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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Chapter VI. — The Portal of Manhood and Womanhood

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Chapter VI.

The Portal of Manhood and Womanhood.

There is great need of local coordination of educational institutions.

If the career-decider and his advisory council, described at the close of the last chapter, have done their work well, the secondary schools should have the dream of the youth of their district to deal with. And none of the entrants but should bring with him a map of his nature, faculties, and bent to guide his new teacher in dealing with him for those who have not passed through the primary-school system and its leaving test there should be a strict entrance test, so that the two typos of school should not overlap or demand wastage of teaching power. As it is, there is no coordination of our two system our secondary schools have all to have a large lower section, which cover the same ground as the higher standards of the primary schools, but in such a different way that the freeplacers from the latter require separate grouping-It the two systems were under the same management, there would be no leakage of power between the two.

In fact, there is manifest almost daily in every district the need of one controling body for all its educational inistitutions, The secondary school duplicates much of the work on the one hand of the primary school and on the other of the school of art; the school of art duplicates much of the work of the new technical school, whilst the technical school duplicates much of that of the continuation primary school; and if there is a university college it covers in its arts course most of what has been done in the highest forms of the secondary school, and in its professional courses much of the work of the technical school. If there is one thing that is needed more than another, it is coordination of our various systems; not cen tralisation under Government management; for that would introduce an evil still greater—the intrusion of a mass of red tape into the machinery that would soon bring it to a standstill; and still worse, it would tend to destroy the effect of those differences of locality, climate and origin, that are so valuable to a nation as the source of new variations in type, character and talent, Each unified district that has a natural centre should have all its educational institutions under one board with the power of locally rating, the rating to be subsidised by the central Government, and with a highly-paid expert official who should be responsible to it for the smooth running of the whole machinery when it is not in session.

Coeducation is no longer practicable or wise with secondary staffs, because different talents and sympathies are needed for the guidance of boys and girls when passing through the main crisis of life.

If our secondary schools thus performed nothing but their own functions and did not trench on the institutions above and below them in the coordination, they should have for four or five years all the boys and girls who revealed any special talent or any talent beyond the average, and all those who gave promise of further progress under culture. Their work should be to continue the work of the primary schools and develop the whole nature, and not any special part of it to the detriment of the rest. But their methods should differ widely. For the stage of life they deal with is as distinct as the maturing tree that has begun to blossm and fruit is distinct from the sapling. It covers that most striking of all the crises in human existence, the passage from childhood into maturity, the clos at approach that Nature makes in man to a conversion or revolution.

The character changes as the voice does. The emotions begin to acquire order and subordination: certain of them become dominant as passions. The will begins to exercise control over them. New compounds appear like tact, management, organising power, leadership, magnetic attraction, capacity to control neighbours in the masa. This is the period when shelter from the tyranny of the playground is most needed, and budding talents and capacities are apt to be trampled out of shy or weak natures. For it corresponds to the time in the history of man. When conquests busran to regiment and amalgamate his different units, families, tribes, races. Might had begun to be the only right the leader had before been more of the patriarch and priest, the representative of the kin or of the ancestral gods; now he is the man of strongest will and hand or most page 34 cunning brain, and the more tribes he can persuade or force to join him the stronger he is. So the secondary school playground is the arena of wars and leaderships, of the conflict of wills and empires; and the stronger physique and more powerful character dominates; its leader is ever amongst the oldest boys, and he and his satellites exercise the most galling despotism over the younger.

The vigorous and healthy physique and magnetic will are more essential, therefore, for the teacher of this stage of youth than for the primary or the university teacher. Even in girls' schools there is more need of the healthy mind in the healthy body and the energetic will than in the earlier or the later stage. It is essential then that in this intermediate period coeducation should cease, and the boys should be dealt with by the masculine will and masculine methods; whilst at the dawn of sexual consciousness and the turing-point of character the girl should have the women-teacher's instinct to guide her and influence her. The peculiar qualities of either sex can beat be unrderstood and developed by its own teachers, during the period when not the likenesses but the distinctions dominate. It corresponds to the prehistoric time of nascent civilisation when the occupations as well as the characters of men and women were at the parting of the ways and the differences between them were getting emphasised by the increase of war and similar pursuits. Men were getting absorbed in muscular open-air work and foreign expeditions, women were getting more cloistered and domesticated; coeducation would now be detrimental to the rapidly distinguishing qualities of the sexes whilst management of the growing masculine will by women would be impracticable.

In the Girls' High School the ideal mother should be the prime goal; end the most important training should be in the treatment of infancy and childhood.

