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Schools through the ages: an illustrated history

11:00am, Saturday 2 June 2018, ACCENT Study Centre, 12 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3JA

Education in England has a rich history going back over a thousand years, but since the 1980s, teacher training has downplayed history and theory in favour of practical classroom experience and research, and teachers are often the first to admit they know little about how their profession took shape. In the search for ‘what works’ in the classroom, has an important source of ideas about teaching – its own history – been overlooked?

This illustrated talk will provide an introduction to the history of education for teachers and non-teachers alike. It will trace a journey from the first grammar school, set up by Augustine of Canterbury in the sixth century, to the creation of the state education system in 1870.

Harley Richardson, who has spent the last decade studying the history of education, will explain the profound impact that events such as the Black Death, the Reformation and the Industrial Revolution had on access to education, and show that the liberating potential of knowledge has always threatened those in power.

What were the Seven Liberal Arts taught in medieval schools and what made them ‘liberal’? Why did ‘public schools’ turn into fee-paying private schools? And if state education is now seen as a self-evident good, why were so many people once against it?

This is an extended version of a talk given at the Battle of Ideas 2017.

Listen to the talk


Arrival and coffees

45 minute talk followed by discussion

Harley Richardson, director of design & development, Discovery Education

Gareth Sturdy, Physics teacher and member of the Education Forum committee

Optional readings

Education: A Very Short Introduction (available from Amazon UK here)

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