The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Education, Elementary
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EDUCATION, Elementary. — In all the elementary schools of the United States, public and private, there were enrolled in the year 1914 over 19,000,000 pupils, — 17,500,000 of these in public schools. The average number of days attended by each pupil enrolled in the public or common schools and including rural schools was 115.6 days, and the average length of the school term 158.1 days. The total expenditure per pupil was $38.31 for sites, buildings, salaries and all other purposes as compared with $15.91 for the same items in 1875.
Rural Schools. — By the increasing concentration of industrial and commercial life and the concurrent growth of railways and other modes of rapid transportation during the past 50 years, the suburbs of cities were greatly extended, the urban population vastly increased and the rural population diminished. Rural schools suffered correspondingly. Within later years, however, a reaction has set in favor of agricultural life by which rural schools have begun to profit. There still are rural schools in sparsely settled districts that continue the old practice of holding winter schools with limited sessions of SO to 90 days and taught by ill-prepared makeshift teachers. Yet lingering shortcomings are steadily yielding to the establishment of union schools, to the consequent more generous extension of school terms and to increasingly successful efforts to secure more adequate preparation of prospective teachers through special normal courses in State and county normal schools and in high schools. In the union schools a number of districts are consolidated; the children are conveyed to these at public expense; the courses of instruction are graded; the teachers comparatively well prepared and more permanent. Moreover, they offered rallying points for the people of the community for lectures, entertainments, discussions, exhibitions, institutes, social gatherings, etc. In a number of instances, increased interest in education was stimulated and led to the establishment of township and county high schools. Township high schools are common in New England and in some of the Middle Atlantic and Middle Western States; Kansas and Oklahoma and several of the Middle Western States have county high schools.
Much fresh stimulus, too, has come from the extension and increased stringency of compulsory school attendance laws. Since 1899 such laws have been passed or amended in the direction of greater stringency by all the States save two, and 28 of these require attendance during the full school year for from 6 to 9 years. The beneficial effect of such legislation will appear in the fact that the percentage of illiteracy has sunk from 7.1 per cent in 1900 to 4.1 per cent in 1910. Furthermore, it appears that out of 100 persons enrolled, approximately 92 pursue elementary studies, 6 are enrolled in secondary schools, and 2 are in higher institutions.
From the general character of courses of study, it is fair to assume that the average schooling in all but the most backward rural district ts sufficient to secure for each normal person enough to enable the future citizen to read and write and cipher within the practical needs of life, and to enjoy in addition some geographical knowledge, some acquaintance with the history and political organization of his country and, in many instances, some skill in singing, in drawing and other handwork, and a measure of literary taste
Trained Teachers. — Consideration of the reasons for increasing the length of the term of the elementary school and the adoption of a graded course of study, reveals the most important item of improvement in the recent history of American schools, namely the introduction of professionally trained teachers. The first normal school in the United States was established at Lexington. Mass., in 1339. The number of normal schools supported by state or municipal governments has increased since that year to 235; in addition there are 46 private normal schools and a number of courses for the training of teachers in high schools and colleges. The advantage of professionally educated teachers above others lies in the fact that they have learned to use methods and devices intelligently and in thoughtful adjustment to the needs and interests of children. They have learned to distinguish between the essential and the accessory in the subjects of instruction and know how to lead the pupil to inspiring uses of his knowledge in deliberate research and in successful application to varied purposes of achievement.
But much is yet to be done, if teaching is to become a profession with adequate permanence of tenure on the part of its votaries. Thus, with regard to rural schools, Harold W. Foght, rural school specialist of the United States Bureau of Education, reports that the average rural school teacher remains in the profession less than four years of 140 days each. “This means that the entire personnel must be renewed every four years or that about 92,000 new teachers must be provided annually.” Now, the normal schools of the country had enrolled in 1913-14, 94,455 students and graduated only 19,438. The burden of providing for the largest immediate supply of rural teachers falls upon the training departments of high schools and upon county and township training schools in some of the States. Nor do these sources seem to be adequate in view of the fact that in 1913, according to the commissioner's report, there were in the teachers' training courses of public and private high schools only 3,767 boys and 23,284 girls. Nor is the dearth of satisfactorily trained teachers confined to rural schools; for of 1,350 cities reporting to the Bureau of Education in 1914 only 474 require elementary teachers to be normal school graduates, 630 require only a high school education, and the remainder fail to specify what qualifications are demanded.
