For only insipid lifeless beauty is produced by a servile copy of even beautiful nature. Gradually, Mary became part of a circle of friends who were constantly discussing the political affairs of the day. Society can only be happy and free in proportion as it is virtuous; but the present distinctions, established in society, corrode all private, and blast all public virtue. Public education, of every denomination, should be directed to form citizens; but if you wish to make good citizens, you must first exercise the affections of a son and a brother.
Moore, J. 1798. Indeed, if it were only on this account, the national education of women is of the utmost consequence, for what a number of human sacrifices are made to that Moloch prejudice! In 1786, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote a short tract entitled Thoughts on the Education of Daughters but it was the advent of the French Revolution in 1789 that brought Mary into the public eye. But fortitude presupposes strength of mind; and is strength of mind to be acquired by indolent acquiescence?
Sourced from Wikmedia Commons. See, also, William Godwin on education and Mary Wollstonecraft on education in the encyclopedia.
Is it surprising that such a tasteless being should rather caress this dog than her children? So far from it, that these frivolous pursuits might comprehensively be termed the study of affectation; for we now rarely see a simple, bashful boy, though few people of taste were ever disgusted by that awkward sheepishness so natural to the age, which schools and an early introduction into society, have changed into impudence and apish grimace.
Mary Wollstonecraft was not, however, to build on her fame or to write anything else of note. Nothing, indeed, can be more irreverent than the cathedral service as it is now performed in this country, neither does it contain a set of weaker men than those who are the slaves of this childish routine. I went to visit a little boy at a school where young children were prepared for a larger one. He could not raise her to the common level of her sex; and therefore he laboured to bring woman down to her’s.
(2004) ‘Mary Wollstonecraft on education’, The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education. She described the process by which parents brought their daughters up to be docile and domesticated. Great emergencies excepted, which would rarely occur in a society of which equality was the basis, a man can only be prepared to discharge the duties of public life, by the habitual practice of those inferior ones which form the man. What a different character does a married citizen assume from the selfish coxcomb, who lives, but for himself, and who is often afraid to marry lest he should not be able to live in a certain style. Tenderness for their humble dumb domestics, amongst the lower class, is oftener to be found in a savage than a civilized state. So why should Mary Wollstonecraft be of any great importance as an educational thinker?
And what nasty indecent tricks do they not also learn from each other, when a number of them pig together in the same bedchamber, not to speak of the vices, which render the body weak, whilst they effectually prevent the acquisition of any delicacy of mind.
The master took me into the school-room, &c. but whilst I walked down a broad gravel walk, I could not help observing that the grass grew very luxuriantly on each side of me. A disgusting skeleton of the former state is still exhibited; but all the solemnity that interested the imagination, if it did not purify the heart, is stripped off. For Mary Wollstonecraft, rationality or reason formed the basis of our human rights as it was our ability to grasp truth and therefore acquire knowledge of right and wrong that separated us, as human beings, from the animal world.
They should be tried by their peers, which would be an admirable method of fixing sound principles of justice in the mind, and might have the happiest effect on the temper, which is very early soured or irritated by tyranny, till it becomes peevishly cunning, or ferociously overbearing. Their lively senses will ever be at work to harden their hearts, and the emotions struck out of them will continue to be vivid and transitory, unless a proper education store their mind with knowledge. For in the transactions of business it is much better to have to deal with a knave than a fool, because a knave adheres to some plan; and any plan of reason may be seen through much sooner than a sudden flight of folly. Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection. But, till more understanding preponderates in society there will ever be a want of heart and taste, and the harlot’s rouge will supply the place of that celestial suffusion which only virtuous affections can give to the face.
Soon after Mary Wollstonecraft’s book came out, Tom Paine wrote his classic The Rights of Man. To render also the social compact truly equitable, and in order to spread those enlightening principles, which alone can meliorate the fate of man, women must be allowed to found their virtue on knowledge, which is scarcely possible unless they be educated by the same pursuits as men. How to cite this piece: Wollstonecraft, M. (1792) A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Chapter XII On National Education.
More directly, Wollstonecraft produced a book for children (Original Stories) in the innovative, progressive mode of the day, edited an innovative reader specifically designed for the use of girls, and frequently commented on children's books and educational treatises for the Analytical Review. In this plan of education the constitution of boys would not be ruined by the early debaucheries, which now make men so selfish, or girls rendered weak and vain, by indolence, and frivolous pursuits.
In France or Italy, have the women confined themselves to domestic life? She had a picture of an ideal family where the babies were nourished by an intelligent mother and not sent away to nurses and then to boarding school and fathers were friends to their children rather than tyrants. It was a significant milestone in the arguments around women’s rights and has since become a feminist classic. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and her works as important influences. It was not, however, the mechanical selection of limbs and features; but the ebullition of an heated fancy that burst forth, and the fine senses and enlarged understanding of the artist selected the solid matter, which he drew into this glowing focus.
Her book 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman' pressed for educational reforms. Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer who advocated for women's equality. A few good scholars, I grant, may have been formed by emulation and discipline; but, to bring forward these clever boys, the health and morals of a number have been sacrificed.
Justice, or even benevolence, will not be a powerful spring of action unless it extend to the whole creation; nay, I believe that it may be delivered as an axiom, that those who can see pain, unmoved, will soon learn to inflict it.
I have already animadverted on the bad habits which females acquire when they are shut up together; and, I think, that the observation may fairly be extended to the other sex, till the natural inference is drawn which I have had in view throughout—that to improve both sexes they ought, not only in private families, but in public schools, to be educated together.
For the little knowledge that they are led to acquire, during the important years of youth, is merely relative to accomplishments; and accomplishments without a bottom, for unless the understanding be cultivated, superficial and monotonous is every grace.
The picture of the cover of ‘Vindication’ was sourced from Wikimedia Commons and believed to be in the public domain. Added to this, he will never acquire that frank ingenuousness of behaviour, which young people can only attain by being frequently in society where they dare to speak what they think; neither afraid of being reproved for their presumption, nor laughed at for their folly.