University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J. / They came to learn, they came to teach, they came to stay
(1980)

Introduction



INTRODUCTION
This brief introductory essay is an exercise in intellectual history. History
may well be a "romantic art" as David Levin suggests: it is, as
here con-
ceived, some kind of "art" whether romantic or not. By "art"
is meant the
symbolic construction of order which describes or explains a perceived reality.
History shares with other disciplines a commitment to certain method-
ologies, values, and principles of selection. For example, one can study
the
history of woman diachronically by tracing developments in a decade or a
century of co-education. Some of the pieces in this book do just that. One
can
also study history synchronically, as an assumed frozen moment, to uncover
a
"climate of opinion."
As Eric Weil wrote in "Humanistic Studies: Their Object, Methods, and
Meaning" (Daedalus, Spring 1970), "the historian has to reconstruct
the hu-
man reality he is interested in; to construct out of his given materials
what
Max Weber called ideal types, consistent fundamental attitudes, value systems
and worlds that never existed in ideal purity, but that furnish us with the
measuring rods by means of which, reality, always mixed and confused, may
be understood." In particular, this essay focuses on the turn of the
century
ideal educated woman, and establishes a context of values within which she
worked - or thought she worked. This essay attempts to do that by coming
to terms with the period from the Civil War to World War I in which women
really began to participate in important ways in American education.
Before the Civil War, American education was in the service of the
church and the classicists. Young men were sent to Harvard, to Yale, to Prin-
ceton to learn the medieval curriculum, based in Latin, that would train
them
to be clergy or schoolmasters for the next generation of aspiring scholars.
The
pre-collegiate education system was rightly called the "grammar school"
for
here, under the tutelage of the schoolmaster who comprised 85% of the
American teachers, young students learned the basics of Latin grammar.
But, change was afoot.... revolutionary change. With the spread west-
ward of population groups, with the availability of free land, with the spread
of democratic fervor linked, as it was, to Methodism as recorded by Richard
Niebuhr in The Kingdon of God in America, a need was felt for a less
"elitist" education. Frontier schools grew up; land grant universities
were
founded; the normal school concept was born; English replaced Latin as the
language and subject of the classroom; and by 1865, the schoolmaster was
replaced by the schoolmarm who now held 85% of the teaching positions in
America. As the flag and the Bible moved west, so did the English primer
and
Webster's dictionary.
By 1880, the United States was in the midst of the Industrial Revolution,
the labor force being supplied principally by Civil War veterans, farm workers
no longer employed by increasingly mechanized farms, and immigrants. The
frontier was closing, although Indian wars and the discovery of mineral mines


Go up to Top of Page