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experience have learned the hopelessness of the hope, if not yet quite unencumbered with the desire. When teaching takes its proper place among the learned professions, it will be understood that teachers, like other men and women, need not find an earnest disposition to use their talents faithfully for good, diametrically opposed to a lawful and laudable desire to make money. If the profession could in this way acquire permanence and respectability, instead of condemning its members to from-hand-to-mouth existence, and a nornadic life, the gray heads, crowns of glory, would not long be missing from our ranks, and uther professions would be forced to ecek recruits elsewhere.
In some of these very points teachers, too, are verily guilty, and must assume their own share of the blame. Society may lodge complaint against us that we do not train children for their after lives by a proper development of character; that we aim to crowd the memory with facts rather than to develop the mental powers and fit them to contend with the evil forces which are encountered in later life. Some of us have not so learned our office that we realize the bearing of each early habit upon the mature character. We seek order for its own sake; faithfuless, for convenience, if at all; independence only to save trouble, and glorify geography and arithmetic inio objects of existence. Not so shall be gained the coveted honors. When we can train men women, instead of automatic reading and ciphering machines, we may begin to take our true position in the working world.
Many who are engaged in teaching lack the training necessary to the work. Taking up a profession in the interim of other occupations, or for lack of any other visible means of support, with no previous knowledge of the business, and with half the attention directed to improving the situation at the earliest cpportunity, is not the way to succeed. And in proportion to the number of “cheap teachers, who will do cheap work at cheaper rate, are the claims of the whole profession underated, and the inducements offered to skilled labor diminished.
Many of us must accuse ourselves of a lack of the hearty devotion to our work, which is the secret of true success. The painter at his easel, the sculptor at his modeling clay-these are doing no greater work than ours.
It sometimes seems that for us no ordinary consecration is sufficient; that our lips, like those of the prophet of old, should be touched with the divine fire to speak our message; that in our hearts should be the inspiration of a high and holy mission.
Some teachers, on the contrary, with too keen a sense of wrongs that must be righted, and good that must be done, have unduly exerted their powers to make up deficiencies, and need humbly to confess the sin of over-work." We shall not so advance the cause. Every day that has left us exhausted beyond our rallying powers, has not only recorded against us a debt to be paid in after suffering, but has added another to the many arguments which tend to discourage the young students of our country from looking to teaching as a life work. Of all the circumstances which tend to lower teaching in reputation and market value, woman must bear her proportion. While claiming in sorne regards a peculiar fitness for the work of instruction, she is not generally better qualified for it either physically or mentally, nor is her devotion to its high requirements more complete. Those who defend the present disproportion in the wages of the sexes in this department, must prove a greater inequality in their labors than teachers are generally willing to admit.
No one familiar with the modus operandi of the public schools of the present day can have failed to notice how the work required of women differs from that which is required of men. Each sex has its distinctive function in teaching, and neither can do the work of the other with the same success.
Man excels in making general plans; woman in efficiently working out those plans; man gains his ends by decisive action, woman hers by patient beseiging; man breaks the rocks that lie in the way, woman wears them away by degrees. Man cultivates in his pupils the stronger elements of character; woman's influence inculcates the gentler virtues and graces; man trains more successfully the reason; woman educates more truly the sensibilities and the will; man builds the imposing super-structure, for which woman has carefully and patiently laid the foundation.
The mental constitution of woman gives her a readier insight into the wants and needs, the preferences and prejudices of her pupils, and so a closer sympathy with their inner life. Her intuition thus avoids unpleasant points of contact, and the evil spirit lying dormant may die of inaction as well as in mortal combat. It is in the conflict, if it must come, that man's strength is specially manifest. He possess that which must be the back ground of all authority, the superior physical power which will inspire fear, when better emotions cannot be aroused.
This physical superiority, and his genius for general plans, often make the work of a man clearly more valuable than that of the women who carry out his plans, since, without his work, theirs would be useless. Women labor, at present, under another disadvantage, which will, we hope, soon disappear under the influence of enlarged ideas of female education. Many a teacher, conscious of her own deficiencies, is toiling day and night to make up to herself what she lost in early liie, through the ignorance or the carelessness of others.
