high school, but probably less language. At the same time it will be observed that the extreme condition of six classes was not insisted on at Liebwerd Tetschen.

Austrian students pay the cost of their own education.

In the next place it will, I hope, be noticed, that 77 out of 86 students paid their own expenses at the agricultural college. These expenses strike me as very high for so poor a country as Austria; and there are, in fact, cheaper schools of the kind, where the whole expenses only amount to £30 or even £20 a year. Meanwhile the capital fact remains, that even in so backward a country as Austria lately was, more than a thousand pupils are sent, mostly at their own expense, after a careful page 147 education, to study scientific agriculture in schools specially set apart for the purpose.*
The instruction given at the Austrian agricultural schools is

Course of agricultural instruction in Austria.

divided into preparatory and special. The preparatory studies comprise natural philosophy, climatology, mechanics, chemistry, mineralogy, geology, and the constitution of soils; botany and the physiology of plants, zoology, and political economy. The special subjects include the science of the growth of plants on physiological principles, with an understanding of irrigation and draining, a knowledge of agricultural machinery, the scientific principles of stock breeding, agricultural chemistry, agricultural organization in connection with taxation, and a knowledge of the laws relating to agriculture. Without a larger staff than I dare as yet propose for our agricultural college, so comprehensive a course as this cannot be attempted. Moreover, some of the subjects, such as political economy, taxation, and land, seem to belong to the higher parts of a university course, rather than to an agricultural college. But assuming the students to come

In Victoria.

up from the high school, knowing algebra up to quadratics, geometry to the extent of the first two books of Euclid, the elements of chemistry and botany, and so much of climatology as is taught in physical geography, they ought, during their two years at Dookie, to master—
  • The principles of laying out a farm,
  • The rotation of crops,
  • The chief points in stock,
  • The use of tools and machines; from the farm manager.
  • The treatment of disease in stock, with some knowledge of anatomy, from the veterinary surgeon; and
The analysis of soil's and manures, from the farm chemist. Nor would it be difficult, I think, to arrange for their receiving

What may be taught in Melbourne.

some practical instruction in land surveying, if the success of

* A letter from Professor Lacoppidan to Mr. Luplau, of Ballarat, gives an interesting account of the working of a Danish Agricultural College. "* * * * * * * Before I commence to describe Nœsgaard (his own school), I will draw your attention to the fact that the Royal Danish Agricultural Society has existed for more than 100 years, and has 700 members paying an annual subscription of 20 kroners (about £1 2s.) each, and has further an income of 16,000 kroners, altogether 30,000 kroners (about £1,650). This society places about 130 young men every year, principally selected from the farmers, as apprentices amongst the most eminent agriculturists They serve three years altogether, but only one year at one farm, serving their three years with three different employers. The apprentice receives his board and lodging and small pay; when his time is served out he receives a certificate from the society. This system has produced large benefit. Instruction at Nœsgaard school is all directed to agriculture. It was instituted in 1849 from the Classenske legacies, an institution that owes it creation to General Classen, who left two large landed properties and a large sum of money for philanthropic purposes. The school receives on the 1st May each year nine pupils from the farming classes, who remain there two years, so that there are always eighteen pupils, divided into two classes, a senior and junior class. The pupils pay 200 kroners each annually (£11), for which he receives board, lodging, and instruction. Nœsgaard consists of 300 sonder (about 400 acres) arable land, and 160 sonder of land reclaimed from the ocean. The stock consists of 18 horses, 80 milch cows, 12 fattening cattle, and 200 sheep. The head master is the practical teacher, and he has a steward to assist him. The theoretical instruction is imparted by two resident teachers and a veterinary surgeon, who visits the school twice a week for two hours. The pupils receive theoretical instruction one half of the day, the other half they are engaged either in the field, stable, dairy, or practising with the axe, and learning to make the smaller implements; they are also employed at gardening. The lessons are so arranged that when the senior class are on practice, the junior are on theory, and vice versa; but it is so arranged that the two half-days' work follow one another. The practical work is carried on in the ordinary working hours, from 6 o'clock in the morning to half-past 11, and from 2 o'clock in the afternoon until evening; the theoretical instruction occupies three hours a day to each class. First half-year, the junior class is instructed in writing, arithmetic, drawing, and natural history; second half-year, geometry, a little stereometry, also chemistry and physics; third half-year, instruction is given in the uses of domestic animals, soils, and botany; fourth and last half-year, stock-rearing, agricultural teaching, land surveying and levelling. The object of our school is to impart to the youths of our farmers those subjects that especially apply to agriculture, and for this purpose it is requisite that they shall understand both the principles and auxiliaries on which success depends. Nœsgaard school is the only one in Denmark where both practical and theoretical education is imparted; all the other schools are principally theoretical. Besides the income Nœsgaard school receives from the pupils there is the income from the farm, so that you see the establishment is pretty expensive. It is much sought after. There are invariably at least thirty applications for the nine annual vacancies; more cannot be taken according to the regulations."

