Images de page

tained of the Hazelwood establishment by his venerable friend, Mr. Bentham, as well as by Mr. Mill, the Hon. Leicester Stanhope, and many other distinguished friends of education, to place his sons there; and it is no slight proof of his entire satisfaction at the results, to find three youths from the quarter of the globe in which he has so powerful an influence, sent to the same seminary, for the purpose of learning its system, and qualifying themselves to teach it to others. This is indeed a very flattering testimony to its merits, but not at all beyond its just claims to universal adoption. We have reason to know also, that young gentlemen, of the most commanding talents, have been removed from Eton to Hazelwood, from the conviction of its superiority alone, and without the intervention of any peculiar motive or influence to urge the change; and we have equal reason to believe, that the expectations entertained of benefit from this change, have been amply fulfilled. May we venture to hope that private philanthropy (for otherwise there is no hope) will shortly confer the same advantages on British India; where, so defective is every system of education hitherto established, that no British parent feels he has done justice to his offspring unless he sends them to a distance of half the globe to receive the elements of learning; and for this purpose he incurs a large expense, parts with those most dear to him in their very infancy, exposes their tender years to the risk of a long voyage, with many chances of never beholding them again after this period of painful separation.

Though we formerly gave a general outline of the plan of education pursued at Hazelwood, and here recommended, in entering upon a consideration of the several excellencies of its present form, it is necessary that the reader should bear in mind the framework of the system which connects all its subordinate parts. The mainspring of the machine is, that the power of self-government is left, as much as possible, to the boys themselves; while the teachers only prescribe the quantum, the kind, and modes of instruction. The pupils are permitted to elect a committee from their own body, in which the laws for preserving strict discipline in the school are proposed, discussed, and enacted. The teachers reserve to themselves the regulation only of the routine of exercises, and the hours appointed for their performance; and these powers are not exercised individually, but by act of the whole body meeting in conference. This conference consists of ten resident teachers, including the principal, who hold a meeting once in the week, for regulating such part of the school affairs as fall under their jurisdiction. The school-committee, again, is elected by the boys from among themselves, at a general meeting on the first Monday of each month. These are the two great instruments of government; and under the latter is a regularly-organized judicial system, consisting of a judge and jury regularly and impartially chosen, with a prosecutor and defender-general, and all other necessary officers for carrying the laws into effect.

It has often been observed, that the mode of education in every country ought to correspond with the genius of its government; but

never was this desirable object so completely attained as in the system observed at Hazelwood. It may be considered as a miniature of the British constitution, having the most striking resemblance in all the most remarkable features, but, in our judgment, with many improvements both in principle and practice. Here the principal has the sovereign prerogative of a veto on the enactment of the general laws of the school by the committee of boys; but this power does not apply to the appointment of officers, the decision of appeals, or the disposal of the common funds. The conference, composed of the ten head preceptors, forms a sort of aristocratic assembly, somewhat analogous to a House of Peers, but with a very limited jurisdiction, embracing only the species and modes of study, with the amount of the rewards to be given to pupils for extra labour or various degrees of merit in their school exercises. Thirdly, the school-committee is a perfectly popular body, or House of Commons, which has the exclusive management of the revenues of the community, and sanctions all regulations for preserving order among its members. The revenues we have mentioned are, (of course not the receipt or expenditure of the establishment, which may be regarded as the "foreign affairs" left in the hands of the Crown, but,) first, the "benevolent fund," raised by voluntary contributions from the teachers and pupils, and applied to charitable purposes; and the "school fund," amounting to upwards of 1007. per annum, partly furnished by the proprietors, partly by the parents of the boys, and expended chiefly in the purchase of philosophical instruments, musical instruments, apparatus for printing, maps, school-coin, and books for the school library. The prudence and uprightness with which, we are assured, they have administered their finances, prove not only the safety, but the advantage, of intrusting funds to such amount to children of these tender years, under circumstances which, by early creating a just tone of moral feeling, must make them better members of society for life. This is infinitely more useful than to cut off children from all the ordinary springs of human action, until they are suddenly plunged into the vortex of real life, when the natural propensities, which seemed to be extinct, because dormant for want of excitement, are suddenly roused into action by their peculiar stimulants; and the inexperienced youth, hurried along by impulses which he has never been taught how to regulate and restrain, is like a ship sent out to sea without a rudder, at the mercy of the tempest.

