The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Report of Conference

Volume 10, 1899, pg. 409




May 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th, 1899.




The Conference opened shortly after half-past ten o'clock at Portman Rooms.

Dr. Schofield (Chairman of the Executive Committee) presided, and at the outset said: Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasing duty now to open this, the third annual Conference of the Parents' National Educational Union, and in doing so I should like to draw your attention, in one or two words, to the special character of this Conference. Like all others Unions and Societies, we have a theory and we have a practice. It is the theory that mainly occupied our deliberations in the two preceding years, and it has been a happy thought on the part of those who have been engaged in the successful working up of this Conference to turn rather to the practical side of our work; the more so as many enquiring people whom I--and, I suppose, all of you--meet with, consider that the Society is still in somewhat a nebulous conditions. I think that we only need to attend here to have that idea entirely dispelled. I hope that our friends here present--and I think that you are nearly all members of this Union--will take special pains this year to invite your sceptical friends to be present at the sitting of this Conference, especially those of to-morrow and the next day, in order that they may see for themselves what is absolutely being done in connection with our Union. I myself have been interested in the work for some years, and I am delighted to know that, in spite of great difficulties, the Union still maintains its original lines. The difficulties to which I allude are the products of the concentration and solidification that goes on in nearly every society which starts on such lines; many, so soon as they get formed and tabulated, cease to grow. We desired that this Society should be like--looking at it in a similar way as the botanist does his study--not dried specimens--for there is no great study in regard to dried specimens--but the living plant. I am thankful to know that, so far, the Society has resisted every effort to bring it under such a designation as a dried specimen, and that it continues to progress satisfactorily in your hands. I must also congratulate the possessors of many young faces that I see here this morning--many of whom, I believe, come from the House of Education. I want them to bear in mind that in connecting themselves with this Union, as far as I know, they are connecting themselves with the only movement in this country which strives seriously to grapple with the difficulties of parents with regard to education in its true sense. I hope these young people will understand the high mission which is laid upon them, for it is no common task which lies before them. It only remains for me to make a few remarks concerning one or two alterations in our programme. But first of all allow me to express our great regret that the founder of this Union, Miss Charlotte M. Mason, is not able to be with us on this occasion. She is, I trust, recruiting her health, and I hope (God willing) that she will be able to be with us on another similar occasion. (Hear, hear.) The President of our Society also, Lord Meath, is unable to attend, and we regret that Mrs. Francis Steinthal, one of the Honorary Organising Secretaries, is also unable to be present, but I understand that Mrs. Franklin will do all that is necessary, and answer any questions relating to the work of the Society which strangers may desire to put to her. Our Secretary, Miss Blogg, is in attendance, and is always willing to give all the information she can. Then, with regard to this morning's programme, Miss Kitching is unable to be present and Mrs. Howard Glover consented to read her paper for her, but she has just telephoned to the effect that she is quite unable to attend this morning. But now, at about a moment's notice, Mrs. Anson has consented to come and read Miss Kitching's paper, which she had not seen fifteen minutes ago. I trust you will excuse the slight delay which there has been in commencing the proceedings this morning.

Proofread by LNL, May 2020