Dr (Father) Ivo Coelho – A Tribute to
Phyllis Wallbank – An Outstanding Educationist

Coelho LE Mag July 2023

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Live Encounters Magazine July 2023

Phyllis Wallbank (1918-2020): Reminiscences by Dr. (Father) Ivo Coelho.

Photograph courtesy lonergan org
Photograph courtesy https://lonergan.org/2020/04/09/may-our-dear-friend-phyllis-wallbank-be-welcomed-into-the-feast-of-our-lords-last-supper/.

Phyllis Wallbank, MBE, was a British educationist, collaborator and friend of Maria Montessori, and founder of the first all-age Montessori school in Great Britain. Born on 1 September 1918, she died at the age of 101 on 9 April 2020.

I first met Phyllis Wallbank in 1999. We were at the Lonergan Workshop in Boston at Fred Lawrence’s invitation. I was a first time speaker and quite new to the whole thing, so Fred had the kind thought of bringing together “the members of the British Commonwealth,” as he put it. That was how I met Phyllis, David Levy—wonderful combination of British, Jewish and Maritainian[1]—, Sebastian Moore, and others.

As editor of Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education I was always on the lookout for potential contributors, so I got talking with Phyllis who invited me to visit her in England. So the next time I was going over to the USA—I think it was for a small meeting of young Lonergan scholars convoked by Joe Flanagan in 2001—I stopped in London and spent a few days with Phyllis at Meldrum, her lovely little pink house on Dorney Common, not far from Eton and Windsor Castle.

I fell in love with the house: it was beautiful, the bedrooms full of books, and it was absolutely lovely to be able to reach over my head and pull out a history of England to read before falling asleep. And the view from the room was stupendous: it gave over Phyllis’ little back garden, with the pond and the three very large goldfish, the trees, the birds that would come to feed, the farms beyond, and the neighbours’ houses on either side.

Other rooms of the house were full of books on philosophy and music. Phyllis’ husband Newell (Rev. Prebendary Newell Eddius Wallbank, 1914-1996, Rector of St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield, London) had been not only a high Anglican clergyman but also a philosopher and a musician of note. Meldrum, which Phyllis had bought in 1956,[2] was the house to which she and Newell moved after retirement. Both became involved in different ways in Eton College, with Newell conducting services and Phyllis coaching students and introducing them to her Slough Run. She read up on dyslexia, testing children and teaching parents how to help them. At first she went several times a week to Eton College; later, with age, she had them come over to her house where she had built an upstairs study. She also seems to have run a homework club for local children.[3]

Over the years Phyllis told me about Newell and their long life together. They had three children, Judith, Mark and Benedict. “The story of both their lives of service and their 54 year love story, which began during the bombing of London, would make a great movie,” says Patty Price.[4] Newell’s parents were both musicians. His father, Newell Smith Wallbank, was organist at several important churches and a composer of pipe organ music.[5] Newell read music at Queens’ College, Cambridge and in 1936 won a doctorate in music from Trinity College, Dublin. He prepared for Holy Orders at Ripon Hall, Oxford, and was ordained to St Bart’s. The Bishop of London, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, thought that Wallbank, at 33, was too young to be appointed to St Bart’s, but gave him the appointment anyway when Newell told him of the solemn oath made to his godfather, Canon E.S. Savage, that he would succeed him.

Newell loved St Bart’s, a church that had been founded in 1123 by Rahere, court minstrel of Henry I, who had established a fine musical tradition that had continued down the ages. He also became deeply involved in the life of St Bartholomew’s Hospital next door, and from 1968 to 1979 was chaplain of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor, which used the church as its official chapel. He raised money for the restoration of the church in 1972, and had the patronage transferred to Westminster Abbey. An obituary describes Newell thus: “A quick-witted, good-natured man and a faultless mimic, Wallbank had the style of a layman, not a priest, and it was with some reluctance that he served as rural dean of the City of London from 1958 to 1963.”[6]

Newell was Rector of St Bart’s till his retirement in 1979. Phyllis describes her husband

as being deeply religious, with a sparkling wit: ‘There was a lot of laughter and that always saw us through difficulties. He was one of the best-read people in literature as well as philosophy and had a wonderful library of poetry. He was so brilliant and yet so humble.’ She also said that his love ‘allowed my potential to flower,’ even though their external interests could hardly have been more diverse. In Phyllis’ words, ‘A dating agency would never have put us together! I loved riding and dancing, and he was miserable the one time I got him on a horse, and he couldn’t dance. He was so very knowledgeable about music, whereas I only knew what music I liked. He was so disciplined in his approach to life, and I just lived. Yet our love for each other was our rock.’[7]

Newell died during a service at St Bart’s in 1996.[8] Brother Dunstan Robidoux reports a touching memory about Newell’s last moments:

I would like to conclude with my fondest memory of Phyllis Wallbank. It was the last time we visited St Bartholomew’s in the East End, just across the street from St Bart’s Hospital. We were in the old cloister which dates from the twelfth century, and I noticed that Phyllis was dissolving into tears. All the memories of her years there with Newell were coming back. To give her privacy, I quickly absented myself and went to sit by the tomb of Rahere, the canon who had founded St Bart’s in the twelfth century. Phyllis later found me there and, as she sat with me, began to tell me about Newell’s last moments.

There had always been an agreement between them that, whenever he was engaged in services, they would never communicate with each other in any way. On that particular morning, they had gone to St Bart’s to participate in a memorial service. Phyllis sat near Rahere’s tomb up at the front. The clergy began to process in and, for the first time ever, Newell greeted Phyllis, waving to her as he came in, and she waved in response.

The clergy processed on in to take their chapter seats, and as the choir intoned ‘I long, O Lord, to go and live in the house of the Lord,’ Newell’s head simply dropped down and rested on his chest as he passed into eternal life. The canons brought Phyllis to where they had laid him, on the top of a large chest outside in the cloister walk. Newell’s eyes were still open, and Phyllis looked into his blue eyes and simply said to him: ‘Thank you for all the wonderful years that we had together.’[9]

“I had an interesting life and I had a wonderful, remarkable husband,” Phyllis said to Patty Price. “I couldn’t have done anything without his love.”[10] And to me she once said: “What a pity you didn’t get to know him. You would have got along very well.” I treasure Newell’s chalice and paten that Phyllis thought I should have—a little link to someone I never had the fortune of meeting, and who yet is somehow familiar.

