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UNIVERSITY EXAMINATION OF TEACHERS.
CAMBRIDGE SYNDICATE, 1880. The first examination of teachers by either of the great English Universities in reference to certificate or degree was held in Junerlast, as was announced in this Journal (p. 77) at the close of the Paper by Prof. Quick in the Cambridge Course of Lectures for Teachers. The following extracts are from an article by Prof. Quick in the English Journal of Education for November, 1880, giving the results of the examination with valuable suggestions as to the dangers to be avoided, and the best modes of conducting the same in future.
In this and in similar examinations (for this is by no means the first time teachers have been examined in England: the College of Preceptors has been examining for years) I have been much struck by the unanimity of the examiners. Though the subjects are totally different, and perhaps the methods of the examiners somewhat different also, their estimate of the candidates shows few discrepancies. This is so far satisfactory. It proves that the same people do well, and the same do ill, in different subjects and with different examiners. But, if I may state my individual opinion, I am by no means sure that the best candidates always do best in examination. There are two factors, so to speak, which are needed to produce success in such a case as this,—the first, intelligence; the second, special preparation. Within limits, these factors may vary inversely without endangering the result, but we know that a product vanishes when any factor equals zero, and this holds in the present case. A very stupid person may fail after careful preparation; and Lord Cairns or Professor Huxley would certainly be plucked if they tried to pass without reading anything on the subject. Of the two factors, perhaps special study is the more important for the examination, though intelligence is by far the more important for good teaching. These truths about the examination were not well understood by some of the candidates. Several of great intelligence, and I dare say of very considerable teaching powers, neglected special study to a point where success was endangered, and in some cases sacrificed. Of course one has a great dislike to plucking anyone who has a cultivated mind and is probably a good teacher; but one's business is to find out whether A and B know certain subjects, and if they don't one can't say they do, however high an estimate one may form of their gen. eral capacity.
The easiest questions that can be set are those which ask merely for reproduction,-mere book-work questions, as the Cambridge phrase is. A friendly critic complained of my paper as having too much book-work in it, and it is perhaps fairly open to this objection; but some questions are needed to test careful and accurate reading. A practice has got established with some examiners of testing careful study by asking about unimportant things
“How many notes a sawbut has,
And whether shawms have strings." The notion is, that if unimportant things are remembered, important things are sure to be known. But this kind of examining leads io false methods of studying. The true art of study consists in seizing on essentials, and attending to unessentials only so far as they are accessories needful as a background is in a picture. But if unimportant things are “sure to be set,” they instantly become important to students preparing for examination, and a reasonable view of the subject is thus rendered impossible. With this conviction, I set no book-work question that did not, in my estimation, turn on some point of interest or importance. The following (and one other) are the only questions of pure book-work:
1. What are the chief recommendations Luther gives the town councillors of Germany in his celebrated letter of 1524?
10. State some of Jacotot's Aphorisms.
14. On what ground did Arnold advocate introducing Natural Science into schools?
15. In speaking of the education of his own daughter, what does Arnold say about the intellectual education of girls ?
Luther's letter ought to have been known, but it was not to 38 out of 42 candidates. It is to be found in English in Henry Barnard's “German Educational Reformers," and in German in most books on the History of Education. Jacotot's Aphorisms were much better known; indeed, only 5 candidates failed utterly in this question, or omitted it, and the average of the whole 42 was about half-marks. The two questions about Arnold referred to passages which I thought must have struck any intelligent reader of Stanley's Life of Arnold. Arnold was one of the first to propose teaching Natural Science in schools, and he gives: as his reason that we ought to begin at school whatever it may be desirable to study in after life; for as adults we can continue a study, though we cannot start in one that is new to us. Iu the passage about the education of girls, Arnold insists on the importance of examinations, and regrets that for girls there was nothing like the degree examination at Oxford. As both the teaching of Natural Science and examination of women are now receiving so much attention, I should have thought that these passages in Stanley's Arnold would have been observed and remembered. I was therefore somewhat disappointed to find that only 12 of the 42 knew the passage about the education of girls, and only 3 gave me Arnold's reason for introducing Natural Science. As I said, the special subjects, Locke and Arnold, had not been properly studied. As Arnold was a special subject, we assumed that everyone would be familiar with Stanley's Life of Arnold; but as the book was not mentioned in the list sent out of books on the history of education (a list for which I was responsible), the students, many of them, thought they were not expected to read it.
