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along most lines of food and raiment. That she shall use this
controlling power wisely is one of her obligations. And to meet the
obligation she must be wisely trained.

It would seem that the homemaker, as we have conceived her, has a part
in most of the concerns of the community. We speak of "woman and
citizenship." To many this means, perhaps, "woman and suffrage." Woman
in politics is already an accomplished fact in fourteen western
states. Suffrage has been granted her in the state of New York. That
her political influence will widen seems a foregone conclusion. She
must therefore be prepared for real service in civic concerns. Women
have already applied their housecleaning knowledge and skill to the
smaller near-by problems of civic life. As time goes on they must
render the same service to state and nation.

We shall soon see nation-wide "votes for women," in our own country,
at least. But whether we do or not, or until we do, woman and
citizenship are, as they have always been, closely linked together. In
every community relation the homemaker is the good, or indifferent, or
bad citizen; and in every home relation she is the citizen still, and,
more than that, the mother of future citizens.

In spite of the "uneasy women" who feel that the home offers
insufficient scope for their intellectual powers, the executive
ability required to run a home smoothly and well is of no mean order.
"This being a mother is a complicated business," as one mother of my
acquaintance expresses it. Can we afford to have homemaking underrated
as a vocation, to be avoided or entered into lightly, often with
neither natural aptitude nor training to serve as guide to the
"complications"? It would seem not. We must then consider "guidance
toward homemaking" as a necessary part of a girl's education and as a
possible solution of the home problems on every hand.

We have thus far in this book concerned ourselves with making plain
our ideal of girlhood and womanhood and with considering the problems
which our girl and woman, when we have done our best to prepare her,
will have to meet. We have thus far not concerned ourselves with the
questions of how, when, and where the work of preparation is to be
done. A clear vision of the end to be attained, not obscured by
thought of the means used in reaching it, seems a necessity. From this
we may pass on to careful, detailed consideration of agencies and
methods. Knowing what we desire our girls to be, we may enlist all the
forces which react upon girls to make them into what we desire.


[Footnote 3: No studies of present-day conditions are available. The
proportion spent for food, clothing, etc., will remain nearly the
same. It is safe to multiply the above estimates by two to obtain the
actual cost of living in the year 1919.]



"A vocational guide is one who helps other people to find
themselves. Vocational guidance is the science of this



The three agencies most vitally concerned in this problem of "woman
making" are necessarily the home, the church, and the school - the home
and the church, because of their vital interest in the personal
result; the school, because, whatever public opinion has demanded,
schools have never been able to turn out merely educated human beings,
but always boys and girls, prospective men and women. And so they must
continue to do. Nature reasserts itself with every coming generation.
This being so, we must continue to "make women." If we desire to make
homemaking women, the most economical way to accomplish this is to use
the already existing machinery for making women of some sort. We
cannot begin too soon, nor continue our efforts too faithfully. The
school cannot leave the whole matter to the home, nor can the home
safely assume that the "domestic science" course or courses will do
all that is needed for the girl. Being a woman is a complex,
many-sided business for which training must be broad and

The teacher has perhaps scarcely realized her responsibilities or her
opportunities in this matter. For years, and in fact until very
recently, the whole tendency in education for girls has been toward a
training which ignores sex and ultimate destiny. The teachers
themselves were so trained and are therefore the less prepared to see
the necessity for any special teaching along these lines. They may
even resent any demand for specialized instruction for girls.

Yet we are confronted by the fact that the majority of girls do marry,
and that many of this majority are woefully lacking in the knowledge
and training they should have. Nor are these girls exclusively from
the poor and ignorant classes. There is no question about the
responsibility of the school in the matter. The state which "trains
for citizenship" cannot logically ignore the necessity for training
the mothers of future citizens.

"While I sympathize profoundly with the claim of woman for every
opportunity which she can fill," says G. Stanley Hall in
_Adolescence_, "and yield to none in appreciation of her ability, I
insist that the cardinal defect in the woman's college is that it is
based upon the assumption, implied and often expressed, if not almost
universally acknowledged, that girls should primarily be trained to
independence and self-support; and matrimony and motherhood, if it
come, will take care of itself, or, as some even urge, is thus best
provided for." This criticism, of existing educational conditions is
quite as applicable to schools for younger girls as to those which Dr.
Hall has in mind. There is no reason why both school and college may
not fit girls for a broad and general usefulness, for "independence
and self-support," and at the same time give them the training for
that which, with the majority already mentioned, comes to be the great
work of their lives.

Through all the lower grades of school life, and to a certain extent
through the whole course, the methods of instruction used will be
largely indirect. The child will-seldom be told, "This is to teach you
how to keep house." I can think of no field in which this indirect
method will produce greater results than the one we are considering.

