Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX.—No. III. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs)
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APPENDIX.—No. III. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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Successful Application of the New System of Instruction to Language-learning, in the case of one of the Classes of the High School, Edinburgh, as reported in a Letter from Mr James Gray, Master of the Class, to Edward Wakefield, Esq., 28th Dec. 1813.
“The following details will, I fear, be found uninteresting; but their results are so important, that I trust you will excuse a little dulness, while I endeavour to develop the plans of tuition lately adopted by some of the Masters of the High School, Edinburgh. It will be unnecessary to state, that the practices alluded to are founded on the system of Mr Lancaster, modelled according to the circumstances of our Seminary. The essential part of that gentleman’s discovery is, I apprehend, that by which the more advanced or cleverer boys are employed in teaching or in assisting in their tasks their inferiors in years or in knowledge; and this principle is acted upon here in its fullest extent. Many misconceptions have gone abroad in regard to this celebrated plan, which it is of vital interest to have removed. 1. The first and most pernicious of these is, that it is only applicable where great numbers of the lower classes of children are to be taught by the same master, gratis, or at a low rate. 2. Another is, that where schools have been previously established, either by law, as the parochial schools of Scotland, or on a foundation, changes are not only unnecessary, but might be dangerous. It is besides unfortunate, that many schoolmasters seem to consider the Lancasterian system as an innovation, which they ought to regard with a jealous eye. Till these prejudices are eradicated from the minds of parents and teachers, the advantages derived from the plan will be partial and inconsiderable. In my opinion, many more beneficial consequences will result to the interests of education, from introducing it into the schools already existing, than from establishing new ones; for it is not to be dissembled, that evils have long existed that admit of no other cure. I shall take as short a view as possible of the practices in common use, contrasting them with the new. I ground my remarks on a full and impartial experiment; and in making them to you, I have no other view but the interests of the youth of my country. For many years past, these have been the subject of my nightly dreams and my daily meditations; to them I have more than once sacrificed my health, and even risked my life; and nothing shall deter me from speaking the truth.
“Suppose a class to consist of a hundred boys, which I shall take as the average number, though in our school it is under the truth. In the old way, one boy was called upon to repeat a small portion of the lesson, to whom all the rest were understood to be listening. Thus we proceeded, till every boy in the class, or as many as could be overtaken, were examined: and this plan would have answered well enough, had it been possible to fix the mind of every individual upon the same subject at the same moment; but such is the volatility of the youthful mind, that I have ever found this impracticable. You may confine the body to a seat; you may, perhaps, fix the eye to a book, but you can never be certain that it is not an unconscious gaze; and it is not unlikely, that while the boy ought to be mentally construing his lesson, his imagination is chasing a butterfly, or robbing a bird’s nest. On this system I have experienced two unavoidable evils. 1. The one is, that the upper boys, who gain a knowledge of the lesson soon after they enter the school-room, cannot be kept still while the master is employed in teaching the under boys; and as example is contagious, the restlessness soon becomes universal. 2. The other is, that while the upper boys are construing, the under ones are generally trifling, and when the lesson comes round to them, are totally ignorant of it. They not unfrequently calculate upon the chance of escaping altogether, from the impossibility there is for any one man thoroughly to examine a hundred boys in two hours; for we never continue longer in school at any one time; and next meeting brings a new task. Thus both the upper and the under boys are injured. The one do not gain all the profit which they might from a more judicious management; the other make little or no progress, and, from the habitual neglect of their duty, contract a dislike both to their tasks and their teachers. In many cases it would be well if the evil ended here; for there is reason to fear, that the hours that ought to be employed in the acquisition of useful knowledge will be spent in habits dangerous to virtue; that indolence will shed its mildews over the blossoms of early talent, which may wither never to bloom again; or that the man will have to struggle hard to supply the deficiencies of the boy. I am far from saying that the evil is universal. According to the present system, many boys spring forward in the pursuit of knowledge, with an alacrity and success that is quite astonishing; but if, of an hundred boys, twenty fail in the object for which they are sent to the school, any scheme that might ensure their success ought to be eagerly embraced. This may be done effectually on the new system, by which I have been enabled so to arrange my class, that every boy is employed every minute of the time he is in school, either in the acquisition