The Education of Things: How British Children’s Books and Toys Taught Science and Manufacturing, 1762-1860

Education of Things book cover

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hoiem, author of The Education of Things: Mechanical Literacy in British Children’s Literature, 1762-1860, will give a special presentation in the Rare Books and Manuscript Library (RBML). 

By the close of the eighteenth century, learning to read and write became closely associated with learning about the material world, and a vast array of games and books from the era taught children how to comprehend the physical world of “things." Hoiem reveals the class politics behind the playful literature, toys, and learning aids created to teach reading alongside science, technology, and economics. She argues that with the rise of manufacturing, skills such as tinkering, observation, and experimentation became essential new literacies for an industrial economy. As work was repositioned as play, wealthy children were encouraged to do tasks in the classroom that poor children performed for wages, while working-class children honed skills that would be crucial to their social advancement as adults. 

Rare books will also be on display for you to view.

The public event is free and open to all, and refreshments will be served. 

This event is sponsored by Center for Children's Books and RBML