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And again Mr. Hopkins states :
“ The character of the French elementary works, usually written by the most eminent mathematicians, is exactly the reverse of our own in the points above mentioned (perspicuity in details), as is also their system of examination, which, I believe, is entirely vivâ voce. It has always appeared to me that something intermediate would be preferable to either of these systems."
NOTE B. To render a system of examination effectual, it is indispensable that there should be danger of rejection for inferior candidates, honourable distinctions and substantial rewards for the able and diligent, with examiners of high character, acting under immediate responsibility to public opinion.Report of Oxford University Commission, p. 59.
To confer, after careful inquiry and searching examination, certificates of different grades, seems to be free from every objection of this kind. If given with great care, fairness, and strictness, by boards of examiners whose standing in public opinion would save them from the imputation of partiality, and whose interests would not allow them to decide loosely, they might be made most important adjuncts in promoting those habits which ought most to be cultivated in youth-self-instruction, voluntary labour, and self-examination. But as matters now stand, in the vast majority of cases, for the youth who is not intended for the Universities the incentives to exertion are as few as they are feeble; there is nothing to urge him to persevere with unyielding energy in a course of laborious and tedious study. He may thirst for knowledge for its own sake; but this, constituted as we are, is not sufficient. There must be something to set before him—some scope--some object to aim atma goal at which he must arrive within a given time. He knows, indeed, that he must remain at school for a certain period, and then proceed to business; but he cannot discover how his diligence there can have any perceptible effect upon his future prospects, in matters having so very few points of resemblance as literature or science with commerce, ignorant of the fact that success in each is achieved by the same instrument. He thus necessarily contracts habits of listless inattention or of confirmed idleness. Now, were he certain that on leaving school he must go before an impartial tribunal, and there be subjected to a searching examination, and compared with boys from other schools, that his attainments and knowledge would be there brought out fully and impartially, what a powerful motive to exertion would be at once supplied, what a spirit of patient industry and enduring perseverance would in this way be fostered! Above all and beyond all, habits of self-instruction and of self-development would be indirectly but gradually formed, far more valuable in their final results than any amount of school acquirements ; habits which, when their efficient causes should long have passed away, and when the very attainments they were the means of acquiring had been forgotten, would still adhere to the mind, itself, perhaps, unconscious of their origin. In this way would that self-instruction be promoted on which all real progress must be based ? Schools and schoolmasters, lectures and examinations, and our whole educational machinery are useful so far as they promote
this. Unless the attention is excited, and the intellectual powers stimulated through the emotions, all real advancement is impossible. It is asserted, however, on high authority, that the value of examination as a test is lowered by the too exclusive use of written papers, and of answers in writing to set papers, so much in use at the present day, in some cases to the total exclusion of the older methods of oral or vivâ voce examination. If it be found a powerful test of comprehensive and philosophical knowledge, of the graphical properties of space in geometrical investigations, and of the complicated formulæ of a refined analysis in physical researches, it must be still more effectual in testing a knowledge of law, of history, of geology, or of mineralogy.-The Report of the Come mittee appointed by the Council of the Society of Arts to inquire into the subject of Industrial Instruction, with the Evidence on which the Report is founded. Published under the Sanction of the Council. Pp. 223, price 5s. Longmans and Co., 1853.
Objections are sometimes made to examinations, that they cannot always be depended upon as true tests of proficiencythat they give rise to cramming, and to superficial preparation. Now, there is no system or plan that ever was devised which does not stand in the shade of some one or other objection. It is true that candidates so prepared may and very often do pass, nay, sometimes with credit, examinations apparently very difficult. This, however, is no argument against examination as a test; it only proves that the examiner is incompetent to discharge his duties. To be a good examiner requires previous training. A judicious examiner will not only gauge the knowledge, but will take true note of the faculties of those who come before him. While he who confines himself to what is set down for him in text-books—who makes no step in deduction—who contemplates mere facts, not the bearings of those facts—who seeks not to change the aspect, and exhibit the different phases under which a truth may be viewed-who does not constantly keep before him the analogies and relations which bind together not only the facts of physical science, but those in the history of mankind, as exhibited in the acts of its doers, and the mental products of its thinkers, --he, I say, who does not do this, mistakes the duties of his office, and leaves undeveloped the powers of the instrument in his hands. An examination should not consist of strings of leading questions, nor of interrogatories to be responded to by a simple yes or no, neither should the answer be the mere echo to the question, nor should familiarity with mere tabulated results be sought for. An examination should be something more than the mere exponent of the powers of a mechanical memory: it should test the whole of the elements of human understand. ing, not content itself with the trial of one. Examinations of this kind, if they do some good, do much more harm ; and in this way, they lead the unformed mind to lean insensibly on those principles of association which rest on verbal similitudes, or accidental terminal analogies: they direct it to seek for resemblances and discrepancies in the names of things, not in things themselves.--Examination of the Province of the State, p. 62.
