Chapter 7

Diachronic Analysis 2:

An Epistemological Study of Aesthetics in the Education of the Blind Prior to the 1981 Education Act[1]






Aims and objectives of this chapter

            The aims of this chapter are to investigate:

  1. Whether aesthetic tasks existed in the English education of the blind prior to the 1981 Act
  2. To investigate the social and cultural beliefs which have influenced any aesthetics in English education of the blind
  3. To investigate whether aesthetics played a role in other elements of the curriculum


In the previous chapter, this study investigated the nature of handcrafts in the education of the blind. Evidence suggested that this form of craft work held no “academic” or “aesthetic” purpose in England until the 1930s. Thus the objectives of this chapter are to investigate:

  1. whether there were any aesthetic tasks in the curriculum in schools for the blind in England prior to the 1981 Act
  2. whether it is possible to establish whether there is a belief amongst art teachers that students who are blind can appreciate aesthetics in art education
  3. how social and cultural influences, either from home or abroad, affected the aesthetic curriculum in England prior to the 1981 Act


This chapter now begins this process with an investigation of whether aesthetics existed in the earliest asylums.


The structure of the chapter

            This chapter will be broken into the following segments, under bold headings:

  • An investigation of the aesthetic subjects in the earliest asylums
  • An investigation of aesthetic tasks in non-aesthetic subjects
  • Conclusion


An investigation of aesthetic tasks in the earliest asylums


Notions of aesthetics in the early literature

            There is evidence that music was recommended as a form of aesthetic art that people who were blind could appreciate more than others. The papers by Demodocus (1774) and Hauy (1889) in the late eighteenth century both recommended music as a skill unparalleled in people who were blind, suggesting that people who were blind even had an advantage in this subject over people with sight – in the case of Hauy this aesthetic was felt to be an equivalence to an ability in literature.


In their essays, both authors seemed to focus their arguments of this art on the skill of the beggars who were blind and earning money playing instruments for a living. They also felt that these abilities could be put to greater use in more mainstream vocations, such as church music. Like hand crafts, therefore, it appears that from the earliest theorisation on the art of the blind there was a strong linkage with its aesthetics, vocational training and moral outcomes.


Observations on blind beggars using music to earn their living were earlier noted by Diderot (2001) in his Letter on the Blind. In this essay, however, Diderot appeared to be making a general point on blindness and uses this example in the context of the mechanical skill and psychological ability of people who were blind, rather than its aesthetic merits or vocational attributes.


In the earliest English asylums’ curricula, however, it appears that the earliest institutions only permitted the use of church music as a form of Christian worship whilst the students continued their handcraft work (Bristol Asylum, 1800, 1805). This, it was felt, had the use of continuing its socially acceptable vocational training in addition to allowing simultaneous Christian worship.


In this way it appeared that in England music served more than one purpose:  it was a form of art which had a substantial non-visual element, and it was a way of reinforcing morality and increasing docility whilst still working. Like Hauy and Demodocus, the Bristol Asylum (1805) in particular felt that it could become a vocation that those who were blind could use as an escape from poverty and begging.


In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and in the first quarter of the twentieth century, institutions for the blind in continental Europe and the US felt that music was an art in which blind people could gain confidence and prove an ability they felt to be lacking in other mental activities. This point was highlighted in Paris by Hauy (1889), who expounded what he felt were mental defects in people who were blind. Similarly, academic collaborators in the US, such as Howe[2] (1833b, 1836, 1836b, 1837) in the 1830s concurred, appearing to believe that apart from such oral and aural skills, students who were blind would never be the equal of those who were sighted.


Similarly a belief in the enhanced musical ability of students who were blind also appears to have been apparent in at least one English asylum in the 1830s. In accordance with its moral belief in the need to develop a trade, and in addition to increasing its manufacture of articles to sell, the Bristol Asylum (1838) enhanced its non-handcraft curriculum in this period by employing a professional music teacher. This appeared to reflect the belief that students should be given the chance to learn a trade in which they could excel, in order to provide its students with the best opportunity of employment at the end of their education. This is illustrated in the excerpt below.

Practical utility has ever been a principle before the committee; thus the musical study of the pupils has always been directed to the training of organists; and at present, Henry Holly, one of their number, is an assistant organist in the chapel...

Bristol Asylum (1838: p.6)


This segment continues by examining the influence of music on the curriculum of English institutions in the latter half of the nineteenth century.


