Page images
PDF
EPUB

Two things are essential to make the most of the opportunities of the college community life-organization and guidance. The organization emphasizes the institutional element and has the value of good machinery anywhere in economy and efficiency. It must be simple, workable, and not too rigid, adapted to the place and the group of students. The guidance must somehow find the middle ground between all absence of supervision and domination, for either is equally fatal to the best community democracy. We must work with our students and not for them.

Can we not make our college community life a laboratory and practice field in the business of living together successfully?

We wish to send out from our college communities social-minded citizens, men and women self-controlled, disciplined to freedom, abounding in good-will, hospitable to new ideas, eager to serve. A certain senator was reproacht by a great minister for voting in the United States senate in support of a measure undoubtedly against the best interests of the people. “The outside pressure was so strong," said the senator. “Where were your inside braces ?" askt the minister. A great deal of our work in a college community is to develop "inside braces" in our students.

DEANING IN THE PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL

JANET M. PURDUE, NEW HAVEN HIGH SCHOOL, NEW HAVEN, CONN.

Within the past six or seven years there has been created, in a number of the most progressive high schools in various parts of the country, an administrative position filled by a woman whose work thus far is so unstandardized that her title varies from that of dean of women to dean of girls, adviser of girls, vice-principal, counselor, etc.

At present I am filling this kind of a position in our large New Haven high school, a coeducational institution numbering twenty-two hundred girls and eighteen hundred boys, to all of whom I am permitted to minister, the care of girls, however, being my chief province.

Our New Haven board of education has been most generous in recognizing that our adolescent girls are entitled to the especial attention of an older woman, because there arise every day delicate questions of health, as well as of conduct, which cannot suitably be discust in conference with a male principal. Mothers and fathers generally prefer to discuss their daughters' failings, indiscretions, and health problems with a sympathetic, understanding woman, and one who loves girls. Fathers come too to pour out their hearts, which are sorely tried by wayward sons, to explain domestic difficulties, or that the mother is dead and the father away from home carrying on his business while the boys drift, and to ask that the dean mother those boys with her sympathy, her advice, her admonition, and her personal interest in their marks in school. It is the personal touch which counts with these young people, and I feel that the well-being and possibly the saving of those girls and boys, physically, mentally, and morally, depends upon the knowledge of these facts by some school officer who is empowered to use this knowledge wisely in their training, and who will endeavor, to mold and direct their thoughts and ideals.

The duties of the counselor in a coeducational institution are of a more difficult character than are those in women's colleges, normal schools for women, or high schools devoted exclusively to the education of girls. It is the very complex social problem in the coeducational school which keeps the counselor constantly on the alert and has made her realize that she must clarify her ideas, define her authority, and secure definite results.

I may say that as I have studied this position its duties run a gamut of all known relations which an older woman bears toward young men and young women, from that of sympathetic counselor and friend under all conditions to that of leadership in things educational; the adjustment of courses of study to fit the individual's ability and future needs; vocational information and advice; vocational lectures; oversight of social life, both in and out of school; inspirational and ethical talks; the subject of attitude, manners, dress; personal hygiene; disciplinary cases; attendance; punctuality; scholarship aid; Junior Red Cross establishment and the care of its activities and work; athletics, etc.; conferences with parents; and study of home conditions. I also render first aid in all cases of illness or accident in the school.

I feel that the social conditions surrounding our students in the school are exceptionally good. The problem here seems easy to handle, and our students ready to cooperate with the standard held by the school. However, the outside problems are exceedingly difficult to keep in touch with at all angles. Our large school is located almost in the midst of university buildings, dormitories, etc., where there are ordinarily thirty-five hundred male students, a large modern hotel near by with its finely appointed grill room and alluring music and dancing, afternoons and evenings, as well as a splendid new theater built at the rear of the hotel and connecting with it. Does not this alone create a situation for young life as interesting as it is perilous ?

Add to this the lure of the moving picture, the telephone, and the automobile, and you must realize that the high-school dean needs not only much sharpening of her wits but also a buoyant realization that she must and can master these adverse conditions.

Many times the home gives little or no support, and the dean must correct conditions and regenerate the student thru her own earnest, forceful personality. However, one can do much to win the cooperation of the home by being willing to respond to every call made upon her to talk to mothers' clubs and women's organizations in general, and I am doing this right along. It has been a wonderful assistance in my work. The influence of such talks is far-reaching. Last month I was invited to speak before the Connecticut State Congress of Mothers convention on "The Responsibility of the Home and School in Training the Adolescent." The talk has already borne fruit in three of my cases.

I want the students first of all to feel my intense personal interest in them, and thus to win their confidence and respect, so that they shall look upon me, not as primarily a disciplinary officer, but as one who would eliminate as much discipline from the school as possible by giving the pupil high pride in self-control and by setting high standards and a fine spirit for the school. This can be accomplisht by being especially thoughtful of students who are absent thru illness or bereavement; of those living in an unsettled, if not stifled, domestic atmosphere; thru special care of those who are working their way thru school, and of cases where immorality exists on the part of parents, etc. With confidence once establisht between the dean and the students, her power for good is limitless. Students failing in subjects come under my care. The causes may

be many—lack of study, lack of interest, lack of systematic study hours, or it may be that the student is pursuing the wrong course of study. All these cases must be studied and proper readjustment made.

