The Farm School: an Innovation in Teacher Education

Sometimes referred to as ‘the experimental outdoor school’, the Farm School at Shinfield was set up in June 1912 and continued until 1926. It was the brainchild of Herbert S. Cooke, Master of Method in the Education Department.

The motivation behind this initiative is explained in the College’s Annual Report for 1911-12:  Cooke was trying to counteract a longstanding trend for student teachers to prefer employment in urban rather than rural schools and wanted to impress upon his students the opportunities afforded by education outside the school classroom. The Farm School took place during the weeks reserved for Teaching Practice in the summer term and at first involved second-year male trainees only. Female students were eventually included in the scheme following a suggestion from the Board of Education, although initially their involvement was just for one week, later extended to two.

The first group of pupils consisted of forty thirteen-year-old boys from Redlands Council School, the College’s ‘demonstration school’, who attended daily for two weeks. Lessons took place in the barn which was equipped with desks and teaching materials.

According to Cooke (1913) there had been a growing realisation during previous years that the curricula of urban and rural schools needed to be different, and a Rural Curriculum was devised that centred on nature study and rural science. Pupils engaged in agricultural arithmetic, measuring distance and volume, and studied cattle, crops and soils as well as fruit growing, pruning and grafting in the College’s experimental gardens. They learnt folk songs and dances, studied the architecture of the nearby church at Arborfield and sketched the landscape and barn under the guidance of Allen Seaby and Mr Pearce from the Department of Fine Arts.

Cooperation between the Education Department, the Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture and the staff of Redlands Council School ensured the success of the venture. Reports in the College Review and Annual Reports give a special mention to Mr Cooke, to Mr Sweatman, the head teacher of the Boys Department at Redlands and Mr Pennington, a Lecturer in Agriculture who became the Farm Manager in 1914.

But perhaps the most telling testimony comes from the Annual Report referred to above:

‘The Board of Education Inspector of Training Colleges paid a special visit to the outdoor school and expressed the opinion that it was one of the best experiments he had ever seen in the training of young teachers for their future scholastic careers.’ (Annual Report, 1911-12, p. 41).

His Majesty’s Inspector of Training Colleges, Mr J. F. Leaf, suggested further that the two weeks be extended to three. This resulted in an extended curriculum where individual topics could be dealt with in greater depth and drew on the expertise of any trainee teachers who had specialist knowledge in relevant areas such as practical geography, plants, animals or gardening.

Two summers later, in 1913, the College Review reported the inclusion of girls as well as boys, and the participation of St John’s School in addition to the Demonstration School. The three weeks were further extended to four. The Farm School was now firmly established:

‘…what was once regarded as an experiment has now become an important factor in preparing the students for their professional career.’ (p. 186).

The scheme went from strength to strength and during its final three years sixty boys and sixty girls aged eleven to fourteen were invited. The children were from the poorer parts of the Borough and had all failed to qualify for secondary (grammar) schools.

The Timetable

Over the years, there was considerable variation in the makeup of the pupil groups and in the format of the school day. And for at least part of the time, the curriculum, number of weeks and transport arrangements differed between boy and girl pupils.

The most detailed account of the Farm School is to be found in an article by H. S. Cooke published in the College Review in 1913. From this and other sources such as Isabella Campbell’s and Albert Wolters’s retrospective accounts written in 1949, we can reconstruct an approximate format of a day for the boys. I can’t claim this to be a ‘typical day’, but it is certainly a possible one:

    • The children walked or cycled from Silver Street in town. Some arrived as early as 8.30 and took part in what Isabella Campbell referred to as ‘much intensive cricket practice’ (p. 34).
    • 9.30:  School opened.
    • 9.45:  Assembly at the barn, prayers and exercises.
    • 9.50:  Each pupil recorded weather observations.
    • 10.00:  Pupils divided into groups for Farm Arithmetic.
    • 10.55:  Break.
    • 11.10:   Outdoor geography, nature work, e.g. walk to the River Loddon to measure variations in the speed of flow and the reasons for them (on one occasion a child had to be fished out of the river!).
    • 1.00:  Midday break – the College Farm provided milk; lunch was eaten under the trees; the students organised games of cricket and football while College staff congregated in the ‘Black Boy’ (now the ‘Shinfield Arms’) where they conducted what Albert Wolters referred to as ‘vigorous and animated discussions’!
    • 2.15:  The trainee whose turn it was to be Headteacher blew the whistle and pupils and students moved to the farm for lessons on topics such as soil, cattle, fruit trees, pests, ploughing, farm implements, etc.
    • 4.15:  Tidying up, prayers and a hymn.

