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ago, but with this difference—that we are concerned with the twentiethcentury interpretation of social usage. One long-cherisht standard of social usage that has received its deathblow since the war began is that of social exclusiveness for the young college woman. I confess that the tremendous forward stride in the democracy of conduct fairly takes one's breath away. Therefore a new problem in social ethics confronts the adviser of women: how to teach the young woman to adjust her social standards to these new situations and at the same time help to create a higher social plane for those with whom she comes into contact.
In the work of reconstruction after the war we realize that these problems in social ethics will have to play a tremendous part. The educators of girls and women can no longer leave them out of consideration but must meet them in the truest spirit of democracy. We realize that the problems that are ahead of us as teachers and advisers of young women are the finest and truest ever yet undertaken, since they breathe the spirit of democracy in education. As Jane Addams says, “We are brought to a conception of democracy, not merely as a sentiment which desires the well-being of all men, nor yet as a creed which believes in the essential dignity and equality of all men, but as that which affords a rule of living as well as a test of faith.”
COLLEGE WOMEN IN BUSINESS LUCINDA W. PRINCE, DIRECTOR, TEACHERS' CLASS, WOMEN'S EDUCATIONAL
AND INDUSTRIAL UNION, BOSTON, MASS. Some twelve years ago the first effort was made to reach girls in department stores, to teach them better methods of selling and of personal efficiency, to improve their earning capacity and also their worth to their employers. This work was started in connection with the Women's Educational and Industrial Union of Boston. Of course the first step was to convince the managers of the stores themselves that the work was worth while, and that it ought to produce results. So skilfully and thoroly were the managers convinst that now they are the heartiest supporters of the work.
The first groups were composed of girls from outside not already placed in positions in stores. They too had to be convinst of the worth of the training. Next the groups were recruited from the occupation itself. Girls already employed by department stores were formed into classes and given training to enable them to better the work they were doing.
A course was workt out in such a way that it would be acceptable for high-school credit, but it was not primarily academic at all. Its aims were threefold: to train the individual for her particular work, to train her so that her power and efficiency in this work would be increast, and to open her eyes to the possibilities of her position. The course in salesmanship included such topics as hygiene, arithmetic, geography, industrial history, design, and color-everything in fact that would give the sales person a merchandise background and enlarge her vision regarding the material that she was selling and her own personal living.
The greatest change takes place in the girls themselves. They become articulate. They study the problems coming up in their own work. They study the psychology of salesmanship, not from books or magazine articles, but by analyzing their own sales, showing the means used when successful, or trying to find out the reason for failure if the sale is lost. The store itself is the laboratory, and each sale helps to train their judgment.
In Boston there are at present eight stores cooperating with the Women's Educational and Industrial Union in these courses of salesmanship. From 8:30 to 11:30, the time when the trade is slackest, a group of girls is excused in store hours to take this work without loss of pay. The course lasts for twelve weeks, and there are only about thirty girls in each group. This means that all the work can be individual, personal, and full of discussion of special problems.
The number of those who can be trained for carrying on this type of work each year is very limited, and they are usually placed long before their period of training is completed. They go mostly into large department stores, where the position is known under a variety of titles, but the work is practically the same wherever it is found. The chief problem of the educational director is with the personnel of the store. Often the one who engages and assigns employes for the various departments is the lowest paid of the managers, the one who is least carefully selected. Ştores are just coming to realize that this work of fitting the person to the job is of the highest importance, and that the one who does it must be an expert in handling people. The educational director usually teaches the new people the system of the store. This is a very complicated thing, for each store has its own system, which differs from all others. It may be that in teaching the new employes the system of the store the trained educational director sees where there might be reorganization or great improvement, and this may be applied, to the great gain of the store. To the new employes she shows the opportunities in the stores, the openings and "streams of promotion," such as the service department, the merchandising (buyer), the auditing, etc. She sees that they know something of the merchandise which they are to sell, and that they are placed in the department to which they are best fitted. She sees that the compensation due for the work done is fair. She usually works with two sets of people in the early morning store hours: first, the new employes whom she is breaking into the store system; secondly, the older employes whose interest and efficiency she is improving. Possibly the second class is held right in the department itself. The salesgirls are taught to look upon each sale as an opportunity, as a practice problem just like a practice-teaching lesson in the normal school. Even the dissatisfied customer is made to yield profitable material in correcting errors.
There are other places where the trained teacher of salesmanship may help the store very greatly. One is in making over the error system, finding the causes of the greatest number of errors, how they can be reduced both in number and cost, and whether the fault is with the sales people, with the delivery system, or with the system of the store itself.
Another department where the educational director has been very helpful is in systematizing correspondence so that the letters may really represent the store and reflect the spirit of the management. This requires more than mere correctness of English. It is courtesy, patience, and intelligence in filling mail orders that customers most appreciate.
The complaint department too may be in need of reorganization. It may be in the hands of someone who antagonizes rather than conciliates, or the causes of complaints may not be sufficiently analyzed so that they can be properly remedied.
In addition to this the educational director represents the store at such meetings as those of the Consumers' League, the Union of Workers, Labor League, etc. She can speak for the store as no salesman can. She can get the point of view of the dissatisfied clerk; she can represent the point of view of the employer; she can adjust difficulties that have arisen more from ignorance than from intention. Her work all thru is one where personality counts. The tact, patience, intelligence, and judgment that such work calls for are almost infinite.
