Quality of Teachers
,StR,—One would have expected anyone holding Dr. Dowling's responsible position to he careful to specify which statements he considers " mischievous and misleading " as applied to the state of training of Catholic elementary school teachers. Nothing has appeared in THE CATHOLIC* HERALD in rny memory which could be taken as making or implying an unfavourable comparison between the training now -afforded to prospective teachers at St. Mary's Ccelege and that provided in non-Catholic training Colleges. Therefore his eulogy of that college, though true and well.deeerved, is quite beside the point. Everyone knows that the universities and the Board of Education conduct the examination for the Teacher's Certificetc, so that this certificate is an official assurance of sufficient training and efficiency.
But if we have a nose for what Dr. Dowling is pleased to call " mischievous and misleading " inferences, we need go no further than his own naïve deduction that, because the Government secs to it that teachers after training at Strawberry Hill now are really descrying of the Teacher's Certificate, he has dissipated the accusations against the Catholic elementary school teacher. s In the first place, it has been clearly shown by cold statistics that in
" voluntary " schools uncertificated teachers arc pioportionatety more numerous than in Council schools. Secondly, of all Catholic certificated teachers (even menTa very large number have never been to St. Mary's College. Many certificated externally, or attended training colleges at a time when (as after the last war) a lower standard of proficiency was accepted ; in Catholic schools this class of qualification is more frequently found than in Council schools. Thirdly, supposing there are two St. Mary's candidates for a school appointment, there is not the slightest doubt that, owing to the vagaries and personal choices made by a great many parish priests in their capacity of " corresponding manager," it is often the inferior rather than the superior _candidate who is chosen for initial appointment or subsequent preferment. it is not I alone who have complained of this, but many teachers and even priests writing in these columns. Fourthly, although I do not wish to start a fresh controversy, there are very many College-trained elementary school teachers (Catholics as well as nonCatholics) who agree with the official view that the two-year or three4year course at a College is not sufficient either from the liberal or the professional standpoint, and believe thatT! the present University four-year course, or another University course to take its place, can alone be sufficient education and training for the prospective teacher. The statistics again show that of the University graduate trainees intended for the teaching profession, 60 per cent. enter elementary schools. What proportion of these enter Catholic elementary schools? It is evident from Dr. Dowling's own letter that he takes no cognizance of all these Universitytrained elementary school teachers, most of whom are appointed by Council schools in fair and open competition for their vacancies. If Catholic elementary schools appointed these persons, it would mean no more money out of their pockets, as the local education authority pays all salaries.
Finally, I should like to appeal to Catholic leaders to ponder the following considerations. It is not my unworthy and unimportant self who alone or primarily made accusations against some Catholic teachers and much of Catholic education. Disapproval is fairly universal among those hostile to the Church or indifferent to it; it is widespread among those who are really well-disposed to the Church, including Catholic teachers and leaders interviewed and quoted in this paper. The way to counter this widespread suspicion of Catholic education is not to feel a personal affront or to endeavour by means of prestige and trumpeted recriminations to create the impression that Catholic educationists arc never to be questioned in their complacency, but to see what underlies the reiterated complaints and warnings of foes and friends ofthe Church alike. It is not 1, or others like me, that must be satisfied of the progressiveness, social constructiveness and ethical uplift of Catholic education, for we know that true Catholic education can and must show these characteristics (or we would not be Catholics thus fighting for the welfare of Catholicism); C.athblic education has got to show, by co-operation and realistic rejuvenation rather than by heingecontent merely to limp along and make shift, that we've got something no State education can be without. We shall have succeeded when we can generally show something that the outside world will wish to copy rather than complain about.
E. I. KINCi.
31, London Road, Ewell, Surrey.
The Previous Letter SIR,—Your Educational Correspondent's letter of August 21 merits a brief cornmente Neither the wisps of sarcasm nor the trail of red herrings obscures the view or confuses the scent, What he may have written in articles previous to that of July el in no way affects the standpoint of the article to which objection has properly been taken. Illjudged in time and contere, erroneous to a degree, it would have evoked, had it occurred at a time when most schools were in session, a vastly fiercer resentment, from pens far more able than mine.
M. MUP.PHY, Headmaster. St. Augustine's School,
Cranbrook Road, Ilford.
Noble Work Sue—Mr. King's letter in the current issue of THE CATHOLIC HERALD convinces me that I am a very oldfashioned Catholic.
When a child I lived in Jarrow, the parish of Canon Mackin, who did such noble work for Catholic education. We grew up, taking it for granted that Catholic education in a shack was necessarily superior to the best obtainable outside the Faith. Catholic parents naturally expected to " make sacrifices " for their children's education, and sent them a distance away to the nearest Catholic secondary schools, in preference to the local and quite efficient non-Catholic establishment.
St. Anthony's Convent, Sunderland, was the first secondary school in the north-east to obtain the Government grant for the pursuit of higher studies, and when we passed on to college and university life, we took the same examinations as our non-Catholic friends.
