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Free liberty of the mind: Charles Dickens and the education of adults.

Buck, Peter G. (1985) Free liberty of the mind: Charles Dickens and the education of adults. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

Dickens saw his work largely as a mission to assist the poor, suffering masses of Britain in their struggle to attain decent environments in which to live and a hopeful future for their adult and family lives. This vision, evident throughout his works, literary and practical, was to be achieved through enlightenment, and by means of education, particularly for adults. The inspiration for Dickens' work in aid of adult education stems from: a) his early experiences of poverty, educational deprivation, and family problems; b) his observation that Britain was degenerating in morals as well as in environmental and social conditions; and, c) his personal interpretation of Christ's teachings. The coalescence of these factors at different times and varying degrees throughout his working life resulted in an interrelated three-part effort to lift the underprivileged towards enlightenment through education. My method will be to establish the scholarly context of "adult education," which is followed by an overview of Dickens' early life and educational experiences as the formulation of his ideas. Much of the evidence of his thinking, contained in speeches to Mechanics' Institutes and other agencies, demonstrate his public statements on adult education. The neutral ground of such establishments (he believed) would provide opportunities for the "classes" to mingle for mutual improvement without destroying the social fabric, thus avoiding a disastrous breakdown of law and order. Secondly, the creation and management of Urania Cottage Reformatory gave Dickens the opportunity to consider the implications of educating adults, both philosophically and practically. His letters, reporting to Miss Coutts, provide evidence of this, as well as of personal details of inmates' behaviour and their moral and educational redemption. The third, most sustained thrust, is Dickens' twenty years' involvement with his journals which were his attempt to spread knowledge and information to all readers in their homes- This principal effort linked information with the creative, progressive use of the Imagination through which the raising and the enlightenment of the People would be achieved. The conclusion aims to show Dickens to be ahead of his time in adult educational thinking, and for the first time links together evidence that his work in this field was a considered, developed and consciously executed series of progressive efforts, based on ideas being "proven" by present-day research. Thus the claim for Dickens recognition as an important adult educator is confirmed-.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Buck, Peter G.
Date : 1985
Contributors :
ContributionNameEmailORCID
http://www.loc.gov/loc.terms/relators/THS
Additional Information : Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1985.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 22 Jun 2018 09:50
Last Modified : 06 Nov 2018 16:52
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/847176

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