Narration: Don’t Do This

The following is an illustration of a style of questioning in school work not altogether uncommon : “In those days came John the Baptist preaching,” etc.

Teacher: What times were they of which the text speaks?

Students: Those days.

Teacher: Ah, yes, those days, those days. Those days.  Well, what person is  spoken of in those days?

Students: John

Teacher:  Ah, yes, John,— John, very true; remember that it was John. Well, what John was this?

Students: John the Baptist

Teacher: Yes, right,—John the Baptist, John the Baptist. You see that it was John The Baptist.  Well, next.  What did John the Baptist do?

Students: He came..

Teacher: True, true, he came, you see. he wasn’t there, and he came there; and did he do anything else?

Students: Yes, he came preaching.

Teacher: That’s right—preaching, preaching.  Preaching.


 Southwestern Journal of Education, Volume 10, 1892

It’s torture. It tortures the text as well as the students.

Posted in education | 1 Response

Housekeeping and the way to live well and be well

Another excerpt from The Good Housekeeper, Or the Way to Live Well, and to be Well While We Live: Containing Directions for Choosing and Preparing Food, in Regard to Health, Economy, and Taste…
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale
Weeks, Jordan and Company, 1839
(previously posted one here)

One of the first duties of woman in domestic life is to understand the quality of provisions and the preparation of wholesome food. The powers of the mind, as well as those of the body, are greatly dependent on what we eat and drink. The stomach must be in health, or the brain cannot act with its utmost vigor and clearness, nor can there be strength of muscle to perform the purposes of the will. But further, woman to be qualified for the duty which Nature has assigned her, that of promoting the health, happiness and improvement of her species, must understand the natural laws of the human constitution, and the causes which often render the efforts she makes to please the appetite of those she loves, the greatest injury which could be inflicted upon them.

Often has the affectionate wife caused her husband a sleepless night and severe distress, which, had an enemy inflicted she would scarcely have for-given—because she has prepared for him food which did not agree with his constitution or habits. And many a tender mother has, by pampering and inciting the appetites of her young sons, laid the foundation of their future course of selfishness and profligacy.

If the true principles of preparing food were understood these errors would not be committed, for the housekeeper would then feel that the best food was that which best nourished and kept the whole system in healthy action ; and that such food would be best relished, because whenever the health is injured the appetite is impaired or vitiated. She would no longer allow those kinds of food, which reason and experience show are bad for the constitution, to appear at her table.

Among those kinds of food which the good housekeeper should scrupulously banish from her table, is that of hot leavened bread. From what I have seen and from the nature of this almost indigestible food, when taken in large quantities, I believe it more often lays the foundation of diseases of the stomach, than any other kind of nourishment, used among us. Hot bread is eaten, morning and evening, at many of our city boarding houses ; and at establishments connected with the places of education for the young. And there it is that that incipient disease, which terminates in dyspepsia, (an indefinable word implying almost every sort of distress and anguish to which the human frame is subject) is contracted.

The want of sufficient exercise, or too strict attention to business or study may, and no doubt does, have much influence in predisposing to this disease. But it is the hot bread, lying undigested, and of course hard and heavy in the stomach, which prostrates the system and thus makes the mental fatigue injurious. When much bodily exertion is used, in the open air, hot bread, as well as all other kinds of heavy food, is comparatively harmless. Hard laboring people in the country, seldom suffer from indigestion. Still there are cases of disease, and the good housekeeper even in the country, should beware of placing this food before her family.

If you are out of bread, it is much better, both as regards economy and health, to bake an indian cake by the fire, or make batter cakes, or even a short cake, if you do not put in too much butter, than to cut a hot loaf from the oven. Unleavened bread when eaten warm, is more easily digested than leavened ; or if, in the former, you use pearlash or salteratus, it is still healthier. Yet the best bread for constant use, is light, leavened bread, from one to five or six days old. This may be toasted if you like variety. But do not, as you value the health and happiness of those who sit at your table, place before them hot leavened bread or biscuit.

