In order to understand schooling in New Zealand as it is, we need to remember that the education system originated in Britain and developed in a British colony in the nineteenth century and that it was based on the English national school system. We also need to understand the key influences of the industrial age on education (Hood, 2001). Some of the issues arising in the readings are the influence education has on society, how society can be shaped by education and what role the government plays in education. Another important issue is the development of an education system that is designed to match the ways different children learn and what their different abilities and interests are. Most important of all how by looking at the history of education and the development of the education system we can see ways of moving forward.
Life in Britain during the industrial age was still to a large extent ruled by the class system and education was for the ruling classes. However, the French Revolution altered the view common people in England had of the aristocratic system and the Industrial Revolution continued to bring about major changes (Campbell, 1941). After the French Revolution there was a change in how working class Britons viewed life and their place in society. They realised by looking at the French example that the aristocratic system that had long been their way of life did not have to be in control if the masses chose to change their "lot in life." During the 18th century more families started to earn a living from industrial work rather than from agricultural work and at the same time the country's population increased more rapidly than ever before. A result of this was an increase in unemployment producing social unrest (Campbell, 1941).
The industrial age raised several issues. With the emergence of public services Britain required increasing numbers of workers with the basic skills of numeracy and literacy. Education was originally only available to the upper classes and the working classes were seen as the "workhorses", providing the country with essentials like food. This slowly changed in part due to the rising unemployment and more children being excluded from the work force. In order to keep these children occupied and disciplined, education was extended to the working classes, at first as a form of charity by the churches and voluntary bodies. Also growing was the idea that education was a social necessity and a solution to social problems (Campbell, 1941). Social control has always been seen as an important role for schooling, and "would assist in developing the moral character of the child, and in doing so, would help to prevent crime" (Hood, 2001). The education system in Britain in the 19th century was shaped by individualism, the democratic philosophy of the early nineteenth century, believing that each individual should seek his own well-being and therefore create his own happiness.
Initially education for the...