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Lessons on Objects: As Given to Children Between the Ages of Six and Eight in a Pestalozzian School, At Cheam, Surrey

Book
1840 (published)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Elizabeth Mayo ran Cheam School in Surrey with her brother Charles. They were both influenced by the hands-on teaching methods of Swiss pedagogue Yohann Pestalozzi. He wanted children to learn by observing, touching, and experimenting with the things around them. At Cheam, Elizabeth and Charles developed a practical curriculum including these ‘object lessons’.
The lessons in this book guide children through increasingly complex observations and deductions. Early lessons include observing the flammable properties of India rubber by 'setting it on fire' and smelling coffee beans and pepper corns. Later, children were expected to develop skills of categorisation and discriminating judgement.
Mayo's books were extremely popular, and object lessons soon entered standard classroom practice, being canonised into the curriculum after the establishment of the School Boards in the 1870s. Unfortunately, in this context the lessons became catechistic and formulaic, and images often replaced the real objects of study.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Paper and card, printed and cloth bound.
Brief Description
Green hardbacked book 'Lessons on Objects' by Elizabeth Mayo, London, 1840
Physical Description
Dark green cloth cover over hard binding. The spine has affixed paper label reading 'Lessons on Objects - Eighth Edition - 3s. 6d.'. The first page contains markings by previous owners and booksellers, including prices of 10/- and £25. The main text is printed on approximately 240 slightly irregularly sized pages.

There is a preface written by Charles Mayo (the author's brother and colleague), followed by five series of lessons differentiated by age and ability of student. After introductory lessons which establish the form of dialogue between 'Teacher' and 'Children', the lessons are mainly printed in the format of a list of qualities which are to be discerned and described. The last pages of the book comprise a vocabulary list and adverts for Elizabeth Mayo's book 'Lessons on Shells' and Cabinets of objects for study.
Dimensions
  • Height: 17.5cm
  • Width: 11.2cm
  • Depth: 1.5cm
Production typeLimited edition
Marks and Inscriptions
LESSONS ON OBJECTS ----- EIGHTH EDITION ----- 3s. 6d. (Label on spine)
Gallery Label
Lessons On Objects, Elizabeth Mayo, 1840 Box of specimens, about 1850 In Switzerland, Johann Pestalozzi was bringing Locke’s ideas of enjoyable education to the poor. He used conversation about familiar natural objects like pine cones. Elizabeth Mayo developed his ideas in her Surrey school, and wrote this book to help others talk about natural science in the classroom. London publishers sold ready-made boxes of samples for teachers. (19/11/2012)
Summary
Elizabeth Mayo ran Cheam School in Surrey with her brother Charles. They were both influenced by the hands-on teaching methods of Swiss pedagogue Yohann Pestalozzi. He wanted children to learn by observing, touching, and experimenting with the things around them. At Cheam, Elizabeth and Charles developed a practical curriculum including these ‘object lessons’.

The lessons in this book guide children through increasingly complex observations and deductions. Early lessons include observing the flammable properties of India rubber by 'setting it on fire' and smelling coffee beans and pepper corns. Later, children were expected to develop skills of categorisation and discriminating judgement.

Mayo's books were extremely popular, and object lessons soon entered standard classroom practice, being canonised into the curriculum after the establishment of the School Boards in the 1870s. Unfortunately, in this context the lessons became catechistic and formulaic, and images often replaced the real objects of study.
Associated Object
Bibliographic Reference
Parna Sengupta, An Object Lesson in Colonial Pedagogy, 'Comparative Studies in Society and History', Vol. 45, No. 1 (Jan., 2003), pp. 96-121
Collection
Accession Number
B.318-2012

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record createdOctober 26, 2012
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