We are, therefore, altogether at issue with those who believe that youth ought to be carefully secluded as long as possible from the in

2 We are informed in a note, that "though the first committee was appointed on the 3d of February 1817, and although from that time to the present, (April 1825,) the committees have been constantly employed in repealing, revising, and correcting the old laws, and forming new ones, the principal's assent has never, in a single instance, been withheld, or even delayed": so accordant are the enactments of these juvenile legislators with the dictates of the most mature judgment,

fluence of any motives of self-interest: for, in the first place, the absence of it from the boy will not prevent its operation on the man ; and secondly, it is of importance to teach early the habit of restraining it, by a sense of justice, and the internal satisfaction experienced in sacrificing self-gratification for the common weal. This is the true foundation of civil society as now constituted; and as such motives must, when the pupil takes his station in it, ultimately come into play, it is necessary they should be trained by education. In a preparatory school, for such communities as Mr. Owen's, they might, probably, be advantageously excluded.

The motives of action employed in this microcosm are, therefore, wisely analogous to those found operating in the great world:3 on the one hand, rewards, conferring honour, pleasure, or pecuniary advantage, (in school currency ;) on the other, punishments, consisting of a deprivation of the former in a greater or less degree,-in rare cases, short confinement and extra labour: but should all other means fail to reclaim a refractory member, as a last resource, absolute expulsion. To this last remedy, it has very rarely, if ever, been found necessary to resort; and it is exceedingly gratifying to know that the infliction of corporal pain, or even long or harsh confinement, or public disgrace, are completely banished from this system. The art of governing mankind (as well as boys) consists in the invention and due application of a scale of motives, varying in degree, and in each case, just adequate to produce their effect: for if they be too weak, the object is not accomplished; if more powerful than enough, there is a superfluous infliction of evil. Here a finely graduated measure of reward and punishment is provided for: first, by the creation of a schoolcurrency, called marks, of two kinds; the first, personal, which can only be available to the individual on whom they are conferred, on account of exercises performed by him of very superior merit; the second kind, of marks transferable from hand to hand, and given as the reward of industry and good conduct. The power of earning these marks, by which they may secure a purchase of certain privileges or indulgences, (as, for instance, an occasional holiday,) supplies a constant stimulus to close study and attention to duty; while the apprehension of losing them, continually operates as an efficient, yet not too severe restraint, on any deviation propriety. In this manner is admirably observed a principle which should never have been lost sight of by teachers, that punishment ought never to be employed to stimulate to good actions, but only to repress bad ones; otherwise the task becomes associated in the mind with the penalty of nonperformance; and thus learning has been too often rendered as disgusting to the flogged school-boy, as his forced labour is to the negro. Such a mode of tuition is entirely unworthy of a free, not to say an enlightened, country, and fitter for "rearing" a population of slaves.

8 The motives are divided by the authors into the following, arranged in the order of their supposed comparative excellence: love of knowledge, love of employment, emulation, hope of reward, and fear of punishment.

Admitting, however, that artificial or factitious motives are necessary to inspire children with the love of learning before their minds are sufficiently expanded to comprehend and appreciate its consequences on their future life, and that corporal punishment is inadmissible, there are some who suppose that the cheering applause of the teacher may be sufficient stimulus to the juvenile student. We have no faith in this universal specific, as applicable to the infinite variety of tempers and talents in a public school; and, in principle, we think it more fitted for training up the subjects of an absolute monarchy, so that from the cradle to the grave the supreme motive of action might be the pleasure and approbation of one man-the parent, the preceptor, or the prince.


