universities and the schools in scotland
An Address delivered to Scottish teachers at the Annual Congress of the
Educational Institute of Scotland, at Dumfries
Published in ‘EDUCATION AND EMPIRE: Addresses on Certain Topics of the Day’,
Rt Hon. Richard Burdon Haldane, London, John Murray, Albemarle Street 1902
You have been so good as to allude to me as one who is keenly interested in the subject of education. I will say to you at once that I am interested in that subject, not merely because it is education, but for the reason that to me it appears the most important, without exception, of the great social reforms which await treatment at the beginning of the twentieth century. Educate your people, and you have reduced to comparatively insignificant dimensions the problems of temperance, of housing, and of raising the condition of your masses. These things solve themselves if you only get the right spirit into your people. Now, I am not one of those who take a pessimistic view of the educational situation. For when I look at the state of things to-day and contrast it with the state of things thirty years ago, I am conscious of an enormous advance.
Elementary education became first compulsory and then free. Secondary education is still in a somewhat incoherent condition, but within the last three years, in Scotland at least, great advances have been made. We owe much to the enlightened policy of Lord Balfour of Burleigh and Sir Henry Craik, and one whom I must also mention in this connection, Mr. Struthers, for the advances that have been made since the Science and Art Department was taken over by the Scottish Education Office. We have seen almost within the last few months great changes made which point to still greater changes in the future. Technical education is becoming something of a reality, in its earlier stages at all events, among us. Much remains to be done, but the zeal which the Department has shown, to my mind, affords good promise of yet greater things in the near future.
It is not stagnation of the education question in Scotland that troubles us. There is more interest in it than there was, and there is more movement in it than there was. Things, as I have said, are a great deal better than they were thirty years ago. But what does disturb me is, not that this country is making no advance, because that is not true, but that this country is not making any advance comparable to the advance which is being made abroad. When I think of the extent to which our commercial intelligence, the training of our captains of industry in science and applied knowledge, depends upon the foundations which are essential to a good general education, I own I am depressed, because I find throughout Great Britain a great backwardness compared with the state of things abroad, and with our leading competitors in the great markets of the world.
One thing I think is seriously wanting, and that is a much more enlightened intelligence on the part of the public with regard to education. I am a student, and if I might venture to suggest it, I would have you who are engaged in the business of education also to be students of the writings of Matthew Arnold. To my mind Matthew Arnold was a man who understood the real meaning of this education problem of this country, and although he wrote thirty years ago, he has set it before us better than anyone who has written since. He pointed out that our conception of education was a great deal too mechanical. Let me illustrate this, and in illustrating it I will incidentally make a criticism upon the attitude of the elementary teachers of this country. There is too great a disposition to treat elementary teaching as if it were a thing by itself, as if it could be separated from the whole of knowledge and from the rest of culture. Now that is not a true conception of elementary education. The work of the elementary teacher ought to be part of the work of a section of a great army, and an army which has got to co-operate and work as a whole. It is only by showing that your elementary teaching is linked to something beyond, and that something beyond is linked to something yet beyond, that you will ever be able to awaken among our people that interest in the whole matter that you have seen for thirty years past in Germany; that zeal which distinguishes Switzerland, aye, and that spirit of progress which distinguishes the United States at the present moment. What we have got to do is to make our people interested in education, and before we can accomplish that we have to make education interesting. Now you elementary teachers will have to bear your part in bringing that about. Do not think I am blaming the elementary teachers, for they are what the law and the constitution have made them. They have been cut off too much and shut apart in an isolated sphere. Well, the work must be done cooperatively, and the elementary teacher must show some initiative if he is to emancipate himself; and what I feel to be the great problem to-day is the welding of the educational system of this country into one complete whole, in which elementary education, secondary education, and the University shall all be indissoluble parts of one system.
