Higher Education in the Industrial Revolution

During our discussion of the Industrial revolution and it’s effects on families, it was discussed how children became an important part of the workforce in factories. As the agricultural family life, which allowed the work to remain at home, was replaced with industrial factories, children began to be seen as means by which the family could earn income. To this effect, this class discussed how children were from an early age sent off into the workforce, with little education. Since education was limited, they grew up largely ignorant of any knowledge outside of the factory work they had been taught.

The article “The Industrial Revolution and the European Family: The Institutionalization of ‘Childhood’ as a Market for Family Labor” argues that in the wake of the industrial revolution, middle class families ultimately paid a higher price. The article argues it was during this time that paying for schools and colleges became more important, for families were preparing their children to enter into the industrial workforce. It was no longer therefore good enough for children to merely be under the apprenticeship of a carpenter or a blacksmith. Rather, it was crucial the child receive the education necessary to be successful in the competitive market he would enter. The article particularly England, commenting how “The primary purpose for education in England was to condition the next generation for factory labor.” I find it interesting about this is this was the transition for higher education in England. That once the automatic machinery began making products, humans began copying this machinery and sending their children to expensive schools in order to hopefully make human products out of them which would be put to good use.



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