How would you describe education in England during this period of time based on the conversation between Joe and Pip in chapter 7 of Great Expectations?

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At the beginning of chapter 7, Pip notes that he had just enough learning to read the headstones.  He learned to read because Biddy taught him, because it would not be common for a boy of Pip’s class to go to school.  Only the wealthy were educated.  Pip doesn’t understand the headstones much, and doesn’t understand the Scripture he learns in Church.

Education in Victorian England really depended on a person’s social class.  Since Pip lived in the country and was not from a wealthy family, he was to be apprenticed to his uncle Joe to learn to be a blacksmith.  All in all, it was not such a bad system.  Blacksmiths have to come from somewhere!  Some poor people learned to read and write, but it was not common for them to be completely literate.  We see this when he writes Joe an incomprehensible letter, and Joe declares him a scholar.  It’s clear that Joe also cannot read, and Pip notes that:

“I had never heard Joe read aloud to any greater extent than this monosyllable, and I had observed at church last Sunday when I accidentally held our Prayer-Book upside down, that it seemed to suit his convenience quite as well as if it had been all right.”

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