Newell’s death must have left a huge void in Phyllis, and I had the impression that it was to help her out of mourning that Tim Russ introduced her to Lonergan. Canon Timothy Russ was the Catholic parish priest of Our Lady of Peace, Burnham, and came from an old Catholic family. He had inherited the manor house and even a vineyard that gave him 600 bottles of wine every year after sharing with cultivators and winemakers. When Phyllis first introduced us in 2001, he was parish priest in Great Missenden. Phyllis told me he had a degree in economics, and that he had studied Lonergan’s economics thoroughly. Tony and Cherie Blair, she added, came to mass at his church sometimes (Great Missenden was Cherie Blair’s home town), and Tim would take the chance to introduce some of Lonergan’s economics into his homily, hoping to get it into Tony’s ears. Tim eventually wrote a couple of articles on Lonergan’s economics for Divyadaan.[11]

So Tim Russ was the one who introduced Phyllis to Lonergan, though it might not have been after Newell’s death, but rather “when she came out of the catacombs” after Newell’s retirement. He put Lonergan’s Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas into Phyllis’ hands, though I can’t imagine why, seeing that Verbum is not exactly an easy book.[12] But Phyllis is not the kind to give up easily. She told me she wrote out passages of the book by hand, and she talks about this, in fact, in a lecture at Boston College:

Fr. Timothy Russ… to keep me quiet gave me a copy of Verbum. Dr. Montessori said to me that she wrote out by hand Dr. Itard and Sequin’s books (one of them 600 pages), because it gave you time to really reflect if you wrote it by hand. So I wrote Verbum out by hand and translated it into my own language on the other page. I began to understand and I am deeply grateful to Fr. Russ for introducing me to Lonergan.[13]

I found all this very interesting, because it was exactly what Peter Henrici, dean of philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome, had recommended in his Practical Guide to Study.[14] Writing out a book slows you down, as Phyllis says. It allows the mind to focus properly on the phantasm, and this is important because for us human beings, as Aristotle says and Lonergan repeats, all insight is insight into phantasm.[15] One of the reasons we fail to understand is simply that we do not give enough attention to the phantasm: we are too much in a hurry.

Phyllis went on eventually to Lonergan’s Insight,[16] and over the years brought in insights from Lonergan into her long experience of education and of running a Montessori school called The Gatehouse in the heart of London. She found in Lonergan a philosophy that was consonant with Montessori’s educational theory, and was subsequently invited to speak at the Lonergan Workshop at Boston College. In her first talk there, she is wonderfully conscious of her own strengths and limitations:

Looking at you all I think there are two very distinct large groups of people: people who are incredibly knowledgeable about Lonergan—and those like me, who am not. Not a great academic at all, I speak from the heart and from what I do understand, and from my practice of having a school of my own in London, the Gatehouse.[17]

Over the years, Phyllis published a number of articles on education, several of them, happily, also in Divyadaan.[18] David Fleischacker was the one who took up the way she connected Montessori and Lonergan and worked it into systematic form.[19]


But let me begin at the beginning. Phyllis Gardner was born 1 September 1918 in London, which made her a hundred years old in 2018 by common reckoning, or well on to a hundred and one by her own reckoning—given that we begin our “time on earth” with conception.

Creativity in education seems to have run in the family. Phyllis’ father was an engineer with the London Telephone Company. Her father’s father, however, was a headmaster with the distinction of being the first to provide hot meals to poorer students, and to set up London’s first technical college where young people could learn trades after work. Phyllis had an older sister and brother. She remembers that as children the two sisters would often play “school.” Both of them, in fact, eventually founded their own schools, Phyllis in England and Beatrice in the United States.

Phyllis must have been a remarkable student. She once showed me a letter from her headmistress at the end of school that began like this: “Phyllis Gardner was a pupil in this school. She was a person of unusual strength of character and unselfish public spirit….” Unfortunately she did not let me copy out the rest.

Her family could not afford a university education, but Phyllis was fortunate to win the single annual scholarship for the Lady Margaret’s School in London—‘fortunate’ because the exam papers were destroyed in a fire, so that teachers and headmistress had to select the winner through a series of interviews. Conversation was something Phyllis excelled in, while her writing skills were not exceptional, and she always insisted later that she would never have gotten in but for the fire.[20] Phyllis flourished at this school which, under its headmistress Moberly Bell, was well ahead of its time, with each class run by an elected students’ council that made rules and imposed penalties. Besides, Ms Bell liked to keep her office door always open, and Phyllis benefited enormously from frequent discussions with her.

At age 18 Phyllis began working in the kindergarten of Lady Margaret’s as well as at a school in Northwood, while at the same time beginning a three-year part-time Froebel training course.[21] Later she took a job as a child probation officer for Bucks County Council, and studied child psychology in the evenings at London University. Here she became great friends with her teacher, the eminent child psychiatrist Kate Friedlander (1902-1949). Kate eventually became godmother to Phyllis’ daughter Judith, while Phyllis became guardian of Kate’s daughter Sybil (1931-1993) when Kate died in 1949. Kate was the one who connected Phyllis with Montessori:

It was Kate who, when Phyllis expressed frustration at seeing how the disturbed children she came across while working in the juvenile courts failed to flourish under the normal school system, suggested that she went to hear Maria Montessori on her forthcoming visit to Britain, saying that she individualised studies.

It turned out to be a pivotal moment in Phyllis’s life and she went on to complete the Montessori course, become a close friend of Maria Montessori herself, start her own initially tiny Montessori school and, at Maria Montessori’s request, lecture and examine for her and with her and with her son Mario. She was examiner for both the ordinary and the advanced courses. Phyllis travelled to France, Italy, Holland and Austria examining and lecturing and also lectured extensively for the AMI in London as well as at many other places including Claud Claremont’s teacher training college. Both Ted Standing and Claud Claremont were close friends of Phyllis’s for the rest of their lives.[22]

Phyllis eventually became Chairperson of the Montessori Association in England and Vice President of the International Montessori Association. She organized the last International Montessori Congress in 1951 in London, shortly before Montessori’s death. Patty Price writes:

Fifty-five years ago Phyllis Wallbank organized the International Montessori Association (AMI) conference in London at which Dr Maria Montessori, the famous progenitor of the worldwide Montessori educational movement, made her last speech shortly before her death. It was 1951, the world was recovering from the Second World War and the auditorium in Central London was overflowing. Phyllis Wallbank was then the young founder of the Gatehouse Learning Centre Montessori School in East London and was in charge of organizing the entire event, including driving Dr Montessori to the hall.[23]

Ted Standing wrote in his book Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work:

The Congress had been a great success. Dr. Montessori had been honoured by a host of outstanding personalities and representatives of many societies—from the Minister of Education down to the (equally important!) tiny children who presented her with a bouquet…. This Congress—arranged by Mrs. Wallbank, a personal friend of Dr. Montessori and Principal of the Gatehouse Montessori School—was a memorable climax to her long and fruitful labours in this country.[24]

William J. Codd, Professor of Education at Seattle University, said that Wallbank was “the one on whom the robe of Montessori should fall to carry on the living tradition.”[25]