Probably the most serious obstacle to the professionalizing of teachers is to be found in the comparatively low salaries paid them. In 1914 the average wage of elementary teachers in cities of 25,000 and less than 50,000 inhabitants was $641; in cities of 5,000 and less than 10,000 inhabitants the average wage was $533; both wholly inadequate to secure normal graduates and continuous tenure. With similar import, the investigations of the National Education Association committee on teachers' salaries discloses the fact that the annual wage of farm laborers in 1913 was $257, while the average wage for rural teachers was but slightly more, although the exact figure was not available. At the same time, the average wage of rural mail carriers was $1,150. The average salary of elementary teachers in cities of 100,000 and fewer than 250,000 population in the same year was $791, and in cities of 5,000 and fewer than 10,000 population the average salary reached only $533.
Under such conditions permanence of tenure and the choice of teaching as a life work become almost unthinkable. One-third of the men and one-half of the women engaged in teaching are under 24 years of age. One-half of the teachers have had but four or fewer years of experience, and one-fourth can claim only one year of experience. At the same time, because of the more varied and wider opportunities for profitable vocational employment, men are more and more turning to other pursuits and leaving the field of teaching to women. Thus it has happened that the percentage of men teachers, which in 1870-71 amounted to 41, has steadily declined so that in 1911-12 it had fallen to 20.9, leaving practically four-fifths of the field to women. Unfortunately, this situation is still further complicated by the fact that, all but universally, married women are excluded from eligibility. Consequently, to the characteristic of the great majority of elementary teachers there has to be added the qualification that they are unmarried women. This qualification each teacher, up to a certain age, hopes to escape, thus adding a new factor to the uncertainty of tenure and a new limitation to the growth of professional spirit
Sex Problem. — The modern reorganization of the elementary school which will be discussed later on in full, presents among other welcome features the fact that it brings into the life of the child at an earlier period the influence of men teachers. The value of this cannot be overestimated. It furnishes the boy realizable ideals and examples he can emulate, and to the girl it furnishes the opportunity to gain respect for the masculine factors in life on the ground of merit. I direct attention to this without prejudice to the equally valuable influence of women in the school; for I am aware of the fact that the all but exclusive employment of men as teachers in former days had as weakening an influence upon the effectiveness of schools as their excessive feminization has upon the schools of to-day. As in the ideal family we find mother and father, sister and brother, so in the school both elements should be found in vital proportion, if the children are to grow into ideal relationships in a social organization involving both women and men.
Under the circumstances indicated, it is evident that small rural districts cannot secure professionally trained teachers. Such, indeed, find ready employment in cities and villages; for these, too, as a whole cannot show in their graded schools an average of more than one teacher in three that holds the diploma of a normal school.
Urban Schools. — Another great advantage belongs to the schools of the village or city. They are graded schools, have a regular course of study, proper classification of pupils and uniformity of textbooks. In the small district school 15 to 40 pupils are brought together under one teacher. Their ages vary from 4 to 20, and their degree of advancement ranges from beginners to those who have attended for 10 or 12 winters and attempt secondary studies. It still may happen that there is no unformity of textbooks except, perhaps, in the speller and reader, each pupil bringing such arithmetic, geography or grammar as his family may possess. This was the case universally in the old time district school — such as existed in 1790, when 29 out of 30 of the population lived in rural districts, and 50 years later when only 1 in 12 lived in a city. As the railroad has caused villages to grow into cities, so it has virtually moved into a city a vast population living near railway stations in the country by giving them the morning newspaper and rapid transportation. In 1890 one-third of the population was living in cities of not less than 8,000 inhabitants. But the suburban populations made urban by the railroad swell the city population to one-half of the whole nation. Hence the great change now taking place in methods of building schoolhouses and in organizing schools.
