New Lanark - education

Background

The commentator Henry MacNab visited New Lanark, a Scottish cotton mill in which the socialist reformer Robert Owen had established a model utopian community, and wrote a full account of Owen's pioneering work on social welfare and community living.

The practice of employing children in the mills, of six, seven, and eight years of age, was discontinued, and their parents advised to allow them to acquire health and education until they were ten years old. The children were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, during five years, that is, from five to ten, in the village school, without expense to their parents. All the modern improvements in education have been adopted, or are in process of adoption.

[Children] are taught and well trained before they engage in any regular employment. Another important consideration is, that all their instruction is rendered a pleasure and delight to them; they are much more anxious for the hour of school-time to arrive than to end: they therefore make a rapid progress; and it may be safely asserted, that if they shall not be trained to form such characters as may be the most desired, the fault will not proceed from the children; the cause will be in the want of a true knowledge of human nature in those who have the management of them and their parents.

Taken from: The New Views of Mr Owen of Lanark
Author / Creator: Henry Gray MacNab
Date: 1819
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 959.e.8