Of Academical Education

From The Universal Spectator, no. 135, Saturday 8 May 1731; reprinted in The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 1, no. 5, May 1731, pages 196-197.

The Gentleman's Magazine, May 1731

The Gentleman’s Magazine, May 1731

A Gentleman, who had been lately at one of our Universities, for his Diversion, gives our Author some Account of their Methods of Education.

Says, he found in the younger part of the University a generous and noble Spirit reigning, and good Sense improv’d and elevated by a valuable stock of choice and useful Learning, widely different from the usual run of young Fellows about London, whose utmost stretch of Learning is to repeat scraps out of Plays, or Poetry, or perhaps produce a few stale Arguments against Christianity.

But takes notice of one general fault among them, i.e. the distance observ’d by Tutors to their Pupils; whereby the paternal and filial Affection which should subsist between them, is prevented, and misunderstanding and distance occasion’d. For nothing wins more upon young People, than a good natur’d open Treatment.

To this Distance and Reserve may be attributed, that so few friendships are contracted between Tutor and Pupil. The Haughty and Dogmatical are substituted in the room of the Friendly, Benevolent and Obliging.

Hereby likewise, he says, they frequently embroil themselves with their Pupils, to the great uneasiness and prejudice of both. Knew a sober ingenious Youth treated with the utmost severity, on no other account than his Tutor’s ignorance of his temper and genius.

As to the Objection that Familiarity may breed Contempt, he answers, it may be just with respect to those Tutors, whose only Qualifications lie in Form and Distance, but not to those of real Merit.

A Tutor, he thinks, should delight in the Conversation of his Pupils, and make their Studies agreeable, and endear himself by Gentleness and Courtesy, whereby he would let himself into the knowledge of their Temper, and thereby be ready to amend the bad, and cherish the good.



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