The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The "P.R." Letter Bag.

Volume 15, 1904, pg. 954-960

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

Mrs. Clement Parsons desires to express her grateful acknowledgements to Mrs. Halsted for kind suggestions respecting books for children. The address given, "Oats (?) Lodge," was insufficient for a direct note of thanks.


Edited by Miss F. Noël Armfield, Sec., 26, Victoria Street, S.W. Tel, 479 Victoria,

To whom all Hon. Local Secs, are requested to send reports of all matters of interest connected with their branches, also 6 copies of any prospectuses or other papers they may print.

N.B. -- Kindly write on one side of the paper only


The Executive Committee has been approached with a view to starting Branches in the following places--
CARDIFF-- Names may be sent to Mrs. Hamilton, Blackladies, Dynas Powis.
DUNFERMLINE--Mrs. Beveridge, Pitreavie, Dunfermline, would be glad to hear from people interested.

Readers of the Parents' Review living in these districts, or having friends there, are asked to communicate with Miss Armfield, 26, Victoria Street, S.W.

Belgravia.--On Oct. 19th, Mrs. Clare Gestell gave an introductory lecture to her course, "The Hygiene of Childhood and Youth," at 39, Graham Street, Eaton Square (by kind permission of Miss Lewis). Twenty-nine people were present and fourteen joined the course. It was marked by all Mrs. Gestell's energy, sympathy, and wide practical knowledge of the subject. On Oct. 22nd, Mrs. Gestell dealt with "The Influence of Environment," twenty members were present. On Nov. 2nd, "Habits of Childhood," twenty-two present. On Nov. 9th, "Rules of life in Childhood and Youth," twenty present. The course therefore seems popular and is certainly very valuable.--On Oct. 21st, at 46, Eaton Square (by kind permission of Col. and Mrs. Tufnell), Dr. Arthur Somervell gave a most brilliant and delightful lecture on "Music" to about 40 members. He traced the influence of music from the Greek and Japanese civilisations down to the present day, and then, turning to more practical subjects, he begged that all children should be trained, not necessarily as performers, but as educated and happy listeners. About the most valuable time for this training (with its immense influence on the formation of character) was from three to ten years when the unconscious mind receives this culture most readily. "They should be easily trained to read at sight, to detect notes and intervals; and, above all, rely on the hearing of good music. None are better than the national songs of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Every child's mind should be saturated with the Robin Hood songs, the love, May-day, drinking, fighting, and sea-songs of their country. They are in the blood of the people, and to each childish spirit come as a bath of beautiful melody." Lady Campbell, branch representative, gave expression to the gratitude of the audience.--On Nov. 4th, at 38, Lowndes Square (by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Whitbread), Miss Lurie gave an address on "The Habitat of Plants," Professor Oliver in the chair. Owing to the lateness of the lecture few (13) members were present, but Professor Oliver expressed his gratification at the botanical work of the P.N.E.U. and inspected the Bayswater Branch portfolios for 1903 and 1904 with great interest. --Next day, Nov. 5th, Miss Taylor began a series of six Nature Rambles by taking a party of sixteen to Holly Lodge, Campden Hill, where how plants distributed their seeds was studied. The party then divided into two parts, one studied a silver elm and the other a horse-chestnut, both still in the glory of their autumn foliage. Drawings, photographs, and descriptions were all satisfactory. On Nov. 12th, the party, reinforced by four more members, visited the Botanical Gardens, where autumn colouring and the fall of the leaf were studied, both on the trees and with the microscope. In both walks the weather was beautifully mild and sunny.

BRISTOL--The first meeting of the second session of the Bristol centre of the P.N.E.U. was held on Friday, Oct. 28th, at University College, Bristol, when Mrs. Clement Parsons lectured to an audience of 70 members and friends on "A Vital Education." Professor Barrell took the chair. Mrs. Clement Parsons took as her text the recently published "Short Synopsis of the Educational Philosophy, advanced by Miss Mason, the founder of the Parents' National Educational Union." Professor Barrell, in thanking Mrs. Parsons for her lecture, suggested that lack of proper purpose in parental training created the opposition to authority observed in many children; he also approved of the insistence on giving a child a good vocabulary, both in English and foreign languages. It was announced that the next lecture would be given by Dr. Florence Stoney, M.D., B.Sc. (Lon.), on "Children's Health."

