Who Wants An Educated Woman? The Rise of Female Academies

Who Wants An Educated Woman? The Rise of Female Academies
Anna Harrison: Education, Arts, Letters and Ideas

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One or two class periods


Standards Compliance
NCSS Strand 2
Time, Continuity, and Change
NCSS Strand 3
People, Places, and Environments
NCSS Strand 4
Individual Development and Identity
NCTE Standard 3
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
NCTE Standard 4
Students adjust the use of spoken, written, and visual language to communicate with different audiences and purposes.
NCTE Standard 7
Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions, and problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data.
ISTE Standard 4
Technology communications tools
ISTE Standard 5
Technology research tools

Introduction:

Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison was the first First Lady to receive a formal education. She attended the Clinton Academy, and then the Boarding School of Isabella Marshall Graham for three years, from 1867 to 1991.  Somewhat ahead of her time in this regard, Anna Harrison was fortunate to attend one of the many so-called "female academies" especially designed for the formal education of women.  These schools were quite often founded by women who had clear ideas about why girls should go to school at a time when the education of women did not have much support among the general population.  Many of them also prepared teachers, long before there were teachers colleges. In the case of Isabella Graham's school, students were taught not only academic subjects, but social responsibility and action as well.

Objectives:

Students who participate in this activity will gain knowledge of early schooling for girls and women, as well as some understanding of the arguments against women's education.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet and to library biographies.

Procedures:

Four of these women, and the academies they founded, were especially important in the movement toward the higher education of girls and women.  Using the web sites listed below, plus any additional print or web resources you can find, do one or more of the following activities:
 
1.  Write biographies of one or more of the four women, paying particular attention to their own educations.
 
2.  Stage a debate, using the arguments for and against women’s education that were prevalent in this period of history.
 
3.  Plan a conference on women’s education, inviting these four women to participate in your conference as speakers and
       panelists (some classmates might be willing to take the parts of these women).
 
4.  Write newspaper articles on each of the four schools.

5.  Write a comparative paper, outlining what these four schools had in common and how they were different. 



Extending the Lesson:

1     This lesson could be extended by asking students, after they have finished their research, to design a school especially for teachers.  What would the building look like, inside and outside?  How would the school be organized?  Who would decide what subjects teachers would study?  What would your recommendations be for the best curriculum for teachers?

2.  Stage a debate, using the arguments for and against women’s education that were prevalent in this period of history.

3.  Plan a conference on women’s education, inviting these four women to participate in your conference as speakers and panelists (some classmates might be willing to take the parts of these women).
 
4.  Write newspaper articles on each of the four schools.
 
5.  Write a comparative paper, outlining what these four schools had in common and how they were different.

Sources & Resources:

Websites:

Sarah Pierce and the Litchfield Academy 

History of Litchfield

Litchfield Female Academy

Emma Willard and the Troy Female Academy

History's Women: Emma Hart Willard

The Troy Female Seminary

Catharine Beecher and the Harford Female Seminary

Catharine Beecher

Mary Lyon and Mt. Holyoke Seminary

Life at Mt. Holyoke 

My Teacher Hero -- Mary Lyon 

 

Credits:

This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.