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Were there any tracts distributed among them in the Dutch language ? - Yes.
Of what description ?-Published by the Religious Tract Society in London.
Were they able to understand, as well as read, the tracts which had been so distributed ?- The same as the lower orders in England. I will here just state one fact; I got twelve of the Hottentots who accompanied me in the interior of Africa, on our return to Cape Town, fully instructed in the British system of education, on purpose that they might commence, upon that plan, a school at Bethelsdorp, which is about 550 miles from the Cape.
In what direction ?-South-east, towards the Indian Ocean. About four months ago, I received a letter respecting that school, stating that upwards of sixty Hottentots, who ten months before knew not their letters, could read the Dutch Testament as well as the missionaries.
You found the Hottentots as quick in receiving their education, as the people in England ?-Nearly so ; it brings them into a new world to be able to know what a book says, it is completely a new world. I may mention here, that I have found nothing so difficult as to convey to the conception of a savage how a book spake. I attempted with the King of Lattakoo, to make him understand it, but he and his principal men all shook their heads, and said it was impossible to understand it; I took a journal that lay before me, in which I had inserted, from the lips of his uncle, the names of his forefathers, who had been kings before him (the go. vernment is hereditary); this I read to the king and his chief men, on which they perceived that I had formerly stated the truth, but had no idea how the book gave me that information; the king inquired if it would be possible for them and their children, by the instructions of a white man, to understand what books" said" (there is no other way of conveying reading, they can form no idea of what reading is, it is only speaking); he and his people seemed highly gratified when I stated, that in the course of a few moons after the arrival of a teacher, they should be able to understand reading as well as myself. The missionaries have not yet arrived there, so that I can give no idea of the success.
Could you favour the Committee with any sentiments upon the best plan of extending the benefits of education to the lower classes of the Metropolis ?-I have no particular plan to recommend; the plan of the schools on the British system appears to me best calculated for effecting that end.
Robert Owen, Esq. called in, and Examined.
HAS your attention been directed to the education and circumstances of the lower orders ? — Yes, it has been particularly directed to those objects, for the last twenty-five years.
How long have you been settled in Scotland ?-Upwards of sixteen years, in the superintendence of the cotton mills at New Lanark.
You do not come from that part of the country originally?-No, from Wales, but immediately from Manchester.
Have you attended practically to that subject ?-I have been daily, during twenty-five years, occupied in practice, and my late proceedings have been entirely directed by the result of that practice.
How many children have you generally had under your care ?-From 500 to 2300 during the whole of that time.
Have you adopted the new mode of education among them, and upon what plan ?- I have adopted a combination of the Madras and British and Foreign systems, with other parts that experience has pointed out.
What is your opinion of the advantages of the new plan? - That it gives great facility to children to acquire a knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the girls sewing; these acquirements are learned in a much shorter time on the new than on the old plan.
What is the result of your observation with respect to the comparative advantages and disadvantages of the two modes adopted by the National Society, and the British and Foreign School Society ?--As they are now practised, the Madras system possesses an advantage over the British and Foreign; by the former the children learn to read in a shorter time and in a more accurate manner; in other respects I do not think there is much difference. Do you
think that whatever difference there is, is on the side of the National or on the other, in those other objects ? It is difficult for me to decide which of them ought to be preferred, each possesses its peculiar advantages.
Do you consider, the other things being equal, there is very material difference between the advantages of the two systems ?- I think the difference is very immaterial; but I consider the Madras system as having disadvantages which is made up by its superiority in reading, and I think the British and Foreign has the advantage in other parts; which prevents me saying which, as a whole, is the best.
To what do you ascribe the superiority of the Madras
system as to reading ?-To the very distinct manner in which the boys are instructed in every part of reading, from the letters to the end of their instruction, particularly as I have seen it practised in the National school in Baldwin'sgardens.
Do you mean the distinct manner in which they pronounce the words ; or did you mean to extend your answer to understanding what they read ?-To the distinct manner in which they pronounce the words, and to the manner also in which the attention of the children is directed to the whole subject.
You conceive that their minds are more attentive to the subject and sense of what they read there?- They are necessarily obliged to attend more to every detail before them, than is required from the children under the British and Foreign system.
Did you remark any difference under the two systems, in the mode of explaining the sense? It is generally much more fully explained under the National system than in the British and Foreign.
So as to lead the child to enter more into the subject, and to understand it better? - Yes, and to bring soine of the mental faculties forward more rapidly. Did you observe any
difference in the manners and looks of the children attending those different schools, indicative of the superior knowledge or obedience in the one compared with the other?--I have been very much interested with the general appearance and manner of the children 'under two opposite systems; I have often been pleased with the performances of the children in Baldwin's-gardens, and I have been particularly pleased with the appearance of the children in a large school in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, under the British and Foreign system.
