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'Exact registers should be kept of all the occupations and expenses of the school: these should form the study of the children, and from them the arithmetical sums should be chiefly taken.
'XIV. A savings' bank should be established in the school for the children.'
THE STATE OF EDUCATION IN FRANCE.
In the year 1830, the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge addressed a series of questions to the Société pour la Propagation des Connaissances Scientifiques et Industrielles, on the present state of education in France, These inquiries have been answered in the most prompt and satisfactory manner by a written communication from the French Society, who have also printed their reply in the Bulletin des Sciences Géographiques, &c., for November 1830. We conceive that we cannot express our sense of the great obligations which we owe to the French committee, in any better way than by communicating their valuable information to our countrymen through the medium of this Journal.
We give first each question that was proposed, and then the answer.
First QUESTION.-What measures has the government taken for the education of the different classes of the community, and what kind of instruction has been adopted?
ANSWER. To answer this question, we must give a sketch of the different sorts of instruction, and the different kinds of schools in France. There are three kinds of instruction-primary, secondary, and superior. The primary instruction comprises those branches of knowledge which are indispensable, such as reading, writing, arithmetic, with some other subsidiary branches which are spoken of more particularly in the answer to Question 3. This instruction is given in the schools called Primary or Elementary. The secondary instruction comprises knowledge of a higher kind—Greek and Latin, history, geography, rhetoric, philosophy, elementary mathematics, physics, chemistry, and natural history. It is necessary to have studied these various branches, in order to obtain the degree of bachelier-ès-lettres, which degree is an indispensable requisite for admission to the courses of instruction, the examinations, and theses in the various faculties, of which we shall speak hereafter. For the present it will be sufficient to state, that a person cannot become an advocate, or a physician, or a professor in letters or science, or a graduate in theology, without being bachelier-ès-lettres. The baccalauréat-ès-lettres is in fact the certificate that the course of secondary instruction has been gone through, and the attainment of it is the condition on which a person is allowed to pass on to the superior instruction.
The secondary instruction is given in five kinds of establishments;
royal colleges, communal colleges, private colleges, institutions, and boarding schools (pensions).
The royal colleges are those in which the directors (administrateurs) and professors are paid by the state. In 1829 there were thirty-eight royal colleges in France. During the year 1829, we believe, two new ones were established. Further details will be found in the answer to the fourth Question.
The communal colleges are secondary schools maintained by the towns, their heads and professors being paid from the communal revenues. These colleges are very numerous in France; there are above 317. But all these colleges are not de plein exercice, by which term is meant, that many of them do not give instruction in all those branches of knowledge which enter into the secondary instruction. There are not more than 120 of these colleges which are de plein exercice. In a communal college, de plein exercice, a student can go through the complete course, as in a royal college; and on leaving this communal college, he can be admitted to the degree of bachelier-ès-lettres. If the communal college is not one de plein exercice, a student can only commence his course there; if he wishes to take his degrees, he must finish elsewhere. For example, one communal college may have no philosophy class; in that case the student, if he wishes to become a graduate, must go to some other establishment for his philosophy: another communal college may have neither a rhetoric nor philosophy class, and the student consequently must study rhetoric and philosophy in some other place, if he intends to graduate.
The private colleges are private schools, in which the secondary instruction is given complete; the directors and professors are required to have the same qualification as the same officers in the royal colleges. For the directors, this qualification consists in having obtained the degree of licencié-ès-lettres, or of licencié-ès-sciences; and for the professors, the title of agrégé. The answer to the fourth question will explain the meaning of the title of agrégé. Properly speaking, there are only two private colleges in France, that of St. Barbe, and that of Stanislaus. Both of them are in Paris. The state makes no allowance to these two establishments, which are supported entirely, as well as the directors and professors, by the receipts from the pupils.
The institutions are also private schools, founded with the sanction of the University. The head or principal of an institution must be bachelier-ès-lettres and bachelier-ès-sciences. The masters whom the principal employs are not required to have degrees; it is sufficient for these masters, who are called répétiteurs, to be approved by the rector of the academy. (The meaning of the term rector of the academy is explained under the second Question.) The institutions receive no aid from the government; they are purely private speculations. The institutions are divisible into several classes. Some are established in towns where there are colleges either royal or de plein exercice; others are established in other places. When an institution is established in a town where
there is a college either royal or de plein exercice, the principal is obliged to send the youths who are above ten years of age to attend the college classes. Accordingly the boys who are past this age are boarded and lodged in the institution; and in the school-room of the institution they make preparation for their classes, the attendance on which takes place in the college. They have répétiteurs in the institution, but they attend the courses of the professors of the college.
The institutions established in places where there are no colleges, are of two kinds; institutions de plein exercice, and institutions not de plein exercice. There is only a small number of institutions de plein exercice. They are those of Juilly, Vendôme, Pont-Levoy, Sorrèze, Fontenay-aux-Roses. There may be one or two more. In the institutions de plein exercice, the secondary instruction is given complete; and the youths who leave these schools are admitted, like those from the royal colleges, to the examination for the baccalauréat-ès-lettres. We ought to remark that, according to the imperial decree which established the University, no institutions de plein exercice were allowed to exist, even in those places where there was no college. This decree forbade the principals of institutions to carry instruction beyond the classes of humanities. This prohibition was part of the monopoly system of instruction which the decree organized, and which the chief ruler considered as one of the main springs of his government; but this monopoly has been gradually giving way since the overthrow of the imperial power, and has in various respects lost ground. This accounts for the successive establishment of various institutions de plein exercice, which are so many partial triumphs over the system of restrictions and privileges. Some of these institutions of which we have been speaking, assume the title of college; but this is an unwarrantable assumption, because their principals and professors have not the requisite qualifications.
