Title: "The Proposed School Settlement" in Winnipeg Tribune, 12 September 1896
Source: Archives of Manitoba, P5316, Manitoba Schools Question 1896 – 1906, Newspaper clippings p.7
Page 1 of 1


The probability of an early and an
amicable, termination of the school
difficuluty is, happily, great. While
such a consummation is devoutly to
be desired, it is to be hoped that the
local government and legislature will
carelfully consider, not only the im-
mediate, but the ultimate, bearing of
each of the provisions of the propos-
ed settlement. Assuming that the
published reports of the terms of set-
tlement are fairly accurate, it may
be said that the proposals, taken as
a whole, are moderate and reason-
able, at first glance. It should, how-
ever be carefully observed that the
proposed arrangement whilst it re-
cognizes the inviolability of the sin-
gle common school system, waives, in
at least one of its provisions, the as-
sertion of a very important prin-
ciple, and one which has hitherto
been supposed to be inseparably
bound up with our political system.
We refer to the doctrine that the
state cannot recognize any religious
denomination. This principle is ob-
viously infringed by the clause in the
alleged proposed settlement, which
provides for the employment of Rom-
an Catholic teachers in proportion to
the numbers of Roman Catholic schol-
ars. At the present time, and under
the present system, there is nothing
which prohibits Roman Catholics in
any number from obtaining positions
as teachers in the public schools,
provided they can give the ordinary
evidences of efficiency. Why then,
make especial provision that a cer-
tain proportion, or any proportion,
of Roman Catholics shall be employ-
ed? The provision seems to be an
unwise, and even an absurd, one. It
would be equally objectionable if it
provided for Anglican, Presbyterian
or Methodist teachers.
To be quite frank, we may state
our conviction that an influential
section of the clergy of the Church of
England, and some of the Presbyter-
ian divines, are either openly unfriend-
ly to the public school system, in
which only undenominational religious
exercises are engaged in , or are at
least not enthusiastic believers in it.
The discussion on the education ques-
tion in the Anglican synod the other
day, makes it quite clear that many
of the participants accept the public
school system only because of
their conviction that it has the
hearty support of an overwhelming
public opinion, even amongst the
Church of England laity, which would
not tolerate any exhibition of open
hostility. It was very clear, how-
ever, that many of the reverend de-
baters, whilst not at all satisfied with
the provision for religious instruction
embodied in the proposed settlement,
regarded it as the thin edge of the
wedge which might hereafter pry
open a space wide enough to permit
the introduction of the unsatisfactory
and archaic voluntary or parochial
system. Recent occurences in Eng-
land mut produce an attitude of
alertness and apprehension on the
part of the people of this country,
when the question of education is
being discussed by a body of Church
of England clergymen.
It is not intended, nor is it possible
here to enter into any metaphysical
examination or discussion of the sanc-
tions on which sound morality must
of necessity be based. It is our be-
lief, based not only on deductive rea-
soning, but on observation of actual
results, that sound morality can be
inculcated simultaneously with in-
tellectual training, without any of
that teaching which is technically
termed religious, but which to a
large extent, might more properly be
styled dogmatic. The sanction for
the moral precepts which are com-
mon to all denominations, may be
put down as a rule, that the higher
the intelligence of the individual, the
higher will be his plane of morality,
and his value as citizen. It seems
extraordinary that in the face of
the demonstrated failure of the edu-
cational systems in which dogmatic
training has formed a large part of
the curriculum, men can be found to-
day gravely arguing for a perpetu-
ation of such systems. It is impos-
sible to inculcate morality by the
teaching of creeds or dogmas to chil-
dren in the schools. Such creeds or
dogmas have not necessarily any
connection with moral- at least none
which children can perceive. Much,
however, is now being done to im-
prove the ethical standards and
ideals of the rising generation, and
very much more may still be done,
by direct moral precept and by the
example afforded by teachers of ele-
vated moral character.
The only final solution of this
phase of the educational dispute, is
the absolute secularization of the
schools. Secularization and god-
lessness are far from being inter-
changeable terms. Indeed secular
schools in which due consideration is
given to the development and educa-
tion of the scholar as a whole, may
safely be relied upon to produce mo-
ral results so much superior to those
which have yet been produced by
any system of so-called religious
training in schools, that com-
paraison would be absurd. It is
vain to expect any final
settlement of this matter in
which the sacerdotal prejudices of
some of the clergy in several of the
denominations can be entirely allay-
ed. The only settlement which can
possible [possibly] be permanent is one which
shall be based on the principles of
eternal justice and eternal common
sense, and in which the doctrine of
the entire separation of the state
and denominational religion shall be
fully recognized.

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