With this change in the condition of the population, the method of individual instruction was supplanted by class instruction. The individual did not gain much under the old plan, for the reason that his teacher had only 5 or 10 minutes to examine him on his daily work. In the graded school each teacher has her grade divided into two sections and hears one recite while the other prepares a new lesson. All pupils learn more by such class recitation than by individual recitations, for in the class each can see the lesson reflected in the minds of others, and understand the teacher's views much better when drawn out in the form of a running commentary on the recitation.
Textbook and Oral Teaching. — It is supposed that the chief work of the pupil is the mastery of textbooks containing treatises that give the elements of branches of learning taught. The evil of memorizing words without understanding their meaning or verifying the statements made in the book is incident to this method, and is perhaps the most widely prevalent defect in teaching to be found in the schools of the United States. The oral method escapes this evil almost entirely, but encounters another. The pupils taught by the oral method exclusively are apt to lack power to master the printed page and to get from it the full meaning; they need the teacher to explain technical phrases and definitions. The American method of textbook instruction, it is claimed, throws the children upon the printed page and holds them responsible for its mastery. The pupil is taught to assume a critical attitude toward the statements of the book and to test and verify them or to disprove them by appeal to other authorities or by actual experiment. It is evident that this system of instruction is feasible only in graded village and city schools and can find no place in the ungraded small rural school. Where such schools have made the attempt to classify their pupils, e.g., in arithmetic or geography, they were obliged to unite in one class children of very different degrees of attainment with unavoidable injury to the dull by overpressure, to the gifted by neglect, and with but doubtful benefit to the average.
The chief objections to this method of work in graded schools has been found in its tendency to degenerate even in the hands of well-equipped teachers into spiritless “machine” work and mass-teaching with their disregard and suppression of individual needs and interests, as well as of the claims of spontaneous social intro-ordination. It proved to be economical financially, it is true, but wasteful educationally. The shortcoming is further emphasized in 24 States by the fact that these have made uniform textbooks mandatory. In some of these States the adopted books must be used as basic texts in all schools, elementary and secondary, and in all districts; in others, high schools are permitted to select for themselves; and in still others, city districts and special tax districts may adopt whatever books they may desire. In a few instances, where the State prints its own texts and modifies them from time to time on the basis of advancing professional insight, possible evils of the measure are greatly mitigated.
A concomitant of the “machine” work and mass-teaching to which large graded schools have been subject is found in so-called discipline or government. The establishment of order, regularity, silence, concerted action and general obedience to authority offered great difficulties and invited measures that seem arbitrary, out of relation with the object in view, and without even indirect appeal to the children's good will and insight.
The New Pedagogy. — However, under the inspirations of Frœbel and Herbart, of Spencer and Wundt, of Dewey and Hall, and many others, a new psychology and a new pedagogy are coming to the rescue. More and more, in the life of the school, the needs of the child with reference to his individual and social development are coming to the front. The treatment of subjects of instruction is learning to adjust itself to these needs; the very textbooks, more especially in elementary schools, reflect the new tendencies, place stress upon touching interest on the basis of the learner's experience, upon stirring the desire for independent research, upon utilizing new knowledge in fresh individual achievement or generous social endeavor. Similarly, disciplinary measures are judged more and more by these considerations. Incentives are adapted to individual nature and need. Encouragement is taking the place of relentless pedantic criticism. Good will, insight and self-respect are appealed to and, in growing proportion, deliberate self-control and even organized pupil-government take the place of ostentatiously vigilant government by teachers.
Much is due in the gradual reorganization of the elementary school to the influence of the kindergarten, of manual training, drawing and certain phases of nature study. In all of these the value of the hand as man's chief organ in exploring his world and in adjusting it to his needs is fully revealed. With their introduction the motto, “learn by doing and in order to do,” acquired appreciable meaning. At last, the whole diild — hand, head and heart of him — went to school. The liberal and the practical lost their antagonism, became indeed the two indispensable poles of full culture which carries men, as Gœthe has it, “from” the useful, through the true, to the beautiful. The progress of the kindergarten as a factor in elementary education has been quite rapid. The first public school kindergarten was established in Saint Louis in 1873. In 1892 the Commissioner of Education reported 459 public and 852 private kindergartens in the United States. In 1898 there were in 389 cities of 8,000 inhabitants or over 1,365 kindergartens supported by public funds. The number of teachers employed in these was 2,532, and under their care were 95,867 children. At the same time, information had been obtained concerning 2,998 private kindergartens, with 6,405 kindergartners and 93,737 children. Thus the total number of kindergartens, public and private, in this year was 4,363 with 8,937 teachers and 389,604 children. Kindergartens were authorized in 14 States, but a number of cities had established kindergartens through powers conferred in their charters. For 1914 the commissioner reports that in all States but one the establishment and maintenance of kindergartens is either required by law under certain conditions, specially permitted by law, or permitted under general authorizations. There were reported in this year 7,254 public kindergartens in 1,135 cities with an enrollment of 391,143 children. In addition there were reported in 677 cities and villages 1,571 private kindergartens with an enrolment of 74,725 children; yielding for this year a grand total of 8,825 kindergartens with an enrolment of 465,868 children.
