Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Payne, Joseph

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PAYNE, JOSEPH (1808–1876), first professor of education in England, was born of poor parents, on 2 March 1808, at Bury St. Edmunds. After receiving little besides an elementary education, he earned his own living as a boy by teaching and writing for the press, while continuing his studies in classics and English literature. In 1828 he was an assistant-master in a school in New Kent Road. Accidentally, he met with an account of Jacotot's system of teaching, made himself acquainted with the principles, and in 1830 wrote a pamphlet, ‘A compendious Exposition of Professor Jacotot's celebrated System of Education.’ Impressed by his account of Jacotot's system, Mrs. David Fletcher, a Camberwell lady, invited him to teach a small class, consisting of three children of her family and two others. His success was so marked that other parents wished to send their children, until the class became a school, known as the Denmark Hill Grammar School, with seventy or eighty boys. In 1831 Payne published a textbook, ‘Universal Instruction. Epitome Historiæ Sacræ. Adapted by a literal translation to Jacotot's Method. With a synopsis of the plan to be pursued in applying that method to the acquisition of Latin.’ Jacotot himself acknowledged the value of Payne's discipleship (Works of Joseph Payne, ii. 158). Throughout Payne's teaching life he taught in the spirit of Jacotot's methods, though circumstances rendered literal adherence sometimes impossible. A favourite maxim of his in teaching was ‘Lessoning, not Lecturing.’

In 1837 Payne married the daughter of the Rev. John Dyer, secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society. Miss Dyer was herself the head of a large school, which she continued after marriage. She had spent some years in the house of Mark Wilks of Paris, and had an unusual knowledge of French literature. She was a stimulating and capable teacher, of great energy of character. In 1845 the two schools in London, conducted respectively by himself and his wife, were given up, and Payne went to Leatherhead, where he established the Mansion House School for boys. This he continued with great success for nineteen years.

In 1865 Payne was examined by the Schools Enquiry Commission, and admitted the need of modifications in Jacotot's system of teaching languages, but thought ‘the general principle multum non multa quite unquestionable.’ In his school time-table the following were the percentage of forty-two working hours: classics 43 per cent., mathematics 30 per cent., French and German 14 per cent., history and geography 10 per cent., spelling 2 per cent., reading 1 per cent. He advocated before the commission the (permissive) registration of teachers.

In 1863 Payne retired from school-work and lived at 4 Kildare Gardens, Bayswater, London. He interested himself in linguistic studies, wrote a paper for the Philological Society on the ‘Norman Element in the Spoken and Written English of the 12th, 13th, and 14th Centuries.’ In 1873–4 he was chairman of the council of the Philological Society. In 1871 he was on the council of the Social Science Association, and in the same year, at the Leeds meeting, and in 1872, at Plymouth, read papers in the education section.

The most vigorous of all Payne's writings was an article on Eton, in the ‘British Quarterly Review’ (April 1868); this was not republished in the collected works. Payne's view was that the ‘pretensions of Eton are utterly unfounded, and that her boasted education is a lamentable failure.’ His lively attack provoked considerable attention.

From 1871 onwards Payne especially devoted himself to the higher education of women, the development of educational method, and the improvement of the status of the teacher by increasing his technical and professional qualifications. He energetically supported the Women's Education Union (from which sprang the Girls' Public Day School Company), and was chairman of the central committee of the union from its first organisation in 1871 until 1875. In 1866 he gave two lectures at the College of Preceptors on ‘The Curriculum of Modern Education and the claims of Classics and Science to be represented in it considered.’ In 1868 he read a paper on ‘The Past, Present, and Future of the College of Preceptors,’ in which he pleaded that the college should undertake the training of secondary teachers.

In 1872, after much discussion and in face of reactionary opposition, the College of Preceptors established the first professorship in education in England, and elected Payne to the post. He took great pains with the lectures, and during 1873 and 1874 140 students of both sexes attended the courses. In 1874 Payne urged the founding of a training college, with model and practising schools. He had some time previously urged the college to undertake the examination of teachers for diplomas in the science and art of teaching.

In 1874 Payne made a tour in North Germany, to visit some of the kindergartens, primary schools, and training colleges, and to investigate methods and theories as to the education of children between the ages of three and ten. In the spring of 1875 Payne wrote an account of his tour, but this was not published until after his death, which took place in April 1876. Mrs. Payne had died in 1875. Their son, Dr. Joseph Frank Payne, is a well-known physician.

There is a portrait of Payne in the common room of the College of Preceptors, painted from a photograph, and an engraving of the same photograph forms the frontispiece to vol. i. of Payne's ‘Works.’ A memorial prize was founded in the Maria Grey Training College, now at Brondesbury.

Payne wrote the following: 1. ‘Universal Instruction. Epitome Historiæ Sacræ. A Latin reading book on Jacotot's System,’ 1831, 12mo. 2. ‘Select Poetry for Children,’ 1st edit. 1839(?) 12mo; (this school-book has run through a large number of editions). 3. ‘Studies in English Poetry,’ 1845, 8vo. 4. ‘Studies in English Prose,’ 1868, 8vo. 5. ‘A Visit to German Schools. Notes of a Professional Tour to inspect some of the Kindergartens, Primary Schools, Public Girls' Schools, and Schools for Technical Instruction,’ 1876, 8vo. Payne's lectures, pamphlets, and papers best worth preserving in a collected form were published in a single volume, with an introduction, by the Rev. Robert Hebert Quick [q. v.] This work reappeared in 1883 as the first volume of the works of Joseph Payne, edited by his son, Dr. J. F. Payne: Vol. i. ‘Lectures on the Science and Art of Education.’ Vol. ii., containing ‘Lectures on the History of Education, with a Visit to German Schools,’ was published in 1892, 8vo.

[Obituary notice in the Educational Times of 1 June 1876 by Payne's friend, Mr. C. P. Mason; Minutes of Evidence taken before the Commissioners, in vol. iv. of the Schools' Inquiry Commission Report, 1868; information kindly given by Dr. J. F. Payne, by Mrs. Offord of Dover, and by Miss Emily A. E. Shirreff.]

F. W.-n.