Role of the mass media.
The role of education and training.
Rev James Booth (1806?-1879)
- ‘ Examinations would be held annually, probably in March at convenient places and in different districts, the Institutions in different districts being grouped for the purpose
- Examinations would be conducted simultaneously by papers prepared by the Examiners in London
- Every candidate for examination shall have been, for a certain period (sat six months) a student of a class in an Institute in Union
- A Local Committee, possessing the confidence of the Institutes at each place of examination, should receive papers, be responsible for the efficient and fair conduct of the examination, and return the worked papers by post to the Board of Examiners in London
- The worked papers approved by the examiners would be divided into three classes, according to merit, 1st, 2nd and 3rd and corresponding certificates would be issued to successful candidates
- The certificate should record the name and age of the candidate, the number of lessons attended out of the number given, subject of the examination and the result of the examination
- No certificate should be awarded for any paper which gave evidence of only a smattering of knowledge, however extensive, or which was not well spelt, and fairly written
- 1st class certificates should be very cautiously awarded, so as to indicate a high standard of solid attainment
- A list of suitable subjects for examination should be prepared for approval by the “Conference”. Candidates might enter for any subject offered, but no candidate, after his first examination, might take up more than two subjects in the same year; a thorough knowledge of one or two subjects being far more important than superficial acquaintance with subjects.
The existence of the small number of dissenting academies made a lasting contribution to scientific and technical education particularly through their former students and tutors. They emphasised scientific and technological subjects which at the time were shunned by the established universities. The academies taught laypeople as well as those wishing to enter the church. The Academy founded in Warrington (1756-1786) is a good example of the movement the image above of the Academy is c 1762. The Academy was supported and funded by the newly affluent industrialists from Warrington and beyond who were disillusioned by the standard of education provided by Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The examinations and the resultant value of degrees from these two ancient universities were perceived as questionable. One of the few exceptions was the mathematics course at Cambridge which had tutored Newton. These business people sponsored the academies and wanted to see subjects introduced into the curriculum that would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of commercial and industrial practices and processes. As a result Warrington Academy offered such subjects as chemistry, electricity, logic, magnetism, mathematics, optics, pneumatics as well as the more traditional subjects such as ethics, philosophy and theology. The Academy taught just 400 students in its 29 years of existence and it was never financially secure. Only about 16% of the students studied theological subjects in order to enter the church. The Warrington Academy was finally dissolved in 1786 as a result of continuing financial problems and the hostility of religious bodies to new scientific ideas. However its influence continued to live on after its closure mainly through the subsequent achievements of its former students and tutors. These included Joseph Priestley tutor at Warrington Academy (1761), formally a student at the Daventry Academy (1752), an active member of the Lunar Society and noted chemist. Joseph Priestley was a non-conformist minister who had run a school in Nantwich for a number of years before being appointed to the Warrington Academy. He developed a considerable reputation as a scientist researching gases and electricity. Thomas Percival (one of the first students enrolled at Warrington Academy, founder with others of the Manchester Academy, founder of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and a noted medical practitioner and researcher).
Fortunately with the support of Percival after its closure in 1786 its library, equipment and the money realised from the sale of its building greatly assisted the newly opened Manchester Academy. A portrait of Thomas Percival is shown opposite. The Manchester Academy was founded in 1786 and continued the tradition of dissent by teaching subjects other than theology. was appointed teacher of mathematics and natural philosophy in 1793 and remained there until the Academy was relocated to York in 1803.
When the academy was dissolved in 1786 393 students had been enrolled and these included Thomas Barnes, Thomas Malthus, Thomas Percival (see above), John Simpson and John Goodricke.
Other tutors at the Warrington Academy included: John Aikin, Reinhold Forster, William Enfield, George Walker, Gilbert Wakefield. John Taylor, Joseph Priestley (see above), Anna Barbauld and her brother John Aikin (children of John Aikin).
The first President was Henry Willoughby.
Jean Paul Marat was reputed to have been a tutor of French at the academy. A portrait of John Dalton is shown below.
- P. O’Brien. ‘Warrington Academy 1757-86’ Owl Books ISBN 0 9514333 0X.
Broadhurst. E. M. ‘History of Collegiate Teaching some pioneers Thomas Percival’ Book of Manchester and Salford-Manchester Falkner and Co pages 30-33. 1929.
Schofield. R. E. ‘The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley’. ISBN 978-0-271-02510-0. Penn State University Press. 1997.
Launched in 1825/26 by Henry Brougham and Matthew Davenport Hill following an article in a journal (1821) by the radical Charles Knight deploring the woeful influence of the popular press on the working classes. Brougham had written a pamphlet ‘Observations on the Education of the People’ proposing the publication of low price books popularising science and general knowledge. A series of weekly and bi-weekly publications were produced by SDUK including the ‘The Penny Magazine’ and ‘The Penny Cyclopaedia’ as well as more expensive tomes e.g. ‘Gallery of Portraits’. Also published was the Library of Useful Knowledge costing sixpence and published biweekly and focused on scientific themes. A portrait of Henry Brougham is shown below.
Topics covered included history, geography and zoology. It was reckoned that there were 200,000 subscribers to the Penny Magazine per week many of whom were artisans but also middle class readers. The publications did not engage in political or religious issues but rather focused on popularising other areas of knowledge. The SDUK wanted to appeal to workers who had just learnt to read and the material was aimed at improving their reading as well as informing them. The SDUK focused primarily on teaching artisans the scientific principles associated with their trades and imparting useful information.
The first publication in the Library of Useful Knowledge sold 33,000 copies mainly to middle class readers and in spite of Brougham’s hopes did not attract readers from the workers. The SDUK ceased most of its operations in around 1848 though some publications continued. While created with worthy and high ideals the SDUK finally failed as the sales of the publications fell. The SDUK was not a complete failure as some commentators have claimed but it did represent at the time the first attempt to create a comprehensive and inexpensive range of educational literature for the masses. A portrait of Charles Knight is shown above.
Separate biographies exist in this section of the website for both Henry Brougham and Charles Knight two remarkable individuals.
A copy of the front page of the Penny Magazine dated 1833 is shown opposite.
- R.K.Webb, ‘The British Working Class Reader’ George Allen and Unwin Ltd. 1955.