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Education History: The American Chautauqua Education Movement

The Chautauqua movement was the most important of the popular free education movements in the history of the United States. So why is it not more known and talked about ?…

It was through the activities of the Chautauqua Institution that the world was opened to the isolated communities of the then new Middle West.  Started for the purpose of training Sunday School teachers it rapidly expanded its offerings as popular demand came from thousands of culture starved communities and angry, inchoate movements of social protest.

From its genesis in 1874 it came to found and shape not only universities but the whole of American higher education.  The Chautauqua movement was not a single, unified, coherent plan directed by a single individual or a group, it was, fundamentally, a response to an unspoken demand, a sensitive alertness to the cravings of millions of people for something better! (Joseph E. Gould, The Chautauqua Movement) Read more

Education History: A Brief History of Ragged Schools

Ragged schools is a name commonly given after about 1840 to the many independently established 19th century charity schools in the United Kingdom which provided entirely free education and, in most cases, food, clothing, lodging and other home missionary services for those too poor to pay.  In many ways the movement embodied the notion of education as human development.


Often they were established in poor working class districts of the rapidly expanding industrial towns. Lord Shaftesbury eventually came to be the chairman of Ragged schools and championed the movement for thirty nine years.  Several different schools claim to have been the first truly free school for poor or ‘ragged’ people but free education is a tradition which spans time and culture.

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The Peer Led Teaching of the Ragged Schools

Before education was free for everyone in Britain, there were Ragged Schools. Beginning in the 18th century, philanthropists started Ragged Schools to help the disadvantaged towards a better life. During the 19th century, more people began to worry about neglected children and more schools were opened. These early Ragged Schools were started by merchants and communities and staffed by volunteers.
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