The curriculum for girls appears to have concentrated more on areas such as dairy produce and poultry keeping, together with training in first aid. There was daily folk dancing.

Sadly, the Farm School was discontinued after the transition from University College, Reading to the University of Reading in 1926. The priority for the Education Department moved from primary schools to postgraduate secondary training, and for practical reasons teaching experience could no longer be delayed until the summer term.

Writing in 1949 to celebrate fifty years of Teacher Education  at Reading, Professor Albert Wolters, by then Head of the Psychology Department, described the Farm School as ‘our greatest experiment‘. Quite an accolade from one of the most distinguished scholars in the University’s history!

Composit
Plan showing the London Road Campus in relation to the College/University Farms (Edited from Childs’s memoir, pp. xii-x).
On Reflection

I am struck by the coincidence that, as well as being the beginning of the Farm School, 1912 marked the publication of Eliza Chattaway’s ‘School Nature Rambles’. At the time, Chattaway was head of the Infants  Department at Redlands Council School and had already been taking pupils on educational visits to the Shinfield Farm, details of which are documented in her book.

In the preface she gives thanks to H. S. Cooke for checking the proofs and I can’t help wondering to what extent Cooke was inspired by this pioneer of outdoor learning in developing the concept of the Farm School.

The compilation of a first academic biography of Eliza Chattaway is currently being supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) under the leadership of Dr Rhianedd Smith (University Museums and Special Collections Services). The research is being conducted by Leah Rashid. On completion, the biography will appear on the website of the Berkshire Record Office.

I can’t guarantee that the images below of Eliza Chattaway with her pupils from Redlands School were taken on the College farm, but it seems likely.

Eliza on farm
Eliza Chattaway (second adult from the left) with children from Redlands Infants School (reproduced with permission from the Berkshire Record Office).
Eliza at farm
Eliza Chattaway (front centre) (reproduced with permission from the Berkshire Record Office).
Note

There is a discrepancy about the continuation of the Farm School during World War I –  the Redlands School logbooks show it to have been suspended between 1915 and 1918, whereas H. Armstrong of the College states that it took place every year except 1918. This inconsistency might be explained by the fact that Redlands was evacuated in 1915 when its buildings became a temporary military hospital. Presumably the Farm School continued with pupils from elsewhere during this period; the College’s annual report for 1916-17, for example, states that:

‘The outdoor school was held in June on the College Farm. A new feature of this year’s work was the preparation and cooking of the midday meal by the students and school-pupils.’ (p. 20).

Thanks

To Dr Rhianedd Smith (University Museums and Special Collections Services) and Mark Stevens (County Archivist, Berkshire Record Office) for their help.

Sources

Armstrong, H. (1949). A brief outline of the growth of the Department. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 9-17). University of Reading.

Campbell, I. E. (1949). The farm school, 1912-1926, and the development of courses in rural science for intending teachers. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 33-6). University of Reading.

Chattaway, E. (1912). School nature rambles. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Cooke, H. S. (1913). An outdoor school. The Reading University College Review, Vol. VI, No. 16, pp. 56-66.

Curtis, S. J. (1949). Early days. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 23-5). University of Reading.

The Reading University College Review, Vol. IV, August 1912.

The Reading University College Review, Vol. VI, No. 18, Aug 1914.

Rooke, P. (1991). Redlands: a hundred years at school, 1891-1991. Reading: Redlands School Parents’ Teacher Association.

University College Reading, Annual Report and Accounts, 1911-12, 1912-13 & 1916-17.

Wolters, A. W. (1949). Early days. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 18-20). Reading: University of Reading.

 

The Day Training College and the Master of Method

In my post about the Normal Department I noted that the origins of Teacher Education at Reading University could be traced to the founding of the University Extension College in 1892. In 1898 this became Reading College, soon followed by recognition as a Day Training College. This extended its field of operations and laid the foundations for what would eventually become today’s Institute of Education.

