Paradigm, No. 3 (July, 1990)


Home or School?

Ian Michael

9 Cornwallis House,
Cornwallis Grove,
Bristol BS8 4PG

Three books illustrate the difficulty of distinguishing school reading from home reading. Some distinction is necessary, or the study of textbooks would be so extended that it would lost all meaning. The commonsense procedure is to use a fourfold classification: books designed for the home only (H); books which were used primarily at home but might be used in school (HS); those which were mainly for school but might be read at home (SH); those intended solely for school (S).

Select Readings in Verse compiled by P. R. [Philip Rose?] (Bristol: Philip Rose; London: Harvey & Darton. Third edn. [1831?]). No preface; 185 extracts. The title has didactic overtones but the format is domestic. The extracts resemble those found in what are explicitly school anthologies. Classify as HS?

Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man; or, the Progress of Human Life. Illustrated by prose and verse from the works of the most eminent writers, by John Evans, a schoolmaster. (Chiswick Press, 1834). Each 'age' has a chapter, its theme illustrated by an engraving and by quotations. Evans, who compiled three other anthologies, writes here, ‘The volume is drawn up for my pupils, as well as for young people of every description.' Classify as S.

The Excitement; or a book to induce young people to read.(Edinburgh, J. Johnstone, 1841). The 12th edition of an annual edited by Robert Jamieson, a minister. Prose extracts, of the type 'The Wonderful Escape of a Hungarian Horse-Dealer'. Classify as H, but the didactic intention of the title might well attract a teacher. It is significant that an entirely different work, also called The Excitement, a reader 'adapted to the self-corrective method of teaching' was published in 1831 by Adam Keys, a schoolmaster. Undoubtedly S. Or should HS and SH be the only classifications?

Paradigm Catalogue Textbook Colloquium