« PreviousContinue »
Professor Irving Fisher has recently called attention to the fact that much of the unhappiness among the working classes and much of the social unrest are due to the fact that workers have no opportunity for selfexpression. They are simply cogwheels in the vast system of machinery. The constructive work in the school should give the child a knowledge of some form of useful employment thru which he may express himself—in a vocation, or in an avocation if his vocation does not provide for such expression.
Every child should do not only many forms of the world's work, but even some of the drudgery of the world, in order that he may have sympathy and understanding with unskilled labor, just as in the army camps today wealthy privates who are college graduates spend hours in peeling potatoes, washing dishes, doing janitor work, police work, and many forms of drudgery, and thru this experience become better citizens in a democracy.
The entire argument is based upon the idea that the true school is a school where all activities are real and prepare for democratic citizenship, and that the manual arts should be equally real, meeting needs of the school, the home, and the individual.
THE BODY A FIT AND PERFECT TOOL
KATHERINE DEVEREUX BLAKE, NEW YORK, N.Y. Three hundred thousand children die each year in our prosperous land before they are five years old. We all know this, but the figures are so huge that we shut our eyes and think of this mortality as necessary and not our affair. It is trite to say that a soldier in the trenches has a better chance of life than a baby; but would we feel so satisfied to look the other way and forget, if one were to say that a soldier in the trenches has a better chance of coming thru the war uninjured and unmaimed than a child entering school has of going thru the elementary-school course without injury? Yet when you count injured eyes and twisted backs, flat feet and decayed teeth, it will be readily seen that this statement is undoubtedly true.
The most conservative estimates say that the eyesight of one-third of the pupils is injured by the time the eighth year of school is reacht. Statistics of curved backs, of indigestion because of hasty meals, of retarded brains because tasks were not fitted to the child's mentality, of flat foot and diseased lungs because of insufficient physical training, of the results of neglected adenoids, tonsils, teeth, and nutrition, are not yet obtainable. Some day these facts will be studied out, and then we may awake to our responsibilities.
At present we accept without study the archaic school furniture, and so sacrifice our children on the altar of the janitor and the incompetent teacher. Fixt furniture was specially designed for the latter. Chairs screwed to the floor cannot be thrown at the instructor who fails to interest. Every factory pays more attention to protecting the eyesight of its employes than we do to the care of the precious eyes of children. Daily, teachers complain of work ill done, without realizing that work cannot be well done by eyes that cannot see.
Each year thousands of children under sixteen drop out of school and into the labor market before they have completed the elementary-school course; into a labor market that is perpetually hungry for the ignorant and unskilled, to whom it can offer wages that to a child seem large but lead nowhere. Did I say lead nowhere? All too frequently the blind-alley trade leads straight to unemployment, to the street, to jail.
The last item on any political budget to receive increast appropriation is the request for school funds. We cannot afford school lunches. But we cheerfully pay the cost of our jails, feeling thankful that the "wretches" whom we should have saved are shut up and society is safe. This altho it is estimated that it costs $15,000,000 more each year to arrest, convict, and care for the American youth under twenty-five in prison than it does to educate all the children in the United States!
A little less money for prisons and a little more for hygienic work in our schools might in a few years find us all healthier and happier.
Perhaps when teachers realize that they cannot teach a hungry child they may rebel at being expected to perform this impossible feat.
When teachers are politically awake and realize their responsibility in caring for the children we shall have well-nourisht children who will be trained physically to counteract the dangers of education; hygienically designed furniture will obviate some of the difficulty, unglazed paper and proper print will reduce eyestrain, magazine textbooks up to the minute in information will remove much of the danger of communicable disease, and camp schools in the summer time will give a new viewpoint to the children of the city slum. Pupils so trained will develop into vigorous youth, brain and body alike ready for any service that may come to them.
Let us all work for class consciousness and class power among teachers, so that this happy day may come soon to the children of our fair land.
TRAINING FOR SOCIAL ADJUSTMENT—THE CITIZENS OF
MARY D. BRADFORD, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, KENOSHA, WIS.
There seems to be no doubt that Americanization is one of the big problems of the war, and that it will loom up still larger during the reconstruction period awaiting us, we sincerely hope, at no distant day.
Whether the matter we are discussing today, social adjustment, is a part of the Americanization movement or includes it, or whether these two terms are synonymous, I have not had time to find out, but I am going to assume that they are related.
I am working in an industrial city where Americanization is now the great problem. When I emphasize, by giving it first mention, the importance of attention to the children of the foreign-born, and of those from the lower strata of our social whole, it is because I believe in the principle that my community or any community, or that combination of communities which is the state, or that combination of states which is the nation, can claim no higher social level than is found when we strike an average of all its constituents; or to use the words of Judd and Bagley in an article in the School Review for May, “Effective democracy implies the highest possible level of trained and informed intelligence in all the members of the democratic group.
This training and informing is a process that takes time; these masses of unassimilated foreign-born people are not to be brought to an appreciation of democratic ideals in a few months. But now that we are really in earnest about this thing it will go forward more rapidly than it has in the past, and this awakening may be reckoned as another important by-product of the war. In fact, our indifference to the most important part of the Americanization process, that of using and understanding the English language, has been so pronounst that we sometimes find even the third generation from the foreign land still foreign.
In many localities the important question is not whether German shall be taught, but whether English shall be spoken.
