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RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION IN THE DIOCESE OF ST. DAVID'S. To the Editor of THE JOURNAL. Sip,-The prominence given to the above subject in the correspondence columns of THE JOURNAL for weeks past makes it necessary that a reply should be made to your article in your issue of January 1st. I You claim to have written it in an impartial spirit, bit (though this may be quite unintentional On your part) it betrays bias almost all through, inasmuch as its arguments are based on the assumption that the complaints contained in the letters of your correspondents (all of them anony- mous except one), are well-grounded. At the same time I fully appreciate the sympathy with me in the performance of my duties to which you kindly give expression. I am glad to find that yon are an advocate of religious instruction in elementary school*. But one paragraph in your article leads me to infer thit you share an erroneous idea, which is not un- common, as to the status of religious teaching in oar National Schools. The paragraph is aB fol- lows :—" We know how searching the Government examinations have become, and we know how doubly hard it must be to work on patiently under trying and insurmountable difficulties preparing young pupils for the extra visit by the Diocesan Inspector." The italics are my own. And you omit to specify the nature of these insarmount- able difficulties. The above paragraph implies that the work of religions instruction is somethipg extra, something outside the legitimate sphere of the school's work, some additional burden imposed upon National School teacners which does not legitimately belong to the school's curriculum. This is a pure fallacy, though a common one. Re- ligious instruction has always formed part of the curriculum. Indeed our National Schools were founded primarily for the purpose of training up oir children in the teaching and principles of our Church, and secular instruction occupied a secondary place. When the State stepped in to aid the cause of elementary education with grants, Her Majesty's Inspectors examined the schools in religious as well as secular knowledge up to 1870. When the Education Act of 1870 came into opera- tion, with its Board School system and the pro- tection of the Conscience Clause (in order to sup- plement the work of the National and other Denominational Schools, not to oust them from their commanding position), H.M. Inspectors ceased to examine in religious knowledge, which none the less continued to form part of the schools' curriculum, one hour being safeguarded to it either at the beginning or at the end of a school "time," and the Church in consequence established her Boards of Education, and appointed her own inspectors to examine in religious knowledge. Some, however, who are ignorant of the history of elementary education in our country imagine that in consequence of the Act of 1870 our National Schools ceased to belong to the Church, and belong to the State, and that our National School teachers are the servants of the State, instead of being, as they are, oiffcers of the Church. (In the case of your correspondent "Magister" the wish is evi- dently father to the thought, for he writes in your issue of December 18th, "It is iiigh time to place every elementary school under direct popular representative control, then and then only will our clerical-managers find their proper level." Is this wish that our National Schools should be converted into Board Schools shared by "Magister's" fellow anonymous correspondents ?) Consequently, there can be no greater hardship in preparing for the visit of the Diocesan Inspector now than there was in preparing for examination in religious subjects I before the Act of 1870-if such a preparation is to be considered a hardship. Further, it should be borne in mind that religious instruction is im- parted primarily, and entirely, for the benefit of the children, and not merely to make a show on the day of the inspection. The inspector visits the school in order to report on the quality of the religious teaching. A syllabus is drawn up in order to ensure a definite course of instruction as in the c&se of secular work. No one-even an inspector—expects the teachers to achieve impossi- bilities. He, as I pointed out in my last letter, makes full allowance for any genuine difficulties that are brought to his notice, but where he has good reason to believe that the religious instruc- tion has been neglected, it is his duty to report accordingly. "Another Teacher" points out, in the Diocesan Report for 1889-90, that out of 228 departments examined during the year, 207 were good, very good, or excellent, and only three were indifferent or bad, and that I remarked If these results are very gratifying, and prove that the teachers have taken special pains with the reli- gious instruction." Again, in my report for 1890- 91 (which will be published shortly) it will be found that out of 238 departments inspected 211 were classed as excellent or very good or good, and three as very poor or bad. These figures show that the Diocesan Inspector is not characterised- as some of your correspondents would have your readers believe-by stringency and severity, On the other hand, they do not imply that every teacher has in every instance given the attentior to the religious instruction that it is his duty to give. Ono of your correspondents, who signs himself shews that he shares the fallacy that religious instruction is something extra imposed upon him, and that it is purely voluntary work, and that he is a servant of the State when he writes in your issue of December 18th—"Does 'Rector' believe that we are a body of men, who will neglect our Government examination, when we know that our living depends upon it ? Would he like to see a master in a poor staffed school get the excellent in Scripture for which he never receives a penny, and get a poor Government examination aad starve himself in the