July Members Meeting

Friday 1 July at 7.30pm at
Burnside City Uniting Church, 384 Portrush Rd Tusmore

THE TEACHER-EDUCATOR AND THE SUFFRAGIST: Lillian de Lissa’s and Muriel Matters’ lives and work in Australia and the United Kingdom by Kay Whitehead
This presentation explores connections between the lives and work of two women – suffragist, Muriel Matters (1877-1969), and teacher-educator, Lillian de Lissa (1885-1967). Both were born in Australia but spent most of their adult years in England.

In 1905, Muriel Matters travelled to England and plunged into the suffrage movement and the Women’s
Freedom League. In 1907 Lillian de Lissa became the foundation principal of the Adelaide Kindergarten Training College. In 1910 they met in Adelaide during Muriel Matters’ lecture tour on the British Suffrage

Maria Montessori’s ideas about early childhood education in Italy spread like wildfire in the English-speaking world from 1912, and de Lissa and Matters engaged with her work during World War One. In
1914, de Lissa studied with Montessori in Italy, returned to Adelaide before being recruited to England to establish Gipsy Hill Training College in 1917. Matters studied with Montessori in Spain in 1916 and then worked with Sylvia Pankhurst to open a Montessori nursery in the London slums. The presentation concludes with their mostly parallel lives and work in the interwar years, and highlights
their commitments to making a more equal society.

About the Presenter:
Kay Whitehead is a historian of education and Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia and also Flinders University where she was a professor in the School of Education for many years. Her
main field of research is nineteenth and early twentieth century teachers in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. She has published many articles and a book on Lillian de Lissa and her students. More recently, her research has been used to publish a digital ‘Timeline of the History of Early Childhood Education in South Australia’ on the University of South Australia website.