[Illustration: Montavilla School garden, Portland, Oregon, where boys
and girls raise vegetables for serving in the lunchroom. Here the
science of growing things is taught as part of the "training for

[Illustration: Lunchroom where vegetables grown in the Montavilla
School garden are prepared and eaten]

[Illustration: Photograph by Brown Bros.
A model school home. One way of teaching children how to "keep house"
is by means of the model home where they are given instruction in all
the duties of the homemaker]

The teacher, in most cases, must begin her homemaking training by
realizing that her own example is by the very nature of things opposed
to the homemaking principle, the unmarried teacher being the rule in
most of our schools. Her first care, then, must be to counteract her
own example. Her references to home life must be always of the most
appreciative and even reverent sort. If, as is quite possible, she
comes from unsatisfactory conditions in her own home, she must be
doubly careful lest her prejudices be passed on to her pupils. She
will find ways in which to let it be understood that her ideals of
home life are not wanting, although she has not as yet - perhaps for
some reason never will - become a homemaker. I have sometimes thought
that teachers, in their effort to impress children in more direct
ways, lose sight of the great effect of their unconscious influence.
After all, it is what the teacher does, rather than what she says,
that impresses; and what she _is_, regulates what she does. The
teacher must, therefore, have the right attitude toward homemaking and
domestic life. It may be of the greatest value in determining the
force of her influence in this direction for the children to catch
intimate little glimpses of her domestic accomplishments, of her
sewing, or of her cooking, or of her quick knowledge and deft handling
of emergency cases. The teacher whose influence is felt most and lasts
longest is the one whose "motherliness" supplements her academic
acquirements and supplies a sympathetic understanding of the child.

[Illustration: Canning tomatoes at the Montavilla School. In such a
class the mothers of future citizens are given training in one of the
fundamental needs of the home - scientific cooking]

[Illustration: Lunchroom where children benefit by the scientific
cooking of the vegetables they grow]

With innate motherliness as a basis, the teacher must build up a
careful understanding not only of child nature, but of man and woman
nature as the developed product of child growth. She must be a student
of the "woman question" as a vital problem, always recognizing that
the whole social structure inevitably depends upon the status of woman
in the world. She must face without flinching her responsibilities in
sex matters. She may, or may not, be called upon to furnish sex
instruction to the girls under her care, but no rules can free her
from her moral responsibility in striving to keep the sex atmosphere
clean and invigorating. The "conspiracy of silence" on these subjects
is broken, and we must accept the fact that modesty does not require
an assumed or a real ignorance of the most wonderful of nature's laws.
"The idea that celibacy is the 'aristocracy of the future' is soundly
based if the Business of Being a Woman rests on a mystery so
questionable that it cannot be frankly and truthfully explained by a
girl's mother the moment her interest and curiosity seek
satisfaction."[4] And what the mother should tell, the teacher must

Practical use of the teacher's carefully worked-out theories will be
made all along the line of the girl's, and to a certain degree the
boy's, education. The indirect teaching of the primary grades will
give place in the higher grades to more direct dealing with the
science, or, better, sciences, upon which homemaking rests. The
classroom becomes a "school of theory." The home stands in the equally
vital position of a laboratory in which the girl sees the theory
worked out and in time performs her own experiments. The finest
teaching presupposes perfect coöperation between school and home.

[Illustration: Photograph by Brown Bros.
Mothers' and daughters' meeting on sewing day. Coöperation between
the home and the school makes for the best teaching of domestic

The first duty of the mother, like that of the teacher, is to preserve
always a right attitude toward home life. The girl who grows up in an
ideal home will be likely to look forward to making such a home some
day. Or, if the home is not in all respects ideal, the father or
mother who nevertheless recognizes ideal homes as possible may show
the girl directly or otherwise how to avoid the mischance of a less
than perfect home.

The prevalence of divorce places before young men and women sad
examples of mismating, of incompetent homemakers, of wrecked homes. We
can scarcely estimate the blow struck at ideals of marriage in the
minds of girls and boys by these flaunted failures. Nor can we even
guess how many boys and girls are led to a cynical attitude toward all
marriage by their daily suffering in families where parents have
missed the real meaning of "home." However practical we may become,
therefore - and we must be practical in this matter - we must never
overlook the need for parents to give home life an atmosphere of
charm. No one else can take their place in doing this. Hence it is
their first duty to make homemaking seem worth while.

The home must take the lead also in giving the idea of homemaking as a
definite and scientific profession. The school may teach the science,
but unless the home shows practical application of the scientific
principles, it would be much like teaching agriculture without showing
results upon real soil. Skillful teachers recognize the home as a
valuable adjunct to their school equipment and are able by wise
coöperation to use it to its full value.

