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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/691

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BARBARISM IN ENGLISH EDUCATION.
BARBARISM IN ENGLISH EDUCATION.
By E. E. WHITE.

PROF. W. H. YOUNG, formerly of Athens, Ohio, now United States consul at Carlsruhe for Baden and Alsace-Lorraine, has sent us a very interesting epitome of the recent odd discussion in the English papers, chiefly in the Times, of the oddest feature of English public schools. The discussion contains so much that is English, unique, and suggestive, that we regret that we are obliged to condense the epitome to bring it within our space. We have made as few changes as possible, but, that Prof. Young may not be responsible for the sketch in its present shape, we have given it an editorial position.

The term public school is commonly applied in England to such schools as Eton, Rugby, Harrow, Winchester, etc., which correspond with an American endowed boys' academy on the dormitory plan. Each school comprises several "houses" and about six classes called "forms," and is under the immediate management and instruction of ten to twenty assistant "masters" presided over by a "head-master," and subject to a corporate board of control. In all of these schools Monitorial Discipline has prevailed more or less for centuries, with this striking feature, that all the boys in the lower "forms" are subject, not only in ordinary school discipline, but for personal service of whatever kind, as cleaning rooms, brushing clothes, bringing wood and water, all kinds of errand-running, etc., to the "sixth form," commonly limited in number from fifteen to thirty of the best of the most advanced boys, who are clothed with authority, and are held responsible for keeping order at all times, in study, in dormitory, on the playground, etc. This service by the lower form is called "fagging," and is enforced with rigor just as other discipline the—ashen rod being in constant use. Of the "sixth-form" boys a designated few, called in the school "preposters" or "prefects" and in sports "leaders" or "captains," are of still higher authority—a sort of court of appeal, and the real disciplinarians of the school. A boy when abused may appeal to these, next to an "assistant master" (teacher), and finally to the "head-master" or principal; but these appeals are, in fact, almost never made. The "code of honor" is against it, and an English boy will bear almost any amount of cuffing, kicking, and beating, before he will appeal. Of course such a system is liable to the grossest abuse.

Further, in these, as in other English schools, physical prowess in sports ranks little, if any, behind mental excellence. The "prefects" in the schools are "captains" in the field-sports, and feel themselves responsible, rather to the English sport-loving public, than to the school authorities, for the athletic proficiency of their several divisions. All of these sports involve a large amount of slang that must be famil-