Families of Teachers Discussion/April 1998


Query From Lucy Townsend ltownsend@niu.edu 08 April 1998

Hello--Has anyone out there done or seen any research across generations to determine whether teaching "ran" in families? I know that women have had few options and teaching had been considered a ladylike occupation for middle-class women since the early 1880s [in US]. But has anyone actually traced family connections in the teaching profession. Thanks.

Responses:

From Gael Graham GRAHAM@wpoff.wcu.edu 10 April 1998

I don't know if anyone has done research but it seems like a good idea. It certainly "runs" in my family¯a great-grandfather, my grandmother, three great-aunts, an aunt, my father, my brother, sister and I all teach, although on different levels. My grandmother taught in the 30s till she married, then was "called back" during WWII and taught another 17 years. Good luck with the question.

From Emily Bingham emilyb@iglou.com 10 April 1998

My dissertation traces three generations of a southern Jewish family whose involvement in education spanned the nineteenth century. Their teaching took place in the boarding school for girls the family operated in Warrenton, N.C. 1809-1818 and later in the form of home education, governess posts, etc. Large collections of Mordecai family papers are at the Southern Historical Collection at Chapel Hill, Duke, the NC State Archives, and the Va. Historical Society.

Penny Richards wrote a superb dissertation for her Ph.D. in education at Chapel Hill on the Mordecai school -- Penny Leigh Richards, '"A Thousand Images, Painfully Pleasing': Complicating Histories of the Mordecai School, Warrenton, North Carolina, 1809-1818," UNC-CH 1996. She specifically discusses the family tradition of teaching.

From Nikki Brown nikki.brown@yale.edu 10 April 1998

This for the query about teaching being a family occupation. Ms. Townsend might want to look at Black families at the turn of the century, in the south and the North.Teaching was the preferred occupation for many African-American women in the 19th and early 20th centuries, in that education went hand-in-hand with social uplift. Try checking the auto-biographies of Mary Church Terrell, and Anna J. Cooper. They were both graduates of Oberlin College, which is pioneer in the education of African-Americans and women.

My own personal experience shows that there must be a genetic pre-disposition in my family toward teaching. My grandmother, who is deaf, was the first African-American Teacher at the North Carolina School For the Deaf. My grandmother's three children (including my mother) all went on to get degrees in special education, and my aunt is now a professor at Indiana University. If that weren't enough, on my father's side on the family, four of his five siblings, including himself, were active teachers. My brother, sister, and I are all pursuing degrees in education, with the intention of becoming teachers in the near future.

My brother and I are studying to teach at the college level, while my sister wants to be elementary art teacher. I knew I wanted to be a teacher in high school. I'm not sure about my father's parents, but they may have been teachers as well.

From Bud Burkhard bud@qis.net 10 April 1998

This subject has certainly been explored for French History (19th and 20th century), in the writings of Robert Smith (The Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Third Republic) and in JF Sirenelli (Generation intellectuelle). The subject was a 'hot one' in the seventies, and there are a number of comparative studies which exist as well.

From Marian H. Neudel mneudel@acfsysv.roosevelt.edu 10 April 198

Actually, what I would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts runs in families is teaching *math*. Are there any studies on that?