The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Volume 7, 1896, pgs. 232-240
Parents' National Educational Union Library.
No. Title of
Annual Meeting.--The date of the Annual Meeting was not fixed at the time of going to press; but Miss Blogg, P.N.E.U. Office, 28, Victoria Street, S.W., will be happy to give information.
House of Education.--Applications for Probationers should be made at once. There will be two or three vacancies for three months' students during the October Term, a circumstance which may not soon occur again.
House of Education Natural History Club.--Notes by M.L. Hodgson.--With the beautiful spring around us, and the prospect of a long summer before us, we shall do well to consider what definite work we mean to do this year. A few suggestions on making collections of various kind will perhaps be of use to you, and especially now, when most of you are arranging your work for next term. The following list of collections contains so many things that children, of all ages, take an interest in, that I hope you will, all of you, find something useful in it. I will begin by saying a few words about collections of insects and birds' eggs. I very strongly advise you to discourage them, unless there is evidently a very great love for natural science in the person who wishes to collect them. Boys need much supervision in these matters.
The Outdoor World is a very good handbook for beginners; it contains many useful hints on all sorts of collections. During the nesting season I have always found many deserted nests, some of these are generally in good condition, and very beautiful; if they are fitted into neat boxes and by degrees filled with their right number of eggs, they make a delightful possession. I say filled by degrees because no more than one egg should be taken, as a rule, from a nest.
But with regard to birds much more may be one than in merely collecting nests and eggs. Years ago I made a collection of skulls, both of birds and other small animals, they were not difficult to do, and when mounted on small cards they looked very well and were most interesting--to the cards containing the birds' skulls I added the merry-thoughts, which gave additional interest to the collection. The skins and feathers are also easily preserved; every dead bird or small animal we found was carefully skinned, and the skin preserved and mounted spread eagle fashion after it had been well cured with arsenical soap. For very small children the feathers only may be mounted in books or on cards with great effect. Skulls of bats, mice, moles, etc., may be prepared in various ways, and many boys find great interest and occupation in the work. I am speaking from experience gained during years of work with boys. We did not kill the animals--we used those we found or had given to us by the keepers and farmers who knew what we were doing.
Illustrating the flora and fauna of our village. On the subject of botanical collections much may be said, as they afford scope for all kinds of work for all ages. For the older children, a general collection of plants is not too much to attempt, but with the younger ones much less ought to be done. With the very tiny ones you might begin a collection of fir cones, of which there are many kinds; these are very pretty, and if neatly arranged in boxes they will give the children much pleasure. The leaves of trees, mounted and named, can be easily done, and are not difficult to dry well. The flowers of any special order, say composite or umbelliferze, a collection of grasses--sedges or rushes only, will give plenty of work for one season. The fruits of any one order might also be done by the younger children. A very pretty collection can be made by procuring all the seeds used in either gardens or on farms. These should be put into small pill boxes with some of the seeds gummed on to the lid. Collections of land shells are most beautiful if they are neatly mounted and named. Some of our land Molluscs possess exquisite shells, and many may be found empty along our waysides and hedgerows. I do not think I need say much about sea shells and seaweeds; they appear to be universally collected by children, especially shells. A nice way is to make a neat cabinet for them, and one which can be easily used for exhibition purposes; this may be made out of a few dozen match boxes, fitted neatly into a wooden box, stood on end; if paper fasteners are used for handles, and a nice suitable paper used for covering them, a very ornamental cabinet will repay you well for your trouble. Match boxes of all sizes may be had, 36 small ones fitted into a cigar box will hold an immense number of small shells. I think the most interesting collection that can be made by a family of boys and girls living in the country is one which illustrates as far as possible the Natural History of the village or neighbourhood in which they live. It is surprising how many things can be found if only the eyes are opened to see them. This is not to be done without practice, as the eye sees exactly that which it is trained to see, and it is a great help, if we have a definite object in seeing.
Fossils abound in many neighbourhoods, nice clean ones that come clear out of the stones and soil; beautiful shells and sea urchins of all kinds may be found without difficulty, and many happy hours may be devoted to the search. Page's Geology (new edition) is a great help to beginners in the study of Geology.
A painted collection of flowers could be done by any child with a talent for drawing. This, if persevered in, may prove a lasting benefit to the person concerned, and be of much use in the cause of science, as it is rare to find artists who can draw flowers scientifically so as to be of value as illustrations and to aid definition.
The November Exhibition in connection with the P.N.E.U. may be a help to some of you, as affording an object for definite work with the children.
LIST OF COLLECTIONS.
Insects, if it can be done under supervision, and then only in special cases; birds' eggs and nests, under supervision; merry-thoughts and skulls of birds; skulls of other small animals; birds' skins and feathers, dead birds are often found, especially in winter; shells and seaweeds; corallines; land shells.
BOTANY.--Flowers, general herbarium; flowers, special orders selected; leaves of trees for the younger children; fir cones; fruits and seeds; grasses, sedges or rushes only; galls, oak specially, but include any others you may find; general collections, illustrating the Natural History of your neighbourhood; flowers painted from life.
THE "P.R." LETTER BAG.
[The Editor is not responsible for the opinions of Correspondents.]
DEAR MADAM,--I feel most strongly on the subject you refer to about the
over-pressure of the present day in all our schools. Although my
children are but babies, and have not yet begun their school careers--a
period of their lives which I look forward to with much dread--I am
delighted to send my name to be added to any list of parents protesting
against the present pressure of work and long hours indulged in at all
modern schools. A leading member of the educational department in India
once told me that up to six years old a child should not be taught
regularly at all, that after that age one hour a day should be given,
and that each year another hour a day might be added until five hours a
day were reached, and that never should more than five hours a day be
devoted to intellectual study. Can we not demand that our children
should not have more than four hours in school per day and one hour for
preparation? Children should have at least two hours in the open air if
the weather will permit, and if there is time unoccupied there are many
occupations which train the hand and eye which might employ them,
without overtaxing their brains. And we should find our children more
fully developed and far more fitly prepared for their careers in life.
