Significant Historic Australian Education Collections – Deakin University, Geelong

Entrance to Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library

One of Australia’s most extensive collections for the history of education – the Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library at Deakin University, Geelong.

While working on the Teaching Reading in Australia project I had the opportunity to work in some of the best archives in Australia for the history of education.  These archives are significant repositories of Australian history.  Some don’t get the attention they deserve, others are well recognised but their education collections are little known.  In this, the first of a series of occasional posts on education archives in Australia, I share with you the delights of one of the most extensive education collections that I know of in Australia.  It is held by the Alfred Deakin Prime Ministerial Library at Deakin University in the city of Geelong, Victoria. Continue reading

Religion is not Dead – and Neither is Secularism

Buddhist Temple surrounded by trees on a suburban road.

This Buddhist Temple in suburban Sydney was first opened in 1992 and rebuilt in 2000.

At the start of each meeting of the Bideford Council in England a guest minister of religion led the council members in saying prayers.  This practice had occurred for many years but in January 2008 Mr Bone, a newly elected councillor, objected to it.  Mr Bone was not Christian and he did not want to be involved with this religious practice.  After various unsuccessful attempts to amend the Council’s practice, the issue came before the courts.  Last week the High Court of England and Wales rejected the claim that the practice contravened the Mr Bone’s human rights or discriminated against him under the relevant laws of the United Kingdom and Europe.  However, the judge ruled that the saying of prayers as part of the formal proceedings at council meetings could not continue.  This decision may be appealed.

For most of the twentieth century it was widely accepted by western scholars that modernisation would lead to the disappearance of religion.  The ‘secularisation thesis’ became a fact in the academic world.  Most scholars accepted it unquestioningly and it became a largely unacknowledged assumption underlying research in the humanities.  However, towards the end of the twentieth century researchers noticed that religion had not disappeared.

Surely if the secularisation thesis was correct religion would have faded away by this time?  Yet young Catholics flock to World Youth Day, evangelical movements continue to thrive and churches are still crowded at important times for Christianity such as Easter and Christmas.  Christianity is not the only religion of influence in the west.  Islam is a growing presence in many western countries as is Buddhism and ‘New Age’ beliefs.  Having said this, it is also important to recognise the influence of those who do not believe in God or are ambivalent as well as the fact that many western nations are clearly more secular than they were two hundred years ago.  Clearly the historic processes that have been at play are more complex than the secularisation thesis suggests. Continue reading

Cricket in Sydney 1876

An old cricket bat, stumps and red cricket ball

Basic equipment for playing cricket – bat, stumps and ball

When fossicking in the archives I have at times come across  fascinating and totally irrelevant material.  It seems to be a shame not to share this, so I have created the ‘Lucky Dip’ category.  ‘Lucky Dip’ contains what I regard as ephemera but what may be central to the interests of others.

What better time than the start of the current Ashes encounter to reflect on the English tour of Australia when the first test match was played between Australia and England.  For international readers not familiar with the game I have provided a list of sites which give basic explanations of this sport at the end of this post.

Work Stops for Cricket in 1876

I am currently researching the history of teaching reading in Australia, so I was quite surprised to come across a reference to the England vs New South Wales cricket match that was held between 7th and 11th December 1876.

In 1876, the NSW Council of Education had to consider the weighty issue of allowing Council employees to attend the international cricket match.  This is what I read in the Council’s minute book:

Read the Chief Clerk’s memorandum requesting that the office may be closed at noon on the 7th, 8th, and 9th December.

The Council resolved that the office be closed at 12 noon on Saturday (9th), and that one half of the clerks have leave on Thursday from the same hour, and the remainder on Friday.

Minute Book No. 9, Council of Education, 4 Dec. 1876, p. 332.  Held at the New South Wales State Archives, NRS 2646.

This match predates the first test match between Australia and England which was held during the same English tour in 1877.  Clearly the game held an important place in Sydney at this time. Continue reading