[Held at Mortimer Hall, London, March 26th-29th, 1923.]
"For a great door and an effectual is
opened unto me."--1Cor. xvi, 9.
"SOME IMPRESSIONS OF
THE HOUSE OF EDUCATION."
A summary of the address given by
Professor W. G. de Burgh, M.A.
Philosophy, University College, Reading.]
It is a privilege, though a sad one, to be here this afternoon. Yet I
feel that the dominant thought in our minds should be, not sorrow, but
thankfulness. We are thankful for the gift of Miss Mason's personal
friendship and personal influence. I do not think that Miss Mason would
have altogether liked to have been told that she exercised influence.
She would say that she set ideas in people's way and let them work in
people's minds. But, however we express it, the fact remains; for three
generations of human life she gave herself, her wise and stimulating
counsel, and the stores of her rich mind, with lavish generosity to
hundreds, thousands, of individuals, both in personal intercourse and
in correspondence. I am not thinking mainly of her published writings,
books and articles, addressed to a wider and more general public,
valuable as these are. I was reading only the other day Ourselves, which has been described
as "the one manual of practical psychology" for the young. I am
thinking rather, as is fitting on this occasion, of the untold gain
derived by those who had the privilege of personal relationship with
We are thankful again that she was spared so long, so that she could
herself see much of her ideal accomplished, and know before she died
that her work had taken firm root in an organisation with manifold
activities. She would have disliked the term
'organisation';--'confraternity' is a more fitting word. It comprises
the House of Education, The Parents'
Review, the Parents' Union School and its schemes of teaching
now adopted in many Elementary and Secondary Schools, the support of
Educational authorities (e.g. of Gloucestershire); she often spoke of
this to me, the thousands of children educated privately on her methods
(altogether some 40,000) in the Parents' Union School. She lived for
her work, and her work is known and its value recognised throughout the
Empire. It is truly a wonderful thing that she should have
lived to see these fruits and to know that she left those behind her
who would carry on the work in the spirit with which she had inspired
We are thankful, lastly, for this--that the end when it came was so
peaceful--that she kept her astonishing intellectual vitality to the
last. The eye of her mind was not dimmed, nor its natural force abated.
In my visit late last November, I found Miss Mason with as keen an
interest and knowledge of detail as ever. I feel bound to mention too
(for she would most certainly have wished it mentioned) that our
gratitude is due to those who in the last years surrounded her in her
beautiful Westmoreland home with such loving care and devoted service.
I have entitled this address: "Some Impressions of the House of
Education." I am conscious how slight a claim I have to speak of her
life's work. I only knew her
by acquaintance in recent years, through
my annual visits to the House of Education. We had previously exchanged
some correspondence, in reference to certain papers of mine published
in the Parents' Review, which
showed her that I was likely to be sympathetic to her work and methods.
As a result, she asked me to act as Examiner. I felt this to be an
exceptional mark of confidence, for she disliked inspections and always
kept clear of subjection to officialdom.
I well remember my first visit in 1916; the kindness I received from
her, from Miss Williams, and the staff; and the thoroughness of the
arrangements that enabled me to see the work and life as a whole. I
remember too how I went there with two questions in my mind:--
I wondered, first, whether Miss Mason's very definite convictions and
methods in education led to a cut and dried, stereotyped imitation on
the students' part, restricting their freedom and individuality. And,
secondly, whether the wide range of subjects studied during the two
years led to superficiality.
I need not say that my fears were groundless on both counts. In fact,
it was the answers I got to these questions that impressed me most on
my first visit. For I found (1) liberty of individual development. The
very variety of the curriculum enabled students to show their
distinctive talent, e.g. in languages, or in craft work, or in physical
exercises. Miss Drury is to speak presently on Nature-Study; but I must
remark in passing on the high quality and enthusiasm of the students at
the House of Education in this field. Their work was always intelligent
and individual; they took full advantage of the unique opportunities of
the district, and in vacations correlated their observations in their
various home localities with the beautiful scenes that they became
familiar with at Ambleside.
I found (2) that the wide range of subjects, so far from conducing to
superficiality, was the product of a sound and reasoned principle. Of
course, no student can be equally proficient all round. Time hampers
the teaching of many subjects, but Miss Mason's aim has been avowedly
--(a) to equip students with such an interest in and knowledge
of the main subjects, that they may be qualified to teach them on
leaving, and (b) in regard to auxiliary subjects, to awake interest, so
that, while the students are not necessarily qualified to teach them on
leaving, they are started on new lines and enabled to pursue these
interests afterwards for themselves. This is the case, e.g., with
Italian, and with Greek, a subject which I induced Miss Mason to add to
the curriculum. Miss Mason ever looked ahead. One of the striking
characteristics of teachers trained by her is that they too move
forward on their own in after life; realising that they must teach
from a flowing stream, not from a stagnant pool.
I must add another impression which has been confirmed on each
succeeding visit. The students teach naturally.
Even in the unsatisfactory and artificial atmosphere of criticism
lessons, there is a notable absence of self-consciousness. Both to the
students who give the lessons and to the girls in the Practising
School, my presence in the room as Inspector made little difference. I
believe that this is due in no small measure to the system of
narration, and to the wise insistence by Miss Mason that the teacher
must never impose her personality from without upon the child.
Before I close, I must say a few words of a more general nature about
Miss Mason's work in education.
In the first place, though no one was more critical of defects in
educational theory and practice, her criticism was always constructive. It was based on
personal experience (in a Training College and in Schools, as Miss
Williams has told us in her all too brief retrospect of Miss Mason's
early life in the Parents' Review
for March) and on an intense faith that education was a power--a power
either for immense good or for disaster. She realised the point of
Plato's startling question in the Republic;
how can the State foster the study of philosophy without being ruined
by it? To the solution of this problem she brought a rare sobriety of
judgment and the sense of proportion which
was one of the most striking qualities of her intellect. She loathed
faddists and cranks in education. She united a sane conservatism with a
passion for reform and a spirit of bold adventure. She grasped an ideal
of education that was veritably democratic; uniting the children of the
rich and the poor, the aristrocrat and the labourer, in one
comprehensive scheme of training. She brought to bear on her work, both
speculative insight into problems of philosophy and a typical
North-country sense of what was practical. For instance, by her firm
insistence on adequate salaries and conditions of service, she raised
single-handed the status of the private governess throughout England.
Miss Mason stood, firm as a rock in the Utilitarian age, for the
essentials of a Humanist education. She grew up in an atmosphere of
materialism in education; that this is no longer dominant is due
largely to her efforts. The fact that she had to fight for her humanist
ideal braced her and called forth her full powers. I sometimes wonder
how it was that the Victorian age produced women leaders of such
distinction compared with their successors of to-day. We recall Miss
Buss, Miss Beale, Dr. Garrett Anderson, Dr. Emily Davies, and many
others besides Miss Mason, in women's education; Mrs. Fawcett, Miss
Octavia Hill, Florence Nightingale in other fields. Was it
not that they had to fight for their causes against strong opposition?
Miss Mason's life was one long struggle against mechanism. She
distrusted organisation and standardisation. For this reason, she would
have no truck with government departments or municipal control. Again,
she set little store by the results of public examinations. It is
noteworthy that these great Victorian reformers had no University
degrees. The admission of women to degrees is, assuredly, a great
onward step, but we go wrong if we regard them as essential to the good
teacher. Many of the best teachers at the House of Education are Miss
Mason's own products and show that first-rate teaching by no means
depends on University qualifications. I should like all sticklers for
such things to hear, as I have often had the pleasure of hearing, Miss
Drury take a class in Science, or Miss Millar (if I may call her by her
maiden name) in Mathematics.
I need not dwell at length on what is known to all--how Miss Mason
stood for freedom for the child. She held that the teacher must not
impress her personality on the child but let the child's personality
grow freely. Thus both teacher and child are freed from strain and
bondage. This does not mean that the teacher's task is thereby rendered
easy; the teacher is no cipher, nor is her personality suppressed. It
means that for an external relationship is substituted one of inward
sympathy and insight. The result has been that Miss Mason's students
learn to love teaching. She taught the teacher to love teaching and the
child to love learning. Her students learnt too that education is not,
as in some Universities, a departmental subject; rather, that all life
is education, and all education that deserves the name is life. Plato
taught, in the Republic, that
the theory of education is the theory of life (Philosophy) and its
message the message of life (Religion). So likewise taught the wise and
noble teacher whose life-work we commemorate, in reverence and
THE NATURE WORK AT THE
HOUSE OF EDUCATION.
By A. C. Drury.
The character of the Nature Work at the House of Education is largely
determined by Miss Mason's choice of Ambleside as her training centre.
Besides being in the midst of beautiful scenery with literary
associations, Ambleside is rich in having a great variety and profusion
of flowers within easy walking distance. There are plants of the
meadow, mountain, bog, wood and water, northern species, rare and
characteristically mountain species--to be climbed for on special
The extremely complicated but interesting geological formation affects
the flora, which is remarkably different from that on a contrasting
rock, the mountain limestone, near enough to be reached on half-term
holidays. The soil
of the valleys shows the effect of past glacial action which limits
vegetation and farming operations, sheep-farming being the most
lucrative on the fells.
Some of the cornfield weeds which are conspicuous by their absence were
introduced by war-time cultivation and at least one had established
The climate of the Lakes favours the growth of very beautiful trees,
particularly of the Coniferae, and some of these are specially fine in
gardens near Ambleside. The autumn colours are often glorious beyond
description, and so are the fungi until the frosts begin. To my mind,
the English mountains are never more beautiful then when covered with
snow, and in winter they are often white when rain alone has been
falling on the lower ground. The rain supports a wealth of mosses and
liverworts, rare ferns are not unattainable, some of the rarest may be
seen by climbers.
Though very seldom detected, such scarce animals as the badger and the
pine marten, dwell in the Lake District, and I have heard from visitors
that the otter is to be seen by following the hunt in the early morning.
The head of Windermere is a station for migrating birds. They land
there for a few hours or days on their journeys north in spring, they
come to Rydal for open water from the frozen north in winter, or linger
on their way to feast on our beech mast or berries. The redwing and the
brambling come to Scale How garden for this purpose.
In founding the House of Education in Ambleside, it was Miss Mason's
intention that her students should become familiar with these beauties
of Nature; and the Nature Note Book, which she designed, is the symbol
of their knowledge: that precious green book with its red title, "House
of Education, Students' Nature Note Book," which is the peculiar
privilege of the student.
The inside of the book is nothing more than good drawing paper (for
painting, without pencil outlines) until the possessor begins to make
it the record of her own observations.
Every fine day (except on half-holidays) one or two
small parties of
students go out with members of the staff for Nature Walks and Bird
Walks, or the whole number start off occasionally for a Geology Walk to
find fossils or ice scratches, or in summer for weekly Geography Walks.
Miss Mason loved to see what "finds" the students brought back from
their expeditions and to hear what birds they had seen or to tell what
she had seen.
I remember how she talked about the cock-redstart at table and made us
eager to notice the patch of intensely white feathers on his head
constrasting with his black throat.
Out of doors the students learn to look and to watch they they may know
creatures and plants by sight as they know friends; to recognise the
birds by their song, flight, feathers and nesting places, and their
time of arrival and departure; to observe the flowering seasons of all
trees and herbs and the ripening of common spore-bearing plants such as
horsetails and large liverworts; to note the reappearance of
butterflies and dragonflies, stone,--caddi,--and mayflies, and to know
some of their eggs and larvæ.
Each one records in her own Nature Note Book that which has interested
her, and takes home something to paint. The effort of attention during
the time given to painting the twig, flower or fruit, chrysalis, shell
or egg, fixes its form and colour in the memory. This is the way to get
to know "its position as it grows, its trick of holding its head, the
grace of its profile" (as Ruskin says of a flower in words quoted in
the Parents' Review for
February, 1923). The Nature Note Book becomes increasingly valuable
when the records of one year and one locality can be compared with
another; and a student generally feels that she is making more progress
in her second year though she was unconsciously storing up first
impressions in the early days of her training.
There is a delightfully casual element in Nature Walks. We simply
choose which way to go and then "Nature" does the rest because
Ambleside is an unrivalled spot to learn in. We like to be teased when
the Nature Walk lingers to watch a dipper or a grey wagtail, or the
Bird Walk finds the yellow
Gagea or the marsh Cinquefoil, as if we were poaching on each other's
preserves! For the fact is that we take whatever comes, and the
unexpected almost always happens.
The Rev. Alfred Thornley, who examines the "Seniors"' Nature Note
Books, testifies to the freshness and pleasure which this mode of
Nature Study secures, and this spontaneous enjoyment was provided by
Miss Mason when she taught us to gather the materials for science by
studying Nature out of doors for ourselves and adding to our knowledge
year after year.
We get a tremendous stimulus and answers to many of our queries when
Mr. Thornley comes for his annual visit. A day spent out of doors with
him acquaints us with many kinds of insects, their haunts, their food.
We see an astonishing "number of things" in a few hundred yards of wood
or of lakeside, and time passes like magic. To arouse wonder and
admiration must be one of the teacher's principal aims.
Two years is but a short time to spend in preparing to read
intelligently with Parents' Union School pupils. So that Nature Walks
are supplemented by lectures, the average time allotted to scientific
subjects being three to four hours a week.
There are Natural History lectures on British wild animals, birds and
their feathers, British insects, forest trees, spore-bearing plants,
seed dispersion, autumn colours and the fall of the leaf.
A course of Human Physiology in the first year gives a knowledge of the
skeleton and vital organs, very useful for comparison in studying the
animal kingdom, which is the special subject to the second year's
Botany is taken by the first and second year students separately and
concerns the detailed study and classification of flowering plants. So
the Biology hour is chiefly devoted to Miss Arabella Buckley's
wonderful books on the animal kingdom: "Life and her children" and
"Winners in Life's Race." The books are illustrated in class by as many
specimens as possible, fossils or shells from the museum, and such
living species as the earthworm, snails, woodlice,
We note in passing comparisons and contrasts between animals and
plants, and attention is drawn to examples of laws common to the two
Blackboard summaries and classifications have not yet been dispensed
with, although we seek to use the book as the principal part of the
lesson and to approach the ideal set in the Parents' Union School. It
is impossible to read "Life and her Children" through in two terms when
three years is the time taken over it in Form II. Lord Avebury's
"Flowers, Fruits and Leaves" is the kind of book that cultivates a
scientific spirit of enquiry, but time forbids the Natural History
lecturer to use more than a chapter of it. Books we should like to
depend on: Scott Elliot's "Nature Studies," for example, go out of
print, and in other cases, the right book for our use, has never been
written. So we still lecture at the House of Education, and some of the
science books of the Parents' Union School are unsatisfactory.
Half-a-dozen lectures on Sound, Light and Electricity with simple
experiments are given to introduce the group of books: "The Sciences,"
"First Year of Scientific Knowledge," "Some Wonders of Matter," and
"Scientific Ideas of To-day." The least acquaintance with these mighty
mysteries makes us grateful for an occasional scientific lecture from
an expert who opens up new lines of thought and subjects for wonder.
I think that the stupendous facts with which Geology and Astronomy
deal, educate a scientific habit of mind most effectively. There must
be a study of the reasons which lead Geologists and Astronomers to
their conclusions, conflicting arguments must be faced, inferences
drawn from geological maps or from astronomical diagrams representing
the movements of the heavenly bodies. In Astronomy we rely on Sir
Robert Ball's "Story of the Heavens," which students who have been in
Forms V & VI possess, although we can only take extracts in a
course of about 15 lectures. Our object is to lead students to know the
stars and to follow the movements of the moon and planets. Odd
half-hours are seized on fine nights for learning the names of the stars
and constellations, the monthly star maps in "The Times" being found
Geology replaces Astronomy in alternate years, and begins with local
Geology from the maps and papers of the Geological Survey and from
Professor Marr's comprehensive book on "the Geology of the Lake
District." As Miss Mason often said of all the science teaching, the
most we can do in these lectures is to aim at arousing interest.
The peculiar fitness of Ambleside for the studies which Miss Mason
initiated and developed there, is realised best of all in connection
with Out-of-Door Geography. On all sides are the mountains,
water-sheds, rivers, tributaries and lakes themselves, neither
miniatures nor models. Distance is learnt by pacing, and direction,
from the sun and the compass, in order to appreciate the making of maps
to scale. The height of a tree or spire is measured by triangles, the
ordnance map is used, contours explained, and bench marks found on an
up-hill road and checked by the aneroid barometer. This occupies six
weeks of the summer term one year, and the next year we follow the more
delightful of the two courses for Geography Walks worked out by Miss
Williams (late Vice-Principal): that on the history of the Lake
District, Westmorland, and Ambleside. Boundaries, old routes, places
with significant names, old houses or sites of mills, famous remains
like the Roman Camp at Waterhead and the Rydal Thing-mound, are visited
or viewed from Loughrigg, and from them we learn of the different
peoples who entered the country and the traces left of their occupation.
It is frequently said by students that their two years' training opened
many windows for them. The windows that open on to Nature Study admit
us to endless sources of happiness, explored at Ambleside if not first
known to us there. Most of us look back upon this result of our
training, together with the practice of taking walks which it implies,
as among the greatest of benefits we owe to Miss Mason. And the pages
of our old Nature Note Books recall, as nothing else can, the choicest
walks we have had and our most cherished memories of birds and flowers.
THE PARENT'S UNION
SCHOOL AND ITS FOUNDER.
[From notes taken of
address to P.U.S. children.]
By the Hon. Mrs. Franklin.
Mrs. Franklin said: I have given myself a difficult task--it is to give
the pupils of Miss Mason's School a little idea of what she was and of
what she expected of you. You will all feel that you have known Miss
Mason since you joined the School: that she has given you ideas and
Miss Mason has passed on, but her spirit is with us--especially at this
moment, because she loved everyone of the children in the School so
much. She gave her life and her work to you.
I have had the honour of being her friend for nearly 30 years: the
friendship began when I was not much older than some of the members of
the P.U.S.A. It has meant more to me that I can express: it was the
greatest privilege to be allowed as a young mother to help Miss Mason
in her great work. Besides all the great things she taught me she
taught me so many little things--for instance to love open windows, to
go out in all weathers and she taught me, and you through the P.U.S.,
though you may not realise that you are learning this lesson, to try
and see the best in everyone. It was because she saw the best in us
that we did our best, and when you are tempted to dwell on some little
thing in anyone which is not the best, remember that in doing so you
are not being loyal to Miss Mason.
Another thing that little people, as well as old people, need to learn
is that when anyone has done a thing wrongly, don't go and tell them so
but wait until they are going to do the thing again and then just
remind them to do it right. Perhaps you could remember this when you
are dealing with your little brothers and sisters or with
Miss Mason--you can see it in her face (pointing to Mr.
Yates' beautiful portrait which was on the platform)--not only saw the
best in everyone, but she loved human beings. The consequence was that
everyone who came in touch with her felt her influence. Someone who
knew her 60 years ago, says he has never
forgotten the things she told him then, and one of her maids told me
she will always remember the few words Miss Mason said to her when she
left to be married 14 years ago after only two years in her house. This
was because Miss Mason when she talked to us was able to imagine
herself in our place and was witty and delightful, but she also made
even the shyest person talk, and talk well.
I hope you in the P.U.S. will be good conversationalists: I do not
think you will be afraid of hearing your own voices. Some of you little
ones will remember that you were at first afraid to narrate; that you
did it very softly and slowly. Now I expect it goes quickly and
distinctly. We have heard two of the P.U.S.A. speak to-day and judging
by how they did it, I think you will all be able to speak and to talk
Miss Mason was remarkable for her courteous manners. She always
received her dearest, oldest and her newest and youngest friend in the
same way. People felt that it was a privilege to meet her and they felt
at ease with her.
She worked very hard, but she never appeared rushed; hers was an inward
peace. One often hears people say that they can only do this or that
"when the spirit moves them." She on the other hand got through her
huge amount of work by working to a time-table up to the end of her
days. She was a great, good and God-fearing woman and she was allowed
to keep her powers until the last and now that she is gone, she leaves
us not sad, but full of thankfulness for her and her work and
profoundly grateful that she was with us, working for us in the world
for so long.
Her work had many sides. She edited a magazine, she wrote books, she
founded the House of Education, the P.N.E.U. and the P.U.S. which now
has 40,000 pupils. Some of the pupils live at home and work there, but
they are in the P. U. S., some go to classes and schools--elementary or
secondary schools--and all are in the P.U.S. When we met at the
Children's Conference at Winchester and again at Whitby, the children
attending the Conference received
letters from their school-fellows
from almost every part of the world; from children who were doing the
same lessons and caring for the same things.
Why is the P.U.S. different from other schools? Do you ever ask
children from other schools if they like their lessons as you do yours?
I fear many say they do not because they have not learnt as you do in
the P.U.S. the joy of getting knowledge on which the mind can live.
Lewis Carroll, who wrote "Alice in Wonderland," says in a serious essay
on knowledge that we are very careful to feed the body on various
foods--we do not give it nothing but dry bread or nothing but
chocolate, but we are not so careful of the mind. Miss Mason felt that
the mind needed food to make it do so. When you feel a joy in working
it is because your hungry mind is being fed.
Miss Mason when she was a little girl had a geography book from which
she had to learn long lists of towns, rivers, exports, imports, etc.,
and she did not like it, but she did
enjoy reading some little notes at
the bottom of the page which were quoted from what people who had lived
in the foreign country had to say of it. When she grew up she
remembered this and decided that she would make a geography book
something like these notes so that children while they were learning
about the country might feel as if they were living in it.
I think you know that Miss Mason was very fond of nature and when she
went out for her drives she was always looking for the first flower or
bird of the season. Then she would come home and compare notes with her
She knew too the joy of making things for oneself--not only in
handicrafts, but in other ways, too, for instance of making a Nature
Note Book or a Book of Centuries--and helped us all to this joy.
She also felt that in order really to enjoy going to a picture gallery
one must know something of the pictures beforehand, so she arranged
Picture Talk and showed children in the School reproductions of the
great pictures so that when they went to a gallery they would
the artist's message. She did the same with music: through Musical
Appreciation she prepared children to understand and enjoy concerts.
She gave each child working in the School a library of his own. All the
books you use in the School are worth while--even the books used in IA
are worth keeping. I expect you find when you have read Scott and
Kingsley, for example, you do not much care for rubbishy books. This is
a good thing because rubbish is badly written and spoils our knowledge
of English and also it does not give us a true picture of life. Good
books on the other hand help us to understand life, as great writers
make their characters act as human beings do act and so help us to know
something of life from different aspects.
"I am, I can, I ought, I will." Miss Mason chose your inspiring motto.
You can say,
"I am the greatest thing in
God's creation: a human being with a spark of God's divine spirit in my
body. Because I belong to the human family I can do the great things
that other human beings have done. I have powers of doing, thinking and
"I can use these powers. I
can change my thoughts from things that harm me and that worry me to
the beautiful things I have learnt in my School: I can know the ways of
activity, I can think kindly thoughts of God's creatures in the past
and in the present, in this and other countries, of people who do not
think as I do in religion and politics.
I ought to do these things: I
owe it to my God, my parents and my School.
I will forget myself, and
live up to the ideals of my School.
God is on the side of those who will, and with His help we will all go
on working as Miss Mason hoped we would.
Mrs. Franklin at the end of her address quoted from letters written by
Miss Mason to children attending the Gatherings at Winchester and
Whitby. To those at Winchester Miss Mason wrote;--"It is a delightful
thing about this School of yours that the Scholars love their
books; I know, because every post brings me a letter from some
to say so, and besides, I can tell by the way you answer your
examination questions. When all the papers reach me I often say, "this
is a very happy week for me"; I am happy because your papers show me
that you have had a delightful term's work and that you LOVE KNOWLEDGE.
"I think that is a joyful thing to be said about anybody, that he loves
knowledge; there are so many interesting and delightful things to be
known and the person who loves knowledge cannot very well be dull;
indoors and out of doors there are a thousand interesting things to
know and to know better.
"There is a saying of King Alfred's that I like to apply to our
School,--"I have found a door," he says. That is just what I hope your
School is to you--a door opening into a great palace of art and
knowledge in which there are many chambers all opening into gardens or
field paths, forest or hills. One chamber, entered through a beautiful
Gothic archway, is labeled Bible Knowledge, and there the Scholar finds
goodness as well as knowledge, as indeed he does in many others of the
fair chambers. You see that doorway with much curious lettering?
History is within, and that is, I think, an especially delightful
chamber. But it would take too long to investigate all these pleasant
places and indeed you could label a good many of the doorways from the
headings of your term's programme.
"But you will remember that the School is only a "Door" to let you in
to the goodly House of Knowledge, but I hope you will go in and out and
live there all your lives--in one pleasant chamber and another; for the
really rich people are they who have the entry to this goodly House,
and who never let King Alfred's 'Door' rust on its hinges, no, not all
through their lives, even when they are very old people.
