Images de page

The general result of all the activity which has been shown on the subject is sufficiently striking, when we find that, whereas in 1818 there was a day-scholar for every 17.25 persons of the whole population; and in 1833, one for every 11.27, there was in 1851, a scholar for every 8.36 persons. The increase between 1818 and 1851 was, of day-scholars, 218 per cent., and of Sunday-scholars, 404 per cent.; while the increase of population was but 54 per cent. How far we have accomplished what is requisite depends on other considerations, one of which is, whether the number of children now attending school is even yet as great as it should be.

What is the number, then, which, in a population of 17,927,609, ought to be found attending school? 1 in 8 is often assumed as a satisfactory proportion. This would amount to 2,240,951; and, on the supposition that all these were between the ages of 5 and 15, there might be, in this case, an average of 5 years at school for each child. When, however, we take into consideration, that many of the wealthier classes send their children to school for a much longer period, and that the poorer classes often send theirs at a younger age than 5, it follows that the average period of profitable schooling, i.e. between 5 and 15 years of age, among the poor, will be reduced considerably below 5 years, probably to 4 years. The deficiency shown in the present census below this assumed 1 in 8, is only 96,573; the actual number of scholars being that much below the 2,240,951. Mr. Horace Mann is not, however, satisfied with this abstract 1 in 8; he takes the whole population of England and Wales, and proceeds to find out, by a calculation of his own, how many ought to be at school.

Between the ages of 3 and 15 there are 4,908,696 children. Here, then, is the material out of which to make schools. About 1,000,000 of this number is at once disposed of, as being employed in various kinds of labour, manufacturing and agricultural; the permanently sick are reckoned at 195,000; those who are educated at home at 50,000; there are then left 3,663,261, between 3 and 15 years of age, who might be at school. As, however, the age between 3 and 5 is not of much profit at school, and as, therefore, it is not thought desirable to promote such early attendance beyond what is practically found to be the case, we have to deduct from this number all between those ages who are not actually at school or otherwise employed. This number is estimated at 574,611. Again, as attendance at school after 12 until 15, however desirable, is hardly to be expected among the working classes, we have to deduct also all between those ages, who, as before, are not actually at school or otherwise employed; estimated at 73,245. After all these deductions, the

residue is 3,015,405, or one-sixth of the population, consisting of all between 5 and 12 not kept from school by any sufficient cause, and all between 3 and 5, or 12 and 15, who are at present actually sent to school of free choice. This is the true number to be compared with the census return of 2,144,378, in order to judge whether the amount of our present educational plans are satisfactory or not. There is, then, a deficiency of no less than 970,000, which number of children are detained from school between the ages of 5 and 12. It does not, however, follow that these children never see a school, while all the rest, 2,000,000 and more, devote the whole 7 years to study. We must divide the time actually spent in school, in a fairer proportion, between the whole number. Mr. Mann's deduction is as follows:

'If we have recourse to the opinions and experience of able writers and instructors on this point, the inference seems to be, that, while among the middle and upper classes the average time expended on their children's school-education is about six years, the average time amongst the labouring classes cannot much exceed four years. If this be so, the inference appears inevitable, that very few children are completely uninstructed; nearly all, at some time or another of their childhood, see the inside of a school-room, although some do little more. Upon no other supposition can the constant presence on the school books of the names of upwards of 2,000,000 children between three and fifteen, out of 4,908,696, be consistent with a brief school period for any considerable portion of the former number.'-Census, 1851, p. xxx.

No less a number, then, than 3,000,000 would be satisfactory, as representing the total children on the books of day-schools; especially when it is remembered that the actual attendance is somewhat irregular among the poor. Mr. Mann says, that in private schools the attendance, on an average, is 91 per cent. of the number on the books, while in public schools the per-centage is only 79. Even this, we think, hardly describes the extreme irregularity of attendance occasioned by the demand for youthful labour, at particular seasons of the year, in agricultural districts. The whole of the autumn, indeed, from the harvest to Christmas, is broken in upon, to the destruction of any real work, by the practice of using large gangs of children to dibble in the seed-corn, and to perform other processes of modern farming. From the beginning of August to January, the attendance of the elder school-children, in corn-growing countries, is so occasional and uncertain, that, with the commencement of every year, it is almost necessary to begin education afresh. This periodical irregularity hardly enters, we think, into the calculation of the census, which was taken at the very best time of the year,-in the middle of that seven months, from January to August, which is the great season or term for rustic education. The power of remedying these irregularities of day instruction by systematic

evening-schools is suggested, but not discussed, by Mr. Mann, as no inquiries of an efficient kind were instituted at the census. Indeed, the principle is not yet sufficiently developed for statistical information. Everything, however, points to the necessity of them, if the demand for youthful labour is continued, and, at the same time, the cause of education advances. What hope is there for the rising generation, if all education ceases at 10 or 11 years of age, if from that time every kind of influence over them is lost, and all mental culture, as well as religious teaching, is left to chance, and to voluntary aspiration on the part of children themselves?

