Hints for the improvement of village schools and the introduction of industrial work
IMPROVEMENT OF VILLAGE SCHOOLS
Introduction of Industrial Work,
AN EXPERIMENT MADE IN THE PARISH OF SHIPBOURNE,
REV. JOHN FITZWYGRAM, M.A.,
INCUMBENT OF SHIPBOURNE.
Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged.
JOSEPH MASTERS, ALDERSGATE STREET,
AND NEW BOND STREET,
THE NATIONAL SOCIETY'S DEPOT, SANCTUARY, WESTMINSTER, S.W.
BRIDGER AND SON, TUNBRIDGE.
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
There appears to be a growing conviction among the promoters of education, that our National School-system requires some modification in order to adapt it to the practical wants of the community. The speedy sale of the First Edition of my "Hints for the Improvement of Village Schools," has probably been owing to the existence of some such feeling—many persons being anxious to hear the result of an experiment, the avowed object of which was to give such a practical education as would ensure an attendance unusually large in proportion to the size of the parish.
In this Second Edition I am enabled to give the result of another year's trial, and have taken the opportunity to re-write and enlarge the latter portion of the pamphlet.
IMPROVEMENT OF VILLAGE SCHOOLS,
Whether industrial occupations can be successfully combined with book-learning in our National Schools, is a subject which has of late years attracted the attention of the friends of education. It has been warmly discussed, and declared to be impossible by some; while by others it is thought that such a combination of hand-work and head-work would make our National Schools to be more valued by the parents—would retain the children longer at school—and would be the means of introducing those habits of cleanliness and order, and that knowledge of domestic economy, in which the labouring classes in this country are now for the most part very deficient. It is a subject on which we may theorize for ever without coming to any satisfactory conclusion. Practical experience can alone decide both whether the plan be feasible, and whether the anticipated results can be obtained. It seems therefore to be the duty of any school managers, who have actually made the trial, to state the result, whether it be favourable or the contrary, that others may profit by their experience.
The remarks I am about to offer, have no plea for appearing in print, except upon this ground, viz., as being the result of an experiment made on a small scale in an ordinary agricultural village of four hundred and forty inhabitants, and of several years' close observation of the habits and wants of the labouring classes.
The plans and estimates appended, with the information respecting government grants, may perhaps be of service to any school managers who are desirous to make a similar trial.
The unthrifty habits of the poor, and their ignorance of plain household economy, had often painfully attracted my attention. The sick, I frequently found suffered severely from their food not being suitably prepared. How to feed as well as clothe a family of children off 12s. a week is indeed a problem of no easy solution, even with the best of domestic management; and where the housewife is ignorant of her duties, I find by actual observation, that the family meals very quickly settle down into an endless repetition of bread and cheese and tea. I am not, by any means, one of those who believe, that with proper economy the poor can live off air, nor do I put much faith in the comestible properties of nettles and young thistles lately recommended as food in some of the public newspapers; but with 12s. a week regular pay, and some £3 or £4 earned by the wife and children in harvest, or by hop picking, I conceive it practicable for the families of labourers (in this part of Kent at least) to fare far better than many of them are now in the habit of doing. How to impart to them the necessary instruction, and to improve their social condition, is a question more easily asked than answered; but it would clearly be a step in the right direction, to train the children of the present generation to a practical knowledge of domestic economy in its various branches.
The principle of introducing industrial work into girls' schools, is almost universally conceded, for there is scarcely a girls' school in the country where needlework does not form part of the ordinary instruction.
Now, on what ground, I would ask, is needlework alone of the various branches of industry to be admitted into our schools? Will the girls, when they grow up to be women, be required to do nothing but to make clothes; will not washing and cooking be as necessary as needlework? Nay! if clothing be not washed, perhaps the less of it the better; and if the food for the family be not wisely provided and tolerably cooked, not only the comfort of the home, but the health of the inmates will be seriously affected. The reason why all branches of industry, except needlework, are excluded from our schools, is, I believe, simply the imagined expense and difficulty of introducing them. Few persons, I believe, would deny that it is desirable to add some knowledge of domestic economy to the usual routine of reading, writing, and arithmetic; and in my opinion, the introduction of this class of instruction will be found the only effective remedy for the serious defects,—I might almost say, the lamentable failure,—of the present system of education.
Why is it, I would ask, that in spite of the millions of money that have been voted by parliament,—in spite of the increased number of schools,—in spite of the laudable exertions of both clergy and laity,—the government statistics prove that scarce any progress is being made in educating the masses of the people. Nay, I believe I am correct in stating, that year by year, the number of scholars over ten years old actually decreases, and that as a rule, children stay longer at old-fashioned dame schools, than at schools under first-rate teachers. The main reason, I believe to be this,—that whereas in a dame school the children can scarcely read and write by the time they are twelve or thirteen, in a good National School the children, owing to the improved appliances for teaching, have usually acquired those arts by the time they are ten years old; and the parents, having obtained for their children all they care for, instantly remove them from school. We must remember that the labourer has to exercise great self-denial to keep his children at school beyond ten years old; he knows and feels each Saturday night, that what his children could have earned, would be a most acceptable addition to his weekly wages. By sending his children to work, he gains an immediate and tangible advantage which he can perfectly understand, whereas it is no easy matter to convince him that his children are any the better for being able to tell the height of the Himalaya mountains, or to repeat, with the utmost volubility, the names and the products of every dependency of the British empire.
