Some London Polytechnic Institutes1

Abstract

II. ON account of a mistaken idea as to the true end of education, the object of technical instruction is often defeated. Many young operatives take up courses of study in order that they may become clerks in manufactories where technical knowledge is desirable. This notion causes the ranks of the mechanic class to lose many of their brightest men, while the supply of clerks increases. What has to be impressed upon the minds of students in trade classes is that the object of the instruction is to enable them to perform their duties in a more efficient manner, not to remove them from one sphere of life to another. This point was very well expressed by Sir Benjamin Baker at the beginning of this year, in presenting the prizes and certificates to students at the People's Palace. “It is necessary,” he said, “for teachers and students alike to remember that a certain amount of scientific or theoretical knowledge in the future, still more than in the present, must be considered as an indispensable element of success in the great battle of life, but not as a thing having necessarily any more market value in itself than a knowledge of reading and writing, nor must the facilities in acquiring knowledge now enjoyed by students be carried to such an extent as to incapacitate them from acting in an emergency promptly and reliantly without help from books or professors, or the benefits of scientific and technical education would be too dearly bought, and the self-education system of our predecessors would turn out the better men.”

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