I have chosen for the topic of this address the relation of the University to education, and you will see presently why I have taken that topic. It is because I believe that in this country the Universities ought to be the leaders in permeating our educational system with what Matthew Arnold was fond of calling by its German name of Geist—I mean the larger intelligence and culture without which education not only cannot be interesting, but cannot be sufficiently comprehensive to take effect on practical business. You have two great aims in your educational system—culture for culture sake, and the application, so fascinating in these times, and so needed in the present commercial situation, of knowledge to industry. These can only be based on a first-rate system of general education. Their complete attainment depends, however, on the sources of influence which lie beyond general education. The Universities must be not merely detachable superstructures, but the brain and the intelligence which permeates the whole system.
Now, I want to-day to follow out something which I tried, I am afraid very imperfectly, to do the other day. In October I delivered an address at Liverpool on the comparative positions of Great Britain and Germany in the matter of education, which some of you may have noticed. In that address, speaking as I was to some of the leading citizens and leading educational authorities in that great commercial city, troubled just now by the knowledge that its business men are not so well equipped as the business man of America and Germany, I dwelt upon what has been the great feature of the German system. What has made that German system possible is the assistance which the State has given in founding higher education. I pointed out that the people of Germany are generally interested in education, and that this did not come about by accident, but as the result of the perfection of their educational system. I went on to dwell on what that educational system was. I am not going to repeat to-day what I said then. But the study I have made of German education has impressed me very much with something, to which I alluded in Liverpool. I pointed out that in Germany education has this remarkable characteristic—that elementary education, secondary education and university education are all co-ordinate, that each one exercises a profound in-fluence upon the others, and when you get to a stage beyond what is elementary, it is only to bring you face to face with a stage beyond that again. And this linking has enabled the German people in their education system to accomplish the fulfilment of a double end. Elementary education in Germany is, as you know, a system which is very stringent, and in many respects very severe. ln practically all the States—for as a rule in Germany education is not an affair of the Federal Government, but of the States—the child must remain at an elementary school until fourteen, unless he gets a certificate which enables him to say that he has accomplished his elementary course of training. But after that there are the continuation schools, which are very much more thorough affairs than the continuation schools here. Evening classes exist in highly organised form in most of the State, and a boy or girl is compelled to attend till the age of seventeen.
But that is not all. Compulsion—at least what most people call compulsion—ends with elementary education in Germany, but another sort of compulsion is very promptly applied, which drives the pupil, if he wishes to get on at all in life, into the secondary and technical schools. If you want to forego a year of military service, or to have a post, say, in the telegraph service, you must produce a certificate of training in a secondary school. If you want to enter any of the learned professions, you must do the same thing. If you want to enter the Civil Service of Germany, or if you want to enter almost any of the learned professions, you must produce your certificate of adequate secondary education. Not only this, but in the factories the foreman must in many cases produce a proper certificate of educational training. But Germany presents another feature which must be borne in mind. The moment you get into the secondary school, you have got the choice between the Gymnasium, where the classics are taught, or the Realschule, where Latin is not taught, but where the training is in the direction of scientific and technical development. When you have gone through your secondary education—for they stand no nonsense about shortening the course in Germany—then comes the time for a still further choice. You may go into the University to train yourself for pure culture, or for the ordinary professions, or you may go into what is a peculiarly German equivalent for the Universities, the so-called technical high schools, which are not technical high schools as we know them, but institutions of university rank in which you get a training quite up to the university level, and that gives you a chance such as we know nothing of in this country. You come out proficient in chemistry, not as it is taught in the Scotch Universities, but in special departments of chemistry as applied to varying phases of practical industry. You can be trained in engineering, and not in engineering in the abstract, but electrical engineering, bridge building, or almost any special subject, you like to choose. You may be educated in these great institutions in naval architecture, or a score of other things for which the State makes provision in Germany.
What is the consequence? The manufacturers there are interested in these matters. I went the other day to make a speech on general politics in a great manufacturing centre in England. I found they were engaged in an industry there where to me it seemed that chemistry must be of the last importance. There were a number of successful business men on the platform, and one of them made a speech. I had referred to technical education as a subject to which politicians must turn attention. “Well,” he said, “there is a great deal in that, but it is not our way in England to go in for the sort of scientific training that foreigners like. There was a young chemist who came to this town not long ago with a German technical training, and some thought we should take him. He began by asking a high wage, but nobody would have him, and he got down to £2 a week. Nobody would have him at that, and he went back to London.”
