Brian Jackson commemorated with annual lecture

HE played a key role in the debate over comprehensive and selective schooling in the 1960s.

HE played a key role in the debate over comprehensive and selective schooling in the 1960s.

Now educationalist Brian Jackson is to be commemorated by a prestigious new annual lecture in his name at the town’s university.

It is hoped that the event will restore the late Brian Jackson and the 1962 book he co-authored “Education and the Working Class” to prominence.

Huddersfield University sociology lecturer Dr Alex Smith is the man behind the lecture, which has been launched to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the book, which Brian Jackson wrote with fellow Huddersfield-born sociologist Dennis Marsden.

“I think that in recent years the study hasn’t had as much recognition as it deserves,” said Dr Smith. “It was hugely important in its day and a bestseller that sold over 100,000 copies during the 1960s.

“It had a massive impact on wider debates about comprehensive education and the grammar school system.

“It remains relevant to arguments about social mobility and how best to provide opportunities through education to people from working class and other lower socio-economic backgrounds.”

The inaugural Brian Jackson Memorial Lecture is open to the public and will take place at 5.15pm on Wednesday, March 14, in the George Buckley Lecture Theatre at the University of Huddersfield.

It will be delivered by Prof Mike Savage, head of the department of sociology at York University.

His latest book, Identities and Social Change in Britain Since 1940: the Politics of Method, tells the story of the development of sociology in post-war Britain. He also discusses the Huddersfield-based study that Brian Jackson and Dennis Marsden carried out in the 1950s, which led to their seminal book.

Prof Savage’s book provided Dr Smith with inspiration for the Brian Jackson Memorial Lecture, which he hopes will become a keynote event on the calendar for sociologists throughout the country.

But he also stressed the local significance of Jackson and Marsden – both working class Huddersfield men who met while they studied at Cambridge University.

They decided to return to their home-town and use it as the basis for groundbreaking research into working class life and experience of education.

In addition to its sociological and educational significance, the book is a vivid depiction of Huddersfield in the late 1950s.

Said Dr Smith: “The book is a reminder that Huddersfield is one of the sites that made sociology in modern Britain, largely because the town is an exciting laboratory for the study of social change.”

After the publication of his best-known book, Brian Jackson, who died in 1983, continued to play a key role in education. In the 1970s, he worked to establish the National Children’s Centre in Huddersfield. Its headquarters is Brian Jackson House at New North Parade.

Dennis Marsden, co-author of Education and the Working Class, died in 2009, aged 76.

He had been a leading sociologist and author. He is also to be commemorated annually at Huddersfield University through the Dennis Marsden Essay Prize of £300, which will be awarded annually to the best undergraduate sociology essay.

The Brian Jackson Lecture on March 14 is free and open to all. To reserve a place, phone 01484 471158 or email: a.c.sprawson@hud.ac.uk

 

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