Bell, Andrew (1753–1832)

Scottish clergyman, the founder and tireless advocate of the ‘Madras’ system of schooling. When a chaplain in India, Bell introduced to the Madras Orphan Asylum the ‘monitorial’ system, wherein brighter children were charged with supervising groups of slower children, and all were motivated by a graduated scale of rewards and punishments. Returning to Britain, Bell promoted the system in a series of publications and attempted to have it instituted by a board of education controlled by the Church of England. From 1807 he engaged in a public dispute with the supporters of Joseph Lancaster, who promoted a version of his system outside Church control. Southey, at Bell’s request, supported his system in an 1811 Quarterly Review article and book, The Origin, Nature and Object of the New System of Education (1812). By 1832, Bell’s National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Christian Church was responsible for over 12000 schools in Britain and the empire. Bell continued to badger Southey for public support; after his death Southey, as his literary executor, worked on his biography. Completed by Caroline Bowles and Charles Cuthbert Southey, this was published in 1844 as The Life of the Rev. Andrew Bell.

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