« ElőzőTovább »
Why should it be thought to render a young man “ridiculous” to be known as an “Associate” of the Society of Arts? It would be, to some extent at least, a proof that he had been industrious, and had endeavoured to improve himself. Is it not perfectly notorious that any man of average respectability may obtain admission as a member into any of the literary or scientific societies of London on payment of the usual fees? The Royal Society is the sole exception. We see grave, steady, middle-aged men of the world rejoice in attaching F.A.S., F.G.S., F.L.S., and other such like alphabetical honours to their names; yet, what do these letters in ' reality prove beyond the average respectability of those entitled to use them, and the payment of certain fees? Professor Owen or Professor Faraday, whose reputations are not only European but World-wide, may attach without “ridicule” a string of letters to their names as long as the tail of a paper-kite; but it would be exceedingly presumptuous, highly indecorous, “ridiculous” in John Nokes or Bill Styles to wish their townsfolk to know how the big Society up in Lunnun had made much of the work they did of the long winterevenings by the light of a farthing dip, when, instead of going to the pot-house or the wake, they thumbed their dirty books at home. What a violation of the proprieties! It is enough to make red tape blush a deeper
There are other matters, which I can only touch upon, having already far exceeded the limits within which I intended to confine my observations.
The Chairman states “that the meeting of the 6th of
November (that which suppressed the Board by the vote of seven members of the Council] being by adjournment, the special business for it was 'the further consideration of the programme.' Any matter that the programme contained was properly before the meeting.” “ The Board of Examiners was a part of the programme "_"the meeting was, therefore, fully competent to deal with that subject," and therefore to suppress the Board, and abolish the bye-laws on which it was established! What conclusive argumentation-what lucid logic! So, because the ordinary business of the Society is before an ordinary meeting of the Council, and the general bye-laws of the Society refer to its ordinary business, any Council which finds itself in the humour may, off-hand, abolish the byelaws. Such are the conclusions to which Councils' reasoning (?) would conduct us.
The text-books say, Logic is an art; one must regret to see that it is not among the arts cultivated by the Council of the Society of Arts.
But there is a graver matter still. Will it be believed by the members of the Society, that of the seven gentlemen who suppressed the Board of Examiners on that memorable 6th of November, no fewer than six* were actually present at a special meeting of the Council (February 4, 1857,) called to consider, with other matters, those very abrogated bye-laws. Not a single objection was raised to their passing through the Council by any one of these gentlemen. Nay, more than this. Mr. Chester handed me the printed slip across the table, at the same time
* Mr. W. Hawes was not then a member of the Council.
saying, “I see nothing to object to in these bye-laws. I shall not oppose their passing." Yet they were illegal!unconstitutional!!-a violation of the Charter! The Board of Examiners could not be endured an hourlonger! No! not even for a special meeting of the Council! What sober wisdom guides, and judicious discretion tempers the proceedings of the Council of the Society of Arts! Early Greece too kpride in her seven wise men ; the Society of Arts may boast its Seven Sages as well ?
The Chairman proceeds to say that the Council decided against oral examination, because of the “expense of sending out Boards of Examiners to great distances from London ;” “the impossibility of procuring the services of so many Examiners of equal authority,” and “the small extent to which even these five centres could supply the wants.” Now, will it be credited that it was never contemplated to send out Boards of Examiners? That the oral examination, with a view to conciliate the Council, was reduced to arithmetic, English history, geography, Latin, French, and German (how an examiner is to decide on the merits of a candidate in either of these last two subjects without knowing whether he can speak or pronounce the language, the Council do not stop to explain,) and that the Board of Examiners had formally taken on themselves the responsibility of providing for the oral Examinations? Here is the Report :
October 28th, 1857. The Board of Examiners of the Society of Arts having been requested by the Council to consider and report to them the arrangements by which they propose to carry out the system of oral and paper Examination at the several proposed centres, as recommended
in the programme submitted by them to the Council, with a detailed estimate of the cost,
They now beg to report as follows:
In the first place it becomes proper to state for the information of the Council, that the Board beliere it to be ad- . visable to secure the confidence of the public in the integrity of their decisions and awards, that every central Examination should be personally superintended by two or more Members of the Board. So entirely essential do they hold this condition to be, that they would feel it to be their duty to decline to inspect or to give credit to any papers otherwise worked out and submitted to them for examination.
I. As the Board propose that the Examinations shall extend over six consecutive days, nine hours each day, they believe that not less than two Examiners can fairly be expected to carry out a vigilant superintendence for 54 hours in one week.
II. With respect to the paper Examination, they have no alteration in their present plan to suggest further than to divide each paper into at least two sections of questions, an easier and a more difficult one, and that no candidate shall receive credit for more than 75 per cent. of the questions set.
III. With respect to the method of conducting the oral Examinations, the Board are of opinion, that while on the one hand it would lead to much expense to carry out an oral Examination in all the subjects in the programme, a thing which has not hitherto been done by the Board ; yet on the other hand, taking into account the peculiarities of those classes for whose benefit the Examinations were established, giving weight to the sentiments of those men whose experience entitle's their views to the gravest considerationbelieving also that the time is come when the subjects of oral Examination should be defined, they are of opinion that the difficulties in the case may be met by confining the oral Examination to the more elementary subjects, namely, arithmetic, history, geography, Latin, French, and German. That to secure uniformity in the oral Examination, and a means of comparing the results obtained at the different centres, printed lists of questions be prepared for the use of the Examiners; and that with respect to the modern languages, the
plan so successfully carried out Huddersfield, under the directions of Dr. Bernays and Professor Mariette, be further developed.
IV. With regard to the cost of the Examinations for 1858, as the Board have no executive control over the expenditure for printing, books, stationery, &c., and as the railway charges are known and fixed, they believe the Council, advised if necessary by their officers, are more competent than the Board to form a correct opinion on the probable cost of the ensuing Examinations.
You will see that the Board proposed to send out two of their own number to each centre. So much for sending out Boards of Examiners.
Now, Mr. Chester has repeatedly brought this subject of oral Examination before the late Board of Examiners, and always with the same result. The last time he was in a minority of one to fifteen. Mr. Chester was opposed to oral Examination ; the Board of Examiners were for it; the Council of the Society of Arts, who know so little about its merits or demerits, support Mr. Chester. Dr. Whewell, the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, takes a view somewhat different from that of the Council.* It
* On the subject of oral examinations, the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, writes :
An examination conducted virâ voce, the questions being asked and the answers returned by word of n juth, has several advantages over an examination on paper. One of the greatest advantages of these is its publicity. The questions and answers are heard by all who choose to hear, and there is a constant and ready means of learning the course taken by the examiners, and the character of the performances which are approved...
Again, the knowledge, quickness, and happiness of expression which are displayed by a student who passes à viva voce examination will draw to the proceeding a degree of sympathy which can never be given to a paper examination..
On all these accounts a public oral examination is a good instrument of education.
In this scheme (paper examinations) there is no opportunity of testing by questions such as the occasion and the preceding answers may suggest whether the written reply to the questions be really accompanied by any intelligent