We look to the old PNEU Programmes to see what a Charlotte Mason style education included term by term. These programmes were used by Parent Union Schools (PUS) across the country, and they were also mailed to homes for the first homeschooling families to use.
By studying these we are able to see all of the subjects that were covered and the books used over the course of a term. They are very interesting to look at, and we can learn things that aren’t made clear elsewhere. For instance, I find it interesting that over and over again, only a portion of a book is used.
Typically the book is picked up in the next term.
Despite the seemingly small page counts, the list can still be intimidating at first glance. But Charlotte Mason and the PNEU had a tool to help teachers get through all of the material set forth in the Programmes: a schedule. Take a closer look, click on the image above. For a print quality copy, click here: PUS Schedules
These schedules, otherwise knows as the Time-tables, are a lot to take in, and frankly it’s taken me quite some time to figure out all of their idiosyncrasies. But they are definitely worth studying.
The schedules were used primarily by the PUS, in classrooms with 20-30 children, between six and eighteen years old. It was typical for these schools to have four or five assistants available to help the teacher. The schedules were an accompaniment to the term programme, but they were not the law. In fact teachers were advised to use them as a starting place to creating a schedule that would work best for their school.
“The P.U.S. time-table is intended to serve simply as a guide to the teacher in making her own, for it stands to reason that no two schoolrooms are identical as regards the work done, or the time allotted it.“ – Elsie Kitching, What Subjects to Leave Out of Class II When Time is Limited.
In I Buy A School, the author was charged with the task of creating the year’s schedule early in her career:
“Another boost to morale was Lanc asking me to shut myself up for an afternoon and plan the timetables for the whole school. I almost put her down to gather the youngest children round in her sitting room (Lady Royden’s study) to read to them after tea but thought it might seem cheek.” – Marion Berry, I Buy A School, pg 66
Although only morning hours are covered on these schedules, there were specific schedules adhered to in the afternoons as well. You will also note that the schedules included Saturdays. We know that not all of the schools were in session on Saturday though, because K. Clendinned notes in the article On the Possibility of Doing P.U.S. Work While Keeping Strictly to the Time-Tables that “There is no Saturday school.”
Looking more closely we see that everyone started school at 9:00 am, but Form I (1-3 grade) ended at 11:30, Form II (4-6 grade) ended at 12:00, and everyone else continued until 1:00. The length of lessons increased over time as well, with Form I students completing lessons within a twenty minute time frame and Form V and VI (11-12 grade) topping out at forty-five minutes for a lesson.
Bible was only scheduled on four of those six days of school. It’s possible that this is indicative of a time when Christian families read the Bible at home daily. You’ll notice that the Bible lessons were scheduled at the same time for all forms. That does not mean that they were actually doing it together, but it is possible. In I Buy a School, Marion Berry tells several stories which are set during “morning prayer time”, when the whole school was present.
Play time or drill, (drill being a structure time of physical activity,) was scheduled in the middle of the day for all forms. K. Clendinned comments that, “Where there is a considerable number of children they must as a rule all drill together and all play together.” And also that, “The big girls are the making of play-time. They have learnt to use ten minutes so well.” So, although the schedule does not show an overlap of drill and play time for all forms, it seemed important to some that it do indeed overlap.
It’s interesting to look at how long was spent on various subjects. Foreign language gets started in Form 1 (1-3 grade), but by the time they were in Form III (7-8 grade) they were spending over 6 hours a week on 4 different languages! Conversely, time spent on the sciences totaled 2 hours and 15 minutes in high school. Not including outdoor time in the afternoon, of course. The ratio of these two subjects is not at all typical for today’s schools or homeschools. In fact, we might find the two switched today.
Lastly, notice that arithmetic, algebra and geometry were all being done in the same week in upper years. You might also note how much time is scheduled for “mental math” in the middle school years.
There are some things that are listed on the programmes, which seem to be missing on the schedules. Some of those things were scheduled in the afternoon, like:
- Music appreciation
- Music lessons
- Picture study
But some omissions are not as easily explained. The following notes are just my speculation:
- Folk song – It’s possible that this wasn’t listed because it was more common for people to sing folk songs during that time in history. Maybe it didn’t need to be scheduled. However, in modern times it might be appropriate to included folk songs as part of a history lesson.
- Literature (in Forms 2 and 3) – Literature was often and afternoon activity. It was also sometimes read in another language, so at times you might see a foreign language on the schedule, but they were actually reading literature in that other language. Also, Literature was listed on the programmes as optional Holiday and Evening reading.
- Copywork/transcription (in the upper forms) – Students in the upper forms kept their own Common Place books. Their “copywork” was likely to record sections of their choosing in those books.
I hope this helps you understand what a morning schedule looked like in Charlotte Mason’s time. Tomorrow we will take a quick look at the afternoon schedule.