The home, in its character of laboratory for the school of domestic
theory, must possess certain qualifications. Like all laboratories, it
should be well equipped. This does not mean necessarily with expensive
outfit, but with at least the best that means will allow. It implies
that the home shall be recognized as a teaching institution quite as
much as the school. Like other laboratories, it must be a place of
experiment, not merely a preserver of tradition. The efficient
laboratory presupposes an informed and open-minded presiding genius.

[Illustration: Courtesy of L.A. Alderman
First crop of radishes and lettuce at the Alameda Park School,
Portland, Oregon, June, 1916. Even in the primary grades children may
learn much about the science of growing things]

[Illustration: Bringing exhibits to a school fair in Tacoma,
Washington. Skillful teachers who recognize the home as a valuable
adjunct to the school equipment encourage the children to make gardens
at home]

The greatest service that the home can render in the cause of training
girls for homemaking is probably close, painstaking study of its own
individual girl - her likes, dislikes, aptitudes, and limitations.
Home-mindedness shows itself nowhere so much as in the home; lack of
home-mindedness shows there quite as much. The results of such study
should throw great light upon the problem of the girl's future.
Combined with the observations recorded by her teacher during year
after year of the girl's school life, this study offers the strongest
arguments for or against this or that career. Frequent and sympathetic
conferences between parent and teacher become a necessity. There is
then less likelihood of opposing counsel when the girl seeks guidance
toward her life work.

It is quite probable that, while the school undertakes to lay a
general foundation for homemaking efficiency, the home, when it
reaches the full measure of its power and responsibility, will be best
fitted to help the girl to specialize in the direction most suited to
her individual power. It can, if it will, _give_ the girl individual
opportunities such as the mere fact of numbers forbids the school to

The special work of the church in training the girl is necessarily
that which has to do with her spiritual concept of life, the
strengthening of her moral fiber. Here school, home, and church must
each contribute its share. None of them can undertake alone so
important and delicate a task. Any attempt to make arbitrary divisions
in the work of these three agencies is bound to be at least a partial
failure. Conditions differ so widely that we can only say of much of
the work, "at school or church or in the home," or, better, "at
school and church and home in coöperation." Each must supplement the
efforts of the other, and where one fails, the other must take up the
task. It really matters little where the work is done, provided that
it _is_ done. The ensuing chapters of this book are written in the
hope that they may bring the vital problems of girl training and girl
guidance home to both teacher and parent; and especially that they may
convince both of the value of coöperation in the inspiring work of
helping our daughters to make the most of their lives.


[Footnote 4: Ida M. Tarbell, _The Business of Being a Woman_.]



"Children are the home's highest product." That means at the outset
that we have children because we believe in them, and that we train
them, as the skilled workman shapes his wood and clay, to achieve the
greatest result of which the human material is capable.

A factory's output can be standardized. An engine's power can be
measured. But he who trains a child can never fully know the mind he
works with nor the result he attains. We do know, however, that if it
is subject to certain influences, trained by certain laws, _the
chances are_ that this mind which we cannot fully know will react in a
certain way.

To attempt in a chapter to outline a system of training for children
would be an attempt doomed to certain failure. Books are written on
this subject, and the shelves of the child-study and child-training
department in the libraries are rapidly filling. What I have in mind
here is rather a single line of the child's development - that which
leads toward making him a useful factor in the home life of which he
forms a part. The boy or girl who fills successfully a place in the
home of his childhood will be in a fair way to undertake successfully
the greater task of founding a home of his own.

In the days of infancy and early childhood, training for boys and
girls may be more nearly identical than in later life. A large part of
the differentiation in the work and play of little boys and girls
would seem to be quite artificial. We give dolls to girls and drums
to boys, but only because of some preconceived notion of our own. The
girls will drum as loudly and the boys care for the baby quite as
tenderly, until some one ridicules them and they learn to simulate a
scorn for "boys' things" and "girls' things" which they do not really

Throughout this chapter, therefore, it is to be assumed that the
training suggested is quite as applicable and quite as necessary for
one sex as for the other.

Young mothers sometimes ask the family doctor, "When shall I begin to
train the baby to eat at regular intervals, to go to sleep without
rocking, in general to accept the plan of life we outline for him?"
The answer seldom varies: "Before he is twenty-four hours old." It is
therefore evident that all the basic principles of living, whether
physical or mental, must have their foundations far back in the
child's young life.

[Illustration: Photograph by Brown Bros.
Helping with the housework. The boy or girl who successfully fills a
place in the home of his childhood will be in a fair way to undertake
successfully the greater task of founding a home of his or her own]

As a basis for all the rest, we must work for health. A truly
successful life, rounded and full, presupposes health. Regular habits,
nourishing food, plenty of sleep, are axiomatic in writings treating
of the care of young children, yet it is surprising how often these
rules are violated. "It is easier" to give the child what he wants or
what the others are having; easier to let him sit up than to put him
to bed; easier to regard the moment than the years ahead.

