Mary Jo Maynes: Schooling in Western Europe (1985, State University of New York Press) No rating

Mary Jo Maynes looks to school reform in early modern Europe to show the relevance …

In fact, the increasing assertiveness of teachers as a corps as they were groomed in this new image brought out some of the contradictions inherent in the reform process. Teachers were, as the reformers had expected, by and large recruited from among the lower classes—they were for the most part, the sons of peasants, artisans, and poorer shopkeepers. For them, a successful teaching career meant a route out of the marginality that plagued their families or a solution to their families' problem of establishing its children in respectable careers. As greater claims to respectability were made for the teaching profession, and as material conditions of teachers began to improve, the career became even more desirable to the children of these classes, and applications for teaching posts and for places in the normal schools rose.

Simultaneously, a sort of ésprit de corps began to develop among the teachers of the new breed. Seeing themselves as agents of the future and of political reform, they were often involved in what they saw as a related fight to improve the condition of the people and the status of public education (and its educators). Often, this struggle brought them into conflict with local community leaders or pastors who had more traditional conceptions of what a teacher should be. And they could not always count on support from their superiors in the educational bureaucracy, who often had an interest in assuring that teachers remain modest in aspiration, and submissive in behavior.

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