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The instruction of girls in history deserves special consideration; it has been too much neglected. There should be more adaptation to their pecu. liar wants; and actual and ideal representations should be afforded, of the condition of women in different ages.
"The best fruit of history," says Goethe, " is the enthusiasm which it creates.” Accordingly, the historical studies of young women should be of an elevating character; and the actual facts communicated should be explained by their respective ideals.
In a history for girls, the chief object should be, to give a biographical and ethnographical representation of the human mind, in single characters, scenes and parties; but not by means of those interminable genealogies of rulers whose names and existences are often much more uncertain than many of the facts in mythology.
Wars, campaigns and battles, can least of all have any interest for them; it will be sufficient to acquaint them by a few representations, with the results of human efforts.
More time should therefore be occupied in following the progress of civilization, manners, customs, arts and religion; and most of all, in the consideration of eminent female characters.
Great wickedness, and outbreaks of brutal vileness can not be entirely passed over ; but it will not be a blamable caution, in treating of such things, to make use of much regard to the feelings of the young, and especially to the tender sensibilities of the female sex.
In a history for girls, the chief object should be to bring out the relation between the narrative and actual life; especially with that of woinen.
Our young women should study history, in order to learn to recognize the carnest purposes of life, and the hand of God as seen in the fates of individual men and whole nations; to avoid becoming similar to those creatures who are carried away with the frivolous sillinesses which French manners and governesses have imparted into our father-land; that in study. ing Greek history they may follow back to its natural condition that soci. ety which a period of affectedness has modelled into stiff and unnatural fashions; to acquaint themselves with the sensible and plain-spoken Socrates; to learn how to understand Jesus and his divine instructions ; to secure themselves from falling under the dominion of either sneerers or mystics, and of thus becoming either skeptical or superstitious.
Our daughters should study history, that they may be domestic, truo and honorable, after the model of the ancient German wives ; that they may appreciate the important duty confided to them by Providence, of training men, from infancy upwards.
For whenever we see a great man, we may see behind him a noble mother, who carefully and lovingly watched over the seeds of his future greatness.
Our women should be acquainted with history, that they may learn how in times of barbarism and degeneration, arts and sciences, virtue and faith, have found a place of safety with them and them only; and also how bad women have caused the destruction of whole nations.
History should also be a protection against silly tattling and vulgar amusements, and all the miserable superficiality and emptiness which characterizes so many women; and also against the excessive sensibility and fancifulness which have carried away many nobly endowed women from themselves and their duty, and plunged them into irreconcilable quarrels.
OESER, As soon as a mother becomes aware that her daughters are no longer contented to be playing all the time, that they have occasional seasons of idleness and ennui, she must set about supplying all manner of little occupations to prevent it.
Knitting and sewing should be taught to all girls, of whatever rank, as soon as their aptitude for handiwork is developed.
As soon as they are skilled in these occupations, they are thus fitted to learn artistic and ornamental work; lessons in which may be allowed them as a reward for industry in doing the sewing of the family.
It is desirable that girls should become sufficiently acquainted with ornamental work to be able to do all that is necessary for the tasteful adornment of a room or a dress.
- Von RAUMER. The very idea of a public institution for female education is at variance with the best education for women.
The sphere of action of the future man is out in the world; and there should be his school.
But the scene for the exercise of the womanly virtues is a domestic one; the family; and this should be the girl's school.
The life of a family is entirely different from that in an educational institution.
In the former is to be found God's wisely ordained association of young and old persons of both sexes; varieties of thought and feeling, and the duties and the rights of those of different ages. Girls have an opportunity of learning what are right and wrong ways in housekeeping, and in fulfilling the duties of social life; they learn to obey the old, to take charge of the young, to be companions of those of their own age, and to direct those under their authority. Therefore the home life amongst brothers and sisters and parents, small and great together, is the proper school for girls.
In public institutions there are no parents, to conciliate the confidence of the childish heart; there are only teachers, from whom the inmost heart is cautiously concealed, for fear of misunderstanding; while outward propriety is carefully watched over, and at last comes to be the principal thing. The hundred instructive little daily occurrences of domestic life are wanting; and the peculiarities of character which make the deepest impression on the heart. Instead of these there is a cold uni. formity in listening and in doing, and with the best teachers and companions, none are seen but strangers. And thus, during the most critical years of the young woman's life, her character takes an impress which is in future life to be seldom necessary, but often injurious.
She returns to domestic life, with a scientific half-education, skillful in concealing her thoughts from others, accomplished in external decorum, with an increased desire and capacity for shining before the world in little things.