"I have a great hope for all you dear Scholars of the P.U.S.; other
people will be a little the better because you love knowledge, and have
learnt to think fair, just thoughts about things, and to seek first the
Kingdom of Heaven in which is all that is beautiful, good and
happy-making. I must not take up any more of the time in which there
many things to be done, so, wish you the very happiest week in all your
To those at Whitby she wrote:--
"My dear Children,
It is eight years since I had an opportunity of writing to each of you
and to all of you as a body. Let me repeat the welcome that you
received at Winchester in the words of Isaak Walton, that wise
fisherman who gathered wisdom while he waited for the trout to rise:--
"'I will tell you, Scholar, I have heard a grave Divine say that God
has two dwellings; one in Heaven and the other in a meek and thankful
heart. Which Almighty God grant to me, and to my honest Scholar; and so
you are welcome.'
"Some of you may still have the card with this motto among your
treasures, but all of you, I know, have brought the meek and thankful
heart that Isaak Walton desired for himself and his Scholar; meek,
because we shall be thinking about great persons in a place touched
with the magic of holy and serviceable lives; about the work in stone
and on parchment of famous men and women of old, and of the wonders of
the sea and sky and earth; of tales told by the very rocks, all uniting
in chorus;--"The merciful and gracious Lord hath so done his marvellous
work that they ought to be in remembrance'.
"Let us remember that the works of men indirectly, and the work of
Nature, directly, are the great and marvellous works of God. Thinking
of these things, we shall be meek and very ready to learn, and so we
shall find out that 'the meek shall inherit the earth,' for those
things that we love and delight in are far more truly ours than the
things so easily spoilt, which money can buy.
"A famous schoolmaster was asked by his boys to explain that saying of
our Lord's about the meek, and he said--
"'Napoleon thought he inherited
the earth by force of arms, and he died on Elba. Wordsworth had no such
proud thoughts, but he did
inherit the earth; all the Lake country and
much of the world besides belongs to him still.'
"Being rich in these great things we shall be gentle and
I am very sure you all have thankful hearts, thankful for Whitby and
all that it means and will mean for all your lives; very thankful that
God has set us in a world so full of beauty and joy; thankful to our
kind and hospitable Whitby friends; thankful to the beloved friends who
have brought you here, and tenderly thankful, I know, to those other
kind friends, who have taken great delight in planning and arranging
for this wonderful week.'
"How I wish I could be with you to share all your joys and to see your
dear faces!--the more so, because you have made me quite intimate with
you in those examination papers which gave me happy weeks, because I
can see how happy you were in writing them, and what great joy you have
in that knowledge, some of which you pour into your papers.
"I have news to tell you which will, I think, give you a great deal of
pleasure. Nobody can enjoy a treat by himself; he wants other boys and
girls to share it with him, and the bigger the treat the more friends
he would have to share it. I know you think of the P.U.S. work as a
treat. I get letters every day to tell me how much So-and-so enjoys his
or her lessons, and, though I cannot see you to-day, I know what happy
faces you carry. I wonder do you know what gives happy faces to
and grown-ups? Just this, people look happy when they have nice things
to think about, and you have so many delightfully interesting things to
occupy your minds that I have never seen an unhappy-looking P.U.S.
"When we are happy we long to make other people so too; therefore I
know you will be delighted to know that thousands and thousands of
children have joined the school since Winchester days, and what is
better than all, many of them are in elementary schools; these dear
children, too, wander in the woods with Titania and Oberon, pitch their
tents on the plains of Palestine with King Richard, see wonders of the
Parthenon, and lift up their eyes to the hills and to the stars. Some
of them, with their teachers, are, you know,
present at this Gathering, sharing in the generous welcome given to us
by all our kind friends in Whitby, and all of you together have your
thoughts full of great and beautiful things, and mean to learn and be
of use in God's wonderful world.
"I wonder, would you like to add to your prayers at night, 'God bless
all children, parents and teachers in the P.U.S.' "
THE BEGINNING OF
By E. Kitching. [Director
of the P.U.S. and Secretary to Miss Mason
We are met here to think of the work that has been done and of the
worker who did it in a long life of eighty-one years, and it is a
privilege to be allowed to speak of the beginning of that work. Its
author spoke little of her early life, less of its difficulties, but of
her mind on education she has told us much. Miss Mason was entirely
without any thought of herself, she never dwelt upon details that
concerned herself alone. When asked if she would not dictate some notes
of her life her only reply was,--"My dear, my life does not matter. I
have no desire that it should ever be written. It is the work that
matters and, I say it with all reverence, it will some day (not in my
lifetime) be seen to be one of the greatest things that has happened in
the world." It was a startling thing to say, but those who know Miss
Mason's quiet confidence in the work that was given her to do, in her
resolute patience that could wait, years if need be, till the right
moment came, who could plan and wait for the means to come when no
means were there, who could say, as she did only last year,--"We do not
attempt things, we do them," those, and those only will understand that
it was said with no tinge of egoism but with the passion of a great
idea. Frail as she was, Miss Mason had faith to live, not ignoring
difficulties, not denying pain, but facing both with courage and with a
sure and certain hope that workers, strength, and means would come in
so far as the work was 'the very
work God meant for her' for she loved
to say to her 'Bairns,' "Thou cam'st not to thy place by accident."
There was another reason why Miss Mason never talked of herself. It was
a matter of principle. Her first thought was always for those who were
to carry on her work and she practised in her daily life all that she
put before their consideration in the ordering of their lives. She
never said,--"Do this because I do it," even in thought. It was
always--"The laws of life and conduct are laid down for us by our Lord
and we do well to ponder every hint that the Gospel story gives us." On
this particular point she would, as that part of the Gospel came in its
natural sequence, dwell on the words "If I bear witness of myself, my
witness is not true," and she would say to the students,--"My dear
friends, think of this. Do not dwell upon yourselves, your belongings,
even your families unduly, in talking to others. This saying is
literally true. 'If I bear witness of myself my witness is not true.' "
Miss Mason was an only child of only children, a precious child,
sharing the sheltered life of a rather delicate and much-loved mother
and a devoted father. She learned at home and she once or twice
mentioned her earliest recollection, that of her mother lying on a
couch with a little brown leather Homer's "Odyssey" in her hand. One
other recollection she mentioned in 1916 (in connection with the coming
of the Elementary Schools) and this must have been of the time when her
vocation came to her. An only child, she was lonely, her mother being
too delicate to entertain much and she had no child friends. She was
probably about eight when her parents moved and she became aware that
children, lots of children, might be watched passing the window every
day at certain times. From that time she was always there to watch them
go by. She wondered where they went and if she might ever speak to
them? There was a tall lady who went by too and how happy the children
seemed when they saw her and away they would run after her! How happy
the lady must be with those children! Later the opportunity came and
the little girl was taken to the school by friends and allowed
to see the children at work and she wondered what sort of books they
had and if they liked them as much as she did the books her father read
to her, "Anne of Geirstein" being at the moment the supreme favourite.
On page 322 of the first volume of the Parents' Review we read what
must be a biographical touch, "We wonder does any little girl in these
days of many books experience the joy of the girl of eleven we can
recall crouching by the fireside clasping her knees and listening as
she has never listened since to the reading of "Anne of Geirstein?"
Then came long, long thoughts about those children and then came great
sorrow and the cherished little daughter was left alone in the world
without means, for the American war had ruined her father and he never
recovered the shock of his wife's premature death.
But the thought of the children came to fill her bereaved heart and her
one idea was how she could get into touch with children. As Miss
Williams has told us in the March REVIEW, an elementary Training
College was the only open sesame in those days to the teaching
profession and so a short course of training took Miss Mason in 1863 to
a church school in Worthing. Here she had some opportunity for finding
out what was in children but she had even more intimate intercourse
with some Anglo-Indian children who lived with their aunt, a very dear
friend. Miss Mason was able to watch these children to see what and how
they thought, how they worked, what sort of knowledge appealed to them.
She came early to one or two conclusions. First, that children had an
unlimited power of attention; secondly, that mere information did not
call out that power; thirdly, that they had an unlimited hunger for
knowledge; fourthly, that their minds always worked by the question put
to themselves,--what next? The years passed and at Bishop Otter
College, Chichester, Miss Mason came into touch with the minds of young
women and she found them very little different from those of the
children except that their powers were not so fresh. Here Miss Mason
lectured on Education and Human Physiology. But the teaching of
Geography, its possibilities, its life-giving interests, its delights,
hold of her and she tramped county after county, Hampshire
especially, visiting every spot of interest, reading local records,
going to London and reading in the British Museum books of first-hand
travel. Then in order to show how Geography could be made a living
study, Miss Mason gave up her work at Chichester and went to Bradford
where she gave much time to writing geography books and some to her
beloved work of teaching in a school kept by a friend. The first book
published was "The Forty Shires: their History, Scenery, Arts and
Legends." (1880). Then followed in quick succession "The London
Geographical Readers" (now the Ambleside Geography Books) published
from 1880 onwards and dedicated to teachers trained at the Otter
Memorial College. Another friend of Miss Mason's had a school in
Ambleside left to her by Miss Clough when she went to Newnham and here
Miss Mason spent many a holiday and learned to know and love the place
which was to be her home for the rest of her life. I was talking only
the other day to the father of a student who remembers being taught
there by Miss Mason sixty years ago.
"The World to Come" (quoted in the March REVIEW)
and a number of other
poems were written about 1865.
In 1885 a parish room was wanted for the church in Bradford which Miss
Mason attended and she offered lectures in lieu of money. These were
delivered in the winter of 1885-1886 and "Home Education" was published
in the autumn of 1886. In the Preface to "Home Education," Miss Mason
says,--"In venturing to speak on the subject of home education I do so
with the sincerest deference to mothers, believing that in the words of
a wise teacher of men the woman receives from the Spirit of God himself
the intuitions into the child's character . . . but just in proportion
as a mother has this peculiar insight . . . she will feel the need of a
knowledge of the general principles of education . . . and this
knowledge not the best of mothers will get from above seeing that we do
not often receive as a gift that which we have the means of getting by
our own efforts." "Home Education" contains in essence all that Miss
developed in her further writings and activities. In the first
we get the child's estate, a belief in which led to what has been
called the Children's Magna Charta, the Parents' Union School; this
belief also runs through every detail of the work set in the
programmes. Lecture II takes up out-of-door life and this has led to
the awakening of the world to the bliss of nature study, a subject now
learned in most schools though nowhere with so much simple joy as in
the Parents' Union Schoolrooms where an academic or utilitarian aspect
does not creep in. The study of nature is a very different thing from
the study of science and this fact was brought home to me only the
other day in talking to a friend who has taken high scientific honours
and done scientific research work in museums but her joy at finding a
moss in situ, for she had studied mosses only in cabinets, or finding a
beetle and wanting to know its name, of watching a dipper on the beck
was good to see. Lecture III takes up moral training and Lecture IV
mental training. Miss Mason always dreaded lest the P.N.E.U. should
suffer by the repetition of the shibboleths and it is well to consider
the position she gives to Attention in mental training lest the method
of narration should become a shibboleth whereas it is only the outward
and audible sign of that inward and spiritual grace, the power of
attention, by which the mind feeds upon the food convenient for it.
Lecture V. deals with Lessons, worked out later and more fully in
"School Education:" Lection VI., with the moral and spiritual powers of
a child. This was worked out later in detail in "Ourselves," while in
"Parents and Children" we get moral training from the parents' point of
view. In Lection VII. [Now published in Vol. V. "Some
Studies in the
Formation of Character."] literary evenings are taken up, also
the study of pictures, music
and poetry. "It is a pity," says Miss Mason, "that we like our music as
our pictures and our poetry mixed, so that there are few opportunities
of going through as a listener a course of the works of a single
composer . . . Let young people study as far as possible under one
master until they have received some of this teaching and know its
A class of children ranging in age from 5-7 voted "Industry and Greed"
as their favourite out of six pictures by Watts they had been studying
and next "The People that sat in Darkness," not 'Una' or "Sir Galahad"
as one might have expected. A girl (form III., aged 13) in an
Elementary School wrote the following in her Christmas examination
paper in answer to a question on Brahms' music.
Brahms made the Inerezzo, (sic)
A song of slumbe, deep,
That every mother, sweet and low,
Should sing her babe to sleep.
He also composed the waltzes,
Of tones both great and small,
And some of Russian dances,
And some to be danced by all.
And unto Christ, our heavenly king,
He made a carol light,
That people upon earth should sing,
To God each Christmas night.
The principles contained in "Home Education" had been further brought
home to Miss Mason while lecturing to ladies preparing to teach in
Elementary Schools in Bishop Otter College and during the years that
followed, years of educational work, literary and other, a single idea
was gradually taking shape and forcing itself into prominence, becoming
in fact a life-purpose,--how to approach parents without appearance of
presumption and offer to them a few principles which seemed a very
gospel of education. The interest roused in the lectures in Bradford
paved the way, and at the end of 1886 Miss Mason begs that she may have
"sea-room amongst all the vessels laden with gifts for the Jubilee for
a vessel laden with a gift meet for a queen." Colleagues gathered,
among the first and most inspiring the late Mrs. Petrie Steinthal and
the late T. G. Rooper, H.M.I., the late Dr. Mrs. Keeling and in the
drawing-room of Mrs. Steinthatl, just before the holidays in 1887, a
syllabus, which Miss Mason had drawn up for a Parents' Educational
Union, was discussed. The central principles and the objects are there
almost intact and the syllabus
contains in germ almost every detail of the work as now carried on.
It is now possible to quote from records for volumes I., II. And III of
the Parents' Review, the
first Report of the P.N.E.U. (1892) and, above
all, the original "Draft-proof" of the Society (1888) give the various
steps by which the P.N.E.U. and its activities came into being.
Its "object" was the physical education, the moral training, the mental
discipline and instruction, and the spiritual growth, of the child. Its
constitution, parents of whatever class, and others interested in
education. Its plan of work included arrangements for business
meetings, lectures field excursions, the disseminations of literature,
occasional lectures by well-known educationists, an examination scheme,
a magazine for the Union, a training college, and lectures on education
under the headings of the 'Objects."
Later in the year the first meeting of the Parents' Educational Union
was held in the hall of the Bradford Grammar School and 80 members were
enrolled the first day. I quote a few paragraphs from Miss Mason's
address: "Bearing in mind that our object is to bring common thought on
the subject of education to the level of scientific research, the
question is how to give parents grip of the enormous leverage offered
by some half-dozen physiological and psychological truths.
"To this end we propose to hold meetings--say four--during the winter
session, with a definite programme of subjects for discussion: if the
four parts of education--physical, mental, moral, and religious--can be
taken up consecutively, so much the better; the topic for the day to be
ventilated by means of an original paper or the other reading to be
followed by discussion. And because these are topics, in which every
one present will have a vivid personal interest. And upon which every
thinking person must at some time have thought. We expect such
discussion to be both lively and profitable. Here we have a modest
programme of work for the winter meetings of the Union.
"A little Parents' Educational Union work remains to be done in the
summer months. Children under nine should get the more valuable part of
their education in the open air. They should be on speaking terms with
every sort of natural object to be met within miles of their homes.
Scientific knowledge is not wanted at this stage, but what Professor
Huxley calls 'common information,' which, by the way, is not too
common. It is from his parents the child must get this real knowledge.
We all know how eagerly every child takes to the lore of the
fields--but how shall we tell what we don't know, and do we not all
wish we knew more of this sort of thing? Here is more work for the
society, A couple of field excursions every year under the lead of a
naturalist, with opportunities for asking questions, and with a
note-book, should give us at least a score of two of new acquaintances
every year, and, what is more should initiate us into the art of
seeing--both communicable possessions, to be passed on to the children.
The programme for working men and their wives is the same in principle.
We should have two winter schoolroom or cottage meetings. One or two
mothers' cottage meetings will be arranged for.
"This is, roughly, our programme for our first year. We may see our way
to more work than we pledge ourselves to. For instance, we may set on
foot work under an examination scheme, in the case of parents or others
being found willing to undertake a definite course of reading in
education and its kindred sciences with a view to examination. Further
delightful visions look in the distance--hardly yet within measurable
distance. We may live as a society to see ourselves possessed of an
educational lending library; may see the issue of an educational
magazine, which should make our work easy; and who knows but what some
mothers amongst us may live to engage ladies from a training college,
where women of some cultivation are taught the natural laws in
obedience to which a child grows up healthy, happy, intelligent, and
good? More, may we hope to see the day when no mother will engage a
governess, however 'nice,' or however accomplished, who has not been
duly trained in the art and instructed in the science of education.
That such a society should be of use goes without saying--therefore we
believe it will be fostered, for most of us are of Matthew Arnold's
mind, that the best thing worth living for is "to be of use." No doubt
the working of the society will demand some power, moral and
intellectual, as well as good will; but happily, there is no lack of
power among us, so that need be no stumbling block.
May I propose to you two ideas to the working out of which it seems to
me well worth while that our society should devote itself: (a) That the
forming of habits is a great part of education; (b) that body, mind,
soul, and spirit, equally, live upon food, and perish of famine; all
four require daily bread; all thrive as they work, and degenerate in
idleness. That I am using a popular rather than a scientific
description of man does not matter; we all know that our needs and our
activities are of four sorts, and this is enough for our present
"Whose we are and Whom we serve.
Here we have at once the motive and
the safeguard of parents. An attempt to bring up children on scientific
principles alone may produce splendid results in literature, science,
even in virtue; but by-and-by, there is evidence of a leak somewhere,
threatening to sink the ship. Startling illustrations will occur to us
all. On the other hand, he who wilfully ignores the laws which regulate
activity and development in every part of our being, is like him who
puts to sea without rudder or compass, trusting the winds of heaven to
carry him where he would go. Whose
we are--let us make the most and
best of our children: Whom we serve--in
order that their service may be
of the worthiest."
The Report of the meeting adds "the idea of the establishment of the
society has jumped with popular feeling and, though the scope and
methods of the Union remain practically as in the original forecast,
the society is already deeply indebted to the judgment and earnest
efforts of men and women of thought and culture."
In August, 1887, Miss Mason lectured before the British Association and
it is a significant fact that there was no Education Section so that
spoke under the Section of Economic Science and Statistics.
In the second Session of the P.E.U. in Bradford the number of members
was more than doubled. There were four meetings of members addressed by
Mrs. Boyd Carpenter, The Countess of Aberdeen and others, and the
Countess of Aberdeen's question "Where shall I get a governess to carry
out the principles of 'Home Education'?" gave impetus to working the
scheme for a training College. There were also four mothers' meetings,
two mixed parents' meetings, three meetings for nurses. Besides these,
various parish mothers' meetings and women's guilds were also addressed
on matters connected with moral and religious training and sanitation.
It was then felt that the society had justified itself locally and that
it might be brought before a wider public. Before attempting to do this
Miss Mason took counsel with a number of leaders of thought such as Dr.
Butler (of Trinity) Dr. Temple, Dr. Welldon, Dr. Quick, Dr. Percival
(Rugby), Professor Max Muller, Sir Joshua Fitch, Miss Buss, Miss Beale,
Miss Clough, Canon Liddon, Professor Sully, Bishop Westcott, (some of
whom she went to Cambridge to meet at the invitation of Miss Clough).
Opinions and criticisms were freely invited and freely and cordially
given and Miss Mason felt it was perhaps to this thorough thrashing out
that we owe the fact that the P.N.E.U. has worked ever since with
hardly a hitch. In 1888 the pamphlet oddly called the "Draft Proof" was
printed, and the following preliminary considerations were sown
broadcast. I quote from them,--
"No other part of the world's work is of such supreme difficulty,
delicacy and importance, as that of parents in the right bringing up of
their children. The first obligation of the present--that of passing
forward a generation better than ourselves--rests with parents. As
every child belongs to the Commonweal, so his bringing up is the
concern of all. Yet parents, with the responsibility of the world's
future resting upon them, are left to do their work, each father and
mother alone, rarely getting so much as a word of sympathy, counsel,
or encouragement. All other bodies of workers, whether of hand or
brain, enjoy the help and profit of
association; commonly, of co-operation. Thus the wisdom, the
experience, the information of each is made profitable for all;
enthusiasm is generated by the union of many for the advance of a
cause, and every member is cheered by the sympathy of his
fellow-workers. More, association makes it possible to organise means
of instruction--lectures, libraries, classes, journals, etc. It creates
ever higher public opinion, which puts down casual, uninstructed work,
and sets a premium on good work, and it gives an impetus to steady
progress as opposed to spasmodic efforts. But parents are outside of
all this. They, who must do the vital part of the world's work, compare
at a disadvantage with all other skilled workers, whether of hand or
brain. There is a literature of its own for almost every craft and
profession; while you may count on the fingers of one hand the
scientific works on early training plain and practical enough to be of
use to parents. There are no colleges, associations, classes, lectures
for parents, or those of an age to become parents; no register of the
discoveries--physical or psychological--in child nature, which should
make education a light task; no record of successful treatment of the
sullen, the heedless, the disobedient child; none of the experience of
wise parents; there is hardly a standard of beautiful child-life
(reduced to words, that is,) towards which parents can work. There is
little means of raising public opinion on the subject of home training,
or of bringing such opinion to bear. Every young mother must begin at
the beginning to work out for herself the problems of education, with
no more than often misleading traditions for her guidance. One reason
for this anomaly is, that the home is a sanctuary, where prying and
intermeddling from without would be intolerable; and, without doubt,
the practices of each home are sacred; but the principles of early
training are another matter, there is no more helpful work to be done
than to bring these principles to the doors of parents of whatever
"How cordially parents welcome any effort in this direction one has but
to try to be convinced. There is a feeling abroad that it does not do
to bring up children
casually; that there are certain natural
laws--better named Divine laws--which must be worked out in order to
produce humans beings at their best, in body, mind, moral nature and
spiritual power. It is no easy matter to get at these laws, and here is
where parents demand thorough ventilation, at least, of the questions
that concern them. For people are beginning to perceive how lamentable
and how universal are the miseries arising from defective education;
the over active brain, the narrow chest, the sullen and resentful
temper, the sluggish intellect are often, more or less, the results of
faulty education: the tendency may have been born with the child, but
education is able to deal with tendencies. Most of us are aware of some
infirmity of flesh or spirit, a life-long stumbling-block, which might
have been easily cured in our childhood. It is not too much to say
that, in the light of advance science, many of the infirmities that
beset us, whether of heart, intellect, or temper, are the results of
"This is, shortly, where we are to-day: the principle which underlies
the possibility of all
education is discovered to us: we are taught
that the human frame, brain as well as muscle, grows to the uses it is
earliest put to. It is hardly possible to get beyond the ground
by this simple-sounding axiom: that is, it is hardly open to us to
overstate the possibilities of education. Almost anything may be made
of a child by those who first get him into their hands. We find that we
can work definitely towards the formation of character; that the habits
of the good life, of the alert intelligence, which we take pains to
form in the child, are, somehow, registered in the very substance of
his brain; and that the habits of the child are, as it were, so many
little hammers beating out by slow degrees the character of the man.
Therefore we set ourselves to form a habit in the same matter-of-fact
way that we set about teaching the multiplication table; expecting the
thing to be done and be done with for life. But fitful habits after a
habit--say, of tidiness, or of obedience,--are of very little use, and
are worrying to child and parent."
In 1892 the following was added: "But this doctrine of
habit, all important as it is, includes no more than a third part of
the ground covered by education. Parents are very jealous over the
individuality of their children; they mistrust the tendency to develop
all on the same plan, and this instinctive jealousy is a right, for
supposing that education really did consist in systematized effort to
draw out every power that is in children, all must needs develop on the
same lines. Some of us have an uneasy sense that things are tending
towards this deadly sameness. But, indeed, the fear is groundless. We
may rest assured that the personality, the individuality of each of us
is too dear to God, and too necessary to a complete humanity, to be
left at the mercy of empirics.
"The problem of education is more complex than it seems at first sight,
and well for us and the world that it is so. 'Education is a life'; you
may stunt, and starve, and kill, or you may cherish and sustain; but
the beating of the heart, the movement of the lungs, and the
development of the 'faculties' are only indirectly our care.
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" covers the question
from the three conceivable points of view. Subjectively, in the child,
education is a life; objectively as affecting the child, education is a
discipline; relatively, if we may introduce a third term, as regards
the environment of the child, education is an atmosphere.
"The whole subject is profound, but as practical as it is profound. We
absolutely must disabuse our minds of the theory that the functions of
education are, in the main, gymnastic. In the early years of the
child's life it makes perhaps, little apparent
difference whether his
parents start with the notion that to educate is to fill a receptacle,
inscribe a tablet, mould plastic matter, or, nourish a life; but in the
end we shall find that only those ideas
which have fed his life are
taken into the being of the child; all else is thrown away, or worse,
is an impediment and an injury to the vital processes.
"This is, perhaps, how the educational formula should run; education is
a life; all life must have its appropriate nourishment, as the bodily
life is sustained on bread, so is
the spiritual life on ideas;
is the duty of parents to sustain a child's inner life with ideas as
they sustain its body with food. The child is an eclectic; he may
choose this or that; therefore, in the morning sow thy seed, and in the
evening withhold not thy hand, for thou knowest not which shall
prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
"The child has affinities with evil as well as with good; therefore,
hedge him about from any chance lodgment of evil suggestion.
