The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The "P.R." Letter Bag
Volume 7, 1896, pg. 628
[The Editor is not responsible for the opinions of Correspondents.]
Dear Editor,--Some of your readers may be glad to know how readily the children in the Ragged School Union Holiday Home respond to nature teaching. We have fifty very poor girls down here this fortnight, ranging in age from seven to fifteen; many of them come from factories, and they seem to have so little interest in anything outside of themselves, poor children. They are not nearly so intelligent or "alive" as the boys, though they respond very warmly to any little thing you do for them.
[The Ragged School Union organized schools to educate (and feed) children in England's most destitute working-class districts in the last half of the 1800's. They emphasized reading, writing, arithmetic, and Bible, and sometimes included vocational training. The goal was "to help disadvantaged children towards a better life." See more at Wikipedia.]
Last Saturday the matron allowed me to have some of them for a ramble after wild-flowers. The girls did not seem even to see flowers at first, and those they did find were all classed either as "a lily" or "a rose." But after about three-quarters of an hour you should have seen their eagerness to find "another new flower," and try to learn its name. Even a buttercup was an unknown flower to some, but their delight over the downy seeds of the thistle, the perforated leaves of the St. John's wort, and the scent of the Potentilla, was good to see. We found between thirty and forty varieties of flowers--or rather, they found them. I only just mentioned when I had seen another flower and they hunted for it. Of course, they found the names hard and only remembered a few when I asked them afterwards, but their wonder at so many kinds of flowers was great.
Towards the end of our walk I was almost forgetting they were London children, but, when we reached the high road, a large waggonette-load of London trippers passed and was hailed with shouts of recognition by my party. A piano-organ outside a public-house a little farther on was a very old friend, and the children begged: "Please let us dance, we always do in London." Fortunately, it was getting late, and the excuse of being in time for tea enabled us to pass the organ with only one brief attempt at a sort of Highland reel.
It was most interesting to get a glimpse into the lives of the poor
girls, and the appreciation of one girl of thirteen (who was "in the
dressmaking") for her work, because it was "so clean," was quite
Dear Editor,--Don't you think that it would be a help for many parents
if some kind of exchange or sale column for educational works were
added to Parents' Review? Those of us whose young people have done with
the schoolroom, have often quantities of school books that are useless
to give away as actual charity, but that it would often be a help to
other parents to be able to buy at a reduced rate. My fourth son
finishes his school life this year and I have shelves of outgrown
school books which I am quite sure other parents would be glad of. The
school booksellers often take them back at a nominal price, and then,
doubtless, sell the best over again as new.
[The editor will be glad to publish letters announcing that parents have books to sell.]
Proofread by LNL, Oct. 2020
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