The poor have indeed a general idea that learning is a "fine thing," and usually wish their children to be scholars, but the term "scholarship" with them is used to signify merely the power to read and write. To other branches of instruction, such as history, grammar, geography, they are for the most part quite indifferent—ignorant of such things themselves, and conscious that they have done very well without such knowledge, they do not desire it for their children, nor are they disposed to make any great sacrifices to obtain it. When therefore their children come to be about ten years old, and are tolerably proficient in reading and writing, (as they of course would be at a good school, though at a bad school they would have to stay till eleven or twelve before they would be equally advanced) the parents naturally ask themselves, what is the use of Johnny and Polly staying at school any longer? they are now good enough scholars for labourers' children, and the five or six shillings a week which they could earn at work, would be a great help to us. On this ground it is quickly decided that Johnny and Polly shall make themselves useful.
The real argument for keeping children at school till thirteen or fourteen, viz., the formation of their moral character, the eliciting of intelligence, and the training them to habits of obedience and truth, order and cleanliness, is one that occurs to very few parents in this class of life.
Now, let us mark the result of children being withdrawn from school at this early age. I shall hardly express myself too strongly, if I say that it in a great measure stultifies all our efforts to ameliorate the social condition of the poor. It is acknowledged, I believe, by every one acquainted with the subject, that the great majority of the lower classes, if examined at the age of twenty-five, are found grossly ignorant of the most elementary knowledge.
The clergy who examine for Confirmation, and those who teach in adult evening schools, are often struck with surprise at the small amount of instruction which is possessed by the young persons who come under their notice. Many of these young people, when children of nine or ten years old, were intelligent and well instructed for their age; but children of such tender years on leaving school very quickly forget all they have learnt, and in a few years their minds relapse into the state of an uncultivated waste. It is indeed sad and disheartening to see so little abiding fruit of our labours, and to find that our instruction is of so transient a nature, that before it is available for the business of life, it is in many cases altogether blotted out. And all this arises, I firmly believe, not from any fault in the teachers, who are far better educated than formerly, and have a deeper sense of their responsibility; nor does it arise from any erroneous method in imparting instruction, but simply and entirely from the children having been removed from school before the plants of knowledge had time to get firmly rooted. A child of ten years old, though able to read, will seldom do so with sufficient ease to make reading a pleasure, especially after a hard day's work. Hence, on leaving school, their books (if they possess any) are usually thrown aside: the power to read diminishes daily, and that it ever could read, becomes to the child a dream and a myth. So long as children are removed from school at ten years old, education can be little more than a name, for it is morally impossible that a child can be trained for the duties and responsibilities of a Christian life at so early an age. We find also from the government reports, that in many parishes where handsome and suitable school buildings have been erected, these buildings are not half filled. From some cause or other the children are not at school, and this is another strong argument that there is something faulty and unattractive in the ordinary system of education. The great problem of the present day is not so much how to build schools as how to fill them, and to retain the children, the boys till at least thirteen years of age, the girls until fit for service at fourteen or fifteen years of age.
It is the object of this pamphlet to show, that a combination of industrial work with book learning, of a practical character, will, in great measure, solve the aforesaid problem, provided always that the managers are careful to adapt the education to the wants of their parish. At the risk of appearing egotistical, I will briefly state what has been done in the parish of Shipbourne, and what results have ensued.
In September, 1855, I was appointed to the incumbency. Up to that date the school, containing some thirty scholars, had been in charge of a young and uncertificated master, and the one room of which it consisted was cold, damp, and badly provided with materials. My first care was to consider what class and character of school would be best suited to the wants of the parish, and could be supported by the subscriptions which amounted to about £40 a year. It was very evident that two schools could not be maintained, and objecting strongly to a mixed school under a master, (for which indeed the funds were inadequate,) I determined on having a mixed school under a first-rate mistress, who could give such an education as the farmers and tradesmen in the village would be thankful to obtain for their children; while I purposed, by means of an industrial establishment, to attract scholars, and to retain them longer than is found practicable in schools of the ordinary description. The following table shows the progress of the school, and I think proves satisfactorily that parents appreciate a sound practical education more readily than is commonly supposed:—
|25th Sept. 1855||37||25||£4 10 0|
|„ 1856||60||42||£25 12 0|
|„ 1857||86||56||£34 6 10|
|„ 1858||110||97||£42 13 10|
|„ 1859||115||90||£44 17 6|
The reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors run thus:—
June, 1856. "This is a very promising little institution, lately placed under a certificated mistress, who seems likely to do justice to the favourable parochial auspices under which it has been set on foot."
July, 1857. "School premises very good, and well found in books and apparatus. Four classes, under a certificated mistress, an assistant mistress, and one candidate. The instruction is carefully given, and the tone of the school is exceedingly good."
July, 1858. "This school (mixed) is conducted with great care and judgment, and nothing is wanted to render it thoroughly efficient. The children are well instructed, and the industrial department is well managed."
Industrial Report.—"Every effort is made by the managers to give a practical character to the instruction, and with a very satisfactory result. The industrial department of the girls is under a fully competent person, and the work therein is well done. In the boys' department, the ground, a stiff clay, is well worked, and the crops flourishing. I recommend that the usual grants shall be made."
July, 1859. "This school (mixed) continues to be conducted with great care and assiduity. The standard of attainment has been raised, the boys in the first class having a good knowledge of Mensuration. Throughout the school the instruction is evenly graduated, all classes receiving a due share of attention.
"The Industrial Departments for boys and girls are carefully worked, and are valuable additions to the school."
Report of Diocesan Inspector for 1859.