"The initial idea begets subsequent ideas; therefore, take care that
children get right primary ideas on the great relations and duties of
"Every study, every line of thought, has its 'guiding idea'; therefore
the study of a child makes for living education as it is quickened by
the guiding idea which 'stands at the head.'
"In a word, our much boasted 'infallible reason'--is it not the
involuntary thought which follows the initial idea upon necessary,
logical lines? Given, the starting idea, and the conclusion may be
predicated almost to a certainty. We get into the way of thinking such
and such manner of thoughts, and of coming to such and such
conclusions, ever further and further removed from the starting-point,
but on the same lines."
The "Draft Proof" continues,--"It may be well to face at the outset the
imperfectly understood attitude of education towards religion. Are we
not claiming too much for education when we say that it can turn out a
human being with every part and every function in vigorous play and in
just proportion? Are we not trending on the transforming work of the
Holy Spirit? This is a difficulty which confronts many earnest
Christian parents. Perhaps the perplexity arises from our habit of
limiting the operations of the laws of God to the region of man's
spiritual nature. But as we cannot drop a pebble nor draw a breath save
in conformity with certain divine laws, so every development and
activity of body, soul and spirit is fenced about with its own laws.
What the laws are,
along the lines of which the child develops in every part of his most
complex nature--that, it is the business of the parent to know that he
may obey. There are few more intricate studies, but there are few so
interesting in progress, so blessed in result, for these physical and
metaphysical laws also are the laws of God in the keeping of which
there is great reward. With deep reverence be it said that the Holy
Spirit Himself, the Lord and Giver of Life, when He undertakes the
education of a human being, operates according to law, works out those
very principles of education which are proposed to parents, in fact,
plays the part of parent to the willing and obedient soul. Is then
education the whole? Does it cover everything? Is even the mystery of
the Divine life no more than a result of education? By no means.
Education is not creative, it acts upon that which is. For the life of
the spirit it does no more than offer two or three helpful suggestions.
For instance, reasoning from analogy the science of education teaches
that if the spiritual life is to be vigorous it must be daily and duly
nourished and daily and duly exercised, but it knows nothing of the
"living bread" which is the sustenance of the spirit; nor yet of the
spirit's functions of praise, prayer and adoration. Again, it is by
revelation and not by education that man may know God; again, education
hardly touches the sad mysteries of sin and temptation, nor the mystery
of God manifest in the flesh--of the Birth of Bethlehem, the Sacrifice
of Calvary. These things are spiritually discerned. Education can only
water and dig about the garden of the soul and sow the seeds of the
"The education the P.N.E.U. exists to further runs on two lines. The
formation of habits, bodily, mental, moral and spiritual. The
presentation of that Idea which is the all-important step in the
formation of every habit. As a corollary to these: the development of
the faculties so much insisted upon by the earlier educationists takes
a quite subordinate place in the educational thought as promulgated by
The "Draft Proof" concerns itself also with the Objects
of the Union
and the view of recent developments the following are of special
interest (2) To bring before parents of all classes the best thought on
education; (3) To strengthen the hands of parents by association and
co-operation and to stimulate the parental enthusiasm by the sense that
many are endeavoring in the same direction. (5) To help to strengthen
the social bond which unites parents of all classes and opinions.
In connection with (2) Members of the Union have at different times
given addresses on the teaching of the P.N.E.U. to other societies, to
mothers' meetings, to teachers' meetings. One Branch of the P.N.E.U.
worked through a Welfare Centre; we had also a working mothers' Branch
at the Victoria Settlement, Manchester, but the most important
development of this part of the work has been the Parents' Associations
started recently in connection with the Elementary P.U.S. School by the
Hon. Mrs. Franklin, the devoted Hon. Org. Sec. of the P.N.E.U. since
1897. I had the great privilege of being present at one of these
meetings in October last when Mrs. Franklin addressed the Association
of parents in connection with a P.U.S. County Council School in London.
There are seventy members and the parents manage the working
themselves. One or two took part in the discussions afterwards and one
father enquired how it was that the P.U.S. system was not being carried
out also in the boys' school, for he found his little girl was far
ahead of her brothers.
To quote another instance, one amongst many: an Ex-student of the
College has spoken at mixed meetings in Gloucestershire where the
children from her own P.U.S. class have had lessons in public with the
children of the P.U.S. village school; she has also had 'picture talks'
with working mothers, and has addressed the members of the W.E.A. All
this work has brought parents and teachers of all classes and opinions
together. The Conference at Ambleside last year was yet another
instance of this development.
The Draft Proof which has been so largely quoted, also takes into
account the scope of the Union. I quote a few
of the considerations. "One object of the Union is to insist that a
child cannot be so well brought up all round by the best of mothers as
by the co-operation of both parents;" and again, "the earnest mother is
often hampered in her work by an inefficient governess." "There is a
near prospect that the Union will be able to establish a House of
Education where young ladies who have left school, ladies proposing to
teach in families, shall be taught,--the right ordering of a
home-schoolroom, the principles which underlie the moral and mental
growth of a child and how to train him according to his nature, the
most rapid and rational methods of teaching and how to train a child's
senses by means of out of door work, by teaching him to know, name and
delight in natural objects."
The possibilities of a Parents' Sunday, Local Education Classes, Branch
Libraries, Pamphlets for parents, are also discussed in the Draft
Proof. Clause (6) refers to Propaganda articles in Magazines and in
that year, 1888, Miss Mason had articles accepted in "Murray's
Magazine," the "Quiver," and "Cassell's Magazine" but the Union soon
had its own magazine for its members and for propaganda work. From time
to time articles on the work are still appearing in other organs. This
present year (1923) there will be three in "The XIXth Century," and one
in "The Hibbert Journal," all by Mr. Household.
Lastly, the 'Draft Proof' considers the organisation of the Union.
These considerations are much as we know them now but two points are of
interest. "The P.N.E.U. desires to enter a protest against secular
education and so the Council shall keep well to the front the four
parts of education--physical, mental, moral and religious." "Each Local
Branch is a Parents' Educational Union and pledges itself (1) to a
religious basis of work, (2) that the number of addresses shall be
equally distributed to the four parts of education: (3) that as much
work be done with the parents of the working as with those of the
educated class." Finally some valuable remarks sent by Miss Clough are
quoted,--"The work should be done locally
as much as possible. Different localities have to be approached in
different ways. The smaller the area, the more quietly and effectually
the work can be done."
"On January 18th, 1890 the rules and constitution of the P.N.E.U. were
drawn up by the Executive Committee at a meeting held in the Graham
Street High School. The central principles and objects as originally
drawn up were adopted, and on February 18th were finally discussed in a
long and earnest debate in the presence of some leading educationists
in the hall of the College of Preceptors, and the result was the
principles and objects of the Union in their present and final form."
Of the early days of the Parents'
Review Miss Mason writes,--"The Society struggled into birth
without its own magazine, but it was felt, in very early days, that
such a society, without an inspiring organ, would be a mere tool to the
hand of every educational faddist who had a theory to advance. Now the
P.N.E.U. owes its vitality to the fact that it is a propagandist
society, existing to disseminate certain educational principles. Such a
society must obviously have the means of communicating, month by month,
with its scattered members, must guide the progress of the movement
towards the end in view.
"How to launch a worthy magazine was the question? We had amongst us
but very few enthusiasts willing and able to risk capital in a costly
and hazardous enterprise. A high-class educational magazine appealing
to a public of parents, not in the least 'popular,' limited by the
nature of its contents to educated and really earnest readers, would
seem fore-doomed to failure. However, obstacles were overcome, personal
friends came to the help of educational allies, a sufficient fund was
raised to carry the Parents' Review
through over four years of its existence, during which the sales did
not yet cover the costs of production. In these doubtful days friends
made valiant efforts; the Review
was spread from hand to hand; a second small fund was raised at a
distressful juncture; the publishers wondered at the enthusiasm of the
subscribers; and now, the Review is self-supporting and is in a
position to help the Society. We take this opportunity of expressing
found gratitude to those generous friends who supported what appeared
to be a hopeless cause, and to those equally valuable friends among our
subscribers who, from the very beginning, have laboured ceaselessly to
spread the Parents' Review,
and with it the knowledge of our principles and our work."
A few words from the "Dedication" to the first number of the Review, February 1890, will serve
to indicate its original aim.
"The Parents' Review is
dedicated, with great deference, and with a strong assurance of their
warm sympathy and support, to parents. The aim of the Parents' Review is to raise common
thought on the subject of education to the level of scientific
research, and to give parents grip of some half-dozen principles which
should act as enormously powerful levers in the elevation of character."
Miss Mason writes later,--"How one remembers the 'fearful joy' of the
first number of P.R., what it was to fetch it from the publishers at
the moment of issue, to carry it to the nearest quiet place, to ponder
its pages and its cover and the tout
ensemble of the (then) greeny-yellow magazine, now with joy, now
with anxiety, now with doubt, again with rejoicing! Would it prove to
be still born? Was there the least chance in the world that so new a
venture in magazine literature would find a public? Those were intense
moments, and not less intense were the months of incubation."
The Review went through troublous times but it has maintained its high
level for 33 years, and Miss Mason used to say that it was a wonderful
thing that the magazine could live without any fund for contributors.
But it met a need and contributors have come forward generously to give
their services to a cause which they felt to be worth while.
In March, 1890, the first Annual Meeting was announced in the Review, to take place on June 3rd,
with the accompanying editorial note--:
"We hope that many of our readers will make a point [
of attending, that
they may hear the objects and methods of the Parents' National
Educational Union fully set forth, and may learn how simple a matter it
is to establish a 'Branch' in any neighborhood.
"The object of the promoters is to overspread the country with a great
national educational league of parents of every condition; and thus
testify that parents form an educational body, whose regard for the
interests of the children is as intelligent as it is profound.
"The strength of our position lies in the word body. The good and great amongst us
show what great things individual parents have done and are doing. But
the duty of even the best parents does not end with their own children;
there are certain duties of fellowship of calling, recognized, perhaps,
in every vocation but that of the parent. The clergyman owns
responsibilities to his brother clergy; the doctor, the artist, the
army man, above all, the teacher profits by free give and take with the
members of his profession; the parent, alone, stands aloof, as one who
would say, 'I have nothing to give and nothing to get; I am sufficient
unto myself.' This aloofness of parents is hardly intentional; it is a
mere relic of the sentiment of our barbarian days, the feeling we
express in the saying, 'The Englishman's house is his castle.' We are
waking up to the fact that, by his exclusion and seclusion we sustain a
great national and personal loss; we lose much of the enthusiasm which
kindles with the consciousness that many are striving together in a
"It is no arbitrary reward which is attached to the assembling of two
or three together; we warm ourselves at each others' fires, and glow
with the heat we get. Let but the heads of two or three families meet
together to talk over the bringing up of their children, and the best
and wisest parents will go home with new insight, renewed purpose, and
"We shall learn by degrees that education is, like religion, a social
principle as well as an individual duty; and, meeting on this higher
ground, we shall find out the best of one another as we never should in
the common intercourse of business or society."
On Tuesday, June 31st, 1890, the First Annual Meeting of the P.N.E.U.
was held at London House, Dr. Temple presiding. The speakers included
Bishop Boyd Carpenter, Canon Daniel, Dr. Gladstone, and the Rev. E.
Wynne (for whose parish room, the Home 'Education' lectures were
delivered.) To-day we are holding the 25th Annual Conference arranged,
as always, by The Hon. Mrs. Franklin, who initiated the Conferences in
In September, 1890, arrangements were made by Miss Mason for an
organizing tour beginning at Sheffield, working southward through
Cambridge to the coast, crossing country by way of Cheltenham and
working northwards again by Birmingham and Woverhampton. By December,
Branches at Belgravia, Forest Gate, Hampstead, and Bournemouth,
Bradford, Cheltenham, Grantham were at work and by February, 1891,
Branches at Sheffield, Bowdon and Kendal were added. In September 1890,
"suggestions" for Branch Secretaries were published in the Review.
In October 1890, three courses of lectures were given by Miss Mason at
Cheltenham to mothers, teachers and nurses.
In June 1891, New South Wales formed the first Dominion Branch, and
Australia is still doing excellent P.N.E.U. work.
In November, 1891, Miss Mason gave a course of lectures in London and
in Lent 1892, she gave two courses, one at the Polytechnic and another
at Hyde Park Court, Albert Gate, by invitation of the late Mrs. Dallas
Yorke whose friendship was one of the great happinesses of Miss Mason's
life: Mrs. Dallas Yorke later became Visitor to the House of Education
where she inspired and encouraged the students by her presence and her
talks to them.
During the year 1891 a number of lecturers came forward, one of who,
Dr. Helen Webb, has continued for over thirty years to lecture for the
In January 1891 the scheme for a House of Education was brought before
the readers of the Parents' Review
and the notice says,--We shall invite women of refinement and education
to come to us for a year's training and they will
leave us we hope with
what we shall venture to call the 'enthusiasm of childhood.'" In
January 1892, the House of Education was started in Ambleside.
In December, 1892, another scheme was brought forward. Of this Miss
Mason says:--"The writer of an article in the Review appealed to the students of the Parents' Review.
We find that the feeling is gaining ground, that 'Education' demands
more than mere reading; many mothers feel that they would be the better
in body and mind for the mind for the mental activity that nothing but
definite study affords and the time seems ripe for the carrying out of
another item of our original programme, and we have made arrangements
for a course of study on Education--a three years' course--with
"In June, 1892, the Mothers' Education Course was started. It provided
for a definite course of study, covering the principles of, and
suggesting good methods for, the physical, mental, moral and religious
training of children." There were in (1899) about 80 mothers working in
it, but after working for twenty-three years the M.E.C. was given up.
In June, 1891, the Parents' Review
School was introduced to the readers of the Parents' Review in an article from
which the following is an extract:--"For lack of something analogous to
school discipline in their early training children begin school at a
disadvantage, they begin life at a disadvantage, and the world never
gets the best of them. No school advantages can make up to a child for
the scope for individual development he should find at home, under the
direction of his parents, for the first eight or ten years of life.
Later, sterner discipline, intellectual as well as physical, takes the
field. The routine of the schoolroom and the virtues and habits of the
communal life, the life of the citizen, are, perhaps, never so
thoroughly acquired at home as at school. Exclusive home-training
continued too long tends to exaggerated individuality, eccentricity;
while school-life, begun too soon, tends to loss of original power and
individual character. But, theory apart, this is what actually
happens. Most children of the educated classes, boys and girls, get
their early 'schooling' at home. The children of parents who live in
the country, where good day-schools are unattainable, have no
alternative. Girls of the professional class, living in the country,
commonly get the whole of their 'schooling' at home. Girls of the
highest class are rarely sent to school. We have not found ourselves
able to give this kind of help to parents through the pages of the
Parents' Review, because very
mischievous results might follow from
prescriptions of work being applied to children for whom they were
totally unfitted. But we see a way, at last, to do what we have felt
all along to be very important work. We propose to open a Parents'
Review School. It shall be a unique school, for the pupils shall
school and be taught at home at one and the same time and have the
two-fold advantages of school discipline and home culture.
"There is no waste more sad than the waste of those early years when
the child's curiosity is keen and his memory retentive, and when he
might lay up a great store of knowledge of the world he lives in with
pure delight to himself."
The Parents' Review School
opened on June 15th, 1891. The title was
changed in 1907 to The Parents' Union School. We have now issued the
Programme of Work for the 96th term.
In July (1891) Miss Mason writes in the Review,--"We have been asked to
admit schools as well as families to the P.U.S. and we see no reason
We have now, 1923, some one hundred and seventeen secondary schools and
classes at work and one hundred and seventy five Elementary schools,
while there are many hundreds of home schoolrooms all over the world.
The aims and objects of the School are set forth in the article
entitles "The Parents' Review School" (Vol. III of the Parents' Review)
and are just as we know them now. The variety of subjects and the
limited times are also as in the original plan though the recent
programmes shew much development in the way of books simply because the
books wanted had not then been written; though we still use
a few of
the books first set, Mrs. Fisher's for instance, because none have ever
been found better, and for other books we are still waiting.
As we started with a vision of the children so let us end with one. I
have with me a list of one hundred and three schools in the county of
Gloucester doing P.U.S. work (a wonderful tribute to Miss Mason's work
raised by Mr. Household) and we must remember that it was Mrs. Petrie
Steinthal's knowledge of, and faith in, the Elementary teacher which
started the pioneer school at Drighlington and so made possible that
vision of thousands of Elementary school children doing P.U.S. work
which seemed to Miss Mason like a Nunc Dimittis and which called forth
in 1916 her recollections of that vision of the children which so
filled her thoughts as a girl.
In conclusion may I read a part of a letter which Miss Mason received
from the Head of a Gloucester Elementary school on January 11th. It was
almost the last letter read to her and gave her so much pleasure.
"May I be allowed to express my warm
appreciation of your scheme. I
have no desire to go back to the old methods, in fact, I do not think
that I could teach in the old way now.
This was a very mediocre school, until we were allowed by Mr. Household
to work your scheme, and although it is--the school--far from
good, and has not nearly reached the mark which I have aimed at for it,
yet I feel that the children are keener, more enthusiastic and
interested and certainly decidedly happier in their work.
Only to-day, some of the upper children asked me if they could come to
my house this evening to read with me. Of course, I readily acceded to
their request, and we have had a very pleasant evening together.
Parents too, have told me that they are amazed at the knowledge which
their children have acquired during the last 18 months, and also that
since we adopted the new method it is impossible for them to persuade
their children to stay away, except in cases of real illness or
extremely bad weather, for some of the children have to come from a
considerable distance to school.
I felt that I would like to tell you these things to show you in
perhaps a very feeble way, how much your work is appreciated in this
isolated spot on the Cotswolds."
Here is an extract from a visitor to an Elementary school received just
before the Conference,--
"Miss --- is working so devotedly and loyally
in Essex. She has only
been there for a year, but the children love their work and quite
understand that it is Miss Masson who had chosen such beautiful books
for their study. The parents too are pleased with the children's
interest and progress and the Inspectors, both H.M.I. and Diocesan,
have made very good reports of the work."
And here are two notes which have also just come from the Heads of
Elementary schools. One, in London, writes:
"The programmes have brought much joy and
interest into my school. The
children are so encouraging--it is simply wonderful what they bring me.
One girl brought me the other day a coloured print of Alexander
receiving Darius' women-folk--really a most interesting picture, and
the child brought a little framed picture of the Sistine Madonna, the
"lodger upstairs" had lent it--wonderful people those lodgers!
I am more than grateful for the results of one term's work, it has made
no end of difference to these girls. I have some very nice Books of
Centuries, one is beautiful and the girl simply follows me about for
books for drawings. Last Monday week I took thirty-six children to the
Another in Warwickshire writes:
"The director visited our school last week,
and was extremely
interrested in the progress the girls have made during the three years
we have followed the Mason method. He asked for specimens of work to be
sent to the Education Office, together with a short account of the
introduction of the method into our particular school."
Finally here is a glimpse into a home schoolroom,--
"On hearing that I was writing to the lady who
arranges the books, D---
has sent you a message, this is it, word for word;--"Well, will you ask
her please if [Form] IB could
have 'Tales from Greece and Rome next term"
Because although T--- always tells me what he has read I would like to
have the real thing then p'raps I'd know who fought for Greece, and who
for Troy." T--- revels in it. Yesterday we spent the whole afternoon
selecting suitable sticks for bows and arrows. This was splendid frun
because we simply had to notice the difference between oak, ash, beech,
and hazel without any learning about it. Ash was finally chosen and the
result was most successful. To-day Ulysses (T---) and Hector (D---)
have had a fierce fight outside Troy (the Hotel). "And we'll wear our
yellow woolly caps, please Miss--, because they are a bit like golden
helmets, don't you think?"
In 1899 Miss Mason wrote words which may fitly close this brief survey
of "The Beginning of Things."
"Life is more intense, more difficult, more exhausting for us than it
was for our fathers; it will probably be more difficult still for our
children than for ourselves. How timely, then, and how truly, as we
say, providential, that just at this juncture of difficult living,
certin simple, definite clues to the art of living should have been put
into our hands. Is it presumptuous to hope that new life has been
vouchsafed to us in these days, in response to our more earnest
endeavour, our more passionate craving for "more light and fuller"? We
look back at our small beginnins and thank God and take courage, for
already we number our thousands. We have reason to congratulate
ourselves and each other, but let us do so with diffidence. Success has
its perils. May we each feel that we have a personal work to accomplish
in connection with the Union; that each of us is a propagandist, upon
whom rests the duty of spreading the principles which seem to us so
full of light."
MISS MASON'S IDEAL:
ITS BREADTH AND BALANCE.
By H. E. Wix. [Ex-Student,
House of Education.]
Many of us here to-day must have known Miss Mason personally and
probably the rest of us knew her so well through correspondence and
various branches of her work that they too feel towards her as towards
a personal friend. Perhaps there never has lived anyone who more
speedily and lastingly won the friendship of persons she never saw.
Teachers who had only known of her for a few months felt the blank of
her loss with a curious intensity; so did parents whose knowledge of
her was confined to gratitude for her teaching in Home Education and
Parents and Children.
Breadth and balance are perhaps the main marks of Miss Mason's
teaching, so that there are many standpoints from which we may try to
study it. Surely few educationists have solved both a theory and a
philosophy of education--in its broadest sense--and a practical
concrete method of
teaching as well. There are these two main sides of her ideal, often
separated but not really separable. First, the upbringing of the child,
the person; the teaching
habit, the training of the will, the gradual evolution of character.
Founded on this and on much more, is Miss Mason's theory and practice
of education in its narrower sense; how to teach children in their
The training of the person is naturally a quieter affair than the
imparting of knowledge: we can hold exhibitions of the work done by
P.U. School children or give demonstration lessons, but what we cannot
do is to exhibit the character training of our children. This would
seem to be one reason for the strangely mistaken idea that Miss Mason
cared more for knowledge than for character. It is not however the
Nowadays we hear much--perhaps too much--about freedom, individuality,
sense-training and the importance of baby's earliest habits and so on.
But these are no new things to members of the P.N.E.U. In Home
Education, written over thirty years ago, Miss Mason taught us that
from the earliest days baby should learn the meaning of "must" and
"must not," that we cannot too soon teach physical habits of regularity
in sleep, food, etc. In her pamphlet "Children as Persons," we read
that "liberty is the most sacred and inalienable right" of a child:
that "public opinion is an insufferable bondage, depriving a person of
his individual right to think for himself"; that "a mind that does not
think and think its own thoughts, is as a paralysed arm or a blind
eye." Much more could be quoted to show how important a place
character, real character, held in Miss Mason's ideal, and how
wonderfully this ideal has permeated educated thought. In fact some
people have seized this or that part or her teaching, not knowing whose
it was, and have let it run away with them, have lost the balance and
sane-ness which marks Miss Mason's teaching all through.
Indeed so much of what Miss Mason taught about the upbringing of
children has passed into common possession of the thinking half of the
nation that we forget to whom
we owe it, which is just what she herself
would have wished, what indeed she seems to have aimed at. And more
than that, her teaching harmonises so well with the background of sane
living, that when it is most there, we notice it least. Anyone taking
up her book "Home Education" and reading it for the first time is
struck by the sensibleness of
it all. "Of course" we say "that is just how we ought to do it, why
didn't we think of it before? This is the help we have been hungering
for for years; even what we knew already we probably owe to her too."
The following true story may serve as an illustration of this. There
was a young mother who was wishful of joining the P.N.E.U. and so get
help in the upbringing of her babies. But an older friend tried to
dissuade her: "My dear, don't be silly; all these societies are full of
fads. Now just look at Mrs. So and So; do you know of a better or a
more sensibly brought up family than hers? I never heard that she
belonged to any new-fangled educational society."--"Oh, but," answered
the young mother, "It was she who told me of the P.N.E.U. and she says
she owes everything to it."
Indeed there could be no one more free from "fads" than Miss Mason. She
used to tell us that we were not to try to develop individuality for that was
the way cranks were made, we were to allow freedom to the "person,"
room for him to think his own thoughts.
Thus much of what was so new when Miss Mason first began to teach, is
now part and parcel of common educational knowledge, and that being so,
probably it no longer seemed necessary to Miss Mason that she should
continually re-iterate that which was already learnt. And so some
people say: "Miss Mason cared more for knowledge than for character."
But she held actually that the one was impossible without the other.
Without knowledge there could be no character. Since character comes of
thought and thoughts must come of what we know, knowledge makes
character. This shows us what a sad fallacy underlies the argument that
it does not matter what we learn but only how we learn it.
But Miss Mason did not mean quite the same as does the man in the
street when she spoke of knowledge. In the "Basis of National Strength"
she gives us a most illuminating definition of knowledge. She says "it
is a state out of which
persons may pass and into which they may return, but never a store upon
which they may draw." To her knowledge was so bound up with "living" that the two were
inseparable. Again, in the same pamphlet, Miss Mason gives us a
negative definition of knowledge. "It is not" she says, "instruction,
information, scholarship or a well-stored memory." "For too many of us"
she says elsewhere "knowledge is a thing of shreds and patches,
knowledge of this and of that, with yawning gaps between," And again,
"It is perhaps a beautiful whole, a great unity, embracing God and Man
and the Universe, but having many parts . . ., all are necessary and
each has its functions." "Knowledge is the science of the proportion of
things." Yet one more quotation: "Fundamental knowledge is the
knowledge of God and while we are ignorant of that principal knowledge,
Science, Nature, Literature and History, all remain dumb."
