The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 53
(1) That education is a continuous culture—beginning at conception and only ending with death—of the whole being.
(2.) That physical training should be pre-eminently the first consideration: and that discipline of the intellectual and moral faculties ought to be the next; not the inculcation of technical knowledge. And
(3.) That our system of public education is radically erroneous, inasmuch as in addition to other omissions and mistakes relating to inspection, examination in standards, supplying of books and school requisites by teachers, &c., &c.
(a) It altogether omits or neglects to instruct the pupils in the most important lesson of all, namely,—What education is; and especially omits or neglects to impregnate them with the all important idea that it is continuous culture only ending with death, and not merely a casual development such as their temporary attendance for a few years at a school suggests.
(b) It altogether omits to treat physical training as the main, or even as a main factor in education, and, indeed, ignores it alto-gether as a portion of the school curricul[unclear: lum] to be carried on under the supervision of the master of the school. The only attempt page 7 at its recognition at all in connection with any schools under the control of the Board being in a very subsidiary byeway in the city and suburban schools, where a drill-instructor attends, and instructs each child one half-hour (!!) a-week. Thereby occupying in such instruction only a Fiftieth (! ! !) part of the school hours during the week.
For the supplying of the gymnastic apparatuses to a comparatively small number of the schools—even were it to all the schools need not be mentioned; because the exercises are not compulsory, nor ordained to be, nor are they, carried on under scientific supervision: and therefore, except for voluntary recreative purposes, must not be counted on.
Thus, instead of physical training—the all-important factor—occupying the first place in our system, as it should do, it has virtually no recognised position.
(c) It fails largely to recognise the principle that the disciplining of the mind and conscience should be—next to physical culture—the prime consideration, not the inculcation of technical knowledge.
This failure is shown especially—
Firstly. In the absence of any test-examination for teachers as to their knowledge of human nature, and their capacity to guide and direct it aright: in order to sympathetically realise, and place themselves in accord with, the natures of their pupils.
Secondly. In the employment of, not even qualified junior teachers, but actually pupils only learning to be teachers to teach the most impressible scholars, i.e., the juniors—and so forth.
(d) It promotes the communication of a certain amount of technical knowledge to the first place; and, indeed, practically, to the only place, instead of relegating it to the third place. And
(e) It provides, as I have remarked above under another heading, that the junior scholars are frequently not even taught by the qualified junior teachers but, by the pupil teachers, instead of considering elementary instruction as the most important. And therefore requiring the aid of only the most accomplished and most experienced preceptors.
And the importance of having a clear conception of all this is apparent when we remember that "the greatest wisdom is to know our ignorance; or, as the celebrated orator Quintilian said, "The beginning of excellence is to be free from error;" or more pertinently, as Von Humboldt remarked, "The thing is not to let the schools and universities go on in a drowsy and impotent routine; the thing is to raise the culture of the nation even higher and higher by their means,"