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POSITIONS FOR THE TRAINING UP OF CHILDREN.
BY RICHARD MULCASTER. LONDON, 1581.
RICHARD MULCASTER was born in the city of Carlisle, or its neighborhood, educated at Eton, and elected scholar of King's College, in Cambridge, in 1548, and studied in Christ Church College, in Oxford, in 1555. Such was his reputation for scholarship, he was chosen the first master of Merchant Tailor's school, in London, in 1561, which position he held for twenty-five years, with the reputation of a strict but impartial disciplinarian, and of a learned and skillful teacher. His Catechism in Latin hexameter verse was a textbook in his own school, and his two treatises— Elementaire, which advocates the teaching of the English language, and “Position for the Truining up of Children, either for skill in their hooke, and health in their bodie," had a marked influence on the theory and practice of school-keeping in his day, and would have had much more, if the principal schools of the country had been responsible to public or professional opinion, and had not been each iron-bound in the practice of its own master, who was secure of his salary in endowments and the good will of the governors. Mulcaster resigned his mastership in 1608, and retired to the rectory of Sanford Rivers in Essex, given him by Queen Elizabeth, to whom he dedicated his Positions, in an Epistle, in which the author bespeaks “ber encouragement of his toilsome and troublesome labor for the great good the following its precepts would do the common weal.” He died in 1611, and was buried in the chancel of his church at Sanford Rivers.
The “Positions" is one of the earliest, and still one of the best treatises in the English language, on the conditions necessary to a uniform and efficient system of public schools, and the objects to be aimed at in the proper training of the individual for the then recognized professions and occupations of society. This will be best seen by a careful study of the Contents of the several chapters.
POSITIONS WHEREIN THOSE PRIMITIVE CIRCUMSTANCES BE EXAMINED, WHICH ARE NECESSARIE FOR THE TRAINING UP OF CHILDREN, EITHER FOR SKILL IN THEIR BOOKE, OR HEALTH IN THEIR BODIE.
WRITTEN by RICHARD MOLCASTER, master of the schoole erected in London, anno 1561, in the parish of St. Luwrence, Powtneie, by the worshipfull company of the merchant tuilers of the said citie.
The above is the title page in full of one of the earliest Treatises in the English language on the general principles of Education, in which nearly all the conditions of a good school, and of an education at once liberal and practical, as held by the best teachers of the present day, are set forth in a masterly manner. We give the Contents, in which the spelling is conformed to present usage.
The arguments handled in every particular tille. Cap. 1. The entry to the Positions, containing the occasion of this present discourse, and the caus3g why it was penned in English.
2. Wherefora these Positions serve, what they be, and how necessary it was to begin at them.
3. Of what force circumstance is in matters of action, and how warily au. thorities be to be used, where the contemplative reason receives the check of the active circumstance, if they be not well applied. Of the alleging of authors.
4. What time were best for the child to begin to learn. What matters some of the best writers handle ere they determine this question. Of lets and lib. erty, wliereunto the parents are subject in setting their children to school. Of the difference of wits and bodies in children. That exercise must be joined with the book, as the schooling of the body.
5. What things they be wherein children are to be trained, ere they pass to the Grammar. That parents and masters ought to examine the natural abili. ties in children, whereby they become either fit, or untit, to this, or that kind of life. The three natural powers in children, Wit to conceive by, Memory to retain by, Discretion to discern by. That the training up to good inanners, and nurture, doth not belong to the teacher alone, though most to him, next after the parent, whose charge that is most, because his commandment is greatest, over his own child, and beyond appeal. Of Reading, Writing, Drawing, Music by voice, and instrument: and that they be the principal principles, to train up the mind iu. A general answer to all objections, which arise agaiust any, or all of these.
6. Of exercises and training the body. How necessary a thing exercise is. What health is, and how it is maintained; what sickuess is, how it cometh, and how it is prevented. What a part exercise playeth in the maintenance of health. Of tie student and his health. That all exercises, though they stir some one part most, yet help the whole body.
7. The branching, order, and method, kept in this discourse of exercises.
8. Of exercize in general, and what it is, and that it is Athletical for games, Martial for the fields, Physical for health, preparative before, postparative after the standing exercise: some within doors for foul weather, some without for fair.
9. Of the particular exercises. Why I do appoint so many, and how to judge of them, or devise the like.
10 of loud speaking. How necessary, and how proper an exercise it is for a scholar.
11. Of loud singing, and in what degree it cometh to be one of the exercises. 12. Of loud and soft reading. 13. Of much talking, and silence.
