The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

Volume 15, 1904, pg. 312-314

Special Reports upon Educational Subjects--Supplement to Vol. 8. Report on the School Training and Early Employment of Lancashire Children (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 3d.). To quote from the prefatory note: "The following Report, prepared by Mr. E. T. Campagnac and Mr. C. E. B. Russell, deals with a question of great interest and importance at the present moment; namely, how best to fit boys who are educated in primary schools, for their life's work, and how to better their present haphazard method of obtaining employment." This supplement is melancholy reading. The result of the evidence given by working-class youths, teachers, inspectors, employers, and other authorities with whom the young people of the working-classes come in contact when they go out as wage earners, amounts to a strong indictment against our system of elementary education. The boys and girls turned out of the schools, even those who have passed through all their standards with credit, are glaringly deficient in intelligence, initiative, and perception. They have no interest, they do not think, and they do not care to read. More than one employer states that he would rather pick up a street gamin for work in his office or shop, than the boy who has distinguished himself in passing through the sixth or seventh standard. It is hoped by the Board of Education that the publication of the Report at this time "may be of service to local educational authorities in considering what steps can be taken for securing better and more permanent results from the large sums now spent upons our elementary schools." We profoundly hope that it may, and commend the study of the authors' judicious and stimulating remarks to all parents. Here is a passage whose insight should commend it to intelligent persons:--"It may, of course, be said that work is work, and play is play, that the habit of attention is not to be easily acquired, and that labour is necessary to enjoyment. . . . This is true, but it is not a high view either of work or of its reward; and it may well be doubted whether any work which is done in this spirit is of much value, either to the man who does it, or to his fellows. But, as regards intellectual work, the doctrine is false and misleading, and it is peculiarly dangerous when it is applied to the work of a school. Discipline must be kept, and labour must be exacted, but there should be no radical distinction between discipline and happiness, between labour and enjoyment; and we believe it is because, somehow, this distinction has been established that an antipathy to books and to reading has grown up in the minds of so many children." We have cried aloud our panacea in the market-place, and no one heeds; but it is cheering and hopeful to come upon so authoritative a condemnation of the defects we lament.

India: Our Eastern Empire. "Our Empire" Series, by Philip Gibbs (Cassell, 2/6). Messrs. Cassell & Co. are to be congratulated upon the timeliness and success of their "Our Empire" Series. Mr. Philip Gibbs begins by understanding that what is of interest to cultured persons will be of interest to the children in our schools. He does not write down to children, nor cram them with information, but conveys the sentiment of "old" India and the conditions of modern India with singular aptness and justice. It is wholesome, for example, for a young Briton to know of Akvar that "he established schools throughout India for the education of Hindoos as well as Mohamedans." That he was "a man of broad mind and great love of humanity." Even an occasional peep into the glories of the history of India should be stimulating.

Reminders of Old Truths, by Hannah E. Pipe (Longmans, 3/6). We are exceedingly grateful to Miss Pipe for this volume of short essays on subjects concerned with the Christian Religion, and which such practical applications of it as fall under such headings as hospitality, discontent, unhappy marriages, ethics of reproof, manners, etc. The twenty essays of the first part treat of such subjects as Prayer, The Will of God, The Fight of Faith, The Word of Christ. Every subject is treated with profound insight, religious feeling, and wholesome common sense. For instance, what could be better than this--"The Eighth Commandment is broken, not only in spirit, but also literally, by those who keep people waiting for their money." We think that this is a volume which should find a place on every mother's bookshelves.

Fatigue, by A. Mosso; translated by Margaret Drummond. M.A., and W. B. Drummond, M.B. (Swan, Sonnenschein, 4/6). This is one of the extremely valuable monographs devoted to some special problem of psychology and physiology, such as, to quote the translators' preface, "may be expected to result in important additions to the theory of education." Professor Mosso's ergograph, or fatigue recorder, is perhaps one of the most important and interesting of the delicate instruments invented to record and measure the vital and mental processes. This volume describes various experiments performed upon adult subjects, and these happily support principles which are matters of common knowledge among enlightened teachers--such as that a school should be in a quiet situation, that interest should be aroused in the subject of a lesson, that short periods of work alternated with play are desirable. One of the conclusions is less well known and equally important, that is, that games, or any form of athletic exercise, are mischievous during examinations or any period of hard mental work.

