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dc.contributor.authorKnox, H. M.en
dc.date.accessioned2019-02-15T14:32:38Z
dc.date.available2019-02-15T14:32:38Z
dc.date.issued1949en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1842/34912
dc.description.abstracten
dc.description.abstractForty years ago Darroch pointed out (1) in an appreciation written at the time of Laurie's death that the volume of his work on education was much greater than that of any other writer since or during his time, and that, furthermore, his writings had a wider circulation -and a greater influence than those of any other British educationist, with the possible exception of Herbert Spencer. Since Laurie's death, however, none of the educational works which in most cases ran to several editions during his life¬ time, have been republished and his influence as an education¬ ist, once considerable, has now faded. But it is important that this quantitative aspect should not be over-emphasized, for already at that time Darroch recognized that the unique and characteristic mark of Laurie's educational writings was not so much in their extent or influence as in the fact that they attempted to lay down a definite scheme of education and to establish it upon a philosophic basis. Now, the exponents of the new pedagogy'in searching out a surer footing for the study of education, tend increasingly to limit the range of their subject and to realize, more clearly than the pioneers did, the boundaries of their field. This change in the con¬ ception of the educationist's function is strikingly brought out (2) by the late Professor Findlay: "In earlier days men like Locke in England, Herbart in Germany, or Laurie in Scotland, did attempt these bolder flights; endowed with great phil¬ osophic insight, .and experienced also as instruetors of youth, they expounded a complete system; setting out with a noble ideal for humanity, they deduced from this a complete scheme for the work of the schoolmaster which, if steadily pursued, would educate youth to perfect man. These were great achievements, and as examples for study are beyond praises it derogates nothing from these famous thinkers to say thaten
dc.description.abstractThe diffuse nature of Laurie's published works makes evaluation of his worth as philosopher and educationist a matter of some difficulty, but there can be little doubt that it is insufficiently acknowledged. Certain bibliographies such as the Cambridge History (3) and the Cambridge Bibliography (4) of English Literature, by cataloguing Laurie's writings separately under education and philosophy without cross-reference, tend to encourage an artificial distinction between the two sections of his work and to represent him as a kind of curious case of literary schizophrenia, impelled as it were along the path of paedeutics by his professional interests and along the divergent path of pure philosophy by his deepest personal interests. But the fact is that a clear understanding of the educationist presupposes at least some acquaintance with the philosopher, and indeed the more metaphysical of his disciples, such as Remade, Pringle-Pattison, and to some extent Sorley, contend that the work of the philosopher is the more notable achievement. Laurie's philosophical interests were as wide as his treatment of education and he was equally at home in the fields of ontology, epistemology, and ethics. It might reasonably be claimed that his 'Metaphysica', which Martineau regarded (5) as an "ingenious and original little book", was his most outstanding contribution to the literature of philos¬ ophy, but his earliest and most abiding concern seems to have inclined rather in the direction of ethics. We even find so distinguished a moral philosopher as the late Professor Seth frankly acknowledging in 1897 that Laurie's 'Ethica' was a book to which he probably owed more than to the work of any other living writer on ethics (6). Furthermore, it is to Laurie's reaction to the impact of certain social trends on his conception of the higher ethical life that the development of his ideas on education is due. His deprecation of the rigid departmentalization of modern life, of the fragment¬ ation of knowledge into highly specialized branches, of the materialism fostered by the advance of applied science, and of the threat to personal freedom implicit in the growth of bureaucracy, led him to propound four cardinal principles on which his educational philosophy may be said, to rest.en
