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A solid and practical education within the reach of the humblest means: The growth and development of the Mechanics’ Institutes Movement with particular reference to the Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institution 1825–1891

Walker, Martyn (2011) A solid and practical education within the reach of the humblest means: The growth and development of the Mechanics’ Institutes Movement with particular reference to the Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institution 1825–1891. In: The 9th JVETJournal of Vocational Education and Training International Conference, 8th - 10th July 2011, Worcester College Oxford.

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Abstract

‘A solid and practical education within the reach of the humblest means’: the growth and development of the Mechanics’ Institutes Movement with particular reference to the Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institution 1825–1891.

Martyn Walker
School of Education and Professional Development, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom

The mechanics’ institutes, of which the earliest were established in Britain during the 1820s to provide (essentially) technical education, remained influential throughout the nineteenth century. It has been argued that they failed to provide socially relevant curricula to the industrial classes, instead serving the then emerging middle and professional classes through offering scientific education and recreation. Drawing primarily on evidence from the Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institute, this paper suggests that they did respond to the requirements of working-class education arising from the technological challenges of the nineteenth century. The Great Exhibition of 1851 highlighted a need for working class technical education to be prioritised if Britain was to remain a leading industrial nation. The mechanics’ institutes were, in the absence of state-funded institutions, ideally positioned to meet this challenge. Supported by The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, of which the Huddersfield Mechanics’ Institute played a major part as its first examination centre outside London, they were able to offer courses which were relevant to industrial development and to support nationally recognised qualifications. This provision became the bedrock for twentieth century craft and vocational education throughout Britain.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Schools: School of Education and Professional Development
School of Education and Professional Development > Centre of Lifelong Learning and Social Justice > Policy Research Group
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Sara Taylor
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2013 09:59
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2013 11:51
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/16599

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