The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The Fields of France: Little Essays in Descriptive Sociology, by Madame Marie Duclaux (Chapman & Hall, 5/-). The title affords a key to this truly delightful volume. We have all, in the days of our youth, been haunted by the fields of France; grace, romance, and chivalry, how they are intertwined with the very name of Provence! And to the interpretation of this theme Madame Duclaux has brought the perfect literary charm we recognised in her Life of Renan; what more commendation of the book need the reader ask? But there is more; we are introduced to the people, their means of living and their measure of joy in life. A farm in the Cantal, a manor in Touraine, the French peasant, the forest of the Oise, a little tour in Provence, how the poor lived in the 14th century, the medieval country-house:--these headings of the chapters will show something of the method of the book; how it covers all hammer of field-dwellers in various ages. The picture is not all fair; in France, as with us, an alarming exodus to the towns is diminishing the rural population; deserted villages are to be found; and thoughtful persons look grave; the reasons are, the grinding poverty of the peasant and the dearth of any sort of intellectual interest in the villages. What is the remedy? asks Madame Duclaux: and her answer is, "Teach the children to take an interest in the life of the fields," and, again, "Make your scheme of education deliberately rural." This is a book of value to the student of sociology as well as of delight to the wander folk.
The Real Siberia, by John Foster Fraser (reprint, Cassell, 3/6). Mr. Fraser has done us good service in appeasing in advance the great curiosity we all feel about Siberia in the present crisis. Mr. Fraser takes the very slow train between Moscow and Vladivostock; the train stops everywhere, and the writer sees everything and describes everything in good racy English, if it be the English of the journals. He contrives, too, to plunge into the forbidden land on Manchuria. He brings with him an unprejudiced mind and a quick intelligence; and perhaps most of us will find his Real Siberia a discovery. We may know already that Irkutsk is the Paris of Siberia, but is it not a surprise to learn that west of Lake Baikal, Siberia is as democratic and go-ahead as the western States of America, the Siberians speaking their mind and acting it, too, with a freedom unknown in St. Petersburg? But east of the Lake all that is changed, and departmental tyranny is in full sway. "The title of this book," says the author, "is The Real Siberia, because I endeavour to show that the Siberia of convicts and prisons is passing away; and the Siberia of the reaping machine, the gold drill, the timber yard, the booming flourishing new town, is awakening to life."
Story-Lives of Great Authors, by F. J. Rowbotham (Wells, Gardner, Darton, 3/6). Mr. Rowbotham has done us an important service. When boys and girls are reading The Deserted Village or The Lady of the Lake, The Tale of Two Cities or Samson Agonistes, they, in their natural eagerness to establish human relations, want some personal knowledge of Milton or Wordsworth, Dickens or Scott. Now to give a living sketch of the life of a literary man, embodying such interesting details as we know, but at the same time making the facts of the life subservient to the ideas at work in the mind of the author, showing how it is true of all our great writers, as of Milton, that,--
"I have some naked thoughts that rove about,
--to do this is not an easy task, and this is what the author has accomplished. He has the literary sympathy which gives him an intimate understanding of the subjects of the lives; and apt citations from the authors make the text still more living. The illustrations are simply delightful. That, for example, of the landlady's little girl come up to enquire whether Mr. Goldsmith would oblige her mother with the loan of a pan of coals, or again, where Scott lights upon the lost Waverley, or little Charles Lamb gazes at the huge escutcheon suspended from the wall. We heartily congratulate Mr. Rhodes and thank him for the pleasure his pictures give us. The authors treated are John Milton,--by the way, is it not a little misleading to quote
"To walk the studious cloisters pale"
in connection with Florence?--Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Lamb, and Charles Dickens. We believe there will be many editions of this volume and so we venture to put in a plea for the next--that the proofs may be read with greater care. A considerable list of the writings of each author is appended to each life; and altogether here is a book to make book-lovers of boys and girls. We can imagine the inspiration an earnest child would find in reading,--
"When I was yet a child, no childish play
A Life of Sir Thomas More, by William Roper; The King's Classics (De La More Press, 1/6). The King's Classics form an exquisite series of reprints, exquisite alike in content and format, and certainly This Mirrour of Vertue in Worldly Greatness in the life of Sir Thomas More by his son-in-law, William Roper, is a grace to be thankful for. The portrait on the title-page is taken from the famous Holbein drawing at Windsor Castle. "The painter," wrote More to Erasmus, who had introduced him, "is a wonderful artist, but I fear he will not find England as productive as he hopes, although I will do my best, as far as I am concerned, that he should not find it altogether barren." Holbein's sketch for his great picture of the family was seen by Erasmus in 1529. "Methought I saw a shining through this beautiful household a soul even more beautiful"; and indeed the master himself was the beautiful soul of that beautiful household and the chance of spending hours in his company should be good for the heart and soul of the reader.
