Quote of the Week: 04 September

BH Heard cover

HEARD, Nigel, Tudor Economy and History (Access to History series), (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1992)

With school returning today (at least for the teachers) after the summer break, I think it’s appropriate to look at something education-related from my recent reading …

My expectations from this book weren’t excessively high.  Heard‘s written an A Level History style book of ony 150-odd pages, and I thought, even as I bought it on holiday in Leominster, that it was going to be dry and lifeless.  Actually it proved objective and really thought-provoking – full of useful nuggets which made me re-examine what I knew about the EMP with a greater emphasis on cause-and-effect.

Here’s a nugget from my heavily-flagged copy:

Even by the end of the fifteenth century, the Renaissance is considered to have been encouraging literacy amongst the landed and urban elites.  This is seen as breaking the clergy’s monopoly on education, and reducing their influence in politics and the administration. […] By emphasising the importance of education, and attacking traditional customs and rituals, protestantism is seen as undermining popular culture and with it the old fabric of society.  New rational relationships, based on legal rights, time and money, began to replace the feudal values of elite hospitality and support for the weak and the poor.

Certainly in my recent reading about Marlowe, I’ve been able to see how education shaped the lives of a new breed of young man: in his case it almost cruelly gave him tools for advancement which would nevertheless always be frustratingly out of reach because of his relatively humble background.  I think we see the image of the humble boy made good, but not really accepted, in several places in his works – not least, perhaps in Edward II, which I am about to start teaching to two separate sixth form classes by the end of the week …

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