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Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, June 11, 1905, SUPPLEMENT, Image 29

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1905-06-11/ed-1/seq-29/

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P
RETT? Mrs. E. W. Preston, formerly Miss
M libel Pock, for four years a teacher at the
Raymond school In Chicago, lias definite and
original views upon school teaching as a
profession for women which she has drawn
from her, experience ami observation.
"They are not reallv original at all,"
she says. " they are held bv thojsands of
teachers, the only diffoience being that they are afraid
to express them."
Now this Is Just what Mrs. Preston la not. With In
finitely (treat restraint in the choice of language, but
nevertheless in terms radical enough to startle the school
trustees, she declares the following things:
It Is the last profsslon In the world for the average
woman to choose. Scrubbing Is better.
It not only debars her. It positively unfits her for mat
rimony. She walks around on a V"ded mine of hypocrisy be
cause she glibly professes love for an occupation which it
is her most passionate prayer to be delivered from. If
she doesn't she Iorcs 'her Job.
Sooner or later she Is bound to halt her work.. She
must, because It is a vampire that preys upon her per
sonality. J J
Nihilistic Words From Pretty Lips.
Now, the woman who says these things is so pretty
that her worst enemy couldn't say that she Is soured or
Imblttered even by school teaching experiences. She has
such a gentle and altogether " nonschocl teachery " way
of uttering her opinions that nobody could call her rabid.
She shows the reflective faculty so plnlnly while talking
that no one would call her superficial. Truly, from her
pretty Hps the most nihilistic utterances turn to pearls.
Moreover, she has perspective In her view, for she hns
worked In other positions. Two years in the Chicago
public library, a year In the treasury department at Wash
ington, and work on a metropolitan dally give her con
clusions a range which classifies them expert. She has
the authority of having had her four yea.-s of school work
pronounced highly successful by superiors, and conceded
so by associates. Her happy desertion of her post for
matrimony In so short a time would also exempt her from
being predisposed to a hopeless view.
Teaching Worse Than Slavery.
" I first began to think strongly upon the subject out
side of my own personal view." said Mrs. Preston, " when
tin ex-school teacher said to me one day that she felt as
if tho seven years she had taught were Just seven years
lost out of her life. 'Do you feel that way. too?' I said.
I know It had been that way with me. but I hadn't seen
that others shared the conviction. Afterward I became
convinced that It was practically universal.
"Now, If I had a daughter I should prefer that she
should do anything In the world that fc'ae had the slightest
Inclination for rather than teach, If it was only to scrub.
I don't believe that thene is one girl In n thousand who
chooses the profession because she has thought the matter
out and decided that It l what she wants When I see the
endless procession of ulrls going to noinial every year to
prepare for the life I can only think of the sacrifice to
respectability upon which their parents arc offering them
up.
.
Parents Push Girls Into Schools.
"It Is the fathers und mothers that rush girls Into it.
The girls themselves are most of them without any
opinions as to whys and wherefores of the matter mhen
they begin. But the fathers and mothers think that It Is
so perfectly respectable and so safe that they pick it out
for their daughters an I begin early to talk them Into It.
due in a while there is an exception and a girl forms her
own opinions as to wnut she wants to do like h boy. This
Is only In families where the girls are brought up to think
Of a career as well as the boys.
" In one family I knew the mother told the daughter
When she was still a little thing (hat she must work hard,
ao that when she grew up she could be a school teacher.
But I will not be a school teacher.' said the young per
son, stamping her foot. ' School teachers never can do
as they please. I will be a newspaper woman they do.'
She went after what ihe wanted and In now doing It with
at least the satisfaction of having the work she wants
and likes.
Chances of Marriage Ruined.
" I'sually the mother who doesn't want her daughter
to go Into business or to go downtown and work has her
way andi the girl goes Into the school work. When she
does, disintegration begins. It Is only a question of how
much resistance she has mentally and physically whether
she gets out before It is apparent. She is roon well on the
road to becoming a mummified nervous system. If she
has enough enmbativeness in her to stick to her pleasures,
and enough strength to carry them on with her work for
a little while, she may marry.
" The chances of matrimony are much greater against
the buyer in this kind of a game of policy than is usually
supposed. First, of course, the chances of propinquity
are all eliminated. She spends all of hei prettiest and
best years Immured, s far as men are concerned. They
do not see her when hey would want her, and when she
gets old It Is n t only matrimony to which she Is not
eligible, but t lie schools dorl't want her either.
" Rut this Isn't the half. There n"vei was anything
truer than that three years of school teaching make a
woman unfit to live with. She Is positively depleted of
mental and emotional charm unless she has the gift in a
great quantity. The riiain upon her nerves has been so
great that stfe hns prsltivcly no reserves of the good
temper and diplomacy to draw upon, which are necessary
to cajole the ordinary man into being a model or happy
husband. She Is not jnly short on the attractions of high
spirits and physlcnl prettiness which ennble her to get
a husband, but unless rhe has as many years to recuperate
as she hns put In she Is positively ui.flt for matrimony.
M Is a fact of observation that highly nervous tempera
ments subjected to the strain of teaching for a few years
Imfore marriage are less successful in the physical part
uf motherhood.
Men Preiudiced Against Teachers.
" The prejudice wnlch men are siH to have ugalnst
school teachers my jbservation maks me think exists
even mere than Is generally tx-llcved. They fear tkat they
are aggressive and opinionated and fond of control, and I
think that it Is easy for them to get to he. I know that
since I taught it has never been half so easy for me to
