I have decided to write two separate blogs on Edna Bold’s education. One being her childhood experiences, which you can find here. In addition, the other being her adult experiences of education and schooling. I found myself writing a massive blog on her experiences of education so decided it would be best to write two different blogs, as it is clear Edna was very passionate about how her education has affected her.
When discussing the aftermath of what her experience of the outside world is like to Edna after college, she says, ‘When the college gates closed behind us in ’24, it was as if I, for one, had been cast into outer darkness where every misery imaginable difficulty lay in waiting.’ (Page 62). Although Edna detested most of her time in education, it is clear that she was not out of the darkness when she left university. She felt as if she was very alone and as if nobody wanted to help her get to the next chapter in her life.
Carol Dyhouse continues by claiming: ‘More than three-quarter (78.7%) of the women who studied at Manchester University went into teaching at some point.’ (Dyhouse, page 219). It is clear that teaching was one of the only options that was available for young women who wanted to continue their education. Below is an image of Manchester University’s student union building from the early 1900’s. This is one of the buildings that Edna would have come across in her years as a student.
Similarly, Mike Savage discusses in his text, Social Class in the 21st Century, ‘Less than one in every hundred young people entered university in 1901. Even for the most privileged young people, university remained a minority activity.’ (Savage, page 223). Meaning that by the time Edna had the opportunity to experience further education, she jumped at the opportunity.
Meg Gomersall states in her text, Working-Class Girls in Nineteenth-Century England: Life, Work and Schooling ‘girls enjoyed more opportunity than boys to go to school, as long as they were in reach of one. The most likely occupations destination for girls in this region was domestic service.’ (Gomersall, page 1592). Gomersall is stating that there is a difference in occupation for both men and women in the countryside and the large cities, such as Manchester. Women in the cities were given a larger amount of opportunities for their education than those in the smaller towns and villages.
As a result of this, David Vincent states in his text, ‘Love and Death and the Nineteenth-Century Working Class’, ‘There was a relative equality of opportunity within the very low levels of education open to working-class children at this time’. (Vincent, page 226). Some readers might have found it shocking and very unusual to discover that Edna did go through many different stages of adult education, and much further than many other women did at that time.
Another form of education and training that Edna has experiences is her time learning under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She says, ‘I understood the principle of the technique, subscribed to the Maharishi’s philosophy and teaching, and after attending summer courses in turn at Carmarthen, Bangor and Keele, knew that life for me could never be quite the same again’ (page 81). It is clear that Edna’s list of education appears to be never ending. She is stating how after experiencing Maharishi’s way of teaching, her life was changed for the better.
On one of the many websites dedicated to the Maharishi, it is stated: ‘Maharishi has trained over 40,000 teachers, opened thousands of teaching centers, and founded hundreds of schools, colleges and universities.’ (https://www.purusha.org/Maharishi.html). One of the 40,000 teachers that Maharishi has trained is Edna Bold.
Edna was unsure whether to join this type of movement that the Maharishi was involved in, she says, ‘It was at this point that I decided I would join the movement but it was not until the winter of ’66, when I was initiated by John Holmes in the Queens Hotel in Manchester, that I became a participant.’ (Page 81). It is apparent that after joining the teaching of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Edna was not disappointed nor did she regret her decision, as it is suggested by her tone of voice throughout the rest of the memoir that this type of further education had changed her life for the better.
Despite her vast, long list of education, Edna is stating how her past classmates who did not even make it to the end of high school have become more successful than her. She says, ‘He turned his contracting business into a public company… and began a series of mergers… whose annual sales were 3,000 million dollars… The high school drop-out of thirty years back had other aspirations.’ (Page 94). It is clear that each person has a different life goal, and some people know theirs from an early age, likewise to Edna’s classmate. Throughout this chapter in the memoir, it is obvious that Edna shares a proud tone of voice with her readers as she is not jealous of anyone else’s life, as she is very much content with her own.
Throughout all of her years as a student, learning from many different people in many different ways, Edna still finds herself using the Dictionary to widen her knowledge on different meanings of certain words. She says, ‘I went home and opened the dictionary and found that ‘a hedonist is one that advocated hedonism’ and hedonism to be ‘the doctrine that pleasure is the highest good’. (Page 125) Here, Edna is referring to what somebody once called her many years ago, and that it has stuck in her mind ever since.
This blog post also links to Amber Heyes blog on Education and Schooling on Mary Denison’s memoir which can be found here. Amber writes, ‘It was unusual for a girl to be allowed to stay in education past the age of 13 as they were typically withdrawn to follow domestic duties. Mary is unique in the way that she was able to defy boundaries of both class and gender in order to obtain an education.’ This is very similar to Edna Bold, as both Edna and Mary are women being raised in a very difficult time attempting to gain the same education as many men, and both do so successfully.
Bold, Edna. ‘The long and short of it. Being the recollections and reminiscences of Edna Bold’, Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 2:85, available at https://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/9420
Dyhouse, Carol. ‘Signing the Pledge? Woman’s Investment in University Education and Teacher Training before 1939’. History of Education, 26. 2, 1997: 207-223.
Gomersall, Meg. Working-Class Girls in Nineteenth-Century England: Life, Work and Schooling. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi official website: https://www.purusha.org/Maharishi.html
Savage, Mike. Social Class in the 21st Century. London:Penguin, 2015.
Vincent, David. ‘Love and Death and the Nineteenth-Century Working Class.’ Social History, 5.2 (1980): 223-247.
NB: all pictures and images have links of their source.