Horace Mann’s Lectures on Education – Google Books

Here I am pasting two excerpts, from documents issued around the same time, but in two different locations.  Horace Mann (May 4, 1796 – August 2, 1859) was as an advocate of mass education in the United States and Thomas Babington Macaulay (25 October 1800 – 28 December 1859) was an advocate of a certain kind of education in India.  Mann and Macaulay, as you can notice from the dates, were contemporaries.  Their advocacy shows ways in which education fell differently in the United States and India.

This is to just present for your consideration two different kinds of rationales for education on public expense.  These early rationales are, arguably, the antecedents of the subsequent attitudes toward mass education in the United States and in the South Asian sub-continent.

Horace Mann goes first:

via Lectures on education – Google Books.

And the all too familiar quote from Macaulay’s minutes of 1837:

In one point I fully agree with the gentlemen to whose general views I am opposed. I feel with them, that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.

So, the conditions under which public education fell in different parts of the world are vastly different!!! There are probably more discontinuities, then there are continuities and similarities.

Can we then talk about ‘public education,’ as if it meant [still means] the same thing in different societies?

It is worthwhile to develop insights based on the historically different trajectories of the idea and rationale of state’s stake in education in order to develop explanations for contemporary attitudes toward, and apparent successes and failures of, education systems.

About Irfan

I am an independent researcher and blogger interested in everything under the sun, but more so in the philosophy and history of education and education reform generally, and specifically in the so-called post colonial contexts


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