Home » 2016

Yearly Archives: 2016

Call for papers – Pedagogika special issue

A Czech colleague has asked us to issue a call for papers for the prestigious Czech journal Pedagogika on the topic of the history of education that is being put together by Andreas Hoffmann, Tomáš Kasper and Karel Rýdl.  The issue will focus on the following questions:

  1. In what way was the “normative canon” of the ideas and personalities of History of Education constructed since this discipline had been established until the “disintegration” of this concept in the 20th century in particular European countries? What was the structure of the specialised discourse which shifted the aims, structure and general concept of History of Education towards social- and cultural-science profile? When did the “disintegration” process take place in various countries in the intellectual environment of the second half of the 20th century and what did the process look like? What were the arguments serving as its basis and what research was it based on?
  2. What topics and research areas are opened up in the cultural- and social-science foundation of History of Education? What research methods are used, combined and preferred and what impacts can be detected in terms of establishing fundamental categories in the discipline of Educational Science?
  3. History of Education used to be a discipline exploited heavily as an instrument to the goals of science practised in totalitarian regimes in the 20th We shall ask what the aims this instrumentalisation served were, what its normative concept was based on, and what its impact on historical and educational research was.
  4. History of Education constituted “undisputable” part of teacher education and subject-matter didactics for pedagogues for a very long period of time. The questions are: Why was the significance of this discipline thus emphasised, how was its significance justified and legitimised? What is the role and significance of historical and educational reflection as well as of reflective perspective on history in today’s concept of teacher education and subject-matter didactics for future pedagogues?
  5. What role have the outcomes of historical and educational research been playing in teacher professional practice – either spontaneously or as a result of management processes in education as part of official policies of both national states and supranational political institutions?

Closing date 31 January 2017. Please follow this link for more information and details of how to submit a paper.

Visiting delegation from China

A senior delegation from Hunan First Normal University, China, visited UCL Institute of Education in September 2016, following up an earlier visit in December 2015.  Led by President Professor Xiaoqi Peng, it met the new IOE director, Professor Becky Francis, and held further discussions with the ICHRE director, Professor Gary McCulloch, before going on to take part in the annual conference of the British Educational Research Association held in Leeds later that week.
Professor McCulloch was first invited to visit HNFNU in April 2015 and was formally designated as a visiting professor.  In 2016, Hunan Province awarded him the title of ‘famous overseas teacher’ and in this capacity he will undertake a visiting tour in spring 2017 to develop the relationship between ICRHE and Hunan further, as well as to promote the profile of historical research in education.

Roll of Honour: Schooling and the Great War, 1914-1919

Barry Blades

The production of Roll of Honour began nearly two decades ago. At that time I was undertaking doctoral research at the Institute of Education in London and needed contextual information on British schools during the Great War. Amazingly, I found that there was very little material on the topic, especially for the thousands of maintained schools which educated the great majority of British children in 1914. Even the histories of the elite public schools tended to say very little about the impact of the war on the schools themselves and on the pupils living and studying within their walls. Most concentrated instead on their Old Boys – and very occasionally Old Girls – serving on the battle fronts. The history of schooling during the conflict of 1914 to 1919 appeared to be yet another ‘hidden history’, a topic neglected by both historians of education and of the Great War itself – until now.

Roll of Honour both shifts and widens our gaze. It examines the conflict as it was experienced and viewed from Britain, and by ‘forgotten’ groups who served their country in wartime in myriad ways. It investigates the impact of the Great War on British schools and, conversely, the impact of schools and their communities on the British war effort 1914-1919. Pupils and teachers – male and female – take centre stage in this detailed account of the wartime experience and contribution of schools of all kinds. The experiences of local authority elementary schools sit alongside those of ancient grammar school foundations, new Edwardian secondary and technical institutions, private schools of all sizes, reputation and status, and even military and reformatory schools. ‘Tommy’ was not the only one to serve in the Great War. Millions of British citizens – including schoolchildren and their teachers – served on the home front. School ‘campaigns’ helped raise the New Armies, bolstered troop morale, provided munitions, countered the enemy U-boats and raised millions of pounds for the government’s war chest. Total war created new battle fronts on which the schoolchildren of Britain faced new and terrifying weapons of war and became casualties.

