tudy, teaching and research in the history of education

2000 Volume 29 Number 1

Joanne Scott, Catherine Manathunga & Noeline Kyle
Technical bodies: Towards a gendered history of technical education in Queensland, 1880s-1940.
Historians of education identify the night classes in freehand drawing and geometrical design at the Brisbane School of Arts in 1881 as the first subjects in what became the Brisbane Technical College. The two classes represented the beginning of a permanent system of technical instruction in Queensland. The classes accord reasonably well with late twentieth century notions of the types of subjects which deserve the description of technical education. Significantly, they seem to have been entirely male in composition. Both instructors were male, and an article in the Queenslander referred to the pupils as 'mainly lads who were apprenticed to some skilled handicraft, or who intended to qualify themselves for it, and grown men who desired to improve themselves in their art'. Thus, the masculine, vocational and practical elements of technical education seemed to have been firmly established in Queensland from the outset.

Despite this clearly articulated masculine framework, the first advertisement for these classes, which appeared in the Brisbane Courier in March 1881, also referred to a `Ladies' Class for Water-Colour Painting', to be taught by Joseph Clarke, the instructor of the freehand drawing class. We may then, after all, be able to 'clear space' for female students in the history of technical education as well as develop a deeper understanding of the contested nature of women's place in the classroom. It is not Marjorie Theobald's 'woman at the piano' we meet here, however, but the contradictory and complicated 'lady at the lathe'. Surviving records do not indicate whether the proposed `Ladies' Class' attracted sufficient interest to be formed. Its inclusion in the original advertisement, however, offers an intimation of the complexity of the task of defining technical education as it was practised during the late nineteenth century and beyond. It also offers a starting point for an analysis of the gendered nature of that branch of education, and draws attention to the questions of whether and how the definitions and the gendered aspects of technical instruction may be interrelated. Should the proposed class in water colours be acknowledged as part of the beginning of the Brisbane Technical College? Does it belong within the category of technical education? Do the gendered and class assumptions contained within the term phrase `Ladies' Class' preclude its classification as a technical subject?

Kay Whitehead
Higher education, work and 'overstrain of the brain': Amy Marion Elliott M.Sc., University of Tasmania, 1900.
Amy Elliot's life spanned a period of increasing tensions about women's position in Australian society. This article locates the introduction of competitive academic education and increasing opportunities for middle class women to be economically independent as significant factors contributing to these anxieties. Amy was educated at The Friends' School in Hobart and subsequently graduated as the first woman Bachelor of Science from the University of Tasmania and its first Master of Science of either sex. Her academic achievements stand in stark contrast to her attempt to establish a career in the Commonwealth Public Service. Amy's personal and professional life (and tragic end) illustrate ways in which women were challenging the social order in the early twentieth century.

Jodi Frawley
'Haunts of the street bully': Social reform and the Queensland children's playground movement, 1910-1930.
At the beginning of the twentieth century middle-class philanthropists became acutely aware that open spaces could play an important formative and reformative role in urban society. Parks designed to improve both the morals and health of densely populated inner city areas, which Galen Cranz labels `reform parks', became an integral component in a campaign to address the problems of the `offensive street culture' of the working classes.

This campaign formed part of a wide ranging middle class program of interventions into the social, moral and personal lives of the working classes. It was based on the understanding that the environment in which a person lived - the places of work, leisure and home - influenced his or her moral and physical well being and ability to contribute constructively to urban society. It focused on the poor, and embodied an ideology which represented those born to squalor as having been corrupted by their environment, resulting in a culture manifested in criminality, drunkenness, feeble mindedness and prostitution. Idealistic reformers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century sought to offer alternate environments by superimposing a `good' place on the `bad'. This campaign was particularly innovative in the United States of America, where the introduction of parks into cities took its place alongside the creation of other such regulated civic activities as libraries, art museums and galleries.

Pioneering American landscape architects such as Andrew Downing, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux envisioned the park movement as contributing to the grand themes of societal life. They considered that including parks in urban design would contribute to improved egalitarianism and social democracy, raising the working classes to the level of the middle class. Parks such as Chicago's Pulaski Park and San Francisco's Funston Park provided organised activities and structure for the leisure time of urban dwellers. As the park movement developed, one of its specialised forms came to focus on children, as children's playgrounds or, in England, play centres.

Children held great hope for the city reformers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Reformers believed that positive impressions made in childhood resulted in higher grade citizenship in adulthood. Philanthropists sought to relocate slum children into environments regulated by middle class figures or their representatives. The playground movement was build on the idea that a small park could provide a controlled environment that would enable it to teach correct middle-class social behaviour; it sought to provide such parks in poor, overcrowded urban neighbourhoods.