It is the general consensus of opinion on the part of superintendents, principals and primary teachers that the kindergarten child has advantages over the non-kindergarten child, other things equal, in good school and life habits, in wealth of ideas and power of expression, in powers of observation and concentration, in perseverance in a task once begun, in control of the hand in manual work, in social co-operation and sense of responsibility in common work, in responsiveness and obedience and a number of other minor points. So beneficial, indeed, has been the influence of the kindergarten upon the spirit and work of the primary school that deliberate movements for the mutual adjustment or even coalescence of the two are becoming more and more urgent. It is proposed — and sporadically carried out — that the transition from one to the other be made less abrupt and that in normal schools student teachers for the kindergarten and others for primary work be taught together in all essential things; in short, that the kindergarten be no longer treated as a separate department, but be made an integral part of primary instruction.
A further development brought to the elementary school by the kindergarten is found in the fact that it directed favorable attention to the value and need of modeling, drawing and other forms of constructive and creative handwork in connection with the educative activities of the school. This prepared the way for slojd and other forms of manual training which later on came to the upper grammar grades and to secondary schools, largely under the pressure of the growing industrial needs of the country.
Certain of these forms of manual training had been advocated long ago by Locke and Franke, by Rousseau and Pestalozzi; but the recognition of its full value as a factor in education was reserved for Frœbel. He, first, fully and clearly revealed the law that the end of mental activity is not knowledge, but the use of knowledge in some sort of self-expression or doing; that as the acquisition of knowledge rests largely upon the activity of the exploring hand, so the application of knowledge to the needs of life is largely dependent upon the activity of the achieving hand; and, furthermore, that full normal interest in learning can be stimulated only by the achievements it serves. To Frœbel, the manual training he had in mind was not a new subject of instruction, nor was it a concession to the industrial need of the time, but an immanent factor in every part of the educational work, adding meaning to intellectual effort, substance to ethical and esthetic aspiration. In a measure, then, it includes all the workshop and sketching-room, the kitchen and sewing-room features of current manual training departments of the elementary school, but it also includes the manual work of the kindergarten and of the modern primary school, the laboratory, the studio and the schoolgarden. In a broader sense, looking upon the hand as the symbol of deliberate muscular activity, it even may include the new attitude of the school to physical training, to play and playgrounds, to dramatization, to song and rhythmic motion.
Inspiration for manual training of a technical and industrial character came to European countries from Finland and the Scandinavian countries. To Uno Cygnæus, whom his countrymen fondly name “father of the school,” belongs the honor of first introducing work of a technical character in the urban schools and slojd in the rural schools of Finland in 1866. Similar and almost simultaneous movements for the extension of slojd and home industries in the schools of the people were carried on successfully in Sweden and Norway and more particularly in Denmark. In our own country, what goes by the specific name of manual training is traced to an exhibit of a Russian institution at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. The value of the system of manual training, there suggested, appealed to such men as John D. Runkle and C. M. Woodward who introduced it into the institutions under their charge and became forcible advocates of its value. The advanced technical features of this phase of manual training — including various forms of woodwork and ironwork — are confined to high schools and, in some instances, to the upper grades of the grammar schools. The manual training of grades below the 7th deals with extended kindergarten material, with paper and cardboard work, plastic material, raffia, bookbinding, simple forms of slojd, etc.
