Adult Education and Victorian Civic Culture
The Mechanics' Institutes of South-eastern England 1825-1900
Mechanics’ Institutes were the first systematic attempt to provide adult education for skilled working-class men in the science and arts of their trade. The story of the Institutes in the industrial north and midlands is well documented, but far less is known of their south-eastern counterparts. Beginning with an introduction to the story of the Mechanics’ Institute Movement from its beginnings in 1823, the book traces the influences of the movement on developments in adult education to modern times. It highlights and explores the importance of each MI in its locality, arguing that every such institution was a unique creation of its membership and environment, and that most developed beyond their educational role to become a community center serving the local literary, intellectual and cultural needs. It demonstrates the vibrancy of a regional Mechanics’ Institute Movement that was sensitive to the areas’ particular training needs, as well as to the intellectual and cultural desires of its communities. The book concludes with a consideration of the achievements and influence of these south-eastern Mechanics’ Institutes, and assesses the possible lessons that can be learned.
Adult Education and Victorian Civic Culture will appeal to all students of history, history of education, and those interested in local civic history and culture.