Amazing articles on just about every subject...


Domestic Science

( Originally Published 1907 )

"MRS. O'BRIEN, I am very glad to find you on our side of this question," said Professor Shannon. "From what you said last Friday evening I infer that you are quite satisfied with the education that Mrs. Hamlyn received in the high school and the university. I agree with you in tracing her present troubles to the training which her mother failed to give her in the home, so the blame rests on her mother and not on the university."

"I don't know who is to blame for it," replied Mrs. O'Brien. "Mrs. Hamlyn's mother had a large family and she was a very busy woman, but she was an excellent housekeeper. She was an old lady when I knew her, but even then it would do your heart good to go into her kitchen; she kept everything in it as neat as wax. While I never saw her dressed elaborately, she was always neat, and her home always seemed so fresh and cozy that it rested you just to go into it."

"How was it possible for a woman like that to raise such a daughter as Mrs. Hamlyn?" asked Mr. Eaton.

"They make such demands on the children in the schools these days that they seem to leave time for nothing else," replied Mrs. O'Brien. "When Mary and Arthur come home from school they have so many lessons to learn that it is bedtime before they get through. And conditions are much worse in the high school. There is not even sufficient time for legitimate amusement, and in those years when a young girl would most easily learn to cook and sew and take care of the home she is so overwhelmed with school work that her mother is in constant fear for her health and wouldn't for the world ask her to do another thing."

"In this fear the mother instinct is asserting itself," said Dr. Studevan. "I wish all mothers would read Dr. Engelmann's article in Public Opinion for January I0, 1901.

While we may not wholly agree with every-thing he says, there is undoubtedly a great deal of wholesome truth in the article. He is quite right when he says that the present day native American girl of the middle class is the artificial product of advanced civilization; that she is a bundle of nerves encased in a fragile frame and that there is grave reason to fear, unless a radical change is made in her upbringing, that the consequences will be serious to the entire community. Less brain work and more fresh air are the remedies that he recommends.

"All this is in line with what Mr. O'Brien said at the beginning of this discussion. The curriculum of the high school and particularly that of the college has been shaped with a view to the capacity of the young men and with reference to their peculiar needs. Even when the girl attempts nothing further than the work outlined by the high school and college, she is, in those critical years of her physical development, seriously endangering her health by over work. And, as Mrs. O'Brien has just pointed out, she has many things to learn which are of even greater importance to her future welfare than are the subjects included in the curriculum of coeducational institutions."

"And then," said Mrs. O'Brien, "many of these girls leave home to board in dormitories or private houses during the time they attend the university courses, and so they lose their taste for domestic employment and get out of the way of doing anything in the house. It is during these years that our girls take on mannish ways and unfeminine attitudes of mind. I marked this passage in an editorial in this morning's paper:

" 'Recently, at a meeting of educators, President G. Stanley Hall, of Clark University, returned to his charge with the declaration that a further study of college statistics had convinced him that ten years after graduation about one-fourth of the men and one-half of the women remained unmarried. He deduced from this state of affairs that the higher education tended to discourage marriage.

" 'Other educators are loath to follow President Hall in his declaration, and the leaders of such women's colleges as Smith, Bryn Mawr and Vassar think his reasoning is fallacious. They do not believe that education is the cause of failure to marry, but that changed social and economic conditions are responsible, and they declare that when the college girl does decide to marry, she makes a good wife and mother.

" 'Of course, a layman must be chary of venturing on ground where even the women educators tread timorously, but it does seem as if there might well be some soundness in the argument of President Hall. The higher education has done absolutely nothing toward changing the fact that it is the woman educated or not who must wait to be wooed and won. Certainly, the higher education must be a great aid to her in deciding, when the wooer comes, whether or not he is a fit mate for her; and if he is not fit, that same training must give her strength of mind enough, knowing, as she must, the evil consequences of ill- assorted marriages, to refuse him. At least, the higher education has saved woman from "choosing her mate from a mob," as Hood said. She has learned, along with her Latinity and other things, that a husband is not an absolute necessity; that, indeed, if she can not get the right sort, it is, perhaps, better both for herself and her race to have none at all.'