What should you say were the most prominent circumstances in the appearance of the children in Baldwin'sgardens and at Newcastle, which pleased you !—In the school at Newcastle the appearance of the children was particularly gratifying, even more so than the children at the National school in Baldwin's-gardens, and I think the cause inay be explained to arise from the longer time the children attend the school at Newcastle, than is customary for the children to attend in the school in Baldwin's-gardens; there are no manufactories in the neighbourhood of Newcastle tu induce the parents to withhold the children from attending the school, and I found, upon inquiry, that the children remained in this school about four years upon an average, while in other situations in the manufacturing districts, at
Manchester and Leeds, the children do not remain upon the average longer than three or four months.
How long do you imagine they remain upon the average at the National schools in London?--I have generally made the inquiry at most of the schools in which I have been, but I am not quite sure of the time mentioned by Mr. Johnson; less than four years, and the impression upon my mind is. even less than two.
With respect to the appearance of the children in the National schools and the British and Foreign schools in London ; where the children attend in a general view, under similar circumstances, do you think there was any distinction ?-I have found a considerable difference to arise from the manner in which the school was conducted, either by the master or mistress, or the parties who interested themselves in the general superintendence of the school. It occurs to me at present, that I saw a number of girls in one of the British and Foreign schools, under apparently remarkably good habits; and I attribute it principally to two circumstances I have mentioned, namely, the mistress appeared to take a very lively interest in the instruction of the children: and I know there are many of the visiting females who also take considerable interest in the general superintendence of it.
You esteem it to be a very considerable object, where the thing is practicable, that children should continue at school for a greater length of time than is necessary merely to teach them to read and write-I consider the facility with which children acquire the common rudiments of learning, an unfortunate result of the new system ; for as they are now practised, the children become too rapidly possessed of learning, and they have not time to acquire those habits and dispositions which have always appeared to me to be of more importance than the acquirement of those rudiments of learning
Has it fallen at all in your way to observe, whether knowledge very speedily acquired, is more readily lost and forgotten than that which is acquired somewhat more gradually?
Yes, I think it is much more speedily lost when it has been rapidly acquired. In confirmation of this opinion, from experience, I have been led in the establishment at Lanark, to receive children at the age of three years, prin cipally for the purpose of preventing them acquiring bad habits, which they would have done if they bad been permitted to ramble in the streets among children who were ill instructed, and whose habits were bad; and also for the purpose of giving them good habits, and for settling the knowledge they acquire more firmly in their minds; they are con tinued in the school afterwards for seven years,
In giving explanations, it is very possible to make a child understand each sentence taken singly, and that yet at the end of his reading he shall have little or no notion of the general subject on which he has been reading ?-Surely.
Have you seen the practice of that mode of explanation and its effects, as compared with the mode of explanation which not only explains each sentence to the child, but also gives it a general view of the subject?-1 have pot seen that put into practice, in any situation that occurs to me at present, in a manner satisfactory to myself.
Have you found the parents are too apt to take children out of the school as soon as they can perform the mechanical parts of reading and writing fluently, and, as the parents think, exceedingly well, without perhaps having their minds much opened ?-I have found that practice very generally to prevail.
Do you not esteem it a great evil, and one which should if possible be counteracted ?-I esteem it a very great evil. ·
Do you think that it would be an improper sacrifice with respect to mere reading and writing, if a child were not to advance so very rapidly in them as to induce its parent to take it away before its mind were in a measure opened and its good habits tolerably well formed ?-In lieu of considering it to be any sacrifice made upon the part of the parent or child, I think it would be a benefit to both. Has it ever happened to you to observe the bad effects
produced on the dispositions of children, from the extremely rapid progress in mere reading and writing; that they become self-conceited in consequence ?-I have found the children have derived very little benefit from being rapidly instructed in reading and writing, particularly when no attention has been given on the part of the superintendent to form their dispositions and their habits.
What is the plan adopted by you ?— The children are received into a preparatory or training school at the age of three, in which they are perpetually superintended, to prevent them acquiring bad habits, to give them good ones, and to form their dispositions to mutual kindness and a sincere desire to contribute all in' their power to benefit each other ; these effects are chiefly accomplished by example and praclice, precept being found of little use, and not comprehended by them at this early age; the children are taught also whatever may be supposed useful, that they can understand, and this instruction is combined with as much amusement as is found to be requisite for their health, and to render them active, cheerful and happy, fond of the school and of their instructors. The school, in bad weather, is held in apartments properly arranged for the purpose; but in fine weather