Imatges de pÓgina
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been paid in the Christian scheme-in the subject of which i treats, its relation to the state of man, and the mode of its propagation in the world.

Unhappily, however, inen have no sooner agreed as to the expediency of a benevolent project, than they fall out about the means of carrying it into effect; and waste, about indifferent points, those efforts, which, if properly directed, would have crowned the main object with success. A new mode of education has been invented, and successfully practised in many districts of the kingdom, by means of which education has been rendered so cheap and easy, and so much time and labour abridged in teaching, that, with a little assistance from the rich, the benefits of instruction may be iinparted to the most indigent clasșes of the community. This happy improvement bas met with universal applause. But while all good men should have combined together to give it efficacy, an unfortunate division, fomented, no doubt, by the artifices of the mean and interested, has taken place among them; and a violent debate has arisen as to the mode in which this improvement should be adopted. The importance of the subject and the attention it has excited, will justify us in entering at some length into the merits of the controversy. But as in some measure a necessary preliminary, we shall, preFiously to examining the question respecting the application of the pew mode of tuition, give a short account of its origin, its successive improvements, and its adoption in different parts of the united kingdom. It is grateful to contemplate evep the partial diffusion of good.

Like many of the most useful human inventions, the new system of education arose from necessity. In the year 1789, a school, called the Male Asylum, was established at Egmore, near Madras, for the education of the destitute male children of the European soldiery. Dr. Bell, being chaplain of that establishinent, was requested to undertake the management of the charity. To this request, from the hope of being more useful in his station, he readily acceded; but in his first attempt to discharge the duties committed to bim, he met with great obstructions. The practice of teaching the letters by making the scholars trace them in sand, had been in use, time out of mind, in the native schools. This pracrice, a material part of the new system, which imparts the knowledge of the letters with greater facility than the old method,

while it likewise communicates the power of making them, and amuses the children, Dr. Bell resolved to introduce into the Male Asylum. But to effect this improvement, and

, reduce the school to some order, be found he must begin by training some of the pupils to habits of strict discipline and prompt obedience. For, besides that it was extremely difi. cult to re-mould the minds of his assistants, grown old in prejudices, they were no sooner trained, than they could earn a better salary on easier terms. Thus another, and indeed the most important step was taken ; for the plan of tuition, by the agency of the boys themselves, is the foundation of the new system. The school was divided into classes, each furnishing its teacher, assistant, usher, and sub-usher: a register was kept of the daily tasks, and another of daily offences : the scholars were made to do every thing for themselves : the bad boys were entrusted to the care of the good : in cases of delinquency, the boys were themselves the judges. By these arrangements, order, attention, industry, and good behaviour were promoted in the school. The boys, after learning the letters, were taught in the usual way; and made great progress in reading, writing, arithmetic, geometry, and various other branches of knowledge, generally taught in good English seminaries. There was an annual saving of nearly 1000l. in the education of two hundred boys. On his arrival in England, in 1797, Dr. Bell published a small pamphlet, entitled “ An Experiment in Education, &c." in which he detailed, at some length, the foregoing particulars; and inserted also a letter of thanks from the four masters, his assistants, and a recommendation of the plan, by the members of the Madras government, to the other British dependancies in India. The pamphlet at this time excited little attention, and Dr. Bell retired into Dorsetshire.

In the following year, Mr. Lancaster opened a school in the Borough-road, for the purpose of teaching, at half the usual price, the elements of literature, to the children of mechanics ; those whose parents could not afford to pay for their instruction, being admitted gratis. His great object

to render education as cheap as possible, and he was continually engaged in making experiments, with a view to save time and labour. Having been himself educated in a school divided into classes, each conducted by a monitor, he from the first adopted this plan ; thus saving entirely the expence of assistants' salaries. When Dr. Bell's pamphlet fell into his hands, (in the year 1800) he derived from it the prac. tice of sand-writing. To reduce the expence of books and materials for writing, he made one book serve for a class, and substituted slates and pencils for pens, ink, and paper, The lessons he intended the children should read, were printed in a large type on one side of the paper, pasted on a board, and suspended on the wall; classes of twenty or thirty boys, successively assembling, to spell or read from them ; so that one book supplied the place of two hundred, or even a much greater


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number. The substitution of slates and pencils for the common materials of writing, combined as it is with writing and spelling, is a still more valuable improvement. The boys being provided with slates and pencils, a word is given out distinctly. by the monitor, which the other boys put down on their slates, and of course spell it at the same time. When this word has been inspected by the monitors of the respective classes, they proceed to another, and in this way five hundred boys may be kept at work for hours, each of them being more attentive, more alert, and more diligent, than if he had himself had a teacher. The time that is hereby gained and the progress that is made, are incalculable.

To these improvements, Mr. Lancaster bas added a new method of teaching arithmetic, in which the only qualification required in the instructor, is that of being able to read. He is furnished with a printed book of the sun, and of the manner in which the operation is to be performed, which he reads, while ihe other boys write it down upon their slates. For example, if the sum is in addition, 893 +385 = 1278, he repeats the cyphers; and then, it being seen by an inspection of his slate, that every boy has written them correctly, he reads from the key as follows. First column, 5 and 3 are 8 ; set down 8 under the 5 : second column, 8 and 9 are 17 ; set down 7 under the 8, and carry I to the next : third column, 3 and 8 are 11, and i I carried, are 12: total in cyphers, 1278 ; total in words, one thousand two hundred and seventyeight.' After every boy has read what he has written, it is exainined by the monitor. This method is efficacious: it does not require the monitor to be previously instructed in arithmetic, and it keeps the whole class attentive and awake.

