Rules for female teachers – 100 years ago

While reading a book on Formation and Management of Educational Institutions, I was surprised and humored to find the following rules supposedly applicable to female teachers in New Zealand in 1915.

  1. You will not marry during the term of your contract
  2. You are not to keep company with men
  3. You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. unless attending a school function
  4. You may not loiter downtown in ice-cream stores
  5. You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have the permission of the board
  6. You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother
  7. You may not smoke cigarettes
  8. You may not dress in bright colors
  9. You may under no circumstances dye your hair
  10. You must wear at least two petticoats
  11. Your dresses must not be shorter than two inches above the ankle
  12. To keep the schoolroom neat and clean, you must: sweep the floor at least once daily; scrub the floor at least once a week with hot, soapy water; clean the blackboards at least once a day; and start the fire at 7am so the room will be warm at 8am

As my inquisitive nature got the better of me, I decided to find out how New Zealand’s teacher regulations had evolved over the last 100 years. Hoping that the internet might bring me joy, I was again surprised to find the above (or similar) so called rules of conduct attributable to the teaching profession in more countries that one. Not finding any authentic source to confirm if the above prescriptive rules did indeed enjoy any degree of authority at any time (sic there was no internet in 1915), it seems that the rules may be a product of a humorous person’s highly active imagination.

Having no cause to continue with my quest to find out more about New Zealand teacher regulations, I decided to post these rules here with the hope that it will evoke a smile and raise some brows.

There is a message here – one should not assume that all information one comes across is accurate / correct – even in academic literature.

Do let me know if you have come across instances where the information made available to you, though seemingly from a credible source or having been paid for by you was inaccurate or misleading.

In my next blog, I will write about the new set of problems being created by information explosion and the new skills required by the users of such information.

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