The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
"Ende hoexkens ende boexkens."
Among June papers for children we may note L école maternelle et infantine (fortnightly), containing a brief essay on "Politeness," in which M. Huguet says "It will be useful to put the following rules into practice:- (1) Every child passing a master should salute. (2) On any stranger's entry into the class-room, all the pupils should rise and bow. (3) Every pupil shall be compelled to speak with respect of masters and scholars, and to avoid wounding and insulting expressions. (4) Children's language shall be watched when they leave the classes or when they are at play. We may with perseverance put polished manners in place of the bad education" (which children get at home). We are glad to believe that in our Board Schools the first three rules are generally adhered to; but England would shrink from imposing rule (4). The example of elder boys and girls can alone enforce it. Are we asking too much if we suggest that as corollaries to these rules we should add the following?-- (1) Masters and mistresses should say "Good morning" to their classes. (2) Masters and mistresses should never call their pupils names, and should "avoid wounding and insulting expressions." (3) Masters and mistresses should watch their own language when they leave the classes, and should avoid speaking of their pupils as devils. "Oh, madame, repris-je (says a teacher of an infant class in a story that promises well), c'est tine classe infernale. Je n'ai que des mauvais sujets ou des . . . ou des bûtches. 'Je ne sais pas ce que c'est qu'une bûche répondit' sérieusement l'institutrice." Maxima debetur pueris reverentia. M. Ernest Legouvé sends an interesting letter on the advantages which he received, as an orphan, from his grandmother. The rest of the magazine is taken up with elementary lessons, and with one or two biographies. The whole is excellent (2d. per copy).
S. Nicholas (by the bye, how many people know the story of S. Nicholas and the children?) is less pedagogic and more amusing. Besides, it is well illustrated. Like those of most of the children's magazines in France, its story and its play "are to be continued." It is a pity that S. Nicholas is so short (but it is published every week; 15, Rue Soufflot, Paris, 3d. per copy).
In La Mè re et l'Enfant we find the same cry that we shall hear later on, namely, that most mothers do not know how to treat young children, and that those who do know are ashamed of pretending to the knowledge. The titles of the short papers are "Comment it faut tenir un enfant" (children are taught to walk much too soon, says Dr. Gall); "Les trucs pour faire avaler les médicaments aux enfants;" "Jeux et Jouets;" "La mentonniè re (called the writer "Cet oripeau grotesque ct trè s nuisible"); a short story by G. Droz; and two pieces on the everlasting beauty show and women-smokng questions, in which the writers make merry with their readers about "Nos voisins, les Anglais," and "Des Crickett's Club, des Betting's Club."
The German papers -- Pädagogishe Reform, Die Lehrerin, Haus und Shule -- do not (at any rate in the numbers before us) contain matter of interest to our readers.
We have to notice two or three character books. The first is a re-issue of Miss Marwedel's well-known work "Conscious Motherhood" (Heath, Boston, 8s; English agents, Messrs. George Philip & Son). The book has been very well received by the American press, and seems to deserve a great deal of the praise bestowed on it; but for all its five hundred pages, it is too short, or rather, it is too sketchy. It is, of course, one long address to mothers by one who understands children; but twenty volumes would hardly be enough to lay Miss Marwedel's subjects fully open.
There is no doubt that, especially in the pages on first influences and on the ideal nursery, the author shows the fullest appreciation of the importance of her subject. The whole book is a logical but original development of Frö bel, and we are sure that the author would claim for it that it leads children on to the maximum effect with the minimum waste of time and temper. At the same time, the whole question of heredity is at present but ill-understood; and, indeed, the scientific education of very little children is, so to speak, on its trial; so that many of the author's statements will not meet with ready acceptance at the hands of those who watch children. The specimen lessons are very well done. For Part II., Miss Marwedel is only answerable as a translator. It contains the result of Dr. Preyer's minute studies in the development of a little child's mind. The doctor furnishes many interesting facts relative to the time and manner at which and in which the senses are developed, and the will expresses itself. It would be well if statistics could be gathered from a wide area, so that nursery educators might receive valuable hints based on actual induction. The testimony of one, valuable as it is, is only the testimony of one.
In a brochure, entitled "Childhood's Poetry and Studies," the same author develops her theory and practice of Kindergarten games, and in Part II. pleads for the use of "comparative diagrams of form and colour." [Miss Manvedel's "Ringolettes," "Baby's Delight," &c., are original and very pleasing variations on the well-known "Games and Occupations." Her comparative diagrams of form and colour are highly suggestive and helpful, and are beautifully executed (Geo. Philip & Son).] While all in these pages is interesting, there is nothing that is disconnected or unscientific. Miss Marwedel gives the forcible reasons of a student and an enthusiast. In "The Missing Link " (same author) we have another development of Kindergarten work, in which a knife takes the place of scissors in the child's early attempts at cutting out figures. Both pamphlets are illustrated. (Paper covers, 2s. and 2s. 6d. each, Geo. Philip & Son).
