Summary and Info
In this Essay, first published in 1853, the Victorian social activist James Hole offers an impassioned defence of the one of the central products of early Victorian social reformism, the mechanics' institutes. Aimed at improving the education of working-class men, women and youths, the institutes offered basic literacy training as well as higher-level lectures on science, the arts, and industry. This volume, originally a prize-winning essay, outlines Hole's plan for improving the efficacy of the institutes, which he saw as failing in their mission of enlivening the minds of those whose primary labours were physical. The institutes 'have established the right of the people to culture', Hole writes, but they had yet, in his view, to instil it. An important work in the history of education, Hole's Essay provides revealing insights into social reformism and the complexities of class politics within the movement.