The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Notes and Queries.
Having kept a preparatory school for little boys for many years, I shall like to answer, as shortly as possible, the inquiry made by "Mater" in the September magazine. An intelligent boy of seven should be able to read the books for Standard II., to write an easy dictation, and to copy from his reading book without making serious mistakes. In arithmetic he should know the principles of addition and subtraction as applied to very low numbers. Very elementary geography should be taught orally with blackboard and map. No grammar. A child of eight should have advanced to reading books for Standard III.; arithmetic should include multiplication; outlines of the geography of England, with the map; and grammar might be begun, the teacher using Abbott's "How to tell the Parts of the Speech." If the boy is to go to school at eight or soon after he should not begin Latin, but he might with advantage learn some French. If the boy is at home until nine, he should be able to read fluently any Fourth Standard reading book, and write well a dictation from a Third Standard Book; arithmetic to the end of the four rules; outlines of geography of Europe; grammar -- the parts of speech, with analysis of a simple sentence; simple French reading, exercises, and the four regular conjugations. History I have not mentioned as with single pupils it is best to choose a book which the child understands and read and talk it over with him, so as to excite an intelligent interest in the subject, rather than to aim at an accurate knowledge of a certain number of dates and events. May I say that if the child were about to enter my own school at nine years of age, I should prefer to begin Latin with him then; and, if he had been intelligently taught in other subjects, he would not lose time? If however, he begins at home, he may for the present safely use this old pronunciation, as it is still in use at nearly all our large public schools. The grammar teaching should follow the lines of the "Revised Latin Primer" though it is not a book to put into the hands of the beginner himself. Morris's "Elementa Latina" is a very book of simple Latin exercises for young pupils.
Any standard of work regulated by age must be very rough, as so much depends on the child and capabilities of the child and the advantages that can be afforded him; but I have endeavoured to give an idea of what can be done by an intelligent boy with a good teacher. This standard has been often reached by my own pupils who have begun at six years of age by working two hours a day, which has been gradually increased to four and a-half hours, including all preparation.
May I now add what I find are the chief faults in home teaching of little boys of the upper classes. Too much is attempted and nothing is done thoroughly. Boys who come to us at eight can scarcely ever write easily or copy a simple piece of poetry from a printed book without numerous mistakes. In arithmetic they nearly all claim to have done long division of money, but when examined they cannot write from dictation five hundred and one, and find it quite impossible to work the simplest question that involves, perhaps subtraction and multiplication. They have usually learned a great deal of geography and grammar from books, but cannot describe the course of the river Thames or pick out the verbs from a paragraph in a reading book. -- E.S.
If you would allow me, I should like to suggest a "Christmas Box," namely, the Parents' Review for this year, in a simple lively binding suitable to present to one's friends. I should like two or three copies myself for the purpose if they are to be had. -- M. R.
[Would any of our readers who are of this mind be good enough to send an order at once to the secretary (P.R.), care of Messrs. W. H.. Allen & Co., 13, Waterloo Place, London, S.W. Should a sufficient number of orders come in, an issue of the first volume (the first six numbers) will be prepared in pretty cloth covers, at 3s. 6d.]
Mrs. Macdonell's kind and instructive reply to "Mater's" queries as to "the training of boys for public school life" encourages me to broach a subject which presents some difficulty to the watchful parent. Having entered the child on school life, how is the parent to control or influence the curriculum, when it fails to accommodate itself to the needs of the particular child? For, most emphatically, the school is for the child, not the child for the school. We parents do not in fact "train our boys for public school life" -- we train them for God. School life is but an instrument which we may or may not decide to use, and it is, moreover, an instrument whose work we feel as responsible for and as bound to control as that of any other auxiliary whom we may summon to our aid.
If the parent is to the child in loco Deus, the schoolmaster, and especially the daily schoolmaster, can scarcely be in loco parentis; his view of the child is necessarily one-sided, his judgment of the effect of his own teaching of necessity lacks completeness.
The better the school, the more unwilling the parent is to interfere. His own ignorance is ever before him, his views may be mistaken, he thinks he will wait to see what next term will bring forth. Should he not rather remove the child than expect the teaching to bend for the sake of one? I venture to say that children are often removed from a school when, had there been some friendly means of communication between parent and teacher, the difficulty would have been overcome, and the child left to gain good at the olds school and to reflect credit on it in the end.
At present there is, I believe, no periodic, invited channel of communication between teacher and parent. The pupil's report is sent home, but it demands no reply -- no friendly R.S.V.P. lurks in any corner of the document. The removal from one class to another is also effected without the ascertained consent of the parent, who is obliged to object, if object he must, after and not before the event, thereby plainly revealing to the child that school and home authorities are disagreed. If parents were granted some systematic voice in individual school affairs, teachers might perhaps be encouraged by acknowledged appreciation, and pupils would be benefited by the personal attention attracted.
Will those in our Review who so nobly point out to parents their divinely-appointed guardianship, advise them how to retain it during the reign of the schoolmaster without undue clashing with his authority? -- PARENT.
Typed by happi, Apr 2017
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