The result of our British attitude is that there is no demand for the specially equipped student, while in Germany there is a very great demand. I have been told that the class lists of the great technical high school at Charlottenburg, which sends out twelve or fourteen hundred experts, from twenty-two to twenty-three years of age, every summer, are watched by the manufacturers, and a distinguished young fellow emerges probably to be met by somebody, who says, “What are you going to do, my friend? Come to our big commercial establishment (wherever it may be), and you shall have £200 to start with and 15 per cent. of the profits on anything you invent.” That is the way to encourage a good man. In Germany the conditions are still more stringent when you pass to any of the still higher posts in the State. You can not equip yourself for the professions of a doctor, or a lawyer, or schoolmaster unless you have an appropriate university training, and the result of the whole thing is that in Germany you have got the spirit of culture and the spirit of knowledge applied to industry facing you at every turn and permeating the whole system, and we here begin to feel a formidable competition in the foreign trade of the world, of which we have hitherto had a monopoly. “Made in Germany” is not the term of reproach it was supposed to be ten years ago.
I have sought to give you some idea of what some of you know very well already, the system of education in Germany, whereby every branch and every stage is linked to every other, and whereby, as soon as you get to the higher grades, the double end, pure culture on the one hand and on the other application of knowledge to industry, is carried out in great perfection. But it is not only when compared with Germany that there is room for introducing the operation of the University into the British system. I want to take the position of the teacher in this country and the effect which reform of.o the Universities might have upon the status and mental calibre of the teacher, and to illustrate that to you from what is going on in foreign lands. Just as at Liverpool I took the substance, so to-day I want to take the machinery, the workers who bring about that substance, and dwell particularly upon the position of the teacher, and in order to do that the better, I should like to survey the position in which in Scotland we are in that respect.
Until a few years ago, practically until within the last three years, education of the elementary kind stood by itself, and the elementary teachers in Scotland were a class by themselves. Fortunately we had a great tradition here. We had the tradition of the old parish schoolmascters, who sometimes were very incompetent persons, and sometimes very remarkable men indeed. The parish schoolmaster did not confine himself to elementary education by any means. By the interposition of Providence—because I am sure it was not by the wisdom of Parliament—it came about that the Scottish Education Act, which followed the English one of 1870, was drawn in such a fashion that we could raise no Cockerton case. The result was that the Scottish elementary teachers were left free to impart a good deal of secondary education in their schools, and I am bound to say they used their opportunities as fully as the law would allow them.
But still they were only teachers under the elementary system, and that elementary system, which imposed limits on their individuality, made them a less interesting body of men than the old parochial schoolmasters, some of whom were really a great power in the parish. At last things have begun to change. County Councils, not always very luminous bodies, have got the control of a certain amount of money—the beer and whisky money as it is profanely called—which they can apply for the purposes of technical education and to some extent of secondary education. The consequence of this has been a little improvement in our notion of the extent to which education should go. Some people still complain bitterly of the mischief which education is doing, and they will tell you that education is being carried too far, and that there will soon be nobody left for manual labour. For my part, I would rather have an educated man to dig a ditch than an uneducated man. I pass that argument by as one that is not worth refuting. Now that we have got a Science and Art Department here, we have something like the beginning of a system of secondary and technical education in Scotland. I won't call it a system, because it is not a system; but we have here some of the elements with which a beginning may be made, and a very good start the Education Department have shown.
