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;
I visited to-day the parish of Llanrhystid. I could not see the Vicar, the Rev. John Lewis. It [the school] is a strong stone building covered with slates, erected in the churchyard, and in very good repair, except the floor, which is mere earth worn in pits, and very damp in the winter.
The reading of the highest class here was bad; and as for obtaining any answer respecting the meaning of any of the words, or any general information respecting the Scripture or other subjects, it was in vain to attempt it. A few answers were given by one or two upon the most familiar topics respecting the Bible, and that seemed to be the sum total their attainments. The Catechism is learnt, but not understood. The writing was much as usual; if anything, a degree worse. In arithmetic one or two had made some progress; one was in square root, but he did not seem to understand scarcely anything about it, for he could not say how much was the square of 6, or the square of 36. Neither the pence table below 100d. nor the multiplication table was well known by a scholar. Three were learning English grammar, but not one could answer a simple question respecting it. The younger or lower classes were just the same as usual, but there was an attempt made to classify them by the master, who was until lately a farm servant: this would not matter, if he had been trained and educated ; but he has had no advantages, and is altogether incapable of filling the office he now occupies worthily. But he appears to have some natural abilities, and with training, may make a very good master.
November 20th 1846 HENRY PENRY, Assistant.
I visited this school likewise. It has increased in numbers since the return was made; but in summer it will probably be closed again.
J. C. S. [Jelinger C. Symons, the chief commissioner in Cardiganshire]
I visited to-day a school at Trawsnant, in the parish of Llanrhystyd. The room is well built, lighted, and ventilated, and in every respect suitable to conduct a school in it. It was erected by the Calvinistic Methodists for a Sunday school.
I examined the highest class who were reading the 38th chapter of Genesis. The reading was very imperfect; and in questioning the class upon what was read, I found that scarcely a single word was understood, and the master told me that he was not in the habit of asking them any questions, nor using any means to make the scholars understand what they read and spelt. General questions on Scripture history, and the principal facts of the New Testament, were answered tolerably well when asked in Welsh. I heard some of each class reading and spelling ; but all manifested defective teaching and ignorance of the first principles of knowledge. Arithmetic was taught, to two or three, but they did not know the multiplication table, or the pence table. The writing was badly done, careless, and the books covered with blots.
The master was an uneducated person, having had no advantages, but brought up in a school similar to this, and was employed as a farm servant and a labourer for a little time in the dockyard at Woolwich, and having picked up a little knowledge of English, he was the best that offered to keep a school in this place. Mr. Davies, a respectable farmer, living at a farm called Pentre, accompanied me here. and was present during my visit, and informed me of the above facts respecting the master, and also stated that there is a general desire in the neighbourhood to have a better master.
December 4th, 1846. (Signed) HENRY PENRY, Assistant.