Page images


The period of the Commonwealth was signalized by plans of institutions, and suggestions of new subjects and methods of instruction, which, if they had not been buried under the reactionary influences of the Restoration, would have gradually overcome, as on the Continent, tire unnatural supremacy of the dead languages, and have installed new courses into the schools of a commercial and manufacturing people. Drawing, mathematics, and the experimental and natural sciences, and modern languages, would long ere this have been recognized for their value in mental discipline, general knowledge, and special uses.

SAMUEL HARTLIB (1616–1665) was the son of a Polish merchant of Luthavia married to an English woman, whose connections brought him to London in 1636. His whole time and fortune, including a pension of £300 from the Council of State, were devoted to the advancement of agriculture and education, and the public service ger ally. He died poor, and the government of that trifling and dissolute ruler Charles II. withheld his pension, although Miltor speaks of him as “one sent hither by some good Providence from a far country, to be the occasion and incitement of great good to this island," and a paper in the Philosophical Transactions twenty years after his death, asserts that "his exposures of the defective husbandry of English farmers, and the expositions published by him of the better system of Flanders, had euriched England to the amount of untold millions." His “ Academy,” in wliich (among other things] exercises of industry not usual then in common schools, and the methods of Comenius and Ratich (whose “Didactics,” “ Janua,” and “Orbis Pictus," he had caused to be translated and printed), were introduced, and his “ Propositions for the erecting of a College of Husbandry," if properly sustained, would have opened up another well-spring of national wealth.

CHARLES HOOLE (1610–1666), a graduate of Oxford, an eminent schoolmaster, and the author of twenty-four pedagogical works, translated the “ Orbis Sensuolium Pictus" and the Janua Reserata Linguarum” of Comenius, and practiced Object Teaching (the new method of our day) two hundred years ago in his school iu Louthbury, London, from a text-book “adorned with pictures to make children understand it better," and from “ things kept ready in every great school." His Usher's Duty" and “ New Discovery of the Old Art of Te ching,is valuable now for its intrinsic and permanent interest.

Sir WILLIAM Perry (1623–1687), the founder of the House of Lansdowne, was not only a valuable contributor to the science of political economy, but by his Plan of a Trade School," published in 1647, is justly entitled to the credit of being one of the earliest writers in the field of technical education.

ABRAHAM COWLEY (1618-1667), whose " Plan of a Philosophical College ' (first printed in 1662) was preferred by Dr. Johnson to that of Milton's Academy, anticipated by two hundred years the propositions now under consideration in England, as well as the schools and classes now in operation under the auspices of the Science Department, in which “ Art, Agriculture, Architecture, Navigation, the Mysteries of all Trades, and Natural Histories" were to be taught by Professors, " chosen for their solid and experimental knowledge of the things they teach," and assisted " by Laboratories for Chemical Operations and Gardens for all manner of experiments."

SIR NATHAN DECKER, in 1744, published an " Essay on the Causes of the Decline of the Foreign Trad," in which he urged the importance of English artizans learning to draw and design with taste. "A workman who is a good draughtsman will be more ingenious in a business that requires skill in drawing than one who is ignorant of it; so his work, being better designed, will improve the ingenuity of his apprentices who won't bear to see an ill-fancied piece of work."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