This article is about the Queensland children's playground movement and its development in Brisbane. It pays particular attention to three Brisbane playgrounds: Neal Macrossan Playground (formerly Paddington Playground); Bedford Playground (formerly Spring Hill Playground); and the Valley Playground, which has since been replaced by a building. The paper pays especial attention to the work of the local children's playground protagonist Mary Josephine Bedford, which will be seen within the context of the international movement.

Kerstin Holmlund
Don't ask for too much! Swedish pre-school teachers, the state, and the union, 1906-1965.
The kindergarten teachers appeared on the Swedish labour market at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1955 they agreed on the professional title of `Pre-school teacher'. The Swedish kindergarten was the project of the female bourgeoisie, that is mostly unmarried bourgeois women looking for occupation outside the home. The kindergarten teachers established, on a private basis, the barnträdgården, a Swedish variant of the German kindergarten founded by the pedagogue Friedrich Fröbel, as well as institutions for staff training. Since kindergartens were private institutions, independent of the state, their teachers were able to shape the meaning of the concept of professionalisation and working competence in the field. Power over, and control of, pre-schooling lay with the kindergarten teachers. Two of the cornerstones of the kindergarten program were formally educated staff and pedagogically based half-day activities for young children. No competition between the mother and the teacher would exist.

In the majority of upper-class families the mothers stayed at home. Thus, no need for daily care of their children existed, but, rather, there was a demand for educational activities to stimulate young minds; between three to five hours per day was considered suitable. These activities would, at the same time, allow mothers to relax and attend to their own interests. The kindergarten fitted in well with the prevailing middle-class view of women and the bourgeois family pattern. But mothers who worked full-time needed all-day nursery care and their children were thus unable to take part in the kindergarten program.

A half-century earlier in 1854, the crib had been introduced into Swedish society. The child crib belonged to the arena of poor relief. The decision-makers in matters concerning poor relief were mostly bourgeois men with symbolic capital in the shape of education, examinations, titles, status and positions. They were the driving force behind the establishment of cribs, and the boards of the cribs consisted of bourgeois men and women. The crib can thus be seen as a joint project of the wealthy classes for intervengin in the lives of the poor. However, while board members discussed the nature of the activities that should take place and society's role in child supervision, they did not take part in the day-to-day activities for the children.

The aim of the child crib's activities was to instill cleanliness, order, control, good behaviour and gratitude. Changes within working-class children's behaviour patterns should, it was argued, lead to improvements of, and for, the working class as a whole. The staff of the cribs were uneducated working-class women. Their living quarters were frugal at best and at times a health hazard. Wages were low, eked out by a gratuity at Midsummer and Christmas given by bourgeois women on the board of the cribs.

John Godfrey & Alex Pouw-Bray
Private school educators and New South Wales examination reform 1930-1957: Confrontation to cooperation.
Examination reform in the secondary school system of New South Wales between 1930 and 1957 resulted from the linking of a number of significant events, individuals, organisations, social factors and pressure groups. This began with the establishment of the Committee Appointed to Inquire into Certain Educational Questions (Wallace Committee) in 1933 and culminated in the appointment of the Committee to Survey Secondary Education (Wyndham Committee) in 1953. This paper focuses on the pressure group activity surrounding the reform of the post primary examination system in New South Wales. Non-Government educators persistently agitated for both Intermediate Certificate examination change and the restructuring of the New South Wales post-primary education system on the basis of a four-year-plus-two-year scheme. These changes were debated by the Wallace Committee and finally recommended by the Wyndham Committee.

Pressure groups are vehicles through which demands from different sectors of society can penetrate the political system. Official reports, the records of committees of enquiry, Ministerial and Departmental correspondence, press reports, Parliamentary debates, legislation and the records of pressure groups themselves reflect their input. From these appears a pattern of tangible pressures and measurable results such as proposed, lapsed, amended and re-introduced legislation, changed regulations and restated policies. In this context, the debate over examination reform in New South Wales between 1930 and 1957 displays a three-phase sequential pattern of interaction between pressure groups and the political system: confrontation, consultation and cooperation.

Confrontation occurred between Independent school educators seeking to persuade the Government to implement change to the system of public examinations, and those wishing to retain the status quo (comprising the NSW Department of Education, Catholic school educators and the University of Sydney Senate). Once all parties realised that constructive policy change could not be achieved through altercation, such confrontation gave way to consultation between the opposing sides in an effort to reduce differences and to draw up a widely acceptable policy proposal. The final transition from consultation to cooperation occurred at the policy level when all sides worked together for its community acceptance and implementation.

This episode appears to support the thesis that there is a direct correlation between pressure group success and concurrence with the ideological fabric of society. Pressure groups that frame their demands in terms of the social value system seem to be more successful in achieving their goals than those that run counter to it.