Industrial Vocational Training. — Within recent years the problem of manual training has been much complicated by movements for the establishment of courses for industrial and vocational training which involve more or less complete preparation for distinct callings, coupled with the opportunity for the pupil to find under so-called vocational guidance what particular vocation or group of vocations it is most profitable for him to choose. While in the original manual training, which still persists in elementary schools, the stress is upon its cultural value, industrial and vocational training emphasize the distinctively practical outcome in fitting the pupil for some definite calling, for some domestic, agricultural or other industrial work. In 1898 manual training was an important feature in the public school course of 149 cities. In 359 institutions other than city schools, there was training that partook more or less of the nature of manual training. These institutions embraced almost every class known to American education, and the manual features varied from the purely educational manual training of the Teachers' College in New York city to the specific trade instruction of the apprentice school. In 1914 there were approximately 1,200 public high schools that offered courses in manual or technical training, in agriculture, and domestic economy. No reports are available as to the extent of educational or other hand-training in the elementary schools at this time.
Within the last two decades, the attention of legislative activity has been directed to the importance of hand-training, more especially with reference to industrial and vocational needs. To Massachusetts belongs the honor of leading the way in this matter in a law 20 years old, requiring every city of 20,000 inhabitants or over to maintain manual training courses in both elementary and high schools. Later on, Massachusetts again led in legislation aiding the establishment of industrial and vocational schools. By 1915 24 States and the District of Columbia had found it necessary to pass laws providing for courses in a variety of vocational work: for continuation schools, evening schools, trade schools, special classes, etc. Thus, by way of illustration, New York provides for courses in agriculture and home-making in her consolidated rural schools, for continuation schools, for trade schools, and for evening vocational schools; New Jersey provides for all-day industrial schools for boys over 14, household-arts schools for girls over 14, part-time continuation schools for boys over 14 employed as apprentices, evening industrial classes for boys or girls over 16 who are employed as apprentices, evening household-art classes for girls over 17, and vocational agricultural classes. Indiana makes provision for “fitting each individual in the State for some useful form of work” in the public school work of the State; for this purpose, the law requires that elementary instruction in domestic science and in the industrial arts be given as a part of the regular course of instruction in all the schools — in the 7th and 8th grades and in the high schools — of the State. Moreover, the law provides for vocational departments and schools conducted for the sole purpose of preparing for efficient and productive work in tne shop, in the home, and on the farm.
The highly organized graded school of to-day is quite young. The War of Independence and the subsequent need for organizing and extending the new territory and of establishing means of intercommunication and other economic facilities had deflected attention to the scanty provisions for public education. At the same time immigration brought many poor and ignorant families, and illiteracy was growing apace. A new enthusiasm and an intensely popular movement, however, set in when in 1837 Horace Mann and Henry Barnard began their educational work, the one in Massachusetts, the other in Connecticut and later (1843) in Rhode Island. From these beginnings and within less than 80 years, the elementary division of our public school system has been evolved. Within the past 40 years, there have come to our public elementary schools among many other commendable features grouping by grades, trained teachers, enrichment of studies, care for the health of the children and for their general well-being. The most significant steps in the functional reorganization of the elementary school came within recent years: in the first place through efforts of the college to shorten the time required for college graduation by reducing the elementary school period to six years instead of eight or nine; and, subsequently, to free the public school generally from its all but exclusive subservience to college ideals in order that it might be enabled to serve also the needs of industrial, commercial, agricultural and domestic life. With this in view, the course of the elementary school is being more and more generally shortened to six years, to be followed by an intermediate course of two or three years and by a high school course of four or three years.
