Reform Of Female Education
( Originally Published 1921 )
THE education of women was probably at its lowest ebb about half a century ago," wrote Miss Cobbe in her Autobiography, published in 1904. "It was at that period more pretentious than it had ever been before and infinitely more costly; and it was likewise more shallow and senseless than can easily be believed. To inspire young women with due gratitude for their present privileges, won for them by contemporaries, I can think of nothing better than to acquaint them with some of the features of school life in England in the days of their mothers. I say advisedly in the days of their mothers, for in those of their grand-mothers things were by no means equally bad. There was much less pretence and more genuine instruction as far as it extended1." She goes on to describe one of the numerous fashionable schools which clustered in Brighton. The cost was 500 a year! Work lasted from morning till night. During the one hour's walk, when alone the girls were in the open air, French, German, or Italian verbs were recited. During the rest of the time, they were reading or reciting in one of these languages amid the din of four pianos in various rooms, or practising accomplishments. On Saturday they were all hauled before the assembled mistresses and told what "cards" they had lost for any crime from lying to stooping, both of which were treated alike ! Then girls at the top of the school along with the rest were made to stand with their faces to the wall. Everything was done for "society." Music, dancing, and calisthenics counted highest in the scale of subjects, writing and arithmetic lowest. The girls were only allowed to speak English after six in the evening. Learning thirteen pages of Universal History by heart was typical of the work in subjects which make a call on the intelligences. Miss Sinclair's novel Modern Accomplishments (1837), though its didactic pietism makes it hard reading in the twentieth century, paints a similar picture of the private education of girls of the higher classes. It looked solely to marriage: it starved the intellect, and induced a self-centred attitude of trivial frivolity. Even the accomplishments in which it took pride were unreal ; the pupils could neither paint, draw, play nor sing properly; nor had they the least desire to pursue these occupations except for display.
The text-books tell the same tale. Girls were excluded from classics and mathematics, the only subjects of which the educational value had been in the least thought out, and were brought up on catechisms and epitomes, de-signed to give an appearance of familiarity with names and events which it would be considered a mark of ignorance not to know, but leaving the pupils utterly unaware of the facts which these names represented. F. D. Maurice, writing in 1826 in the Metropolitan Quarterly Magazine, says of such text-books: "In these volumes are contained 'all that is really important' in history, viz. the dates of the events which it records—in biography, viz. the time when the gentlemen and ladies it signalises came into the world and left it in chemistry, viz. its nomenclature—in astronomy, viz. a list of the fixed stars. All such slight and unimportant particulars as relate to the nature of those events whereof the period is so accurately ascertained, in what causes they originated, what was their influence at the time and what their ultimate consequences—all trivial fond records of the persons who had the excellent fortune to be born at such a time and place and to die at such another—all knowledge of the chemical principles and processes which are indexed by those barbarous names —all study relating to the connection of those fixed stars with the other parts of the system to which they belong and the laws by which that connection is regulated, and the wonderful discoveries by which the fact of their existence was established—all these are subjects for the intellect, and therefore in the works we have referred to they are carefully and prudently omitted." "The imagination is a terrible object of the dread, the hatred, and hostility of the mistresses of establishments and the governesses of young ladies."
Herbert Spencer tells us something of the physical side of girls' education. He had both a boys' and a girls' school close to his house; the boys were always playing, but of the existence of the girls' school, so silent was it, he was long unaware. "The garden affords no sign whatever of any provision for juvenile recreation; but is entirely laid out with prim grass-plots, gravel walks, shrubs and flowers, after the usual suburban style. During five months we have not once had our attention drawn to the premises by a shout or a laugh. Occasionally girls may be observed sauntering along the paths with lesson-books in their hands, or else walking arm in arm. Sir John Forbes had asserted in 1833 that the following was an average sample of the timetable: in bed, 9 hours; in school, 9 hours; at optional work, 31; meals, 1 1/2; a formal walk, 1. These demure walks, two and two, were as a rule the only exercise taken, though Spencer informs us that some schools had recently adopted gymnastics, which he proceeds to condemn as an artificial and inadequate substitute for spontaneous exercise. " Why," he asks, " this astounding difference?" And he answers his question by suggesting that " to produce a robust physique is thought undesirable; that rude health and abundant vigour are considered some-what plebeian; that a certain delicacy, a strength not competent to more than a mile or two's walk, an appetite fastidious and easily satisfied, joined with that timidity which commonly accompanies feebleness, are held more lady-like." Here we probably have the explanation of many of the features in a girl's education. Possibly this feeling represents an unconscious first striving by women for the emancipation of their sex. In the fashionable society of Louis XIV's time the men escaped all hard work, but the women were, according to the ideals of Madame de Maintenon and her contemporaries, still expected to exercise a practical management of the household. The old tradition survived on the negative side, looking askance on woman sharing the sports of their brothers, but broke down on the positive side through the growth of a greater feeling of equality between the sexes. Idle men did not see why their wives should not be idle. Sport and the military tradition of aristocratic society prevented men from adopting the Chinese badge of social rank—the growing of the finger nails to a portentous length as a sign that the owner of these monstrosities could not be earning his bread by the labour of his hands—but there was nothing to prevent the growth of a corresponding tradition among women.
Coming to the less expensive establishments, we have a description by Miss Clough, in an article in Macmillan's Magazine for October 1866 of the schools frequented by the daughters of parents earning 100 to 300 a year. " The position of the teachers is often very painful. They are poor themselves, struggling for subsistence; the parents are economical, and there is constant haggling between the two. The schools are often small, and this increases the difficulty. The children being of various ages, the labour of bringing them forward, even in a few simple subjects, is excessive. There may be, perhaps, some twelve or twenty children, from the ages of six to sixteen, two teachers at most, and the parents meanwhile objecting to much expense with regard to books, and therefore compelling cheap and small compendiums to be used." She goes on to note the " few dry facts taught," the " monotony which is very dulling to the intellect." "Habits of close attention and accuracy are rarely acquired." The curriculum consisted of the "three R's,'' grammar, geography, history, and a little French and music.
With regard to the "superior schools," she pronounces them to small, while the small numbers in each class and the multiplication of classes led to loss of power. The pupils came ill prepared. They were expected to take too many subjects, mostly modern languages and accomplishments.
Mathematics, Latin, English literature, and science were almost without exception extras and rarely taken up. Such schools were too expensive for parents of moderate means. Writing at a time when examinations were beginning to standardise the education of boys, she wishes for some similar standardisation of the education of girls.
Fortunately the pioneers of female education were not an aristocratic intelligenzia, but a hard-headed, hard-working, religiously-minded, and common-sense group of middle-class women. Female education owes a great debt to Maurice and Kingsley for determining who should be its first adherents. Women educators of the nineteenth century were stirred not so much by a sense of women's rights as of women's duties.
Through his sister, who was a governess, Maurice had been led to interest himself in the work of the Governesses' Benevolent Institution. "In the practical working of that society and in the knowledge of the circumstances of governesses which they so acquired the importance of some standard by which to test the qualification of ladies en-gaged in teaching had become apparent." Maurice had since 1840 been professor of English literature and modern history in King's College, London. In 1847 he induced his fellow professors to form a committee, of which Kingsley was a member, to conduct an examination. The results showed that it was desirable to provide some knowledge on which to examine before expecting the candidates to undergo an examination, and so Queen's College was founded. A college in the modern sense it hardly was; it stood midway between a college and an organisation for promoting extension lectures. Its students included women of mature years and mere schoolgirls; its instruction was given by means of lectures, and perhaps we should regard them to-day as " popular lectures." " For such a purpose no endowment could be got and Queen's College was a venture depending for its success on the unselfish devotion and energy of its founders'," the small band of King's College professors. It prospered sufficiently to be incorporated in 1853, and counted among those who attended its lectures the two pioneers of girls' public schools, Miss Buss and Miss Beale. As time went on, it did not keep pace with the progress in the ideas of women's education; for instance, it still preserved a man principal, whereas Bedford College, which was incorporated at a later date (1869), has developed into an essential part of London University. But the importance of Queen's as marking a new idea cannot be over-estimated.
The progress in secondary education has been found in this country to follow the progress of university education. The revival of the old universities preceded the reawakening of the public schools; the founding of the provincial colleges preceded the institution of county and municipal schools. So it was in the case of female education. The early attempts at higher education came before the first of the new type of girls' schools; and the spread of women's colleges was followed by the spread of girls' schools. The causes are easy to see. The colleges supply teachers for the schools ; they furnish them with an aim ; and they create a desire for education. It may be well therefore to trace the rise of colleges first.
Bedford College in London ranks next in seniority to Queen's among women's colleges. It started in an unpretentious manner when in 1847 Mrs Reid established classes in her own house; it proceeded to take a more organised shape under a Board and Council of Management, and to obtain the help, like Queen's, of a number of distinguished male lecturers, and, after Mrs Reid's death, it obtained formal recognition in 1869 by a charter of incorporation. When women's colleges were first started there was no idea of women becoming candidates for university degrees and consequently no motive for placing them in university towns. But, though no such thought was in the mind of Mrs Reid, Bedford College was in fact situated in the seat of a nominal university, and its nominal character proved an advantage. London University, being merely an examining board, could admit women to degrees without raising any of the problems of co-education which were presented in the case of a teaching university; and, when this was done, Bedford stood in the same relation to the University as King's and University Colleges. And, when the University was finally reorganised and became a real teaching institution, Bedford was able to take rank as a "school of the university in the faculties of Arts and Science."
But we are anticipating. The Schools Inquiry Commission marked an epoch of great importance in women's education. It suggested that girls' foundation schools would soon become a reality, and the leaders in the movement for female education saw the necessity of being prepared with women teachers and women's colleges to which the pupils of these schools should proceed. It was at this moment (1867) that Miss Emily Davies developed her scheme for founding a college "designed to hold in relation to girls' schools and home teaching a position analogous to that occupied by the universities towards the public schools for boys." It began in 1869 with a small house for six students at Hitchin. The choice of its abode was deliberately designed as a taking-off place for Cam-bridge. The prospectus distinctly stated: "The Council shall use such efforts as from time to time they may think most expedient and effectual to obtain for the students of the College admission to the examinations for the degrees of the University of Cambridge, and generally to place the College in connection with the University." In those days subscriptions for women's education were very hard to obtain; but in 1873 a nearer approach to Cambridge was effected and the College was transferred to Girton. Here again the peculiar system of English universities by which the College teaches and the university examines made the transition easier. Girton came within two miles of Cambridge but not into the town. At this distance the dons who favoured the scheme could give it their assistance and the University could not ignore its existence; but Mrs Grundy was satisfied. Whether the sacrifice of cab fares on Mrs Grundy's altar commends itself to the authorities of Girton nowadays is a different matter.
But already the sacred space within the statutory distance from Great St Mary's had been invaded. Curiously, however, the founders of Newnham intended that women should be educated in Cambridge, but should not enter for the university examinations. Still, when Girton had stormed the examination-rooms and Newnham the residential area, they proceeded to share the spoils. Newnham candidates were sent in for the triposes and the university pomoerium was extended to take in Girton.
Miss Clough, who first presided over Newnham, is an example of the kind of women who first realised the need of 'women's education and forwarded it, not from any desire of display, but from a sense of duty. Long ago in 1837 she had taught in the Welsh National School in Liverpool, where she had neither instruction nor precedent to guide her but found out her own ways of teaching by the light of common-sense; she lived quietly with her brother Arthur the poet; and sometimes she visited elementary schools elsewhere to get experience. " It is from a sense of duty," she wrote, "that very many first enter on this work [of educating the poor], but I would rather speak of the great benefits we may ourselves derive from this employment, of the many holy thoughts and aspirations after self-improvement that are awakened by engaging in the instruction of others. Then it is, perhaps, that we first learn to love our native land and to desire heartily that its people may grow up, not a curse or a shame to it, but rather a blessing and a glory. Our family ties, our friendships hardly teach us this, but it is when we are thrown upon the simple connection or bond of being fellow-countrypeople, of speaking the same mother-tongue and living in the same place, that we become truly national." One of the marked features of her work at Liverpool was the interest which she continued to display in her pupils after they had left school. In 1852 she left Liverpool for Ambleside and started a school in which the future Mrs Humphry Ward was one of her pupils. It developed as a school for the daughters of small tradespeople and farmers—a type of school of which, as we have seen, far too few existed—and furnished the experience which led to the writing of the article in Macmillan's Magazine in 1866 from which we quoted earlier in the chapter. In the highest work of a schoolmistress, her influence over her pupils and the effect she had on their characters, her innate qualities made her most powerful ; but, owing to her lack of training, she could never be " methodical," and her school might not have commended itself to the inspector of those days, to whom the anise and cummin were more than the weightier matters of the law. In 1861 her brother Arthur died, and in the following year she removed to Combe Hurst near Wimbledon, where she became acquainted with Miss Emily Davies, Miss Bostock, and Miss Buss, and carne into the full centre of the movement for women's education.
In 1856 a woman candidate had presented herself for the London medical diploma and had been refused ad-mission. In 1862 the same thing happened when a 'woman wished to sit for the matriculation examination. A proposal to admit women to matriculation was rejected in Convocation by the casting vote of the Chancellor, Earl Granville. The promoters of the movement now organised themselves. In 1863 they secured that girls should be allowed unofficially to take the Cambridge Local papers; in 1865 the practice was given an official trial for three years and at the end of that period was accepted permanently. In 1867 Miss Clough gave the evidence before the Schools Inquiry Commission which formed the basis of her article in Macmillan. One of her proposals was the establishment of courses of lectures in big towns which could be attended by the more advanced pupils in girls' schools. A committee for organising such lectures was set up and various prominent men came forward to give them. This was virtually the start of the University Extension system, which was thus given practical shape by women. In its turn this movement gave rise to the demand for a higher examination for women, and in 1869 the Cambridge Higher Local Examination was instituted. Out of the need of preparing women for this examination Newnham developed. Henry Sidgwick, professor of moral philosophy at Cambridge, started lectures, and among the distinguished lecturers were Maurice on history, Skeat on English, Mayor on Latin, and Marshall on political economy. In order to allow students who were not natives of Cambridge to attend these lectures, Sidgwick took a house in Regent Street on his own responsibility and invited Miss Clough to act as its head. Beginning with five students in 1871, it moved the following year to Merton Hall, "a rambling old house buried among apple trees in a large garden on the edge of the town." In 1879 it was decided to build and the older portions of the present Newnham College were erected.
Girton and Newnham at first worked on somewhat different lines. Girton objected to separate examinations for women and demanded that they should be allowed to enter for the same examinations as men. Whether or no this is educationally the sounder plan, it had obvious advantages as a matter of policy. Men's examinations had already an established reputation, and, if women could gain the same honours as men in them, it was easily understood by the outside public for what those honours stood, and the suspicion that women's examinations were not only different in kind but inferior in quality was avoided. In 187o Girton obtained the informal use of the papers in the Previous Examination and in 1873 of the tripos papers, and was thus able to say that its students had fulfilled all the requirements for degrees demanded of men. In 1881 the university gave a formal recognition of this arrangement. But between 1873 and 1881 much else had happened; in 1873 twenty-two out of thirty-four professors formally opened their lectures to women, and in 1879 they were admitted to college lectures; in 1878 London University obtained a supplemental charter by which it was empowered to admit women to degrees on the same terms as men. In 188o it so happened that a new university, Victoria, was founded on the federal principle, and its charter provided for giving degrees to women, though the conditions were left to, its constituent colleges. The next university founded, that of Wales, from the first admitted the two sexes on an absolute equality; and all later foundations have followed the same precedent, while the new colleges and universities already existing have fallen into line. The approximation of Newnham to Girton and the foundation of the women's colleges at Oxford, of which the first two, Somerville and Lady Margaret, date from 1881, completes the tale of developments in the university education of women. It was not till after the War that Oxford opened its degrees to women and Cam-bridge in the present year has again refused. Since 1887, when the first proposal to this effect was made at Cambridge, it has been discussed several times at both universities, but till the War was always rejected by the votes of non-residents in Senate and Convocation. Undergraduate prejudice combined with the conservatism of their parents united to produce this result ; and when the country parson had revisited the scenes of his youth, replenished the empty purse of his offspring, and registered his vote against awarding to a woman who has taken a first class in the tripos the letters which reward his own third in the special, his son united with the rest of his college in signalising the success of their efforts by a bonfire. The argument most frequently used at these debates was that the M.A. degree conveyed the right of having a final voice in university legislation; but, in view of the way in which this right has been used, it is more than probable that it will be one of the first abuses to which the recently appointed Commission will devote its attention.
Women's colleges in their earlier days were not quite what they are now. Perhaps undue imitation of men, not because men's pursuits would naturally be sought for their own sake but because they are men's pursuits, is now a little too prevalent. It is a passing phase, which will disappear when woman's position has become well established and no novelty. In the modern universities we have already reached the stage when, if a woman's name is the only one in the list of first classes in any subject, there is no more demonstration of surprise in the newspapers than if it had been a man's. Examiners may pass "A. Smith" without knowing whether the "A." . stands for Alfred or for Anne. But in 188o the head of a woman's college was necessarily in a state of constant alarm lest any of her protégées should give the enemy the least occasion to blaspheme. A male undergraduate, whirling a rattle on the towpath, is of course deemed to be only acting according to his kind; but a burst of laughter coming through the windows of Regent Street might have postponed the success of the cause for a decade. In fact her biographer thinks it fortunate, in the days when the " capable woman" was suspected, that Miss Clough "did not dress well or walk well, and had a certain timidity and irresoluteness"; that "there was nothing of the direct, vigorous and masterful about her which young people and indeed crude people of any sort mistake for strength." "It sounds rather a fantastic comparison, but I often think her sayings were like the work of the early painters, all the more effective be-cause the artist has not yet subdued his medium; sheer force of character and feeling has risen over the difficulties." And, if her rule was such that one of the students suggested that Newnham should take as its crest Mrs Grundy rampant and two students couchant, yet she goes on to suggest that "in nineteen cases she was troubled for nothing, but in the twentieth she may have avoided a disaster."
We now return to an earlier period and describe the rise of secondary schools for girls. Two protagonists stand out in this connection, Dorothea Beale and Frances Mary Buss, and round their lives the events of the movement may be clustered.
Miss Beale was born in 1831. Fortunately ill-health compelled her to leave school at thirteen—she herself is responsible for the word fortunately "—and in a cultured house she had opportunities for omnivorous reading such as a clever boy of the time, much more a clever girl, might envy. It was no idle browsing, but solid fare such as first-rate historians, Euclid, science, reviews, biography., At sixteen she went for a year to a school for English girls in Paris—to be driven home by the Revolution of 1848. Then she attended the newly founded Queen's College and later took an active part in the teaching of that institution. In time she became dissatisfied with its working and closed her connection with it in 1856. For a year she was on the staff of the School for Clergymen's Daughters, an evangelical foundation, in which she was expected to teach Scripture, arithmetic, mathematics, ancient and modern history, geography, English, French, German, Latin and Italian. The result was to make her miserable for a year, which fortunately did no lasting harm, and to make her feel the need of a reform in girls' education, which has done lasting good. Of course she left at the close of the year; if she had been the woman to stand such a curriculum, she would not have been the woman to make a success of the College at Cheltenham.
Cheltenham Ladies' College had been founded in 1853 to educate the sisters of the boys whose parents flocked to Cheltenham to send them to the boy's College. Its first few years were not too prosperous and in 1858 a new head-mistress was sought. It was almost an accident which made Miss Beale think of applying, and quite an accident which led the committee to appoint her. Indeed they had hardly done so before they began to repent; for Cheltenham was the favourite abode of the strictest sect of the Evangelicals—not the Evangelicals of our days, but the old-fashioned Calvinists to whom the orthodox view of pre-destination was more precious than all the promises of the Gospel. It was rumoured that Miss Beale was High Church, and a kind of inquisition into her beliefs was set up. Of course Miss Beale was not High Church, but she was a deeply religious woman who felt her religion to be so close a personal communion with God that she would not allow it to be twisted into the procrustean bed of cold intellectual formalism. Such a religion the committee did not understand, but they came to the conclusion that it was hardly of a kind to warrant the cancelling of an appointment already made. So they practically told her not to talk too much about it, and Miss Beale was not the kind of person who would want to parade her religion in public. So she commenced work.
We must not think of her in those days as the dictator of a female Eton and Trinity rolled into one, or as the national institution which she subsequently became. She had a long and strenuous struggle before success became assured. The idea with which she started was not to make girls' education a copy of boys'. She was not preparing for the university; she had not her eye on external examinations. She was guided entirely by what she thought girls needed; but she thought they needed something equally substantial, though not identical, with what was needed by boys. She began by pruning "accomplishments," though she reintroduced the teaching of the piano in spite of the opinion of her Council concerning " the singular and extraordinary notion that dexterity of fingering on a single instrument is the most important part of female education," to which notion they are inclined to attribute "the acknowledged deficiency of many of the fairer sex in logical qualities and reasoning powers." She laid great stress on English history—not taught after the manner satirised by F. D. Maurice; and hoped to make of German the equivalent of what Latin was in boys' schools. She dare not introduce Euclid, at first; "had I done so, it might have been the death of the College." Though the pupils were not sent in for public examinations, an examiner from Oxford or Cambridge visited the College annually. By 1864 the period of uncertainty was over; there were a hundred and thirty pupils, and a boarding-house was opened to retain girls whose parents were leaving the town.
In this year Miss Beale resorted to a change as regards the hours, which had hitherto been arranged on the plan usual in boys' schools. She now experimented with a morning lasting from nine till one o'clock, broken by a half hour's interval, keeping the afternoons for individual music lessons and such extras. The plan was adopted by Miss Buss in the following year and became the standard allotment of hours with the schools of the Girls Public Day School Company.
The Schools Inquiry Commission was such a landmark in girls secondary education that we will break off the account of Miss Beale to trace the career of Miss Buss up to that event. She was four years older than. Miss Beale; like her was educated at an absurd school of the old type and like her made up for it by private reading. Her mother had been forced through her husband's death to start a school; and Miss Buss began to teach at the early age of fourteen. She again reproduces Miss Beale's career by going to Queen's College, but she found her vocation earlier. With the help of the Rev. David Laing she gave a semi-public character to the family school in 1850, and, as her biographer Miss Ridley puts it, speedily ousted Child's Guide and Mangnall's Questions and the idea that even such mild gymnastics as jumping over a stick held a few inches from the ground was unladylike.
We have now reached the Commission. Its terms of reference contained no indication that it was intended to deal with girls' education; its framers so completely forgot girls that they forgot to exclude them. The promoters of girls' education saw their opportunity and petitioned the Commissioners to investigate the subject, and the Commissioners consented. Miss Buss and Miss Emily Davies were invited to give evidence in 1865 and Miss Beale in April 1866. Miss Beale was doubtful if girls could go so far as boys, at any rate in subjects like higher mathematics, and she was against an over-assimilation of the education of girls to that of boys on another ground, that the education of boys itself was largely based on tradition and might soon be modified. On the former point Miss Davies was more confident. She had for two years been acting as hon. secretary for the girls' side of the Cambridge Local Examinations during the period in which they had been used for the examination of girls infoinially and experimentally, and she was convinced of the identity of standard.
The Commissioners' Report drew public attention to what had hitherto been within the interest and knowledge of the few. "Want of thoroughness and foundation; slovenliness and showy superficiality; inattention to rudiments; undue time given to accomplishments, and these not taught intelligently or in any scientific manner; want of organisation—these may sufficiently indicate the character of the complaints received." By his work in making himself responsible for the part of the Commission's enquiry which dealt with the education of girls, Mr James Bryce did yeoman service to the cause. But women too had suggestions and proposals. Miss Clough was for establishing a university board for female education, a system of central day schools with which private schools should be associated for certain subjects and the system of extension lectures in large towns which we have already seen was shortly afterwards started. To a book of essays' published in 1869 Miss Wolstenholme contributed a well thought out discussion of the needs of women's education, entitled "The Education of Girls, its present and future," which began with the remarkable recognition that we are the worst educated nation in Europe. The upper classes sacrifice everything to accomplishments, and of true learning they say, "It will not help her to get married." The lower middle classes neglect education, because it has no pecuniary value: "we cannot appraise the value of a cultivated mind; presumably therefore it has no value." Teachers are not themselves well taught, and they do not know how to teach others. It is noticeable that Miss Wolstenholme takes for granted the need of a professional training of teachers as much as the need for their improved general education-this was certainly not an imitation of masculine education ! Women must master the secrets of combination and co-operation ; they must do away with the superstition that one person can teach everything (and everything included a great deal if the School for Clergymen's Daughters was a typical example.) External examinations are a necessity if the mass of worthless schools are to be brought into line. The replacement of governesses by schools is necessary if effort is to be used to the best advantage. Governesses' work "means giving an infinitesimal fragment of time and a divided and a distracted attention to each of the pupils and subjects in turn." Small schools involve these evils almost more than does private instruction; therefore schools must be big. " We wonder much how many schoolmistresses ever framed a consistent course of study which should stretch over six years. We wonder still more how many have successfully carried it out in the case of even one pupil." In a word organisation is needed. But to the most obvious way of securing large schools, by copying the boarding-school system of boys, she is opposed. "Perhaps the best that can be said of them is that the inherent evils may by skilful teachers be reduced to a minimum; but it can never be considered very desirable to bring together great numbers of young people and throw them into the intimacy of an English boarding-school, without far more careful oversight than it is easy to secure, whilst any approach to the system of perpetual espionage would be at once hateful to our English notions and, as we believe, fatally mischievous to both teachers and pupils." Hence there is needed in every town a "High School "—a term soon destined to become. familiar—and possibly also a " secondary school" under municipal or government control which would serve as a model to the private schools for which there would still be abundant room. For country districts she suggests schools which did not themselves take in boarders but licensed small boarding-houses under the charge of married ladies. She supports mixed schools where funds do not allow of separate boys' and girls' schools. " It is not proposed to argue that a system of mixed education would be of unmixed advantage; it is quite sufficient to show that the balance of advantage is in its favour." Finally more women's colleges of the Hitchin type are required and education must be brought to people's doors by extension lectures. "Equality of education must pre-cede equality of industrial training"; and it is not only industrial training for which education is needed; it is wanted no less for the home, where it will increase the influence of mothers and will further the rational inter-course of husbands and wives.
We ask the reader to pardon us for quoting from this essay at so much greater length than from the :report of the Commission; but it is important to know what women thought about women's education without seeing it after it has been refracted through the minds of men. For, however much men helped by collecting funds, by giving lectures, and by sharing in the business management, it was women who determined what women's education was to be, and it largely worked out along the lines of Miss Wolstenholme's essay, which may therefore be taken as fairly representative of women's views.
The Endowed Schools Act did something directly for girls' education. "In framing schemes under this Act, provision shall be made as far as conveniently may be for extending to girls the benefits of endowments." To ensure that the Commissioners appointed under the Act carried out this part of their instructions an Association was formed "for Promoting the Application of Endowments to the Education of Women." Schemes were gradually made, and, wherever the funds were not exhausted by the boys' schools, girls' schools were set up. The first were four founded out of the surplus funds of King Edward's School, Birmingham, which were at once filled. These were all of the second grade, but in the reorganisation of the wealthy Bedford foundation first and second grade girls' schools were set up. Both these were among the eight wealthiest foundations with regard to which the Schools Inquiry Commission had presented separate reports ; among the other schools in this list, Dulwich, St Olaves, Tonbridge and Monmouth were made to set up girls' schools, and in 1898 Miss Zimmern calculated that there were over eighty endowed girls' schools.
But the process of securing the transfer of endowments was slow and in the meantime private endeavour had to step in. Naturally it is with schools of the first grade that private endeavour is most effective. In 1871 Mrs Grey formed a National Union for the education of women which in the following year established the Girls' Public Day School Company. In five years fourteen schools were founded and many more have been since added. The importance of the work does not end here, since their old girls have become mistresses all over the country and impressed the methods of these schools on many others which are unconnected with the Company. On the whole it may be said that, as regards curriculum, the wish to demonstrate the intellectual equality of the sexes, and for this purpose to prepare girls for the same school examinations and the same university courses as boys, has led to an acceptance of the usual boys' curriculum; but that as regards organisation and method, women have struck out on new lines. In the first place they have thrown the weight of social prestige on the side of day schools. This is of far-reaching importance; it means, apart from the educational ideal of keeping school and home in touch, the possibility that every town can develop a really fine school, unhampered by a crushing competition with fashionable boarding-schools which draw away the best pupils from every locality. This again means that parents of moderate means have access to the very best education possible. Hours are different. Discipline is different; perhaps more strict, but more secured by personal influence. Class-rooms are, or were till recently, brighter. A working spirit has always prevailed. There has always been a great friendliness between teachers and taught. The average schoolmistress thinks more about methods than the aver-age schoolmaster. She is less conservative and more aware of new ideas. She knows more of other types of education beside that in which she is herself occupied. Literature, art and other cultural subjects are taught with more genuine enthusiasm and welcomed with less regard to their examination value. The school is a more civilising influence. There is no tradition from the ages of barbarism to wear down. Headmistresses looked to what girls naturally were; headmasters have looked to what boys after a hundred years' tradition of idleness, bullying, housing in hovels, and worship of physical strength, had become. It is lamentable to think how the advantages of education are lost by a girl in a mixed school. The docility of girls makes them easy victims to the examination grind. A head-master, brought up in the tradition—which he probably does not acknowledge even to himself—that, in order to get the right amount of work done, you must set twice as much as you want, to allow for the waste of boys' "ca' canny" methods—for schoolboys were the real authors of modern trade union methods, and public schoolboys can still give points to the miners--institutes for his conscientious girl pupils a veritable Egyptian bondage, harms their health, crushes their vitality, destroys their interests, and forces them discendi causa doctrinae perdere causas.
Miss Buss's school was to a large extent the model of the "High Schools," as the schools of the Company are commonly called. In order that it might thoroughly con-form to her ideal, she now took the extraordinarily self-sacrificing step of turning it into a trust, " thus in addition to the loss of personal freedom risking a present certainty and the prospect of future affluence, to accept for the next three years a greatly diminished income with doubled or trebled work; giving up at the same time assured honour and widespread reputation for misunderstanding, suffering, and disappointment1." After such an example the cause of private schools against public schools was lost. Under the new scheme there were to be two schools, the North London Collegiate School in Camden Street of the first grade and the Camden School of the second. Subscriptions came in slowly; but £20,000 from the Platt Charity could be assigned to the schools now they were on a public footing; the Clothworkers Company also came to their assistance; and the new scheme finally took effect in 1879. As one of her obituary notices put it:—"A personality of singular charm and of what the slang of the day calls 'magnetism,' wholly without pedantry or self-consciousness, persuaded Royal Commissioners, City Companies, Lord Mayors and Royal Princesses, physicians and even universities, that women might be thoroughly educated without any danger to themselves or to the State."
Miss Buss was indeed a great personality, and some of the chief features which are brought out in Miss Ridley's biography may be noted. Her attitude to her pupils was motherly, at a time when "prunes and prisms" were the tradition. She needed to punish little; she could talk any pupil into a determination to be reasonable for the future; henceforth in that pupil's case she might have to deal with faults of carelessness and thoughtlessness but not with faults of wilfulness. She remembered every pupil years afterwards. She was generous in helping girls in money difficulties and her generosity to the school passes words. She bore patiently periods of waiting, hopes, fears, and suspense. She won the affections of her staff. All her life through she was able to absorb new ideas.
As regards her policy, she was opposed to boarding-schools, and gave up her boarding-house as soon as she could, thus sacrificing a source of deep interest to her principles, as she sacrificed her pecuniary interests. She greatly believed in the influence of the school buildings and in absolute orderliness and tidiness. She could smile at her own enthusiasm in this matter, as when she said "I spend my life in picking up pins." On this feature of girls' schools which, perhaps partly through her influence, has become universal, the mere man does not pretend to pass judgment. Cloak-room and corridor rule's, which seem to be to headmistresses the mark of a standing or a falling school, would provoke a mutiny among boys. But all will agree that when orderliness passes into hygiene, it ceases to be a fetish. She made her pupils come to school dry. "It is an amusing symptom of the hygienic influence of the North London School that, in my quest for properly shaped shoes, I find it best to fall back on the neighbour-hood of Camden Road'." She virtually had a private system of medical inspection and records in her school long before anyone dreamt of the Medical Inspection Act. On the results she determined what calisthenics each girl needed. She wished headmistresses to have the same independence from their governing bodies as headmasters. Schoolmasters will perhaps like to know what is the female counterpart of Thring's tact in reinforcing discipline by a sense of humour. Thring had just introduced tidy desks and was starting what to the boys must have appeared an autocratic and cranky attack on a cherished privilege which was supported by the prescriptive right of centuries—he had forbidden them to cut their names on them ! No boy could believe he really meant it. No boy could at least resist the temptation to determine the point by the scientific method of experiment, even at the risk of a flogging. The first two criminals were haled before Thring. He might have secured his desks by flogging the boys; but that was not the method of a disciplinary artist. He took them to the woodwork room and made them carve their names on the hardest piece of wood which it contained. It took them the afternoon. Miss Buss too had the artistic instinct which declines the use of the sledge-hammer when a finer weapon will do the work. Our mothers know that fainting-fits were in their younger days the chief of the minor trials of governesses. We leave Miss Ridley to tell the tale. She ordered the "very coldest water that could be procured." " There is no sort of danger in this kind of attack, and the most certain cure is a sudden dash of very cold water in the face." The water was on its way. " Ah ! I feel better now, thank you ! " " If you feel a little faintness coming on, just retire to your own room without saying anything about it. Shut your door, open all the windows and lie down quietly. You will soon find yourself well again."
Her theory of intellectual education for women was thus summed up: "It may be—I am much disposed to think it is—that intellectual training effects greater moral improvement in women than it does in men because a woman's faults of character, on an average, turn more on irrationality and lack of nerve control, while the man's faults centre in his profounder self-absorption and slower sympathies." Educational theorists have not ceased arguing whether the curriculum suitable for a pupil is that which develops his strong points or that which counter-acts his weak points. Probably a different answer should be given according as we are considering efficiency or personality. If you are thinking of a person's capacity to do things, it will, by the law of diminishing returns, pay to teach him what he can learn easily. But efficiency in this narrower sense may be completely cancelled by faults of temperament which have not been checked by the formation of counter-habits. A particular kind of work which gives a low measure of efficiency may be of supreme value as a corrective. To cure a man of consumption does not directly train the muscles which he will use as a navvy; but, unless you cure his consumption, he has no chance of becoming a good navvy. Hence Miss Buss attached considerable importance to Science, a subject which has no aesthetic content, though French and history were her own specialities, and the North London School became famous for its scientific results.
Meanwhile the Cheltenham College continued to make great strides. Miss Beale, though reluctantly, realised the practical necessity of sending her girls in for external examinations. Her first experience of the "locals" had brought out a weakness in the mathematics of the school, which, once detected, was soon rectified. Pupils began to pass the London Matriculation examination, and complaints of overwork began to be heard. Parents had to be taught that overwork too often meant that school work was expected to be an extra to a full round of social engagements. But Miss Beale's faith in clay-schools was not shaken, and parents were gradually trained to see the matter in its true light. In 1875 new buildings were under-taken, the college having reached three hundred, and in 1882 further extension was necessary. In 1875 too the governing body was reorganised in such a way as to recognise the fact that the college was a national and not merely a local institution. It started merely as a school, but it developed into something which has no counterpart in boys' education in modern times. Its nearest parallel is the Renaissance ideal of an institution which should be school and university in one. At the one end it has its Kindergarten, at the other its students working for the Higher Locals and London degrees. It is now organised, under the supreme control of the Principal, into a series of departments under responsible heads. The college course for girls over sixteen is preceded by the work of its secondary school department from twelve to sixteen and that again by the work of its preparatory and Kindergarten departments. It is a miniature educational system in itself. Many of its pupils of course pass on to the older universities, and a special hall at Oxford, St Hilda's, has been built for them; but in itself it offers a full course for the London degrees. Though Miss Beale was a believer in day-schools, boarding-houses grew up, as was inevitable in the case of an institution unique in the country. With its five hundred pupils it has almost eclipsed the boys' college.
The building up of this great institution was more completely the work of one individual than any educational development of which we can think in the nineteenth century, save possibly Dr Barnardo's Homes. Miss Beale had a good eye for form mistresses, but hers was the con-trolling spirit. Organisation with her, as with every great headmaster or headmistress, did not mean what it often means in a government department, sitting in an office and devising general rules which approximate to the right way of dealing with all cases but which exactly fit none. The girls at the top of the school she knew intimately, and she strove to know all. She taught and did not merely direct teaching. Little energy was frittered away in red tape. She inspired her pupils with the devotion, not unmixed with awe, commonly felt only for a sovereign. But her internal life was one of prayer and meditation. She was like the mediaeval monarch who wore a hair shirt under his royal robes. In her teaching the class caught her enthusiasm for the subject-matter, whether it were literature or the joy of intellectual discovery in mathematics. Her literature lessons were her chosen vehicles of revealing her views on life and conduct. " Miss Beale might be unacademic to a fault in these lectures, but she had that power of inspiration which made every poem she prized, every character she admired, live immortally for those who heard her speak of them. The actual reading—specially of poetry —was a delight to both teacher and hearers. Miss Beale had a strong dramatic instinct, a keen enjoyment of poetry and the right use of words. She had also a wonderful voice, which she managed well, and though always quiet and restrained in manner carried her audience with her unweariedly1." Her Scripture lessons were to her the event of the week and she reserved Friday evenings entirely to their preparation. By the time Miss Beale and Miss Buss died, the public had come to realise that a great headmistress should be treated with the same respect as a great head-master. Arnold had his bitter opponents, Thring his critics; but no one would have dreamt of regarding either as a fitting object of mild witticisms. In the case of great headmistresses familiarity does not breed contempt; the smiles were only on the faces of those who had never met them, and those who knew them best respected them most.
By 1881 Miss Buss was able to write to Mrs Grey: "There is now no such thing as a 'woman's education question' apart from that of education generally; and the real question which has still to be fought for many a long year, I fear, is one as old as education itself: how is the child of either sex to be trained to the measure of the stature of the perfect human being." Suffice it therefore to say that the Act of 1902 spread girls' education as widely as it did boys', and that the Act of 1918 will give them the same advantages as boys in respect of continuation and central schools, which, though now classed as elementary, fulfil the functions which the Schools Inquiry Commission vainly tried to get performed in their own day by what they described as the sadly deficient third grade of secondary schools.
In one respect, however, we do not think that the question of the sexes as regards education has been solved. We refer to the problem of co-education. Co-education is vigorously at work in all grades of education. At the infant or Kindergarten stage there is nothing else and no one would probably want anything else. In elementary schools up to the age of twelve, provided the children come from good homes, the system seems to work well. The absence of home-work prevents the danger of over-pressure; and the mistresses seem to play a relatively more important part than in mixed secondary schools. But even here it might be argued that too often the size of classes reduces personal influence to a minimum and that this is the reason why it makes so little difference which sex appears to be influencing it. Again at the other end it seems acceptable at the university stage. But it must be remembered that at Oxford and Cambridge and to some extent in London, the colleges, which are the real teaching organisations, are not mixed, though the university is, and that everywhere the lectures are not the supreme educational instrument which the students sometimes imagine them to be. Some sort of tutorial system exists whereby there is closer contact of mind with mind between male tutor and male student and female tutor and female student. But at the age between twelve and eighteen experience throws much doubt on the merits of co-education. Ideals are then forming, and the ideals of the two sexes are quite different. No man can be a good schoolmaster unless he "understands boys"; every man admits that. No woman can be a good schoolmistress unless she understands girls: we suppose every woman would admit that. But does any man claim that he "understands girls? " He largely understands boys because he has been a boy and because he still has something of the boy in him ; we surely mean more by the phrase than when we say that a man understands dogs or horses. Unless we believe in transmigration, we know that he has never been a girl. With regard to young children of either sex, Nature seems to have implanted in women a maternal intuition which enables them to understand them. Men seem not to have this intuition, nor do women as far as the adolescent boy is concerned. And, what is equally important, girls cannot find in masters the friends they find in mistresses. A " just beast " is no good for girls. " Old Smith " would be quite happy if his boys voted him "a decent ,old sort"; but girls incline to hero worship. Masters who are of an age and temperament to make good "elder brothers" of their boys can stand in no known relation to their girl pupils. Some of the schools of the Society of Friends appear to work the system with perfect success, but we imagine it is done by a wonderful power of mutual delegation of functions between masters and mistresses rendered possible by the strong corporate solidarity of such a community. The early Christians could doubtless have run a mixed school with success in the catacombs. Strange as it may seem, it is easier in a boarding-school than in a day-school because masters and mistresses are compelled to see more of one another. In a day-school it seems to tend to emphasise the idea that the relation between teacher and pupil is limited to the class-room. The girls seem to suffer far more than the boys. The head is practically always a man. He makes it a boys' school to which girls are also admitted. Boys in their teens are a barbaric race; they glory in physical strength; they lack imagination and sympathy; and they despise what they do not understand. Little boys and little girls are conscious of no great difference in instincts and tastes. University men and women are conscious of a difference and feel bound to respect it. During the intervening years boys half-unconsciously exercise a forceful mastery over girls. The girls cannot assert themselves; and they lose the power of self-government which their sisters in girls' schools learn as much as boys. Later on, perhaps, they come to talk about the equality of the sexes, but they are no longer equal, because the boys have stolen a march on them.
Having thus traced the growth of female education, we must ask the question, What has been the result? Slight passing disadvantages, perhaps; but the suffragettes who have arisen as the bye-product of the emancipation of a sex count for little against the bolshevists who have arisen as the bye-product of the emancipation of a class. Apart from this transient inconvenience, who can doubt the gain? The empty-headed, silly woman could find no interest but frivolity; she could not be a solid factor in the bringing up either of her sons or of her daughters; she was powerless to influence her husband; if she remained unmarried or became a widow, she could not support herself ; her peculiar gifts were lost to the State. Society is built up by that which every part supplieth; legislation needs women's sympathy as well as men's sense of justice; administrations should be human as well as businesslike; patience is wanted as well as driving-power. In the war educated women showed more of the Spartan mother than did the older type. They did not feel less, but they saw further.
The growth of girls' education has not been without its influence on that of boys. There being no tradition, girls' education had to be thought out from first principles. The true basis of curricula had to be examined, and it is possible that girls' schools have strengthened the fight against allowing the teaching of literature to be degraded into a memorising of notes, and the teaching of musicand art into a mechanical drill in technique. Women have discovered that girls at school are not totally different beings from girls at home, and the methods of discipline and influence in the one are not based on entirely different principles from those adopted in the other. The traditional discipline of boys could not bear a sudden transition; but there is a growing recognition that the boy is not all hobbledehoy, though maybe he camouflages other elements in his nature in deference to the traditions of his school, and only reveals that he cares for things of the mind and taste when he goes up to college. In one particular the opinion of women has throughout been diametrically opposed to that of men. Women have always believed in the professional training of teachers. Miss Wolstenholme regards training and the degree as reforms to be pressed for equally. Miss Clough attended the lectures on teaching at Queen's. The Maria Grey Training College founded in 1877 commemorates Mrs Grey's services to education. Miss Buss helped in the establishment of training classes by the College of Preceptors in 1873, the first attempt of the kind in secondary education, and she began the agitation in 1885 which led to the foundation of the Women's Training College at Cambridge. " Could anything be done," she asked, "to avert this growing danger that the teaching profession should fall into the two classes of those who are highly educated and not trained and of those who are trained but not highly educated? " Miss Beale established a training department as an important section of the work at Cheltenham.
Should any male reader be tempted to think that, in suggesting that boys' education has ever learned or could ever learn anything from that of girls, we are taking a purely theoretic standpoint, we will ask him to consider whether Thring is not a proof to the contrary. Thring is a type of the forceful dominating headmaster who under-stood and governed boys: but Thring was an enthusiast in the cause of women's education, and it is remarkable that the reforms which he effected in boys' education are just on those points where girls' education has pursued a different path from that which had been traditional in the case of boys—the importance of the average pupil, the influence of a beautiful and comfortable environment, the need of getting down to the real human being in boys and piercing through the defensive crust of convention, the use of art, literature, and music as educational instruments, and the importance of thinking out new methods and not accepting traditions on trust.