- Salaries Obtainable - A Lecturer's Busy Week
When women first appeared on public platforms, a current sneer dubbed them "the shrieking sisterhood." It soon became necessary, however, to differentiate among women, because it was discovered that many, far from lecturing for their own glorification, were engaged in a work which could not fail to have a beneficial effect on the nation at large, since, as the old proverb has it, " a nation's health is a nation's wealth."
Accordingly, the number of women health lecturers has increased as the value of their work has become more widely known, and when the public realise the importance of health as a national asset, and learn that health is controllable through simple means. And, as more people will desire to learn the secret of health, there will be a still further demand for lecturers on the subject.
The Demand for Health Lecturers
Already there is an increased appreciation of the value of hygiene. The Board of Education includes its study as a school subject, hoping that the simple teaching children receive in class will bear fruit when they are grown men and women. Some schools arrange for an outside lecturer to teach the children, but where it is taught by the staff they themselves must first be taught. This means a demand for skilled lecturers in training colleges and teachers" certificate classes.
County councils in all parts of the country include hygiene and kindred subjects in continuation schools and evening classes generally, while popular lectures, mothers' meetings, girls' clubs, women's co-operative unions, and temperance societies afford openings for many workers.
Training for the Work
Although there is nothing to prevent anyone setting up as a health lecturer, the work is such as demands special training, in addition to enthusiasm and natural aptitude, if success is desired.
The training is easily obtained. In England, Bedford College, King's College, and the Sanitary Institute offer training in sanitation, which is needed by all those who qualify for the post of inspector of nuisances, while the National Health Society (53, Berners Street, W.) gives similar training, and supplements it so as to prepare students for a diploma qualifying them to lecture.
The course of training under the National Health Society lasts for six months, and consists of lectures and demonstrations, and visits to places which have a special bearing on the work. Students are advised to spend a further six months for clinical practice in a hospital, which, although not counting as training for a nurse, is a valuable aid to all who intend to lecture on home nursing. The training course includes:
1. Building construction in relation to the sanitary construction of premises.
3. Poor law administration.
5. Elementary anatomy and physiology.
6. First aid in accident and disease.
7. Sick Nursing.
Further particulars can be obtained from the secretary of the society.
Other Qualifications which Aid Success
In addition to a comprehensive knowledge of all subjects relating to health, there must be a power of speaking, so as to impress an audience with the truth of what is taught. Thus, the lecturer must have strong convictions, and feel enthusiasm in spreading the gospel of health, since truths uttered in a half-hearted way fail to convince. The manner of speaking must be bright and attractive, so as to enforce attention, yet all teaching must be so tactful that none can take offence. The lecturer must have the power of adapting herself to the mental powers of her hearers, and adopt a different style when lecturing to a cultured audience from that used in addressing working women and young girls.
Since the lecturer must not talk over the heads of her audience, she would do well to study local conditions, for unless she appreciates the special difficulties of her listeners she will never be of real service to them.
In talking to the very poor, the lecturer must feel sympathy, and show it. It is idle to give a counsel of perfection to the very poor, but if the lecturer can show how to turn existing circumstances to the best possible account, good results will follow her teaching.
The style of dress adopted by the lecturer is likewise important. A tight waist and high heels can hardly be worn when lecturing on the hygiene of dress, nor a trailing skirt when inveighing against this insanitary fashion. All the laws of health must be obeyed before they can be taught successfully to others.
Other Openings for Health Lecturers
A fully qualified health lecturer can at any time fill the post of inspector of nuisances (commonly called sanitary inspector). She can become a health visitor for a council, and is eligible to seek an appointment as inspector of factories under the Home Office, inspector of workshops and laundries under a municipal body, or as a relieving officer under a board of guardians.
The remuneration for lecturing varies, but when once a lecturer becomes popular and well known, she can make a good living. The National Health Society undertakes to provide work for all their students who can lecture well; but it takes time to work up a good connection, and is better to try for a regular engagement under a county council etc.
Seven shillings and sixpence may be regarded as the minimum pay for an hour's lecture; some experienced lecturers receive as much as three guineas. Travelling expenses are always charged as an extra, and the lecturer who travels much usually has hospitality extended to her.
It must, however, be remembered that the season of work lasts only from the beginning of October to the end of April, and there is scarcely any work obtainable during the bright summer weather. County councils usually pay by the year, the season likewise being short. The rate varies from £80 to £150 for eight or nine months' work, but during that period the whole of the lecturer's time, save Sundays, is at the disposal of the county council.
Some idea of the kind of work which falls to the lot of a health lecturer can be gathered from the following account of a week's work.
A Specimen Week of Work
No matter what the rest of the week may have in store, the unattached lecturer will generally be called upon to address a mothers' meeting on Monday afternoon-the time which is found by parochial workers to be the most convenient to the majority of working women.
Home nursing is usually the most successful subject, as it is easily possible to show that the women have not exhausted the subject in their practical experience, and at the same time valuable lessons in hygiene may be introduced incidentally. Having gained sympathetic attention, it is easy for the lecturer to plan other courses which will prove of service to the mothers in the management of their homes.
Tuesday, perhaps, brings a lecture to district visitors in the morning. This is important work, for district visitors can do much by incidental teaching to spread a knowledge of hygiene. In order to do this they must be prepared for the work, or they may do harm instead of good by ill-advised, though well-meaning, counsel. Clergymen are awaking to the power of the district visitor as a social reformer, and many arrange courses of hygiene lectures for them, besides encouraging the distribution of practical pamphlets relating to health of the body as well as of the soul.
The afternoon may be taken up with addressing a drawing-room meeting. People are beginning to realise the truth of the words of the late Lord Derby: " Legislation can do much, but private enterprise can do more." Thus, many towns are starting health societies, babies' welcomes, schools for mothers, hospital guilds, and other philanthropic work, and people of leisure and social standing need to be aroused to support such work by active service or by gifts of money.
Wednesday may bring a visit to an outlying suburb to examine two or three girls' schools in which hygiene, home nursing, and first aid are taught. At first sight this seems an easy task, since young girls cannot attempt more than the rudiments of the subject, yet the framing of questions suited to the capabilities of such youthful subjects is not so easy as dealing with more advanced work. Moreover, the examiner must ascertain what the girls know, and not what they do not know, and this she cannot do unless she possesses the attractive personality which sets girls at their ease and inspires their best efforts.
Thursday may be devoted to county council work. The London County Council has its own staff of lecturers, but the counties around London, while giving regular employment to one or more lecturers, give occasional work to others. This lies generally in neighbouring villages, which means a long drive and very often the spending of a night away from home. In such cases the posting charge is arranged, and hospitality offered by a prominent inhabitant of the village.
Friday afternoon may bring a one-hour lesson in a girls' private school, while the late evening may see the lecturer at a girls' club. Although there is much in favour of health teaching for the young, the age catered for by girls' clubs is that at which such lecturing is most likely to carry weight. At that age girls have a natural unrest under existing conditions, and a longing for a home of their own; they have either found " a mate for nest-building," or are hoping to find one. Accordingly, the mind is alert and ready for instruction, and if they can be filled with a high ideal of home they will strive to live up to it when they become wives and mothers.
Saturday does not often bring work to a health lecturer, unless it is a Saturday morning class for elementary-school teachers; but the day need not be an idle one, for there is correspondence to be attended to, arrangements for next week to be made, and books and papers to be read by every health lecturer who does not wish to become old-fashioned and out of date.
With such variety, a health lecturer can keep mentally and physically fresh, and by taking pride in her work find pleasure in it.