Six-three-and-three Plan. — Among the various plans proposed and set in operation for the purpose indicated, the six-three-and-three plan is probably the most favored. It reduces the elementary school to six years, establishes an intermediate school, or “Junior High School,” of three years and a full-fledged high school of three years. In both the intermediate and the high school the courses are flexible and promotion is by subjects not by grades. Instruction throughout is departmental and in the hands of persons who combine the qualities of the teacher with those of the expert. The curriculum of this intermediate school affords much opportunity for differentiation. All, it is true, share in pursuits that reveal the duties of citizenship and open avenues to the appreciation of the refinements of life. Yet, for each one there is opportunity to emphasize what talent, genius, necessity, or even inclination may demand. This flexibility of the course with its wealth of opportunity enables the student under the teacher's guidance to “find himself,” his capacities and enthusiasms with reference to the choice of a life-career. Thus the intermediate schools of Los Angeles offer five distinct courses: the literary-scientific course, the engineering preparatory course, the mechanic arts course, the home economics course, and the commercial course. Aside from its many internal advantages, this coming intermediate school confers the great boon of holding the children under instruction for a longer period and of bridging the fatal chasm between the elementary and the high school, leading a greater number of children into the high school proper in its academic, scientific, technical, commercial and other quasi-professional departments. The work assigned to the elementary grades remains practically the same. Courses of study deal with reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, the use of the vernacular, nature study, the history of our country (biographical and chronological), some geography, hygiene, physical culture, music, drawing, and some phases of manual work, mostly in connection with other subjects of instruction or with the plays of the pupils.
Problems. — The problems of truancy, retardation and varying endowment are destined to became important factors in the reorganization of the elementary school. These problems became urgent with the sincere and consistent enforcement of compulsory education laws about 1890. It soon became evident that the physical and mental conditions of children are not uniform and that individual differences in children demand serious consideration in their education. The fact that children vary widely in their natural gifts and inclinations and the clear discovery of eye, ear and motor-mindedness in children, forced upon the school demands of greater flexibility in method and organization. At first, the attention was chiefly upon mere truancy and certain disciplinary faults. Then, and until quite lately, the stress was upon the needs of laggards; ungraded rooms, so-called industrial schools, special help devices, shorter promotion intervals and promotion by subjects came to be applied as remedies; for abnormal children special schools were established. At last it has come to be fully realized that retardation is an individual matter, that it threatens the specially gifted through lack of interest as much as it falls to the lot of the less favored through lack of ability, and that it was necessary to make provision for all the various phases of individual capacity. In 1911, therefore, it became possible for the Commissioner of Education to report that provisions for backward children had been made in 220 cities, for mentally defective children in 99 cities, and for exceptionally gifted children in 54 cities. Prominent among the last were Baltimore, Indianapolis, Lincoln, Rochester, and Worcester. The provisions of all these cities were based upon the desire to furnish these children opportunity in the 7th and 8th grades to do advanced work for which they could receive credit when entering the high school. Many educators, however, doubt the wisdom of singling out such children and separating them from the classes of normal children. They emphasize the social value of joint training upon the development of character. They point out the fact that children have likenesses as well as differences and that in the school they should learn to work together as they will have to do subsequently in life; that, therefore, they should be trained together, although each in his own way and according to his ability in common work. Teachers are deeply interested in the problems involved, since from their study valuable contributions to the progressive reorganization of the elementary school cannot fail to flow.
Gary Plan. — A new departure in school management which is attracting much attention proceeds from Gary, Ind., under the direction of Superintendent William A. Wirt. The city of Gary is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, about 30 miles southeast of Chicago. When it was founded in June 1906 the site was a waste of shifting sand dunes dotted with marshes. To-day it is a flourishing city of approximately 50,000 inhabitants, with all the public utilities and aspirations of a modern city. In 1906 four teachers taught 120 pupils in its first schoolhouse; in 1916 the number of teachers had risen to nearly 200 and that of pupils to more than 6,000. The Gary plan of a school plant is “a playground, garden, workshop, social centre, library and traditional school combined under one management.” For these purposes the new Frœbel School, erected at a cost of $350,000, stands upon a tract of 10 acres; one-half of this is used for playgrounds, two acres for schoolgardens, and three acres for park. There are also two conservatories for nature-study work, the botany work in the high school, and for supplying plants for the schoolrooms. Among the striking features of the work, the following are the most noteworthy:
1. The schools are open the year round, or for four quarters of 12 weeks each. Pupils are held to attend school for three of these quarters, choosing for vacation the one that suits them and the home best. During the free quarter the pupil may attend voluntarily any of the activities of the school or, with the help of the school, find employment in the industrial life of the city.
2. The elementary school and the high school are in the same building. This, it is claimed, removes the chasm between the two departments and tends to hold pupils in the school for longer periods. Moreover, it establishes the same standard of discipline for all grades, increasing sense of responsibility on the part of the older pupils and stimulating worthy ideals on the part of the younger.
