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question has been well put in the following words :-" The Štate cannot now repudiate the aid of the Church, while the Church cannot retain its hold on Education, still less increase it, without the aid of the State. The two must work together, unless there is to be a wanton waste of resorirces, and the problem of the hour is to find the method for their full co-operation."* That the solution of the problem thus clearly stated will be found in the present article, is not for a moment presumed. Nevertheless, it is not difficult, after a survey of the field of discussion, to ascertain the direction in which the question is now travelling. After a review of the prominent features of the present aspect of the subject, the author of this paper will not shrink from stating the principles which, in his judgment, will embody the future settlement of the question on terms as favourable as can be expected for our own Church. Though the writer is ready to admit that he values instruction much, education more, and scriptural training most of all; and that he views the question from a denominational as well as a patriotic platform, as a devoted son of the Reformed Established Church as well as a lover of his beloved country; yet he trusts that he will be found to have dealt with this great question on its own merits, apart from prejudice and personal predilection.
Among the prominent features of the Educational question, the first that impresses the intelligent observer is
I. The Prospect of an Immediate Settlement. The circumstances that favour this immediate settlement are, (a) the general unwillingness to adopt any system involving a radical change. Such a system would naturally entail a vast cost in its introduction, if in any degree adequate to the requirements of the country, and would moreover necessitate the wanton waste of an immense amount of material and organization now in existence. This unwillingness is confirmed by the conviction, that, however complete a new scheme might be on paper, yet, that it would be found by experience, that any scheme which would be adapted to all the national difficulties and require. ments, could not be produced entire from the pigeon-hole of some Downing Street official, but must, like the constitution itself, be a matter of growth. (6) A growing disposition to make the best of the existing system, not merely for economical reasons, but from the conviction that it possesses a framework which might be successfully developed and moulded to meet all the requirements of the case; and from the fact, that inasmuch as the imperfections and failings are now ascertained by the experience of many years, the system might now be so mended and extended as to make it acceptable and sufficient, and that
* The Times Newspaper, leading article. Vol. 68.-No.380.
thus at length we might "reap the well-ripened fruits of wise delay.” (c) The all but universal spirit of conciliation and compromise. That there is “a religious difficulty” so-called, all admit, but now for the first time there appears to be, on all sides, such a disposition to deal with the question as augurs the practicability of general agreement. Fiercely as the Secularists have fought their battle, nothing can be more frank and graceful than their confession that the national sentiment is against them.* With the concession of a liberal conscience clause, they are, as a body, prepared to co-operate with the Scriptural party, and that the disposition to grant this is becoming more general, will be readily conceded. The Voluntaryists, moreover, who have “hitherto relied exclusively upon voluntary effort for the support of their schools, are now evincing a readiness to receive the aid of the State,” is the statement of one of the most experienced observers on this question. This generally prevailing spirit is a bappy augury; but, on the other hand, when we look around on the growth of democracy and national infidelity, it is to be feared that, if the present opportunity for settlement be permitted to pass, it will never recur, in such a form as the members of our Established Church would desire. Such are the circumstances which favour the immediate settlement of the Education question, and the general interest now awakened on the subject supplies, it may be added, the materials for that hearty, earnest, vigorous, general cooperation, without which no permanent settlement can be effected.
II. The immense advance already made in removing the educational destitution of the country is the second feature which invites attention, and which on no consideration ought to be overlooked. Instead of feelings of despair, a review of the past few years' work gives occasion for feelings of strong encouragement and thankfulness. It is most important to make this point prominent, because certain loose sensational statements are in circulation, which might mislead the unthinking. Such a slander as that uttered by Mr. Miall, in his Noncon. formists' Sketch Book, that the country owed nothing in the matter of education to the clergy, would scarcely be now repeated by him, as member for Bradford, in the House of Commons. Short as has been the official experience of the Right Hon. John Bright, it has been, probably, of sufficient duration to prevent the repetition of a sentiment made only four years ago in reference to Manchester and the large towns generally, that “there is no regular provision for schools and teachers and school materials.” It is difficult to understand how any man could give utterance to such words as those spoken not three years ago by a distinguished Nonconformist minister,—"Voluntaryism had established a few schools here and there, and those schools had cheapened education to a certain class of parents who were perfectly able to remunerate a private teacher. But these congregational schools very soon dwindled down and died, and the few that remained had not been placed in circumstances in which they could be of any use to the poor and neglected class of the people.” It has been said that statistics can be made to prove anything, and at the Social Science Congress held in Manchester, an attempt was made to prove that education, if not retrograding, was yet at a “standstill.” Speaking of certain districts, the Hon. Secretary of the Manchester Aid Society is reported to have said, “If these districts be taken as an average of other centres of population, it will be evident that education among the lower sections of the people throughout the kingdom is not on the increase. A comparison of the statistics of the years 1834 and 1861 shows that, whereas, thirty years since, there was one day-scholar for every 10:33 of population, in 1861 there was only one for every 11 of the population.”* The truth of the case seems to be, that it is impossible to be too cautious in the credence we may give to extra-official statements and amateur statistics. What are commonly known as the Manchester and Birmingham statistics are regarded by many competent observers as completely shaken by the testing they have undergone. In reference to Manchester, it might be sufficient, to counteract the statements already given, to quote the words of an experienced official, H.M. Inspector Mr. Kennedy,—“I believe that the want, in a town like Manchester, is not now so much of school accommodation, as of a few more free schools in certain selected districts where the most abject poor congregate.”
