Taunton College School

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    Abstract

    THE circumstances alluded to last week, under which the Taunton College School is threatening to collapse, and is in immediate danger of losing the headmaster who has made it what it is, are interesting on public grounds to the advocates of scientific instruction, as well as to the general educationalist. In a pamphlet published in 1865, and containing letters from Dr. Daubeny, Prof. Phillips, and Dr. Acland, Mr. Tuckwell was, we believe, the first English schoolmaster to assert publicly the claims of science to an honoured place in the curriculum of all first-class schools; and his evidence before Lord Taunton's Commission, his papers read to the British Association in 1869 and 1871, and his communications to the Royal Science Commission, show how diligently he has for twelve years past been working out in his school at Taunton the many practical problems which beset the introduction of a new subject into an ancient, established, jealous system. The school has thriven in his hands, risen rapidly in numbers, and gained the highest public distinctions at the Universities, the India Civil Service, Cooper's Hill, and Woolwich; and though the short-sighted economy of his governing body left him for years without a science master or a laboratory, and refused him a museum, botanical garden, and science class-rooms, he has overcome all these difficulties by patience, by the munificence of friends, and by pecuniary sacrifices; and at this moment many distinguished scientific visitors are glad to testify to the completeness of a system which passes the whole school through a course of physics and chemistry, and includes physical geography, botany, and meteorology in its more special training. In 1875 the number of boys had risen to 120, but the thrift of the governing body kept down the number of the masters. The typical proportion of assistant-masters to boys in modern schools of this size is one in sixteen; the Taunton masters were only one in twenty-seven. The school could not continue to succeed under this policy; the masters were unequal to the work; the number of boys fell off until a visitation of fever brought them below the paying point, and the school, already heavily in debt, was on the point of being closed. The panic-stricken officials laid the blame upon the head-master; his theology and politics were pronounced suspect; his unpopularity had caused the falling numbers; and when his friends came forward liberally with money and promises of money the governing body took the money, but upon condition that the head-master should leave at Christmas. Against this parents and old pupils are indignantly remonstrating; both have sent to Mr. Tuckwell public addresses of sympathy and confidence; the parents forwarding also a strong protest to the president of the governing body, and in many cases threatening to remove their sons if Mr. Tuckwell goes. So far, however, the custodians of the school's interests show no sign of yielding; it seems certain that the headmaster will be turned out, and more than probable that the school may, after all, collapse.

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    Taunton College School . Nature 16, 164 (1877) doi:10.1038/016164a0

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