The institutions which are established in places where there is no college, and which are not de plein exercice, give an education more or less extended, but not complete. A student on leaving these establishments cannot become bachelier-ès-lettres.
Lastly, pensions are like institutions, houses for private education. They differ from institutions in two respects:
1. The master of a boarding-school (pension) is not required, like the principal of an institution, to be bachelier-ès-sciences; it is sufficient if he be bachelier-ès-lettres.
2. In these pensions, they are not allowed to extend their instruction beyond the inferior classes, those of grammar, the elements of arithmetic, and geometry. Consequently there are no pensions de plein exercice; and a student can only commence his classical studies in a pension: he must finish them elsewhere. In all other respects the regulations which apply to institutions apply also to pensions.
The number of institutions and pensions in France is about 1300; and the number of youths who receive the secondary instruction in the various kinds of establishments described above, is more than
50,000. Among the youths to whom their parents wish to give a liberal education, there is a considerable number who are designed for commerce, or other pursuits not professional. For them the study of the ancient languages is of less use than an acquaintance with such branches of knowledge as may be useful in their future occupations. This class of pupils requires a separate kind of education. The University, such as it was transmitted by the empire to the government of 1814, so far from establishing this kind of education, opposed the introduction of such a system into private schools. The general and absolute obligation to send the youths to attend the college classes did not permit the schools to form special courses of study adapted to prepare youth for commerce and other branches of business. In 1829 an attempt was made to remedy this inconvenience, which was effected in two ways: first, by establishing in several royal and communal colleges separate courses of study for those youths designed for commerce, &c.; and secondly, by authorizing the principals of institutions, and masters of boarding-schools, to form similar classes, the pupils of which are excused from attendance on the college classes. In this way the care of the government and individual enterprise have united in supplying a species of instruction which is indispensable.
It remains to say something about the secondary instruction in the ecclesiastical schools; for if we were to omit giving a summary view of this department, the reader would have but a very imperfect idea of the condition of the secondary instruction in France, and he would be unable to comprehend the serious difficulties and the important political discussions which these ecclesiastical schools have given rise to. When the Catholic worship was re-established in France, a seminary for theological studies was founded in each diocese. It was the intention of the government that youths designed for the church should prosecute their classical studies in the ordinary schools, and, on the completion of them, be admitted into the seminaries. A few years afterwards the bishops expressed a wish to have some private schools, in which youths designed for the priesthood might receive their classical education. These schools were established under the name of ecclesiastical secondary schools, or little seminaries, in contradistinction to the great seminaries, or theological schools. This ordonnance contained various clauses, the object of which was to prevent youths, not intended for the priesthood, from being admitted into the bishops' new schools. But the clergy, whose darling object it was to get into their own hands the education of the French youth, evaded the regulations of the ordonnance in every possible way. In a short time lay students were admitted into the little seminaries, and sometimes they were even more numerous than the ecclesiastical students. The clergy went so far as to establish, under the name of little seminaries, eight Jesuit colleges, which had scarcely any other than lay pupils. The ordinary schools pay a tax under the name of the university contribution; this tax is one-twentieth of the sum that each pupil pays to the pension; but the ecclesiastical schools
had been exempted, because it was supposed they would only admit ecclesiastical students. This privilege, as we have seen, they abused by receiving lay pupils, who would consequently enjoy exemption from the university-tax by an evasion of the law. The ordinary schools could not have maintained the competition; and instead of the university monopoly, there would have been a clerical monopoly, the tendency of which, we may conjecture, would not have been quite in conformity with the spirit of the charter. The government remedied these serious evils by the celebrated ordonnances of June 16th, 1828, which forbade individuals belonging to religious societies, not sanctioned in France, to keep schools; and also introduced fresh regulations to prevent the little seminaries from receiving lay pupils. The number of pupils in these establishments was limited to 20,000.
Hence it appears that 70,000 youths in France receive the secondary or classical instruction-50,000 being lay, and 20,000 ecclesiastic students.
Such is an exact statement of the present condition of the secondary instruction; but important modifications will follow from the new charter, and among them we may expect to see established, liberty of instruction. This important principle will be recognised as a part of public education, and will contribute to its improvement. As to the legislative enactments that will be made on this subject, we can only form conjectures; but some such as the following would be desirable. Those who form private schools might be required to give proof of their capability, without being otherwise restricted in the establishment of such schools. According to this plan, a person might become principal of an institution, master of a pension, director of a private college, just as a man becomes an advocate or physician; all he would have to do would be to give proof of his qualifications. Private schools should not be required to send their pupils to attend college classes; if they were exempted from this regulation, the masters would be enabled to arrange their studies in the way which they might think best, choosing the most expeditious methods, and adapting the education to the pupils' different destinations in life. Thus instruction might be rescued from the college routine and antiquated modes; and it would, like other arts, improve by being freed from restrictions. The government and communes would still have their schools, but a wholesome emulation would be excited between them and private schools founded by individual enterprise. Private schools should not be exempted from inspection. Authorized agents should have the privilege of visiting them, whenever they might deem it necessary, not for the purpose of fettering the master in his plans and methods of instruction, but to ascertain that the morals, discipline, and health of the pupils are not neglected.
We come now to speak of the superior instruction, which in France is given in schools called faculties. There are five kinds of faculties; theology, law, medicine, sciences, and letters. The principal object of studies in the faculties, is the obtaining of degrees.