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respectable department of the national government, and command him to establish experimental or model schools and to investigate and report upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life? The line of work would be similar to that pursued by the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Education then would be no less effective for the highest good of the nation. As the one deals with physical nature, so the other would deal with human life; as the one deals with material wealth, so the other would deal with spiritual riches; as the one deals with the means of power, so the other would deal with real greatness.
Thus, the intimate interdependence and reciprocal influence of the physical upon the human, of the material upon the spiritual, of man upon his environment, of the individual upon the community, the state, and the nation bring into clear relief the sublime truth that,
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
WHAT SHOULD THE PUBLIC DO FOR THE CARE AND TRAINING OF CHILDREN BEFORE THEY ARE ADMITTED TO THE PUBLIC SCHOOL, COUNTING THE KINDERGARTEN AS A PUBLIC SCHOOL?
ADA VAN STONE HARRIS, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, ROCHESTER,
The struggle between socialism and individualism is as old as society. It is one of those wholesome and inevitable battles essential to individual and social health, that can never be settled, but must always result in continually varying compromises.
The basis of compromise must always be the necessities of society. The state must do for the individual what is best for its own perpetuity.
There is an inherited belief, amounting almost to a superstition, that the state's obligation in the nurture and preparation of her future citizens begins. when they can first attend school. It is generally believed that to open the doors of a public institution to the children at four or six, and when they are eight to go into their homes and compel them to come out and go to school, is a perfectly safe and proper exercise of governmental power; but that to go into the home either to care for the children or to take them out before they have arrived at this age would be rank socialism.
In a free state the one unvarying essential condition of continued life is a healthy, intelligent, and virtuous citizenship. Whatever intrusion into the sacredness of the individual and family is necessary to secure this is not only justifiable, but is necessary.
In early times among us the family could easily supply the necessary nurture and training until such time as the minds of children required the sort of intellectual culture furnished by the ordinary school.
But times have changed; the urbanizing of population has destroyed these conditions for very large numbers of families. Hence more and more now the state must exert its authority to secure to its people the conditions essential to good citizenship.
Imaginary lines must disappear, and the state must in self-protection take charge of its young whenever families in large numbers fail to meet the demand, whether at the age of six, five, four, or in the cradle.
Hence there are certain positions that are frankly assumed thruout this paper-That education is the primary business of the state; that the child is born immediately into the state as he is into the family; that the concern of the community in the child is as urgent as that of his kin; that the power and duty of the state to train the child into citizenship is coextensive with the needs of each individual child; and that solidity of interests makes the welfare of each the business of the whole.
Those who do not admit the proposition of democracy would doubtless dispute its corollary of free and compulsory education, with all its implications. But in the confidence that my assumptions are those of a majority at least of this audience, I have felt that it would be a waste of time to discuss principles on which we are agreed and have laid the stress of this paper on the practical application of these principles.
I have further limited the paper to a discussion of those methods suited to actual present-day conditions.
To discuss upon what spheres of action the state should enter in a properly constituted community is one thing; to face our incoherent, struggling, abnormal social organization as it affects the child and to discuss what must be done here and now under the present conditions is quite another.
The present discussion is sketched on the background of crowded tenements, child and mother labor, alien populations, poverty, ignorance, disease, intemperance and unchastity, which conspire to form the terribly dwarfing and deforming environment of millions of children in this land of liberty, in the year of our Lord 1907.
What the ideal home in an ideal state ought to do for the normal child is a theme upon which angels might delight to write. Meanwhile as we hew our way thru the "dark forest of this tangled present," let us look facts squarely in the face and see what must be done in the broader activities of state and community to give each child that square deal which is his right. Permit me then very briefly to discuss some of the things that should be done for the child by the public before he is admitted to the public schools. First, by carefully drawn and drastic legislation the housing of the people in our great and growing cities should be radically bettered.
Visit the ghetto of the overcrowded East Side, New York. The procession along the highway reveals not only the apparently prosperous business men, but the immigrant fresh from the foreign shore, ignorant of our language and customs. Here we see the lame and the lazy, the shiftless ne'er-do-wells, and
the unfortunate generally, living in cellars and crowded tenements; entire families in one or two rooms, among most unwholesome surroundings, the families, both of whose parents or whose sole supporting members are compelled to go out during the day, leaving the children without proper care. As the tenement-house problem stands today, in most of our larger cities the occupants suffer serious handicaps in their struggle for existence and a place among It is vain to attempt to educate children devitalized in these crowded, dark, unsanitary tenements. Room to play in, air to breathe, must be secured to the children of the nation that would not invite its own decay.
It is true that much has already been done by philanthropic organizations, and especially by the city, thru the oversight of tenements and providing parks and playgrounds. But vastly more is needed.
The way to secure these primitive rights is for our legislators to find out; the force that sets them on the path of constructive legislation is ours to
Unless government compels the owners of tenement houses to keep them in good sanitary condition, to provide air, light, water, toilet accommodations, that are adequate and decent, the unfortunate tenants will go without them.
Unless government keeps the streets of these districts clean, the children will play in the filth, for the street is their principal playground; and unless government segregates those affected with contagious diseases, they will stay in the same rooms and the same beds with the well children, and spread the contagion. But government must do more than this. It must compete with ignorance, weakness, indifference, superstition, inherited and imparted habits and prejudices, all hostile to health and morality.