On this subject, a valuable principle is laid down in this work, (p. 358,) that the scale of reward ought to resemble " an inclined plane," so that the pupil may be tempted, by the facility of each step, to persevere in a gradual ascent towards higher excellence; but the scale of punishments should be like "precipices," that the pupil may always dread a retrogade. Of this nature are the distinctions of rank, which also form part of the system. A boy at entering takes the denomination of ward, and stands at the zero point in the scale of rauk. After a certain period of freedom from tasks and fines, two hundred "marks are placed at his disposal, and if he continue for three months able to discharge all penalties he may incur, he then becomes a frank. This rank entitles him to a certain short credit for fines, admission to superior play-ground, and four holidays in the year for excursions of pleasure. But a frank may lose his title by insolvency, and then he has to work himself up again through the grade of ward, to do which requires at least three months. Frankship, continued unbroken for the space of a whole year, makes the boy a veteran frank, who enjoys still superior privileges; and a frank, having made certain acquisitions, may be raised to the rank of autarch. The upward progress on this ladder of ambition is gradual and slow, being the result of continued good conduct; but the descent is fearfully precipitous; for whoever is convicted of any offence before the court of justice, whatever be his rank, becomes instantly a ward, and must work his way up to these honours in the same manner as before.

Having given this brief outline of the machinery of the system, we proceed to consider its operation and results. Marks, or school currency, are, in fact, the measures and representatives of merit; the possession of them is consequently an object of ambition, as well as a necessary passport to scholastic dignity; the loss of them a matter of serious concern to the ingenuous youth who is panting for fame and distinction among his compeers. By these gentle means, as by innumerable silken cords, the pupils are most effectually led along in the path of duty; the most torpid are soon stimulated into emulation; the most refractory insensibly subdued into obedience to the everacting laws of the system. The participation of all the pupils in the

enactment of these laws, and also by jury trial in their application, gives them an all-pervading influence. Since instead of the "standing conspiracy," as well observed, which under other systems exists always by a sort of tacit consent of all to defeat the orders and elude the vigilance of the autocrat teacher, here a breach of the regulations is felt to be an offence against the community, or a contempt of its decrees, which all have a common pride and satisfaction in seeing enforced. This creates a public spirit of disinterestedness and rectitude, of which the excellent moral tendency is not the least important quality. The authors remark, p. 51

Justice to our pupils requires that we should express our admiration of the high tone of moral feeling which pervades the great body-daily, almost hourly, instances occur, which clearly indicate so desirable a state. We could mention instances where boys who had fraudulently obtained property, have been forced to restore it to the owner by the mere expression of public opinion, before there had been time for the intervention of the school authorities; but we forbear entering into the particulars, from the fear of hurting the feelings of boys who have shown, by their subsequent conduct, a sense of the impropriety of their former behaviour. It is by no means uncommon for boys to report, that fines, which they have incurred and might have escaped, have been omitted in the public accounts. Public inquiries for the owners of money or marks which have been found, are made almost every day; sometimes the amount is considerable. In August last, two little boys, (one nine and the other ten,) found 2400 marks in the Gymnasium. As no one was present at the time, the boys might easily have appropriated them to their own use; and when we consider, that to have earned such a stock of marks, would have required the labour of sixty hours from the younger boy, or eighty from the elder, it will be seen that the temptation was by no means trifling. Immediately upon finding the marks, the little fellows, proud of their integrity, ran and deposited them in the hands of the magistrate.

This is the feature of the system which above all others ought to recommend its adoption in India. For the radical defect of an education received in that country is universally considered to consist in its not communicating to the pupils a right tone of moral feeling, from their being exposed to the corrupting influence of Native servants, and, in many cases, of Native mothers; or associating with those within the reach of such moral contagion.

Hence it is but too notorious that, taking Calcutta as an example, in the large seminaries there, whether from the effects of climate or evil communication, the most pernicious habits, the most odious and destructive vices grow up in spite of every precaution and severity of punishment. But the perfect discipline and never-sleeping vigilance of this system, watching over the pupils from morning to night in their hours of study and of leisure, of exercise and of rest, in their playgrounds and in their dormitories, must check in the bud every vicious propensity, and speedily extirpate even bad habits that may have already been acquired out of doors. In the school, we think we may savely aver, that their time is so judiciously filled up that there is no

« PrécédentContinuer »