The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The "P.R." Letter Bag
Volume14, 1903, pgs. 554-560
[The Editor is not responsible for the opinions of Correspondents.]
Dear Editor,—May we call the attention of your readers to a scheme which is intended as a preliminary attempt to meet the need felt by many educated women for more systematic and intelligent Biblical study.
No serious student of the Bible to-day can afford to ignore the fresh light continually pouring in from recent research and exploration—least honour to England that the responsibility for teaching the Bible is so universally recognized, but we are beginning to see that those who teach it must study it more thoroughly.
There are many who have little opportunity or leisure to gain the knowledge which alone will enable them to resist the attacks of hasty and one-sided criticism. A three-weeks Vacation Term has been arranged at Cambridge, in order to provide facilities for Academic Bible Study on the level of honour work in other subjects. It is hoped that such a course of study, arranged on a Christian basis, and conducted by lecturers chosen, not as representatives of any particular school of doctrine, but as experts in their own subjects, may meet a very widely felt need.
As at present arranged the scheme will include the courses of four lectures—from Dr. Kirkpatrick, on "Old Testament Religion"; Professor Swete, on "New Testament Christology"; Dr. Stanton, on "New Testament Times"; Dr. Rashdall, on "The Philosophy of Religion"; Mr. F. C. Burkitt, on "The Synoptic Gospels"; Rev. C. F. Burney, on "Genesis and Exodus"; Dr. Barnes, on "Isaiah"; Dr. Agar Beet, on "The Epistle to the Romans"; Rev. R. H. Kennett, on "The History of Israel"; as well as single lectures on special subjects.
The terms, including lecture fees, and with residence at Newnham or
Girton Colleges, will be £1 175. 6d.; in lodgings, from £1
125. 6d. per week.
Beatrice Creighton, Secretary, Hampton Court Palace,
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Dear Editor,—One is so accustomed to hearing the Kindergarten attacked as a mere place for play that one notes with a little amusement, though with much satisfaction, that your correspondent, Mrs. E. K. Johnston, admits that it is, after all, a serious institution. Whilst it is impossible to discuss the merits of the Kindergarten system within the limits of a short letter, the question raised, of its effect upon a child's nervous condition, is so important that I cannot refrain from writing a few words on the subject.
One can readily sympathise with a mother whose child, possibly of an exceptionally nervous temperament, may have suffered some harm through the danger of over-excitement not having been realized by the teacher with whom she was placed. In such special cases it is always desirable for a parent to take the teacher into her confidence, and in particular to inform her of any sign of over-excitement shown in the home as the apparent result of the morning's work. It is, however, a great mistake to suppose that the principles on which the Kindergarten is based tend in their proper application to produce anything like nerve-strain; indeed, the exact contrary is the fact of the case. It is rightly claimed for the system that, though it is intended to stimulate the mind within the limits of a child's natural capacity, its effects upon the nervous organisation is to soothe, certainly not to irritate. It appears that your correspondent has not clearly distinguished between the stimulation which makes for health, and that undue excitement which produces irritation and injury.
One of the greatest misfortunes that can happen to a nervous child is to be left largely to its own resources without full an suitable occupation, in which case the mind turns upon itself, producing a morbid, nervous condition. This danger at least the well-ordered Kindergarten removes by providing pleasurable occupation for hand and eye which demands enough attention for interest and development, without straining childish faculties; while the Nature knowledge gained there places the child in true relationship with Mother Nature herself, who can then exert her peaceful influence in garden, field and lane.
Among the many other advantages gained by the child is the restful sense of well-disciplined activity, so rarely to be found in home and nursery; while the long and careful training which every Kindergarten teacher has undergone, coupled with such wide and close observation of child-nature as can only be gained by daily contact with numbers of children, should enable her to acquire in a special degree sympathetic insight into the varying conditions and capacity of individual children.
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Public School Boys
Dear Editor,—Reform in the educational system of our public schools on the lines suggested in Mr. MacEacharn's paper cannot, even if started at once, be effected for years. What, in the meantime, are parents to do? That is the pressing question for those who, like myself, have sons just ready for public school. Book-learning and intellectual training boys may get at home; can the influences of family life be made equivalent to the forces which go towards the moulding of character in the small world of a public school? Most thoughtful parents are, I believe, forced to answer this question in the negative, and, after balancing advantages and disadvantages, feel compelled to adopt what seems the better of the two courses, unsatisfactory as that may really be. If reform of our public schools is to be hastened, the pressure of parental opinion must be brought to bear. The voice of intelligent fathers and mothers must be loudly heard; and the apathy and ignorance which characterise so large a proportion of parents must be overcome. The influence of wealthy parents, of whom there are so many in English society, is, as a rule, inimical to progress. In many homes, luxury and frivolity prevail, and the boys are from the first brought up in the knowledge that they will never be called upon to work, if indeed they are not imbued by example and precept with the idea that all serious work is hateful or degrading. Sport and pleasure are the only serious pursuits of vast numbers of wealthy Englishmen, and their sons carry these ideas to, and propagate them in our school-boy societies. Many of these wealthy boys go into the army. There the tone acquired at school and at home becomes developed. Pursuit of professional knowledge is "bad form"; the more complete his ignorance of military science the more popular the officer. Instead of being a training ground for intellectual manliness of the finest type, the army often forms merely a school of idleness and selfishness. So much sacrifice of personal ease cannot be made as shall enable the young officer to qualify for the discharge of subordinate duties; so that when the call comes, useless love of life, national disgrace, or disaster, may be the final result.
