Talk:Andrew Bell (educationalist)

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Archive proposal[edit]

This article was rewritten in August 2009. The discussion below is now irrelevant and I would propose to archive it unless anyonbe objects for good reason. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Waysider1925 (talkcontribs) 10:28, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

When the article was rewritten, it removed the essential point that Bell didn't invent the Madras system, he just adapted a system that already existed. A cautionary tale for anyone who wants to do their own chopping and changing in the future. (talk) 23:13, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

I do not follow this comment. The previous version of the article (November 2008) said almost nothing about Bell or his system. No essential point was removed from this version. I knew nothing about Bell until I looked at the article and very little more after I had read it. I therefore found out what I could elsewhere and amended the article so that it would be both more comprehensive and more reliable, which I think it is. Bell may not have been the first inventor of the system but he was certainly the man who developed it on a large scale. I am afraid that the point of the cautionary tale is lost on me!

Waysider1925 (talk) 16:37, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Biography assessment rating comment[edit]

The article may be improved by following the WikiProject Biography 11 easy steps to producing at least a B article. --KenWalker | Talk 05:42, 30 June 2007 (UTC)


I do not think Andrew Bell, founder of the Madras sysytem of education and of the National Schools in Britain, ever went to America. I thought he was buried in Westminster Abbey. Have two different people been confused? Waysider1925 (talk) 13:18, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

I have deleted the ref to America & substituted a very brief asccount of what I understand to be his later life. It needs much extension and revision but the previous article seemed very misleading. Waysider1925 (talk) 13:32, 9 January 2009 (UTC)

I have now re-written the article and hope it can be re-assessed as more than a stub (5 June 2009) Waysider1925 (talk) 11:21, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

to be clear[edit]

I have read that Andrew Bell found Indian students teaching themselves and that he took the idea from the Indians he observed. --DennisDaniels (talk) 01:17, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

"Bell's Manual" which had been published by the National Society two years after Bell's death, in 1832. "after observing children in a native school, seated on the ground, and writing in the sand .. he set a boy, John Frisken, to teach the alphabet on the same principle .. Bell was consequently led to extend and elaborate the system."--DennisDaniels (talk) 00:11, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

New sources needed[edit]

This article draws largely from one source (Blackie). From my research I don't see Bell as a reformer with children's best intentions at heart. Although original research is disallowed on Wikipedia, some published education authors such as John Taylor Gatto make broad claims similar to my findings, so I propose that the article should be reworked with material from other sources to give a more balanced picture.

I have read accounts of Bell and the National Society's "monitorial" system of education in newspapers from the time that accuse him flatly of lying about "inventing" his system after seeing a boy writing in the sand. Apparently the concept of older children being instructed to teach large numbers of younger children would have been well known to him as it was taken from the general education system used in India at the time (late 18th c.) for the education of the lowest caste, the Shudra, and the underclass of "untouchables" - these constituted the vast majority of society, so any education system that could reach them had to be extremely economical.

Bell noted in his account of his "experiment" at Madras that the same situation existed in England with the working classes. He did not propose to teach them to write, but wanted to train them to fill their allotted stations in society. (talk) 23:08, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

Although Blackie's article is 'one source' it was itself derived from a number of sources all of which she lists. I would not have thought that there could be any doubt that Bell had the children's interests at heart, although others may not agree with his methods or his theories and he had, of course, all the prejudices of his time. Also, he was a difficult, opinionated and intolerant man. That is quite clear. But he seems to have beeb popular with the children. I do not know how much he knew of Indian educational methods before he started his work at the orphanage. He was teaching the half-caste illegitimate children of Briitish soldiers. His own works make it clear that he was teaching chidren to write as well as to read and a system which did not teach writing would not have been acceptable in England, where his schools for a time had such success. I do not pretend to be an expert on educational theory; I only wanted to change the article so that it will give the reader some basic information which it did not do when I first looked at it.

Waysider1925 (talk) 17:14, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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