Reinventing mastery, service and social infancy: patriarchal legal precedents of age, gender and class relations.
In researching relations between adults and children, many historians of education develop an interest in master and servant statutes. This body of common law, much of it dating back to sixteenth century England, provided many of the legal precedents for the rights and obligations of parents, guardians, children, pupils and apprentices. The documents educationists find have been used by other scholars: labour historians researching employment contracts, feminists tracing the development of legal codes governing marriage, and students of colonialism interested in statutes regulating race relations. A dialogue between these scholars is long overdue. This paper surveys some of the topics such dialogue could cover, and the new questions it could inspire. Legal codifications of household mastery, it argues, have helped structure contemporary class, gender and age relations. Relics of patriarchalism have not simply survived a process of change from status to contract, they have been contested and reinvented in a multiplicity of new guises. Mastery, service and social infancy have not ceased to be contested. The boundaries between paid and unpaid work, marriage, family and private enterprise continue to be redrawn.
Conjuring Childhood: Proustian Mnemonics and a Culture’s Collective Recollections
An epistemological dilemma underlying all attempts to analyse the conceptual structure of ‘childhood’ using historical text materials is explored in this paper chiefly by means of a provocative mnemonic device. Borrowing from Proust I attempt to defend my interpretations of dated passages dealing with children and childhood extracted from three Australian newspapers for the period 1803-1996. However, despite calling first upon the refined strategic assistance offered by Jung, Eco and McHoul and second on the affinities to be discerned when newspapers, autobiographies and novels are interpreted as crypto-mnemonic historico-cultural devices, I remain epistemologically vulnerable in the face of that radical and relentless doubt required of me by Bacon, among others.
Suspending Jacquelynne Willcox: A South Australian episode in the history of youth and the high school, 1973-1974
For two years in the 1970s, the citizens of Adelaide in South Australia were alternately entertained and infuriated by ‘the Willcox affair’. During its course the gaze of the state and its citizenry was directed toward a group of educational relationships which included those of high school students and their teachers, parents and school principals, the Education Department and its principals, and the State government itself with all the groups. The incapacity of the State government to resolve the affair led to the establishment of a Royal Commission. The evidence put before this Commission forms the basis of this article. It not only illuminated the specific issues of the affair, but more importantly it cast light on the social history of youth and the high school in late twentieth century Australia. On the one hand, in a way that is rather rare, the gaze of the state focused determinedly on the apparently banal and mundane characteristics of the hour to hour relationships between students, teachers, parents and the state. On the other, it informs broader interests in the history of youth, secondary schooling and the state; by going beyond the terms of reference for the Royal Commission the paper situates the episode in a broader historical context, exploring it for the insights it offers into a multiplicity of cultural and political challenges to received tradition and authority, and the simultaneous questioning of unprecedented numbers of social practices and values, not the least of which were associated with age and gender relations.
Gender, merit and identity at Parramatta High School, 1913-1919
The historiography of early twentieth-century Australian state high schooling has to a large extent been shaped by accounts which privilege the view from the centre over local or regional perspectives. This has been true in different ways of both liberal and revisionist explanations of the early twentieth century waves of high school foundations which occurred in New South Wales and other states, and has affected, and sometimes over-simplified, the way the school itself has been theorised: as both peripheral to a more important centre and separate from its geographical setting. This article is a reading of the first few years of one regional school, Parramatta High School (which was established in 1913 on the western outskirts of Sydney) as it operated simultaneously as an outpost of the state education bureaucracy – a key rung on the meritocratic educational ladder – and as a local social institution participating in and recognised by its surrounding community in specific ways, alongside other institutions such as corporate schools and private colleges, churches, the hospital, the reformatory. This is a local study in terms of sources as well as of focus, drawing on contemporary documents produced within and around the school site. The high school is read through two local periodicals, the town newspaper and the school magazine. The first part of the article uses the town newspaper to understand the school from the point of view of the paper’s reporters and the eminent men around whom they organised their writing. The second part attempts to locate and listen to student voices through student-authored sections of the Parramatta High School Magazine. These texts illuminate old and new issues in the history of Australian education: questions about the state high school’s participation in local social life, its status and profile as a competitor in the local education market, and its students: female and male youth who were understood in various ways as they participated in and/or were subject to the local workings of overlapping systems of gender and merit.
Mapping Art as a matriculation subject in New South Wales
This article presents an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the path to recognition of art as a matriculation subject in New South Wales secondary education between 1957 and 1963. It identifies the conditions within which art was commonly imagined and perceived by school students and school administrative authorities, which at that time included university bureaucrats. The article reveals the status of art as a school subject to have been strongly influenced by the fact that in the 1950s and early 1960s, it was considered a ‘feminine’ domain.
It examines archival evidence relating to the policy-making processes involved in sanctioning the acceptance of a matriculation subject. This evidence details the negotiations between the NSW Department of Education, the NSW Board of Secondary School Studies, and the University of Sydney. The criteria employed by these bodies in assessing the application for matriculation status from the then Inspector-of-Schools for art, John Dabron, reveal the function of matriculation subjects generally, as a gate-keeper for the social privilege and academic kudos associated with admission to tertiary study.
It employs analytical methods drawn from the work of the feminist philosopher and psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray. It touches on intersecting discourses relating to sex, intelligence and curriculum as they effected the negotiations over whether or not to accept art as a matriculation subject. It refers to historical factors including debates about sex and intelligence as they arose during the Wyndham enquiry into the NSW secondary education system in the late 1950s. The question of whether or not to accept art for matriculation purposes depended heavily on arguments about who the ‘normal’ art student really was, and who would be likely to study art when seeking to matriculate. Prevailing social expectations led many involved in these negotiations to conclude that the subject, as it existed, catered mainly to female students who would rarely seek, or be able, academically, to matriculate. The decision to accept art as a matriculation subject therefore depended on making suitable changes to the nature of the art curriculum and to the form of the Leaving Certificate examination in art, so as to attract male students to the subject, who would be capable of scholastic achievement, and would be ideal candidates for matriculation.
Silvina Gvirtz & Sarah Robert
A new source for reconstructing the history of education and the classroom: Argentine primary school multi-task notebooks
It is difficult to access what was taught in schools in the past. Many studies note the importance of the distance between what officially was supposed to be taught and what was actually taught. Recent investigations are attempting to close this distance. Recent Argentine investigations have attempted to do away with the need to infer the history of school practice from sources produced outside of the school, such as pedagogic discourse and macro-level education policy. Such studies analyse the process of production, selection, organization, transmission, and appropriation of knowledge in an attempt to break into the ‘black box’ called school. This line of inquiry brought about a closer approximation of what was taught, and more generally, what constitutes pedagogic practice through an analysis of sources produced by students in schools.
This article presents the primary school multi-task notebook in Argentina as a valuable ‘new’ source for reconstructing the history of education and the classroom. It begins with a brief introduction to the history of the notebook in Argentine education, including its proposed role and effect on pedagogical practices. It proceeds to a description of the notebooks and their accessibility as a document type. It concludes with a discussion of the benefits and limitations of using the multi-task notebook as a primary document.
W.F. Connell (1916-2001): An appreciation