30 APRIL 1954, Page 12

SIR,—The public school boys described by V.S.V. in your columns

last week, who were ignorant about the first Duke of Marl- borough and the whereabouts of Madagascar and Jamaica, merit our sympathy in what must have been a trying interview. Who wants to know where Madagascar is ? 1 myself happen to be aware of its approximate position, but I cannot believe that this is in any way beneficial to my outlook on life.

Too long has the magpie-like coacervation of superficial knowledge been allowed to masquerade as the formation of a ' broad back- ground.' Width in education is undoubtedly being sacrificed to depth, but I do not agree that this is the evil which V.S.V. seems to suggest it is. The simultaneous study of several subjects must mean that the level on which each is pursued is more or less elemen- tary, and no subject will yield its best fruits, those that assist the enlargement and development of the mind, until this level has been passed.