So we see that knowledge to Miss Mason was a tremendous
thing--;indeed not a thing at all but a state, just as friendship
state. It is a condition of happy friendship with God, with man and
with nature, in which one's mind will grow and expand and blossom as
happily as a plant in its native clime; the mind being in direct
contact with other minds as a plant is surrounded by air; this the mind
drinks in from the Divine, from fellow men and from nature all that is
needed for its complete sustenance . . . It is interesting too to
remember how Our Lord always taught
people who came to Him; he did not criticise or find fault, but He
enlightened their understanding; gave them truer knowledge for their
May I repeat that definition? It makes so clear how in Miss Mason's
philosopht character cannot exist without knowledge. "Knowledge is a
state out of which people may pass and into which they may return but
never a store upon which they may draw." . . . That is, real knowledge
cannot be used as a servant, a crutch, a vaulting stick, to be thrown
aside when we have passed that final examination and have "arrived."
When so treated knowledge becomes mere information about some
particular subject or subjects--and oh! how dull is a "well-informed"
person and how untrustworthy are his opinions on people and on life! It
is an obvious result, not because he is a specialist, not because he
has passed examinations, but because of his attitude towards
knowledge--something acquired solely to be made use of.
In Miss Mason herself we have the most wonderful example of her own
teaching. We ourselves are mostly so far "outside knowledge" that we
wonder and grope when decisions have to be made, but, as an article in
the April Review tells us,
"she always knew without a
second's hesitation of what was the right thing" and afterwards the
rightness of her decision was obvious to others.
But Miss Mason's idea of Education was not only that, it was an
atmosphere and a life, but also a discipline. "Without labour there is
no profit" she said; but to emphasise this aspect hardly concerns this
paper; though it must never be forgotten, since no one believed more
strongly than she that knowledge is only for those who have the will to labour earnestly for it; it
cannot be freely given by anyone.
Perhaps I have been able to show dimly the amazing breadth of Miss
Mason's ideal. But as to balance
there are some who seem to think that the scales of her favour were
weighted on the side of letters rather than of things. Well, it may be
so. She did believe that knowledge of God, of our fellow men, of living
nature was more life-giving than knowledge of things. But she did not,
as some people imagine, rule science, for example, out of her scheme of
education. In fact, she says, "For our generation, science seems to me
to be the way of intellectual advance," though, "For the most part
science as she is taught leaves us cold. But the fault is not in the
science, but in our presentation of it." And again, "Natural Science
should be taught through field-work or other immediate channel. Huxley
told us long ago that Science should be taught in schools as common
Physical Exercises and handicrafts she considered most important, but
rather as adjuncts to
education than as an integral part of education. She calls them
And mathematics and music she put together in a class by themselves,
two branches of knowledge each with a speech of its own; a speech, as
she put it, "of exquisite clarity."
As to methods of teaching these subjects, Miss Mason did not lay claim
to any special knowledge. It is for this reason probably that some
persons think they are not included in her ideal education, but when we
remember, as always did, that "knowledge is truth," we know at once
that no part of truth can be omitted without wrecking the whole. And in
some wonderful way, P.U. School children do realize that knowledge is a
balanced whole; that scripture, history, geography, botany and all the
others are actually different facets of the same thing. Indeed it may
be that herein lies the chief characteristic of a P.N.E.U. School; for
it is merely another way of saying that the children have a wide
curriculum and that they get at knowledge for themselves and for its
own sake. All this results in a real enjoyment and love of knowledge
which is most delightful to witness, and certainly no P.N.E.U. children
display boredom or are relieved when school days are over or give up
learning or reading when they return home "for good" as we say.
What is the secret of this? I do not know. What we cannot do with Miss
Masons's ideal is to reduce it to lowest terms, and just in so far as
we try to, so far we misrepresent it and misunderstand it. But some of
the secret undoubtedly lies in the Programmes of Work; the longer we
work from those wonderful programmes the more we realize how well
balanced they are; how satisfying to the hungry mind; how the subjects
dovetail; how difficult it is to teach history only in history time,
how it will "flow over" into geography, literature, or even into such
unexpected channels as arithmetic or botany.
We all know how delicate a matter is balance; such and
such a change
which seems so clearly sensible will sometimes seriously endanger it.
Somehow even slight imperfections seem positively to help to maintain
the balance; certainly constant little changes in the programme are
necessary because otherwise they would stiffen and become rigid and
lifeless. And so the programmes grow and change always; looking back
through twenty years, it is amazing how they have developed,--the
sense of balance perhaps growing even in Miss Mason herself all the
while. This may explain why we read in the April Review, Miss Mason so much disliked
organization, printed forms, stereotyped letters, card indexes and all
the paraphernalia of a systematized business. Where the fulcrum is
stiff there cannot be balance.
Looking through these old programmes it is most interesting to watch
how subjects disappear and re-appear and are again displaced.
Architecture for instance; and astronomy; geology and physiography.
With a wonderful sense of fitness Miss Mason arranged and re-arranged;
chose this book, rejected that, tried such a one and removed it, either
because it had not sufficient weight or because those unerring children
refused to "take to it."
That is, they refused to "narrate" it. Narration is, as we all know, of
enormous importance, not however because it is the sum total of Miss
Mason's Methods, for very much more is included in her ideal, but
because it looms so much larger in P.N.E.U. work than some teachers
understand; because too its use is spreading to non-P.N.E.U. schools,
where however its real significance as "food for the mind" is not yet
Of late years, Miss Mason, in her far-seeing wisdom, laid more and more
stress on narration, for she had discovered in it the foundation stone
of learning, which provides, when the right books are used, the food
without which the mind cannot grow or thrive. But we cannot reduce Miss
Mason's method to lowest terms; we cannot say "P.N.E.U. teaching is
narration"; for though it is not possible to do Miss Mason's work
without it, it is eminently possible to practise narration of a sort
and yet be far indeed from her ideal.
Perhaps the root of the matter is that narration includes so much more
than mere re-telling of matter read.
We take our children for a Nature Walk. They talk, wonder, discuss,
they paint little sketches of their finds, whether fossil, shell,
insect or flower. They write notes; they keep lists. Is this narration?
Surely. But they have not necessarily
read anything, though probably they are now poring over some book to
find out the name or habitat of one or other of their finds. But they
have got at knowledge direct;
no intervening wall of talk is there. Now in a non-P.N.E.U. school,
each child, in nine cases out of ten would be made to copy its notes
from the black board where teacher had written up what were really her observations, cleverly and
quite friendlily imposed on the children. That is one difference.
Take Science. There is a great change coming over the teaching of
science. It used to be "If you take so and so and do thus and thus,
such and such will happen." But now methods are changing.
In a boy's school not long ago, where there was a jolly Science room,
hardly grand enough to be called a "Lab," the boys were learning the
habit of things much as our P.U.S. children learn the habits of a bird
or flower. That is, through patient observation. Books were there to
fill out the knowledge so gained and a teacher who knew both his
subject and his place, and was inconspicuously giving help and advice
as needed. The boys were very busy. Some were trying experiments,
others were writing down exactly what they had done and seen, others
were making drawings in their note books--"nature notes" if you like.
Wasn't that "narration"? Surely it fulfilled Miss Mason's dictum that
we must ourselves perform the labour of learning, the act of knowing;
that we do not know a thing until we have ourselves and individually
"given back." In fact here, where we might least expect it, we find a
change which Miss Mason has helped to bring about. She hoped for more
literary books on Science; they too seem to be coming.
As time goes on, we shall probably find it increasingly
difficult always to remember this "Breadth and Balance" which is the
subject of this paper. One might almost sum up Miss Mason's philosophy
in those two words "Breadth and Balance"; "a pioneer of sane education"
the Times called her. And
just in proportion to the greatness and importance of these two
characteristics, is the difficulty of carrying them out.
It is such a temptation to us ordinary folks to emphasise some part at
the expense of the rest and so turn a strength into a weakness. There
is only one way to avoid this danger. That is constantly to read and
re-read Miss Mason's books, constantly to remind ourselves of her first
principles--for from now onwards Miss Mason's work is in our hands; we
dare not leave un-made any effort to keep the truth.
May I take Narration, the corner stone, as an example?
In such a book subject as history, does P.N.E.U. teaching consist
merely in reading a set portion once through and then allowing a
certain number of children--out of perhaps a class of fifty--to narrate
as best they can? Is it not possible that such a lesson, repeated ad infinitum would result in a
What is narration? Miss Mason tells us it is "the answer to a question
put by the mind to itself." Then might there not be times when
narration might be a drawing or even a sketch map?
Are we perhaps in danger of systematising the method by insisting that
reading and narration are in themselves for ever all-sufficient? We
know we may never omit that part of the lesson in which the child puts
to his mind a question and answers it, in which he himself performs the
definite act of knowing, in which his mind is fed. But should we, for
example, never also set questions for the older children of a
thought-provoking type? Let us see what Miss Mason says. In "School
Education" after giving an account of narration she adds: "But this is
only one way to use books; others are to enumerate the statements in a
given chapter, to analyse a chapter, to divide it into paragraphs under
proper headings, to tabulate and classify series, to trace cause to
consequence and consequence to
cause, to discern character--and perceive how character and
circumstance interact . . . The teacher's part is, among other things,
to set such questions and such tasks as shall give full scope to his
pupil's mental activity . . . Let the pupil write for himself half a
dozen questions which cover the passage studied. These few hints by no
means cover the disciplinary uses of a good school book."
So we evidently may require--at least from our older pupils--something
more than narration. But, we must never forget that without narration
the mind will starve; whatever disciplinary exercises we use, they
should be in addition to and
never instead of narration.
Physical exercises of the mind are admirable, but will not take the
place of food. On the other hand, a well fed mind does need a certain
amount of disciplinary exercise at times, and the children lose
something when they do not have it.
Miss Mason was an idealist; unperceiving persons might even call her a
"mere visionary." All of us who try to follow in her steps are
idealists too, and yet on every hand we hear that what the world wants
is a sound, practical, useful education; it has "no use" for the
idealist. But, looking back through history, it is inspiring and
immensely cheering to notice who it is who have most greatly influenced
the world. Is it not always the idealist? The man who attempts the
impossible? What practical man of affairs or politics or war or
commerce can stand alongside Plato, Socrates, Dante?
For Spirit is stronger than matter and we who know even but a little of
Miss Mason's teaching, know that it rests on eternal truth.
MR. H. M. RICHARDS, C.B., H.M.I., Chief Inspector, Board of Education,
in introducing the next speaker, said:--
"We are to hear the distinguished Headmaster of a great Public School
read a paper by one who believed in the reverend Study of great
thoughts embodied in great language,
the very spirit of that
Renaissance from which our great Schools got their impulse and
inspiration. It may strike us as a curious fact that the Headmaster of
Westminster, one of the leaders of a great profession, should become
the willing disciple of one who was not a professional teacher at all.
The reason is, I think, that Miss Mason from her own powers of head and
heart saw some of the obvious truths which we professional people are
often so slow to see. The truth she saw was simply this, that all that
is great and beautiful in literature, art, music, and nature can make
an appeal not only to the well-to-do, but to the very poorest of our
people. It seems so extremely easy to say this, but it required great
courage and faith to do it, and I would like on behalf of the Board of
Education to make this public acknowledgement of the debt we all owe to
Miss Mason, who by her courage and faith brought into the poorest
schools of the country and to the most neglected children the
opportunity of seeing and feeling and believing in beauty and in truth.
There are very few people, who, like Miss Mason, can leave behind them
such a work and such a message. To those people death has no sting and
the grave is only a doorway to continued achievement."
"EDUCATION IS A LIFE."
[Read by the Rev. H.
Costley-White, Headmaster of Westminster and Chairman of the P.N.E.U.
BY C. M. MASON.
We all know the P.N.E.U. motto,--"Education is an atmosphere, a
discipline, a life,"--especially well in the neat diagrammatic form in
which it appears on the covers of our Library books. I am told that we,
as a society, are destined to live by our motto. A notable
educationalist writes to me, in connection with public
education,--"there is more need than ever for such a view of education
as that embodied in the memorable words which are the motto of the Parents' Review." An inspiring
motto must always be a power, but to live upon the good repute of our motto,
and to live up to it and in
it are two different things, and I am afraid the Parents' Union has
much and continual thinking and strenuous living to face, if it
proposes to stand before the world as interpreting and illustrating
these "memorable words." But we are not a faint-hearted body, we mean and mean intensely; and to
those who purpose the best, and endeavour after the best, the best
Meantime, we sometimes err, I think, in taking a part for the whole,
and a part of a part for the whole of that part. Of the three lines of
our definition, that which declares that "education is an atmosphere"
pleases us most, perhaps because it is the most inviting to the laissez-aller principle of human
nature. By the way, we lose something by substituting "environment"
(that blessed word, Mesopotamia!) for atmosphere. The latter word is
symbolic, it is true, but a symbol means more to us all than the name
of the thing signified. We think of fresh air, pure, bracing,
tonic,--of the definite act of breathing which must be fully
accomplished, and we are incited to do more and mean more in the matter
of our children's surroundings if we think of the whole as an
atmosphere, than if we accept the more literal "environment."
But, supposing that "education is an atmosphere" brings a fresh and
vigorous thought to our minds, suppose that is means for us, for our
children, sunshine and green fields, pleasant rooms and good pictures,
schools where learning is taken in by the gentle act of inspiration,
followed by the expiration of all that which is not wanted, where
charming teachers compose the children by a half-mesmeric effluence
which inclines them to do as others do, be as others are,--suppose that
all this is included in our notion of "education is an atmosphere," may
we not sit at our ease and believe that all is well, and that the whole
of education has been accomplished? No; because though we cannot live
without air, neither can we live upon air, and children brought up upon
"environment" soon begin to show signs of inanition; they have little
or no healthy curiosity, power of attention, or of effort; what is
worse, they lose spontaneity and initiative; they expect life to
into them like water into a rain-tub, without effort or intention on
This notion, that education is included in environment, or, at the
best, in atmosphere, has held the ground for a generation or two, and
it seems to me that it has left its mark upon our public and our
private lives. We are more ready to be done unto than to do; we do not
care for the labour of ordering our own lives in this direction or in
that; they must be conducted for us; a press of engagements must compel
us into what next, and what next after. We crave for spectacular
entertainment, whether in the way of pageants in the streets, or
spectacles on the boards. Even Shakespeare has come to be so much the
occasion for gorgeous spectacles that what the poet says is of little
moment compared with the show a play affords. There is nothing
intentionally vicious in all this; it is simply our effort to escape
from the ennui that results
from a one-sided view of education,--that education is an atmosphere
A still more consuming ennui
set in at the end of the eighteenth century, and that also was the
result of a partial view of education. "Education is a life" was the
(unconscious) formula then; and a feverish chase after ideas was the
outcome. It is pathetic to read how Madame de Stael and her coterie, or
that "blue-stocking" coterie which met at the Hotel Rambouillet, for
example, went little to bed, because they could not sleep; and spent
long nights in making character sketches of each other, enigmas,
anagrams, and other futilities of the intellect, and met again (some of
them) at early breakfast to compose and sing little airs upon little
themes. We may be as much inclined to yawn in each other's faces as
they were, but, anyway, if we sin as they did by excess in one
direction, there is less wear and tear in a succession of shows than in
their restless pursuit of inviting notions. Still, the beginning of the
nineteenth century has its lessons for the beginning of the twentieth.
They erred, as we do, because they did not understand the science of
the proportion of things. We are inclined to say, "education is
environment"; they would say "education is ideas"; the truth includes
both of these,
and a third definition introducing another side, a third aspect of
The third conceivable view, "education is a discipline," has always had
its votaries and has them still. That the discipline of the habits of
the good life, both intellectual and moral, forms a good third of
education, we all believe. The excess occurs when we imagine that
certain qualities of character and conduct run out a prepared product,
like carded wool, from this or that educational machine, mathematics or
classics, science or athletics; that is, when the notion of the
development of the so-called faculties takes the place of the more
physiologically true notion of the formation of intellectual habits.
The difference does not seem to be great; but two streams that rise
within a foot of one another may water different countries and fall
into different seas, and a broad divergence in practice often arises
from what appears to be a small difference in conception in matters
educational. The father of Plutarch had him learn his Homer that he
might get heroic ideas of life. Had the boy been put through his Homer
as a classical grind, as a machine for the development of faculty, a
pedant would have come out, and not a man of the world in touch with
life at many points, capable of bringing men and affairs to the
touchstone of a sane and generous mind. It seems to me that this notion
of the discipline which would develop "faculty" has tended to produce
rather one-sided men with the limitations which belong to abnormal
development. An artist told me once that the condition of successful
art is absorption in art, that the painter must think pictures, paint
pictures, nothing but pictures. But when art was great, men were not
mere artists. Quentin Matsys wrought in iron and painted pictures and
did many things besides. Michael Angelo wrote sonnets, designed
buildings, painted pictures; marble was by no means his only vehicle of
expression. Leonardo wrote treatises, planned canals, played
instruments of music, did a hundred things and all exquisitely. But
then, the idea of the development of faculty, and the consequent
discipline, had not occurred to these great men or their guardians.
Having safe-guarded ourselves from the notion that education has only
one face, we may go on to consider how "education is life," without the
risk of thinking that we are viewing more than one side of the subject.
It has been said that "man doth not live by bread alone, but by every
word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," and the augustness of
the occasion on which the words were spoke, has caused us to confine
their meaning to what we call the life of the soul; when, indeed, they
include a great educational principle which was better understood by
the medieval church than by ourselves. May I be allowed once again to
describe a painting in which the creed of the House of Education, and,
I hope, that of the Parents' Union, is visibly expressed. Many of us
are familiar with the frescoes on the walls of the so-called Spanish
Chapel of the church of S. Maria Novella. The philosophy of the Middle
Ages dealt, as we know, with theology as it subject-matter; and,
while there is much ecclesiastical polity with which we have little
sympathy pictured on the remaining walls, on one compartment of wall
and roof we have a singularly satisfying scheme of educational thought.
At the highest point of the picture we see the Holy Ghost descending in
the likeness of a dove; immediately below, in the upper chamber are the
disciples who first received his inspiration; below, again, is the
promiscuous crowd of all nationalities who are brought indirectly under
the influence of the first outpouring, and in the foreground are two or
three dogs, shewing that the dumb creation was not excluded from
benefiting by the new grace. In the lower compartment of the great
design are angelic figures of the cardinal virtues, which we all trace
more or less to divine inspiration, floating above the seated figures
of apostles and prophets, of whom we know that they "spake as they were
moved by the Holy Ghost." So far, this medieval scheme of philosophy
reveals no new thought to persons instructed in the elements of
Christian truth. But, below the prophets and apostles, are a series of
pictured niches, those to the right being occupied by the captain
figures, the ideal representations of the seven Liberal Arts, figures
of singular grace and beauty.
representing such familiar matters as grammar, rhetoric, logic, music,
astronomy, geometry and arithmetic, all of them under the outpouring of
the Spirit of God. Still more liberal is the philosophy which places at
the foot of each of these figures him who seemed to be, to the artist,
the leader and representative of each several science,--Priscian,
Cicero, Aristotle, Tubal Cain, Zoroaster, Euclid, Pythagoras; men whom
a narrower and later theology would have placed beyond the pale of the
Christian religion, and therefore of the teaching of the Spirit of God.
But here all are represented as under the same divine outpouring which
illuminated the disciples in the upper chamber.
Our nature craves after unity. The travail of thought, which is going
on to-day and has gone as long as we have any record of men's thoughts,
has been with a view to establishing some principle for the unification
of life. Here we have the scheme of a magnificent unity. We are apt to
think that piety is one thing, that our intellectual and artistic
output are quite another matter, and that our moral virtues are pretty
much matters of inheritance and environment, and have not much to do
with our conscious religion. Hence, there come discords into our lives,
discords especially trying to young and ardent souls who want to be
good and religious, but who cannot escape from the overpowering
drawings of art and intellect and mere physical enjoyment; they have
been taught to consider that these things are, for the most part, alien
to the religious life, and that they must choose one or the other; they
do choose, and the choice does not always fall upon these things which,
in our unscriptural and unphilosophical narrowness, we call the things
of God. Let us bless Taddeo Gaddi and Simone Memmi for placing before
our eyes a creed (copies [La Discessa dello Spirito
Santo & Allegoria filosofica della
Religione Cattolica, to be had from Mansell, 405, Oxford Street, Nos.
4077 & 4093.] of which we might all hang upon our walls),
which shows that our piety, our virtue, our intellectual activities,
and, let us add, our physical perfections, are all fed from the same
source, God Himself; are all inspired by the same Spirit, the Spirit of
God. The ages which held this creed were ages of mighty production in
every kind; the princely commerce of Venice was dignified and sobered
by this thought of the divine inspiration of ideas,--ideas of trade,
ideas of justice and fair balance and of utility; Columbus went out to
discover a new world, informed by the divine idea, as our own
philosopher, Coleridge, points out, adding that "great inventions and
Ideas of Nature, presented to chosen minds by a higher power than
nature herself, suddenly unfold as it were in prophetic succession
systematic views destined to produce the most important revolutions in
the state of man." When Columbus came back, his new world was
discovered, people and princes took it as from God and sang Te Deum.
Michael Angelo writes to his friend Vittoria Colonna, that "good
Christians always make good and beautiful figures. In order to
represent the adored image of our Lord, it is not enough that a master
should be great and able. I maintain that he must also be a man of good
morals and conduct, if possible a saint, in order that the Holy Ghost
may give him inspiration." In truth, a nation or a man becomes great
upon one diet only, the diet of great ideas communicated to those
already prepared to receive them by a higher Power than nature herself.
We are a small society, little talked about and little known, but I
think we hold amongst us the little leaven which is able to leaven the
whole lump. Let us set ourselves to labour with the purpose and passion
to restore to the world, enriched by the addition of later knowledge,
that great work in the past. Nor need we fear that in endeavoring after
some such doctrine of ideas as may help us in the work of education,
that we are running counter to science. Many of us feel, and, I think,
rightly, that the teaching of science is the new teaching which is
being vouchsafed to mankind in our age. Some of us are triumphant and
believe that the elements of moral and religious struggle are about to
be eliminated from life, which shall run henceforth, whether happy or
disastrous, on the easy plane of the inevitable; others are bewildered
and look in vain for a middle way, a place of reconciliation for
science and religion; while others of us again take refuge in
repudiating "evolution" and all
its works and nailing our colours to
religion, interpreted on our own narrow lines. Whichever of these lines
we take, we probably err through want of faith.
Let us first of all settle it with ourselves that science and religion
cannot, to the believer in God, by any possibility be antagonistic.
Having assured ourselves of this, we shall probably go on to perceive
that the evolution of science is in fact a process of revelation, being
brought about in every case, so far as I am aware, by the process which
Coleridge has so justly described, that is, "that the Ideas of nature, presented to
chosen minds by a higher power than nature herself, suddenly unfold as
it were in prophetic succession systematic views destined to produce
the most important revolutions in the state of man." Huxley defines the
utility of Biology "as helping to give right ideas in this world which
is, after all," he goes on to say, "absolutely governed by ideas, and
very often by the wildest and most hypothetical ideas." Again, he
writes, "those who refuse to go beyond the fact rarely get as far as
the fact; and anyone who has studied the history of science knows that
almost every great step therein has been made by the 'anticipation of
nature,' that is by the invention of hypotheses." One cannot help
thinking that scientific men would find the unifying principle they are
in search of in the fine saying of Coleridge's which I have twice
quoted; so would they stand revealed to themselves as the mouthpieces,
not merely of the truth, for which they are so ready to combat and
suffer, but also as the chosen and prepared servants of Him who is the
Few of us can forget Carlyle's incomparable picture of the Tiers Etat waiting for
organisation,--"Wise as serpents; harmless as doves: what a spectacle
for France! Six hundred inorganic individuals, essential for its
regeneration and salvation, sit there, on their elliptic benches,
longing passionately towards life." Less picturesque, but otherwise
very much on a par with this, is Coleridge's description of Botany, as
that science existed in his own day, waiting for the unifying idea
which should give it organisation,--"What," he says, "is Botany at this
present hour? Little
more than an enormous nomenclature; a huge
catalogue, bien arrange,
yearly and monthly augmented, in various editions, each with its own
scheme of technical memory and its own convenience of reference! The
innocent amusement, the healthful occupation, the ornamental
accomplishments of amateurs; it is yet to expect the devotion and
energies of t he philosopher." The keyword for the interpretation of
life, both animal and vegetable, has been presented to our generation
and we cannot make too much of it. We cannot overrate the enormous
repose and satisfaction to the human mind contained in the idea of
evolution. But it is well to remember that for three thousand years
thinkers have been occupied with attempts to explain the world by means
of a single principle, which should also furnish an explanation of
reason and the human soul. Herakleitos and his age thought they had
laid hold of the informing idea in the phrase, "the true Being is an
eternal Becoming": the "universal flux of things" explained all.
