The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Edited by Miss F. Nöel Armfield, Sec., 26, Victoria Street S.W.
The Executive Committee has been approached with a view to starting Branches in the following places:--
HAMPSTEAD.--This branch held their closing meeting of the season on Wednesday afternoon, May 18th, at 21 , Lyndhurst Road (by invitation of Mrs. Walter Rea). Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B., the president of the branch, occupied the chair, and a lecture was delivered by Mr. C. Simmons on "The Tyranny of the Printer." Under this somewhat ambiguous title Mr. Simmons dealt with what he considers one of the greatest difficulties of the schoolmaster, i.e.defective articulation, and branded this generation as one of mumblers. In an ingenious manner the lecturer proceeded to trace many other evils to this source, such as waste of time, hindrance to learning, and general failure to learn foreign languages. He considered that among the conditions which produce the "inflexibility of the mouth" are absence of sufficient classrooms and home work learnt in dumb show at home. Some blame also lies with the untrained teacher, from whom many mistakes are concealed by slovenliness of utterance. Fitly may we be dubbed, he said, as a nation "the inarticulate." We lay great stress on the teaching of the three R.'s, and speaking as an art is almost neglected. Our children spend long years in learning languages, without success in many cases because the eye is made the vehicle of instruction. Latin affords the very training of the eye and ear which our children need, and it is absurd to treat as dead a language which is waiting to speak to us in living tones. We waste fifteen to eighteen months in every child's life in the endeavor to teach reading, owing to the difficulties of our English spelling, and here Mr. Simmons instanced many curious examples he had collected, which indicated defective co-operation of eye and ear. For his part he would welcome reforms in spelling. Other causes of confusion and hindrance are our chaotic treatment of compound words, and the absence of punctuation. In conclusion, the speaker said he considered it desirable that parents should put themselves in touch with one branch at least of their children's education, and urged that not the least valuable would be English as a spoken language, for nothing divides more people than their manner of speaking.
HARROW.--There have been four lectures during the last six weeks in this branch. Rev. Stewart Headlam gave an address on May 14th, on "Rev. Thomas Hancock: His Work and Aims," at 4, Lyon Road, to a fairly large audience. Dr. Lunn in the chair. He said Mr. Hancock (who was a local member of the Society) was an idealist, in an age when idealism is too rare. The centre of his teaching was that the unit of human life was the family; the unit of the nation's, the parish. Mr. Headlam said that there is great danger lest Mr. Hancock's work should be lost to the Church. He ought to have been sought out for the purpose of obtaining his invaluable aide in the instruction of Ordination Candidates. He would have made many changes in the order of things, if the opportunity to do so had come his way. For one thing, he disapproved strongly of Church patronage; "let the dear people elect their own pastor," he would always urge: "the people have been robbed of their rights, in Church, in land, and in schools." A long and deeply interesting letter--almost the last he ever wrote--was read at the end of the lecture.--On May 6th, Mr. Charles Rice, of West Heath School, gave a very interesting lecture on "Art in School and Home," at Bamborough, Sheepcote Road.--Rev. Daniel Edwards, vicar of S. Saviour's, Leicester, gave a very suggestive address at Dr. Chattaway's house on May 19th, and took as his subject: "How to Combine the Training of School and Home in Our Boys." Mr. Edwards spoke strongly on the advisability of encouraging "many tastes and one hobby," during early school life, in boys. In the course of his address he said that there was a great danger in our desire for specialization. Specialization is apt to make a boy lop-sided. We ought not to be over anxious to see signs of brilliancy in our children: we ought the rather to simply try and draw out the gifts which God has given him. There is no greater mistake ever made than by our making, as parents, efforts to mould our children to our way of thinking. It is a fatal mistake to mould instead of watchfully guiding. In the race of life, it is not the brilliant and scholarly, but the all around men who succeed. These last are able to seize the opportunities which come their way. The lecture was succeeded by much discussion as regards the age at which it is wise to begin to specialize in a boy's education.--The last meeting of this session took place on June 11th, at Miss Mole's school. Miss Edwards (ex-Student of the House of Education) gave a stirring address on "One Cornerstone of a Liberal Education." In the course of her lecture, she said that handicraft was such a cornerstone, and that "we want the handicraft to be the parent of the hobby--some never failing companion along the dusty road of life--something entirely of our own to be at our beck and call at any moment, perhaps when the wheels of life run slow, as at some time or other they do for most of us. Then we have that possession to fall back upon, with all its charm; an unchanged friend to save us from ourselves . . . This craftsmanship is to be an unselfish possession; not only a private hobby, but a national one . . . Let us make at least one craft for our own, and go forward with it for the good of the commonwealth." The lecture, throughout, was full of suggestiveness; original, brilliant and helpful; and when the final word was said, more discussion followed amongst the audience than has been the case at any other lectures of this session.