CROYDON.--On Friday, Oct. 21st, a meeting of the P.N.E.U. was held at Woodford House School (by kind permission of Miss Walford). Miss Neligan, who should have taken the chair, was unable to be present, and Miss Walford presided in her place. After expressing regret for Miss Neligan's absence, Miss Walford called upon Mrs. Hall to read various notices, after which the chairman asked Mrs. Clement Parsons to give her paper on "Vital Education." The paper, which was most able and interesting, was an amplification with many illustrations of the "Short Synopsis of the Educational Philosophy advanced by the Founder of the Parents' National Educational Union." Mrs. Clement Parsons took the principles of education laid down by Miss Mason, and enlarged upon them one after another, throwing new light upon them by her apt quotations and original--in many cases, racy--illustrations. At the the close of the meeting, Miss Walford thanked Mrs. Clement Parsons for her kindness in coming to address the Croydon Branch--The second meeting of the Branch was held at the Red House (by kind permission of Mrs. Mermell), Mr. Mermell in the chair. Miss Penethorne proposed a motion that competition is not a sufficient reason for the granting of marks and prizes. Her reasons against this system were that the dull or weakly child was judged by its number of marks and not by its endeavour to learn, which was unfair. Rewards should be the natural consequences of our actions and the child should be so taught that the interest in its work made it eager to advance without the prospect of immediate reward; the real fruits of labour are often gathered years after. Miss Penethorne strongly disapproved of the working for scholarships, and examinations, as she did not consider they were a test of ability, the scholar being literally crammed often with the subjects in which they had neither talent nor interest. The taking of marks and scholarships did not prove the pupil to be more enlightened or in a condition of mind to do well in after life, as shown by the history of many eminent men. Miss Leahy, Miss Walford, and Miss Clark took part in the discussion, and Miss Leahy and Miss Walford, though agreeing with Miss Penethorne in the main, felt that for large classes it was absolutely necessary for teachers to use marks as a record for their own guidance, and they recommended that pupils should not work individually for marks, but should strive for the honour of their class to attain a class standard, thus inducing a co-operative competition rather than an individual one. The meeting closed with a reply from Miss Penethorne to the several questions that had been asked her.

GLASGOW.--On Friday. Nov. 11th, Mrs. Berry Hart delivered the opening address at 12, Park Terrace (by kind permission of Mrs. F. J. Stephen). Mrs. Hart spoke on the "Aims and Objects of the Union," a subject which her earnestness and natural eloquence rendered most interesting to a large audience. She pointed out that the large class who scoff at this Society ignore the advances that education has made during the past forty or fifty years, and the assistance which parents find in having educational doctrine gathered from all quarters and laid before them. So-called "healthy neglect" and "wise passiveness" may cloak indolence and a desire to relegate our own responsibilities to others. Dwelling on the importance of environment, habit, and living ideas in the formation of character, she indicated some of the errors into which parents may unwittingly fall, and from which they may be saved by bearing in mind "the faith of the Union." Passing on to the various ways in which the Union gives direct help, Mrs. Hart spoke of (1) Home training; (2) Influence brought to bear on schoolmasters and schoolmistresses; (3) The Parents' Review School, (4) The Mothers' Educational Course; (5) and Nature Study. The last point she illustrated by a fascinating account of the work of the Edinburgh Natural History Club, and by an interesting description of her recent visit to Scale How. She described with enthusiasm the methods there pursued, and the inspiring influence of Miss Mason's personality. After recounting how the Union came into existence as the outcome of Miss Mason's interest in child-life, she briefly summed up its objects and principles. Its aim is moral and spiritual. It desires to control the environment rather than to mould the character. It endeavours to strengthen the child and bring its appetites under the control of its will. At the close, Mrs. Reilte moved a hearty vote of thanks to the lecturer, and many members expressed their gratitude for her inspiring words.

HAMPSTEAD.---The first meeting took place on Wednesday evening, Oct 19th when Dr. Spenser, Headmaster of University College School, lectured on "Some Aspects of English Universities," and chair was taken by the Mayor of Hampstead (Dr. G. Collingwood Andrews). Dr. Spenser gave an interesting survey of the various types of students and tutors who pass through our great Universities and of the influence exercised by them on the life of the nation. He said that the undergraduates come from three sources, the great public schools, the provincial grammar schools, and the cadets of noble houses, with whom it is a tradition to take high honours. They may be classed into those who have to make their own way in the world, and those who are born to ease. In the absence of any family tradition, the youth finds that it is difficult to realise any compelling power at the University, and if he does not take the intellectual life seriously, he is prone to become an athlete or a loafer. This constitutes a serious danger to the body politic, for what is the raison d'être of such a man at the University? What he gets there costs him very little to acquire, and he gains little of the atmosphere of culture. It is true that the athlete must strive for his goal, but far too much encouragement is given to such by the College authorities, and we look back regretfully to the better balanced lives of former days. When we turn to the class to whom it is necessary to gain distinction, Dr. Spenser considered that on the whole it is a disadvantage to them to go to the University if the parents have no substance, as they are only trained for the careers of the Church or the teaching profession. With regard to the tutors, it is a wonderful contrast to pass from the busy life of the world to the academic calm of school or college. What experience of the world can a tutor acquire there to qualify him as guide, philosopher and friend to the young Englishman? Mr. Rhodes has shown us plainly in his will what he thought of the business and practical capacity of college authorities. In conclusion, Dr. Spenser suggested that raising the standard of the entrance examinations would eliminate the mere athlete and loafer, also that there would be real gain if the degrees in medicine and law admitted to actual work, instead of merely qualifying for study. He looked with hope to the non-residential colleges, for much had been done there towards solidarity of life, and the problems untouched by residential colleges were rapidly being solved by the unresidential colleges on Scotch and German models.