Music training in the latter half of the nineteenth century

            In the 1860s the introduction of the National Institute for the Blind’s (NIB) school, The Normal[3] College and Academy of Music, and Worcester College for the Blind Sons of Gentlemen appeared to emphasise music education not only in their curricula but also in the full title of the Normal College. This underlined the belief brought about by Armitage, the founder of the NIB, that students who were blind could study this art with equivalence to their sighted counterparts (Thomas, 1936; Wolf, 1992).


There also appeared to be two further marked differences in the emphasis of music in the curriculum in this era. The first was its effect on the quality of musical education. For instance, as its remit was to improve the quality and educational circumstances of people who were blind in England, the Normal College undertook more structured music lessons than previous asylums appeared to, and provided extra time for this element of the curriculum (Thomas, 1936; Wolf, 1992).


The new curriculum of the Normal College also appeared to have an effect on other institutions for the blind in England (Illingworth, 1910). It seemed to encourage them to provide extra time for music lessons, and preparations for choral concerts and similar fundraising events. Evidence however shows how this extra time was turned, like handcrafts, to raising funds for their institutions. For example a report from the Bristol Asylum (1887) in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century describes the outcome of this extra tuition in terms of increased attendance at its monthly fundraising concerts.


At Worcester College (1879), music was also given an elevated place in the curriculum. Extra time and resources, including superior instrumentation, appear to have been provided, and notable teachers and professional musicians attended to the students. These were funded in the main by private bequests, either from relatives of students, local philanthropists or former students.


The bequests to Worcester College (1881) also appeared to reinforce a belief in the particular advantage to students of the pursuit of a musical education to provide a future profession for the college’s students. Again, similar to the motivation demonstrated in the handcraft and music curricula of the asylums and charitable schools, this seems to demonstrate how their motivation of skill and vocational expedience influenced this choice of art. The extract below is an example from their reports in this era.

[As] far as we understand the matter, [the bequestor is].... strongly of the opinion that a musical education is the best possible training that a blind boy can have; that success in music... is more likely than in any other branch of education; that therefore more self supporting persons are likely to be made by this art than any other.

Worcester College (1881: p.14)


The difference in the music curricula between Worcester College and other institutions for working class, poor children who were blind, however, appears to be the distinction in their academic outcomes and motivations (Worcester College, 1881; Thomas, 1936; Wolf, 1992). These highlighted the higher expectations of children from middle class backgrounds at Worcester College. Not only was this college better resourced, and the teachers more renowned – they counted Edward Elgar and other Worcester Cathedral organists amongst their number – the students also learnt academic elements of music.


The students from Worcester College also appear to have received assessment of their tasks from external academics which other schools did not (Worcester College, 1881). This appeared to conform to the view that students at the college should be prepared for university entry. The students at former asylums, such as Bristol School (1887; Hayhoe, 1995), and the Normal College were only trained to be local organists or choristers, or entered manual musical professions such as piano tuning (Hayhoe, 1995; Thomas, 1936; Wolf, 1992; Illingworth, 1910).


The higher expectations of the intellectual abilities in music, in addition to its practice, that were placed on Worcester College’s students appears in marked contrast to the students who attended other charitable institutions. The music lessons in the Bristol School (1887), for instance, appear to be much simpler, concentrating on the memorising of hymnals and piano pieces to increase docility and support a more simple future trade. The extract from Worcester College’s examiner’s report, reproduced in an annual report of the college exemplifies their approach in contrast.

On questioning the boys on the theory of music, I found them thoroughly well acquainted with the nature of clefs, scales, time, signatures, etc...... The system carried out by Mr. Done [Worcester Cathedral’s organist] is calculated to impress his pupils with a genuine love and appreciation of music as an art, and thus encourage their efforts to make real progress year by year.

Worcester College (1881: p.21-22)


Furthermore, despite its encouragement and an increased emphasis on the ability of its students by institutions for the blind, evidence from these institutions in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century appears to show that this attitude was not shared by the rest of society (Hayhoe, 1995). Although the records show that Oxford and Cambridge university colleges, after initial reluctance, accepted students from Worcester College, often providing scholarships for the most proficient, other elite universities and colleges of music felt differently.


For instance, a report of Worcester College (1889) from the latter quarter of the nineteenth century reported that students at the college had been excluded from the public examinations and auditions for the Royal College of Music and the British Academy, as it was believed that these students were incapable of “normal” study. Similar sentiments appear to have been articulated about students who trained at the Normal College. In a magazine article from around the same year (Salmon, 1889), it was reported that this college had also found difficulty in having any of its students considered for a post of church organist, as employers did not believe it was possible for people who were blind to play such pieces.


