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it was in her power to give—the keeping of the fires of life itself, the bearing and rearing of children. Woman's mission surely is worthy if life is worthy. Its honor grows with life's increasing values. And yet it lacks just those characteristics which to-day make the strongest appeal to the individual. To-day in America it is not the life of the whole, the life of the race and of the country, which primarily determines each man's daily judgments and actions; it is his own advancement, honor, pleasure, comfort. And as it is with the man, it is even so with the woman. She does not care essentially for the human race as it shall be in future generations, made just so much stronger and nobler because to-day she did her duty, effacing herself in suffering, curbing her desires in patience, fashioning and molding for the future in much present weariness and discouragement of mind and body. Rather would she cultivate the garden of her own individuality, whose bloom and freshness so easily bring her pleasure and honor.
If this be true; if woman's mission be at once so exalted that life itself hangs expectant on it, and yet so difficult that in an age of individualism it means the daily denial of the individual, is the college the best agent for preparing woman for her mission ?
Self-directing, self-centered, yet, through the freshness'of her enthusiasm, the unconsciousness of her attitude, still fluid for the molding, the young girl enters college to be prepared for her womanhood, for the life which requires the outlook of a prophet to perceive its glory through the exalting, wearisome pettiness of its detail. And the college, with its riches of human experience, its lives of heroes, saints and martyrs, its fullness of human endeavor, its glory of human achievement, stands ready to give that outlook as practical life cannot. And later, when the busy years of a woman's life are upon her, when her hands must work and the time of new intellectual acquisitions is past, she does not feel the intellectual barrenness that is the tragedy of many women's lives, because in the years of her leisure she has filled her storehouse with plenty.
The college, in other words, is prepared to give an intellectual background, the value of which can be most fully appreciated by a woman bound to the detailed routine of daily home life. One of the merriest women I have ever known, whose life was bitterly hard, said to me once, “ Do you know, when the thoughts that mirror my actual conditions are unbearable, I scatter them with the sunshine of what I am going to be and do in heaven.” A college education furnishes the ordinary woman a very tangible sort of heaven, and brings memory to the aid of an imagination which might be too weak for the task of building it alone. Fancy, for example, that a woman has a dozen pairs of very disreputable stockings to darn, an evening's work of weaving back and forth, with no very great artistic satisfaction promised as a guerdon, no tangible advancement on that intangible road of self-realization, just a humdrum, stupid task, relentlessly calling for a portion of her precious time. If her mind is just a disorderly chaos of chance gossip and chance incidents, how natural and simple it will be for her to hate her work, her routine day, and finally her routine life, for no discontent spreads quite as fast as that born of a duty unwillingly performed. But if, on the contrary, she can fill that evening with dreams of the world's activity and strength, her fingers ply the needle with unconscious swiftness, the task is done with cheerful satisfaction, and life seems blithe and worth the living after all.
Of course I do not mean to say that no woman is educated to rise above the humdrum details of domestic life except through a definite college education. I do mean to say, however, that in these days of hurry and hustle, only the exceptional woman is so educated. It has been said from the standpoint of psychology, which notes the early passing of the period of disinterested curiosity and of pure intellectual zeal, that the opportunity for acquiring an education is usually past at the age of twenty-five years. If this be true, few of us will question that the ordinary young woman between the age of eighteen, when she leaves school, and the time of her more active married life, rarely makes a serious business of educating herself, unguided and voluntarily.
Neither, of course, do I mean to suggest that there is a distinct time limit to the educating process. Fortunately for us, our education in its varied forms and guises ceases only with our lives, but it is none the less true that the more concentrated forms of intellectual application and acquisition are limited for the ordinary woman to the earlier years of plasticity and leisure.
The college woman is not, however, made merely passively contented by the richness of human experience which is offered her; she does not use her fertile memory and her stimulated imagination to mix a magic potion to bring forgetfulness of her own personal daily problems. Rather does she use them in constructing that flowing road to happiness which is none other than the gaining of a proper and true perspective through the standardizing of one's joys and sorrows by the experiences of others.
