Mr. Woodward here recognizes the popular feeling that the schools are impractical. He has not noted the preponderance of women teachers as a contributary cause.
Women, as we have seen, are interested in the esthetic rather than the practical or the industrial side of life. In the boy's mind the grammar school with its corps of women teachers comes to associate education with the interests of women only. This I believe is one reason why so few take the step from grammar to high school. At this age boys begin to notice differences of sex. They are proud of their masculinity. The voice changes; they are conscious of superior strength, and they love to show their muscle. They cultivate the gruffer ways of men, and often learn to smoke and chew, not because they want to be vicious, but because men use tobacco and women do not, and they want to emphasize the fact that they are men. From fourteen to twenty they love football. It is a game that calls for masculine strength and masculine courage. So everything that is distinctly masculine is admired and imitated; everything womanish is despised. Few boys at this age are ready to admit that women are the equals of men. Even the mother's influence wanes. Her word is not final in everything. She is only a woman and can not understand all that men should do.
So it is in school. The woman teacher is at a disadvantage with high school boys. She must be of a decidedly strong personality to appeal to him. He sees intuitively that the tastes and preferences of women are different from those of men, and he is not at all ready to take a woman teacher's advice in choosing a course of action for himself.
We believe thoroughly in coeducation; but coeducation does not exist when both sexes are educated by one. The living teacher and the ideal his personality presents is more effective than anything else in holding students in school. The lady teacher can not present such an ideal to young people of the opposite sex. With all the growth in number of schools and teachers during the last half century, there are fewer men teaching to-day than there were in 1860. In spite of our boasted progress in education, there are fewer school children enrolled to-day in proportion to the number of school age than there were in 1860. If we would hold boys in school between the ages of 12 and 15, we must appeal to the more practical bent of a boy's mind, and the ideals of manhood which attract him. We must have more men teachers.
It was noticed above that women by their choice of studies in the university evidence very slight interest in political matters as compared with the interest exhibited by men. And yet they teach civics in a majority of schools. It will be interesting to endeavor to learn what the effect of this teaching is.