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rational grounds; and, allying himself with the long history of his profession, he will regard with that self-respect, which is alien to self-conceit, his position as the responsible distributor, within his sphere, of the accumulated knowledge and civilization of his time. Going forth, too, with an inspiring motive suggested by the ethical end toward which all his labor tends, he will carry with him the moral fervor which we demand of a minister of sacred things. All instruction, all discipline, will be truly valuable in his eyes only in so far as they subserve that ultimate ethical purpose in which the Form and Content of Education finally unite. Set apart to educate children for the State whatever instruments he may use, whatever methods he may pursue—this purpose will ever be present to his thought, exalting his life and sustaining his activity. It is only by laboring toward this end that he can fitly discharge his special function in society, find a certain reward even in partial success, and, in the words of Milton, store up for himself the good provision of peaceful hours.' What is it to him that he should teach this or that particular subject with apparent success, if he fail to build up and elevate the whole humanity of his pupils! And should he pursue any other purpose than this, and pursue it with success, what will be the result in the generations that are to follow? A mere sharpening of the wits, but no wit to find the true way. "What an infinite mock is this,' says Shakspeare, 'that a man should have the best use of his eyes to see the way of blindness !'
In conclusion, let me say that, if the teacher can be led to rise to the full conception of his task, and to understand that he is in truth one of the great moral forces of society, one of the conservators of civilization, he will be among the first to resist all attempts to divorce his daily work from the Ethical and Religious life of his time. This follows from the idea of Education and of the Educator's function, which I have endeavored to set forth. He will at once see that so to divorce him is to throw him out of all relation to the true humanity of the past and of the future, and to abrogate that which is at once his highest duty and greatest privilege. As an inevitable consequence of such restriction, he must be content to forego the full measure of the social respect and State consideration which are rightfully his due. Ordained to the priesthood of the school, and held by society to be so ordained, he will not find it necessary to clamor for a social recognition which will be freely accorded to him whose office it is.
.. to rear, to teach; Becoming, as is meet and fit, A link among the days to knit
The generations each with each.' If, Gentlemen, men can be sent forth from this University for the service of their country so equipped and so inspired, the Chair of Education will have made good its claim to a place in the Academic curriculum, and the objects of the Founders will be attained.
UNIVERSITY CHAIR OF EDUCATION-ST. ANDREW.
PROF. MEIKLEJOHN'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS-NOV. 1876.
INTRODUCTION. Prof. MEIKLEJOHN, the recently-appointed Professor of Education at St. Andrews University, Scotland, delivered his Inaugural Address in the Hall of the United Colleges, on the 11th of November, 1876, to a crowded audience. We copy from the Educational Times the following extracts. After glancing at the Theory of Education--and the importance of a new chapter in psychology on the nature and proper food of the growing mind, to the professional training of teachers, the speaker points out a number of evils, or using Lord Bacon's phrase, ' peccant’humors, in the present system of Teaching.
1. The Evil of Encyclopædism and Abridgment. (1.) The almost complete absence from the public mind of any distinct idea of what they want, of any clear end and aim, of any intelligible and workable meaning of the word education, leaves it a prey, on the one hand, to a thoughtless and unexamined tradition, and on the other, to passing impulses, unreasoning wishes, and momentary attractions. Now, the increase in knowledge and the progress of the sciences during the last two generations have been so great, and the results obtained so astonishing and beneficial, that many persons have been filled with a strong and perfectly reasonable desire that their children should learn the most important of these sciences, and should thus be able to have an intelligent appreciation of the scientific triumphs and the social benefits which meet our eyes at every turn. It is desirable,' they say, that their children should learn 'Botany, and Chemistry, and Natural Philosophy, and Physiology, and perhaps one or two other sciences. And so it is. But if we look more closely into the minds of these worthy persons, we shall find that they do not wish their children to follow the method and to walk on the path of these sciences,—that they do not wish them to do the work—the only work-which can put them in true and legitimate possession of scientific knowledge; but that what they want for them is an acquaintance with results and a mind stocked with what is called 'information about them. The teacher accordingly looks not within, to arrange his own ideas and his own knowledge; but without, for a book, where every thing is set down in an orderly manner, where what has taken scientific men months and years to find out is ‘mastered' by the little boy in half an hour, where every thing can be learnt about the science, and where a patent method is exhibited of telling you every thing, with the result that you know nothing. These books take as their chief aim the giving of a skeleton; and, in defiance of the teaching of physiology, they take care to make sure of their skeleton first.
(2.) This vice of encyclopædism, moreover, brings with it a sister vice, which is the obverse of itself
, and which is, if possible, much worse than itself. This other vice is the vice of Abridgment. Human life is short, and the arts and sciences are becoming longer and larger every day; but time must be found for
every one of them somehow. Thus the demon haste—the haste and hurry of the exchange and the market—is in danger of importation into the tranquillity of childhood and what ought to be the calm ongoing of youth.