Demokritos and his age cried--Eureka! solved the riddle of the
universe, with the saying that "nothing exists except atoms moving in
vacancy." Many times since, with each epoch-making discovery, has
science cried--Eureka! over the one principle which should explain all
things and eliminate Personality.
But some little knowledge of history and philosophy will give us pause.
We shall see that each great discovery, each luminous idea of nature
that the world has received hitherto, is like a bend in a tortuous lake
which appears final until your boat approaches it, and then--behold an
opening into further and still further reaches beyond! The knowledge of
God will give us something more than the wider outlook of which comes a
knowledge of history--the knowledge that there is, what Wordsworth
calls, the "stream of tendency," a stream of immeasurable force in
shaping character and events: but there is also Personality, a power
able to turn the "stream of tendency" to its uses, if also liable to be
carried away in its current.
Forgive me if I appear to dwell on a subject which at first sight
appears to have little to do with the bringing up of
children; but I think that his attitude towards the great idea, great
lesson, set for his age to grasp, is a vital part of a parent's
preparation. If parents take no heed of the great thoughts which move
their age, they cannot expect to retain influence over the minds of
their children. If they fear and distrust the revelations of science,
they introduce an element of distrust and discord into their children's
lives. If, with the mere neophyte of science, they rush to the
conclusion that the last revelation is final, accounts for all that is
in man, and, to say the least, makes God unnecessary and unknowable, or
negligible, they may lower the level of their children's living to that
struggle for existence--without aspiration, consecration and
sacrifice--of which we hear so much. If, lastly, parents recognise
every great idea of nature as a new page in the progressive revelation
made by God to men already prepared to receive such idea; if they
realise that the new idea, however comprehensive, is not final nor
all-inclusive, nor to be set in opposition with that personal knowledge
of God which is the greatest knowledge, why then their children will
grow up in the attitude of reverence for science, reverence for God,
and openness of mind, which befits us for whom life is a probation and
a continual education. So much for the nutriment of ideas laid on the
table of the world during this particular course of its history.
Next, we may have poetry, or art, or philosophy; we cannot tell; but
two things are incumbent upon us,--to keep ourselves and our children
in touch with the great thoughts by which the world has been educated
in the past, and to keep ourselves and them in the right attitude
towards the great ideas of the present. It is our temptation to make
too personal a matter of education, to lose sight of the fact that
education is a world business, that the lessons of the ages have been
duly set, and that each age is concerned, not only with its own
particular page, but with every preceding page. For who feels that he
has mastered a book with the last page of which only he is familiar?
This brings me to a point I am anxious to lay before you. We do not
sufficiently realise the need for unity of principle in education. We
no Captain Idea which shall marshal for us the fighting host of
educational ideas which throng the air; so, in default of a guiding
principle, a leading idea, we feel ourselves at liberty to pick and
choose. This man thinks he is free to make science the sum of his son's
education, the other chooses the classics, a third prefers a
mechanical, a fourth, a commercial programme, a fifth makes bodily
health his cult, and chooses a school which makes the care of health a
special feature of its programme (not that we must allow health to be
neglected, but that, given good general conditions, the less obvious
attention their health receives the better for the boys and girls): and
everyone feels himself at liberty to do that which is right in his own
eyes with regard to the education of his children.
A negative purpose of our society is to discourage in every way we can
the educational faddist, that is, the person who accepts a one-sided
notion in place of a universal idea as his educational guide. Our
positive purpose is to present, in season and out of season, one such
universal idea, that is, that education is the science of relations.
A child should be brought up to have relations of force with earth and
water, should run and ride, swim and skate, lift and carry; should know
texture, and work in material; should know by name, and where, and how
they live at any rate, the things of the earth about him, its birds and
beasts and creeping things, its herbs and trees; should be in touch
with the literature, art and thought of the past. I do not mean that he
should know all these things; but he should feel, when he reads of it
in the newspapers, the thrill which stirred the Cretan peasants when
the frescoes in the palace of King Minos were disclosed to the labour
of their spades. He should feel the thrill, not from mere contiguity,
but because he has with the past the relationship of living pulsing
thought; and, if blood be thicker than water, thought is more
quickening than blood. He must have a living relationship with the
present, its historic movement, its science, literature, art, social
needs and aspirations. In fact, he must have a wide outlook, intimate
relations all round; and force, virtue, must pass out of him, whether
hand, will, or sympathy, wherever he touches. This is no impossible
programme. Indeed it can be pretty well filled in by the time an
intelligent boy or girl has reached the age of thirteen or fourteen,
for it depends, not upon how much
is learned, but upon how
things are learned.
Give children a wide range of subjects with the end in view of
establishing in each case some one or more of the relations I have
indicated. Let them learn from first hand sources of
information--really good books, the best going, on the subject in hand.
let them get at the books themselves, and do not let them be flooded
with a warm diluent at the lips of their teacher. The teacher's
business is to indicate, stimulate, direct and constrain to the
acquirement of knowledge, but by no means to be the fountain-head and
source of all knowledge in his or her own person. The less parents and
teachers talk-in and expound their rations of knowledge and thought to
the children they are educating the better for the children. Peptonised
food for a healthy stomach does not tend to a vigorous digestion.
Children must be allowed to ruminate, must be left alone with their own
thoughts. They will ask for help if they want it.
You will see at a glance, with this Captain Idea of establishing
relationships as a guide, the unwisdom of choosing or rejecting this or
that subject, as being more or less useful or necessary in view of the
child's future. We decide, for example, that Tommy, who is eight, need
not waste his time over the Latin Grammar. We intend him for commercial
or scientific pursuits,--what good will it be to him? But we do not
know how much we are shutting out from Tommy's range of thought besides
the Latin Grammar. He has to translate, for example,--"Pueri formosos equos vident." He is
a ruminant animal, and has been told something about that strong Roman
people whose speech is now brought before him. How their boys catch
hold of him! How he gloats over their horses! The Latin Grammar is not
mere words to Tommy, or rather Tommy knows, as we have forgotten, that
the epithet "mere" is the very last to apply to words. Of course it is
only now and then that a notion catches the small boy, but when it
catch, it works wonders, and does more for his education than years of
I would only add one word. Our own living function, our power as a
society, and with our power, our endurance, will depend upon how far we
lay hold of and carry out the living thought which our Union is
intended to embody and express. I venture to think that one proof that
we are in this sense a living society, is the happy immunity of the
P.N.E.U. from educational fads.
MISS MASON'S IDEAL IN
By Laura C. Faunce. [Principal,
P.U.S. School, Queen's Gardens, W.2.]
That "Education is the Science of Relations" is a phrase familiar to
all those who have studied the works and principles of our Founder,
Charlotte M. Mason, and it has a peculiar significance and vitalizing
force, as presented by her, which inspires the teacher and lifts the
work to that high plane where truly it belongs. This great unifying
principle, that Education is the Science of Relations, should be firmly
held and acted upon as the only way to the attainment of that "true
knowledge" whereby a child may be put "into touch with the great
thoughts of the past," and be "kept in a right attitude to the thoughts
of the present, so "that he may be prepared to meet new ideas" and come
upon fresh avenues of thought in the future with an open mind, and be
able to form his own opinions which will be the outcome of all the wide
knowledge he has collected.
Among those liberties which we in this Union claim for the child, due
to him as a person, is freedom of thought, the function of right
thinking,--the importance of which cannot be exaggerated. This is an
article in his Bill of Rights which we should be most careful to
safeguard and to establish for the child. All those who teach know how
difficult it is not to violate this right. It is so easy to impose
opinion, and so to create prejudice unless a careful watch be kept. All
unawares we trespass on this right, and it is in
this way that the world becomes filled with men and women whose minds
run in grooves and work on conventional lines,--the stereotyped as
opposed to the individual. Thought is, I suppose all will allow, the
greatest force in the world, and of each world-citizen is required this
duty:--to contribute to the thought of the world, if not in actual
original ideas, at least in the power of original thinking, for on
thought all action depends and all achievements are based. It is by the
friction of mind with mind that thought is produced. The illuminating
idea, the vivid suggestion, quicken our minds and awaken our latent
powers of thinking. We consider that this liberty of thought is best
secured for the child by supplying to him all that is good and most
helpf ul in the way of mental foodstuffs; that is through the use of
books,--and those the best books,--as well as through things: that he
should know great men through the books and works of art which they
have given to the world. By this means the child is able to form
opinions for himself, the outcome of his thoughts and knowledge: a
knowledge gained by himself in his reading, a knowledge gained for itself and not for any ulterior
motives. His mind, thus fed, grows: the power of vision increases, and
ardent and close communion exists between himself and the
spiritual-forces that govern the world. Such growth, mental, moral and
spiritual is, we all grant, the sole end of education. We in whose
hands rests so high a life-service must see to it that we aid the
children in the formation of those principles of conduct which shall
guide the intellect, control the will and so govern action.
It is through the stages of this mysterious unfolding of the child that
I want to take you, showing how from the age of five, when he is a
person incapable of expressing himself, after acquiring words he begins
gradually to communicate with us, letting us into his thoughts, his
ideas and his desires, and how eventually he attains to a whole world
of knowledge, and all this in an amazingly short time.
We, who teach in schools, are indeed privileged in having so many and
so varied characters and temperaments to study, and it is because I
have had a school working on
Miss Mason's methods for seventeen years
and have had some hundreds of children passing through my hands during
that time that I venture to speak to you this afternoon.
We of the P.N.E.U. hold, and experience has proved to me over and over
again, that all children are receptive of the right kind of knowledge
rightly introduced, and no matter how despairing one may be of a child,
one has always the joy of the sudden revelation, when the vital spark
has been struck. No one knows so well as a teacher what a delight it is
to see how the awakened mind, set aglow by the reception of a living
idea, lights up the face, the quick recognition, the eager response;
together the teacher and taught are sharing the same thrill of
enthusiasm and enjoyment. I wish I could tell you of the countless
moments of such pleasure that I have had and the bond of sympathy which
this creates. Of course in order to arouse this eager receptivity there
must be the love of knowledge and enthusiasm towards the acquiring of
it for himself on the part of the teacher, for love is contagious and
children do as we do. Not only is this love communicated by the teacher
but in class-teaching by one member to another. An illustration of this
point occurs to me which may interest you.
In a class in my school a child was anxious to keep a Nature Note Book
and to have many beautiful paintings in it, but in London, as many of
you will know, it is very difficult to get wild flowers to paint. As
this child was a great lover of Nature and of flowers, she solved the
problem for herself in the following way. She decided to paint garden
flowers and to trace, where possible, the development from the wild
flower. This inspired the class and we now have some quite delightful
books. All unconsciously to themselves this atmosphere of delight in
knowledge prevails amongst the children in the different classes, and
this note is not confined to one class in itself, but communicates
itself from one class to the other, the work being linked together and
graded in the varying degrees of difficulty according to the age and
requirements of the pupils. For example, we establish the relation with
the glowing glories
of Greece and Rome and all the inspiration of their Art, Legend,
Literature and History in the excellent choice of books set on the
programmes, from Andrew Lang's inimitable Tales of Troy and Greece (a
true source of joy to the young children in Form I.) on to Mrs.
Beesley's History of Rome (as keen a delight to Form II.) then to
Plutarch's Lives in Classes III. and IV., culminating in Classes V. and
VI. with the reading of Professor de Burgh's Legacy of Greece and Rome
where again and again recognition and remembrance are due to the work
done when in the lower forms. How living are the books is shown in the
The other day I heard of a little girl whose feelings were deeply
aroused and whose opinion could not be altered by the comparison of
present day standards with those pertaining to the time, by the
incident of Ulysses' chastisement of Thersites (we are reading the
story of Ulysses this term) in Form I. Again the story of Thomas
à Becket, as told in "Our Island Story," has appealed most
deeply to the children. In Plutarch's Lives I often have spontaneous
expressions of opinion or emotion. On one occasion a child whose sense
of justice had been sharply wounded exclaimed aloud with head thrown
back and with flashing eyes,
"Oh, but Miss Faunce, how unfair!"
Again the following poem shows how sympathies had been touched and
The form I think is interesting because it is significant of the
impression which the child wished to convey which may have been that of
a distant age, or we may suppose it to represent a free translation
from the Persian; indeed we might almost call it "vers libres!" I asked
the children to write for me either in prose or verse on anything that
had caught their fancy in the morning's lesson. This particular child,
aged 13, wrote for me a poem expressing grief either of King Darius or
his Court on hearing the news of the death of his Queen while in
captivity under Alexander. It is entitled:--
MOURNING FOR THE DEATH OF THE PERSIAN
Let the light of the sun be hid;
Let him shine no more.
Do the little brooks laugh?
Oh, let them be silent and still.
Let the long grasses sigh
When the wandering wind
Stretches his hand to bow them;
For he is the Master-Musician
Let him join in the mourning-song,
The song of the grief of man;
Everlasting as he is the song,
Everlasting the grief and the song.
Surely this is proof, if proof were needed, that the great book and the
classic are a continual joy and a constant supply of mental food; that
the teacher, even though she may have read the book again and again,
always finds her enthusiasm rekindled, her inspiration refreshed in the
appreciation of the children to whom the work comes in all its
freshness and vigour.
How living this world of knowledge is to the children and how it
becomes a very part of their life comes home to us in many pleasant
byways. The children to whom the Book of Centuries means so much will
often collect pictures to share with their class-mates; others,
perhaps, awakened by the studies at school become aware that certain
possessions in the home, before meaningless to them, are now vested
with a living interest. I know of children who have arranged Century
Book teas, exchanging visits to each other's homes in order to enjoy
the community of interest provided by the books. This year I have had
an illustration which seems to affirm that indeed "dead bones can
live," I have been teaching quite young children in Form II. about the
Stone Age, a very different study from any that they have done before,
so dim and distant with the fascination of a word new to them,
"Prehistoric"; but what an appeal it has made to them and how keen the
response! On instance may suffice:--
After reading about the Stone Age from the book "The British Museum for
Children," I suggested (not as a set
task but something to be done if they liked, and if they had the time)
that they should write for me a story report on what they imagined
would be the life of a family living in those distant ages of "stone
weapons" and "cave-dwellers." The results were delightful, and to shew
how vividly their imaginations had been fired, I will read to you one
of the stories which were given in to me.
A STORY OF THE STONE AGE.
"No, sir, no, indeed--it is not a lie, sir, I
swear it is not." "Really, Marcus, do you expect me to believe such
fairy stories? You have been dreaming--or more likely
drinking--besides, this isle is uninhabited." The Roman Prætor
surveyed the excited young soldier with contempt. "But, sir, he struck
me--a little dark pigmy--he appeared out of the mountain side--and
vanished again as quickly as he came." "Struck you, you say? And where
is the mark, what did he strike with?" "A sort of stone hammer, I
think," said the young man, drawing aside his cloak as he spake, "It
hurt enough anyhow" and, sure enough he revealed, on his arm, an ugly
wound, bleeding freely. "My dear man, why did you not show me this
before? You must have it seen to at once--Claudius, take him to the
doctor's tent, this moment."
When the soldier had been taken from the tent,
the Prætor turned to one of the consuls "What is your opinion of
this affair, sir," he asked--"It looks very much as if the boy spake
the truth, judging by the blow he has received," replied the
consul--"Then you, Linus, and you, Sextus, take half a dozen men, arm
yourselves, and go and explore the hillside--bring me word at once if
you see any more of these 'little dark pigmies.' The two men saluted
and went off in high spirits to collect their little band. A few
moments later a small party of eight men stole up the hillside, spear
in hand. Suddenly a rustling was heard in the grass--the soldiers swung
around--it was only a wolf darting over the hill. After about a quarter
of an hour of wandering--a man touched Linus on the arm--"See, yonder,"
he whispered--A figure darted out of the undergrowth, and, seeing the
soldiers, vanished into the hillside. The men stared at each other in
silence . . . At last Linus pulled himself together--"Run, Claudius,
and tell the Prætor, quick." Claudius vanished into the darkness.
When he had disappeared Linus gave a sharp order, and the soldiers
hastened towards the spot where the figure had been seen to
vanish--Sextus pushed and bent the shrubs and creepers--and, with an
exclamation of astonishment revealed a small opening in the hillside.
By crouching to a crawling position the men were able to creep--one by
one--into the cave, for a cave it was."
Often in the ten minutes play-time in the middle of the morning, a
class will arrange a tableau representing some
dramatic moment which
has caught their fancy either from History or Literature, or from some
poem, and the excellent grouping, the gesture, play of expression shew
how real a picture has been created in their minds. Out of many which
come back to my memory is the illustration (they gave) of the Crusaders
falling on their knees when first viewing Jerusalem; of the death of
James IV. (that was really very effectively grouped); of Alexander
receiving the cup of medicine from the hand of Philip the Arcarnanian
while handing to him the letter of warning which Parmenio had sent to
the King; of Perseus in the Garden of the Hesperides when the maidens
playing with his shield revealed to him how he might slay the Gorgon
without looking on her face (this last tableau given by quite young
children in Form I.). In these dramatic moments, as we call them, the
children choose the incident and plan the grouping entirely by
themselves, the teacher's part being to guess what the picture
represents when she is allowed
to come and look! With older girls this living interest takes the form
of discussion and free interchange of thought and opinion, and often
one finds that the point which has fired their imagination in the
lesson has been discussed at home, or with friends, thus marking that
it has become part of their mental life. Only the other day, on going
through the English Matriculation Paper for September, 1919, I read
aloud the following question, "Write a letter to a friend in answer to
his or her remark, 'Why should I read Shakespeare? I do not like him
and he has done me no good.'" The indignation was great and deep, and
an eager combative spirit was displayed.
The ideals inculcated by Miss Mason make for a school life of as free a
nature as is compatible with common sense. Rules are minimized, marks
are eliminated, the children's interest and busy-ness of mind make for
natural order and obedience; and a spirit of comradeship and
co-operation exists between teachers and pupils so that more or less
elf-government prevails. A class can
be, and is, left to read by itself from the age of twelve years
of age and up and the result is often shown by a test paper on the
portion read. As an example of the result of such work I will read a
Report of a girl of 15.
The Class read Ruskin's Modern
Painters for twenty minutes, and wrote for the remaining twenty
minutes of the lesson.
THE OPEN SKY.
Who can describe the sky? Those changing moods
that vary from glaring noon-day heat to the soft grey dusk of evening.
Never the same for two minutes together, but always
changing--changing--changing. But it is not always so restless. There
may be days when the torn shreds of clouds race forward before the
wind, but then there comes an evening when quiet peace reigns. The sun
sinks, leaving the west in a blaze of rosy colour which gradually dies
away to soft drowsy blue and grey. The stars come out one by one, as
though afraid to spoil that glorious peaceful blue with their insistent
twinkle, and the soft dew falls to cover the sleeping earth.
And yet, all this beauty leaves many people
unmoved. They know the sky chiefly from pictures. If you asked them to
describe it, some scrap of blue, framed with gold and hanging in some
dusty corner, springs to their mind. They do not think of looking
upwards into the vastness over their heads; for they do not see it in
pictures. Few artists can portray the feeling of never-ending eternity
that the sky has. They paint a hard beautiful blue with solid bunchy
clouds. You look at it, and, instead of sailing ever on and upwards,
your gaze is brought up with a jerk against a blue board.
Here we see the impression made on a sensitive young mind by the
reading of a beautiful passage: such store should be within the reach
of all: ours is it to see that it be so,--the golden heritage due to
those who seek.
"What, know ye
not two hungers be in man;
Hunger for bread
allayed, then clamours mind
which is life."
May I close with Miss Mason's own words, which seem to set forth the
creed of all her teaching:--
The Saviour of the World, Vol. VI.
THE KEYS OF KNOWLEDGE.
Are now, no dried up wells hermetic seal'd.
As held they water of life? Go we with Keys,--
Official proclamation that with these
We could the court where knowledge is revealed
Ope to the thirsty scholar? Our own ease
Take we the while fair knowledge lies concealed
'Neath dust of verbiage, nor the fit key yield
To willing learner whom 'tis ours to please?
Believe we then that knowledge is our own
To give or to refuse, hold or impart,
Or, miser's store, nor use nor give away?
Lord make us understand terms of that loan
Of gracious knowledge, of delightsome Art,
For all men's use, Thou lodg'st with us to-day!
AN APPRECIATION FROM A
P.N.E.U. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
By D. S. Golding.
[Headmistress of the
Hanham Road Girls' Elementary School, Kingswood, Bristol.]
"A late lark twitters from the quiet skies;
And from the west,
Where the sun, his day's work ended,
Lingers as in content,
There falls on the old grey city
An influence luminous and serene,
A shining peace.
The smoke ascends
In a rosy and golden haze. The spires
Shine and are changed. In the valley
Shadows rise. The lark sings on. The sun,
Closing his benediction
Sinks--and the darkening air
Thrills with a sense of the triumphing night
Night, with her train of stars,
And her great gift of sleep.
So be my passing!
My task accomplished and the long day done.
My wages taken, and in my heart
Some late lark singing,
Let me be gathered to the quiet west.
The sundown splendid and serene,
On the day that we received the news of Miss Mason's passing, one of
our classes was learning that poem, and the children remarked how
fitting were the words to the occasion, "Splendid and serene." When one
has read, as I have done, every word in the Memorial number of our
magazine, the March Parents' Review,
there remains no doubt that the same great tribute, "splendid and
serene," can be applied to the life of our Founder as well as to her
Our children have never seen her, yet they look on her as Friend. There
seems to be a personal relationship between them and her. I can
understand it. It is, I think, their expression of the fact that was
borne in on me during the Children's Gathering of 1920. Never shall I
forget the feeling of fellowship experienced at the service held on the
Tuesday morning of that week in the old parish church at Whitby. There
were children from various, and in some cases, remote parts of the
country, grown-up children like ourselves: children from Home
Schoolrooms; children from P.U. Schools; five children from an
Elementary School in County Durham; and in spirit all who longed to
come and were not able. Under such categories some, perhaps, would have
classified us. But the difference in our conditions and our
circumstances was not the out-standing feature about us all. The
wonderful thing was that we were all children of one school, and that
school one large family with Miss Mason as its head.
The P.N.E.U. scheme has been of great service to me in my endeavour to
create an atmosphere with which, I strongly feel, every efficient
school should be surrounded;--an atmosphere of home, of a large family
working in unity and co-operation for the greatest good of all its
members. Month by month we are reminded that Education is an atmosphere
as well as a discipline and a life. Our Founder never thought, as some
think and do not hesitate to say, that "spirit" matters not. One of our
aims must be to get the children to work because they love to work; to
do right, not because of any reward or punishment which may follow the
doing or not doing, but they want to do the right thing; and the
principles which underlie the P.N.E.U. methods help us to attain this
Education is also a discipline; but upon what authority does true
discipline depend? Not upon the might of external force, but rather
upon that inward authority which can dispense with rule from outside.
The P.N.E.U. motto does not contain the forced, "I must, because someone outside
myself compels me." It is, "I am, I can, I ought, I will." It is Miss
Mason who has taught us not to belittle the powers
of a child. Children so often can do what we could not do, because we
have not in the process of building set up the pillar of careful
attention. There is the foundation of the habit of self-discipline in
the great concentration which is the children are called upon to
exercise. Not only do they narrate after a single reading; but what
perhaps to those who have not ventured seems still more impossible,
they must and can, without any revision,
reproduce at an examination the knowledge which once and for ever they
have made their own.
It was the wideness of the P.N.E.U scheme which at the beginning (our
P.N.E.U. career started in 1918), gave me such satisfaction. I had
always talked to my girls on all manner of subjects apart from the
lessons of any set syllabus. Our school is situated in an urban
industrial district: a large majority of the children are from homes
where the father and the mother, too, work in a boot factory when
employment can be obtained at all. With one or two rare exceptions, our
girls do not belong to the company of favoured children whose parents
are able to take an intelligent interest in them. English, as it should
be spoken, does not exist for them in their home life, and their
vocabulary is sadly limited. Knowing that their outlook on life was
extremely narrow, I tried to make them realise that life held many
interests of which they had never even dreamed; and that the more they
could get into touch with things beyond their own horizon, the more
enjoyable and purposeful their lives would become. Fulness of life
makes for happiness, and it is part of my own credo that if we crowd
into life as much of the beautiful as we can, there will be no room for
things unworthy. But before the P.N.E.U. scheme was brought into our
school--and I would like in passing to express gratitude to Mr.
Household, through whose enthusiasm and championship of the cause so
many schools in Gloucestershire are able to share the privileges of
Miss Mason's teaching--before the P.N.E.U. scheme was known to us, the
personal opinions of the teacher were unavoidably very much in the
foreground. The best of us can never hope to have given original
thought to every subject of a school
curriculum. This scheme offers the product of the original minds of
noble thinkers. It gives children inspiring ideas which promote thought
and enquiry; and the more a child thinks, the more he lives:--and this
is the child's right. They study a period of English History, they read
the contemporary French History, and the older girls take the History
of the Literature and sometimes of the Architecture of the same period.
The Literary reader and Shakespeare Play are chosen, too, to help. Here
we have a store of varied interests offered to them.