"A certificated mistress, aided by a large staff of subordinates, carries on very efficiently the instruction of the children, and the daily supervision of the clergymen gives a finish to the moral tone as well as to the acquirements, which is rarely to be met with. In consequence the school is resorted to by the classes above the labourer, constituting almost the entire first class; and as they pay according to their means they lighten the otherwise heavy expense of the establishment. The penmanship alone seemed to me open to criticism.
"The Industrial Department for girls consists of a kitchen and washhouse, in which a separate mistress teaches daily five or six girls at a time cooking, baking, washing, and household work, about twenty girls being thus employed eight hours each per week. The good things operated on in the kitchen find a ready sale in the parish: so that this branch is nearly self-supporting.
"A small cost is incurred in teaching the elder boys gardening on two days in the week in a piece of ground adjoining the school, which has lately received a valuable addition by the enclosure of waste."
INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL ACCOUNT, (GIRLS' DEPARTMENT,)
|By washing||34||13||6½||Salary of industrial mistress||30||2||2½|
|By sale of bread||14||16||10¼||Purchase of flour||15||12||2|
|By sale of pies and puddings||2||11||9½||„meat||4||9||7|
|From Offertory for puddings and soup for the poor||4||6||0||„stores||6||17||8|
|From the funds of the National School||4||6||10¾||Rent of cottage for industrial mistress||3||3||0|
|George Banks, Esq., donation||1||0||0||Miss Hubbard, half government grant||2||0||0|
|Miss Jane Taylor, ditto||0||10||6|
|Mrs. Brown, Hampton Mill||0||10||6|
INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL ACCOUNT, (GIRLS' DEPARTMENT,)
|By washing||26||6||1½||Salary of industrial mistress||30||5||8|
|By sale of bread||17||9||9||Purchase of flour||17||0||7|
|By sale of pies and puddings||6||3||0||„meat||4||0||11|
|From Offertory for puddings and soup for the poor||2||9||6||„stores||7||9||1|
|Government grant on 24 girls||6||0||0|
|Balance of National School||0||9||4¼||Sundries||8||15||11½|
|By donations||5||6||6||Rent of cottage for industrial mistress||3||0||9|
|By church fees||2||0||6||Deficit from last year||1||17||7½|
From these statements it appears, 1st, that out of a population of 440, 115 children are on the books of the school, or, in other words, that more than one-fourth of the whole population are under instruction. 2ndly. That high payments do not diminish the number of scholars. 3rdly. That the loss on the industrial department after a fair trial of more than two years has not been such as need alarm any school managers who may be inclined to try the experiment in other parishes. On each of these points I may be permitted to say a few words.
1st. As to the number of the scholars. It is fair to mention that there are twelve children who come to my school from the adjoining parishes, but, on the other hand, there are five or six children who belong to my parish, but go to some of the neighbouring schools, so that it cannot be said that we encroach to any great extent on the surrounding parishes. The usual proportion of children at school throughout England is one in ten of the population. In the Government Reports one in seven is considered a very good attendance. One-fourth is very unusual, and I doubt if any parish in Kent can show as large a proportion. 2ndly. That high payments do not necessarily diminish the attendance appears from the fact, that the attendance has steadily increased from thirty-seven children in 1855 to 115 children in 1859, though the rates of payment have been raised from time to time, so that, with the increase of scholars, the schooling money has risen from £4. 10s. in 1855 to £44. 17s. 6d. in 1859.
3rdly. As to the probable loss on an industrial establishment
for girls, when made an appendage of the National Schools. It is, of course, difficult to calculate exactly, as so much must depend on details of management. Assuming, however, as I have proved by experience, that the baking and cooking need involve hardly any loss; assuming also, that on the average 15s. worth of washing is taken in per week, of which 10s. per week remain over, after paying for soap, starch, and coals; and reckoning that the industrial mistress, who of course must be a good laundress, receives a salary of 15s. a week, there will be a loss of 5s. a week or £13 a year. But against this we may place the Government allowance of 5s. per head for each girl under industrial instruction, which, if twenty girls are instructed, would amount to £5. So that the loss on an industrial department need not, I am persuaded, be any very serious charge on the funds of the National School to which it is appended. In no case do I think the loss need exceed about £12 a year. It is to be regretted that the Committee of Council, under their present regulations, give so little aid towards maintaining a school of this sort. If, instead of their present grant of 5s. a head for each girl under instruction, the Committee of Council would pay one-third of the salary of the industrial mistress, provided that at least twenty girls over ten years of age were under instruction, the cost to the public would be less than the cost of a single pupil-teacher; while the prospect of such assistance would lead to an immediate increase of the number of industrial schools, which could then be maintained without any great expense to the managers. Many of the clergy are already so hard pressed to maintain their schools, that it seems at first sight unreasonable to suggest the building and maintaining of an industrial school as an appendage to the existing establishments; but personally, I am persuaded, that the reason why our village schools are so costly to support, and oftentimes but half filled, is this, viz., that the education given is not such as the parents much value, nor such as the farmers will contribute to, or take any interest in. The plan I would suggest, and which is carried out successfully at Shipbourne, is to educate together in one school the children of all the farmers, tradesmen, artizans, and labourers in the parish, making each class pay as much as they can really afford, and adapting the education to the practical wants of each class; and I feel convinced, that a well-managed establishment of this kind will require for its support fewer subscriptions than an ordinary village school.
