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WEST BROMWICH : SUMMIT WORKS School.–An excellent meeting of the parents of the children attending these schools assembled here to listen to an address from the Society's Agent. The audience was more numerous than that of last year, and evidently appreciated the suggestions made during the evening's proceedings. The chair was occupied by Arthur Kenrick, Esq., by whom the meeting was addressed, as also by A. Kenrick, Esq., jun.
WORCESTER.—The annual public examination of the boys’ school was conducted by Mr. Baxter, who also addressed the parents present. A considerable number of “ certificates” were afterwards awarded to those boys whose attendance had been most punctual and regular during the previous year. Many of the boys had not lost four days by absence during twelve months, and some had not lost one day during the whole year.
WORCESTER: RAILWAY SCHOOL.--The second public examination of this boys' school was conducted in the Natural History Hall, in the presence of the children's parents, and that of others immediately interested in the school. The results showed considerable improvement made during the previous year. The plan of scholars' certificates, awarded for punctual attendance, general good conduct, and attention to duty, is adopted here, and with very happy results.
WOOTTON BASSETT. A public examination of this most effective school was conducted by Mr. Baxter, in the presence of a crowded audience. The results were the best which have been shown on any similar occasion. The attendance which, five years ago, varied between 30 and 45, has now reached 230, whilst the visits of many of the children were then little else than morning and afternoon calls. In this school also the certificate system is adopted, and with its usual results, Out of the number in attendance, 100 children were entitled to certificates, showing that, besides approved conduct and general diligence, their attendance at school had been at least 192 days during the year. In a communication to the Society's Inspector, the master remarks,—"You have got your ship out at sea; now keep her head to the wind. This remark of yours, made a few years ago, I have acted upon, and have always found your pablic examinations favourable gales-not squalls—bot precious trade-winds. Our certificates, too, have greatly contributed to a healthy state of things. They are to be seen ornamenting the walls of not a few of the houses of this town. We shall get capitation grants for upwards of a hundred children this year, which will be five times the amount we could have got in any year previous to the introduction of the certificates."
Mr. Saunders has continued his visits to the schools in the metropolitan district, and has also taken part in numerous public meetings and examinations.
TESTIMONIAL. A meeting was held on the evening of Tuesday, March the 20th, at Peckham, for the purpose of presenting a purse of money to Mr. Thomas Weston, on retiring from the mastership of the Lancasterian School-a post which he has filled for forty-seven years. The purse contained the sum of £116, and was presented to Mr. Weston by Thomas Morton, Esq., the Chairman, in the name of the subscribers. Many influential inhabitants of the neighbourhood attended the meeting, and the interest taken in the proceedings by a numerous audience testified to the high regard and affection which are entertained towards Mr. Weston in the neighbourhood. Some of the old scholars also were present, and gave expression to the gratitude with which they looked back to their school-days, and their sense of personal esteem towards their former teacher. Mr. Weston was a pupil of Joseph Lancaster, and organised the Peckham School, under his direction, in the year 1813. We believe that he was the oldest British teacher in England, who had remained in one school throughout his whole professional lifc. We are glad to know that he retires from his long and useful career in honour and in comfort.
An interesting meeting of British Teachers was held at Birmingham on Saturday, February 18th, in the Hurst-street School-rooms.
The teachers of Birmingham and its neighbourhood were invited by Mr. Baxter to meet him for an afternoon's intercourse on matters affecting the working of elementary schools, and the best modes of making their operations successful. The invitation was responded to by teachers from most of the schools in Birmingham, and also from Coventry, Leamington, Warwick, Stourbridge, Dudley, Pensnett, Coseley, Gornal, Prince's End, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Harborne, Erdington, &c. Letters were also received from others who, from various causes, were unable to be present.
The afternoon meeting was chiefly occupied in conversation on the subject of Home Lessons, in which several teachers detailed those plans which they had found most successful in their own schools, and the methods by which they had overcome early difficulties, arising from opposition or indifference of parents, idleness of the children, and want of books and materials suitable for the purpose.
MR. HALE, of the Lancasterian School, Dudley, stated that his boys, on the whole, did their home work well; that in the upper division these lessons were done on paper, but that slates were employed in the classes below. The lessons for the lower division consisted chiefly in writing out lists of names of persons, places, or things; and in either writing tables from memory, or working elementary arithmetic. The elder boys have specific work for each day of the week. Monday evening is employed in writing a letter, addressed to the master, embodying the substance of a collective lesson given during the day. This letter is required to be properly folded, enclosed in an envelope, and neatly as well as accurately addressed. On Tuesday evening the boys make out a bill, of more or less difficulty, according to their progress, to which the highest class is expected to add a properly written receipt for the amount. Wednesday evening is given to a sketch of some Scripture character. Thursday evening is appropriated either to the drawing of a map, or to an exercise in grammar; whilst the evening of Friday is employed in giving an account of one of our Lord's parables or miracles, the text of Sunday's sermon, and, in the higher class, the lessons read and hymns sung in their respective places of worship. He found this scheme popular with both parents and children, and that the boys took great pains with their letters, as it was his custom to preserve the best of them to exhibit at the public examination.
