Going to school and getting and education is something that many teenagers today take for granted. We complain about doing class work and barely want to take the time to study at home. School would probably be much more important to teenagers if they were not able to get an education. If you can imagine a time when school was only allowed for the privileged or very wealthy, then you can understand what it was like for many teenagers and children during the Victorian Era. The Victorian era was the time period between 1837 and 1901 when Queen Victoria ruled Britain. During that time, a lot of discoveries in science and technology were being made but educational opportunities did not exist for the majority of people in society. When it came to who was educated during the Victorian era, social institutions, gender, and technology were all determining factors on whether or not an individual was given an opportunity to go to school. Education during the Victorian era had a great deal to do with what type of social class a person was born from. Just like today, the people with a lot of money usually got the best education. During the Victorian era, the social status of a person was the main factor that decided how and if a student would receive an education. The top class during this period was called the Aristocracy. This consisted of the noble people, like Queens and religious leader, who had a lot of money. They were the people, especially the men, who received the finest education. These classes of people were given the most opportunities on how to gain and earn an education. They were allowed to attend public schools (Cruttenden 47).Then came the middle class people like lawyers and owners of shops. These people could receive some type of education but not as much as the upper class. The lower class people and poor people did not receive very much education at all. These people had to focus much of their attention on labor and work and not very much on education. Poor children weren’t given the same privileges that wealthy children had when it came to school. Public schools weren’t even available to theses types of people because they did not have the income to pay for their child to attend the school. Religious groups would teach poor children during Sunday school just so that the kids would have at least the basic knowledge that they would need to survive in their society (Cruttenden, 45). The top class and middle class people had a better chance of getting an education than the working or poor people. Not only was money and class a big part of who could be educated, gender also played a role. Women were educated very differently than men. Even the top class and middle class women were taught that their roles should be more about learning to do cooking and cleaning instead of learning about literature, science, and technology. Even though there was an education act that made schools mandatory, girls were still taught differently than boys. Many girls were taught by a governess, yet there were a few girls who had exceptions why they were at school. While boys went off to school everyday, the young lady was at home with her governess learning about how to become a housewife and becoming an expert at it. The lives of women were a lot more difficult than men. Women in the Victorian era could not hold a degree
regardless if she went to a university or not (Moss, 362). The first college that was open to women was a learning place for girls to become a teacher and or governess. Gender was important in deciding how someone would be educated in the Victorian era. The last aspect in how people were educated during the era was the many advances in technology that were made during this time period. Technology has always played a part in how people got information and learned. During the Victorian era, there was a large increase in the amount of inventions in technology which helped people to learn and discover new things all around them. The inventions of railroads helped people to get information quicker and become more educated. Many other inventions like faster ways to print information also led to more learning and better schooling. Printing machines helped people to get more books so that more people, even the poor, could learn to read. Before the printing press was invented, most books belonged to the rich and the noble (Moss, 300). Most of the information that was spread during this time period was through books. There were also forms of the camera available so people could be photographed. These new advances in technology were the reason that many received an education and they changed the way that people learned. Education is something that many in our society take for granted, but being able to be educated was a privilege that only certain people had during the Victorian era. Depending on if a person was rich or middle class; they had a better chance of going to school. The poor and working people did not get as many chances to learn because they had work to make a living. Girls also had a harder time when it came to going to school than boys did. Girls were taught to be housewives and mothers and could not even get a degree until 1880 (Moss, 220). They were taught mostly how to be a good housewife and mother to her children and husband. The technology that came about during the Victorian era also led to more people being educated. As people learned about better and faster ways to get around and print things, education began to speed up and more citizens could be educated. The social standings, gender, and technology all played a very important part in helping individuals become better educated during the Victorian era.
Ashby, Ruth. Cultures of the Past. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2003 Corey, Melinda and George Ochoa. The Encyclopedia of the Victorian World. New YorkHenry Holt Reference Book, 1996 Cruttenden, Aidan. The Victorians. New York: Facts on File Inc., 2003 Frank, Irene and David Brownstone. Illustrated History of Women. Danbury: Grolier
Moss, Joyce. World Literature and It’s Times. Boston: Gale Group, 2001 D