The beginning of specialisation is emphatically indicated by nature, the differentiation of the girls' high school from the boys'. With a common basis of culture the two should have methods and features that point to different careers. It is true that men and women now compete in most professions and especially in teaching and medicine. But their roles should be different, as their natures are different. In teaching the emotional and instinctive nature of women fits them especially for the primary stage, including the kindergarten, and for the girls' high schools; in medicine it marks them out for nursing and the diagnosis and ours of womens and children's diseases. And this is the very distinction of the career that nature has marked out for them—the maternal.

There is a clear bifurcation in the system at the high school stage. The ideal of the girls' school should be to produce the most successful manager of a colonial household. The usual content of that is that she should be able to cook, dust, sew, mend, shop and nurse, all essentials where help is limited and most of all intermittent. It is forgotten that every manager of a household should be above all things an expert raiser of infants and educator of children. In her hands lie their dastinies; whether they shall live or die in infancy depends on her skill; whether they shall aid the progress of the race or obstruct it rests on her capacity infinitely more than on that of the school teacher. She is the environment that most deeply influences their character, their morality and their whole spiritual destiny. For she has them to mould in their most plastic stage. Instead of being completely forgotten in the high school course it should be the guiding principle in differentiating the girls' high school from the boys'. The physiology and psychology of infancy and childhood, especially on their practical side, should be by far the most important subjects in the curriculum. Every girl should be taught daily how to deal with young children as if her profession were to be that of nurse of infants and kindergarten teacher. All that is known by science of the care of the bod; and soul of children of all growths she should soak in till it becomes almost instinctive. The knowledge and skill will never come amiss even if she should never enter the maternal profession.

But the metron has also to be a citizen and a comrade of men. And here lies one common basis for the education of girl's and boys. Both should have their intelligent interest roused in all patriotic, imperial and humanitarian problems the cable column of the daily newepaper being taken as the manual of texts.

There is another aspect in her career that should not be lost sight of. She has got to be capable of being the comrade of her brothers, husband or grown-up sons, if she is to have her largest and finest influence. They will come to despise her either latently or overtly if she is nothing but the cook or seamstress, or nurse, or entertainer of the household. She should be able to take a real interest in the wider topics and problems they discuss in the street, the market, the workshop, the debating society, or the club. In short, she should be as carefully trained to be a citizen of the colony, of the Empire, of page 35 the world, as any one of them. She has now been placed on a footing of equality with them in the matter of voting at elections. And it is the prime duty of the State to see that all its electors are so trained as to understand and take a deep interest in the questions that are laid before them, and to appreciate the relations of the citizen to public questions and of public administration of the colony to the Empire, and of the Empire to the world. In short, the women as well as the men should be brought up in high school as in primary school to be intelligent and eager citizens, patriots and humanitarians.

Here lies one common basis of the education in the high schools for the to sexes. The cable column of the daily papers should supply the texts for the teaching of history, geography, anthropology, sociology, economics and civics; no event, no movement, should be pass without clear elucidation of to significant not only for the world, but for the Empire, the colony, the locality. Thus might the history and geography classroom be made a living laboratory for the practical training of real citizens of the world. And, without interfering with partisan politics, the teacher might form it into a debating society for the discussion of the great questions of the day, and, after such pupil has delivered his opinion either orally or in writing, he might point out the fallacies that maimed the logic of each, and the broader grounds that should be taken in order to avoid them Surely the making of good citizens and intelligent electors is one of the first duties of State schools.

The power and desire of self-education and plasticity to environment should be the chief aims of both, boys' and girls' high schools.

But there is a wider aim that includes this—the paramount aim of all teaching. It is the development of the power of self-education. The communication of special knowledge, the evolution of special faculty or talent, the refining of special skill are all subsidiary purposes in an educational instituton. Success in them is not a final test of teaching efficiency. The true and only test of all teaching is this: can and will the scholars proceed to educate themselves still further when the teaching course is over? If when they leave school they abandon, like a worn-out garment what they have learned either because tt is too difficult or too unrelated to the life they lead or are going to lead, then there is something wrong in the system the method of the teacher.

The fundamental distinction between man and other animals, that, in fact, which raised him far above them, is plasticity to new environments. And, if education should have one aim above all others, it should be to emphasise and develop this guarantee of his superiority. An educational system or institution that fails in this fails in all. What has given the Scot abroad his success in all communities and spheres is his adaptability to the conditions he has to meet; and nothing could have given him this as a universal quality but his common-school education. His schoolmasters a aimed at developing his whole nature and making him fit to meet emergencies without appeal to special advantages of wealth, caste or influence; the democratic spirit of the people made the school a miniature of the struggle for life in the great world; all started fair and had the same conditions; and the best survived; this strenuous and equal competition evolved the adaptability that stood by them well when pitted against the wits of other nations and races. There is an uneasy feeling that the English common-school system and the colonial systems that have been modelled on it have egregiously failed in this respect.

