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Student Organizations in City High Schools



NE of the most important problems in the organization and management of city high schools is that of students' organizations. The large high school has so many classes or types of individuals with so many different interests, as a result of the elective subjects and courses, that, grouping them together for directing, calls for more than ordinary knowledge and skill. Some high schools meet the demand by elimination-they permit no organizations. This keeps high school life simple for both teacher and student, but it leaves undeveloped the social instinct and the power of the initiative that are so necessary in life's relationships. These teachers admit the problem, but they shrink from the responsibility—either through lack of an understanding of the methods of directing it or through indifference to its demands.


By nature the students draw together in social life, and this takes a significant turn in the adolescent period of development. The associations in the class room are not primarily social, and therefore do not meet the higher demand. Likes and dislikes constitute a determining factor in the social grouping, just as in the academic. Acquaintance and friendships formed in the academic groups determine the nuclei of the various social groups. There is a continuous interplay between the groups that make it desirable and to the highest interests that the same leaders direct in both phases of the student's life.


In addition to the social basis, regard must be had to the character of the organization as a wholesome factor in the general administration of the school. The organization must

become a part of the working mechanism of the institution by which and through which the faculty may direct the individual as well as the group. It must be democratic.

Likewise the organization in its structure must provide for the development of the power of initiative and self-control in its members. It is in this respect that the organization comes into the school as a whole as a helpful and stimulating spirit, characterized by a more ready response to the will of the faculty, therefore compensating for the energy spent in directing the organization. With this training the students are more responsive to the conventionalities and requirements of society and her institutions.

The first organization that should meet these requirements and standards are the organizations of classes by years of advancement. In these the interplay between the social and the academic groups is greatest. One can be made to help the other: the same standard of scholarship maintain; the same maturity in years; the same responsibility to the institution. Membership in the social group, based on credits, serves as an additional stimulus to a passing grade of academic work. Thus, age and intellectual development make possible a more practicable grading of the school functions through which the social life is built up.

With semiannual promotions to the high school there are, in a four years' course, eight class organizations that have the same logical reasons for existence. Along with their good there is ever the possibility of evil,-the most common form of which is the extreme class rivalry, taking shape in inter-class tricks, jokes and general ill-will. The remedy for this lies in making the individual organization feel its relation to the institution as a whole, and in making each member feel that above his class interest is the proper regard for the rights of others and a pride in the good name of the school. Violations of these proper relations are due primarily to the lack of sympathetic and vigilant directing by those in charge. Their frequent occurrence is not an argument against the organization, but a call for closer control.

A very different type of organization is the Literary Society, which has for its primary purpose the advancement of its mem

bers along special intellectual lines, and their development in the power of initiative and self-control. To these ends the social aim is subordinated, although its development is greater here than in the class room. The inspiration underlying this particular organization is a natural outgrowth of the work in the academic groups of all departments, and likewise the reflex influence of the organization is more generally felt as a wholesome factor in the literary work of the school. The selfimposed discipline of this organization likewise makes its influence good upon the student body. And because it draws its membership from the school as a whole it is a unifying force free from the objectionable features urged by some against class organizations. Through this organization, leadership of a high order may be developed. Yet there are many students who feel no interest in such work whose own tendencies are equally entitled to recognition.

The Athletic Association has come to be a vigorous and consuming organization, devoted to. physical prowess, and the creating of a rousing school spirit. The love of contest far more than the desire of physical well-being is at the root of this organization. Its proper place is yet a mooted question. The particular phase of work through this organization around which interest, both inside and outside of school, centers is football; and likewise the greatest criticism is directed toward this activity. This is a difficult organization to handle. The reason is that so many forces creep in from the outside public whose interest in pure sport subordinates and in many instances completely destroys the educational value of the game. This is the problem for the high school faculty, how to keep the game a school exercise, and not make of it an amusement for the sport-loving public and of no educational value. Other forms of athletics are more tame, and consequently are less heralded. Nevertheless, they can be made of greater value to the larger percentage of students, and should receive more encouragement through the Athletic Association. Clean athletics open to as many students as possible should be the aim. But not unfortunately, and for good. reasons, many students care not for the Athletic Association.

The Press Association, usually composed of all the students

in the school, meets an important demand. It is a unifying organization, and is therefore a wholesome factor, if properly directed. Its purpose is to edit a school paper through which a school spirit may be awakened and nourished. If officered and controlled through a board composed of representatives from all of the different students' organizations, it focuses the interests of all of them upon the school as a whole. Both literary and business training of a high order may be given to the school through this organization. Also the students and the general public and neighboring schools may be kept in touch with the inner life of the school. Under proper censorship by the faculty the Press Association should result in nothing but good to the school.

Thus, to direct these and other organizations of students that may be admissible into the organic life of the high school calls for time and energy on the part of the faculty not usually contemplated when they are employed to teach a specific subject. The need of an all-round development of the students for a higher enjoyment and a greater service to society demands that a part of the time of the faculty be saved from the class room to be expended in directing students' organizations. It is through such organizations that the only practicable kind of student control can be secured. Secret fraternities are at variance with every wholesome aim and purpose of the high school, and have proven to be as undesirable and as harmful as the Anti-Masons, Knownothings and A. P. A.'s in American politics.

The History of Art as a College Discipline




N Arabian philosopher, when asked what possessions one should seek to acquire, replied, "Those that will swim out with a shipwrecked man.' The answer of the old philosopher might well give food for reflection to those who are agitated by the question whether this, that or the other discipline is a practical or advisable college

course. There seems to be a growing sentiment abroad in the land that the college course is not accomplishing what it might in equipping not merely a practical, but a spiritual citizenship. That it fails to give, in the words of Coleridge, that which,

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So diverse are the curricula of these so-considered intellectual mills out of which the refined product is expected to pour that their critics must needs deal largely with mere generalities. Yet among the criticisms, more or less unjust, is one which by its very persistency seems to require notice. Within the last month there have appeared in a leading periodical an editorial, and a reply thereto from the president of one of our large universities, both voicing the grave fear, if from somewhat different view-points, that as a culture-producing institution the American college is sadly lacking. The president referred to even asks for suggestions in regard to "how that atmosphere in which culture thrives can be produced in the undergraduate years." In the following remarks I shall endeavor to call attention to some of the weaknesses in our present undergradu ate courses, to show the intimate relation of the history of art to literature and history, and to enumerate its claims as a discipline which, if properly taught, can in many ways go far toward producing "that atmosphere in which culture thrives."

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