« PreviousContinue »
the grades—all these considerations lead to the conclusion that speech correction is not the special teacher's function. The advantages of the parttime teacher solution are that the pupils are retained in their regular grade work, the teacher and her pupils have the great advantage of variety in their work, and the speech standards of entire schools are slowly but certainly raised. Finally the part-time teacher is immensely more economical even in terms of dollars and cents.
DISCUSSION HECTOR L. BELISLE, superintendent of schools, Fall River, Mass.-Assuming that the correction of speech defects is a work which should be undertaken in the public schools the superintendent has to bear in mind two things: the best way in which to secure results and the lowest cost for results that are adequate. If a community offers so little work in this line that one teacher cannot be kept busy all the time, logically the part-time teacher becomes inevitable. On the other hand, if there is work enough for a regular teacher the case must be considered further before deciding whether to employ one teacher on full time or a number of teachers on part time. The choice between the two should be considered in its relation to the teacher and to the pupil.
Many types of special pupils are naturally segregated, as mental defectives, nonEnglish-speaking immigrants, and pupils much over-age, these being kept in separate groups because their whole schooling must be of a character distinct from that of the regular graded children of their own ages. Their educational shortcomings are fundamental and cannot be overcome by any treatment short of full-time special instruction. The pupil suffering from speech defects, however, in a large proportion of cases does reasonably
pod or even excellent school work. Tho in many cases it does hinder progress, speech defect is usually an accidental hindrance to a pupil which does not necessarily interfere with his advancement in school. As a general problem, however, the correction of speech defect is a side issue in the education of the pupil and should be carried on incidentally as a piece of work parallel to his regular schooling. A limited amount of instruction in school with considerable drill and practice at home will secure the results aimed at without interfering with his instruction in the grades. It seems clear, therefore, that the pupil should be expected to work under a special teacher for a very brief period during the week, one hour or two at the most.
As between the full-time and the part-time teacher the argument seems to be strongly in favor of the latter. The strongest argument in favor of the full-time teacher is that, being a specialist, she is a better master of her subject. In this field, however, which has been so little developt the accumulated knowledge and experience does not require years of study; what is definitely known and the theories which underlie instruction in this subject constitute a limited body of knowledge which can be acquired within a reasonable time by such a grade teacher as a superintendent would be likely to select to undertake the work. The teacher who is only a speech-defect specialist might, therefore, have very little advantage over one who takes up the work on the part-time basis.
On the other hand, a teacher regularly engaged in grade work who devotes a limited number of hours a week to correcting the speech defects of pupils in her own and neighboring schools has several advantages over the full-time specialist in that subject. She is likely to bring to this work an energy and a zest which spring from the natural interest one takes in a new piece of work; the variety in her work will add to its excellence on both sides. As a grade teacher she has a broad interest in school work generally. She watches children from all points of view and necessarily has a broader sympathy because she looks at them from more than one side. The specialist may in the course of time come to have chiefly a professional interest in the pupils, having a tendency to consider them merely
The grade teacher, on the other hand, giving part-time instruction in speech defects is more likely to have a personal relation to the pupil. From her association with children in the school and the neighborhood and the pupils' acquaintance with her as a teacher in the district the mutual interest will be greater and the reaction on the pupils more beneficial.
In a word, the problem may be said to resolve itself into one of teaching as against doctoring; the part-time teacher never losing her stand as a teacher or being lookt on by her pupils as anything but as a teacher, with all the advantages that that relation implies, as against the full-time specialist coming periodically on what may be likened to a doctor's mission, valuable of course, but different from the teacher's in its influence on the pupil.
WILMER KINNAN, assistant superintendent of schools, Lynn, Mass.—The speakers preceding on the program of this section have stated with admirable clearness and conciseness the various points in favor of the part-time speech teacher, basing their arguments upon economic, administrative, and educational grounds. In Lynn, not having had experience with the special teacher, we are not in position to compare or to contrast the results obtained in the case of the part-time teacher with those obtained in the case of the special teacher. The results obtained, however, are the test of any theory. We can say with confidence that such good results may be obtained with the part-time teacher that it is doubtful if a special teacher could do much better.
The time is surely and swiftly coming when corrective speech work will be taken up and done systematically in all of our best school systems. School boards, teachers, and the public, if possible, should be brought to realize that it is economic at any cost to take care of the large group of pupils having speech defect. It is both the moral duty and the legitimate function of the schools to do so. The presence of speech defect is a markt cause of retardation and elimination. Its cure or improvement involves mental training. It is both pedagogical and psychological and therefore an educational problem.
From 2 per cent to 24 per cent of the pupils in the elementary schools are seriously handicapt by speech defect. In Lynn, out of an elementary-school population of approximately fourteen thousand, 359 children had some markt form of speech defect. Of these, 58 were mentally deficient. Only 45 were improving slowly without instruction. We had 265 pupils, perfectly normal mentally, who were seriously handicapt by defective speech. Of the foregoing, 21 were six years of age or under and not as yet to be classified as retardates. Of the remainder all but 50 were retarded one or more years in school work. Only three had reacht the eighth grade.
