Page images
PDF
EPUB

stood profoundly, but the rudiments of household chemistry should be included. The elementary stages of physics, with special reference to the descriptive features of the subject, and the history of the subject, should be in the list of subjects taught. Physical geography, geology, and astronomy, considered as opportunities for teaching general principles, and not as a means of impressing technical and unusual aspects of the subject, but rather as familiarizing the pupil with the untechnical aspects, should also be included. Of all the sciences, botany should present the most difficult work. The Latin nomenclature and technic of microscopic examination should come late in the course, and common names should be used, in preference to the Latin terminology. Zoology, objectively illustrated, should be cultivated and emphasis placed upon environment. The study of morphology and of structure should be less strongly emphasized. For advanced students, sociology, affording as it does its glimpse into the growth and progress of society, and political economy, with its valuable outlook upon industrial life, should find their places. Art in all its forms, appealing so strongly to the æsthetic in woman's nature, must not be overlooked.

Women excel in language and in literature. Perhaps it is too early to decide whether the modern languages are as well adapted for purposes of mental development as are the ancient languages, and perhaps we cannot take the same ground as those extremists who plead for the utter exclusion of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, because in their judgment a smattering of knowledge is obtained at the high price of ignorance of other and more valuable things. But the opportunities for the study of modern lauguages should be abundantly afforded, and the conversational methods in these subjects should be generally adopted. Nor can we overlook the necessity for a general course in pedagogy, in child study, and in nursing, since these aim to develop power of body and of soul-power which will be reproduced in the home influence upon coming generations. The course in English should be comprehensive and exhaustive. Specialization in all these subjects should come at the end of the course. Specialization has its place, but man is better adapted to it

than is woman. If there is special capacity for particular work, if there is the natural endowment for a particular calling, this work should be left to the university, rather than to the college. The humanities are the particular branches which may well be emphasized in making a curriculum for women based upon their special needs. We may never, except at risk of violence, short-circuit nature, but we may wisely accelerate nature's way. We may consider the adaptability of woman to the course of study wisely only when we have studied her fitness to do advanced work.

After I had gone over the subject-matter of this address in my own mind and determined upon my line of argument, it was a matter of congratulation to find that the distinguished President of Leland Stanford University, in an article in the Popular science monthly of December, 1902, in discussing higher education for young women, declared that the opportunity should be afforded them, but that the ideal is not the same as for young men, and that the same course of studies was not to be pursued. To his mind, the essence of the new education for women is constructive individualism.

It is of interest to consider for a moment the results of higher education upon women. The first statistics date from 1882 and include 705 graduates of twelve colleges : 44 per cent. said that they did not worry over their studies; 60 per cent. reported having had some disorder during their college course, and those who studied hard had bad health. Dr. John Dewey, in an investigation which he conducted among 290 college girls, reported 78.1 per cent. as in good health on entering college, 74.9 per cent. during college life, 77.9 per cent. after graduation; 19.6 per cent. reported deterioration of health during college. Dr. Dewey concluded that one-third more break down from mental strain in female colleges than in coeducational institutions. Dr. G. A. Preston, of Boston, found a more encouraging condition of affairs. Of more than 200 college girls examined, it was found that only 2.75 per cent. dropped out from ill health, and as against 2.85 per cent. of college boys from Amherst. It must be borne in mind that the American girls enter college three and one-half years younger than do the English girls. In the United States, according to Miss Alice Hayes, more improve than deteriorate during college life, while the reverse seems true in England. According to Dr. G. Stanley Hall, the returns from the questionnaires upon which these statistics are based are not so valuable as the medical doctors' tests and opinions. Dr. Hall reluctantly concludes that it is not yet proven that the higher education of woman is not yet injurious to her health. He questions whether woman is not overdrawing her power, her activity of mind and body, and other augmentations of her individuality, at the expense of energy meant for the home and for posterity.

