Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Brought forward 4,333 13,000
Out of 900 children estimated, after vari-

ous inquiries, as frequenting small dame-
schools in these parishes, those above
five years old, able to read, knit, and
sew, amounted to

250
Average humbers stated as frequenting

the common day schools in the parishes
enumerated

1,614

6,197 Estimated number of children between 5

and 15, not attending the common day,
schools in the parishes above-mentioned

• 6,803 It cannot be doubted, that even allowing considerable latitude for any further deductions which a consideration of other circumstances not taken into the above account may suggest, the number of children who in these several parishes are without any daily instruction is very great. It is probable, indeed, that many who are between the age of 10 and 15 may at some time or other have attended, for short periods, either the dame-schools, or the common day-schools in their neighbourhoods; the age of 10 being that at which they usually go to work at the mines. It is obvious, however, that little can have been learnt at that age, and that when the habit of learning is thus early interrupted, nothing of much value will be retained.

If the children of the labouring classes now attending these day schools are few in proportion to the whole number of an age for education, and if the time allowed for it by the parents of those few is short and inadequate, still less are the methods pursued by 27 out of 32 masters and inistresses whose schools I visited, or the books and apparatus used, such as to afford any reasonable hope that instruction of any permanent value could be imparted to more than a small number of their pupils, even if they remained much longer at school than is now the custom. By all these 27 the old system of teaching is pursued, and the books in use are those ordinarily accompanying it. The payments are so low and irregular that good class-books cannot be afforded by the master. Whatever books are used, are provided by the parents. Being themselves generally unable to read, the cheapest seem to be considered to have the most merit. A fragment of a Testament, and a small spelling-book, are the ordinary store; for the few more advanced, the Bible, and the elementary books of Pinnock, Murray, and Goldsmith.

The school-rooms were in general found to be light, and clean, and sufficiently provided with desks, but in most instances close and ill ventilated. The terms of payment ranged from 2s. to 5s. 6d., and 78. 6d. per quarter of the masters, the great majority had either been hurt or bad lost their health in the mines, or had been unsuccessful in trade or other occupations; but their qualifications appeared in most instances to be respectable, and their

demeanour towards their pupils mild and conciliatory. Nevertheless it must be confessed that they cannot be regarded as possessing, either in their own resources or in the methods they pursue, the capability of effecting, to any desirable extent, the mental and moral improvement of those under their charge. About half belonged to the Established Church, one to the denomination of Independents, one to that of Baptists, the rest to the different sections of the Wesleyans. Nine follow the system of the National Society somewhat modified, one that of the British and Foreign Society. With respect to the use of catechisms in many of the schools conducted on the old system, either the Church or the Wesleyan Catechism was taught, according to the wish of the respective parents.

In the greatest number of these schools comparatively few boys had advanced in arithmetic as far as the rule-of-three. Still fewer had learned anything of grammar, English history, geography, mensuration, or linear drawing, subjects which almost all the masters professed to teach. In 19 schools, boys and girls were instructed together. In eight they had separate schools. Iu almost all, the amount of instruction, which seemed to be thought requisite for the girls, scarcely passed the boundary of the merest elements.

It is gratifying to be able to turn to a few schools in which a somewhat superior quality of elementary instruction is attainable, and where some approach has been made towards more efficient methods.

In the boys' school at the village of Illogan, the scriptural and catechetical lessons are made to consist of much more than mere reading and repetition. The due exercise of the understanding seems to be kept very constantly in view. Maps and a few books illustrative of Scripture are used to assist the apprehension, and to awaken greater interest by giving clearer perceptions. Occasional lessons in geography, in the elements of astronomy, on physiology, on metals and minerals, flowers, and other subjects of natural history, tested afterwards either catethetically, or by writing, enlarge the circle of ideas and arouse curiosity. The “ Instructor," published by the Educational Committee of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, the first reading book, and books from the school library are used. Maps are drawn on the black board from memory; also on paper. The black board is used for drawing and illustrating geometrical figures and simple objects of natural history or of art. Grammar is attended to. The arithmetic frame is in use for beginners. Some few boys had gone througļ Bonnycastle's Mensuration; others had begun simple equation and Euclid. None were above 13 years of age. The master, having some assistance, is enabled to devote more individual attention to the intellectual progress of the higher classes. The manner in which the books of the schoollending library are sought for by those still at the school would seem to indicate that a taste for reading had been to a certain extent created. Some boys who had left it have returned to ask for books. Most of the boys who had passed through the school are now at work in the mines. Six have become assistant schoolmasters. There is also a lending-library for adults, consisting of 280 volumes, which is stated to be fairly supported.

At Trevenson, in the same parish, a smaller school, conducted on a similar plan, affords more limited, but perhaps proportionate results. The black wall is here used by the younger children for their arithmetic lessons and for diagrams. Drawings of machinery afford objects and illustrations for oral lessons. In arithmetic the practical application of one branch of the elementary education of the labouring classes is recognised in the use of exercises copied from “ mine bills,” or calculations of the value and apportionment of ore, and the value of various kinds of contract labour.

The children of these two schools, and of three girls' schools in the same parish, have enjoyed the advantage during the last year of receiving instruction in singing from a properly qualified master, who is gradually training them to sing by note ; several of the pieces contained in Mr. Hickson's Manual have been learnt. One of the many good results which may be reasonably anticipated from this valuable accessory to education is already becoming visible in the improved psalmody of the parish church.

To both these boys' schools is attached the very desirable addition of a piece of garden-ground, part of an adjoining field divided into plots of a perch or two each. The boys are encouraged to work on their allotments for an hour or upwards each day, after their dinner-hour. Many, consequently, bring their dinners with them ; by which means, in addition to the advantage of learning something of cottage-gardening and the useful practical lesson of well-regulated and orderly Jabour, they are kept during the entire day under the eye of the master, and thereby receive more effectual guidance in the regulation of their habits and conduct.

The expenses of these five last-mentioned schools, with their excellent accompaniments, are chiefly borne by a noble lady, the daughter and successor of a late noble lord,* to whom two public testimonials have been erected by the county, to commemorate a life devoted to every object by which either the general interests or individual worth and happiness might be advanced and secured.

The British and Foreign Schools at St. Agnes were well provided with requisite apparatus, partly at the cost of the master, whose attainments are very creditable. His school consists of and support.

* Lord De Dunstanville.

about 70 boys, chiefly between 9 and 12, a few are between 12 and 13: 6 were learning underground dialling; 15 had proceeded some way in mensuration, and bad learnt the use of the globes ; 6 were learning decimals ; 36 English grammar; I was in algebra, and was able to calculate the power and duty of a steam-engine. Maps are drawn with neatness and accuracy on paper, and simple objects on the black board. It is to be regretted that there is a probability of this school being discontinued in consequence of its not receiving adequate assistance

Two schools remain to be mentioned, in which a somewhat higher grade of instruction prevails.

The school at Trevarth, in the parish of Gwennap, was set on foot in 1835 by subscription of mine-agents and others, who wished to secure near their own residences the means of enabling their children to acquire the rudiments of such scientific knowledge as bore particularly on mining operations, and at the same time to receive somewhat more of general instruction than could be obtained at the ordinary day-schools. In addition to the common elementary books, Chambers's Sciences and Nesbit's Mensuration are used, dialling, mapping, linear and perspective drawing are practised. French and Latin are also taught. The school appeared to be carefully conducted. The number on the books was 58.

A preparatory mining-school, near Camborne, was opened in April last, by a master whose skill and ingenuity in respect to scientific subjects connected with mining have obtained for him several prizes at the exhibitions of the Polytechnic Society of the county.

The instruction offered consists of the Elements of Euclid and algebra, the principles and practice of underground dialling and projection, land-measuring and mapping, architectural geometry, drawing, and tinting, Benton's or Mosley's Course of Mechanics, with linear drawings for engineers, and a series of problems and tables for the miner, mine-carpenter, smith, timberman, and pitman. Calculations by decimals appeared to be usefully blended at an early stage of progress with common arithmetic, of which the principles were sought to be impressed as well as the rules. Short methods of calculating circular and solid contents had been worked out, and were used by the pupils. The usefulness of this school was limited by reason of the master being unable, under his present arrangements, to devote to it more than a portion of his time. It is to be feared also that the terms, with the exception of those for the most elementary subjects, will be found to be above the ordinary reach of the working miner.*

There can be little doubt that the resources of a considerable

See a further notice of this school, Appendix III.

proportion of the mining class would enable them to give to the existing schools which possess any merit a greater degree of support than they receive. The present average rate of wages per month may be gathered from the following accounts obtained from mines where the averages are carefully made up :

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

But a statement of averages can afford only an imperfect idea of the actual pecuniary condition of a large portion of the working miners; and in estimating their capability to support schools, the fluctuating nature of their resources must be borne in mind as a leading element of the calculation.

The most numerous adult class is that of tributers. They are employed under ground in extracting the ore, when discovered, and in reducing it on the surface to a marketable state. For this they receive a per-centage on the produce of the ore when sold. Their life is one of continual speculation, and their success depends on the judgment they form of the quantity of ore which the lode is likely to yield—of the quantity they may be able to extract during the period of their bargain, usually of two months' duration—of the cost of rendering it merchantable, the probable quantity of pure metal which it will yield per ton, and the probable price of pure tin or copper in the market at the time when the ore will be offered for sale.

Although the average rates of wages taken for periods of six months or a year may be as above stated, the fluctuation from month to month, and the difference in the earnings of different individuals, will probably be very great. Many of the tributers of a mine, having a favourable opinion of their ultimate prospects, may continue to renew their bargains, although gaining very small sums for many months together. Others may at the same time be receiving large returns, the fruit of similar perseverance. The general average may consequently be high, if made

« ElőzőTovább »