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REVISED REGULATIONS OF THE SCIENCE AND ART DEPARTMENT. Since the foregoing article was written, we have received a revised code similar in its intention and operation to that which recently caused such excitement amongst “ elementary” schools. The changes proposed are as follows:--1. As regards teachers, a substitution of payments on results for certificate money. Under the old regulations, teachers were paid a sum of money upon each certificate which they held ; this sum varying according to the grade of the certificate, and the number of pupils passed, up to a certain number. Thus, for example, if a teacher held a first-class certificate in Zoology (and subdivision), and a second-class certificate in Botany (and subdivision), he would receive on the former up to £20, and on the latter up to £15, at the rate of £4 per head on his students who had passed the Government examination in any subdivision of the subjects taught by him. In fact, he would be expected to pass nine students in some subject or subjects. In addition he would receive £1,£2, or £3 per student who took a Queen's prize, according to the grade of that prize.
Under the new minute the grade of his certificate is immaterial; for a teacher holding a third-grade certificate is placed on the same level, or, at least, is paid in the same ratio as one who has a second or even first-class certificate. Under this régime the teacher is to receive for every student who passes in each subject in which the teacher holds a certificate, £1 ; for every one who is “honourably mentioned” (a new distinction), £2; for every one who takes a Queen's prize, £3, £4, or £5, according to the grade of the prize ; but in no case can he receive more than £5 on any one student.
The following statement will exhibit the operation of the change :-
Value No. of Pupils to
under old be passed under No. of Pupils under
Minute. old Minute. new Minute. Botapy and Veg, Phys. 1st Grade ... £20 )
(Fifty-five in any Zoology and An. Phys. 1st Grade ... 20 Fourteen in ) subject, or twentyGeoloty, 1st Grade
.. 10 ( any subject. ) eight“ honourable Mineralogy, 2nd Grade
On the other hand, should the teacher pass a hundred pupils under the old minute, he would only receive £55 ; but under the new minute he would get £100; or if he passed fifty with credit under the old minute, without their being able to obtain a prize, he would still only obtain £55; whilst under the new, fifty with “ honourable mention” would secure him £100.
The prize-money appears to remain the same in both cases.
In certain cases, science may now be taught in elementary schools, which was before prohibited.
The results of the change are so obvious that it appears almost unnecessary to comment upon them.
Under the old regulations the pecuniary interest of the teacher would be to take as many and as high certificates as possible ; and to pass only sufficient students (in any subject that was most convenient) to secure him the value of those certificates. Good teachers would be created, but without it guarantee that they would teach the subjects upon which they claimed their annuity. This is corrected by the new regulations, which, whilst they still hold out inducement to teachers to become proficient as teachers, afford a guarantee to the tax-payer that he is receiving value for his money.
On the other hand, it seems to us that the new code is calculated to lower the tone of the movement whilst extending its sphere.
The holders of certificates of all grades being now placed on the same footing, there is no moral nor pecuniary inducement to young men to become proficient in scientific knowledge beyond what is needful for teaching purposes ; and men already eminent in science (whose support it is even now difficult to enlist) will probably have greater objections than before to cooperate in the movement.
Again, as it will be the interest of teachers to pass as many pupils of the industrial classes as possible, so it will be the aim of committees to secure the largest attendance of these, even if they must give gratuitous admission. And, although this may serve the end of diffusing useful knowledge amongst the masses, yet it will militate strongly against the foundation of a “selfsupporting system of scientific instruction."
However, the operation of the code will soon decide which predominate, its advantages or its disadvantages, as compared with the old code, which has already effected so much good throughout the three kingdoms.
LIST OF GOLD MEDALLISTS.
Science Examinations, May, 1862.
DRAWING, AND BUILDING CONSTRUCTION.
* Those marked with an asterisk are ineligible to receive the medal, being middle-class students over seventeen years of age.
PROVINCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIETIES. " LECTURES don't answer," is a remark which we have heard so frequently, that we have almost been induced once or twice to think that they do not answer.
A little reflection, however, has shown us, that although some lectures do not, and never will succeed in attracting popular attention, yet there are others, adapted to the tastes and requirements of the public, which have always been tolerably successful and will become more so year by year.
We cannot, in this place, enter upon the reasons for the failure of so many lecture societies, variously known as “Mutual Improvement” societies, “Literary,” “Scientific,” or “ Philosophical” institutions ; but it may not be out of place if, before commenting upon some of the numerous reports which lie upon our table, we point out a few of those causes of declension (not of the societies to which we shall refer) that are overlooked by “indefatigable” honorary secretaries, and which dishearten so many zealous promoters of our literary or scientific establishments.
Should any of our remarks be unpalatable to persons who are interested in such societies, we trust that no light or unworthy motives may be imputed, but that credit will be accorded to us for desiring to see the efforts of the young and carnest philanthropist successfully directed.
The courses of lectures that we have found to be the most ephemeral are amongst those desultory ones which are offered to the dwellers in the suburbs of large towns, and villages possessing a commodious school-room.
Lectures of this order have generally for their object the withdrawing of the mechanic or day-labourer from the public-house, and the enlightenment of the sober and industrious artisan.
But let us inquire of any thoughtful person, who is initiated into the working of such societies, in how many instances they are really calculated to effect their object.
To speak within bounds, we think that one half, at least, of all the discourses delivered by inexperienced amateur lecturers are treated better than they deserve when they are “ listened to throughout with attention by a respectable auditory ;” and it is not a matter of surprise to us that they so frequently afford suitable food for the satirist and novel writer. They represent the waste steam of men whose whole time is spent in worldly pursuits, and who see, or imagine for the time being that they see, in some favourite hero or imperfectly-studied subject, a theme with which they will be able to electrify their neighbours and reform all idlers and dissolute characters in their parish. But such persons know nothing of the character and pursuits either of the intelligent or of the intemperate working classes.
Amongst the former, it would not be difficult to find many who are better able to compose essays upon the subjects treated by our amateur lecturers than are these themselves; and, still more, who, after a hard day's work, prefer staying at home at the season when such lectures are usually delivered, there to enjoy, in the society of wife and children, a “spell” at the Leisure Hour or some other cheap“ weekly ;" a pipe and glass of ale or cup of coffee ; or a laugh at the sallies of Punch or Lord Palmerston ; to the disagreeable alternative of tramping half a mile or so in the rain and snow, and sitting two hours in a damp, ill-ventilated school-room, listening to the crotchets of some gentleman who has probably pirated no inconsiderable portion of his lecture from one of the very publications referred to, and now retails it second-hand in his own improved phraseology
To us, it augurs well for the “lecture movement” that so many persons are found willing to sacrifice the comforts of home for the purpose of encouraging a well-intended effort to educate their benighted comrades. As to the last-named, they do not hesitate to turn their backs upon such enter
and its excitements, found in the records of the police or divorce courts, or in the arguments and wise saws of the pot-house politician.
Again, we say, our readers must not suppose that we are decrying those excellent institutions which spring up, here and there, in opposition to the public-house. We are well aware that it is a matter of life and death with which we are dealing, and are determined not to regard it, as do many wellintentioned persons, as one of mere sentiment; but when, on the one hand, we observe, with dismay (as we have unfortunately good opportunities of doing), how the palaces of sin and misery multiply, like gaudy and soilexhausting weeds in the midst of the young corn, or like great gilt cars of Juggernaut, under whose wheels the infatuated victims cast themselves by thousands ; whilst, on the other, we see how ineffectual is the antidote provided against such evils,—the ever-growing strength and stability of the one, and the feeble counteracting influence of the other,--we deem it incumbent upon us to proclaim the causes of failure, even if we are unable to supply a more efficient remedy.
