Slike strani
[ocr errors]

formed by the home must be undertaken by the community in behalf of the home of the future. To expect mothers who must toil all day to eke out the family income, or who are shut into the cramped quarters of a tenement, to supply the nurture that their children must have is to expect the impossible. Hence for a portion of our people, and that not a small one, the public must do a great educational work in preparation for actual school life, or else be foolishly attempting to build its educational structure on the sand.

The question is sometimes raised, what is properly the school age? And some are seriously asking if it is not too early or too late, if the kindergarten offers the best form of training for children under six, and if when the age of six is reached, reading and arithmetic offer profitable employment. This is a many-sided problem. It is not merely an inquiry into the proper employment of the time of children from early infancy. It is a very different problem in the large city or the manufacturing center and in the village or the rural district. In the country a child can be left out of school until he is eight or more, and still have his mind and body kept profitably busy. He can be educated as Rousseau would have educated him, thru contact with nature and thru doing things with his hands. Much of the best work that the town child does in the kindergarten the country child does better still thru the simple use of the tools everywhere about him, in natural activities. Tho it must be said of him, that if he is healthy, a few hours a day in a good school, after he reaches the age of six, will at least do him no harm. A poor school in which he is improperly employed upon the empty forms of knowledge may do harm in the country as well as in the city.

In the congested town life, if a child is left to his own devices until he is seven or eight, the range of suitable activities is so small that he is likely to come to school at eight a victim of arrested development, but an adept in evil. It is quite possible to make criminals of children in those years before the age of eight. As was suggested at the beginning, the state must take charge of the training and nurture of large numbers of its children from the very outset. What kind of training it shall give them at each stage of growth is a question for experts. The only expert capable of final decision is that rare combination, the doctor-teacher, the specialist in both physiology and psychology.

I think there can be no doubt that the earlier years, say up to four, should be wholly free from control-except such as is necessary to secure physical and moral well-being at the time. The occupation should be play-free and spontaneous. Children should play, and eat, and sleep, and be happy, in clean, wholesome surroundings with abundance of fresh air and sunshine.

The limits of this paper prevent any but the briefest mention of the manifold activities to be entered upon by the community in behalf of the child. Since the greatest educational factor of the first six years of a child's life is play, he must have playgrounds, amply accessible, fully equipped. And since these children of the city streets must be taught to play freely-spontaneously, imaginatively, and socially-these playgrounds must be presided

over by wise, sweet-spirited, and well-trained teachers who will play with the children and thru play lead them into a free and joyous social life.

There came into one of our playgrounds last summer a boy aged seven, but looking as old as his grandfather, wearing overalls and suspenders. He was leading his little sister Mary by the hand and wheeling a baby carriage which contained a rickety baby of one and one-half years. The father and mother were day laborers, leaving home at seven o'clock in the morning. Mary, aged three, was a little "tuf," and was only happy when hitting everything in sight! She was aided and abetted in this by the other children, who laughed at all of her performances until the teacher who was in charge of the playground suggested that they were hurting Mary and not helping her to grow up and be a better child. The teacher appealed to the children on their altruistic side, until finally they agreed it was not kind, and hence they would no longer encourage Mary in what seemed her natural tendencies. Ere the summer closed these bad habits died a natural death. Little brother, with his parental care, brought for baby's lunch on the first day a large piece of cake with white frosting. The teacher explained that baby ought to grow and could not on rich cake. The next day a large greasy doughnut appeared. On the third day the teacher achieved her object. John came with a bottle of milk. Approaching the teacher with a beaming countenance he said, "Baby will grow now, won't she teacher!" If the playground had existed for no other reason than to have driven the vicious tendencies from Mary and to have given the baby proper nutrition-it paid. It must be trained supervision to accomplish such results.

