If there is any class of literary productions m which we ought to oxpect clear, gramatical, and otherwise good English, surely it is m the annual reports of the inspectors of schools; yet if we were asked to name which of the parliamentary papers published year by year contain the most numerous specimens of indifferent and bad English, we should say it is the collection of inspectors' reports, with, as an appendix, the copies of examination papers set for teachers. Examples from the inspectors' reports for this year should convey a hint to the writers and the Education Department that greater attention ought to be given to the subject of Composition m our schools, m order that the inspectors of the future may be taught m their childhood to avoid such slovenliness as disfigures the reports of some of the present inspectors. One of these officers writes : " Their stock of books is limited to their text ones." He would not repeat the word "books" and uses the clumsy word "ones," probably because he feared he would be guilty of " tautology," though such a repitition would not be a tautology. This error he does commit m a previous sentence: ' There are very few schools m which it reading) is well taught; indeed, excellence is rare." The same officer writes : j' Teachers will find the advanced work of standards much easier to teach if it be well taught m the lower classes." By "it" the writer meant arithmetic, not "the advanced work of the standard," but the sentence does not convey that meaning. He also writes of "such wholesale failures," though such things had been mentioned previously. In the next report we find present and past tenses used m one sentence, respecting work done at the same past Lime. A schoolboy would get a bad mark for such a blunder. On the next page occur two delightful examples of mixed metaphor : "The time devoted to , . , might far better be employed m graving m boys' minds rules . . . that have been xnevsly tickled with nbrwh, so to speak." The idea of tickling rules with a brush will tickle our readers' minds. The Ke6ond case is : " The way m which rules are slurred over without being digested." The same inspector, as if fearing to repeat a word, liaring applied the word " good" to reading m one sentence, m the next writes of spelling as very "fine," "In Geography," he writes, '' the positions of places of importance were generally readily known." What is the meaning of " readily known" ? "At some schools the spelling was shocking, such clearly showing . . ." The inspector might be able to parse "such" as here used; but he could not defend such a use of the word. Nor could he, wo think, defend his use of a compound word "teaching ability" ; or the word "more" m "more especially." "An increase for the jeai of 357" contains not so much an anachronism as an ambiguity. Another inspector, laying down a principle for his own guidance, writes :— "The words 'strong' and 'weak pass, 'failure.'or 'percentage of passes' shall find no place ;n the body of this report.' Why, there they are ! But perhaps %\u paragraph m which these words occur, being thus distinguished from the "body' of the report, is to be considered one oi its ornaments. If so this sentence fron the same paragraph may be looked upoi as an added gem :—" Those who . . . still believe the exact equivalent of sc complex i\ machine as <t school can b( found m a simple numerical oxpreHsjon,' This is a nicely rounded sentynce ; bui who,besides the writer, ever thought o; such an equivalence? In justice to tin inspectors generally, it should be statei hat these extracts are made from threi reports only, and tht majority of then from one.—Kxchange.
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School Inspectors., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2472, 23 July 1890
School Inspectors. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2472, 23 July 1890
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