Well for her if she finds there again the ancient happiness, naturalness and innocence of her childhood.
Her parents' home and those of her relatives must anew become her school.
But often it is too late, and she is ruined forever for the labors, the sameness, and the little enjoyments of domestic life.
She becomes a wife, but without becoming the cheerful companion for life of her husband; the head of a family, without being able to govern her house with consistent diligence and with equal care and wisdom both in great things and in small; a mother, without taking pleasure in maternal duties.
We have many instructions for the education of girls. But pious par. ents will instruct them best, in their own family.
What constituted a perfect woman thousands of years ago, constitutes her still. (See Proverbs, xxxj; 11 to 31.)
• III. GIRLS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF BOSTON.
Prior to 1789, according to the biographer* of Caleb Bingham, no public provision appears to have been made for the instruction of girls in the city (then, the town) of Boston. The only schools to which girls were admitted in 1784 were called Writing Schools, (in which penman. ship, reading and spelling were taught,) and were kept by the teachers of the public schools between the forenoon and afternoon sessions. In that year Mr. Bingham opened a private school for girls, and such was his success, that in 1789, in the “Great Reform" which was in that year made in the public schools, he was solicited and prevailed on to take charge of one of the three Reading Schools, into which girls were admitted on a footing of equality with boys,—the girls attending the Reading School in the morning and the boys the Writing School, (each school having these two independent departments, which thus acquired the name of the double-headed system, and was continued for more than a half-century,) and in the afternoon the boys attended the Reading School, and the girls the Writing School,—the masters never changing rooms, and the boys and girls changing the half-day once a month. Even under this arrangement, girls were only allowed to attend the schools six months in the year, from April to October, and during the winter months half the boys attended the Reading School while the other half attended the Writing, alternating as the boys and girls did in summer. This state of things continued till 1826.
In May, 1825, at a meeting of the School Committee, on the motion of the Rev. John Pierpont, a Special Committee was raised “to consider the expediency and practicability of establishing a public school for the instruction of girls in the higher departments of science and literature." This Committee reported on the 22d of June following in favor of establishing such a school, to be conducted on the monitorial system, and the City Council was requested to appropriate two thousand dollars for this purpose, which was done on the 25th of September, 1825. The school was instituted by the School Committe on the 13th of January, 1826, and was called the High School for Girls, and the examination of can• WILLIAM B. FOWLE Memoir of Caleb Bingham-in“ Barnard's American Toachers
VOL 1., p. 55.
didates for admission was commenced on the 22nd of February following, and the school was opened under the charge of Ebenezer Bailey.
The following extracts are from the Report of the Committe appointed to consider the subject in May, 1825. The Report was written by Rev. John Pierpont :
In the first place, in regard to the generar expediency of placing women, in respect to education, upon ground, if not equal, at least bearing a near and an hon: orable relation, to that of men, in any community, your committee think that no doubt can, at this day, be entertained by those who consider the weight of female influence in society, in every stage of moral and intellectual advancement; and especially by those who consider the paramount and abiding influence of mothers upon every successive generation of men, during the earliest years of their life, and those years in which so much, or so little, is done, towards forming moral character, and giving the mind a direction and an impulse towards usefulness and happiness in after life. As to the general expediency, then, of giving women such an education as slıall make them fit wives for well educated men, and enable them to exert a salutary influence upon the rising generation, as there can be no doubts, your committee will use no arguments at this board; but will confine themselves to the particular expediency of provision for a higher education of our daughters, at the public expense.
And your committee think favorably of making an effort to this end, for the following reasons which are particular, as well as for the many reasons which are more general in their nature.
In the first place, it would render more efficient, and, consequently, more profitable to the city, the provision which has already been made for the public education of its daughters.
As our public Grammar schools are now constituted, some of the finest scholars in the girls' department are seen in the first class, at the age of eleven or twelve years, by the side of girls fourteen or fifteen yerrs old, who have been rather tolerated in the first class, either from courtesy to their age, or from pity to their unsuccessful efforts, than entitled to a place there, on the score of their good scholarship. As the class must, on the present system of organization, move on together, the former are continually held in check, that the latter may keep in their company; and, as the masters have neither time nor the authority to go with them into higher studies, it is easy to see, what is of every day's occurrence, that the more sprightly girls find it difficult to fill up their hours profitably to themselves; and are in constant danger of falling into habits of inattention, and mental dissipation; a danger which now presses upon them for two or three of the last years that they are allowed their seats in the public schools. Now, by the school proposed, this evil, which is a very serious one, would be obviated. The same field would be opened in this school, for the girls, as has, for a few years, been so successfully opened in the English High School, for the boys in the Grammar schools. An object would be presented of honorablo ambition, and of lively competition, to the misses who are now condemned to two, and sometimes three years, very inadequately and unprofitably employed; and those indolent habits of mind might be avoided, which it is so much easier to prevent than to correct.
