In 1848 in Britain, the Queen's College For Women was formed and immediately began teaching English Literature. In Britain it was unusual for women to be educated in the classical languages so it seemed inevitable for womn to learn literature in their own language. At that time, classical literature taught in male universties would be ancient Greek or Roman. In 1823 the education of the working classes had begun in earnest and again any literature taught would be in English. It was assumed by the educators of the day that women, like the working class would find Greek or Roman too difficult. Lack of knowledge of the classics was seen to be a disadvantage and a sign of intellectual incapabilities. This meant the ruling classes could still keep women and the other lower orders in their place.
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When I was a young man, 1972 (eek!) - I had no thoughts about being a writer - I was working class and therefore a dumb grunt. I remember seeing a repeat of an early Coronation St. episode when a working class family regard their son, a university student, as a 'queer 'un' (queer meaning odd).
My buddy The Alienist has already remarked about declining standards of education in English in the US. I was astonished by a student at University in the UK when she remarked some of the terms we were using regarding syntax and grammar had her at a loss. There have been continuous complaints over recent years about the deliberate 'dumbing down' effects of certain television programming. Do the people control education? - NO! Do the people control tv programming? - NO! 'Education, education, education' was Tony Blair's battle-cry in the 1997 General Election. Look around at how some youngsters struggle with aspects of basic English, spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax.
Perhaps Blair's word recognition let him down and he meant to say, 'Screw you, I'm in POWER now and I ain't letting go!'
Paul the Ogg
In five hundred years time, most of us will be forgotten dust. But Hitler will still be remembered, God loves irony.