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suggested, too, that the little pátours who and in geography is concentric not successive, are miserably paid, might be kept on at that is--the pupil is introduced to all the subschool, if the caisses des écoles were suffici. jects at once, but every year the circle of his ently well organised to give the poorer knowledge in each is widened. The eleparents an indemnity equivalent to the mentary grade is pre-eminently that of wretched pittance these children earn, but initiation, includes the acquisition of the techwhat the big graziers would say who live nique or tools of knowledge-reading and in districts where there are no hedge-rows, I writing. The aim of the middle grade is the must be left to the imagination. Speaking foundation of the scientific basis of knowledge, generally, though the attendance is likely i and in the higher cours the objective is the to improve in the near future, it is clear that development of the logical faculty. The timethe French problem will need delicate hand | table is arranged on the system of putting the ling for long to come, and that the method harder subjects in the morning. Teachers may of adaptation to local needs, whether by the vary the order of subjects in the time-table, half-time system or by allowing the parents ! but the hours assigned to the principal subjects the use of their children's services at certain is largely the same in all schools. It is only times of the year, will be the policy pursued. in such subjects as manual training and sing
Coming to the organisation of the schools. | ing that some option is exercised. The school We find them officially divided into three cours work is plotted out with a definite quantum for or grades, the higher for children from 13-11, I each month; the last month, July, being the middle for those from 11-9, and the elemen. | devoted to revision. This “time-schedule" is tary for those from 9-6. The higher cours rather intended to indicate the rate of speed are generally a blank in rural schools, as the than to tie down the master to the exact points children in the cours moyen leave en masse to be taught. The aim of the whole proafter taking the leaving certificate ; while it gramme is to teach thoroughly, not to teach a has been found necessary in practice to inter- good deal superficially, and to cultivate the imcalate a cours préparatoire between the agination rather than to overload the memory. cours élémentaire and the classe enfantine The latter is still the besetting sin of the for children under six where it exists. Classes ! religious schools, but the State schools have over fifty have a right to an additional teacher, certainly broken away to a large extent from but the regulation is broken in 8,422 schools. | the catechismal method of set question and Morning school starts at 8.25 as a rule and answer, and the learning of neat and, often to finishes at 11.30. Afternoon school (or even- | the child, meaningless formulæ by heart. Yet ing as it is called), a reminiscence of the there is still a tendency to turn out intelligence time when people dined at 10 a.m. in the l on a general pattern, rather than to develop morning, begins at 12.55 and lasts till 4 p.m. | the individual intellect or let it grow as it will There are intervals for recreation in the according to the pedagogy at present in vogue middle of both schools. Thursday is a whole in America. Still here a foreigner must be holiday. Monitors are not officially recog. cautious of judging, remembering that the nised, but one found them in about three. | French mind takes to logic as a duck to water. quarters of the sixty schools one visited. In To discuss adequately the teaching of la the mixed schools it would seem quite im- | morale would require a separate paper. Here possible to do without them. They are not, | again an Englishman who is mainly swayed by however, paid, but the top pupils in the his feelings or by facts cannot easily understand highest class are put on for the day or the i the force of an ethical system which grounds week to do the work.
itself largely on an appeal to reason. In: The curriculum includes moral and civic France, the belief in reason is part of and instruction, which thus head the list, reading | parcel of French civilisation. As an Englishand writing, arithmetic and metric system, | man appeals to experience, a Frenchman the French language, history and geography, | appeals to reason. It is to him a cult, a dogma, both mainly French; object lessons, ele- , a religion. None the less for children of tender mentary scientific notions, the elements of years it needs a large admixture of the emodrawing, singing and manual training, princi- tions. One thing is certain. Where the pally in their application to agriculture; mili- teacher is a strong believer in what he teaches, tary and gymnastic exercises. Each cours or i there he finds apt disciples. Whether the grade is supposed to be a stepping-stone to | French were right to break thus definitely with the next, but the programme except in history, the past by deliberately excluding all religious teaching is not for a foreigner to decide lightly. have nothing to teach us. They have not yet One cannot help thinking that they might at determined its place in the curriculum. The least have first tried the system of allowing the sewing is probably their strongest point. I priest access to the schools during certain hours. | only saw one cookery lesson, and that was