I have with me a set of last term's examinations papers, worked by the
most intelligent child at the top of our school. I could give you a
very accurate estimate of the work the same child (13 years of age)
would have done under the old regime. She would have answered any
questions set just as thoroughly so far as she had gone. How far would
that have been? History, Geography, Literature and Current Events would
have found a place in her written work at the end of the term: and
because she was an intelligent and hard-working pupil, I should have
found reproduced most faithfully the information, the suggestions and
ideas which had been given in one lesson, revised in another--(perhaps
even in more than one other)--and again thoroughly revised before the
examination day. Instead, she has had opened up to her great vistas.
She has written answers bearing on Scott's "Ivanhoe"; Shakespeare's
"King John"; the set period of English History tested by questions
quite as advanced as those which we were given in the days of my
apprenticeship; the contemporary French History; and General History as
taught by the treasures in the British Museum. She has studied
Citizenship from more than one aspect, as the questions will show,--(1)
"What do you know of the government of Mansoul. How do Hunger and
Thirst behave? Show that they may change in character." (2) "Give an
account of the way in which Brutus and Cassius prepared for the battle
of the Philippian Fields. How did Lucilius save the life of Brutus?"
(3) "What is our duty towards foreign countries? (4) 'India is a
continent and not a country.' Explain this and say what you know about
the peoples and religions of India." Then comes Geography supplemented
by readings from Mr. Households' book on Sea-Power; Nature Study;
Architecture; Picture Study and Musical Appreciation. In connection
with the last named subject, we had an hour's Musical Appreciation
given us by a very able interpreter who, in addition to playing some of
Brahms' music, and explaining how it was made, told the children in
story form what the "Intermezzo" might convey. The next morning the set
question was given to the girls; and the one whose papers are here told
the story, but altered the details so that it became a different story,
her own interpretation of the music. The question was:--"Write a few
lines on any three of the compositions of Brahms you have enjoyed." I
will give the answer as it stands, with the child's own spelling,
punctuation, and paragraphing.
"Brahms has written a great many beautiful compositions, but unlike
some of the great musicians, the names that he has given to them, do
not tell you anything about the music itself.
One of his pieces is called "Intermezzo," which does not tell anything
at all about the really beautiful composition. First of all it is
peaceful and quiet, and then it grows louder and becomes troubled,
reminding you of the angry waves dashing against the pebbly shore, then
once more it becomes peaceful, but with a note of triumph mingled in.
While we are listening to this piece of music, we can make up a story
about it. Imagine a poor and dilapidated cottage, which you enter. What
do you see? A toilworn mother rocks her babe to sleep. Now the babe
sleeps, and the mother may rest, but instead of resting she allows her
thoughts to return to the past, and she sighs. She thought of the time
when she was young, and when many men had sought her love, but she
rejected all of them and married a poor fisherman, because she loved
A rich man had wished her to be his bride, and he sneered at her, and
said she would soon learn her mistake. "Was it a mistake? the poor wife
asked herself, her husband was lost at sea a year ago, and now she must
struggle for life, alone, but she resolutely put this thought from her,
and said, "God said we should marry for love, not for land or gold, I
have obeyed His work, and I will be true to my dead husband's memory."
As she spoke, the door opened, and a storm-beaten mariner entered. He
was recognized in an instant, and the wife ran to him with open arms,
"My husband," she cried, "but they told me you were drowned at sea."
"Nay, nay lass," said he comfortingly, "We saw the rats leave the ship,
and so we packed our things in the two boats. Just when we
had all got clear of it, the old tub went down. We started to row in
the other boats but we got lost in the fog, although we managed to keep
together. At morning we were picked up by a schooner, but as she was
late in starting on her voyage, we had to go with her, and a mighty
long voyage it was too," he added with a chuckle. "Never mind," said
his wife, "All those trials are over now," then she added, "Come and
see our baby, who was but a month old when you left us."
They went together to the cradle of the sleeping babe, and as they bent
over it, peace returned to the woman's mind, for love had triumphed.
I think this story gives a fairly good idea of "Intermezzo," because it
shows the peace, the troubled thoughts, and the triumph of peace and
love, which come in everyone's life.
Brahms has also written some short pieces called "Waltzes," and some of
these make you think of the people who lived long ago. The stately
Grecian ladies, in their dresses of clinging white material, seem to
come to life again, and to perform before you the dances which they
danced before kings and heroes.
One of Brahms' long pieces is called "Rhapsody." It is a glorious
composition, one long sweep of music, and it is gone. This piece shows
the joy of human nature, for it is a very happy composition, although
in the middle the tune is lost, and this causes a thrill to run through
you, but the tune soon comes back again, brighter and gayer perhaps
than it was before, for
Brahms his notes deftly mingled,
And from all the rich chords singled,
The richest chords that he could find
And all of it was for mankind.
We can sing his music's praise,
For that has lived for many days,
And it gives our dark souls, light,
Turning into day the night.
It brings us nearer to God,
Showing us were the saints have trod,
Where they sit and play their lutes,
Sweeter than all earthly flutes."
Some may be inclined to think that the P.N.E.U. curriculum is too wide.
It may be if we labour at it in our own way, expecting every child to
remember everything that she has read. This is not Miss Mason's idea.
"My plea is," she writes in School
Education, "that many doors shall be opened to boys and girls
until they are at least 12 or 14, and always the doors of good houses .
. . that the young people shall learn what History is, what
Literature is, what life is, from the living books of those who
Surely here will be the beginning of an appreciation of wide reading
which will broaden the child's outlook. It will achieve something even
more important, for it will give that balance of judgment which is so
I have heard philosophy defined as the quest of man for Truth. A study
of the great philosophers of all ages (who each discovered part of the
truth, he himself thinking he had discovered all,) shows us that the
right outlook on life needs the points of view of all of them. Truth
must be followed along every line, with all the faculties which we
possess; and the sanity of the conclusions we reach will depend
proportionately on the numer of avenues leading up to the conclusions.
The P.N.E.U. training encourages the child to look at things from many
points of view; it will lead her to form her own opinions; and it gives
her the courage to express what is in her thoughts.
Miss Mason has taught us great things: we must continually get back to
the principles which she
carried out, and which she has laid down for our guidance; for if we
do, then the scheme of education which lay so near to her heart will
indeed prove to be an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.
The words of Alfred Noyes come back to me. For, Michael Oaktree we can
read the name of our Founder,
"One whose love
Had never waned through all her eighty years.
Her faith was hardly faith. She seemed a part
Of all that she believed in. She had lived
In constant conversation with the sun,
The wind, the silence, and the heart of peace;
In absolute communion with the Power
That rules all action and all tides of thought,
And all the secret courses of the stars;
The power that still establishes on earth
Desire and worship, through the radiant laws
Of duty, love and beauty; for through these,
As through three portals of the self-same gate,
The soul of man attains infinity,
And enters into Godhead."
Miss Mason's portrait is before us: her spirit still is with us. We
feel diffident, maybe; we realize our imperfections;
and still more often hear, bitter complaints of the ignorance and folly
of popular leaders, and of the credulity of those who follow them. The
critics wonder what will become of industry, society, learning, art,
religion. They shudder and predict ruin for a later generation, and
hope that they themselves may just escape the day. But it is futile to
sit and wring our hands and play Cassandra, prophesying nothing but
disaster. If things are going wrong, whose fault is it? Why, surely
ours. No man or woman was ever yet a fool or ignorant by intention.
Folly and ignorance are a consequence of lack of opportunity. It is for
us to find the remedy. And there is only one. It is to educate. "Oh,
but," replies the critic, "you have been doing that now for three or
four generations at enormous cost, and look at the result. Those whom
you teach to read do not read: those whom you train to think do not
think." Ladies and gentlemen, but until lately we have not shown them
how to read books, nor have we put books, real books, within their
reach whether in school or out of it. And assuredly under such
conditions we shall never train anyone to think. Until a bare 20 years
ago we spent ridiculously little on our public education, and yet even
that little has borne fruit a hundredfold. It gave us a people who
could win the war, if it has not yet shaped them for the more difficult
life of Peace.
The great fault of our public education has been that it was conceived
and administered on mean penurious lines. Many have never really
believed in it. To this day there still are many sceptics. I do not
suppose they would go the length of saying that the nation would fare
better if its workers were uneducated, but they certainly would say
that the best education for them is something very simple and above all
very cheap. And then, forsooth, they complain of their ignorance,
credulity, and folly. How should folk so educated know any better?
A hundred years ago even those who meant well did not understand the
people's need, or the pathetic futility of an education that begins and
ends in the crude elements of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Put
some poor graded
'reader' in the boy's hands. Can he get through half a
dozen lines? If he can, it is well. Let him go. The State has done its
duty, though he never reads again. That, for 60 or 70 years, was all
that officially we aimed at doing.
And the teaching service--what was the philanthropist's ideal for that?
Listen. I quote. "Under the monitorial system of Bell and Lancaster
(they, remember, were philanthropists) schools containing as many as a
thousand pupils might be taught at a cost of 5s. per head per annum by
monitors who possessed the 'advantage' (as Bell considered it) of
knowing which was beyond their pupils' comprehension." (The Teaching of
English in England, 41, 42). Five shillings per head for teachers,
books, stationery, furniture, apparatus, heating, lighting, cleaning,
and all extras! There was not much, be sure, for books. And that lack
of books has inspired--no, I must not so degrade the word--has fatally
obsessed the whole of the theory and practice of our public education.
The philosophers who shaped the theory which underlay the methods
accepted the impossible situation. There were no books. So be it.
Primary education was a peculiar kind of education (one has never heard
of any other) into which books did not enter. That postulate once
granted, the rest follows. You had to shape a teacher who could teach
without books. He must be a good talker. He must be able to impart
information and elicit answers; pour in and pump out. Truly an
empirical philosophy, designed strictly to fit what was, and not what
should have been. So your Herbartian doctrine (I quote from the preface
to Home Education) "lays the stress of education--the preparation of
knowledge in enticing morsels, presented in due order--upon the
And for the teacher, of course, training was far more important than
education. That he had had a liberal education, and was a graduate in
honours of an ancient university, would not admit him to the elementary
school. He must be equipped with a hundred tricks of method that would
enable him, without books, to keep children quiet and make them work.
He must talk and question well,
and use the blackboard ably. He must be able to hold attention; to make
a large class move as one individual; to push all through a ridiculous
and soul-destroying examination on the result of which his meagre pay
depended. He must be a disciplinarian, with an air of command, and a
strong right arm.
No wonder that graduates were warned off the primary school. As
teaching there was largely a matter of tricks it was the Certificate of
the Board of Education that was the essential qualification. A degree
would not serve. And this ridiculous anomaly still survives. It has
become so much a matter of course that no one thinks to laugh. If they
would, laughter might perhaps end it.
But until Miss Mason taught us how to do it nobody ever dreamed of
giving a liberal education--the first stage of a liberal education--to
the workers' children in the elementary school, of giving them just the
same education in the same way, and out of the same books, that we give
our own children. It is indeed high time that we did so. Matthew Arnold
justly said that "culture unites classes." But we have never given it
play. Culture has been reserved for the children of the well-to-do.
The children of the workers have had no access to it, save the tiny
percentage who mount the narrow ladder, and are lost for ever to their
class. Because the workers in the days of their youth knew nothing of
humane studies, many among them regard those studies with suspicion.
They think that they provide an intellectual buttress for a social
system ordered in favour of the well-to-do. They suspect the great
books of antiquity, as they suspect history in general, of a bias in
favour of a social and economic system which--or the present
consequences of which--they detest. A liberal education for all is the
crying need of the times. Never was it so necessary as it is now. The
children who leave our elementary schools and pass into industry at the
early age of fourteen will control the destiny of the country. The
questions which it will fall to them to decide are questions of a
complexity unknown to earlier generations, and upon the decision hang
tremendous consequences. A wrong decision over Catholic Emancipation
Irish Disestablishment over Home Rule or Licensing Reform, did not
involve as a consequence the collapse of credit, the ruin of industry,
the death of millions, the disappearance of all the amenities and most
of the machinery of civilised life. But all of those grim consequences
may follow upon hasty and ill-judged decisions of the electorate
to-day. And how shall people hope to form sound judgments upon the
questions before them if they ignore history, and, with a gesture,
sweep away the accumulated experience of mankind as worthless?
Herbart and his fellows shaped their philosophy of education to meet
the conditions of the bookless school. They supplied a sanction for the
procedure which the facts had forced upon the Training College.
Although there are very many more books to-day than there used to be,
they are still too often cheap 'readers' so constructed as to demand no
real effort of the child. The outlook and the methods of the Training
College are much more liberal than they were, but the old idea that the
child cannot work without the constant intervention of the teacher
still underlies the system. The teacher must still talk endlessly.
Inspectors, as he knows, will require it of him, and will judge him by
his capacity to do so. Method is still all important. We start with the
axiom, as Miss Mason says, that "what a child learns matters less than
how he learns it," with the result that he is "in danger of receiving
much teaching with little knowledge." The child who has once tasted
freedom knows the difference. I was talking a few weeks ago to the
teacher-father of a little boy of 11, who had recently passed from an
elementary school, taught under Miss Mason's methods, to a Secondary
School. We were discussing the teaching of history. "My boy," said the
father, "frets at the change. He says the master talks all the time,
and will not let him get on." There you have it. Yet the master is a
clever young man and an enthusiastic teacher who loves his subject. The
Inspectors are full of his praise. He lectures very ably; but the
lecture method is an utterly wrong method for young pupils, and a boy
who has been accustomed to do his own work on the books is bored and
irritated. He wants to get on.
Miss Mason s philosophy of education began at the opposite pole to that
of her predecessors. She would not shape her theory to meet intolerable
conditions. She went back to first principles. A bookless education was
a contradiction in terms, and she would have none of it. If there were
no books, no good books, to be had, in the elementary school, she could
not help either school or teacher. That is why it was so long before
she found her way there. It seem so impossible to get the books. Then
came that brave Drighlington experiment, for which we can never be too
grateful to Mrs. Steinthal and Miss. Ambler. The children had their
opportunity, and they rose to it, as Miss. Mason knew they would. Since
then a hundred schools have shewn that in the Worker s child, even in
the child of the slums, are latent the powers and the tastes of our own
children. There is no need of other and simpler books for them. They
will understand any book suitable to their age. There is no need for
endless talk, for endless talk questioning, for and irritating childish
explanation of the obvious. They all stop the child from getting on
with his work. "Given a book of literary quality suitable to their age,
and children will know how to deal with it without elucidation." And
what was suitable was to be by no means easy, for Miss Mason asked much
of them. It was her way. The books are hard. But the more she asked,
the more the children gave. And,though they never saw her, there were
thousands who loved her, because she understood them and knew what they
wanted. She had treated them as persons. She respected them.They were
in some way conscious of her high and gentle courtesy. Their outraged
pride was soothed. They were her children, equal members of her world-
wide school. The badge of inferiority had gone.
Their ability amazed their teachers, who had been brought up to think
that as a class they were of inferior mentality; that they could do
nothing without help, and would do nothing without something like
compulsion. They were not prepared--we were none of us prepared--for
Miss. Mason s epoch-making discovery, the "great avidity for
knowledge in children of all ages and of every class for knowledge
which is presented to them in more or less literary form. The children
who were troublesome in our schools were simply not interested. And,
after all, who are we that we should hold their interest, day in day
out, through every lesson? Even if we were so completely masters of all
subjects, and much adepts in the lecture method, that we could hold
their interest, how would it better the children? They would have made
no effort; they would have done nothing for themselves. That way they
receive much teaching with little knowledge. If they read for
themselves without interruption, interests is great. If they read but
once, and then must narrate, concentration is intense. You can see the
children thinking. And what is read once and then narrated becomes a
part of the child s knowledge, and is usable thenceforth. So treated
the children make astounding progress. We have resorted to the play way
quite unnecessarily, and made things easy far too long. The children
rejoice in the hard work if you will let them do it. When a child of
seven will take up "The Children of the New Forest," or Hans Andersen
and read them at sight, as many of our children will (though it is a
thing that you would not have dared to ask your top standard to do
thirty years ago) what is the need of childish "readers" carefully
arranged and written down to a level that does not exist unless by
artificial means you make it. The children of 9 and 10 in many of our
elementary schools now read and love Shakespeare and Scott (the plays
and books of course are so chosen so as to illustrate the period of
history under study); they love Plutarch and the tales of Greece and
Rome; the great names of classical antiquity both in myth and history
are familiar to them. Are we not justified in saying that these
children, when they are grown men and women, will love books, real
books of worth, and will know how to use them? And we in
Gloucestershire,at any rate, are happy in the knowledge that they will
have access to such books, thanks to the far-sighted beneficence of the
Carnegie Trustees. Charlotte Mason and Andrew Carnegie will be blessed
as pious founders by after generations in many a country village.
But I talk too much and too often of Gloucestershire. I will leave my
county for once and speak of a school that I have never seen.
In one of the last letters that Miss Mason wrote to me (it is undated
but the enclosure which she forwarded bears date the 29th of last
November) she sent for me to read a letter that she had received from
the Head Master of a Boys' School in Middlesbrough. "I send you," she
said, "a drop of cold water to taste and pass on. Those slum schools
are miracles of grace are they not? They confirm us and cheer us in our
work. The right note is struck I think."
This is the first opportunity that I have had to obey her, and pass on
the refreshing draught. You shall judge whether the right note was
"We are approaching the conclusion," says the writer, "of our third
term's attempt to carry out P.N.E.U. methods, and whilst I know you
already have some measure of the effect of these methods in Elementary
Schools, I think further testimony will be of interest.
This is a slum school, 200 yards from the river and docks, surrounded
by the lowest type of brothel, "doss" house, drinking bars, and
farthest removed of any school in Middlesbrough from green fields and
Most of the children are unshod, ill-clad, under-fed, and live in
overcrowded rooms--very often unfurnished--without conveniences for the
ordinary decencies of life. There is an entire lack of
discipline--mental, moral, physical--in the homes and surroundings.
In the schools there is much repression and excessive corporal
punishment (I often wonder if you realise the tawdry soulless sham that
passes for education in many urban schools) and this school was no
The day I took charge (2nd May, 1921) there was an uproar in the
street. A boy had been severly punished; another had slipped out of
school, and roused the neighbourhood. A semi-drunken slut rushed into
the school "to twist the ---- teacher's ---- neck."
Daily squabbles with parents about punishments were taken by the staff
as a matter of course.
Now teacher and scholar are bright and eager in their work.
Irregularity and unpunctuality are reduced to a minimum and there is no
corporal punishment. The work to the scholar is becoming a much more
important thing than the teacher is. And there you have what is to me
one of the most important features of the P.N.E.U. methods. They compel
the teacher to study the child, in setting this study 'all other graces
follow in their proper places'. "
But I must go back to Gloucestershire. I cannot keep away, and I do not
think that you really wish me to. Let me read what a little child of 6
years and 8 months old wrote a few weeks ago about "The Laurel Tree"
after hearing Bulfinch read.
THE LAUREL TREE.
December 1st, 1922
Apollo the great god of the rays of the sun was one day walking in the
valley and as he was walking along its banks he saw Cupid the little
god of love sitting on bank playing with his arrows and some of his
arrows had points of gold and some of lead but they were all very small
and to Apolo only looked like pretty playthings and Apolo said of what
use are those little arrows with mine I have just killed this big
Serpent which lived in the caves at the bottom of the mountain. Cupid
did not like to hear his arrow made fun of so he left Apollo and flew
away with them to the top of the mountain of Greece now just at this
time the beautiful little girl of the river-god came walking through
the valley it was the spot she loved best on earth even the flowers
which grew there seem to now her and lift up there heads as she passed
by she would clime mountain every morning to see the sun-god goldn
chiorareot rise and ride across the sky and would watch it sink to rest
in the evning now just at this time little Cupid on the mountain above
saw her coming and in a Play-ful mood shot a golden arow straight at
her and in some way or other is made her afraid and she felt she must
run away it was Cupids turn now so taking aim he shot golden arrow at
Apolo and wounded him now just at thies time Apolo saw the little girl
running as fast as she could through the valley Apolo was charmed with
her beauty and called to her to stop as she would not Apolo ran quickly
after her she ran on and on till she felt too weary to go any farther
she lay down and called to her father the river-god to help her the
flowing stream at once passed over her and when Apollo came up to the
place where he last saw here there was only a beautiful laurel tree
with glossy green leaves Apollo always loved that tree it was all that
left to him of Daphne for that was her name he wore its leaves as a
crown and they were ever green so was his love for lost Daphne ever
fresh and bright.
This child remembered the above story absolutely from memory without
the slightest help of the teacher to assist in spelling a word,---S.M.B.
And I have in mind a little country school of something under 50
children, with two teachers. For some years it had been on the border
of inefficiency. There had been one incompetent teacher after another.
The children could do nothing. In May 1921, the present master went
there. He had been in one of our Parents' Union Schools before, as an
Assistant, and he introduced the programmes and the methods. In a
single year he had worked a revolution, in the village as well as in
the school. All had become allies and educationists.
Last November he sent me the exercise books of two boys, "When I came
here," he said, "I found that both boys were real bad characters, and
they were under police supervision. A.B. (age 11) is the eldest of five
children whose mother went to the Lunatic Asylum just before I came,
and he has a wretched father. M.N. is one of a family of seven. His
mother is in the Workhouse, and his sister 15 years old keeps the house
going. Both fathers are farm hands."
I will read you two passages from A.B.'s book. I do not say they are
wonderful; but remember the boy's history: they are wonderful for him.
The first is an extract from a piece of composition written after a
single reading from 'Hereward the Wake,' the second the closing
paragraph of an original essay. Both were written last July within 15
months of that master going there.
"One day as Hereward was slowly driving his steed on a lonely road he
heard sounds of pattering feet coming behind him. He looked, and as he
came nearer he recognised him, it was Martin Lightfoot. He soon caught
up Hereward. 'What are you here for?' asked Hereward. 'Because I am
going to follow you,' said Martin. 'Follow me? What can I do for thee?'
said Hereward. 'I can do something for you. I can read and write, speak
French, Irish, and Danish and I will tell you all my secrets,' said
Martin. 'I ran away
from the Monastery. So did you. I hated the Monks. So did you. And now
I am with you I will live and die with thee,' said Martin."
The second passage closes a delightful essay of six pages on "Sunshine
on Gloomy Days."
"Tomorrow, Thursday, we shall be delighted and happy as anyone, for our
mothers are coming to see the work that we do and the joy and happiness
we get out of it. This is what the P.N.E.U. does for children who love
So these children actually enjoy their work. Yet many educationists are
still convinced that education must be an exacting and even repellent
discipline, must be something so difficult and distasteful that the
normal child will avoid it or escape from it whenever it can. That
supposed necessity plays a large part in the argument for compulsory
Latin; and, beyond question, it is largely responsible for our utter
failure to train the intellect or cultivate the taste of so many of the
boys who learn Latin at our Public Schools.
"Our English children," said the writer of "The English Secret," a
brilliant article in the Literary Supplement of The Times some months ago--"Our
English children are not consumed with anxiety to learn anything; least
of all has it ever crossed their minds that they must learn English."
Well, poor souls, in many of our Preparatory and Public Schools they
are hardly permitted to see English: that they might learn it has never
been allowed to cross their minds. And when the writer says that our
English children are not consumed with anxiety to learn anything, he is
surely a witness, an unconscious witness, to the failure of the
orthodox curriculum and methods. Of course they are not consumed with
anxiety to learn, just because they may not learn English, and get
knowledge, for which they are naturally eager, through the use of books
that are literature; just because they must learn what they can neither
use nor understand.
Let him go to one of the schools that are following Miss Mason's
programmes, and see whether our English children are not consumed with
anxiety to learn. Even Public
School boys can delight in learning. Not many months ago I was told, in
a house where I was staying, of two boys who had come home there from
school--after illness during term time--normal boys with normal
schoolboy tastes. They had found their sisters, under an Ambleside
teacher, using books the style and matter of which appealed to them,
and voluntarily and without shadow of suggestion they joined their
classes during the idle weeks. They had found a place where they could
learn English, and through English many things that they wanted to know.
And it is interesting to note that in that village, as in a good many
other villages in Glouchestershire, the labourer's child is using the
same books, following the same programmers, as the squire's and the
parson's. There is the first promise of a common school, a common
culture, with its large fund of common interest. There is the "Liberal
Education for All" that will give us an intelligent and thinking people.
I am convinced that we set too much store by the teaching of Latin and
Greek. We make many boys learn Latin, who would be much better employed
in learning English. If the Elizabethans could have found in English
all and more than all that can be found in Latin and Greek, can we
believe that they, athirst like the Greeks themselves for knowledge and
experience, would have tried to make boys spend priceless hours in
learning the Latin that they would never use? Would they not have gone
straight by the nearest road, the English road, for the thing they
If a boy after his hard struggle with the language drops it before he
has mastered it sufficiently to be able to read widely and with ease,
what has he for his pains? He does not--eight out of ten do not--enjoy
anything he reads. The constant effort to make sense kills interest.
