From the Archive - 01.12.1961

2nd December 2011 at 00:00

The adolescent girl

"I choose teaching because at some time I wish to get married."

Miss B Paston Brown, principal of Homerton College, Cambridge, reported this remark made by an 18-year-old girl who had just left school as an indication of the change in the social scene since a teacher was dismissed on marriage.

Speaking on "beyond school", Miss Paston Brown was giving the last in the London University Institute of Education's series of public lectures on the education of the adolescent girl. She went on to explain that this girl had chosen teaching primarily because it was one of the professions to which she could return after her marriage.

She deplored the "hard" official language which "called the blessing of more children to homes a 'bulge'" and described women leaving teaching to marry as "wastage". The wastage she was concerned about was rather the wastage of a girl's talents. She insisted that account should be taken in preparing girls' courses of the present trend towards early marriage and went on to quote some of her students' plans for the future.

Miss Paston Brown found that their first wish was for a happy marriage and to "live fully". They were idealistic, but also aware of international tensions.

She welcomed developments in educational thinking which would help girls' education. She thought that girls would often be happier with general higher education courses and were often better suited to a pass than an honours degree. She deplored the "tiresome antithesis" between a liberal and vocational education, which she thought could well be combined. She hoped that training colleges would be given a better status rather than turned into liberal arts colleges.

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