According to Carol Dyhouse’s ‘Students: a gendered history‘, day training departments in colleges and universities were introduced by the government in 1890 and were responsible for a significant increase in student numbers, particularly of women. Reading and Southampton followed in the steps of 13 other institutions in gaining recognition in 1899.

 

Shows college recognition
Reading College Calendar 1899-1900: Childs was still Lecturer in History & English Literature; he became Vice-Principal in 1900, Principal in 1903 and Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1926

By the time of Edith Morley’s appointment in November 1901, the Day Training College was preparing 80 full-time students for the Elementary Teachers’ Certificate on a course lasting two years. These students formed the bulk of full-timers in the arts and sciences.

The provision was innovative in at least two ways. First, from the outset most students were accommodated in halls of residence (rendering the phrase ‘day training’ inappropriate). And second, thanks to the cooperation of heads of the other departments, they were admitted to degree courses. The latter initiative raised some eyebrows in Whitehall but it seems to have been a success in as far as the trainees became fully integrated members of the student body and helped to secure the future of a group of subjects that became the nucleus of the Faculty of Letters. In other words, Education was at the very centre of academic activity.

A half century later, in 1949, Sir Frank Stenton, the University’s third Vice-Chancellor, paid tribute to the role of this early Education department in helping to overcome fears that the College was doomed to provide little more than technical instruction:

For this, all who are interested in the University of 1949 owe gratitude to the little group of teachers and students who formed the miserably housed and infelicitously named Day Training College of fifty years ago.‘ (p. 4)

Admission to the Day Training Department

Those eligible for admission were:

    1. Candidates who had obtained a first or second class pass in the Queen’s Scholarship Examination;
    2. Certified teachers who hadn’t received 2 years training;
    3. Graduates;
    4. Candidates over the age of 18 who had passed an examination approved by the Government Education Department.

Candidates in categories 2 and 3 only had to complete one year of the course.

Acceptance was subject to a health check conducted by the Medical Officer, Dr J. B. Hurry, and a declaration that it was the candidate’s bona fide intention to teach in a state school.

The College received £20 per student in fees (£10 from the student and £10 from the Government Education Department). Grants for maintenance for Queen’s Scholars consisted of £20 for women and £25 for men. Students not living at home paid a maintenance fee of £15 (women) or £12 (men).

The Course

As the first-year timetable below suggests, students were kept busy six days a week with a combination of subject knowledge and lectures on teaching method. These were interspersed with just four short slots for private study or tuition.

Illustrates timetable
The first published timetable for the Day Training Department (Reading College Calendar 1900-01, p. 119)
The Master of Method

The creation of the Day Training Department also marked the appointment of the first official Lecturer in Education. As can be seen from the first Calendar extract above, this was J. H. Gettins who served as ‘Master of Method‘ until 1907 when he was succeeded by H. S. Cooke.

Professor Albert Wolters, the subject of a previous post on this blog, had been a student in the Day Training Department in 1902. Nearly half a century later, he still had fond memories of Gettins:

The staff consisted of Mr. J. H. Gettins, who, harassed but cheerful, worked from morn to night, giving lectures and supervising school practice, knowing all the time that by reason of the training being concurrent with academic studies his Department was a nuisance.‘ (p. 18)

During Wolters’s time as a student, teaching practice was a mere three weeks per session and took place at the Swansea Road Board School. Further schools became involved later, including Redlands.

The Next 50 Years

In the half century following its establishment as a Day Training College in Valpy Street, the Education Department went from strength to strength and was responsible for a number of key innovations. A previous post has already mentioned the Department’s early contribution to educational research and to the schooling of evacuees during World War II, following which it was fully engaged in the government’s Emergency Training Scheme.

One particular initiative excited wide interest.  This was the University College’s ‘Farm School‘ at Shinfield, an experiment that took place between 1912 and 1926. It was attended by as many as 120 children annually from the borough including pupils from Redlands School (by then the Department’s ‘demonstration school’). Sadly, the scheme was abandoned as priorities changed when the University College became the University of Reading, but the tradition of Outdoor Education is still maintained today through the work of Dr Helen Bilton, Professor of Outdoor Learning at Reading’s Institute of Education.

Post Script

There were Mistresses of Method as well as Masters, though none of the lecturers in education at Reading ever had the title.