I hope very much that the Bill introduced by the Secretary for Scotland last year will be introduced again and passed in an improved form this session. You remember what that Bill proposed to do. It dealt with secondary education, and its purpose was to establish a number of local authorities. I think there were to be thirty-nine in all, one for each of the thirty-three counties and six in addition for six big towns. These authorities were to organise, to endow, and to inspect secondary schools in Scotland. To them would have passed in natural course the control of the technical education money, and we would have had something like the foundations of a system. But even if that Bill were in operation, to my mind you would then have but the walls of the building. You would still be lacking in the roof. I would like to see that Bill extended by the establishment of not only your thirty-nine authorities, but four other central councils, or whatever they might be called, one in each University centre, one having its headquarters in Edinburgh, one in Glasgow, one in Aberdeen, one in St. Andrews or in Dundee, where you could bring the influence of the University to bear upon the system of secondary education which you are creating.
I should like to see the Universities well represented upon these committees, and thereby to see university influence beginning to permeate our system in Scotland as it permeates the education system in Germany. Don't imagine for a moment that you can establish here something satisfactory by merely following the pattern of a foreign country. Our notions are entirely different from those of Germany. There everything is done by the State right through, and the position of the teacher in Germany is a position which would not be tolerated in this country. The teachers in Germany have grievances of kinds you do not know here, which often seem to be quite intolerable. To that I will refer later on. What we want is to take the British principle, which is local administration and control, fostered and assisted by the State. That, to my mind, is the key-plan to which our educational system must conform, having regard to what is the genius of our people. What we have got to do in order to secure, consistently with this principle, the linkage throughout, with the double end to which I have referred, is to bring the university influence to bear upon our secondary educational system.
Now don't imagine that I think that by their recent traditions, or by their present attitudes, the Scottish Universities are in such a satisfactory frame of mind that they are well adapted to come into that system. They will, perhaps, have the most to learn of all the three educational authorities. They will have to realise that they, too, like the elementary teachers, ought not to be shut off and enclosed in water-tight compartments, apart from the rest of the educational system of the country. They will have to recognise that their work is co-operative and co-ordinative, just as the work of the others is. But in the Universities we have some men of public spirit, some men, at least, of enlightened ideas, men who are ready and able to take their part in this; and, speaking for myself, I should regard it as a great gain if the elementary teachers and professors were brought together, working side by side, learning from each other, the mind of the one body operating on the mind of the other. What I have suggested—and what applies to England in another form as well as to Scotland seems to me the probable way in which that matter will work out here.
The little of it that is done, and the much that remains to be done, illustrates the extraordinary backwardness of our educational system as it is to-day. We have got a first-rate elementary system, but it wants improvement, and it will be improved only when it is treated as a part of the larger whole. We have got a system of secondary-education which is only beginning to exist, for it does not exist as a systematised whole, and which we have to co-ordinate and put upon a proper and regulated basis. And we have got a university system that is not reformed at all. To my mind, the Universities stand still more aloof from the national life than the body of elementary teachers.
It is good to contrast these conditions and things we have got to reform with what obtains abroad. I have spoken about Germany, and I shall have a word to say about Germany again. But let us take another nation. I have been learning something lately of the educational system of America, and it is extremely interesting to see what is going on there. America possesses a very go-ahead people, not only in trade and commerce, not only in practical application of science, but in their higher educational matters. You have only got to look at the books America is beginning to pour out on abstract subjects, to look at the recent writings of some of her distinguished writers on speculative topics, to see that in abstract knowledge as in commerce America is going ahead by leaps and bounds. Why is it?
I put it down partly, at least, to the development of higher teaching that has taken place in America. Here, if a millionaire devotes himself to making money selfishly all his life, and if he feels a little uneasy about the future as he gets towards the end of his life, he builds a church or makes a big contribution to some Sustentation Fund. In America his national spirit comes to his rescue, and he founds a University or gives a large contribution to Yale or Harvard. Well, I think for myself the one millionaire will be just as well off as the other. The most striking feature of American national life has been of late years the way in which these men, who have amassed colossal fortunes, have founded great educational institutions. Look at the work of men like Mr. Rockefeller in the creation of the great University of Chicago. Look at the splendidly endowed universities and colleges in the Western States which owe their lavish equipment to American millionaires. Look at the example which has been set us by the great American capitalist, who is one of ourselves, Mr. Carnegie. Look at what he has done, not merely for the land of his adoption, but for the country of his birth.