Roll of HonourRoll of Honour also challenges some of the persistent and pervasive myths about the Great War. The reaction of school communities to the British declaration of war against Germany – as depicted in school logbooks, annual reports and other documentary evidence – indicates that the citizens of 1914 were not universally carried away by ‘war fever’. The reaction of teachers to Lord Kitchener’s call for recruits to serve on the battlefronts – and to the demands of the conflict more generally – covered a wide spectrum, ranging from outright support and direct involvement to conscientious objection and sustained anti-war campaigning. Analysis of the military ranks held by the products of the many different types of school reinforces previous research on social and educational hierarchies, but also undermines many of the stereotypes of the period. Roll of Honour demonstrates, for example, that the majority of junior officers in the Great War were not the products of the public schools. Two thirds of all subalterns, in fact, had been educated in other types of school. The British officer corps included many thousands of men who had attended elementary schools or had won scholarships to the new secondary schools established after 1902. They, and a great number of the teachers who had taught them, became ‘Temporary Officers’ – and, by default, ‘Temporary Gentlemen’ – for the duration of the war only. Many schools suffered casualties, but the much-lauded ‘Lost Generation’ from the elite public schools is but one part of a much larger ‘Lost Citizenry’. The former have been justly remembered for their heroic sacrifices. The crucial contribution of their 685,000 fellow fallen citizens who had been educated in Britain’s other schools has often been marginalised. Roll of Honour reminds us of how even some decorated war heroes have simply been forgotten, victims of the condescension of posterity.


Roll of Honour is the first in a trilogy of books by Barry Blades on schooling and the Great War to be published by Pen & Sword Books over the next few years. The other titles are: Temporary Gentlemen: Teachers and the Great War, 1914-1919, and Little Soldiers: the Militarisation of Childhood and the Great War.

More details are available on the Schooling and the Great War website www.ww1schools.com


The Idea of an English School: Literature, Politics, and the University, 1932-1965

Alexander Hutton, a Research Associate at King’s College London, spoke on the ways in which English Literature education was used as a means of training a social democratic elite capable of creating and maintaining the welfare state in mid twentieth-century Britain.

Focusing on the careers of three individual English academics – L.C. Knights at Manchester and Bristol; Bonamy Dobrée at Leeds and F.W. Bateson at Oxford, the talk demonstrated how each of them engaged with radical social democratic politics during the 1930s and 1940s, and how these interactions reshaped their conception of the subject and its wider social relevance. For example, L.C. Knights taught adult education classes in industrial Lancashire as well as raising money for Republican Spain through selling jam, and Bonamy Dobrée was a leading figure of the cultural Popular Front of the 1930s, whereas F.W. Bateson worked as a Labour Party activist and became a major spokesman on socialist agricultural policies.

These interventions with leftist politics caused the three figures to rethink the purpose of English Literature within society and, in their respective universities, to rethink the syllabus in terms of literature’s relationship to the wider problems of group living, its possibilities of critiquing a capitalist society, and its possibilities in training a humane elite of teachers, adult education tutors, writers, journalists, civil servants, arts administrators and academics.

These figures, to a greater or lesser extent, set about reforming syllabuses at their universities in terms of exposing English students to wider contexts such as history or sociology. They each wrote manifestoes on this, such as Dobrée’s 1943 Universities and Regional Life, where the post-war provincial university was an essential tool for democracy, acting as a bastion of cultural value in places often lacking cultural and intellectual life. Universities had to become leading ‘propagandists’ for social change and ‘the good life…so they can help to mould the new industrial civilization in which the century of the common man will find its being.’

sussex 1

Above and below: Basil Spence’s designs for the University of Sussex

Sussex 2

F.W. Bateson, who met with stiff resistance at Oxford (where the department was dominated by figures such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein who rejected the notion that literature should have a social function or that it was particularly relevant to the modern world) was instrumental in founding the journal Essays in Criticism (1951-) as well as the Oxford Critical Society. These acted as an ‘insurgent’ Oxford English School, foregrounding the work of younger critics and writers, many of whom were taught by Bateson, including Al Alvarez, Kingsley Amis, Bernard Bergonzi, Stuart Hall, John Holloway, Philip Larkin, W.W. Robson, John Wain, and Raymond Williams.

The paper concluded by looking at David Daiches’ creation of the new English School at the University of Sussex. Though Daiches had repudiated his youthful Marxism, which produced his first book Literature and Society (1938), he remained committed to the idea that literature teaching must be relevant, which went on to underpin the Sussex ‘core and context’ system, set out in Daiches’ The Idea of a New University (1964), which prepared graduates to become vital contributors to modern technological society.

Whilst these visions were ultimately limited, and generally failed to withstand critiques from Marxist, feminist or Post-colonial perspectives, they were important parts of the reshaping of the subject in the context of university reforms in the pre-Robbins era.