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CAMPAIGNING FOR PUPILS. Some communities have started their work among the foreign born with great community “ drives" similar to a Liberty Loan campaign. The wisdom of such methods has been questioned.
I am convinced that in this matter the rigorous community drive, with its great publicity and with its inevitable reflection, by implication, upon the patriotism of the alien residents, is not the best way to begin. A better way is to have one or more industries begin quietly and quite its it matter between the management and the employees. The management may, of course, make it understood that they want the employees to acquire the knowledge, but that the privilege of learning English during the day at the plant is offered on the ground that existing facilities in the community are not sufficient or are not convenient. Nothing succeeds like success, and when such a class is found to be in progress in an important industry it is not long imtil the others, particularly industries in competing lines, either competing for labor or for the local market, or both, fall into line.
One forceful personality, or a small working committee engaged in selling this proposition to one establishment after another or to groups of industries organized for trade purposes, is to be preferred to a regiment of copy writers and speakers.'
Whether the work be instituted class by class or by a great community drive, it is essential that the purposes be laid plainly before those whom it is hoped to reach. It is essential also that they shall be convinced of the value to themselves of attendance upon the classes.
The utilization of this positive point of view is exhibited in a learn-English campaign recently conducted in New York City under the joint auspices of the board of education and the Educational Alliance.
The aim was not to coerce or compel, but to persuade and convince. The basis of the drive was publicity, to bring home to the non-English speaking group on the lower East Side of New York City the need for learning English and the personal and family advantages to be derived, and to enlighten them on the values and the opportunities offered. It was explained that English was to be a tongue additional to their Yiddish, their Italian, their Greek, their Hungarian, or their Ladino. It was essential that they learn English in order thay they might come closer to their children, retain their confidence and respect, and thus avert the frequent domestic tragedy of the foreign home. It was conveyed to them that without English they were dependent upon their children for guidance and interpretation whenever they left their homes.”
Those workers who are concerned with the formation of classes of the foreign born should read the papers submitted at the Americanization Conference by Messrs. Goldberger, Streyckmans, and Peyser.
While a falling off in attendance must be expected in any class of volunteer students, whether foreign or native born, this fact should not keep those in charge of the classes from seeking other
1 W. M. Roberts, in Conference Proceedings.
causes and removing them. Incompetent teachers, wrong methods, lack of proper material, unsuitable environment or equipment, lack of tact—these are among the usual causes of disintegration.
The paper of H. H. Goldberger in the Conference Proceedings will be found especially helpful in meeting the problem of maintaining attendance. “Make the night school your club” is one of the methods he advocates of maintaining the interest of the students. “ Teach democracy by practicing it” is another.
In a school of about 2. classes of adult foreigners the problem was to create this social spirit. Each of the 2.5 classes was organized as a unit, as a clui), electing its own staff of officers, the officers meeting as delegates with the executive officer of the school. This body of delegates and school officials, called “the general organization,” assumed the duty of considering ways and means to make the school fit the needs of the pupils and to make itself a neighborhood force.
Almost at the beginning the general organization felt the need of formulating a constitution and electing general officers. The assembly at which candidates were nominated for office by the foreign born had their peculiar fitness pointel out by their fellow pupils. The subsequent election by the foreign born and the canvass of the result were worth a wilderness of textbook instruction in the method by which a democracy elects its officers. The pupils sought the honor of holding office almost as spiriteilly as men do in political life, and once elected they sought in accomplishment an excuse for reelection."
GRADING THE CLASSES.
While the technical methods of class instruction are fully covered in the bureau publications by Messrs. Goldberger and Mahoney previously referred to, it may not be amiss to point out here to those who are forming classes the necessity of grading them carefully. Failure to do this is another fertile cause of disintegration.
Grading the men is a very important process and comes next in the program. Too much importance can not be attached to this grading, for there is a very wide variance in the different minds and aptitudes of these foreign-born people who are seemingly on the same basis so far as knowledge of the English language is concerned. For instance, the men and women who are illiterate in their own language, never having gone to school or learned to read or write in their native land, present one problem. An entirely different one is presented by the men and women who have received considerable schooling in their native land but have not yet learned to speak and read or write the English language.
For practical purposes four grades seem necessary :
Grade 1. Those who are illiterate in their own language and who speak little and read or write little or no English.
Grade 2. Literate in their own language, speak and read a little English. Grade 3. Those who speak and read English fairly well and write a little.
Grade 4. Those who speak, read, and write fairly well but neeil a better understanding of English and are ready for the citizenship course."
1 H. H. Goldberger, in Conference Proceedings.
CLASSES IN THE HOME.
We have at last learned that we must take the school to the man in the factory and to the woman in the home. Immigrant women especially can rarely be interested in "going to school,” but they are interested in their children, in the cost of living, in sewing, and in cooking. Let them meet anywhere, in a home, a “model apartment,” a neighborhood center, or a school, on any basis they will, to knit, to make the lace of the old country, with a few American women, to be instructed, to cook, perhaps using the school's domestice science equipment, to form a mother's club, or to continue their Red Cross auxiliary on another basis.'
