|Wellingborough News, 9th November 1878, transcribed by Kay Collins
ADULT EDUCATIONA meeting was held at Rushden on Wednesday evening, for the purpose of considering the expediency of establishing winter classes for persons above the age of 15 years, for the study of geography, history, grammar, mathematics, French, &c. There was a fair attendance of young persons. The Rector of the parish opened the meeting with a short address, in which he said that in his opinion the time was come when more and closer attention must be given to the subject of adult education, if the present great educational movement in the country was to issue in real success. Years ago it was felt that a great step in education was made when infant schools came to he considered as important as schools for boys and girls. We have reached the cradle, people said, we have found the standing point from which we can move the world. But his conviction was that we must now take the ascending line, and give more attention to those who have passed the age of boyhood and girlhood. The present system was rapidly creating a feeling in the minds of parents as well as children, that attendance at school was a disagreeable necessitya dose of physic administered by the State and to be swallowed as quickly as possible. The age of 13 was joyously looked forward to as the date of emancipation, which it was most desirable to anticipate whenever possible by a few weeks or months. The result was that the education imparted was rapidly forgotten, and the young men and women who, having passed through our schools, were, at the age of 16 or 17, fonder of a book or newspaper than a game of bagatelle or a promenade in the street, or who really enjoyed a good book and looked forward to a good read at it as an evening's recreation, were, he feared, not becoming more numerous. Night schools had in a measure helped to meet the difficulties of the case, but his experience of night schools, extending over many years, was that boys and girls came to them mainly under pressure, and the majority came more disposed to lark than to learn. It was not till the age of 15 was reached that the want of education and the desire for education began to be so felts as to make the labour requisite for its attainment endurable. Young persons then began to measure themselves with others, and to consider their prospects in life, and it did not require much reflection to bring home to a tolerably intelligent mind the imperative need in the present day of obtaining information and cultivating a faculty for considering for themselves the meaning and bearing of life's surroundings. These were the convictions which induced him to bring the question of adult education in this shape before them, and he invited observations, questions, and advice from any of those present.
A long discussion followed, began by Mr. Willmott, a working man, who stated how greatly he had been helped by attending classes got up by the contractors of a railway on which he was working, and how he had found the combination of a little head-work with his hand-work a source of profit and advantage to him.Messrs. Packwood, Warren, Scott. &c., continued the discussion, and eventually students to the requisite number of 12 gave in their names for attendance at the physical, geography, grammar, and composition classes. A class was also formed for the study of French, and a French master, from Bedford, who had been communicated with, was to be invited to attend on Thursday evening next, to arrange details, terms, &c. No students giving in their names for history and mathematics, these classes were not formed, but it was understood that a class for needlework, to meet twice a week, was arranged by Mrs. Barker and Miss Stevenson. As we understand that the charge for ten attendances at any of the classes, except French, is only 1s. 6d., we trust that this scheme for promoting adult education will meet with encouragement and success.