The American spirit does not, however, confine itself to university education. In New York there is a magnificent training college for teachers established, in much the same way, and linked to the Columbia University, which is the centre of light and culture in the State of New York. Go where you like across the Atlantic you will find a university, or technical school, or training college, the result not only of State grants as in Germany, where education establishments almost exclusively derive their assistance from the public funds, but of the gifts of rich men. Well, the consequence is you have got a magnificent work being done in both practical and theoretical sciences at the present time, and a great advance in culture throughout the United States, and all over the United States you find the same influences at work. Education there is not the work of the Federal Government. It is an affair either of private individuals or the State legislature. And even the small States show the practical spirit of the Americans and their appreciation of the lessons which they have learned from Germany and Switzerland.
The other day I was told, as an illustration of this, about what was going on in the mainly agricultural State of Wisconsin. It is not one of the greatest States. But it has got its State University. What has the State University to do? It goes in for pure culture, and it goes in for the application of the sciences to industry. But that is not all. In America, in the hot weather; the schools suspend their work. But the teachers fill up their time, and the University of the State of Wisconsin provides summer classes for training teachers in the theory of education, and special courses bearing on its practice, upon a scale which has no parallel in any University we have in this country. The result is that the secondary schools, and even the elementary schools, in the State are permeated by the university influence, and come into contact with the best brains in the State. Well, America is after all in a much less advanced condition than some of the nations of the Continent. But it has begun with a spirit and energy which will before long bring it alongside any of them.
Now in America you have only got the development of an idea which they have learned, I regret to say, not from us, but from our continental neighbours. I want next to turn to a nation on the Continent which has paid great attention to education, but which has suffered fcom a defect different altogether from any defect we have, from the lesson of which we may learn a great deal. Nowhere has more keenness been shown lately about the reform of education than in France, and nowhere has the condition of education been pronounced more clearly to be defective. Why is that? France is not like our land, where education is in an unorganised condition and where the State has done too little. In France the complaint is that the State has done too much. I refer to France to illustrate another pitfall into which you may fall in the journey of reform. To this matter of the study of these systems on the Continent I don't think that we can give too much attention. We ought to study their successes and their failures. I wish that among our teaching community there could be a more general reading of those special reports edited by Mr. Sadler of the Education Department, which are full of valuable information about foreign systems of education and the shortcomings of our own.
While France comes in for a good deal of attention there, even more edification is to be found in the recent book by M. Ribot on secondary education in France, written by him after making his report as chairman of the recent commission on secondary education in that country. M. Ribot points out that there has been over-centralisation in France as the result of too much State control. The teacher in France is too much a State official. I know people in this country who say you will never get teachers placed on a proper basis till they are made Civil Service officials. Before anyone comes to that conclusion, let him look at what has happened in France, where the teacher suffers from being too much a civil servant. What we want is to keep to our national genius, not making the teacher too much of a State official, but reforming the authorities on which he is too much dependent at the present time. In France they go to the other extreme. They do not trust local authorities at all. They put the teacher under the Minister of Education, and the result is that in France to-day you have got a sort of educational civil servant, who is bound hand and foot by iron regulations, which are of much the same spirit as obtains in the army. In France you have centralisation carried to an extreme, and, with over-attention to the machinery and form, there has not been adequate attention to the substance.
You have not the double end of Germany and America, and consequently the systems are imperfectly linked. In France you have got a minister of Education who is all-important and all-powerful. Under him you have got seventeen or eighteen Universities put upon their present footing by a recent French law, some of them more or less admirable in their way, upon which the State spends a great deal of money, but, like our own Universities, pronounced, by the French people to be out of harmony with the life of the nation, because moulded on a cast-iron pattern.
