All you ever wanted to know about Marjon’s founders but were afraid to ask: In them olden days…

The story so far…

Quick, what is the fastest way to insult a teacher? Quote them the old saying: ‘Those who can- do, those who cannot- teach’. I’ve always wondered on the absurdity of that one, but as I learned recently, there was a time when it was true.
Imagine: 19th century, the industrial revolution in full swing. The cities teeming with people and only so much work for the unskilled and uneducated. Poverty ruled supreme. No wonder that the crime went out of control and you could be robbed in the middle of a busy street. Or worse.
Of course there were schools for the poor, sometimes located in old warehouses, sheds, even private homes with barely a space to put down a book if there was actually one available. It was even worse if you were stuck in a workhouse. And the teachers? ‘ the teachers were for the most part men and women who had failed to make their way in any of the ordinary trades or occupations and who were therefore thought likely to succeed in the comparatively easy task of educating children…’(Gent 1991). Anyone could teach, no matter if they were half- literate themselves .
And that was not all. There were voices that opposed the general idea of educating masses. it was not uncommon to meet with an opinion that it would made people ‘…discontented with their lot in life…’ It is barely conceivable to us, how people could be expected to just accept a life of hardships and poverty and denied a chance for a better future. However, that’s how stratified was the life back then. You were supposed to be happy with ‘your place’ no matter what.
So that’s how it was: little to no schools, and no teachers worthy of that title. The founders of St Mark’s and St John’s were among those people that thought that nothing will change for the better if the education would remain the privilege of the wealthy. They were very different and not always seen eye to eye in the matters of educating teachers, but they were both forward thinking and unusual people. Let me tell you about them.

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2 Comments

Filed under long time ago, people

2 responses to “All you ever wanted to know about Marjon’s founders but were afraid to ask: In them olden days…

  1. Pingback: All you ever wanted to know about Marjon’s founders but were afraid to ask: Kay-Shuttleworth, the man that could. | Angling in the Archives: stories from the archives of Marjon university

  2. Pingback: All you ever wanted to know about Marjon’s founders but were afraid to ask: Coleridge, the man who stayed. | Angling in the Archives: stories from the archives of Marjon university

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