[Illustration: Already well started on his education]

Aside from the physical foundation, the training that we are to give
our little children will probably be based upon our conception of what
they need to make them good sons and daughters, good brothers and
sisters, good friends, good husbands and wives, and good fathers and
mothers. In other words, it is the social aspect of life that we have
in mind, and our social ideals. Whatever the boy "wants to be when he
grows up," he is sure to have social relations with his kind. Whether
the girl marries or remains single, she cannot entirely escape these
relations. Indeed they are thrust upon both boy and girl already. What
then do they need to enable them to be successful in the human
relations of living?

We might enumerate here a long list of virtues that will help, but,
since long lists shatter concentration, let us narrow them to four:
(1) sympathy, (2) self-control, (3) unselfishness, (4) industry.

I do not mean to say that, with these four qualities only, a man will
make a successful merchant or farmer, or that a woman will become a
good housekeeper or a skillful teacher. But I do mean that in family
relations these four qualities are worth more than intellectual
attainments or any sort of manual skill. It is really astonishing to
see how much these four will cover. We desire thrift - what is thrift
but self-control? Tolerance - what but sympathy - the "put yourself in
his place" feeling? Courtesy - what but unselfishness?

Let us, then, in the child's early years concentrate upon sympathy,
self-control, unselfishness, and industry. You will doubtless remember
Cabot's summary of the four requirements of man[5] - work, play, love,
and worship. Suppose we could write on the wall of every nursery in
the land:

Sympathy } { Work
Self-control } in { Play
Unselfishness } { Love
Industry } { Worship

Would not this writing on the wall be a fruitful reminder to the

The period of early childhood is the one in which the home may act
with least interference as the child's teacher. Later, whether she
will or no, the mother must share the work of training with the
school, the church, and that indefinite influence we class vaguely as
society. During these few early years, then, the mother must use her
opportunity well. It will soon be gone.

How shall she teach such abstract virtues as sympathy, unselfishness,
self-control? Recognizing the fact that the little child acts merely
as his instinct and feelings prompt, she must make all training at
this stage of his life take the form of developing the instincts.
Probably the strongest of these at this time is imitation.
Consequently most of the teaching must take advantage of the imitative
instinct. The first care should be to surround the child with the
qualities we desire him to possess. The mother who scolds, gives way
to temper, or is unwilling or unable to control her own emotions and
acts can hope for little self-control in her child. In the same way
the father who kicks the dog or lashes his horse or is hard and cold
in his dealings with his family may expect only that his child will
begin life by imitating his undesirable qualities. This necessary
supervision of the child's environment is a strong argument for direct
oversight of little children by the mother. It is often difficult even
for her to keep an ideal example before the child; and if she leaves
it to hired caretakers, they seldom realize its necessity or are
willing to take the pains she would herself. Especially is this true
of the young and ignorant girls who are often seen in sole charge of
little children.

This first step being merely passive education, it is not enough. We
must not only set an example; we must go farther and strive to get
from the child acts or attitudes of mind based upon these examples.

Let us take first the quality of sympathy, which is closely allied to
reflex imitation. It is difficult to say just when the child merely
reflects the emotions of those about him and when he consciously
thinks of others as having feelings like his own. This conscious
thought is, of course, the foundation of real sympathy, and it comes
early in the child's life - probably before the fourth year.

[Illustration: Copyright by Underwood & Underwood
Stories that broaden the child's conception of the lives and feelings
of others are of value in training for sympathy]

A little girl of three was greatly interested and pleased at the
appearance of a roast chicken upon the family dinner table. She
chattered about the "birdie" as she had done before on similar
occasions. But when the carving knife was lifted over it, she
astonished everyone by her terrified cry of "Don't cut the birdie.
Hurt the birdie." No explanation or excuse satisfied her, and it was
finally necessary to remove the platter and have the carving done out
of her sight. Most children are naturally sympathetic _when they have
experienced or can imagine_ the feelings of others. The cruelty of
children, is usually due to their absorption in their own feelings
without a _realization_ of the pain they inflict.

Training for sympathy then must consist of enlargement of experience
and cultivation of imagination. Some mothers do not talk enough with
their children. They talk _to_ them - that is, they reprimand or direct
them, but do not carry on conversations, as they might do greatly to
the child's advantage. Telling stories is one of the most fruitful
methods of training at this age. Even "this little pig went to market"
has possibilities in the hands of a skillful mother. The bedtime story
is a definite institution in many families. It deserves to be so in
all. Beginning with the nursery rimes, the stories will gradually
broaden in theme, and if their dramatic possibilities are at all
realized by the story-teller, the children will broaden in their

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Online LibraryMarguerite Stockman DicksonVocational Guidance for Girls → online text (page 5 of 14)