The Plebs League

Posted on March 6, 2011

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Britain’s Plebs Magazine was established in 1909 and connected students at the Ruskin School (Oxford) with a vast network of affiliated worker self-education groups across the UK. The Plebs Magazine and its associated pamphlets were generated through collective readings, discussion, and analysis of texts and social circumstances. Adult education reading groups developed perspectives of radical ideals, that were issued in the magazine and in pamphlet form and disseminated through public readings. Plebs League linked its 450 students at Oxford – a combination of trade unionists and middle class students – with the over 7000 affiliated students involved in reading groups outside of the school. The publications were fundamental to making transversal links between work inside and outside of educational institutions. In the words of Walter Vrooman, one of the initiators of the Ruskin School:

‘We shall take men and women who have merely been condemning our social institutions, and teach them instead how to transform those institutions, so that in place of talking against the world, they will begin to methodologically and scientifically possess the world…’

Taken from Colin Waugh: ‘Plebs’ The Lost Legacy of Independent Working-Class Education, A Post-16 Educator occasional publication.

Posted in: 2. Ed Zero