The writing appeared to me unusually good. given out of a book. The teacher described The teaching of arithmetic is excellent. The the roasting of a fowl to the class. A series method employed throughout is that of making of questions that followed showed the children the child explain at the side every step he had only retained half the directions. It is to takes. The inspectors are dead against what be hoped for the peace of the future households I would call the cookery book system of work over which they will have to preside that they ing out an example on the board by way of have already forgotten the other half. recipe and the setting the children down to do And now we come to the subject which, others like it. Again, all sums have to be perhaps, is of most interest to us here in concrete ; either about the number of cows in England to-day, the so-called teaching of a yard, or the cost of a pound of butter, &c. agriculture. Before, however, discussing the There is no juggling with abstract figures. French solution, it should be remembered that But the chief advantage of all is that the pupil the rural problem in France and that in works with the metric system. Thanks to the England differ in certain radical particulars. latter every pupil obtains a definite notion of Hence, what may suit France need not superficies and volume, which our unfortunate necessarily suit England, and vice-versa. To children can never get from our kaleidoscopic begin with, it must be remembered that therural weights and measures, in which gills are meta- | population in France outnumbers the urban, morphosed into pints, pints into quarts, quarts whereas in England it is just the other way. into gallons, at which point a new bifurcation Accordingly country interests in France have comes on for wet and dry measure. The result is had a greater chance of making their wants that the English child never realises that there is | heard and attended to than with us. The any such thing as a scientific unit of dimension, French rural problem has therefore been but vaguely imagines that measures are a mere tackled at least ten years earlier. Again affair of pots for wet things and pans for dry. England is rather a country of large farms, Composition is better taught in the French France of small holdings. In England the rural school than with us, as more stress is bulk of the village community are landless laid on making the essay a whole in itself. men, save the squire, parson and farmers, Still it has suffered in the past, and still suffers whose children do not frequent the village from excessive attention being paid to minutiæ school. In France, in some communes, one in spelling in spite of the recent reforms. person in every four is a proprietor, and thereGeography begins with elementary notions of fore the pick of the village scholars are the the world, and of the meaning of a map. It sons of peasants who have been helping their then comes back to the starting point in fathers on their small holdings from their English and German schools, the school earliest years. Hence while the problem in house and its environment. An excellent England seems to be to stimulate observation practice obtains in some schools of hanging up and dexterity, to provide at most an eye and maps made by the teachers of the department hand training in order to improve the future or commune either geographical or agronomic. labourer's efficiency, in France, rightly or History is too much of the blood and thunder wrongly, the aim has been to give the pupil type which breeds young fire-eaters, though some grasp of the principles underlying the the social and economic side is being gradually science of agriculture. developed. Manual training is practically a The first attempt to develop popular agridead letter in the country. In one village I cultural teaching in the primary school goes went into it had been suddenly dropped. back to 1866, but nothing was really done till The local authorities who were delighted by the the law of 1879, which started agricultural great progress shown by the children at their teaching in the normal schools and made it home-work, discovered that the village carpenter compulsory after three years in the elementary was making a handsome thing out of doing schools, each departmental education comtheir work for them. Military exercises mittee being left to draw up its own agricultural have caught on, but little in the country ; programme. singing in the departments I visited was much Unforturately this local option in programme neglected. In domestic economy the French | making seems to have produced more harm
than good, for the reason that the aim and majority of them are far more practicable than first principles of the subject had not been the old programmes, there is still doubt whether thought out. A visitor to France in 1891 found the scientific and general side, or the agriculno less than six conceptions of agricultural | tural side, should predominate. teaching in existence. The first consisted of These programmes are meant for boys, but stray notions on the subject being given by the girls are also taught horticulture, a matter the teacher, often out of a book, supplemented by | French peasant largely leaves to his womanpassages for dictation culled out of the kind. They are also given some instruction in agricultural journals. The basis of the i poultry keeping and dairy work. second was the lecturing by heart of little | As regards text-books their employment is agricultural catechisms, in which the horse i well defined in the Calvados programme. was defined as a four-legged animal, and the “ Books will be useless in the cours élémenobvious and the abstruse were delightfully faire préparatoire ; . optional in the cours jumbled together. The others were variations moyen; indispensable in the cours supérieur." of the gardening method, the fullest being · The work placed in the hands of the pupils that in which each child had a plot, and culti. will only serve for reference. In no case will vated another in partnership with his fellows, ' it take the place of oral teaching. Of those under the eye of the teacher. In 1895 the who would do entirely without books, one is Ministry took the matter in hand, and order compelled to ask what is the use then of was evolved out of chaos by the cele- libraries? Pictures, diagrams, and the musée brated scheme of January, 1897, “On the scolaire are all useful adjuncts to the teaching teaching of elementary notions of agriculture of the subject. in rural schools.” The method was to be! But, as the Ministry