MR. TATTERSALL, of Shrewsbury, said that in order to secure the sympathy of the parents, the plan he adopted was to set those subjects for the children which the parents felt to be of most value to them in after-life. He found this to be especially the case with arithmetic. Short biographies of men of note in the history of our country were always interesting to the scholars. He had discovered that the want of books need not be an insurmountable obstacle in the way of home lessons, but that much good work might be done, when the interest of the child is secured, even though it possessed but a slate and pencil.
MR. Simms, of Coventry, had adopted some of the plans detailed above, and found them work well, especially in relation to arithmetic. He dwelt particularly on his methods among the younger classes. In written exercises, the children were much taken with exercises such as—" a dozen things to be found in a grocer's or draper's shop.” “The names of twelve streets, tools, or trees.” In arithmetical tables, his plan was to put the exercise elliptically on the black board, for the chil. dren to copy on their slates, thus,—"4 x 3= ( ); 3 x 9=( ); 5 x 9=( );" &c. Or in pence tables, &c., to set the exercise thus, “ 37d. ( ); 76d. =( );" and so on with other matters, leaving the children to fill in the blanks. Drawing,
too, he found very popular as home lessons, in which White's Drawing Cards were of great service.
MR. COLES, of Leamington, bad encountered some difficulties in his earlier attempts to introduce a system of home lessons, but by visiting the parents and explaining his plan to them, he had gradually overcome all difficulties. The supply of books for home study had long since been cheerfully undertaken by the parents at their own cost. As to the subjects chosen for the purpose, his experience agreed with other teachers. It had been found possible, also, to instruct the older boys in the great public events which happened to be, at any given time, engaging general attention. For instance, boys were required to fancy themselves in India, China, Morocco, or Italy, and to write a letter to some friend at home, detailing the events around their supposed location. As a stimulus to persevering effort, he had a plan of registering the results of the examination of home lessons, day by day, by giving figures or marks, indicative of whether lessons were well done or ill done, showing the good marks in red ink, and the bad in black. This table was ruled to comprise a month's result, and was placed in a conspicuous part of the school-room. The examination was made, and the results recorded by the pupil-teachers, while a lesson was being given to the whole class by himself. It was, he said, encouraging to see the interest, and even eagerness, with which the boys inspect the marks on their egress from the school-room, and to observe the joyful countenances of those who have been fortunate enough to obtain red marks.”
MR. STUBBINGS, of Prince's End, corroborated the statements of other teachers as to methods and results, and particularly as to the plan of registering the quality of the work. He found his boys liked a good report, and would work to get it. The parents also took the matter up, and awarded a prize after their own fashion, sometimes consisting of an extra pennyworth of “suck,'' a top, a new book, a slate, or a ride on the railway. He had many boys who, if absent one day, would prepare a double lesson next evening, rather than have a blank in the report.
About seventy teachers then sat down to tea, after which Mr. Baxter delivered an address, and took leave of the company. A communication subsequently received from one of the masters says, “ We did not close our delightful meeting when you left us, but kept it up some three quarters of an hour afterwards, and arranged to have another of a similar kind towards the latter end of May. The whole of the teachers present seemed to wish to hold meetings of that kind three or four times a year, and, although not desiring to organise themselves into a body, I have no doubt we shall be able to reap all the advantages of a central association."
NEW MINUTE OF COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL FOR
EDUCATION. At the Council Chamber, Whitehall, the 21st day of January, 1860. By the
Lords of the Committee of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council for Education. The Grants made by the Committee of Council for building, enlarging, improving, or fitting up Schools, are not to exceed any one of the following limits, viz. :1. The total amount contributed by Proprietors, Residents, or Employers of Labour in the Parish where the School is situated, or within a Radius of Four Miles from the School. Such Contributions may be in the Form of-(a) Individual Subscriptions; (6) Collections in Churches or Chapels in the same Parish, or within the Distance above defined; (c) Proceeds of the Sale of, or Allowance made by the Contractor for, Materials, after deducting the Amount of any former Grant; (d) Value (as certified by Two professional Surveyors) of Sites given without valuable Consideration; (e) Value of gratuitous Cartage, as certified by the Parochial Sur
veyor of Roads. 2. 23. 6d. per Square Foot of internal Area in new School-rooms and Class-rooms. 3. 258. per Child on the number requiring to be provided with new accommodation. 4. £65 for each Teacher's Residence.
The Site, Plans, Estimates, Specifications, Title, and Trust Deed must be satisfactory to the Committee of Council.
The Balance which is not covered by the voluntary local Contributions and by the Public Grant, taken together, may be made up from any other sources that are available.
But Funds for building which are derived from any Endowment, or from Subscriptions out of the Parish, or beyond the distance above defined, may not be reckoned in the Amount required under Section 1.
