The Importance of Female Education

The Importance of Female Education [1840]

The superiority of one man over another depends entirely upon education. His colleague may possess wealth in a greater degree, and his name stands higher in society; but education counterbalances all these. The education of females is generally thought to be only of secondary importance. If there must be a difference, that of females ought to be superior; for the future usefulness and happiness of her children depend mostly upon the training of the infant mind. The father, necessarily engaged in business the greater part of the day, cannot exert the same influence over his children as the mother, who has had the sole care of tutoring their youthful minds and is constantly with them. There are very few learned or good men, that cannot trace back the early impressions imprinted on their hearts while susceptible, by the voice of a kind and affectionate mother.

Within the last century, great changes have occurred, particularly as regards the education of females. Then an intellectual woman was considered incompatible with the social affections and virtues, which give a charm to society. Frequently persons who possessed intellectual greatness concealed it, to escape from the prejudices of the age. The fair sex was considered as a submissive, timid, amiable, and gentle race, guilty of a dreadful crime if they attempted to cultivate their minds, and were taught that ignorance was the only proof of purity. But these absurdities have in a great measure abated. An intellectual woman, now, is considered an ornament, rather than a disgrace to society.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

Persons who have acquired a good education need never suffer for the want of company, for the mind is inexhaustible in furnishing topics for conversation and thought; and they also have the pleasure of knowing that their happiness is in a great measure, at their command. Learning also throws a charm around piety.

It was generally a received opinion, that the intellect of man was far superior to that of woman; but this is not the case. Men enjoy greater opportunities of acquiring knowledge. The education of ladies is considered finished at the age of seventeen or eighteen, while that of gentlemen has but commenced; and they also have another advantage, by not having domestic duties to engross a considerable part of their time. Now we speak of the importance of attending to and improving our advantages while young, merely from observation, but in after years it arises from dear-bought experience.

Men no longer stand alone and unrivaled in the pursuit of knowledge but have female companions in nearly every department of science. The sphere in which woman is destined to move is far different from that of man. What man is there that will acknowledge that he can be governed by his wife! and even if he did so, he would be held in the utmost contempt by his associates. Yet woman does exert an influence, not by force, but by persuasion in her secret retirement, she convinces and advises. Here then is her sphere of usefulness, but let her take one step out of the course, and she loses not only her self-respect and dignity but that humility which characterizes the lady.

The importance of paying a strict attention to study, cannot be too deeply impressed upon the minds of young persons. When harassed by care, the occupation of the mind is a pleasant relief from bodily exertions. Old age would be spent in misery and usefulness, were it not for the mind being well stored with knowledge in younger days, which serves to lighten misfortunes, dispel the gloom of solitude, and serves as a pleasant amusement. On the contrary, one who has neglected to furnish his mind with useful learning becomes troublesome and peevish to himself and others. He has no inexhaustible sources of. reflection and amusement. Destitute of the resources of education, and not able to take part in the arduous enterprises of the world, he has no agreeable mode of employing himself.

These are only a few of the disadvantages arising from the neglect of privileges, and also of the advantages from a faithful attendance to duty.

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