Under the present system the farmers, in many instances, send their children to private schools; or, if they send them to the National Schools, they do it with a sort of internal protest, as if they were demeaning themselves by only having to pay some trivial sum like 4d. or 6d. a week. It seems to me, that well-to-do farmers have no moral right to avail themselves of the National School, without contributing much more largely than they at present do towards its support. I see nothing unreasonable, or impracticable after a time, in charging a farmer from 1s. to 1s. 6d. a week for each of his children. They would not probably pay less at a good private day school, and their children would cost them still more, if sent to a boarding school. In the parish of Shipbourne we have raised the school payments in proportion as the school becomes more valued, making those parents pay the higher charges who can afford to do so; while for children of actual labourers we have not raised the payment above 2d. a week.
But in order to make the farmers and tradesmen willing to pay 1s. or 1s. 6d. a week, I conceive that we must be prepared to give their children an education suitable for their social position. For farmers' and tradesmen's daughters music, drawing, and dressmaking are subjects, which might, without much difficulty, be added to the usual routine; while the farmers' sons ought certainly to be instructed in land measuring, the keeping of farm-accounts, the theory of deep draining, the elements of agricultural chemistry, and in mechanical drawing. I am no advocate of any "high-pressure" system of education. It seems to me to be of the utmost importance to keep each class of society in its proper place; and with this view, to give to each child such a measure of instruction as its station in life is likely to require, and no more. For is it not right that the farmer should be better educated than the labourer, and the gentleman than the farmer? Are we not in danger of doing much mischief, if we educate highly the class of labourers, while we neglect the classes immediately above them? It does seem to me to be wrong, that the whole country should be straining its energies, and the Parliamentary grants entirely applied to instruct the children of the poor, without any corresponding effort being made to enable the farmers and tradesmen to keep pace, with regard to the education of their children.
The result is, that the poor do not value, and commonly reject for their children the overdose of book learning, which we vainly endeavour to administer; while the farmers have no sympathy with our National Schools, which (they not unreasonably complain) provide for the children of their servants a better education than they have the means of obtaining for their own children.
We have endeavoured at Shipbourne, though under great disadvantages arising from the small size of the parish, to make the National School suitable for farmers' and tradesmen's children—labourers' children being allowed to attend it and sharing in many advantages, but attaining to a lower standard of intellectual knowledge, partly from their leaving school at an earlier age, and partly from a larger portion of their time being devoted to industrial work, which is of far more consequence to them, than to excel in history or geography, since it is by manual labour that their living will have to be earned, and only by domestic economy that their homes can be made comfortable.
In the school classes it would not, I think, be practicable or desirable to make any distinction between the children of farmers and labourers, but there is no difficulty in arranging that the farmers' and tradesmen's children should be kept almost entirely to their books, while the labourers' children, when they come to be of a suitable age, are engaged for a portion of the day in a separate room under a separate teacher, in learning those various branches of industry, which will be of such use to them in after life.Wherever this plan is adopted, the farmers and tradesmen will have a direct interest in supporting the parochial school, and would seldom, I believe, object to paying for their children at a higher rate, and such payments would go a long way towards supporting the school, and would enable it to be kept up in the highest state of efficiency. With the parents of the labouring classes, an industrial school, when the first prejudice against it wears off, will be sure to be popular. 1st. Because the parents are fully able to enter into and appreciate the kind of knowledge which is taught at an industrial school. When their girls come home more handy and useful,—when Sally can make good soup out of a few vegetables with an infinitesimal small fraction of meat—when Betsy can convince the most sceptical, that rice and oatmeal are not to be despised if properly dressed—when the potatoe pie is voted at the family board to be uncommonly good—when Polly, with a little composition yeast, costing a mere nothing, can bake better bread than her mother—in short, when the mothers find that their girls can save many a sixpence by their knowledge of domestic economy, no wonder if the industrial school becomes popular and the children are allowed to remain a year or two longer to reap the advantages afforded by such instruction. 2dly. The industrial school will be popular with the parents because the girls employed in it either receive some small money-payment, as at Finchley, or, as with us, are provided with dinner at the school on certain days of the week. These inducements, coupled with the prospect of obtaining eventually better situations for their children, will naturally have great weight with the parents. One of the chief hindrances in establishing a school such as I have described (a school adapted for farmers' and tradesmen's children, but at the same time providing industrial training for the children of labourers) arises from the difficulty of obtaining suitable teachers, for few of the mistresses who come from the training schools have a sufficient practical knowledge of industrial work, to be able properly to superintend it. I am aware that at some of the institutions, especially at Whitelands, considerable attention has of late been bestowed on the subject of industrial training.
Miss Coutts, with her usual well-considered benevolence, has offered prizes to those students who show the best acquaintance with domestic economy in a written examination, and good results will, no doubt, ensue. Yet I think that the students should be more accustomed actually to work in the laundry, kitchen, and bake-house, so that they may be practically acquainted with every detail connected with those branches of industry.
It is quite a false feeling which would lead a national school mistress to think herself above putting her hands in the wash tub. In most cases superintendence only would be required, since she could not be spared from the school-room, yet as I contemplate the industrial branch being under the general management of the schoolmistress, it is necessary she should know how things ought to be done. As far as head-knowledge is concerned, a really well-trained certificated mistress of the present day would be quite competent to give such an education as farmers and tradesmen require for their children; indeed the mistresses of private boarding schools are usually very inferior both in ability and in the art of imparting knowledge. But besides the difficulty of obtaining teachers for a school such as I have described, the farmers and tradesmen frequently object to sending their children to mix with the dirty, ragged, children of the poor. This objection is not unreasonable; but there is an easy remedy for it in the hands of the managers and teachers of the school. Let them resolutely set their faces against rags and dirt—let the parents be remonstrated with for the former, and the children punished for the latter—let frocks and pinafores be kept at the school and sold to the parents a little under cost price, and in a few months I will undertake to say that both rags and dirt will disappear. It is essential for the success of a school where farmers' and labourers' children are to be educated together, that cleanliness, order, and good manners should be rigidly enforced. When the schoolmistress is untidy and slovenly; where the room is stuffy and ill-ventilated, or cold and desolate—where all is disorder and dirt—such a school will inevitably fail in training girls successfully for the duties of after life, and the more respectable parents cannot be blamed for refusing to send their children.
