The Inevitable Connection Between Education and Class: A Comparative Analysis of the Possibility of Self-Improvement by means of Education and the Accessibility of Higher Education to the lower and middle layers of society in early-modern England and the Contemporary Netherlands
Early-modern times in England are often viewed as a period of educational revolution. Education became more available to the ‘masses’, but relatively catered much more to the upper and middle class than to the ‘lower class’. Additionally there was a great interest in the possibility of self-improvement by means of education. Recent changes in the current Dutch educational system aiming to improve the quality of education may have made the accessibility of education and thus the opportunity of self-improvement more susceptible to the influence of class and diversity, making equal accessibility of education a topic of major interest in the Netherlands. The purpose of this study is to gain insights with regards to this self-improvement by means of education, and the accessibility of education to the lower and middle class in comparison to the higher social class. To this end an analysis of the accessibility of education and the urge for self-improvement is conducted by both comparing and contrasting modern Dutch education to education in the Elizabethan era, focusing on opportunities for upward mobility, accessibility of education, and equality among different social groups. The study illustrates the similarities and differences in opportunities for prospective students and the accessibility of education to the different socio-economic groups within society. Written works by contemporaries provide insights into the early-modern views on education, class, and self-improvement. Comparing these views to the current views in the Netherlands that are deducted from newspaper articles, historical sources and legal documents, shows that though the ages and countries may be far apart, there are similarities to be found in the influence of class or socio-cultural status on the availability of education.
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