In the questions I have mentioned, the factor thought of was special preparation. In the others I sought to give more or less play to the intelligence. But directly one asks for thought, one asks for what even able candidates cannot, as a rule, give one on the spot. As they cannot pay in coin (to use Addison's metaphor) they must write a check, i. e., they must give proof of thought accumulated elsewhere. There are few who do not find it almost impossible to think against time in examination. The very best thinking often goes at a snail's pace, and, like the snail, shuts up altogether if we try to hurry it. So candidates naturally fall back on what they remember, and often come armed with convenient formula, which show that somebody has thought, but not the candidate. Those who were in for this examination, no doubt, considered themselves very unfortunate in not being able to get hold of many of these formula; but to judge from their use of those they did get hold of, I doubt if they would have been any better off with more. E. g., I asked what advantage Froebel sought to secure for children by means of the Kindergarten; and about Froebel some of the candidates were provided with a formulæ. The consequence was that in answer to this question I was told that “Froebel sought to exercise the instincts, which were seven in numberactivity, agriculture, transformation, curiosity, sociability, religion," and some other, I forget what, and have no wish to refresh my memory. And this list seemed to some candidates so well suited to "satisfy the examiner," that they managed to bring it in in dealing with some other questions. I must say I look forward with alarm to the time when candidates will present themselves furnished with a panoply of sucb
formulæ, and will learn no more from the history of education than a schoolboy would learn by committing to memory the hard names pasted on the fossils in a geological museum. We should do well to remember how easily the study of the History may be injured by the thought of a coming examination. This thought indeed changes the attitude of the student's mind. He is tempted to think of what he reads no longer as tho expression of truths which may affect his own views and practice in · education, but as so much information to be got up by a particular day, and dropped again when it has served its turn. The friends of the exam. ination (with whom I wish to be reckoned) maintain that it is better for teachers to have studied the History even for examination than not at all; but when hand-books are introduced, formulæ settled, and studying the History means tagging to each distinguished name a list of words that are supposed to express just what the examiner will ask for, it will be at least doubtful whether we should go on examining in the History of Education.
As this question bears on an important point in the history of education, I should like to give some materials, for the right answer. In learning anything there are two things to be considered-(1) the advantage we shall find from knowing that subject or having that skill, (3) the effect which the study of that subject or practising for that skill will have on the mind or the body. The two are obviously quite distinct, though it may be maintained that according to “the economy of Nature" they must practically coincide, i, e., that in learning the most useful things we shali get the best training of mind and body. The utilitarian view of instruction is then that we should teach things in themselves useful, and either neglect the result on the mind and body of the lcarner or assume that it must be the right result in accordance with “the economy of Nature." Again, when the subjects are settled, the utilitarian thinks how the knowledge or skill may be most speedily acquired, and not how this or that method of acquisition will affect the faculties. Now Locke is often spoken of as the leader of the utilitarians. How far is the utilitarian view adopted by him? No doubt very much what he has written in the Thoughts under the head of “learning"seerns utilitarian. He recommends the study of Latin just as he recommends the study of Law, because “he knows no place which a gentleman can well fill" without a knowledge of these subjects. And in the methods he prescribes he aims simply at pointing out the quickest route to the knowledge, and in language-teaching he is the precursor of the professedly utilitarian Hamilton. But on the other hand
learning" was not the whole of education with Locke, but, as he himself says, the last and least part. He thought children incapable of much intellectual training, so he laid the main stress of their education on the formation of habits. Industry was to be one of these habits, and study was to be encouraged to prevent “my young master" from "sauntering.” Any study might serve this purpose, and therefore Locke chose useful studies, and in this he seems utilitarian; but at the same time he asserts that the studies the Governor should put his pupil on "are but as it were the exercise of his faculties, and employment of his time, etc.” (Thoughts, $ 94.) And when the age of childhood was past the “conduct of the understanding” was to be thought of before the acquisition of knowledge. He lays down as the object of studies “an increase of the powers and activity of the mind, not an enlargement of its possessions” (Conduct of the Understanding, $ 19, ad f.). Such language as this entirely disqualifies the philosopher for the leadership of the utilitarians.
When I think of the time and study it has taken me to make this out, and of the time and care it takes me now to state it, I feel very indulgent to students who crave for formulæ, and half suspect that I myself should be plucked if I went in for an examination without laying in a good stock of them.
I must hasten on and say less about the rest of the paper than I should like to say.
I tried to puzzle the lovers of phrases by asking the meaning of Mon. taigne's Savoir par cour n'est pas savoir. To this question I only had four satisfactory answers, but this is nearly 1 in 10—not so bad, considering that of the people who quote the saying not 1 in 10 understands it.
