ERIC Number: ED558544
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Nov-8
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 7
A Voice from the Past: Catharine Beecher's Response to Simone de Beauvoir
Murphy, Madonna M.
Online Submission, Paper presented at the Midwest Philosophy of Education Society Annual Meeting (Chicago, IL, November 8-9, 2002)
Charlesetta Ellis, President of the Midwest Philosophy of Education Society (2002-2004) gave the Presidential Address at the 2002 MPES Annual Meeting, November 8, 2002 at Chicago State University regarding the important contributions made by Simone de Beauvoir to education and especially the education of women. This paper is a response to the address, and it proposes that Catharine Beecher was speaking about the important role of women one hundred years before Simone de Beauvoir. For Catharine, one is born a woman and she fulfills herself especially through her work as a teacher. "What is the most important and peculiar duty of the female sex? It is the physical, intellectual and moral education of children… the future citizens of this great nation," (Beecher, 1835). Teaching in the 1830's was not a woman's profession. Catharine Beecher was the first to envision teaching as a profession dominated by--indeed exclusively belonging to women. Demographic and economic development in the United States during the 1940's and 50's supported Catharine Beecher's vision. A rapidly expanding economy demanded more teachers, but swiftly developing industrialization left fewer males available for non-industrial jobs. According to Beecher's speeches there were one million and a half children who needed ninety thousand teachers. Although female teachers began to replace men in some eastern states in the 1830s, the economic and fiscal utility of this shift, as well as the pedagogic benefits were discovered by state and local boards of education from 1840 to 1880. By 1888, 63 percent of American teacher were women and in cities women constituted 90 percent of the teaching force. "None will deny the importance of having females properly fitted for their peculiar duties; and yet few are aware how much influence a teacher may exert in accomplishing this object" (Beecher, 1835). Through an analysis and synthesis of her writings, this paper proposes that Catharine Beecher would tell Simone de Beauvoir that the essence of a women is found in work and that the feminine soul is exceptionally fitted for the profession of teaching.
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A