Let me take an example or two. There is a subject' taught in schools which is called Geography, and which, from its name, we should guess to be a con. nected description of the operations and appearances of Nature in terrestrial space. Now the story of the meaning and connection of the infinitely beautiful sights that lie all around us—of the life of man and animals and plants all over the globe-is a story not very difficult to tell, and that is certain to be followed with the growing interest and wonder of the children who listen. But into what has this intensely interesting narrative been turned by school traditions, and by the ever-pressing necessities of routine and drill? Into a list of dry names, a wilderness of unconnected facts, a long array of numbers, a mound of miscellaneous gossip and statistical material, which no architectonic power of the pupil can ever raise into a mental edifice. He does not make the attempt. The teacher himself does not make the attempt. He thinks he is giving “knowledge;' and a small dose of this dead 'information' is poured into the pupil's memory twice a week. No curiosity precedes the process; no wonder accompanies it; no exercise of judgment is called for by it; no imaginative or sympathetic power is quickened by it. No power except the volitional memory is called into use; and that is the poorest and most barren side of the mind. The knowledge given—if knowledge it can be called—is the same in kind and in interest with that which is obtained from the directory of a city or a county.
One asks naturally, Who is it that makes such books ? Are they indeed human and breathing beings? Did they sit down, of set and deliberate purpose, and say to themselves, "Now I will tell young people what the world is, and what they ought to try and see when they open their eyes ? No; these books were not written in the sense in which a poem or a work on mathematics is written; they were produced by a kind of spontaneous degeneration; they grew as funguses grow, from the decay of that which was nobler and better than themselves. The facts came together like any other fortuitous concourse of atoms, or like the moraine-wall on a glacier, by the gradual exclusion and edging off produced by the motion of the mass of ice. Some one, in a thoughtless moment, fancied that a list of names would be at least convenient' both for teacher and pupil; another added to the list those names which he, in the exercise of a judgment based upon no consideration whatever, took it into his head that boys and girls ought to know;' while a third or a fourth thought that he could and should make a bigger book, and a more exhaustive and exhausting set of tasks, than any previous compiler; and thus this terrible infliction, this fearful mass of facts, this dreary labor, has grown to its present monstrous proportions. There are books on this subject, used both in England and Scotland, in which the pupils are required to learn by heart and to attach to a black dot upon a map about 12,000 names, not one-tenth of which is there any internal or external necessity for knowing any thing whatever about. The time and the power of the school are wasted in this dreary business, and permanent disgust or a wrong bent is given to the unfortunate pupil. Such is the result of a mindless dealing with things of the mind. This thoughtless and 'unnatural selection' ends, in the field of the intellect, in a sort of distorted Darwinianism; it ends in the survival of the unfittest. We send our children to rummage in this dust-heap of disconnected details, while all around them the fair world of nature lies unquestioned and unexplored. Much better that our young men should be following the plow and tilling the ground, or making sound and lasting chairs and tables, than that they should waste their time and nerves in trying to find a place for this dishonest nonsense in the memory of their pupils.
Let us take another example. There is nothing so edifying and inspiring for the young as the right learning of History. They like to hear what the grown up people have done and said—what brave men have done, and what wise men have planned, and men of genius have written or sung; nor can there be the least objection to giving them a connected view of the course of events in our own history or in the history of the world. And if all this is given so as to carry the living interest of the pupil with us, it can not be forgotten. Biography for the youngest, events for those a little older, and the connection of events with what is called the development of the nation for those still older,--these would seem to be the natural steps toward a general and retainable view of history. But the greed for facts, the felt and fussy necessity of knowing this and that and the other thing, drives us into the path of compression, so that, at last, every thing that has, and much that has not happened, is squeezed into the pages of the school history book. I have before me a complete' history of England, from the invasion of Julius Cæsar down to our late war in Abyssinia, which costs only a penny. It is called a text-book; but we all know very well that it is not so employed—that it is not used by the teacher to give narrative from and to base explanations upon; but that it is in daily use as a memory and a cram book. These and larger books have been rightly said to combine the respective disadvantages of the multiplication table and the Newgate Calendar, being little better than a list of dates and battles, enlivened by murders and other crimes, with a sprinkling of entertaining stories, most of which are now no longer regarded as authentic, and which we are taught first to believe and afterward to disbelieve.' I do not myself know what general impression—if any-the getting up of such books leaves upon the mind of the growing youth; but I should judge, from an examination I have made of several hundreds, that the half-conscious notion which settles in their heads is, that government of God upon earth is a government of accident tempered by catastrophe. Now the chance of filling the heads and hearts of young persons with a knowledge of the best and constructive side of humanity, of firing them with a love of nobleness and goodness, of training them to self-sacrifice for the good of the State and of their fellow-men, is lost
, and the spirit of history is extinguished by the demands of routine and drill, of encyclopædism and abridgment. A hortus siccus of dates and events, deaths and successions, battles and murders, -a dry and highly abstract calculus of historical series and constitutional epochs, out of which comes no inspiration, and into which can be put no sympathy,—takes the place of a living and spoken narrative, to which children can listen for hours, to which they will listen when repeated in the very same words again and again, the gaps of which they will fill with that imaginative experience which exists in a more or less latent form in the mind of every child. In. stead of this, he ‘learns' the poor stuff that is given him in books; be can not hold it; it can not hold him; it will not combine with other knowledge, and when he leaves school, he quite comfortably gives it all up and forgets all about it
