Saturday, February 02, 2013

Education in England 1800-1850

(Posting from iPad) To be read in context of Rammohun Roy's 1823 minute to Lord Amherst asking for education in mathematics and science, and Macaulay's minute of 1835.  Roy's request, if it were made on behalf of Englishmen would be just as revolutionary.  Since the British upper classes were also primarily engaged in the study of Latin and ancient Greek, languages as alive or dead as Sanskrit, the proposal for an English education was quite revolutionary, too.  Please follow the link to Derek Gillard's page and read all of that, too. We have to examine what education might have meant to Macaulay, did it mean science and mathematics?  Apart from the English language itself, what is the evidence that Macaulay's idea of education matched that of Roy?  England was rife for educational reform, what were Macaulay's views in that regard?

Wiki tells us, regarding education in England,
In 1840 the Grammar Schools Act expanded the Grammar School curriculum from classical studies to include science and literature. 
The Grammar Schools Act 1840 made it lawful to apply the income of grammar schools to purposes other than the teaching of classical languages, but change still required the consent of the schoolmaster. 

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Derek Gillard provides this:

The 'great' public schools were the least willing to adapt and modernise. The following description of attitudes to the curriculum at these schools in the 1820s was given by James Pillans (1778-1864), Professor of Humanity at Edinburgh University, who was for some time a private tutor at Eton. In Contributions to the Cause of Education (1856:271) he wrote:

In the great schools of England - Eton, Westminster, Winchester and Harrow, where the majority of English youth who receive a liberal and high professional education are brought up - the course of instruction has for ages been confined so exclusively to Greek and Latin that most of the pupils quit them not only ignorant of, but with a considerable disrelish and contempt for, every branch of literature and scientific equipment, except the dead languages. It may be said that there are in the immediate neighbourhood of the College, teachers of Mathematics, Writing, French and other accomplishments to whom parents have the option of sending their sons. But as these masters are extra-scholastic - mere appendages, not an integral part of the establishment - and as neither they nor the branches of knowledge they proffer to teach are recognised in the scheme of school business, it requires but little acquaintance with the nature of boys to be aware, that the disrespect in which teachers so situated are uniformly held extends, in young minds, to the subjects taught and is apt to create a rooted dislike to a kind of instruction which they look upon as a work of supererogation. And this, we venture to say, is all but the universal feeling at Eton. (quoted in Spens 1938:18)
 He went on:

If we find in the country and town schools little preparation for occupations, still less for the future agriculturalist or mechanic, we find in the Grammar Schools much greater defects. The middle class in all its sections, except the more learned professions, finds no instruction which can suit its special middle class wants. They are fed with the dry husks of ancient learning when they should be taking sound and substantial food from the great treasury of modern discovery. The applications of chemical and mechanical science to everyday wants - such a study of history as will show the progress of civilisation - and such a knowledge of public economy in the large sense of the term as will guard them against the delusions of political fanatics and knaves, and lead to a due understanding of their position in society, are all subjects worth as much labour and enquiry to that great body, as a little Latin learnt in a very imperfect manner, with some scraps of Greek to boot - the usual stunted course of most of our Grammar Schools. (quoted in Spens 1938:19)