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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Equivocal Paragraph Criticised

Equivocal Paragraph Criticised.

—Mr Wilson.— —Criticism.—
"I think there is a great deal of unintelligent talk about cram." Our readers will form their own conclusion as to where the lack of intelligence lies.
"Over - pressure need not be cram." Over-pressure is always over-pressure.
"I call 'cram' the undue cultivation of the memory without sufficient cultivation of the intelligence." "Cram" might be defined as the undue loading (not true cultivation certainly) of the memory, with or without cultivation of the intelligence.
"There is too much idea nowadays that memory should not be cultivated." This is merely an assertion. Surely no reasonable person entertains any such idea. It is easy to set up one's own ninepins and then proceed to gravely knock; them down again. What those of the who are opposed to cram say is : "Cultivate the memory by all means, but don't cram it." The result of cram or over-pressure is the reverse of true cultivation.page 49
"Cultivation of the memory is one of the most important parts of education." Unquestionably. Without the development of memory there could not be even the beginnings of knowledge.
" There is no regret more frequently heard ex-pressed on the part of elderly people than this: that they did not cultivate' their memory properly in their youth." This is simply an ad captandum appeal based on a popular misconception, mingled with the truth. The fading of memory with advancing years cannot be long staved off by any means. It is a part of the cycle of life. It is quite true, however, that if people cultivated their memory properly in youth, "giving space, and time, and rest." and acquiring clear, well-ordered, tho-roughly assimilated knowledge, they would tend to extend the sphere and duration of the faculty; but the reverse must ensue from the present system of over-pressure, with its heavy burdens laid on the memory during the period of rapid growth—especially the feverish periodic straining of fugitive memory for examination purposes
"This" (vide supra) "of course is very different from over - loading the memory with undigested and in-digestible rubbish. The two processes would have, as I have indicated, converse effects. But will any reasonable person concur in what- the rector implies—viz. (to take a specific instance), that it would improve the future general faculty of memory to stuff a free scholar, in a period of from fifteen months to two years, with all the new knowledge that is required of him under the present Regulations ? Mr Wilson must know that it would be scarcely possible to devise anything more calculated to debase and cripple the future potentialities of the mind, not only as regards memory, but in respect to ot her and higher faculties—to say nothing of the body. The same applies to the intemperate study and cram demanded for scholarship work, etc. From the whole tenor of Mr Wilson's newspaper comments and his latest school report I gather that he endorses the schedule of work for free scholars. The only objection he raises is in regard to the short time allowed for certain candidates, which, he says, "must handicap the school in the matter of examination passes." It is clear that he is worried about the kudos of the school, not about the minds of the pupils.
"I am so far from thinking that the cultivation of the memory is overdone that I do the not think it is sufficiently attended to." Not only is the cultivation of memory insufficiently attended to, but the cultivation of the mind as a whole, is still more neglected. We want to substitute honest cultivation of the mind and the whole being for cram, so that when the pupil reaches adult life he may not only retain with pleasure much of what he has learned at school (instead of forgetting nearly all he has acquired, and feeling a distaste for learning), but may find himself equipped with plenty of reserve energy, enabling him to add to and mature has wisdom and powers in the battle of life.