Nor can I refrain from paYiJ03 ty grateful tribute to the training given by the Sisters of Notre Dame, Liverpool, who were, I always believed, pioneers in the establishment of regular training for teachers in England. It will be no mystery to them that many or those whom they trained prefer to teach in black-listed schools, for they looked beyond degree, diploma or certificate.
May I recommend Mr. King to read Skheenarinka, a delightful essay from Fish on Friday. by L. Feeney? He describes his visit to a little country school in Ireland, where he introduces himself thus: " I come from a land where they name schoolhouses after dead philanthropists and live politicians. May I come in?"
ANNE W. CURRY, Headmistress.
The Dual System
Slit,—May I reply to some of the statements in Mr. King's letter? I did not ask him to publish confidential reports of 1I.M. inspectors, but I did ask him to judge schools on those reports and not on bits of conversation he heard at the close of a meeting of the " Sword of the Spirit," or on statements made by people who have deter. mined for reasons of their own that they want to epd the Dual System.
Mr. King asks, ss Why are so many professiodal and administrative bodies so openly declaring that the Dual System is a stumbling block to educational progress?" They never tell us. They repeat their declaration in a wonderful variety of ways, but they never put up any reasoned argument to explain. So we can only look round and see if we can deduce anything for ourselves.
Two things are worth noting: (I) Dual control prevents 'local authorities and their officers from doing just what they like with Catholic schools in the matter of organisation; (2) Teachers of various beliefs write an unceasing succession of letters to teachers papers demanding that all appointments (especially headships) in Church schools shall be open to all teachers, regardless of religious belief. •
There we have some indication of who want to end the Dual System and why ; but I do not give that as a complete answer. Our enemies are content to demand the end of the Dual System without explaining what is wrong with it. That is why we should not help them by advertising the fau!ts (real or imaginary) of our worst schools and assuming that all our schools are like that.
Some years ago a black list of condemned schools was drawn up. It included both Church schools and Council schools that were old and unsuited to modern requirements. (Note: It was the school building that was condemned, not the unfortunate inside. It is quite common to find the teacher blamed instead of the building.) The Council schools which are photographed and shown to imp'ortant visitors are those few new ones, built at a cost often far in excess of a hundred thousand pounds; and one is led to believe that these palaces of modern education are representative Council schools. How different. from the Catholic outlook which forgets that we have Catholic schools doing as good wale as any tin the land and keeps on drawing scornful attention to our worst. Mr. King himself has fallen for that one. He asks, " If, after all, Catholic schools are ' as good,' how do objectors account for the public outcry against ' black list schools?" So " Black List Schools " now means "Catholic Schools," If the public outcry is not a bigoted outcry, it will condemn black list Council schools just as strongly as it• condemns black list Catholic schools.
At least, we should hot join in their unfairness in picking out only one part of the black list for condemnation. Keep both in mind. We want equality of treatment for all. Then we will also claim equality in financial matters too. It is another little item our opponents keep very quiet about.
107, Roman Road, Middlesbrough.
Other Examples San—When one of His Majesty's Inspectors left Lancashire for a Midland district he took a pile of essays with him to show the Midland teachers the high standard which could be reached by children. These essays were written in an examination for boys and girls from all types of elementary schools. Aff those chosen to bring away as patterns were the work of children from Catholic schools.
A class in a small Catholic school in Warwickshire received such a good report from another of His Majesty's Inspectors • that teachers from nonCatholic schools were sent by the local Director of Education to spend a day in that class-room to see how the work was carried out.
At the County High School in a town it Worcestershire there is (with permission from the Archbishop) a boy whoee only previous schools have been Catholic ones. He is nearly always top of his class, and generally obtains the highest percentage of marks in the school in his end-of-term examination. The boy who sometimes receives a higher percentage than the first-mentioned is a former pupil of the same Catholic school.
Last year, owing to the removal of many families to the suburbs, the numbers in a Catholic school in a poor part of a Midland city decreased, and the Infants' Department was merged with the Mixed. The Infants' Headmistress expected the local education authorities to offer her a post as assistant somewhere. Instead, they gave her the headship of a large Infants' Council School in a better district.
Surely these four instances prove, at least, that Catholic teachers are not always inferior to -those in Council schools.
M. J. SEALEY.
7, Pickersleigh Close, Malvern Link, Worcestershire.
The Other Side StR,—May I be permitted to give one or two examples of the other side of the picture? Under manifold difficulties one Catholic school, of perhaps 180 children, has been awarded seven scholarships this year, from a class of Si children ranging in age from 9-14. What an achievement for the teacher! Another Catholic school, slightly larger, has gained another seven scholarships, again under more than ordinary difficulties. A Council school of over 600 children has succeeded in gaining two scholarships.
Chine Cottage, Crescent Road, Wimbledon; S.W.20.