dc.description.abstractIn the first place, as regards the educational end, he held that morality, consisting in the formation of the good will, is the chief end of all education. Consequently, premature specialization, or the tendency to educate the child for specific service to the community rather than simply for manhood or womanhood, is a grave educational heresy. Secondly, as regards the educative process, hs contended that wisdom, depending upon the development of the reasoning powers, is more important than knowledge. Hence encyclopaedism, or the tendency to store a child's memory with mere facts rather than train him to think for himself, cannot be too strongly discouraged. Third¬ ly, as regards the content of education, he insisted that it is national tradition, as contained in the literature and history of the race, which chiefly educates. Thus sense-realism, or the tendency to exalt the study of physical science over the humanities, is a third source of false doctrine. Finally, as regards the administration of education, he believed that the state ought never to disregard the influence of the family as of supreme importance in the education of the young. Accordingly, over-centralization, or the tendency to sacrifice local varia¬ tion to the demands of executive uniformity, is to be resisted in the interests of freedom. In short, Laurie held that education should be liberal (as opposed to utilitarian), universal (as opposed to particular), humanistic (as opposed to realistic), and distinctive (as opposed to uniform). Further¬ more, he believed that if education rests on principles it must be no respecter of persons, and so at all stages there should be a certain basic curriculum obligatory for all. In the light of increased psychological knowledge this contention is no longer acceptable to modern educationists. The Consultative Committee's /Report on Secondary Education' in 1938 rejected (7) the supposition, commonly held till about thirty years earlier, that "at this stage the mind could best be developed by a basic education of a humanistic type providing a general foundation of culture, applicable to every child without regard to individual differences or to subsequent specialization of careers". An examination of the underlying assumptions on which the view was based certainly reveals difficulties in the way of its acceptance.en
dc.description.abstractLaurie's conception of education is essentially disciplinary, but the unity of the mind to be educated is implicit in all his teaching. Hence, the moulding of the pupil's will and the development of his reason are iden¬ tified as one process. But before the mind can be 'formed' it must be 'informed', and in consequence, the 'formal' studies, which are pursued for their disciplinary value, must be preceded by instruction in the 'real' studies, which are taught for their intrinsic value. Indeed, because of the peculiar difficulties involved in effectively disciplining more than a small proportion of school-children, the necessity for thoroughness in instruction becomes apparent. Accordingly, Laurie attached great importance to method in teaching, believing that even in the case of 'real' subjects assimilation can effect a lower form of discipline to which all are more or less amenable, namely 'training'. Similarly on the moral side, because of the intangibility of the ethical life, he stressed the value of the aesthetic approach, believing that the appreciation of art contributes indirectly to the formation of spiritual ideals. It follows from this that Laurie's whole theory of education depends upon the validity of the doctrine of 'transfer of training' and the faculty psychology with which it is closely associated. The faculty training which he advocates is not the arbitrary multiple form, in which each faculty is assigned to and trained by a separate subject, but the more reasonable unitary form which postulates that one group of subjects can be made to train all the faculties. Even so, the entire theory of mental discipline has been subjected to severe criticism on the basis of systematic psychological research, and it is now doubted that the mind as a whole, or its individual 'faculties', can be trained merely by exercising them. But the doctrine of formal discipline has not been entirely discredited and the investigations have been largely confined to the purely cognitive field. Consequently, the affective-conative (or moral and emotional) aspects of the process, as Sir Cyril Burt points out (8) in a masterly appendix to the Spens Report, have been overlooked. Burt further inclines to the view that, even in the broader implications, the reaction against faculty psychology may have gone too far, so that valuable distinctions, over-emphasized perhaps by the earlier classifications, are now in danger of being lost.en
dc.description.abstractThese controversial questions of theory have influenced practical educational issues less than might be expected, and nearly all the enlightened ideals of modern pedagogy are foreshadowed in Laurie!s teaching. He attached great educational importance to the activity of children and advocated both physical training and hobbies as an integral part of the curriculum. He strove to secure a milder school discipline by deprecating the use of corporal punishment. He endeavoured to lighten the burden of examinations by seeking to exclude competition from the school. He insisted on the unity of the educational process by stressing the education of minds ,rather than the teaching of subjects. He believed that the education of girls is of equal importance with that of boys, though he did not regard co-education as the best means of achieving