British Nurseries, Head and Heart: McMillan, Owen and the genesis of the education/care dichotomy

Jarvis, Pam and Liebovich, Betty. 2015. British Nurseries, Head and Heart: McMillan, Owen and the genesis of the education/care dichotomy. Women's History Review, 24(6), pp. 917-937. ISSN 0961-2025 [Article]

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Image (The Rachel McMillan Open Air Nursery School, showing a shelter in the background.)
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Image (Queen Mary visits the Deptford Nursery, 1921; Abigail Eliot (see below) is the adult second from left)
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Abstract or Description

This article explores the origins of the modern nursery school in England, focusing upon the early work of the Nursery School Association and its internal debates, with particular consideration of the contributions of the first president and first secretary of the association, respectively Margaret McMillan and Grace Owen. It reflects upon dichotomies within the constructions of the purposes of the nursery espoused by these women and their supporters, essentially rooted in a care versus education debate, and the consequent differences in their orientations to the maternalist milieu that formed a backdrop to their activities. While the dispute between McMillan and Owen has been all but forgotten, similar dichotomies continue within policy creation for modern nursery classes and day-care environments.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Nursery School Association, Pedagogy, Nurture, Nursery Teachers, Frobelians, Maternalism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies > Centre for Identities and Social Justice


2 April 2015Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 Jul 2015 08:52

Last Modified:

15 Apr 2021 11:48

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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