IPSWICH--A meeting of this branch was held in the Lecture Room at the museum, for the purpose of hearing a paper by the Rev. Dr. Smythe Palmer, of Wanstead, upon "Books and Reading." Mr. Rowley Elliston presided. Dr. Palmer, himself the author of many books, gave an interesting address, in which he revealed the extent of his own reading by giving numerous quotations from the sayings and writings of famous men in praise books. "The true University in these days is a collection of books," wrote Carlyle, and it was shown how a similar opinion had been expressed in different ways by all sorts of people--Shakespeare, Macaulay, James I., Dr. Johnson, Wendell Holmes, Bishop Hall, and many others. The extract most appropriate to the character of the meeting, perhaps, was one from a letter written by Macauley to a friend, in which he stated that nothing pleased him so much as to see that his little girl loved books--"When she is as old as I am" he added "she will find they are better than all the cakes and tarts, and plays and sights in the world . . . I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books to read than a king who had to live without reading." Emphasizing the view that in a good book the author reached his supremest attainment, the lecturer touched humorously upon the supposition that very little would have been learned from the great men of the past, at a personal interview, in comparison with what they put in their books. Shakespeare, if seen at home, would probably have talked about the doings of Court when he was last in London, or of the vagaries of the village constable, but would have said nothing to show he could be the author of King Lear or Hamlet--an idea, by the way, which is rather prettily carried out in Black's Judith Shakespeare.
READING.--Natural History Club--On April 30th about 35 members availed themselves of a "near home" ramble--the first of the summer season--through a small wood in the neighborhood. The afternoon was fine and children were soon busy gathering flowers, and picking up "odds and ends" of information about their finds from those who were conducting their "excursion." The marshy ground produced king cups and golden saxifrage among other things, and hyacinths, primroses and anemones occured in abundance. It was arranged that some definite account of the flowers found should be given, but the difficulty in getting the children altogether at the same time was so great it had to be postponed. They had their attention drawn to several of the summer birds which are included in the leaflet distributed among members for special study this season, e.g. chimney swallows, cuckoo, chiff-chaff, and nightingale. A few nests with eggs were seen, and a tree which had been used by nuthatches for the purpose of holding the nuts in the rough bark when breaking them.--On Saturday, May 28th, our excursion to Wellington College Woods took place. Unfortunately the weather the previous day was very wet, and no doubt this kept a good many members from joining, but those who did go were rewarded with a very nice afternoon's outing. On leaving the train, the party proceded through the fir woods to the top of the "Ridges" and finding on the way many specimens, including sun-dew, red-rattle, various rushes, and some fungi. We also found two nests of the wood-pecker, and were much interested in examining the process they have of cutting their holes in the trees. Altogether a very instructive and enjoyable afternoon.
RICHMOND and TWICKINHAM.--By kind invitation of Miss Cooke and Miss Gayford, a meeting was held at St. Cuthbert's School. The chair was taken by the Archdeacon of Hailsham. A paper on "The Whys and Wherefores of the P.N.E.U." was read by Mrs. Clement Parsons. The lecturer laid great stress on the union of parents, one great aim of society being to provide opportunities for profitable interchange of experiences between families, whilst inculcating due reverence for the children and due reticence over their individual faults. All true education must begin at home, for it is there that the earliest habits form, and the founder of the union, Miss Mason, would have us remember Thackerey's saying, "Sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny." Habit reaches down to the very roots of life itself, for it has been proved that habitual action or thought will modify the actual cerebral tissue. Therefore, this law of habit is of enormous importance to parent and educator. On one habit great stress must be made at home, because on it all after success depends in school life or in the world, namely, the habit of attention, which only gives the mind the power of concentration upon matters in hand. For the education and building up of the future man, there must be careful training in conduct and manners. Then especial stress should be laid on manual works, giving the power of doing common things well, for which purpose clay modeling, basket work and cardboard sloyd are advocated. But it must always be borne in the mind that these are part of the child's work, not his play, and both parents and teachers, must be urged to respect the child's leisure. The object of lessons being to train in good habits, and nourish with heroic ideas, parents not leave the whole burden upon the shoulders of teachers, but, especially with girls who have just left school, endeavor to supplement what has been done for them, and save them from the awful feeling of blankness. Coming to the organized work of the society, Mrs. Parsons told her audience that there are already some 12,000 children being brought up on these lines, many of them in the Parents' Review. This is a scheme for enabling children in the home schoolroom to partake of the benefits of school life without its drawbacks. The children are classified upon entering it, according to the answers given by their mothers to some simple preliminary questions. They then work on a given syllabus, and have three non-competitive yearly examinations, by which, without strain or overwork, it is possible to see whether or no the children are up to the average standard of their age. The syllabi give a list not of text books, but of really vitalizing works, quite young children enjoying the old chronicles of Plutarch's Lives. Mrs. Parsons said that to her mind one great recommendation was the society's moderation in all things, and freedom from fads, so that time and opportunity were left in such a scheme for the workings of nature and the higher powers, so that the watchword of the society for itself , "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life," was put into daily practice, while it pointed the way to those it sought to train in the words, "I am, I ought, I can, I will."
Typed by Mrs. E. Wright, Nov. 2023; Proofread by LNL, Nov. 2023
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