DOI link for Romancing School
Romancing School book
The educational legacy of the age of Romanticism is insightfully explored by Johann Aitken and other scholars such as John Willinsky, Kieran Egan, Madeleine Grumet, and Jane Roland Martin. As Aitken (1990) notes, the School of Romance at the end of the eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth century contained a view of childhood as
a condition of innocence and our source of hope rather than as a manifestation of original sin or miniature adulthood…the child, trailing clouds of glory is an apt symbol of the Romantic ideals of simplicity, innocence, wisdom and an innate harmony with the natural world, (p. 214)
Aitken (1990) observes that ‘both Wordsworth and Coleridge congratulate themselves upon having retained something of their childhood selves in their adult lives’ (p. 215). Both poets situate the source of their poetic power in their memories of childhood and their desire to return to it. Aitken cites the Hall and Dennis Report, a Canadian curriculum document from the 1960s as the ultimate example of an incurably Romantic view:
Each [child] and everyone has the right to learn, to play, to laugh, to dream, to love, to dissent, to reach upward, and to be himself. Our children need to be treated as human beings-exquisite, complex, and elegant in their diversity. They must be made to feel that their education heralds the rebirth of an Age of Wonder (ibid, pp. 215-16).