equality. And he held that education is an inalienable human right, even if at the same time he did not think it should be, except in necessitous cases, a free social service. As an educational theorist Laurie might be classified among the neo-humanists, but there is something of the eclectic in his educational doctrine. His insistence on 'use' as the criterion by which the teacher's success must ultimately be judged tends in the direction of realism, and his emphasis on the individual excellence of each man as an ethical personality has a tincture of naturalism in it. Laurie's identification of humanism with linguistic studies is in line with a well-established tradition, but he widened and modified the classical conception of language in an important particular. While retaining as necessary the study of Latin, he advocated, as a substitute for Greek, a thorough training in the vernacular language and literature and in national history as the primary essential of the modern liberal education. His insistence on the teaching of English was in the highest degree salutary, but he had little sympathy with - and perhaps understanding of - the new scientific humanism of T. H„ Huxley. The truth is that, despite his early training under Forbes and Kelland, Laurie never quite succeeded in correcting a natural bias towards the linguistic side of education. It is a significant fact, for instance, that none of his papers on methods of instruction deals with the teaching of any branch of science or mathematics.en
dc.description.abstractLaurie's reputation as a historian, particularly in America, has been, paradoxically, more enduring than his fame as a theorist. While little mention of his educational 255 philosophy is now to be found in contemporary writings, most books on the history of education still quote his historical works as sources of reference. Yet Laurie him¬ self made no serious pretensions to eminence as a historian, and in fact expressed some diffidence as to his qualifications in both his main contributions to the history of education. In the preface to his 'Mediaeval Universities' he claimed to address not historical experts but merely those who wished to know something about mediaeval education, and in the preface to his 'Pre-Christian Education' he similarly pointed out that the book was a historical survey and not a-history. In the more mature of his writings the influence of Hegel's 'Philosophy of History' is apparent, for Laurie himself looked on- history with the eye of a philosopher. He was more concerned with an interpretation of the facts before him than in verifying small matters of detail and, in consequence, his works have been regarded by professional historians as lacking in accuracy and scholarly exactness. His approach was insufficiently objective and his account of history has something characteristically whimsical and personal about it. Nevertheless, Laurie was one of the earliest writers to take a wide general view of the place of education in history and to regard it historically as a phase in human evolution. Indeed, he believed that a nation's educational history in the widest sense was co-extensive with the history of its civilization, as expressed in its intellectual, moral, and aesthetic products more particularly than in its material successes or achievements in war. The professional historian of its schools, it is true, must be content with a narrower view of the scope of the term, but, as Henderson says (9): "Professor Laurie defines the education with which he as an historian deals to be 'the means which a nation, with more or less consciousness, takes for bringing up its citizens to maintain the tradition of national character, and for promoting the welfare of the whole as an organized ethical community' ". Such a conception of the history of education marks an advance on his original starting-point in the 'Comenius', but it is interesting to note that in his last historical work Laurie reverted to the older biographical method, having learned by experience, as he explains in the preface to his 'Educational Opinion', that for students of education a general historical outline of opinion is uninstractive as compared with an analytical exposition of educational doctrines themselves.en
dc.description.abstractIt is in the practical sphere of education, however, that Laurie's reputation, though most anonymous, seems most secure. His strong and original personality made itself felt, but often unostentatiously, in all the great educational movements of last century. As is to be expected, his most suggestive activity was directed towards improvements in the preparation of teachers, both in extending professional train¬ ing and in gaining academic recognition for the study of education. On both these counts he had to labour under great disadvantages. In the first place, he had occupied his chair for twenty years before the Education Department saw fit to accept his Diploma in lieu of the normal certification for teachers; and secondly, the university authorities were unable to recognize education for