Why Are You Here?

14 Feb

In order to “recreate the classroom”, we need to explore the dynamics occurring in the classroom. Who better to describe the classroom than the students themselves. In the 1930’s, especially in 1935, there is a reoccurring article titled ‘We Asked Why’ featured in the Bullet. These articles feature a variety of students who are asked, ‘What is your major’ and ‘Why did you choose that major’.

These two simple questions open the door so that we can see not only what majors were available for students but also the motivation behind choosing their major and also choosing F.S.T.C . In the Bullet, dated October 23, 1935, ‘We Asked Why’ features eight students. One student, Miss Mildred Ware, was asked  why she chose Home Economics as her major. Her answer is simple, “…her family, in one of their optimistic moments, thought it appropriate training for married life”. Though this may be one of the factors in deciding her major she also mentions that she would like to work as a dietitian after graduation. Miss Ware shows us her personal motivation but also gives us a glimpse into how her family, as many families do, influenced her life.

Every printing of ‘We Asked Why’ features a different and separate major and highlights the motivation of several students. In the Bullet printed on November 13, 1935, the chosen major was Business. In the article a junior named, “Buff” Haley gives us insight as to why she chose her major and her response is interesting to say the least. The interviewer says, “[Buff] thinks it is a good idea for us Fredericksburg girls to be trained in taking orders from the opposite sex”. Today a comment such as this would solicit numerous letters to the editor condemning such an idea.

If the role of woman in the 1930’s hasn’t been made clear yet the article features yet another student majoring in business who is ambitious in her goals. Mary Ellen Mitchell, also featured in the November 13th article never mentions her family influencing her decision or demotes the role of women but instead seeks out a career. “Mary Ellen is seeking out a superior office position as stenographer or secretary”. The word ‘superior’ stands out to me. By today’s standard the role of stenographer or secretary would be seen as anything but superior.

Through these articles we can explore not only the motivation each of the students had when choosing their particular major but we are also given insights into the social world that shape the roles women in the 1930’s.

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