In brief

30th April 2004 at 01:00
You Don't Really Know Me: why mothers and daughters fight and how both can win. By Terri Apter

WW Norton amp; Co pound;17.99

Terri Apter puts the problem right at the start, where she describes the all-too-familiar scene between an angrily tearful adolescent girl and her mother. "You don't have a clue who I really am," cries the girl. The mother is outraged, writes Terri Apter. "Not know her! She's known her since the day she was born. She learned to read her feelings from the tiniest movements of her face and body."

That's only the beginning. Next comes the guilt. "What have I done to make my daughter hate me?"

Apter's book is based on 59 case studies - mothers and daughters in conversation, and interviewed separately. From the research comes good advice on issues such as body image and sex. "Girls who are aware of their own desire and see it as a central factor in their decisions about sexual activity are more likely to acknowledge what they are doing," she writes.

It's a wise and understanding book about a seemingly intractable and incoherent age-old battleground. Oh, and fathers would do well to read it too.

Teacher Training at Cambridge: the initiatives of Oscar Browning and Elizabeth Hughes

By Pam Hirsch and Mark McBeth

Woburn Press pound;60 hbk; pound;18.99 pbk

One day in the 1860s, Robert Lowe, head of the Government's education department, was visited by a schools inspector. "I know what you've come about, the science of education," he said. "There is none. Good morning."

It's interesting to speculate on an alternative history in which that view continued to prevail - and even more interesting to wonder whether today's children would have been better or worse served.

In the event, Lowe, architect of the infamous Revised ("Payment by Results") Code of 1862, was replaced in 1868 by WE Forster, who knew about educational theory and, according to Hirsch and McBeth, "altered the zeitgeist of how educational policies would be handled".

All of that is in the introduction to a book that perhaps could be better served by its title. Although it deals specifically with two important pioneers of the study of education - the first principals of the men's and women's teacher training colleges in Cambridge in the late 19th century - it also offers a broad account of the history of education in Britain.

The two central characters are fascinating. Oscar Browning was a homosexual whose commitment to the higher education of young working-class men seemed suspicious to his contemporaries. Yet he had an insight into classroom issues that are still with us. "A lesson must not be a mere lecture, or interest will be lost," he wrote to his trainees. "It must be accompanied with questions: the questions must be distributed over the whole class and not confined to one or two eager boys."

Elizabeth Hughes, too, had ideas that still resonate. "It is not so much what we teach, but how we teach it, that decides whether it shall cultivate the minds of our scholars or not."

Pulling off the rare trick of being scholarly and very readable, the book is ever mindful of the late Victorian context - a world dominated by social class, where the very word "education" had a wide variety of meanings, depending on which social stratum was being educated. Against this background, the authors conclude: "Both their colleges opened opportunities for people, namely women and working-class men, who had been previously disenfranchised from higher education and professional employment."

The History and Architecture of Chetham's School and Library

By Clare Hartwell

Yale University Press pound;25

Visitors to Chetham's School of Music in Manchester are struck by the beautiful 15th-century building around which the school has grown. It was used, before the Reformation, as accommodation for the choristers and clergy of Manchester Cathedral, and is one of the most important and complete buildings of its kind still in existence.

Clare Hartwell's book is an architectural history of the building, in painstaking detail ("The kitchen floor was flagged in December 1657"). It is beautifully illustrated with colour and monochrome photographs, as well as with contemporary drawings and art works, and will have particular value and resonance for architectural history students, and for anyone who has a close association with Chetham's.

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