In Edith Morley’s chapter on women at universities, she includes training teachers as one of four kinds of opening available to women:

These posts, which are remunerated on about the same scale as other University lectureships are well suited to those whose interest lies mainly in purely educational matters. Girls who have obtained good degrees, but do not wish to devote themselves entirely to scholarship, will find here an attractive and ever-extending sphere of influence.’ (p. 19)

And:

Mistresses of Method are well aware that the ideal type of training has not yet been evolved: they are seeking new ways of carrying on their work and experimenting with new methods at the same time as they are guiding others along paths already familiar to themselves.‘ (p. 19)

During the 50 years between 1899 and 1949 there were 32 full-time Education staff at Reading. Seventeen were women (these figures omit academics such as Edith Morley who were in other departments but contributed subject-specialist expertise to Education courses).
Sources

Armstrong, H. (1949). A brief outline of the growth of the Department. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 9-17). University of Reading.

Barnard, H. C. (1949). A note on the term “Day Training College. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (p. 8). University of Reading.

Campbell, I. E. (1949). The farm school, 1912-1926, and the development of courses in rural science for intending teachers. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 33-6). University of Reading.

Dyhouse, C. (2006). Students: a gendered history. Abingdon: Routledge.

Morley, E. J. (2014). Women at the universities and university teaching as a profession. In E. J. Morley (Ed.), Women workers in seven professions: a survey of their economic conditions and prospects (pp. 11-24). London: Routledge. [Edited for the Studies Committee of the Fabian Women’s Group].

Morley, E. J. (2016). Before and after: reminiscences of a working life (original text of 1944 edited by Barbara Morris). Reading: Two Rivers Press.

Reading College. Calendar, 1899-1900 & 1900-01.

Reading College. Report of the Academic Board, 1898-9 & 1899-1900.

Stenton, F. (1949). Vice-Chancellor’s foreword. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 4-6). University of Reading.

Wolters, A. W. (1949). Early days. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 18-20). Reading: University of Reading.

Reading’s ‘Normal Department’

Reading has a long and proud history of teacher education and its roots can be traced to the creation of the University Extension College in 1892. At first, courses took place in the ‘Pupil Teachers’ Department‘, but in 1893 it became known as ‘The Normal Department‘ and the name remained until 1897.

The map below, published in the Calendar of 1893-4, shows the location of the Normal Department on the site of the Extension College in Valpy Street. Only a year previously the  department’s premises had been the vicarage of St Lawrence’s Church.

Edited Map of the Site of the University Extension College showing the Normal Department in blue (Calendar 1893-4)
The same issue of the Calendar contains an impression of the view from Valpy Street of the north entrance to the Normal and Science Departments.

 

Until 1899 when it became a Day Training College, the work of the Department was fairly limited in scope and focused on subject knowledge rather than pedagogy. In the first year of the Normal Department it covered three main areas:

    1. Pupil Teachers attended classes on Saturday mornings and on weekday evenings after school. They were entitled to an allowance of 3 hours per week private study at school. Fees of £2 per annum were paid by their schools.
    2. Uncertificated Assistant Teachers attended courses of instruction that included Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, English, Music, Geography and History. There were separate timetables for men and women: men were not offered Music and women were offered fewer subjects because they had no access to Algebra or Geometry. The timetables make no mention of science. Participants paid somewhere between 4 shillings and 6 pence and 10 shillings and 6 pence per term, depending on its length and whether or not students attended small-class tutorials.
    3. The College collaborated with Berkshire County Council to provide classes for teachers in rural Elementary Schools. Courses gave technical instruction in areas such as Agriculture and Hygiene over a period of three years. They were held at Didcot, Newbury and Reading.

The duties of the Normal Department were carried out by a staff of six, led by a Superintendant and assisted by a Senior Tutor. They are named in the extract from the Calendar of 1893-4 shown below and include W. M. Childs who was later to become the University of Reading’s first Vice-Chancellor.

Staff of the Normal Department – the Principal was H. J. Mackinder (Calendar 1893-4)

In his memoir ‘Making a University‘, Childs gives an interesting insight into the business of educating pupil teachers:

‘As for the pupil teachers, they almost defeated me … I had been told that until lately all these pupil teachers had been taught on traditional lines by their own head teachers in their own schools, and that herding them into central classes was not popular.’ (p. 3)

The students were prepared for the Queen’s Scholarship Examination by which the thousands of entrants were rank-ordered in order to determine admission to training colleges.

