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The spinster teacher in Australia from the 1870s to the 1960s

The spinster teacher in Australia from the 1870s to the 1960s Beginning with the introduction of mass compulsory schooling legislation in the 1870s, and using age and marital status as key categories of social difference, this article provides an overview of issues surrounding the ‘woman teacher’ through to the postwar baby boom. It shows how women teachers were increasingly differentiated according to location (country and city) and level of schooling (kindergarten, primary and secondary), and it also casts them as somewhat threatening to the gender order. Firstly, the article describes the processes by which teaching in both city and country primary schools became normalised as single women or spinsters’ work with the advent of mass compulsory schooling. Part two focuses on the turn of the twentieth century, a period in which anxieties about single women, so many of whom were teachers, coalesced around the figure of the ‘new woman’. In this context I investigate what state school teaching might have meant for single women, be they unqualified ‘girl teachers’ in country schools or mature women whose qualifications and career paths brought them into city schools. The third section shows that the expansion of state schooling in the early twentieth century produced further differentiation of the ‘teacher’ as primary, kindergarten or secondary. Furthermore, in the interwar years new meanings of singleness for women were proposed by sexologists and psychologists, and spinster teachers became more stigmatised as women. Finally, I turn to the women who taught from the late 1930s into the postwar era. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Education Review Emerald Publishing

The spinster teacher in Australia from the 1870s to the 1960s

History of Education Review , Volume 36 (1): 17 – Jun 24, 2007

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0819-8691
DOI
10.1108/08198691200700001
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Beginning with the introduction of mass compulsory schooling legislation in the 1870s, and using age and marital status as key categories of social difference, this article provides an overview of issues surrounding the ‘woman teacher’ through to the postwar baby boom. It shows how women teachers were increasingly differentiated according to location (country and city) and level of schooling (kindergarten, primary and secondary), and it also casts them as somewhat threatening to the gender order. Firstly, the article describes the processes by which teaching in both city and country primary schools became normalised as single women or spinsters’ work with the advent of mass compulsory schooling. Part two focuses on the turn of the twentieth century, a period in which anxieties about single women, so many of whom were teachers, coalesced around the figure of the ‘new woman’. In this context I investigate what state school teaching might have meant for single women, be they unqualified ‘girl teachers’ in country schools or mature women whose qualifications and career paths brought them into city schools. The third section shows that the expansion of state schooling in the early twentieth century produced further differentiation of the ‘teacher’ as primary, kindergarten or secondary. Furthermore, in the interwar years new meanings of singleness for women were proposed by sexologists and psychologists, and spinster teachers became more stigmatised as women. Finally, I turn to the women who taught from the late 1930s into the postwar era.

Journal

History of Education ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 24, 2007

Keywords: Women; Australia; Teacher; Education; State education; Postwar

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