HYDE PARK AND BAYSWATER.-- Hon. Sec., Mrs. E. L. Franklin, 50, Porchester Terrace, Hyde Park. "At Home" Thursday mornings, or by appointment. --On Oct. 18th, a meeting was held at 6, Gloucester Square (by kind permission of Mrs. Jessel), when Dr. Ralph Vincent lectured on "Infant Nutrition." He spoke of substitute feeding as against artificial feeding and described the way in which milk is modified in special laboratories under the Walker-Gordon Company. He laid stress on the necessity of stemming the deterioration of the race by helping poorer class mothers to a right knowledge of infant feeding, and shewed what was already being done in this direction. --On Nov. 9th, at 65 Queensborough Terrace (by kind permission of Mrs. Mudie Cooke), a very large audience listened to a delightful address from Miss Gray, headmistress of St. Paul's Girls' School, Hammersmith, on "Wholesome Neglect," which she has kindly allowed to be printed in the Parents' Review and which will appear shortly. In her opening remarks Miss Gray urged upon her audience not to omit to read Miss Mason's article on "Masterly Inactivity," which will appear in the 3rd volume of the "Home Education Series." --The next lecture will be held on Dec. 16th, not Dec. 8th as announced, when Mrs. Henderson will speak on "The Possibilities of Historical Teaching in a Cathedral City," with illustrations and diagrams and special reference to holiday excursions. --Mrs. Franklin's course of lectures on educational philosophy is being well attended and will recommence towards the end of January.

LEEDS.--On Oct. 19th, Dr. Helen Greene, of Derby, gave a very bright and practical lecture to this branch on the subject of "Home Nursing." She pointed out that if the human machine goes wrong, we must give it (1) rest, (2) the simplest fuel, (3) the best supply of air possible, and then proceeded to give some simple directions as to the choice and management of a sick room, the way to wash a sick child, to change bed clothes, etc. The address was amusingly illustrated by incidents in the lecturer's own experience.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA.--By the kind invitation of Mrs. Edward Bage, a drawing room meeting was held at her house, "Cranford," East St. Kilda, on Tuesday, Sept. 20th. About fifty ladies and gentlemen were present. A discussion on "Home Lessons" was opened by Dr. E. L. Gault, and a most interesting and animated debate followed, in which there was a valuable interchange of views on the part of both teachers and parents. This sub-branch is arranging for a large meeting shortly, to be held in the Prahran Town Hall, when a lecture on "Habit" will be delivered by Frank Tate, Esq., M.A., Director of Education in Victoria.

REIGATE, REDHILL AND DISTRICT.--A meeting of this branch was held on Friday Nov. 11th at the Priory, Nutfield (by kind permission of Mrs. Fielden), when Dr. Schofield lectured on "The Unconscious Mind." There was a large attendance. In the absence of the President, Dr. Stone, Mrs. Sim, one of the vice-presidents, occupied the chair. Dr. Schofield treated the subject physiologically, psychologically and practically. From the physiological point of view he showed that consciousness was connected with the surface of the brain, which, he explained, consisted of three regions, the upper, the middle and the lower. He declared that psychologically the existence of the unconscious mind was definitely admitted in England as far back as 1888, but is still denied by many psychologists. The eye sees parts of the body and parts it cannot see; so consciousness sees some of the mental processes, and parts it cannot see. The conscious part of the mind he also compared to the spectrums--the visible parts of ether vibrations with unseen ranges extending each side of it. Practically. Dr. Schofield endeavoured to show the existence of the unconscious mind in many ways. In some diseases of the nervous system, if there existed no mind, but consciousness, the victims must produce the irritation of disease consciously, and hence, under the older psychology, were logically fraudulent. But if the unconscious mind is admitted, these unhappy sufferers are delivered ever and for all from this cruel stigma, for the symptoms are unconsciously produced, and without their will. He further endeavoured to explain that intuition, instinct, character, the personality, genius, memory, and even religion, had one and all their seat and centre in the unconscious mind. A discussion, in which some of the lecturer's main propositions were strongly attacked, followed. In this, Mr. Sewill, the Rev. Given Wilson, Mr. Sim, the Rev. Hartwell Jones, and Mrs. Sim took part. A cordial vote of thanks to the lecturer having been carried, the meeting adjourned to tea.

