THE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND ART.
SOME weeks ago the English public was called upon to choose between two seta of advisers ; the one urging it to regulate an important part of the national expenditure by preconceived notions of the character of those whom it employed, and the other insisting that it should confine itself to looking at the nature of
the work done; one party urging that promises are good, the other that performance is better; one dwelling on the importance of means, the other on the necessity of results. The two parties fought for the ear and confidence of the country in the House and in the press for many consecutive days, until at last, partly be- cause they were so evenly balanced by the preponderance of power on the one side, while possession, passion, and prejudice prevailed on the other ; partly also because the nation was incapable either in itself or through its representatives of understanding the question at issue, and partly because every one was quite tired of the subject, the two contending factions agreed to a compromise, and announced a drawn battle. On the occasion of that contest the chief department of the Committee of Council on Education was severely criticized. Its lavish expenditure, its very partial operation and utter failure to create a national system, the bye- laws which compelled it to pamper and protect the wealthy com- munities while turning a cold shoulder to starving country parishes ; its complicated system of payments, its fostering of an irresponsible and, as it was then found, irrepressible class of officials under the title of certificated teachers, the gigantic dis- proportion in many instances of moneys expended to value received, were all more or less exposed in Parliament or the press, and a remedy was proposed in the first edition of the Revised Code, which, if not perfect, if not a complete panacea for all the maladies of our Educational system, was at all events an honest attempt to strike at the root of the evil, and a fair confession that the previous method of treatment had failed. Unfortunately, political circumstances which are well known prevented the complete establishment of Mr. Lowe's method, and still preserve to us many of the choice old nostrums of the original code.
But while the chief department was thus thoroughly overhauled, the country seems to have forgotten that flourishing offshoot of the mother office which was established at South Kensington in 1856, and goes by the name of the "Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education ;" and which, consisting externally of an iron building called the museum, and certain other brick buildings and offices, is the centre from which the regulations for the instruction of the poor of England in science and art emanate. Here it is that the Lords of the Committee of Privy Council on Education, sitting in conclave, arrange in what slims the taxpaying public, and, through them, of course, the whole community, shall be mulcted for the support of scientific institu- tions in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh ; for the erection of schools of art in little provincial towns, such as Basingstoke and Andover ; and for the encouragement of the poor while studying the pyre and applied sciences. A Companion of the Bath assists at their Lordships' councils and manages their rising little concern at South Kensington, he being himself supported by a staff of upwards of fifty officials, including among their ranks about two dozen inspectors and examiners for art and science, one engineer and architect (being the same gentleman who produced for us the beautiful structure in which the Exhibition of 1862 was held), a clerk to the "Travelling Art Collection," an "official photo- grapher," and an honorary surgeon.
This learned and skilful body has, it appears, been affected by the sufferings of its congener at Whitehall. The shock administered to Downing street was a rough one, and its momentum is felt even to South Kensington. Consequently, in deference to the general public feeling lately expressed in the case of the "three R's," that money should not be paid in future for their being professed, but for their being learned, the Lords of the Committee sitting in con- clave at South Kensington, on the 24th of last October, passed a resolution to do away with the existing system of. payments for drawing taught in our National Schools, and to substitute here also a system of payment for results. Hitherto, whenever a school- master had obtained a drawing certificate, he received from South Kensington, if he taught drawing in his school, a sum of 5/., with an additional twenty or thirty shillings if he instructed a pupil-teacher. The evils of such a system need hardly be detailed. Every one of the numerous and powerful objections which were so unanswerably urged against the late augmentation grants applies with tenfold force to the case of a drawing augmentation to teachers of the poor. And happily the remedy of payment for results is not in the case of drawing open to the same objections, or beset by the same difficulties, as it appeased to be in the case of "the three It's." All boys who are fit to live may be supposed to have some capacity for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and there was, therefore, some excuse for those who argued, "pay for a good master, andthey will all be sure to learn." But there are some boys whom you might as well try to teach to fly as to draw ; and the plea of "like masters like scholars" could not possibly hold here. If public money is to be granted for instruction in drawing of children of the ror, common sense and common prudence alike demand that it shall be granted only for such children as have some claim to a taste for drawing, and not be paid in a lump for a collection of children to two-thirds of whom the drawing lesson is probably as much a waste of the the public money as it is of the school time and materials. Having admitted the principle of "good scholar good master in the case of reading, it was impossible that the system described above could be maintained in respect of drawing. Hence the new minutes framed at South Kensington on the 24th of October substitute for the old grants the following regulations :- A payment of three shillings is to be made for every child taught drawing in a school for the poor who shall " pass " in one or more exercises of the first grade executed in presence of an inspector of art. This payment is not, however, to be made invariably to the manager nor to the teacher ; but its distribution is to be regulated by the following considerations :—Fitst, if the teacher of a school for the poor, in which such child is taught, holds a drawing certificate, and teaches drawing to all children of his school who learn writing, the managers of the school shall receive two shillings in respect of such child, and the master of the school of art in which the child is examined shall-receive one shilling, provided he has superintended the instruction. St.‘condly, if the teacher does not hold a drawing certificate, but assists in teaching drawing to all children of his school who learn writing, the manager of the school shall receive one shilling in respect of the child and the master of the school of art who has taught or superintended the instruction of such child shall receive two shillings. So that, supposing a child to pass the examination of the inspector of art, which " pass " is a necessary condition of any grant, two-thirds of the grant thereupon received are payable to the managers of the school, if their own schoolmaster has taught time child without the assistance of the master of the art school, and one-third if such assistance has been called in. The regulations which follow pro- vide that prizes shall annually be given to those children who pass at the highest mark called "excellent,' promise a payment of twenty shillings for every pupil-teacher who passes in an exercise of the second grade, and an addi- tional prize of the value of ten shillings if he obtains the mark " excellent ;" and ordain that all payments ta managers of schools be made through the school of art with which such schools are locally connected. This minute came into operation on the 1st of January, and applies to all schools examined in drawing for the future.
It will be in our readers' memory that by the provisions of the New Education Code eight shillings are the highest sum obtain- able on each child by the results of examination. Now it appears that by these new minutes of October three shillings are obtainable by results in drawing alone. Here, then, we have an official state- ment of the relative value of drawing and the rest of knowledge to the poor man's child. The value to young Hodge of drawing is to the collective value of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, grammar, and religious knowledge, as three to eight. In other words, when a peasant has learned to draw, he has learned nearly half of all that he can be profitably taught. Whether the people of this country will endorse their Lordships' promise to pay three shillings to every little urchin who can draw an " exercise of the first grade ;" whether, after deliberately concluding that eight shillings are the utmost sum they can afford to give managers for teaching a poor man's child all the subjects of an ordinary National School, they will also conclude that they can afford three shillings for his learning to draw only, remains to be seen. But what we would ask is this. Have any steps been taken to ascer- tain whether the majority of intelligent people in this country really wish their labourers' children to be instructed in drawing at the public expense ? Do they really know that they are going for the future to give three shillings annually out of the taxes for every poor man's child who has learned to draw the outline of a tulip or a scroll ? These minutes have been devised, promulgated and put into practice during the recess. Parliament has, of course, heard nothing of them. Do the authors of these regulations intend to submit theta to the House ? We have a right to ask it, and the answer concerns the nation.