Socialism and education in Britain 1883-1902
This thesis examines the policies of the socialist movement in the last two decades of the nineteenth century with regard to the education of children. This study is used to both reassess the nature of these education policies and to criticise the validity of the historiographical models of the movement employed by others. This study is thematic and examines the whole socialist movement of the period, rather than a party or an individual and as such draws out the common policies and positions shared across the movement. The most central of these was a belief that progress in what was called the 'moral' and the 'material' must occur simultaneously. Neither the ethical transformation of individuals, nor, the material reformation of society alone would give real progress. Children, for example, needed to be fed as well as educated if the socialist belief in the power of education and the innate goodness of humanity was to be realised. This belief in the unity of moral and material reform effected all socialist policies studied here, such as those towards the family, teachers, and the content of the curriculum. The socialist programme was also heavily centred on the direct democratic control of the education system, the ideal type of which actually existed in this period in the form of school boards. The socialist programme was thus not a utopian wish list but rather was capable of realisation through the forms of the state education machinery that were present in the period. It is argued in this thesis that the removal of this democratic machinery in 1902 crucially de-stabilised this unity of the ethical and the material and was one of the factors that led to the growth of state-centred and bureaucratic socialist solutions.