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The School for Sympathy Summary
The School for Sympathy Summary, Pronunciation & Translation
 I had heard a lot about Miss Beam’s school, but I did not get the chance to visit it till last week.
When I arrived at the school I saw a girl of about twelve, with her eyes covered with a bandage, being led carefully between the flower-beds by a little boy of eight. She stopped, and asked who it was that had come in, and he seemed to be describing me to her. Then they passed on.
 Miss Beam was all that I had expected middle-aged authoritative, kind and understanding. Her hair was beginning to turn grey, and her round figure was likely to be comforting to a homesick child.
We chatted for a little while, and when I asked her some questions about her teaching methods, which I had heard were simple.
 “…….. We teach only those things that are simple and useful to pupils-spelling, adding, subtracting, multiplying, writing. The rest is done by reading to them and giving them interesting talks. There are practically no other lessons.
“…….. I have heard so much,” I said, “about the originality of your system.”
 Miss Beam smiled. “Ah, yes” she said. “I am coming to that. The real aim of this school is not to teach thought but thoughtfulness-humanity, kindness and citizenship. That is the ideal I have always had, and happily there are parents good enough to trust me to try and put it into practice. Look out of the window for a minute, will you?”
I went to the window, which looked out on a large garden and playground at the back.
 “What do you see?” Miss Beam asked. “I see some very beautiful grounds.” I said, “and a lot of jolly children. But what surprises me, and pains me too, is that they are not all healthy and active. As I came in I saw one poor little thing being led about because of some trouble with her eyes. And now I can see two more in the same condition, while there is a girl with a crutch just under the window watching the others at play. She seems to be a hopeless cripple.
 Miss Beam laughed. “Oh, no”, she said, “she’s not lame really, this is only her lame day. Nor are those others blind, it is only their blind day.” I must have looked very much astonished, for she laughed again. “There you have an essential part of our system in a nutshell. In order to get these young minds to appreciate and understand misfortune, we make them share in misfortune too.
 In the course of the term every child has one blind day, one lame day, one deaf day and one dumb day. During the blind day their eyes are bandanged, and it is a point of honour not to peep. The bandage is put on overnight, they wake up blind. This means that they need assistance in everything, and other children are told to help them and lead them about. It is educative to both of them the blind and the helpers.”
 “Everyone is very kind, “Miss Beam continued, “and it is really something of a joke, although of course, before the day is over the reality of the disability becomes clear even to the least thoughtful. The blind day is, of course, really the worst, but some of the children tell me that the dumb day is the most frightening. There, of course, the child must use will-power only because the mouth is not bandaged. But come down into the garden and see for yourself how the children like it.
 Miss Beam led me to one of the bandaged girls, a little merry thing. “Here’s a gentleman come to talk to you,” said Miss Beam, and left us.
“Don’t you ever peep?” I asked, by way of an opening.
“Oh, no”, she exclaimed, “that would be cheating! But i’d not idea it was so awful to be blind. You can’t see a thing. One feels one is going to be hit by something every moment sitting dawn such a relief.
 “Are your guides kind to you?” I asked.
“Pretty good. Not so careful as I shall be when it’s my turn. Those that have been blind already are the best. It’s terrible not to see. I wish you’d try!”
“Shall I lead you anywhere” I asked.
 “Oh, yes”, she said, “let’s go for a little walk. Only you must tell me about things. I shall be so glad when today’s over. The other bad days can’t be half as bad as this. Having a leg tied up and hopping about on a crutch is almost fun. I guess. Having an arm tied up is a little more troublesome, because you have to get your food cut up for you, and so on, but it doesn’t really matter. And as for being deaf for a day, I shan’t mind that-at least, not much. But being blind is so frightening. My head aches all the time, just from avoiding things that probably aren’t there. Where are we now?”
 “In the playground”, I said, “going towards the house. Miss Beam is walking up and down the terrace with a tall girl.”
“What has the girl got on?” My companion asked.
“I blue skirt and a pink blouse.”
“I think it’s Millie”, she said, “What colour is her hair?”
“Very light”, I said.
“Yes, that’s Millie. She’s the head girl. She’s very decent.”
“There’s an old man tying up roses”, I said.
“Yes, that’s Peter. He’s the gardener.”
“And here comes a dark girl in red, on crutches.”
“Yes”, she said, “that’s Berryl.”
 And so we walked on, and in guiding this little girl about I discovered that I was ten times more thoughtful already than usual. I also realized that having to describe the surroundings to another, makes them more interesting.
When Miss Beam came to release me I was sorry. to go, and said so.
“Ah!” she replied. “Then there is something in my system after all.”
I walked back to the town murmuring (incorrectly as ever) the lines :
Can I see another’s woe,
And not share their sorrow too?
O no, never can it be,
Never, never, can it be. – Simplified form EV Lucas