Anna Letitia Barbauld: Selected Poetry and Prose

Palgrave Academy

Barbauld and her husband spent eleven years teaching at Palgrave Academy in Suffolk. Early on, Barbauld was not only responsible for running her own household but also the school's—she was accountant, maid, and housekeeper.[28] The school opened with only eight boys but when the Barbaulds left in 1785, around forty were enrolled, a testament to the excellent reputation the school had acquired.[29] The Barbaulds' educational philosophy attracted Dissenters as well as Anglicans. Palgrave replaced the strict discipline of traditional schools such as Eton, which often used corporal punishment, with a system of "fines and jobations" and even, it seems likely, "juvenile trials," that is, trials run by and for the students themselves.[30] Moreover, instead of the traditional classical studies, the school offered a practical curriculum that stressed science and the modern languages. Barbauld herself taught the foundational subjects of reading and religion to the youngest boys and geography, history, composition and rhetoric, and science to higher grade levels.[31] She was a dedicated teacher, producing a "weekly chronicle" for the school and writing theatrical pieces for the students to perform.[32] Barbauld had a profound effect on many of her students; one who went on to great success, William Taylor, a preeminent scholar of German literature, referred to Barbauld as "the mother of his mind."[33]

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