Occasionally we find a girl who has no talent for housework or home management. She is not particularly interested in it. She finds it monotonous and distasteful. For these reasons she probably does not do it well. On the other hand, she may have keen, reliable commercial instincts and be well qualified for a business career, or she may be educational, artistic, literary or professional in type. Such a woman has, of course, no business trying to keep house. She may have a strong love nature and ardent maternal desires. If so, there is no reason why she should not marry and become the mother of children. If she does, however, she should turn the management of the home over to someone else and seek self-expression and compensation in the vocation for which she is best fitted. This, of course, is no easy matter. Many men either have violent or stubborn prejudices against any such arrangement. Whether or not she can take her true place in the world depends upon the courage, determination, tactfulness, and personal force of each individual woman.
There is one occupation for women which is thoroughly established, entirely respectable, socially uplifting, and fully approved by even the most conservative and fastidious. This is teaching. The result is that the profession of teaching, for women, is overcrowded and becoming more overcrowded. The work done is, on the whole, mediocre or worse, and, as a result of these two conditions, the pay is pitifully small considering the importance of the results.
Because women can become teachers without losing one notch of their social standing in even the most hide-bound communities, thousands of women become teachers who ought to be housewives. Thousands of others struggle in the schoolroom, doing work they hate and despise, for a miserable pittance, when they might be happy and successful in a store or an office. We have met women teachers who ought to have been physicians; others who ought to have been lawyers; others, many of them, who ought to have been in business; and still others, thousands of them, who ought to have been in their own homes. And, naturally enough, we have also met women in the professions and in business and in their homes who ought to have been teachers—but not nearly so many.
The true teacher has three fundamental qualifications. First, a love of knowledge; second, a desire to impart knowledge, and third, a love of young people. Added to these should be patience, firmness, tactfulness, knowledge of human nature, facility in expression, reasoning power, enthusiasm, and a personality which inspires confidence. Can any county superintendent discover these qualities by means of the examination upon which first, second and third-grade certificates are based? Have the members of any average school board the discrimination necessary to determine the presence or absence of these qualities in any candidate who brings her certificate?