The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
A New Departure

by Thomas Godolphin Rooper
Volume 7, 1896, pg. 749

[Thomas Godolphin Rooper, 1847-1903, was an inspector of schools and personal friend of Charlotte Mason; much of his writing was for her P.N.E.U. meetings. His essay "Lyonesse" describes his time as a student at the Harrow boarding school. After he died (of spinal tuberculosis at the age of 56), Mason wrote a chapter in his honor which appears in her book, "Formation of Character," vol 5 of her series. He never married.]

We publish two letters from Mr. Rooper suggesting a scheme which we think should work well in connection with the Parents' Review. We hope to begin in January, if we hear in the meantime of a sufficient number of ladies who would care to join The Translation Society or The English Literature Society. Address, Editor, 28, Victoria Street, with "Y.L.S." on envelope.

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Dear Editor,--Several--to wit, two or three--ladies have asked me lately whether something could not be done for young ladies who have just left the schoolroom. These are said to bicycle all the day and read novels all the night.

I cannot myself any longer undertake to help these young people, but many years ago I used to have classes by correspondence, which worked very well. I assumed that the ladies had not much time to spare for intellectual occupations, therefore I did not give them too much to do. The only fee was 1s. 6d. a year, which provided prizes. There were about twenty ladies "over 17 years." Each in turn sent in to me a selection (in prose or poetry) from Schiller or Goethe, or from some other classical writer in German, consisting of about forty lines. I notified the choice to others, and they sent me the translation of the passage into the best English prose they could command. I carefully corrected them and made out a list in order of merit. The whole set of translations for the month and the list was sent to each member of the class in turn. Each member voted on the translations, selecting the two or three which she liked best and put first. At the end of the year a prize was given to the two ladies who had got the most votes from the class.

Subsequently I started a class on similar lines for English literature, setting a brief paper which led the ladies not to cram up a lot of miscellaneous learning in philology and "allusions," but exercising their thought and power of rendering the thoughts of the writers in other language, and tracing out the connection of ideas in a poem or book of prose. We worked through selections from Piers Plowman to Tennyson--not, of course, in chronological order, but with a view to contrast, comparison and variety.

I undertook it for my sisters' sake, and I always think the results were good. Of course, different ladies joined different classes, though a few took all three. They had a month to answer to each study, whether in literature or translation. There are a few ladies who cannot get a few hours a month for this work, and as it is no severe tax on time or mind I think most were interested in it. Do you not think something of the kind might be worked in connection with the Parents' Review? It would meet a quiet demand which is not loudly expressed but felt widely.

Yours truly,
T. G. Rooper

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Dear Editor,--Please make any use of my observations. I am so glad they commend themselves to you. January is a good time to commence. Yes, culture, not cram. The end: liking the subject better, not worse. I used to call it "The Translation Society." Though primarily intended for girls who have lately left the schoolroom, there is no limit to age or sex, and if a few older people join, they give weight to the portfolio (so to say) which circulates among the members. So, too, "The Botany Society" and "The English Literature Society." Each was distinct in itself, though several members of one were also members of the others. I expect it would be well at first to start with these, and then when correspondents understand the principle of the plan by a little experience, they can be invited to add other subjects.

Yours truly,
T. G. Rooper.

Proofread by LNL, Aug 2020