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Creating sites for education and democracy: Henry Morris and the Cambridgeshire village collegesThis article investigates the work of Henry Morris (1889–1961), in particular his ideas on the Cambridgeshire village colleges. It is now 90 years since the first of these was founded in Sawston in 1930, and the article aims to address the issue of whether Morris’s views on education and democ- racy encapsulated in the village colleges still have relevancy in the early twenty-first century. An overview of Morris’s career and the creation of the village colleges is investigated, using the work of Paul Hirst and associative democracy as a theoretical lens. It is argued that the Cambridgeshire village colleges do have some attributes of associative democracy, particularly their original emphasis as sites of local democracy and participation from voluntary bodies and private individuals. How- ever, Morris’s role as Cambridgeshire’s Chief Education Officer (1922–1954) meant that the local state (in the guise of the County Council) played a more significant role in the village colleges than Hirst advocates for his version of associative democracy. As English primary and secondary schools turn from local authority control to academy status, Morris’s vision for local schools of and for local people is becoming increasingly compromised. The article ends with the work of Allen and Gann, both influenced by Morris, who argue for a revitalised form of comprehensive schooling and lifelong learning that again sees educational institutions as sites of grassroots democracy.
Subject English as citizenship educationThis article is equal parts educational history and political philosophy. We aim to remind readers that subject English (SE) and indeed state education emerge from the contradictory impulses of classical liberalism, and that, more than simply resembling citizenship education, SE emerges in the first instance as a form of highly normativising citizenship education. We further argue that, following England's recent educational reforms initiated by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, SE continues to be framed in moral terms consistent with citizenship education—again, of a highly normativising sort. England's current educational policy generally, and specifically the framing of SE, employs the language of liberal possibility, while ultimately espousing an invidious exclusionary and assimilationist politics. The framing of SE, moreover, is one that misrepresents the supposedly ‘rich and varied literary heritage’ it is supposed to exemplify and promote. The current political landscape in which the study of literature takes place is one where a crisis of liberalism is manifest (in terms of populism, radicalisation or apathy). However, we do not believe the answer is to retreat into a sealed, hermetic canon that excludes the reality that England and English literature are fundamentally multicultural and polyethnic. SE will be the poorer for not fully acknowledging and embodying this, for not enabling students to imaginatively and critically engage with characters and experiences that reflect both the present and long‐standing diversity of English society, as well as its present and long‐standing inequalities.