Page images
[ocr errors]

Propagation de cette Methode, par les Soins du Dr Bell de J. Lancaster, et d'autres, 8c. Traduit de l'Allemand de Jo

SEPH HAMEL. Paris, 1818. 3. Nouveau Système d'Education et d'Enseignement ; ou l'Enseignement Mutuel, appliqué aux Langues, aur Sciences, et aux Arts.

Par M. le COMTE DE LASTEYRIE. Paris, 1819. 4. Progrès des Ecoles d'Enseignement Mutuel en France et dans

l'Etranger. Par Mr JOMARD, l'un des Secrétaires de la So

cieté pour l'Enseignement Elémentaire. Paris, 1819. 5. Compte rendu des Travaux de la Societé pour l’Instruction

Elémentaire. Par M. le BARON DE GERANDO, SecrétaireGénéral. Paris, 1819.

IN n the midst of great national sufferings, and of still greater

apprehensions, it is some satisfaction to find, that we have been the means of diffusing, all over the world, the elements of instruction and improvement. In less than three years, the British System of Education has been spread over every part of Europe; and the first effect which followed the downfal of what Bonaparte called his Continental System, was the diffusion of light from that country which he had devoted to destruction. The methods of Bell and Lancaster have been carried from England into France, Spain, Italy, Piedmont, Greece, Switzerland, the States of Germany, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and even into the provinces of Turkey; in all of which, after various degrees and modes of opposition, they are at this hour established beyond the reach of further hostility. The works before us relate however only to France; and we shall confine ourselves, for the present, to the progress of the Lancasterian methods in that kingdom.

The Frenchman who appears. first to have become sensible of the superiority of this system, and of the advantage which France might derive from adopting it, was Monsieur de la Borde. A casual visit to some country schools upon the new principle, gave him a wish to become acquainted with those of the capital ; and his presence at a meeting of the British and Foreign School Society, where His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent was in the chair, and Mr Fox reported the progress of the preceding year, confirmed his desire of seeing them established in France. He informs us, that upon a motion of his, a sum of money was instantly voted to open a communication with other countries. The epithet of Foreign, however, which the Society had adopted, we do not conceive was intended to remain an empty title; neither had it waited for the motion of this gentleman, to fulfil the duty which such a denomination implied.—About the same time, Monsieur Jomard, so well known as principal conductor of the great work upon the Monuments of Egypt, came to England, and collected much information relating to the new schools. If we mistake not, he was in some measure commissioned so to do by the Abbé de Montesquiou, then Minister of the Interior. To these names may be added those of the Duc de la Rochefoucault, the Abbé Gaultier, Messrs Say, Lasteyrie, de Gerando, &c. At the desire of Mr Fox, the Protestants of Montauban sent M. Martin to London to study the method; and he was soon followed by others. The wellwishers to the system formed themselves into a Society, of which Monsieur de Gerando was named President, Monsieur de Lasteyrie Vice-President, and Messrs de la Borde and Jomard Secretaries. The Society opened a subscription, the first produce of which was-20 guineas !

When Bonaparte returned from Elba, he ordered a school to be founded on the plan of Lancaster; and Monsieur Martin, the Montauban deputy, was called to Paris to superintend it. It began with eight children only; but, in three months, the number increased to forty-one; and the Society for the Amelioration of Elementary Instruction,' now composed of 800 members, 'agreed that each of its members should subscribe 20 francs (about 16 shillings) yearly. On the second return of Louis XVIII., the number of schools and of pupils continued to augment; and, at the end of the year 1815, 28 were established in Paris alone. The Grand Aumônier, however, thought it necessary to express the wish of his Majesty, and of all good Catholics, that their religion should be the basis of public instruction ; in consequence of which remonstrance, Mr Martin, and other Protestants, were dismissed, and their places supplied by Catholics. From that time, the crucifix, and the bust of his Majesty, became indispensable pieces of furniture in every national school-room. Those who dissent from this creed; however, are (with some exceptions) not compelled to the former; and are permitted to be taught by masters of their own persuasion. Under these conditions, the King has liberally supported the progress of the new methods; and, in February 1816, a Royal mandate appeared, ordering that Committees should be formed in every Canton, to superintend elementary instruction throughout France. It is to an Englishman, Mr William Allen, a name equally known in the annals of science as of benevolence, that the Protestants of France owe much of the countenance which has helped them to surmount their first discouragement.

According to an official Report, made Nov. 1st, 1818, there existed at that time in the department of the Seine, including Paris, 67 schools, on the principle of Lancaster.

Of these, 51 were in Paris, and 16 in the department; 18 of those in Paris were gratuitous, two of which were founded for Calvinists by Monsieur Delesseert, a Swiss gentleman, whose name is ever foremost among the contributors to public good in France. The number of children that can be admitted, in all these schools, is as follows.- In the gratuitous schools in Paris, 3128; in the schools where they pay, 2364 ; in the schools out of Paris, 1087: total, 6579 male and female pupils. Of this number, Paris contains , and the department 1. As to the rest of France, the returns of only } of the kingdom for 1818, had reached the Society when Monsieur Jomard wrote; and they are as follows 360 schools, capable of receiving 40,674 children, male and female. In July 1818, however, but 19,175 attended; in August, 18,777; in September, 20,665, or about half as many as there was room for. According to a further report, however, for the first three months of 1819, it appears that, in the whole territory of France, there might be at that time something more than 1000 schools, capable of teaching 123,000 pupils, of both sexes; two thirds of which, or about 80,000, were actually filled. The expense of educating each pupil in Paris, was estimated at 12 francs per annum; but in the departments it was only 9.

