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Civics, citizenship and patriotism – the experience of the London County Council, 1918-1939 Jenny Keating, History in Education Project, Institute of Historical.

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Presentation on theme: "Civics, citizenship and patriotism – the experience of the London County Council, 1918-1939 Jenny Keating, History in Education Project, Institute of Historical."— Presentation transcript:

1 Civics, citizenship and patriotism – the experience of the London County Council, Jenny Keating, History in Education Project, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

2 “Among countries of the first rank, indeed, England seems to be the only one which has not yet realised the importance of regulating, from the very first, the noble, but dangerous, passion of patriotism. We leave it to grow up in a haphazard and unenlightened manner, to be the sport of Jingo newspapers and of frantic mob-orators, to be divorced from all knowledge of the true nature of England’s greatness, and to be associated with a blind contempt for other nations”. EE Kellett, ‘The Teaching of Patriotism’, The Journal of Education, March 1900, pp181-2.

3 “Comparisons between the present and the past will frequently suggest themselves, and it is by this method of comparison rather than by set lessons or direct instruction that the foundations of intelligent citizenship can best be laid. Any attempt to deal elaborately with such matters as the parts of the British constitution, the local government of the country, or the administration of justice, is wearisome, and must be largely unintelligible to children..” Board of Education, ‘Suggestions for the Consideration of Teachers and others concerned in the work of the Public Elementary Schools’, (London, HMSO 1918), p95

4 “The reason why Germany has fought this magnificent fight, the reason why she has kept together as she has done is not because of her training and knowledge but because the children have been taught from the earliest infancy to subordinate themselves to something which is greater than themselves – to the ideals of the nation”. He went on, “Of course we cannot do that. We do not want to do it in the sense which Germany has done it. Democracy does not want to do it, but I venture to say that if a democracy is not permeated by ideals that democracy will be no more successful than any other form of government”. LMA – LCC/EO/PS/02/003 ‘Citizenship and Civics’ – Reference Paper by Dr TB Napier, ‘Civic and national responsibility and ideals, 22/2/1918

5 The “difficult and delicate issues – ideals”. The big questions of: “on the one hand what society in its corporate capacity should do for its citizens and on the other what should be the corresponding return of the citizen for his share in the common weal”. Which, as he warned, “approach the forbidden ground of party politics and religious opinion”. “apparently we need a second law-giver who will formulate a second set of Commandments. So broad and so simply expressed as to secure common consent...Until his advent, teaching of ideals had better be incidental. There are many disadvantages; but in a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom, and possibly safely”. LMA – LCC/EO/PS/02/003 ‘Citizenship and Civics’ – ‘Civic and national responsibility and ideals – Supplementary Report by the Education Officer, Sir Robert Blair, 12/11/1918

6 “..I should say first that the problem is so to present the history of Britain as to attract and win the sympathy and rouse the sense of duty of the child, without at the same time giving him the notion that England has always been right, and is by nature evidently superior in all things to all other nations. We must make him understand that he ought to love his country and try to serve her simply because God has put him here, but we must at the same time show him that his country and heroes are worthy to be loved”. LMA – LCC/EO/PS/02/003 ‘Citizenship and Civics’ – ‘Civic and national responsibility and ideals – Memorandum by Dr TB Napier, 31/1/1919, p2.

7 Its field of enquiry was to look at Civics : “1) in the sense of some rudimentary knowledge of the structure and functions of our Government, national and local and 2) to the promotion of a healthy and reasonable patriotism whether by direct teaching or through the medium of subjects already universally taught” LMA – LCC/EO/PS/02/003 ‘Citizenship and Civics’ – Report of Committee on Civics, 29/7/1925, p1.

8 “Employers…sometimes complain… that boys cannot do long tots, or compound practice, or cannot spell. They do not complain that children know too little about De Montfort’s Parliament or the achievements of Sir George Grey”. “..it has generally failed, and failed chiefly because of its dullness....In general it is sufficient to remark that school time may be better spent than in endeavouring to teach girls and boys under fourteen the constitution and functions of the Board of Trade. And it is into this sort of thing that the teaching of Civics as a separate subject too frequently degenerates”. LMA – LCC/EO/PS/02/003 ‘Citizenship and Civics’ – Report of Committee on Civics, 29/7/1925, pp1-2.

9 “There are talks at morning assemblies…Current events are used by very many teachers to call children’s attention to the conduct of public affairs. Educational visits are paid very commonly to places of national and local interest. The League of Nations has a part of one kind or another in the life of most schools. ‘Mock’ elections are held. The prefect system, club organisations, committees and other devices for introducing into the school some form of self-government or government by consent, in varying degrees of completeness and of scope, are used to accustom the children to the task of government and to interest them in it…School debates are used, and occasional talks by the head or other teachers are devoted to topics connected with government”. LMA – LCC/EO/PS/02/003 ‘Citizenship and Civics’. Report by the chief inspector, 24/10/1933, ‘The Teaching of Citizenship’,p1.

10 Courtesy of Enid Deeble, born Empire Day 1938

11 “an attempt to arouse in children a right sense of their heritage as inhabitants of a politically free and democratic country, and a sense of decent patriotism or pride, or, at least, interest in their local environment”. “an attempt to instruct children in the constitution and the powers of the central and the local government under which they live” LMA – LCC/EO/PS/02/003 ‘Citizenship and Civics’. LCC: Memorandum by the Chief Inspector on the Teaching of Citizenship, 14/12/1933.

12 “When I saw that question I smiled because that’s a question for a modern school boy. It has got no relevance at all to a school boy in the 1930s. We were proud. Everyone was patriotic. It’s only – we were aware of our nationality. Today it’s different, and that question is relevant, but it wasn’t relevant in 1935, the thought never occurred to us.” History in Education Project, KK/P23/HiE8, Kenneth Kelsey, interviewed 24/3/2010.


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