Historians of Education in Scotland (HEdScot) conference 2011
Christopher Bischof (Rutgers University)
Pay, Prestige, and Lifestyle: the Hiring of Elementary Teachers in Glasgow and the Highlands and Islands, 1846-1902
21 October 2011

Abstract: This paper examines the negotiation between school officials (managers and school boards), communities, and applicants in the hiring of elementary teachers in Glasgow and the highlands and islands between 1846 and 1902. It adopts a comparative approach, contrasting the depersonalized, rigidly bureaucratic approach to the selection of teachers in Glasgow with the more organic approach taken in the Highlands and Islands. Unsurprisingly, since it paid the highest salaries, Glasgow demanded the highest qualifications of its new hires of anywhere in Scotland. There was little else to the hiring process in Glasgow: certain qualifications were demanded, and a certain salary was paid; it was all fixed and attempts at negotiation were typically rebuffed. In the highlands and islands, unlike in Glasgow, the hiring process itself involved negotiation and unquantifiable requirements and inducements. Sometimes a large garden, living in or near the community in which they had grown up, and the independence of a headmastership (rather than an assistantship) could compensate well-qualified teachers for the lack of pay in rural schools. Teachers responded to offers by requesting higher salaries and other things, like the right to have siblings live in the schoolhouse with them. Communities also intervened in the hiring process in the highlands and islands, most commonly by exerting pressure on school officials to hire a male teacher, which, though they cost more, were widely believed to be more prestigious. The process of hiring teachers reveals much about the values of and power relations between teachers, school officials, and communities.

To listen to this podcast click here.