History seminars at the IHR

History of Education

Convenors: Gary McCulloch (Institute of Education, University of London),
Dr Georgina Brewis (Institute of Education, University of London)

For further information please contact Professor Gary McCulloch, Dr Georgina Brewis : ichre@ioe.ac.uk

Venue:  Room S246, South block, Senate House unless otherwise stated

Time: Thursdays, 5.30pm

All welcome, no registration required. The 'History of Education Seminar' at IHR (Institute of Historical Research) is convened by ICHRE (International Centre for Historical Research in Education) members. The seminar attracts speakers from around the world, providing a forum for established historians as well as early-career researchers to present their work.




Autumn Term 2015
DateSeminar details
1 October The "Crisis of the Humanities" in Comparative Perspective

Professor Peter Mandler (University of Cambridge, President of the Royal Historical Society)

This paper brings together statistics on undergraduate enrolments by  subject over the past 50 years in Britain, the U.S. and Australia, to  make an argument about the relative fortunes of the humanities, the  sciences, and new (sometimes but not always 'vocational') subjects in  these very different anglophone university systems in a period of rapid  expansion.  Over this period the humanities have been portrayed as in  almost continual crisis.  Have the humanities in fact suffered badly or  even worst in the transition from elite to mass higher education?  What  factors have affected student choice and how has the mix of factors  changed over time?  Can historical trends tell us anything about the  present or even the future of the humanities in the 21st-century  university?

The seminar will be followed by an informal reception

Venue: Room 802, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London

5 November Parents and policy-makers: a new agenda for history of education research

Dr Helen Proctor (University of Sydney)

For several decades now there has been broad consensus among policy-makers, school teachers and education researchers in Australia (and elsewhere) that the involvement of parents—one way or another—is an important part of the work of schools. As well as influencing individual schools and classrooms, this belief has contributed to such top-down policy reforms as the establishment of “Independent Public Schools” in Western Australia and the Federal government’s MySchool website, which ranks the nation’s schools according to numerical assessments of social class and academic achievement. This paper proposes that current practices and beliefs about parent-school relations can only be properly understood if their histories are also understood and further, that the success of any contemporary parent engagement project depends upon on a good historical (and sociological) imagination. The paper outlines an agenda for a research program that combines a history of post-war parenting advice with a critical account of changing policy frameworks for Australian parent-school relations since the 1940s. An underpinning question is how the “good” educational parent of the 1940s and 1950s—apparently obedient to expert school authority, working for the educational benefit of their child mainly through private activities at home—transformed historically into the apparently vigilant, activist and entrepreneurial “good” parent of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries—holding schools and teachers to account, taking nothing for granted.

3 December On Knowing and Doing: science, heritage and youth in interwar agricultural education

Alice Kirke (UCL Institute of Education)

The Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) movement was established in 1921 to provide agricultural education and leisure for young people. The YFC provided technical instruction based on modern farming methods and scientific research, whilst encouraging members to respect the heritage of the countryside. Alongside agricultural education, the movement sought to prepare members for a public role as representatives of the farming industry, and to position them as the future leaders of the rural community. This is significant in relation to changes in landownership following the First World War. To an extent, the movement supported a shift of power away from the landowner and towards the farmer, while also elevating the status of the professional staff involved in agricultural education and research. However, it marginalised the contribution of women and girls to agricultural production, and largely ignored agricultural workers. Drawing on unused documentary sources including the YFC journal, the Young Farmer, and individual club archives, this paper examines the tensions between science, heritage and youth in the YFC movement in relation to both gender and class, opening up fresh perspectives on the social significance of agricultural education.