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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

Edited by Miss F. Blogg
Volume 10, 1899, pg. 681

An Outline of the History of Educational Theories in England, by H. T. Mark, B.A., &c. (Swan, Sonnenschein, & Co.) This little book is an attempt to trace the shaping of our English constitution on a basis of popular self-government, and the development alongside of the educational theory in our country. The introductory chapter purports to be a restatement of English educational ideals, first distinctly announced in the seventeenth century, and a tracing of them back to their origins in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. In the eighth century there was the English scholar Alcuin, to whom Charlemagne turned in his zeal for improved education in France. In the eleventh century the rise of the universities in England occurred towards the close of the brilliant intellectual leadership of Abelard, in France. Later, the scholastic philosophy is defended, since it filled "a niche in the history of thought and education, from which it could ill be spared." In the Middle Ages education was almost entirely in the hands of the church; every monastery had its school, and some few of these monastic schools are shown to be the origins of existing grammar schools. Education five hundred years ago is here held to have been better and much more widely diffused than is generally supposed. It is estimated that in 1377 there were three hundred grammar schools in England, or one secondary school for every 8,300 people, whereas in 1865 the proportion was one for every 23,750 people. The views of Erasmus on education are well given, in particular, the making instruction interesting, the avoiding of a barbarous discipline, the need for much play, the necessity that first work should be in the form of amusement--all truths that modern education is still elaborating. The London schoolmaster, Mulcaster, is held to be the pioneer of the modern application of psychology to education; his ideas are briefly sketched in an interesting page, concluding with the assertion that the best teachers are required for the lowest forms, and that they should be the best paid. The athletics of the Middle Ages consisted of training from childhood upwards in the use of arms, the long-bow, the cross-bow, the broadsword and the battle-axe. "Sir Thomas Elyot's Governor (a word used in his time in the sense of tutor) is the first English work on education in which the two educational ideals of the Middle Ages, the intellectual and the physical, are blended as being integral parts of a single complete educational system. The seventeenth century theories, notably those of Locke and Milton, completed what Elyot began." Mulcaster, head-master successively of Merchant Taylors' and St. Paul's Schools, drew up "a very thorough-going system of physical exercises, both indoor and outdoor; he describes the games of handball (like our 'fives'), football (something like the Rugby game), and armball; he suggests graduated exercises of voice and chest and muscle, and gives details of the kind and amount of exercise in each case." Milton and Locke both advocated physical training, and yet its neglect is characteristic of the grammar schools of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The chapter following the one on "English Theories of Physical Education" is given up to the "Development of the Theory of Intellectual Education"; it is a long one, full of matter and of interest; a thoughtful reader will not care to have it cut down to mere inadequate extracts, it is worth following more fully. The concluding chapters treat of "Practical and Technical Education" and "Moral Education." The writer considers that the "final form of English educational principle and practice has not yet evolved," but that its key-words are now being spoken, that we shall not go abroad to find its system, though we may get aids thence, and that when English education comes to be a counterpart of our national ideal, we shall look back to the men of the seventeenth century as its founders. All these chapters show that English education trends towards action rather than culture, the drawing out of active powers counting far more than the acquisition of learning.

Thirty Years of Teaching, by L. C. Miall, F.R.S., Prof. of Biology in the Yorkshire College (Macmillan & Co.) This book might describe itself more aptly under the title "How to Teach," since it consists of a series of thoughtful, interesting, even entertaining discourses on teaching in general, and the author's own distinctive plans for education, formulated after an experience of thirty years. Some of the theories with which he started have been modified, and others entirely abrogated by the lessons of experience and the practical training of his own children. All who have boys to educate would do well to read and consider, even if they go no further, the serious changes that are here advocated in the normal boy's education. As a model for the training of a naturalist the early life of K E. von Baer is given fully. Some pages are given to Maria Edgeworth and her father, they "were never Boswellized, but he wrote down in a book what we may take to be cream of their conversation. That book is Practical Education, by Maria and R. L. Edgeworth. If the reader should light upon that ancient book he would do well to read it, for it contains authentic histories of the thoughts of children." Prof. Miall indites the teacher of to-day as an extinguisher of curiosity, and he includes the professor as well as the schoolmaster in this criticism. "Curiosity is stifled under lists of capes and rivers, lists of kings and queens, lists of compounds of chlorine and oxygen, lists of metals, semi-metals, and distinguished philosophers. . . . Our practical conception of teaching is still that of presenting to the learner's mind assorted packets of information. We tell them much, trusting that some small percentage may stick in the memory. The thirst for knowledge, the habit of inquiry, we do not teach."

A Study of a Child, by Louise E. Hogan (Harpur Bros.) This is the history of a healthy, happy, intelligent child, a systematic record of the early years of his training under the "Pestalozzian principle of letting alone, with unconscious supervision in a carefully-guarded environment, which supplied a great number of centres of interest that were full of indirect suggestions." The results here recorded claim to illustrate the practicability of Froebel's theory of nursery guidance developing every faculty a child may possess, and enabling it to educate itself easily by giving it a desire for study which will last through life, if not dulled by routine method later on. The notes that are the bulk of the book were written from day to day by the child's mother; she must have loved to write them, and many mothers doubtless will love to read them. One who is not a mother wonders if every child's sayings and doings transcribed by mother-love would appear as intelligent and reasonable and remarkable for its age, as do this child's; or if this is but an instance of a singularly intelligent boy, whose training under a different method might also have proved successful. This mother certainly trained her son carefully, and exercised great self-restraint in order to do so. Obedience, which is not a modern virtue in children, she cultivated successfully and kindly. All who have the care of young children may find something to help them in the not uninteresting pages that end with the boy's eighth year. There are many illustrations of writing, drawing, and cutting out.