Injudicious and erroneous education

1837 -2018; Spot the difference.  I tend not to become exercised at the wilder fringes of this debate, but hey, give me a break — the discrimination in this photograph (below), is just wrong. But first, to set the context, is the tad patronising, sexist but so of its era introduction to an 1837 self-help book called The Female’s Friend and General Domestic Adviser. The photograph is the prizegiving ceremony this year of the Billabong Junior Surfing Championships. Check the cheques and tell me what’s changed in this world of injudicious and erroneous education…

Much has been said by moralists and philanthropists upon the education of the female sex and, although objections may have been raised to the general principles, yet all persons are agreed as to the end which that education ought to have in view. It does not require, however, a very extensive experience in the world, to discover that that end is seldom or ever accomplished, and that the failure is solely to be attributed to the injudicious and erroneous system of education which is adopted in the majority of our female seminaries, where utility is exploded to make way for ornament, show, and frivolity. Seldom, however, do we find that such a system is followed, from which eventually may result the formation of that character, which is so essentially necessary to the promotion and permanence of domestic happiness. When we cast a glance at the prospectus of “ A Respectable Establishment for Young Ladies,” where do we find a single branch of knowledge inculcated which is calculated to form a good and valuable housewife, or the clever and active mistress of a family. The entire education of the female is directed to what are styled ‘accomplishments,’ in which all is flimsy, superficial, and ornamental. At the age when she is about to enter into life, she is returned into the hands of her parents, well qualified to rattle over the keys of a pianoforte — “ to split the ears of the groundlings” with her screams and shrieks, miscalled singing — to copy a house or a tree upon a piece of drawing paper — to counterfeit a rose with worsted or silk — and to exhibit her taste in the pasting of a few engravings in that female toy, called an album. Nothing, however, is thought of instruction in those high and weighty duties, which the female will have to perform when she enters upon the world in the important relations of a wife, a mother, or a housewife. She enters into the married state, and takes upon herself the cares and duties of the mistress of a family, in positive and pitiable ignorance of any of those branches of domestic knowledge, on the possession of which the character of a good housewife principally depends. Of the management of a kitchen, of the choice of viands, of the common routine of household labour, of the care and rearing of children, the restriction of expenses to the income, the regulation of time, the preparation and administration of medicines, all of which have an important and highly salutary influence in family comfort, and if neglected must inevitably lead to unhappiness and discontent — of all these things, the merely ‘accomplished’ female possesses not a tittle of knowledge. It is well known that domestic happiness depends in a great degree upon the observance of what are characterized as trifles ; but, nevertheless, in the knowledge of the practice of these very trifles, which is absolutely necessary to the completion of the character of an able and clever housewife, in how many unpleasant embarrassments has the ignorance of the apparently trifling act of carving involved a female at the head of a table; and we will venture to say, that there are moments when a sensible woman, who has been educated at a fashionable seminary, would barter all the skill which she has been taught in flats and sharps, in bravuras and ritornellas, for the simple knowledge of the art of carving a goose, a hare, or a turkey — a knowledge which would spare her a blush on her own cheeks, and the frown of displeasure on the brow of her husband, in having preferred an accomplished” woman to a clever and a useful one.

billabong

Go Zoe!

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