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Evolution and Educational Theory in the Nineteenth Century

  • Walter Humes
Part of the Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 2)

Abstract

The standard histories of educational ideas have very little to say about Darwin.1 Where he does receive a mention, it is almost invariably in the context of general observations about the conflict between science and religion in the mid-nineteenth century2 or about the impact of scientific thinking on wider social fields, including education.3 At a slightly more practical level, a few commentators refer to Darwin in relation to arguments for the inclusion of science in the school curriculum and a corresponding diminution in the importance of classics.4 All this, however, is highly predictable. What is required is a sustained and systematic attempt to trace the influence of evolutionary thinking on the various fields which contributed to the shaping of educational theory and practice in the second half of the nineteenth century. This paper represents a first, tentative effort to map the territory. It will, inevitably, be a rough, working sketch rather than a finely-drawn piece of cartography, but it is hoped that others will be stimulated to refine and improve it.

Keywords

Educational Theory Educational Implication Evolutionary Idea Education Society Pedagogic Creed 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. Paul Nash Models of Man: Explorations in the Western Educational Tradition (New York, 1968), p. 283. Google Scholar
  2. Merle Curti, The Social Ideas of the American Educators ( Totowa, New Jersey, 1971 ), pp. 207–208.Google Scholar
  3. On Darwin as a psychologist, see Howard E. Gruber, Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity (London, 1974), pp. 218–242.Google Scholar
  4. Robert Thomson, The Pelican History of Psychology (Harmondsworth, 1968), p. 108.Google Scholar
  5. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species ed. J. W. Burrow (Harmondsworth, 1968, 1st edn, 1859).Google Scholar
  6. See Robert C. Bannister, Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought (Philadelphia, 1979), pp. 9–1415.Google Scholar
  7. J. D. Y. Peel, Herbert Spencer: The Evolution of a Sociologist (London, 1971), pp. 141142.Google Scholar
  8. Herbert Spencer, Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical (London, 1949; 1st edn, 1861 ).Google Scholar
  9. Alexander Bain, Education as a Science (London, 1879), passim CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. David Wardle, English Popular Education 1780-1975 (Cambridge, 1976), p. 1.Google Scholar
  11. A good recent study of Huxley’s evolutionary ideas is James G. Paradis, T. H. Huxley: Man’s Place in Nature ( Lincoln, Nebraska, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  12. See, for example, his ‘Speech at the Royal Society Dinner’ (1894) in: Charles Darwin and T. H. Huxley, Autobiographies ed. Gavin de Beer (London, 1974), pp. 110–112.Google Scholar
  13. The School Boards: What They Can Do, and What They May Do’ (1870) in T. H. Huxley, op. cit. (Note 35), Vol. Ill, pp. 374 - 403.Google Scholar
  14. On the general climate of ideas, see Bernard Mehl, ‘Education in American History’, in: Foundations of Education ed. George F. Kneller (New York, 1963 ), pp. 1–42.Google Scholar
  15. Darwin’s paper is included in The Collected Papers of Charles Darwin ed. Paul H. Barrett (Chicago and London, 1977), Vol. II, pp. 191-200.Google Scholar
  16. Dorothy Ross, G. Stanley Hall: The Psychologist as Prophet (Chicago and London, 1972), p. 124.Google Scholar
  17. On the influence of Preyer on G. Stanley Hall, see R. J. W. Selleck, The New Education 1870–1914 (London, 1968), p. 277.Google Scholar
  18. Francis Galton, Memories of My Life (London, 1908), p. 287.Google Scholar
  19. Francis Galton, Hereditary Genius (London, 1869), p. 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. F. Galton, ‘Psychometric Experiments’, Brain II, 1879, pp. 149–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. See Walter M. Humes, ‘Alexander Bain and the Development of Educational Theory’ in: The Meritocratic Intellect: Studies in the History of Educational Research ed. James V. Smith and David Hamilton (Aberdeen, 1980 ), pp. 15–29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter Humes
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GlasgowScotland

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