JOHN LOCKE, born in 1632, and educated at the Westminster School, and Christ College, Oxford, published in 1693 his " Thoughts upon the Education of Children," which soon passed through many editions and was translated into the French, Dutch, and German languages, and has had great influence on the views and practices of parents and teachers in different countries. The main end and aims of education are declared to be, a sound mind in a sound body, as the condition of a happy state in this world, the superiority of virtue to intellectual ability, and the value of good manners and practical common sense over great learning, especially in the languages and literature of the past. He enjoins the study of French before Latin, and in teaching language generally follows the methods of Ratich, Comenius, and Montaigne. He utterly eschews Latin versification, and would make the mastery of any language the occasion and medium for learning geography, chronology, and history. He urges strongly the acquisition of drawing, “as that which helps a man often to expregg in a few lines well put together, what a whole sheet of paper in writing would not be able to represent and make intelligible.” Arithmetic, "of which a man can not have too much"; geometry, and astronomy with the use of the globes; geography and history associated; ethics and the principles of jurisprudence; grammar, rhetoric, and logic; the early and frequent practice of English composition, and the critical study of the English language, beyond any other; natural philosophy, “ with such writings as treat of husbandry, planting, gardening, and the like," and the higher mathematics and physics as treated of by the incomparable Mr. Newton, constitute the subjects of the course of instruction which he recommends to the young gentlemen of England, under private tutors, in preference to the public and collegiate system, which Bacon, Milton and Cowley prefer.

Associated with these intellectual and moral studies, dancing, music, and fencing, and the acquisition of some art or mechanical trade (painting, gardening, joinery, working in iron, brass and silver, grinding and polishing optical glasses, are specified, and in one or more of these every child and youth should be exercised every day until dexterity and skill in a hundred ways are acquired), and especially a practical knowledge of book-keeping or merchants' accounts, are treated of with much detail.


ADAM SMITH, in his " Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," first published in 1776, devotes several chapters to Expenditures on Institutions for the Education of Youth, in which he criticises severely “the practice of the Schools and Universities, of giving exclusive attention to studies which concern only one profession and interest, and of omitting so many things which humanize the mind, soften the temper and dispose it for performing all the duties of public and private life." In place of the little Latin, so commonly and so imperfectly taught to the few, he advises "instruction to all in the elementary parts of geometry and mechanics. There is scarce a common trade which does not afford some opportunity of applying to it the principles of geometry and mechanics, and which would not therefore gradually exercise and improve the common people in these principles, the necessary introduction to the most sublime as well as the most useful sciences."




Master HARTLIB :- I am long since persuaded, that to say and do aught worth memory and imitation, no purpose or respect should sooner move us than simply the love of God and of mankind. Nevertheless, to write now the reforming of education, though it be one of the greatest and noblest designs that can be thought on, and for the want whereof this nation perishes, I had not yet at this time been induced but by your earnest entreaties and serious conjurements; as having my mind half diverted for the present in the pursuance of some other assertions, the knowledge and the use of which, can not but be a great furtherance both to the enlargement of truth and honest living with much more peace. Nor should the laws of any private friendship have prevailed with me to divide thus, or transpose my former thoughts; but that I see those aims, those actions which have won you with me the esteem of a person sent hither by some good providence from a far country to be the occasion and incitement of great good to this island. And as I hear you have obtained the same repute with men of most approved wisdom and some of the highest authority among us, not to mention the learned correspondence which you hold in foreign parts, and the extraordinary pains and diligence which


have used in this matter both here and beyond the seas, either by the definite will of God so ruling, or the peculiar sway of nature, which also is God's working. Neither can I think, that so reputed and so valued as you are, you would, to the forfeit of your own discerning ability, impose upon me an unfit and over-ponderous argument; but that the satisfaction which you profess to have received from those incidental discourses which we have wandered into, hath pressed and almost constrained you into a persuasion, that what you require from me in this point, I neither ought nor can in conscience defer beyond this time both of so much need at once, and so much opportunity to try what God hath determined. I will not resist, therefore, whatever it is, either of divine or human obligement, that you lay upon me; but will forth with set down in writing, as you request me, that voluntary idea, which hath long in silence presented itself to me, of a better education, in extent and comprehension far more large, and yet of time far shorter and of attainment far more certain, than hath been yet in practice. Brief? I shall endeavor to be; for that which I have to say, assuredly this pation hath extreme need should be done sooner than spoken. To tell you,

therefore, what I have benefited herein among old renowned authors I shall spare; and to search what many modern Januas: and Didactics, more than ever I shall read, have projected, my inclination leads me not. But if you can accept of these few observations which have flowered off, and are, as it were, the burnishing of many studious and contemplative years altogether spent in the search of religious and civil knowledge, and such as pleased you so well in the relating, I here give you them to dispose of.

