3 free reads

Free Kindle book: Men of Affairs: I’ve only read 2 ch, but I like it so far- light, mostly, frothy, even though there is a shoot out and a suicide which happens before the story opens. Published around 1921

Ruth Sawyer won a Newberry for one of her books. Seven Miles to Arden is an earlier novel, published in 1916.

The War on All Fronts: England’s Effort Letters to an American Friend
by Humphry Ward


The Journal of Education, Volume 22

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Education as it was, 1890

Sharing this because I like this stuff, and also, lest we fall prey to the ‘it was better in the old days’ trope.  Sometimes it was, sometimes it was not.  From an 1890 periodical called ‘Journal of Education:

“To the Editor of the Journal of Education.

Dear Sir,- Last month you found space for a contribution of mine exemplifying bad teaching in physiography. Can you bring the following facts before my fellow teachers? I quote from a letter: —

“The girls here are all old, stupid, and excessively lazy; there are thirty-seven nearly all between the ages of fourteen and twenty. They seem to have but one idea, to do as little work as possible. In the literature class there are thirty-three books for me to correct.  Some of the girls do not in the least know what they are writing about. I am not allowed to be in the room during the class This week one of the girls says, ‘Cowper wrote a work called Marks and Eras,’ meaning that his works ‘mark an era.’ Another writes about the ‘EA movement in the Church,’ further on I find the ‘Eva Angelical movement,’ while a third says that ‘in the time of Cowper, Evil Jellica rose and made changes in the Church.’

What a comment such things are on the assertion of that wise little girl who said, “People often waste the children’s time at school, which is wrong, for time is valuable.”

Faithfully yours,


In some schools a well known lecturer or teacher would be on the prospectus (promotional material for parents and guardians). He would deliver his lecture perhaps once a week and the students would write it up in notebooks which were turned in to some poor underpaid teacher- as we see in the above excerpt, she wasn’t even allowed to be in the room while the visiting lion performed, so she had to guess about what he had said.  It was their regular teacher who would labor over their notebooks, correcting errors, rewriting parts, and then returning the rewritten papers.   Next, the rewritten papers became part of a portfolio presented to parents as the girls’ own work.

I say girls, because the articles I saw referencing this practice all referred to girls’ schools.  Whether this is because it only happened in girls’ schools I do not know.






“Though denounced again and again, the fetich of notebooks still prevails in girls’ schools. A correspondent this month gives one gross instance of the superstition, and we could add many more which have come under our own observation. A governess informs us that in her last school, a middle-class boarding-school in the provinces, she had twice or thrice a week to sit up till midnight correcting note-books, which had then to be copied out by the girls in order that they might show their parents the fair copies. In another fashionable school all the history and literature teaching of the higher forms is given by professors whose names are displayed in bold type on the school prospectus. These gentlemen give one lecture a week in their respective subjects to a class of fifty, and all the teaching the girls get is the correction of their note-books by the mistresses who act as répétiteurs. ”

He is being hard on Répétiteurs- who, according to Wikipedia, are very skilled at what the do.  What they do is help pianists or dancers rehearse, often playing the same piece over and over again, but they must be very skilled at it, and sometimes go on to be conductors or choreographers themselves.  However, it’s clear what the editor means is the teachers are not really allowed to teach in this system, they only serve to correct, one by tedious one in written form, the written work of the pupils who are writing about the lectures they get from somebody else.

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A Key to Happiness

What follows is the conclusion from a paper Miss Beale, the Principle of the Ladies College Cheltenham read before a meeting of other educators in 1890.  Dorothea Beale is a key figure in the educational reforms, particularly for girls, in the 19th century. She was a noted reformer who also wrote several articles which are published in Charlotte Mason’s Parents’ Review. Here is the bit I want to share:

“But I do feel that we must be glad to give our lives for the work and to find in it our happiness. ‘Give thyself wholly to it’ is the only rule for a truly contented life. Not what must I, but what may I do consistently with my duty to myself, i.e. to God, this is the only question. Work done in that spirit does not weary as work done from any other motive.  It is true that those who feel the joy of working for a great purpose in harmony with an All-wise Teacher do run and are not weary, do walk and are not faint.”

Miss Beale was speaking specifically of that most tedious part of a teacher’s job, corrections to written work.  She had earlier said:

“I feel strongly that it is a great evil for a teacher to be oppressed by corrections, if she is, she loses the spring and brightness so necessary for intellectual and moral vigour….”

While she is addressing educators and one particular aspect of their work, I think her principles here apply to mothers at home, indeed, to all of us wherever we are called.  Look at the big picture, consider yourself as working for a greater purpose in harmony with our Lord, our all-wise Teacher.

