Friday, September 14, 2012

And Jill Came Tumbling After

1974, 1978 Laurel edition
Edited by Judith Stacey, Susan Bereaud, and Joan Daniels
And Jill Came Tumbling After: Sexism in American Education
Original price $2.25, purchase price $1.75
Worn paperback

Covering from nursery school to grad school, this is a good overview of roughly a decade of change in girls' and women's education, with a few contributions from the 1950s or even earlier, as with the piece by the turn-of-the-last-century female president of Bryn Mawr.  With so many writers and subtopics, the quality and interest vary, but it's overall solid, not too dry.  Since I was 6 at the time this was first published and obviously not yet in school when many of the selections were written, I found the section on preschool, including toys (still a very gendered product, perhaps even more so than for my generation, who didn't think pink more than other colors) and Sesame Street's cast.  We'll revisit the latter when we get up to Street Gang in 2008, so it's good to get an early look at feminist complaints about that "progressive" show.

I don't own any modern books (post-1980s) on sexism in American education, but my guess is that what sexism that remains is much less blatant than four decades ago.  Even at the time I first read this book, as a young college drop-out in the late 1980s, it showed me a somewhat different world than I'd experienced in adolescence.*  And I would hope that nowadays more students, male and female, have heard of Sojourner Truth, since her life seems to have been one of many glaring omissions in education of the past.

*Rereading this time though, I thought of how I was put into Shop "by mistake" in junior high and then bungled my way through Home Ec.  What if I had stayed as the only girl in Shop?  Would my incompetence there have been more or less inexcusable?  What happens to girls who fit neither feminine nor masculine stereotypes?  The book doesn't really address this subject, but then I can't think of any books that do.

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