Childs was not impressed, expressing sentiments that would strike a chord in some quarters today:

‘Under this forced draught, competition became nerve-racking, and mental preparation a hot-bed of cram. All teaching was ‘suspect’ unless it ‘paid’ ; and no device of memorizing was deemed too sordid if only it would win marks.’ (pp. 3-4)

Nevertheless, Childs overcame his difficulties with the  ‘genial disorder of the handful of boys‘ and the whispers of the girls. And he claimed that all his teaching skill derived from these early years of struggling to manage pupil teachers’ attention and goodwill.

What was ‘Normal’ about the department?

I had never encountered the use of ‘normal’ in the context of UK teacher education before. I was, however, acquainted with the ‘écoles normales‘ in the French system. Professor Cathy Tissot, then Head of the Institute of Education, told me that both ‘Normal Department’ and ‘Normal School’ had been standard terminology, historically used, in the United States.

A survey of Google Books showed that during the 19th Century and the early decades of the 20th, collocations of both normal+department and normal+school were many times more frequent in US publications than in the UK and that  US usage fell towards UK levels after 1940. Later usages tend to be historical accounts of educational settings.

The Oxford English Dictionary records eight citations of this sense of ‘normal’ but they didn’t explain what was ‘normal’ about a Normal Department. So I sent a query to ‘Grammarphobia’, a blog based in the USA about usage, word origins and grammar run by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman. They pointed out that the term originally had to do with norms and standards and that the schools, departments, colleges and universities were normal in the sense of providing a model. Their carefully researched reply that encompasses usage in France, Britain and the US can be read in full here.

A future post will look at the next significant stage in the development of Teacher Education at Reading that laid the foundations for what was eventually to become today’s Institute of Education. This was the creation of the Day Training College in 1899.

Thanks

To Prof Cathy Tissot for originally raising this topic.

To Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman for their excellent blog and their speedy response to my queries.

Sources

Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Reading College. Calendar, 1898-99.

University Extension College. Calendar and general directory of the University Extension College, 1892-3.

University Extension College. Reading. Calendar, 1893-4 to 1897-98.

 

Evacuees and Reading’s first PhD in Education

THE EVACUEE ARCHIVE

The University of Reading’s Special Collections contain a wide variety of material relating to World War II evacuation. In addition to books, interviews and documents, the archive includes 25 boxes of memoirs collected by Dr Martin Parsons, formerly Senior Lecturer in History Education at Reading and Director of the Secondary PGCE Programme. 

Currently a team of volunteers led by Joanna Hulin, Reading Room Assistant at MERL, is assisting with the cataloguing process in order to make the content of these memoirs more accessible to readers.

The memoirs contain many recurring themes, but one which is particularly striking to anyone who has worked in Education is the disruption to schooling experienced by children of all ages. Colin, for example, who was evacuated from London to Essex in September 1939, had no schooling for a month after his arrival. His Geography teacher gave him and fellow pupils the task of mapping the village to keep them out of mischief (D EVAC A/1/488).

The lack of suitable school premises meant that, on arrival, many classes had to be held in the open air.  And the severe winter of 1939-40 further disrupted attendance. Frequently school buildings had to be shared between local children and evacuees on a half-day basis. Sometimes, homesick children returned home early only to find that their schools had closed. In the Liverpool area alone it was reported that thousands of children went without lessons for 10 months.

Nothing speaks more poignantly of the plight of some of the children, however, than this comment from an anonymous respondent (D EVAC A/1/546) who had been evacuated from London to Somerset:

University of Reading Special Collections
THE UNIVERSITY’S FIRST PHD IN EDUCATION

It was interesting to discover, therefore, that the first Education PhD listed in Professor Barnard’s history of the Education Department at Reading addressed some of the issues referred to above. What made it even more interesting was its focus on the town of Reading and, in particular, that it was a contemporary account or an investigation conducted while the evacuation was still in progress.

The thesis by Charles Preston Rawson was completed in 1943 and has the title ‘Some aspects of evacuation.’ Its structure and presentation is very different from any thesis I have seen before. And the format is not what would be expected in the Institute of Education today. However it contains a wealth of detail, documentary analysis, a questionnaire survey and an account of an intervention conducted by the author himself. It also presents a considerable amount of raw data.

In total, there are five volumes plus an envelope of supplementary material.