RICHMOND.--A meeting took place on Nov. 11th, at Mrs. Scott's residence, the Old Palace, when there was a good attendance. An address was given by Mr. Oliver, of Wimbledon, on "Memory and Forgetfulness." A child's mind was, he observed, like a clean piece of blotting paper, and we should be careful to store it only with healthy impressions. It was desirable that they should be taught to read whilst quite young, at the age of three or four--at that age they learned unconsciously, but if it were delayed until the age of seven or eight it needed conscious effort, and was much more difficult. A dead set was made nowadays against the teaching of dates and tables, but he considered the committal of these to memory a necessary foundation of information. There were three kinds of memory, based upon hearing, upon seeing, and upon an intelligent understanding. Obstinate refusal to learn was much rarer than was sometimes supposed--he had only come across two such in twenty-eight years. Frequent condemnation was heard of teaching directed merely to memory, but he had observed that students in his class of a dreamy temperament were more apt to retain their knowledge if taught first by the ear and helped to understand afterwards. An interesting discussion followed.

SCARBOROUGH.--Inaugural meetings of any local society generally give a very good idea of the probable number of members for the coming session; and judging by the large and influential gathering, in connection with the Parents' National Educational Union, assembled at Riseborough on Nov. 2nd, at the invitation of Mr. George Rowntree, the coming session of that society promises exceptionally well. The Union is essentially one of Scarborough's interesting and helpful organisations, its aim being among other things, to assist parents of all classes to understand the best principles and methods of education in all its aspects, and especially those which concern the formation of habits and character. It also collects and makes known the best information and experience on the subject of the training of children, and affords parents opportunities for co-operation and consultation, while stimulating their enthusiasm through the sympathy of members acting together. The list of subjects to be treated during the coming session is a markedly interesting one, with speakers having special qualifications to deal with them. The opening address was given by Mrs. Penrose, of Barnard Castle, with Mrs. J. E. Ellis in the chair. The subject was "The Sacred Relationships of Family Life," which was treated in an able and interesting manner, all that was said being the outcome of much thought. Now is the time to join the local branch of the union. The meetings are usually in the afternoons, and are generally held in private houses, following afternoon tea.

WAKEFIELD.--Mrs. Ralph gave an address at Wakefield on Oct. 27th. Her subject was "What to do with our young people when they leave school." She urged that home life should be held up as the highest life for a girl to look forward to on leaving school, and that it should be held in greater esteem. If a girl be obliged to earn her own living, she should have some home training first. Girls should be trained for home work so that they may not undertake what they do not understand. If they undertake Sunday school classes, training and preparation are necessary. There is so much a woman of experience can do in the world, that, if she train her daughter to be a capable house manager, she can take a useful place on many committees where younger help is unsuitable.

WINCHESTER.--At a meeting held on Oct. 19th, at 3 o'clock, in one of the lecture rooms of the College, Mrs. Clement Parsons read an interesting and suggestive paper on "The Training of the Will." She pointed out the importance of beginning this training in very early childhood, not merely by the negative teaching so customary in the "don't" and "sit still" of the nurse and mother, but by putting into the child's mind active good desires as a substitute for the bad ones we wish to get rid of. She showed three phases in the development of the will. (1) The natural one of getting what is wanted; (2) the Stoical one--the putting of the will in harmony with nature; and (3) the higher Christian one of putting the will in harmony with the will of a Divine Personality. In conclusion, she pointed out with illustrations the danger of a will too strong for the reason, showing itself in childhood by obstinacy or refusal to do a thing obviously necessary or good for the child, but she observed that this danger of an over-strong will was not nearly such a real one in these days as was its opposite, namely, Accedia, anaemia of will, listlessness, melancholy, showing itself in childhood in peevishness, idleness, complaints. She concluded her paper with extracts on this universal attitude of mind from Cassian (V. century), Dante and the Bishop of Oxford. --The next meeting will be held on Nov. 12th, at 3.30, when Mr. Green will lecture on "Bees," with lantern illustrations.

Typed by ellijay, May 2024; Proofread by LNL, June 2024