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Hannah More. Hannah More was an English religious writer and philanthropist. She can be said to have made three reputations in the course of her long life: as a clever verse-writer and witty talker in the circle of Johnson, Reynolds and Garrick, as a writer on moral and religious subjects on the Puritanic side, and as a practical philanthropist.
Three particular works look to education:. Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education — which went through 13 editions and sold more than copies;.
Hints for Forming the Character of a Princess — a far less popular book that was basically designed as a course of study for Princes Charlotte, daughter of the Prince of Wales; and. She made many excellent observations on the subject, pointing out that it was unjust to keep women ignorant and scorn them for it, holding that education should be a preparation for life rather than an adornment; she advocated only for exceptional girls the classical education which she and her sisters had received.
The counter case is made by looking to the thinking of her contemporary Mary Wollsonecraft.
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Set against such analysis, it is hardly surprising that More has been found wanting by many recent scholars For a exploration of this see Demers Theirs had been an extraordinary history — growing up together, working together, living together. The three other sisters died within a few years. By Hannah was alone. For some years she suffered poor health and she played out a number deathbed scenes. She was rarely out of her bedroom and the situation at Barley Woods appears to have got out of hand with servants cheating her.
Eventually she was persuaded to move to a house in Windsor Terrace, Clifton — close to friends who could keep an eye on things. As she recognized death was getting close she began to arrange for the disposal of much of her fortune among various charities and religious societies.
She died on September 7, and was buried with her sisters in Wrington churchyard. Sunday schools emerged in the seventeenth century — but were promoted and championed by Robert Raikes from on. Their orientation and methodology hit a particular chord — especially within evangelical groups. It is, therefore, not surprising that William Wilberforce and the More sisters should see Sunday schooling as a way forward.
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At Cheddar [in , Hannah More wrote]:. We went to every house in the place, and found every house a scene of the greatest vice and ignorance. We saw but one Bible in all the parish, and that was used to prop a flower-pot. No clergyman had resided in it for forty years. One rode over from Wells to preach once each Sunday.
No sick were visited, and children were often buried without any funeral service.
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Wilberforce and More were appalled that this situation had been apparently accepted by local worthies. Hannah More believed a significant, perhaps the key, factor was the lack of religious knowledge among the poor and a lack of moral teaching. Activities in the newly established school largely fell into two camps — those aimed at children, and those concerned with adolescents and adults.
Sunday was chosen as the main teaching day hence the name of the schools as it was a time students and teachers would be free from work and duties. Some classes were also held in weekday evenings — especially for mothers. Reading, knitting and sewing were the main activities. Hannah and Martha Patty More made a number of visits to local people both farming and labouring families in Cheddar before starting the school seeking support and gathering potential students. They found a house for the schoolmistress and barn for the classroom and opened the school in October The object of the schools was also to make honest and virtuous citizens, and this was furthered by her various savings societies.
At each meeting all the members, especially the women, were encouraged to deposit a little, even a penny a week, against the rainy day. This was used as a kind of insurance fund from which a sick contributor was able to draw out 3s. She hoped also to raise the moral standard of the village by refusing membership of her schools to the non-virtuous.
Young and Ashton Alongside these schooling activities, Hannah and Martha More also encouraged community schemes. One example, was building a village oven for baking bread and puddings thus saving fuel. They also promoted and administered schools along the Cheddar model in a number of other villages. A large amount of the money to support these schools came from members of the Clapham Sect. Hannah and Martha More attempted to make school sessions entertaining and varied.
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We can see this from the outline of her methods published in Hints on how to run a Sunday School and reported in Roberts Programmes had to be planned and suited to the level of the students; there needed to be variety; and classes had to be as entertaining as possible she advised using singing when energy and attention was waning. Furthermore, she made the case that terror did not pay Young and Ashton She was not above resorting to bribery:. I encourage them [she said] by little bribes of a penny a chapter to get by heart certain fundamental parts of Scripture….
Those who attend four Sundays without intermission receive a penny. Once in every six to eight weeks I give a little gingerbread.
Once a year I distribute little books according to merit. Those who deserve most get a Bible. Second-rate merit gets a Prayer-book—the rest, cheap Repository tracts. When combined with the efforts of Robert Raikes and the formation, in , of an non-denominational national organization, the Sunday School Society, to co-ordinate and develop the work we find some key elements of the basis for the amazing growth of Sunday schooling in the nineteenth century. Kenneth Levine has argued that around the period that Hannah More was active there were significant shifts in the working class.
In particular, he suggests, it:. At one, more institutionalized, pole lay the schools founded by the British and Foreign, National, and the various infant societies, the Sunday schools and the factory schools. To greater or lesser degrees, these offered literacy embedded in syllabuses and regimes intended to inculcate piety, discipline and obedience, as these virtues were perceived by the predominantly middle-class sponsors and organizers.
Having looked to more formal avenues to educating the working and labouring classes, Hannah More now turned to what she saw as the dangers associated with the other pole identified by Levine. As we have already seen she was alarmed by the rise and widespread readership of radical writers like Tom Paine. Later she explained her involvement in such writing:.
More quoted by Kelly She also recognized a place for women although not, as we have seen, in quite the terms we might expect today. Hannah More was one of the best known philanthropists of her day. Her development of Sunday schooling with her sister Martha; her employment of popular tracts; and her broader literary activities mark her out as an important figure.
She was one of the first women to achieve this sort of visibility via this root. Prochaska First, it can be argued that she worked with young people — but significantly they were only one part of the clientele she was concerned with. Hannah More was also interested in the education of children and adults — and both her writing and her activities in Sunday schooling reflect this.
To this extent, she can be understood as a theorist and practitioner of lifelong education and learning. Second, she and her sister worked with people on the basis of choice. While there were all sorts of incentives to children and young people, for example, to attend Sunday schooling, Hannah More recognized that they could not be compelled to take part. Third, relative to the schooling activities of her day, Sunday schools associated with the More sisters had a more informal air, and used a range of methods.
There was more of a concern with creating the right atmosphere and relationship for learning. Besides classes there were other community and welfare interventions plus some concern with social life and this was to be a feature of later Sunday school developments.
This said, the work that Hannah More was engaged in was some distance from what we later came to know as youth work. In particular, hers is an individualistic orientation. There is little recognition here of the significance of association, group and club — and her understanding of education is very firmly conditioned by her desire to convert.
Hannah More remains a controversial figure.