Rawson’s thesis (available from the Whiteknights Library off-site store)

I believe this to be a valuable resource for historians of the period, so it is worth saying a little more about the content.

  1. Volume 1:  deals with ‘Preparations for Evacuation’. Following a detailed analysis of official documents, Rawson concludes that, ‘It may be that I have shown the meaning of “Schooling in an Emergency”‘ (p. 11). There is also a case study of Springfield School (in Hackney?) consisting of a detailed diary of events leading up to evacuation.
  2. Volumes 2, 3, & 4:  provide the results of a survey consisting of 19 mostly open-ended questions about ‘conditions in the London reception area up to Midsummer 1941.‘ The questionnaire went out to 112 evacuated schools and 104 were returned – an impressive response during a national emergency. For two years, Rawson also maintained close contact with 77 evacuated schools that were housed in or around Reading. He reports that, during this period, the school population of Reading increased by 55%.
  3. Volume 5:  reports what is referred to as ‘The Reading Experiment.‘ This intervention was a personal initiative by Rawson conducted with the approval of the London County Council Inspectorate.  It was an ambitious project that bypassed the problem of shared school premises and half-day education by hiring accommodation and borrowing equipment.
  4. Supplementary Materials:  include spreadsheets, statistics, maps, graphs and diagrams meticulously produced by hand using different coloured inks.
Rawson’s Thesis with the Supplementary Materials

The schools surveyed are not specified by name in the description of the sample which simply tabulates the type of school, the name of the head teacher and the area to which it was evacuated. However, they are identifiable because they are all named in the handwritten spreadsheet of school rolls (see below), and many are mentioned by name in the results section. Given the large size of the sample of London schools, it is inevitable that they would include some of those mentioned in the Special Collections’ evacuee memoirs.

Rolls of Evacuated Schools (Supplementary Material Accompanying Rawson’s Thesis)

One area addressed in the survey is ‘Has it been possible to carry on normal full-time education?‘ (Q7a). The answer is complex: by 1943 the situation had stabilised and, at least in terms of the number of hours of education, most schools were providing an equivalent of whole-day schooling. With regard to the combination of quantity and quality of the curriculum, however, there were reservations expressed by nearly half the schools in the sample.

THE UNIVERSITY OF READING AND THE EVACUATION

It is worth noting that the University of Reading has a number of other connections to evacuees and evacuee studies. Towards the end of Volume 5 of Rawson’s thesis there is a tribute to the University’s provision of courses of lectures and field excursions for evacuated teachers. These were co-ordinated by Reading’s Education Department and contributions were made by professors and lecturers from across the University. According to H. Armstrong’s account of the Education Department, students still in training also did their bit by helping out in local schools that were struggling with overcrowding and staff shortages.

Following her retirement in 1940, Edith Morley spent a year as a billeting officer in Reading. This is how she describes her role:

…I helped with work among the evacuees, taking children to their billets, visiting the billetees and their hosts, distributing dinner tickets and doing odd jobs of clerical work at a community centre and the like.‘ (p. 161).

Following this, she devoted her attention to helping refugees where she could make use of her foreign language skills.

 It is also interesting that, prior to her appointment at Reading, Magdalen Vernon, pioneering experimental psychologist who became the first female Head of Psychology at Reading, conducted a study of the consequences of evacuation for adolescent girls. The investigation includes the effects on academic working habits, social relationships, leisure activities and attitudes to careers.

FINALLY

It would be neglectful to conclude this post without mentioning a second Education PhD that was completed in 1943. This was Isabella Erskine Campbell’s investigation into abstract thinking and language development in children of ‘average intelligence’. 

Campbell’s thesis, set out in a format more like that of today, was written in the context of secondary school reorganisation. The results have implications for issues that are still relevant: selection at eleven plus,  testing and examinations, curriculum, equal opportunities and the place of vocational education.

This PhD is a landmark because Isabella Campbell was a lecturer and tutor in the Department of Education, and the first member of staff in that department to be awarded a doctorate by the University of Reading.

PS

Sadly, I can find no record of Charles Rawson publishing his research.

SOURCES

Armstrong, H. (1949). A brief outline of the growth of the department. In H. C. Barnard (ed.). The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 9-17). University of Reading.

Barnard, H. C. (Ed.). (1949). The Education Department through fifty years. University of Reading.