These improvements are carried into effect by a wise and operative system of order and discipline, of rewards and punishments. One person, it is evident, could never instruct a hundred, much less a thousand boys, except by the closest attention to inethod and regularity. In this department, Mr. Lancaster has successfully combined the prosperity of his institution with the amusement of his scholars, Every child has his own place, both in the school and in his class, according to his progress in learning, wearing a number attached to it, both which he forfeits to the boy who corrects him in his lesson, In going out of school, in coming into it, and in moving from different places of it, the scholars proceed with the utmost order, at the word of command. It is curious to observe with what quickness and docility even the least of the children, who are learning their letters in the sand, obey, without noise, the signals of their monitor. While the boys, by such regularity and constant employ, are secured from

yawning and listlessness, the hope of praise and emolument stimulates them to diligence and exertion. Besides the tickets which are indications of merit, and which can be exchanged, one for a paper kite, two for a ball, &c. there are pictures, given as prizes, and an order of merit, the highest honour in the school, whose members wear a silver medai, suspended from their neck by a plated chain. There are likewise writing matches, which provoke emulation between the classes. Mr. Lancaster has invented punishments, also, of various kinds, such as putting a wooden log round the neck, shackling the feet or the hands, or suspending the boys in a basket, to correct and prevent negligence, vice, and indulence. These punishments are contrived to operate on the mind, rather ihan the body, and are varied according to the degrees of delinquency.

In consequence of these inventions, the knowledge of read. ing, writing, and arithmetic, may be imparted to the children of the poor, before they are able to work, at an expence of little more than 5s. per annum.*

From the foregoing statement, it will be easy to adjust the claims of the meritorious persons, to whom we are indebted for these bappy and beneficial improvements in cducation. Dr. Bell and Mr. Lancaster, both from different causes, had recourse to inonitors; Dr. Bell to bring his scliool into order and obedience, Mr. Lancaster to save expence. Dr. Bell has introduced the practice of sand-writing into this country, while Mr. Lancaster has invented a new mode of teaching arithmetic, substituted slates and pencils for the ordinary materials of writing, and combined, with these improvements, an efficacious system of scholastic government.

This, we believe, is an equitable adjnstment of the claims of those gentlemen. But if it should be maintained, that Mr. Lancaster is not the author of any of the useful innovations in the new mode of tuition, and that all the inventions, of which he is unquestionably the author, have more of mummery than utility in them, (which, however, in our opinion, remains to be proved,) he yet has sufficient merit of another kind, to intitle him to the admiration of his contemporaries, and secure bin the gratitude of posterity. Even his enemies cannot but acknowledge, that he is the most zealous, the most active, and the most successful promoter of the new system of education. He first awakened the nation to a sense of its importance and utility. He has gained patrons in every part of the empire, to his own mode. His enemies, from his success, have been stimulated to lend their support to his rival.

Report, p. iv.

The history of the diffusion of the new doctrines respecting education, is the detail of his labours, privations, and benevolence. Generations unborn, while reading his life, will bless him, whose exertions of body and of mind, have made the light of science as accessible as the light of the sun.

The school which Mr. Lancaster had opened in the Boroughroad, continued for some years a private concern. Numbers were educated freely. Two benevolent persons, Mr. Thomas Sturge and Mr. Anthony Sterry paid for five or six children. But all this was of a private nature; and Mr. Lancaster gave the whole of the money to defray the expence of the first building, which the increasing number of the cbildren made it expedient to erect. A second building was added, by the liberality of the Duke of Bedford and Lord Somerville; and about 1804 the institution was converted into a free school, for all wlio chose to attend. In order to extend the plan to a thousand children, a mortgage for 4001. was passed upon the premises.

It was Mr. Lancaster's earnest wish, to extend the benefits of bis plan to every corner of the land. In the following year, accordingly, 4001., were raised, to train young men who might propagate the system. The King, who had inquired into its merits, gave it his liberal support, and other branches of the royal family followed his majesty's example.

While Mr. Lancaster was engaged in these benevolent projects, notwithstanding his frugality, economy, and self-denial, notwithstanding the profits of his printin; press, and the gifts of individuals, the expence required to carry them into effect was so great, as to reduce him to extreme embarrassment. The sums expended in erecting buildings for training

. young men, the charge incurred in boarding them, the fruitless attempt to form village schoolmasters at Maiden Bradley, the impositions of some tradesmen, and the failure of a person who had undertaken to defray the expence of a school erected at Camberwell, involved Mr. Lancaster in a debt exceeding by 29491. the whole of his property. That he was brought thus to the verge of ruin, the ruin both of himself and bis schemes, was not owing to his carelessness or extravagance. For the trustces, who examined into the state of his concerns, report, that when in 1808, they first examined into his affairs, and the nature of his embarrassments,

they were exceedingly gratified to find that his debts originated from engagements entered into with different tradesmen, for accomplishing the various objects of rendering his system for the education of the poor, an institution for national benefit. The principal of these were for bricklayer, timber.merchant, carpenter, type-founder, stationer, furniture, and other necessaries for such an establishment. They found, that although

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