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Title: Shifting the colonial frontier : the colonial state, elementary schooling and Maltese society 1814-1914
Other Titles: Yesterday's schools : readings in Maltese educational history
Authors: Chircop, John
Keywords: Malta -- History -- British occupation, 1800-1964
Education -- Malta -- History
Comparative education
Elementary schools -- Malta
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Xirocco Publishing
Citation: Chircop, J. (2017). Shifting the colonial frontier : the colonial state, elementary schooling and Maltese society 1814-1914. In R. G. Sultana (Eds.), Yesterday's schools : readings in Maltese educational history (pp. 147-160). Malta: Xirocco Publishing.
Abstract: Standard post-independence history textbooks, which narrated aspects from Malta’s ‘educational past’, were preconditioned by the prevalent doctrine that the fundamental purpose of education was to mould schoolchildren in presumably universal norms of etiquette, social values and truthful beliefs. Actually, this conformist historical approach accommodated the prevalent cultural concerns and schooling designs of the Maltese post-independence power élites. Reacting to this institutionalised, but otherwise outmoded, historical interpretation, recently published studies, which draw from various sociological theories of education, are seeking to understand aspects of Malta’s history of education, by exploring the political and social forces underlying governing educational policies in time. Most of these sociological-historical works concur on the argument that the extension of public schooling was a progressive movement, as it served the emancipation of large sections of the population. To some extent, the present work accords with the last mentioned progressive thesis and substantiates the overall modernizing impact left by the extension of schooling on the labouring classes. However, in as much as it sets itself the task of tracing the development of government schooling in Malta, from a social and economic perspective, this study goes a step further. Critically informed by social scientific theories of Foucauldian, Bourdieuian and Gramscian derivation, it seeks to analyse the link between public schooling and the Colonial State’s strategies of social control and hegemony in the Maltese Islands. This investigation is made possible by a wider research project which is providing us with a thorough understanding of the Colonial State power structure, its regulatory and bargaining devices as well as the complex social and cultural schemes it operated in Maltese society.1 This on-going research work has already ascertained that, as from the early nineteenth century, Maltese social élites, together with the upper echelons of the Catholic Church, entered into a collaborative alliance with the British authorities and were henceforth incorporated in the Colonial State structure. With this historical framework in the background, this short study can investigate public elementary schooling and its main functions in the reproduction of the dominant social structure and the legitimisation of the colonial set-up. In addition, by establishing that Maltese social élites and the Catholic clerical authorities were chief protagonists in both the design and the carrying out of the Colonial State’s schooling policies, this study disproves the prime nationalist historical assertion that colonial policies originated from London and were forcefully impressed upon the Maltese people. By tracing the historical development of the public schooling system, during the period under investigation, this work makes one other contribution. It indicates a fundamental shift in the Colonial State’s educational policy during the last quarter or so of the nineteenth century. As a result, two main phases are discerned, with the 1870’s marking the turning point from the initial Colonial State’s passive educational policy into one of direct cultural colonization through schooling.
ISBN: 9789995711788
Appears in Collections:Yesterday's schools : readings in Maltese educational history

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