Campbell, I. E. (1943). A study of abstract thinking and linguistic development with reference to the education of the child of ‘average’ intelligence. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Reading.

Evacuation – a mammoth operation to move 200,000 to safety. (1957, November 19). The Liverpool Echo, p. 8.

Morley, E. J. (2016). Before and after: reminiscences of a working life (original text of 1944 edited by Barbara Morris). Reading: Two Rivers Press.

Rawson, C. P. (1943). Some aspects of evacuation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Reading.

University of Reading Calendar 1939/40 to 1943/44.

University of Reading Special Collections, Memoirs of Evacuated Children during World War 2 – D EVAC A .

Vernon, M. D. (1940). A study of some effects of evacuation on adolescent girls. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 12, 114-134.

More about Caroline Herford

I devoted a previous post to Caroline Herford MBE who was Reading’s first Lecturer in Secondary Education and the former head of Lady Barn House School in Manchester. The school is still thriving but has moved from its original site to Cheadle near Stockport.

Herford took up the post  in 1909 and since writing the original post I have come across the entry below in the Official Gazette of University College Reading under the heading ‘Appointments’.

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No 56. Vol. II. October 25 1909. (p. 64).

The content is illuminating because the second half contains details of her activities and responsibilities in the field of Education that I hadn’t seen elsewhere. There is no doubting her credentials for the post at London Road.

Edith Morley’s Sheep and Goats

In an earlier post about Community, I commented on Edith Morley’s opposition to the idea of a separate Common Room for women. In her Reminiscences this is how she describes the SCR at Acacias following the move to London Road in 1905:

An excellent and most attractive Senior Common Room could at once be established, opening on to delightful lawns which were reserved for the use of its members. …members of all faculties and departments, of both sexes and every status meet together, cement friendships, thrash out problems, argue, discuss and hear each other’s point of view. …everyone meets his colleagues naturally and on equal terms.‘ (pp. 102-3).

It seems that she carried the principle of non-segregation into her teaching. S. J. Curtis recalls the experience of her English class when training to be a teacher in 1911-14:

‘Special Method lectures were then given by members of the academic staff. Certain highlights of those times still stand out clearly in my mind. There was Professor Edith Morley who in her course on the teaching of English intensely disliked seeing the men occupying one side of the lecture room and the women the other, and who literally produced a mix-up by her injunction for the sheep and goats to mingle themselves. I have never been quite sure in my own mind as to which sex each epithet applied.’ (p. 23).

As noted in a previous post, S. J. Curtis went on to become Reader in Education at the University of Leeds and a distinguished expert on the History of Education and the Philosophy of Education. His textbook on the ‘History of Education in Great Britain‘, first published in 1948, ran to seven editions.

Acacias and the Senior Common Room, 1907. The path in the foreground has since been grassed over but traces can still be seen.  (University of Reading Special Collections)
SOURCES

Curtis, S. J. (1949). Early days. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 23-5). University of Reading.

Morley, E. (2016). Before and after: reminiscences of a working life (original text of 1944 edited by Barbara Morris). Reading: Two Rivers Press.

University of Reading Special Collections, Photographic Archives.

Teacher Education, Albert Wolters and the ‘Criticism Lesson’

It comes as no surprise that Education students experience feelings of apprehension when starting their School Experience (formerly known as Teaching Practice). But at least they no longer have to undergo a form of torture known as ‘the Criticism Lesson‘.

I first learnt of this phenomenon from a short memoir written by Albert Wolters in 1949, part of a volume marking 50 years of Teacher Education at Reading.

Albert Wolters (1883-1961)

The name of Albert Wolters is widely known across Reading University thanks to the Albert Wolters Distinguished Visiting Professorships. These prestigious awards have been held by the following scholars of international acclaim: Ellen Bialystok (2015), Steven Pinker (2016), Noam Chomsky (2017), Elizabeth Loftus (2018), Daniel Dennett (2019) and Alison Gopnik (2021).

Wolters’ many talents and achievements have recently been extolled by Ingeborg Lasser in The Psychologist. He was a pioneer in the field of Psychology and responsible for enabling Psychology to become an independent department in 1921. He was its first head, was made Professor in 1943 and became Reading’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 1947.