DEAR EDITOR,--In reply to Mrs. Lawson's letter in the April Parent's
Review, I should like to explain that we have some of the books needed
for the Mothers' Educational Course in the Library, and hope in time to
have them all. I have not the catalogue to refer to, but I believe we
have the following:--"Carpenter's Mental Physiology," "Clews to Holy
Writ" (Petrie), "Times of Isaiah (Sayce), "Teaching" (Calderwood),
"Manual of Personal and Domestic Hygiene" (Schofield), "Moral
Languages" (Gouin), "Home Education" (Mason), "The Little Red Mannikin"
DEAR READERS,--I should like to say that one object of the Mothers'
Educational Course is to secure that mothers shall possess themselves
of a small educational library, consisting of books with which they are
thoroughly familiar,--able to turn to any passage they want at a
moment's notice. This sort of familiarity, with ever a score or so of
helpful volumes is among the best results of study; and perhaps some
such little library is the smallest professional outfit with which a
mother should equip herself.
DEAR EDITOR,--In replay to "Mater Junior's" letter in your last issue,
I am afraid the evils of which I complain are too grave to be remedied
by any memorial to headmasters such as she suggests. My position is
this, I approve of homework if it be suitable in quantity and quality
to the capacity of the child, and if the school hours be so arranged as
to allow of at least two hours' play or outdoor exercise every day and
one hour for such subjects as music, drawing or manual work of some
kind. I like teaching my boy, and gladly give him whatever time is
necessary that I can spare from my own work; but I cannot let him, at
the age of nine, grind for two hours every evening at lessons that are
generally beyond him and frequently absurd, when I know he has had no
time all day for anything but sums and Latin exercise and other book
work. The root of the evil is in the appalling waste of time during
actual school hours and this arises from two causes, (1) the
incompetence of the masters, who have never learned how to teach and
(2) inadequacy of the staff, each master in private preparatory scy99os
yav8hgk as far as my experience goes, boys of two or three levels of
attainment before him at one time, so that none of them are fully
employed more than half the time that they are confined to the
schoolroom. If any proof is needed of the inability of schoolmasters to
teach, it may be found in Mr. F. Storr's address to the Teachers' Gild
at their recent conference at the Merchant Taylors' School. He
says:--"We insist that the physician shall have laid the foundation by
a systematic study of anatomy and physiology, and further that he shall
have walked the hospital and so exercised his 'prentice hand under
proper supervision. How long must we wait before we have a similar
guarantee in the case of a schoolmaster? How long will they glory in
their shame because they knew non themselves? . . . that training may be of
use to pupil-teachers, but is supererogatory or even detrimental in the
case of university and public school men?" Commenting on the supposed
danger of overstrain from university boat-races and the like, the Field
(Apr. 11) refers to the longevity and eminence in after life of so many
"old blues," compares the moral condition of the universities when such
sports were not, and says, "Man requires excitement and interest. There
is a danger for youth that if they cannot be furnished with wholesome
excitement and occupation in their leisure hours, even at the cost of
possible slight tax upon their physique, the many in sheer ennui resort
to occupations calculated to sap both morals and health alike . . . We cannot
believe that, taken all round, health is injured for future life by
competitions of this class as compared with the alternatives of old
days, which tended so greatly to entice to less healthy and less moral
attractions in leisure hours. We cannot keep our undergraduates in
leading-strings; and it is safer to humour and encourage a bent which,
at all events, cultivates courage, honourable emulation, self-control
and sceticism, and so lays foundations hereafter for the desideratum of
mens sana in carpore sano." The same point was enforced at a meeting of
the Assistant Masters' Association, or April 12th, when a letter was
read from Jr. John Burns, M.P., urging "more athletics and less sport,
more games and less gaming, and in all manly exercises toleration and
fair play." I have only space to note the introduction by the
Government of the Education Bill; the death of Dr. William Sharp, of
Rugby, to whom we own the introduction of natural science into the
curriculum of our public schools; the "Disadvantages of University
Life," in the Spectator, March 20th; and an address on the "New
Education," by Mr. Howard Swan, reported at length in the "Journal of
Education" for this month.
Edited by MISS FRANCES BLOGG, Sec., 28, Victoria Street, S.W.
In whom Hon. Local Secs. are requested to send reports of all matters of interest connected with their branches, also 30 copies of any prospectuses or other papers they may print.
The Library Committee acknowledge, with many thanks, the gift of the
following books by their authors:--
BELGRAVIA.--On March 26th Canon Scott Holland gave an exceptionally
able address on "Goads." After speaking of education as simply
evocation--the calling out of capacities and setting nature free--he
went on to suggest that although all this was in a measure true, yet we
could not dispense with the spur, with the violent pressure of
examinations, and the painful "grind." He begged his audience to
distinguish two stages--two purposes--two alms in education. (1) The
evocation of gifts. (2) The evocation of the self that possesses and
uses these gifts. The development of capacities is not the goal--but
the calling forth of a central will; a spring of character, a force of
judgment which makes up "individuality." The distinction should be
forced on the child. "You and your instincts are two, not one, and they
are to be driven apart as life grows." Canon Scott Holland then spoke
of Concentration, Equity, and Response, as three signs of educated
judgment--all of them involving discipline; and then went on to assure
his audience that "the will won't put out its power without a squeeze,"
and thence the use of "goads." The lecture was given at 50 Ennismore
Gardens (by the kindness of Mrs. Farret), and was listened to with the
deepest interest by about 90 members and friends.
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