I happen to be thinking about this at the moment, since the Madras system
was of interest to Wordsworth and Coleridge. Here is a sentence or two
about it (I quote):
the "Madras" system -- also know as the "monitorial" or "mutual improvement"
system -- the discovery of which Whitbread diplomatically credited jointly
to Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster, who indeed seemed to have hit
independently upon the notion of instructing childen through the use of
student assistants or "monitors," and who later borrowed from one another
freely. Bell's version of the system, which was pushed forward by the
Archbishop of Canterbury and others as an Establishment countercheck to that
of the Quaker Lancaster, found some of its most vocal and influential
support in the Lake poets." (i.e., Coleridge, Wordsworth) -- Alan
Richardson, _Literature, Education, and Romanticism_ (Cambridge, 1994), p. 91.
It was called Madras, because Andrew Bell first devised it in a school (for
orphans) he ran in India: see his book _An Experiment in Education made at
the Male Asylum of Madras_ (London, 1797). It seems to have been rather
tightly controlled, but had the clear advantage for the child who had
learned something being obliged to teach it to another. Richardson's book
has a good account of it.
Best regards, David Miall ([log in to unmask])
Home Page: http://www.ualberta.ca/~dmiall/miall.htm
Dept. of English, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E5
Tel. 403-492-2236 Fax (office): 403-492-8142 Fax (home): 403-437-7987