History seminars at the IHR
History of Education
Convenors: Gary McCulloch (Institute of Education, University of London)
Venue: Venue: Room G21A, Senate House, Ground floor unless otherwise stated
Time: Thursdays, 5.30pm
Professor Miriam Ben-Peretz (Visiting Professor, Institute of Education London)
Teacher memories and the history of education: examples and analysis of professional memory
Education might be viewed as a construction and reconstruction of personal and social stories (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). Real life events of teaching are part of the history of practice. Stenhouse (1979) talks about history as "a critical refinement of memory". The collection of stories of retired teachers in Israel provides a mode of reconstructing the history of education over time. This paper presents some insights about education in Israel in the first years after the establishment of the state of Israel, based on the recollected stories of retired teachers. The teacher's stories are analyzed according to the content of teacher memories and the impact of the teaching context on their recollections. This analysis uncovers the impact of the historical context on the nature of teacher experiences on one hand, and enriches the historical understanding through the reality of individual personal experiences. Teacher memories provide a different way of studying the history of education, enabling scholars to go back in time to different realities. The paper notes as well, other attempts for using personal narratives for understanding and imagining the history of education.
The seminar will be followed by an informal Reception.
Venue: Clarke Hall, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way
Dr Andy Pearce (Institute of Education London)
To "learn lessons" or to think critically?: a history of Holocaust consciousness and education
In a provocative recent essay, Alon Confino argued ‘a period of Holocaust consciousness’ is ‘coming to end’. For Confino, this transformation is measured by the ‘moralizing tone’ which characterises much contemporary Holocaust discourse, for ‘moralizing is the proof of a memory culture that acknowledges the evil of extermination’. This paper departs from the belief that the recent history of Holocaust consciousness in Britain offers much grist for Confino’s mill. Understood in the vein of Jörn Rüsen and Peter Seixas as a mode of orientation, the foundations of modern historical consciousness are challenged by the presence of the Holocaust in recent history. It follows that the way we “think with” and “think about” history and the Holocaust should necessarily be different than before. In actuality, this has not always been the case.
To illustrate and explore this point, this paper will focus on the history of “Holocaust education” in Britain. Through reference to the National Curriculum and to Holocaust Memorial Day, it will argue that at a political and institutional level, Holocaust consciousness has calcified around the notion of “lessons”. This approach is marked by a lack of reflexivity and piety, and is underpinned by behaviourist understandings of teaching and learning fundamentally out of synch with trends in educational thinking of the past generation. Where the Holocaust could and should make a contribution to inculcating criticality and rethinking education then, the opportunity has tended to be missed. This has consequences, both for the next “period” of Holocaust consciousness and education more broadly.
Dr Jana Sims (Institute of Education London)
Agriculture, industry and culture: The response of the south-eastern mechanics institutes as pioneers in nineteenth-century adult education
Mechanics’ Institutes were the first formal attempt to provide part-time evening tuition for skilled working men in the science and arts of their various trades. The London Mechanics’ Institute, established in 1823, heralded the rapid spread of such institutions in England. Recent research has augmented the notion of a predominantly northern Mechanics’ Institute Movement to reveal the vitality of their southern counterparts which responded particularly to the needs of the region’s agricultural and naval industries. The seminar will highlight aspects of this provision and its legacy to the area’s adult education.
Dr Philip Gardner (University of Cambridge)
Imperial pedagogue: E.B. Sargant in South Africa, 1900-1905
This paper seeks to contribute to colonial history understood as the engagements of historical actors with the intellectual contexts within which they found themselves to be acting (which, for early-twentieth century British imperialists comprised ideas, amongst others, about varieties of collectivism, efficiency, idealism, expertise and evolutionary progress). From this perspective, a coherent approach is that which draws upon speech act theory, seeking to elaborate the illocutionary intent of the public utterances of past actors, trying to identify, in other words, that which they were seeking to achieve in practical terms through contributing to normative linguistic contexts. In seeking to avoid the imputation of temporally anachronistic meanings to the utterances of such actors, the task of historical enquiry then becomes, as Quentin Skinner puts it, ‘to grasp their concepts, to follow their distinctions, to appreciate their beliefs and, so far as possible, to see things their way’ (Quentin Skinner, Visions of Politics, vol. 1: Regarding Method, Cambridge, CUP: 2002, 3).
This paper adopts an approach of this kind in considering the relatively slight but extremely precise body of educational writing by Edmund Beale Sargant (1855-1938) which has been largely overlooked in the histories of the two fields of activity to which Sargant devoted his mature attention – education and British imperialism. For Sargant, the two were bound together, imperialism being conceived as an essentially pedagogic enterprise and education as the channel along which transnational cultural and political movements most effectively flowed
Dr Marisa Bittar, Dr Amarilio Ferreira Jr (Federal University of San Carlos, Brazil)
History of education in Brazil: the formation of the field and its theoretical influences
This seminar will present the constitution of the field of History of Education in Brazil, which, in the early twentieth century was strong as a discipline in the curricula of teacher training. As research, it began to strengthen in the 1960s from the creation of the Post-Graduate and became one of the most active area of education after the military dictatorship (1964-1985). Today it is organized through the Brazilian Society for the History of Education, and, with Portugal, hosts the Luso-Brazilian Congress of History of Education. We will also present its main theoretical influences, starting with the positivist interpretation, which, from the 1970s, was criticized by Marxists, which, in its turn, was overcome by currents derived from the French Annales School. Currently, the field is marked by the renewal of themes and theory and faces two challenges: the exchange with the production of the English language, and the appreciation of the history of education as a discipline, as it has been losing ground in the curricula of teacher training.
Professor Michael Fielding (Institute of Education London)
Alex Bloom - pioneer of radical democratic state education
Alex Bloom was from 1945-55 headteacher of St. George-in-the-East Secondary School, Stepney, in the heart of London’s tough East End. His work established him as one of the great 20th century pioneers of radical democratic approaches to education that exemplify a lived commitment to the values and practices of participatory democracy in every part of the school’s daily practice, governance, and role in wider society. Yet, despite international acclaim on his death in 1955, Bloom is now virtually unknown. This paper presents some of the key issues emerging from my Leverhulme funded research which not only seeks to (a) tell a richer story than any existing account of Bloom’s work, but also seeks to (b) answer questions to do with how Bloom was able to do what he did within the English state system of education.
Professor Therese Hamel (University of Laval, Canada)
Compulsory education in Quebec: contradictory facets of an historical debate and paradoxes for the future