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A Note on Lectures at the Ambleside Teachers’ College

May 27, 2014 by Brandy Vencel

I know I said that I’d cover the Mothers’ Education Course next — and truly that is what I meant to do. But one thing that came up in my post on Miss Mason’s teachers’ college was that “lecture” was listed on the schedule, and the question was raised about what those lectures contained. I went through the Redeemer files and didn’t find anything notable on the subject. I’m not saying there isn’t anything there, but that nothing jumped out at me in the limited time I had to spend.


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So I was flipping back through my notes and found a few things worth noting, the main thing being lectures. Now, granted, this isn’t spelled out. For the most part, I’m speculating. But I’m thinking that “lectures” might be explained by this passage from The Story of Charlotte Mason:

The staff was headed by V.P. — Miss F.C.A. Williams — who taught us philosophy, education, Latin and mathematics, and took geography walks in the summer. Miss Drury joined the staff in our junior year, 1907, and opened many doors for us — tonic sol-fa, biology, architecture, nature notebooks and handcrafts.

There were mentions of other people — Mlle. Mottu who taught French and supervised the gardens; Miss Sumner who visited to teach drawing, painting and woodcarving; and Mr. Yates who

used to lecture us on Millet and G.F. Watts and would sometimes let us into the secrets of his methods of teaching his little daughter to draw and paint.

One thing to note is that, for the most part, they were not learning how to teach these subjects. They were learning the subjects themselves. Mr. Yates’ secrets regarding the teaching of his daughter were far less significant than his lectures, or his wall sketches that can still be viewed at Ambleside to this day.

A few other things I forgot to mention in my previous post that I will put in here, so that we have a fuller picture of what life at the college was like:

  • Students were given individual garden plots for which to care, and they were expected to take this seriously.
  • Students attended a weekly picture talk off campus, up the hill at the home of one Mrs. Firth, who read to them from John Ruskin’s art commentaries and used reproductions. This is another example of how they did not learn how to give a picture talk, but rather sat through numerous picture talks during their time in college.
  • In some older literature, we see reference to the “student’s stoop” — the mark that heavy study has made upon the body. Cholmondeley says that the students were “saved from physical disaster by daily compulsory walks and early bedding.”

You all always see things I don’t see, so please, once again, share your observations in the comments! We really will get to the Mother’s Education Course, but next week. I thought it would be getting ahead of ourselves not to finish up with our idea of Miss Mason’s college.

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