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MacKenzie, Hester Millicent

The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy

W. J. Mander

MacKenzie, Hester Millicent (née Hughes: 1863–1942) 

Hester (‘Hettie’) Millicent Mackenzie died in Brockweir, near Chepstow on 10 December 1942. The daughter of Walter William Hughes of Bristol, she was educated in Clifton, Switzerland, University College, Bristol and Cambridge Teacher Training College. In 1892 University College, Cardiff established a department for the training of women as secondary school teachers and she was appointed as its first Head. In 1898 she married the idealist philosopher J. S. Mackenzie. In 1904 she was made associate professor of education and in 1910 full professor (thereby making her the first woman professor in the Britain), which position she held until her retirement in 1915. She was one of the founders of the Cardiff and District Women's Suffrage Society, and in the 1918 General Election she stood as a Labour Party candidate for the University of Wales. (She was badly beaten by a coalition candidate.) After her retirement she went, together with her husband, on two lecture tours, visiting India, Burma and Ceylon between 1920 and 1922, and Berkeley, California in 1923.

She contributed articles to various educational periodicals. Her only book, Hegel's Educational Theory and Practice, which was published in 1909, is a notable early foray into a still much neglected area. Admitting that Hegel wrote no specific treatise on education, she nevertheless argues that it is possible to piece together his philosophy of education drawing on his general philosophical writings, his letters and the addresses which he delivered as Rector of the Nürnberg Gymnasium (several of which are included as an Appendix to the book). After a biographical account of the philosopher, she argues that for Hegel education was essential in the evolutionary process whereby we come to a self-conscious realization of our relation to the universe at large; a breaking away of self-estrangement from our purely natural life to a higher spiritual life; a losing one's life in order to find it. The emphasis is on the training of intellect and moral character rather than the senses or the imagination, and for this purpose, in the matter of curriculum, he argued for the pre-eminent place of classics. The book is basically exposition and somewhat shallow (it was intended for teachers) but, although supportive, it is not without an awareness of the difficulties of Hegel's position, such as his disparaging view of women's education (women can be trained only in ‘picture thinking’, unlike men who can be trained in ‘thought’) and his overemphasis on the intellectual side of mind at the expense of feeling. The book ends with a comparison between Hegel and Froebel.


Hegel's Educational Theory and Practice (1909).Find this resource:

    Other Relevant Works

    Moral Education: The Training of the Teacher’, International Journal of Ethics, vol.19 (1909), pp.419–26Find this resource:

      W. J. Mander

      See also Female Philosophers; Idealism