12 MARCH 1932, Page 19


[To the Editor of the SrEcTs.ron.] Sia—In connexion with the review by Mr. Lyon in your issue of February 27th, of L. B. Pekin's book, Public Schools, their Failure and their Reform, I would differ with Mr. Lyon, who says that Mr. Pekin's book " as a picture of school life is utterly false," on the following points :—Firstly, that corporal punishment is; or was, at the public school which I have recently left, quite as brutal and quite as much the central pillar of -discipline as Mr. Pekin proclaims it, and that I can only account for the extent to which it was used by the sexual satisfaction which he says it affords. Secondly, that the fagging system is in may experience humiliating and tyrannical as well as useless, and there seems no reason why a certain amount of the necessary domestic duties should not be done conununally instead of a number of much less memory per- sonal services being done by the younger for the older boys.

The almost universally compulsory chapel services are indeed extremely tedious, and the sermons, though occa- sionally comic and rarely good, are usually nauseating. There is also room for extensive improvement in curricula, largely on the lines that Mr. Pekin suggests.

Let those who think that this book does injustice to their particular schools in certain minor respects remember that the author is condemning each evil of the public school not as existing everywhere but as part of the sum total of the nume- rous evils that do exist there.

Altogether, this book seems to me not to be sentimentalist and exaggerating, as it has been called, but rather the expres- sion of an unprejudiced mind with at sincere love of justice.—