It may gratify the Jesuits, in their present troubles in France and else. where, to know that they seem popular with English students. In the question about their school system only seven candidates failed, and most of the remaining thirty-five did very well.
I asked for an account of some English writer on education before the Great Rebellion. Now that an English University is examining in the history of education, our old writers will no doubt be rediscovered. A German has lately been writing on the only English schoolmaster of the olden time whose reputation has survived-Ascham; but to my mind Mulcaster is still more interesting, and Brinsly's Ludus Literarius is well worth reading. At present there is some difficulty, indeed great difficulty, in getting the entire books of Mulcaster and Brinsly, but large extracts are to be seen in Henry Barnard's English Pedagogy-Second Series.
I asked what objects Comenius sought to secure by means of his Orbis Pictus; but few candidates mentioned his chief object, which was to avoid what he calls “the unhappy divorce of words and things," and in giving the knowledge of words to give also' the knowledge of the things to which they referred.
The answers about Rousseau's ideal boy of 12 and about Pestalozzi at Stanz were with a few exceptions satisfactory.
The “advanced questions” ought perhaps to have been called “subjects for essays," for I do not know that there is anything particularly advanced in them, at least in my share of them. The inquiry into the meaning of the Reformers when they insist that education should be “according to Nature" should not I think be put off to an advanced stage in the study of them, though no doubt it is so put off in many cases. The School Guardian tells us, “the Advanced Questions imply a great deal. Only daring theorists or practical teachers of some experience could have attempted them.” If this is correct all the candidates must have been daring theorists or practical teachers of some experience, for they all attempted the Advanced Questions. But perhaps even Danton would not have considered “daring" the chief requisite for success in examination, and I cannot say that the bold attempt in all cases improved the position of the candidate. If I had to decide by the answers to my "advanced questions” only, I could not have passed half of those who were in for the examination. There was a choice between a question about Arnold and reforms in public schools, and a question about Nature, but only eight chose the Arnold.
Of the forty-two candidates twenty-seven passed our examination. Eighteen of these have received a certificate of Practical Efficiency. This was tested, I hear, by trial-lessons. I have not seen the Report of the Syndicate, so I know nothing of the examination further than I my. self took part in it.,
THE KINDERGARTEN IN NORMAL TRAINING.
LETTER OF THOMAS HUNTER, PH. D., President.
Utterly disgusted with the barbarous system of restraint, ignorantly called “discipline," in vogue in some of the primary schools of the city, I bad resolved, on the establishment of the Normal College, that our pupil-teachers should be trained to a higher and better knowledge of child nature. With this object in view I carefully studied the life, the labors, and the system of the immortal Froebel, and found in his Kindergarten the true foundation of all correct teaching—a deep, broad, natural foundation, capable of sustaining the most solid superstructure.
The key-note of the Kindergarten is the natural activity of the child, which is utilized for purposes of bodily, moral, and mental growth. The child needs physical exercise. Play is a necessity of its nature. The simple but profoundly philosophical mind of Froebel seized this necessity and turned it into a powerful instrument of culture. He adapted and gave to the world the celebrated games which are now amusing, developing, and instructing thousands of children all over the world.
Any one who has observed the habits of children can scarcely avoid the conclusion that man is born with an instinctive desire to destroy; and that “the natural state of man is war." Every parent realizes this to his cost. The child delights to pick things to pieces, to pluck up flowers, to break shrubs, to rob birds' nests, to smash the eggs, to quarrel, to fight, and to be, in fact, a most cruel little animal. It takes the constant vigilant care of a wise mother to check and cure these natural propensities. And hence, long before Froebel's time, lettered blocks and other agencies were employed to minister to the child's natural desire to construct and destroy. It may be worthy of notice that while the child seems pleased with the work of building his blocks into an imaginary house or church, his joy is unbounded and his laugh the loudest when he destroys the work of his own hands and beholds the little edifice a heap of ruins. Culture has done wonders in the vegetable kingdom, more certainly than it has done in the animal; for the reason, perhaps, that the former passively submits, while the latter actively resists. With all the barbarian races, as far back as history reaches, destructiveness has been their characteristic; and wherever man has become civilized he has become a builder. Constructiveness has been the visible sign of his civilization. Destructiveness is natural activity viciously exercised; constructiveness is natural activity cultivated and employed for beneficent purposes; and this truth is the basis of the Kindergarten, of the weaving, and making and building, and instructive amusements which will ere long work a great reform in professional teaching.
The common schools were established to conserve the state. This is the only logical reason for their existence. If the state could be con