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express our opinion as to the desirability of a further improvement in our classical school-books, we gladly acknowledge how much has been already done in this direction by many able and distinguished scholars in our own time.
The foregoing appear to be the two most prominent suggestions for improving our classical education. Many other suggestions of great value on points of detail will occur to the practical educationist; but their investigation would require much more space than we can afford, at the end of this already lengthy paper.
The whole question, however, is one of pressing importance. For the classical system can no longer hold exclusive sway in our schools; with it the modern system must be combined; and the number of subjects thus required to be taught make far too great a demand upon the limited time and undeveloped faculties of the young; the mind is oppressed by the multiplicity of ideas presented to it, none of which are sufficiently mastered ; and the result is that it becomes enfeebled and stunted, instead of being invigorated and developed. Thoroughness of knowledge, no matter in how limited a sphere, is an essential of true mental training; with it there is intellectual development, small it may be, but still development; without it there is none. The attempt to teach too many things is the great evil which educationists have at present to contend against, - an evil, which is marring the beneficial effects of our education, and will, unless countervailed, we fear, manifest itself fatally in the lowered tone and diminished vigour of the minds of the next generation. One way of averting this fatal defect alone presents itself, and that is, the introduction of some more speedy and effectual mode than that at present in vogue of teaching classics ; for until this is done, “there is very little room,' as the Quarterly Reviewer (July, 1864, p. 204,) well says, “for any
fresh studies"'; to which he adds, "if the fresh studies are pursued with no better method than the old, it matters little whether they are introduced or not.” Unless this can be done, one thing seems certain, viz., that the days of the classical system are numbered ; it must wane and finally perish beneath the pressing exigencies of business and common life, which will always give to the opposing modern system great and ever increasing weight.
In conclusion we will briefly state a few of the practical results, to which we have been led by the foregoing considerations.
For the purpose of thorough mental training, and the culture of the higher intellectual faculties, the study of the Classics is indispensable ; or at all events no substitute for it, equally efficacious, has been, or, so far as we can see, is ever likely to be, found. In any system of education which aims at anything more than elementary instruction, or imparting the mechanical information necessary for engaging in ordinary commercial pursuits,-i. e. in any system of education above the lowest, the Classics have a right to occupy the central position, as the principal subject of study.
Yet classical studies manifestly cannot be forced upon all. For instance, they are, of course, out of the question in Primary education, for those who remain at school only long enough to acquire the bare elements of knowledge, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Nor can they with any great advantage find a place in the lower kind of Secondary education, viz. that intended for those who from the exigencies of their position are obliged to go out at an early age (say about thirteen years old) to their trade, or business; for they have not time to acquire, together with such information as is absolutely necessary to fit them for the mere routine performance of their future duties, a sufficient amount of classical knowledge to be of any practical value, as
a discipline, or otherwise, to them ; for them such an exact and critical knowledge, as is within their power to attain, of the English language, must be made to supply partially—for it can only do so partially—what the Classics effect for more fortunate students, who can prolong the period of their education. For the latter, who are, or ought to be, the recipients of the upper kind of Secondary, or of the Higher education, i. e. for those who are being educated in the true sense of the term, the study of Latin, and then, if time and the state of progress of the student permit, that of Greek superadded, cannot without injury be dispensed with.
The proportion of time which ought to be devoted to these studies varies. Those who will have to finish their general education at the age of fifteen or sixteen, e. g. those who are intended for commercial pursuits, or some of the professions, cannot in our opinion, consistently with the acquisition of other essential branches of knowledge, spend more than from onesixth to one-fourth of their time, as a general rule, on the Classics ; for we must remember, that, notwithstanding the vast importance of general culture, it is not the only thing we have to aim at, and that its attainment must be more or less limited by the necessity which the student lies under, of acquiring to some extent specific training for his future calling in life. For those who are recipients of the Higher education, with a view to entering the learned professions, or engaging in literary or scientific pursuits, or occupying with dignity elevated positions in society, the apportionment made by the Royal Commissioners (Public School Report, p. 35, of not less than foureighths, nor more than five-eighths, of their time to the Classics, with History and Divinity, is probably a fair and reasonable one.
As regards the period of school-life at which classical studies should be commenced, we believe that those who are designed to pursue them at all should enter upon them at an early age, devoting, however, a smaller portion of their time and attention to them at first than subsequently; the object in view being, as we have before observed, to early habituate them to the frame of mind required for carrying on effectually such studies, and so prepare them for their earnest pursuit at a later period.
Lastly, while we have no sympathy with the vulgar outcry against the Classics on the score of their inutility, - an outcry which we have shewn to arise from a complete misunderstanding of what "the useful” in education really is, - we are constrained to admit, that in our English educational system too much time has been hitherto devoted to them; that in consequence many important branches of study have been neglected; and that the result has been, that large numbers in successive generations of students have been, and are still being, turned out of our leading seminaries of learning, ignorant of what every educated man ought to know, and in fact not educated, in any true and sufficient sense of the term. For we must recal to recollection what has been before urged in this paper, that high intellectual culture, which is at once the aim and the result of all true education, consists in the harmonious development and action of all the intellectual faculties; and that this can be secured, not by an exclusive attention to any one subject, not by the study of language alone, or of mathematics alone, or of physical science alone, but by acquiring a knowledge of all these subjects, perhaps of one, and less of another, but a competent knowledge of them all, — the knowledge of one not existing independently of that of another, but all arranged and consolidated around a common centre of attainments, forming a fixed and certain possession of the mind. We must remember, in short, that the perfect education of man can only be obtained by an accurate and complete study of all the objects which fall within the sphere of the cognisance of man's intelligence. This universality of knowledge, then, should be the ultimate point of our educational aim and aspiration; though we may never forget that, in consequence of the finite nature of our faculties, and the limited extent of our existing opportunities, we cannot do more in the present stage of our being than approximate to this goal of perfection, which can be reached by us only in that state of existence, where we shall "know,” not "in part” as now, but with a knowledge, universal in its range, and perfectly accurate in its grasp, “even as we are known.”
EIGHTH ORDINARY MEETING.
ROYAL INSTITUTION, MONDAY, 6th FEBRUARY, 1865.
Rev. C. D. GINSBURG, V.P., in the Chair.
The following donations were received, and thanks voted to the donors :-“Proceedings of the Royal Society;" “ Journal of the Franklin Institute,” two numbers ; “ Journal of the the Society of Arts,” two numbers.
The following gentlemen were balloted for and duly elected members of the society :- Messrs. Walter Vernon, Thomas Holmes Vernon, John Newton, Douglas Hebson, and William Rowlandson, jun.
On the motion of the President, the thanks of the society were voted to the honorary secretary for his trouble in preparing a catalogue of the society's library, which is now ready.
MR. T. J. MOORE announced that several very interesting zoological collections from the west coast of Africa had recently been presented to the Derby Museum, viz., a collection of