The beauties of Virgil are beyond him. He reads so little, and finds it
so hard to read, that he seldom gets the story. He retains nothing. He
would have gained much more from a good translation in a fraction of
the time. And in another fraction of time, what might he not have
learned through English? The true reward of time and labour spent upon
classics--the power to read with ease and with a full
understanding--for surely that is the only adequate reward--can hardly
be achieved by any but those who take an Honours course at the
University. For the rest, time and labour have been largely wasted.
"Intellectual discipline" there may have been, and "real mental effort"
(The Classics in Education, p.119), but the boys have never caught the
Spirit of the Classics or drawn its real lesson from the tale of Greece
and Rome. The beauty, the wisdom, the rich experience are unheeded.
Voiced in English they would have made an irresistible appeal. Then
all, and not a small section of a select class, would be able to enjoy
them and to get some understanding of what the ancient world stood for,
and the lessons which it has to teach. Culture, remember, unites
classes. But the children of Workers have never come in contact with
culture, never tasted the humanities, except in those few elementary
schools which Miss Mason has influenced. That is why Labour so often
says that it has no time for culture. It must have time for culture,
and it can only get it by beginning young. If we deny it the
opportunity, and culture, in consequence, is pushed aside as
unimportant, civilisation will be eclipsed once more and we shall go
down together into a dark age of barbarism and stark poverty, with its
Without culture Labour will never attain to a sympathetic imagination,
or learn how human nature works. And without imagination it is
impossible to handle wisely foreign and imperial affairs. He, for
example, who would govern India must understand her; and he who would
understand India must be able to think himself into another world of
associations and ideas, far away from twentieth century Glasgow or
Manchester, or Birmingham and the men and institutions and ways of
thought with which he is familiar there. The stunted education which in
our folly we offer to the children of the Workers, the common
text-books, and the vain lecturing of half-educated teachers, will
never wing them for such flights. Without imagination it is not
possible so much as to begin the search for truth. Each man is sure
that he has it here and now. Humility, a
consciousness of ignorance, must precede enlightenment. Sympathetic
imagination, the capacity to understand people and ideas hitherto
unfamiliar to us, are a part of the legacy of Greece, in which all men
may have their share through the medium of a common education in the
mother tongue--that liberal education for all which Charlotte Mason
would have us give. What a solvent of class differences, of suspicions,
antipathies, and misunderstandings, such an education would prove
itself! How inevitably they are perpetuated by the class education of
The Lady Cottesloe in introducing the next speaker said,--
"I want to say quite frankly and simply that I do not know what I
should have done without the Parents' Union and the Parents' Union
School. Please forgive me if what I say is partly personal.
I married young, knowing almost nothing about either the training and
education or the physical care of children. Shortly after my marriage,
a friend told me of Miss Mason and the Union and of that wonderful book
"Home Education." I can never estimate all that this has meant to me
and to my eight children.
I can only for ever thank God for the inspiration He has given through
Miss Mason, through her books, through her Training College at
Ambleside, and through the Parents' Union School.
These, in our family, have been our mainstay and probably our greatest
educational blessing through these twenty-six years. It will be twenty
years this autumn since my eldest son joined the Parents' Union School
with an Ambleside governess. I have had seven children in it, at times
with Ambleside teachers, at other times with other teachers. My
youngest child is not yet old enough to join. One girl was in it from
Form 1 to Form VI for about eleven years, and is now preparing for
I thank God for the Training College. I have in more than one instance
found in its teachers, women inspired by the Spirit of God to be such
wonderful helpers as I could hardly have dared to hope for. But though
it is undoubtedly an incalculable gain to have teachers who have been
trained at Ambleside, yet it is infinitely worth while to have our
children in the Parents' Union School even with other teachers. One
should, however, always bear in mind that perhaps no others, or very
few others, can reveal to us the full
beauty of the Parents' Union School and that it is unfair to criticise
it, if the working of it is in amateur hands.
In this connection I would say that when the Headmaster of Westminster
was speaking yesterday of the difficulty of getting such methods put
widely into practice in our public schools, I was impressed with the
need of a Men's Training College on the same lines as the Women's
Training College at Ambleside. How infinite--how incalculably
far-reaching--might be its influence for good in our schools and for
As to results, I find the Parents' Union School gives keenness,
intelligence, and wide interests; that it gives an abiding interest in
nature and that it gives useful and capable hands. I have found that
when the children have gone on to school they have done well, and that
their powers of expression are markedly good. This shews itself among
them both in the writing of verse and of prose as well as in good
letter-writing, and in other ways. This I attribute largely to the good
and well-chosen literature, to the constant narrating, and to the
dictation by the younger ones of examination answers. It is of course
an inestimable gain in the home schoolroom to have well chosen books
and a definite standard and programme of work. Self-understanding and
self-management are also greatly helped--a very vital matter! For
example, if such phases as the unbalanced kind of hero-worship arise, a
well trained Parents' Union School boy or girl should recognise them
and be able wisely and sanely to deal with them, in himself or herself.
Above all, sane and vital spiritual life may, by God's
grace, be fostered and nourished in the Parents' Union School.
One matter I should like to take this opportunity to emphasise with all
possible force. I said that I married young knowing nothing of the care
and training of children. I deeply desire to see more done to prevent
this situation arising in the present generation. I fear something
approaching it is still lamentably common. I should like to see more
done in Forms V and VI to prepare girls for the future care of
children. I had correspondence with Miss Mason about this, and an
admirable beginning was made when "Home Education" became on the of the
books for study in Form VI. [I learn that "Home
Education" is not at present on the P.U.S. programme. I would urge
mothers and teachers to study it with their girls as an invaluable bit
of preparation for life.] I should like to see this preparation
for the future carried further,--i.e.,
preparation for the training and education of children--spiritual,
mental and physical. Truby King's "Feeding and Care of the Baby," could
be studied on the physical side. This is an excellent and in some ways
a unique book and the writer has done a wonderful work for the little
ones of the empire. I commend it as invaluable. A simpler one, on the
same lines, will, I hope, be published this year.
I know only a beginning could be made in school days, but it might help
to avert for others the bitterness with which one looks back to
irreparable mistakes due to a tragic ignorance. Undoubtedly a good
Mothercraft training should be considered as an essential part of a
girl's education but I fear that, although so vital, this is still far
from being universally recognised.
Let me say again that my heart is full of thankfulness to God for all
He has given to us and to our children and to humanity in her whose
memory we venerate to-day, in the many who, through her, have been
called to, and fitted for, their high calling, and in the many-sided
and glorious work which He inspired through her. She has handed on to
us the torch, and that nothing may hinder the eager, straight running
of the race to the goal, may the Spirit of Love and Truth and Courage
Who possessed her, possess us too.
By E. A. PARISH. [Principal
of the House of Education.]
When an ex-student of the House of Education hears the words "Scale
How" she is reminded of many things; she sees again a long and
beautiful drive approaching a finely situated and beautiful house with
doors and windows open to the sun, surrounded by a garden which, except
in mid-winter, is a blaze of colour and a veritable paradise for birds
and students, flooded with sound, happy sound, made of birds' songs,
the laughter of happy people and the voices of children passing to and
from their work in the Practising School. Then, till now, the student
has known that in the house was the sweet presence of Miss Mason,
radiating love to her bairns, making all work joyous work, proving to
each that she was capable of more than she had ever supposed possible.
We try to think that the happy spirit of Miss Mason will always be in
"Scale How" and we must feel that it is the work of every ex-student to
keep her memory fresh and to give to every future student such a
knowledge of our Founder as will give something of the inspiration that
used to flow from her.
"Scale How" is the local name of the House of Education which Miss
Mason founded in 1892 as a Secondary Training College where women are
trained for teaching in private families, in schools and classes or for
any other guardianship of children to which they may be called. The way
in which Miss Mason started the college was the way in which she did
everything:--she did not wait for funds; she knew the thing had to be
done so she did it.
At first she lived in rooms, having only 4 students, the training then
took one year, the following year saw 18 students already housed in
Springfield, a gabled house on the Rydal Road, with sitting rooms
commanding a beautiful view of the surrounding hills, so beautiful
"that it was an education in itself." Work was carried on in the
Y.M.C.A. Institute, the Practising School occupying its main hall.
The curriculum was very much the same as it is at
present though as Miss Mason gathered experience she concentrated more
upon her own educational principles. By 1893 there were 24 students at
work, Miss Mason having secured a strong staff of helpers, and this
necessitated two more boarding houses and in 1895 Miss Mason was able
to move to "Scale How."
One of the outstanding features of Miss Mason's teaching is its
consistency. In no part of her written work, written during a period
which covered more than 60 years, do we find any conflicting principle,
the early writing contains the germ of the later, the later is entirely
faithful to the early work, but what is more wonderful is the way in
which she carried out her principles in her life. For the life of Scale
How was her life, the life the students lived with her was, so far as
they could rise to it, her life.
Miss Mason regarded education not as a separate compartment, but as
being as much a part of life as birth or growth, marriage or work; and
she considered that it must leave the pupil attached to the world at
many points of contact. And so it followed that many young women who
went to the House of Education to learn the art of teaching, found that
as well, they were learning the art of living, and of living fully by
means of the relationships they formed.
One of Miss Mason's principles is that method rather than system should
be our way to our end, accordingly there was a great elasticity about
the conduct of the college, and all the fortunes and misfortunes of
daily life were woven in as so many opportunities.
Perhaps this principle was specially evident during Criticism lessons
on Thursday mornings when Miss Mason would criticize a student for
doing what was, apparently, precisely the thing another student has
been criticized for not doing the previous Thursday, thus reducing us
to despair. For what were we to do? And when we asked for the precise
recipe we were told to "mix it with brains." Every lesson needs a
special giving and the method is based upon broad principles which
leave the teacher all the exercise of her own ingenuity.
Another of Miss Mason's principles is that children are
law-abiding and we find as we follow her teaching that she never at any
time had one law for a child and another for an adult, so, though she
treated the students as children and the children in the practicing
school as students, from none of them would she exact implicit and
unthinking obedience because from all alike she expected and obtained
temperate conduct and self control. This she obtained in the college by
what the students themselves describe as the life of a "self-controlled
community." It is the work of the Senior Monitress to see that life in
the college goes on in such a way that the atmosphere is peaceful,
though at times it may be called a little too merry, but, as one of the
has said "All are bound together by the fact that they are all working
for one great cause." Every student has her own work to do and, in
addition, her monitress duties, which when combined, help the college
to run smoothly. One learns the place of authority at the school by
teaching the children and at college by obeying the very few rules of
the house and by giving entire obedience to the staff and to those
students who, in carrying out their monitress duties, have authority
over other students.
Last week I thought well to consult with the present students on the
various ways in which Miss Mason lived out her principles and taught
her household to live out her principles at Scale How. I cannot, as I
should wish, offer tribute to them by name, but most of what I say here
comes from one or other of them.
Miss Mason considered that Education was the Science of Relations and
of these relations those which mattered most were our human relations.
This is how a student puts it.
"There is a distinct atmosphere about Scale How which I think every
student feels when she first arrives. It is an atmosphere of
friendliness and understanding such as is not often felt in a school or
"When we come to Scale How we are not instructed more carefully in any
one subject than in any others. It may be that we do not become
particularly proficient in any
one of these subjects, there is no time for that, but there is time to
awaken our interest in them, and it is awakened. We gain 'common
information' which helps us to establish our relations with the world
and with each other."
"Here we live the life of a community, practising obedience and
consideration for others. When so many people live in so limited a
space they are naturally interested in each other. We feel ourselves to
be all one family and one spirit. Not only in this way do we form human
relationships but also by the help of the books we read, the languages
we learn and the art in which we become interested."
"We do not lack moral teaching. We learn the meaning of our duty
towards our neighbour, we know that we owe it to the future to prepare
a generation better than ourselves. All the time we are learning to
know ourselves and this knowledge is important because it helps us to
form relations with ourselves and without these we cannot hope to form
proper relations with other people. We are taught to understand the
power of habit. We are fitted for citizenship by being to a large
degree, a self-governed community. We are encouraged by narration to
exercise our powers of speaking. We are taught that duty is not
If we are to rise to the responsibilities of our human relationships we
must be persons who are living a full rich life. We cannot have this
joy for ourselves and we cannot pass on this joy to our pupils unless
we are in touch at all points with the world in which we live, with the
past and all that is implied in "the inheritance of the ages" and, in
so far as we are concerned with shaping it, with the future. How in the
short span of two years which pass so rapidly, are we to accomplish
"The new student" says one of them, "is at first amazed to find how
little we specialize, perhaps she does not wish to teach mathematics
and does not see why she should study them; perhaps she loves history
and considers that the study of history alone is a life-work. She does
not yet understand that all subjects are so interwoven that one cannot
fully be studied and understood apart from the rest and that is why so
many subjects are taught at Scale How."
A glance at the College prospectus will impress most people with the
work that is to be done during the two years course. Ethics and the
philosophy, history, methods and principles of education. Practical
Education in the Pratising School, Languages, Greek, Latin, French,
German and Italian, Mathematics, Nature Lore, Physiology, Hygiene,
English, Physical Exercises, Handicrafts, Art, Music and Singing.
Then there are "Scale How evenings," one of the special institutions of
the college which have long been in practice and at which one of the
students reads a paper dealing with an author, composer, painter, or
sometimes with a place--the subject is chosen by the student and is
usually the one which interests her most. One will take a visit to Rio,
another will give the history of Punch, a third will give an account of
Alpine climbing and so on; very often the life of a poet or novelist is
taken and on all occasions extracts from the work, or bearing on the
subject, are read by various students.
Miss Mason considered leisure to be as important as work, for it is
during leisure that ideas are sifted and grow; moreover "leisure out of
doors, with all the wild things of Nature, is soothing and restful to
the tired mind; it gives a time when ideas can grow." Accordingly
leisure is an important part of the students' life at Scale How; half
holidays, Sundays, the last half hour before bedtime, the half-hour
after the mid-day meal, all these are times when actual work would be
out of place. New and energetic students find it difficult to
understand that temperance in work is as great a thing as temperance in
Dynamic relations, so important to the well balanced healthy person,
have their place in the life of Scale How. Not a day passes without
opportunities for Physical exercises and "what is more" says a student,
"we are bound to make use of them and we learn to dance, climb, play
hockey and, above all, walk."
In beautiful lakeland, walks are one of the greatest delights, they
furnish opportunities for the scientific work that is done at Scale
How, which, being in the heart of the
Lake District, provides excellent opportunities for studying Geology,
Botany, Natural History, Physical Geography and Historical and Literary
associations. Time and opportunity are given to explore and to become
acquainted with the district and help is also given in answering the
problems arising from the walks by the indoor study of Natural History,
Geography, Geology and Astronomy.
A student writes "I think if anyone asked me what I liked best about
Scale How I should say the fact that all of us love birds and
butterflies, insects, and flowers and
that our museum is a "perfect disgrace"--we have not a single stuffed
bird or snake, no lovely collections of butterflies and insects, no
pressed flowers or birds' nests or eggs, only a few rocks, minerals,
and fossels. For the rest we spend the afternoons with, and not
hunting, catching and collecting birds, beasts, and flowers. I
have almost, but not quite, given up wanting to see the inside of a
buzzard and to compare his anatomical structure with that of a Kestrel.
Why do they fly so differently? If you can only find the answer by
hunting the Buzzard--then, go without the answer."
It must not be thought that Miss Mason as an invalid was unable to
share these interests; she dined everyday with her students and
compared her nature notes with theirs. You will know what her notes
were like, through the beautiful article contributed to the March
Parents' Review by her faithful friend and coachman, Barrow.
Students quickly come to see the truth of Miss Mason's principle that
relations with birds and animals are better formed with free creatures
than with those in captivity.
"There are no pets at Scale How and the garden is safe for all birds
and for many squirrels; rabbits, bats, dogs, cats, horses, cows and
sheep are amongst the animals studied on close terms, whilst a great
deal is learned about their habits and lives in the lectures on Natural
History and Biology."
Handicrafts form an important part of the training of the students, who
have every opportunity given to them of using their minds and hands "to
make all kinds of things
and to realize the joy of creating original
models in a large number of materials."
In considering the training which Miss Mason thought out of her
students, one is reminded of her great insistence on willing effort.
All work must be one's own work. Self education is the only education.
But willing work can only come from the ideal, the vision, and this
vision of the new era that must dawn when every English child comes
into his birth-right of wisdom and knowledge, is approached step by
step, and that happens to the student which happened long ago to Dante
when he found that the higher he climbed on the mountain the easier
became his ascent.
When the new student arrives at Scale How she is asked to do and learn
many things which she is sure she knew long before and which she firmly
believes she is wasting her time in repeating. It is useless to tell
her that she must bathe in the waters of Jordan, all one can do is to
engage her patience and tolerance till she see that her Seniors who
have begun their second year at the college, have discovered that they
are the oarsmen of a great boat and the oarsmen who neglects his work
will impede the progress of the boat. Wth varying degrees of speed each
student becomes interested in the progress of the boat, then she sees
that its cargo is composed of the Gold of the Indies and after that,
rather than lose the chance of holding an oar, she will do the smallest
thing counting of holding an oar, she will do t he smallest thing
counting it an honour to press forward the work of so great a Teacher.
A student writes "Part at any rate of our great love for Scale How is
due to the fact that it has helped to make life so much fuller for us.
It is incredible how fast two whole years can fly--years in which
relations and living interests are established in every direction,
interests undreamt of before we came. We seem to have come there so
ignorant and to have learnt so much, and yet the little we have learnt
can in no way compare either in amount or importance with the desire we
have gained to learn more. These new interests are going to help us all
through life. But they are ours only that we may share them, which is
half the joy of interests. Now our chief source of wonder is "How did
on before without them?" Why did we allow the trees and the birds and
flowers to mean so little to us? We grieve over lost opportunities and
determine that in future we will lose no more."
THE P.N.E.U. FROM A
PREPARATORY SCHOOL STANDPOINT.
By J. W. Clouston, M.A.
[Headmaster of Statton
Park School, Nr. Bletchley.]
I have been asked to tell you how the P.N.E.U. affects a Preparatory
School--and though as a speaker, I cannot do justice to the subject, I
can tell you that my opinions formed after seeing Miss Mason's methods
in my own school for the last twelve years.
We all recognise the far reaching effects of Miss Mason's methods, but
I think one of the greatest gains is before boys come to a Preparatory
Now boys come to a Preparatory School so young that many parents think
it is up to the School to accept full responsibility for a boy until he
goes to his Public School. This, I fear, is one of these superficial
truths, which do not always bear examination.
In a well regulated nursery even infants are taught many habits for
their future welfare--and no child is too young, for instance, not to
be taught that he cannot always have what he wants, or that someone
will pick him up and nurse him if he cries sufficiently strenuously. I
did not refer, however, to these early lessons, which every mother
should rejoice in imparting; but rather to these years before a child
is old enough for school--or indeed for any instruction--as we term it.
Miss Mason's great point is that children really are human beings and
should be treated as such. When a child cannot read--his only method of
acquiring information is by questions. Is it treating him reasonably to
refuse to answer these questions--or to delegate one's authority to a
nurse, who in any case is not capable of answering many of
questions--but who generally is too busy and advises--rather
strongly--that the thirster after knowledge should occupy himself with
his bricks and his toy engine. A parent myself, I can sympathise with
those who have to meet the avalanche of question which sometimes
threatens to overwhelm; but we must never lose sight of the fact that
these questions should be answered, for the most intelligent child
later is the one who was the most successful questioner of his parents
before he went to school. Any effort to repress a child discourages him
and makes him retire into his shell and develop a mental apathy, which,
later on, is hard to dispel. Observation--a golden acquisition,--and
one on which Miss Mason rightly lays particular stress, is acquired
easiest in pre-school days and parents cannot give their children too
much help and encouragement to observe and to keep on observing.
There is, believe me, a great difference in children who come from a
house where they are accustomed to see a great deal of their parents,
and hear and note the hundred and one little things, which grown-ups
had almost forgotten to impart. In the past boys were sent to a
preparatory school--who did not know a single nursery rhyme--in my
opinion an awful omission--nor
had they acquired any aptitude for learning one--they did not know the
names of the days of the week or the months of the year--indeed they
often could neither read nor write, as this had been left to
This--in very deed--meant preparing a boy for a Public School and it
is, thanks to Miss Mason, that such a state of affairs does not exist
to-day--or only in extreme cases. It is Miss Mason's life and work
which, very largely, has made the parents see the importance of their
early help and training and has forced them to realise that no one can
take their place or accept the responsibility which they should be only
too pleased to place on their own shoulders. It is here that Miss
Mason's ideals first affect not only any Preparatory School which
adopts a "Parents' Union" programme, but all Preparatory Schools, and
through them the Public Schools in an ever widening circle.
Secondly, Miss Mason has affected the Preparatory School by altering
the outlook and standpoint of the teacher;--to begin with she does not
assume that boys dislike work and it is therefore neccessary to
disguise it as play, or to give them coloured bricks instead of units.
At the risk of being thought heretical, I must confess I view with
great mistrust the modern tendency to remove all difficulties--a poor
training, surely, for a boy whose future life will consist of
overcoming difficulties. I am sorry to say that when a boy dislikes
work it is generally because the work is made so dull and uninteresting
that it would bore an angel; again, and this is the whole mainspring of
the question. Miss Mason insists that boys are human beings and must be
treated as such.
Failure in the past, complaints of inattention and laziness, can be
traced to the inability of teachers to see things as they are, and not
as they would wish to see them. Many teachers will not let the children
do the work, they want to do it for them by separating what they should
learn from what they should not learn, and by making them absorb this
residue, by notes, by explanations, by diagrams--in fact by any means
that the brains of man can devise--but always on the understanding that
the child should accept these particular scraps, which are thrown down
for his consumption. Quite unconsciously, I honestly think, the Master
so dominated the boy that the latter could not develop his own mind--he
merely tried to reproduce what he thought his teacher appreciated--not
what he wished to produce--or what he could have produced, had his mind
not been in subjection to another and a stronger. Speaking as an old
Science teacher I value any piece of original thought--any piece of
original work--however small, far more highly than if a boy repeated a
whole text book. But if the boys are to be fed on the boiled down bones
of the authors and the opinions of the Critics, or the Master in
charge--can we wonder at the result? Can we not search in vain for the
originality we have ourselves suppressed?
Anyone who has had to read or correct schoolboy essays will agree with
me--that one can foresee what 98% of the
candidates will write. Why? Simply because they write what they fondly
imagine appeals to the grown-up mind--it is not what they really
think--it is like "Dear Mother, I hope you are quite well"--a
Shibboleth without which no letter could be complete. This is all due
to the teacher; he must and will point out the moral of every story,
and draw for his hearers the lesson of every deed and life.
In the Townsend Warner History Prize the other year, the boys were
asked: "What King or Queeen, in your
opinion, did most harm to England and why?" and the examiners
were dissatisfied with all but 5% of the answers. Everything considered
it was not to be wondered at that the boys attacked only these
characters that their own history books attacked and in the same
way--poor King John not only had the misfortune to lose his kit, but to
earn the comtempt of generations of school boys. The few remaining
candidates--realising the value of the caution in your opinion decide to break a
lance, fairly successfully, with such redoubtable old warriors as Henry
V. and Coeur-de-Lion.
Miss Mason believes in a boy reading, as far as is possible, from the
text--and a full text--and not only forming his own opinions--but
acquiring a useful vocabulary at the same time. Many teachers say "What
is your opinion of Richard 1st"--but what they really mean is---"kindly
note my opinion of Richard
When I was at a Preparatory School I wrote Latin verse--or rather I
didn't--but I attended a class where I was supposed to, and though I
knew little or nothing about English verse---and much less about Latin
verse, I did my best to please the gentlemen in charge--more especially
as any striking originality in my verse or concords shortened the time
I could give that excellent institution--cricket. I still remember how
we used to sigh as we divided up the feet for a hexameter, and then
proceeded to push and pull the words till they went in somehow, like a
jig-saw puzzle. This was to produce in us a love and appreciation of
the classical authors--what it did produce was a certain amount of
low-down cunning and a dislike for the Classical Authors
that was only obliterated with the passage of time. English verse was
not there for us to appreciate--much less criticise--it was there for
us to learn, and like the "gallant 600" we did not reason why--we did
it. And to-day there is a gentleman who proposes that Euclid should be
printed in the original Greek so that the boys can learn Euclid and
Greek at the same time, but to my way of thinking to learn neither
Euclid nor Greek after very much time. Miss Mason always pleaded the
cause of boys being given an opportunity of writing verse--and I
heartily support it. Some will say, "But can they write verses?" I
would reply: they certainly cannot if they never try and what is more
they won't do it later in life if they have no early opportunity and
training. I have known boys at my own school produce astonishing
efforts for youngsters and what is far more important, these same boys
have continued writing at a Public School and University and have
produced very excellent verse. Under Miss Mason's ideals boys have very
good verse supplied for their study and appreciation, and what is more
natural than that they should sometimes wish to imitate it under
sympathetic help and guidance. The gift of verse will not fall upon
them later--like manna from Heaven--and it is this early opening that I
also would plead for in every school. To criticise teachers generally
causes them to take cover behind the fact that the hydra-headed
examination is ever present, and in fairness I will admit that though a
clever boy can be educated and pass examinations--it is difficult to
educate his slower brethren if they have to pass examinations as well.
