The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Parents' National Educational Union.

Volume 4, 1893/94, pgs. 372-376

The annual meeting of this Society was held on Wednesday afternoon, June 7th, at London House, St. James Square, by the kind permission of the Bishop of London. The chair was taken by the the Countess of Aberdeen, one of tte Presidents of the Society. The rom was crowded, and amongst those present were Canon Daniel, Miss Beale, the Lady Alice Archer Houblon, the Lady Isabel Margesson, Miss Helen Webb, M.B., Dr. A. T. Schofield, Mrs. Douglas Powell, Lady Macpherson Grant, Rev. Sidney Davies, Rev. J. T. Penrose, Preb. Eyton, Mr. Arthur Pease, Rev. H. and Mrs, Hart-Davis, Mrs. Walter Ward, Mrs. Gurney Fox, Mrs. Ronald McNeill, Mrs. Washington Epps, andl Miss C.M. Mason.

Mr. Henry Perrin, the Organising Secretary, in presenting the Report, said that the year showed much progress both in the number of meetings, of active branches, and in the increase of general interest in the work of the Society. Letters of regret at their inability to attend had been received from Lord Meath, who had been obliged to take the chair at another meeting, from Mrs. Boyd-Carpenter, who had expressed the greatest interest in the work, from the Bishop of Hull and Archdeacon Sinclair.

The Rev. Prebendary Eyton in moving the adoption of the Report, said that he must express his great appreciation of the work of the Society. It had done and was doing a most important work, and one which needed to be accentuated, in enforcing the personal responsibility of parents in the training of their children. The real work of the Society was to insist on this and to urge on parents not to delegate their authority. He then went on to say a few words on the great importance of religious education. In children's education, they must begin with the greatest thing of all, and that was God. They ought not to begin with teaching religious observances before giving to children a real conception of God. In many of what might be called well-regulated homes, children had such notions about God as would not be found in a heathen land. Definite moral teaching ought also to be given; not merely the inculcation of the virtues but of the reasons why they should be cultivated. There should be clear teaching of the grounds of moral obligation. To say that these things were to be done because they were right was not enough: there ought to be fuller explanation. He thought the moral element in games should not be underrated. The characters and tendencies of children could often best be seen in the excitement of games. The moral element should be recognised, but should not always be enforced: a sermon should not be given in the midst of a game of cricket. [Applause.]

Mr. Oscar Browning, in seconding the Report, said that only the very great interest he felt in the work of the Society could have induced him to come and speak on a subject, about which he had so little knowledge. He had had very little to do with the education of the young. But in studying the history of teaching and the lives of the great teachers, he had noticed that all great improvements in the methods of education had come from the study of the education of the very young. Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel had created almost a revolution in education, but the most successful precepts of Rousseau and the greatest discoveries of Pestalozzi and Freobel were made through what they had to do with the very young. Parents should be encouraged, since these great improvements had been made, to study the development of their own children, which might also have great effects. As a man, who had been a master in a public school, he would emphasize the fact that the responsibility of parents did not end with sending their sons to school. He himself used to urge on parents that the success of their boys depended more on them than on their masters. They should above all, keep closely in touch with their boys, He hoped that such a large meeting was a good augury for the welfare and prosperity of the Society. [Applause.]

Canon Daniel, in supporting the resolution, said that one of the objects of the Society was to secure harmony between home and school teaching. This necessity for harmony was not always kept in view, judging from what parents often said about schools and teachers about parents. Yet to obtain continuity of education, there should be an understanding between parents and teachers. A community of principles and unity of method ought to exist. Children were educated at home before they went to school, and were often taught on the most antiquated methods, and had to unlearn a great deal at school. It was the worst thing for a child to unlearn with a great deal of trouble, what it had taken a great deal of trouble to learn. Such books as Mangnall's Questions were used, and classifications were taught in different sciences that had gone out centuries ago. Parents should co-operate with teachers by ascertaining the best methods and the best books: they should support the teacher's authority, and should not criticise the school and the curriculum to their children, as he had heard parents do. He then pointed out the importance of the physical side of education, such as the provision of suitable desks to prevent children becoming round-shouldered or near-sighted. Another point he would urge on the parents for the sake of the children was to secure them privacy at their home lessons. No real work could be done amid the distractions among which children were sometimes expected to work, such as piano-playing, visitors, and servants going in and out. The hours of work, too, should be regulated; the children should not be allowed to work when or as long as they pleased: fixed and regular hours were a good training and the best security of the work being properly done. [Applause.]

