In those times, of course, it was generally unheard of for young girls to pursue higher education. Yet, despite the general trends in society at that time, there were fortunately those enlightened few souls who had a gift for seeing the future, and thus knew instinctively that women would ultimately be accorded equal opportunities as men when it came to education.
Moravians: early pioneers in the education of women
One such example is a certain John Amos Comenius, a teacher, writer, bishop, and prophet, who actually was greatly ahead of his time. In fact, he is considered the father of modern education.
Born in 1592 in what is now present-day Slovakia, Comenius was one of the leaders in the pre-Reformation Moravian denomination (a group which I came to know in Pennsylvania in the 1700s, when I was organizing the defense of outlying regions in the colony). He was one of the earliest champions for universal education for all, notably women, and put his beliefs into practice by organizing schools and developing educational practices that are the foundation of the progressive teaching methods of today.
The reason I mention all this is that I have just learned that the daughter of one of the country’s recent past presidents, Chelsea Clinton, is receiving a doctoral degree in international relations from The University of Oxford in England.
Congratulations, Chelsea Clinton!
What a splendid accomplishment! And I say this for several reasons: (1) international relations is a field near and dear to my own heart, since it was my work abroad in England and France that helped make the American Revolution possible; (2) I appreciate the fact that she is following in her mother’s and father’s footsteps, since they both had a great deal to do with international relations, her father during his own presidency, and her mother during President Obama’s term in office; (3) a degree from an institution as prestigious as Oxford, in my beloved England, is definitely a feather in her cap; (4) better yet, the fact that it is a doctorate is doubly commendable, since it represents an achievement in “highest” education that few others are lucky to attain; and finally, (5) as a young woman with a doctorate, she will be a wonderful role model for other girls to follow in the footsteps of, which will help to equalize the unfair advantage that men have enjoyed for too many years.
Ben also holds an Oxford doctorate
Of course, as the recipient of a doctorate myself in 1762 — albeit an honorary one (also from Oxford, coincidentally), may I be among the first to welcome Chelsea into the ranks of Oxford alumni, where I am certain she will soon distinguish herself as one of many similarly gifted graduates destined to do great things!
Your humble servant,