Guiding the Working-Class Girl Henrietta Rodman's Curriculum for the New Woman, 1913 Patricia Carter "Every girl and woman should be economically independent. In case of need she should be able to paddle her own canoe. To woman, marriage is an incident, not an objective."1 In 1912 Henrietta Rodman, a New York City high school English teacher, delivered this advice to female graduates. By that time she was becoming nationally-known as a spokesperson for vocational guidance and radical feminism. She began offering similar advice to her students at Wadleigh, Manhattan's all-girls public high school, when she joined the faculty in 1904. Situated in a middle-class neighborhood of Harlem, its student body was principally the children of Jewish and Italian immigrants and a few African Americans, many of whom longed to rise above the limits placed on their socioeconomic class. Despite their aspirations between 32 and 50 percent of students dropped out of school each year.2 Rodman compared schools to a Darwinian process where the strongest survived but the weaker left for unskilled trades.3 Adverse to the classic curriculum as well as to the unconscious churning of students into vocational education, Rodman evinced little faith in the system. "If our
Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Apr 12, 2017
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