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For Home, Country, and Race

For Home, Country, and Race: Gender, Class, and Englishness in the Elementary School, 1880-1914

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  • Book Info
    For Home, Country, and Race
    Book Description:

    A demonstration of how a specific ideal of national heritage was consciously nurtured by England?s elementary school system at the turn of the century. Implicit within this ideal was an ideology that reinforced gender, class, and race distinctions.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7499-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction: Reading the Nation – Elementary School Culture and National Identity
    (pp. 3-23)

    At the turn of the twentieth century, English elementary school classrooms – the primary and often only location of working-class formal schooling – were workshops of a reformulated English nationalism. It was here that the children of the working masses first forged personal and collective identities within the context of systematic, state-sanctioned, academically constructed, nationalist aims. This was the period of the bellicose, self-aggrandizing, militarist, and overtly political forms of British nationalism commonly associated with the Edwardian conservative leagues.¹ But while these self-conscious propagandists and clearly defined political, organized movements were certainly an important part of the national landscape, it...

  6. 1 Citizen Authors and the Language of Citizenship
    (pp. 24-55)

    Since the French Revolution, the term ′citizenship′ has been used to describe political and social relationships among individuals, the civic community (variously defined), and the state. Specifically, ′citizenship′ differs from prior notions of ′subjecthood′ in that it embraces some form of popular and/or electoral sovereignty. While the exact implications, forms, and connotations of the concept have changed significantly over time,¹ it is important to keep these basic points in mind when examining the educational prescriptions of turn-of-the-twentieth-century English elementary schooling. For as expressed in school reading books from the 188os onward, ′good citizenship′ was increasingly prescribed as an important element...

  7. 2 The Syntax of National Identity: The Liberal Master Narrative
    (pp. 56-84)

    In the specific stories of elementary school reading books, duty to the nation – defined as manly activity in the public realm and womanly devotion in the domestic sphere – was the major responsibility demanded of the ′good′ English citizen. School readers also outlined for children the supposed benefits of citizenship. The idea of progress was, of course, the key element of this narrative. National history unfolded from the humble beginnings of the first Anglo-Saxons, through centuries of growth, to the benefits and privileges of the present and the expected glorious destiny of the future.¹ This general trajectory of an...

  8. 3 Ethnicity and National Belonging
    (pp. 85-114)

    While the language of ′citizenship′ and its place in the liberal master narrative was one vocabulary by which national identity was promoted, another equally pervasive vocabulary was that of ′Englishness.′ Towards the end of the nineteenth century an essentialized conception of what comprised national characteristics became a key means by which the ′educated classes′ sought to build a binding identity for the entire population.¹ The rubric of this ′Englishness′ was seen by some as an antidote to the emergence of divisive class and other sectional sentiment, such as organized feminism, independent labour, and Irish nationalism. A distinctive interpretation of the...

  9. 4 Imagining the Racial ʹOtherʹ Within
    (pp. 115-140)

    The building of communal identity requires, of course, both an ′us′ and a ′them.′ The insider/outsider dichotomy is integral to the construction of a sense of community and belonging. Given the emphasis they placed on the language of an English ethnic community that was noted in the previous chapter, it should not come as a surprise that the reading books used in elementary schooling also provided racialized ′others′ against which English identity could be compared. These were descriptions of, and commentaries about, people that were visibly unlike the white, Anglo-Saxon English. Sometimes such characterizations were accompanied by explicit statements about...

  10. 5 ʹThe Home of the Raceʹ: The Familial Imaginings of National Identity in Elementary Schooling
    (pp. 141-176)

    The language of ′family′ and of ′home′ seems to have been seen by turn-of-the-century educationalists as especially appropriate for children. Images of family, of home, and of mothers were frequently used as signifiers of belonging by elementary educationalists especially when demonstrating ideas of national continuity. They were used to help explain abstract concepts such as the ′nation,′ and to demonstrate the hard-to-describe sentiment of national loyalty, by imparting a ′natural′ or Promethean sense of the social order and of collective identity. In the vocabulary of family and home in the elementary classroom we consequently witness the intersection of social, gender,...

  11. 6 Narratives and Rituals of National Belonging
    (pp. 177-198)

    In his comparative discussion of European nationalism, Eric Hobsbawm gave the label ′national patriotism′ to the powerful new ideological currents of the second half of the nineteenth century, which viewed the state as itself embodying the goals, aspirations, and sovereign legitimacy of the nation. In this discourse, the rhetoric of national loyalty was predicated on the belief that state and nation were intimately interconnected in both figurative and material ways.¹ Loyalty to the state was articulated as loyalty to the nation and vice versa. The nature of the icons, symbols, and ′invented traditions′ found in both elementary school readers and...

  12. Conclusion: ʹFor Home, Country, and Raceʹ
    (pp. 199-218)

    In December 1897 a company of the Royal Artillery stationed at Gibraltar performed ′The Babes in the Woods and Robin Hood,′ a Christmas pantomime for the local British population on ′the Rock.′ In a scene in the first act the children of a ′typical board school′ explained to the disguised Robin Hood what they were taught daily in their classrooms:

    ALL: A model school-day you see

    ′Castle Road′ chicks are we

    We learn just what we ought

    And this is what we are taught:

    BOYS: We′re taught to work and play,

    A little of both each day,

    So that when...

  13. APPENDIX A Reading-Book Requisition and Approval Practices: Excerpts from the Minutes of the School Board for London′s Special Committee on the Selection of School Books
    (pp. 219-223)
  14. APPENDIX B Reading-Book Publication Figures for Selected Publishers
    (pp. 224-229)
  15. APPENDIX C Statistical Breakdown of Reader Sample Used in This Study
    (pp. 230-232)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 233-278)
  17. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 279-288)
  18. Index
    (pp. 289-300)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)