Phyllis’ association with Montessori led her to the Catholic Church. She felt she could not apply Montessori’s educational methods without the Eucharist. Dunstan Robidoux puts it well: “There seems to be a connatural relation between the sacramentality of Catholic religious practice and the sacramentality found in the theory and practice of Montessori education, according to which apt images fashioned through the arts and the creativity of the human imagination elicit acts of understanding. As taught centuries ago by Aristotle and Aquinas, configurations or forms that are sensed or imagined point to immaterial configurations or forms that can be correlated with these images.”[26]

“Was it easy for you?” I once asked Phyllis. “Not at all,” she replied. “I came kicking and screaming into the Catholic Church.” She found a Jesuit spiritual director who she met in secret, and who advised her to remain an “underground Catholic,” so as not to embarrass and cause problems for Newell. Her husband was, in fact, the only person (outside the Catholic Church) who knew about her conversion. In her biography of Newell, Phyllis says:

“Very gradually I absorbed Catholicism and it became very important to me. I of course discussed this with Newell. As I became more and more to feel at home with the Catholic way, he of course became more angry and upset. I loved him so very much and this distressed us both.”[27] It put a terrible strain on their relationship, especially in the early years. “Our marriage almost broke,” Phyllis said to me. “Newell found it very difficult.” But Phyllis kept her word and remained an “underground Catholic” till after Newell’s retirement. “There is no need… why anyone should ever know about my inner beliefs unless you tell them,” she wrote to her husband. “I should always be completely silent —and yet open to you Newell.”[28]


 I kept returning to the little house on Dorney Common over the years. During my first visit in 2001 I met most of Phyllis’ family. Benedict and Debbie and their children Bartholomew, Augustine and Katie came over to visit Phyllis, and later we went over to the London Eye, where we met other family. There was Mark and Liz and baby James, and Judith Orcutt with her daughter Miriam and Hugo Wolfram. Hugo told me that his late wife Sybil (Kate Friedlander’s daughter) used to be a Fellow and Tutor in philosophy at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

Her Philosophical Logic: An Introduction (1989) had been very well received.[29] Hugo said he also knew G.E.M. Anscombe who he described as “a strange person, one of the headclutchers”—after Wittgenstein who had that habit.[30] He did not know that Anscombe had initiated the Virtue Ethics thing, but he had heard of Alasdair Macintyre, and also of Lonergan, of course, thanks to Phyllis.

Judith told me she had been to India, to “Muktananda’s ashram” at Ganeshpuri, a village some 40 miles out of Bombay. She had, in fact, been in Bombay when Phyllis made her trip to Bombay and Delhi with her school children, and visited the Elephanta caves in the Bombay harbour with them.

When in Dorney, Phyllis and I sometimes went for mass at the parish church of Our Lady of Peace in Burnham, though we went once to St Gilbert’s at Eton Wick. Among the parishioners were Peter and Tina Koenig, both artists, with Tina doing portraits and Peter biblical themes. When I first visited them in 2001, Peter had a vast number of canvasses, but felt somewhat neglected and unrecognized in his own parish. In 2008, instead, I found some of his paintings in Our Lady of Peace.

There was the risen Christ with sickle and sheaf in hand (an allusion to Revelation 14:15), the water of life gushing out of his side and flowing into the baptismal font, origin of the Church; the extraordinarily dense Prodigal Son, with its medieval and non-contemporary narrative simultaneity; the quintych of the marriage of Our Lady; the seven sorrows of our Lady; and so on. Peter’s colours were vibrant, the lines clear, and he managed to blend a medieval atmosphere with contemporary motifs (modern soldiers, with Christ in shirt sleeves sometimes).

Phyllis kept in touch with a small group of parishioners, but I got the impression that it was not easy with others. Strangely, most knew her for the Slough Run, and hardly anyone knew about her extraordinary contributions in the field of education.

We also went to Oxford. I don’t remember much of my first visit to this charming English university town, except that we saw Littlemore, John Henry Newman’s place, bought when he had to move out of Oxford after his conversion to Catholicism. After Newman’s death, the house became an Almshouse—housing for the very poor—but it has since been repurchased by the Oratory at Birmingham. Littlemore is now managed by a group of nuns belonging to a new institute known as The Work. It has a library containing all of Newman’s publications and a good deal on him, with some memorabilia. There is a lovely little chapel where Newman prayed, and where he was received into the Church.

There is also Newman’s room, very simple. Somehow I felt a resistance to Newman, but also the urge to read more about him. I knew that Lonergan had been influenced by his Grammar of Assent, that he had picked up from him a sensitivity to the two kinds of understanding, direct and reflective, which Newman calls ‘apprehension’ and ‘assent,’ and also the notion of self-appropriation, the distinction between notional and real apprehension and assent, wisdom and the development of dogma. Newman had found many of these in Aristotle, and Lonergan later discovered them in Thomas, but transposed them from the commonsense genre in which Newman wrote to the world of theory.

We visited Oxford once again in 2008, when Phyllis was 92. She wanted to show me the English countryside and so took side roads, which got us somewhat lost, and we had a bit of an adventure reaching Oxford. We took an Oxford Tour Bus but did not get off anywhere. At the Bodleian I took the chance to enter Blackwell’s, a fantastic place with at least four floors of wonderful books. I remember checking to see if they had Lonergan, and finding, not unsurprisingly, that they did not. More surprising was the fact that none of the books on epistemology so much as mentioned insight, though perhaps they did occasionally talk about judgment. Later we went over to Judith and Hugo’s house in Oxford.

I think it was on my first trip to Dorney that David Levy dropped in. We came across one of Eric Mascall’s books on one of Newell’s shelves, probably Existence and Analogy, and it was interesting to see Lonergan quoted on the title page, with several other references to Lonergan in the Index. David said he knew the general direction in which Lonergan was heading, because Mascall was Gilsonian, and Gilson’s criticism was that Lonergan, like the other Transcendental Thomists, put epistemology first and then metaphysics, and once you began with knowing you could never get to being. I told him what Jean de Marneffe used to say in Pune—that we could not take for granted that we had to be realists. David said that that was what it seemed we all were, that was what the world seemed to be like.

But he was an open person. I thought he had the makings of an article, and he said he would write one for the Lonergan Workshop. I said I would love to have it for Divyadaan if Fred did not want it, and he seemed happy about that. I think he enjoyed the discussion. We also spoke about the Parsis. I had forgotten he was an expert on that, and that he had said once that that was the religion he most liked, and that it came close to having a sensible idea about the problem of evil.


Phyllis had founded The Gatehouse in 1948. One of the reasons was that she needed the money: with a curate’s salary it was difficult to maintain a family. The other was to provide company for her 2 ½ year old daughter Judith, as the City of London had no children in it then.

The school that Phyllis started when her eldest child, Judith, was two and a half, was named The Gatehouse School because it began in the sitting of their home which was The Gatehouse—the tiny rectory of St. Bartholomew’s and the oldest house in London. The couple was very poor indeed and subsisted on the miniscule salary that Newell received as curate which was but £150 a year. However, Phyllis managed to pick up some second-hand Montessori materials and bought some cheap bathroom stools which she stripped of their cork and painted and she was all set to go! At the end of each school day everything was tidied away and the room resumed its family character.