Out of the narrowness and limitations of the ordinary woman's experience is born that detailed consciousness, with its dogging shadows of personal responsibility, personal interpretation and regret, which makes so many women's lives petty and mean. Forever revolving about the round of their own failures and successes, the demands of their children and husbands, the criticisms of their neighbors, the countless intimate details of daily life, they find the blight of the personal over all their lives. A woman's successes are so personal that they often lack the generous force of inspiration ; her failures carry so much bitterness of individual responsibility that they fail to produce a strengthening development. The broad sweep of external, uncontrollable forces, the frank brutality, and perforce gracious acceptance of the inevitable, which lifts her husband out of himself and educates him in the truest sense, pass her sheltered corner by. And in this lies her weakness. A college president, at the close of a life nobly lived in spite of many obstacles, was asked to give a body of students the vital results of his experience ; his working formula, as it were, for right living. “Gentlemen,” he said, “ I have given your request my earnest consideration and I can say to you in reply this, “When it rains, let it rain.'” If women could but learn this lesson, the victory over the pettiness of their own lives would be won, their salvation would be well-nigh accomplished. The college, by its offering of a knowledge and understanding of life, stands ready to teach the lesson. The college woman learns, perforce, that life's successes have been built up of the strength which calmly accepts the inevitable, the courage which turns wearying regret for the past into sturdy resolve for the future, the wisdom which apportions to each joy and sorrow its proper value.
It would seem to me, therefore, as beyond the possibility of denial, that from the limitations of woman's ordinary environment acting upon and accelerating the inherent weaknesses of woman's character, is born the need and the justification of that higher type of education which is most easily and naturally found in the woman's college.
But although the college has so splendidly justified itself by its works, yet women are even now daring to ask that it do more. They are heartily grateful for its strengthening culture, and yet they are not satisfied. Taught to conquer the kingdoms of the moral and intellectual world, they still long for the skill to conquer their own particular material kingdom, the home. Built close to the model of the man's college, knowing no deficiencies in those early days when its students asked of it mainly preparation for teaching, the woman's college of to-day is lamentably weak where it should be most strong. Unlike the man's college, it has not the excuse of being the broad gateway to the specialized technical school. For the majority of women it is distinctly the climax of their learning. Beyond it there is only life in the fullness of its demands for specific duties to be skillfully done. And on the manner of their doing hang the comfort, the happiness, yes, at times, even the lives of others. How is a woman specifically prepared for her woman's field, the home, by the four years which she has given to the college?
Superficially, it would seem as though she were prepared not at all. The courses which are offered her are so largely of a cultural nature, they deal so little with the practical aspects of her woman's work, they engage her interest in subjects so far afield from the activities of daily life, that any possible adaptation of her life to its demands because of her college training seems impossible. And yet this is not so. Fortunately for her, the human mind is not an instrument, which, when sharpened for one purpose, is dulled for all others. Fortunately for her there is born of all conscientious study a general intellectual attitude, a poise of mind, a view point which makes every problem, no matter how commonplace, worthy of a scientific solution. Such an attitude tears away the hide-bound wrappings of prejudice; it demands the why and the wherefore of convention; it stands eager and unabashed in the face of criticism ; it brings to the wearisome details of living the fresh enthusiasm, the cheering strength, the clear sight of a mind trained in precision and vigor of thought.
This is indeed much; but that it should be deemed sufficient can be due only to the fact that college education for women is after all only in its infancy. It has survived in spite of such dire predictions, it has developed into such a sturdy infant that its enemies are abashed, its friends unduly elated. In the beginning, that it should live, and, living, that it should grow in physical strength, had been all their care. And so it has been that the lines of its development have been carelessly left to tradition and convention. This was made easier by the fact that the man's college offered such a convenient model for imitation, a model which in the early days, when the majority of women demanded preparation for teaching, was eminently satisfactory. But with the passing of the days of infancy is passing also the right of imitation to usurp the place of a strong independent development along lines which shall make possible the molding of woman to the uses of her life.
Curiously, one might well say providentially, just at the time when the college stands on the threshold of its possibilities of influence, the daily life of woman has entered the sphere of that influence. After all these weary years of following in the ruts made by past generations of women, of learning wisdom by experience, with much waste of energy and of things material, with much bitterness of heart and chastening of spirit, we are at last recognizing and developing a theory as well as a practice of household management. All the homely facts which make life run smoothly and cheerily, and on which its intellectual and moral greatness depend, are being formed into a body of classified knowledge, which is to-day rising to the