One of the most important planks in the Americanization program must be the Americanization of the homes. We cannot expect to Americanize the child very rapidly when he spends the greater part of his time in a foreign home environment. The foreign-born father, for industrial or business purposes, endeavors early to learn English; the mother feels no such incentive. To help this condition social workers of ability and sympathetic understanding can find no better field for their endeavors than to establish direct relations with these mothers in the homes and teach them the English language and American ideals of right living.
After the appreciation and use of English, the first thing to be considered is the formation of right health habits, and the finding of an effective method of getting the health lessons given in the schools across to the homes.
The Hutchin's "Code of Morals," designed for use in character training of children by teachers and parents, supports this position. Its simple preamble runs thus: “Boys and girls who are good Americans try to become strong and useful, that our country may become ever greater and better. Therefore, they obey the laws of right living which the best Americans have always obeyed.”
These laws are then enumerated and the first one mentioned is the law of health. Thus this famous, prize-winning code supports the contention that running thru the school program from start to finish there should be health lessons. I believe that the effectiveness of these lessons should be measured by the improvement in the hygienic habits of the children. The right motivation of this work is a most worthy object of endeavor for any teacher or supervisor.
It has been found helpful to give children a standing on their monthly report cards expressing the judgment of the teacher on the success of the child in actually living up to the part he knows in the care of himselfcleanliness of person and of clothing, orderliness and cleanliness as pertaining to his school belongings. I have been guiding a movement of this sort for eight years and have found that while it is artificial to a certain extent, as all expedients are that use incentives instead of real motives, much good has resulted from it. For want of a better term, "personal appearance” was adopted to designate this factor of the educational program, and my effort with teachers has been directed toward bringing them to feel that their success in developing in their pupils a regard for health and decency is of more importance than arithmetic and must be just as regularly attended to. I have emphasized cleanliness as measured by the soap-and-water standard. Cleanliness in a wider sense must be included in this teaching.
It is only when we compare this sort of practical, vital work with what used to be considered the proper teaching of hygiene that we realize the progress that has been made with this phase of education.
Next to health lessons comes the course in citizenship, because to make our country ever greater and better we must have not only strength but usefulness, as our morals code says.
Our ideas of school discipline have undergone as great change as has our teaching of hygiene and civics. A well-conducted school city has, it seems to me, great possibilities. In such an organization citizenship in many of its aspects can be demonstrated and practist; and there habits of responsibility, self-control, kindness, loyalty, and others possest by really good citizens in all times and especially needed by the citizens of the near future may find opportunity for development.
Our ideas of freedom are undergoing a change, and this change the Boy Scout and the Girl Scout organizations are promoting. We used to think that a man was a good citizen if he did nothing that was harmful, but now such a person is not necessarily a good citizen; he can prove his right to that honorable title only by showing what he has done or is doing to help others.
Every time children and young people come together to cooperate mutually for some end, they are being trained for freedom in the
I shall close this paper with a quotation which seems to me to embody the spirit of social adjustment. It is taken from the Children's Code of Morals, already twice referred to, a code which, we trust, is destined to be a patriotic guide for American children generally, and to furnish teachers with organized material for their work.
If I try simply to be loyal to my family, I may be disloyal to my school. If I try simply to be loyal to my school, I may be disloyal to my town, my state, and my country. If I try simply to be loyal to my town, state, and country, I may be disloyal to humanity. I will try above all things else to be loyal to humanity; then I shall surely be loyal to my country, my state, and my town, to my school, and to my family.
A BETTER APPRECIATION OF CULTURAL VALUES
NATHAN C. SCHAEFFER, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION,
HARRISBURG, PA. In times of war the term which is upon the lips of everybody is the word “efficiency.” If efficiency is strest exclusively in our school systems, we land in what the Germans call Kultur, which is an educational product very different from culture. Kultur aims to fit the individual for some type of useful service to the state. It does not inquire whether the service will enable the individual to make the most of his God-given powers and possibilities. It degrades the individual into a mere means to an end, the end being outside of his immortal nature. Culture, on the other hand, seeks to make the most of the individual and places the aim of his education in the harmonious development of all his faculties and possibilities. One claim which a human being has upon immortality is found in the fact that no life on this earth suffices to develop all the capabilities of which every personality feels itself possest. Culture emphasizes the things of the mind and the higher life. It seeks to beget the ability to enjoy the true, the beautiful, and the good, wherever these may be found. It consists in the ability to think the best thoughts of the best men, as these are enshrined in literature. Culture does not neglect nor overlook the personal relations. That which makes life worth living is not found in science and literature, important as these are in the progress of humanity. That which makes life worth living is found in the personal relations which a human being sustains to his fellows and to his God, in love of kindred and friends, in love of home and country, in love of truth and of God. It is these things that are likely to be ignored in time of war. “When Mars rages, the humanities do not flourish.” Heroic virtues are developt during periods of national struggle. Optimistic views of life characterize the literature evolved during periods of stress and war, but if the things of the mind and the higher life are not cherisht by the soldier and the sailor, the vices of human nature gradually choke the virtues and leave the individual poorer than before.
Some time ago a naval officer gave me a new point of view. He said: “After you have trained a soldier down to the point where he will run a bayonet into a human being, you must expect him to do some other things which you do not like.” The culture of the benevolent affections is