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Type: Thesis
Title: The Central Board of Education South Australia, 1852 - 1875
Author: Vick, Malcom J.
Issue Date: 1981
School/Discipline: School of Education
Abstract: The development of education in South Australia between 1852 and 1875 was closely interwoven with the structure and dynamics of colonial society. Class, gender, religion and the demographic features of the colony shaped the patterns of social organization, culture and behaviour. They R 0 generated a wide range of 'social problems' which were defined differently by colonists according to their positions in the social structure. They also allowed differential access to the various institutional means by which those 'problems' could be dealt with, especially the state. The educational aspirations, options and choices of parents were constrained by their social backgrounds and the conditions under which they lived. Consequently, there was a wide diversity of educational practices in the colony. The leaders' of colonial society and of local communities believed that education could help secure the social order they desired by imparting morality and discipline to working class and small farmers' children. However, they believed that only schools characterized by trained teachers, the organization of pupils into classes, and a planned curriculum could fulfil that function efficiently. In 1851, colonial leaders used their dominance of the newly elected Legislative Council to pass an Education Act to support such schools. The strategy embodied in the Act reflected both their concern to restrict state expenditure in economically unproductive areas and their ideological commitment to the autonomy and responsibility of the family in education. It provided limited financial assistance to 'good' schools but left the initiative to establish and utilize schools in private hands. Control over the implementation of the Act was firmly entrenched in the hands of the leaders of the colony. The a administrative structure was located within the state. The government retained the power to establish and control the limits within which it operated, principally through its power to regulate funding and to appoint the members of the administrative Board. Within the limits set by governments, the Board enjoyed considerable autonomy and devised a range of policies consistent with the aims embodied in the Act. The implementation of these policies was the responsibility of the permanent officers of the civil service department of education. Once basic procedures were established these officers enjoyed substantial autonomy in managing the growing education system. This three tiered structure meant that the implementation of the Act according to the strategies formulated in 1851 was strongly resistant to pressures from either 'public opinion' or temporary-changes in government policies, such as those of the 1860 -1861 Reynolds government. The Board and its officers faced a large number of problems in implementing the Act. Financial limitations undermined key strategies for encouraging 'good' schools and transforming 'inferior' ones. Trained teachers, crucial to the'good' schools, sought clients from the secure, respectable sectors of the society. The working class and small farmers patronized untrained teachers, whose methods were more closely attuned to the rhythms and constraints of their lives. If the Board supported only trained teachers, therefore, it failed to provide for its intended clients, while if it supported schools amongst the poor, it found it difficult to enforce 'standards'. It devised a range of administrative solutions to these problems within the limits of the Act, but by the late 1860s it consistently argued that it needed more money and more powers. Social changes, evident from the late 1860s, generated new social problems, a shift in the balance of political power and a transformation of the dominant ideology. This new ideology focussed on the new problems, redefined old ones and indicated new strategies for dealing with both. In education, the promoters of the new ideology concentrated on the problem of unschooled urban 'street children' and the standards of many of the working class and-rural schools. They demanded-far greater control over the process of teaching, and compulsory attendance. In 1874 they radically reshaped the administrative structure and by the following year enjoyed sufficient political power to pass a new Education Act.
Dissertation Note: Thesis (M.Ed) -- University of Adelaide, School of Education, 1982
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