1 Kazibei

Pre 20th Century Essays About Education

This dissertation is comprised of three chapters tied together under the broad umbrella of economic history. The first chapter examines the effect of access to schooling on black crime in this historic period. I use the construction of 5, new schools in the US south, funded by northern philanthropist Julius Rosenwald between and , as a quasi-natural experiment which increased the educational attainment of southern black students. I match a sample of male prisoners and non-prisoners from the Censuses backwards to their birth families in previous Census waves. I find that one year of access to a Rosenwald school decreased the probability of being a prisoner by percentage points ( percent of the mean).

The second chapter examines immigrant assimilation in the early 20th century US. During the Age of Mass Migration (), the US maintained an open border and absorbed 30 million European immigrants. In newly-assembled panel data, we show that immigrants did not face a substantial initial earnings penalty, as is commonly found, and experienced occupational advancement at the same rate as natives. Cross-sectional patterns are driven by biases from declining arrival cohort quality and departures of negatively-selected return migrants. We show that these findings vary substantially across sending countries and explore potential mechanisms.

The third chapter uses an exogenous change in the language of instruction in South African schools in to examine the effect of mother-tongue versus "market" language instruction on long-term educational and economic outcomes. Using the South African census, a difference-in-difference framework allows me to estimate the effect of increasing mother-tongue instruction for black students from four to six years. I find small positive effects on wages which I interpret as evidence of increases in human capital. I find positive effects on the ability to read and write, negative effects on the ability to speak English and Afrikaans, and positive effects on educational attainment. I examine heterogeneous effects by region. This paper is relevant to language policy in post-colonial countries as well as Spanish speaking areas of the United States.

Dawn of the 20th century

' the emergence, among the rank and file of the working-class world, of the conviction that education may be used as an instrument of social emancipation' - RH Tawney,

A new century

The beginning of the 20th century marks a time in which the political and social advancement of ordinary working people was on the rise. The formation of the Labour Representation Committee in , and the subsequent election of twenty-nine Labour MPs in '06, were just two indications that a new era had come.

As a central figure in early 20th century adult education (and later leader of the Labour Party) Arthur Greenwood observed: 'The time was ripe for a development of adult education. A generation of compulsory education had begun to bear fruit, and working-class organisations, no longer struggling for mere existence, had become an integral part of the background of working class life.' 1

Oxford and the WEA

The Workers' Educational Association (WEA) began to take shape in the first years of the new century, and its founder, Albert Mansbridge, pictured right, was 'an almost archetypal lower-middle-class scholarintelligent, but educationally frustrated, and locked into low-grade, white-collar employment.' 2 Mansbridge had been forced to leave school at fourteen; he worked as a clerk and a cashier, and he was an enthusiastic frequenter of university extension lectures.

The WEA was founded in at a conference held in Oxford, and from the start had the strong support of the University, particularly at Balliol, St John's and New Colleges, many dons of which had been stalwarts of the 19th century University Extension movement.

Though the WEA quickly grew into a federation of entities for the furtherance of adult education - trade unions, adult schools, several University Extension authorities, co-operative societies, literary societies - the support from Oxford was crucial to its early and rapid success.

'The WEA may have begun in Mansbridge's kitchen in Ilford, but in a very real sense its early home was Oxford, and the credibility it won with Oxford dons was crucial to its strategy of winning public acceptance and state funding for its initiatives.' 3

Next: read how Vera Brittain's first experience of Oxford was via the Extension Lecture programme.


  1. Arthur Greenwood, 'Labour and Adult Education', in St John Parry's Cambridge Essays on Adult Education,
  2. Lawrence Goldman, Dons and Workers, , p
  3. Ibid., p

The text in these 'History of the Department' pages is to be found in the book 'Dons and Workers: Oxford and Adult Education Since ', by Dr Lawrence Goldman, Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at St Peter's College, Oxford, and a former member of the Department for Continuing Education.


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