Monthly Archives: December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hello everybody!

The blog is taking Christmas break and will be back after the New Year. Until then enjoy this beautiful postcard designed by one of our former students.

calendar20Happy Holidays everyone!

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Our Valuable Volunteers and Their Various Ventures: David.

Let me introduce you to the newest member of our voluntary team. David came to  Photo0165us the usual way, through the volunteer centre in Plymouth. His background is in mental health and counselling, but he felt it was high time to look into different alleys of interests. ‘I don’t want to study people anymore, I want to study things.’ he said. From the beginning he had his heart set on volunteer in in a museum or a university. David loves history, but it is the first time he pursues his historical passions in an active way. David is a person gifted with an inquisitive mind and great attention to details.

His project has all to do with the state of the education in the Victorian times and its comparison with the current one. Back then both access and attitude towards it was very different. Having children in the education system, he is often astonished how often the education is being taken for granted today.   The project is in still its initial stages and it is still unknown what kind of shape will it take. Right now, David is researching the subject and making notes in preparation. I believe this project will truly be something special. I can’t wait to see how it will turn out.

In the future, David want to pursue more projects, perhaps something involving an outreach program for young people. I can only admire such dedication and patience. This would be a truly ambitious project.

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In the Land of the Archives p2.

Today I am continuing with my last week’s exploration of the vast stretches of the archived materials. Another thing that you can find in our archives are the copies of printed Minutes from the Council Committee on Education. The name might seem overly official and boring. That one could scare off potential reader and says nothing on what really lies in the depths of those old tomes. However it is surprisingly riveting read and useful one too, for more than one kind of researcher:

  1. A statistician historian would have a ball with these. There are plenty of tables and data to work with if one wants to know the levels of literacy and numeracy in the Victorian era.
  2. Anyone who want to know the state of education back then, there are extensive reports by the school inspectors. Those are written in clear and accessible language. They describe the schools themselves and the people that were involved in the education at that time.
  3. If one was ever wondering what kind of education the children in the workhouses had, that’s the place to look.  There are extensive treatises on that subject with detailed figures given.
  4. There are the designs of school furniture and buildings. For all I know, those are the first attempts to create uniformed facilities for students to use.


Part of the front cover of 'The training of pauper children' by our own Dr. Kay- Shuttleworth

Part of the front cover of ‘The training of pauper children’ by our own Dr. Kay- Shuttleworth

We are used to think that the past is a land where everything is simpler and easier. We need a remainder that that past was not some fairy-tale land. It was hard and life was as complicated as it is today, if not even more so. I can only imagine people that compiled that knowledge, travelling hundreds of miles over the muddy country roads between one school and another, spending endless hours in workhouses, testing poor children on their numeracy and literacy skills, slavering over the drawing boards to design the desks and buildings, no computers or even calculators to help. Minutes from the Council Committee on Education is history undiluted, no nostalgia or pink glasses involved.

But there is even more to explore and I will come back to do more expeditions in the land of the archives.

Souruce: Minutes from the Council Committee on Education 1849

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Filed under artefacts, long time ago