Examining Darwin's influence on the education debate in Victorian England


2012-05-12, 5/12/2012


Elias, Yolanda

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England's reluctance to establish a national system of education throughout the nineteenth century allowed for the continued dominance of religiously controlled classical education which was forced to confront the growing demand for scientific education with Darwin’s publication of The Origin of Species in 1859. Any move towards a primarily secular education would have significant implications for the Victorian social hierarchy and longstanding aristocratic rule. Consequently, Victorian culture spiraled into a heated debate over the future of education between the classicists, whose resistance was, in part, the result of rising religious tensions with the geological challenge to Genesis, and the scientific community, who argued that a classical education contributed little applicable knowledge for the technological advancement of society. Darwin’s publication of The Origin of Species added a new dimension of religious controversy to the education debate and redefined the fundamental reasons for the irreconcilable clash between scientists and classicists.



Origin of Species, Victorian culture, Darwin, scientist, classicists