In Defence of Childhood: From Margaret McMillan to 'Too Much, Too Soon'

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    The McMillan sisters were activists within the English Socialist movement during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. They are famous for pioneering ‘discovery learning’ blended with welfare (educare) in their open air nursery school, located in Deptford, South East London.

    The concept of ‘maternalism’ emerged onto the socio-political stage during the mid-19th century, with the creation of an army of middle class female social workers to ‘minister’ to the poor in the cities that grew rapidly in England after the Industrial Revolution. It was a markedly different way of looking at the problems emerging from working class, industrial poverty than the self-help view taken by the mainstream culture dominated by men (‘malestream’).
    It was a gender divide that typically crossed party political lines.

    The presentation will argue that current gender politics, particularly with respect to the construction of mothering, can still be usefully informed by a maternalist analysis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventGoldsmith’s College History of Education Lecture Series - Goldsmiths, University of London, London, United Kingdom
    Duration: 3 Dec 2015 → …

    Academic seminar/workshop

    Academic seminar/workshopGoldsmith’s College History of Education Lecture Series
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Period3/12/15 → …


    • History of early years
    • Critical Maternalism
    • Nursery Schools


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