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The Circular of Information of this Bureau for March, 1872, contained an article on the vital statistics of the country, by J. M. Toner, M. D., from which the following extracts are made :
With a desire to view this question of birth-rate from a standpoint that would be sufficiently comprehensive and yet free from even the appearance of preconceived notions or sectional partiality, I have made something of a study of what the records of the United States census teach upon the subject of population, in its enumeration by ages; also of births, deaths, &c. From this source I find undoubted evidence of a gradual decline in the proportion of children under 15 to the number of women between 15 and 50 years of age in our country.
Summary showing the number of white children of both sexes under the age of 15 to 1,000
females (white) between the ages of 15 and 50 years in the United States.
[Compiled from the several census-reports.]
* The ages in the census of 1800, 1810, and 1820 are for children under 16 and women between 16 and $5. This gives one year more to the children and six years less to the women than in the following decades and accounts for the greatness of the decline between 1820 and 1830.
Physiologists and others capable of understanding the meaning of the above table will hardly need further proof, but the personal evidence of an accomplished and acutely-observing woman, who has made the health of her sex of this country a subject of special inquiry, may serve a good purpose. The following testimony was published by Miss Catharine E. Beecher in her “Letters to the people on health and happiness," and republished substantially in her recent work on Woman Suffrage and Woman's Profession :
I am not able to recall, in my immense circle of friends and acquaintances all oyer the Union, so many as ten married ladies born in this century and country who are perfectly sound, healthy, and vigorous. Not that I believe there are not more than this among the friends with whom I have associated; but among all whom I can bring to mind of whose health I have any accurate knowledge, I cannot find this number of entirely sound and healthy women.
In confirmation of her own testimony Miss Beecher presents the statistics of 260 cases from 26 towns. Only 38 of these are reported to be in a satisfactory state of health. In 450 cases from 45 other towns, respecting the correctness of which she is not so well satisfied, 106 are satisfactorily healthy; while 72 out of 150 cases from 15 towns, respecting which the information is still less certain, are reported as well. Miss Beecher claims that the stricter she made the scrutiny of individual cases, the less frequent did she find perfect or even tolerable health.
The duty of educators under these circumstances is quite evident. They must appreciate these evils, and must, by every means in their power, attempt to overcome them. The clergyman, the physician, the journalist, and the teacher should unite in the work of correcting them. Whatever teachers and school-officials can do by proper ventilation, heating, and lighting of school-rooms; the use of school-furniture of the most studied fitness; the proper arrangement of study-hours-sufficient intervals for recreation-should be done as the first duty of their work. No accomplishments and no knowledge can compensate either the pupil, her family, or the State for the loss of health. If she is taught how to live healthily, she has learned something on which her future happiness and usefulness, and nearly all her future powers of acquiring other knowledge, depend.
When the education of our girls takes into proper account this important element in their training, all the considerations-physical, social, moral, and political—to which I have alluded should be remembered in determining the method, quantity, and character of the instruction to be given. We have boasted that in our country women are more free, and yet more reverenced-better schooled, but not less womanly; but how much common sense and real wisdom has been applied to the spirit and manner of their training for the duties of their life? Have the parents and the educators of the country taken peculiar pains to guard their health against the peculiar vicissitudes of our climate? Are the customary diet and dress of American girls such as a wise physiology would prescribe for them? Are the subjects of instruction on which most pains are taken and most money expended the subjects a knowledge of which will render them most useful to the communities in which they live, the society in which they move, and the families of which they are to be the head ? Great Britain and Ireland have 514 women and girls and 486 men and boys in every 1,000 of their population. We have 505 men and boys and 495 women and girls in every 1,000 of our population. Is it not evident that with us the demand for women healthy in body, happy in disposition, trained for the duties of womanhood, and competent to perform them, are, to use a commercial phrase, at a premium ? Does the education we give our girls endeavor to make them more strong to withstand our climate and better trained for the performance of those domestic duties to which custom and their own natures invite them?