Outdoor playgrounds, and for stormy weather adequate covered spaces or playrooms indoors, are absolutely essential for babies, for older children, for growing boys and girls; playgrounds equipped for quiet games, for noisy games, for athletic contests, for all proper amusements, are part of the investment for the future that cities must make. To the playgrounds should be added recreation centers, where fathers and mothers can go with their children. Chicago's park houses are models of suggestion and inspiration as to what can be done for a community in this respect. And there must be parks, accessible and inviting, where children may roll and frolic in the grass, zoological gardens, where the child may make acquaintance with furry and feathered friends, personally conducted excursions to woods and field, and little garden patches where baby Adams may grub in the friendly earth. Transportation to these children's paradises should be furnished free if need be from the public treasury.

In conclusion: these are a few of the obligations of the state toward her children born of the poor, the ignorant, the helpless; the care of mothers before, during, and after the birth of children, instruction of parents in the duties of parenthood, such supervision of the home as is imperatively needed, legal control of tenement houses, doctors, and nurses trained-sympathetic and possessing authority-supervision of food supplies, then fresh air, cleanliness,

and room for play in healthful and moral surroundings. These and more the state must provide, abandoning all foolish notions of its limitations, when its life is at stake. For the life of the state is a sane, healthy, and moral citizenship, and the quality of citizenship is determined during the helpless years spent by the baby in the cradle and by the toddler at his play.

If the state is to be saved it must heed the cry of the children.


ELLA FLAGG YOUNG, principal of the Chicago Normal School.—It is difficult, if not impossible, to discuss the paper presented by the gentleman from Louisiana. The position taken in the opening pages is in accord with the principles for which the leaders in education stand today. But, as the speaker explained his subject, he illustrated the truth that it is possible for one to use the phraseology of advanced thinking, and yet in construing social ethics to dwell within the confines of the past. From this I shall attempt to enforce one practical suggestion.

It is easy for you, the superintendents of schools, to indorse here, in this assembly, every plea for generous provision for the education of those who are not yet participating in the economic activities of the state; but you may find it not easy, upon returning home and confronting the opposition of the men who control the commercial sentiment of the community, to harmonize your enthusiasm of this hour with your timidity in advocacy of the cause of that enthusiasm. The question before you, the superintendents of schools, is whether or not you have convictions sufficiently deep and strong, so compelling, that you must stand for well-equipped schools in which children shall be educated for modern life, even if that position lessens your reputation for clear ideas about business.

We all know that children, dulled by premature and long-continued toil in the factories, are a menace to the state; but have we an abiding sense of the futility of much that is done under the name of education? Have we a vivid idea of the conditions under which children come to be dull, come to be a menace to the state?

If children are dulled in the schools by non-productive, routine work that fails to arouse emotions of anticipation and satisfaction, then the superintendents of schools may speak the language of advanced educational theory, but they are holding the schools and themselves in the confines of the past.

MISS AMALIE HOFER, of Chicago Commons.-The framers of this program have evidently had in mind the wider purposes of education. Individuals have inaugurated manual training, domestic science, and kindred educational expansions until the state saw fit to take them over. Especially the woman, by very virtue of her maternal nature, has espoused and attempted "the impossible" for her children. Where in the eighteenth century there was one Gertrude, in one forlorn village of Bonnal, remaking it that her children might have a fair sanitary and moral chance, there are today great organizations of women, who do not wait for school or church or society to inaugurate such measures as pure food, prevention of child-labor, compulsory education, playgrounds, public baths, etc., etc. These are some of the great educational movements which are going on outside of the school, but which are a logical expansion and sequel to all sound determinations that children be given a fair chance and a square deal.

S. Y. GILLAN, Editor of The Western Teacher, Milwaukee, Wis.-The application of the subject under discussion is found only in the congested parts of great cities. Surely everyone will admit that in the worst portions of these plague spots the child should have at least a clean alley in which to play. And when we advance farther, the alley will expand so as to include shade trees, sand piles, and grass plots; t will develop into a wholesome

public playground. But when these things are suggested to the authorities they reply that there is no money for playgrounds.

In the present stage of our civilization, such eleemosynary efforts as are suggested in the paper and by the former speaker, together with enforced sanitation thru official inspection efforts to ameliorate-are probably all that can be undertaken. But when we become wiser, and somewhat more civilized, we shall look below the surface and seek to discover what causes the slums; we shall no longer treat mere symptoms, but will diagnose and treat the disease.