Hitherto I have spoken almost entirely of girls. Let us now consider whether it is desirable and feasible to employ boys at Industrial work. Among town schools I have met with a few instances, in which the boys are instructed in printing and carpentering, as at St. Mary's, Southampton, and Painswick, in Gloucestershire, but never having tried anything of that kind, and feeling the difficulty of providing suitable instructors in a country village, I will only say, that the experiments made in the above-mentioned towns appear to have been attended with considerable success, and to confirm an opinion that I have long entertained, viz., that the standard of instruction is not lowered, but invariably raised by the introduction of Industrial work—— not only do the boys become more handy and tractable from the variety of occupation, but, from their general intelligence being quickened, I find that they made more than ordinary progress in the common book-work. The usual school-hours, if entirely devoted to head-work, I believe to be much too long, and am certain that an equal amount can be learnt in a much shorter time, especially if the hours of play are devoted to some more intellectual amusements than marbles, or "pitch and toss." The following extracts from a letter by W. H. Hyett, Esq., to the Dean of Hereford, (published by Groombridge, price 6d.) are well worthy of attention:—
The principles here enunciated appear to me to be sound and good, but until our masters receive a style of education very different from the present, I fear that there will be many practical difficulties in carrying out such views. For small country villages the cultivation of a garden seems the most natural form of Industrial work for boys, and it is certainly the easiest to carry into effect. There is indeed no practical difficulty about it, nor need there be any expense to speak of involved in making the experiment, whenever the managers can obtain a piece of land in the immediate vicinity of the school. In almost every village there is some jobbing gardener, or other suitable person, who, for a small payment, would give practical instruction to the boys two or three afternoons in the week. In such cases the duty of the schoolmaster would be to exercise a general superintendence, and to give home lessons occasionally out of the "Finchley Manual," "Glennie's Handbook," or some other suitable treatise. The elder boys would of course work under the gardener in rotation, seven or eight at a time, and should be carefully taught to keep the accounts on a regular and systematic plan; in short, the school garden accounts should be farm accounts on a diminutive scale. The Committee of Council, besides paying one-half of the rent of the land, and one-third of the cost of the tools, allow the Managers 5s. a head for each boy under instruction, which in most cases would be nearly sufficient to pay the wages of the gardener. We have now about an acre and a quarter of land attached to the school at Shipbourne. At the end of the first year the loss was considerable (being nearly £12,) but much of it arose from the necessity of draining and otherwise improving the land, which is a cold, stiff clay. This year, when the produce comes to be sold, I hope that both ends will nearly meet, as we have in hand a considerable quantity of potatoes, besides other vegetables, to be disposed of in due time. But even if no profit could ever be derived from the garden, (which I see no reason to suppose) I should still consider it a most valuable adjunct to the school, partly because it supplies the Industrial kitchen with an abundance of vegetables, which it is excellent practice for the girls to learn how to cook, and partly because it is a source of constant pleasure and recreation to the children during their playtime. Moreover, among other minor advantages, a garden serves to keep boys out of mischief. It is an old saying, but a very true one, that "Satan always finds some work for idle hands to do," and in a moral point of view it is really of no small importance to keep children employed both in school and out of school. But perhaps the chief benefit of a garden arises from the hard work required in cultivating it.
It is certainly desirable with all children, but more especially with labourers' children, to strengthen the body as well as the mind, and to discipline them to habits of steady persevering labour.
Our aim must be to rear up a community of modest, laborious, trustworthy citizens, serviceable to each other, and creditable to their country; to send children forth from our schools deeply impressed with the idea, that the active and intelligent discharge of their duty, in obedience to the will of God, is the great business and purport of their lives. Nothing is too great, nothing too small, to engage the attention of managers and teachers, if it can be made to minister with advantage either to the bodily or spiritual training of the children. A garden attached to a school may be considered an uncovered schoolroom, where many things are taught which are really far more important than any book-learning. An intelligent master will see more of a boy's disposition in one day by watching him at work among his companions than he could ascertain in a month in the schoolroom. A boy feels naturally more unrestrained when at work, and little faults of temper or selfishness are discovered, which otherwise might have escaped the master's notice, and would never have been cured. Such opportunities for ascertaining the different dispositions of the children should be counted among the advantages to be derived from a school garden, and from industrial work generally.
Let us now proceed to examine the expense under ordinary circumstances of building and fitting up an industrial school in a country parish, and what grants in aid can be obtained from the Committee of Council, or public societies. Having so recently built and fitted up the industrial school at Shipbourne, I am able to speak on these points with considerable accuracy, though the price of building will, of course, vary somewhat in different localities. And first let us endeavour to agree what buildings are necessary: I should certainly recommend that there should be two rooms, one about 25 ft. by 14 ft. in the clear, which we will call "the industrial class room," a well-built boarded room with a high-pitched roof, fitted with washing troughs, kitchen range, boiler, brick oven, dresser, and dinner table; the other, a rough cheap building about 18 ft. by 11 ft. with brick floor, intended only to be used as a laundry, fitted with mangle, ironing stove, and ironing board. The cost of two rooms, such as I have described, inclusive of the requisite fittings and the architect's commission, would be about £235; but it is right to mention that my industrial class-room is panelled round with the old pews from the church, the best use perhaps to which such unseemly erections can be applied.