coming year ?" Now, nobody asks D.D." to neglect his secular work. He is only required to give religious instruction during the time devoted to it in his School's Time Table, which he is bound to follow. And is it a fact that he does not receive a penny for his work of religious teaching ? I do not know who D.D-' is, but I presume from his letter that he is a National School teacher, and I do know that National School teachers receive a fixed salary (which is provided by the voluntary contributions of Churchmen), in addition to a portion of the Government grant, just as Board School teachers receive a fixed salary provided by the rates in addition to the Government grant. And I D.D.' has not realised that the Government grant is paid to the managers of the school by the Education Department, and not to him, and that he is paid by the managers for performing the full work of a National School teacher (whichjincluded religious instruction), and not merely for teaching the work of the Government Syllabns. Further, as to the difficulties of a poor staffed school. I pointed out in my last letters that the Syllabus allows such a school to be divided into two instead of three groups. Commenting on this statement, your correspondent, Mr Phillips, wrote, How or, as the question has been raised, it may J D" &a waii to note the concession thus afforded I the single handed teacher by quoting the footnote referred to still more fully In schools, where owing to the smallness of the teaching staff, it is found impracticable to divide the school into three groups, the inspector advises that the school be divided into two groups, group I (including Standard III), presenting the highest group sub- jects, and group II (including Standard II), pre- senting lowest group subjects taught as fully as possible, with the addition if possible, of the life of Noah and of our Lord's Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, &c. There he stops short in his quotation and proceeds-" If there ia ground for the complaint that the work of group I ia excessive for children in standards IV.—VII, surely, Sir, this is intensified by expecting children in the third standard to prepare it." The remainder of the footnote, which he omits, is as follows Stan- Cnf' should in this case present the amount of and writing from memory required of the middle group, and standard II should be able to say the ommandments as well as the Creed and Lord's /-vnfrl «n5 r *\e able to write from memory the ?6 anA^°rd> Prayer." One of your correspon- «^ri himself "Disgusted," wrote Rr»hoolR 8ays. 'Q his letter that poorly staff e *e specially prided for. But why j6S o of th" at he does not allow us to take advantage of th,8 provi8.on? Th&t not 1 ass 7 » r, and being a schoolmaster, I oogut to know T call „poa Disgusted" to prove this charge in his proper name. His statement is false. This same correspondent (whose methods vf controversy if ingenious are certainly not ingenuous) further observes—««The rev. gentle- man suggests that it is only lazy teachers who find the syllabus too much then we must all be lazy." How he can distort my remarks on lrho evils and causes of crumming into a generui com-ge of laziness against our f,eaohei-3, pliises my COUlprt. heusion. -==J. To return to your article. You observe—"On the one hand, many schoolmasters, no doubt, of various degrees of professional excellence, agree on the whole in two points. In the first, place they complain of the sjiiabus for the diocese as too extensive. In the second place many of them refer to the examinations as not only excessive in scope, but also as unnecessarily ullsympat hetic in spirit." I submit that the term" many" is some- what indefinite, and these comp'aints would be of greater value if the number were more strictly defined. I find that eight teachers have written on this subject to your paper. At least that is the number whose letters you inserted in yourcoliimns. Of these, only one had the moral courage to append his own name. About 260 departments are open to diocesan inspection in this diocese. Whether the number 8 bears a large proportion to the number 260, I leave your readers to judge. And these complaints would have been more valu- able if your readers knew who these seven anony- mous correspondents are. As to the complaint that the syllabus in use in this Diocese for 1890-91 was excessive I stated in my letter that comparing it with the only 13 syllabuses sontained in the Report of the National Society for 1890-91, I found it was below the average in its requirements. I contented myself with saying it was below the average, whereas I might justly have said that taking it as a whole it was below ev,ry one of the 13 including that in use in Llandaff Diocese. Your correspondent Teacher replying to this, wrote, The Inspector wrote that taking it as a whole it is below that in use in Llandaff Diocese," and then to prove that my statement was inaccurate, he gave you a com- pirison of the requirements of the middle group in each syllabus. But, surely, the work of the middle group cannot claim to represent the whole work of the syllabus, which alone can be considered a fair comparison. And the syllabuses I compared were those of the two Dioceses for 1890-91, inasmuch as the syllabus for 1890-91 was the one of which your correspondents complained. Further, I pointed out that the syllabus which has been in use in this Diocese since last February let, had been curtailed as much as possible consistent with efficiency by the committee of the Diocesan Board of Education in response to a desire expressed by some teachers for the modification of its require- ments. Are we to conclude that the collective wisdom of your correspondents is of more weight than the combined experience of 14 Diocesan Boards of Education, which have directed and regulated the work of religious teaching in our National Schools for about 22 years? I suppose we are to do so, as you, sir, maintain that our Diocesan Board is not competent to draw