Arguments for reform of girls' secondary and university education in nineteenth century England.
- Education as a human right. Many early pioneers on women's education such as Emily Davies, Frances Power Cobbe and Dorothea Beale believed that women, as human beings, should have the right to enter into the inheritance of learning so long possessed only by men.
- Job prospects would be improved by better education. Much of this case was built around the need to provide financial independence for single women. In 1871, 30% of all women aged 24-35 were single.
- Welfare of society. Many reformers argued that the cultivation of women's minds was not only desirable in itself, but that the general welfare of society depended on it.
|We need not ask what woman's destiny is. Nature has written it in characters too clear to be mistaken; the large development of the intellectual organs and the feeble muscular power, mark her for the higher-minded purifier of society - her strength must be that of knowledge.
Englishwoman's Journal, 1858.
- Educated women would make better wives and mothers. An educated wife could discuss matters of current importance on an equal footing with her husband and educate their children more effectively. As Emily Davies had sarcastically put it: 'For mothers there is nothing like good sound ignorance.'
- The Endowed Schools' Enquiry Commission (1865) commented on the small size, limited expectations and low standards in girls' schools. The report of this commission was of vital importance to the cause of girls' education. The Commission noted that 'The essential capacity is the same, or nearly the same, in the two sexes.'
- Better education for some women would help all women. Josephine Butler declared, 'What is done or learned by one class of women belongs, by virtue of their common womanhood, to all women.'
- Early pioneers of women's education included Emily _______, Frances Power ______ and _____ _____.
- Rank the arguments in favour of women's education in order of importance, in your opinion.
- Organise a class debate on the topic 'That we approve of second-level education for girls'.
- Visit Newbridge House, Donabate, Co. Dublin and research the life of Frances Power Cobbe.