From this standpoint let educators test dispassionately the efforts now being made in the education of women, both in the direction of superior culture and in that of industrial training. I am a firm believer in the propriety and necessity of both. Whatever culture brightens the mind, widens the vision, enlarges the sympathies, increases the usefulness, or adds another grace to my country women has had my hearty approval and shall receive my most earnest co-operation. But if the true object of education be to so train a human being as to preserve health, prepare for usefulness, and provide for mental and moral growth, certainly care should be taken that these essentials be not lost sight of in any method adopted, any subject studied, or any other object sought.
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN IN OTHER COUNTRIES.
ENGLAND. The National Union for Improving the Education of Women is spoken of by the London Times as “representing one of the most valuable and characteristic movements of the time. Though it aims at improving the education of women of all classes, it is practically a movement for the better education of the middle classes and for giving women opportunities for the highest educational training. It is a strange proof of the backwardness of female-education in this country that one of the late Mr. Mill's bequests, which was meant to help in this matter, should go a-begging. Mr. Mill left £3,000 to that university in the United Kingdom which should first open its doors to women. The University of London examines ladies in science and literature, but gives them no degree; and the Oxford and Cambridge examinations include girls, though both universities exclude them. The question raised by the national union is not so much that of professional education as of general culture. One of its objects is, we understand, the creation of centers of higher training for women all over the country. Girton College, near Cambridge; Bedford College, in Bedford Square; and the Camden Collegiate Schools are, perhaps, among the best examples of what is needed.”
Girton College has been specially selected for the higher education of women. Its professors are all senior wranglers of Cambridge University. The following extracts, taken from a reliable educational journal, will be of interest in this connection :
The college for women at Cambridge, England, is now established, Girton Collegea substantial building amidst pleasant grounds-having been opened this week, and the tutorial staff, with their girl students, having come into residence and commenced the collegiate year. The college begins its career under favorable auspices, its prineipal promoters including the Bishops of Carlisle, St. Davids, and Peterborough, the Dean of Chichester, Lord Lyttleton, several ladies of high rank, Sir James Paget, Sir J. Pakington, M. P., with Professors Adams, Humphrey, Liveing, and Seely. The movement which has culminated in the opening of Girton College originated some four years ago, when a temporary college was opened in a hired house, where instruction has been given in the following subjects: Divinity, classics, German, mathematics, chemistry, physiology, geology, logic, political economy, mental philosophy, part-singing, &c. During the above-mentioned period eleven students have passed informally the Cambridge previous examination, or "little go," as it is called, nine of whom obtained a standard required for a first class. Nine students also satisfied the examiners in the additional subjects required in that examination from candidates for honors examined. The course, like that of the university, occupies about three years, half of each year being spent in the college in three terms. The college-expenses, which include board, lodging, and instruction, are £35 per term each. The first mistress of the college is Miss Emily Davies, a menı ber of the London school-board, from which she is retiring in order to take the office of mistress of this college.—(College Courant, November 15, 1873.)
A kindred institution, the Alexandra College, Dublin, affords to Irish ladies the same facilities for higher culture which are afforded at Girton to the ladies of the sister isle.
The London Daily News states that the report of the Cambridge syndicate on the education of women presents many more interesting and satisfactory features than usual. The examinations, as compared with those of 1872, show a larger number of eandidates and a higher average of work. About two hundred ladies came forward for examination, and, although the number of failures in the elementary subjects was exceptionally large, a very good average of success was attained in the higher branches, some of which lie rather beyond the reach of what has hitherto been considered a sound female education. In mathematics, which last year produced no successful candidates, all have this year been successful. There was but "little Latin and less Greek” among the young ladies, but their French, German, and English obtained excellent reports. The examiners in the English history and composition of the young ladies say that along with a certain amount of proficiency there is exhibited a tendency to rest satisfied with very incomplete information and very loose modes of expression. The examiners have not taken the trouble to record any of the curiosities of the examination, but they speak of “very prevalent inaccuracy,” of flippancy, and even of slang. On the other hand, it is distinctly stated that the best essays were better than those of male students writing on the same subject in similar circumstances and that the worst faults of the women were eclipsed by the worst faults of the men.-(College Courant, December 6, 1873.)
