Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

training. The most complete and self-consistent exemplification of disjoint education, therefore, is that given us in the Roman Catholic clerical and conventual schools. Here the separation of the seves is a true specialization of function. The boys' school has a different work to do from that of the girls' school. The function of one is the production of a priest or monk, that of the other the training of a nun or sister of charity. And as neither class are permitted ever to marry and lead a normal human life, it is not important that they enjoy normal association in youthful years. Indeed, the exact reasons given by the Roman Catholic to show that it is meet, right, and a bounden duty for some men and women to take upon themselves the vow of perpetual celibacy and lead separate lives, are equally good reasons why these persons should be educated separately. Conversely, every reason which the disjoint educationist is accustomed to draw, from moral and religious considerations, against joint education, is in almost all cases an argument, which, logically carried out, would lead to the separation of the sexes, not merely in education, but also in later religious life and work. In the sphere of public education, therefore, the separation of the sexes gives us no true specialization of function; and in the sphere where it does give us a true specialization, it at the same time logically involves the monastic conception of the whole social order.

A deeper study of the law of educational progress in all civilized nations discloses the fact that this progress is toward the universal adoption of the joint educational plan. Under all civilizations, the first and for a long time the only schools are for the stronger sex. Some

times these earliest boy schools are maintained and controlled by the priesthood, more rarely by the state. Many of the ancient civilizations never outgrew this lowest stage of educational evolution. Christian civilization in some of its centres entered upon a new stage toward the close of the Middle Ages. This newer and higher stage was characterized by numerous and reasonably successful efforts, usually under private and religious auspices, to establish separate schools for girls. At just this point of social progress, civilization may be said to tend toward the separation of the sexes in education. A truer statement, however, would be that society is outgrowing the state in which it only cares to educate one sex, and is tentatively trying to find out how to educate the other. It first attempts to do it separately, partly because the only schools it knows anything about are equally one-sided ; partly because, as a whole, it is not prepared to see a full equality of privilege accorded to the weaker sex.

The next stage of Christian civilization was ushered in by the Reformation and the new social developments which proceeded therefrom. Now, for the first time, the Christian state recognized the duty and assumed the task of furnishing to all the people a general education. To do this it undertook to institute what had never before been seen in history, - a system of joint educational public schools, extending to every community in the state, and open to every child in the community. This magnificent idea was the gift of Protestantism to the world. It has gradually become the heritage of all civilized nations.

One circumstance prevented the full and consistent carrying out of the idea even in the cradle of the Reformation. The German States found ready to their hand the universities and gymnasia, which the church and pious princes had founded in the earlier period of exclusive male education, or in the period of separate schools for males and females. These in their traditional disjoint form met all existing demands for the higher education, and were accordingly adopted or recognized by the state. So in most other continental countries. In England, down to less than a dozen years ago, the state endeavored to discharge its whole educational duty to the people through these inherited, or from time to time new-founded, private corporations. Now, it too has begun at the bottom, and is organizing the elementary education of the kingdom upon the joint educational plan. In our country, in education as in most other things, private and local agency took precedence of State and national. As a consequence, the traditional disjoint system preëmpted the field of the higher education and left the State here, as in Europe, to commence its joint educational reconstruction from the bottom. Such were the historic conditions which brought about in all modern civilized nations a few years ago an apparent agreement in a separation of the sexes in the higher education and a union of them in the lower.

Such a statement of the case, however, would have been entirely misleading. Only the new bottom tier of institutions was the organized result of the new social development. The university and gymnasium were merely a survival, a relic, of that old primitive age of exclusive male education. There were no corresponding institutions for women. They belonged to that social state in which Europe was a half a thousand years ago. The new, state-organized, joint educational school, on the contrary, is the ripest outgrowth of the nineteenth century. It represents the demands of the present age, the outcome of to-day's civiliza

tion.

Whoever bears these facts in mind can have no doubt as to which of the antagonisiic principles is to triumph. Every year shows that the changes in progress are due, not to the disjoint principle working downwards, but to the joint principle working upwards. Not one state in Christendom proposes to conform its lower educational system to the higher; many, on the contrary, are constantly modifying the higher to make it correspond more perfectly to the breadth and freedom and impartiality of the lower. In several American States the new coeducational principle already controls the whole public school system in every grade, from kindergarten to and through the State university. It has so powerfully invaded the range of institutions in which disjoint education first and most securely intrenched itself, that already the American colleges and universities organized for a single sex are in a dwindling minority.* In England, for ten years past, the government has scarcely granted or amended a collegiate charter, or passed an educational law which has not had for its direct or indirect object the associate education of men and women. In Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and Italy, every antiquated male university has been abolished, and truly national ones established in their stead. Hardly more than a year ago, the University of London wiped out every

* Thwing's American Colleges, New York, 1878, p. 144.

old discrimination against women, either in requirements or in degrees, and the affiliated colleges are rapidly following the example. By a recent law, Parliament has authorized every university in the United Kingdom to admit women to the medical profession. Not a few of the German universities admit women without question, and several of them have conferred upon women the highest academic degrees. Even the great government unirersities of Calcutta and Bombay, of Queensland and New Zealand, exist for men and women alike. Throughout Christendom, the age of exclusive male education is far outgrown; the age of separate education by means of private schools of any grade is far spent, — the new age is demanding impartial educational privilege for every child of every man.

[ocr errors]

the fos e

« AnteriorContinuar »