Joseph Lancaster

Joseph Lancaster, born in November 25, 1778 in London, was a public education innovator and an English Quaker. His father was a shopkeeper in Southward in London. In 1798, he founded a private elementary school for poor children. At that time, he was using a teaching method which was very close (similar) to Andrew Bell’s in Madras which was very well known under the name of “Mutual school (peer tutoring)”.

Joseph Lancaster and his course in the field of education

Joseph Lancaster wrote “improvements in education” in 1803. This work has brought some improvements in the field of education. He even travelled to the United States to promote his ideas. The teaching system (method) founded by Joseph Lancaster was very popular at the beginning of XIXth century. And at that time, the society for promoting the Lancastrian system for the education of the very poor was created. It was in 1808.

Limits of the Lancastrian system

Lancastrian system school

Although the Lancastrian system was very popular at that time, the schools which adopted this system were severely criticized in terms of results which were very poor and the hardness of the discipline. There was a scandal when Joseph Lancaster had beaten some young people. Because of that, he was ejected from the “society” which after that renamed itself “British and Foreign School Society” before being put in the framework state.

An end which is going to shine up the system

Joseph Lancaster passed away in 1838 due to an accident which happened in New York. At that time, between 1200 to 1500 schools were said to use his principles in the world. That was how the model of education promoted by Joseph Lancaster had been spreading around the world.

Joseph Lancaster and his pedagogy

Primary school

His pedagogy is based on the teaching of one pupil by another pupil who is of course more advanced. This method of teaching is still used by many schools, and they call it “Larnen durch lehren”, which means “learning by teaching” in English. In other word, one can learn by simply teaching others. Joseph Lancaster chose to adopt this pedagogy so that those who don’t have enough money can access to education. Another motivation which pushed Joseph Lancaster to found this system was mainly the low number of teachers in schools. You can find Lancastrian schools almost everywhere in the world: in Peru, in Ecuador, in Venezuela, in Nyon in Switzerland, in Canada, and in the United States.

Remarkable works of Joseph Lancaster

Many of the works of Joseph Lancaster have been reedited. Among these are the following works in English:
- Improvements in education, London, 1803
- The British system of education, London, 1803
- Epitome of the chief events and transaction of my life, New Haven, 1833
Nowadays, there are works of Joseph Lancaster which have been translated into French language such as “méthode Lancastérienne ou système d’éducation britannique, Bruxelles, 1816”.

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