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Education In The Working Class Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 16 August 2017

Education In The Working Class

Gradually, there was a rise in the total number of sports that were available to women (although they were still based on the idea of gentle exercise for ‘weak women’) such as skittles and gentle forms of tennis and badminton. Croquet in particular was very popular. There were several indoor versions such as ‘parlour croquet’ ‘table croquet’ and ‘carpet croquet’. Its rise in popularity was due to the fact that it was a social game that could be played by both sexes. The reality however, was that women played an ornamental role, as in-active players who wore stiff corset-like dresses. Although the middle-classes were beginning to be more social, women were still required at all times to remain ‘lady-like’ in their actions and mannerisms. They were often only spectators of men’s sport such as cricket.

Tennis started to become more accessible to women, although more of a status symbol rather than for sporting reasons. It started off as a game of pat-ball and began to grow among the middle and upper classes as a more enjoyable way for middle & upper class women to show off their talents. The acquisition of private courts symbolised the affluence of a particular family. Middle-class women also saw it as a way of displaying their ‘cultured mannerisms’ to prospective husbands. Needless to say the traditional stereotype of weak women did not disappear. If men and women played together then the man would always give the woman every advantage possible such as allowing her to stand as close to the net as she would like when serving, and gentle rally’s and shots.

The playing of games became an important aspect of middle-class women (although it was rather out of fashion than the thought of it being a necessity for health). The vast majority of middle-class girls were educated in private schools or by private tutors. Exercise was encouraged so that girls could gain a ‘ladylike disposition’. It eventually became a part of the curriculum on par with other skills such as playing the piano, singing and needlework. Typical examples of exercise include crocodile walks, callisthenics, croquet and dancing. To be strong and healthy was deemed to be ‘vulgar’ instead frailty and paleness was encouraged.

Late 19th Century – The Beginning Of A Change? The major changes in women sport occurred through the education of young girls. The encouragement of girls’ sport in schools set a precedent for women. Equal education rights for women were increasingly being lobbied for. In 1848 Queens College and Bedford College in 1849 were landmarks opened for the development of higher education. Other elite schools for middle-class girls were opened such as the Girls’ Public Day School Company (1872) and the Church Schools Company (1883). Specialist colleges of physical education were also established such as the Dartford College (1885) and Anstey College (1897), which were responsible for the training of teachers for physical education of girls and women.

The elite schools immediately established a set curriculum for p.e for girls, which included a wider range of activities. This was a substantial change and was quite radical for the time. In light of the changing curriculum for girls there was a gradual shift in medical opinions about girls exercise. Many doctors were in support of more energetic forms of exercise for girls, whilst some were even campaigning for it to be made a compulsory part of the curriculum. They argued that “prolonged exercise of brain, deficient exercise of limbs” would produce sickness in girls, and that allowing energetic exercise for girls was good preparation for when women needed strength e.g. during pregnancy.

Female physical education and sports were influenced by a number of factors towards the end of the 19th century, such as the changing position of women I society, the growing debate about exercise for girls and women, and the opinions of numerous doctors, educational specialists and liberal reformers. Despite new and more varied sports being made available, this differed from school to school and generally there was no overall programme of sports meaning that the standard of sports that were available to girls was a ‘lottery’.

Gradually more sports were being included on the physical education syllabus for girls, such as hockey, tennis and cricket. Team games were very much promoted and were beginning to become a serious aspect of daily school life. Inter-house and inter-school competitions became popular with many girls teams beginning to train in the gym in preparations for girls matches. In this way, games playing in girls started to take on the traditional characteristics of boys playing.

For this reason, girls’ games playing had to be strongly and regularly justified. It was never argued that girls were equally as strong or stronger than boys, but that girls needed regular exercise to promote a ‘healthy mind’. Although physical education for girls was improving for the middle and upper classes, it was yet to be mirrored in the education of the working class. The London School Board started to show keenness for some form of exercise for girls in London elementary schools, which was previously non – existent.

In 1879 Miss Concordia Lring was appointed as the ‘Lady Superintendent Of Physical Education’ in girls and infant schools. She was trained in Per Henrik Ling’s system of gymnastics and effectively started the training of teachers in gymnastics which then went on to teach in state schools. Her successor, Martina Bergman (who worked for the London School Board from 1882 – 1887) trained 1312 women teachers in Swedish gymnastics who then went on to introduce the system in to 300 schools. By 1888, every girls and infants department were being taught Swedish gymnastics.

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  • University/College: University of Chicago

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  • Date: 16 August 2017

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