Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sir Wiliam Petty's Pamphlet on Education

The following is from Sir William Petty's pamphlet on education published in 1647:
(1) That literary work-houses be established "where children may be taught as well to do something towards their living, as to read and write."
(2) That all children above seven years of age be given this kind of education, none being excluded by reason of poverty, "for hereby it hath come to pass that many are now holding the plow which might have been made fit to steer the State." Children of poor parents might work longer than others if in need of earning.
(3) "That since few children have need of reading before they know or can be acquainted with the things they read of, or of writing before their thoughts are worth the recording or they are able to put them into any form" that these be deferred awhile and, "in the order of Nature," that children be taught first "to observe and remember all sensible objects and actions, whether they be natural or artificial."
(4) "That they use such exercises, whether in work or for recreation, as tend to the health, agility and strength of their bodies."
(5) "That in no case the art of drawing and designing be omitted, to what course of life soever those children are to be applied, since the use thereof for expressing the conceptions of the mind, seems (at least to us) to be little inferior to that of writing, and in many cases performeth what by words is impossible."
(6) That all children, though they be of the highest rank, be taught "some genteel manufacture in their minority." (Here he lists 15 various occupations including 6 that make use of woodworking).
He then states eight reasons why students would benefit from this education.
1. They will be less liable to be cheated by artificers.
2. They will become more industrious in general.
They will certainly do most excellent work, being gentlemen, ambitious to excel ordinary workmen.
4. They, being able to make experiments themselves, may do it with less cost, and more care than others will do it for them.
5. The arts will be much advanced, when such as are rich and able, are also willing to make enlightening experiments.
6. It may engage them to be Patrons of the Arts.
7. It will keep them from worse occasions of spending their time and estates.
8. As it will be a great ornament in prosperity, so it will be a great refuge and stay in adversity and common calamity.
What more can I say? Before I let Sir Richard Petty have the last word, I will remind my readers that I will be on a radio talk show interview from 2-2:30PM Pacific Standard time. You can listen in through the link at Ed Talk Radio. To ask a question, call 877-211-4525.
"By all which is mostly evident, that children do most naturally delight in things, and are most capable of learning them, having quick sense to receive them and unpreoccupied memories to retain them. As for other things where unto they are now-a-days set, they are altogether unfit, for want of judgment which is but weak in them, and also for want of will, which is sufficiently seen both by what we have said before, by the difficulty in keeping them at school and the punishment they will endure rather than be altogether debarred from the pleasure which they take in things."-- Sir Richard Petty, 1647
Readers who missed my interview can find it recorded here.
Make, fix and create...

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