Re: Question concerning Vygotsky

From: Bruce Robinson (
Date: Mon Feb 23 2004 - 03:30:09 PST


There is a long (now extinct) tradition of independent trade union education
in the UK. Particularly interesting is the Plebs League / National Council
of Labour Colleges, which was founded as a result of the student strike at
Ruskin College, Oxford in 1910. Ruskin was set up as a college for working
men as a result of the feeling that if workers were to have the vote they
needed to be educated. The revolt was over the sacking of the principal, but
the underlying issue was one of the curriculum. The strikers wanted a
curriculum that would aid in their self-emancipation, including Marxism.
(This was also the period of the 'labour revolt' with a massive strike wave
and an influence of syndicalist ideas.)

The result was the setting up of the Plebs League and the Labour Colleges
movement which upheld the principle of 'independent working class
education', organising residential and local courses for trade unionists,
largely bankrolled by support from unions - particularly the railwaymen's
union and the South Wales miners. It also produced a fascinating series of
publications which served as the basis for courses (I have one of the two
different versions of their 'Introduction to Psychology'). The teachers were
largely sympathetic intellectuals or Marxist activists.

The NCLC educated several generations of leading trade unionists - the
leader of the engineering union in the 60s and early 70s, Hugh (later Lord!)
Scanlon wrote in his 'Who's Who' entry that he received his education from
an elementary school in Manchester and the NCLC.

The whole history is complicated and fascinating. It survived as long as the
60s when it was swallowed up by the TUC.

Wasn't the 'New School' or City College in NYC formed for adult education of
a similar type? Or is my memory playing tricks?


----- Original Message -----
From: "N***" <vygotsky who-is-at>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2004 8:21 PM
Subject: Re: Question concerning Vygotsky

> Alisa,
> If I understand you correctly, you are pointing towards a "non-academic"
> intellectual tradition.
> I think in the US, these two are seen as one and the same, which is
> actually pretty sad (ZBD's).
> What I would be curious about is examples of an intellectual tradition
> at a higher level than individual, yet not "academic" (colleges and
> universities). One example that comes to mind is the Socialist Sunday
> Schools in the early 1900's.
> It is probally not an overstatement to say the most intelligent and
> highly educated folks you'll ever meet can be found in prisons and
> homeless shelters. I live in a pretty educated town and it is common to
> see those with PHD's at local shelters.
> Nate
> wrote:
> > Hi Mike,
> > The cases of self-educated work-men I know are native speakers of Hebrew
> > read and write in Hebrew - a phonetic script, which they either learnt
at home
> > (like my husband who was taught by his father as soon as he learnt to
speak at
> > the age of 3-4) or at school.
> > Concerning English - linguistically it is actually a mutation, because
it has
> > almost none of the morphological features typical of a indo-germanic
> > (except for the 3rd pers. sing.).
> >
> > Alisa
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > -------------------------------------------------
> > This mail sent through IMP:
> >
> --
> Nate Schmolze
> Homepage:
> Vygotsky Project:
> Email: nateatdotinfo
> *******************************************************
> The flag is only a symbol of the fact that man is still a herd animal.
> Albert Einstein
> *******************************************************

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