Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

class of pupils, is sufficient to tax to the utmost the powers of the ablest and most skilful of men or women. Everything that tends to interfere with the teacher's prime function is so far a hindrance and a drawback.

The necessity for machinery, governing bodies and the like, arises from the complexity of the state of society in which the teacher has to carry on his work. It would be better if we could altogether dispense with it. But the situation is too complicated for this, and especially is this the case since the State has entered the field. We no longer possess the simple elements of teacher and pupil, or teacher and class, with remuneration directly made by the latter to the former. Classes are organised into schools, schools into systems of schools, the relation of school to school has to be determined, the revenues of the school have to be provided, managed and controlled, the teacher it would appear cannot be trusted even within his own sphere, he is enjoined what he must teach, and strict oversight is exercised to see that in substance and in method his teaching conform to the standard. All this means educational waste and loss. In every large school the most experienced and practical teacher does not teach at all as a regular duty; he manages, organises, helps to finance. The goal of the teacher is a headmastership, where he practically ceases to be one who teaches!

This I point out, not in order to condemn, for it is probably in large measure unavoidable. But surely it is highly necessary that the machinery should not be mistaken for the product of it. It is the product we are anxious about; it is for its sake that the machinery exists. Plainly the educator cannot do two things at once. So much time and energy bestowed upon mere management means so much time and energy withdrawn from productive teaching; nothing short of necessity justifies the withdrawal. Every true teacher wishes to teach. He should have a free hand for the purpose and the assurance that if he do the work well he shall not have to devote his spare hours to the problem whether he is to live or starve.

If this view is correct, the inference regarding administration is that it should be reduced to the simplest elements consistent with the conditions under which we live, and that there should be no avoidable interference of administration with teaching. In the old days a school was managed, say by the Burgh, and to it alone it was responsible. Nowadays the same school is managed by the School Board. But while the Burgh had practically exclusive powers, the School Board has only limited ones. The management is vested in the Board, but a considerable part of the funds comes from the Government, which imposes its conditions, or from the County or Burgh Council, which imposes its conditions; and above and beyond this the virtual control of the higher work is with the unauthorised government, the University, which in turn imposes its conditions. If schoolkeeping were a game, this hide-and-seek process would be all very well, it might be even highly diverting. When it has to do with such a serious matter as the equipment of our youth for the moral and material battle of life, the matter becomes one of grim sober earnest. The real problem is not construction of machinery, but lies behind in the efficiency, the vitality, the very existence of the school itself.

How, then, is the school to be managed to the utmost profit of its pupils? First, it would seem that the simplest management is the best; that is to say, each school should be wholly and entirely under the management of a single body, sufficiently provided with funds, to which it shall be responsible for its working throughout. How this is to be done is the difficulty, one of several difficulties it must be admitted. For immediately such questions arise as these: How are the interests of the two bodies which meantime provide the funds, the Government and the locality, to be reconciled? Are Secondary Schools and Elementary Schools to be subject to the same authority? What is the position of Endowed Schools to be? And there are many subsidiary points besides to be settled.

Of these questions the most important appears to me to be that connected with the locality— the local governing body. The reason is that this more nearly affects the life and work of the school than does any other. The Government is far away; it may threaten and thunder, but it is only an echo that reaches the remote corners of the land. The schools do not greatly care what the Government thinks or says, provided the grants come all right. No Government Department can make itself felt as a living force, as the public opinion of a district and personal contact of governors and teachers can and do. The local body has the patronage, too, and this produces a very marked effect, some believe a much too marked effect in numerous cases. The influence of a strong Government Department is very great, and may be very beneficial, but it does not tell directly on the school in a positive way as the influence of a local body does. Schools will avoid loss of grant, they will endeavour to earn the " highest grant," they will seek to have favourable "reports " as conducive to this. But the tone and quality of the teaching are derived from the locality. It is unfortunate that different authorities should ever judge by different standards and speak with different voices, but, if they do, the preference will gravitate toward that ruling power which lies closer at hand, and all the

« AnteriorContinuar »