Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to consider why Richard Dawes (1793-1867) academic, college business manager and Church of England priest developed a curriculum in a nineteenth century English village school with which he sought to modify differences in social class and achieved outstanding results in student engagement and educational attainment. Design/methodology/approach – The approach is documentary. It uses books and internet scans of original documents. It locates Dawes's work in the social movements of early nineteenth century Britain and associates Dawes's activities with those of Kay-Shuttleworth who was administrator of the British government's first move to provide education for poor children. Findings – Dawes emphasised tolerance and secular teaching within a school system devoted to instilling Church of England doctrine. He based classroom teaching on things familiar to children and integrated subject content. He used science to encourage parents of “that class immediately above that of labourers” to send their children to his school to overcome class differences. For his system to be widely adopted he needed science teachers trained in his practical teaching methods. Initial government support for science in elementary schools was eroded by Church of England opposition to state intervention in education. Originality/value – Dawes's pedagogic achievements are well known in the history of science education; his secular teaching in a church school and his valiant attempt to use science as an instrument of social change, perhaps less so.
History of Education Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 30, 2014
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