The Development of the Mechanics’ Institute Movement in Britain and Beyond questions the prevailing view that mechanics’ institutes made little contribution to adult working-class education from their foundation in the 1820s to 1890. The book traces the historical development of several mechanics’ institutes across Britain and reveals that many institutes supported both male and female working-class membership before state intervention at the end of the nineteenth century resulted in the development of further education for all.
This book presents evidence to suggest that the movement remained active and continued to expand until the end of the nineteenth century. Drawing on historical accounts, Walker describes the developments which shaped the movement and emphasises the institutes’ provision for scientific and technical education. He also considers the impact that the British movement had on the overseas development of mechanics’ institutes – particularly in Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand. The book concludes with a discussion of the legacy of the movement and its contribution to twentieth-century adult education.
The Development of the Mechanics’ Institute Movement advances the argument that the movement made a substantial contribution to adult education for the working classes and provided a firm foundation for further education in Britain and beyond. It will appeal to academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the areas of education, history and sociology, as well as the philosophy of education, technical and vocational education, and post-compulsory education.
Walker is to the congratulated for providing a solution to the problem of how further
education for the working classes was introduced in Britain during the century but
in addition for posing a question as to the degree that similar, or different, methods
were used to promote this further education for the working classes in these other locations.
Reading Walker’s book may provide some interesting further research for those
in the “other locations” mentioned in the book.
Barrie Brennan, Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia, Adult Education Quarterly
1. Introduction 2. A Brief History of the Mechanics’ Institute Movement 3. Scientific Education offered up to 1850 4. Scientific and Technical Education 1851 – 1900 5. Social Class and Membership 6. Mechanics’ Institutes and Female Membership 7. From Rented Accommodation to Civic Pride 8. Mechanics’ Institute Libraries and the Contribution to a Public Readership 9. Analysis of Three Clusters of Mechanics’ Institutes and Their Impact on Their Local Communities 10. Expansion of the Mechanics’ Institute Movement beyond Britain 11. Conclusion and Legacy of the Mechanics’ Institute Movement