Education in Victorian England

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Education in Victorian England

Monitorial System

In the Monitorial System, there was no direct instruction from the teacher. This was, in fact, one of its greatest selling points in the late 1700's; it was incredibly economical. There could be as many as 500 students under one teacher. The teacher selected a few older students(10-12 years old) to act as monitors who, in turn, were responsible for instructing small groups of students, the teacher acting as supervisor, examiner, and disciplinarian.

Work was minutely subdivided and learned by repetition. When a group had learned one subdivision of information, they were tested by the teacher before passing on to the next section.

There was a complicated system of promotion and censure, both within the small groups and between groups. Unusual successes or lapses were rewarded with small honors or humiliations: laps of honor" around the school by those to be promoted, rewards of half-pences, dunce's caps, and signs worn around the necks of offenders. The punishment for offenses such as swearing, lying, tardiness, coming to school dirty, skipping school, being absent from church, or being otherwise disobedient, included confinement in a closet, being handcuffed behind the back, being washed in front of the whole school, or expulsion.(Lawson/Silver 243)

Its factory-like method of dispensing information might appear to be well suited for the Victorian era, but because the Monitorial system equated the acquisition of facts with knowledge, and made no allowance for individual rates or styles of learning, its use was in decline by the 1830's.

Elementary Education Act of 1870

From 1780 to 1870, all elementary schools were "voluntary," that is, they were established...

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Morrison, Arthur. A Child of the Jago. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1995.

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