(The idea that hot bread, especially hot yeast bread, caused dyspepsia (indigestion and various other ills put down to indigestion) was quite common, and began, it seems, with the work of Dr. William Beaumont, who experimented on St. Martin, the man with a bullet hole to his stomach which Dr. B. used as a window and performed various experiments to observe the workings of the stomach. He claimed that hot bread was never digested. )

Another kind of food, which ought to be banished from modern tables is meat pies. It seems strange that this kind of barbarous cookery should hold its place, since the introduction of so many excellent vegetables to eat with animal food ; and since such substantial diet is not now required as was needed when nearly all labor had to be performed by the physical strength of man. The Black Knight and Friar Tuck could take an enormous meal of venison, pastry washed down with wine without any danger of injury, for their exercises in the open air, and the weight of armor which the knight bore, required this concentrated and stimulating food to sustain their strength ; but now when the modes of life have so far abated the muscular power of men, that it takes the united strength of five to lift a knight in armor into his saddle, would the same kind and quantity of food be beneficial ?

Some may think that if this food were still as commonly eaten, men would now have more strength—but it would not be so, unless they used as much and as violent exercise in the open air as was then the custom. It is only the food that is digested which gives strength and really nourishes the system ; when the mode of life is sedentary and con-fined, the powers of digestion are soon weakened, and we must adapt our diet to this condition of our nature.

I have therefore entirely omitted receipts for meat pies ; and though sometimes those who labor very hard may eat them without much danger, yet it would be more safe, as well as saving, to dress the meat by itself, and use vegetables and bread with it, rather than make it into a high seasoned pie, with rich crust, a dish commonly eaten without vegetables.

Another improvement in this dietetic system of cookery is the entire exclusion of distilled spirits. I have not permitted the name of rum or brandy to sully a receipt in this book—There is no need of these as condiments ; and though men may not be willing to relinquish their legal right to the use of such liquors, yet I cannot believe, any man will regret their banishment from the cook’s department. No father who deserves the name can wish to have his children taught to love the taste of rum and brandy from having it mixed with their food. If woman will decidedly and entirely banish ardent spirits from the household arrangements, and they can do this if they choose, the progress of true temperance habits would soon either make temperance laws unnecessary, or cause them to be respected and obeyed.

But the art of selecting and preparing food, or seeing that this is done by others, constitutes only a part of the good housekeeper’s duty. She ought to understand the character and capacity of each member of her family, know how to assign advantageously the different kinds of work to her help, to calculate expenses, provide for exigencies, and remedy as far as possible all the mistakes and accidents which occur in her housekeeping. ”

That last line is really one of life’s most important skills- the to know to remedy as far as possible all the mistakes and accidents which occur in your housekeeping, in life, will take one far.

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Minimum Wage in the PHilippines

One of our young Filipino friends came over for dinner a couple nights ago.  He told us the minimum wage here is just 320 pesos a day- 6.40 cents, roughly (a few cents less).  I asked if people were really able to live on that, and he said yes, and if they can get a job paying that much they are so thankful.  He gets about ten dollars a day working a white collar job, and he lives in a small apartment with no refrigerator or air conditioner, and he takes public transportation to work.

He also says that minimum wage is supposed to be payment for about 8 hours of work, but that there are many jobs where the owner requires ten hours of work for the same pay, and just tells the employees if they don’t like it they can quite and find another job.  Jobs are apparently hard enough to find that people will go ahead and put in the ten hours.

This explained a lot.  My Mon. Wed. helper does *so* much for us, including doing grocery shopping at the open air market for me before she comes, and lately watching the Cherub while I have doctor appointments or an occasional tutoring session where I can’t bring her along, and she irons and cooks dinner, too, and sometimes comes by the house to check on the dog if we are away over night-  so I raised her wages to 500 pesos because I appreciate her so much.   So she started ironing my t-shirts and the Cherub’s nightgown, and she stays an extra two hours, which was not my intent.  If we were going to be here long term, 500 pesos would probably not have been the wisest choice given the economy, but since we’re leaving and she will have to find other employment for probably less wages after we go, I hope this is kind of a cushion for her when we do return to the U.S.