The time has gone by when a girl could spend a few years in a superficial course of study, play with languages, dabble in the sciences, acquire a general horror for the higher mathematics and a particular contempt for arithmetic, and then graduate, even with a Latin diploma which she could not translate, and expect to take a high place among the instructors of youth. Women who have fault to find with their wages must not so fit themselves for their work. This lack of qualification, and the popular prejudice in favor of masculine ability, are prominent among the causes for the low wages of female teachers. But the Normal Schools all over our land are fast raising the standard of qualification, and candid minds are everywhere admitting that the work of education has need of both sexes for its proper accomplishment.
It is time, then, to inquire whether women, as teachers, have a fair proportion of remuneration for their labors.
An attempt has been made to show what some of these labors are. But nothing has been said, and enough cannot be said of the strain of nerve and wear of brain which teaching necessitates in womali. Of highly nervous organization, whence comes the peculiar power, intensely sympathetic and over-anxious for results, the heart of the true teacher is thoroughly in her work. Not only the hours of the day, but often the watches of the night, are given up to it, until sleep is sought in vain, and rest becomes a thing of vacations only.
To change this state of things would be to change the nature of woman in such a way as to unfit her for her peculiar work; no great good is attained without great price. That price women freely pay, finding in the work itself a reward which is greater than anything which money can procure.
But there is another side to the question. Should all this devotion meet with no greater appreciation than that which lays upon the already overtasked faculties the additional burden of poverty? Should hours which might recruit the exhausted frame be demanded for use in devising and executing expedients to make the month's wages supply the month's needs? When a man has finished his day's labor he has fulfilled the demands of society. His meals are provided for him, his clothing costs him hardly a thought, and his salary is sufficient to pay the price of his liring. A woman, after an equal number of hours of labor, at less than half the pay, must too often burn the midnight oil, not in pursuit of science, but in vain attempts to answer the old practical question, “ What shall I eat, and wherewithal shall I be clothed?"
This necessity puts a restraint upon woman which is an impassable barrier to true success in the profession. Furnish her with the means to rid herself of these petty cares, and of anxiety for her future support, to provide herself with aids to mental improvement and increase of knowledge of her profession, and her work will speedily rise in value to an extent hardly to be realized. All over our fair country are women who are doing work, as teachers, of which no man need be ashamed, under disadvantages which men cannot appreciate, and at prices which men would scorn to receive. They will continue to do it, for necessity is laid upon them. One by one they are falling far behind in the ranks, their information is growing old-fashioned, and the new fountains—in their very sightmare forbidden to them for lack of money. Their strength is failing, their over-tasked minds are refusing to perform their normal functions, and, by-and-by, the struggle will end. Over their early graves may be written, Died—not of “excessive schoolteaching,” but of insufficient pay.
There is little, it seerns, that teachers can do to right their own wrongs. Our hands and hearts are full of our work; we have no time to spend in haranguing the community in our own behalf. But the mills of God, slow in their grinding, must reach our grist at last.
Until the time of our relief shall come, we can at least strive toward excellence in our calling, and so inspire the world with a juster estimate of its value. The better things may not be for us, but the work that is done for those who come after is the holiest of all. In the hand of the guiding Providence, who, through darkness and conflict and sin, is leading humanity to perfect light, peace and purity in the future, we may safely trust our cause.
WOMAN'S WAGES FOR TEACHING.
BY MISS ELLA M. STEWART.
[Paper read before the State Teachers' Association, July 10, 1871.] On this subject I have felt more than I have thought; thinking of it only incites me to rebellion against what cannot at present be altered; yet every day am I made conscious of the galling fact that many of us women are performing the same work as men for from one-half to two
thirds the wages. Many of our number are also laboring successfully in grammar and intermediate departments for one-fourth and one-fifth the amount received by male principals of schools. I say many of us, not all, believing that a few receive as much if not more than they earn; for a poor teacher is not even worth the poor salary paid her.
Man, in general, holds more responsible and laborious positions than woman, yet is this sufficient reason for a difference of thirteen hundred dollars in the wages of the two? Many of our primary teachers, (women of course), receive but twenty dollars per inonth; with this sum, they are expected to board and clothe themselves, take the leading educational periodicals, attend Teacher's Associations, and take an active part in society. At the same time, the principal is receiving fifteen hurdred dollars, and, aside from school work, no more is expected of him than of her. We acknowledge that he should be paid the higher salary, but if she does as well in the primary, as he does in the high school, we certainly think it very unjust to fix the recompense of the one at two-fifteenths that of the other.