The emphasis on aesthetic musical education in the twentieth century will now be examined.


Musical training in the twentieth century

In the twentieth century the study of oral and aural music still appeared to be the aesthetic task favoured over others in the curricula of English institutions. It was also considered by one of the founders of the Normal College, the American Campbell (1901), at the beginning of the twentieth century, as the most important subject that a student who was blind could study.


However in the same paper Campbell stipulated that for the subject to be fully appreciated it must be learnt through the compositions of the best composers, through concerts and recitals. It also had to be taught, he continued, more from the perspective of an academic subject. It should be appreciated as an art in order to be followed efficiently as a profession. Thus Campbell felt that a similar system of musical appreciation such as only previously privileged to middle class students at Worcester College, should be available to the future piano tuners and church organists, taught at charity institutes for “the poor”. Below is an example of this view.

If the mental faculties have not been developed and thoroughly disciplined, the blind music teacher or organist, however well they may play or sing, will generally be a failure… music instruction in its several branches of harmony, piano forte, organ, and vocal culture should be addressed to the mind, not merely the ear.

Campbell (1901: p.7)


However despite his belief in the superiority of music as an aesthetic art form, a later report by the National Institute for the Blind (1936) appears to show that Campbell’s earlier aspirations had not been accepted by their schools. Although it also argued that music was the art by which students who were blind could derive aesthetic pleasure, it observed that music was still considered an “ornament” of the schools, and a method of making a living in a more elementary sense after finishing school, rather than as an aesthetic art to promote cultural development.


Furthermore similar findings were reported in an analysis of Hayhoe’s (1995, 2000) interviews with students who had attended schools for the blind from the 1950s to the mid 1970s. In his interviews with students in this era, Hayhoe found in particular that the oral and aural culture of music seemed to be particularly prevalent, with musical theory and notation having a lesser role. In particular, choral works were favoured more than any other, with instrumental teaching also taking a secondary place.


The reports of music teaching in former head teacher RC Fletcher’s (1984) description of Worcester College’s later incarnation, RNIB New College, in the same period appears to support these findings. Fletcher finds especially that simple performances at events, such as parties and non-musically based local festivals rather than the academic study of music, targeted at university entry or professional performance were encouraged. It therefore appeared that more of a sense of personal entertainment in addition to a vocational pursuit was encouraged rather than a pursuit of a serious academic subject.


Although it appears that the aesthetic appreciation of music was considered to be the most overt form of aesthetic subject available to students who were blind until the 1981 Act, direct experience and intellectual aesthetic appreciation was also observable through haptic tasks in other subjects These tasks, however, do not appear to be thought of as aesthetic tasks in the same form that music, in its various states, did. These tasks are now investigated in the segment below.


An investigation of aesthetic tasks in non-aesthetic subjects


The introduction of modelling reproduction in science classes

            Hayhoe (1995, 1995b) presents evidence to suggest that aesthetic appreciation of nature was part of education from the second and third quarter of the nineteenth century in England. For instance this impression was earlier stated by the Anglican minister and educator, Taylor (1828). He believed that touch education, such as that pursued by Professor Sanderson in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, could provide sufficient intellectual information in students without sight to function at an academic level. Furthermore in this period it was recorded that students from the Bristol Asylum (1854) were allowed a form of the aesthetic enjoyment of the beauty and humour of nature during occasional visits to local botanical and zoological gardens.


However, according to the literature presented by Hayhoe (1995, 1995b – see also the report by the Normal College, 1883), evidence of tasks involving the production of artefacts in academic studies did not appear in England until the introduction of the Normal College in the final quarter of the nineteenth century. For instance, in his article in the late 1880s, the journalist E Salmon (1889) observed in the Normal School academic classrooms’ glass cases with clay models of flowers, seed pods and leaves formed by students from the college as part of their nature studies.


The influences on the Normal College’s understanding of this task appear to have emerged from the influences on the NIB’s founder Armitage during his medical education in Austria (Hayhoe, 1995; Wolf, 1992). It should also be noted, however, that the use of handcrafts in making and understanding maps and globes is also evident at Perkins Institute in this period (see photographs of such artefacts in appendix 7) and Campbell was a teacher in this school.