An immense step towards reform will be accomplished when headmasterships are made open to laymen as well as to theologians. The culture of a theologian necessarily tends to narrowness. An ideal schoolmaster is, before all things, a man of science in the broadest and most comprehensive sense of the words.
P.S.—The class list of the Cambridge mathematical tripos published to-day (June 17th) will not tend to diminish the uneasiness of parents of public school boys. The Senior Wrangler is a grammar-school boy; and among the remaining twenty, only two hail from the great public schools; one of these being from Cheltenham, one from Rugby. It has been not at all uncommon in my experience to discover a similar state of things when examining the list on previous occasions. Our great public schools are the recognized training grounds for Oxford and Cambridge before any other universities. It would be interesting to hear from headmasters an explanation of the causes to which they attribute the poor show made as a rule by the students for whom they are primarily responsible.
June 17th, 1903.
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Edited by Miss F. Noël Armfield, Sec., 26, Victoria Street, S.W.
To whom all Hon. Local Secs. are requested to send reports of all matters of interest connected with their branches, also 6 copies of any prospectuses or other papers they may print.
N.B.—Kindly write on one side of the paper only.
The Annual Conversazione
Was held on Monday, June 8th, at the Kensington Town Hall. The President, the Countess of Aberdeen, occupied the chair, and in her opening remarks strongly commended the Union to all present, and urged them to read the annual report for 1903.
Lady Campbell then read the paper contributed by Miss Mason, on "Studies serve for delight, for ornament and for ability."* The paper set forth the advantages of the Ambleside syllabus, which the writer said endeavoured to maintain the relations between pleasure and knowledge, and to get that touch of emotion which vivified knowledge. Lessons were so interesting to the children that they desired no stimulant such as prizes or marks. Reliance was placed on education by the study of books and on education by things, such as nature study and artistic handicraft.
The Countess of Aberdeen, in her brief speech from the chair, remarked that the growth of the Union was shown in various ways, but the best way of all by the increase in the number of local branches. Parents had not hitherto been accustomed to taking that interest in their children that they should do.
Professor Armstrong, F.R.S., proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Mason for preparing the paper, and to Lady Campbell for her charming rendering of it. It was strange, he said, that there was any necessity for parents to form a Union to promote the education of their children. They were all agreed that English education had been to a very large extent on wrong lines, and they would have to put it right if they were to compete successfully with the rest of the world. Education had suffered much in the past from the public apathy, and many people had not studied the matter sufficiently to have sound opinions. Schoolmasters and mistresses needed encouragement and support from parents in experiments which they must make without any certainty of success, for they had to find things out from experience.
The Rev. A. F. R. Bird, F.R. Hist.S., headmaster of Forest Hill House School, seconded.
Miss Horne proposed a vote of thanks to the Countess of Aberdeen for presiding.
Mr. Rudolph Lehmann seconded, and said if the Union pursued its work it would do much to raise the schools of England to a proper standard. It was melancholy, futile, and ridiculous for there to be a possibility that children, after their education had been well begun, should be brought into a state of ignorance through the apathy of their parents or teachers, or the devitalizing traditions that were still maintained in many public schools.
The following resolution was moved by Mrs. Franklin, and seconded by Mr. Rees-Swain, H.M.I.:—
"That this meeting of the Parents' National Educational Union members, and their friends, hereby record their sincere sympathy with the family of Mr. Rooper, whose loss they all deeply mourn."
In moving this resolution, Mrs. Franklin read extracts from an appreciation of Mr. Rooper, written by the Editor.
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The Executive Committee has been approached with a view to starting Branches in the following places:—
Readers of the Parents' Review living in these districts, or having friends there, are asked to communicate with Miss Armfield, 26, Victoria Street, S.W.
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A Branch of the P.N.E.U. will shortly be opened at Croydon. Miss Armfield, 26, Victoria Street, S.W., will be glad to receive the names of people, in or around Croydon, likely to be interested in the formation of a Branch.
Bristol.—The inaugural meeting of the Bristol Branch was held at University College, Bristol, on Thursday evening, June 11th, 1903. About eighty ladies and gentlemen were present, and expressed great interest in the work of the society and in the literature exposed for sale. Professor Lloyd Morgan, the President of the Bristol Branch, took the chair and introduced the lecturer, Mrs. E. L. Franklin, Hon. Org. Sec. He spoke of a more serious effort on the part of parents to think out of the real aim of true education, and urged that education should commence with the life of the child. Mrs. E. L. Franklin followed with a most interesting sketch of the aims of the society. Dr. Newman Nield proposed, and Dr. E. H. Cook seconded a cordial vote of thanks to the lecturer, and John Fisher, Esq., proposed—seconded by J. L. Daniell, Esq.—a vote of thanks to Professor Lloyd Morgan for presiding.
