Side by side with the elementary school, there are rising in England experiments similar to those undertaken by such organisations as the School City and the George Junior Republics of America. The most notable among them is the Little Commonwealth, Dorchester, which has achieved astonishing results through the process of taking delinquent children and allowing them self-government. But, hopeful as the prospects are, their ultimate effect will be best estimated when their pupils, restored in youth to the honourable service of the community, are taking their full share in life as adult citizens, and naturally every care is taken in the organisation of these institutions to ensure that the transition from their sheltered citizenship to the outside world shall not be of so abrupt a nature as to tend to render unreal and remote the life in which the children have taken part.
Nearly all of the more recent experiments in regard to the school and its kindred institutions are co-operative in principle and in method, but it is probably Utopian to conceive an educational method which shall achieve the highest success without having included within it the element of competition. If competition is a method obtaining outside the school it is bound to reproduce itself within it. The only possible thing for the school to do is to restrict the influence of competition to the channels where it can be beneficial.
The method by which elementary school children pass to the secondary school is by means of competitive scholarships. In common with the Consultative Committee of the Board of Education it is necessary to accept the fact that at present “the scholarship system is too firmly rooted in the manner, habits and character of this country to be dislodged, even if it were thrice condemned by theory.” But, in the interests of citizenship, scholarships should be awarded as the result of non-competitive tests, if only to secure that every child shall receive the education for which he or she is fitted.
The stress and strain imposed upon many who climb the ladder of education, often occasioned by the inadequacy of the scholarship for the purposes to which it is to be applied, tend to develop characteristics which are so strongly individual as to be distinctly anti-social.
It is unfortunate that in many subjects of the curriculum it is not merely bad form to help one’s neighbour but distinctly a school sin, and this makes it necessary for a balance to be struck by the introduction of subjects at which all can work for the good of the class or the school. Manual work and local surveys are subjects of this nature and should be encouraged side by side with games of which there are three essential aspects:—the individual achievement, the winning of the match or race, and “playing the game.” In reference to citizenship the last of these is the only one which ultimately matters.