An examination of school curriculum via School Readers offers an excellent starting point for the researcher wishing to gain an insight into educational standards and the social, political and cultural issues of the time.
From the 1872 Education Act until 1970 - the Victorian Education primary curriculum focused on texts from Ireland, Britain and in the later part of the 20th Century emerging Australian content.
Colonial school curriculum relied heavily on text-books in the form of readers to establish standards and skills in reading and writing . "The Irish Readers" (1848-1877) designed to provide a non denominational religious education and a focus on literacy and moral values.
The British Royal Readers were introduced in 1877, replacing the Irish Readers and focused on English literature, history and deeds of the Empire.
In 1896, the monthly School Paper was produced by Charles Long which was distinguished by an increasing Australian content whilst still upholding the moral values and beliefs of the British Empire. This It cost 1 shilling and all children were required to purchase a copy. It was compulosry reading for children until the 1930s, when the Victorian Readers became compulsory and the School Papers supplemented them. In the 1960s the three grades of the School paper were renamed to Meteor, Comet and Orbit. View a visual relationship map of these publications
Gibbs, D. R. (1987). Victorian school books: a study of the changing social content and use of school books in Victoria, 1848-1948, with particular reference to school readers. PhD thesis, Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne.
Macknight, V. (2005). Imagining the world from the classroom : cultural difference, empire and nationalism in Victorian primary schools in the 1930s and 1950s. Masters Research thesis, Department of History, University of Melbourne.
Victorian Readers, is a series of school readers produced between 1927 and 1930 for school children in Victoria and used (with revisions) until the 1950s.
These sources provide an insight into the teaching of reading in Victoria and to offer an overview of the values and behaviours that were taught and reinforced in schools.
Other state-based school readers developed during this period include the Adelaide Readers, the Queensland Readers and the Tasmanian Readers
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The database AustLit indexes the contents of both editions of the Victorian readers and the Victorian School papers from the late 19th century to the end of 1930 and then across all grades for the single year of 1940.
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