As the school enlarged, it went on to occupy the cloister of the church and then moved eventually to Dallington Street in the City once there were eighty pupils. In 1964 the Phyllis Wallbank Educational Trust was formed to ensure that the School and Phyllis’s educational philosophy continued in perpetuity. Phyllis managed to find the premises at Bethnal Green which were purchased by the Phyllis Wallbank Educational Trust and in which the Gatehouse School continues to this day. Phyllis ran the Gatehouse School for over thirty years.

A small house in a remote area of Scotland near Elgin was acquired by the school to provide the experience of country life to inner city children. Phyllis used to take groups of children there for two weeks at a time. Once there was a school trip that went much further afield when Phyllis took a small group of pupils, including one autistic child, all the way to India where they visited Delhi, Bombay and Agra, traveling with third class train tickets.[31]

It was in the 1970s that the school moved to Bethnal Green in the East End of London. Phyllis also founded a branch called “The Gateway School” in Great Missenden. This was a boarding and day school that she supervised on weekends. The Gateway School was eventually handed over to the acting head.[32] When I visited the school in 2007, it was still run very much along Phyllis’ lines, with about 300 children on the rolls. Some children were watching a documentary on television and were obviously enjoying themselves. Others went in a file to another classroom, but it was really a loose, happy and free file. No one seemed to take any particular notice of the Head Teacher who was showing us around. There was a new room set up for the smallest children. They were all sitting around a table, about twelve of them, with two teachers. The large room was full of corners with different material, which gave me some idea of what The Gatehouse must have been like. The Gateway School keeps children up to 12. They then join some other school.

Phyllis Wallbank retired from the Gatehouse School in 1979. The Phyllis Wallbank Educational Trust had been founded in 1964 to enable purchase of the building at Sewardstone Road, Bethnal Green, and to ensure that Phyllis’ educational ideas would survive, as laid out in The Wallbank Plan.[33] “Highlight the good and watch it grow” is something Phyllis learned from Montessori and made one of the chief pillars of her school.

The Gatehouse was the first all-age Montessori school in Great Britain. This meant that there were no traditional classrooms. Instead, there were series of tasks for children to do, as and when they wanted and as many times as they wanted to. There were also teachers who could mark them for it, and that was how they progressed through the school.

The school… follows the idea that true learning results from children exploring the world for themselves through play. It allows children to choose when to take their lessons during the week. A child is required to complete a certain number of lessons in Mathematics, English, Art, Geography etc. per week but would be able to decide when to do them. Students also have free lessons where they can choose any subject they like. The balance of subjects is often weighted towards a child’s aptitude or current interests.

Different abilities/ages of children are taught in the same session, and their teachers ‘sign pupils off’ for the lessons they have completed. Some older children (14/15-year olds) can then take the amount of each subject they wished to do over the course of each week, resulting in some pupils spending the week doing ‘what they want’ e.g., Art/Monday, Geography/Tuesday, English/Wednesday, Biology/Thursday and then back to Art/Friday.

After an hour for lunch pupils have an hour to read followed by ‘afternoon activities’. These include football, swimming, and visits to museums. The school has also had two ponies, as well as a duck, for the children. It also has an old farm cottage just outside Clochan in Scotland.[34]

One of the features for which the Gatehouse School was known was for integrating children with special needs together with average and brilliant students.

‘The very bright and the backward, the handicapped and the normal, play and work happily together,’ said Mathew Salisbury in a 1975 BBC radio broadcast about the Gatehouse Learning Centre. ‘So it is an organized chaos and it seems to work so very well. The result is not only very happy children but also very successful ones, too.’ In fact, one of Mrs. Wallbank’s former students was awarded a first prize for the most elegant solution in the Math Olympiad.[35]

It was the atmosphere of freedom that helped children to develop their natural curiosity in an extraordinary way. Phyllis herself is an embodiment of the way a person can remain young in mind all through life.

You might not think that an 88 year old woman who lives in the countryside of England, across from a cow pasture, would be on the cutting edge of education, but that is exactly the type of vision she articulates. She may no longer drive a car, but she gets on the information super-highway every day from the Mac computer in her living room and she is very much in the ‘flat world.’ Thanks to the internet, this Montessori pioneer is able to continue to spread her message around the globe….

With her white Bichon dog Sparky at her feet she told me how she would add to the Montessori classroom today’s ‘keys to the environment,’ the phrase coined by Montessori a century ago to describe the skills that a child needs to survive and work in his or her environment. For example, children need more science and work with higher numbers because they will be traveling to space, she said. In her speech in Washington she said that teachers need to tell children about all the questions in science that haven’t been answered to get them excited about science, such as black holes, the latest brain research and new forms of transportation such as magnetic thrust technology, for example. Children should ‘feel the excitement’ of these unanswered questions such as ‘What really is Dark Matter which makes up 80% of our universe?’

Through Phyllis Wallbank I have gotten the sense that Montessori education is as much an attitude about learning as it is a pedagogy or approach. At the Gatehouse Learning Centre Wallbank took her students to test drive car simulators at the local library she said. “Today I would take them if possible to fly on a simulator.” In fact, when Phyllis Wallbank was 80 years old she took the controls of a Tomahawk aircraft and ‘loved’ it.  With a chuckle she added that she would still like to learn to fly a small helicopter!

Mrs Wallbank is fascinated by science and reads New Scientist each week as well as Mind Magazine and Scientific American each month. She is particularly interested in the latest research about the brain, the ways in which Montessori methods can help Alzheimer’s patients, and other similar philosophies about education such as Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. She recently released a series of DVDs about education and the stages of development of the child, in conjunction with Professor David Fleischacker of St Francis University in Indiana.[36]

Classrooms, Phyllis is convinced, “are fallouts of the Industrial Revolution.” “The parents were busy working, many hours a day, and there was need for children to be looked after. The modern school is an invention for imprisoning children many hours a day inside often dreary buildings.”

Phyllis has been especially attentive to stages of growth, which she regarded as Montessori’s chief contribution to education[37]: the 0-6 age group, which is the time of the absorbent mind; the 6-12 stage, which is the age of questions, discovery and adventure; the 12-18 phase, which involves the discovery of one’s identity; 18-24; the stage of mutual self-mediation, which might be described as the discovery of oneself through the other—persons, society, culture, history, religion. Montessori believed that our sensitivity changed every six years, with three year specific tendencies within each period. Education has to respect these stages of growth, because that was the way people were meant to learn by their Creator.[38] The many articles Phyllis contributed to Divyadaan talk repeatedly about the stages and how education needs to be conceived around them.[39] This is where Phyllis found wonderful support in Lonergan—especially in matters of self-appropriation, taking charge of one’s life, and deciding for oneself what one is going to be.

