Monday, June 14, 2010

Schools During the Industrial Revolution

John Pounds (1766 - 1839) was a teacher and Christian born in Portsmouth, and the man most responsible for the creation of the concept of Ragged Schools. These were schools which were totally free to the children living in the industrial slums of the large English cities; these inner-city neighborhoods were the direct result of the Industrial Revolution. After his death, Thomas Guthrie (often credited with the creation of Ragged Schools) wrote his Plea for Ragged Schools and proclaimed John Pounds as the originator of this idea.

Pounds was severely crippled in his mid-teens, from falling into a dry dock at Portsmouth Dockyard, where he was apprenticed as a shipwright. He could no longer work at the dockyard, and from then onwards made his living as a shoemaker.

He would scour the streets of Portsmouth looking for children who were poor and homeless, taking them in to his small workshop and teaching them basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills. This small workshop was often host to as many as 40 children at any one time.

Many years after his death, John Pounds has become a local hero in his birthplace of Portsmouth. Today a chapel named in his memory stands in Old Portsmouth. He was one of many Christians who worked to relieve the misery caused by the Industrial Revolution.