The object of this thesis is to trace the development of the work of the Christian Brothers in Queensland, with particular emphasis on secondary education. In the very beginning of that work in Queensland, it appeared to its founder, Brother Barrett, that the first foundation, Gregory Terrace, at least, could become purely secondary. But that position changed and before the Brothers’ second foundation was made, it became evident that their schools in Queensland would embrace both primary and secondary pupils. That position prevails in general to-day. Consequently, the thesis will attempt to analyse the elements of that development at both levels with particular attention paid to secondary education throughout.
In preparing such a thesis at the present time, I am particularly encouraged because of the marked interest in education in Queensland over the past few years. Unfortunately, insufficient works on this subject in Queensland has been written and certainly nothing to match the writings of Gregory, Austin and Brother Fogarty for scholarship, thoroughness of research, and penetration into the underlying assumptions of education. This present work, then, can have a value out of proportion to its size, its scholarship or its analysis, in that it studies an educational system which grew up within Queensland over the very years - 1875 to 1965 - during which the Queensland State System has developed. The Brothers were in an almost unique position in Queensland to challenge many aspects of the State system and to modify it. They enjoyed complete independence; they came to Queensland with a well-developed system of primary grades and increasing experience in secondary work; their aims in education while lacking an explicit statement, had always been far more definite in their own minds, than were those of state education in the minds of senior officials and headmasters in the Queensland Education Department.
At many periods since 1802 when Brother Rice commenced his work in Ireland, certain Brothers have anticipated trends in education or the Order has faced a serious challenge, which was answered vigorously. Consolidation followed this thrust-forward and then sometimes stagnation set in, only to be followed by a fresh burst of energy in some new field. This pattern of challenge - response - consolidation - and often stagnation is the most apparent aspect of the Brothers' development in Queensland. As far as they are relevant to that development in Queensland, such patterns will be examined from Ireland and in Australia. From the beginning, I wish to stress that the Queensland Chapter treated in this thesis must be seen within Australia as a whole and that the most important challenges the Brothers have faced in Australia arose outside Queensland and yet the Brothers’ responses to these challenges have greatly affected their work in Queensland. …………………………