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Thesis 52 – Fate of the Country

The Rich and the Poor in mid-nineteenth century England were as two separate nations.  Each was as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different continents, or inhabitants of different planets; formed by different breeding and not even governed by the same laws.1   It was Benjamin Disraeli2 […]

Thesis 50 – Who’s Responsible?

What a person achieves through their own efforts they most value.  Where individuals, through the nature of the economic system in which they live, cannot earn sufficient to provide for the proper education of their own children, then the future well-being of that society, as well as that of their children in particular, will be […]

Thesis 49 – Haves and Have-Nots

Whether education is primarily for personal gain, or for the benefit of the whole society, is a question to which the English invariably give ambiguous answers.  Our attitudes towards matters educational were, and continued to be in the early twenty-first century, rooted in our social assumptions.   By the late 1860s England seemed full of […]

Thesis 46 – Public Schoolboys

Despite their emphasis on moral integrity, public spirit and manliness of character, the public schools insisted on the preservation of the classics as the main core of their teaching.  By so doing the Victorians separated the children of the elite from those of all other classes, and created an efficient, segregated and unique system of […]

Thesis 43 – Payment by Results

  “Anyone who will look before him must see the growing political importance of the mass of the population.  They will have power.  In a very short time they will be paramount.  I wish them to be enlightened, in order that they may use that power which they will inevitably obtain.”1   Until 1833 the […]

Thesis 42 – Invention of Public Schools

“As on the one hand it should ever be remembered that we are boys, and boys at school, so on the other hand we must bear in mind that we form a complete social body… a society, in which, by the nature of the case, we must not only learn, but act and live; and […]

Thesis 41 – March of Progress?

There is no safe depository for the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if it is thought that they be not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.1   A vigorous, if somewhat alternative, […]

Thesis 40 – Schoolroom, Workshop or Quarterdeck?

Apprenticeship, with its structured approach to hands-on-learning and its effective application of adolescent brawn, had largely created the conditions for England’s spectacular industrial growth.  Yet apprenticeship was to become the first major casualty of the Industrial Revolution, while the grammar schools were to linger on in their unreformed state for a further half century.   […]

Thesis 39 – Spontaneous Schooling

“This word-teaching, rote-learning, memory-loading system is still dignified with the name of ‘education’; … need we wonder that many scholars have so little practical or useful knowledge, or that the greatest block-heads at school often make brighter men than those whose intellects have been injured by much cramming?”1   Wealth and comfort lull people into […]

Thesis 36 – A ‘Can-do’ Society

“Do not imagine that the knowledge, which I so much recommend to you, is confined to books, pleasing, useful and necessary as that knowledge is… The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.  Books alone will never teach it to you; but they will suggest […]

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