1st Edition

Ruskin's Educational Ideals

By Sara Atwood Copyright 2011
    202 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Focusing on John Ruskin as a teacher and on his greatest educational work, Fors Clavigera, Sara Atwood examines Ruskin's varied roles in education, the development of his teaching philosophy and style, and his vision for educational reform. Atwood maintains that the letters of Fors Clavigera constitute not only a treatise on education but a dynamic educational experiment, serving to set forth Ruskin's ideas about education while simultaneously educating his readers according to those very ideas. Closely examining Ruskin's life and writings, her argument traces the development of his moral aesthetic and increasing involvement in social reform; his methods and approach as an art instructor; and his dissatisfaction with contemporary educational practice. A chapter on Ruskin's legacy takes account of his influence on late Victorian and Edwardian educators, including J. H. Whitehouse and the Bembridge School; the Ruskin colonies in Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia; and the relevance of Ruskin's ideas to ongoing educational debates about teacher pay, state/national testing, retention, and the theory of the competent child. Historically well-grounded and forcefully argued, Atwood's study is not only a valuable contribution to scholarship on Ruskin and the Victorian period but an enjoinder for us to reconsider how Ruskin's educational philosophy might be of benefit today.

    List of Plates


    Notes on Text


    1 The Forming Time

    2 Foundations, Sacred and Profane

    3 "The Professor"

    4 "Souls of a good quality": Foreshadowing Fors Clavigera

    5 "Riveder le stelle": Fors Clavigera and Ruskin's Educational Experiment

    6 "A world-wide monastery": The St. George's Guild and Ruskin 'To-day'




    Sara Atwood has a PhD in English literature from the Graduate Center/CUNY. She is a Companion of the Guild of St. George and her publications include essays on Fors Clavigera and Ruskin and Darwin.

    'This valuable book is the first modern study to consider the question of Ruskin and education in full. Powerful, well-written, and original, it makes a valuable contribution to Ruskin, and indeed Victorian, scholarship.'

    Francis O'Gorman, University of Leeds, UK

     'Sara Atwood has written an elegant and thoughtful book about Ruskin's contemplation, and practice, of education across his life - as a writer and teacher, and as a writer about teaching... Atwood is an invaluable guide. Absorbed by the detail of Ruskin's practice and thought, the book provides the best overview to date of the multi-faceted place of education in Ruskin's changing and sometimes contradictory mind... [This] gracefully written, sympathetic, and informed study has much to teach. It is a welcome, thoughtful, and mature addition to modern Ruskin scholarship.'

    Ruskin Review and Bulletin

     'This is a good book. Atwood has tackled the immense amount of material in the 39 ponderous volumes of Ruskin's Collected Works edited by Cook and Wedderburn in 1908-1914, and extracted from it a sensible and detailed account of Ruskin's educational ideas and practices... This book is full of curious information and reads well...'

    History of Education Review