have recognised, the votions of science applied to agriculture, and chief value of the subject lies on its experithe procedure was to be above all practical. i mental and practical side. The experiment in The aim was to inspire children with a love of pots is pretty, but insufficient; more fruitful have the country life, and convince them of the been the outdoor experiments in the teachers' superiority of an agricultural occupation for gardens, or in the champs d'expérience. In those who practise it with industry, intelli- two directions the school has been able to gence, and enlightenment. Teachers were render valuable service to the cause of agriadvised to give the whole curriculum an agri culture. One is the teaching of grafting in the cultural tinge, and to make their lessons vine districts, where the reconstruction of the in agricultural teaching coincide with the vineyards is of capital importance, owing to seasons. Inflated programmes were depre- | the devastation of the phylloxera; and the cated, and suggestions for a course offered. | other is the wider and more intelligent use of In the elementary grade only simple objects natural and especially artificial manures. The should be given, For the middle grade there employment of the latter is especially needful should be more object lessons, together with in a country where the head of stock kept by reading lessons and school walks. Simple the pea sant is comparatively small. - The agri. experiments in the three states of matter, the cultural education of the department outside study of useful and noxious plants, of com- | the primary school is one of the many functions bustion, of composition of soils, &c., should that concern the professor of agriculture, but, be included, as well as experiments with in looking after the “ trial fields," the teachers different manures, including the fivefold ex- | often prove to be his most valuable heuchperiment with the different chemicals necessary man. In some departments these champs for the support of plant life, potash, super- l d'expérience are quite insufficient. In phosphate, and nitrate. The need of champs | Calvados, for example, there are only some d'expérience or trial fields is also insisted on. 20 or 30 in 763.communes. In Sarthe, on An inspection of the present departmental the other hand, with 386 communes, they programme reveals that they are all maxima numbered 167 in 1898-9, of which some 80 programmes. In fact the teacher is not so were looked after by the teachers. A further much supposed to follow them implicitly, but aid to the outside work of the school is the rather to pick and choose those portions which school journey, during which the children take best suit his own district, be it a grazing or notes, and occasionally botanise. arable country, a wine or a cider district. 1 To sum up, while the older teachers seem Another point which an inspection of the generally indifferent, there are many among programmes brings out is, that though the the younger generation who, thanks to the teaching in the normal schools, take a keen in- / by the local agricultural societies - a point terest in the subject. The chief desideratum that might well be copied in England. seems to be the establishment everywhere of a The French programme, as the examination small garden. This is so strongly felt by | paper just quoted shows, attempts as far as the Ministry that at the Exhibition of 1900 possible to dove-tail the subjects into one there was a small model garden which, though another. As was indicated at the outset, a it occupied only some 75 square yards, allowed subject is not so much squeezed into the room for a largish number of experiments. curriculum because it “ pays” or because it Most of tbe plants it contained came originally is a fad. To gain entry it has to prove that from school gardens. The botanical bed in it will better the all-round efficiency of the the middle was composed of feld flowers. pupil. None the less there is a general feel. It sufficed, as the official report says, for the ing that the curriculum is overloaded, which study of the principal families, and was none is plain, when, as we have seen the school the worse for being ornamental. In the fore working-week is 30 hours, and the number ground was a narrow bed containing the of hours required by the subject is 34. French principal leguminous and gramineous plants teachers are already asking whether the that every cultivator ought to know. To the wisest thing would not be to have the main left, five little squares were sown with mix- programme the same for town and country tures of these plants in order to form speci. | with certain optional subjects for urban or men meadow plots. Behind them were four rural children. The teachers themselves quadrangular plots sown with maize, potatoes, favour some such form of decentralisation, and tomatoes, &c., each being treated either probably soine sort of restricted local option with no manure, or with different dressings to will be possible in the near future. show the effect of proper manuring. Against As a sanction to all these studies, the the wall at the side were climbing plants, | French have created a merit or leaving vines, and fruit trees. In spite of the torrid certificate called the certificat d'études. It heat and the attentions of the Paris sparrows, has its drawbacks, the principal one being the garden looked very well, and the experi the premature age at which the pupils take it, ments were most satisfactory. Some English with the result that it leads to cramming. Yet critics, no doubt, will not be able to completely on the other hand it is held in high esteem approve of the French solution, though experi. | by parents and by the business world. It ments on more or less similar lines have been also gives the State a valuable means of carried out with much success in this country, audit, all the more valuable because part of notably by the Surrey County Council, in it is oral. Happily, in France, the fetish of Norfolk, and the Isle of Wight.
