Notorious bushrangers led to rural education experiment
18 OCTOBER 2010
The impact that the Australian bushrangers, the Clarke brothers, had on a public education experiment in the 1860s east of Canberra has enthralled a CSU researcher.
The impact that the Australian bushrangers, the Clarke brothers, had on a public education experiment in the 1860s east of Canberra has enthralled a Charles Sturt University (CSU) researcher.
Dr Ashley Freeman from CSU travelled to the bushrangers’ country at Braidwood last month to give a free public lecture about the impact the Clarke brothers had on the establishment of ‘Half-time schools’.
“The Clarkes were not part of my research and their involvement in the initial development of Half-time schools in 1867 and 1868 came completely out of left field. I came across the link while reviewing material in the State Records,” Dr Freeman said.
“The Jingeras were regarded as a hot bed of thieves and bushrangers. The Clarkes had considerable local support. As education at the time was regarded as having a strong moral effect, Henry Parkes, then the NSW Colonial Secretary, evidently believed the rapid injection of education into the Jingeras through the radical introduction of a proposed new form of school intended for sparsely populated rural areas, the Half-time school, might address the problem.”
Thomas and John Clarke led a gang that was closely linked with an isolated and rugged area known as the ‘Jingeras’, in the Braidwood district. While still aged in their twenties the Clarke brothers were convicted and hanged at Sydney’s Darlinghurst Gaol in June 1867.
The first Half-time schools, where itinerant teachers taught in more than one location, were introduced in the sparsely populated Jingeras shortly after the end of the Clarke brothers’ reign. These initial Half-time schools were highly unconventional and caused considerable controversy within the educational bureaucracy of the time.
Dr Freeman is a lecturer in teacher librarianship with the School of Information Studies at CSU in Wagga Wagga. In 2009, he completed his PhD, entitled, Every locality, however remote, and every family, however humble: the formation of the Half-time schools of New South Wales 1866-1869.
The School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University is Australia’s largest single provider of education for information professionals.