Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women

Book Cover: Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women

Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women: (1992) Kingston: Shortwood Teachers' College.

Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women examines women’s general historic disadvantage in society and their evolving liberation from these inequalities and injustices. It makes references to the protest of individual women to women’s disadvantage in different eras as well as the collective action of women to remove these disadvantages and link these movements to other movements to address other types of inequities, inequalities, and injustices in society. It raises the issue of the role of structural factors versus individual and collective action by aggrieved persons in the social transformation of society. It asserts that Caribbean data and experience confound the orthodoxy that industrialization, urbanization, national sovereignty and class struggle are the causal factors that explain women’s liberation and the spread of schooling in the world.

Elementary School Teachers and the Liberation of Women offers an alternative theoretical explanation of the transformation of society over time. Using UNESCO Statistics reporting a global snapshot of the gender of elementary school teachers in most countries of the world and historical data on the gender of elementary school teachers over the 150 year period 1830s to 1980s in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and the United States, the Monograph asserts that the relationship between the gender of elementary school teachers and the extent of women’s liberation in society is neither haphazard nor fickle but rational and consistent.

It concludes by making two major claims. First is that changes in the gender composition of elementary school teachers is a social barometer of changes in gender roles and relationships in society. Second is that the founding of Shortwood Teachers College for Ladies by men in 1885, at the height of the first feminist movement and which it survived, marked a turning point in the liberation of women of African ancestry in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

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