The Committee of Council will usually contribute a sum equal to whatever sum is raised by local contributions. The National Society would probably contribute from £10 to £15. And in this diocese from £15 to £20 might be expected from the Canterbury Diocesan Board of Education; so that the sum necessary to be raised by the promoters of an industrial school through private subscription would he just about £100.
Surely, many parishes, if once convinced of the benefit of an industrial school, might manage to raise this sum, especially as a considerable portion of it may be given in the shape of materials, such as stone, wood, tiles, sand, or lime—things which many landowners have on their estates, and would willingly give for building an industrial school, when they might not be conveniently able to give actual money.
The following list of things which were required for fitting up our industrial school, with the prices we paid for them, may perhaps be a guide to those about to embark on a similar undertaking:—
Baker's patent mangle (large size) second hand, £9. 10s.
Dinner table, 12 ft. by 2 ft. 6 in., £2.
Dresser, £3. 10s.
Iron cistern, bottle jack, and kitchen utensils, £6.
Under-ground tank for soft water, £6. 18s.
Ironing board, £1. 5s.
Ironing flannels, 10s.
Large deal box for stores, £l. 10s.
Wooden baking trough, 8s.
Clothes baskets, 13s. 6d.
Plates, jugs, tins, &c., £1. 10s.
Set of irons, £1. 10s.
Total cost, say £35.
We find in practice, that the working of the industrial school interferes but very slightly with the regular school work, and I believe that our standard of education is considerably higher than in any of the neighbouring schools. We arrange that the twenty-four industrial girls shall take turn (four or five at a time as they are wanted) in the industrial school under the industrial mistress. Each girl receives about six hours' industrial instruction in the course of the week. The cooking consists in preparing dinner twice a week for six of the industrial girls and the mistress, (I allow 1s. worth of meat for each dinner, which with the vegetables and fruit from the garden, with a little rice, is quite sufficient,) in making soup and puddings of various kinds, which are sent out to the sick in tin dishes, and are paid for out of the offertory, and in making twice a week, a number of meat and apple pies, which have a ready sale among the parents of the children.
The baking gives us no trouble. Twice in the week, about twenty-four loaves of 2lb each, are baked, and as we sell them a farthing per loaf cheaper than the baker, there is no difficulty in disposing of them. The quantity is not sufficient to interfere with the profits of the baker, but is enough for the purpose of instructing the children in the art of making good bread. As for the washing, we take in all we can get. The supply is somewhat uncertain, but we have sometimes earned upwards of 30s. a week. My own washing, and that of the school-teachers, is always done at the school, and paid for at the usual rate.
By the kindness of the architect who was employed for the schools at Shipbourne, (R. G. Suter, Esq., 50, Lansdown Place, Brighton,) I am enabled to append two ground plans for a National and Industrial School, either of which I should consider suitable for an agricultural village of 500 or 600 people.
We will suppose that the school is divided into five classes, each class containing twenty-five children, and that in the main schoolroom there are three groups of three parallel desks, each group accommodating a class. These desks, about 9 ft. 6 in. long, and varying in height from 2 ft. 6 in. to 2 ft., should be moveable, the tops should be flat or slightly sloped, and if made of deal, stained and varnished, ought not to cost more than 15s. each. We will also suppose that each class is divided from the one next to it by a curtain of green moreen sliding on an iron rod 5 ft. from the floor, and extending half-way across the room, and that in the one class-room there are three parallel desks, while in the other there is a square class (intended for infants) consisting of three low benches with backs to them, and a monitor's stool. All these arrangements I have tested, and have found to be very satisfactory.
And now, for the convenience of managers who are not practically acquainted with the details of a schoolroom, and who often expect teachers to work without tools, I will add a list of such books and apparatus as would be suitable and sufficient for a school of 125 children:—
3 swing slates, 18s. 6d. each.
2 swing black boards, 15s. each.
12 doz. unframed slates, 2s. per doz.
6 boxes of slate pencils, 6d. each.
4 boxes of Gillott's pens, No. 351 and 352, 1s. 6d. per box.
6 boxes of prepared chalk, 2½d. per box.
Rulers and pen-wipers, 50 of each.
Martin's Registers, 9s. 8d.
25 Bibles, 10d. each.
25 Prayer Books, 6d. each.
25 Neale's or Simpson's History of England.
25 Robinson Crusoe, 9d. each. Milner and Sotherby, Halifax.
12 The Horse Book, 9d. each. Hamilton and Co., London.
12 Rudimentary Chemistry, by G. , 9d. Weale.
25 agricultural class books, 6½d.
25 third book, 6¾d.. Irish Society
25 first arithmetic book, 3½d.
25 grammars. Brown's or Best's 4d. each.
Text Books for the Teacher.
Grammar, Sullivan's, 9d.
Arithmetic, Colenso and Hind.
Geography, Cornwall or Hughes.
Land measuring, Quested's, 2s. Relfe and Fletcher.
Elements of Perspective. By A. Penley, 1s. Windsor and Newton.
25 Prayer Books.
25 New Testaments.
25 Old Testament History. By a Country Clergyman. Parts I. and II. Price 1s.
25 ditto. Part III. Price 1s.
25 Bishop History of England. Price 1s. 11d.
White's arithmetic cards, simple and compound rules, 9d. per packet.
25 Baker's Circle of Knowledge, Gradation I. Price 9d.
25 second book of lessons, 3d. (Irish society.)
White's arithmetic cards, simple rules.
