Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Formal adult education in Victoria, 1890 to 1950
    Wesson, Alfred ( 1971)
    This history deals mainly with four official groups: a sub-committee of the University of Melbourne, the Extension Board; a voluntary agency symbiotic with the university, the Workers' Educational Association; the Joint Committee of these two; and a later, separate statutory body, the Council of Adult Education. Because, however, it is concerned with education it also takes note of some social history, history of ideas, and biographies. Adult education in Victoria has always been an offering made by its providers, rather than the result of a demand from potential students; and the innovations made, as each provision proved inappropriate to the community, have been based on an ideal or an idea. Those ideas appear to have been formed largely from two sets of pre-suppositions: some overall view of the nature of man, and some view of educational rigour - what degree of systematic teaching or learning was appropriate. In particular, the period under review saw the end of the motivating force of philanthropy in adult education, and the rise of something closer to the concept of a welfare service for all taxpayers. Chapter One covers the background of ideas abroad before 1891, and the institutions that embodied them in Victoria. Chapter Two takes the beginning of University Extension as the first major provision of adult education, embodying a philanthropic ideal originating in England. Chapter Three introduces the W.E.A., who challenged philanthropy and achieved state subsidy for the learning of the workers, now called upon by universal suffrage to share in government. The workers failed to cooperate with the movement, and Chapter Four details the hopelessness of both the Extension and the W.E.A. ideals as guides to practice, and the consequent parasitism of the Victorian W.E.A. on the university. Chapter Five covers the rejection of the W.E.A. from its entanglement in the counsels and finances of the university, its eventual extinction, and the successful move of the Director of Extension to push the management of adult education off the campus. Chapter Six is a brief overview.
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    Live and learn: a plan for an educated citizenry
    Cumming, Ian ( 1946)
    The creators and improvers of Attic prose, the chief literary and most elegant language of ancient Greece, were the Sophists, who flourished in the latter half of the 5th century B.C. They were really a class of teachers or popular lecturers which met the demand for education among the people in those days. It is extremely doubtful if they had any common philosophical doctrine. Grote has disproved the traditional view of the Sophists that their intellectualism was characterised by scepticism and ethical egoism; this charge is still made against adult educators: Whatever criticism might be made of the Sophists - Socrates and Plato opposed them - they made a definite contribution to culture. Adult education had its genesis with them. They introduced the people to a wide range of general knowledge, they led their listeners into discussions, they investigated history, poetry, mathematics and science. The fact that they received fees for their courses and made a livelihood out of their teaching did not commend itself to the Greece of that time. It is strange how history repeats itself; even today there is a reluctance on the part of some individuals to pay teachers in order that they might make a livelihood: From the time of the Sophists, philosophers of all hues have agreed on the point that education is a lifelong process. It is no matter for congratulation that today we are far from applying that fact. When the franchise was extended greatly during the last century and politicians decided that, in their own interests, their masters should be educated, the education provided was confined to childhood. Some years ago H. G. Wells surprised a complacent world by declaring that we must choose between education and catastrophe. We know now which prevailed. But because we have suffered a world catastrophe, the primary and secondary schools are not to be castigated. The children could have done nothing to avert this conflict; the older generation, the adults, with parochial prejudices, should have served this world better. It should be the supreme aim of a democratic state to have an informed and intelligent citizenry; democracy is sustained by education. (From Introduction)