14. Of laughing, and weeping. And whether children be to be forced toward virtue atid learning.
15. Of holding the breath.
19. Of the top, and scourge.
35. An advertisement to the training master. Why both the teaching of the mind and the training of the body be assigned to the same master. The inconveniences which ensue, where the body and the soul be made particular subjects to several professions. That who so will execute any thing well, must of force be fully resolved, in the excellency of his own subject. Out of what kind of writers the exercising master may store himself with cunning. That the first grounds would be laid by the cunningest workman. That private discretion in any executor is of more efficacy than his skill.
36. That both young boys and young maidens are to be put to learn. Whether all boys be to be set to school. That too many learned be burdenous: too few to bear: wits well sorted civil: missorted seditious. That all may learn to write and read without danger. The good of choice, the ill of confuzsion. The children which are set to learn having either rich or poor friends, what order and choice is to be used in admitting either of them to learn. Of the time to choose.
37. The means to restrain the overflowing multitude of scholars. The cause why every one desireth to have his child learned, and yet must yield over his own desire to the disposition of his country. That necessity and choice be the best restrainers. That necessity restraineth by lack arid law. Why it may be admitted that all may learn to write and read that can, but no further. What is to be thought of the speaking and understaņding of Latin, and in what degree of learning that is. That considering our time, and the state of religion in our time, law must needs help this restraint, with the answer to such objections as are made to the contrary. That in choice of wits, which must deal with learning, that wit is fittest for our state which answereth best the monarchy, and how such a wit is to be known. That choice is to help in schooling, in admission into colleges, in proceeding to degrees, in preferring to livings, where the right and wrong of all the four points be handled at full.
38. That young maidens are to be set to learning, which is proved by the custom of our country, by our duty towards them, by their natural ability, and by the worthy effects of such, as have been well trained. The end whereunto their education serveth, which is the cause why and how much they learn. Which of them are to learn. When they are to begin to learn. What and how much they may learn. Of whom and where they onght to be taught.
30. Of the training of young gentlemen. Of private and public education, with their general goods and ills. That there is no better way for gentlemen to be trained by in any respect, then the common is, being well appointed. Of rich men's children, which be no gentlemen. Of nobility in general. Of gentlemanly exercises. What it is to be a nobleman or a gentleman. That in. firmities in noble houses be not to be triumphed over. The causes and grounds of nobility: Why so many desire to be gentlemen. That gentlemen ought to profess learning, and liberal sciences for many good and honorable effects. of traveling into foreign countries, with all the branches, allowance, and disallowance thereof: and that it were to be wished, that gentlemen would profess to make sciences liberal in use, which are liberal in name. of the training up of a young priuco.
40. Of the general place and time of education. Public places, elementary, grammatical, collegiate. Of boarding of children abroad from their parents' houses, and whether that be the best. The use and commodities of a large and well situated training place. Observations to be kept in the general time.
41. Of teachers and trainers in general; and that they be either Elementary, Grammatical, or Academical. Of the elementary teacher's ability and entertainment: of the grammar master's ability and his entertainment. A means to have both excellent teachers and cunning professors in all kinds of learning: by the division of colleges according to profession: by sorting like years into the same rooms: by bettering the students' allowance and living: by provid. ing and maintaining notably well learned readers. That for bringing learning forward in her right and best course, there would be seven ordinary ascending colleges for tongues, for mathematics, for philosophy, for teachers, for physicians, for la yers, for divines. And that the general study of law would Le but one study. Every of these points with his particular proofs sufficient for a position. or the admission of teachers.
42. How long the child is to continue in the elementary, ere he pass to the tongues and graminar. The incurable infirmities which posting haste maketh in the whole course of study. How necessary a thing sufficient time is for a scholar.
43. How to cut off most inconveniences wherewith schools and scholars, masters and parents be in our schooling now most troubled, whereof there be two means, umformity in teaching and publishing of school orders. That uniformity in teaching bath for companion dispatch in learning and sparing of expenses. Of the abridging of the number of books. Of courtesy and correction. Of school faults. Of friendliness between parents and masters.
44. That conference between those which have interest in children; certainty of direction in places where children use most; and constancy in well keeping that which is certainly appointed, be the most profitable circumstances both for virtuous mannering and cunning schooling.
45. The peroration, wherein the sum of the whole book is recapitulated, and proofs used, that this enterprise was first to be begun by Positions, and that these be the most proper to this purpose. A request concerning the well taking of that wbich is so well meant.
The occasion of the Publication, and in the English Tongue. The experience of twenty-two years, and the observation of others still more successful, has satistied the author that neither he or they have done as much as they could, if they could begin anew with a knowledge of the bindrances in the way, and the remedies for evils executed. The language used (the English) will convey my meaning as well to those who know Latin, and better to those who know it not, who will constitute by far the larger portion of my readers—who will be no Latinists.'
