The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The "P.R." Letter Bag

Volume 7, 1896, pgs. 235-237


[The Editor is not responsible for the opinions of Correspondents.]

DEAR MADAM,--I feel most strongly on the subject you refer to about the over-pressure of the present day in all our schools. Although my children are but babies, and have not yet begun their school careers--a period of their lives which I look forward to with much dread--I am delighted to send my name to be added to any list of parents protesting against the present pressure of work and long hours indulged in at all modern schools. A leading member of the educational department in India once told me that up to six years old a child should not be taught regularly at all, that after that age, one hour a day should be given, and that each year another hour a day might be added until five hours a day were reached, and that never should more than five hours a day be devoted to intellectual study. Can we not demand that our children should not have more than four hours in school per day and one hour for preparation? Children should have at least two hours in the open air if the weather will permit, and if there is time unoccupied there are many occupations which train the hand and eye which might employ them, without overtaxing their brains. And we should find our children more fully developed and far more fitly prepared for their careers in life.
Trusting that many other parents will add their names to the list.
Brook House, Bollington, I am, yours truly,
Near Macclesfield. ELIZABETH HICKSON.

DEAR EDITOR,--In reply to Mrs. Lawson's letter in the April Parent's Review, I should like to explain that we have some of the books needed for the Mothers' Educational Course in the Library, and hope in time to have them all. I have not the catalogue to refer to, but I believe we have the following:--"Carpenter's Mental Physiology," "Clews to Holy Writ" (Petrie), "Times of Isaiah (Sayce), "Teaching" (Calderwood), "Manual of Personal and Domestic Hygiene" (Schofield), "Moral Languages" (Gouin), "Home Education" (Mason), "The Little Red Mannikin" (Lankester).
72, St. George Square. Yours truly,

DEAR READERS,--I should like to say that one object of the Mothers' Educational Course is to secure that mothers shall possess themselves of a small educational library, consisting of books with which they are thoroughly familiar,--able to turn to any passage they want at a moment's notice. This sort of familiarity, with ever a score or so of helpful volumes is among the best results of study; and perhaps some such little library is the smallest professional outfit with which a mother should equip herself.

DEAR EDITOR,--In replay to "Mater Junior's" letter in your last issue, I am afraid the evils of which I complain are too grave to be remedied by any memorial to headmasters such as she suggests. My position is this, I approve of homework if it be suitable in quantity and quality to the capacity of the child, and if the school hours be so arranged as to allow of at least two hours' play or outdoor exercise every day and one hour for such subjects as music, drawing or manual work of some kind. I like teaching my boy, and gladly give him whatever time is necessary that I can spare from my own work; but I cannot let him, at the age of nine, grind for two hours every evening at lessons that are generally beyond him and frequently absurd, when I know he has had no time all day for anything but sums and Latin exercise and other book work. The root of the evil is in the appalling waste of time during actual school hours and this arises from two causes, (1) the incompetence of the masters, who have never learned how to teach and (2) inadequacy of the staff, each master in private preparatory schools having, as far as my experience goes, boys of two or three levels of attainment before him at one time, so that none of them are fully employed more than half the time that they are confined to the schoolroom. If any proof is needed of the inability of schoolmasters to teach, it may be found in Mr. F. Storr's address to the Teachers' Gild at their recent conference at the Merchant Taylors' School. He says:--"We insist that the physician shall have laid the foundation by a systematic study of anatomy and physiology, and further that he shall have walked the hospital and so exercised his 'prentice hand under proper supervision. How long must we wait before we have a similar guarantee in the case of a schoolmaster? How long will they glory in their shame because they knew non themselves? . . . that training may be of use to pupil-teachers, but is supererogatory or even detrimental in the case of university and public school men?"
Commenting on the supposed danger of overstrain from university boat-races and the like, the Field (Apr. 11) refers to the longevity and eminence in after life of so many "old blues," compares the moral condition of the universities when such sports were not, and says, "Man requires excitement and interest. There is a danger for youth that if they cannot be furnished with wholesome excitement and occupation in their leisure hours, even at the cost of possible slight tax upon their physique, the many in sheer ennui resort to occupations calculated to sap both morals and health alike . . . We cannot believe that, taken all round, health is injured for future life by competitions of this class as compared with the alternatives of old days, which tended so greatly to entice to less healthy and less moral attractions in leisure hours. We cannot keep our undergraduates in leading-strings; and it is safer to humour and encourage a bent which, at all events, cultivates courage, honourable emulation, self-control and asceticism, and so lays foundations hereafter for the desideratum of mens sana in carpore sano." The same point was enforced at a meeting of the Assistant Masters' Association, or April 12th, when a letter was read from Jr. John Burns, M.P., urging "more athletics and less sport, more games and less gaming, and in all manly exercises, toleration and fair play."
I have only space to note the introduction by the Government of the Education Bill; the death of Dr. William Sharp, of Rugby, to whom we own the introduction of natural science into the curriculum of our public schools; the "Disadvantages of University Life," in the Spectator, March 20th; and an address on the "New Education," by Mr. Howard Swan, reported at length in the "Journal of Education" for this month.
April 16th, 1896.

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