Edinburgh.—On Saturday, May 9th, Professor J. Arthur Thomson addressed a large audience met at 40, Moray Place (by the kind invitation of Sir Alexander and Lady Christison). "How to Interest Children in Natural History" was the subject, which Professor Thomson treated in such a way as to inspire and encourage in all present the desire to bring the little ones in touch with the wonders of the natural world. Professor Cossar Ewart, who presided, spoke at the close of the address, and much interesting discussion followed.—On Saturday, June 13th, the first excursion of the Children's Natural History Club was conducted along the shore, at Gullane, by Mr. Godfrey. Twenty members were of the party. Nests of eider ducks, larks and stockdanes were found on the links, and many other birds were seen; also many flowers and grasses. After a most enjoyable walk, the children, and those who accompanied them, were entertained at tea by Mr. and Mrs. Dunn Dunira.
Hampstead.—On May 25th (by invitation of Mrs. Bolton), the last meeting of the season of this branch was held at Westridge, Prince Arthur Road, when Miss Lily Montagu attended to give a lecture entitled "How parents may inspire their daughters to feel the happiness of work." Mrs. Percy Dearmer occupied the chair. Miss Lily Montagu said that if those present did their work in that spirit, their enthusiasm would naturally extend to their daughters. They found that the men and women who surrendered themselves to the accomplishment of a definite object in life attained that form of peace and happiness which was never the lot of the idlers. It was chiefly among the voluntary workers that there were certain difficulties of selection, but she did not sympathize with girls who complained that they had no opportunity for work. They must be shown their opportunities, and they must also be encouraged to engage in it continually; otherwise, no matter how many years they might devote to it, it would not become good work. The wife who, as a girl, had led a good purposeful life was likely to have the greatest influence for good in her home. The good effects of any work depended greatly upon efficiency, and efficiency was, in a great measure, the result of adequate training. The chief thing they had to remember was that, whatever work their daughters engaged in, they must be encouraged to do it regularly and not spasmodically, or the effect would be lost.
Harrow and Northwood.—On May 20th an exceptionally interesting lecture was given at Miss Rowland Brown's School, at Northwood, by Rev. Septimus Hebert, on "How we got the Revised Version of the Holy Bible in 1881." Mr. Hebert shewed a beautiful chart which he had drawn up himself, and his address, besides being full of careful research, was instinct with original suggestion and deep theological thought.—On the 28th, the branch gave an enthusiastic welcome to one of the first founders and pioneers of the Union—Mrs. Steinthal—who then paid her first visit to it. Mrs. Steinthal lectured on "Clay Modelling," and modelled the head of one of the members of the branch, holding her audience spellbound as the clay slowly grew into symmetry under her hands. Few who have ever listened to Mrs. Steinthal, or watched her fashion anything, will ever forget that they have been, at least for a few moments of time, under the influence of someone to whom Art—serious Art—was a thing that, in her eyes, demanded the best enthusiasm, the truest reverence. Art with her has always been the aim of life, not the plaything as it is with so many to-day. Mrs. Steinthal's lecture on "Clay Modelling" is by now so well known that comment on it here would be out of place; but appreciation of a unique gift to eye and ear such as her lecture undoubtedly was, can never be out of place, and that the members of the audience offered unanimously and with the keenest enthusiasm, as the address ended.—Throughout the summer there are from time to time Natural History excursions, conducted by a well-known naturalist; charge for each child, 6d.
Reading.—A successful and fairly well attended meeting took place on May 28th, when Mr. Devine, headmaster of Clayesmore School, read a paper on "The Human Boy." At the close of the paper a little discussion ensued.—Natural History Club.—On Saturday afternoon, May 23rd, the members of the Club travelled by train to Pangbourne, for the purpose of a riverside ramble, two of which have been arranged this season. About sixty took part in this excursion, and the weather was, once again, all that could be desired. The chief centres of interest were the ditches intersecting the water meadows and draining into the Thames. Here, water plants, insects, and a variety of animal and vegetable life in different stages of development offered the children ample opportunities for study, and the leaders of the party were kept well employed in the business of identification. Among the many other plants, two varieties of cuckoo flowers were abundant (Cardamine pratense and amara); figwort, comfrey and Holtonia were in flower. The leaves and stems of willow herb, loosestride and other summer-flowering riverside plants were noted, as also the young plants of Hydrocharis developing from winter buds. Those interested in animal life found plenty of material in the caddis worms and their curious and varied coverings, the different forms of water snails, larvae of dragonflies, water spiders, beetles, leeches, and a host of other creatures. After tea, Miss Hart-Davis spoke to the children about the various things they had seen, dealing chiefly with the history of the frog-bit and dandelion. A very enjoyable time was spent, and we are looking forward with increased interest to the second part of the excursion, which will, we hope, take place on July 18th.
Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, November 2008
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