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The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
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Our Work

Volume 7, 1896, pgs. 474-480


Our Work

Natural History Club.--The Committee hope that P.N.E.U. Members and their children will make collections for the November Exhibition.

It is considered that the furtherance of a reverent love of Nature is not enhanced by collections which involve the taking of life. Stuffed animals and birds, butterflies, birds' eggs, etc., will not be shown this year. Any other Natural History objects, Nature Note--books, drawings of flowers, insects, animals, birds' feathers, dried flowers, fossils, etc., will be gladly welcomed. Also such exhibits as clay or wax maps, which help towards the knowledge of actual surroundings, are of great interest. The report of last year's Exhibition is now out of print, but intending exhibitors can see a copy on application to Miss Blogg, 28 Victoria Street, S.W.

Arrangements are being made to start Branches of the P.N.E.U. in the following places during the coming season :--Richmond (Hon. Sec. pro tem., Mrs. Johnson, Little Over Hill), Weybridge, Manchester and Chichester. Readers of the Parents' Review are particularly requested to send the names of friends they may have in any of these districts to Miss Blogg, and at the same time to write to their friends inviting them to join these branches when formed, enclosing leaflets, etc., relating to the Union, which may be obtained from the office.

House of Education. (The Address of the Lady Visitor at the Annual Meeting, which came to hand to late for the July number.)--I come here this evening to present the Certificates to the old students of the House of Education, but before speaking to the Students, let me take this opportunity to saying a few words about them, and about their home at Ambleside.

It is my privilege to visit the House of Education yearly, if possible, and each year I find it a greater pleasure, for each year I am more impressed with a sense of its great importance as the practical solution of certain difficulties connected with home education,--difficulties long realized but never yet met. I dare not attempt to define what those problems are, speaking in the presence of educational experts, and of one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of schools, whose early recognition of, and consistent sympathy with the aims of the College, have been one of its Principal's greatest encouragements. Still less may I venture to interpret Miss Mason to herself, after listening to her comprehensive and lucid exposition of the aims of the " Union."

Avoiding then, with intention, all definitions of what education is or should be, let me, as Visitor of the House of Education, tell you how beautiful a work it is in its outward expression as well as in its inward meaning : for with the true artistic sense that a fine work is worthy of a fine setting, Miss Mason has located it in a large old-fashioned house, with beautiful pleasure grounds, at the head of Lake Windermere. To sit in the big class-room, looking across the sloping lawn, through a foreground of varied trees, to the splendid panorama of mountains and valleys

beyond, is in itself a liberal education, and one calculated to stir to its very depths the inner being of the most unimpressionable student. The grounds are also valuable as giving ample scope for the pursuit of natural history and botanical studies, thus making recreation times useful as well as exceptionally healthful and delightful.

The Students live on very intimate, though respectful, terms with their Principal, and my report of the College would be a very poor one if I failed to impress you with a sense of the value of that influence over the Students. Miss Mason has not only exceptional capacity for training them in how to train and for teaching them what to teach, but she has a faith in their vocation and a confidence in their capabilities that would seem ideal, but that they are thereby spurred on to realize her ideals, and thus prove how vitalizing a very sane enthusiasm may become!

Necessarily, work carried on under these conditions prospers, and in prospering it expands. Each year is now marked by the throwing out of vigorous off-shoots from the Parent College : these off-shoots being the direct outcome of its needs,--its organic growth. Such are The Parents' Review School, Mothers' Educational Course, Old Students' Union, Students' Magazine. But what is perhaps less known is the existence at Ambleside of a Practising School, which is arranged on the lines of a home schoolroom, and which forms the practical training school for the Students in teaching. The school is held in a detached room in the grounds, formerly a billiard room. The Pupils are in five classes, varying in age from six to eighteen. Although originally intended only for pupils from the neighbourhood, four big girls now board in the town to have the advantage of attending the school. It is worked by the Students in turn, week by week. Each class is small, and represents a family, not a school-class. It is delightful to see the eager interest of each child, whose intelligence is developed with special consideration of its individual needs, while the terms existing between Teacher and Taught, i.e., between the Students and the Pupils of the Practising School, are a practical carrying out of the science of education so ably interpreted in the Parent College.