During his studies in Vienna, Armitage was said to have spent a great length of time visiting the Viennese Institution for the Blind, founded and run by the German educator, Johan Klein. Klein (1971) appears to be unique amongst the educators of the blind at the time, as he was the first to believe it was possible to provide a fine art education for students who were blind, even in those born and raised as blind students – a photograph from the original Vienna Institute illustrating one of his students, Kleinhans, at work is found in appendix 7.


According to Geza Revesz’s (1950) case studies of artists who were blind, Klein practiced his own theories and educated the first known artist who was totally blind, the Tyrolean crucifix sculptor Kleinhans, at the end of the eighteenth century in his home. Klein also appears to be the first educator to propose the first non-vocational use of handcraft tasks for the emotional and cognitive development of students who were blind.


Similar to the motivation of commercial handcrafts by English Christian foundations, catholic educationalist Klein’s (1971) belief in the practice of this form of art appeared to be motivated by the use of craft and art to prevent immoral behaviour. In particular, in this paper, first published in German in 1836, Klein suggests that the use of hands to play with toys, mould and sculpt was particularly useful in the prevention of masturbation which, he believed, was more of a problem in students who could not see, and whose negative aspects appear to link his belief in the conjoining of physical and moral well-being. An example of this view is illustrated in the excerpt from the paper presented below.

[The] blind person who cannot be stimulated by vision and who is thus used to gaining pleasure from feeling objects is more liable than others to involve himself in the vice of masturbation that weakens the body and soul. Exercise and occupation can prevent this most effectively.

Klein (1971: p.235)


It appears therefore that in its nature classes, the Normal College used tasks similar to Klein’s techniques of the appreciation of art by substituting natural objects to create intellectually rather than an emotionally or aesthetically stimulating exercise (Salmon, 1889). There is evidence internationally however that this belief was not shared in other European quarters during this period.


For instance at the first international congress for teachers of the blind in Vienna in the 1870s attended by many educators from England, such as Campbell (Hayhoe, 1995, 1995b), the educator M Pablasek (1873) from the Vienna Institute stated that he doubted whether the use of handwork could be utilised for aesthetic or intellectual tasks with any effect.[4]


The development of non-vocational handcrafts in twentieth century England prior to the 1981 Act will now be examined.


An examination of aesthetic tasks in non-aesthetic subjects during the twentieth century

There is evidence that there was a questioning of the role of handcrafts as a solely vocational task in the education of the blind in the early years of the twentieth century. For instance a training manual from the Perkins Institute for the Blind (1906) and which was distributed in England, questioned the nature of the use of handwork tasks, stating that more emphasis should be placed on the use of handwork in its role as a tool of direct, experiential learning and also one of expression and information gathering in the academic curriculum.


Although not supporting a fine art curriculum, there is also evidence that in the first half of the twentieth century museums were interested in experimenting with the use of aesthetic appreciation and creation through touch tasks as a tool of gaining intellectual information in science and the humanities. In particular, shortly before World War I, the curator of the Sunderland Museum and Art Gallery, James Charlton Deas (1913), designed a system of education for students from the local school for the blind visiting his institution.


Exercises designed by Charlton Deas were based on a touch tour of his museum and were followed by a series of classroom exercises in the museum’s education areas. These included the modelling and reproduction of artefacts available with clay in the museum. In his discussion paper on this course, Charlton Deas (1913) observed that students worked enthusiastically in such courses and appeared to show an understanding of the artefacts he was portraying through the models they produced, and descriptions of the artefacts by the students.


However, Charlton Deas (1913) also stated that he was worried that the funding and appreciation of such initiatives appeared to be severely under threat in this period. He stated that he felt that during that period budgets for such public institutions were being withdrawn in order to pay for armaments for an impending war.


In a paper published in the latter half of the twentieth century, James Bartlett (1955) finds that Charlton Deas’ worries were founded, and that his early experiments had little impact after this period in England. Although being supported by a brief movement in the US, the showing of museums to students who were blind reverted to an ad hoc system of visits organised by teachers, with little direction or thought to the curriculum. In particular, few resources had been made available to visitors who were blind.


It also seems that Charlton Deas’ fears over lack of funding being available for such courses was particularly prevalent after World War I. After armistice it appears that more resources were concentrated on rehabilitation and the retraining for work of people who were blinded in the war (RBSA, 1992; Thomas, 1936; Wolf, 1992). Accordingly it appears that few further exhibitions or courses for students who were blind were organised in museums until the last quarter of the twentieth century, a few years prior to the 1981 Act (Pearson, 1991; Fergusson, 1987).