In return for this, however, the pay is good. The salaries range from $1200 to $3500, and there is almost no limit to the amount that a valuable woman may earn in this work.
At present the newest development is the introduction of departments of salesmanship in high schools, making this work elective like stenography or bookkeeping. This course is not in the commercial department but under a separate teacher. The schools that have tried it have required that the students go into the stores on Saturdays and at the times of the rush sales, such as before Christmas and Easter. The schools all report that one of the most important and surprising results is the strengthening of the English work of the students, their greatly increast interest, the enlargement of their vocabulary, and the freeing of their personality thru oral and written expression. In other words, the work approaches them on the side of their real interest rather than from the academic standpoint.
SOME IDEALS FOR DEANS
MARY W. WOOLLEY, PRESIDENT, MOUNT HOLYOKE COLLEGE,
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS. No office is less standardized than that of dean. Probably no two people in this audience have exactly the same duties. In one institution the academic side predominates, in another the social, in a third a combination of the two. It would be difficult to lay down a program of methods and functions, and even if it were possible to do that, I fear that my interest would not be as great as in the idealistic subject assigned to me.
In a very true sense the office of the dean consists in the practical application of ideals. First there is an ideal for the dean herself. A requisite at the outset is interest in human nature; let no one adopt the profession who does not like human beings, good, bad, and indifferent. Whatever the specific duties of the deanship in the particular institution, its business is with individuals and their problems, and anyone who is bored by them is handicapt from the start. She cannot afford to accept the principle-or lack of principle-involved in the remark of a certain college instructor, "My classes might just as well be made up of so many cabbage heads. I am vitally interested in my subject, but my students do not matter.” Human beings are not like pawns to be moved about at will. Dealing with them often takes time, but the time is well expended. Human nature, at least American human nature, resents being told that certain things must be done without being given a reason for doing them, and explanations and conferences with students more than pay for the demand which they make on our time.
In a certain sense the problem before the dean, the ideal for which to strive, is the reconciliation of opposites. She must learn to think standing on her feet, and yet the thought must not be superficial. She must realize that snapshot judgments are not wise and yet must be capable of deciding quickly. It is a good rule always to hear both sides before reaching a decision but, after reaching it, to accomplish the somewhat difficult task of neither “wobbling" nor being "stiff-neckt”!
One of the first requirements on the part of our students is genuineness; greatly to their credit they have little patience with what does not ring true. No position is more open to misunderstanding than that of dean. To be guarded in what one says and at the same time direct; sympathetic as well as definite; exact but not precise, of the “prunes and prisms” type; natural but not rash; skilled in the use of words but not pedantic; all this is easier to talk about than to practice. I believe that no one should offer herself as a candidate for a deanship who has not a good memory; the risk is too great; and I may add, as another essential, the power of discrimination in dealing with offenses. A woman executive in whose sincerity of purpose and character I had absolute confidence was misunderstood and distrusted by her students because of two faults: first, a poor memory, giving her students the impression of insincerity; second, failure to discriminate between the light and the serious offense, appearing to them to emphasize not the wrong done, but her wishes in the matter.
That dean is happy indeed who is regarded by her students as a comrade rather than as an official, but an effort or an ambition to be popular is
unworthy of a high office. An academic “climber" is almost, if not quite, as contemptible as a social “climber."
Be sympathetic but never sentimental. Be dead in earnest, but do not take yourself too seriously; a sense of humor saves many a situation. Be enthusiastic, but do not gush. Above all things a gushing dean is to be avoided! Make a point clear, but do not say too much. Students are not, as a rule, in love with verbosity.
Perhaps, after all, the surest way for a dean to attain an ideal for herself is to fix her eyes upon the ideal for the student. And that may be summed up under one head-bring out the best in the individual.
Bring out the intellectual best. As a means to that end I should like to consider four points which seem to me of prime importance because they emphasize individual instruction and supervision, not education en masse.
I. Small divisions.
2. Some method of knowing the student as an individual, i.e., a preceptorial or advisory system.
3. A goodly proportion of discussion in the classroom, not exclusively or even mainly lectures.
4. The best instructors-best from every point of view-it is possible to secure.
Bring out the social best. There are probably few of us who hav cringed because of the crudity or lack of fineness of perception on the part of some college women. "Manners are the happy way of doing things; each, once a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened into usage,” says no less an authority than Emerson.
Bring out the moral and spiritual best. Did ever the world need the spiritual best as it needs it today?
We are standing at the parting of the ways. “All my historical study convinces me that we are living thru one of the crucially decisive ages in world-history, and that old things are passing away and all things are becoming new," writes an American historical student, quoted by President King. The world needs thinkers as never before—but even more it needs men and women of spiritual vision who shall be able to lead in that “deliberate and conscious change in the ideas and the wills of men' without which we cannot hope for a future free from the tragedy of today. How great a mission is yours, is ours, to help in the training of women to solve problems, to meet opportunities, to carry responsibilities, such as have never before come to them in the history of the world. We stand indeed at the parting of the ways. Shall it be backward into barbarism or forward into a new and higher type of civilization? From the women, not less than from the men, from the women of tomorrow even more than from the women of today, must come the answer.