In this article I explore student culture beyond the classroom to argue that there existed an informal liberal curriculum which embraced a general spirit of intellectualism and the pursuit of a wide range of knowledge dealing with the human condition and the state of society. I also offer a new reading of the formal curriculum at training colleges by examining the formal curriculum alongside student accounts of their experiences of it, student responses to assignments, commonly used textbooks, and educationalists’ discourses about teachers’ training. While acknowledging that the formal curriculum emphasized rote memorization and was narrow, I argue that there was also a liberal side to it which students picked up on and which some educationalists emphasized in their work as inspectors, training college staff, and textbook authors.

Document Type

Post-print Article

Publication Date

Spring 2-10-2014

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2014 History of Education Society. Article first published online: 10 FEB 2014. DOI: 10.1111/hoeq.12046.

The definitive version is available at:

Full citation:

Bischof, Christopher. "'A Home for Poets': The Liberal Curriculum in Victorian Britain's Teachers' Training Colleges." History of Education Quarterly 54, no. 1 (February 10, 2014): 42-69. doi:10.1111/hoeq.12046.



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