page 148 the school appeared to warrant any extra expense. This would leave mechanics, engineering, comparative anatomy and physiology, mineralogy, geology, and entomology, subjects that can be best taught in a university and in the neighbourhood of a museum, for the Melbourne course; to be arranged by the faculty of Practical Science, as it shall think fit.

Experience of Italy favours experimental farms.

In connection with this scheme of study I may observe that in Italy, where "technical" or "real" schools are so popular that they are driving out the old grammar schools, the experiment has been tried of teaching agriculture in the lecture-room, and in the lecture-room alone. As a consequence of this method, the Minister of Agriculture reported in 1876 that "there was a general complaint that students who had obtained certificates of agriculture were deficient in practical training, and therefore could not easily get employment in the profession they had embraced." The Minister directed accordingly, that an experimental farm should be annexed to every school, "so that the pupils might not only see the farm machines at work, but might further execute every kind of work, for superintending which they might wish to fit themselves."*

Schools of forestry and their use.

It is too early for ourselves to start schools of forestry, as we cannot employ any great number of trained foresters, or expect many pupils to attend such schools for their own instruction. But a certain knowledge of the insects that prove dangerous to trees ought, I think, to be demanded from every one holding a certificate of agriculture. A single instance will show the importance of such knowledge. Towards 1873 the ravages of an insect called the birch bug (bostrychus typographus), in the forests of Bohemia and Galicia, became so formidable that the Government was obliged to take stringent measures for arresting them. In one district alone more than a quarter of a million fir trees, which the birch bug had destroyed, were burned in nine months at the expense of the State; and in the year 1874, £51,880 were spent on labour for this purpose. Even this enormous sum represents only a fraction of the expense incurred. The work of barking and burning went on for years, and trees had to be planted again where the land had been partially cleared. There are no doubt parts of Victoria where the birch bug would be welcomed for a time, and where clearing and not planting is the necessity. But these parts are already becoming exceptional, and we are beginning to find out that insect life is more formidable than it was, whether because we have introduced new ravagers, or partly killed off some of the insect-eating birds, or because bush fires are less frequent than they were. On the other hand, our imported trees, such as the vine, the peach, and the apple, are sometimes very sensitive to disease, and are of quite other value from the gum-tree or stringy-bark. A lecturer on forestry would, I think, well earn his salary, if he taught his pupils to watch for and recognise these insect pests in their beginnings, when they are yet weak. But it need not be said, that he can

* Programmi di Insegnamento per gli Instituti Tecnice, p. 7.

page 149 also teach the farmer much about the growth and uses of trees, that would otherwise not be learned at all, or would only be learned after much costly experience.
There can scarcely be two opinions as to the importance of

Schools of mines at Ballarat and Sandhurst.

schools of mines in Victoria. Two such schools have already sprung up, and are struggling on, doing excellent work with lamentably underpaid teachers. At Ballarat 132 students were in attendance during 1876. At Sandhurst the numbers in 1877 were 135, excluding the class in the school of design; a good result, and sufficient to show that the advantages of the school were thoroughly appreciated, men riding in several miles at night in some cases to attend classes. At Ballarat the local subscriptions and fees amounted in 1876 to more than £500. At Sandhurst they were £659 4s. 4d. in 1877, the subscriptions and donations having very much increased within two years. "Honoraries and salaries" figure at Ballarat for £1,063 7s. 6d., and at Sandhurst for only £883 16s.; but this difference overstates the real facts, as the chemical lecturer at Sandhurst is partly paid by the laboratory, which at Ballarat contributes to the general income. Each school gives class-teaching in the following subjects:—
  • Mathematics and mechanics;
  • Chemistry, theoretical and applied;
  • Mining and metallurgy;
  • Land surveying; and
  • Telegraphy;

while Ballarat has lectures in mineralogy and mining geology, and in German and French; and Sandhurst in shorthand and in design, with special reference to mining. Of these subjects telegraphy is not just now very important, as I am told the number of qualified students far exceeds the number of situations vacant; and German and French might in rigour be excluded from the plan of a school of mines. But as these classes meet with such support as to encourage the schools to maintain them, we must accept this as a practical reason for their continuance.