Montessori was convinced that the six-year phases of growth are the same the world over, and this matches well with Lonergan’s conviction that certain features of being human are transcultural. In 2007 Phyllis conducted a World Tour at the age of 90 covering Singapore, China, the Philippines, New Zealand, the USA, Israel and Russia, lecturing and sharing her experience of a lifetime spent in applying Montessori. The existence of some 40,000 Montessori schools the world over, and the enthusiastic reception received by Mrs Wallbank, are eloquent witnesses to the validity of Montessori’s convictions about the transculturality of certain human factors.

Phyllis also wrote a correspondence course for The College of Modern Montessori, which boasts over 10,000 students in over 80 countries.[40]

Oxford, King’s College – London, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Boston College, Seattle University, Purdue University, Columbia University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and Shanghai University are among the institutions where she lectured on education and other topics.[41] Patty Price gives us an idea of the kind of atmosphere Phyllis was able to create during these lectures:

Over a half century after her friend and mentor’s death, Phyllis Wallbank packed her wheelchair and flew to Washington, D.C. to kick off the city’s celebration of the Centenary of Montessori education. Just as it was in 1951 when Dr. Montessori made her final speech, the hall at St. Anselm’s Abbey School in NE Washington, D.C. was packed with about 350 people on Saturday morning, 21 October 2006. Phyllis Wallbank’s recollections of Dr. Montessori, her explanation of the stages of development and her sense of humor delighted the attendees which included Montessori teachers from as far as two hours away. The lecture was sponsored by an unusual combination of organizations including seven area Montessori schools, the Lonergan Institute for the Good Under Construction at St. Anselm’s Abbey and the Phyllis Wallbank Educational Trust in London. In all over 20 different Montessori schools and a quite a few different Montessori training centers sent attendees.[42]


I cannot forget the morning walks in Dorney. For many years Phyllis would drive in a little electric buggy every morning to the Thames, which was just down the road from Meldrum. She always carried bread, which she threw first to the crows, and then to the swans that would invariably be there, waiting for her, and then to the rabbits hopping out cautiously from the hedges. It was her way of doing morning prayer. You did not have to chant the psalms or the Canticle of the Creatures: you simply praised God with the swans and ducks and geese and rabbits and yes, even the crows.

I fell in love with the English countryside. The Thames and the Eton rowing trench were all utterly beautiful in the morning, and there was a discreet memorial plaque to Newell in a quiet corner of the park. I carry with me memories of quiet walks by myself, with the feeling of wonder tinged with envy at such beauty just a few miles out of London. Phyllis used to say that England owed much of its beauty to the fact that royalty and aristocracy still owned large tracts of parkland.

Phyllis lived her faith simply: the walks, the “resting in the Trinity,” as she put it, the peaceful coexistence with nature and with people, the decision to live by herself, along with great energy and passion about education, but also a deep diffidence that sometimes broke through, a quick temper and a tendency to flare up. And then there were the friends: Lilian Carpenter[43]; Lorraine who would come to do the house several times a week; the group that would gather sometimes in Peter and Tina Koenig’s house; Tim Russ, of course.

And then there was Slough. Dorney Common is not far from Slough, and Phyllis liked making trips to the town, which she did in her little car as long as she could drive, and then in the bus for seniors that would pass by twice a week or so. Slough is made for seniors and for people who are physically challenged. You can drive into the town, park and get an ‘electric moving chair,’ and simply roll in and out of shops, restaurants, movie theatres and so on. And Slough is utterly cosmopolitan, full of Pakistanis and Indians, with young people looking like they would burst into Hindi, until they opened their mouths and you realized just how completely British they were. Phyllis would often quote the poet John Betjeman (1906-1984) who wrote “Slough,” and say how his daughter apologized for it later:

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air-conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town –
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who’ll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women’s tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It’s not their fault that they are mad,
They’ve tasted Hell.

It’s not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It’s not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren’t look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.


And then there is the Slough Run. Phyllis is one of those Christians who simply want to live the gospel as directly as possible. Touched by the homeless and the destitute she met on the London streets, she began the London Run in 1985. Here is her own description of the beginnings:

In the winter of 1984 my sister came over from Switzerland and to treat ourselves, I suggested that we go to London, one evening, to see a musical, which we did.

When we came out of the theatre, into the cold night air, we were very perturbed to see a man lying on the pavement in a cardboard box. It was obvious that he was going to sleep there that night.

I couldn’t get him out of my mind and decided to go back up to London to take the man a hot drink and something to eat. My husband wasn’t at all keen on the idea thinking it might not be safe but I persuaded him to let me go.

Not long after, I went up to London again. Dusk was falling and the evening was cold. Arriving at Embankment, I saw an old woman rummaging in a bin. I had with me a bag of food and my first thought was ‘God must have meant me to give her this food’ so I approached her… and she ran away!

Undeterred, I went through to Villiers Street, near Charing Cross station, where I saw a man crossing the street whom I instinctively knew was homeless. I went up to him and offered him the bag of food and drink to which he replied ‘Thanks be to St. Patrick’ and took it with delight.

I told him that I would come again next Monday night and I would bring the same. When next at Church, I told my friend Maura Cooper about it, she said that she would join me and so the Run was born!

The Strand was our first distribution point. We then would drive around the streets of London to find other homeless or people in need. From this, other distribution points were established.[44]

The Slough Run was founded in 1997 and eventually was established as a charity, “The London and Slough Run,” for providing non-sectarian friendship, food, drink, blankets, and the like to many homeless people once a week. Phyllis continues:

Thirteen years later and illness meant that it was difficult for me to come up to London. I wanted however to find somewhere else where I might be able to continue on my work. With the help of Dr Douglas Denny, I identified that there was a need for such help in Slough. Thus, in 1997, the Slough Run was established whilst Basil Potter took over the running of the London Run.

Both Runs have flourished because of the fine trustees and helpers that have worked with us over the years. The late Basil Potter was an invaluable and active member and Trustee. The Trust was made financially healthy by the fine Chairmanship of Jim Jacobson. He was followed by the excellent John O’Neill and then, the wonderful Brid Vaughan.

The London and Slough Run is now ecumenical but it would not have continued without our Parish Priest, Father Tim Russ, leaving his Presbytery door open for the parishioners to leave food, drink, clothes and warm covers there.

From the beginning, we have also had a huge amount of support from Sir Eric Anderson, the Provost of Eton, his staff and pupils. Both Runs also owe a great deal to the continuous Trusteeship of Father Sean Healy the Parish Priest, at that time, of Our Lady of Peace.[45]

I must have been at least twice to a Slough Run, at Phyllis’ invitation. The idea is simple but wonderful: a table is put out against a wall; people of all faiths and religious persuasions or lack of them come spontaneously with food and drink; people in need help themselves with the utmost dignity. Publicity is by word of mouth, and Phyllis would often tell me that somehow there was never too much and never too little of anything.

