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Title: Robert Patterson (1802-1872) : an analysis of his contribution to the study of natural history in schools and colleges in Ireland in the nineteenth century
Author: McBride, George
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 3151
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the contribution of Robert Patterson of Belfast to popularising the study of natural history and to introducing it into the curriculum of schools and colleges of higher education in Ireland in the nineteenth century. The study is contextualised within a review of the relevant literature, the historical background, science, science education and religion in nineteenth - century Ireland. Succeeding chapters explore Patterson's family origins, family history and his own life and times; some early institutions, schools and colleges teaching science in general and natural history in particular; an examination of his case for the study of natural history and its introduction into the curriculum of schools and colleges of higher education in the period; his contribution to the science of zoology; his standing within his contemporary scientific community; an analysis of his introductory textbooks on zoology for the use of schools and their reception and impact. In the course of research for this thesis, some important topics in the history of science and science education in general in early nineteenth - century Ireland, which have been underdeveloped, have been recovered. The thesis contributes towards addressing one particular gap within the history of Irish science. It throws light upon the nineteenth - century community it describes and, through Patterson, the institutions in which they operated and the circles in which they moved. It emphasises the dependence of natural history upon what would, from modern versions of science, be described as the amateur tradition, and stresses the rigour and dedication of science practitioners in the early nineteenth century. It shows how networks, both familial and collegial, influenced the practice of natural history in the period. Patterson is seen as exemplifying a particular pattern of scientific and cultural activities within the first half of the nineteenth century, when the study of natural history and religion were closely connected, and there was much discussion around their indivisibility. He is considered as belonging to and exemplifying a generation of early middle class civic improvers. He is perceived as part of a broad movement of civic improvers addressing the tensions and deficiencies of Belfast and as offering the education of the poor, by means of instruction in natural history, as a route to social and moral improvement. Through advancing the study of natural history he not only transfers knowledge and understanding of science, but also civic and moral improvement. Thus, his special contribution to reforming and improvement was his successful advocacy for the inclusion of natural history as a branch of general education. His pedagogy is considered as a model for child - centred learning. In the broad context, Patterson's major contribution is his advocacy of natural history in education and his exemplification of the impliance of religion in natural theology and in the practice of science in the early nineteenth century. He is seen not only as part of the history of early nineteenth - century Belfast, but also as part of the history of science and the history of education in Ireland. He is also seen as straddling the gap between the early and middle years of the century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available