The next consideration touched on by Mr. Mann, is the quality of existing instruction in day-schools. Questions were asked as to the subjects taught in every school, and the number of children learning each. Any one who has had to do with the filling-up of such returns, will not place any very great reliance on the accuracy of the details that can be put together out of a country school; especially when 100 or so of little children have to be classified in almost as many different ways, and the brains of the teacher are confused by the multiplicity of questions. Still, however, some such details have been arrived at, which in the mass may probably be useful, especially in testifying to the small instruction given; for errors would be more likely to arise in overstating, than in understating, the amount of learning imparted. It appears that out of 33,993 boys'-schools from which information was obtained, there were 10,000 in which writing was not taught, and 20,000 in which geography was not taught. Again, out of 1,818,024 children of whom some details have been ascertained, it appears that 200,000 do not even learn to read, while nearly 800,000 do not learn to write, and 900,000, or one-half, do not learn arithmetic. About 30 per cent. learn grammar and geography, while other branches of learning fall to a per-centage that is wholly insignificant; for instance, modern and ancient languages, 4 per cent., and mathematics, 3 per cent.

Mr. Mann's deductions from this are very true:

'To find in the schools a large proportion of the children learning the mere rudiments of knowledge, while a small proportion only is engaged upon the higher branches, must be looked upon as an unfavourable sign; revealing probably a limited duration of instruction-received, too, at an early age. And when it is remembered that, of those who appear to have been engaged in the more advanced departments of instruction, a majority were probably belonging to the upper and the middle classes, a preceding speculation seems to be corroborated, that the children of the working classes go to school while very young, and remain but for a very scanty period.'-Census, 1851, p. xxxiii.

On the subject, however, of the quality of education, we must

consider the efficiency of the teacher as well as the age and regularity of the pupil. The standard of remuneration given is applied to a large number of teachers, as some means of estimating the value of their services. The counties of Lancaster and Lincoln were selected for special inquiries under this head. In the former county, an average being taken of 301 masters, their salary per annum amounts to 587. each; of 275 mistresses, the average is 317. There are also, in boys'-schools, 132 paid monitors, with an average of 97. 108. each, and in girls'-schools 275, with 67. 168. each. In Church of England schools, the average pay of masters is also 587., the same as the average of all others. The masterships under the head of military schools help to lower the average, being only 187., which needs probably some explanation. Union workhouses only give 467., considerably below the average. Independents are more liberal, giving 81. Quakers and Unitarians give more than 70%., and Methodists 637. Smaller religious sects and ragged-schools, &c. give less than the average, the lowest sum put down being 331. The same relative proportions apply, without much alteration, to mistresses in this country. In Lincolnshire the average pay of masters generally is 747., but the higher standard is made up by collegiate and grammar schools, the pay of masters in national schools averaging only 501., and in other Church schools only 281. Wesleyan Methodists in this county average 617, and British schools 787. Mistresses in this county receive an average of 247., which is also much lower than in Lancashire.

Questions about remuneration are doubtless more difficult to get answered correctly than any other. In the first place, there is always jealousy, on the part of trustees and managers, to name the exact amount, even if they are able, especially where the school is in private hands, or maintained, perhaps, by a single individual; and in the second place, there are often various arrangements, with regard to the children's pence, or the residence of the master, or the amalgamation of his school duties with other parochial offices, which make it difficult to estimate with any exactness what his total income may be. It would, however, seem to be ascertained, that masters are better paid in manufacturing than in rural districts, and that they share in the general advance of wages which distinguish the one from the other. It is, however, fair to state that little dependence can be placed on these comparative tables of income, drawn up by Mr. Mann, as it appears on inspection that only 18 masters of parochial schools in the whole county of Lincoln sent in returns which he was able to use on this subject, a fact which completely destroys any statistical use of the table, though it may suggest speculations that in all probability the average of 50l. which

these 18 supply would be lessened rather than raised, if all the rest had been included in the calculation. There are, indeed, 56 mistresses of Church of England schools put down in this table, which may imply that the list of male teachers is less incomplete than at first sight would appear in so large a county; but, their average salary being only 241., the former presumption of the inferior nature of education in this rural district is not altered, for mistresses can only teach boys while very young. The large number of endowed schools in this county, 48, may, perhaps, account for the prevalence of mistresses in parochial schools, inasmuch as they relieve them, in some measure, of the elder boys; although, from the specimens of rural endowed schools which have come to our knowledge, we do not place much confidence in their general usefulness, in educating the labouring classes.

One of the great elements of hope, on the subject of education, is the great increase, of late years, of training-colleges for masters. By this means the position of the school-master in a parish will ultimately be very much raised, and, as a consequence, his school much improved. At present there are about 40 of these in England and Wales, which are supported at a cost of 90,000l., 34 of them being in connexion with the Church of England. The system, also, of monitors paid by government grants, and of enabling the most promising of such monitors to follow up their occupation of teaching, by becoming 'Queen's Scholars,' and receiving from 20l. to 251. a-year at a training-college; all this, if managed well, and in such a spirit and temper, on the part of the Privy Council and its army of inspectors, &c. as can succeed in making local and voluntary efforts cooperate with them, cannot but produce a vast improvement in the ability and general position of school-masters. Much of this usefulness, however, may be marred, if the Privy Council, in its general arrangements, is not sufficiently considerate of the wishes and sentiments of religious bodies, and of the Church, equally with others; or if, in its particular communications with local managers, during the inspection of schools, there is not courtesy and tact enough to avoid all appearance of domineering over the clergy, the masters, or any voluntary assistants in a school.

It has been already shown that, according to Mr. Mann's calculation, there were, in 1851, 968,557 children absent from day-schools, for whom no excuse could be given. There was that number short of the 3,000,000 who ought to be always on the books of some school or other. The proportion to the whole population which this implies is 16-8 per cent., or 1 in 6; and the question which occurs after this, is, whether each sex

« PrécédentContinuer »