"WHAT OF THE SCHOOLMASTER P"
(To THE EDITOIL OP TEE "PiPPOTAT011...) Sut,—There is a grave danger in the present agitation to make every man give up his vocation in order to go out and fight, irrespective of the importance to the nation's welfare of that vocation, of (to use a vulgarism) "cutting off our nose to spite our face." There never was a time when courage was more needed by the man who, in spite of all, remains steadily working at the job which he alone knows how to do, which provides the nation with material for her present and future welfare. He is the object of ill-concealed contempt on the part of his elders; he is the subject of interminable scandalous tittle-tattle at the patriotic afternoon tea-tables of the unemployed, wealthy busybodies who abound in his as in every town. It might be urged that be is " starred"; but there are vast bodies of men who are not starred " who are yet indis- pensable. To give one instance. It is allowed that those who provide food for the nation, bakers and so on, are essential to the nation's life; but what about those who supply the nation's mental food, who are responsible for the training of the minds of those who are to keep England alive (in the only real sense) in the troublous future P On all sides we have heard of the magnificent results attributed to the O.T.C. system in Public Schools, yet it is now suggested that schoolmasters are no longer to regard themselves. as " starred." What then is proposed? To give ladies commissions in the Officers' Training Corps? Or is it thought that the supply of officers having attained the impetus it now possesses, it will, by reason , of the momentum given to it by schoolmasters in the past, now of its own free will, unaided by senior help, produce officers of as fine a calibre, as stern a stuff?
The Army Council announce that between two and three thousand commissions in the Regular Army are to be competed for during each year: who is to coach these candidates for Sandhurst and Woolwich in the future ? Are they likely to pass on a " Self-Help " course P Are ladies or old men capable of making boys work at the high pressure required for this P Are they capable of teaching the very modern subjects required P
To judge by the attitude of the average short-sighted canvasser, education no longer matters, Germany and France (conscript countries) know better than thief. When peace is once more restored there will be greater need than ever for quiet, level-headed, well-educated-men to bring their 'finest faculties to bear on the many pressing problems that will beset all Europe. Woe to the nation in that day who has forgone education in her anxiety to keep her supply of men np to a level that resulted in the ruin of her commerce and the loss of all her vigorous manhood. Whenever an error in tactics has been disclosed the cry has gone up for " Men, more men." The excitement of such a call gives the defaulting party time to cover its tracks and start again. But we are now at the parting of the ways. We are beset by an unreasoning obsession. Viet a steady flow of recruits is required is obvious. To compel every man of vigour to join, whatever his occupation may be, is not obvious ; it is sheer madness. A patriotism that is no patriotism has seized upon us, so that we render ourselves a laughing-stock to our enemies by openly advertising the fact that we do not even require young doctors to-day. Truly we look forward to no future when those who keep us in health, those who develop the strength of our leaders of to-morrow (for whom alone we are fighting) whether of character or body, those who train them to become officers, statesmen, sober citizens, influential for good, those in whose hands lies the whole future welfare of England, are uprooted from their proper sphere and compelled to abandon the one niche which they alone can occupy with success.-1 am, Sir, &a,
Skerborne. S. P. B. MALE. [Some schoolmasters are indispensable, but not all. The schoolmaster who has fought and returned to his school will
in the future be ten times as good a teacher as the man who never looked life and death full in the face in the trenches. Socrates did not evade military service on the plea that he was indispensable, and though his habit of cogitating while standing on one leg when he ought to have been advancing may have worried his platoon commander, it is obvious that the greatest of teachers was all the better for his war-training.--- En. &Mager.]