25 Bishop Short's Old and New Testament History.
25 first book for the use of schools, 1½d. each. S. P. C. K.
25 first book of lessons (Irish,) 9d. per doz.
25 stories for infant schools. An arithmetical frame, 4s. 6d.
Box of letters, 10s. 6d.
Box of form and colour, 11s. 6d.
Reading disentangled, 9s. mounted.
Set of Scripture history, coloured, 5s. 2d.
Set of Scripture manners and customs, 6s. 9d.
Tin frames for ditto, 3s.
45 prints of animals, coloured, 5s. 6d.
"Line upon Line," and "Peep of Day."
Besides these articles and books, which, I conceive, should be the property of the managers, the following books should be kept at the school, and purchased by the children at cost price:
Colenso's arithmetic. Parts I. and II., 4d. each.
Treatise on mensuration (Irish Soc.) 5½d.
Elements of geometry (Irish Soc.) 3½d.
Spelling book, 1d.
Scholar's atlas. 1d.
Geography of England, 1d.
Geography of the Colonies, 1d.
Summary of English History, 1d.
Darnell's copy-books, 2d. each.
Exercise books, 2d. each.
Newton's box of drawing instruments, 2s. 6d.
Paintboxes (Society of Arts,) ls. each.
All the books and articles above-mentioned, may be procured from the National Society's Depository, Sanctuary, Westminster. In making the list, I have looked to economy as well as utility, knowing that many school managers are very hard pressed for funds. This will account for my recommending so many books of the Irish Society. I have reckoned, of course, that many of the books will be used by more than one class, e.g. the Bibles, New Testaments, and Old Testament History, will serve for the first three classes in common. There are several books which appear to me to be greatly wanted for farmers' boys in the first class of a good country school, at least I have not been able to meet with any on the following subjects, which are satisfactory in price as well as matter:—agricultural chemistry, as applied to manures; draining; modern farm-instruments; farm building; and the management and feeding of stock. On each of these subjects, a well-written little treatise, costing about 6d., would be a great acquisition; such books as these should be purchased by the boys, that they may have them to refer to in after years, or to make use of in the evening school.
The school being duly provided with books, sufficient in quantity and good in quality, the next point to be looked to is good organization, a point in which many teachers lamentably fail—as a rule the children should be divided into classes according to their proficiency in reading, but no rule is without exceptions, and to make these exceptions judiciously requires a skilful teacher. Another point to which I attach great importance, is a system of monthly examinations, followed by a distribution of small prizes. It is not the value of a prize that a child cares for, but the satisfaction of obtaining it. Pictures or books, worth from 1d. to 2d., make good prizes. I have used largely Scripture prints, Old and New Testament series, published by Parker. They cost about 2d. each, and are highly valued by the children, who often frame them and hang them up in their cottages, to the exclusion of some villainous daub. In order to assist us in doing strict justice in these examinations, the teacher of each class keeps a daily record of the home lessons—this record is examined, and has great weight in adjudging the prizes. We also give a small prize for a whole month's perfectly regular attendance. Prizes of the most trivial value, if given on the understanding that they are intended as marks of approbation, will be eagerly sought after, and will have considerable effect in inducing many children to exert themselves more than they would otherwise do. God governs mankind by a system of rewards and punishments, and by a combination of mercy and justice. The school is a small world, and the teacher cannot do better than try and govern the children committed to his charge, on principles as far as possible analogous with those of God's moral government of the world—the teacher will thus reward or punish without partiality and without anger—with justice but with mercy, yea ever inclining, if possible, to the side of mercy, after the example of Him Whose chosen Name is Love.
Before parting with my readers, I would ask to be allowed to say a few words on Government inspection and Government grants. There exists, I am aware, a strong feeling among some of my clerical brethren against any system of inspection or any interference in any way with local management; they fear that some day the State may step in and interfere with the teaching of those sacred truths, which they hold to be essential to salvation; they do not, I believe, generally apprehend any immediate danger, but they dread the idea of a centralized power which may eventually be exercised to the prejudice of the Church. Now, attached as I am to the Church of England and her doctrines, I cannot share in this feeling. I see no fear for the Church, if only she rises to her work. She must educate, if she would not have the State step in. Only let her educate in the true sense of the word the masses of the people, and then I have no fear but that she will hold her own either against State interference or sectarian hostility. The Church of England's power lies in the affections of the people, and so long as the rising generations are trained in her schools, and owe the knowledge of Christ to her teaching, I have no fear for her. Why is it, I would ask, that the middle classes in our large towns have so wandered from the Church of their fathers? Is it not in a great measure, because we have neglected to direct the education of their children? Once bring a child's mind into contact with a pious and able minister, so as to impress it with the truths of the Gospel and gain its affections, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, that child will continue a member of the Church until the day of its death. If there is some prospective danger in accepting State assistance, there seems to me to be a far more real and pressing danger in leaving large masses of people in a state of ignorance, for it is nothing but ignorance that makes them so easy a prey to the Dissenter, the Mormon, the Chartist, or the Infidel. The funds of the Committee of Council are administered I will not say on the best principle, but on the only principle which I believe is possible in a country like ours, which is so divided into religious sects. No one can deny that an immense impulse has been given to voluntary efforts by these Parliamentary grants. The principal objection to my mind against the present system is, that the poorest and most ignorant parts of the country, especially where the parishes are small, receive little or no assistance, not being able to meet the Government requirements, while richer and well-to-do parishes benefit largely. In large town schools the Capitation money amounts to a considerable sum, but in small agricultural parishes it seldom amounts to more than £3 or £4. The required attendance of one hundred and seventy-six days is very high for a country parish, when we take into account the great and increasing demand for juvenile labour, and the many by which a regular attendance is prevented. I might mention, as an instance to show the uncertainty of obtaining a Capitation grant, that two following years at Shipbourne, we have been forced to close the school, owing to the prevalence of some epidemic disease, and as no allowance is ever made for such emergencies, we of course forfeited the greater part of the Capitation grant for each of those years. I would venture to suggest that some deduction from the required attendance should be made, where a school is closed by the order of the medical officer of the district.
