April 18, 2023

Artistic Atmosphere at a Relational Conference

Activities and opportunities to see and enjoy more around you – for yourself and/or your students.

Artistic Atmosphere at a Relational Conference

PNEU Atmosphere

Parents' National Educational Union (PNEU) conference sessions were liberally seasoned with references to poetry, scripture, music, and more as well as times to enjoy them. Each selection below was referenced, alluded to, or included in the 1908 PNEU conference and so, incidentally, gives a greater sense of the artistic and literary atmosphere which surrounded participants at this early "Charlotte Mason" gathering. As we understand the atmosphere of these events and records, we gain the important cultural and situational context needed in order to best interpret the ideas presented and discover their role in a relational education today.

Apart from this historical value, however, simply delight in these lovely pieces by yourself or with your students.

Poetry Reading

Rarely, rarely comest thou by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The 1908 conference theme is a line taken from Shelley's poem: "I love all that thou lovest, Spirit of Delight." As you read the poem, jot down anything and everything you notice about it. Write down any questions that come to mind, underline phrases that strike you (in a positive or negative way), and anything else you notice about the rhyme scheme, length, number of stanzas, etc. Also, notice the interesting shift that happens in tone exactly half way through! What do you think Shelley is talking about in the line used as the 1908 conference theme?

The Revelation by Coventry Patmore

VI. Human Experience: Seed Growing Secretly by Henry Vaughan

The poems by Patmore and Vaughan are quoted by Charlotte Mason in her letter given at the opening of the conference. Read the poems aloud to yourself, and perhaps discuss them with a friend.

Bible Reading

Mark 4:26-29 (sometimes called the parable of the "Seed Growing Secretly")

Reflect on this passage and consider narrating it in writing or through a sketch or painting. This parable is implicitly referenced in the poem by Vaughan above. If desired, you might write a paragraph or two on the way the scripture reading helps you understand a different aspect of the poem.


Sonata in D Major for Violin by Jean-marie Leclaire

This piece was played as part of a musical presentation for conference attendees. The program included pieces from early composers such as Jean-marie Leclaire (French composer; 1697-1764), others such as Brahms or Schumanm, and also children's songs and folk songs.


"Spring" by Botticelli

After looking at the picture for several minutes, discuss it with a friend or jot down all you notice yourself. Consider lines, shapes, the mood of the painting, colors, the characters in the painting, etc. The painting is from the late 1400s and is extremely large, 6'8" tall by 10'4" wide! The medium Botticelli used is called tempura paint, which is extremely long lasting and also often includes egg yolks!


Make your own egg tempura.

Material referenced or included in the Twelfth Annual P.N.E.U Conference at the Fine Arts Academy in Bristol, June 12, 1908 and published in the Parents’ Review, 19. Issue 7-8. London: Parents’ National Educational Union.

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