Thursday 12 November 2009

Model Scholars

We owe to someone who was busily wasting their time this model of a charity school for girls. Created around 1830 and designed to sit under dome, this little group reveals something about the organization of a typical school. The small number of girls may have something to do with the fact that space beneath the dome was limited, but records suggest that charity schools were small, often with no more that 10-15 girls. The girls are are clothed uniformly and much in evidence are their caps, bibs and tuckers and in this respect closely resemble known charity scholars seen in paintings of the time. They are sat on a wooden settle around their teacher as opposed to the more formal arrangement of being seated at desks in front of the teacher. It would have been the custom for girls to prepare their work individually for later presentation at the teacher's table at a given time. Are the girls in front of the teacher presenting their lesson, while those behind, with books on their laps still preparing theirs? It would appear that apart from hearing lessons, the teacher's other occupation is stitching - there is a needlework bag and two thread winders on the desk. Some girls are standing......but what is interesting is the child to the teacher's left who is either playing with a doll, or more likely (since they are all dolls!) tending the teacher's child, since this doll wears no uniform.

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