It is rather like the story of the man who would not enlist in the
cavalry--giving as his reason that, in the event of a retreat, he did
not wish to be hampered with a horse.
Examinations, I fear, will be with us for some time yet but in spite of
this drawback teachers can still read Miss Mason's ideas and strive to
carry them out even through that disciplinary grounding which
examinations have demanded of us. No good can be gained by treating
boys as if they could not reason, in fact they will very soon cease to
reason, it being far less exertion to listen to someone else doing it.
Take mathematics, even this can be robbed of much of its old dullness
by a good teacher and more reasonable methods employed. The customary
way to teach a boy fractions is not to show him any, but to keep him
working out endless L.C.M.'s--for which he can see no use--and which
bore him very much. Would it not be more reasonable and better to make
him feel the use of a weapon, before it is placed in his hands?
Personally, I believe in boys adding fractions at once--with the same
denominator at first--when the denominators are different they can only
add the fractions with a great deal of thought. If now they are shown
how to find the L.C.M., they not only remember it, but thoroughly
appreciate it as the weapon that divided their difficulties.
To put the matter in a nutshell Miss Mason's methods make for
originality of work and originality of thought; the older methods
except in very gifted hands, did not: and as the race of to-morrow can
only move forward through the children of to-day, we want originality
of work and thought, for no amount of imitation or the blind
re-iteration of the thoughts of others will help to make the world any
better than it is to-day.
I have dealt with Miss Mason's method in general and with regard to
teachers may I say a last word on the individual School? I need hardly
point out the value to a school that adopts the Parents' Union
Programme and has the work examined each term by the authorities at
Ambleside. This is probably well known to all of you but I will just
make one or two points which I put before my fellow Headmasters when I
was asked to write an account of the Parent's Union methods for the
Preparatory School' Review. I dealt, in this case, with the teaching of
English, after all the bed-rock of Education and I pointed out once
again the effect of giving the boys good books and not condensations.
We are very careful that boys should associate with suitable companions
or see suitable plays. Is it not equally important that they should see
and read good English? Boys imitate much consciously and even more
sub-consciously and I gave it as my opinion that P.N.E.U.
trained boys are better read and have a far better vocabulary and style.
Another point is the use of the power of attention and of observation
for not having preparation a boy is compelled to concentrate in class,
or subsequent narration is impossible. Not only this, but boys learn
their work not by an aimless repetition, but by allowing one point to
bend up to another until they can visualise the whole.
One of my assistants, one of the best and most sucessful teachers left
me to start a school of his own. Later he wrote me "I am confirmed in
my belief in the P.N.E.U. Not only do I find it a time-saver, but my
boys have a consecutive and connected view of the term's work, without
revision. This is a recommendation in view of the number of subjects
which find space in the time-table. The method too, stimulates
interest, attention, and clarity of thought. As far as I am concerned
the method has come to stay, and I am very pleased with the way my boys
have increased not only the range of their vocabulary but also their
powers of concentration."
As my correspondent wrote, it is indeed a method that has come to stay,
for it is more than a method or a programme, it is an idea which, in
the hands of a practical teacher can be indefinitely expanded until it
becomes a governing factor in a school's life. To conclude--I have been
asked "are you satisfied with the P.N.E.U. taught from the standpoint
of the Entrance Examination to the Public Schools?" All my junior forms
are taught on Parents' Union methods and personally I am very satisfied
with the results. As you know, Headmasters are not easy to convince,
they have listened too often to the voice of a reformer who never
taught a class in his life but who would like to spend his declining
years in pointing out how others should do it. In these days when every
school is in active competition and striving to affect a maximum
efficiency no Headmaster would accept, or dare keep, what he had not
thoroughly tried and proved. We test our boys, we test our teachers,
indeed we test ourselves by what we can produce.
I have kept Miss Mason's methods in my school for over 12 years--and
indeed you can rest assured it is because I am satisfied not only with
what it has produced--but what I know it will continue to produce.
WHAT THE PARENTS'
UNION SCHOOL DID FOR ME.
By Michael A. E. Franklin.
On being asked to add something as a member of the Parents' Union
School to the many expressions of appreciation which are to be
delivered at the Conference, I accepted with some diffidence.
I do not consider myself qualified in any way to speak at any time to
anyone about anything. Then, the subject about which I was asked to
speak is not an easy one, and I want to treat it in an impersonal
light, as if it were, "What the P.U.S. has done and is doing for all
I myself have been very fortunate in that even though I actually left
the Parents' Union School nine years ago, yet I have been living ever
since in a P.N.E.U. atmosphere, and have been afforded many
opportunities of coming directly under the influence of its ideals.
Yet the value of the P.U.S. teaching is marked the more strongly when
one considers that the mind-food that was given to me when a little
boy, and the doors that the P.U.S. opened to me between the ages of six
and eleven, have been possessions for me ever since. Even things that
have lain dormant since I left the P.U.S. have been ready at hand when
Last year I was privileged to spend a few months at the University of
Grenoble in the Dauphiné, France. The pleasures and the value of
this time were enhanced a hundred fold by the fact that in the P.U.S. I
had learnt to keep a nature-note-book, and I was able to enjoy the
wonderful flowers of the Alps in a manner in which, I believe, it would
be impossible to do without the friendship
with flowers and trees which the P.U.S. gives.
There is rather an amusing story connected with these
flowers. I was in the habit of bringing home to the little cottage
where I was staying, flowers to paint. One day I came in with a
beautiful saffron lily. The gardener's wife asked me what I was going
to do with it. I said I was going to paint it. To this she replied,
that she did not think the paint would stick on!
Again, in the picture galleries of Italy, when I came upon those
pictures whose acquaintance I had made with the help of Mr. Mansell and
the P.S.U., it made all the difference in the world. It was so nice
when standing in front of the pictures to see in real life, as it were,
something which one had already studied carefully, and about which a
feeling of familiarity had arisen. While I was standing in front of
Carpaccio's St. Ursula at the academia in Venice, a French woman
tourist burst into the room in which the walls were panelled with the
St. Ursula series,--the one of St. Ursula in bed and the angel
appearing to tell her to travel to England with nine thousand maidens,
which is one of my favourite pictures, being placed opposite the door.
She gave one look at the picture and exclaimed, "Ah, quelle
dróle d'Annunciation!" and burst out again.
It would appear time that the P.N.E.U. spread to France!
In the pension in which I was staying, there were six or seven quite
young children whose only literature consisted of a catalogue of a
French store and a vulgar paper of the nature of the English "Comic
Cuts" or "Rainbow." When I read to them the "Conte de Lundi" and some
of the poems from Victor Hugo's "Légende des Siécles,"
making them narrate it, they simply loved it and responded in the most
This is illustrative of the fact that the system is so good it can be
used in a foreign language and in a foreign environment and that one so
completely inexperienced as myself can obtain results by its use.
Curiously enough the little boy of four who sat upon my knee while I
read (only because he could not be left alone to play) astonished me by
narrating to me in childish French in a most wonderful way, matter to
which I had
not thought he would have listened, much less understood.
Again in music, the musical appreciation which is taught in the P.U.S.
makes one able to understand in some measure the work of a musician, as
well as having one's senses pleased by it.
It has been asked if the P.U.S. tends as a preparatory school for boys
to have a sufficiently high standard of work for the entrance into the
Headmasters, I am told, say that the P.U.S. boy upon his arrival in
their schools, is not only equal to his fellows in intellect and
learning, but often by far surpasses them. He is more ready by the
training in concentration and quickness of perception given in the
P.U.S., to adapt himself to his surroundings and to glean from the new
work its fullest message. The number of scholarships that have been
obtained by members of the P.U.S. testifies to that.
I have mentioned musical appreciation. There is to obtained in the
P.U.S. that high standard of writing (to which mine is a very sad
There is the Nature Study, the Picture Talk, there are the literary
evenings, the reading of the historical novel with the history, the
blending of the various subjects one with another.
There is the spirit of fellowship
which the Parents' Union School gives. There is perhaps no stronger
bond which binds one child with another than the bond of being
To think that a child in Hong Kong, or in India (for I believe the
P.U.S. has spread to almost every country over which the Union Jack is
flying), and the child in Manchester or in London, are all doing the
same work, loving the same books, the same pictures, and sharing common
interests; this is indeed a bond of fellowship.
The P.U.S. is a kind of educational League of Nations.
I have been privileged to visit one or two elementary schools of which
an ever growing number are working in the P.U.S., and there it is
apparent what Miss Mason has done to spread the spirit of fellowship
and to break down the barriers of class. To make the lives of the
children of the
world happier and to open to them all the doors through which hitherto
only the rich have been able to pass, that indeed is a wonderful thing.
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . .
Let me say one or two words about Miss Mason and what she has done for
us, her grandchildren, for her students were her "bairns," and we of
the P.U.S. her grandchildren. We are before her portrait; let us look
at her face, let us read in it the love that she had for each one of
us, though so few were personally known to her. Let us feel that she
was our teacher, she was our philosopher, she was our friend.
What I count one of my greatest possessions is the fact that I knew
Miss Mason personally and was known to her.
She had in her frail body perhaps the greatest heart that has ever come
into my life. She had what is the sign of a truly great brain, the
power of giving the right amount of thought to the smallest detail and
to the largest.
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . .
I feel she would not have us be sad or downcast. She, whose eyes were
full of childlike merriment, who was possessed of a marvellous power of
rejoicing, of seeing the God-sent joy of the world; she would not, I
feel, have us sad or despair. She is, I am sure, with us to-day. Let
her memory be as an inspiration to us her children.
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . .
Our badge is the lark, the symbol of the ascending-power of man over
himself, as it were, and over the evils that lie in his path. The lark,
the "blithe spirit," Shelley calls it, and that is what I feel Miss
Mason wanted us to be, blithe and joyous soarers in the world.
Let us feel the responsibility as well as be proud of bearing our motto
and our badge.
Let us feel that in each one of us lies the power to do something for
the great Union of which we are members.
I should like here, to say how much good can, in my mind, be gained by
the continuance of that fellowship of which I spoke, by joining the
Parents' Union School
Association. The joining of this should be almost automatic upon
leaving the P.U.S.
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . .
Let us of the Parents' Union School show our gratitude to Miss Mason in
the conduct of our lives, so that she would be proud of us as we are
proud to have received of her teaching.
BY R. A. PENNETHORNE. [Organising
One wonders whether parents and teachers following the work of the
younger children in the P.U.S. noticed the curious coincidence by which
the minds of those children were prepared for the great and personal
loss which they, as well as we, have sustained. At the end of last year
those children were hearing how Moses the great leader passed beyond;
and Joshua and the Children of Israel were left to enter into the
Promised land through the 'great door and effectual' opened unto them,
and in spite of the many adversaries. This story is a text which we
might well take as a sermon for ourselves. What would the natural and
diplomatic modern world have thought should have been Joshua's
behaviour under the circumstances? Surely to first make certain that
his people knew the law they
had been taught, were perfect in it, before attempting new and untried
adventures in a world of difficulty. But on the contrary the people
were at once led forth to fresh effort and new experience. Every great
movement sooner or later must face the same test and the world comes
asking the same question "Know ye that the Lord has taken away your
master from your head to-day?" And the true disciple answers "Yea I
know it--hold ye your peace" and prays for a double portion of that master's
Every great movement is faced with the same dangers--namely, that
loyalty to a great past may degenerate into mere copying under changed
and unsuitable circumstances,
or, on the other hand, that apparent expediency may be considered
instead of immutable principles.
Our own work must always be for the generations yet to come--we have
always to answer the eternal question of the eternal child "What mean
ye by these things"--and upon our reply the future of the world
depends. Now the educational world of England to-day is full of
immediate problems--Jordans to cross--Jerichos to fall and valleys of
Achor to be doors of hope. First Jordan to cross. Now if any reproach
is brought against us continually, deservedly or undeservedly, it is
that the Parents' Union School is a wonderful training in English, but
that its mathematics are beneath contempt and not worth discussing. The
modern world of examination tests makes the whole future of individual
children depend on whether or no they can pass through that dividing
stream or find a Pons Asinorum over it. Whether it be the elementary
school child being tested or scholarships to the secondary school, or
the preparatory school boy faced by 'Common Entry' or the girl or boy
with matriculation or school-leaving certificate to be attained as the
necessary prelude to a professional or university career we know that
their chances are nil unless
they can get through their mathematical papers. Now if it were true
that by being prepared for life in the P.U.S. either boy or girl was
thereby unfitted to prove to the world by the world's tests that it was
ready to do the world's work--then we should have much to answer for.
Now frankly the work in mathematics set in the P.U.S. was never
intended to fit the elementary school child to get through the tests
imposed upon it at the present early age. And therefore to our
elementary schools we say that there is no obligation to follow that
work where the children's interests require something different. (For
example is Wales where the children pass early to the Intermediate
Schools, none follow our arithmetic, and in Gloucestershire some do and
some do not). But what about the understanding and the rate of
progression? Children trained under our scheme do generally grasp what
they are doing and why--they do not always get so far by the time they
are 14 as those children do working
under ordinary schemes for whom 14 is "leaving age." But educationally
should 14 be the leaving age? Where the scheme is followed in its
entirety to 18 the final result can be tested in the ordinary
way--girls from our big schools do successfully pass the ordinary
public tests. Little-Go, 2nd Class Honours Matriculation, Senior
Cambridge, etc., were some of the those taken and reported to us last
year. But the whole question must be considered upon higher ground. We
are not merely an admirable teaching scheme--we are a great Union
formative of public opinion and with a great inspiration behind us. Do
we share the world's estimate of the supreme importance and commercial
value of 'arithmetic' as the final test of a boy or girl's use in this
world? Now Miss Mason very wisely called it for the little people not
arithmetic but number and the
modern thinker is coming to perceive that the old Cabbalists were
nearer the truth than some who argue that we need only be taught what
we shall use, so why trouble about the higher mathematics at all. One
hopes the parents and teachers have read with the children a book which
Miss Mason quite recently added to the programmes called "Number
Stories of Long Ago." No child having revelled in that book but will
have perceived that 'sums' have no arbitrary existence, and that number
and shape, the power of working from known to unknown quantities are
things inherent in the understanding of life itself and one mystery and wonder of delight.
Now how long can we as a society remain untouched by the great wave of
feeling on the subject of English children's heavy burden in the
ordinary conventional teaching and use of 'arithmetic'? (24 hour week
and 5 hours arithmetic). Do we realise that the continental children
are free from the awful burden of our double system and can perform the
actual operations through the metric system with ease and sureness and
so can give more time to true mathematics and see where their work
correlates to life and science and have more time to devote to the
humanities. Only English children have to master both the metric system
and 3/11 of 4s. 9 3/4d. and all the other awful intricacies of our
of local thought and practice in weights, measures and coinage.
Teachers resent the limitations thus imposed. Chambers of Commerce
lament them, but parents who are also rate-payers, voters, school
managers and politicians have gone on calmly acquiescing. But each one
of us must take thought. Do
we realise the needs of the world and the true wonder and mystery of
the subject, and do we believe our children can and should do so too or
do we simply believe that there is some magic discipline in endless
compound multiplications of money and long division? We must think and we shall perforce
have to choose for the river is there and the children must cross it.
And then Jericho to be taken--the existing strong place manned by
giants. Perhaps the most marvellous and encouraging chapter in our
history has been the way in which the schools of the nation have
entered the Union and done some of its most magnificent work. Yet to me
as a schoolmistress and a schoolteacher, both under our own Union and
under the ordinary auspices, the most amazing thing is that parents
suffer the 'ordinary' school, private or public, to go on being very
'ordinary' indeed and that, though over 100 secondary schools of all
sizes work with us now, there are not thousands.
These are the strongholds of
the giants, the experts in their particular departments of academic
attainments, the 'double first' man, or the brilliant woman. Now having
been in and out of schools all up and down the country, famous or
obscure, expensive or cheap, more and more one is convinced that the
very experts themselves are crying out for more freedom for the
children, more unity of aim for themselves and more correlation of
their individual efforts. Now all these things we can give them--but
the natural fear arises in their hearts of surrendering their own
liberty or not finding full scope for their own god-given talents. Now
those who do work with us
find all those things and we are proud to number among our ranks some
who might certainly claim original genius--but let us appeal to the
parents. When you want the best chance and the widest culture for your
children and continuity of
these things irrespective of the people who from
time to time administer them, you can and do get this by starting the
children at home in the P.U.S., and then sending them on to a school
working with the P.U.S., and
if more parents truly realised and required what it gives then many more schools would unite
themselves to us. There is a great field and mission for starting
P.U.S. classes and small schools in districts where there is now nothing for the children and by
combination and union parents can begin if only on a small scale with a
class held by an Ambleside student which will eventually grow into a school, and we can
proudly point to large well-known schools recognised by the Board of
Education which spring from such an origin. But where there is an existing
school on ordinary lines and yet there are also groups large or small
of parents who are members of the Union then I would say, to continue the
parallel remember the story of the Gibeonites--convert the schools, and
turn suspicion into love, understanding, appreciation, and service.
But there is a third and important problem which must be faced in the
immediate future--namely, the teaching of the history. Moses' method of
preparing the people for their future was to retell to them their past.
Now the Parents' Union School has here a very fine record of pioneer
work to its credit--we alone have always done what Mr. Wells has been
calling upon the world in general to do--taught universal history
universally. The Books of Centuries which you will all have seen are
the children's own records of that teaching. History of all subjects is
the most difficult and the most dangerous as it may so readily
degenerate into mere teaching of opinion or a mere indulgence in
'gossip about the great of the earth.' The books we choose are designed
to give children a fair survey of differing opinion and a solid ground
work of fact--chronological and social--upon which to base citizenship
which they also learn through the lives of heroes in Plutarch's
'Lives,' the understanding of human nature through 'Ourselves' and the
conditions of its every day practice through various books actually on
'citizenship.' But we have to
reconsider our whole approach to the history of the past--have we so
taught it through 'Drum and Trumpet' that the warrior and not the
law-giver, the destroyer and not the constructor, has been the arch
type of mankind in the eyes of our boys and girls? Except one
little League of Nation's book suitable for the quite young child for
whom the delightful 'Our Island Story' already provides there is no
book of history yet imbued with the new spirit of a chastened and
repentant age which we can offer our children. Cannot we among
the children of our Union train
the future historian who shall use this valley of Achor for a door of
hope--who shall look back and see the hand of God in the happenings of
the dark ages and on to the New Jerusalem even in 'England's green and
pleasant land.' Cannot we raise up such a prophet and inspire
such a writer? The final judgment of posterity upon any great
leader must be the character of those who follow after--are we
therefore going forward to meet the new wants of a new age with the
serene confidence that "As I was with Moses so will I be with thee,"
are we henceforward to be a great missionary body not merely enjoying
our rich and splendid legacy from the past but liberally and generously
sowing for the future and passing on to others the good things we
treasure for our own children? Without that missionary spirit we
must dwindle; with it we can prove that the future is always greater
than the past and it will be the future of the children yet for to
Henceforward then we must go on through the great door and effectual,--
"One the object of our journey,
"One the faith that never tires,
"One the earnest looking forward
"One the hope our God inspires."
THURSDAY, MARCH 29th.
A Memorial Service was held at St.
Martin's-in-the-Fields, Thursday, March 29th, 1923. 10-15 a.m.
(by kind permission) for
CHARLOTTE MARIA SHAW MASON,
January 1st, 1842.
January 16th, 1923.
ORDER OF SERVICE.
- - - - -
"The King of Love my Shepherd is."
VENI CREATOR - -
- - - - -
- - Attwood.
be sung by one voice, the Congregation kneeling.)
- - - - -
- "O God, our help in ages past."
The service was arranged by the Rev. H. Costley-White and Mrs.
Whitaker-Thompson, and was taken by Mr. Costley-White (who read the
prayers and gave the address), the Master of the Temple (who read the
Lessons), and the Rev. F. Lewis. Mrs. Mellish sang the "Veni
Creator" and Mr. Goldsborough played "Requiem Aeternam" (by Basil
Harwood) as the congregation left the Church.
In the course of his address Mr. Costley-White said that, we were met
to do honour to a very great, very clever, very good woman. She
was herself the living example of her teaching that it is character
that matters. She had a shrewd, saving north-country common sense
which kept her idealism from ever becoming an unpractical fact.
He struck the note of thanksgiving by pointing out that we had met to
thank God for the gift of a great and noble life with which we had been
specially privileged to come in contact, and not to mourn the loss of a
He laid stress on the fact that Miss Mason not only
possessed wonderful powers but throughout her whole life, wherever she
might be, made the fullest use of them in the service of others. In
this connection he told the ancedote of how he was once driving with
Miss Mason in her carriage near Rydal and he, thrilled with the beauty
of the scenery, exclaimed "who would not be a poet in such
To which Miss Mason replied with kindly irony, "Then you give no credit
to Wordsworth for being a poet?"
The outstanding points of the address seemed to be:---
i. Praise for
the inspiration of her life and work.
privilege in having come under her influence.
Mere notes cannot even faintly give a sense of the reverence and
gratitude which the address aroused in the hearts of all who heard it.
I have been asked to give my impressions of the P.N.E. U. Memorial
Conference, and as a member of the audience on that occasion I am glad
to add my little word of deep appreciation.
I went as a total stranger to all there, never having met Miss Mason or
visited the College at Ambleside, though I had some previous knowledge
of her work.
It was a happy idea to have her portrait on the platform, smiling down
upon us from among "a host of golden daffodils" and at the end of three
days her features had become so familiar that she seemed to us who had
not known her no longer a stranger but a friend. Her spirit seemed to
fill the room and there was a consciousness that she "being dead, yet
There is no need to comment on the various addresses which are to
appear in print. Sufficient to say that one and all sounded a note of
joy and thanksgiving for her great example and devoted life-work. There
sadness of farewell" about the Conference, which was what she
would have wished, but rather a radiant hopefulness.
It was specially impressive to note the wonderful self-possession and
confidence in the future of those who must have been dearest to her and
to whom she had handed over her sacred trust.
It must have been hard to speak of one so much beloved before a large
audience, but the quiet dignity with which it was done could not fail
to touch all hearers and remind them that
"To live in
hearts we leave behind
Is not to die."
The Memorial Service at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields was a beautiful
completion of three very happy and inspiring days and the exquisite
singing of the "Veni Creator" will remain for long in our memories. I
think all present came away with the intense conviction that a great
spirit had passed beyond the veil and that Charlotte Mason was one of
those of whom it may truly be said "Their works do follow them."
Ethel E. M. Peacey,
Vice-Principal, Norland Institute
23rd April, 1923.
When we entered Mortimer Hall for the first meeting of the Conference,
it seemed as though Miss Mason herself was there to greet us. On an
easel on the platform was her portrait in colour; and from this her
soul seemed to break forth to commune with ours.
Before her portrait was a beautiful jar which next day was filled with
daffodils; and many, many more in other bowls appreared---wild
daffodils gathered from the garden of Scale How by the loving hands of
those whose hearts were sorrowful.
Triumphing over this sorrow must have been a feeling of thankfulness
and joy that they had been privileged in other years to share with Miss
Mason the life at Ambleside. It was more than interesting to listen to
each of whom touched on a different aspect from the others. Never shall
I forget the telling testimony given with such deep feeling by Mr.
Michael Franklin, at one time a pupil himself in the P.U.S.; or the
great tribute paid by the Rev. E. Lyttelton who said that Miss Mason
was a mistress in the art of both character training and intellectual
training, a combination exceedingly rare. "It is women and men of faith
and love like Miss Mason," said another, "who will redeem the world."
It was a joy to hear from Miss Kitching something of Miss Mason as a
child; and those of us who have never been to Ambleside were grateful
for Miss Parish's loving description of the beauties of, and
surrounding, Scale How.
On the last day of the Conference the right note was struck--the note
of progress and development. We know that our work is never standing
still. We move forward or backward; we gain ground or lose it; and
there is no doubt as to which we shall do if we follow the example of
the one whose faith and enthusiasm carried her forward right on to the
beginning of her fuller life beyond.
What a fitting close! A memorial service held in St.
Martin's-in-the-Fields! It was a beautiful choice, for this simple,
restful Church standing in the midst of the life and whirl of London is
typical of that inward peace which regulated the busy life of our
D. S. GOLDING
C.M.M., Jan., 1923
and Remembrance to one who never forgot to remember each
individual and all their joys and sorrows.
and farewell to one who never let any, once known to her, slip
out of her life and thought.
to one who showed that life and work were not for personal honour or
gain, but for the service of humanity.
and more Life to one who showed that life was greater and better
worth living with every day of our life.
and Renown to one who found the profession of home teaching a
byword and left it a vocation.
to one who recognised the full possibilities of each person born into
to one who taught that ends were not gained by 'jostling in the street.'
to one who showed that cheerfulness and goodwill were both duty and
harvesting to one who never looked at results but at efforts.
of desires to one who distinguished between low wants and high
to one who was too great of soul ever to say 'it is enough.'
to one who knew that love was an immortal gift and not an earthly chain.
to one who looked through earth to heaven, where may there be Reunion for all who journey one
step nearer to the goal of us all.