Concerning this, we may have more to say on some future occasion; meanwhile, we can suggest what appears to us a slight improvement upon the system with which we have cause to find fault ; namely, the substitution of readings for lectures where suitable lecturers are not obtainable. If the gentleman whose original effusions result only in the production of so much waste-paper, would retire quietly to his study, and, taking up some work of acknowledged merit, --it matters not of what description--poetical, historical, philosophical, or scientific,--nay, even a weekly journal; if he would read and rehearse this carefully twice or thrice, so as to avoid errors in public, he could not fail to afford pleasure to his hearers, for it is always agreeable to listen to a well-read and well-written composition; and he would, moreover, be diffusing a taste for sound standard literature. We believe that, wherever pleasing readers have come forward to provide such entertainments for their neighbours, the movement has proved successful.
And, again, irrespective of those clever professional lecturers who can at all times attract a goodly number of listeners, rivet their attention and send them home thinking and determined to learn something more than they knew before, there are many persons who, if they would take the trouble to prepare themselves carefully, might entertain and instruct a large audience (provided, of course, that they are fitted by education to appear as lecturers) by simply speaking about what they thoroughly understand, or ought to understand ; namely, their own business.
Let the engineer explain the principles of “Steam Navigation ;" the lapidary treat of “ Precious Stones ;" the soda-water maker, of “Soda-water Manufacture;” the builder, of the “ Principles of Roofing ;” the photographer, of “ the Chemical Agencies of Light;" the chemist, oranalyst, of the Outlines of Chemical Analysis ;” the artist, of “ Perspective-drawing Instruments ;" the glass-dealer, of “ Ornamental Glass," and so on. To do this successfully might necessitate a better acquaintance, on the part of the lecturer, with the principles of his business or profession ; but this, our readers will agree with us in saying, would be as advantageous to himself as it would be desirable for his hearers' sake. In recommending such a course, we are not only guided by our own experience of what we have known to be interesting to the public, but we are proposing that each one should, in his own humble way, follow the example set by many of our most successful institutions ; namely, descend from high-flown, theoretical, and often speculative themes, to the every-day life of his hearers, and seek to create a fresh interest in those objects which come under their daily notice, and are passed by as unworthy of consideration.
The subjects above named, for example, form part of the course delivered before the chemical section of the BIRMINGHAM AND MIDLAND INSTITUTE, one of the most thriving and successful institutions in the country, and, in the pamphlet before us, we find that this section is reported as “still going on prosperously.”
Glancing a little lower down, on the same page, we notice that “the Penny Lectures” were attended during the winter term by 117 persons, in spring by 69, and in autumn by 160 ; and, in the words of the Report,“ that the increase of attendance during the current term is mainly due to the subject, 'The Outlines of Chemistry,' which is the most popular.”
These outline lectures, it would appear, are “arranged to serve as an introduction to the courses in the class, the Penny Lecture' course terminating just before the new course in the class commences.” In this extract the reader will find another reason why certain lectures answer when others fail. Those discourses which serve only to interest for the moment, but have no definite object, soon pall the intellectual appetite ; but where there is an end to be attained, as in this case, the “working classes” will come to listen and learn, and will even subsequently enter upon a course of laborious study, in order to render themselves masters of some branch of science. There is another paragraph in this Report deserving of special notice ; namely, that relating to the botanical class, conducted by Dr. Hinds, as honorary lecturer. It is as follows :
“The class for botany has, on the whole, made satisfactory progress during the year, except in the number of members, which has not been so good as is desirable. Two classes of students have availed themselves of this class, namely, one in whose future prospects and requirements a knowledge of botany is desirable or essential,* an element, perhaps, in some future examination to which the student looks forward ; the other composed of those who study botany for its own sake, and desire to increase their scientific knowledge by a study of some branch of natural history. To the former class the Institute affords opportunities of a valuable kind, not to be obtained on the same terms elsewhere in Birmingham. To the latter class
* The italics are ours.