The Impact of the Blue Books prior to the Dartmouth Conference

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


From 1905 to 1955 a series of advisory pamphlets - which gradually turned into books - was published by the Board of Education in England. Initially entitled Suggestions For The Consideration Of Teachers And Others Concerned In The Work Of Public Elementary Schools, they became Handbook of Suggestions for Teachers; their blue covers led to them becoming known as The Blue Books. Each has a chapter on the teaching of English. The series recognises and recommends child-centred, creative practice (such as promoting the importance of speaking and listening, encouraging wide reading, creative approaches to the teaching of writing, involving drama and, gradually, embracing media (the wireless and nascent television)). The fact that the series spans 50 years suggests that it was valued by stakeholders. However, it appears that there were barriers to teachers implementing the recommendations or that they were only rarely taken up, given that the Report of the Central Advisory Council For Education (England) into Primary education in England (Plowden, 1967) and the work issuing from the Dartmouth Conference (e.g. Dixon, 1967; Summerfield 1967) were seen as radical departures. This chapter explores the main themes of the Blue Books and compares them to the literature proceeding from Dartmouth. It asks what might have prevented the Blue Books' child-centred 'suggestions' being taken up, and what might have caused English educationists to be receptive to similar ideas when they were re-disseminated in the late 1960s.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Future of English Teaching Worldwide
Subtitle of host publicationCelebrating 50 Years From the Dartmouth Conference
EditorsAndrew Goodwyn, Cal Durrant, Lisa Scherff, Don Zancanella
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-351-02446-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-49522-7, 978-1-138-49521-0
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2018

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Teaching Learning and Curriculum

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