purposes of graduation until he had been teaching the subject for sixteen years. "Notwithstanding these disabilities", wrote (10) David Ross at an early period, "the Edinburgh Chair of Education has been most successful under the direction of its able occupant. The class has steadily increased in numbers and is now the largest optional class in the university". Twenty years later, in a tribute to Laurie on his retirement, Sir Ludovic Grant said (11)i "His class, which in 1876, the year of its institution, only con¬ tained twelve students, had risen last session to ten times that number". The happy accident of his dual position as university professor and secretary to the Church of Scotland training-colleges enabled Laurie to do invaluable service towards co-ordinating the training of teachers with the work of the Scottish Universities. The successive steps he took were the modification of the Scotch Code in 1873, the modif¬ ication of arts courses with the L.A. in 1880, and the estab¬ lishment of the Schoolmasters' Diploma in 1886. But he also had a profound influence on the development of the study of education in England. Stimulated by the institution of the Bell Chairs, J.G.Fitch as early as December 1876 cogently urged (12) the foundation of similar professorships in con¬ nection with the English Universities and in particular spoke highly of Laurie. An account of the events leading up to the institution of the University of London's Teachers' Diploma' in 1883 is given by Ross (13)J "The success of the Edinburgh Chair encouraged the College of Preceptors to apply to the University of London, and in January 1379, the Convoc¬ ation of that University appointed a committee to inquire, firstly, whether it was advisable to institute examinations in the theory and practice of eduction, and secondly, what was the best form for such examinations to take.,.....As a member of Convocation of the University of London, the writer is in a position to state that the evidence of Professor Laurie had the largest share -in influencing that body not only to undertake examinations in education, but also in determining the special form which the examinations should take". Laurie's influence in the movement which culmin¬ ated in 1890 in the establishment of university training departments is described by Morgan (14): "It was largely due to Laurie's influence that a similar system for the university training of teachers spread into England Laurie suggested the establishment of Day Training Colleges in connection with the English universities, and the sugges¬ tion was ultimately carried out."en
dc.description.abstractLaurie's labours in the cause of education were, however, by no means confined to his own specific department. As Foster Watson said (15) of him: "He was in fact a leader in every educational advance of his time." His adaptability to the field of primary education is indicated by Simpson (16) "The Reports drawn up by Professors Menzies and Laurie for the Dick Bequest Trustees seem to show that, although they were more familiar with university education when appointed, they brought to their work thoroughness, insight and vision." Indeed, by 1393 the fame of Laurie's work in these schools had been bruited abroad as far as Paris, where the Grande Encyclopedie (17) spoke of it in these terms: "In no district in the world to-day does so large a proportion of children in rural areas receive so complete an education". Scarcely less valuable was his work for the organization of secondary school education in Scotland, as compiler of reports in 1868 not only on the Merchant Company Hospitals but also on George Heriot's and James Donaldson's Hospitals (18), as collector of data on educational endowments from 1372 to 1875, and as secretary to the Scottish Association for the Promotion of Secondary Education from 1376 to 1879. In later years he was also associated with the National Association for the Promotion of Technical and Secondary Education, an organization for which he drew up a scheme in 1391 of the educational requirements of Fifeshire for the utilization of the Residue Grant (19). Then, in the sphere of higher education he laboured unceasingly for the reform of the Scottish Universities in the light of modern needs and not least for the university education of women. The work of the Edinburgh Ladies' Educational Association which Laurie did so much to bring into being, assured for women at Edinburgh many of the benefits of university education, in arts at least, twenty-five years before they were admit¬ ted to the official arts courses in the university. Remade's estimate (20) is, accordingly, not excessive: ''When a com¬ prehensive view is taken of his work in the practical sphere, he can be said, without fear of exaggeration, to have chiefly inspired the reform in primary, secondary, and higher education of his country".en
