and success in conducting the business of the school-room are concerned, it is necessary to take into consideration, and to bear constantly in mind, the very great obstacles which they have to encounter, and the very serious difficulties and disadvantages under which they are compelled to labour.

In the first place, the attendance of the pupils is very irregular. This irregularity of attendance is to be attributed to various causes : in an agricultural district the earnings of a fieldlabourer do not, on an average, amount to more than between 9s. and 10s. per week. To increase his means of subsistence, and even to procure the necessaries of life, his elder children, varying in age from 10 to 14, are, early in the spring, taken from school, and employed until the commencement of winter as labourers in the field. The only period of the year, therefore, during which their children are continuously under instruction, is in the winter; and it is obvious that in the interval their school habits of attention and application to study must have been greatly impaired, that their previous acquirement must have suffered considerable diminution, and that, on their return to school, their attention, instead of being directed to higher and more interesting subjects of study, must be chiefly occupied in regaining what has thus been lost.

The instruction of the younger children, again, varying in age from five to eight, is very generally limited to the spring and summer months. Their distance from school is frequently considerable, and the roads are, throughout the winter and early in the spring, in such a condition as to prevent them from attending with even tolerable regularity.

It is therefore upon those children only who are old enough and strong enough to suffer exposure to the inclemency of winter, and too young for employment in the fields throughout the summer, that the master has an opportunity of bringing his skill and efficiency continuously to bear.

It is impossible altogether to prevent the operation of this cause of irregularity of attendance, originating as it does in the pecuniary necessities and social condition of the great majority of the population. The hope may, however, be entertained that the amount of injury which it produces in restricting the period, and thus limiting the extent of the education of our poorer population, and in so grievously interfering with the zeal, efficiency, and success of the teacher, by subjecting him to all the distractions and discouragements of a fluctuating attendance, may be abated by the amelioration of the social circumstances of our population, and by the employment of the national resources in so amply endowing the present schoolmasters, and in so widely extending the educational machinery, as to obviate the necessity of the school-fees being so high as to compel the mass of our people to bestow upon their children only occasional periods of instruction.

But other causes are allowed to operate to this effect, which it is believed it would not be impossible altogether to counteract and destroy. I am in possession of data which demonstrate that a considerable degree of this irregularity of attendance is to be attributed to the want of punctuality on the part of the parents in paying the school-fees. This is to be traced, in most cases, to the disinclination of the teachers to insist upon prompt payment; and this disinclination, again, has its source in feelings which, however natural and apparently amiable, are shown by experience to be not only detrimental to the pecuniary interests, and unfavourable to the success of the professional labours of the teacher, but positively injurious to the educational welfare of the children. Moreover, it could easily be shown that wherever payment has been rigidly and punctually enforced, the attendance has become more steady and regular; and it would therefore be well, either that the teachers in a district, with the assistance and co-operation of the clergy, should resolve to insist upon the payment of all fees in advance, or that the collection of these should, as in some continental states, be vested in, and intrusted to, some other body of men.

It would also greatly assist in producing the desired effect to have registers of attendance carefully and accurately kept, and in every case of absence to have the reasons assigned for it recorded.

In the second place, the teacher is frequently retarded in his endeavours at a proper classification of his pupils by the unwillingness or inability of the parent to procure for his children the necessary books. It is by no means uncommon to find a class of beginners, consisting of 10 or 12 children, reading from almost as many different books. The effects of this are obviously most injurious. Not only is the time of the teacher dissipated and lost in giving to children of the same age, and at the same stage of advancement, a separate lesson, but he is also thereby precluded from bringing it to bear upon such a class the principle of emulation, and from infusing into the process of instruction the requisite degree of animation and vigour.

This disadvantage has in several cases been obviated by the introduction of such lessons on boards as those published by the Irish Commissioners on Education.

It is also in many cases impossible for the teacher, how strong soever may be his conviction of its desirableness, to dispense with the school-books of the last generation, and to introduce those which have been compiled on the principle of adapting their lessons to the desires and capabilities of the youthful mind, and some of which have been proved to be admirably fitted to promote its discipline and culture.

Tbe zealous teacher, in his endeavours to accomplish this most desirable object, has to encounter and struggle against both the poverty, and ignorance, and prejudices of the parents. It is difficult to convince those whose education is limited to the power of reading and writing, with tolerable correctness and facility, of the extreme importance of submitting to the mind of a child only such information as will have the effect of exciting its curiosity and satisfying its desires, and, at the same time, of nurturing it into firmness and strength, by a careful culture of its faculties during the process, and in the order of their development. And in those few cases where these prejudices have by a more than ordinary degree of intelligence been overborne and destroyed, there still remains the difficulty, very generally insurmountable, of procuring from a scanty income objects whose desirableness and utility are felt and recognized.

It is not difficult to point out a remedy for this. It is to be found in the compilation and publication of a complete set of good school-books, which from their cheapness, independently altogether of their excellence, because that the great majority of the people are still incapable of appreciating, would find their way into the hands of every schoolboy. It would be difficult to mention anything, the accomplishment of which would have a more extensive and beneficial influence upon elementary education.