It would be too sweeping an assertion to state that women's colleges are institutions for the promotion of celibacy, and yet an examination of the percentage of marriages among collegebred women would lend color to the statement. Dr. Dewey found that 23 per cent. of the graduates of women's colleges marry, 21 per cent. go into the professions; 28 per cent of coeducation girls marry, and 12 per cent. go into the professions. He makes 26 per cent. of the graduates of twelve American colleges marry at an average age of 27 years. The marriages took place six years after graduation. He found 74 per cent. single. Miss Shinn concludes, after an examination of 1905 cases, that only 28 per cent. were married. The rate of marriage for the country at large for women more than twenty years old is nearly 80 per cent. She concludes that, under 25 college women rarely marry and but a small proportion of them have married. To quote her exact language:

The ultimate probability of a college woman's marriage, therefore, seems to be below 55 per cent., as against 90 per cent. for other women.” Another investigator, Miss Abbott, showed that of 8956 graduates of sixteen colleges, 23 per cent. were married. It would appear that the rate of marriage of college women is decreasing, and that the age at which marriage occurs is becoming steadily later.

Considering next the results of the higher education upon motherhood, the case appears even worse yet for educated women. Birth rates are the indication of national growth or decay; only the constant immigration of foreigners prevents us from occupying the position in which France finds herself at this time, that of facing the problem of a steady decadence of birth rates. In the New England family, probably the best type of American civilization, where, for two centuries, the homes were almost perfect models, the birth rate has steadily declined for half a century at a very rapid rate, until now it is actually lower than that of any European nation, France itself not excepted. Comparing the forty years ending with 1890, native marriages average 2.3 children each, while those of the foreign-born average 7.4 each. Among the causes for this condition of affairs may be stated physical and mental inability to rear children; but a stronger reason appears to be in the unwillingness to sacrifice ease, freedom, and enjoyment for the responsibilities of parenthood. A disposition to displace duty with pleasure, the effeminacy of wealth, and possibly the new woman movement, must also be included. It is evident that if our race depended upon the rate of replenishment of the educated classes, it would be doomed to speedy extinction. Are we ready to accept the idea that further human evolution requires a decline in parenthood? Physiologists tell us that high nerve development increases the completeness, the intensity, and the fullness of individual life, but weakens the power of its transmission. Evolution provides for the individual evolution of woman by making constantly increasing demands upon her for the performance of those functions which are purely physical. Any college that depended on the children of its graduates for fresh students would be doomed to extinction. Leaders are continually recruited from the class below. Time was when marriage and children were felt to be religious duties. That day seems to be disappearing. Perhaps it may be necessary to resort to legislation and to tax bachelors into marriage. An examination of the question thus far inclines one to the view that if higher education became universal, posterity would be gradually eliminated, and the schools and teachers would progressively exterminate the race.

In order that this condition of affairs may not continue to exist, it would seem to be necessary that a right ideal for womanhood be established and realized. In this work the woman's college must do its part. Girls should not be trained primarily to independence and self-support. They must not be imbued with the idea that matrimony and motherhood, if they come, will take care of themselves. Some educators among women tell us that the best way to prepare a girl for life is not to give her a general education which will fit her for a common destiny, but a special training for some particular calling. It would seem wiser to consider the question of the future individual life of woman as one of social necessities and ideals, as well as of inborn psychological characteristics of self. There is actual danger of the possibility of higher education for women becoming a fad. If the woman's colleges are established chiefly to devote their energies to the training of those who do not marry, or if they are to educate for celibacy, their point of view is entirely correct. If their ideal is that of the maiden aunt, or school-teacher, or bachelor woman, they certainly are realizing their ideal. But they are withdrawing from the function of heredity the best women of the age, who are leaving no posterity behind them. Modern ideas and modern training are affecting the matter for the weal or the woe of the human race, and many whom nature designed for model mothers are apparently unfitting themselves for maternity in the pursuit of higher education. Is not this a question in the determination of which altruism should find expression ?

In conclusion, let me appeal more especially to woman to aid in reconstructing a sane and wholesome ideal for woman. Let me urge her to exercise her wide influence in the making of a proper course of study for the high school girl and the college girl. Let her enlist in the new cause of working out the new humanistic or liberal education which the old college claimed to stand for and which now needs complete reconstruction to meet the demand of modern life. Let her strive to restore the humanistic elements of history and biography, of science, the most popular features at their best, and the application in all to the more non-technical fields. Let her see to it that the moral, religious, and poetic aspects of nature are not sacrificed to utilities, that materialism and commercialism do

|

« PreviousContinue »