In the denomination which the French have adopted for this method of teaching, they have carefully avoided all mention of the names of Bell and Lancaster, and every sound which could call to mind that it is of English origin. Their plea for so doing has the merit of nationality, if not of justice; and we shall endeavour to make it known, in the following statement of their claim to a participation in the merit of the invention, what they have denominated ' Enseignement Mutuel.'

Among the wonders of the age of Louis 14th, was an institution for public education, founded by a religious fraternity, called les. Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes, or, Frères Ignorantins, or, Frères de St Yon, at the head of whom was the Abbé de la Salle. Some of the peculiarities of their mode of instruction are thus described by Rollin. • The school is divided into several

classes. Let the subject of the lesson, for instance, be “dixit “ dominus domino deo,” &c. One child pronounces the syllable

di; another says xit; (by the by is this syllabification of the ve• perable Latinist quite correct?), and so on. The entire class must

be attentive; for the master does not follow any regular order among his scholars, in his instruction or examination of them;


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

but passes, ad libitum, from the one to the other. When one • of them makes a mistake, the master strikes the table with • his ferula ; and the boy is obliged to pronounce the syllable • over again, until he is perfect. It is now thirty years since I

saw, with great pleasure, this method put in practice at Or

léans; where it was introduced by the care and attention of • Mr Garot. The school which I visited contained 100 pupils; • and the business was conducted with the greatest order and • silence.' The Chanoine Cherrier, in a book published in 1755, describes a similar method; and such was that practised by the frères des écoles Chrétiennes. Very large tablets, on which were traced letters of such dimensions as to be visible to the whole school, were suspended at the extremity of the room, as the common book from which every scholar studied, and repeated the lesson to be learned. In the year 1747, Mons. Herbault, director of a school in the Hospice de la Pitié, in Paris, and which contained 300 poor children, having but one assistant, employed the best informed of the elder boys, to instruct the inferior classes. But Mr Herbault died; and with him fell this useful method of tuition.

About the year 1780, the Chevalier Pawlet, an officer once in the French service, but descended from a British family, if not himself a Briton, in going through the wood of Vincennes, was attracted by the screams of a child, toward a hole where it lay in the most miserable condition. Mons. Pawlet took it home with him, and resolved to take care of it. In a few weeks, the child informed his benefactor that he had three little friends, almost as wretched as himself; and requested that they might be permitted to partake of his good fortune. The Chevalier consented; and the noise of his generosity having spread abroad among the children of the neighbourhood, he soon found himself surrounded by 200, whom he formed the project of educating. To this end, he divided them into classes, with each a captain at its head, and a general staff to superintend the whole. He excluded all corporal punishments. The principal correction he inflicted was condemning them to remain idle; and this awful sentence was graduated into what he termed petite oisiveté, and grande oisiveté. The children taught each other. All the domestic concerns of his large family were attended to by each, in rotation. Rewards and punishments were distributed, upon mature investigation and deliberation, by a jury of schoolfellows. Regular records were kept of every occurrence, by the Chevalier himself; and the noble adage of his heart was, · If they cannot all be great men, they may all be good men.' It does not, however, appear that this method of instruction became known far beyond the limits of the little circle in which it was practised. Mons. Pawlet lived in retirement; and his institution was not of a nature to force itself into public notice in France. It did not, however, remain altogether unknown. It did find one supporter-one. benefactor; and the situation in which this benefactor stood in the world, sufficiently proves that he could not be the only one acquainted with it. The only person from whom he received assistance the only man who valued the undertaking, and supported it, was he of whom the French have often said, that he was the most virtuous man in his kingdom-Louis XVI. May not this trait entitle us to add, that he was the most enlightened and the most benevolent? His annual contribution amounted to no less than 32,000 francs, or 1,333l. Sterling.

Every one of these methods, the best of which is the last, contains something of the modes applied by Bell and Lancaster; and it is certain, that whoever had studied the whole, might easily have combined a system more perfect than any of them separately. We are confident, however, that neither of our countrymen knew any thing about them. The merit, indeed, of any discovery or invention in all, or any of the modes, is very trifling. The praise which is due to them is of a higher order. It belongs to the heart, rather than the hand; and the heart which has earned it, cannot prevaricate. Messrs Bell and Lancaster never could urge a claim to the invention of a method whose merit lies all in charity, if it was not theirs.

A proverb of which no nation makes such frequent application as the French, and which, as history relates, was the favourite maxim of the most inventive and academic of dress, makers, Mademoiselle Bertin, is, . Il n'y a de nouveau que ce • qui est oublié;' and we think the history of these didactic inventions affords a striking proof of its justice. Whether the great legislator of Sparta was the first discoverer of this method, it may not be easy to determine; but certain it is, if faith can be placed in his biographer Plutarch, that Lycurgus had prescribed some of the principles now in use, to the children of Sparta. He ordered that all those of the age of seven years, should be collected in one place, and subjected to the same discipline. He divided them into classes, at the head of which he placed the bravest and the most expert of their number; whose orders and example the least learned were bound to follow, and, by whose decree, rewards and punishments were distributed. In the Instit. Orat. lib. 1. cap. 2. of Quintilian, is

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »