THE EDUCATION QUESTION.
[TO THE EDITOR OF THE " SPEOTATOR."1
Sin,—May I be permitted to give a practical illustration in support of Mr. Jas. A. Craig's statement in your issue of February 17th regarding fundamental religious instruction
in" British " schools ?
In such a school of which I have intimate knowledge, where more than four hundred children from different denominations are present at daily Scripture lessons, we have never had an objection raised by parents that the teaching given contradicts the particular dogmas of their own Churches, though we have had instances of parents bringing their children to us because in another school particular dogmas had been inculcated which were contrary to the parents' belief. The principles of the school of which I write, and in which managers, teachers, as well as children represent both the Church of England and the Free Churches, are the simple, sane, and wholly Christian principles of the British and Foreign School Society ; the syllabus we have lately adopted is that prepared by the Surrey County Council's Committee, which, in addition to progressive Scripture lessons, contains such collects, prayers, and hymns as one would like to believe all Christians would welcome.
We do not consider that any spiritual advantage to the children would accrue by deposing their teachers from the duty and privilege of giving the Scripture lessons, but rather that the teacher's influence would be impaired by the introduction of clerics, the child mind being acute enough to mark the implied disparagement. We regard the open Bible as the heritage of every British child, and the safeguarding the right to that inheritance as the paramount duty of our Protestant Christian State. That this conviction is not welcome to all others we have abundant proof in the assaults we have suffered and do suffer from "graceless zealots" who try to dissuade parents from sending their children to "that irreligious school," but who none of them accept the invitation to visit the school on any day and without previous intimation during the hour of religions instruction, that they may judge for themselves. That the system we follow is not unfruitful we have proof in the growing respect of the parents for the school, in the success of our scholarship children in religious knowledge examinations when they pass into secondary schools, and in the fact that not a few of our scholars, after leaving school, become communicants in the Churches of their fathers, retaining the mutual respect for one another's opinions which would perhaps be impossible had they in the elementary school been sorted out into little folds and marked with the particular brand of the sectary, instead of by the sign and name of the great Shepherd of the sheep. Great indeed will be the disaster to our country if the sectarian zealots, by their uncompromising attitude, succeed in offending these little ones by robbing them of this simple foundational Christian teaching, making the Word of God of none effect through their traditions.