Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/16

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Some months ago a correspondent of the Times, writing from Calcutta, said:

"The Calcutta University examinations of any year would supply curious material for reflection on the value of our educational systems. The prose test in the entrance examination this year includes 'Ivanhoe.' Here are a few of the answers which I have picked up. The spelling is bad, but that I have not cared to give:

"Question: 'Dapper man?' (Answer 1.) 'Man of superfluous 'knowledge.' (A. 2.) 'Mad.' (Q.) 'Democrat?' (A. 1.) 'Petticoat Government.' (A. 2.) 'Witchcraft.' (A. 3.) 'Half turning of the horse.' (Q.) 'Babylonish jargon?' (A. 1.) 'A vessel made at Babylon.' (A. 2.) 'A kind of drink made at Jerusalem.' (A. 3.) 'A kind of coat worn by Babylonians.' (Q.) 'Lay brother?' (A. 1.) 'A bishop.' (A. 2.) 'A step-brother.' (A. 3.) 'A scholar of the same godfather.' (Q.) 'Sumpter-mule?' (A.) 'A stubborn Jew.' (Q.) 'Bilious-looking fellow?' (A. 1.) 'A man of strict character.' (A. 2.) 'A person having a nose like the bill of an eagle.' (Q.) 'Cloister?' (A.) 'A kind of shell.' (Q.) 'Tavern politicians?' (A. 1.) 'Politicians in charge of the alehouse.' (A. 2.) 'Mere vulgars.' (A. 3.) 'Managers of the priestly church.' (Q.) 'A pair of cast-off galligaskins?' (A.) 'Two gallons of wine.'"

The fact here drawn attention to as significant is, that these Hindoo youths, during their matriculation examination, betrayed so much ignorance of the meanings of words and expressions contained in an English work they had read. And the intended implication appears to be that they were proved unfit to begin their college careers. If, now, instead of accepting that which is presented to us, we look a little below it, that which may strike us as more noteworthy is the amazing folly of an examiner who proposes to test the fitness of youths for commencing their higher education, by seeing how much they know of the technical terms, cant-phrases, slang, and even extinct slang, talked by the people of another nation. Instead of the unfitness of the boys, which is pointed out to us, we may see rather the unfitness of those concerned in educating them.

If, again, not dwelling on the particular fact underlying the one offered to our notice, we consider it along with others of the same class, our attention is arrested by the general fact that examiners, and more especially those appointed under recent systems of administration, habitually put questions of which a large proportion are utterly inappropriate. As I learn from his son, one of our judges not long since found himself unable to answer an examination-paper that had been put before law-students. A well-known Greek scholar, editor of a Greek play, who was appointed examiner, found that the examination-paper set by his predecessor was too difficult for him. Mr. Froude, in his inaugural address at St. Andrews, describing a paper set by an examiner in English history, said, "I could myself have answered two questions out of a dozen. And I learn from Mr. G. H. Lewes that he could not give replies to the questions on English literature which the Civil Service examiners had put to his son. Join-