or communication of knowledge. The fifteen highest boys are monitors. The first thing to be done after the meeting of the class, is to see that they have their lessons distinctly. When this is ascertained, the whole class goes into divisions. In this way fifteen times as much work can be done in the same space, and, I can say with confidence, fifteen times better. From this contrivance, instead of the languor and restlessness that too frequently prevails, all is activity and energy. More noise, indeed, is heard; but the sounds are sweet, for they are the sounds of labour. Every one studies, because by the exertion of his talents, he finds himself equal to every task; and ignorance is more shameful, where the account is to be rendered to one of his own years, than to a man. It seems, indeed, that boys are better qualified to teach boys, than men: they enter more readily into their feelings; they are more sensible of the difficulties which they themselves have just mastered; and will adopt more simple and familiar modes of illustration. Nor have I ever had cause to suspect the diligence or fidelity of a monitor. To attain this station, is an object of rising ambition to the whole class: and where any one has risen to it, he is too much afraid of losing it, to risk the disgrace by his own misconduct. I have never once found it necessary to degrade a monitor for inattention to his division. To this there is a double check. An appeal is open to the division against the monitor, as well as to him against the division; and when every boy has gone over the whole, not a portion of the lesson, I examine a number of them promiscuously, and the lessons are said with so much more promptitude and accuracy than in the old way, that I am frequently enabled to examine as many as if no time had been spent in divisions at all. Thus I have united the advantages of both methods. By this means, every boy in the class, besides the benefit accruing from saying over the whole of every lesson till he has satisfied his monitor, is separately examined by me two or three times a-day. The superiority of this mode over the other is incalculable, as it tends to store the mind with useful knowledge, to infuse a love of learning, to form habits of industry, and to render the whole economy of a school delightful both to scholars and master. Of my present class, that has been conducted on this plan, all have gained a more extensive knowledge of the Latin language than I have known on any former occasion; and not a single boy has failed. This, till now, I did not think possible. For many years it had been a subject of melancholy reflection to me, why so many boys failed in acquiring a competent knowledge of classical learning, while they succeeded in everything else. This objection to our classical schools may now be easily obviated. I do not say that every boy will be equally successful. Nature has made strong and marked distinctions in the extent of capacity; but I will venture to assert, that every one may be made to turn his talents to the best account. One of the most important of the objects of a good education, is to inspire a literary taste; and I know no way in which this can be done so effectually. What deters many boys from the prosecution of ancient learning is its difficulty. By aid of the Lancasterian system, asperities may be smoothed, the boy may be gently led over the threshold of the temple; and when he is once introduced, he cannot fail to be charmed by its beauties. I have never, indeed, known a young man who pursued learning, that did not love it. This bias to literature is of more value than all the knowledge he earns from school. It is the shield of the young mind against the ruinous inroads of vice. In a school so regulated, it is impossible for any boy to spend his time idly. He must exert himself. He readily does what he finds he cannot escape; and what may have been irksome at first, soon becomes pleasant. He is happy, from a consciousness of doing his duty; and habits are formed, that will be useful through life. To the master, the task of superintending such a school is delightful. He is merely the helmsman that steers the bark, under perpetual sunshine, while every man on board is at his duty. Corporal punishments are abolished. This practice is equally degrading to the scholar who suffers, and to the master who inflicts punishment; and I firmly believe has done more mischief to our classical schools than all other causes whatever. The boy soon considers the man, whom he sees in the daily use of the torture, as a tyrant, and his greatest enemy; and all his ingenuity will be exerted in inventing the means of retaliation. A great objection to this mode of discipline is, that from its very nature the master applies to it with reluctance; and for one fault that is punished, twenty escape. Thus the hope of impunity begets disorder, which, when it comes to a certain height, in its turn brings punishment. On the new method, the boys are kept in constant good humour, and no irritation is ever excited in the mind of the master. There exists between them only a reciprocity of kindness and docility. To animate a whole school with one spirit, to make them advance in the intellectual career with the same march of mind, to stimulate them to exertion by the enlivening power of emulation, to exalt them in their own opinion, has always been my object in the discharge of my public duties; and Mr Lancaster has put into my hands an instrument, by which I have been enabled to realize my fondest visions in my most sanguine mood. This is a testimony that I think due, and I cannot withhold it.
I have the honour to be,