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96

CHAPTER 111.

FEMALE EDUCATION.

ture

poor girls

errors

Advantages of kindness in female education Neglect of female cul

Greater severity of the laws against females than males Injustice of this Evils attending the ne, lect of female educatiun Necessity of improvement in their knowledge of the duties of the domestic circle What branches of mental education are proper for

Arguments for the necessity of botany, geography, and natural history Miserable state of female schools in the manufacturing districts Ignorance of female teachers illustrated Attention to and neglect of moral culture contrasted Cominon

in femalc cducation Practical knowledge required Geometry for girls Its utility argued for Children delighted with natural objects Naturally instructed by them Elements of geometry applicable to many useful purposes Music argued for Methods of teaching geo, l'aphy in the gallery, class room, and play ground, by maps, chalk lines, and water tight trays Lessons on Geography England Scotland Ireland Europe Asia, Africa, North and South America Botany Specimens of lessons Natural history lessons on

the camel The hen and chickens The tame goosc

The

and the goat Object lessons Geometry Music

Grammar Lessons on grammar.

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It is a fact which I have proved in my own experience, that the affections of the female mind are stronger than those of the male ; all persons who have had similar experience with myself, will, I doubt not, come to the same conclusion. Many of the plans, therefore, adopted with the infants will be useful, proper, and even desirable, with girls of a more advanced age. Kindness, mildness, and firmness in the trcatment of them, will do more to accomplish their education than harshness, threatening, and fear. Fcar acts on them like the chilling blasts of winter, sometimes closes, and not unfrequently kills, the tender flower; but the geuial warınth of love and kindness will cause the

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female mind to expand, and induce it to send out its frag-
rance in cheerful blossoms, and afterwards yield forth its
fruit in abundance. Education truly deserving that name,
has done little enough for the poorer classes of males, but
it has done less for females in all parts of the world, Scot-
land and Prussia not excepted; and yet these are destined
by an all-wise and unerring providence to be entrusted with
the care and nurture of the golden period of childhood.
The awful fruits of the neglect of female education is but
too apparent and appalling; it meets us in every town and
county in the three kingdoms; there seems a backward-
ness and disinclination to develop, draw out, and cultivate
the female faculties, yet the very laws of society are more
severe against them than the other sex, They are ex.
pected to resist temptation without being prepared for it;
all the virtue is expected on the one side ; the weaker ves-
sel by nature is expected to be the strongest; moral educa.
tion for females has not been thought necessary. Here
is the source of unnumbered ills, and human woes, and
never will an alteration take place on a large scale, till we
turn our attention to female education. It is from them
that we must expect life and vigour to be imparted to any
system of education we may adopt; they must be the prime
agents, and never can be successful until their own states
are improved. A mother among the inferior animals, is
blindly impelled to bestow upon her offspring the treat-
ment most conducive to their welfare, whilst the human
mother is under the necessity of studying the constitution
and laws of action of the bodily frame, and the influence of
external agents upon it, before she can bring up her child
in a manner fully consistent with its health. The evils
which arise from ignorance of such topics are manifold
and extensive, nor can an alteration take place, until more
attention be paid and more pains taken in the cultivation
and development of the female faculties. As the secular
occupations of women must commence with the duties of

H

98 EVILS ATTENDING THE NEGLECT OF FEMALE CULTURE,

the domestic circle, it is evident these should in some mca sure be taught to girls at school.

