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Reality of Education for Girls in the 19th Century

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Since the 1790s education was a one sided argument for women and girls in England. A Completely deserted area by historians and the state system of education. The article I am summarising observers “the education of working class girls in the period of 1800-70”. It looks at evidence, reality, ideals and a deeper insight in why the involvement of schooling contrasted from that of boys in the same social groups.

During this decade there was a lot of debate in education in working class girls. Repeatedly it was seen as to be less “important than that of boys”. This is a constant reminder throughout the article, it was also certain as total figures of attendance in schools specified so. This public pressure gave writers like Marry Wollstonecraft to voice out and claim the equivalence of education with boys in means of obtaining independence for women. Further seen in the article boys were clearly provided with a range of schooling as however, working class girls were less fortunate receiving a minor chance in the values of “civilizing” and “humanizing”. This also pressured on the point that boys in the same class had a more expanded opportunity in life while girls on the other hand, it all weighed on there “domestic role”. This belief was also shared by Kay Shuttelworth.

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Throughout this period social organisations pointed out that a women’s place should be at home, this view increased gender – differentiated values. These gender values also effected the curriculum, giving boys schooling that consisted of athematic and ‘industrial work’ as while working class girls was provided with afternoons of sewing and needlework which was ‘cheaply’ and a ‘suitable occupation for working class girls’ but according to teacher reporting’s, needlework was a more fit for education for girls. Access to schooling proved difficult for working class girls, figures shown in the article present 2827 more boys than girls admitted to “Baldwin’s Gardens by 1832”, further shown in the article statistics continuously illustrate a differentiated picture.

In conclusion the reality of education for working class girls in the 19th century was seen as a gender and class oriented system. Working class girls and boys were subject to different expectations and lead divergent paths. This compared to the 21st century changes have happened and have set a more confident position for women of all class. Nevertheless, access to education by both genders during the 19th century and now will still remain with a pattern were difference are still part of the strategy.


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