If a few modifications were made in the existing minutes principally with a view of giving assistance to poor parishes, I do not see how Parliamentary grants can be administered in a more just, or less objectionable form; our wisdom, I believe, speaking as a minister of the Church of England, is to take all that we can get in the way of State assistance, and, while we keep in our own hands the superintendence of the religious instruction, to adapt the secular teaching to the practical wants and requirements of our respective parishes. Since the publication of the first edition of this pamphlet, the Committee of Council, while on the one hand they have (very unwisely in my opinion) rigidly restricted the number of pupil-teachers to the proportion of one to every forty scholars, have on the other hand made a valuable concession in allowing young persons of sixteen years old and upwards to be apprenticed as pupil-teachers for two years (on condition of passing the third year examination) at a salary of £17. 10s. for the first year, and £20 for the second. The effect of this minute will be to draw into the teacher's office many young persons of a higher grade, who have been educated in private schools, but who, out of real love for the work, are anxious to be engaged in teaching and to receive that systematic instruction in the art, which can only be obtained in the training schools. Persons of this class are, to my mind, far better suited for the office of elementary teachers than the children of labourers, who are usually apprenticed at thirteen years old, an age at which it is scarcely possible for them to know their own minds, or to have manifested any peculiar fitness for their future vocation. Owing to the early age of apprenticeship, and to insufficient care in the selection of candidates, we frequently meet with ex-pupil-teachers and Queen scholars, who have no natural turn for their profession, and who, whatever their mental attainments may be, will never make efficient teachers. When such young persons take to some other employment I consider it a great public gain. We want as teachers none but those who love teaching, and in my humble opinion the combined influence of earnest, hard-working clergy, and of well-educated teachers of a cheerful and loving disposition will always fill a school, provided that the education offered is of such a character, that the parents can see the benefit, which their children derive from it. It was a saying of the great Dr. Chalmers, that "a house-going parson will make a church-going people." It is equally true, that a house-going parson will make school-going children.
When we plead with the parents for their children's good we have a strong hold on them. In the midst of much ignorance and apathy natural affection still exists, and if carefully worked upon, will arouse the parents to an amount of self-denial, of which we should not have thought them capable. In the matter of education, as in all other matters, let us deal with the poor gently yet firmly; gently, because we, to whom God from our youth up has given every luxury, can never fully enter into the privation and self-denial, which is necessarily involved when a labourer keeps his children at school instead of sending them to work; firmly, because we feel, that a child, left to itself, will not only bring its parents to shame, but will probably prove the pest of the village.
The only lever which can move the "vis inertiæ" of the parents is love, love to them and to their children for Christ's sake. Let us go forth in a loving spirit to win souls, and then as by a side wind we shall fill our schools. As time goes on, I am the more and more convinced, that the whole tone and "animus" of a parish may be altered in a very few years by vigilant attention to the school, but I confess that I am not altogether sure, whether we are quite right in relieving the parents of so large a share of that responsibility which naturally devolve on them, or that Scripture gives us any express sanction for doing so. It is a grave responsibility to take the parent's place even for a time and with their consent. We ought to feel it an unnatural position, and to endeavour to remedy the evil of it as far as possible by continually referring the child back to the wishes and authority of its father or mother.
If teachers would inculcate a deeper reverence for parental authority, studiously placing the authority of the parents above their own, (from which it is in truth derived) the parents would in return, I believe, support the teacher's authority more carefully than they are apt to do. It is a great point in any school to enlist the sympathy and support of the parents. I strongly object to the practice of many schools in fining the parents for the non-attendance of the children, for surely the parents have a perfect right to their children's services whenever they require them; such a practice I believe to be wrong in principle, and if so, in the long run it will never pay. The eleemosynary character of our National schools should, I think, as far as possible be kept out of sight; indeed I should prefer to drop the title of "National" school, and to adopt that of "Parochial" school. Our object is not to pauperize the poor, or to lower them in their own estimation by offering their children a free education, but to raise their social condition and to give them a proper feeling of independence by teaching them, that there is nothing mean or debasing in manual toil—that hard work and the sweat of the brow is of God's appointment, and that the honest Christian labourer is worthy of our highest esteem. Do we not read, that "many that are first shall be last, and the last first?" Let us bear this in mind, and remember in all our dealings with the poor, that many of them will one day fill a higher position than ourselves. Viewed in this Christian light the children of the poor will occupy a higher place in our estimation as fellow-members in the same mystical body of Christ. For the love of Christ, for the love of souls, let us be zealous and patient in feeding the lambs of the fold, ever mindful of those touching words, which doubtless sank deep into the Apostle's heart—"Lovest thou Me? feed My lambs."
- See Rev. F. Watkins' General Report for 1858, p. 55.
- I would earnestly plead for the children of the middle classes, and would urge my clerical brethren in all towns and large villages to superintend and foster schools of a higher class with the same assiduity and watchful care, which they now usually bestow on schools for the poor; such middle-class schools, would, I am convinced, be most efficient hand-maids to the Church of England, whereas at present, they are but too often conducted by those who are either ignorant of her doctrines or opposed to her system.