Likewise is it when the man and the woman fill the same situation. When, three years since, I took the place of a gentleman in one of the city schools in this state, for just one half what he had received, I felt that the school board had done wrong in offering me such a price; also, that I was doing wrong in accepting it. Yet it was the best I could do at the time, and being obliged to work, I accepted the position and wages, giving in return my best eforts. That salary was increased the second term to four-sevenths what the man had received; but more than that, they could not afford to pay.
Can we find any reasons for the poorness of woman's wages? As a class, they are less highly educated than men. They have not given as much time and study to fit themselves for the profession, hence the universal rule has been to give them the lower schools and less pay. Formerly in the country districts, they were engaged to teach only in the summer, for then a woman was incapable of governing the large boys who attended during the winter term.
When woman first commenced to teach, it was for the purpose of earning money solely, and she took little pride in her school, caring only for the dollars and cents. Since that time her ideas have enlarged and she has constantly and rapidly improved. I suppose, too, that some years ago man considered it out of woman's place to teach; this, perhaps, was one reason for grinding her wages down, down to the lowest point. Men have always engaged the parties to educate their children. Perhaps they judge of an applicant's ability by comparison with their own, and pay accordingly,
The aim of those who hire teachers seems to be to obtain them for the least amount possible; yet people are awake to-day to the necessity of having good teachers. Now if all such good instructors demand better wages, will not work for less, and as a poor one will not be hired, we must eventually command the wages we ought to have. Low pay is an obstacle in the path of many, which prevents them from rising in their profession.
A short time ago I asked an experienced teacher, who had visited schools, in what condition she found one of the departments. The report given was not very flattering; but she ended with this remark: * She (the teacher) does as well as I would for the pay." Now we feel
that this is wrong. If she engaged to teach the school for twenty dollars per month, as she did, it becomes her duty to perform the work to the best of her ability. Such a person is doing nothing to improve her wages.
One thing necessary before we can command a higher price for our labor is this; we must fit ourselves for the work; must not think because we have graduated from a High or Normal school, we know all that is necessary about teaching, or if we can obtain a certificate, we are competent to manage at least a primary school, for here we need more tact and ingenuity than elsewhere. We must fit ourselves intellectually, morally, and physically for the work, must become familiar with the best methods of imparting knowledge, must learn to govern ourselves and others, must study human nature, and must realize the fact that we are moulding the futures of those who are soon to fill our places.
We see few lady principals of schools. In many cases the cause is a lack of education or government, hence the necessity of improving ourselved in these particulars. It is unjust for a woman to step into a man's place and perform the same work for less than he does it. She wrongs not only herself but him, takes from him what he needs to support his family. This we do not wish. All we ask is to see both on the same platform; equally skilled and equally paid, giving people their choice between the two.
Under existing circumstances it is difficult for woman to acquire the knowledge and skill she needs. Many wish to attend school again, but they say: “How can we? Here we are, receiving barely enough to support us now, thus making it impossible.”_So they remain in the old places, longing continually to do better. They must learn that by sacrifice and labor, they may accomplish much where they are; they must learn to exercise self-denial now, for future good. Some offer the flimsy excuse that women do not need as much as men for their support, and if more were given them, it would be spent foolishly. We hope it does not cause them much anxiety to see a woman spending her own money as she pleases. Political economy teaches that for labor of any kind an equivalent should be given. Now since the labor is the same, the equivalent should be the same, irrespective of sex. Besides, it is seldom we see a woman who has worked hard for what she earns, wasting it foolishly. Earnest labors usually appreciate the value of money, and may be trusted to spend it as they choose.
It is sometimes urged, too, that a woman has only herself to support, while man has his family. Frequently, men, even with families, support only themselves, and a woman who works has relatives, perhaps a father, mother, sisters, brothers, or children to assist, and if she have none of these, she has her own future for which to provide.
But the greatest objection on the part of men is that if our wages rise theirs must fall. Ås a certain amount of money is appropriated for teachers' wages (and beyond this we cannot go), if our wages are increased, men's must be decreased. This is the cause of so much op. position on their part; they endeavor to promote, not the welfare of the majority, but their own selfish intereste. This equalization of wages will benefit mankind immeasurably; and the few should suffer, if they must, in order that the many may be benefited. Let us then take from the mountains sufficient to fill the valleys and level the land.