My impression is that the time has come when each of these

The schools of mines may be affiliated to the University.

schools may fairly be affiliated as a college to the Melbourne University. The teaching staff of the colleges would then prepare their pupils for the University certificates of mining, engineering, and commerce, while the University would relieve the colleges of the task of examining in those subjects. A few of the State exhibitioners, whose families resided in Ballarat and Sandhurst, would probably work at the schools of mines, instead of going into residence into Melbourne; and these will, I hope, form the nucleus for a class of students received from the high schools of those two towns, and passing in their fifth year into the new college of practical science. To put these on a fair footing with University students in Melbourne, they should be charged no fees except for matriculation and certificate. The present teaching staff of the schools will therefore find their work increased. Besides this, as there will certainly be a difficulty at first in procuring scientific teachers for high schools and page 150 grammar schools, I think the State will do well to stipulate that high school pupils in Ballarat and Sandhurst shall receive four hours' chemical teaching a week and two hours' teaching in mechanics free of cost in what I will now call the college of practical science. By high school pupils I mean pupils in such school or schools as the State has agreed to subsidize as a high school.

Evening classes may be retained as they are.

On the other hand, the evening classes, which are the chief source of income to the schools at present, may very well be continued as at present. The fees charged are so low as to hinder no one from coming, and the slight payment keeps idlers away, and makes the students more punctual in their attendance. I assume, therefore, in my calculations that the State need only pay for the fresh duties it imposes, and that it is no object to withdraw the lecturers from their present work. So again the colleges may perfectly well be left to examine their evening classes and give certificates in the subject of any special course. Two very useful certificates are now given, one to captains of shifts and underground managers, and one to engine-drivers. There is no reason why these should be interfered with.

Staff needed at a school of mines.

The staff of teachers that a college of practical science will need may be roughly estimated, I think, at—
(1.)A lecturer of mathematics and mechanics, with a salary of £400.
(2.)A lecturer of chemistry, specially qualified to assay metals and explain the chemistry of commerce, £400.
(3.)A lecturer on land surveying and the mapping of mines, £250.
(4.)A lecturer on mining geology and mineralogy. It should be contrived, if possible, I think, that this lecture should be given by the University lecturer of mines, who might run down once a week to lecture, and receive £100 a year from each college for his work.
(5.)A lecturer on practical mining. This could probably be given by some mining manager at Ballarat and Sandhurst. £100.

Proposed endowment and organization of the schools of mines.

If the State paid these salaries, amounting altogether to £1,250 a year, its subvention to the two colleges would only be £1,000 a year higher than what it now pays to the two schools of mines. Freed from their present burden of partially providing salaries for their chief teachers, the colleges might easily defray the expenses of their classes in engine-driving, telegraphy, and modern languages out of fees and subscriptions. As it is important to keep alive the local interest which is now felt in these institutions, each should, I think, retain its local council, of which the State lecturers should be ex officio members. But some provision will have to be made to secure the election of properly qualified teachers now that the appointments are rendered more desirable. A regulation that the holders of the first four lectureships shall be University graduates and the holder of the last certificated in honours (existing rights being reserved), page 151 will not, I hope, he considered unreasonable. The lectureships in colleges of practical science ought to be stepping-stones to University chairs. In this way, Ballarat and Sandhurst will gain the services of young men anxious to win their spurs, and the University will be able to test the teaching power of some of its ablest students.
An account of a mining college in New York State by an Austrian

Columbia College, New York.

commissioner will show what importance is attached to scientific studies in the richest of the United States. Columbia College," says P. Hitter von Tunner "has, at present, a five-fold division according to the subjects taught in it, for civil engineers, mining engineers, metallurgy, geology and natural history, and analytical and applied chemistry. The teaching body consists, besides the director—who is also a member of the committee of trustees—of eight regular professors, two teachers of French and German, and fifteen assistants. Besides this, a librarian and registrar, a mechanician, and a porter figure in the official catalogue. The great number of the assistants is explained by the fact that there is one assistant for general chemistry and five for analytical chemistry, as many analyses are made for payment. * * The ordinary professors receive, if I am rightly informed, a salary of 6,000 dollars (£1,200) a-piece; probably, however, this is only the case with some of the older or more distinguished, inasmuch as the yearly expenditure of the school only amounts to 60,000 dollars. Of this sum about half comes from fees, as every student has to pay 200 dollars (£40) a year. However, it is not difficult for the needy scholar to be excused payment of fees, and about a third of the students are on this footing.

