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Margaret McMillan and the Politics of the Nursery School

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Goldsmiths Research Online
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Abstract

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.

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