SPECIAL INSTRUCTION FOR FEMALES.
INDUSTRIAL TRAINING IN THE BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
The Winthrop School, in Boston, begun last October an experiment of a most important character in the industrial education of girls. A sowing-teacher was employed, who was paid the maximum salary given to other teachers and whose whole time was devoted to giving instruction in family-sewing. The results have been in the highest degree satisfactory and successful. Two hours each week are devoted to this study. Each class receives separate instruction suited to its advancement and all grades of work are carried on from simple hemming to cutting and fitting a dress. In teaching cutting, the pattern is drawn upon the blackboard and the several measurements are given. The diagrams are drawn and properly marked by the pupils, who submit them to the teacher for approval before cutting the cloth. All the work is supervised by the sewing-teacher and class-teacher, and the pupils obtain marks for progress as in other studies.
WORK-SCHOOLS OF SWITZERLAND.
[From Guide and Manual for Work-Schools, by J. Kettiger, director of the Teachers' Seminary at
Wettingen, Canton of Argovia.) The female-work-schools in Switzerland, started about twenty-five or thirty years ago by private individuals in the larger villages, as sewing-schools and knittingschools, are becoming more aud more an essential part of the public system of education. The need of the knowledge which they impart is so universally felt and understood tbat the work-schools enjoy the general favor of the rural population, and very few villages or towns where they exist would think of dispensing with them.
As a first condition of the usefulness and success of these work-schools, it is imperatively demanded that they shall be schools, and not workshop8.. A workshop rests satisfied with what is called mechanical training. It does not instruct, in the higher sense of the word. Its object is accomplished when the scholar becomes able to imitate skillfully a certain manipulation. Imitative skill possesses a certain undeniable value; but the clearest possible understanding of the object of the work will not only further the work itself, but will also prove a better educational element. These work-schools must not give instruction which aims merely at the acquiring of a certain degree of skill, but an instruction which enables the scholar to account for everything he does, which clearly answers the why and wherefore in every case.
The chief aim of these schools is the teaching of useful work-knitting, all kinds of plain sewing, mending, (torn clothing may be taken to the school to be mended,) making over garments, and cutting and fitting clothing of every description. In cutting it is not sufficient that the patterns are correctly followed, but pupils are carefully instructed in the art of arranging them so as to secure the greatest economy in the use of material. These schools are graded. Thoronghness is absolutely insisted upon, and no scholar is allowed to advance beyond any grade until able to perform with a certain degree of skill all the work of that grade. The teacher prescribes the kind of work which shall be done, and parents are not allowed do interfere, for they would be likely to consider their own wants and comfort rather than a regular and gradual development of the child's capacities, and in this way the schools would very soon degenerate into mere workshops.
Instruction in various branches of housekeeping is not obligatory in the work-schools, but it is introduced in many, and its introduction, whenever practicable, is considered very desirable. This knowledge is, of course, only imparted theoretically, and special care is taken that the wby and wherefore are in every case properly answered. The guide for instruction of this kind, prepared by Mr. J. Kettiger, director of the Teachers' Seminary, canton of Argovia, takes up the following subjects: Food-its sources, uses, various uses of the same article and of its different parts; preserving food—as salting, drying, canning, making preserves, &c.; methods of cooking different articles and of the same article under different conditions-as fresh, salted, or dried; the preparation of various dishes ; getting up simple dinners; the digestibility and healthfulness of certain articles of food; cleanliness, order, system, and economy-as the basis of domestic well-being, particular attention being given under the latter head to a careful calculation of how incomes of various amounts can be used so as to secure the greatest comfort for the household and the avoidance of debt. A girl thus trained knows, when she marries, just what her husband's income will do and how to use it to the best advantage, and the great evil of the present day, living beyond one's means, is thus entirely avoided.