The Secret of Herbart, by F. H. Hayward (Swan, Sonnenschein, 2/-). We have read Mr. Hayward's little book, if not with agreement, yet with sincere sympathy and pleasure. We feel, with him, the urgency of the situation,--"Because British education needs, above everything else, views of some sort; at present there are practically none, as is shown by the fact that no teacher dreams of calling himself an Herbartian or a Pestalozzian; and though a few enthusiastic lady teachers call themselves Fröbelians, it is very doubtful whether many school managers know what any of the three terms means. All talk about educational 'progress' . . . is unmitigated nonsense until some definite views, theories or ideals are possessed by the teachers of this country." As for the "full, frank and remorseless criticism" the author asks for, that we have already offered in several volumes; and can only say here that the Herbartian doctrine of Interest assumes that the interest is created and special, and centres round some given groups of ideas for which the mind has been prepared. We, on the other hand, believe that the interest does not depend on the presentation of the teacher who need do no more than give opportunity; because a child comes to us already prepared with a thousand latent interests, so to speak, awaiting their objects. This is the doctrine which we believe must simplify and unify education. Any way, it is good that the country should possess intelligent and enthusiastic teachers like Mr. Hayward.
Old Testament Bible Stories, edited by Richard G. Moulton (Macmillan & Co., 1/6). Parents will welcome Dr. Moulton's Old Testament Bible Stories. Here we have an inviting volume, a pleasant page, all, or nearly all, the stories we should like to put into the hands of the children told in the words of the Bible altered only by omissions--an alteration we have all felt the need of in teaching from the Bible itself. Genesis, Exodus, the Judges, the Kings and Prophets, the Exile and Return, make the five parts of the book. To each there is a masterly introduction, short, clear and scholarly, giving the key to the period. Then follows the text and then a few interesting and illuminating notes, "Each period," says the editor in his preface, "is represented by its most important stories; the purpose of the introduction and notes to each section is to weave all together by indicating briefly the bearing of each story on the general history. Thus it is hoped that the whole volume may leave on a young mind an impression of Old Testament history in outline complete (however scantly), but with outline supplemented by the most vivid picturing of important points." We cannot help quoting a few more words from the preface, with which we have great sympathy. "The Bible has this amongst other marks of a classic: that its language has the power of attracting young minds." "There can surely be no question that these classic stories of Biblical literature should have a place in all education." "I would say that our first duty to a story is to love it." "They (persons and incidents) lend themselves to moral and religious comment which thus becomes a comment on life itself." A map of the Old Testament world closes this valuable little volume which we believe children would rejoice in as a private and personal possession--a possession less responsible and less anxious than "the Bible" they are so rightly taught to revere.
New Testament Bible Stories, edited by Richard G. Moulton (Macmillan, 1/6). What we have said of the Old Testament applies in every point to the New. The volume covers the life of Jesus and the Acts of the Apostles. The sections, including the sayings of Jesus and the parables of Jesus, gain greatly from being set out in modern literary form. To the mature Christian they have the charm of the Bible read in a new language, and to children we feel sure they will be attractive. The words of the text are entirely the words of Scripture. There is a map of the New Testament world.
School Boy's Pocket Book, by a Public Schoolman (Smith's Publishing Co., 1/6). The public schoolman who has written this little book knows his public. He writes of, your special chum, puer and purus, your lessons, your religion, what will you be? in a genial, easy way, and his earnestness does not betray him into what the school-boy calls "pi-jaw." For instance, in writing of your special chum, he goes to Coningsby for "an example of the best and noblest school-boy friendship to be found in any work of fiction." The chapter called puer et purus treats a difficult subject with tact and sincerity. The "Public Schoolman" knows that a dainty little book which will go into your waistcoat pocket without bulging it has attractions.
Tales of Ancient Thessaly, by J. W. E. Pearse (Blackwood). Mr. Pearse has done good service to boys and girls who learn Latin and to men and women who teach it. The book is intended for third or fourth form boys and should perhaps precede Caesar's Gallic War. The author takes a tale full of incident and gives it a heading which must excite curiosity; as thus,--"Lucius, while on a visit to Thessaly (the land of witchcraft), meddles with magic. Wishing to change himself into an owl, he mistakes the unguent and is transformed into an ass, etc." Then follows the Latin text, broken only by headings in English of a rather exciting character. Some knowledge of accidence is presupposed. There follow tables of case and mood usages in the index, a full vocabulary, and notes. With all these helps, we think the author justifies his plea for the reading of sentences right through, as sentences, from the first, and we heartily welcome an effort to do away with the treadmill grind of evening construing.
The Public Schools Year Book (Swan, Sonnenschein, 2/6), gives for all our public schools, arranged in alphabetical order, particulars of the entrance examinations, entrance scholarships, charges for education and board, classical and modern sides, special classes, religious instruction, fees, in face all the information which a parent would like to consider in choosing a school for his boy. The appendices are exceedingly valuable, especially those containing detailed and accurate information concerning possible professions for boys. For example--Indian Police Force, Indian Forest Service, naval clerkships, Eastern cadetships, and many other openings. This is a valuable and carefully edited book of reference.
Longman's New Supplementary Readers, in four books, 1/6 each. We congratulate Messrs. Longman, Green & Co. on their new supplementary readers. The tales are based, and the fascinating coloured pictures are borrowed, from the Andrew Lang Fairy Books and Book of Romance. We need give them no further praise, for every tale and eery romance opens doors into Wonderland, where all manner of little folk should wander.
The "Alleyn" Nature Study and Observation Leaflets, by C.B. Gutteridge (Relfe Bros., 1d. each). We cannot do better than quote from the advertisement of these leaflets, "each leaflet has twelve ideas as guides for observation and further thought." The subjects are Spiders, Leaves, Sleep and Rest, Crane Fly, The Weather.
Typed by Nicole Robinson, August, 2023; Proofread by LNL, August, 2023
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