Secondly, the school contemplated seems to your committee to be particularly expedient for this city, in respect to the impulse that would be given by it to the whole machinery of our public instruction, through the medium of the Primary schools.
These schools are daily gaining the confidence of the community, and, consequently, are daily furnishing a greater and greater proportion of the children to our Grammar schools. Of course, it is of continually increasing importance that these first schools should be taught by those who are themselves well educated. They are, and probably will be, tought exclusively by women; and it is doing no injustice to the city, or to the gentlemen who so faithfully superintend these schools, to say, that they are not always able to find women qualified as they ought to be, to take charge of these very interesting public institutions. A school like that now in contemplation, would certainly and permanently furnish teachers for the Primary schools, competent in every respect to render the city efficient service; and especially in this respect, that they will have gained, by their own experience, a thorough knowledge of our whole system of public instruction, and the relations of its several parts to each other. Thus, the city will insure to itself a greater excellence and uniformity in the primary schools, than is possible at present, and be always able to recur to its own resources, to meet its own wants;exhibiting thus, in morals—what has been so long a desideratum in mechanics-a piece of machinery that, by its own operation, produces the power by which itself is driven.
Thirdly, your committee think a school such as is proposed particularly expedient to this city, in regard to the experiment that might be made of it, of the practicability and usefulness of monitorial or mutual instruction; or, at least, of so much of that system as on experiment would be found to accord with the genius and habits of our community. That something of this system might be introduced into all our public schools, to the benefit of the schools and to the pecuniary advantage of the city, your committee can hardly doubt. One experiment has been made, and made successfully. But there were considerations which prevented the carrying of that system up from the school in which it was tried, into the higher public schools. The same system, with some qualifications, has been under successful experiment in a subscription school, composed of the daughters of our most respectable fami. lies; and yonr committee are persuaded that, under the control of a master of judgment and genius, so much of that system might be profitably introduced into a female High School, as would prove to the public in this city, that the same might be carried into our Grammar and Reading schools, at least, to great advantage. At any rate, a satisfactory experiment might be made. Should it fail, as it hardly can, the city will lose nothing but the time and comparatively trifling expenso of making it; and should it succeed, the city will secure to itself the better instruction of onethird more children than are now instructed, and at probably one-third less expense.
Your committee are not sure that it falls within the spirit of their commission to present a statement of the studies which should be pursued in the proposed insti. tution. But, without attempting a particular statement, or a definite arrangement, of the studies, leaving that duty to a future committee, should the city think favorably of the project, -your committee wonld beg leave to recommend, in general, that in the female High School should be taught reading; writing words and sentences from dictation; English grammar, embracing frequent exercises in the composition, transposition, and resolution of sentences; composition, to be taught sys. tematically, and to be a regular exercise in all the classes; rhetoric; geography, ancient and modern, embracing the use of maps and globes ; elements of geometry, so far as is necessary to the construction of maps, and to the study of natural phil. osophy; arithmetic, intellectual and written; book-keeping by single entry; gen. eral history; history of Greece, Rome, England, and the United States; natural philosophy, with as much of chemistry as would be useful in domestic economy; moral philosophy; natural theology; and astronomy.
Of these studies, however, your committee would recommend that some be required and others only permitted, as tokens of merit and incitements to industry; thus opening, in this school, what this is intended to open to all the Grammar schools of the city, a course of higher instruction, as an object of honorable emulation, and the most unexceptionable reward of industry.
Having spoken thus of the general character of the school, and of the considera. tions which, in their opinion, render the establishment of it particularly expedient, your committee would, in the second place, state briefly their views of the practicability of establishing it.
To this there can be but one objection,—that of expense. But your committee are persuaded that this is not an insuperable obstacle to the effecting of an object, which seems to be so important to the best interests, and to one of the most cherished objects, of the citizens of Boston,—their system of public education. * *
When liberally supported, they more than support themselves. They are a source, not of honor only, but of pecuniary profit, to the city; for, taking into view—as an enlightened policy does take into view—the whole period during which these institutions exert their influence upon the community, they more than indemnify the city for the expense of their maintenance, in that the knowledge they diffuse through the great mass of the population, throws open new and wider fields to enterprise, gives higher aims to ingenuity, and supplies more profitable objects to industry.
The following extracts are from the Report of the Committee on the