It is highly important that when mothers, they should know the mcans of preserving health, and also be able to communicate to their children sound principles, and correct habits of thought; how can they do this without being put in the way of it by education ? To gain these objects we must begin by physical education ; strong women will be likely to produce strong children. Afterwards comes reading, writing, the first rules of arithmetic, and sewing. Household work and nursing, they should, and usually do, learn at home, and it is delightful to see the kindness of well-trained girls at school to little children at home; the contrast between the well-trained girl and the girl of cultivated mind, with the untrained girl and the girl of uncultivated mind, is striking in the extreme. It is requisite they should be taught, in addition to reading, writing, arithmetic, sewing, and knitting, the elements of geography, botany, natural history, geometry, lessons on objects, grammar, and spelling; with singing and the notes in music. All these things are proper for poor girls I would add the elements of anatomy so far as to acquaint them with the form and structure of the bones and muscles, &c. &c. &c.; plates are published for this purpose and have been used by me with success and with the best effects, But to give lessons on this, in the present state of public fccling, might tend to defeat my own object, and I would rather wait until I perceive how the opinion is received. The knowledge of these things prevents un. necessary squccmishness, nervousness, and fright; it can. not do harm accompanied by suitable observations, and will do much good, especially in the hands of a judicious mistress or mother. The gross ignorance amongst the poor as to their own structure, is lamentable, and is the cause of much pain to their offspring.

We will argue for the necessity of cach of these briefly,

BRANCHES OF MENTAL EDUCATION FOR POOR GIRLS,

99

and then proceed to shew how they are to be taught. Religious and moral education shall be noticed each in its proper place. Reading, writing, and arithmetic may be taught as at present, taking the plan which I shall hereafter lay down for the boys as a guide. First, a knowledge of the elements of geography will be useful to a mother, to enable her to give her children instruction with which they are much delighted. Secondly, it will enable her to understand books of travels, voyages, history, and also the parts of the earth where the principal events recorded in Scripture occurred; this will create stronger desires in the female mind to make themselves acquainted with facts, and the books which record them, and, in proportion, weaken the desire, at present too prevalent, for works of fiction, novels, and light reading, which very often lead their votaries into error which might have been avoided, and light up and strengthen feelings which it is the business of education to weaken, if not entirely to repress.

A knowledge of the elements of botany will have a softening and beneficial influence on the female mind; as they walk in the lanes and the fields, they can read nature's book; and if nursemaids, instruct their young charge; it keeps their own thoughts from wandering to less useful subjects, for “Satan finds mischief” for idle minds to do, as well as “idle hands.” Whenever we see a neat garden before or behind a peasant's cottage, it is a good sign. When we see the garden pots smeared over with red lead, put out on the window-sill, it may be taken for granted, that the minds of the inmates, however poor, are somewhat refined and less brutalized than the generality of their drunken neighbours, and we may be sure that we are indebted to the mother or the wife for these little outward signs. The more we can refine the views of the female poor, the more likely will the other sex be to benefit by its influence, and to treat them with the respect and kindness they deserve; and I may add, that no country can be truly

grcat, or truly virtuous, where female education is neglected

the history of all nations proves this fact.* In domestic life, it will make a wonderful difference in the character and feclings of the children. Powerful arguments might be introduced to prove the advantages of a knowledge of objects of various kinds, in conjunction with the outlines of natural history; the wise and bcautiful arrangements made by the Deity to preserve cach species of animals from entire destruction, and from over production, ought to strike every mother with admiration; and when she perceives the care, trouble, anxiety, and the inexhaustible perseverance displayed by the female part of the brute crcation, in the protection and education of their young until they can manage for themselves, it must remind her of the tenfold importance of her own duties towards her offspring, and must strikingly shew her the advantages she possesses, in having mind and education, as well as instinct, to guide her.

The miserable state of the schools for the education of the female poor in manufacturing districts is truly lamentable, and must be seen to be believed: the girls are as utterly ignorant of most of these things as the mere babe; little provision, if any, is made to remedy these defects; and I am quite prepared to prove every iota of what is here advanced, as regards poor girls, unless an alteration has recently taken place. It is not only the case in the manufacturing districts, but it is almost universal. I know a mistress of the present time, a woman of good education, of lady-like manners and deportment, and, as far as the old mill-tract system goes, an excellent teacher. She has charge of a large model school under the Government, to which is attached every convenience for carrying out the before-mentioned views, but she thought it little less than an insult to be asked to attend her girls in the play-ground; no greater violence could be offered to her dignity, and she declared most emphatically, that no gentleman would ask

* Scc Child's History of Women,

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