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The establishment of district schools, some of which are to be attached to the Gymnasium at Tiflis, has for its object the diffusion of useful knowledge, now become indispensable to the free-born classes. These schools will be divided in to two sections, with a priest attached to each, of the same religion as the inhabitants of the district. On leaving these schools the pupils may, if they wish, attend the courses of the Gymnasium.
It was in March last that this new plan of education was introduced into the boarding-school of Tiflis, and the solemn opening as a Gymnasium took place on the 18th May. The number of pupils at the time of its opening amounted to 298.
The establishment of the other schools is progressive, and the countries situated between the Caucasus and Mount Ararat are likely to enjoy before long the benefit of the new means of instruction for which they are indebted to Government.
Besides these new establishments, there is already at Chouchi (chief town of the province of Karabagh) a school, founded in 1827 by the Scotch missionaries, containing forty scholars, three of whom are Armenians. They are taught gratuitously the Holy Scriptures, the Armenian language, arithmetic and geography; the best scholars are also instructed in the Greek, Latin and English languages. To satisfy the parents' feelings with regard to the religious instruction of their children, an Armenian priest is attached to the school, and superintends the teaching. The missionaries have a printingpress for Armenian books, directed by a member of the mission, a Circassian by birth, who being brought up in the Scotch colony of Karas, north of the Caucasus, has embraced the Christian faith. The most perfect order prevails in this school, and the pupils are niaking rapid progress in their studies.
There are at Chouchi, besides the above, six Tartarian schools and two Armenian-one of the latter for girls. In five of the former the languages taught are the Tartar and Persian—also the history of Persia ; the sixth school is intended to form Mollahs, who are taught Arabic, the principles of Islamism, arithmetic, astrology and medicine. In the two Armenian schools children are only taught to read their mother tongue. The total number of pupils in the eight schools amounts to 250.
In the villages of the Karabagh the children are taught to read by their priest; only seven schools properly so called are established there, four Armenian, one of which is for girls, and three Tartarian. The number of persons able to read in the province, as compared with the whole population, does not exceed one in fire hundred.
NATIONAL EDUCATION. The wish of the State to forward the general education of the people has lately been indicated, to a certain extent, by two money grants, which we hope may be considered as the preliminary steps to further and more systematic measures. The manner in which the subject of education has been treated in the two last sessions of parliament has been, on the whole, favourable to the fair discussion of the question. When it was brought forward some years ago, the consequences of education were feared, and its beneficial effects doubted. Time has shown the fallacy of many anticipations; and the violence of some prejudices has subsided—they have not, indeed, been destroyed, for the imperfections of some modes of teaching have led many to ascribe to teaching generally what are merely the results of bad teaching. A great change has also taken place in the character of those who now engage in the discussion of the question. The parents of children, in many classes of society, were a few years ago almost uninstructed; their opinions were governed by particular societies, by their clergy, or by their political leaders. As the parents have themselves become instructed, their influence has sprung up in the place of that formerly exercised by those who directed their opinions. Considerations which once rendered interference on the part of the state difficult have ceased to be important, and the almost universal anxiety now exhibited by all classes to acquire instruction offers every facility to those who are anxious to satisfy it.
In the last session of parliament a grant was made of 20,0001. for the purpose of erecting school-houses, in places approved of by the T'reasury, and upon condition that a sum equal in amount to that advanced by the Treasury should be raised by voluntary local subscription. This sum of money was put at the disposal of the National School Society and the British School Society, according to the terms of the Treasury minute (see Journal, No. XIII. p.79), a measure perhaps the best that could have been devised at the time, in the total absence of any system of public instruction in the country. The amount so granted was rapidly exhausted, and the applications made were far more numerous than it was possible to satisfy. Another sum of 20,0001. has since been granted by parliament, and there is no reason to doubt that it will be as rapidly expended as the former grant. Adding the amount of public grants to the sums raised by private subscription, 80,0001. will have been appropriated in two years to the erection of school-houses. This is satisfactory, so far as it displays a willingness on the part of the State and the wealthier portion of the community to improve the condition of the poor, and to afford them those means of future self-improvement which without the advantage of a good early education they can never enjoy. In addition to pecuniary assistance, the government, upon a motion made this year in the House of Commons, by Mr. Roebuck, agreed to the appointment of a Select Committee, to inquire into the present state of education in England and Wales, and into the application and effects of the grant made in the last session of parliament for the erection of school-houses, and to consider the extending of further grants in aid of education, and to report their observations thereupon to the House.' This is a measure of great importance, which cannot fail to be followed by many useful suggestions. Before existing institutions can be wisely interfered with, it is necessary that their character, the facilities which they at present afford for instruction, their defects, and the improvements of which they are capable, should be well understood; opposition to any useful proposal can thus be easily repelled, vexatious failures avoided, and that time saved for active operations which might have been spent in unprofitable discussion.
