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Education in Britain during the Eighteenth Century
In Britain now a days every child must go to school to further their education. However, it was not like that in the eighteenth century. The less fortunate were not as educated because they could not afford to have their children go to school. Girls had less of a chance to go to school than boys. But as the eighteenth century went on different types of schools were established for children, adolescents, and adults.
One type of these new schools were Charity schools. Charity schools were established in the beginning of the century. These schools were for boys and girls of the working lower class, The main idea was to teach these children religion, and how to read and write. The children were also taught thing that would benefit them as a social class; such as cobbling shoes, carpentry, and straw plaiting. On occasions the crafts that the children made were sold to help the school. By 1740 there were close to 2000 charity schools in england1.
In the summer Children would go to school from five or six in the morning to eight or nine at night. In the winter the day went from six or seven in the morning until seven or eight at night. Children did not have to go to school if they did not wish to. It was hard to get children from the countries to go to school due to the fact that their parents wanted them to stay at home in the fields helping to pay for their family income.
Around 1780 Sunday schools came around. Like Charity schools they taught religion. They started because many people believed that even overworked children deserved to get an education2.
Another type of school that was established were the private schools. Private and “dissenting academies” existed for those who were excluded other schools3 due to their religious beliefs. Britain created a modern educational system that taught mainly commercial subjects for the boys; such as surveying, and European languages.
Schools advertised and competed wish each other for students to come to their school. Schools would try and appear better by having plays and musical nights. Some schools even offered Military education. However, competitive sports did not exist in the eighteenth century.
Around 1759 girls could finally go to school with the boys. However, their education was not thought to be important.
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A third type of school that was established were the public schools. A couple public schools were established before the eighteenth century for the sons of tradesmen and craftsmen.4 Public Schools slowly had boys coming in from the upper classes. Conditions in public schools were rather harsh. Food was often really bad, bullying, disorder, and chaos were very common. Many riots occurred a lot. The older boys held power over the younger boys by using a system called “fagging”. This system worked by the older boys forcing the younger boys to make their beds and becoming servants5.
In Public Schools there was a lot of whipping. In school teacher was so used to whipping(flagging) his students that when he could not come up with a reason for it he would suggest that he whip them ahead of time for their next mischief 6. Rebellions occurred as often as flagging. In one rebellion the boys covered their headmaster’s desk with gun powder and made their desks into a bon-fire. That is just one of the reasons that parents that could afford it kept their sons at home and hired a tutor.
Even though all off these types of school were established not all children could be at schools because of the industrial revolution. In 1802 an Act was passed that all children were to receive at least 2 hours of education a day. However this act was not enforced until 1833. Then many children would get their education of the floors of warehouses and they would be so exhausted that they could barely stay awake. After the revolution many children began to go to school with other children like them.
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W.B. Stephens.Education in Britain 1750-1914.St.Martin’s Press,1999