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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/771

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749
THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE: A PROGRAMME.

schools and classes, I think it is practically expedient that such taxation should be local. Our industrial population accumulates in particular towns and districts; these districts are those which immediately profit by technical education; and it is only in them that we can find the men practically engaged in industries, among whom some may reasonably be expected to be competent judges of that which is wanted, and of the best means of meeting the want.

In my belief, all methods of technical training are at present tentative, and, to be successful, each must be adapted to the special peculiarities of its locality. This is a case in which we want twenty years; not of "strong government," but of cheerful and hopeful blundering; and we may be thankful if we get things straight in that time.

The principle of the bill introduced, but dropped, by the Government last session, appears to me to be wise, and some of the objections to it I think are due to a misunderstanding. The bill proposed in substance to allow localities to tax themselves for purposes of technical education—on the condition that any scheme for such purpose should be submitted to the Science and Art Department, and declared by that department to be in accordance with the intention of the legislature.

A cry was raised that the bill proposed to throw technical education into the hands of the Science and Art Department. But, in reality, no power of initiation, nor even of meddling with details, was given to that department—the sole function of which was to decide whether any plan proposed did or did not come within the limits of "technical education." The necessity for such control, somewhere, is obvious. No legislature, certainly not ours, is likely to grant the power of self-taxation without setting limits to that power in some way; and it would neither have been practicable to devise a legal definition of technical education, nor commendable to leave the question to the Auditor-General to be fought out in the law courts. The only alternative was to leave the decision to an appropriate state authority. If it is asked. What is the need of such control if the people of the localities are the best judges? the obvious reply is that there are localities and localities, and that while Manchester, or Liverpool, or Birmingham, or Glasgow, might, perhaps, be safely left to do as they thought fit, smaller towns, in which there is less certainty of full discussion by competent people of different ways of thinking, might easily fall a prey to crotcheteers.

Supposing our intermediate science-teaching and our technical schools and classes are established, there is yet a third need to be supplied, and that is the want of good teachers. And it is necessary not only to get them, but to keep them when you have got them.

It is impossible to insist too strongly upon the fact that efficient teachers of science and of technology are not to be made by the processes in vogue at ordinary training colleges. The memory loaded with mere book-work is not the thing wanted—is, in fact, rather worse