Passing from the Universities—I am now going from the top downward—everything is centralised from Paris, and for secondary education you have to go to what are called the Lycees and the great secondary schools or colleges of France. The Lycee is directly organised by the State. The teachers are appointed the State, and the whole thing is controlled by the State. The colleges are also secondary schools which are organised locally, but are under State control, and taught by State teachers, the bulk of the money being found by the State. Then you come to the elementary schools, which are called into existence and kept up by the Commune. The teachers are, however, appointed not by the Commune but by the State, acting through the Prefect of the Department, who is a State official under the control of the Minister of Education in this matter, with the result that there is a sort of gap between the local people and the teachers, neither having much influence upon the other.
Of course the French system has its merits. Nobody can teach there who is not a properly certificated teacher. No-body can hold the position who has not got a State qualification. The State finds a great deal of the money for the teachers, and the State trains the teachers in the great State training colleges, and on that side we have a great deal to learn from the French Government. But while that is true, it is equally true that the whole system is so centralised and cast-iron, with so little room for individuality and elasticity, that we must look upon the French educational system as one-sided. That is an illustration of an evil we must steer clear of if we want to succeed.
So much for France. Now I want to say something which I have tried to dig out for myself about Germany. In Germany you have got complete co-ordination. I need not speak of the Universities. I have already described them. They are kept up practically entirely out of State funds. In Germany it is considered to be a good investment for the State to contribute seventy or eighty per cent. of the cost of the Universities. The secondary schools fall under three classes. There are the State schools, which are kept up by the various German States. There are the municipal schools, which are generally subsidised by Government grants, but they are locally organised. And there are the private schools, which are very different from the private schools here. Anyone setting up a private school here would set it up and conduct it as you would a business. But in Germany the law would be down upon you if you did anything of the kind. Nobody can teach in a secondary school who has not got a Government certificate, and in order to gain that certificate he has to get a training according to the Government conditions, and that training is pretty stiff. There is a bitter cry going up from the secondary teachers in Germany just now, and when I tell you what they have to go through perhaps you won't wonder. The secondary teacher must have had nine years in a higher school. He must then have at least three years at the University, and he must go through a year at a Seminar, a special class arranged for the training of teachers. He has then to go for a year on probation, and he has of course besides that his military qualification to fulfil, with the result that nobody can be a secondary teacher at all until he is thirty or thirty one years of age. He then becomes a sort of State official, and although he may be privately appointed and privately paid, he must conform to the Government regulations. If he is a teacher in one of the State schools—and this is by far the most numerous class in Germany—he has to submit to all sorts of rigorous rules, with the result that there is a great complaint in Germany that the teachers are under the iron rule of the State, and that they are not sufficiently paid or sufficiently esteemed.
All these things illustrate how, when we try to avoid one evil, we are apt to fly to another; and just now the complaint about the condition of the teachers in Germany is almost as strong and almost as well-founded as the complaint about the condition of the teachers of this country, only for diametrically different reasons. The German teachers are practically State officials, and everything, from their politics and religion, is rigorously inspected and looked after. Nobody can become a teacher in Germany who has not gone through a Government training college and complied with all the State conditions, and nobody can become a fully qualified secondary teacher who has not gone through a very complete university course.
Well, you have got in America, France, and Germany three systems. which we must carefully study and observe before we set about the business of reform in this country. It is not easy to try to reform in the dark. I will confess to you that nothing fills me more with despair than to listen to the debates in the House of Commons on educational subjects. You have got a Minister who has got up all the facts, and who sometimes seems to think it his business to make the subject as dry and detached from all human interest as possible. You have got a number of people listening, of whom nine-tenths know nothing whatever about education, and of whom eight-tenths care nothing.
The result is that an education debate, and particularly a Scottish education debate, shows the spectacle of a nearly empty House of Commons, while the older members look in through the door in order to see how long they may absent themselves without the chance of a division. Both the House of Commons and the elementary teachers in Scotland and England seem to be wanting in a largeness of conception about these things and a concrete interest in them, and I think the failure is in both cases due to the same cause. The public have not taken up the matter seriously enough, and neither you nor we will be able to do what we ought to do unless we get some impetus from the public. If education were a burning question in the constituencies you would very soon find that changed.