* For proofs, see speeches of Mr. Bruce, M.P., and Dr. Watts in the "Report of The National Conference on Education,” pp. 32–50.
† “Notes on Mr. Bruce's Bill of 1867," by the Rev. Canon Richson, pp. 1, 2.
It is not easy to arrive at a precise figure in reference to what ought to be regarded as a sufficient amount of school advantages for the population. Whatever be the standard, however, at which we ought to aim, we have happily, in the recent publication of the National Society, reliable statistics, so far as any statistics can be reliable, by which we can ascertain whether the educational provision, and the use made of that provision, is rising or falling. The application of such a test satisfactorily dispels the false impressions produced by the statements previously referred to. That the education of the
· * “Facts and Fallacies," by the Rev. Joseph Nunn, Manchester, in which the references for the statements quoted are contained.
country is in an absolutely satisfactory condition in respect to quantity and quality, cannot be contended; but a perusal of the National Society's statistics will abundantly prove that, so far as the Established Church is concerned, an immense advance has been made, and that there can be no possible ground for discouragement, much less despair. The advance can be tested in two ways, by ascertaining the number of children in proportion to the whole population in attendance in any one year as compared with any previous date, and by ascertaining the number of schools in any one year as compared with the number in any previous year.
Turning to the test of numerical attendance, we learn, in reference to the country at large, that the advance in the following years as been as follows:—“In 1803, the number of day-scholars in all kinds of schools in England and Wales was 524,241, or 1 in 17} of the entire population; in 1818 the number was 674,883 or 1 in 174; in 1833, 1,276,947, or 1 in 114; in 1851, 2,144,378, or 1 in 8.36; in 1858, 2,535,462, or 1 in 7.7.” (p. 39.) If such be the entire advance, the enquiry is most interesting as to what part the Church of England has had in effecting this great progress. The answer is one which ought to cause thankfulness to the Establishment, and constitute a mighty encouragement to gird herself for the accomplishment of what still remains undone. Table XX., p. 37, supplies the information :
Proportion of week-day and night-school scholars in Church national
and parochial schools to the population in the year,
Son of the tw the work ofisleading,
When we remember the unparalleled increase of the population during the last half century, and find that education has not only kept pace but increased to such an extent, we may confidently ask, what reason is there to despond? This increase, moreover, a comparison of the two sets of statistics will show, has been to a very great extent the work of our own Church. These statistics, however, would be most misleading, were the impression produced by them, that 1 in 13 represents the extent to which the Church of England educates the people of this country :
“The difference between 1 in 13, which is the proportion of scholars in Church of England national and parochial schools alone, and 1 in 7.7 which is the proportion in all schools, is not an exact measure of what all other religious bodies than the Church of Eng. land are doing for education. The difference is largely made up of scholars in private adventure schools, grammar and collegiate schools, ragged schools, orphan asylums, workhouse, naval and military schools. A large proportion of the private adventure schools are kept by members of the Church of England; while in collegiate, grammar, ragged, and even naval and military schools, Church of England teaching occupies a prominent position.” (p. 39.)
There is, indeed, no reason to believe the estimate in any way exaggerated, which computes that the Church of England has already from 73 to 75 per cent. of the education of the country in her own hands.
Turning to the test which the number of schools supplies, we shall find equal cause for thankful satisfaction. In England and Wales there are, we are told, 14,709 ecclesiastical districts. Of these, 11,792, in round numbers 12,000, contain separate week-day schools under Church management. Of the remaining 2,700 parishes, 1,355 are supplied with school advantages by the combination of several parishes for the maintenance of schools. That, in these cases, separate parochial schools would be needless extravagance, is seen from the fact, that the greatest distance any child has to walk in order to reach the combined school, is less than a mile and a half. Of the 1300 parishes that are yet to be accounted for, 700 are supplied with dame schools. The great fact is thus patent, that, in all the 14,709 districts into which the parochial organization of the Church of England resolves itself, there are only 400 in which the Church does not provide for the religious teaching and general education of the young. Fully to appreciate the labours of the Church on behalf of education, it must be borne in mind that these marvellous results are not the fruits of ancient endowments, but for the most part of recent zeal and liberality on the part of her members. What are the pecuniary sacrifices which the clergy themselves have made in support of Education, pages 25 and 26 of the National Society's statistics disclose. No wonder that the Times newspaper, an organ of public opinion by no means favourable to the Church, when reviewing the activity manifested by the Church of England on behalf of education, was constrained to admit, “ This enumeration accounts for all but a small number of parishes, and it certainly shows that there are few districts in which the Church is not actively engaged in the work of primary education. So far as quantity is concerned, there can be no material deficiency in Church Education. Moreover, there is every sign that any deficiency which exists is being steadily remedied. The machinery of Church Education is not only very extensive in its application, but possesses great elasticity. So far, therefore, the returns before us are extremely satisfactory.” One thing is evident; on this great
oplied withe 14,109 of Englades not preporunecducation, not the
zation of the 14,709 schools. The be accountered a half."