Matthew Arnold’s School Inspections, Part II

Arnold spent some thirty-five years as an inspector of schools, in Europe as well as in England. David Hopkinson describes how the Victorian poet hoped education would humanize pupils and weaken the prejudices of nation and class.

Arnold was forty in the year 1862 and living in London; never had he been busier or more active. On one particular day in November he inspected a London school from 10 A.M. to 12.30, then examined the pupil teachers until 1.15, lunched with the Principal of the Westminster Training School and inspected another school until 4.15 P.M. At that hour he took a walk, then wrote reports until it was time to dress for a dinner party at his father-in-law’s in Eaton Place.

On his return there were two or three letters to write including the weekly account to his mother of his movements and activities. Finally ‘a 100 lines of The Odyssey to keep me from putrefaction,’ and bed about 12. ‘I found the increasing routine of the office work a good balance to my own increasing literary work, but unless I throw myself into the latter, the irrationality of the former would worry me to death.’ This remark summed up the situation in which he now found himself, but changes were on their way.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.