Among the advantages enjoyed by the Students at Ambleside, I may mention one which is briefly recorded in paragraph V. of the Prospectus as " weekly instruction in art at the house of a friend" : words which give but a poor idea of the valuable and consecutive training in the knowledge of what is beautiful in the world of art, which the Students receive from their kind neighbour, Mrs. Firth. Her lovely home, described by Ruskin as " the most beautiful nest in England," is rich in reproductions of pictorial and architectural masterpieces, and it would be difficult to over--estimate the valuable of the artistic training she so generously bestows on the Students of the House of Education.

Miss Mason bade me speak of the Students, but forbade me to bless them in public. I cannot, however, close my account of the House of Education without saying how greatly I appreciate a tone of mind which is delightful in its perfect simplicity and freedom from all self-consciousness, and which I recognize as the consequence of noble ideals in life, worked out in reverent acknowledgment of the true Source of all inspiration.

I come now to the pleasant task of presenting the Certificates: though it is tempered by the explanation that these are temporary Certificates, used only as an earnest of better ones to come. Those of you who are at all in touch with the work at Ambleside, will understand that a Certificate which should represent and interpret in any measure its aims was not easy to design, and yet that the subject sympathetically grasped might be the opportunity for a real work of art. The talented artist who has so kindly undertaken the work, did design a very beautiful Certificate, but with this fundamental objection, that the rise upward through the education of the children's best possibilities, landed them in a heaven of highest culture that was fitly typified by a beautiful Greek temple; it lacked that acknowledgment of Christian inspiration, which is so essentially the key-note and foundation stone of the House of Education.

It is difficult to amend such a design on lines suggested by others than the artist, and the present attempt has hardly been successful. Mr. Wilson feels this himself, and he has generously offered to re-compose the Certificate. We have accepted his offer all the more gladly because we feel that the beautiful figure of the weary mother, resting at the foot of the present composition, painfully suggests relegated duties, whereas, in the scheme of the House of Education, the mother is essentially the guiding and controlling force of the children's fullest life. Meanwhile, though art is long, and a work of art is worth waiting for, Miss Mason who is nothing if not practical realizes that life is short, and as the Students have already waited long for their Certificates, she has wished them to receive these ones pending the completion of the improved ones.

In presenting them to-night, I take this opportunity of reminding the Students that they themselves virtually represent the House of Education and are the living personification of its aims and aspirations. On you then, the old Students, rests in great measure its reputation, and for the present, at any rate, "it is judged by your works." I am often struck by the sense of your deep responsibilities in this matter! The Principal and all the staff at Ambleside may work unweariedly to ensure its success; fifty students may be the living embodiment of its ideals, and yet the fifty-first may bring discredit on it by failing to realize its aims and to live up to its principles. I venture to remind you of this without fear of causing pain because, so far, there is no sign of indifference or lukewarmness on your part," rather the recent forming of the "Old Students' Association, with its "Students' Magazine," for interchange of experience and for mutual encouragement, points to an enthusiasm and a vitality among the Old Students that must bear fruit in living work, and that does rejoice the heart of our revered and dear Principal.

I cannot put before you a higher ideal than that of carrying out generously in the spirit, as well as in the letter, her conception of what she would wish the Students of the House of Education to do, and still more to be; and I cannot wish you a higher good or a truer happiness than the verification of that wonderful paradox,--the promise that in losing your lives for the good of others, you shall find them again a hundred-fold, both in this life and in the life beyond.

THE "P.R." LETTER BAG.

[The Editor is not responsible for the opinions of Correspondents]

Dear Editor,--Will you put in a word in season in your Magazine against week-day invitations for children during term? I am trying to educate my girls at home, and sacrifice many pleasures in order that they may have the best teaching. My neighbours seem in conspiracy to prevent their taking advantage of it. I am incessantly bothered by kindly-meant invitations to birthdays, hay-parties, tennis-parties, parties which profess not to interrupt lessons, as they begin at 4.30. It is not very easy to refuse; one is looked upon as an ogre, grudging children their pleasure, but the fact is there is an impetus and swing in steady work, which is lost by interrupted efforts and too much change of thought. I know Saturday is a busy day in most households, but it ought to be the only day for children's social amusements during term, or at most Saturday and Friday evenings.

