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 14, 1903, pgs. 393-395

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

Dear Editor,—Kindly allow me to suggest an aspect of the effect of Kindergarten teaching which does not seem to have occurred to many people. There is hardly anyone who is not interested in education and certainly mothers are more intelligent and thoughtful on this subject than they have ever been. Still, the sheep-like tendency, which is a characteristic of all society, prevails, and we are too inclined to follow our leaders without due discrimination. Because of this, systems and teachers are sometimes blamed unjustly. Teachers must be specialists, but parents should be individualists, and while the specialism may be easily overdone, the individualism is too often not carried far enough. If this truth were accepted and worked out, the advantages of our highly-developed educational systems would be more apparent and the failures or evil effects, more properly speaking, fewer. Nursery and home discipline is rapidly becoming more and more amenable to the law of diversity of type, and children are being trained with more respect to their very marked individuality, but the principle needs to be carried a little further. Very early, often too early, the question of education for the children is discussed and the education itself entered upon. These small people (alas, that their mother has not full time at her disposal for them), whom nature is educating quite as fast as is good for them, must be placed in some recognised and duly authorised routine of instruction, and constantly at four or five years of age they are sent to the Kindergarten school.

Now, at first sight, the Kindergarten system is attractive in every way and no intelligent person would deny its many advantages. To many children, however, the very elements which make up its attractiveness form its danger. Modern children have the tendency to "nerves," which is to be deplored in their elders. In the Kindergarten classes they pass from one game or highly interesting occupation to another, all their faculties are awakened and excited and after a few weeks we find the same effect as that which would be produced by a series of children's parties or any other course of dissipation. The children become irritable, passionate, and nervous in the way which tends to and may often end in some serious nervous affection. That the Kindergarten system is unequalled for phlegmatic, dull or very backward children, there can be little doubt, but I believe it will presently be clearly seen that it is quite too exciting for children who are already excitable by nature. I have known several cases of the kind, but it is only lately that the true explanation has occurred to me, though the first case was that of my own little daughter.

A few weeks ago I met a Kindergarten teacher at the house of a friend, and as my mind was fairly full of the subject, I felt glad of the opportunity of getting an opinion on the other side. I am, like many people, very shy of airing my opinions on any subject before people who are authorities, but having been supported by medical concurrence, I felt braver than usual. The lady seemed a very sensible, intelligent woman also, evidently not a beginner, but one to whom years would have given experience. We got the subject of Kindergarten teaching fairly broached and then I said—"Do you not think the system may sometimes be rather exciting?" "Certainly," she replied, "It is meant to be exciting." "But" I observed, "A great many children are very excitable to begin with." "Well" was the reply, "our great object is to excite or stimulate the child's brain, the whole system is one of stimulation."

I must say that after this I felt confirmed in my opinion. The excitable child is far better at home, with a bright, companionable young governess, who will impart all needful instruction in the course of ordinary play, during meals, walks, etc., and train and guide the rapidly developing mental powers without any strain on brain or body, till both are consolidated enough for more ordinary and conventional instruction.
I am, yours truly, E. K. Johnston.
[Discussion is invited.—ED.]

Dear Editor.—In the January number a Mother enquired about a school in Brighton, near the Central station, "where the teaching is on modern lines, especially in manual work and ear-training (tonic sol-fa)." I know of a school, not near the station, but accessible by omnibus, where the methods would answer "Mother's" requirements in the musical department, and probably in the others, as the head mistress is Froebelian, and up-to-date in modern education. As no reply is given this month I send the address:—Miss Walenn, 36, Sussex Square.
Yours truly, Musician.

Dear Editor,—As many inquires have been made about the Perry Pictures, may I explain that they are not kept in stock but have to be ordered from America. Purchasers should supply themselves with a catalogue (price 3d., postage 1d.), which can be bought at the "Art for Schools Association." From this they must make their own selection of fifty, according to their requirements. The subjects illustrated cover the widest range, including Greek and Roman architecture and sculpture, masterpieces in art of all schools, distinguished people, battleships, animals, historical and geographical scenes, etc. The regular size is 3 1/2 in. by 8 in; these cost 1s. 01/2d, for 25. The smaller size is 3 1/2 in. by 3 in.; these cost 1s. 01/2d. for 50. In every case postage must be paid and specimens can be sent on approval if application, with postage, be made to the Secretary at 26, Gt. Ormond Street. A collection can be seen at the office and a smaller catalogue giving a list of subjects supplied in colours is issued at 1d. Orders cannot be fulfilled under about a month.
Faithfully yours,
I. B. S. Thompson.
P.S.—Will the lady who wrote to inquire about Rossetti's pictures kindly apply to the Secretary, as her address has been mislaid?
24, Argyle Road, Kensington.

Dear Editor,—Would it be possible in the Parents' Review to have a little extra space for Branch reports? It is just the carefully written out (not mere concise, statistically worded) reports which convey the vivid impression of some lecturer or lecture, which proves the true vade mecum to the anxious secretary on the qui vive for the round peg for the round hole as regards suitable lectures for his or her special Branch.
Lyon Road, Harrow, I am, yours faithfully,
April 13th, 1903. J.
Giberne Sieveking.

Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, November 2008