In such schools the problem is at once more difficult and easier, more difficult because children of different ages and capacities must be taught together, easier because, owing to the smallness of numbers, attention to individuals should be more readily secured.
So far as urban areas are [page xvi] concerned, the ordinary arrangement is for children to pass from the infant to the primary school between seven and eight, and we think that in these areas, where alone the arrangement is practicable, the existence of such separate schools or departments is clearly advantageous.
There is a danger lest the technical aspects of teaching may be allowed to obscure the profound moral influences which the schools will have in the future life of the pupils.
With these qualifications, however, we are with the majority of our witnesses strongly of the opinion that primary education would gain greatly in realism and power of inspiration if an attempt were more generally made to think of the curriculum less in terms of departments of knowledge to be taught, and more in terms of activities to be fostered and interests to be broadened.
Few features in the history of the last thirty years are more striking or more inspiring than the improvement in the health, the manners, the level of intellectual attainment, the vitality and happiness of the rising generation.
They are necessarily tentative, for the years between seven and eleven have been less fully studied than have some of the earlier and later phases in the growth of children, and for the evidence supporting these conclusions we must refer our reader to those chapters and to Appendices II and III.
Corporate Life and the Training of Character Such a clarification of the purpose of the primary school is the necessary prerequisite of an improvement in its quality.
Man is a social animal, and the school is a society. The internal organisation of the school calls, however, for a word of notice. Professor Burt drew in his evidence a moving picture of the effect of a squalid environment not only on physical, but also, [page xix] if the two can be distinguished, on mental energy.
A different, but closely related point, for the careful consideration of which we would plead, is the importance of providing liberal opportunities for individual work under the guidance of the teacher.
To these topics we return below; nor need we elaborate here what we say elsewhere as to the importance of ensuring that the premises and equipment of schools are not merely adequate, but attractive and inspiring. We are not concerned to [page xxvii] advocate any particular method or plan; indeed we regard with some suspicion those which do not spring naturally from the experience of the teachers and take their colour from the The decline of neatness by norman cousins essay of the school adopting them.
Are their methods of organisation and the character of their equipment, the scale on which they are staffed, and the lines on which their education is planned, of a kind best calculated to encourage individual work and persistent practical activity among pupils, initiative and originality among teachers, and to foster in both the spirit which leaves the beaten path and strikes fearlessly into new fields, which is the soul of education?
We take this opportunity of thanking our witnesses for the valuable evidence which they put before us, and also all those other organisations and persons whose names will be found in Appendix IB who were good enough to furnish us with memoranda, specimen syllabuses of work, statistics and other data bearing on our inquiry.
We are not thinking for the moment of the special problem of the retarded child, which is discussed at some length in Chapter VI. The teacher, with his special knowledge and experience, is in a position to see that the activities are fruitful, and that the child is helped to pass from one to another as he is ready for it.
There is, as we have said, a place for that method, but it is neither the only method, nor the method most likely to be fruitful between the ages of seven and eleven.
In Julythe Committee appointed a Drafting Sub-Committee consisting of six of its members, with Mr WA Brockington as Chairman and with power, subject to the approval of the President of the Board of Education, to co-opt members from outside.
The problems are numerous and urgent. What is needed in education, as elsewhere, is a little cold realism, or in other words, the art that overcomes art.
In that improvement the schools have played no unimportant part. This touches closely the ethical element in education which we must keep constantly in the front of our minds and in the very forefront of our teaching. We dare not hope that it will be more than partially solved; but in some measure, we trust, school training may succeed in making up for what must remain under conditions of work today inevitable deficiencies in the later industrial training of the pupils.
If the school succeeds in achieving that aim, knowledge will be acquired in the process, not, indeed, without effort, but by an effort whose value will be enhanced by the fact that its purpose and significance can be appreciated, at least in part, by the children themselves.
The technique of learning or of teaching one of them is different from that which is required for another, and in an Addendum to this Report we discuss in some detail the important and difficult problems suggested by this different parts of the curriculum; but divergent streams spring from a common source in human experience, and methods appropriate to children of an age when they can follow specialised interests along the lines of logical development are not necessarily best suited to a stage when curiosity is strong but the capacity for logical analysis and consecutive reasoning is still relatively weak.
In the latter, indeed, they should be specially easy and profitable. What is important is not that a high standard of attainment should be reached in any one of them, but that interest should be quickened, habits of thoroughness and honesty in work established, and the foundations on which knowledge may later be built securely laid.
It is in the light of that ideal that we should wish our report to be read. What a wise and good parent would desire for his own children, that a nation must desire for all children. The root of the matter is, after all, simple. What is true today will be irrelevant tomorrow, and to attempt a summary answer to these questions would be unprofitable.
We have had evidence, we are glad to say, that the introduction of a break at eleven, which will shortly be general, is of benefit not only to the children over eleven, with whom in that inquiry we were principally concerned, but also to those between seven and eleven, whose education is the subject of our present [page xv] report.
What is important in each case is that, while the indispensable foundations are thoroughly mastered, the work of the school should be related to the experience and interest of the children.
A school is at once a physical environment, a training ground of the mind, and a spiritual society. There are obviously certain parts of the curriculum - for example, reading, writing and arithmetic - which are the tools of education, and a reasonable proficiency in which requires regular practice.
But though the temptation is strong, it is one which, even under present conditions, ought strenuously to be resisted.
We discuss some of them in greater detail in the body of our report.The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South.
The text has been entered using.
Hadow Report The Primary School. [page iii] NOTE ON THE NOMENCLATURE USED IN THE REPORT. In this Report, as in our Report on the Education of the Adolescent (), we use 'Primary' for education up to the age of eleven, and 'Secondary' for education from the age of eleven till the end of school life.
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