H.G. Wells on Science Education

Amidst my Victorian mysteries is the book I’ve spent five years putting together: a collection of the writings of H. G. Wells on the subject of science teaching.

Most of the 80 articles in this book have not been republished since they originally appeared in places like The Journal of Education, The University Correspondent, and The Saturday Review. Most of them were written before Wells published The Time Machine and became a well-known author of scientific romances, then later more polemical works and a history of the world. Many of the articles had to be rounded up in different British libraries, including the Bromley Library, the Bodleian in Oxford, the Cambridge University Library, and the British Library in both London and Wetherby.

Herbert George Wells originally wanted to be a science teacher, a difficult goal considering his lower middle class origins. Through independent study, he was able to win grants and scholarships and attend the Normal School of Science (now Imperial College) to study biology under T.H. Huxley. His first published book was not science fiction; it was The Text-book of Biology, volumes one and two, written for the University Correspondence College, where he was a tutor for William Briggs, a pioneer of distance education.

From the time he started at the Normal School until his success as a fiction author over ten years later, Wells was both subject to and wrote critiques about the vagaries of science education. He abhorred cramming for exams instead of gaining knowledge, railed against the continued emphasis on classics over science in the schools, and worried about British educational weakness as compared to other nations. His remarks will seem familiar to many in education today, and of interest to Wells fans, science teachers, students, and Victorianists. They appear in this book transcribed, annotated, and footnoted.

Publication date was September 21, Wells’s birthday. It is my first hard-cover release.

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