chapter  1
13 Pages

'Really useful knowledge', 1790–1850

FEATURES [ ... ] Radical education [in early nineteenth-century England] was essentially an oppositional movement, gaining energies from contesting orthodoxies, in theory and practice. The first criticisms of the sorts of schooling which were provided were formed in the period up to 1820, under the shadow of a counter-revolution. The early schooling enterprises - Sunday Schools of the more conservative-Evangelical kind, the monitorial day schools, were seen as coercive and knowledge-denying. When more liberal schemes were put forward in the 1820s and 1830s - Mechanics' Institutes, the Useful Knowledge Societies, infant schools, plans for state education - they were opposed too, though more conditionally. Before the 1860s there was not enough working-class support for state education to overcome the opposition of its Tory-Anglican opponents.