Monday, April 5, 2010
Not so eminent Victorians
A collection of ten essays about individual school teachers working in Victorian schools in the nineteenth century edited by R J W Selleck and Martin Sullivan. An essay by Selleck about the career of John Murphy vividly describes the life of teachers working in elementary schools. Murphy began as a pupil teacher when he was 13 and continued working and sitting for exams until he became a qualified teacher. Initially he worked at schools in the Stawell region. Moving to Melbourne to complete his training he became actively involved in teachers' associations, political debates about education and improvements required for teacher training. For two years from March 1889 he was head teacher at Box Hill State School. He died in January 1891 aged thirty-five from hepatitis and typhoid fever. The essay highlights the problems faced by teachers after the introduction of compulsory education in 1872, inadequacy of teacher training, over crowded schools and debates on corporal punishment. The collection of essays about ordinary teachers shows the challenges faced by teachers in nineteenth century Victoria.