I should like to see every parish have its unit of culture as well as its unit of local government. I would like to see the minister, the schoolmaster, and the doctor, each taking his part in exercising a great deal of influence outside their mere professional occupations. I do not think you will get that till you have done a great deal in the case of all three to bring them into a much closer relation with the intellectual life of the country. That this is not the case, is not their fault. It is the fault of the public, and it is the fault of the system. In the case of education, at all events, we have got to make some improvement, because if we do not it will be worse for us as a nation. Above all, we want that large luminous point of view Matthew Arnold was so fond of calling Geist. We want Geist in our educational system. Nothing is more depressing to anybody fond of a foreign language than hearing it taught in a school in this country, and to my mind it is worse taught in the secondary schools than in the elementary. Take the teaching of French, for instance.
If you go into a continental school, you wiII find everything taught according to a carefully thought out plan. The children are not taught grammar and a whole string of dry things. You will see the little things seated in front of the teacher, and in some regions the teacher is not allowed to teach, for example French, unless he is of the same nationality as the children, for up to a certain stage, the best teacher is found by experience to be the man of the same nation. The teacher speaks to them simply in French and they try to reply. They don't try to learn swimming before going into the water. From the very beginning they are taught in this way: every word means an action, and they learn in an interesting way that savours of reality, If you go to Holland or to Germany you will, on the average, find people twice or three times as good linguists as they are here. I should like to see the intelligence which one there finds applied to teaching introduced here also, and I don't see why this should not be the case. I am certain the teachers would respond if the State gave them some stimulus to do so. Then we must have co-ordination, and the linking and the double aim to which I have referred—education beginning on a broad basis, and then proceeding to special subjects, allowing the pupil to go on in whatever direction he chooses, whether it be with a view to a profession or to pure culture.
There is another very important subject, the recognition of the status of the teacher. We have got to make a great deal more of our teachers if we wish them to come up to the standard we desire, and to the standard abroad. In Germany just now there is an agitation for a minimum salary for teachers. We have got to that in this country in some of the professions. The lawyer and the doctor work only for a minimum fee, and there is no reason why we should leave the schoolmaster a commodity to be bought in the cheapest market, while he is not always sold in the dearest. Depend upon it, if you leave School Boards to take the cheapest teachers, and cut down salaries to the lowest level, they will do so so long as they are the sort of bodies some of them are at present. That brings me to the key of this whole matter. I think the time has come for altering our system of School Board areas altogether. It does not do to take the little area with the little Board, with the men of little minds, and leave them to deal with a great national concern, for it is a great national concern. Not only so, but the nation recognises that, and the State pays the bulk of the money. Why then should the men of little stature, the men whom Plato has described, be left to handle them?
I think you will solve not only the whole question of the security of the tenure of the teacher, but also the question of the rate of salary, and in the end will settle every other question, if you secure and intelligent enough educational authorities. That means that we have reached a stage at which we have to reform the work that was done thirty years ago-very useful work in its time—by enlarging the areas. It may be that at first you will require to have different authorities for elementary and secondary education. You have brought up in the big cities a set of experts, men who have dealt with the large work of primary education. There may be in these cases a reason for keeping the control of elementary education, for a time at least, separate from the work of those who have to learn their duties in the business of secondary education. I don't pronounce any opinion about that. I only say that in these big centres you may have to set to work provisionally if you arc to carry your Bill. But to my mind it is perfectly plain that in the country districts we have reached the stage at which we shall have to reform our School Board areas, and it may be, and I hope it will be, that we will get the same area for elementary and secondary education. That may come to be so for the big cities also. Let us recognise that in the country districts the matter is, getting urgent, and will have to be dealt with very promptly, Then there is the question of councils in the academic centres to act along with and influence the school authorities, and if you had that, you would have something not unknown in Germany, where as a part of the national system conferences are held, at which educational authorities interchange ideas, thus enlightening the mind of the people who are concerned.
