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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Evils of Cram

Evils of Cram.

First, let me make clear the original position, which is liable to be lost sight of in the midst of the rector's invective. In ray lecture before the Froebel Club I summarised the more essential features of the history of education from the Greek period down to the present day, showing the remarkable unanimity which had existed in the opinions of the great thinkers of all ages. I quoted the head-master of Eton College to show how far in the present day we have fallen away from the fundamental principles which should guide us, if the process of education is to be regarded as an all-round training for practical life—a training which has constantly in view the bodily, mental, and moral welfare of future men and women, and does not keep its eye perpetually fixed on the results of competitive school examinations, prizes, scholarships, or so-called honors. The head-master of Eton says that there is one group of principles which the fundamentals authorities on education agree in maintaining. "They are those connected not with the teaching of any one subject, but with the fundamental difference between genuine education and cram, between the training of the mind and the imparting the knack of deceiving examiners." Let it be remembered that I was speaking at a Froebel Club on Froebel and pestalozzi. All the beginning of my address I stated that, if I were sincere what I should have to say must of necessity involve a protest against our education system. It was quite clear to the audience that my attack was not personal, or even local, but referred to a world-wide tendency of our time. Since the rector has openly made his profession of faith in all that I understand by the word "cram," I can realise how directly personal the following passage, which I quote from my lecture must have seemed to him, though I had no knowledge of his views when I was speaking:—