(To the Editor.) Sir, —Your article of Thursday week under the above heading is most timely and might indeed have emphasised more strongly the need to cry a halt to the too generous sympathy of our Education Board (who do not have to find the money) towards every new and additional expensive project the enthusiastic Director of the Technical College submits for their approval. I fear they acquiesce the more readily lest they should be deemed wanting in appreciation of the value of technical education, though they may have as little practical knowledge of what the thing, really means as the.,.man in the street.
Whether we are not allowing the director to expend at such a luxurious rate beyond our actual technical needs no one can doubt, in face of what authorities (whom Mr G. George' could not decry) define technical education to consist in. Sir Philip Magnus, the Director of the City and Guilds of London Institute for the Advancement of Technical Education, in an address delivered at the opening of the Finsbury Technical College, after referring to the difference of opinion as to the subjects which should be taught and the manner of teaching them, said: "It must be remembered, in considering this difference of method, that the main purpose of the teaching to be given in this institution is not to make scientific men, but to educate ; 'technikers," as the Germans say, to explain to those preparing for industrial work or already engaged in it, the principles that have a direct bearing upon their occupation, so that they may be enabled to think back from the processes they see to the causes underlying them, and thus substitute scientific method for mere rule of thumb." In the introduction to "Cassell's Technical Educator," it is said: "Technical education means literally 'education in any special art. , and in this sense, of it is capable of almost the widest application. There is, in fact, no calling in life, no profession, vocation, or employment, from statecraft and diplomacy downwards through the long lines of brainwork and handwork, whose followers 3o not require a technical education suited to it to enable them to pursue it with the best results to themselves and the largest amount of benefit to others. At the present day, however, the term 'technical education' is not generally understood in so wide a signification, but it is confined to special instruction designed to enable men who live by hand labour to apply to their handicraft the leading principles of science which bear more especially upon it." I very, much question whether the people at large had any idea, when the Technical College was first estabflfehed here, that it would mean anything more than what is laid down in the foregoing; but from the start it has continued to expand towards the widest application, until it is becoming a serious question whether we really need or can stand the expense of all the Director would have us go in for. Admitting that he is competent and would, if given a free hand as in the past, build up an institution equipped equal to the best anywhere, the day for that is not yet.
If your readers will eon over the subjects named in the day and evening prospectus of the College, they will find ample evidence of the "encroachment upon the sphere of our secondary schools and university college in subjects for which provision is made by institutions already in receipt of State" subsidies."
I find this tendency not unknown in the experience of education boards, and it requires the restraint which our own Board have" not yet become alive to. In face of the country's neads in every direction for the expenditure of public money, is it not quite enough to spend money upon the actual technical education our circumstances require and by which the country will be really benefited?—l am, etc;., J.B.
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