I was reading through this booklet produced by the NUWT ‘The Education of Girls’ and getting more and more enraged by the comments of a Mr Newsom, Director of Education for Herefordshire, who also published a book on ‘The Education of Girls’. There is no date on the NUWT publication but it is around 1950 and it talks about the Newsom book as if it is quite recent. It got to the stage where I was laughing rather than getting annoyed as the comments were so ridiculous. For example talking of the skills and education required by a girl he said –
“She should have some knowledge of the principles of nutrition, the practice of food preservation and cookery… she should know how to keep simple accounts, to estimate hr expenditure.. have taste in her choice of furniture, equipment and decoration…”
The NUWT outline very clearly in this leaflet why they think this attitude towards the education of girls i.e. that they are destined only for motherhood, marriage and a home life, is dangerous and would be a step backwards. The booklet lays out very clearly the need for equal opportunities for girls and boys and no assumptions made about what a girl ‘should do’.
The final section of the quote from Mr Newsom made me laugh as it’s obvious he’s alluding to sex education in a very round about way when he says “Although it will be theoretical rather thank practical, she should know something of the care of infants and of the normal processes which precede their arrival”. However when I read this out to my colleagues it started a more serious discussion about sex education and how little some people’s attitudes have changed. The case in point being the news item on the BBC today about the BNP picketing outside a primary school in Sheffield, to protest against the children receiving sex and relationship education. Then it made me see that the quote above isn’t funny at all if there are still groups of people who believe that sex education is something dirty, something to hide away.