Let me take still another example; and I have the less hesitation in calling your attention to it, as what I have to say applies in this subject both to primary and to secondary instruction. There is a subject called Grammar, which fills a considerable amount of time in all our schools. There are also about seven hundred grammars of the English language in the South Kensington Museum, to show the teacher how to teach it, and to guide the pupil how to learn it. Of these seven hundred, most of which I have looked into, about six bundred and fifty are only expressions of private opinion regarding certain phenomena in our mother tongue; and they have no more value for a student of the philol. ogy of the English language than Mrs. Marcet's conversations on chemistry have for a modern student of that science. But we have to ask ourselves what purpose we have in teaching what is called Grammar? That purpose can only be one of three. Either it is (1) to teach the history, growth, and form of our own language, on the scientific basis of philology; or (2) it is to teach grammar as an introduction to literature, to the power of appreciating and enjoying the best writers; or it is (3) to furnish a certain kind of easy and agreeable training in elementary logic, in so far as that can be received from words. If the first be our object, we are very deficient in Great Britain, as the grammars in general use give no hint of the fact that our language had any bistory at all, and take no cognizance of the difference between the English of the present century and the English of the fourteenth or of the ninth. If it is the second purpose that is kept in view, we must lament the fact that elaborate preparations—in the form of parsing, analysis, rules of syntax, etymology, and prosody-are made; and when the pupil is thoroughly prepared to be ushered into the presence of the great masters of thought and expression, in the hope that he will form with some of them a life-long friendship, the introduction does not take place at all. If a training in the art of thinking is our aim, it can not be denied that this is very useful, and there are good teachers who succeed admirably in it. But they are not assisted by the books. On the contrary, these books afford to the young student of logic his best and richest field for the hunt after logical errors; they contain, in rank profusion, every kind of blunder-cross-division, undistributed middle, imperfect induction, insufficient and inconvertible definition, and every other species of logical fallacy.
Now, this short review of the state in which three widely taught subjects are at present found, calls our attention to two important considerations. The first is the question, What influence can a university have upon teaching in schools? And the second is, How can such subjects as are at present taught in schools be best engineered ?
The spirit and tendency of university teaching are to lead the student in scienco to Nature herself, and to show him how to interrogate her; in literature, to guide the student always to the best in thought and in expression, and to show him how to enjoy and to live in that. Copies or compilations, which contain a large proportion of the unauthentic, the second-hand, and the unverifiable, have no legitimate position, and can meet with nothing but temporary sufferance within the walls of a university. Now, it is this spirit which requires to be breathed into the whole of our primary and most of our secondary education. At present, the two diseases of both—and they are chronic diseases—are the appropriation by the memory alone of results apart from methods and processes, and the belief that we are acquainted with some work in literature, when we have neither appreciated it nor felt it, but only read about it and about it.
The second question involves in it the farther question, which I can only glance at here: What amount of abridgment is possible, necessary, and useful for the young learner? This question has never yet been asked; and yet it is of vital importance in primary instruction. If an abridged statement of facts is presented to grown up and thoughtful persons, they insist on knowing all the steps that have led to this abridgment; they have probably made themselves acquainted long ago with all the data which underlie and give reality to each general notion, and they are in a position to verify every item in the general view. But nothing of all this has been done by, or is possible for, the young learner, and we do not ask for it. Our old friend, the volitional memory, is at hand to help us, and into that illimitable tank all kinds of facts, data, conceptions, and representations are thrown, and the fermenting process is neither examined nor regarded.
The pressure of encyclopædism all over the country, both in primary and in secondary schools, is producing a most remarkable tendency,-a tendency which is completely hostile to the true spirit of education. This tendency inspires pupil-teachers and other examinees to ask the question: What absolutely smallest amount of knowledge am I to compel myself to receive in order that I may force my way through the narrow gate of examination ? And abridgment is at hand to make the process as dry and useless to him as it can be made.
2. The Tyranny of Books. Another idolon schola-and one which it is time to dethrone, or at least to put down to a lower place—is the book. The tyranny of the book is felt from the farthest north to the extremest south of this island; and, paradoxical as it may seem, it is perhaps the greatest enemy to education, and to right conceptions of what education may be made, that we at present have. The popular notion of instruction in school always contains three factors—a Teacher, a Book, and the Learners; and the arrangement is the teacher behind the book, and the pupil in front of it, while the process—it is sometimes called a method-is to pour, in the readiest way that can be invented, the contents of the book into the memory of the pupil. And thus the true idea of education is obscured, and it is indeed in many of our schools in danger of being entirely lost; I mean the conception of education as the contact of living mind with living mind. Spiritual light and divine fire may, as we all know, be passed on by writings and books; but, for true education, are less often helps than obstructions. In the schoolroom they interfere to a large extent with the cheering sight of the first begin