Home Education

Local Group Meetings and Conferences for Continuing Education

August 26, 2014 by Brandy Vencel

Last time, we talked about magazines as continuing education. Books are huge, of course, but Miss Mason’s parents and teachers also received training via magazines, and so can we.

Now we’re turning our attention to two other components: local group meetings and conferences.


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Local Group Meetings

I explained before that the Parents’ Review magazine was the publishing arm of the PNEU. The PNEU was the organization that helped promote Charlotte Mason’s philosophy initially, and later played a huge part in the Liberal Education for All movement.

One regular feature in Parents’ Review was called PNEU Notes. In it, we get a glimpse of what these local groups were up to. One thing that becomes evident very quickly when we read through these is that they met regularly (probably about once per month), and the meetings included lectures and addresses. We see a huge variety of topics — everything from physical education and health, books for children, habit formation, teaching chronology, and on and on. One thing is certain: people who attended these meetings left knowing more than when they arrived!

Some of the best articles appearing in Parents’ Review are actually transcripts of these very lectures.

Parents who were teaching their children at home, or directing their governesses to give their children a Charlotte Mason education (which they called a PNEU education), were attending these meetings and growing their knowledge base every single month. This was lifestyle of learning and intellectual fellowship with others.

Conferences

Did you know that the PNEU also hosted an annual conference? Miss Mason was usually there. We know this because in 1901, she was unable to attend due to illness, and wrote a letter of regret to Lady Aberdeen (Lord and Lady Aberdeen presided over the conference that year). These conferences apparently lasted a number of days. I say this because the 1899 conference was four days long and the 1901 conference was as well. They were quite large, with a reported (in 1897 — the very first conference) 150 people attending Miss Mason’s afternoon lecture and 300-400 attending the evening Conversazione.

Here are a few notes on the content of the conference, which I pulled from my reading in the Parents’ Review:

In all, the conference was both practical and principal-based. It sounds like it was truly amazing.

The End of our History Lessons

Through all of this series, I’ve tried to focus on giving a sort of history lesson — what happened with Charlotte Mason and the PNEU and the college graduates and the mothers involved and so on and so forth. I was trying not to spend much time on my own opinions or observations.

From this point on, though, we’re going to turn our attention to what I think are the huge possibilities for us in light of all of this information.

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