I should like to add that where children are working for outside teachers, it seems a great want of consideration to curtail the time for preparation. It is terribly hard on a music teacher to have to give a lesson to a pupil who has not had time to practise properly.
Yours truly,
X. Y.

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Dear Editor,--May I say, as one who has seen a good deal of Calvinistic and Puritanical people, that I think your contributor in the March number makes a mistake in describing Calvinism as opposed per se to natural gaiety (in children). No doubt the restrictions and regulations with which good people of that school used to surround their families often led to a spirit of depression, fretting, and irritation, which did not conduce to cheerfulness; but the most rigid member of that party whom I ever knew not only loved little jokes herself, but delighted to have children round her, and to incite them to merriment. Certainly she expected those under her charge to conform to a rule that was strict to an extreme, hardly credible nowadays, but as long as they did this they might be as lively as they pleased (on week days).
M. W. U.

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Dear Editor--I must take this opportunity of personally thanking you for the immense benefit and interest I have found in reading for the Mothers' Educational Course during these three years. Many valuable facts and subjects have become more clear, and I can most emphatically assert that the course of reading is f the greatest service to anyone who will follow the guidance you give in undertaking it.
Believe me, yours very truly,
M. E. C.

P.N.E.U. NOTES

Edited by Miss Frances Blogg, Sec., 28, Victoria Street, S.W.

To whom Hon. Local Secs. are requested to send reports of all matters of interest connected with their branches, also 30 copies of any prospectuses or other papers they may print.

The Library Committee acknowledge, with many thanks, the gift of the following books:--

"The Great Giant Arithmos" (Aldis).
"Ten Minutes' Lessons in Sight Singing" (Larkins), from Mrs. Reynolds Salter.
"A Garden of Pleasure" (E. V. B.) Miss H. Webb.
"Elements of Number" (1 to 10, and 10 to 36). Messrs. Swan, Sonnenschein & Co.
"On Stimulus." From Mrs. Arthur Sidgwick.

Belgravia.--The Committee are glad to report that the work of the Session has been of a most encouraging character. The meetings have been largely attended, and new life seems to have been infused into the Branch. Several ladies have kindly made their private classes open to other members of the Branch, and it is hoped that this plan will be pursued during the coming Session. Forty-six new members have joined this year, and the Committee feel that if each member would make the Society known amongst his or her friends, a much larger increase of members might be looked for. The next programme of Lectures will be issued in October.

Hyde Park and Bayswater.--Hon. Sec., Mrs. Franklin, 9, Pembridge Gardens, W. (At home Thursday mornings). The programme for the next Session will be issued in September. The following classes will be organized:-French classes for school boys and girls, conducted by Mdlle. Duriaux, on Mondays and Thursdays, 5.30-6.15, and morning classes by one of her trained teachers. French games for little children, Wednesdays 4.45. Swedish drill by Miss Armstrong (for five years teacher at Madame Bergman Osterberg's Gymnasium, Hampstead), Thursdays 4-5. Hockey for girls over twelve, Wednesdays and Fridays. Further particulars from Mrs. Franklin.

Hampstead and St. John's Wood.--The last meeting of the Session was held on Wednesday afternoon, June 10th, at Ettrick House, Steele's Road, by the kind permission of Mrs. Howard Glover, who presided. Mrs. Steinthal addressed the members on "How I teach my children."

After an account of the methods used in connection with the Parents' Review School, specimens of the children's work were handed round. Questions were asked freely by the audience, who were much interested. There was a good attendance.

Wanstead and Woodford.--An arrangement was made to visit Epping Forest Museum, on July 8th, when Mr. Cole, who has arranged the collection of objects for the Essex Field Club, was present, and explained the exhibits to the children of members of this Branch.