"Character as seen in Body and Parentage," by Furneaux Jordan (Kegan Paul, 2s.). The second part of this small work is more useful and diverting than the first. The author begins by telling us of the characteristics of the "active and unimpassioned woman," "the impassioned woman," the "active, unimpassioned man," and "the impassioned man"; but the chapters are mere character sketches, evidently drawn from a few instances which have been carefully studied. Theophrastus and La Bruyè re have done the same and done it very well. Theophrastus, however, could not have insisted, as our author insists, that the woman with long hair and thick eyebrows is likely to be a passionate rebel or a passionate lover, and that women are not brought to hospitals as victims of husbands' violence unless they have thin hair and are stout. We shall have to wait some time before the "science of character," which Mill attempted and gave up, is written by one whom the scientific world will be content to follow. But Mr. Jordan is always certain and is always lively. To him "Socrates was a shrew. He was always seen. He was never at rest. He gave others no rest. He questioned and lectured everybody in season and out of season. To him notoriety was life, and when tired of life he courted the crowning notoriety of an ostentatious death. . . Nevertheless he was one of the noblest of ancient figures . . . and it will be better for us to hear, in school and out of school, more of Socrates and less of David." This funny judgment he follows up by discursive notes on Maggie Tulliver and Lady Godiva ("who, we are quite certain, was of spare figure, with a straight spine, a flat back, and an upright head"). We took up this book intending to get wisdom from the chapter on education, but we cannot find anything very useful to the teacher except this, that some boys are born idle and that an industrious boy cannot help being industrious. All those who have to deal with children recognise this; we are not sure that they act on their knowledge of the fact. The book (though it only contains a hundred pages) manages to secrete a good deal of venom in regard to bishops. the Bible, and "belief" (by which Mr. Jordan appears to mean Christianity). There are a few words in the book on "the caviller."
"Modern Thought and Modern Thinkers," by J. F. Charles (Relic Brothers). This is an excellent little book, and contains a vast amount of useful information for a generation that really cannot and ought not to grapple with the immense number of modern books, good though they may be. The surly critic will say that there is little use in devoting two pages to Buddha, two more to Newman, and half-a-dozen to Comte; but for the busy man, and for all who are not "polymaths," Mr. Charles has provided a clear and very concise account of the great thinkers of the day, or rather of the great thoughts, for biography he scarcely touches. Mr. Charles's gravest omission is that he has left the readers, whom he guides so cleverly, just at the point where they need guidance most. We hope that in a second edition he will add to each chapter a short list of useful books and essays on the various subjects treated of. How various the subjects are our readers will gather if we name one or two -- Evolution, Biblical Criticism, Mental and Moral Science, Positivism, The Evidence of Miracles. There is not a dull page in the book. Parents, who must needs feel it incumbent on them to be aware of tendencies of modern thought, will be glad of thoughtful introduction to subjects of grave interest.
We have received several school books. "The First Year of Science" (by Paul Bert, and translated by the celebrated minister's talented wife Relfe & Co.), which is literally crammed with illustrations and with scientific facts told pleasantly; Dr. Bowick's "School and College Examination and Arithmetic," specially useful for commercial examinations; Mr. Trovie's," ""Class Book of Geography -- Physical, Political, and Commercial" -- brought up to date, and containing an excellent index; and Mr. Robson's "Geometrical Drawing," in which the examples are chiefly taken from army papers. This book has reached a third edition, and is now revised and enlarged. At author says, the book is in the main a collection of Problems, not Theorems, on Euclid. (All published by Relfe Brothers.)
From Messrs. Philip & Son we have received the clever and interesting "Planisphere," showing the principal stars visible for every hour in the year (2s); "Story's Coloured Music System " (3s. 6d), which proceeds on the principle that to teach successfully you must arrest the attention of the child; and "The Educational Annual for I890" (2s. 6d.), a truly "handy reference to public schools and colleges."
But we take this opportunity of saying that it is not part of our purpose to review text-books for class-work. As our magazine will, we hope, be read from cover to cover by parents, we shall more will, books or essays which deal with questions relating to the school and home training of character and mind. Improvements in the methods of instruction now in use we shall ordinarily leave to others, being convinced that, whatever the books are, it is the mind of the trainer and the sympathy of the teacher that makes or mars the child. NEMO.
I should like highly to recommend two books for children which mine, aged seven and five, are never tired of, namely, "The Fairy Geography" and "The Fairy History of England," by Forbes Winslow. Both are procurable from any good library, and are, I think, 7s. 6d. each. I feel sure every mother will like them. -- G. S. T.
To Subscribers. -- It is found that the Parents' Review is at some disadvantage in not coming out on "Magazine Day," that is, a few days in advance of the first of the month. Our next issue will therefore be postponed, and come out for the 1st of September instead of the 15th o August. The new year of the Review will begin on the 1st of March instead of on the 15th of February. We are grateful for all the expressions of hearty sympathy and appreciation we receive: but we must beg our friends to remember that a very large measure of support is necessary to our success. If each subscriber obtain only one other, our circulation is immediately doubled.
Typed by happi, January 2016
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