"There is some truth in what the editor says, and in as far as he is right, higher education must be regarded as a blessing. If it only kept people from marrying who were unfit to be married there would be little cause for complaint, but were that true there should be a proportionate increase in the number of successful marriages, which, I am afraid, is not the case. I think when the whole truth is known that the cause of this abnormally high percentage of unmarried girls among college graduates will be traced to the mode of life in the colleges and coeducational universities. If the girls were in charge of wise mothers during these years, or if they lived in convent homes under the sweet and simple influence of the Sisters, there would be another story to tell."

"Undoubtedly, your plan would improve matters," said Dr. Studevan, "but I do not think that it contains the entire solution of the problem. It will be interesting to tabulate the results among the graduates of such colleges as Trinity, St. Elizabeth's, St. Clara's, St. Mary's and St. Catherine's. Five years from now will tell that story.' But it is my opinion that if the course of study is not so shaped during those formative years of a young woman's life and character as to blend domestic employments with school occupations and lift the whole question of domestic science to a high plane worthy of the intelligent study of our brightest young women, neither mothers nor sisters will be able to pre-vent a very high ratio of bachelor-girls among our college graduates."

"It amounts to this, then," said Miss Geddes, "that woman must choose between being a sort of upper-servant for some man: to cook his meals for him, to make the beds, and nurse the children, to look up to him most devoutly, and coddle him for a week at a time when she wants to get a new bonnet or a new dress; or she must get a college education and, through it, independence and freedom to go and come as she pleases, to support herself in a way that suits her own tastes and to meet man on terms of equality. How long do you suppose our young women will hesitate between these two alternatives?"

"Are we really confronted with such a dilemma?" asked Miss Ruth. "Domestic science hardly consists in paring potatoes and making beds. Its advocates see in it a source of interest that flows out into all the other sciences of the curriculum. Physics, chemistry, biology, economics and geography are clothed with a new interest for the student of domestic science.

"And again, making woman's training identical with that of man will hardly secure her the freedom and equality which she craves. Her highest freedom, as well as her highest development, comes from obedience to the laws of her own nature. This apparent di-lemma would, therefore, seem to arise from the unfortunate attempt to force man's education on woman's nature."

"That touches the very core of the difficulty," said Dr. Studevan. "When God created man and woman I am afraid that He failed to take into account the entrance requirements or the final examinations of our high schools and colleges.

"All education should be determined by the nature and the needs of the individual in question. This has been my contention from the beginning. Woman's nature and needs are different from those of man and hence her education should be different. The ignoring of this difference is, in large measure, responsible for the social disaster which surrounds us on every side.

"Woman has lost her domestic tastes and she shrinks from household cares. She is at the mercy of her servants, who harass her and squander her means until, in her despair, she abandons her home for a flat from which children are banished.

"It is a misconception of the whole subject to suppose that woman's intellect will be less highly developed by subjecting it to a discipline which is peculiarly adapted to the nature of woman's intellect than by subjecting it to a discipline which ignores woman's nature and woman's needs and is shaped wholly in view of man's uses."

"But," said Professor Shannon, "if the work of the high school and the college is, as Mrs. O'Brien says, more than enough to tax the strength of the girl, where is she to find the time or the energy for the cultivation of those domestic arts which you seem to consider such an essential part of woman's education? How is she to cultivate these arts with-out lowering the standard of her college education ?"

"Oh, man has had woman for his slave so long," said Miss Geddes, "that we must not blame him too much if he now finds it hard to give her her freedom."

"My dear Miss Geddes, I fear that I am the most unfortunate of men since I always seem to be incurring your displeasure," said Dr. Studevan. "Now, I of all men should have the least interest in holding woman in bondage, for, whatever may happen to her, my fate, you know, is sealed. I can only receive her ministrations from afar. And really, I do wish I could convince you that the thousand kindnesses which I have received from the members of the fair sex have made me their eternal debtor. And in this discussion I am pleading their cause and contending for their interests as I see them. I lay no claim to infallibility, and whatever may be my mistakes, I beg that you will at least credit me with kind intentions."