Give thyself wholly to it, whatever good thing it is that you are called to do, whether that includes tedious bits like cleaning babies’ bottoms or sweeping floors or screwing in a part while building widgets, or dusting bookcases, or slicing cheese for sandwiches.

vintage give thyself wholly dollmaking art pottery

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Isaac Watts on improving the mind through conversation

from Improvement of the mind, by Isaac Watts (previously):

conversation, 1922IV. Conversation is the next method of improvement, and it is attended with the following advantages:
1. When we converse familiarly with a learned friend, we have his own help at hand to explain to us every word and sentiment that seems obscure in his discourse, and to inform us of his whole meaning; so that we are in much less danger of mistaking his sense: whereas in books, whatsoever is really obscure may also abide always obscure without remedy, since the author is not at hand, that we may inquire his sense.

If we mistake the meaning of our friend in conversation, we are quickly set right again; but in reading, we many times go on in the same mistake, and are not capable of recovering ourselves from it. Thence it comes to pass that we have so many contests in all ages about the meaning of ancient authors, and especially the sacred writers. Happy should we be could we but converse with Moses, Isaiah, and St. Paul, and consult the prophets and apostles, when we meet with a difficult text: but that glorious conversation is reserved for the ages of future blessedness.

2. When we are discoursing upon any theme with a friend, we may propose our doubts and objections against his sentiments, and have them solved and answered at once. — The difficulties that arise in our minds may be removed by one enlightening word of our correspondent: whereas in reading, if a difficulty or question arise in our thoughts, which the author has not happened to mention, we must be content without a present answer or solution of it. Books cannot speak.

3. Not only the doubts which arise in the mind upon any subject or discourse are easily proposed and solved in conversation, but the very difficulties we meet with in books, and in our private studies, may find a relief by friendly conferences. We may pore upon a knotty point in solitary meditation many months without a solution, because perhaps we have gotten into a wrong tract of thought; and our labour (while we are pursuing a false scent) is not only useless and unsuccessful, but it leads us perhaps into a long train of error for want of being corrected in the first step. But if we note down this difficulty when we read it, we may propose it to an ingenious correspondent when we see him; we may be relieved in a moment, and find the difficulty vanish: he beholds the object perhaps in a different view, sets it be fore us in quite another light, leads us at once into evidence and truth, and that with a delightful surprise.

4. Conversation calls out into light what has been lodged in all the recesses and secret chambers of the soul: by occasional hints and incidents it brings old useful notions into remembrance; it unfolds and displays the hidden treasures of knowledge with which reading, observation, and study, had before furnished the mind. By mutual discourse the soul is awakened and allured to bring forth its hoards of knowledge, and it learns how to render them most useful to mankind. A man of vast reading without conversation is like a miser, who lives only to himself.

5. In free and friendly conversation, our intellectual powers are more animated, and our spirits act with a superior vigour in the quest and pursuit of unknown truths. There is a sharpness and sagacity of thought that attends conversation beyond what we find whilst we are shut up reading and musing in our retirements. Our souls may be serene in solitude, but not sparkling, though perhaps we are employed in reading the works of the brightest writers. Often has it happened in free discourse, that new thoughts are strangely struck out, and the seeds of truth sparkle and blaze through the company, which in calm and silent reading would never have been excited. By conversation you will both give and receive this benefit; as flints, when put into motion, and striking against each other, produce living fire on both sides, which would never have arisen from the same hard materials in a state of rest.

6. In generous conversation, amongst ingenious and learned men, we have a great advantage of proposing our private opinions, and of bringing our own sentiments to the test, and learning in a more compendious and safer way what the world will judge of them, how mankind will receive them, what objections may be raised against them, what defects there are in our scheme, and how to correct our own mistakes; which advantages are not so easy to be obtained by our own private meditations: for the pleasure we take in our own notions, and the passion of self-love, as well as the narrowness of our views, tempt us to pass too favourable an opinion on our own schemes; whereas the variety of genius in our several associates will give happy notices how our opinions will stand in the view of mankind.

7. It is also another considerable advantage of conversation, that it furnishes the student with the knowledge of men and the affairs of life, as reading furnishes him with book learning. A man who dwells all his days among books may have amassed together a vast heap of notions; but he may be a mere scholar, which is a contemptible sort of character in the world. A hermit, who has been shut up in his cell in a college, has contracted a sort of mould and rust upon his soul, and all his airs of behaviour have a certain awkwardness in them; but these awkward airs are worn away by degrees in company: the rust and the mould are filed and brushed off” by polite conversation. The scholar now becomes a citizen or a gentleman, a neighbour, and a friend; he learns how to dress his sentiments in the fairest colours, as well as to set them in the strongest light. Thus he brings out his notions with honour; he makes some use of them in the world, and improves the theory by the practice.

But before we proceed too far in finishing a bright character by conversation, we should consider that some thing else is necessary besides an acquaintance with men and books: and therefore I add….


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how beautiful are the feet

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