dc.description.abstractThere can indeed be no doubt that Laurie possessed educational genius in an altogether exceptional degree and that the consistent quality of his thought, despite many obvious prejudices, entitles him to supreme rank among writers on education. There is hardly a page of his writings which does not sparkle with profound and original aphorisms on the purpose'of eduction, and there is scarcely an educational problem at present confronting practical teachers to which he does not offer some solution. The wonder, then, is to account for the decay of his influence. Two facts sufficiently explain it. In the first place, the experimental and scientific method of modern psychology has outmoded Laurie's speculative and dialectical mode of thinking. Empirically, it is true, he to some extent adumbrated many modern trends. He was not .far, for example, from the concept of mental age, nor from Spearman's noegenetic laws, nor even from certain Freudian conceptions, such as analogous physical and psychical causality, the deter¬ mining influence of the unconscious, and the supreme importance of early childhood. In the second place, the nature of his thought and the manner of its exposition are highly eccentric. His philosophic isolation derives, says Pringle-Pattison (21), "partly ffom his habits of solitary independent thinking, partly also from the very intensity with which he realized his own leading conceptions"., Metz (22) also stresses this: "Laurie remains just himself, more so than any other British thinker of his time, and his doctrine, therefore, must be understood in its own light. It is like a soliloquy, a conversation with himself alone, neither heeding others nor proceeding out of any antecedent intercourse with others". Moreover, hardly any of Laurie's educational works was written specifically as a book; with the notable exception of the more scholarly works on Gomenius and Pre-Ghristian education, they were either selections from his official reports (as the 'Primary Instruction'), or courses of university lectures (as the 'Mediaeval Universities',. 'Linguistic Method', and 'The Institutes'), or collections of articles (as the 'Educational Opinion' and the volumes of addresses). Notwithstanding conscientious revision in successive editions they preserve traces of their origin: the titles are odd or involved, the construction is clumsy, and the style heavy and obscure. Hardly surprising, there¬ fore, in an age of 'streamline', though none the less regret¬ table, that such cumbrous works have not survived. Pedagogical literature is, however, the poorer for this circumstance.en
dc.description.abstractLaurie's writings reveal an open and inquiring mind, well-stored with the wisdom of the past and rich in the lore of English and classical literature. His views are at all times moderate, and though occasionally there is ex¬ cess of thesis in his argument, he generally succeeds in raising the discussion about education to a level rarely attained by professional treatises. It is indeed a great gain that a man of Laurie's quality of mind concerned him¬ self with education at all, and when allowance is made for the limited amount of psychological knowledge available in his time we can only marvel at the logical and consistent nature of his educational theory. It is perhaps to be regretted that his experience was so exclusively bound up with his native city, from which, except for six years in his youth, he seems never to have been absent for more than a month or two at a time. But his interests were not cir¬ cumscribed by his environment: he was a frequent visitor to the Continent of Europe, a corresponding member of the National Educational Association of America (23), and, in addition to thirty-five years1 personal visitation of the three north¬ eastern counties of Scotland, he lectured in the course of his duties in cities so diverse as Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cambridge, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, and Manchester. Not least he was a great Scotsman, in idiom the traditional praefervidum ingenium Scotorum is well exemplified. It would be difficult to commemorate more fittingly his great work for education than in the words of Darroch's gracious epitaph (24): "As a thinker and writer on education, he had no equal in his day and generation".en
dc.publisherThe University of Edinburghen
dc.relation.ispartofAnnexe Thesis Digitisation Project 2019 Block 22en
dc.relation.isreferencedbyen
dc.titleEducational writings of Simon Somerville Laurie, M.A., LL.D., F.E.I.S., F.R.S.E. (1829-1909), first Bell Professor of the theory, history, and art of education in the University of Edinburgh (1876-1903) the practical value of their systems has depreciated with the passage of time. The example of these great thinkers is scarcely likely to be imitated, for, with the increasing specialization of function which characterizes the modern world, we shall not again find a philosopher to compare with these great minds of the past, who framed a system of ethics and philosophy which could be reduced to the terms of an educational manual".en
dc.typeThesis or Dissertationen
dc.type.qualificationlevelDoctoralen
dc.type.qualificationnamePhD Doctor of Philosophyen


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