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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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P.N.E.U. Conference

Volume 14, pgs. 920-925


This contains the end of an article that ended on page 920, and the beginning of an article that started on page 925. The article that was sandwiched in between has been posted to its own page.

P.N.E.U. Conference

this difficulty; in particular, Arnold Forster's History of England has special merits, in the way it treats fairly comprehensively of one event and merely mentions the existence of others. But the multiplicity of subjects taught, which has very much to be said in its favour, and the great anxiety to avoid cram and go slowly and carefully, may, unless guarded against, lead to this impression of "having attained" in the child's mind. One way of avoiding this is by letting a child drink deep of some one branch of learning, showing that, instead of finding you know all after some weeks of study, you are but discovering how very little you do know. Then they will be modest about their attainments in other subjects, and realize that they have but stood on the outskirts and looked into the sacred precincts. It is not always practicable to take this course—during a regular school career, quite impossible,—but there are often opportunities during a child's life, some enforced rest, or time at the seaside, or long summer holiday, when all other subjects may be put on one side, and some one thing studied more thoroughly than is possible at another time.

But we are hampered in all our efforts by the fact that, if we strike out in any new line in education, we may handicap our children in later life, by making it impossible for them to follow with success in the prescribed lines. With our boys it is almost impossible, with our girls it is becoming the same. It does not matter how excellent a woman may be, how efficient—unless she has passed certain examinations, she has absolutely no chance of obtaining employment. This, to many people, who think that their daughters might one day require to work for their living, must make them think twice before they decide to break away from the cram system, and educate them on wider lines of culture. But to anyone who has not this possibility before them, I would urge them to bring up their daughters on independent lines, not, it may be, on any new system of education, not on any stereotyped system at all, giving each child scope for full development, and being guided by circumstances and temperament rather than by Act of Parliament. We may pride ourselves on the higher education of women, which has been a feature of the last fifty years, and inasmuch that there is no field for study and activity now closed to women, we may indeed congratulate our daughters; but I doubt if our average modern girl is in the least better educated than—if half as well as—our mothers and grandmothers. In charm and intellectual acuteness, the highly-educated woman of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries would have held her own easily with the girl of the present day, and it is interesting in reading their letters to find how various the books they read, and how many of them attained to considerable scholarship and erudition.

It has been said, with some justice, that in this day of specialisation it is necessary for the majority of our men to be narrow, if they would attain distinction in their career; but that woman should be more widely educated, be able to take a larger grasp of things, and have a true sense of proportion, so that she may hold the scales, and help man by her wider outlook. It is because I believe the curriculum of the Parents' Review School and the books recommended by it are a good foundation for such an education, that I recommend them warmly to the present audience.

Miss Kathleen Warren's paper on A Wide Curriculum for Young Children was then read. (that article is posted separately here)

Miss R.A. Pennethorne (Ex-Student of the House of Education) then read her Paper on

The Use of Books in Teaching History

Those of us who were of "school age" fifteen years ago will probably remember that our history lessons were almost inevitably lectures, during which we scribbled notes for dear life. Now, this is a process which a love of history may survive, but it is hardly likely to create it where it is wanting. Some people would ask, "Why should we love history?" Of course a certain amount of it is necessary as instruction, and this no doubt such a system gives, but they would hardly regard it as a taste to be cultivated. Now, if you regard learning not as an end in itself, but simply as a means for development of character, there is hardly any subject so important as history.

Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, August 2008