An analysis of the primary teacher education of the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers, and their lay teachers in Queensland from 1859 to 1979

Duncan, Barry James (1984). An analysis of the primary teacher education of the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers, and their lay teachers in Queensland from 1859 to 1979 PhD Thesis, Graduate School of Education, The University of Queensland.

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Author Duncan, Barry James
Thesis Title An analysis of the primary teacher education of the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers, and their lay teachers in Queensland from 1859 to 1979
School, Centre or Institute Graduate School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1984
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 481
Language eng
Subjects 1301 Education Systems
130211 Religion Curriculum and Pedagogy
Formatted abstract
This research is concerned with determining the nature of, and assessing, the primary teacher education of the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers, and the lay teachers employed in their primary schools in Queensland from 1859 to 1979. It is not concerned with the overseas and interstate Australian Catholic and State institutions which provided teacher training for some of the Sisters of Mercy and lay teachers, or with other religious orders and their lay teachers. It is concerned with the interstate institutions of the Christian Brothers, which trained its student Brothers for Queensland schools.

The Sisters of Mercy were the first religious order to enter Queensland, and remained the largest religious order from its arrival to the present. They pioneered pupil-teacher training in the Catholic education system, and, in 1955, introduced the earliest professional Catholic teacher training at the newly established McAuley College. They accepted female religious from other orders, and male and female lay students. The College developed to the stage where it is presently the only Catholic Teachers' College in Queensland. The Christian Brothers were the first male religious order to enter Queensland after the French Assumptionists departed, and remained the largest male religious order from its arrival to the present. After establishing Xavier College in 1971 for the teacher training of its members in Queensland, the Christian Brothers were eventually compelled to affiliate with the Sisters of Mercy at McAuley Teachers' College in 1978. Catholic primary education in Queensland and the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers, and their supporting lay teachers, are practically synonymous, with even the introduction of other religious teaching orders into Queensland after 1915 failing to break this domination. The Sisters of Mercy, and to a lesser extent, the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Good Samaritans and the Presentation Sisters, were largely responsible for most of the primary education provided in Queensland's Catholic schools from 1916 to 1970, and a significant part of the secondary education for girls. This corresponded with secondary education for boys, and a significant part of the primary education for boys over 8 years of age, being largely undertaken by the Christian Brothers, and to a lesser extent, by the Marist Brothers. This involvement by the Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers is characterised by the existence of certain distinct similarities and differences between the two orders.

The thesis is divided into three parts - the period from Queensland's political separation from New South Wales in 1859 to the establishment of the first State Teachers' College in Queensland in 1914; the period from 1915 to the establishment of the first Catholic Teachers' College in Queensland in 1955; and the period from 1956 to 1979.

This research emphasises several dominant themes. Firstly, the nature, direction and momentum of the education policies adopted for the Catholic system in Queensland depended upon the influence of successive individuals within the Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers, and, more significantly, within the Catholic episcopal hierarchy with Bishop Quinn and Archbishops Dunne and Duhig. Secondly, the acceptance of State standards by the Catholic system resulted in close contacts being maintained between the Catholic and State education systems. These contacts were further cemented by the State Teachers' Colleges training most lay teachers for Queensland's Catholic primary schools from 1915 to 1979, and the State and Catholic Teachers' Colleges experiencing separate but similar developments from 1955 to 1979. Thirdly, distinct periods and patterns of challenge, response, adaption, conflict, frustration, compromise, change, retrogression, progress and stagnation were clearly evident from 1859 to 1979, and affected Catholic primary teacher education, both directly and indirectly. In most instances, these periods and patterns were connected to the prevailing economic situation in Queensland, and to the attitude of political leaders and the community towards education. Fourthly, within the framework of the Catholic education system being constantly reorganised to counter the increasing student numbers, the Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers established their primary schools rapidly and extensively. Their teacher training prior to 1955, and that of their lay teachers, combined with the curriculum and teaching methods in the schools, and the quality of some lay teachers, left much to be desired, despite State inspection. Scholarship Examination results, and other measures, confirming that their primary schools had achieved a working efficiency. These standards were improved with the professional teacher training provided at the State and Catholic Teachers' Colleges. Fifthly, although serious attempts were made to regard the State and Catholic Teachers' Colleges as institutions with their own identities, their own requirements, and their own unique purposes for existence, there remained a sense of the ad hoc about most developments in teacher education. Finally, expansion in teacher education in Queensland did not conclude with the granting of autonomy to the State and Catholic Teachers' Colleges in 1972. In many ways, autonomy intensified expansion. However, there was a difference in the situations before and after 1972. Most of the conditions leading to expansion evolved either gradually or dramatically before 1972 — the increasing demand for secondary education; the perceived need by State and non-State authorities and the community for better educated and trained teachers resulting in the change from teacher training to teacher education; the imposition of higher entry requirements and increased length of training at the Teachers' Colleges; Commonwealth and Queensland Government recognition through various Reports and Committees that teacher education was tertiary education and required financing, facilities, control and review accordingly.

The future of Catholic primary teacher education in Queensland involves careful planning to determine whether it either continues to expand into fields other than teacher education, that is, becomes multi-vocational, or consolidates and improves the existing system. Both alternatives present immediate and long-term problems, and will certainly be influenced by the dramatic increase in lay administrators, lay teachers and students in Catholic primary schools, the equally dramatic decline in the involvement and numerical strength of the religious orders, and the serious commitment of the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments.
Keyword Christian Brothers, Irish -- Queensland
Sisters of Mercy -- Queensland
Elementary school teachers -- Training of -- Queensland
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