From the archive - Housewives on education: criticism of school

29th October 2010 at 01:00
24 November 1950 Women quizzed on domestic schooling thought they were ill-equipped to run a home

The opinion is growing, among educated women as well as among educational administrators, that the time has come to reconsider the content of girls' education. One way of approach is to find out what women themselves think of their own education.

This was the idea that decided the late Eva M Hubback (principal of Morley College and among other things an enthusiastic grandmother) to send a questionnaire to nearly 1,000 housewives to find out facts about their conditions and methods of work, what they thought of their schooling and what aspects of their lives they would like to see changed.

All the questions, apart from the one about public affairs, aimed at finding out if the housewives thought they had been adequately equipped at school for running a home and bringing up a family, the occupation of four-fifths of the woman of this country. On needlework, nearly a third were satisfied and 43 per cent critical; on cooking, 22 per cent were satisfied, 39 per cent were not; on housework, 12 per cent were satisfied, 14 per cent were not; childcare had been learned by just 9 per cent of the women surveyed and of these two-thirds were dissatisfied with the course given.

In other words, in all the domestic subjects the housewives were more critical than appreciative of what their domestic science mistress had achieved. How much of this is the fault of inadequate equipment in the schools or because of the mistake of trying to teach these subjects when the greatest interest is aroused, as marriage still seems so far off?

This last opinion was put in more than one of the letters accompanying the answers: "Isn't it all a matter of general education and the attitude of mind it produces? A modicum of intelligence, a good cookery book and a desire to do it will soon make a good housewife." Another wrote: "The time when housewifery classes are needed is in the engagement and early married days."

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