The necessity of Female Education
There is no valid argument by which the exclusion of the female sex from the privilege of education can be defended. It is argued that women have their domestic duties to perform, and that, if they were educated, they would bury themselves in their books and have little time for attending to the management of their households.
It is the height of selfishness for men, who fully appreciate in their own case the great advantage of a good education, to deny these advantages to women. Of course, it is possible for women, as it is for men, to neglect necessary work in order to spare more time for reading sensational novels. But women are no more liable to this temptation than men, and most women would be able to do their household work all the better for being able to refresh their minds in the intervals of leisure with a little reading. Nay, education would even help them in the performance of the narrowest sphere of womanly duty.
Education involves knowledge of the means by which health may be preserved and improved and enables a mother to consult such modern books as will tell her how to rear up her children into healthy men and women and skilfully nurse them and her husband when disease attacks her household. Without education, she will be not unlikely to listen with fatal results to the advice of superstitious quacks, who pretend to work wonders by charms and magic.
But according to a higher conception of the women’s sphere, women ought to be something more than a household drudge. She ought to be able not merely to nurse her husband in sickness, but also to be his companion in health. For this part of her wifely duty education is necessary, for there cannot well be congenial companionship between an educated man and an uneducated wife, who can converse with her husband on no higher subjects than cookery and servant’s wages. Also one of a mother’s highest duties is the education of her children at the time when their mind is most amenable to instruction. A child’s whole future life, to a large extent, depends on the teaching it receives in early childhood, and it is needless to say, that this first foundation of education cannot be well laid by an ignorant mother. On all these grounds, female education is a vital necessity.