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REVIEWS 97 theory, and encourage it to feel strong enough to absorb instead of avoiding its more specialized and technical developments. And that is an essential task of enduring importance. THE PROBLEMS OF EDUCATION* A. W. TRUEMAN This book was inevitable. Sooner or later some member of some Canadian tmiversity faculty was bound to write it. After a brief summer interval of three months, graduates of the secondary schools are transferred to the university. It is natural and indeed necessary that the instructional staff of the university look over the in-coming class very carefully. Answers to the following questions will be sought: What do they know? What are they bringing with them, in training and attitude, which will enable them to profit by the diBciplines of the university-we like to use the word disciplines-and which will enable the university to discharge effectively its functions of teaching and research? In view of the controversy which has been developing about contemporary educational practice, it was only to be expected that som.e representative of our universities would write a book and call it "So Little for the Mind." That this book was written by a university professor , not by an "expert" in secondary education, accounts therefore for many of its emphases and for some of the expressed disillusionment with Canadian elementary and secondary education. Recruits are almost never up to standard. They do not know as much as their new instructors hope they will know. They do not display the eager desire for learning which would make teaching an unalloyed pleasure. They enter upon the fringe activities of their new life with a zest which argues a mistaken apprehension of the true purpose of attending a university. In short, they never are as good as it is supposed they used to be. There can be no doubt, nevertheless, that a large proportion of our secondary school graduates enter university inadequately prepared. But this has always been the fact. What means, moreover, is there of proving that they are any more inadequately prepared than the entrants of 1900? Members of the present older generationI not the "experts" of whom Dr. Neatby writes so scathingly, and not "progressive " teachers, are inclined to think there is something in the university professors' indictment. But members of the present older generation, Hke the professors themselves, are really somewhat pre- *So Little for the Mind. By HILDA NEATBY. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited. 1953. Pp. x, 384. $3.00. 98 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY judiced witnesses. They will use, as all generations have used, the "when-I-was-a-boy-things-were-different" type of argument. There seems to be no reason to despair of our elementary and secondary school products. They continue to do the work of the world acceptably. They enter upon the adult scene with no conspicuous inferiority to their grandfathers and grandmothers. Good books continue to be written and good newspapers continue to be publishednot good Victorian or Edwardian books and papers, but good twentieth -century, post-war books and papers. Courage and idealism still exist among us. The supposedly degenerate and craven young men of Oxford who resolved in the famous Union debate not to die in defence of King and Country fought with their younger brothers the battle of Britain. But however much we may encourage ourselves by reflections of this sort, we cannot ignore the present state of our elementary and secondary schools. We cannot ignore the many acute criticisms made by Dr. Neatby in a book which is timely and vigorous, and of which the main thesis is sound. The major adverse criticism of So Little for the Mind must surely be that the cumulative effect of the author's objurgations is to place in strong shadow the good work of the "progressives ," even though she makes, in odd paragraphs here and there, graceful admission of its existence. We must honestly give credit to a movement which has humanized our schools, enthroned the children , with their individual differences, in the central position, made school life cheerful and interesting, and sought to relate in useful ways formal education and life itself. But we are provoked by contemporary developments...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 97-102
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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