The Committee have already examined many of the directors and teachers of the principal institutions for the instruction of the poorer classes in London. Their attention has been particularly directed to those subjects which appear to form the chief obstacles to the establishment of a national system of education : of these religion is the chief; it is a portion of the general subject which it is impossible to avoid. We propose to examine part of the evidence collected on this head, and in doing so, every credit will be given to the conscientious scruples and opinions of those with whom any difference may be expressed. If agreement among religious sects is impossible; if no mode of instruction can be framed which shall, without exciting hostile feelings, admit the children of parents of different sects to be instructed together, all hope of establishing any general system of teaching is at an end, and the attempt will certainly fail.
It is undoubtedly the duty of parents to teach their children those moral and religious principles which they believe to be true; and any general system of instruction which should interfere with that duty would be objectionable. But does the present system interfere with that duty, or does it leave it entirely to the parent? The comparison to be made is between schools already in existence and those proposed to be established. A parent may entertain particular doctrinal opinions, which he conceives to be important, and of course, he will be desirous that his child should adopt them. Should a selection be made of religious and moral principles in which all agree, the doctrinal opinions of the parent may be excluded, and some opinions to which he attaches importance may not be taught. A general system of instruction, framed to exclude particular doctrines, will to him be objectionable, so far as it excludes his own. It is assumed by the opponents of a national education that the child is, under the present system, taught that which, if avowedly excluded, would make the system defective. But if the present system does not teach those doctrines to which importance is attached, there can be no objection to a general system which should exclude such doctrines. This is a fair mode of meeting the religious objections of niany respecting a national system of instruction.
The Rev. Mr. Wigram, the Secretary of the National School Society, has given the following evidence :
701. Is it not one of the principal objects of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to train children in the principles of the Established Church ?—That is the title of the Society.
702. How do you set about that?—In the same way that a parent trains his own children to the Established Church; he does not tell them that it is for that purpose, but he brings them up to it.
703. By what test do you find they are of the Established Church? -We have no test at all.
704. By what means do you find that the children are of the Established Church ?— It is possible they may not be; they are never asked. At this time in my own school I could not tell which are the children of dissenters, or which are the children of church people, or which children are disposed to act on the principles of the Established Church, or the contrary, except in the cases in which the children are personally known to me.
709. Have you ever drawn a distinction between those principles of religion which are common to all Christian sects, and those which distinguish one sect from another ?-When I talk to children it does not generally enter into my mind to make a formal distinction between the principles of dissenters and my own principles.
710. The question relates to the principles upon which you proceed in your teaching; have you ever contemplated the difference between those principles of religion which are common to all Christian sects and those peculiar principles which distinguish each sect? -In the present state of things it would be difficult to say what religious opinions are common to all sects.
714. Do not you think it would be possible to frame a general system of religious instruction, directed to the forination of religious
habits, without in any way disturbing the peculiar feelings of peculiar sects ?-I do not; because no person who takes what a churchman would call a low view of religious doctrine, or who verges towards Unitarianism, can conceive of our method of teaching the doctrine of redemption and sanctification in the Catechism as conciliatory, or as endurable in fact; I mean, endurable in the sense of being at all consistent with his own religious convictions.
723. Do you think then it would be difficult to form a general system of instruction in religious habits and feelings for a population among which there are various sects ?—If you are to deal openly and sincerely with them, there must be immense difficulties.
724. Can you point out to the Committee some of the modes in which these difficulties would arise ? — They must arise from the parents, not from the children.
727. Do you think that, in the present state of the public feeling among the various sects in England, it would be impossible to form a system which would include all (sects), and yet rear the children in pious habits ?-St surpasses my skill to see how it can be done.
758. You said there were many Roman Catholic and dissenting children in your schools, do they attend the worship of the Established Church? There is a discretionary power vested in the local managers of schools by the union, and that is preserved strictly as a discretionary power.
762. Do the children of Roman Catholics and Dissenters actually attend the worship of the Established Church ?-Generally they have no objection; their great object is to get learning, as they call it, for their children, and very few of them look for any distinct religious impression upon the mind of the child.
767. Do you consider that it would be desirable to frame a scheme, if you could, that should meet the wishes of all Christian sects, if you could do it without compromising your own Christian principles ?—I do not consider that it could be done.
771. Would you consider yourself at liberty to separate the doctrines from the precepts of Christianity in education, and to attempt to teach the precepts without the doctrines ?—We act upon the principle of blending them all together with the children, not making any distinctions in the minds of the children, but speaking of the duties as naturally and properly growing from certain impressions and convictions upon the mind, we endeavour not to separate the two in our mode of instruction.
772. Then you consider the doctrines as the appointed means of producing practical religion and the efficient causes of it, and you do not consider yourself at liberty to substitute anything else? --Certainly.
781. Supposing the doctrines of some other Christian sect were taught in a school in other respects arranged like yours, would you think yourself justified, as a religious parent, in sending your son to profit by that instruction ?-I should object myself certainly; but there is a great difference between a person who understands the subject and who feels some degree of interest in it, and a person whose moral life is not good, and whose only object is to get his son instructed in reading and writing. With respect to nine-tenths of