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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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The House of Education

by Charlotte Mason
(London: PNEU, 1921?), 1921?, pgs. 61-66


A liberal education for all: Parents Union School prospectus, specimen programmes, suggestions, &c.

The object of the House of Education is to provide for women a special training in the knowledge and the principles which belong to their peculiar work, the bringing up of children. It is needless to enlarge on the value of training in giving impulse and direction as well as knowledge and power; and this particular training should be of service to all who may, in any way, be concerned in education.

Candidates for admission must have received a sound education. There is an entrance examination. The students of the College qualify to become:

a. Primary Governesses. These teach boys and girls from six to ten years of age, whether in families or in Preparatory Schools following the P.U.S. programmes. They do not take "entire charge."
b. Secondary Governesses. These qualify as teachers to more advanced pupils (aged from 10 to 17 or 18). They should, as a rule, enter with certificates of attainments, though such certificates are not indispensable as the entrance examination affords a test.
c. Mistresses of P.U.S. Classes or Schools. It is increasingly common for a few families to combine and for a class or a small school which one or more House of Education Students may be invited to carry on; (such a nucleus should guarantee the required salary or salaries). Several children in one Form or a few in two Forms constitute a Class. Should such "nucleus" contain children of varying ages and in, say, three or four Forms, the children make a School, though it may be a small one.
d. Mistresses in Secondary Schools in which the P.U.S. Programmes are followed.

There is but one course of training; the division into (a) and (b) depends upon the student's previous attainments; the entrance examination (a test of intelligence) must be taken by all.

The work of the College may be classed broadly under the following heads:

I. Ethics and the philosophy, history, methods and principles of Education. This work is tested by three papers set by the Inspector, dealing with the history of education, practical education (methods, etc.), and the theory of education; a student's final certificate largely depends upon these papers. The aim of education, as presented to the students, is to produce a human being at his best—physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually quickened by religion, and with some knowledge of nature, art, literature, and manual work.

II. The practice of education under direction (in the Practising School, which includes Forms I to VI of the Parents' Union School, the six Programmes of the School are followed in every subject); criticism lessons; the work is tested by a lesson given by each student before the Inspector, the marks she receives going towards her Certificate.

III. The teaching of languages: elementary Greek; Latin, French (great pains are taken to secure fluency and a good accent, and some residence in France is usually insisted on.), German and Italian, on P.U.S. Methods; courses of lectures in French on French History and French Literature. The Inspector hears each student do some viva voce work in each of the languages at the close of her training.

IV. The teaching of Mathematics upon modern methods.

V. Nature-Lore, which includes the acquiring of familiar acquaintance with the natural objects—wild flowers and fruits, trees, birds and insect life—of this beautiful country; field work (in botany, natural history, geography and geology) and the keeping and illustrating in colour of a Nature-diary. The Nature-Lore Certificate assures a knowledge which should enable the teacher to gratify the intelligent curiosity of children, and to introduce her older pupils to the delightful pursuits of the field naturalist. This nature study is supplemented by definite scientific teaching in botany, biology, geology, astronomy, etc.

VI. The teaching of English, reading, singing, and the piano, receive attention. On every Tuesday evening, some one of the students reads a paper dealing with a given author or composer, illustrated by readings or performances from his works. These evenings are known as "Scale How Tuesdays."

VII. Some teaching in human physiology and hygiene is given; first aid and home nursing (tested by the examinations of the St. John Ambulance Association); Ling's Swedish system of Gymnastics is followed, both in free-standing movements and in exercises performed with apparatus—Swedish boom, etc. in the Gymnasium. The art of taking walks, Guiding, cricket, hockey, graceful calisthenic exercises with the ball, skipping-rope, etc., and dancing, are amongst the means of health and happiness to the use of which the students are trained.

VIII. Art: Drawing from the object, figure, landscape, in charcoal and water-colour (monochrome or colour scheme), on broad artistic lines. Modelling in clay, wood carving.

IX. Arts and Crafts. Prominence is given to manual training both for its own sake and as affording various interests. Among the subjects taught are cardboard Sloyd, bookbinding, wood-carving, basket-making, leather and brass repousse work, needlework, knitting and netting.

The students are trained to carry their pupils through the progressive classes of the Parents' Union School, which includes in its Programmes, Bible knowledge and Church History, Latin, French, German and Italian, Mathematics, Literature, History, Geography, Scientific and other subjects, in addition to those indicated above. They also take charge, two at a time, week about, of the girls in the Practising School, under the Head Mistress and the House Mistress, in a separate boarding-house.

The College training course occupies two years, at the end of which the students sits for the House of Education Certificate, which may be of the first, second or third class. The Class of her certificate is not the sole or even the chief test of the qualifications of a students.

Students are not admitted under eighteen, nor for less than two years.

The year is divided into three terms, Spring, Summer, and Winter; the First from the middle of January to the middle of April; the Second from the end of April to the middle of July; the Third from the end of September to the middle of December.

There are three vacations, Winter, Easter, and Summer. Part of the Summer vacation is spent by the senior students in probationary teaching; and the junior students are expected to spend some weeks in France.

Students enter in January.

The training is carried on at "Scale How," a finely situated building on high ground including—besides sleeping and living rooms—Lecture Rooms, Work Room, Practising School, Gymnasium, etc., in its own beautiful grounds.

The House of Education Certificate, which is awarded to successful students at the end of their training upon their examination in the "Theory and Practice of Education," guarantees practical skill in teaching; some knowledge of the principles of physical, ethical, intellectual, and religious Education; and that the student is instructed to train nerve and muscle, intelligence, will and conscience in such wise as to work towards the fuller development of the children committed to her care. It certifies a knowledge of P.N.E.U. methods of teaching and of text-books; and that the student is in touch with the educational thought and work of the Union. It attests, too, that she is trained to educate the hand by means of useful and delightful Home Arts. The certificate testifies, in a word, to some degree of the "all round" qualifications necessary to those who take in hand the education of young people up to the age of seventeen or eighteen, at which age specialisation should begin.

The Certificate will be awarded only when the student shows herself possessed of—to adapt a phrase—the enthusiasm of childhood, which makes all work of teaching and training heart-service done to God.

The Parents' Union School issues a common curriculum for families and schools. Programmes of work and examination papers on them, in six forms (for pupils aged from 6-18), are sent to members term by term, and the pupil's work is examined and reported upon.

It is necessary that anyone employing a House of Education student should enter the children in the Parents' Union School and become a member of the P.N.E.U. Also, it is most desirable that ladies inquiring for such students should not be at the same time in correspondence with other candidates for the post. The students do not advertise or answer advertisements if they wish at any time to receive posts through the College. The House of Education does not train nursery governesses. A student's salary is paid by the term (one third of the year's salary) and a term's notice on each side is necessary.

The interest felt in the House of Education is widespread, and it is not possible to supply the demand for governesses trained here. Earnest and well bred women who are looking out for good work are invited to offer themselves for training. The need of devoted co-workers in their labour of love is grievously felt by mothers, especially by some of those whose engagements press heavily upon them. There is also a large demand for teachers in schools, but it is possible to supply students only to those which take the Parents' Union School work.


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