Mr. Arthur Pease spoke in support of the resolution, enforcing the importance of the example of parents in all efforts of Christian training.

The Countess of Aberdeen said that after so many weighty speeches, it was hardly necessary for her to drive home the need for supporting this Society. She and Lord Aberdeen regretted very much that they could do no more for the Society, but at any rate they would claim to represent parents who felt their need of the help and guidance which the Society could give. Most of those present had probably been connected with the work that was doing so much good among the mothers of the working classes, and yet they must often have felt that the mothers of the richer classes needed help quite as much, if not more. They all felt a great debt of gratitude to Miss Mason and all who had instituted this Society. They had been ridiculed at times--there had been paragraphs in the press, but they could bear such remarks. The best way to get over any prejudice was to increase the circulation of the Parents' Review. The great point of the Review was that it brought before them an ideal for which they might strive in the education of their children, physical, moral, mental and religious. The Association had been chiefly spoken of as helping to train children in their private lives, but she would like to call attention to the work it could do to train children for their public lives--for the services which their country was more and more expecting. It had been said, and it was true, that this was a glorious time in which to live, but sometimes they felt that the demands upon them were greater than their strength; but if the demands on them were great, they would be greater still on their children. There was increased need for good administrators in local matters and in wider fields--who would supply them? So they ought to train their children in all those ethical qualities which went to make up a good and true public servant. The Association had a great work to do for the country, as well as in the private lives of parents and children. [Applause.]

The Report was then adopted.

Miss Mason gave an account of the work done in the House of Education at Ambleside, and of the letters they had received from parents in all parts of the world, whose children were doing the courses prescribed at Ambleside. She spoke of the success of the teachers they had trained, and said that all the students who came there had a vocation to the work in the true sense of the word. They did not train "lady nurses" or "mothers' helps" or "nursery governesses" in the old sense of the word, people who could speak their mother tongue imperfectly, and therefore were thought fit to teach young children; but they trained ladies to be good teachers whether of young or of older children. [Applause.]

Dr. Schofield moved a vote of thanks to the Countess of Aberdeen for taking the chair and coming to London at considerable inconvenience to do so. He read a letter he had received from Mrs. Dallas-Yorke, in which the system of instruction and arrangements at Ambleside were spoken of in the highest terms, and gave the personal evidence of a lady friend of his, who had taken a governess for her children from Ambleside, and who was delighted with her methods. There were now many ladies who were waiting to get governesses from Ambleside. He recommended the study of The Parents' Review.

Lady Isabella Margesson gave an account of the great success that had attended the monthly meetings in the Belgravia Branch, and the welcome which the parents had given to the courses of Training Lessons. They had had three courses: "The Theory and Practice of Froebel," by Mrs. Walter Ward; "Teaching Children to Draw and Paint," by Mr. E. Cooke, a disciple of Ruskin; and "Religious Instruction," by Miss Agnes Mason. This last course had been especially welcomed by many mothers who had felt the very great difficulty of the subject. A Natural History Club had been started for the benefit of Members. She had much pleasure in seconding the vote of thanks.

Miss Beale of the Ladies' College, Cheltenham, spoke of the great importance of co-operation between parents and teachers; of the necessity of a religious basis for education, and of the great help the Union had been.

The Rev. Mr. Hart-Davis also supported the vote of thanks, said that they must all regret that they were not children, to be brought up on these new methods, or that Miss Mason had not been born fifty years before. They must all be grateful that they had the help of the Society with their own children. He should like to call attention to the fact that the Society was a "National" one, and he hoped its influence would spread not only among the richer classes but also among the commercial and trading classes, and above all among the working classes. He had much pleasure in supporting the vote of thanks. [Cheers.]

The vote was put by Dr. Schofield and carried by acclamation.

Lady Aberdeen, in acknowledging the vote of thanks, said she had to give a message of regret from Lord Aberdeen for his inability to attend. The Society would soon have to relieve them of the office, from circumstances out of their power to control, but they should always be glad to have been connected with it. [Applause.]

The proceedings then terminated.

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