SANE THINKING ABOUT EDUCATION
Educational Essays, by the Rev. F. H. Drinkwater (Burns Oates, 25s.) Christopher's Talks to Catholic Parents, by David L. Greenstock, with an Introduction by Charks Burns, M.R.C.S., etc. (Burns Oates, 18s.)
Reviewed by the REV. J. D. CRICHTON
APART from international ques tions and economic difficulties at home, the two matters that seem to pre-occupy people today are juvenile delinquency and the state of education.
The family comes in for a good deal of abuse though no one seems very actively concerned to help it. Even at the material level, housing has not hitherto been regarded as the major problem that it is. And on all sides one hears criticisms of schools of every kind, of slack teachlug, or the ignorance of the scholars and of their lack of discipline.
Schools are of course everybody's Aunt Sally and probably always will he, but too few of their critics remember that the school is but one agent in the upbringing of a child, and anyway. with classes of fifty and over, what can any teacher do except play the more or less benevolent policeman?
Well, here are two books to help and encourage the parent and the teacher.
FR' Drinkwater, who is the wisest and most clear-sighted of Catholic writers on education, has perhaps never been given his due in this country-his books are known the world over and now that one is able to survey his whole thought in this huge omnibus votume in which are gathered his writings on the subject over the last thirty years, one is able to see how dead right he has been on all the educational controversies of our time It would he impossible here to give any adequate account of his thought, but looking through those pages one is struck by one thing: the basis of his attitude is an ;nfinite respect for the reason of the child first, even if he is hut five years old, and of the teacher second.
Education is not a system, it goes beyond methods (though they are important): it is essentially the impect of one person on another. If the right sort of person is chosen to teach and if the personal relationship with the thild is right, then all else is seocr the reary.
F st, his theory (though it is the direct fruit of experience) is characterised by a spirit of freedom wliieh,howeyer, never loses sight of concrete circumstances, sanity and an amazing insight in the mind of the child.
The heart of the book incorporating Religion in School, long since Out of print, should be required reading for every training college student.
There are still some who do not agree with Fr. Drinkwater's approach, especially in religious education, yet an unprejudiced reading of these essays should show that he is fundamentally right, and if his teaching were practical in all our schools, there would he far fewer complaints from the critics. Incidentally, if anyone thinks that those essays are likely to make dull reading, he is very much mistaken. Fr. Drinkwater.is a master of conversational prose and once begun, the honk is difficult to put down.
FR. Greenstock tackles the other side of the educational process, and in a series of chapters in which he shows a surprisingly detailed knowledge of the intimate needs of young children, offers advice covering every phase of a child's life from before birth to maturity.
He offers his advice firmly but modestly, he is always reasonable and straightforward.
He knows about temporary aberrations of character but gives the impression that human nature. especially growing human nature. is rather less complicated than it is, and he seems to believe more strongly in the compulsive sort of discipline than some of us do-all discipline must be ultimately self-discipline, as Fr. Drinkwater would say.
Still, there are many parents who will be grateful for Fr. Greenstock's advice, especially perhaps for that on instructing children in sexual matters, but we should be very interested to hear what an articulate Mother-ofTen had to say about the book.
Both books are inevitably a little expensive but it would be a good deed to ask the local public library to get them.