"It is very hard to credit you with any kind of intentions," said Professor Shannon. "You are so slippery and inconsistent that it is scarcely possible to keep track of your moves. I would be grateful to you, and I think I may speak for the others present, if you would take a day off to recall the various things you have said on coeducation and the higher education of women in these discussions. If you will put your various statements together, you may come to realize how hopeless it is for anyone to quite understand you. We will give you the floor for a whole evening and bind our-selves not to interrupt you once, if you will undertake to give a rational account of yourself."

"It would be worth almost any effort," re-plied Dr. Studevan, "to keep you silent for a whole evening, particularly if you will face the other side of the room."

"Why, that's an excellent idea," said Mr. O'Brien. "But would it not be well to let others share our pleasure? I am sure a number of our friends would be glad to hear Dr. Studevan's talk. Let us have a little parlor lecture some Friday evening that will suit the Doctor's convenience. The room will comfortably seat about forty, so if each one present will bring a half dozen friends, we will give Dr. Studevan the platform, or we will erect a pulpit for him if it will make him feel more at home."

"Please do, Doctor," said Miss Ruth; "it will help all of us to gather up the fruits of this discussion before passing on to other subjects."

"I don't object in the least," replied the Doctor. "No music delights me so much as the sound of my own voice when lecturing to a few choice minds. But if we are to gather in a number of persons who are likely to be interested in this subject, would it not be well to invite those who have the means and the inclination to help the work along? In the meanwhile, let me try to put myself right with Miss Geddes and in one detail at least to anticipate my lecture.

"It seems to me, Miss Geddes, that we should look at the whole subject in this way: The advent of steam and electricity in the industrial world has removed from the home the various employments which served to give an objective training, both sensory and motor, to many generations of boys and girls. Now, it is the obvious duty of the school to supply to the children in this respect what the homes have ceased to give. At present the boy gets this objective training in the laboratories of. physics, chemistry and mechanical engineering, and the girls should get a similar objective training in schools which teach the domestic arts.

"The advent of the factory in the industrial world has accomplished many things that have rendered competition by home industry impossible. Among other things the introduction of science into the processes of manufacture has brought about the utilization of by-products unattainable in home industry; things that in the home went to waste are here made to yield a large proportion of the profits. Thus in the manufacture of corn syrup there are twenty-two valuable by-products, which in the old days would have been returned to fertilize the fields. Why should domestic science not partake of the same general advance?

"Is there any good reason why the girl should not be taught the art of cooking with the same care and with the use of the same instruments of precision that a boy employs in his physical laboratory? And why should not the preparation of food be made for her the center of an interest which would radiate into physiology, chemistry and botany, or why should not the adornment of the dining-room table and the artistic combination and arrangement of pictures, bric-à-brac, rugs and furniture in a home be made a similar focus of interest for the development of her aesthetic faculties ?

"Woman needs an objective training as much as man needs it; but to deprive her of an objective training along the lines of inherited tendency and in accordance with her present and future needs, and to substitute for this training a laboratory training in mineralogy, physics and mechanical engineering, is to cheat woman out of her birthright. To make an education that should be a means to her future happiness the instrument of her undoing can be pardoned, if at all, only on the score of ignorance."

"I had a good illustration of that truth yesterday," said Miss Ruth. "I called to see Miss Canfield in her new position as matron of the Ophthalmic Hospital. She was naturally anxious to have the table for the doctors appetizing, and so when, an hour be-fore lunch, the cook reported that there was nothing on hand for the doctors' luncheon, I expected her to be annoyed, but she didn't seem so.

"She asked me to go with her to the kitchen. While we were there she found some small pieces of chicken that were left over from the dinner of the evening before. She directed the cook to bake some potatoes, and, slipping on an apron, she made some delicious ginger bread. In three-quarters of an hour she had a dainty luncheon served, consisting of baked potatoes, minced chicken on toast, hot ginger bread, home-made apply jelly and chocolate.

