Publication Date

January 1999

Publication Details

Murray, M, Children and Schoolwork in New South Wales, 1860-1920, Working Paper 99-15, Department of Economics, University of Wollongong, 1999.


In the second half of the nineteenth century in New South Wales the introduction and spread of mass schooling added a significant workload to the lives of most children. In effect the schoolroom became a kind of workplace, albeit unpaid. Schoolwork became a given for nearly all children, whatever their household's position in society. Socio-economic status, race and gender affected and mediated a child's experience of schooling, but they did not remove children from the school experience and its workloads. The question of what children in New South Wales did learn or gain from their schoolwork in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century is as yet, largely unanswered. What did going to school and schoolwork actually involve? Despite a substantive historiography concerned with Australian education there is little scholarship that specifically addresses these questions.