On the first of May each year from the 1880s onward the young women at Whitelands teacher training college in London celebrated by throwing to the wind the timetable that normally dictated how their every moment would be spent. Instead, they adorned the college in flowers, donned in white dresses, and spent the day dancing, singing, and reading poetry. The tradition of May Day helped to poke a hole in the rather dour institutional regimen of Whitelands, which opened the way for many smaller, everyday acts that gradually reworked the ethos of the college.

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Copyright © 2014 History of Education Society. This article first appeared on the History of Education Society Blog (2014).

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