"In the course of the afternoon one of the doctors happened to come into the room where we were sitting, and he took occasion to thank Miss Canfield for the delicious luncheon, and vowed that if he could find a young lady who could serve his table in that way, he would end his bachelor days as soon as she would consent."

"Granted," said Professor Shannon, "that our young women need objective training along the lines of domestic science; it does seem reasonable that a young woman who is looking forward to marriage and who expects some day to preside over a home of her own should receive a training that would fit her for the worthy discharge of the many duties that devolve upon a wife and mother.

"But isn't a convent the last school on earth that might be expected to give a girl this training? The mother is the proper person to train her daughter along these lines, and if her work must be supplemented in the school, the teacher should evidently be a woman of experience, a widow, for instance, who in her day had presided successfully over a home. What can a Sister know about managing a husband and taking care of babies and directing a household?"

"It seems evident," said Mr. O'Brien, "that the school should supplement the home training of the girl, and it should not be difficult to differentiate the work of the school from that of the home. Our mechanical and mining engineers are trained in theory in the technical schools, while they receive their practice in the factory and in the mine. And so, in the training of our girls, the scientific and theoretical sides of the question should be handled in the school, and the mother should take care of the practical applications in the home.

"It is not easy to see how an experience of married life will render the teacher more competent to teach chemistry, physiology, and cooking, or music and aesthetics. Many years spent in the practice of a trade is not usually considered a proper qualification for a teacher in a school of technology. For the best results theory must ever render practice intelligible, and practice must concrete theory and render it tangible."

"It is strange," said Dr. Studevan, "that men like Professor Shannon, whose lives are devoted to the study of economic and social problems, should fail to see that the persons who are immersed in the details of a subject are unable to get perspective, or to catch the large lines of truth and the relationship of parts.

"Men perceived the orderly movements of the heavenly bodies long centuries before they understood that the same laws govern the movements of bodies in their immediate vicinity. Newton sent a thrill of exaltation through the world, not by the discovery of the law of gravity, but by discovering that the falling apple is subject to the same law that holds the planets in their orbits.

"It is difficult to see truths that are close to us. This finds expression in such axioms as 'The doctor who prescribes for himself has a fool for his physician,' and 'No one is judge in his own case.' A prudent doctor never prescribes for the members of his own household; they are too near to him and his affections are likely to blind his judgment. Similarly, the Church in her wisdom appoints a celibate clergy, who hold themselves aloof from the business entanglements of the world to be the guides and advisers of her children in their domestic relations and in the justice and equity of their business transactions.

"And so, too, the Sister, from her vantage ground in the convent, obtains perspective. She sees the needs and tendencies of the times, and, not being immersed in the details of home life, nor blinded by personal interest, she is enabled to take a broader view and to hold up to her pupils a higher ideal of domestic life and to guide them more securely to its attainment. Her position is like that of the general who withdraws from the firing-line in order to direct the battle."

"Could anything be more fantastic," exclaimed Miss Geddes, "than a nun in her convent home teaching a girl how to secure domestic felicity !—a woman who has given herself up to fasting and prayer teaching a girl how to pander to the tastes of a fastidious husband! a woman who has fled from the joys of motherhood instructing a girl concerning the proper care of infants!"

"My dear Miss Geddes, I am afraid that you have never measured the height nor the depth of the courage that animates our Sisters. It is not that they love home less, but that they love God and their fellow-beings more. We would utterly fail to realize the sublimity of their sacrifice if we were to picture them to ourselves as shutting their eyes to the joys of the world, or as abandoning home life for the convent in order to seek their ease or to escape the trials and responsibilities of ordinary mortals. They look out with clear eyes upon the happiness of the homes they have left; their souls are filled with visions of the beautiful homes that might have been theirs had they remained in the world. They devote their lives to the work of bringing the happiness that they themselves have renounced into the lives of the many."

