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Classroom Struggle

Organizing Elementary School Teaching in the 19th Century

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Edited By Marcelo Caruso

During the institutionalization of mass schooling in the 19 th century, teaching large groups of children became both a necessity and a matter of regulation. For officials and inspectors the systematization of classroom interactions was important for effective results. However, while systematization could bring about the constant attention of children and their uninterrupted work, interactions themselves were difficult to control. Rationalized models of classroom organization provided alternatives for managing large groups before age grading became the dominant pattern of organizing interactions. The contributions in this volume explore diverse paths of transition towards modern classroom organization in different countries, allowing transnational perspectives and comparisons.
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Educational Reform, Political Change, and Penury: Primary Schooling and the Monitorial System of Education in Chile, approx. 1810–1833

Republican educational reform during the independence-era

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The independence-era in the new republic of Chile was a period of public concern regarding education.1 For some intellectual leaders educational reform was a powerful, if not the decisive tool for social transformation. The need to reform the educational structure inherited from the colonial era was amply debated in Chile shortly after the political crisis of 1808 that led to the formation of the first junta on 18 September 1810. Even though priority was given to the education of the elites, establishing a leading institution deemed to be the cornerstone of the new republican educational project, there were also serious concerns regarding the need to reform the education of the people. The first reformist projects, which will be analysed in the first section of this paper, were not fruitful and essentially tried to deal with the poor provision of schooling rather than with their pedagogical features. Once independence was achieved this was still a matter of major concern, but from 1821 onwards the new liberal political authorities would count on a new educational system that offered not only an economic way to expand the provision of primary schools, but also a complete systematization of the functioning of the school: the Monitorial System of Education.2 ← 67 | 68 →

The Monitorial System of Education was characterized by its rapid expansion and “internationalization” following its emergence in the 1790s.3 During the 1820s all the newly created Spanish American states adopted this system. In cases like Colombia or Mexico, for example,...

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