In this country we have already seen an example of the success of these methods in the educational advance that has followed the passing of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889. This Act established a separate educational authority for every county, and was supplemented by the establishment, not by Act of Parliament, but as the result of a voluntary movement, of a central board which set to work to organise secondary education in Wales. About the same time there came into existence the new Welsh University, and what has been the result? Why, Wales in many respects is far ahead of Scotland. In 1894 you had there 8 secondary schools with 495 pupils, and after four years, in 1898, you had 88 secondary schools organised by the new authority, with nearly 7,000 pupils, and that out of a population of only a million and a half. Out of the 191 permanent teachers in these secondary schools 134 are university graduates. I am quoting the figures of 1898, those to which I have had access. The meaning of that is, that the Welsh University Colleges have been putting their shoulders to the wheel, and have been the pioneers in the creation of a new secondary educational system in the country, thereby exerting a most enlightened effect upon the educational system. That is an object lesson to us.
In Scotland we are moving, though we are only at the beginning, but in Scotland fortunately we are free, to a great extent at any rate, from a great difficulty which is still staring England in the face, That is the question of denominationalism. I say frankly that I am sick of hearing the views of the Church people on the one hand, and of the Dissenters on the other. I do not think that the question of education is primarily a religious question. I object to that altogether. I think we are not far off the time when we shall say, “Away with these controversies,” when we shall rise above them, when we shall not inquire particularly what religious education is given, so long as we can secure an absolutely efficient and first-rate system of education, though I am afraid there will be a good many tears and some broken heads before that is accomplished. But we are arriving at the conviction that efficiency in education is the real consideration.
There is another thing I want to mention, and that is the question of the training of the teachers. The training in the normal schools, which has been a most useful system in its time, is now out of date. The Universities, or establishments in close connection with the Universities, ought to be the true training places of the teachers. If the academic mind is to permeate your educational system you must see to that. I cannot help thinking that at least part of the separation of elementary teaching from the University is due to the interposition of these training colleges. I want to see this changed root and branch. It involves the reform of our university system. Mr. Carnegie's munificence, great as it is, is only one step after all, and a small step, in the right direction. But it has set people thinking, and it is teaching people to realise that the Universities ought to be the very intellectual centres of the nation, the centres from which emanate light and leading in almost every walk of life, and most of all in our educational system.
Well, you have got to reform, and this I say to you in conclusion. The obligation upon the Universities to put their houses in order is a necessity which we feel very practical and very pressing. The volume of our trade is still large. It has not begun to shrink, but it is not growing with the rapidity of the commerce of other nations. America is rapidly tending to surpass us. Germany is drawing close upon us. Even Switzerland and Holland are becoming formidable competitors. You will have to remedy that state of things, because, if we lose our commerce, we lose our navy, our empire, and all those things which are depending upon the prosperity of. these islands. Somebody once said—I think it was the late Lord Carnarvon—that, apart from her Colonies, Great Britain would be only an over-populated and discontented island in the middle of the Northern Sea. Let us recognise that we are threatened with a greater revolution than we have ever known before. That revolution is due to the fact that our competitors are possessed of greater knowledge, greater educational Geist, than is possessed by our people here.
We must make provision for the training of our captains of industry, and that can only be done when we put our educational house in order from top to bottom. At the beginning of last century this country was face to face with a great crisis. Great Britain was threatened by foreign nations. There came a great man who faced the emergency. Mr. Pitt put a spirit into the reorganisation of the position of his native land which carried it through to victory. In the beginning of the twentieth century we have another serious crisi front of us—a crisis of another kind, where the competition is peaceful and not warlike, but a crisis just as serious. Who will deal with this crisis? It will be the man who approaches it in the spirit in which Germany approached her own restoration when, nearly a century ago, she lay, humbled under the heel of Napoleon. Who saved Germany? It was the great men—men like Fichte and Von Humboldt, who called upon the German people to educate themselves. That has made Germany the great power which she is to-day. What we need is the recognition that in this problem of education lies our future; that on it depends our position as the leading commercial nation of the world, aye, and as the empire. The statesman who will realise that the problem exists, and who will set himself to it in the spirit in which Pitt set himself to the problem of a century ago, will have deserved well of posterity.