The Education Of The Blind In Victorian Society

MPhil Thesis

Koumantarakis, John P (1985). The Education Of The Blind In Victorian Society. MPhil Thesis Council for National Academic Awards Department of Humanities, Polytechnic of the South Bank.
AuthorsKoumantarakis, John P
TypeMPhil Thesis

The earliest ventures to offer organized education to the blind, begun in the 1870's, stemmed from humanitarian impulses, religious obligation, and a wish to create self sufficiency, so rendering the blind less 'burdensome' to the community. The subsequent efforts of Victorian charitable institutions, motivated increasingly by vocational considerations, were regarded by contemporaries as a source of both civic and national pride. The handsome neo-Gothic institutions of the 1830's stood as symbols of the power of voluntary provision to alleviate society's problems. The large sums raised by institutions and their optimistic publications fostered a parochial sense of complacency which was not disturbed by the first isolated critics in the 1850's and 1860's who pointed to quantitative deficiencies and the negative effects of confinement and deplored the shallow tuition offered. The need for change was not widely appreciated until statistics appeared in the 1870's to reinforce those criticisms and the 1870 Act helped ‘expose! the scale of the problem as more blind children were compelled to attend school. The success of Worcester College, founded in 1866 for ‘blind sons of gentlemen', changed conceptions of the educability of the blind and showed that most institutions were excessively limited in their objectives. The Charity Organization Society's 1875 'Report on The Training of The Blind' lent weight to the pleas of Thomas Armitage and Elizabeth Gilbert for state aid. A Royal Commission on the Blind and the Deaf and Dumb was appointed in 1885 and reported in 1889, Finding institutional education in Britain inefficient and inflexible it recommended sweeping changes, funded by government. Saxony's system was regarded as a successful example of blind education based on state aid. An Act of 1893 clarified responsibilities for blind children's schooling and ended ambiguities in the law on attendance. The Act applied the machinery of grants and inspection to blind schools, but the benefits of this were not evident for a further fifteen years, when changes in teacher training had an effect and institutions began to receive funds for technical instruction. In 1902, most institutional schooling still centered, unimaginatively, around the workshop, and state funds were still not being channeled to those organizations attempting to adapt to the changing needs of employers. Many of the blind were still leaving institutions, where their training had been inadequate and their cultural stimulation minimal, to drift into penury.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
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Deposited16 Nov 2023
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