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land, and in particular against the system under which the Civil Service of India, probably the most powerful official body in the world, is recruited, and will be recruited.
" The discredit which has been successfully attached to certain systems by this word is a good illustration of the power of what a famous writer called dyslogistic expression, or, to put it more simply, of giving a thing a bad name. And here I must say, that the habit Englishmen have of importing into India these common-place censorious opinions about systems and institutions, is a great misfortune for the Natives. Even in the mouths of Englishmen who invented them, they generally have very little meaning, for they are based on a mere fragment of truth ; when
! passed about among the multitude, they have still less ; and, at last, when exported hither, and repeated by the Natives in a foreign tongue, they have simply no meaning at all.
As far as I understand the word, it means nothing more than the rapid communication of knowledge, --communication, that is to say, at a rate unknown till recently. Some people, I know, would add something to the definition, and would say that cramming is the rapid communication of superficial knowledge ; but the two statements will generally be found identical, and that they mean by superficial knowledge, knowledge which has been rapidly acquired. The true point, the point which really has to be proved is, whether knowledge rapidly acquired is more casily forgotten than knowledge which
has been slowly gained. The point is one upon which, to some extent, everybody can judge for himself or herself. I do not assert the negative, but I am rather surprised at the readiness with which the affirmative has been usually taken for granted ; no doubt, if it be true, it is a curious psychological fact, but surely there are some reasons for questioning the reality. It might plausibly be argued that knowledge slowly acquired, has been acquired at the cost of frequent intervals of inattention and forgetfulness.
Now everybody knows that inattention and forgetfulness tend to become habits of the mind, and it might be maintained that these habits would be likely to recur, in association with a subject of thought, even when that subject has for once been successfully mastered. On the other hand, it might be contended that knowledge rapidly acquired has been necessarily acquired under a certain strain and tension of the mental faculties, and that the effects of this tension are not likely to be so readily lost and dissipated.
“ The simple truth is, that under the strong stimulus applied by that system of examinations by which the entrance to almost every English profession is now barred, there has sprung up an active demand for knowledge of a more varied description than was once coveted, and above all, for knowledge rapidly imbibed and mastered. To meet this demand, a class of teachers has sprung up who certainly produce remarkable results with remarkable rapidity. I hear it said, that they are men of a lower order of mind and
accomplishment than the teachers who follow the old methods. It may be so ; but that only renders the probability greater, that some new power has been brought into play.” (Maine, Village Communities and Miscellanies, pp. 282–5, ed. 1876, Address to Univ. of Calcutta, March, 1866.)
171. “I have had some opportunity myself of making a comparison, and my judgment is decidedly in favour of the present system
(of competitive examinations). I am aware that many persons
think the matter is settled by asserting that all we do by our examination system, is to encourage cram ; but unfortunately no definition is given of what is reprobated by this much employed word. It seems to me that at least one very prominent tendency of the competitive system is extremely valuable ; namely, that of securing from the teacher attention to the progress of his pupils individually.” (Todhunter, Conflict of Studies, ed. 1873, pp. 63-4.)
172. "Fortunately, too, for the opponents of examination, an admirable cry' has been
' found. Examination, they say, leads to 'cram,'
> is the destruction of true study. People who know nothing else about examination know well enough that it is ' cram.' The word has all the attributes of a perfect question-begging epithet. It is short, emphatic, and happily derived from a disagreeable physical metaphor. Accordingly, there is not a respectable gentleman distributing prizes to a body of scholars at the end of the session, and at a loss for something to
say, who does not think of this word 'cram,' and proceed to expatiate on the evils of the examination-system.
“ I intend in this article to take up the less popular view of the subject and say what I can in favour of examinations. I wish to analyse the meaning of the word 'cram,' and decide, if possible, whether it is the baneful thing that so many people say. There is no difficulty in seeing at once that cram' means two different things, which I call 'good cram' and bad
A candidate, preparing for an important competitive examination, may put himself under a tutor well-skilled in preparing for that examination. This tutor looks for success by carefully directing the candidate's studies into the most 'paying lines, and restricting them rigorously to those lines. The training given may be of an arduous, thorough character, so that the faculties of the pupil are stretched and exercised to their utmost in those lines. This would be called
cram' because it involves exclusive devotion to the answering of certain examination-papers. I call it' good cram.'
"Bad cram,' on the other hand, consists in temporarily impressing upon the candidate's mind a collection of facts, dates, or formulæ, held in a wholly undigested state and ready to be disgorged in the examination-room by an act of mere memory. A candidate, unable to apprehend the bearing of Euclid's reasoning in the first book of his Elements, may learn the propositions off by heart, diagrams, letters and all, like
a Sunday scholar learning the collects and gospels. Dates, rules of grammar, and the like, may be “ crammed' by mnemonic lines, or by one of those wretched systems of artificial memory, teachers of which are always going about. In such ways it is, I believe, possible to give answers which simulate knowledge, and no more prove true knowledge, than the chattering of a parrot proves intellect.
“I am far from denying the existence of * bad cram’ of this character, but I hold that it can never be advantageously resorted to by those who are capable of 'good cram.' To learn a proposition of Euclid by heart is far more laborious than for a student of moderate capacity to master the nature of the reasoning. It is obvious that all advantages, even in an examinational point of view, are on the side of real knowledge. The slightest lapse of memory in the bad crammer,' for instance the putting of wrong letters in the diagram, will disclose the simulated character of his work, and the least change in the conditions of the proposition set will frustrate his mnemonic devices altogether. If
papers be set which really can be answered by mere memory, the badness is in the examiners.
“ Thorough blockheads may be driven to the worst kind of cram,' simply because they can do nothing better.' Nor do the blockheads suffer harm ; to exercise the memory is better than to leave the brain wholly at rest. Some qualities of endurance and resolution must be called into existence, before a youth can go through the