"Why don't you take to writing poetry, Studevan?" asked the Professor; "it's a pity to have such sublime conceptions limping along in prose. But we are here dealing with eminently practical issues. Society is teeming with evidences of domestic infelicity, and the consequences are manifesting themselves in very alarming ways. If the proper education of our young women will remedy these evils in any measure, we want to know what the proper education is and where it may be obtained?

"From what Mrs. O'Brien says, I take it that a long step in advance would be made by instructing our girls in the domestic arts. We are, therefore, confronted with a very practical issue when we are asked to decide upon the relative merits of coeducational institutions and convent schools. Is a nun better qualified to teach the domestic arts than are the teachers in our secular institutions?

"A few evenings ago you called attention to the heavy handicap under which the Sisters are laboring in their attempt to teach the ordinary school subjects. The number of teachers is insufficient to meet the present demands; they are hampered for means to give their candidates the requisite professional training, or to provide for the continuance of their professional studies; and if, in addition to all this, household duties absorb their time outside of school hours, how can we expect them to master the science and art of teaching, or to meet these new issues?"

"The conditions to which you refer," re-plied Dr. Studevan, "are neither universal nor beyond remedy. The conditions will be found quite different in many of the stronger communities, but the Sisters are so modest, and they do their work so quietly, that the public at large is not aware of the splendid preparation that many of their teachers receive, nor do our Catholic people appreciate how anxiously these communities are striving to perfect their members for the duties of their sublime vocation as teachers. They have a very clear idea of what is needed and only await the means, which surely will not be denied them, to give their teachers the best equipment that the science of our day makes possible. The papers published in the Catholic University Bulletin for July, 1907, under the head of Notes on Primary Education, show this very plainly. Sister Antonine, writing on The Channels through which Discoveries in Pure Science Reach and Modify the Work of Primary and Inter-mediate Education, says :

" 'The old idea that a teacher, like a poet, is born, no longer obtains; the last word on the subject is that he must be made. He, too, is the product of our laboratories. Science has decreed and there is no gainsaying her —that it is not enough for a teacher to have natural aptitude or supernatural motive, a personal love for the work or an all-absorbing enthusiasm. He must be trained. If he possesses these qualities it is well, but they alone will never take the place of scientific training.

" 'Modern pedagogy demands much from the teacher and to meet this constantly growing demand is the raison d'être of our training schools and normal colleges.

" 'The importance of the normal school system can scarcely be overestimated in these days of physical research and discoveries in pure science. Such schools draw their faculties from the best universities where they have been trained in methods, while their students are the future grade and high school teachers. In this peculiar relation, the normal schools form a connecting link between the universities and the grade schools, and are thus enabled to transmit the message received from the specialists in the one to the pupils in the other by perfecting the teacher's art and formulating a future working plan based upon these discoveries.'

"Several years ago there was established, under the shadow of the University of Münster, a Matroneum into which members of various teaching sisterhoods are gathered, where they live under a common rule during the years of their attendance at the courses given by the Professors of the University. I saw in a recent issue of 'Rome' that the English hierarchy had obtained the sanction of the Holy See for the establishment of a Catholic woman's college at Oxford. And let us hope that the day is not far distant when we shall have a Teacher's College for our sisterhoods and our Catholic women at the Catholic University of America. This would unify our Catholic school system and at once lift to a higher plane of efficiency the work of all our Catholic schools.

"Our teaching sisterhoods are making a splendid effort to improve the training of their candidates, and the generosity of the Catholic people of this country will not long refuse to them the help of which they stand in such sore need. Feeling sure that we would all be interested in first-hand information concerning the training that our Sisters are now receiving, I requested the head of one of our representative teaching orders to inform me on the matter. I have her letter here, from which, with your permission, I will read a few extracts.

"In the large well-organized teaching orders, the Sisters who teach are relieved al-most entirely from household duties and give daily from two to four hours to preparation for their classes. It is true that Sisters who teach in parish schools which are some distance from the convent, and in which, more-over, the sessions begin at a very early hour in the morning and close at four o'clock in the afternoon, may have less than two hours for preparation on school days. But these Sisters as well as the others devote Saturday and a part of Sunday to the study and reading that their work requires. How many teachers of the public schools do as much in the midst of the home duties, shopping tours and dressmaking, social calls and amusements, that fill their free time and their holidays?

