Alnwick: M. Smith, [September 4] 1838. First edition. 3 page pamphet measuring 152 x 228mm. Trifolded with ownership signature of Wm. Dickson Esq to rear blank. Else an exceptionally clean and seemingly untouched copy of this rare pamphlet, advocating for improvements in the early education of children. The only copy known on the market, this title does not appear in the modern auction record or at any institutions according to OCLC.
A proposal and prospectus for an Infant School to serve the town of Alnwick and improve the overall level of education within the community. The pamphlet clarifies that the Duke of Northumberland is confirmed as the school's patron; and it outlines how donations and subsciptions from the town will add to the school's endowment. But more importantly it focuses on the communal benefits that will come from citizens' support for children's education regardless of their class. Touting the successes of other Infant Schools in England and abroad in providing "well-regulated nurseries for the children of the poorer classes," the committee also explains that " the most approved system of training [will] develop the physical powers, and improve the health of children from two to six years of age -- to cultivate their intellectual faculties, and communicate such knowledge as may be adapted to their infant capacities." The committee asserts that when the larger population begins sending children to school, those children will be endowed with a desire to learn and "those attending will feel it as a punishment to be kept from the School" because school "is to the children what the actual business of life is to the man. Here, the feelings are manifested and the character is developed" so that infants grow to intelligent and responsible members of the populace. Notably, the committee also points out the short term benefits of developing an education system. "To the parents themselves many advantages will accrue from these Schools. Not only will their minds be relieved from much anxiety for the safety of their children, but the mother, free during the day from the necessity of watching over them, will have an opportunity now denied to her, of contributing by her labour to their support, or of devoting more time to the promotion of their comfort at home." This acknowledgment reveals an important shift in thinking about the economic role of mothers, and about women's need for time to accomplish their own work. A rare and important example of the spread of early childhood education and the arguments for its expansion. Fine (Item #2596)