Simple Guides to Christian Knowledge, edited by F. Robinson (Longmans, 2/6 each). We congratulate the publishers upon a series so thoughtfully arranged and so beautifully illustrated. We are in sympathy, too, with the Editor of this series, whose desire is "to provide a graduated course of theological study which will be intelligible and interesting to children and young people." The first volume--The Story of our Lord's Life, by Mrs. Montgomery--is a simply-told account of our Lord's life, somewhat of the calibre of our old friends, Peep of Day and Line upon Line. It does not quite satisfy us, because we find the beautiful language of the Gospels appeals very strongly to the minds of children, and needs no more than a few words of explanation and illustration; but from the standpoint of the author, Mrs. Montgomery's book is well done. The Early Story of Israel, by Mr. J. S. Thomas, is a valuable little book which may be well read as a companion to the Bible narrative. The illustrations are exceptionally beautiful, being photographs of the great pictures on the several subjects. Also both text and illustrations bring the Bible text into line with recent discoveries; for example, we have a photograph and a translation of parts of the seven Chaldean tablets describing the Creation. The maps are admirable.

The Teaching of the Catechism, by Beatrice A. Ward. This seems to us a singularly valuable and plain book about the catechism, made simple for children by a plain presentation of the ideas proper to the subject rather than by much talk or unnecessary illustration. It expresses sound but not extreme Churchmanship, and makes for "sober walking in pure Gospel ways." We believe many parents will be glad to use Miss Ward's book in teaching their children.

The Burden of Engela, a Ballad-epic, by A. M. Buckton (Methuen). Miss Buckton calls her poem a ballad-epic, a title which gives some idea of the manner of treatment. The author realises in a truly impressive way the life of thought and action in a Boer homestead before and during the war. The incicents, or such-like incidents, the newspapers made us familiar with at the time; but the insight which tells what these things were to the people who did and endured them is Miss Buckton's own poetic gift. The ballads are of unequal literary value, but are always intersting, and some of the lyrics are beautiful.

My First Piano Lessons, by Agnes Honoria Leeds, L. R. A. M. (Novello) "This books is intended for the use of very young children only. To many little ones, weary of their pianoforte lessons on account of their dryness and dulness." The author has certainly succeeded in producing as the result of her very wide experience, an entertaining and, probably, effectual way of introducing children to the mysteries of "Mr. Crochet," "Miss Quaver," and the like. If we are not entirely in sympathy with this ingenious effort, it is because we believe that the love of knowledge which children possess should carry them even over this ground without the aid of play.

Training of Children [Or, How to Make the Children into Saints and Soldiers of Jesus Christ] (third edition), by The General of the Salvation Army [William Booth] (79, Fortress Road, N W, 6d.) As is to be expected from its authorship, this volume is full of earnest piety and sound common sense. Whether the reader is, or is not, in entire sympathy with the author's religious views, he must needs profit by such a sentence as this (in the chapter on Companionship),--" It should also be borne in mind, in considering the influence of one child upon another, or of one man upon another, that there is in all character, whether good, or bad, a kind of instinct which, so to speak, makes its possessor take pleasure in propagating it in others." We heartily commend this little book to the attention of parents.

Cristina [A Romance of Italy in Olden Days], by Emily Underdown (1903, Swan, Sonnenschein, 6/-). Miss Underdown has found a charming theme for a historical tale, and one that we do not remember to have seen treated before except as a short story in a magazine. A tale dealing with so generous and romantic a figure as that of the boy-king, Conradin, must needs rouse interest. Several of the incidents and characters are referered to by Dante in the Purgatorio, and the account of the battles of Monte Perto and Taglicozzo are to be found the the chronicles of the time. With such material Cristine must needs be interesting. We think, though, the author suffers somewhat from an embarras des richesses. She has the instinct of an historian in that she adheres scrupulously to facts and to the historical characters of her personages. But this very scrupulousness interferes a little with the play of the narrative. Young people with a love of history will enjoy this introduction to so interesting an episode.

Typed by Erica Shirley, August, 2023; Proofread by LNL, August, 2023