Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, was no dry pedant. His lectures and writings are alive with examples taken from the busy eighteenth-century world around him, and Edmund Burke praised his literary style as “rather painting than writing.” It was Adam Smith who taught moral philosophy and literary criticism to Boswell at the University of Glasgow, and in Smith’s works we follow his interests from political history to law, sociology, economic and social history, philosophy, and English literature.
In Education and the Industrial Revolution, West writes about an Educational Revolution during the Industrial Revolution. This book adds important historical context to E. G. West’s better-known Education and the State. Taken together, the two books make a very strong case not only for the separation of state and education, but also the robustness of the market in providing educational services, even in such a difficult period as the Industrial Revolution. West unearthed a large and growing market for education going hand in hand with the rise of industrialism and occurring prior to government intervention. His views were not very palatable to the educational establishment because they contradicted the long-held view that the Industrial Revolution was a disaster and that only government intervention and “compulsion” brought the joys of education to people.
Education and the State first appeared in 1965 and was immediately hailed as one of the century’s most important works on education. In the thirty years that followed, the questions this book raised concerning state-run education have grown immeasurably in urgency and intensity. Education and the State re-examines the role of government in education and challenges the fundamental statist assumption that the state is best able to provide an education for the general population.