London: Sunday School Union, . Original green publisher's cloth binding stamped in black and gilt. Gentle rubbing to spine and extremities; some soiling to rear board. Green coated endpapers. Faint remnant of contemporary ownership signature of Fred Mackeridge to head of title page. Ink thumbprint to margin of page 138 not affecting text. In all, a clean, pleasing copy of a truly scarce book that does not appear in the modern auction record or at any institutions according to OCLC.
While our research has turned up no results on Mrs. Lewis (aka Miss M. A. Ryder), the Stockwell Training College that she sites as her credential plays an important role in the history of non-conformist education. Founded with the motto "All who will may send their children and have them educated freely," the training college at its height had enrolled 800 boys and 200 girls. Run on the Lancastrian System, which relied on grouping pupils by ability, "children in the top group would be taught by a qualified teacher but would also spend time teaching children in the lower groups...this system was designed to provide a basic education for as many children as possible with the funds available, despite a shortage of teachers" (Vauxhall). The present Mrs. Lewis appears to have been a product of this system, and the manual she produces expands on the Lancastrian principles in order to prepare the teachers of elementary classrooms in efficiently and responsibly executing their duties. Opening with chapters on A Class as it Sometimes Is and A Class As It Should Be, she outlines the expectations of a proper classroom, including the order of lessons, the use of play to teach, and an instructor's layered responsibilities of watching and keeping an ordered classroom that teaches social behaviors as well as running lessons on mathematics or reading. Because the manual emphasizes instruction of young children, several chapters deal with the psychology and mental capacity of children under 10, while others consider methods for keeping children's attention and breaking complex ideas down so they can be understood and retained. With interesting and seemingly modern notions of liberty to play and discipline through conversation rather than corporal punishment, this rare survivor in the history of education poses numberous research opportunities. Near Fine (Item #2684)