However, aesthetic hand tasks within nature studies, history, geography, mathematics and science did appear to continue in schools in England in the latter half of the twentieth century, prior to the 1981 Act, much in the same way as those observed in the nineteenth century. In interviews with students educated in this era, Hayhoe (1995, 2000) again discovered that they continued to model natural objects and build landscapes at school.


There also appears to be evidence that educators continued to believe that students who were blind were unable to perform tactile aesthetic and intellectual tasks or appreciate works of art, suggesting that they believed that information derived from tactile perception did not allow intellectual equivalence to sight. In particular, in the reflections on his experiences in schools for the blind David Blunkett (Pollard, 2004) describes being excluded from mainstream examination courses at his school for the blind. Eventually, and against the wishes of his head teacher, Blunkett eventually had to enrol on a night school course at a local college to gain many of his formal qualifications.


Evidence of intellectual experiences similar to that of Blunkett and the students interviewed by Hayhoe is also presented by Sarah Dharma Colwell (1993). In her study, Dharma Colwell finds that there was a distinct difference in the school experiences of students who were blinded later in life and those who attended schools for the blind early in life.


Furthermore, the views of a prominent educationalist, RC Fletcher (1984), serving as a head teacher of New College in the 1970s seems to provide further evidence of the existence of a belief in the social and cultural inferiority of students who were blind in many intellectual contexts. Fletcher in particular appears to believe that his students’ ability to gain information from direct experience of tactile perceptions did not allow the necessary understanding of their academic subjects, so that they could study them in as great a depth as a sighted person could.


This lack of necessary information, Fletcher felt, left a grey area in his school’s understanding of the aesthetic appreciation of his students in many of their subjects, and therefore could not be expected to study with equivalence to students with sight. His only exception to this belief again appeared to be those subjects relying on oral and aural culture which, he felt, could study with equivalence.




What we have [in this country] is socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.

Excerpt from the Ghandi Memorial Lecture, at Howard University. Delivered on 6th November 1966 by Martin Luther King.


            The evidence discussed in this chapter appears to suggest further conclusions about the origins of exclusion from a fine art education for the blind before the 1981 Act. In particular this chapter has presented evidence to suggest that the place of aural aesthetics in the curriculum both as a discrete subject and as an element of academic subjects in England appears to show further evidence of moral considerations in the curriculum. Such evidence also appears to suggest a belief that the oral and aural culture of the blind was superior to that of tactile perceptions.


Furthermore, evidence presented in this chapter also appears to suggest that, prior to the 1981 Act, a complex curriculum was based on a social belief in schools for the blind that tactile information could not provide the depth of information required by students in intellectual and aesthetic subjects. These issues are discussed in more detail below under separate subheadings.


The social and economic emphasis on an oral and aural aesthetic culture

Despite seemingly successful educational experiments in Austria from the late eighteenth century, it appears that tactile fine art tasks were rejected in English institutions until the 1981 Act in sole favour of music. It appears that there were three main reasons that aural and oral aesthetic cultures were favoured.


Firstly, it was believed that music was a form of aesthetic art that could be enjoyed in conjunction with handcrafts, rather than extra time being made available in the curriculum for separate lessons. This was particularly noticeable in the early institutions, which chose choral tasks rather than training in the use of instruments, and favoured oral and aural learning rather than music notation. As asylums chose not to include literary or academic curricula as institutions on the European continent did, less time was taken from students’ vocational training and commercial manufacturing.


In later years, when musical instrumentation was introduced into these institutions, their teaching seemed again to focus on oral culture as a form of earning a living. In particular church organists and choristers were trained, in addition to piano tuners. In contrast fine art or literature could easily have been seen in this period as unlikely to provide sustainable careers for working and under class students with visual impairments, many of whom were street beggars.


Only Worcester College, whose fee paying students came from professional middle class backgrounds, appeared to introduce an academic study of music. This again appears to emphasise the class difference in the education of the blind in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. It also serves to reinforce the source of social and cultural attitudes shown towards the mental ability of students in English charitable institutions, and the roots of their curriculum in the relief of poverty, indolence and the inferiority of beggars, who were to be the source of pity.