paper-work has not reached the dimensions It is possible that the advocates of it has with us. The French have all along Nature study would insist on the superior seen that viva voce is an indispensable supeducational value of an education whose plement to a written examination, because first principles are rather based on training it tests qualities which are of real worth in the observation and the imagination. The daily life, presence of mind, power to mobilise French system bears on the face of it a one's knowledge and intelligence at a minute's practical and utilitarian aim. Yet any judg notice, and to think out a problem quickly. Paper ment passed upon it must take into considera work is a good test for the closet student, the tion the requirements of the French rural recluse, but oral examination brings out as no problem.
other test the strong points of the business man To encourage the teaching of the subject in who has got to keep his head and to come to a the rural schools, examinations written and sound decision-more speedily than his fellow oral are held, and prizes awarded by the diffe competitors. In any case, the advantages of the rent departments. The examination papers in examination appear even in the teacher's eyes clude questions framed on the missing word to outweigh the disadvantages. For those principle, questions demanding an answer of who would learn more of its working I must (wo or three lines, agricultural book-keeping, refer to an excellent monograph on the subject which is really a short problem in arithmetic, by Sir Joshua Fitch. If such an examination an essay, and a simple design from memory. were adopted in England it would probably be In Sarthe, there are not only school examina. | best to entrust it to a board, consisting of the tions but school exhibitions, which are ap- ! inspectors, with representatives from primary, parently very successful. Prizes are given secondary, and technical schools and com. mittees. Were the examination conducted by | rooms and school buildings to be used in districts in the counties and by group centres common. in the large boroughs, the whole examination The opportunities for agricultural education could be got through generally in a single | in secondary French schools are so insignifiday, provided the examining board were big cant they need not be mentioned. The local enough.
grammar schools are far more out of touch Most of the foregoing remarks refer to the with the localities than with us. Far more State lay schools, as the religious schools in promising is the creation of ex-standard the country are comparatively few. Their classes and higher primary schools in the strength lies strangely enough in the towns country districts with a view to catering for where they can charge fees. In teaching | rural needs. This is a species of school which methods they are and have been generally it ought to be easy for the rural counties in inferior, but this is scarcely surprising when England to erect in the near future. Only the one realises that they are entirely self-support. | authorities must steadily bear in mind what ing. The intolerable strain with them is not sort of pupil they mean to produce, and to be some 20 per cent. of the maintenance, but 100 certain to produce one who will not be a per cent. Under these circumstances one can déclassé. But the rural problem in France is
admire the spirit of self-devotion that complicated as in England by class distinckeeps them alive. Many will probably go tions. Parents will still go on sending their under owing to the financial strain, quite apart boys to the religious high school or the college from any alterations that may be made in the because it is the fashion. The remedy in both new law on the right to teach.
countries, therefore, seems to be to modernise The agricultural training given in the normal the college course and make it give, as the schools is naturally of vital importance to the | great majority of country grammar schools rural school. While it appears to be sound should give, a thoroughly modern education. upon its normal side, it probably still requires The scholarship system properly arranged a good deal of attention to make its practical | should provide for moving on a clever side as effective as it migh: be. The truth is | lad to some central county school which in many cases the agricultural professors are prepared for the universities on classical so hard-worked they have not the time to pay lines. If a classical side exists in such the requisite attention to their out-door courses schools, it should really be a side and not the at the normal colleges, and, on the other hand, main aim of the schools. These schools there is not always that close correlation that had a regular raison d'être to be classical ought to exist between the teaching of the schools in the days that the local upper ten agricultural professor and his confrère the frequented them. But with the revolution professor of science. Agricultural teaching in of transport, their clientèle has greatly the training colleges for women largely consists changed, and the education they give should of horticulture.
follow suit. The chief lesson to be learnt from the French Of the extraordinary ardour with which the training colleges is that we must copy them | French teachers have thrown themselves into in immensely increasing our facilities for the extraneous work connected with the school, training, while we must avoid their mistake of a few words must be said. Many of these setting up a brace of normal schools for each works of superogation are performed by county or department. What our authorities | the English teacher, but nothing like to the should rather do is to group their schools same extent. One thing we might copy is the round the universities or existing training mutualité scolaire, or the system of old age colleges, or perhaps in the case of some of the pensions, which starts in the elementary rural counties build small hostels round some school. Had the children's fees in English of the agricultural colleges, which the students schools been devoted to this purpose instead could attend for certain courses; while in other of being abolished, we might have created respects they would receive a literary training. | with a stroke of the pen a complete system of In any case, we want on the one hand to old age pensions. Allusion has been already centralise the training centres, and on the made to the evening classes and lectures other to encourage the counties to go shares carried on by teachers in connection or not as much as possible in the building of new with old boys' clubs. Some idea of the schools, or at least, to place their hostels along. magnitude of the work may be gathered side one another round a nucleus of class. I from the fact that in 1900 the number of