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;
On December 21st I visited the above place, with the intention of examining the school there; but found upon enquiry that there was no school to be opened that day, owing to the master having gone to a funeral, some distance off.
I saw a good number of children playing together about the Calvinistic Methodists' Chapel, in which the school was held, and having entered into conversation with them, I found they belonged to the school. I was therefore anxious to ascertain what they could do; some of them happened to have their books with them, but when they found I was going to hear them read, some of them (in defiance of all promises) ran away as fast as they could; I, however, with some difficulty (with the assistance of some of the parents) prevailed upon six of them to remain. They read to me the 4th chapter of Isaiah, which they all, except one, did in a most unintelligible manner; false pronunciations were constantly made in almost every verse.
I gave them some words to spell, and asked them the meaning of some of them, in which they got on very badly; e.g. apparel, reproach, comely, believe, grief, judgment, assemblies, they could neither spell, nor give the meaning of. They were right in the meaning of all, but in the spelling of only a few, of the following, bread, earth, written, living, spirit, burning. They could read Welsh, but none of them well.
I gave them a few questions, to which I had the following answers: - Adam being placed in the garden of Eden, ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on which account he was cast out from thence. Did not know who first partook of the fruit, whether it was Adam or Eve. They were tempted to eat of it by the serpent. Did not know the curse pronounced on the serpent. They had only two children, Cain and Abel, who were both of them good men. Who was the meekest man? No answer. Did not know who led the Israelites out of Egypt, which way they came, or how long they were coming from Egypt to Canaan. Prophets, knew the office of, and the names of some of them. Knew no particular events, or persons foretold by them. Christ born in Bethlehem, son of Joseph of Arimathea, and Mary Magdalene. Knew of nothing remarkable in history of Mary Magdalene. Christ crucified, but did not know where, or by whom. He was buried; did not know where, or by whom. Rose in three days, and ascended into heaven; did not know how soon after his resurrection. Apostles, knew the number of, and the names of some; but not their office, or by whom appointed. Miracles were wrought by Christ. Could not mention any. Had never heard of any other person who had wrought miracles. Christ died to save sinners. Did not know how sinners are saved by it.
3x6=18. 3x9=27. 4x8=32. 5x9=45. 7x7=49. 7x9=56. 8x8=59. 9x9=81. 3x18=49. 4xl6=68. 5x15=70. The Queen, whose name is Victoria, lives in London. Did not know where London was. Ireland and France were towns. Four quarters in the year. Did not know their names, or the names of the months. Twelve months in a year. Did not know the day and month, or how many days or months made a year.
(Signed) D. B. PRICE, Assistant.
Blaenannerch School. --- On December 21st I visited the above school, which was kept in a room over a stable belonging to the Blaenannerch Chapel. The room was low, and not well lighted, which was done by five small glazed windows, three of which were in the roof. There was a fire in the room; but owing to its being so low and not ceiled, it was exceedingly cold there; but during the summer months, on the contrary, the master was telling me, they found it so close, that it was difficult to remain there.
A class of six boys and two girls (all that were able to read) read to the master the 7th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. The master stood by, and corrected most of the mistakes made by them, which were very numerous. He gave them the following words to spell, and asked them (as he said his custom was) the Welsh word for each --- wilderness, tabernacle, strange; they could neither spell nor give the meaning of; star, right; face, right; throne, right in the spelling of only; affliction, wrong in the meaning and spelling of bondage, governor, kindred, right in the spelling of only.
I then heard them read the 8th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which they did in a very imperfect manner, hesitating at, and falsely pronouncing, more than one half the words. They could neither spell nor give the meaning of consenting, persecution, burial, haling, grief, scattered; right in the meaning and spelling of great. I then questioned them upon what they had been reading, &c., and found them all very backward. Who wrote the Acts? Who was the first martyr? No answers. Saul is also called Paul. Did not know when or why his name was changed. Knew no circumstances whatever connected with his conversion. The Apostles, some of whom they named, were twelve. Paul was one of the twelve. Their office was to preach the Gospel. Did not know by whom appointed. Judas betrayed Christ. Pontius Pilate denied him; one said it was Peter. Did not know the meaning of the name Peter, or whether he was called by any other name or not. Peter never repented denying Christ. Adam had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. There was an ark made before the deluge. Did not know by whom. Prophets, did not know the office, or the names, of any of them. Had heard of the children of Israel being in Egypt, and of their coming out from thence. Did not know who led them, or how long they were coming from Egypt to Canaan. One said three, another forty days. Christ born in Bethlehem. Did not know where Bethlehem was. Son of the Virgin Mary, and Joseph of Arimathea. There were ten (another said twelve) devils, cast out of Mary Magdalene. Christ crucified on Calvary. Did not know by whom, or whether there was anybody crucified with him or not. Did not know where, or by whom Christ was buried. He rose in three days, and immediately ascended into heaven. Did not know the meaning of grace; one, after a long pause, thought it was godliness. Faith is to believe the word of God. All that is necessary to salvation is, to believe that Christ was upon earth.
Did not know whether they lived in England or Wales. Knew the county and parish they lived in. Ireland, Scotland, and France some said, were towns; others, countries. Those who said they were countries, could not mention any towns in them. Knew the number of months, but not weeks and days in a year. Some of the boys had been over the first rules of arithmetic; but the questions given them in the tables, &c. were answered very imperfectly --- all of them.
(Signed) D. B. PRICE, Assistant.
After the most diligent enquiry, the following are all the schools I was able to find in the parish of Aberporth; namely, two day schools, one of which was held in a room over a stable belonging to the Blaenannerch Calvinistic Methodists; the other in the Calvinistic Methodists chapel at Aberporth. In the Blaenannerch and Aberporth Chapels, there were also Sunday schools held.
(Signed) D. B. PRICE, Assistant.