Providence works in marvellous ways, and when love is pure, it is wonderful to see what happens. What I was most impressed with was the respect with which everything was done. “We used to have tables and us behind the tables distributing food,” Phyllis said, “but now we just put the tables against the wall, and people come and help themselves. It’s much more dignity that way, and people are free to take home what they need, if there’s some.” It is worth noting the testimony of Brother Dunstan Robidoux:

A highlight of these stays was Monday nights, when we would drive into Slough for the weekly run of taking food, drink, and clothing to homeless persons living in that town about twenty miles west of central London. The object was not so much to provide food and drink as simply to spend time with the persons we found there, talking with them and in a way seeking to establish friendships with them. On these occasions, Phyllis observed and enforced a number of rules: (1) Never have more than five pounds on your person, for in this way one best resists giving out more money than one could really afford. (2) Never wear gloves since, in shaking hands, no distinctions should be observed; one human being directly relates to another. (3) Relate to each other on a first name basis. (4) At Christmas, serve a Christmas meal which discriminates against no one: beer and wine are to be made available to everyone, whether sober or already drunk.[46]

I remember Phyllis would never lock her house when she went out, and not her little car either. She said that only once some young boys had entered the house, but did not do much damage. Her street people loved her too much to rob her, and then she had not much to be robbed anyway.

It was for her social work—rather than for her work in education, as Phyllis once said to me, somewhat regretfully—that she was constituted Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen in 1996, and was awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope John Paul II, while also being named Catholic woman of the year.[47] This honour led to her appointment to the Parliamentary Issues Committee of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, which addresses matters to be discussed at upcoming sessions of Parliament.[48]

Brother Dunstan Robidoux, after hearing her lecture on “Reflections on the Future of Education in Light of Montessori and Lonergan” at the Boston College Lonergan Workshop in 1999, asked her to be one of the honorary trustees of the Lonergan Institute that had been established at St Anselm’s Abbey, Washington DC. Phyllis, in turn, invited Brother Dunstan and Dr David Fleischacker, director of the Institute, to visit her in England. Bro Dunstan writes: “We found, as we had expected, that here was a woman blessed with the friendships of all manner and kinds of persons, from members of the British royal family to persons who lived homelessly on the streets of London.”[49] Phyllis also invited Brother Dunstan to be a trustee of the Phyllis Wallbank Educational Trust.


As mentioned already, in her late eighties Phyllis decided she wanted to make a World Tour. She wrote to several friends and acquaintances around the world, offering to lecture on Montessori. She would pay her own way, in exchange for hospitality and a visit to “one important place of cultural interest.” Any fees she might have been paid were to be given to poor children. She visited Israel, China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.[50]

Sometime before that I had invited Phyllis over to India. She was absolutely enthusiastic. Her earlier trip to India with her school children was something she had never forgotten, with the mandatory visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra. This time she lectured in Mumbai, Nashik and also visited Goa.

When I saw Phyllis again in 2012, she was 93 and in good spirits. With two damaged vertebrae, she still managed to get out of her house every day 5 days a week, taking the Mobility facility to Slough and getting into a three-wheeler that enabled her to move around in the Shopping Centre. With a tremor that did not allow her to cook or even eat by herself, she took advantage of another facility for seniors that allowed her to have someone drop in three times a day to help her eat and do other small things.[51] There were also people who kept dropping in: the faithful Lorraine, young Oliver from down the road who came to take the retriever Boy for a walk, Philip who came to do the garden, and so on. Phyllis had lost her little dog Sparky in a tragic incident on the Thames, but Oliver’s mother had found her an offer on the net, and so she had Boy, an important and precious member of the house on Boveney Road.

In 2014 Phyllis Wallbank broke a hip and had to be placed in Burnham House Care Home, Slough. I visited her there in February 2016 and found her surprisingly alert. One of the things she asked me to do was to summarize Lonergan in 20 words “to be put on the net.” I tried: “Lonergan taught us to focus on method rather than directly on content. He insisted that method is teamwork, and that the work be divided not by areas or subjects but functionally, much the way things are done in physics or in the other empirical sciences.”

Phyllis also told me that Timothy Russ had died, and when we checked the net—at her insistence—I found it was true. He was only 69 but had retired from the parish of Great Missenden. The article I found on the net described him as “the confessor of Tony and Cherie Blair” and a Lonergan scholar. It appears he was writing a novel when he died, based on his own family history and the house he inherited from his mother. Phyllis was lucid most of the time, though she did suffer from bouts of impatience because of not being able to get out of bed.

Eventually Phyllis was moved to Franklin House, a nursing home in West Drayton. It was here that she celebrated her 100th birthday on 1 September 2018. “Her memory is not great, but she is pretty healthy considering everything—mentally too,” Judith wrote in January 2017.

Phyllis Wallbank died on Holy Thursday, 9 April 2020. None of her family could be with her because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but she passed away peacefully, with the assistance of a priest and the personnel of the nursing home. Always known as Sparrow to her closest friends, she asked for this prayer to be read at her funeral:

The Sparrow’s Prayer

FATHER, before this sparrow’s earthly flight
Ends in the darkness of a winter’s night;
Father, without whose word no sparrow falls,
Hear this, Thy weary sparrow, when she calls.
Mercy, not justice, is her contrite prayer,
Cancel her guilt, and drive away despair;
Speak but the word, and make her spirit whole,
Cleanse the dark places of her heart and soul,
Speak but the word and set her spirit free;
Mercy, not justice, still her constant plea.
So shall Thy sparrow, crumpled wings restored,
Soar like the lark, and glorify her Lord.

(Lord Hailsham)

My mind goes back to Phyllis’ morning walks, with the birds and rabbits coming out to greet her, and to her “resting in the Trinity.” And so to The Sparrow’s Prayer I want to add The Windhover:

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

(Gerard Manley Hopkins)

I am delighted to learn from Judith Wolfram that her mother and father both loved Gerard Manley Hopkins. Phyllis lived as one who sensed “the dearest freshness deep down things,” and she knew “the comfort of the Resurrection.”

Photograph courtesy Dr Ivo Coelho
Photograph courtesy Dr Ivo Coelho


Primary Sources

“The Vocation of Teaching.” The Sower: A Quarterly Magazine on Christian Formation.

“Moral Teaching through Shakespeare’s Tragedies.” The Sower: A Quarterly Magazine on Christian Formation.

“The Way we Learn.” The Sower: A Quarterly Magazine on Christian Formation.

“The Development of True Values.” Transcript from a piece delivered in 1999. See Natural Education Worldwide (13 May 2017), http://naturaled.org/category/phyllis-wallbank/ (01.06.2019).

“On Education.” Notes used for a series of workshops that Phyllis Wallbank delivered in 1999. See Natural Education Worldwide (6 May 2017), http://naturaled.org/category/phyllis-wallbank/ (01.06.2019).