" 'The large well-organized teaching orders have training schools in their novitiates. Those who govern these orders realize the importance of suitable preparation for the work of teaching, and they would be glad to have all the Sisters who are destined for that work complete a systematic course of study during their novitiate and the early years of their profession.

" 'But under existing circumstances, all of these Sisters cannot be kept in the training school. Again and again it happens that promising classes doing earnest work are, month after month, thinned out by calls from this parish and that, this academy and that. The Superiors are obliged under the stress of circumstances to send out the student-teachers as assistant teachers to share burdens that have grown too heavy or to take entire charge of classes whose teachers have given out under the strain of over-work.

" 'Increase the number of Sisters, send more postulants to religious teaching orders, and in a few years the training schools will have large classes going through an uninterrupted course of study under mistresses who have had years of successful experience in teaching.

" 'The Superiors look hopefully for this good time. Meanwhile they do the best they can to supply for deficiencies. Every evening teachers of more experience help their younger sisters in the preparation of school work. After this has been done, the teachers assemble for model lessons prepared by the supervisor or under her direction. For example, lessons in reading, in number, "object lessons," designed to give the children new ideas, but more especially to develop the powers of observation.

" 'In work of more advanced grade there are geography and history lessons, lessons in the physical sciences, etc. The Sisters submit their school work to the Superior and to one another for criticism; they expose their difficulties, ask advice, and discuss views on school matters. The whole of Saturday is given to study. There are regular Saturday classes for the younger Sisters. These Sisters follow, as far as possible, the courses of instruction that would have been given them had they remained in the training school, and they have examinations at stated periods. Every teacher is required to forecast on Saturday her work for the coming week, and to submit her plan to the mistress of studies or to the Superior.

" 'In many States the parish schools are visited by ecclesiastical supervisors, but in addition to this the Sisters' schools have also the supervision instituted by the supervisors of the order to which the teacher belongs. The various communities of each province are visited from time to time by the Sister super-visors appointed for upper and for lower grade work by the Provincial. These Sisters spend several days in each classroom while the Sister in charge gives a lesson in every branch she is expected to teach. Besides giving private and general criticism of this work the supervisors give model lessons at the evening assembly of the community.

" 'The summer vacation is a time of study. Each Sister plans, or has planned for her, the courses she must pursue either by private study or in the regular classes that are formed for teachers, in the novitiate training school, or in the summer schools. These assemblies are held in large convents desirably located at various convenient points in the province. The best teachers of the order and, whenever necessary, professors from colleges or universities, give courses of instruction extending through six or eight weeks. For example, our order held last summer, besides the novitiate school, six summer schools. Subjects suited to the needs of elementary and gram-mar grade teachers, academy and high school teachers, and teachers of music and drawing were treated, special attention being given in the course of instruction to methods of teaching.

"With all these helps, a Sister who has any aptitude at all for the work must become a good teacher in a few years, even though she may not have had all the preliminary training that is judged necessary. Add to this the significant facts that Superiors have every opportunity for knowing the special aptitudes as well as the deficiencies of their subjects; that they make a careful study of these aptitudes and, whenever possible, place each Sister where her talents will be developed and used to the best advantage while generous support and help will be given to her in those matters in which she is deficient.

" The Sister herself, filled with the thought that she has consecrated her whole life to the sacred work of teaching, stirred by the desire to make herself worthy of this consecration and capable of doing her work well, eagerly accepts the opportunities for self-improvement offered by her environment; she works with an earnestness and perseverance that can hardly be expected in the public school teacher, who has, as a general thing, adopted the profession of teaching primarily as a means of livelihood during the period intervening between school days and marriage.

" 'Finally, a fact already suggested, but worthy in itself of emphatic notice, is that the religious teacher here spoken of never stands alone or works alone; as a member of a well-organized community and a well-organized order she is supported by the strength and re-sources of a whole body of educated women, all animated by the same spirit and working for the same ends.' "

"Judging from this letter," said Miss Ruth, "the sisterhood in question devotes a great deal of time and energy both to the normal training of its candidates and to the continuance of the professional studies of its teachers. But the important question is are they adjusting their teaching to the demands of the present social and economic conditions? The conservative element is very strong in some of our teaching communities; this is particularly true of some of the oldest and the strongest of them. Extensive drilling in antique methods does not constitute a guarantee of good work. Many of the communities do not continue the professional study of their teachers, neither do they give them adequate preparatory training. I am not blaming them for this, I am simply stating the facts as I know them. That the normal school training furnished in some in-stances, at least, is not of the right kind seems to be borne out by Sister Antonine in the article in the Bulletin to which reference has been made. May I read a few lines for you?

" 'Reference is here made to the ideal normal school. Unfortunately, there is another kind where instructors who are unchanging in their methods, who adhere painfully to old traditions, who have long since outlived their usefulness by isolating themselves from the great educational movements, are nevertheless placed in charge of our future teachers. Such directors of the mental life and growth of young aspirants stifle every new thought, kill outright every effort at originality. Their enthusiasm died an early death, easily traced to mental starvation; they have not kept in touch with the latest developments along educational lines ; they continue to teach the theories and methods in vogue when they themselves were under normal school instruction perhaps a generation or two ago. There might be no evil results in pursuing such a course in law or in theology; but in pedagogy, the injury done by such a system is incalculable.' "

"Sister Antonine's criticisms of non-progressive normal schools," said Dr. Studevan, "applies to State normal schools quite as truly as they do to the normal schools in connection with the novitiates of our religious orders. Our sisterhoods, however, are laboring under a very great difficulty in this respect. The whole curriculum and method of our modern school has undergone many pro-found changes as a result of the abnormally rapid development in the physical sciences and as a result also of the fundamental changes that have been taking place in social and economic conditions. Now, the Sisters must have help in adjusting the training of their teachers to the new needs. Feeling this pressure, many of them have sent their candidates to non-Catholic universities and to State universities, from which all religion is banished. For some years the various religious habits of our teaching communities have been a marked feature in the audiences attending the summer courses at these institutions. The result of this procedure, how-ever, is proving disastrous. Our Catholic girls, learning of the attendance of the Sisters at these institutions, take this fact as a sufficient guarantee that the institutions are in all respects fit places for them to pursue their academic studies. The losses to religion in this way are likely to prove incalculable in the near future.

"Many of the communities, realizing this danger and remembering the Master's warning, 'But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the seal' have re-fused to send their members to these institutions. Of course they realize fully that there is little danger to the Sisters, for their religious life is taken care of in their convent homes. And, then, too, the faculties of these institutions are very careful not to give offence to the Sisters, for they know right well that the logic of facts will make the attendance of the Sisters at these universities the best possible argument against the existence of Catholic schools and colleges. And, as a matter of fact, our Catholic youth of both sexes have been flocking to these institutions in ever increasing numbers during the past few years.

"These same communities have not ceased to hope for the time when their candidates will receive the best and most modern training in Catholic teachers' colleges. And in the meanwhile the brightest of their members are enrolled in the correspondence courses in the pedagogical department of the Catholic University. They have high ideals of what the training of the teacher should be and they will not rest content until the Catholic University makes some adequate provision for their needs. This ideal is well set forth in Sister Antonine's paper in this brief passage :

" 'Those preparing for the position of teacher should be under the direction of specialists, the product of our best university training; men keenly alive to the great importance of the noble work in question; steeped in the new methods of investigation; men fully aware of the possibilities of the science and art of education in the schoolroom; sympathetic to the struggle in every true teacher's soul between the ideal and the real conditions that hold in modern school life; men realizing fully the power in a school or in a community of even one live teacher thoroughly prepared for scientific work.'

Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com