Early dismissals from school for any reasons must not unduly multiply, and here again the dean must handle every case, and only with her signature to the printed pass form is the student allowed to go. All such dismissals are recorded in the dean's office.

All cases of accident or illness in school also come under my care, and I am usually able to doctor them successfully. This kind of work gives me valuable knowledge many times of the student's physical condition, and the opportunity to have such students properly treated.

It is also the dean's duty and privilege to plan for the girls' assemblies. Last year I planned, with the assistance of the Education Committee of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, informational talks on vocations for girls, choosing prominent men and women as speakers. During the past year my assembly programs have been largely along patriotic and war-time lines.

In closing I would say that the dean's work in the public high school is invaluable, for boys and girls of adolescent age need not only the firm, guiding hand of the head master of the school, but also the strong, kindly, sympathetic attitude and motherly instinct of a good woman dean.

WHAT CONSTITUTES SOCIAL ETHICS

ROMIETT STEVENS, TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY,

NEW YORK, N.Y. Society is a factor to be reckoned with in any consideration of ethics, since it establishes the criteria of conduct. Society, with its specialized activities, its institutions, traditions, and standards, has been at work quite unconsciously for a very long time trying out, evaluating, and standardizing conduct. It has found out that certain elements of conduct have stood the test of ages, becoming transformed finally into moral sanctions, no longer open to question, while other elements of conduct, satisfactory for a time perhaps, have eventually been discarded as wholly incompatible with right living.

The ethical standards of yesterday are not the standards of today, nor can those of today become the standards of tomorrow, for as the fabric of society changes social theories and practices change. Social custom of today has cast off as unnecessary to right living such elements in the education of women as that the girl must forever remain within her domicile and never be seen by men, but has kept its belief in chastity; it has cast off the right of the father to select a husband for his daughter, but has kept its belief in monogamy; it has rejected the limitation of cultural training to a knowledge of the classics, but has retained and greatly strengthened its emphasis upon education for women, changing only the nature of the education given; it has discarded certain elements of deportment considered to be of vital importance in the training of our grandmothers, such, for example, as the curtsy of the maiden upon entering the presence of her elders, but has retained the elements of graciousness and modesty; it has discarded the training in aloofness and superiority of the mistress over the maid, but has retained the teaching of responsibility for the welfare of those who serve.

The justification of your president in asking for a discussion of this question of social ethics in a conference of deans of women is perhaps apparent. The dean of women can no longer live exclusively in the sequestered byways of an academic life; she must come out of her comfortable retreat and live close to the throbbing pulse of human action. She is no longer shielding her young people from the world--from its complexities, snares, deceptions, falsities—but she is leading them out into the very heart of the world, to be part of it, to help remove its snares, deceptions, falsities, and to make it a safe place for herself and for all women, especially those less well endowed than she by education and influence and health for the struggle.

I believe that everyone is aware of the fact that in all phases of education we have come to a parting of the ways. Roads that were perfectly clear and open, well defined, leading straight on across life as far as the mind could penetrate, have been completely obliterated by those battlefields out there at the crossroads. We need just now the powers of the seer to catch the vision of what are to be the issues of greatest importance for the education of women in the changed social order that is just beyond. Lacking the power to catch the perfect vision is no excuse for not beginning at once a consideration of a few of the problems which are already claiming attention.

The first of these in importance, it seems to me, is the problem of health and hygiene. We have been content in the past to let the matter of health rest wholly with the physician and the individual. If a woman student came to the college with any form of physical handicap, the most that was to be expected of us was to safeguard her existing health and not permit her academic work—that all-important academic work—to make further inroads upon health. Is not the time near at hand when we are to say of every entering Freshman: The first duty of the college is to make her physically fit for woman's work in the world and to fix ineradicably those habits of personal hygiene that are fundamental to personal happiness and to social welfare?

If this is a vital issue and who can question it-some immediate adjustments of curricula, methods, and social organization are called for. There must be reapportionment of time with respect to indoor and outdoor occupations; college life must be planned so that more hours per day will be spent in the open air; gymnasiums must be used for the corrective and physical development of every girl, every day, and not be reserved for the team work of the few who need it least; personal hygiene must have a place of dignity in the curriculum and be considered from the scientific side. I refer to the biological interpretation of sex hygiene, the science of eugenics, the scientific principles involved in the health and care of the skin and hair and other bodily functions. If these things interfere with the establisht order of the curriculum, than I say "to the winds" with the curriculum but remember the girl!

Another problem in social ethics is that of training young women for economic independence. Society has shown a distinct trend in this direction in late years, but the idea has advanst by such leaps and bounds since the world-struggle began that it dwarfs into insignificance the progress of earlier decades. Women have placed themselves beside men in this struggle as we never dreamed they could, and having once taken the step they will never recede. The problem that remains is that of equipping them for economic equality with men before their education is completed, girls from homes of wealth as well as poor girls.

Still another problem in social ethics is that of social usage. This is the same old problem that confronted leaders of youth among the cave dwellers, the pastoral tribes of the Orient, the ancient Greeks and Romans, the family of the mediaeval knight, the finishing-school of a half-century

« PreviousContinue »