PUBLIC READINGS FOR WORKING MEN. About five months ago, at the request of several young men in a small town in Worcestershire, an evening class was formed for their benefit by the master of the British School in the same place, it being understood that all necessary expenses were to be defrayed by the class. As it was desired that instruction should be imparted to as many as possible, it was proposed to ask the teacher to give them a lecture on some subject generally interesting, to which their working friends might be invited. The teacher's engagements in connexion with his day-school necessarily preventing such a course, it was agreed that, instead of original lectures, Public Readings of popular lectures should be given. The scheme has been carried out; and independent of pleasant evenings passed together, the teacher has had evidences of direct personal benefit accruing to some of the men. There is no public readingroom of any description in the town ; and the class, without reckoning what was learnt, afforded a place where young men might meet together, and thus be secure, in a measure, against the temptations of the public-houses which were open for their accommodatlon. “I am glad,” said one young man to the teacher, “that you have started a class, for I don't know what to do with myself after I leave work. I often go into the public-house with no desire to drink, merely to pass the time away.” After the first reading, two young men, very fond of drink before, resolved to have no more of it. They have kept their resolution so far, and one told the writer that he has saved a balf-crown every week, which he used to spend in drink, and has the whole sum by him ready for service in a time of need. At the close of another reading, one said, “I can see things in a different light now, and I'm determined to try and act differently." Other instances of the beneficial influence of these meetings; and of the class originating them, could be given if it were necessary. The Readings, so far, have consisted of “ Man and his Masters," " Manliness," “Lessons from the Street,” and “John Bunyan," all of them taken from the Exeter Hall Lectures.
The working men are not the only persons who derive advantage from these readings. The teacher is necessarily obliged to study the various readings before. hand, in order to make himself master of their scope and argument; and he is thus considerably benefited. Again, he is brought into contact with the “i sinews of the British nation,” many of them parents of children attending his school. His influence is exerted on them for good in no small measure ; he becomes popular amongst them, and the influence he thus gains contributes materially to the advantage of the day-school by increasing his authority over the children, and his means of usefulness generally.
It is not intended to give more than a hint on this subject; for the writer is convinced that the majority of his fellow-labourers need only a hint to set them on the right track. Whoever determines to extend his influence as a teacher in this way, in order to be successful, must take care that there is "no straining after effect;" but that he is simply animated by an earnest desire to benefit those around him, and to make his reading accurate, intelligent, and interesting. He must make the subject his own before he attempts to read ; be must think the thoughts which he desires to make known; his reading must be such that it will draw attention to his subject rather than to himself; and to quote a rule given by a lecturer on this subject, he must forget himself.-E. R. B.
THE DECIMAL SYSTEM. On the evening of the 19th of March, a lecture was delivered at the Normal College in the Borough-road, by Leone Levi, Esq., F.S.A., Professor of Commercial Law in King's College, London, on the Educational and Practical Advantages of the Decimal System. The students in training, and a considerable number of the masters of British Schools in the metropolis were present. The chair was taken by Mr. J. G. Fitch, the principal of the Normal College, who, after a few words of comment on the importance of the subject, introduced the lecturer to the meeting.
Professor Levi, in the course of his introductory observations, said :
"By the unanimous testimony of the inspectors of schools throughout the kingdom, the great evil under which our schools are at present suffering, is the shortness of the time during which children remain at school. The introduction of machinery has afforded occupation for children of very tender age, and the parents are too eager to derive from them any accession to their means of subsistence. Nor is this eagerness and precocity confined to the humbler classes. It is the same with the school, the college, or the university. Less time is now spent in educational insti. tutions, and more is expected of them. What are the necessary consequences ? Either an undue amount of cramming, injurious to the health of youth, and fruitless for permanent benefit, or short-comings in the amount of instruction given. How important it becomes, therefore, to find out appliances whereby to economise the time now spent in teaching. In the economics of manufacture we have, by the introduction of machinery, augmented a thousand-fold the productive power of the nation; and in the economics of education we may, by shortening the processes likewise, increase the sum total of human acquisitions. I am not ignoring the fact that the mind must be trained to arduous and earnest pursuits, that the training it undergoes in learning arithmetic is not lost, but forms a capital stock, which facilitates the further acquisition of knowledge. But such training may be obtained by learning mathematics, algebra, or other studies. We want our children to learn more than they at present do within a given time; and the problem for us to solve is, how to obtain such end, without diminishing the value and substance of their educational training. In my opinion, the introduction of the decimal system is calculated to aid us in such a desideratum, and I would submit it to your judgment whether this view of the question is not of itself of the highest importance to the welfare of the community.”
After alluding to the extent to which computations are required in the business of life, and to the new uses of numbers which have been developed by statistical inquiries, and by chemical science, the lecturer proceeded to compare the arithmetical system existing among ourselves, with a complete and uniform decimal system. He showed that in the former we have one method of progression in money, another for measuring lengths, a third for measures of capacity, and two or three different modes of measuring weights and surfaces. The factors employed in each of the tables differ from those employed in all the rest, and in no one of them is the simple mode of progressing from one denomination to another by decimal steps adopted. Thus a considerable effort of memory is demanded from the learners, complex and diverse reductions are needed at the foot of each column, and the whole process becomes entangling and difficult. It was evident, therefore, that change was desirable; the