Monday, August 2, 2010

McGill Normal School

Well, this article, from 1904, is quite illuminating, with respect to Flo in the City, my story about a girl coming of age in the pivotal 1910 era in Canada.

Here, Dr. Robbins, the Principal of McGill Normal School, is lamenting the fact that they can't lure men into the teaching profession.

This is having the effect of effeminizing the youth of the nation. Indeed, it's having "a grave national effect" the article says. Youth need 'a strong masculine hand' over boys during those impressionable years.

There is a belief to this effect today.

This can be solved, says Dr. Robbins, by increasing male teacher's salaries for no one can raise a family on a teacher's salary. Oddly, I have statistics from 1897 that show that male teachers already make more than double females'salaries.

Average Salaries, Male Teachers. Elementary with diploma (this is yearly): 213.00 RC.$600.00 Protestant.
Female elementary with diploma 104.00 RC; 182. 00Protestant (Yikes! What a discrepancy).

Model and Academy with diploma: Male: 491.00 RC; 835.00 Protestant. Women: 130. RC.. 302.00 Protestant.

No wonder Marion is quoted in a 1905 letter, "Everyone hates the Normal." What with a Principal that thought so witheringly of his staff (which included his own daughter, a master teacher) and students.

No wonder she went on to become union leader and fight for higher salaries for female teachers, after being left widowed with four children and after having been duped out of her husband's share of his family's business, or so she thought, so her lawyer thought, because I have the lettter. (You have a good case, but it would cost too much to go to court," he says.

In this context, it is easy to believe (what I mentioned in my last blog) how teachers were bullying and sadistic. Clearly, if women were considered too 'soft' to teach boys, they were encouraged to be harsh, to prove they weren't bad at their jobs. Flora Nicholson was soft-hearted. She writes in a 1914 letter that 'she feels sorry for her students. They have such hard lives." Marion didn't feel this way, or certainly didn't express it. She did, though, work hard to get the best out of them.

Marion quit teaching and married because a 'mere boy out of teaching school' was promoted over her, with a starting salary 150 a year over her present salary, even though she had a remarkable record and 6 years experience.

In England, the public school system (which was really private) was created for the same reason. Young boys of 5 were pulled away from their homes and the doting moms, to masculinize them. How good you were at school sports became the measure of a man.

My father, a child of the Raj, had this happen to him. And despite the fact he was Captain of all the school teams, he was scarred for life by this background. Indeed, he tells a story: One day another younger pupil (at St. Bees, County Durham) came up to him and said "It must be great to be you." and he wanted to say, "Yea, you think so." He was miserable.