We need to emphasize the following points: first, the children having speech defect constitute a large group when taken together; secondly, they are largely normal children; thirdly, they are greatly retarded as a result of this defect; fourthly, from 70 to 80 per cent can be cured or so improved as to have the defect cease to act as a direct handicap. It will then be found that no community will feel too poor to secure a teacher for them. In Lynn we secured two who volunteered to train for the work. These teachers were handling one-session classes of retardates which closed at 1:30 p.m. On four afternoons a week each teacher gave an hour and a half to corrective speech work. Of the pupils having the most markt defects, 275 were examined and 103 were selected because of grouping well for treatment. The pupils were divided for class instruction into eight groups, allowing about ten pupils to a group. Each group reported at a central building in the district twice a week for a period of forty minutes during school time. The speech teacher workt both individually and collectively with them during this period. No more serious, earnest, energetic, and ambitious groups could be found than these classes. Their greatest needs other than corrective exercises seemed to be inspiration, encouragement, and a restoration of self-reliance. Much, very much, of the success of the work depends upon the kind of teacher selected. She must be one of our best as a regular teacher, the kind who constantly looks for and secures definite acquirement. She must be vigorous, sympathetic, patient, and optimistic. These four qualities are essential.
Our results in twenty-eight weeks with two part-time teachers, who gave a total of twelve hours a week to the work, were as follows:
Out of a total of 275 cases examined, 103 which groupt well for treatment were selected. Of the 53 stutterers, 35 have been practically cured, 12 have shown markt improvement, and only have shown little or no improvement. Of the 43 severe cases 6 of lispers and phonetics, 14 have been sufficiently improved to be discharged, 19 show markt improvement, but need additional treatment. All of the lispers and phonetics showed some improvement. Seven cases of other defects were also somewhat improved.
A goodly number of the pupils were reported as advancing more rapidly in school work after receiving treatment. Many letters of appreciation were received from their parents and teachers. Any superintendent who will make a careful investigation of the problem in his schools will be imprest with the need and the advisability of providing instruction for the children having speech defect.
JOHN CHRISTOPHER, district superintendent of schools, Philadelphia, Pa.-In its essentials Dr. Swift's paper is a brief for a special system to be administered along special lines. The matter for discussion, I take it, concerns only the special method of administration as laid down by the speaker. Despite its seeming narrowness the plan proposed is of universal application. It is suitable for any other system for the correction of speech defects. It could be easily adapted to plans radically different from the one that has been organized by Dr. Swift.
Theoretically at least, the speaker, it seems to me, has made his point. So well has he marshaled his facts that we cannot but feel that the balance swings decisively in favor of the part-time teacher plan. As a measure of economy alone, in these war times, it has its justification. Particularly, however, would I stress the advantage that is bound to result both to class and to teacher from the happy union in one person of speech specialist and grade teacher.
A suggestion that should be considered with regard to the administration of the proposed plan concerns the hour of the special lesson. As indicated by the speaker, this would fall at the close of the afternoon session, not thru choice, however, but as a consequence of the inflexible nature of the ordinary school program. This is the time when the fatigue curve is highest for both pupils and teacher. The way out of this difficulty seems comparatively easy. Without attempting to open a discussion as to the merits of the Gary system, it would seem obvious that under a duplicate-school plan modified to suit local conditions, or under a departmental schedule, or under any scheme that carries with it the possibility of individual rosters, both pupils and teacher could be releast for this work at more fortuitous periods of the day.
These are particular details and probably will be easy of adjustment. A real difficulty lies, however, in the method of introduction of the special system. Under Dr. Swift's plan there is to be a medical director, a supervisor of speech-defect classes, and specially trained teachers. The last named will be selected from the local corps, as will possibly the supervisor, but for the present the medical director must come from outside the local system. As we all know, these systems in some instances may be ingrown with local prejudices, and the stranger, be he sage or prophet, not to say physician, may not be welcome within the city gates. Where such is the case, perhaps the answer may be found in the fable of Mohammed and the mountain.
Be the pitfalls what they may, we must all agree that some relief should be afforded this unfortunate class of pupils. If you have not surveyed your schools in thismatter, or delved into the statistics on the subject, you will probably be surprised at the percentage of speech delinquents in a given school population. A crude and extremely limited investigation in Philadelphia places our number approximately at 2000, or 1 per cent of our total enrolment. Boston in 1900 discovered 0.77 per cent; Chicago in 1910, 1300 cases. Dr. G. Stanley Hall cites German investigations showing 1. 12 per cent and Russian 1.57 per cent. That we are facing a live question is shown by the fact that at least fifteen of our American cities have special classes for this type of child.