"The studies are spread over three years. * * There are half-yearly examinations, and the student cannot pass out of his class until he has satisfied the examiners in these. * * He receives the final diploma when he has passed every examination in subjects belonging to one of the five branches, and has given in a written thesis at the end. Any one staying more than three years, and who has passed in one or two of the five subjects, may obtain the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in one or two years by scientific labours and papers."

In 1875-6 there were 206 students at the college, and the minimum cost of living there averaged about £110 a year.

At the time of the last report, there were 22 schools of design

Schools of design.

established in the colony, with 1,457 students on the rolls. Of these, 1,186 had entitled themselves by their attendances in the April quarter to the Government grant of half-a-crown a head, and more than 200 competed for the prizes at the July exhibition. The use of these schools is likely to become greater year by year, as pupils who have learned the outlines of geometrical drawing in our State schools, and something more in our high schools, pass out into the world. No one can visit the evening classes, in our large towns, without feeling that their moral use is scarcely second to their material; and that hundreds who find a healthy occupation in drawing or colouring would otherwise be listless or page 152

Specially needed in a new country.

dissipated. But the material use of schools of design seems especially great in a young country. We cannot purchase or create works of art, whether it be in painting, sculpture, or architecture; and successive generations are doomed to grow up among us, shut out from all the culture which twenty centuries of civilization have naturalized in every part of Western Europe. When Schiller wrote from the comparative nakedness of a German city that the beggar at the gates of St. Angelo had a more glorious life than the people of the North, inasmuch as he looked out upon the only eternal Rome, he used words which scarcely seem overstrained to those who have lived in Spain or Italy. I remember hearing of an Englishman, who came to Toledo meaning to spend a few hours only, and was so entranced by the cloisters of San Juan de los Reyes, that he lingered nine months, coming every day to admire their magical beauty. Cities such as this need no school of design but their own monuments. The Roman jeweller works on Etruscan patterns; the moulder of Granada copies from the columns of the Alhambra; and even if a single generation prefers a florid and debased style, the teaching of antiquity tells in its own time against the innovation. But in a young country, where the artist who settles among us can only hope for scanty patronage, and where the architect must strain art to the exigencies of public use, the public wants education, and our best men must, I think, toil with a sense that their labours are not likely to meet intelligent criticism or deserved praise. The contempt generally felt for English art on the Continent is not due, I apprehend, to any deficient sense of beauty in the English people. We have created landscape gardening; and English water-colour painters, from their subtle sense of natural beauty, hold their own against the best of France and Germany. Where England has lain at a disadvantage has been in the want of the highest specimens of architecture, and of great national collections of painting or statuary; yet the valleys of the Severn and the Wye teem with churches and castles, and English collectors have filled England with works that at least stand high in the second class.

How schools of design may be encouraged at small cost.

If then it is thought desirable to train our manufacturers and artisans, so that the industries we are anxious to promote—silk, tapestry, glass, china, or jewellery—may not be shut out from a foreign market by faults of colouring or design, it is of the last importance that schools of design should be encouraged. Looking at the results already attained, and the small cost to the State, I can only admire the excellent administration that has done so much. But a very trifling sum would remove what is now an unavoidable, but I think a grave defect. From sheer poverty, the teachers are compelled to set copies from engravings and lithographs of dubious or no value. A very trifling expenditure, not exceeding £100 a year at most, would enable the administration to form a circulating library of portfolios of Italian or Spanish photographs, or of fac-similes of plates from "Modern Painters," or the "Stones of Venice," or of such works as Owen Jones's "Alhambra," that exhibit instances of effective colouring. page 153 It must be borne in mind that in proportion as these schools do their work, the students in them will rise above mere outline drawing, such as occupies the greater number at present, and will insist on higher work. The result will be good or bad in proportion as we supply them with common-place or with the best models.