Do you know what school life was like in the Victorian era and how tf people became teachers? Everyone focuses about the aesthetic of that era but I wanna know how they went to school
So I’ve been sitting on this for a while because the answer is huge and vague. Even if I just focus on America and Britain, where most of my knowledge is.
Basically, every single “rule” we consider hard fact about Victorian education was broken many times in many places. Women couldn’t go to university except when they could (see also: the universities that began letting women attend but not giving them degrees in the late 19th century, like Oxford). Teachers had to take qualifying tests, except when they didn’t and the only requirements were that you be able to read better than the rural students who might well be your own age or older- oh, did I mention that in some places at some times, teenage girls could become teachers with relative ease? Boarding schools and finishing schools in particular were horrible repressive places, except when they weren’t (some “finishing schools” snuck in subjects not commonly taught to girls, like algebra).
Remind me to talk about the weird dual anxiety surrounding girls’ boarding schools and women’s colleges, that they were necessary to safeguard young ladies’ virtue because no men were allowed, but they were also dangerous breeding grounds for lesbianism…because no men were allowed. Sexy Lesbian Schoolgirl™ is not a new idea in sensational literature and porn by any means.
For some people in the 19th century, school was a potential escape from poverty that had burdened their families for generations. For some Native children, it was a hellish place where colonizers ripped them from their families and tried to make them as white as possible. For some people, then as now, it was a path their families forced them onto. For some women, it represented one of very few “respectable” roads to financial independence.
The only real universality I can think of was that formal education wasn’t nearly as much of a requirement for anything as it is now. It was certainly valued by the majority of society, but dropping out or not progressing past a certain level was much, much more common. That was still stigmatized in some circles, but not nearly as much on the whole. University in particular was far less expected; though a degree could still often net you better jobs, there were plenty of people in those jobs who’d never set foot in one (with notable exceptions like doctors and lawyers).
Though public education had long existed in one form or another in England and America, interest in it grew immensely during the Victorian era. This was when schooling up to a certain point became compulsory, with 34 states in America passing laws to that effect by 1900 and the UK making education up to age 10 mandatory in 1880 (raised to 13 by 1899).
I could go on and on, but it’s really such a vast topic. Schools could look like anything from Harvard’s campus to a one-room building with a wood stove to a mansion to more modern-looking high schools that are still in use today. Teachers, as I’ve said, ran a vast gamut of qualifications (or lack thereof). Students might be divided up by age or ability or a combination of the two. Textbooks might be standardized or just whatever references the particular teacher found helpful; my mom started teaching me to read using a McGuffey Reader that my great-great-grandfather taught his students from in the 1890s. Think of all the posts talking about how much schools have changed in just a decade, since 2008. Now multiply that by six and take away like 90% of the standardization and government regulations and you begin to see just how varied the Victorian school experience could be.
I can think of a few classic children’s books that talk about the teacher qualifying process in certain places during the late 1800s, namely the later books in the Little House On The Prairie and Anne of Green Gables series. Beyond that, honestly, Wikipedia pages are a good place to start. Here is the one on the history of education in America and here is the one for England.
Sorry I couldn’t give you many definitive answers, but I hope I’ve helped at least a little.
Hello! You seem like a good person to go for book recommendations, so I was wondering if you could suggest and ghost stories, preferably in the public domain, and preferably in the Victorian era? If you have other ghost story suggestions, I’d love any of them! Thank you so much!
I’m so glad you asked! This book has a TON of them, although for some reason, it’s kind of expensive. You could probably find a cheaper copy elsewhere.
It’s not necessarily a ghost story, but The Lodger is great. And again, not a ghost story, but Carmilla is a fantastic vampire story (with lesbians!) written in the 19th century.
Rockland_ME-03 by Chris DiMattei Via Flickr: The Norton house, located at 19 Beech Street. This is a classic example of Design # 30 from the pattern book “New Model Dwellings and How Best to Build Them” originally published in 1894. George F. Barber architect.
My animation of a 12-photo 360 degree self-portrait session by French photographer Adrien Tournachon taken around 1858 turned into a 10 minute looped film-like creation. Behold, one of the earliest “movies” resurrected from history!