The two quotations below are representative examples of eighteenth century French and English views about the undesirability of offering too much education to the children of the poor.
Today,  even the lower classes want to study. Laborers and artisans send their children to boarding schools in the small towns where living is cheap, and when they have received a wretched education, which has taught them merely to despise their fathers' trades, they fling themselves into the monasteries, become priests or officers of justice, and frequently turn out to be a danger to society.
The Brothers of Christian Doctrine, nicknamed the "Ignorantines," have made things worse. They teach reading and writing to people who should never have learned more than a little drawing or how to handle the plane or the file and who now don't want to do this . . . . The good of society requires that the lower classes' knowledge should go no further than their occupations. No man who can see beyond his depressing trade will ply it with patience and courage. The lower classes scarcely need to know how to read or write except for those members of it who live by these skills or are helped by them to make their living . . . . it is better to have few students provided they are well educated . . . . [L. R. Caradeuc de la Chalotais, Essai d'education nationale].
England, 1792. However desirable it may be to rescue the lower kinds of people from ignorance . . . . it cannot be right to train them all in a way which will probably raise their ideas above the very lowest occupations of life and disqualify them for those servile offices which must be filled by some members of the community, and in which they may be equally happy with the highest, if they will do their duty . . . .
- Copyright © 1975 by the American Academy of Pediatrics