Before the establishment of the Psychology Department, Wolters had contributed to the training of teachers following his appointment to University College Reading in 1908. He is listed among the staff of both Education and Philosophy where Psychology was located during this period. His involvement with teachers continued beyond 1921 and he is recorded by Charles Rawson, a PhD candidate, as contributing to the in-service training of teachers evacuated to Reading from London during World War II.

What is less well known is that in 1902 Wolters became a student at Reading’s Day Training College, preparing to be an Elementary School teacher. It is from this time that he recalls the ordeal described below.

The Criticism Lesson

In Wolters’ own words:

One feature of the course was pretty generally disliked. Once a week some twenty children were drafted into the College Hall for a “criticism lesson”. … Then one of us had to stand up and “give a lesson” to that class, while forty students looked on knowing that they had to comment on it afterwards, perhaps to be told that criticism need not be abuse. The children enjoyed it; they were out of school. We sometimes suspected that the Master of Method [J. H. Gettins] enjoyed it in a sadistic moment otherwise quite foreign to his character.’ (p. 19)

According to S. J. Curtis who was an Education student from 1911-14, the assembled staff of the Department and the head of the school were also present:

One ordeal dreaded by every student in the Department was the criticism lesson given before an audience consisting of the staff of the Department, the head-teacher, and, what was worst of all, before one’s fellow students. As one who passed through the fire, I can say that the actual experience was not nearly as terrifying as it appeared in prospect. This was entirely due to the way in which it was handled by Mr. Cooke [see photograph below]. However weak and faltering the lesson, providing the teacher was really serious about the business, Mr. Cooke would always find at least one praiseworthy item in it…‘ (p. 24)

The hall that Wolters mentions was the main hall of the College in Valpy Street (see previous post for map and photo). The events referred to by Curtis most likely took place in the Great Hall on the London Road Campus.

S. J. Curtis went on to make his mark as Reader in Education at Leeds University where he became a renowned expert on the History of Education and Moral Philosophy.

The Education Department in the time of Albert Wolters

The present Institute of Education at London Road can trace its origins back to 1892 with the training of Pupil Teachers and preparation of Uncertificated Teachers in Elementary Schools for the Certificate Examination (Armstrong, 1949). It was only in 1899, however, when Reading College obtained recognition as a Day Training College, that the real foundations of today’s Institute were laid. Edith Morley recalls that by the time she was appointed in 1901, things were well under way, with 80 full-time students pursuing a two-year course to become Elementary Teachers. In 1902, Albert Wolters enrolled as one of about 40 students in his year group, two-thirds of whom were women.

The photograph below shows the Education Department in the year before Wolters arrived. Many of these lecturers would have been his tutors. Some, like W. M. Childs and  H. S. Cooke,  would later become his friends and colleagues after his appointment to the Department in 1908.

The College Education Department, Valpy Street, 1901
Staff Identified by name in H. C. Barnard’s History of the Department
  1. H. J. Mackinder, College Principal.
  2. W. M. Childes, Vice-Principal; later Reading University’s first Vice-Chancellor.
  3. H. S. Cooke, Headmaster of the Pupil Teachers’ Centre; later Head of Department.
  4. J. M. Rey, Lecturer in French.
  5. Miss Bolam, Education Tutor and Warden of St Andrew’s Hostel.
  6. F. H. Wright, Registrar.
  7. J. H. Sacret, Lecturer in History.
  8. A. W. Seaby, Lecturer in Fine Art; later Professor of Fine Art.
  9. W. G. de Burgh, Lecturer in Classics; later Professor of Classics.
SOURCES

Armstrong, H. (1949). A brief outline of the growth of the Department. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 9-17). University of Reading.

Barnard, H. C. (Ed.). (1949). The Education Department through fifty years. University of Reading.

Curtis, S. J. (1949). Early days. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 23-5). University of Reading.

Morley, E. (2016). Before and after: reminiscences of a working life (original text of 1944 edited by Barbara Morris). Reading: Two Rivers Press.

Rawson, C. P. (1943). Some aspects of evacuation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Reading.

Wolters, A. W. (1949). Early days. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 18-20). Reading: University of Reading.

University College Reading. Calendar, 1919-20.

THANKS TO:

Dr Gordon Cox for telling me about Professor Barnard’s book and lending me his copy.

Professor Carmel Houston-Price (Head of the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences) for clarification about the Visiting Distinguished Professorships and biographical information about Albert Wolters.