Secondly the earliest asylums believed that their curriculum could increase the moral outlook of their students. Without sight, however, it was felt impossible to understand works of knowledge, art or nature first hand. The only other artistic method of acquiring beauty or intellect therefore was an oral and aural culture – in England and other countries such as France and the US, it appears that aesthetic touch, which in Vienna was overtly linked with sexuality by Klein, was initially frowned upon for any other purpose than vocational crafts. The worship of God through the beauty of choral music was therefore regarded further as a sense of accessible moral nourishment. This was particularly evident in the choice of Christian choral music and in the training of organists for employment by parish churches.


Furthermore it could be argued that an additional reason for the use of music during craft tasks was to promote docility in these hours of labour and avoid the deviant behaviour that blindness was associated with. It could be further argued that the rhythms of the singing could have aided the work, making the students more productive. Such a use of music would have been compliant with the early institutions’ philosophy that their curricula were designed to reform immoral beggars, people who were indolent, the children of syphilitics and those in poverty.


Thirdly the evidence presented in this chapter averred that many prominent educators appeared to believe that students in charitable institutions were incapable of higher levels of intellectual or aesthetic thought, such as those promoted by intellectual arts. The essay by Hauy, for instance, appeared to demonstrate a belief that people who were blind were lacking in such faculties. Therefore in England, it could be argued, the notion of including fine art or other intellectual subjects in the curriculum would have held no overall benefits that could not be better served by a vocational training.


In schools run by charitable institutions, this belief is emphasised in the choice of employment provided for students who were blind, with piano tuning and repetitive organ recitals being favoured over others that would have required greater levels of thought or creativity, such as music composition. It is particularly noticeable that the practice of piano tuning requires little but the mechanical use of simple tools to achieve an unambiguous aim. The only judgement required in this task is to recognise a predefined note.


Under the final subheading in this chapter, this chapter now considers its findings of the use of touch in non-aesthetically based subjects.


Aesthetic tasks in non-aesthetic subjects

This chapter has presented evidence to suggest that the use of aesthetic appreciation of nature was first introduced in the nineteenth century. This art, however, was not linked to the plastic production of artefacts until the introduction of an Austrian style of non-commercial handcraft in the latter half of the nineteenth century, with the founding of the Normal College.


Rather than having purely educational motives, however, it appears again that the motivation for the use of modelling was again moral, with the founder of the Vienna Institute, who inspired the curriculum at the Normal College, emphasising the use of handcrafts to prevent immoral uses for untrained hands, such as masturbation.


Unlike its earliest Austrian influence, however, the use of hands to produce models was still not considered an aesthetic form of creation. Instead this task appeared to be linked with the notion that the use of handwork to reproduce natural objects in particular was designed to facilitate intellectual understanding. However it also appears that, like the performance of handcrafts, doubts were expressed as to the efficiency of touch compared to that of sight for providing sufficient intellectual information, as the ability of students who were blind in charitable institutions continued to be doubted.


It can also be argued that such beliefs differed for students from middle class backgrounds. At Worcester College in the latter half of the nineteenth century there appeared to be no doubt that students studying there could achieve high academic performance. As a result, these students continued to be educated with the aim of gaining places at top universities in academic subjects.


Class, therefore, again appeared to have an effect on the design of tasks in the curriculum of schools for the blind. It also appeared to influence the beliefs of educators as to whether tactile perception could help intellectual thought or restrict it. This belief appears to have continued into the twentieth century, with educators such as Fletcher - the head of the college after it changed its administration to the RNIB, and accepted students whose fees were paid by local authorities - believing that his students’ ability to understand through touch made their intellectual powers inferior, both intellectually and aesthetically.




In the following chapter this study explores the influences on the decisions leading to the 1981 Act, and contemporary fine art education of the blind.



 © Simon Hayhoe 2005, 2007


[1] From this point this will be referred to as the 1981 Act.

[2] Howe (1837) went as far as to believe that, phrenologically, the brains of the blind (sic.) could change to disallow understanding of many cognitive concepts. This contributed to the reasons he presented to support eugenic policies of advising that people with disabilities should be prevented from having children.

[3] The term “normal” was used in the title of the school, as it wanted to promote the interests of the students as being those of able bodied children (Thomas, 1936).

[4] This ethic appeared to be sustained within the first half of the twentieth century as the art educator Viktor Lowenfeld (1951; Lowenfeld & Munz, 1934) in his early teaching posts in Austria found that he was treated with disdain for suggesting he could teach sculpture to a girl who was deaf-blind.



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