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The Reports of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the state of Education in Wales. 1847

This report was published by three English university scholars into the educational system in Wales. The three were Lingen, Symons and Vaughan Johnson. The report unfairly drew attention to the inadequacy of Welsh education . One of their main points was that Welsh children , and often their teachers too, could not speak English. The report was produced in blue books, hence the name. Apart from , and because of, the understandable outrage of Welsh people the report helped to forge a  greater sense of national identity and the publication was referred to as "The Treachery of the Blue Books" [Brad y Llyfrau Gleison]. One of the principal Welshmen who fought a campaign against the report was Evan Jones , better known as Ieuan Gwynedd, a  minister and a journalist . One of the report's statements was that Welsh was a " peculiar language isolating the masses from the upper portion of society". Sadly, for the Welsh language, faced with such criticism many people did opt for an education in the English language despite the efforts of Ieuan Gwynedd and others. [ Based on an article in"A Helping Hand "by W J Jones 1996]

This is an extract by Aidan Jones from the actual Report as far as it relates to this parish;

LLANDDEINOL SCHOOL

On December 29th [1846] I visited the above school, which was kept in a large and well-built schoolroom near the parish church of Llanddeinol.  There was attached to the schoolroom a house intended for the use of the master, but it was not occupied by the present master.  The schoolroom might be made, with very little expense, a comfortable one; the walls were of stone, and very good. The room was altogether perfectly dry; it was lighted by three large glazed windows in front, and one in the back.  There was a fire-place in the room, but no grate fixed. The school furniture consisted of a desk for the master, another long one for the children, and a dozen short benches in very good repair.  There were also some cupboards in the wall to keep the children's books.  

A class of nine boys (all who were able to read) read to the master a part of the 13th chapter of 2nd Samuel, which they all did in a very imperfect manner.  The master did very little more than listen to them; he asked them no questions whatever; he corrected a few of the false pronunciations.  I then heard the same read a verse apiece, which they did in no degree better than they had done to the master.  They could neither spell, nor give the meaning of very simple words.  

To some questions given, I had the following answers: - The world was created by God in six days; could not mention the work of each or any of the days.  Adam and Eve were placed in the garden of Eden, but were soon cast out for eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; they were tempted by the servant; did not know what, or whether any curse was pronounced on the serpent; Adam and Eve had only two children, Cain and Abel, who were both good men.  Noah made an ark before the deluge in which he was saved; did not know how many besides himself or how long the deluge lasted.  Did not know the number or names of any of the kings of Israel or Judah.  Did not know of the office of a prophet, but gave the names of the four greater ones.  Had never read anything remarkable in the history of Daniel.   Moses, who brought the children of Israel from Egypt, wrought miracles, called plagues; could not mention any of them.  Moses did not go to the land of Canaan, but saw it from Mount Sinai.  Aaron led them to the land.  There was one boy tolerably well acquainted with the history of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ; but most of them were perfect strangers to every part of it.  Did not know the number, office or names of any of the Apostles, nor by whom Christ was denied or betrayed.  Christ was crucified; did not know by whom or the meaning of it.  He was buried, but rose again in three days; did not know what became of him afterwards.  

 A queen reigns over this country; did not know her name, or who reigned before her.  She lives in London; did not know where London was.   Ireland and France are towns.  4x5=20.  4x7=28.  8x9=45.  6x8=46.  7x8=56.  8x9=74.  9x9=81.  5x15=75.   51x9=90.  7x19=118.  10x15=150.  10x19=190.  91x 4=122.  24d.=2s.  30d. = 2s 6d.  50d.=4s.  70d.=5s. 10d.  96d. = 7s. 6d.  Six days in the week.  Sun turns round the earth.  Two of the boys could repeat some portions of the Church Catechism, which appeared to have been got up entirely by rote, for they could not answer any question whatever upon it.

(Signed)      D. B. PRICE, Assistant.

Aberayron, British Day School - I inspected this school on December 2nd [1846].  It is held in a very low dark, damp room. It is, as Mr. Penry observes British only in principle, and is conducted without any system, most of the children being ranged on benches struggling by themselves with the adversities of the English spelling-book, or hammering at the Bible.  Of the proficiencies in English of the first class, the following meanings given to words in the Bible will give a very fair notion: - Of beauty, and water, and glory, one only knew the meanings; and of ascend and testimony none.  Of Scripture they had but a very scanty knowledge. Their proficiency in spelling was very great; and several boys have a fair acquaintance with the common rules of arithmetic.  The writing was tolerably good.  In other branches of knowledge they were very deficient.

At a table in one corner were several young seamen studying navigation whom I examined in simple problems of geometry, and found them tolerably proficient, and possessed of much mathematical capacity.  In showing them the demonstration of the 15th proposition of the first book of Euclid, though it was new to them, they readily comprehended the proof.  One or two of the boys were able to do sums in the compound rules of arithmetic.  The school is exclusively supported by Dissenters. The master, though very insufficiently trained, evinced much capacity.

 J. C. S.   [Jelingar C Symons, the chief commissioner in Cardiganshire]

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