The merely linguistic or grammatical treatment of languages must be displaced by the literary, which deals with the though and the life expressed in their literature.

If there was anything that, besides this scholastic democracy of struggle, marked off the old Scotch system from the English, it was the breadth of culture that did not stop at the three R's, but proceeded to cultivate all the faculties by evolving the habit and the love of reading widely. The humanities—as Latin and Greek were called—were taught not chiefly for the sake of the languages or the grammars, but for the love of the literature and an acquaintance with the civilisation. But, where these could not be mastered, English was recognised as having a great literature capable of moulding the character, infusing high principle, teaching high ideals, and stirring the enthusiasm of humanity. The barren thing that the later examination and inspection system has made it, a matter of grammar, parsing and analysis, and in more recent times of philology, is unworthy of a place beside the old humanities. It is as unreal and formal as mediaeval logic, as little likely to touch the inner nature or the more vital faculties of the mind.

In this retrogression we have the key to the anomaly of the violently contradictory opinions expressed as to the value of English in education. As a narrow linguistic study it has as little relation to the broader human nature as mathematics or logic has; it leaves the imagination, the reasoning powers in the wider serse, the emotions, the page 36 morality, the character, the power of speech untouched, or at least unvitalised. As a literary and humane study, it develops all the faculties and every side of the nature, it fills the mind, it enriches the vocabulary and power of expression; and properly taught, as supplying themes for composition and debate, it is one of the finest educational means of conserving individuality, of evolving the capacity and the desire for self-education, and of giving that plasticity to environment which should be the paramount aim of all teachers. With, a well-directed, well-digested course of reading in English literature, the secondary system should be the nurse of all individuality and originality, instead of their suppressor. With a constant use of the material it supplies in composition and speech, no faculty would be undeveloped. If this practical or laboratory treatment of English does not take the place of the purely linguistic it will have to vanish from the secondary curriculum.

Latin is doomed unless the approach. So its literature is abbreviated; and French must precede it, whilst the interest in is must be kept vital by epistolary intercourse with pupila of French schools.

It is the same with Latin. It is doomed unless some method be found for abridging the long and useless slavery and the tortures of drudging through the grammar and the dictionary nursed translation of Caesar. For nine out of ten pupils that go through a secondary school it is a purposeless stumble through a Sahara. Only the tenth reaches the oasis of its literature. The rest, even when they reach the art of translating, are helpless without the dictionary or a "crib" at their elbow; and when schooltime is over they gladly abandon all they have learned as lumber. What used to make it a "humanity," a study and a stimulus of the higher qualities of human nature, was its literary treatment; and that is the rarest thing to be attained by modern scholastic methods. As a grammatical or linguistic study it is not a "humane" study, and is no more worthy of a place in a (secondary curriculum than Sanskrit. But there is a possibility of reaching its literary treatment by a shorter route, A foreign modern language like French should be so fully and rapidly taught in the first year or two as to bring the pupils to read the simpler books without perpetual appeal to a dictionary; and, when the pleasure of reading a living foreign literature with ease has thus been attained, all the time available for language should be spent on Latin; with the graduated series of easy compilations now obtainable, the work of translation without a dictionary should be begun in a few months; and, the art once being acquired, step by step the treatment of the authors themselves should be reached as literature without introducing the agonies of the mere dictionary-stumbler. Instead of sprawling over half a dozen organised years, the approach to the literary treatment should be crowded into one or at most two. An abridgment like this might save the subject is the secondary course. If it is to be no thing but a linguistic study, its doom is already written.

If any language is to have a vital hold on the minds and natures of the pupils when they leave school, the approach to its literature will have to be made easier and shorter. If it is a living tongue like French, one of the best methods of making it and keeping it living in a colony like ours, eo distance from its daily use, would be to establish a system of correspondence between the school and a French school of the same giade : each pupil might have a French correspondent who should write to him in English and get a reply in French with his own letter corrected, whilst he did the same for his colonial friend. Buch epistolary friendships might not only make the acquisition of French real and vital, but broaden the outlook of the correspondents, giving them a tolerance of foreign points of view and wave of thought; moreover, they mights be continued after school life, and do much to make the knowledge vital and the mind cosmopolitan.

