The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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WORTHING                            145
Sompting's associations are by no means alto­gether with the past. The village school has become extremely interesting to educationalists from Miss Finlay-Johnson's method of teaching by making the children act whatever they had to learn. If they were studying the past they played the scenes of history in extemporised costume; if arithmetic, they pretended to buy and sell; if geography, some represented towns and others commercial travellers, and the latter must visit exactly those of the former suited to their particular commodities. The local interest aroused was great, and the parents were caught by new and admirable enthu­siasms. The men acted Julius Ccesar, eventually playing in Worthing Theatre Royal, and, to quote Miss Finlay-Johnson's own book, The Dramatic Method of Teaching, " The mothers also practised the Morris dance and dramatised folk-songs just as the scholars in the day-school were doing. In the latter art they excelled, for they knew a good store of the Sussex folk-songs.
" Comical in the extreme was their ' band' of various instruments, which they managed to play tunefully. Really it seemed we had reached the ideal state of village life, and had made one or two steps towards reintroducing 'Merrie England.' Whether this was a result of the school method I leave others to judge. And let no one be afraid that the result of such teaching will be to set the whole community * acting mad.' I have heard of none of the everyday work of the village being neglected. But I did observe there were a few more cheerful faces to be seen among those who took part in the work/'
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