THE BOARD OF EXAMINERS OF THE
SOCIETY OF ARTS FOR 1857.
George Biddell Airy, Esq., D.C.L., F.R.S., Pres. R. A. S.
&c., the Astronomer Royal, Greenwich J. Ball, Esq., of the Firm of Quilter and Ball John Bell, Esq. W. Sterndale Bennett, Royal Academy of Music, Prof. of
Music in the University of Cambridge Adolphus Bernays, Esq. Ph.D., Prof. of the German lan
guage and literature in King's College, London Hon. and Rev. Samuel Best, M. A., Hon. Sec. of Hants and
Wilts Adult Education Society Rev. Jas. Booth, D.C.L., F.R.S., Chairman of the Board
of Examiners Rev. J. S. Brewer, M. A., Prof. of History, King's College,
London C. Brooke, Esq., M. A., F.R. S., Surgeon to the Westminster
Hospital Rev. R. W. Browne, M. A., Preb. of St. Paul's, Prof. of
Classical Literature in King's College, London, and Chap
lain to H. M. Forces James Caird, Esq. W. B. Carpenter, Esq., M.D., F.R.S., F.G. S., Registrar
of the University of London F. S. Cary, Esq. Harry Chester, Esq., V. P. of the Society of Arts, Assist.
Sec. of Committee of Council on Education Rev. Samuel Clark, M. A., Principal of the Training College,
Battersea Rev. E. Elder, D.D., Head Master of the Charter House Rev. William Elliott, M. A., Queen's College, Cambridge James Glaisher, Esq., F. R. S., F.R. A. S., Hon. Secretary
to the British Meteorological Society
George Godwin, Esq., F. R. S.
and Astronomy, King's College, London Rev. T. G. Hall, M. A., Professor of Mathematics, King's
College, London Rev. John Harris, D.D., Principal of New College, London B. Waterhouse Hawkins, Esq., British Museum Rev. James Hill, M. A., Upper Nautical Schools, Greenwich Arthur Henfrey, Esq., F.R.S., Professor of Botany in King's
College, London The Very Rev. the Dean of Hereford, V. P. of Society of
Professor Hoppus, University College, London
Museum of Practical Geology Thomas Henry Huxley, Esq., F.R. S., School of Mines,
Jermyn Street G. H. Jay, Esq., Public Accountant Henry Bence Jones, Esq., M. A., M. D., F.R. S. A. Marriette, Esq., Professor of the French Language and
Literature, King's College, London J. C. Morton, Esq. Rev. Henry Moseley, M. A., F.R. S., Canon of Bristol Rev. A. Bath Power, M. A., F. C. S., Principal of Norwich
Diocesan Normal Schools F. R. Sandford, Esq., B. A., Assistant Secretary to Com
mittee of Council on Education William Sharpey, M. D., Secretary of the Royal Society John Simon, Esq., F.R. S., Surgeon to St. Thomas's Hos
pital, and Medical Officer of the Board of Health Edward Solly, Esq., F. R. S., F. S. A., F. L. S., F. G. S.,
Professor of Chemistry, Addiscombe John Stenhouse, Esq., LL.D., F.R. S., &c., St. Bartholo
mew's Hospital Rev. F. Temple, M. A., late Fellow of Balliol College, Ox
ford, and one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools John Wilson, Esq., F. R. S. E., F. G. S., Professor of Agri
culture, University of Edinburgh.
Extract from the Minutes of the Council of the
Society of Arts.
T a Meeting of the Council, held on the 15th of Oct.
the chair, it was resolved
The Council of the Society of Arts, in further developing the system of Examinations which they have established, and in enlarging its sphere of action so as to include Commercial and Trade Schools, desire to state their views in thus extending its principle. The Universities, the Inns of Court, the Military and Naval Colleges, the East India Company, the Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, and Apothecaries, the various Government Boards, the Committee of Privy Council on Education, all provide examinations of various degrees of strictness for candidates who desire to obtain degrees, certificates, or employment. There is, however, a considerable number of persons, members of Mechanics' Institutions, Schools, and other bodies in Union with this Society, with regard to whom little or no provision of this kind is made for testing the attainments of such of them as would wish to procure private employment on the ground of merit, or to obtain a formal judgment pronounced upon their acquirements by a competent tribunal.
The Council also desire to secure systematic study and punctuality of attendance in the several classes of the Institutions in Union with the Society.
On the recommendation of the Board of Examiners, they have passed the following minute :
“ That no person shall be eligible for examination who shall not have been for six months at least previous to the day of examination, a member of a Mechanics’ Institution, School, or other body in Union with this Society.