Mathematics and the sciences will able have to be vitalised and made more practical if they are to retain their place in the secondary curriculum.

There is another subject that needs as much, vitalising in modem education, and that is mathematics, it is astonishing that it has held its ground ao long unassailed in spite of its unreality and abstractness. As studied and taught it reveals no relationship to everyday work or even to the higher arts of life, and it is a stumbling block and stone of offence to a large percentage of the ablest youth as well as the dullest. They end their long years of training in it with as little conception of its processes and its application to life as they began with. Either it will have to develop its practical or realistic side or abandon its claim to be the keeper of all the gateways of knowledge and the arbiter of all educational destinies. We all know its value for the physicist and engineer and its possible and indirect application to one or two other sciences, but not all students are going to be physical its or engineers What has kept it in its dominance over the secondary system is that which has given arithmetic page 37 [unclear: ts] supremacy in the primary; it is an [unclear: al] subject for examination in an empire that; next to China, attaches [unclear: d] importance to examination. The mathematical examiner can always [unclear: me] to exact valuations and [unclear: comparisons].

But like the new sciences it will [unclear: re] to prove before long that it is [unclear: sely] related to practical life and is [unclear: re] easily adapted in secondary school to laboratory practice than by the memorising of textbooks. For none of them, and least of all mathematics of them claim to developing the character or the moral nature or the emo-[unclear: ns] unless they appeal to reality, and truth then they stimulate the love of truth in only an indirect and intelectual way. The literary or humanistic subjects, if not reduced to linguistic [unclear: erts], have, besides developing imagination and skill in the manipulation of [unclear: eas] and language, a deep influence [unclear: I] the spiritual nature and the char-fr And, when we come to revise the aims of education, and see that they should cover the whole nature of [unclear: n] they must take a stilt more important place than they do in the cur-[unclear: la] or all scholastic stages and in the preparation for all careers. In their words they must dominate the [unclear: neralised] sections of the system that [unclear: m] at making, not specialists, but fully [unclear: pression] men and women. But they will be jettisoned too unless literature [unclear: I] treated, not by way of textual or [unclear: matical] criticism, but as the finest impression of life and all that is noblest in life, Dealt with imaginatively, emotionall and ethically, they should be able to rouse as much interest and enthusiasm in the classroom as games [unclear: se] in the open; and they should lay the foundations of a lifelong habit of [unclear: ding] the best books and of self-education in the highest sense. A well-selected library and a living guide to it is a prime condition for such treatment just as a fine museum and well-appointed laboratories are an essential for the wholesome study of the scientific subjects. Thus, and thus alone, will individually in character and origmality on the intellectual and imaginative [unclear: de] be sheltered and conserved for development in specialistic institution.

Normal-College training with a test of character and moral principle for the theacher inspection, and an advisory Coun-[unclear: al] are as much needed for secondary schools as for primary.

But to reach this ideal we must either reform or abolish the competitive examinations that meet the students at every step upwards. These must either vanish or conform to Rhodes's ideal in testing the whole nature—the physique, the human nature, the moral nature, and the imagination as well as the memory. If examinations could be made such broad tests of the whole I hmanity, then home lessons might be reduced to a minimum, at most, the reading of interesting books, and the exercise of athletics and the practical arts. But should this be found impracticable, the next best thing is an advisory council for secondary schools, [unclear: cosisting] of inspectors, exports in the teaching of special subject's, a medical examiner, a career-decider, and the headmaster, who should single out those best able to profit by a university or specialised course, those fit to train for a profession, and those best suited to take up a career in business or in a skilled industry. They might assist the parents of each pupil to decide the line of least resistance for him. Thus would we have fewer collapses in study and fewer failures in life.

This, however, implies that the secondary system has been brought into line with the primary under the same local administration. It implies that there is thorough inspection of every school so that each may have assigned to it its due quota of free places in the university or professional or technical school. And the secondary inspectorate must have bean trained, as the secondary staff should, first in the university and then in a specialised normal college with a model secondary school and a psychological laboratory for experimentation in secondary school methods and books. And the masters should be allowed off a period now and again for visiting other schools, seeing other methods, and conferring with other teachers. They should be chosen for their fine character and mortal nature, and for their magnetic influence and capacity for leadership, as much as for their knowledge and teaching power. Thus might the secondary system become a real guide into manhood and womanhood; and through the ordeal of that greatest crisis in life most might come unscathed by those weaknesses and petty vices that are so apt to seise upon the nature at this stage and thereafter dog it through life and maim its career.