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Education, And Case Of Appeal
by [?]

What is the characteristic difference, in the fewest possible words, of this system as opposed to all others? We nowhere find this stated in a pointed manner: the author has left it rather to be collected from his general exposition; and therefore we conceive that we shall be entitled to his thanks by placing it in a logical, if possible in an antithetic, shape. In order to this, we ask–what is a school? A school is a body of young persons more or less perfectly organised–which, by means of a certain constitution or system of arrangements (A), aims at attaining a certain object (B). Now in all former schemes of education this A stood to B the positive quantity sought in the relation of a logical negative (i. e. of a negation of quantity = 0), or even of a mathematic negative (i. e. of-x):–but on this new system of the author before us (whom, for the want of a better name, we shall call the Experimentalist) A for the first time bears to B the relation of a positive quantity. The terms positive and negative are sufficiently opposed to each other to confer upon our contradistinction of this system from all others a very marked and antithetic shape; and the only question upon it, which arises, is this–are these terms justified in their application to this case? That they are, will appear thus:–Amongst the positive objects (or B) of every school, even the very worst, we must suppose the culture of morals to be one: a mere day-school may perhaps reasonably confine its pretensions to the disallowance of anything positively bad; because here the presumption is that the parents undertake the management of their children excepting in what regards their intellectual education: but, wherever the heads of a school step into the full duties of a child’s natural guardians, they cannot absolve themselves from a responsibility for his morals. Accordingly, this must be assumed of course to exist amongst the positive objects of every boarding-school. Yet so far are the laws and arrangements of existing schools from at all aiding and promoting this object, that their very utmost pretension is–that they do not injure it. Much injustice and oppression, for example, take place in the intercourse of all boys with each other; and in most schools ‘the stern edict against bearing tales,’ causes this to go unredressed (p. 78): on the other hand, in a school where a system of nursery-like surveillance was adopted, and ‘every trifling injury was the subject of immediate appeal to the supreme power’ (p. 80), the case was still worse. ‘The indulgence of this querulousness increased it beyond all endurance. Before the master had time to examine the justice of one complaint, his attention was called away to redress another; until, wearied with investigation into offences which were either too trifling or too justly provoked for punishment, he treated all complainants with harshness, heard their accusations with incredulity, and thus tended, by a first example, to the re-establishment of the old system.’ The issue in any case was–that, apart from what nature and the education of real life did for the child’s morals, the school education did nothing at all except by the positive moral instruction which the child might draw from his lessons–i. e. from B. But as to A, i. e. the school arrangements, either at best their effect was = 0; or possibly, by capricious interference for the regulation of what was beyond their power to regulate, they actually disturbed the moral sense (i. e. their effect was =-x). Now, on the new system of our Experimentalist, the very laws and regulations, which are in any case necessary to the going on of a school, have such an origin and are so administered as to cultivate the sense of justice and materially to enlarge the knowledge of justice. These laws emanate from the boys themselves, and are administered by the boys. That is to say, A (which on the old system is at best a mere blank, or negation, and sometimes even an absolute negative with regard to B) thus becomes a positive agent in relation to B–i. e. to one of the main purposes of the school. Again, to descend to an illustration of a lower order, in most schools arithmetic is one part of B: now on the new system it is so contrived that what is technically termed calling over, which on any system is a necessary arrangement for the prevention of mischief, and which usually terminates there (i. e. in an effect = 0), becomes a positive means of cultivating an elementary rule of arithmetic in the junior students–and an attention to accuracy in all: i. e. here again, from being simply = 0, A becomes = + x in relation to B. A school in short, on this system, burns its own smoke: The mere negative conditions of its daily goings on, the mere waste products of its machinery, being converted into the positive pabulum of its life and motion. Such then, we affirm, is the brief abstract–antithetically expressed–of the characteristic principle by which the system under review is distinguished from all former systems. In relation to B (which suppose 20 x) A, which heretofore was =-x, or at best = 0, now becomes = + x, or + 2 x, or 3 x, as it may happen. In this lies the merit of the conception: what remains to be inquired–is in what degree, and upon what parts of B, it attains this conversion of A into a positive quantity: and this will determine the merit of the execution. Let us now therefore turn to the details of the book.