The land on which the slum tenements are found is owned by men with swollen fortunes. Tax this land to its full rental value and the slums will disappear. We shall then have sanitary conditions, and money for public playgrounds. The schools suffer for the want of money, and the slums continue a growing menace because the owners of swollen fortunes-stolen fortunes-are the beneficiaries of special privileges. And we in our simplicity allow them to hold these privileges untaxed and to practice their religion, which is to get all they can and to keep all they get except those sums which they use for debauching public morals and which we advertise under the euphemism of "gifts to education."




I feel that I owe you all something of an apology for, when the courtesy was done me of inviting me to address you upon this subject, it was my purpose to have prepared with care an address which I might deliver upon this occasion; but, in the multiplicity of a great many business undertakings, and other things which came to me, not the least wearing of which was the recent death of my father, I found myself unable to do justice in the way of a written address, and so I am before you without having prepared anything upon this subject.

I hesitated a good deal, being engaged in the sordid occupation of handling dollars and cents, as to whether or no I should be doing the cause of education any particular good by trying to demonstrate that in this day and generation there is some financial value in being somewhat learned in the books of art and science and agriculture. I am not sure but today when public sentiment is such that financial success is considered a crime and the accumulation of money something to be abhorred, that if it becomes known that men can become richer and more industrious and more saving because they are educated, public sentiment will put the public school, and the high school, and the college in the same class with other corporations, and that there will be serious objection if provision is made for education which enables men to live well, make a fair appearance, now and then give something to a public charity or a public educational institution, and leave something for their children.

If it be true that such is the public sentiment as regards the result of financial undertakings, why might it not well be argued that the thing which enabled a man to make two blades of grass grow where but one heretofore had grown, which enabled him to apply an acquired knowledge of chemistry,

obtained from the books in the schools, which brought about greater results in the arts and sciences, which enabled him to know more of mining and metallurgy and all the other things that made it possible to take greater wealth from the earth; why, I say, could it not well be assumed that the encouragement of such a thing resulted only in harm instead of in good? Or, in other words, that when educators had departed from that which in the earlier period of educational undertakings developed simply the scholastic side of man, and gave instead the industrial and commercial education, that they worked out harm instead of good to the community?

I trust I shall not introduce any discordant element if, in line with this suggestion, I say a word or two upon the question of swollen fortunes. This country within the last two decades has seen a progress so wonderful that ✔ not alone our own people but the peoples of other nations have stood in amazement at it. There has been great development in lines of transportation, in the mining industry, in agricultural pursuits, in the marvelous advance of manufacturing, in the still more wonderful advance in scientific undertakings, not the least cause of which has been that from those schools and colleges over which you gentlemen preside, has come a practical knowledge of the things which are necessary for the development of these resources which heretofore in this country have existed, but have not been developed. And, as a result of getting away, to an extent, from the mere scholastic education, and developing the practical side, making the school the place to learn how to manufacture, how to apply science in a practical way, how to make agriculture a science instead of a mere haphazard thing— because of these reasons there has been this wonderful growth of wealth; and, as a result of it, men have acquired great fortunes.

I am not here to say that all those fortunes have been amassed honestly, but I am here to say that in the vast majority of cases the same rule of honesty which you gentlemen apply in your daily life has been applied in the acquirement of them; and when there is created, upon a false basis, a false public sentiment which without inquiry and without discrimination attacks men who have obtained wealth and who are using that wealth in a proper way, public sentiment will be so vitiated that this country must in time come to a serious situation-class interests will be created and class prejudices be engendered.

What the educator ought to do in the education of youth is to teach without a shadow of variableness or of turning the ordinary common rules of common honesty; and, if that honesty is taught, there never need be a complaint of a fortune, whether it be great or small, having been accumulated except thru honest methods. There is no such thing as dishonesty with an honest man. And, whether that man be poverty-stricken or rich as Croesus, he is still an honest man; and if he is a dishonest man, whether he have a swollen fortune or be an object of charitable indulgence, he is still a dishonest man. Patriotism in the country is not the single province of any class or any

« PrejšnjaNaprej »