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Mothering for Schooling in the Mid Twentieth Century Australian Women’s Weekly

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This paper examines the magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly during its mid-century heyday for accounts of ‘parenting for schooling’, particularly advice to mothers of schoolchildren about the relationship between home and school. Such advice about schooling was both direct and implied, and appeared across a variety of the Weekly’s sections: in cover illustrations, news, feature articles, advertising, letters and advice columns. The paper tracks representations of the ‘good’ schooling parent, and analyses the expertise, disposition and resources that informed this idea. It is also interesting to see how the magazine framed the work and responsibility of parents relative to that of schoolteachers, and how it represented the relative expertise and authority of parents and schools.

The project reported in this paper forms part of a larger program investigating twentieth and twenty-first century histories of parent-school relations in Australia. The underpinning question is how the ‘good’ educational parent of the 1940s and 1950s—apparently obedient to expert school authority—transformed historically into the apparently vigilant, activist and entrepreneurial ‘good’ parent of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries—holding schools and teachers to account, taking nothing for granted. It is also argued that the school has been an under-appreciated institution in the historiography of mothering.


Helen Proctor is an education historian and ARC Future Fellow in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at Sydney University. This paper is part of a larger project on twentieth and twenty-first century histories of ‘parenting for schooling’. Her publications include A History of Australian Schooling (Campbell & Proctor, 2014).

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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