She combines her grocery trips for me with grocery runs for her neighbors, too- they pay her a little bit extra to pick up items for them while she is there.  She also takes home some of our containers- crackers come in a plastic tub with a lid and she brings those home and uses them to make home-made ice cream to sell.  She lives at her church building and does some caretaking there in exchange for the rent.


Posted in Davao Diary | 2 Responses

Intelligent Housewifery

The Good Housekeeper, Or the Way to Live Well, and to be Well While We Live: Containing Directions for Choosing and Preparing Food, in Regard to Health, Economy, and Taste…
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale
Weeks, Jordan and Company, 1839
I love vintage era housekeeping books.  I have loved them since I was quite young and my mother brought home an ancient encylcopaedia of homemaking that had belonged to my great-great-grandmother.  I was attempting recipes from it by the time I was 12 or so. I stumbled across this gem online recently.  I like my first such book because it was actually practical and useful and often had some excellent philosophy.  This one, however, alternately has me nodding easily along, and then howling in laughter which I am sure is obnoxious of me. No doubt, many of my own cherished opinions cause others to do the same thing already, let along 100 years from now.  But still, I yam what I yam, and laughing is part of that.  See if you laugh at the same things.   The thing is, however, she had reason for her remarks on the superiority of American education for girls- she had one of the best educations available to females and was a long time advocate of education for girls and useful work for women- she was enormously influential in America during her very long life. Read the wikipedia article above, it’s quite interesting.


“THE term housekeeper, in this book is used in its American signification, the same as “Mistress of the family,” or ” Lady of the house.” In our republican land, thanks to its rational institutions, which preserve in a high degree of purity the moral relations of domestic life, it is rare to find a married woman who does not superintend personally, the economy of her own household, let the wealth, profession, or political station of her husband be what it may. The most delicate lady, unless her ill health were the pretext, would scarcely boast of retaining a hired housekeeper to perform her duties ; and no lady would gain credit or consequence in society by so doing. In truth our richest and most fashionable women, are often models of good housekeeping ; many whose talents and. accomplishments would adorn the first circles of Europe, perform the woman’s part of superintending the affairs of their own household, as scrupulously and well as though they had been taught nothing besides.

That the American ladies are better educated in all the solid branches of learning, than those of any other country in the world there is no doubt—even Englishmen acknowledge their superior intelligence—and their good housekeeping proves the assertion of Miss Sedgwick true, namely, that the more intelligent a woman becomes, other things being equal, the more judiciously she will manage her domestic concerns. And we may add, that the more real knowledge she possesses of the great principles of morals, philosophy and human happiness, the more importance she will attach to her station and the name of a ” good housekeeper.” It is only the frivolous, and those who are superficially taught, or only instructed in showy accomplishments, who despise and neglect the ordinary duties of life as beneath their notice. Such persons have not sufficient clearness of reason to see that ” Domestic Economy” includes every thing which is calculated to make people love home and feel happy there.”


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What is Success?

It is a good thing for young folks to get it straight in their minds what success in. If they think it’s money, they’ll probably be “dead failures.” Real success does not mean wealth. Whoever thinks of George Washington because he made money ? Yet the father of his country was considered a rich man in his time. And there were George W. Childs and Frederick Douglas who died the other day. Who thinks of asking how much money they left? And there is Gladstone, who knows whether he was a rich man or not ?

All of these men are considered successful because they have done a great deal of good for the community in which they lived. They made the most of the talent with which God entrusted them, and did what they considered right. According to that standard anybody may be a success. A carpenter or a farmer, or a mill girl or a houseworker is a success when he or she is honest and upright and tries to do his or her best.

One of the very best mottoes for a boy or girl to hang up in his workshop is the one Oliver Wendell Holmes, the gentle autocrat, gave some girls who were reading his poetry and who wrote him a few days befoe his death : Be in earnest : work hard.”

Mary E. J. Kelley, 1898

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