One of the most manifest needs is, first, instruction in the laws of hygiene as applied to the simplest problems of living. Much instruction can and must be given in the schools to fit the men and women, the fathers and mothers, of the next generation for a more wholesome living. But that is for the future. The immediate need is the instruction of parents. Those who have never actually visited the houses of the tenement districts can have no conception of the possibilities of ignorance and prejudice that exist.
This instruction may be given in various ways; thru lectures, by association with the people, in settlements possibly-tho better in the way of business or of some activity, as that of the teachers; and especially may the instruction be given thru the mothers' club and parents' meetings in connection with the schools. These offer perhaps the best centers for instruction to be given to parents, and should be much commoner and more general than they are.
The duty of the community does not end, however, with the assurance of decent housing conditions. Add to the house the playground, the bath, the gymnasium, the park, the library, and you have the minimum which a really intelligent community must do in the assuring of an environment to its children that shall make a firm foundation on which to build educational progress.
Turning from environment to the child we find that, second, it is the duty of the public to protect infant life by proper safeguards.
When a child is born blind, or deaf, or deformed, a serious burden is imposed upon the state. Modern medical science has shown that a large proportion of these handicaps of birth are due to prenatal causes or to conditions in very early infancy. For example, blindness is induced in many infants by lack of proper cleansing and care of the eyes. All properly educated physicians and nurses understand the simple and easily applied sanitary treatment that will prevent the development of the inflammation which results in either total blindness or permanently impaired eyesight. But the vast majority of the foreign-born among the poor employ a midwife during confinement. Many of these women have had no training whatever, and only the most rudimentary ideas of cleanliness. In many European countries there are laws providing for the instruction, training, licensing, and rigid inspection of midwives. In this country, with our growing foreign population there is a growing need of such legal regulation of the practice of midwifery as shall protect both child and mother. The state must see to it that the needed instruction is given. One of the most needed government agencies in the cities is an adequate corps of physicians and nurses, under the direction of the health bureau, to visit the houses of those who need it, to counsel with the mothers and fathers, to take charge of cases of illness, to defend the ignorant against quack doctors and unscrupulous and ignorant midwives, to enforce segregation of the ill from the well, and in general to see to it that hygienic conditions are maintained. As representatives of the government they could and should secure in the homes such conditions that infants may be born right, nursed right, fed, bathed, clothed, and exercised right, and may thus have a square deal at the outset of their lives.
The very great extension of the practice of maintaining a trained nurse in the public schools is also desirable. A nurse attached to each school could perform an educative function in the homes of the pupils whose value cannot be overestimated. New ideas about cleanliness, ventilation, and feeding could also be given by her to the overburdened mothers of the tenements that would richly repay the community in better-fed and stronger children.
I cannot leave this phase of the subject without alluding to the duty which the public owes in the protection of the unborn.
We protect our cattle and horses from deterioration of stock by care of the mother. We allow the mothers of men to be oppressed by greed, ignorance, and poverty during their pregnancy, and then the public pays the bill in the care of their deformed, feeble, epileptic, or idiotic children. There are already countries enlightened enough to forbid certain forms of toil to the pregnant woman. Self-protection will bring society at large to recognize the danger to the race in refusing the protection of the law to the helpless victims of our commercial civilization.
But poor old father Dermas cannot rest when he has protected the
birth of the child bless you, there's the food question staring us in the face.
That it is poorly dealt with up to the present time is evidenced by the fact that some 50 per cent. of the babies that steer safely thru the perils of birth become discouraged and quit within the first five years. It is idle to rail about what ought to be. "It is a condition, not a theory, that confronts us," as President Cleveland said; the condition being that millions of people are crowded together in great cities; and that these modern cliff-dwellers are absolutely dependent upon their food and drink being brought to them from the far-away country; and in the bringing there are many things besides milk that suffer conversion into something sadly, fatally strange. The community must secure for the child clean, pure milk first and foremost. To educate milk producers to elementary notions of cleanliness, to facilitate the distribution of milk, to safeguard it at every step of its path from the cow to the child, is one of the most important tasks of public education and legislation. The national pure food law is only the beginning of what must be done in the way of legislation, both federal and state, to safeguard the health of the people. There is no department of public responsibility for the child not yet of school age more directly connected with his successful accomplishment of his school tasks than this vigilant guarding of the food supplies. Most authorities agree that malnutrition is at the bottom of much of the "naughtiness," "stupidity," and "incorrigibility" of school children. Wise legislation to prevent the sale of injurious or impure foods, coupled with instruction in the selection and preparation of food will do much to eliminate the child who can't keep up.
The health bureau of many cities, notably my own city, has done much to aid the community in the simplest principles of the feeding, bathing, and exercise of young children thru the distribution of a pamphlet on How to Take Care of Babies.
As we leave the problems of infancy and approach those of the two or three years lying between the baby and the school child, the complexity of the problem and the diversity of view in regard to the proper solution increases. On the one hand, psychological science is making clear as never before the fundamental importance of these years in equipping the child for normal self-realization, and of guarding against permanently atrophying the higher powers of the nature. On the other hand, the patient first-hand investigation of sociologists is demonstrating that under our present industrial conditions there are great masses of our population utterly unable to provide for their children the wholesome activities and environment essential to develop them into efficient and useful citizens. It is idle to argue as an excuse for the public inaction that these conditions might be changed in time. They ought to be and they will be; but sociological changes come slowly: and meanwhile there are generations of children yet to come who must have their rights secured by co-operation or by public action, if at all. Many of the functions best per