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    Preparation for Real Life

    May 14, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    Today in my Reader, I found the large quote below in a link on Like Merchant Ships. I was so delighted, as I believe this lends a little perspective on an idea I intend to discuss a bit this week on Afterthoughts.

    In accordance with their whole plan of education, Mr. and Mrs. Wilmot selected a school for their daugher in which the mental and moral discipline of the pupils was most thorough and systematic, though in so doing they were compelled to listen to the remonstrances of all their fashionable friends. “You will be still more surprised,” said Mrs. Wilmot one day, to a lady who had exhausted her eloquence in trying to persuade her of her error– “when I tell you that for three months of every year, Mary is to leave Mr. B.’s school, and become my pupil in the mysteries of housekeeping, until she is fully qualified to take my place, should it become necessary for her to do so.”

    “Poor girl! with her attractions and her fortune, to make such an antediluvian of her, when all her companions have nothing to do but enjoy themselves, and become as accomplished as possible.”

    “I might answer,” replied Mrs. Wilmot, “that I consider a thorough knowledge of housekeeping a most important accomplishment for every woman whose vocation is that of a wife and mother; but I assure you I have no intention of undervaluing either a cultivated intellect, or external accomplishments. I consider the former essential to the full developement of the female character; and were it not my firm conviction that by the course I have adopted, Mary will learn more and to better advantage than by keeping her constantly in school, I should follow in the beaten track, and suffer her to spend the best years of her life in utter ignorance of what is to constitute her principal employment hereafter. But, with my present belief, I cannot be so cruel to my child, so blind to her best interests, as to neglect a part of her education which must necessarily be practical, and which she can acquire nowhere else so well as in her father’s house, and in the preformance of those thousand offices of love, which are daily required in the domestic circle, but which the school-girl has usually neither the time nor ability to render. True, she may not in this way become a prodigy of learning, though I see not why she should make less mental progress than in the ordinary routine: but she will be what is far better in my estimation, a “household spirit,” fitted for her true mission, full of warm sympathies and domestic affections, with a heart to feel the wants of those around her, and a hand to execute its generous promptings. There are comparatively few of our sex, whom God has fitted by the priceless gift of genius, to be the blessing and ornament of the age in which they live, but every woman may, with proper training, become the sun of her domestic circle, diffusing warmth and radiance throughout the sphere of her influence, and leaving behind her a lasting memorial, in the virtue and usefulness of the immortals whom she has helped to form for happiness and heaven.”

    {from the book The Ladies’ Wreath, originally published in 1849; read the whole book here}

    It may appear from reading the quote that I am about to write a post on the proper education of girls, or perhaps something on housekeeping. On the contrary, it is my plan to discuss neither subject. I simply want readers to note that some families {and trust me when I say some families still do this} prepare their girls for the future occupation of wife and mother. But most families do not.

    Think for a moment about how prepared and capable the young Mary of yesterday was when she finally faced the independent running of her own household. And now consider how completely inadequately trained is the Brittney of today. I recall a country song with a line in it that went, “Me and my husband, we need a wife.” When both sexes are trained for a career, there is an entire sphere of life with which neither marriage partner is trained to deal. However, many young women have the conviction even when they don’t have the training.

    What happens to the young woman who spent her whole life being trained by the public school system and university system to be a Worker and then decides to live by conviction and make a home?

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  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts June 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    What I love about homeschooling is that I am able to train my daughters and sons to be good caretakers of the home–learning to cook, mend, raise animals, garden, landscape, etc.–while still offering them a rigorous education with time for deep thinking. It really has turned out to be such a blessing.

  • Reply Levi, mind-blown dad & grandfather of three girls June 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Lately I’ve been talking about some of these”new” ideas. I’ve always considered myself a strong conservative, but this is something I never thought of before. That being said, I can’t see any flaws in your arguments, except those motivated by my own fears and the norms of society. I’m very curious to see and read more.

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