give up my own opinion to that of somo'iody else as It was
when I was doing other things. Any teacher will tell you
that you can t teach a little while before you find vourself
telling everybody ho- to do things. And another thing
I noticed was that after I had taught a year or a little
over I could control the school by simply standing and
looKing at me children, und almost-unconsciously on my
part. too. The wish to cio so had become so much a part
of my mental attitude that it exercised a positive effect.
Once started,, this Is a quality that dominates the possessor
and radiates from her more than she hns any Idea of.
"As to her fondness for children, the worst of It Is
that a teacher loses the fondness for them that she nat
urally possesses. Why shouldn't she? They are drawing
all the time In a terrible quantity upon all her best quali
ties of heart and soul. She is constantly giving out of her
best and never getting rny chance to put anything In She
does not realize this at first, but when she does, If she has
already reached the physical state where It gets on her
nerves, she begins In ier heart to think ol the children as
Iyer natural enemies. She feels like closing every part of
her sympathy and he.-self against this terrible onslaught
of young life, which is sapping her body and soul. You
know, don't you, that ou never can relax ts long as there
Is a child in front of you?
Love for Children Dies.
"The worst Is the Irritating effort at constant dis
cipline and the equally Irritating effort to make a good
showing In the eyes of the many overseers and supervisors,
which is necessary to keep her Job. These are. of course,
the real obstacles which prevent her recuperating In the
happy qualities with which one needs to affiliate with
children.
" I have only known one teacher who was able to keep
her love for them throughuany year of the work so
that you would know instinctively thai It was the 'real
thing. She asked to be put down In the lower grades
where she would not have discipline to contend with und
where she could really lavish all her affections on them
She has a lovely way with them and would make a beauti
ful mother, but the chances are that this career will be
cut off from her. She is : and she looks .Kl j tried so
hard to perfect myself and to work ..p to a fine point in
my work.' she told me. that I gradually gave up my
chance, to go anywhere.' She was one of the rare one.
that would be all things that the most exacting could ex
pect of her, and her lonely life Is the pathetic forfeit.
Sacrifice Great; Reward Small.
"This self-effacement is the bogy which all school
teacher, dread. They understand, better than any one
else, the greatness nf ih .u,.,ih... .....
"v " "u ine KmaiiueHs or
You know, all the reward there Is for this
l i
fill ' fv!SS5&. " -':J 11
I f I v. " If
the reward..
sort of thing Is that once In a great while a parent with
more than ordinary chances of salvation will come to ynu
and tell you how much Khe feds what you have really done
for her child. This '.s the only Inspiring thing that ever
happens In the profession, except, of course, the funny
things the children say and It Is far from happening often,
as the attitude of the ordinary parent is that you are fa
vored among young women If you are iliowed to teach her
Johnny. '
"One of the most depressing things about the work to
the average girl Is that she cjn'i be honest about what she
thinks. There is a little fiction i vpected of school teachers,
you know, that they love their work. It Is a creed. Many
teachers recite It glibly. None deny It. Yes, there w:is
one. She was a girl with lots of brains, no feelings, end
lessly smiling, and pessimistically good humored. She got
the children up wonderfully In their grades the first year,
besides having time to state frankly and frequently that
Bhe hated her school and hnted the work. The next year
she was removed. Btrt she Is the only ope I remember.
" Sometimes you hear a new tenchc say, ' I am tired
of teaching already,' or ' I never can like this kind of
work.' Hush,' says cne of the older ones of the order,
'don't ever let anybody hear you breathe anything like
that.'
" You will find, if you should ask, that the young teach
ers whom yon see pi fining for automobile rides, and par
ties, and balls always fall to mention these matters to the
principal. There Is many a school In Chicago whose at
mosphere Is frosty to things of that sort. Should the
teacher be 111 for a hilf day and the little diversion had
become known, she would soon hear of It. ' You can't go
out In the evenings and attend to your school work.'
" The average educator In a superior poaltlon points
out technical study as n means of getting back the heart
and soul that a girl gives out In her work to young chil
dren. She will have none of the theory lhat this course
exhausts rather than accumulates. One of the trials of
the teacher who Is honest with herself Is that she has to
play up to an opinion at which she inwardly rages.
Jm
Teaching Destroyer of Girls.
" If every teacher tald what she thought she would sny
that she recognizes the work as her arch enemy and de
stroyer. If every ex-teacher would say what she thought
she would say that the nightmnre of her life Is the fear
that she may some time have to go back to It.
" If the girl who is In It could be honest about it and
get credit and sympathy outright, and openly pursue every
possible recreation and diversion to offset It, her position
would become more possible. Rut the only time she will
speak her mind is when she Is on a vacation
"A girl librarian had a school teacher from a small
town come up to visit her. The girl it, the library re
marked that she loved her work. The otner looked at her
as If she was demented. Ixive your work! Did you say
love?" Thereupon the young school mistress, who so far
had not succumbed to the depressing effects of her posi
tion, went Into peals of laughter. Yet she was considered
Al In the town In which she taught.
" I don't say that this is the way It should be, you
know.It Is only the way I truly believe that It is in ninety-nine
cases. The conditions are certainly such that
girl, would do well to see If there was not some other work
to which they were iwtter fitted, and which they might
at least have a chance to say they love their work after
a few years. At pres-nt the only reasons that I can see
for a girl going Into teaching are that she has abnormal
strength, phlegmatic temperament, and a conviction of a
lifelong vacation. The alternative is that She has definite
plans for getting out."

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