The importance of carrying education to the woman in the home of the foreign born can not be overemphasized. The children in the schools and the father in the factory are bound to come into touch with Americanizing influences even though such influences be not intelligently planned and directed. They are sure to take on some American ways and manners of life. The wife and mother, however, is left isolated in the home. She sees her husband and children gradually becoming as of another race; she hears them speaking oftentimes in a language she can not understand; she feels herself ignored and avoided by her American neighbors; finally perchance she finds herself an outcast in her own home, belittled or ridiculed by her own children. This tragedy of injustice reflects itself in the criminal records of the courts where the offenders born of foreign parents number two and one-half times greater than those born of native parents.
The women of the races from southeastern Europe are usually shy and timid. They have often been discourteously treated by their American neighbors and are left either in a mood fearful of further discourtesy or resentful of past treatment. Then, too, the women of these races are not permitted by custom to have the freedom granted to our American women. They are often forbidden by their husbands to leave their homes or to attend social or public functions. All of these factors combine to make the problem of reaching the foreign-born woman a most difficult one. But it can be done.
California is one State which provides teachers from the public schools for work in the homes. The domestic science workers of the department of agriculture carry Americanism into the homes and classes which they attend. The visiting nurses, the school-teachers, the settlement workers—all are in strategic positions to reach the foreign-born woman.
A FIELD FOR WOMEN.
Volunteer workers can do much in this problem. It is one which comes peculiarly within the province of the women's clubs and
Esther Everett Lape.
patriotic societies. But it is one which requires careful tact, sympathy, and sincere friendliness if the worker is not to do more harm than good. The approach is of the utmost importance.
A worker who often passed a certain building noticed a large group of foreign women sitting on the benches sunning their babies and visiting together, and observed that it was practically the same group day after day. So the worker visited with them about the babies and the weather and other topics of mutual interest until she won their confidence, and they came to realize that she was not only friendly, but that she had many things of value to tell them. At this point the worker suggested having a club meeting on the days which she could be with them and talk over the problems which interested them. Thus camouflaged, she held a class in city civics for several months, and when the weather no longer made the sidewalk club practical, a series of home meetings were inaugurated and have continued through two winters, with a summer session in between,
If the worker have the ingenuity and the tact to approach the foreign-born women more in the rôle of one seeking help than of one giving it, her chances of success will be materially increased. Few of us like to be openly aided, while we all take pride in extending a helping hand. Most friendly relations have been established with immigrant women by getting them to teach the native women their dances, their arts, their cookery. If the native women will bring their forcign-born sisters to them in this spirit they will both receive and give.
When proper contacts have been made and friendly relations established, the next step can be taken. The foreign-born woman whose acquaintance has been made can easily bring to her home or to a park or to some of the little shops a group of her neighbors for helpful talks by native-born women upon the problems of life in the new country. The second step to actual instruction in English is a short one.
In almost every immigrant colony one may find an intelligent immigrant woman, either a mother of a family who has been long in this country or has even been born and reared here, or an elder daughter who has received a public-school education, speaks English satisfactorily, and who, at the same time, speaks the immigrant's language and knows the families in the colony more or less thoroughly. Such a woman should be approached first, should be induced to accept training, and then become an organizer or teacher of the adult immigrant women in the colony. She will be able to effect an organization which may be called the “ Women's Club” or “Mothers' Club." Instead of creating an entirely new body, such organizations as exist could and should be utilized; there may be clubs, some cooperative association or a benefit society, or, of course, there may be no organization at all and every detail may have to be initiated. In that case the woman chosen as organizer will cause to be appointed as leaders of the new organization the more developed immigrant women."
* Mrs. Ilarriet P. Dow, in Conference Proceedings.
Advantage should be taken of every gathering of women of the foreign born to present something of America and American life. Wherever they have clubs of their own for any purpose, speakers and teachers may be provided.
Right near the school was an Ukrainian Church in which there were gathered a club of servant girls once a week, their night off, on Thursday nights. We found out about that club and sent a representative to ask permission to give those people a half hour of English instruction. Permission was granted, and one night the teacher asked this group of Ukrainian servant girls to come to the school, about two blocks away, and take part in the social activities of that evening. They came, and as a result they asked that we organize them as a permanent class in the school building.'
We can probably never hope to bring the foreign-born women in any large numbers to our schools for either day or night classes. We must reach all we can in this way, but to the greater number the school must be taken wherever we may find them together in groups. Mrs. Dow tells of a school that began in one corner of a New York playground, where the women had gathered to keep watch of their children at play.
The summer classes of a backyard playground were so successful that a near-by flat was rented and the classes became all-year-round groups. Classes in the little foreign store and kitchen classes have been successful. Why should classes be held in these homely places, when more attractive and comfortable places might be secured? Because they are the familiar spots, because the foreign mother is often less shy in these known surroundings, and, most important of all, because they are accessible and save time and effort for the mother. Few of us realize how much work many of these women have to do.'
CLASSES IN INDUSTRY.
Employers have a place of peculiar power in the problem of transforming immigrants into good citizens. Making contact with new Americans in industry has been likened to “collecting revenue at its source. Here we are able to touch almost 100 per cent of the nonEnglish speaking people. Here we find them ready at hand for our instruction. We must therefore look to industry more and more to assist us by forming these people into classes that we may teach them the English language and something of America.
The more forward-looking employers have already tried to meet this problem. In fact many of them have not only undertaken class work but have trained and employed their own teachers. Here is a task for the community workers: To convince the employers of their city of the wisdom and profit of helping the community to provide their adult employees with a primary education, if they do not already possess it. We must urge employers where it is at all possi