“Reflections on the Future of Education in Light of Montessori and Lonergan.” Lonergan Workshop 15 (1999): 173-183.

“The Philosophy of International Education.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 12/2 (2001): 193–209.

“Periods of Sensitivity within Human Lives.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 12/3 (2001): 337–384.

“Savants.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 13/1 (2002): 137–140.

“Time.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 14/1 (2003): 1–12.

“Montessori and the New Century.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 14/2 (2003): 135–144.

“A Universal Way of Education.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 15/3 (2004): 521–532.

“Adolescence.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/1 (2007): 77–90.

“Dr Maria Montessori: The Past, the Present and the Future.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007): 149–158.

“A Montessori Journey: Phyllis Wallbank celebrates the life and work of Dr Montessori.” Montessori International Magazine 83 (2007): 32–33.

“The Adolescent and the Use of the Philosopher Lonergan’s Questions.” Lonergan Workshop 20 (2008): 391-395.

“Imagination.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 20/1 (2009): 107–108.

“War and Time.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 20/2 (2009): 255–258.

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“Spreading the Faith.” See The Lonergan Institute for the Good Under Construction (20 September 2014), http://lonergan.org/category/online/dialogue-partners/ (01.06.2019).

“The Gradual Development of True Values.” See The Lonergan Institute for the Good Under Construction (20 September 2014), http://lonergan.org/category/online/dialogue-partners/ (01.06.2019).

“The Philosophy of International Education” See The Lonergan Institute for the Good Under Construction (20 September 2014), http://lonergan.org/category/online/dialogue-partners/ (01.06.2019), republication of “The Philosophy of International Education,” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 12/2 (2001): 193–209.

“Savants.” See The Lonergan Institute for the Good Under Construction (20 September 2014), http://lonergan.org/category/online/dialogue-partners/ (01.06.2019).

“Savants.” See Natural Education Worldwide (22 April 2017): http://naturaled.org/2017/04/ (01.06.2019).

Secondary Literature

Coelho, Ivo. Review of Phyllis Wallbank and David Fleischacker, Worldwide Natural Education: Three Important Discussion Lectures by Phyllis Wallbank MBE and Dr David Fleischacker (set of 3 DVDs). Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007): 231–233.

Curran, Eugene. “A Method and a Model: Maria Montessori and Bernard Lonergan on Adult Education.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007): 165–204.

Fleischacker, David. “The Development in Newman’s Idea of a University Education, 1851-1858.” Doctoral dissertation at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 2004. Unpublished.

Fleischacker, David. “Understanding the Four General Sensitive Phases of Human Development from Age 0–24: Maria Montessori, Phyllis Wallbank, and Bernard Lonergan.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007): 205–222.

Fleischacker, David. “Natural Education Worldwide: Education built upon Montessori, Newman, Science, Philosophy, and Theology.” See http://naturaled.org/ (01.06.2019):

“Natural Education Worldwide.” 11 March 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/03/

“Sensitive Periods and Development.” 11 March 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/03/

“Following the Child.” 18 March 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/03/

“The Deep Mystery of the Child: Part 1.” 25 March 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/03/

“The Deepest Mystery of the Child: A fools treasure.” 1 April 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/04/

“Why Montessori Sensorial Materials Work: The Light of Understanding.” 8 April 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/04/

“Pre-Natal Neural Research and the Absorbent Mind.” 15 April 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/04/

“Opening the Doors to the Higher and Lower Levels of Things.” 3 June 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/06/

“Phyllis Wallbank: Her Dream Classroom.” 10 June 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/06/

“The Importance of Motor Sensory Refinement.” 17 June 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/06/

“Smell and Affectivity in Children.” 24 June 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/06/

“Why INSIGHT is a key in an atrium or classroom.” 1 July 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/07/

“Why self-correction is so important in the materials and activities of a natural atrium and classroom.” 8 July 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/07/

“Light and Darkness.” 15 July 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/07/

“Six to Twelve, Mylenated Neurons, Boys and Girls.” 22 July 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/07/

“Developing New Materials for Discovering Substance.” 2 September 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/09/

“More on Substance.” 16 September 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/09/

“The Invitation to the Soul.” 14 October 2017 at http://naturaled.org/2017/10/

Fleischacker, David. “Catholic Montessori.” See http://catholicmontessori.org/ (01.06.2019):

“Catholic Montessori.” 15 April 2017 at http://catholicmontessori.org/catholic-montessori/

“Liturgy as the Divine Atrium.” 27 May 2017 at http://catholicmontessori.org/liturgy-as-the-divine-atrium/

“Light, Darkness, and the Child.” 16 July 2017 at http://catholicmontessori.org/824-2/

“Blessed John Henry Newman and Maria Montessori: Schools run by fathers and mothers.” 28 March 2019 at http://catholicmontessori.org/blessed-john-henry-newman-and-maria-montessori-schools-run-by-fathers-and-mothers/

Price, Patty Hamilton. “Phyllis Wallbank and Maria Montessori.” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007): 159–164.

Robidoux, Dunstan. “Working with Phyllis Wallbank.” [St Anselm’s Abbey, Washington DC, Newsletter] Advent 2014, http://www.stanselms.org/publications/newsletter_advent_2014.pdf (08.11.2018) 19-23.

“Biography of Phyllis Wallbank,” http://www.pwetrust.org/biography.shtml (08.11.2018).

“Phyllis Wallbank, MBE.” See The Lonergan Institute for the Good Under Construction (30 March 2010), http://lonergan.org/category/online/dialogue-partners/ (01.06.2019).

sending you a photo of her house in Dorney Common, “Medrum” was the name.

another of Phyllis outside Eton (her house was very near)


 [1] David Levy tended to follow the neo-Thomism of Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson.

[2] Dunstan Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE,” [St Anselm’s Abbey, Washington DC, Newsletter] Advent 2014, http://www.stanselms.org/publications/newsletter_advent_2014.pdf (18.12.2018) 23.

[3] “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank,” http://www.pwetrust.org/biography.shtml (08.11.2018).

[4] Patty Hamilton Price, “Phyllis Wallbank carries Montessori’s Torch,” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007) 163.

[5] “Newell Wallbank,” https://prabook.com/web/newell.wallbank/2098737 (09.11.2018).

[6] Priests and Prelates: The Daily Telegraph Clerical Obituaries, ed. Trevor Beeson (London: Continuum, 2002) 142.

[7] Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE” 20.

[8] “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank.”

[9] Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE” 23.

[10] Price, “Phyllis Wallbank carries Montessori’s Torch” 163.

[11] Timothy Russ, “The Boom and the Slump,” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 14/1 (2003) 13-16; and “Rethinking Economics,” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 14/2 (2003) 145-150.

[12] Bernard Lonergan, Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas, Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan 2 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997).

[13] Phyllis Wallbank, “Reflections on the Future of Education in Light of Montessori and Lonergan,” Lonergan Workshop 15, ed. Fred Lawrence (Boston: Boston College, 1999) 173.