Iu the second chapter, the author announces his purpose 'to help the whole trade of teaching,' not only in the Grammar, but also the Elementarie,'-and especially in the latter, because it is the lowest and first to be dealt with—and as such it is important to settle-'at what time the child is to be set to schoole - what to learne-whether all are to attend, maidens, and young gentlemenin public or private schooles-of adaptation of wittes, places, times, teachers and orders,' and in dealing with these Positions, I follow nature and reason, custom and experience.
The circumstances of the country, the possibilities under ordinary circumstances, and not the theories of writers, must be regarded in ordering the education of a people.
When Formal Instruction should begin. "When the child shall begin to learne, must be determined by the strength of witte and hardness of body, in each case, and the continued health of the latter is the main thing to be considered.' A strong witte in as strong a bodie,' is the motto of Muleaster, as it was of Locke ('a sound mind in a sound body), two hundred years later, and of Horace (sans mens in sam corpore), fifteen hun. dred years before. The whole training of the school, and especially in its ear. liest stages, must be based in "bettering of the body,' and the negligence of the parents for not doing that which in person they might, and in duty they
ought, discharges them almost of the natural love, obedience and gratitude which attaches to children. Nor will it do to let this matter regulate itself;
the sitting still in school must be exchanged for well appointed exercise,' and 'precocious fruitage is the parents' folly, and the child's intirmitie.'
Branches to be taught. Chapter V. is devoted to an exposition of the meaning of the Mother Tongue, the ability to read, spell and write the English language, in advance, and, if necessary, to the exclusion of Latin. This is a Position' of vital importance. "To write and read well, which may be jointly gotten, is a pretty good stock for a poor boy to begin the world with all." As cosen germain to faire writing, the ability to draw with pen and pencil' must follow next. and penknife, incke and paper, compasse and ruler, will set them both up; and in their young years, while the tinyer is flexible, and the liand fit for frame, it will be fashioned easily. And commonly they that have any natural towardness to write well, have a knacke of drawing, too, and declaire some evident conceit in nature bending that way.' 'As judgment by understanding is a rule to the minde to discerne what is honest, seemly and suitable in malters of the mind, so drawing with penne or pencile is an assured rule for the sense to judge by, of the proportion and seeniliness of all aspectable thinges.' 'And why is it not good to have every part of the body, and every power of the soul, to be fined (polished) to the best,' and why ought we not to ground that thoroughly in youth, which must requite us againe with grace in our age?' “That great philosopher, Aristotle, in the eighth booke and third chapter of his Politicks, and not there onely, as not he alone, joineth writing and reading, which be compriseth under this word ysapparın, with drawing by penne or pencill, which I translate his ysuburn, both the two of one parentage and pedigree, as things peculiarly chosen to bring up youth, both for quantitie in protit, and for qualitie in use. There he sayeth, that as writing and reading do minister much helpe to trafficke, to householdrie, to learning, and all publicke dealinges: so drawing hy penne and pencill is verie requisite to make a man able to judge, what that is, which he buyeth of artificers and craftsmen, for substance, forme, and fashion, durable and handsome or no: and such other necessarie services, besides the deliteful and pleasant. And as if to anticipate the educational progress of the nineteenth century, he adds to the indispensable programme of the elementary school, the study of Music, both vocal and instrumental—to be begun in childhood when the organs are pliable, and the ear susceptible, and to be practiced all through life, as a medicine for the mind diseased, a lightner of sorrow, and the highest expressions of joy and thanksgiving in all times and in all places. Its abuse in over-indulgence and dissipation is no objection to its true and legitimate use.
Physical Exercises. The subject of bodily exercises is discussed in the following chapters (from 6 to 34) in all their detail-and with a thoroughness and compass not yet surpassed by our modern gymnastics. It anticipates the bygenic speculations and devices of Jahn, and the indoor muscular practices of Dio Lewis and other advocates of indoor and schoolroom movements. The necessity of a sound body -of robust health, not only to make available great talents and profound learning, but for life's ordinary work by men of ordinary abilities, the importance of pure air, in the right degree of moisture and temperature, and free from all pestilential vapors,—the attention to clothes adapted to the season, and not interfering with the play of joints and muscles, as well as to diet and drinks, taking those which supply nourishment, and not overload the stomach and fill the system with superfluous humors—all these are dwelt on like a modern physiologist. But to judicious, timely exercises-begun early, and reaching every part of the body, the lungs, the blood, the brains, the bones and muscles. Mulcaster looks for realizing his 'sound wit in a budy as strong.' He treats of Gymnastice-of exercises athetic for games, martial for the field, physical for the prevention of diseases, and the restoration of health lost or im paired. In his sweep of detail lie includes loud speaking, singing, reading,