In the fourth place, the teacher has very frequently to contend with all the inconveniences and discomfort of a restricted and too limited accommodation. I do not here allude to the size of the school-room : that is in general far too small. But I wish to direct special attention to the circumstances that the teachers are compelled to conduct in one apartment, and at the same time, the various branches of an elementary education.

The want of an additional class-room for the younger children, and of an enclosed and spacious playground to which they, in fine weather, and after the constrained positions and intellectual exertion of the school-room have prepared them for relaxation, might be prudently and safely sent, almost necessitates the confinement during the whole day of those who are not actually under instruction more than a fourth part of the time they spend in the school-room.

This is in every view of it detrimental. It interferes with the general quiet, good order, and discipline of the school-room. It has an injurious influence upon the health of the children. It almost necessarily engenders in their minds a distaste to school and school exercises, and greatly impedes the master in conducting the education of the more advanced pupils.

It is with consciousness that almost all the teachers, of whom it is my duty now to speak, have to encounter these obstacles, and to contend with many other difficulties, and with the conviction that, isolated as they usually are from the observation of all whose commendation might encourage them in the zealous and vigorous discharge of their duties, or whose strictures and counsel might serve as stimuli to increased and better-directed exertions, it


would be preposterous and unjust to apply to them the same criterion and standard by which those should be judged who are subjected to none of the annoyance, and labour under none of the disadvantages specified—that I now proceed to submit to my Lords the following observations.

In my representations of the state of these schools, and in the expression of my opinion of the skill and efficiency of the teachers, I think it in every respect proper that in this my first report, instead of attempting to point out their individual excellences and defects, I should speak of them as arranged into classes, and endeavour to give an accurate and faithful delineation of the characteristics of each class.

Parochial Schools.

I examined twenty-seven parochial schools. The attainments, experience, energy, and skill by which the teachers of fifteen of these schools are characterized entitle them to be ranked in the first class. All these gentlemen have received a liberal education. Most of them have gone through a complete literary and philosophical course at one or other of our Scottish universities. “ And some of them, in point of education and general accomplishment, would reflect honour upon any profession.

In all these schools the monitorial system, or some modification of it, exists, and the explanatory method is in all of them vigorously, systematically, and successively practised. Indeed the whole business of the school-room is efficiently and energetically conducted.

While the six gentlemen composing the second class are, in point of acquirement, well fitted to conduct the business of instruction, they are greatly inferior to those just spoken of, so far as regards ability and zeal in the discharge of their professional labours.

Their schools are not well organized. Their pupils are not carefully organized. No evidence was furnished of continued and well-sustained effort on their part to give life and vigour to all the processes of instruction; and there consequently prevailed in their school-rooms a considerable degree of indifference and listlessness.

The limited measure of success with which their examinations on the lessons seemed to be accompanied, is attributable partly, perhaps, to the want of energy with which they had been conducted, but chiefly to the circumstance of their having been prevented from acquiring an adequate knowledge of the most approved methods of teaching:

Although the monitorial system, in one or other of its forms, exists in all these schools, yet its utility and its power do not seem to be known and appreciated; and although the explanatory method is generally practised, and its importance universally recognized, it is not employed with so much tact and skill, nor is it so regularly and systematically resorted to, as to be productive of its naturally invigorating and beneficial effects.

The comparatively inefficient state of these schools then is to be traced, not so much to the inadequacy of their literary acquire ments, or to any deficiency in industry in the performance of their duties, as to their want of acquaintance with those methods which are practised by our most accomplished and successful teachers, and which have rendered the business of teaching not only more delightful and exhilarating to the teacher, but infinitely more pleasing and advantageous to the pupils.

It would, therefore, be of immense importance to these teachers to have opportunities afforded them of seeing the best methods practised, and of witnessing the order, harmony, and spirit pervading a well-organized and well-conducted school.

In the schools of the five gentlemen who compose the third and lowest class, there was little evidence furnished of the capability of the teachers to discharge with a moderate degree of efficiency the duties of their profession. In two of these cases, indeed, the deficiency of such evidence appeared to me attributable not so much to actual unfitness for the performance of such duties, as to their having permitted local and accidental circumstances not only to operate as discouragements to them in the prosecution of their labours, but to neutralize and destroy their feelings of regard for their own character, irrespective of professional respectability and skill, and to obscure their views of duty which spring from a right apprehension of their relation to the children intrusted to their superintendence and care.

Partially Endowed or Side Schools. Of these schools ten were examined. They are for the most part situated in extensive landward parishes, and are planted in populous localities lying at a considerable distance from the parochial schools. They are attended chiefly by the children of the agricultural labourers who reside in the villages in which they are placed, or in the neighbouring farm-towns. The schoolmaster

. receives generally from the chief' heritor or heritors a small endowment, and is also provided with a free school-room and dwellinghouse. These, together with the school-fees, do not exceed to each teacher more than £35 yearly.

It cannot be expected that offices to which are attached so laborious and arduous duties, with an amount of remuneration so small, would attract the regards of men who have received more than the elements of a liberal education; and consequently I found that the teachers of these schools are, in respect of attainment and general capability of conducting the business of the school-room, greatly inferior to the parochial teachers. One only had attended college, and he continued his studies during only one session The acquirements of all appeared to me of a very limited kind.


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