[14] Peter Henrici, A Practical Guide to Study (Rome: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 2004) 96.

[15] See Aristotle’s De anima III, 7, 431b 2. Lonergan cites it on the title page of Insight: A Study of Human Understanding, Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan 3 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992).

[16] See note 15 above.

[17] Phyllis Wallbank, “Reflections on the Future of Education in Light of Montessori and Lonergan” 173.

[18] See Bibliography below.

[19] See, e.g., David Fleischacker, “Understanding the Four General Sensitive Phases of Human Development from Age 0–24: Maria Montessori, Phyllis Wallbank, and Bernard Lonergan,” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007): 205-222. See also “Natural Education Worldwide,” http://naturaled.org/category/phyllis-wallbank/ (01.06.2019). Dr Fleischacker is currently Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Mary, Bismarck, North Dakota – USA, and can be considered the foremost authority on the work of Phyllis Wallbank.

[20] Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE” 19.

[21] Phyllis received a post-graduate diploma in “The Scientific Treatment of Delinquency” from the University of London. See Ivo Coelho, Review of Phyllis Wallbank and David Fleischacker, Worldwide Natural Education: Three Important Discussion Lectures by Phyllis Wallbank MBE and Dr David Fleischacker (set of 3 DVDs), Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007) 231.

[22] “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank.” See “Montessori Memoirs. An interview with Phyllis Wallbank, by her daughter Judith (November 2009),” http://www.pwetrust.org/montessori.shtml (08.11.2018). Price says that Phyllis met Montessori “in the early 1940s while she was working with delinquent children as a Children’s Officer in Buckinghamshire, England” and adds: “She and Montessori immediately understood each other, although their conversations had to be translated by Montessori’s son Mario”. (Price, “Phyllis Wallbank carries Montessori’s Torch” 162) In “Montessori and the New Century,” Phyllis says she got to know Montessori “during the last important and productive decade of her life.” Montessori, she says, was a strong willed woman who had fought all her life to follow her own star and was by no means a soft old lady. See Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 14/2 (2003) 135.

[23] Price, “Phyllis Wallbank carries Montessori’s Torch” 159.

[24] Cited in “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank.”

[25] Cited in “Phyllis Wallbank,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Wallbank (18.12.2018).

[26] Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE,” 21.

[27] There are two biographies, or else two versions of the biography, both unpublished: Phyllis Wallbank, Newell Wallbank and St. Bartholomew the Great. Also the War, A Musical Analysis, Bart’s Maternity 1945, Dorney, Eton Memories and the Gatehouse School; and Phyllis Wallbank, Newell Wallbank: The Story of a Bygone Age.

[28] I thank Judith Wolfram for this indication and for filling me in on this delicate moment in Phyllis’ and Newell’s lives.

[29] Sybil Misch (1931-1993). One of Hugo and Sybil’s sons, Stephen, is founder and CEO of Wolfram Research and designer of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha. Hugo and Judith married in 2008. Hugo died in 2015.

[30] Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe (1919-2001), British analytic philosopher and student of Wittgenstein’s.

[31] “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank.”

[32] “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank.”

[33] “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank.”

[34] Gatehouse School at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gatehouse_School (01.06.2019).

[35] Price, “Phyllis Wallbank carries Montessori’s Torch” 161-162.

[36] Price, “Phyllis Wallbank carries Montessori’s Torch” 161-162. The DVDs were released in 2006. See Ivo Coelho, Review of Phyllis Wallbank and David Fleischacker, Worldwide Natural Education: Three Important Discussion Lectures by Phyllis Wallbank MBE and Dr David Fleischacker. Disc 1: Ages 0-6. Disc 2; Ages 7-12; Disc 3: Ages 13-18, 2006, in Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 18/2 (2007): 231-233.

[37] See Wallbank, “Montessori and the New Century” 137.

[38] See Wallbank, “Montessori and the New Century” 136-137.

[39] See, for example, Phyllis Wallbank, “The Philosophy of International Education,” Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education 12/2 (2001): 193-209, and “Periods of Sensitivity within Human Lives,” 12/3 (2001): 337-384.

[40] “Phyllis Wallbank,” https://www.montessoriint.com/the-montessori-method/phyllis-wallbank/ (08.11.2018). See also Price, “Phyllis Wallbank carries Montessori’s Torch” 162.

[41] Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE” 21. See http://www.pwetrust.org/lecturehistory.shtml (01.06.2019) for a more complete list of lecture topics and places.

[42] Price, “Phyllis Wallbank carries Montessori’s Torch” 159. See also http://www.pwetrust.org/lecturehistory.shtml: “She was always a wonderful and inspirational lecturer. Her daughter, Judith, once took a Montessori course given by Angela Martin (formerly Mother Angela of the Sacred Heart Convent in London) in Vancouver and complimented her on her lecture on ‘The Absorbent Mind’; Angela replied, ‘Ah, but you should have heard your mother lecture on the same topic; her lecture was just wonderful and in a different league from mine.’”

[43] Wife of Edward Carpenter, author of Cantuar: The Archbishops in their Office (Cassel, 1971; Oxford: Mowbray, 1988). See “Edward Carpenter” at https://www.westminster-abbey.org/abbey-commemorations/commemorations/edward-carpenter (01.06.2019).

[44] Phyllis Wallbank, “The history of the London and Slough Run’s beginning,” https://thelondonandsloughrun.com/about/history/ (11.11.2018). See also: https://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk/gallery/slough/137558/london-and-slough-run-s-founder-reflects-on-charity-s-history-ahead-of-slough-sleepout-for-the-homeless.html?refresh_ce (11.11.2018).

[45] Wallbank, “The history of the London and Slough Run’s beginning.”

[46] Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE” 23.

[47] “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank.”

[48] Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE” 21.

[49] Robidoux, “Working with Phyllis Wallbank, MBE” 22.

[50] See “Biography of Phyllis Wallbank.”

[51] See Steve Doughty and Larisa Brown, “She devoted her life to others. Now, aged 93, this eminent ex teacher faces ruin over £5,000 care bill,” Daily Mail (18 February 2012). After reading this piece, an “angel” stepped forward to help. See also “The indomitable Phyllis Wallbank,” at http://ivocoelho.blogspot.com/2012/06/indomitable-phyllis-wallbank.html.

© Dr. (Father) Ivo Coelho

Ivo Coelho, SDB earned a PhD in philosophy at the Gregorian University, Rome, for his work on the hermeneutics of the philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan, SJ (1904-1984). After teaching philosophy in Divyadaan: Salesian Institute of Philosophy, Nashik (India) and holding various offices in his religious congregation, in Nashik, Mumbai and Jerusalem, he is currently based in Rome, where he is in charge of the sector of training and formation for the Salesians of Don Bosco. Besides his interest in Lonergan, he has also edited collections of the essays of the Indologist Richard De Smet, SJ (1916-1997).

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