Benthamites and Lancasterians—The Relationship between the followers of Bentham and the British and Foreign School Society during the early years of Popular Education

Utilitas 3 (2):275 (1991)
Much has been written about the Benthamite theories of education and their debt to monitorialism. Bentham himself, in Chrestomathia, based his blueprint for the schools of the future on the use of monitors, and James Mill, in his various articles on education, envisaged universal schooling within a monitorial framework. In more recent times, scholars, such as Burston, have discussed the influence of the theory of mutual instruction on Utilitarian educational thought. Yet in all this output, little attention has been given to relations between Benthamites and Joseph Lancaster, one of the foremost practical exponents of monitorial teaching in the early nineteenth century nor to the organization in Southwark which perpetuated his methods. When Lancaster himself has been referred to, it has usually been in unfavourable terms. Bentham expressed his contempt for the ‘self-styled Quaker’, who ‘so notoriously and scandalously abused’ his early reputation as a successful schoolmaster. Francis Place, abandoning his early enthusiasm for Lancaster, decided that he was ‘adapted to the teaching in the school and to nothing else’ and became ‘mischievous, ridiculous and childish’ after he was ‘caressed by the great’. Halévy summed him up as ‘a pure madman’
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DOI 10.1017/S0953820800001151
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