An interesting history of the female-work-schools in the canton of Aargau, or Argovia, has been translated and furnished by Mr. Henri Erni, United States consul at Basel, Switzerland. The original work received a diploma of honor at the Vienna Exposition. The school-law of 1835 made attendance upon work-schools obligatory throughout the canton in winter. The attendance in summer is voluntary. The schools met with considerable opposition at first, and each of the communes had to be forced by law to provide a suitable locality and capable teachers. They developed slowly, and their advantages were fully appreciated by the people only after the lapse of some years. Instruction is gratuitous, and embraces knitting, sewing, mending, cutting and fitting, common housekeeping, the principles of economy and sanitary laws. Poor scholars are provided by the communal authorities with working-material and all the needful apparatus. Assistance is granted by the state to the amount of 20 to 40 francs for each commune, according to the number of lessons given; i. e., 200 to 400. When a school is not regularly maintained and properly conducted this aid is forfeited. These schools are under the superintendence of the school-trustees and subject to their visitation and inspection, and the school-law recommends that they shall be assisted in this duty and in the examination of teachers for the work-schools by“able experts among the housewives of the commune." In 1871 a general plan for schools of this kind was published, and there is now a uniformity among the working schools of the canton which, it is hoped, will eventually reach the same degree of perfection as in the district-schools. This can only be attained by regular class-instruction. All the members of a class must do the same kind of work, and the teacher must be provided with patterns, apparatus, and directions, so that the whole class may be instructed at once. The means for instruction, as used in many of the schools of the canton, are as follows: “For teaching knitting, tables showing the position of the hands and fingers, of the arm and needles, a drawing of a pattern-stocking, a large slate on the wall divided into squares for the drawing of patterns and forms of knitting. To instruct in sewing and marking linen a frame is used. A large slate exhibts the manner of cutting dresses and another is used to draw different patterns for cutting. To teach different styles of mending, darning, &c., a slate and sewing-frame are used. To teach how to distinguish and judge of different materials, an album containing specimens of goods is employed." The teachers of work-schools are unanimous in the opinion that such apparatus is indispensable to thorough and uniform instruction. When the number of scholars exceeds thirty, two classes are to be formed. The school-law of 1865 requires that every girl after her third school-year shall attend the work-school and remain there until she leaves the district-school.
EDUCATION OF WOMEN IN WÜRTEMBERG.
I. FEMALE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS. Origin and development of female industrial schools.-Industrial schools are of tolerably old date in Würtemberg. As early as the last decades of the eighteenth century the central school-authorities exhorted the provincial and city-authorities to establish such schools. This was especially done in the Catholic school-regulations of 1808 and the Protestant regulations of 1810. That people even in those times understood the true ebaracter of these schools is evident, from the fact that these regulations mention their intimate connection with the primary schools.
These regulations say that gradually an industrial or working school should be established in connection with every one of these schools.
These regulations were certainly not merely to be found on paper, though we possess no information concerning their practical working. They were truly a seed sown in hope. Absolute necessity and the motherly interest of an august princess made this seed grow into a strong and flourishing tree.
The second decade of the nineteenth century was in many respects a critical period for Würtemberg. In 1817 the suffering reached its highest point. Led by her feelings of compassion and guided by a rare discrimination, the late Queen Catherine saw clearly that it was not sufficient to bring momentary relief by contributions of different kinds, but that it was necessary to stop the sources of this misery and open up new ways of earning a living. Besides many other benevolent institutions which owe their origin to the late queen and her husband, industrial schools were at their suggestion and with their assistance established in several towns, where poor children, mostly girls, but also boys, were instructed in needlework and other useful arts, thus earning a scanty living, but at any rate being removed from the evil influences of the street, idleness, beggary, &c. The Würtemberg Benevolent Society from among its members appointed a committee-called the cammittee of the poor-which was to superintend these schools. As the majority of all the industrial schools, either directly or indirectly, owe their origin to this committee, people became accustomed to consider this whole branch of popular education as belonging to the above-mentioned committee, no matter whether these schools were founded in the interest of the poor or in the general educational interest.