Over the years there have been many influences on education in England. A philosopher called Ruskin had strong ideas. He postulated that there should be training schools for youth – at Government cost and under Government discipline over the whole country. He insisted on:
1. Laws of health and the exercises enjoined by them
2. Habits of gentleness and justice
3. The calling by which he is to live.
Ruskin did not believe in a uniform system of education. He felt that schools should fall into three classes:
1. For children who will probably have to live in cities
2. For those who will live in the country
3. For those who will live at sea.
The children who lived in the city needed to be taught mathematics and the arts, children in the country needed natural history and agriculture while the children who were to go to sea needed geography, astronomy and the natural history of sea fish and sea birds.
He wanted to see the schools in the `fresh country where the air was fresh’. He wanted girls to be taught courage and truth. He valued sincerity very highly.
We can see from this brief look into thinking over a hundred years ago that there were feelings, among some, that girls should be given as good as education as possible, that schools needed to be progressive and that health and exercise were essential. To some of us this is almost like the prescription for one of today’s progressive grammar schools. If only Ruskin had added an eleven plus test! We could have had our children tested for honesty and valour; we could have had a comprehension vocational guidance system for ten year olds and bunches of fit and healthy academics running around.