Where there are no special classes the treatment of pupils so handicapt is, to say the least, a matter of haphazardness. A sympathetic teacher takes them under her wing and for the time makes them feel that they are not total life-failures. The school physician,
or the nurse, or the principal, or the teacher may recommend extra-mural treatment. This will probably mean intermittent visits for the pupil at some special hospital or psychological clinic, with the possible stigma of charity, and, because the attendance is voluntary, with uncertainty of persistent effort and permanent result; or it may mean the attendance at some private institution, not under public supervision; or treatment by some physician specialist very often at too great a cost for the family to afford.
Of course these things should not be. Outside of our moral obligation, the compulsory-attendance laws demand the attendance of all children all the time. While we cannot re-create all children to be equal, we can and should give equal opportunities to all our pupils. In these days of special classes for the aenemic, for the tubercular, for the backward, for the lame and the halt, for the “longs and the shorts,” that our progressive cities have provided, it seems passing strange indeed that the movement for the adequate care of the speech defective is not more widely spread. Let us sense our duty in this matter, and in this sensing let us, if possible, get some measure of Dr. Swift's missionary spirit.
Here is one class of atypicals that can be made to approach normality with but a slight deviation on our part from regular procedure and at a small expenditure. Granted it may be that they do form a relatively small percentage of our total school population, yet such lets and hindrances are they to themselves and of such detrimental influence to their associates that some remedy becomes a pressing necessity. The measures for relief are so near at hand and so comparatively easy of administration that we can hardly offer any excuse for neglecting the problem. And finally, nowhere will a teacher find a greater reward in the consciousness of duty well done than in helping these types of pupils. Their gratitude becomes a cup of joy filled to the brim and overflowing.
G. CONFERENCE ON PHYSICAL TRAINING
TOPIC: PHYSICAL WELFARE WORK WITH SCHOOL
CHILDREN IN WAR TIMES
A. THE VITAL NECESSITY OF PHYSICAL TRAINING FOR
THE COUNTRY BOY AND GIRL DUDLEY A. SARGENT, DIRECTOR, HEMENWAY GYMNASIUM, HARVARD
UNIVERSITY, CAMBRIDGE, MASS. Anyone who has read Provost Marshal General Crowder's recent report and noted that from 25 to 75 per cent of our young men were exempted from military service on account of physical disability and preventable disease cannot help having some misgivings as to the future of our country. If the object of education is to prepare one for life and I think I may say in all seriousness for the “battle of life”—what an awful commentary upon our methods of preparation and our habits of working and living is this large percentage of physically incapacitated men! One naturally asks, What are some of the causes of this stupendous waste and wreckage of American manhood ?
The limited space that can be allowed will admit of only a brief summary of a few of the causes that have in the writer's opinion told so disastrously upon our national physique. These are:
1. A feeble inheritance on the part of many, and constitutional inability to meet climatic conditions and the changes due to immediate environment.
Scientists have long maintained that no race of human kind has yet obtained a permanent foothold upon this continent, the main reasons being that our climate is so stimulating and exhilarating that most people wear themselves out simply by the speed at which they are driven in their efforts to live.
2. Inability of many to meet the peculiar demands of their chosen occupation with its restrictions as to general activity, bodily posture, bad air, and poor sanitary environment. During the Civil War the fewest exemptions from physical debility and disease occurred among sailors, boatmen, firemen, miners, previous soldiers, and the heavy iron workers. This indicates the direct influence of the use of the large muscles in maintaining health.
3. Contrast with this effect the influence upon the physique of new inventions and the minute division of labor which now prevails. While dividing the field of man's efforts and encouraging specialization have greatly increast the total output of labor and made it possible for the individual to earn a livelihood by the employment of a few muscles and faculties, it has greatly lessened the health-giving value of occupations.
4. Many of the new discoveries and inventions have had an equally deleterious effect upon health. The telegraph, telephone, typewriting, printing, and other machines, with steam, electricity, and inexhaustible motor forces behind them, have greatly quickened the pulses of human life. While they are saving labor in many ways they are narrowing and intensifying human activity to a high degree and are greatly increasing the nervous tension and consequent exhaustion. In many occupations men are now brought into competition, not only with each other, but with tireless machinery that pushes them to the limit. Under such a strain many are breaking down with heart disease, kidney trouble, nervous exhaustion, and other organic disturbances. A man can no longer rely upon his occupation to keep him in health or good physical condition. He now must give what health he has to his occupation and trust to other agencies to keep himself physically fit to meet the strain of labor conditions.
5. All the evils I have enumerated have been greatly intensified during the past fifty years by the increase of city life. At the time of the Revolution only 3 per cent of our population lived in cities of more than eight thousand inhabitants. Now New York City alone has more people than were in the whole country at that time and nearly 50 per cent of the population of the United States are now city dwellers. Altho the best blood of the country is continually flowing into our great cities in the shape of stalwart youth and vigorous maidens, the stress and strain of living and working is so intense and exhausting that few survivors can be found in the third generation.
6. But notwithstanding the intense activity and wear and tear of city life with its crowded streets and working quarters, so much has been done