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Ahead of Her Time: An Illustrated Talk by Eileen Colwell

26 October 2019 @ 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm

At a meeting held in the very building where Harriet Johnson taught, local historian Eileen Colwell draws on national and local archives to illustrate the career of this remarkable teacher. Refreshments will be provided for after the talk.

From 1897 to 1910, a small Sussex village achieved national acclaim (and some international recognition) because of the innovative teaching of Harriet Johnson, headteacher of Sompting School. While most Victorian schoolchildren sat silently at their desks, learning lessons by rote and being caned for their failures, Harriet Johnson’s pupils were encouraged to be imaginative: they went on nature rambles, and dressed up and acted out their history lessons. She was beloved of the chief HMI Edmond Holmes, who called her his Egeria, and used her as the exemplary model for what education should be. However, not everyone agreed with her methods –the critic Elaine Showalter refers to ‘fears of regression and degeneration’ at the turn of the century, and the longing for ‘strict border controls’ around the definition of social class.

Tickets: members £4, non-members £6 – places are limited, so early application is advised.

To book yourself a place, please print this booking form.

Please note, we do not issue tickets or receipts for bookling slips received.


26 October 2019
2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Category:


The Harriet Johnson Centre
Loose Lane
Sompting, West Sussex BN15 0BG United Kingdom
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