up a syllabus itself. You ex- press admiration for its members individually, you do allow that they actually do possess certain estimable qualities and powers, butyoudenythat they possess the very qualification which would justify their raisoll d'etre as members of a Board of Education, for you say there is not one who has made the child hia life study, not one who has bad any lengthened experience in elementary teaching." This seems to me a somewhat bold, if not rash, assertion, and hardly borne out by facts. The Board of Education is chiefly composed of clergy- men, and surely if a clergyman is anything he is a teacher, and a teacher of the young. Your corres- pondent "D.D." admits this, for be writes, "I maintain that it is as much of the duty of a clergy- man to teach Scripture in a National School as it is the master's. Whj is there better adapted to teach this subject than the clergy?" (And, yet I have known instances when teachers out of pro- fessional jealousy have placed every obstacle in the way of the clergyman to prevent his giving religious instruction in the school). The clergy are constantly in touch with the young in their parishes. They teach in the Sunday School, they catechise in Church, many of them take part in the daily religious instruction given in their day schools. By virtue of their training, their office, their theological study and preparation for the duty of preaching, and their constant intercourse with all classes and all ages in their parishes, they are specialists in the art of which the schoolmaster is not. But your correspondent Disgusted is evidently of the opinion that all theological virtues are confined to members of his own profession, who, he writes, "are doing more to spread the Gospel and enlighten the work than even the members of 'Rector's calling." Now, since, Sir, you maintain that the members of the Diocesan Board of Education do not possess the necessary knowledge and experience as teachers of the young which would justify them in regulating the work of religious intruction :in our National Schools, you ought in consistency to go one step further than to suggest that the teachers should be represented on the Board and propose that the Board should dissolve and hand over its functions to the teachers entirely. And your suggestion that the Inspectors should be appointed from among the teachers-and pre- sumably eventually by them—is but the natural conseqoence of your ruling that the clergy know very little about elementary teaching. But if on the other hand, D.D's assertion, that no one is better adapted to teach religious knowledge than the clergy, is true, then it is reasonable to sup- pose that no one is better adapted to examine in this subject than a clergyman. Even supposing it were true, which it is not, that I personally had had no lengthened experience of elementary teaching, the fact that I have since my appoint- ment to my presenct office held not far short of a thousand viva voce examinations in elementary day schools justifies me in claiming to know and to be competent to perform my work, as well as you, Sir, can perform your editorial duties, or a National School teacher knows and can perform his. Some of your correspondents have given instances of questions they say I have put to children. One of these I deny having put, the rest I admit having asked, though whether they have been put in the exact form given by your correspondent or uot I cannot positively say. But this is immaterial ,for these writers know, though they have carefully omitted to state it, that if the children do not understand the question in one form I put it in another and sometimes in five or six different forms, and that the question is not passed over until I am convinced that the children do not know the answer. My questions are adapted to the capacities of the children, and it may surprise you to learn that I have frequently been able to olicit answers from children when their own teachers had tried and failed in my presence. And now I come to your second main point. Niany of them refer to the examinations as not only excessive in scope, but also as unnecessarily unsympathetic in spirit." You add that to this complaint I have answered nothing, and that such grave charges ought not to be left unanswered. I gave you in my last letter my reasons for not replying to the charges of "harshness," discourtesy," II rudeness," and offensiveness," contained in the letters of your correspondents. No man possessed of an atom of self-respect would condescend to reply to such personal charges con- tained in anonymous letters. I note with the greatest satisfaction the concluding sentences in your article in which you suggest that the com- plaints should be submitted to the Diocesan Board of Education for investigation. Permit me to say that it would have been more reasonable and seemly if you had advised your correspondents to take this-the proper course, at first before you undertook the responsibility of inserting in the columns of your papei anonymous letters contain- ing reflections and chargee of a personal character. And now, Sir, I have a right to demand that these correspondents should without delay-each one in his own name-lay the complaints contained in his letter before the Diocesan Board of Education and substantiate them. If they fail to do so, I submit that you owe it to me as a duty to brand these accusations in your paper as frivolous and malicious. In conclusion, let me say that I am in full sympathy with the teachers in their difficulties, that I respect and admire the large majority of them for their valuable work, that it is and has been my wish throughout to be regarded as their r friend and not as a taskmaster, that I have endeavoured ever since my appointment to make the work of Religious Instruction a reality in the schools of the diocese, and that I shall continue to do so so long as I hold my present office. I am, Your obedient servant, C. H. DAVIES. St. David's Diocesan Inspector of Schools.