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Schooling and the struggle for social change
Author: Jessica Gerrard

Education has long been central to the struggle for radical social change. Yet, as social class inequalities sustain and deepen, it is increasingly difficult to conceptualise and understand the possibility for ‘emancipatory’ education. In Radical Childhoods Jessica Gerrard takes up this challenge by theoretically considering how education might contribute to radical social change, alongside an in-depth comparative historical enquiry. Attending to the shifting nature of class, race, and gender relations in British society, this book offers a thoughtful account of two of the most significant community-based schooling initiatives in British history: the Socialist Sunday School (est. 1892) and Black Saturday/Supplementary School (est. 1967) movements. Part I situates Radical Childhoods within contemporary policy and practice contexts, before turning to critical social theory to consider the possibility for ‘emancipatory’ education. Offering detailed analyses of archival material and oral testimony, Parts II and III chronicle the social histories of the Socialist Sunday School and Black Saturday/Supplementary School movements, including their endeavour to create alternative cultures of radical education and their contested relationships to the state and wider socialist and black political movements. Radical Childhoods argues that despite appearing to be on the ‘margins’ of the ‘public sphere’, these schools were important sites of political struggle. In Part IV, Gerrard develops upon Nancy Fraser’s conception of counter-publics to argue for a more reflexive understanding of the role of education in social change, accounting for the shifting boundaries of public struggle, as well as confronting normative (and gendered) notions of ‘what counts’ as political struggle.

Author: Moira Maguire

This study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, neglected, illegitimate and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to ‘cherish’ and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalized and ignored them. It examines the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, breaking new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens. In foregrounding policy and practice as it related to poor, illegitimate and abused children, the book gives voice to historical actors who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population but who have been ignored and marginalized in the historical record. Moreover, it uses the experiences of those children as lenses through which to re-evaluate the Catholic influence in post-independence Irish society. The historiography on church and state in modern Ireland tends to emphasise the formal means through which the church sought to ensure that Irish social policy was infused with Catholic principles. While it is almost cliché to suggest that the Catholic Church exerted influence over many aspects of Irish life, there have been few attempts to examine what this meant in practical terms. The book offers a different interpretation of the relationship between and among the Catholic Church, the political establishment and Irish people.

Jessica Gerrard

7 Radical childhoods and the struggle over education Within two very distinct communities, the SSS and BSS movements challenged cycles of schooling failure and lack of opportunity through their creation of independent educational cultures. Arising within their particular political milieux, and responding to specific social contexts, these schooling initiatives mark specific – and important – educational ‘events’ in British history. They also reference a genealogy of active educational resistance and creation in working-class communities. The tracing of the

in Radical childhoods
The creation of a children’s socialist movement and the ‘religion of socialism’
Jessica Gerrard

– we shall need all our force.’7 Connected to the growing socialist movement, then, was an array of adult educational enterprises: from lectures to reading groups and classes on economics, history and politics. Of course, this radical impetus was as contested as it was ardent. The turn-of-the-century British socialist revival was characterised by diverse interpretations and adaptations of Marxism and, ensuing from this, deep divisions in the political practice and understanding of socialism. Reflecting this, organisations flourished and floundered, MUP_Gerrard_Childhoods

in Radical childhoods
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Jane Gray, Ruth Geraghty and David Ralph

3 Changing childhoods When Claire and her brothers and sisters arrived home from school in the 1930s: we had to do the homework and when we went to the national school we’d always have work to do when we came home from school outside. When the potatoes had been dug and that we often had the job of picking potatoes, well the big ones might be gone but you might have to pick the small ones and it would be cold weather at that time, the potatoes were dug later than they are now. We’d all have to do that because they could have had four or five men digging all day

in Family rhythms
Jessica Gerrard

chronologies of events are often in danger of proclaiming a ‘full’ history despite the inevitable absences in any chronology, and of ignoring the place of conceptual understanding in any interpretation of history.2 Conceptual understanding does not have to denote fixed and stable explanatory categories, but can rest ‘upon complexity, uncertainty and doubt and upon a reflexivity about its own production and its claims to knowledge about the social’.3 MUP_Gerrard_Childhoods_Printer.indd 22 02/04/2014 10:39 Education and the struggle for social change 23 In this chapter I

in Radical childhoods
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Jessica Gerrard

commitment to, a socially just future. The following two chapters explore their attempt to do this, from the movement’s inception in 1892 until 1930. This period, which saw significant development and change in socialist politics more broadly, represent both a time of growth for the movement and the start of its decline in the mid-1920s. MUP_Gerrard_Childhoods_Printer.indd 41 02/04/2014 10:39 42 Socialist Sunday Schools, 1892–1930 Chapter 3 examines the primary characteristics of the SSS movement’s practice and its articulated purpose. Firstly, I outline the emergence

in Radical childhoods
Challenges and critiques, internationalism and women’s work
Jessica Gerrard

focuses attention on the gendered nature of SSS work. Critics and ambivalences from the ranks: SSSs and the left Maintaining and asserting autonomy from the adult socialist movement was a primary organisational feature of the SSS movement. Unsurprisingly, this was a complicated undertaking. The localised nature of the movement, and its dependence on the interest and commitment of local MUP_Gerrard_Childhoods_Printer.indd 80 02/04/2014 10:39 ‘For the workers’ battles are our battles’ 81 socialists, meant that SSSs were often informally linked to particular political

in Radical childhoods
The emergence of the Black Saturday School movement and real and imagined black educational communities
Jessica Gerrard

the SS Empire Windrush in 1948. Marking the initiation of the significant migration from Africa and Caribbean to Britain after the Second World War, it offers a useful historical ‘moment’ in which to signify the ensuing ‘black presence’ in Britain. Certainly, as will be explored below, it is in the life experiences of this first- and second-generation settlement that the BSS movement can be traced. MUP_Gerrard_Childhoods_Printer.indd 122 02/04/2014 10:39 ‘Give them pride in their blackness’ 123 However, this period does not constitute the inaugural ‘black

in Radical childhoods
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Radical education, past and present
Jessica Gerrard

-Africanism, the suffragettes, Black Power, feminism, gay and lesbian liberation, and so on – all, in one way or another, drew on informal and formal adult education as a means to inspire commitment to their cause and develop their critiques of unequal social relations. This would be, however, only one piece of the story. For many workingclass and migrant men and women, it was children and young people who inspired the need for social change, and correspondingly, for MUP_Gerrard_Childhoods_Printer.indd 3 02/04/2014 10:39 4 Radical education independent community

in Radical childhoods