The end then of learning is, to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the beavenly grace of faith, makes up the highest perfection.

But because our understanding cannot in this body found itself but on sensible things, nor arrive so clearly to the knowledge of God and things invisible, as by orderly coning over the visible and inferior creature, the same method is necessarily to be followed in all discreet teaching. And seeing every nation affords not experience and tradition enough for all kind of learning, therefore we are chiefly taught the languages of those people who have at any time been most industrious after wisdom; so that language is but the instrument conveying to us things useful to be known. And though a linguist should pride himself to have all the tongues that Babel cleft the world into, yet if he have not studied the solid things in them, as well as the words and lexicons, he were nothing so much to be esteemed a learned man, as any yeoman or tradesman competently wise in his mother-dialect only. Hence appear the many mistakes which have made learning generally so unpleasing and so unsuccessful. First, we do amiss to spend seven or eight years merely in scraping together so much miserable Latin and Greek as might be learned otherwise easily and delightfully in one year. And that which casts our proficiency therein so much bebind, is our time lost partly in too oft idle vacancies given both to schools and universities ; partly in a preposterous exaction, forcing the empty wits of children to compose themes, verses and orations, which are the acts of ripest judgment, and the final work of a head filled by long reading and observing with elegant maxims and copious invention. These are not matters to be wrung from poor striplings, like blood out of the nose, or the plucking of untimely fruit; besides all the ill habit which they get of wretched barbarizing against the Latin and Greek idiom, with their untutored Anglicisms, odious to be read, yet not to be avoided without a well-continued and judicious conversing among pure authors, digested, which they scarce taste. 8 Whereas, if after some preparatory grounds of speech by their certain forms got into memory, they were led to the praxis here.' of in some chosen short book lessoned thoroughly to them, they might then forth with proceed to learn the substance of good things and arts in due order, which would bring the whole language quickly into their power. This I take to be the most rational and most profitable way of learning languages, and whereby we may best hope to give account to God of our youth spent herein. And for the usual method of teaching arts, I deem it to be an old error of universities not yet well recovered from the scholastic grossness of barbarous ages, that instead of beginning with arts most easy, (and those be such as are most obvious to the sense,) they present their young, unmatriculated novices, at first coming with the most intellective abstractions of logic and metaphysics; so that they having but newly left those grammatic flats and shallows, where they stuck unreasonably to learn a few words with lamentable construction, and now on the sud. den transported under another climate, to be tossed and turmoiled with their unballasted wits in fathomless and unquiet deeps of controversy, do for the most part grow into batred and contempt of learning, mocked and deluded all this while with ragged notions and babblements, while they expected worthy and delightful knowledge ; till poverty or youthful years call them importunely their several ways, and hasten them,'' with the sway of friends, either to an ambitious and mercenary, or ignorantly zealous divinity: some allured to the trade of law," grounding their purposes not on the prudent and heavenly contemplation of justice and equity,'which was never taught them, but on the promising and pleasing thoughts of litigous terms, fat contentions, and flowing fees : others betake them to state affairs with souls so unprincipled in virtue and true generous breeding, that flattery, and court-shifts, and tyrannous aphorisms, appear to them the highest points of wisdom ;13 instilling their barren hearts with a conscientious slavery, if, as I rather think, it be not feigned: others, lastly, of a more delicious and airy spirit, retire themselves, knowing no better, to the enjoyments of ease and luxury," living out their days in feast and jollity, which indeed is the wisest and safest course of all these, unless they were with more integrity undertaken. And these are the errors, and these are the fruits of mis-spending our prime youth at the schools and universities, as we do, either in learning mere words, or such things chiefly as were better unlearnt.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »