A Plan for Improving Female Education, Emma Hart Willard, 1819
This passage is an excerpt from Emma Willard’s speech to the New York State legislature, delivered in 1819 regarding a woman’s access to appropriate education.
1. In inquiring concerning the benefits of the plan
2. proposed, I shall proceed upon the supposition
3. that female seminaries will be patronized throughout
4. our country.
5. Nor is this altogether a visionary supposition. If one
6. seminary should be well organized, its advantages
7. would be found so great that others would soon be
8. instituted; and that sufficient patronage can be found
9. to put one in operation may be presumed from its
10. reasonableness and from the public opinion with regard
11. to the present mode of female education. It is from an
12. intimate acquaintance with those parts of our country
13. whose education is said to flourish most that the writer
14. has drawn her picture of the present state of female
15. instruction; and she knows that she is not alone in
16. perceiving or deploring its faults. Her sentiments are
17. shared by many an enlightened parent of a daughter who
18. has received a boarding school education.
19. Counting on the promise of her childhood, the father had
20. anticipated her maturity as combining what is excellent in
21. mind with what is elegant in manners. He spared no expense
22. that education might realize to him the image of his
23. imagination. His daughter returned from her boarding school,
24. improved in fashionable airs and expert in manufacturing
25. fashionable toys; but, in her conversation, he sought in vain for
26. that refined and fertile mind which he had fondly expected.
27. Aware that his disappointment has its source in a defective
28. education, he looks with anxiety on his other daughters, whose
29. minds, like lovely buds, are beginning to open. Where shall
30. he find a genial soil in which he may place them to expand?
31. Shall he provide them male instructors? Then the graces of
32. their persons and manners, and whatever forms the distinguishing
33. charm of the feminine character, they cannot be expected to acquire.
34. Shall he give them a private tutoress? She will have been educated
35. at theboarding school, and his daughters will have the faults of its
36. instruction second-handed. Such is now the dilemma of many
37. parents; and it is one from which they cannot be extricated by their
38. individual exertions. May not then the only plan which promises to
39. relieve them expect their vigorous support?
40. Let us now proceed to inquire what benefits would result from
41. the establishment of female seminaries.
42. They would constitute a grade of public education superior to
43. any yet known in the history of our sex; and through them, the
44. lower grades of female instruction might be controlled. The
45. influence of public seminaries over these would operate in two
46. ways: first by requiring certain qualifications for entrance; and
47. second by furnishing instructresses initiated in these modes of
48. teaching and imbued with their maxims. Female seminaries
49. might be expected to have important and happy effects on common
50. schools in general; and in the manner of operating on these
51. would probably place the business of teaching children into hands
52. now nearly useless to society; and take it from those whose services
53. the state wants in many other ways.
54. That nature designed for our sex the care of children, she has made
55. manifest by mental as well as physical indications. She has given us,
56. in a greater degree than men, the gentle arts of insinuation to soften
57. their minds and fit them to receive impressions; a greater quickness
58. of invention to vary modes of teaching to different dispositions;
59. and more patience to make repeated efforts. There are many
60. females of ability to whom the business of instructing children is
61. highly acceptable; and who would devote all their faculties to their
62. occupation. For they would have no higher pecuniary object to
63. engage their attention; and their reputation as instructors they
64. would consider as important. Whereas, whenever able and
65. enterprising men engage in this business, they consider it merely
66. as a temporary employment to further some object, to the
67. attainment of which their best thoughts and calculations are all
68. directed. If, then, women were properly fitted by instruction,
69. they would be likely to teach children better than the other sex;
70. they could afford to do it cheaper; and those men who would
71. otherwise be engaged in this employment might be at liberty
72. to add to the wealth of the nation, by any of those thousand
73. occupations from which women are necessarily debarred.
Willard, Emma. "Benefits of Female Seminaries." 1918. A Plan for Improving Female Education. Second ed. Middlebury, Vermont: J.W. Copeland, 1819. 26-28. Print.
What is the purpose of lines 54-64 (That nature...consider as important)?