Hannah More And William Wordsworth: Turning Tables For Meaningful Education

1559 words - 6 pages

Hannah More’s “from Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education” and William Wordsworth’s “The Table’s Turned; An Evening Scene, on the Same Subject” at first glance appear unrelated; however, upon further investigation, it is clear that the two works share a common goal: to inspire their readership to embark on a meaningful educational journey. The two pieces, one traditionally persuasive, the other traditionally literary, differ in their delivery but converge in their principles. Both Wordsworth and More seek to change the culture of education in their society. By placing their pieces in conversation with one another, each author’s perspective illuminates in the other author’s piece a message only decipherable through his or her respective lens.
As her title reveals, More situates her argument around a feminist perspective. In her introduction, she condemns society for failing to provide women with a moral education. She argues that society holds women to impossibly high moral standards without providing them with the moral educational foundation necessary for success in their critical society (220). More claims that the trivial education her society provides to women only cultivates “dancers, singers, players, painters, actresses, sculptors, gilders, varnishers, engravers, and embroiderers” (221). All of these occupations condemn women to a less fulfilling and less influential existence than they are capable of living. As a result, women do not answer to their natural calling: acting as “daughters, wives, mothers, and mistresses of families” (222). Through these more familial roles, women live up to their true potential as patriots who nurture posterity, thus ensuring the future success of their country. More claims that women are the most important population to educate so that they can fulfill their duties as mothers. She declares, “But the great object to which you, who are or may be mothers, are more especially called, is the education of your children” (221). She emphasizes the profound effect that mothers can have on both their daughters and their sons, and she reminds her reader that children are the future leaders of both family and government. She declares, “To you is made over the awfully important trust of infusing the first principles of piety into the tender minds of those who may one day be called to instruct, not families merely, but districts; to influence, not individuals, but senates” (221). Women are empowered through their responsibility of instilling moral and educational framework in their children’s minds. However, she argues women cannot provide their children with a lasting foundation if their gender’s educational stores are filled with brittle trifles rather than solid moral knowledge.
While Wordsworth’s poem is not gender specific, he too alludes to his discontent with contemporary educational affairs. He urges his readers, “Up! Up! My Friend, and quit your books” (l. 1) in order to spur...

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