Dulwich.--A meeting was held on Tuesday, June 23rd, at The Chestnuts, Dulwich Common. Miss Cooper (the head mistress of the Dulwich High School for Girls), read a most excellent paper on the subject of "Home Work." The Rev. J. H. Mallinson (head master of Dulwich College Preparatory School), then spoke on the same theme, and gave many practical and useful hints to parents.

The next course of meetings will begin early in October, for which a programme will be prepared.

Wimbledon.--(Hon. Sec., Miss Saunders, Oakholm.) Owing to the illness of Lady Thompson, the inaugural meeting of this Branch was held at Copse Hill House (by the great kindness of Mrs. Giles) instead of at Cottenham House, as was first arranged. The chair was taken by the Rev. Sir Peile Thompson, and about thirty ladies and gentlemen were present. Dr. Schofield addressed the audience and spoke of the general aim and scope of the P.N.E.U., and insisted strongly on the fact that though there is no system for training children, there are principles and methods. The great tool in the hands of all who have to do with children, is the setting up of "a habit," which is stronger than ten natures. Mrs. Franklin also spoke on the various agencies at work in connection with the P.N.E.U. About fourteen ladies and gentlemen gave in their names as members of the Branch, at the conclusion of the meeting.

Eastbourne.--Owing to unavoidable circumstances, Miss Webb's promised lecture on "Heredity" had to be postponed until Friday, the 10th July, when a drawing-room meeting of members and their friends (ladies only), was held at Ingleside, Selwyn Road, at four o'clock. This was the concluding meeting of the session. Miss Barnett has kindly promised her lecture for the October meeting.

Hastings and St. Leonards.--Members of this Branch and their children are specially asked to get note-books, of any size and shape, and fill them with sketches and records of all sorts of animal and plant life and their ways; also pressed specimens. There is great room for originality, and Mrs. Edward Venables hopes that many books may be received by her by mid-October, at St. Bernard's Lodge, St. Leonards-on-Sea.

Bedford.--On the 28th May, a meeting was held at the Bedford Kindergarten, when an address was given by Mrs. Franklin on "A P.N.E.U. Ideal of Education." The Mayor of Bedford presided.

The last meeting (until the autumn) was also held at the Kindergarten, on the 13th June, when the members of the Branch had the privilege of hearing Miss Mason for the first time. There was a large attendance, and the chair was taken by A. Ransome, Esq. Miss Mason's address was listened to with deep attention, and cannot but prove fruitful with good, both to those present and to the future progress of the Branch. After congratulating the Bedford Branch on work already done, Miss Mason dealt with the question of right child-training, which she said was essentially the work of the parents by virtue of their parenthood. Definite lines of psychology and physiology must be found that this training may be carried out. Psychological lines first, because the P.N.E.U. recognised the importance of the borderland that lies between the mind and body. The law of habit was the great governing power in the science of child training. The only way to overcome one habit is to create another, and knowing this, the members of the P.N.E.U. had to set to work to frame habits and manners. Another fundamental principle of the Union was the importance of initial ideas. A great idea has life, it grows and strengthens, it brings other ideas. Parents must find the right moment to present an idea to a child. Vigour was instilled into the child's mind; the eye flashed, and then it was the parents knew their idea had taken root. Parents, therefore, should enter seriously into educational work, making it their highest aim to leave the world better than they found it. A hearty vote of thanks to Miss Mason concluded a most successful meeting.

The Natural History Club, formed in Bedford early in May, has, so far, been very successful. The Girls' Division numbers some thirty-six members, and the Boys' (formed more recently) about ten. Various scientific friends have given most valuable help in conducting the fortnightly rambles for Geology and Botany. Thanks to their active sympathy, the young members are encouraged to take a real and increasing interest in the beauties and wonders of nature, and some have begun to keep Natural History Diaries. It is hoped that a good programme will be arranged for next term. Hon. Sec., Miss C. F. Barnett, 5, The Crescent.

The Office (28, Victoria Street) will be closed during the month of August, but letters will be forwarded.