3. Throughout, the teaching is departmental. This renders it possible to promote pupils by subjects, to employ skilled special teachers and to do away with supervisors.
4. The school plant is open on Saturdays. Pupils come and go as they please, work or play as they choose under teachers who receive extra pay for this work. The responsibility placed upon pupils who avail themselves of this stimulates initiative and has a tendency to “transform the play impulse into the work impulse.”
5. Similarly, certain schools are open four evenings per week for continuation school work and for "social and recreational centre" activities.
6. Constant utilization of the school plant by double the number of classes as compared with the number of available classrooms. This involves the constant use by successive classes of the auditorium, the basements, the library, the gymnasium, and various portions of the playgrounds in such a way that no part of the plant is ever idle during the entire schoolday.
Other phases of the work, still in progress of evolution promise equally valuable contributions to school management. Indeed, the results already attained by Superintendent Wirt have induced a number of cities to seek at least partial enjoyment of the benefits of the Gary plan. Prominent among these is New York which is making extensive experiments with it under the direction of Superintendent Wirt, not without prospects of success.
Among a number of other features in the progressive development of schools within the past two decades, a prominent place belongs to increasing attention to sanitation, to the care for atypical children, the organization of parent-teachers associations, the use of schools as community centres.
Sanitation. — With reference to sanitation, it
is reported that in 1914 there were over 500
open-air schools in the United States and that
throughout open-window ventilation is gaining
ground. Forty States have enacted laws relative
to the sanitation of school plants, involving the
inspection of schools and approval of plans for
new buildings, and the right to compel improvements.
In a number of instances, these laws
extend to rural schools empowering the county
superintendent to condemn faulty structures and
to inspect and pass on plans for new buildings.
Medical inspection laws relate to compulsory
health supervision of school children; to
examination of teachers and janitors and to regular
inspection of buildings, premises and drinking
water in order to insure sanitary conditions;
inspection to control contagious diseases;
annual tests for sight and hearing; provision for
the employment of school nurses; penal
other provisions for the enforcement of the
laws. That steady gain is being made in cities
appear, from a summary of returns made by
1,406 cities to a questionaire, sent out by the
Bureau of Education in 1914. These returns
show, among other things, that 750 of these
cities have some form of medical inspection;
that 570 have inspection of ears, eyes and teeth,
62 of ears and eyes only, 90 of eyes only, and 29
of teeth only; that 268 have school nurses, and
that in all 923 school nurses are reported; that
130 cities have dental clinics and 195 treat the
teeth of school children through other agencies;
that 74 have general clinics and 33 psychological
clinics under expert direction. On the other
hand, the sanitary condition of rural schools
still is described as deplorable. Indeed, it is
pointed out on the basis of comparative statistics
concerning defects of school children of
the cities and rural districts of five of the older
States that for all defects except two, the prevalence
of defect was much greater among the
children of the rural schools. This is attributed
largely to low architectural and sanitary standards
in rural regions; ignorance regarding the
physical, mental, social, and moral effects of
unattractive and insanitary school buildings;
false economy of school boards; and lack of
State supervision and assistance. However, as
indicated above, inroads are being made by
means of suitable legislation, by normal schools
and educational associations, so that improvement
cannot tarry long.
Surveys. — The tendency to secure improvement of schools in both rural and urban districts through the agency of careful surveys of existing conditions and needs is steadily extending. In tracing the development of the movement in an address delivered in 1915, Dr. Leonard P. Ayres, director of the division of education of the Russell Sage Foundation, gave an account of the important features of the 30 surveys made up to the time. The following data are culled from this report. These surveys were carried on: seven by individuals, six by universities, five by bureaus of municipal research, three by State departments of education, three by foundations, two by the United States Bureau of Education, two by municipal departments, and two by national societies. The directors of the surveys were professors of education, 13; special investigators, 11; directors of foundations, four; the United States Commissioner of Education, one; superintendent of schools, one. The cost figures for the different surveys varied from $500 (Montclair, N. J.) to $125,000 (New York city). The time required varied from three months to two years and two months. From 1 to 12 individuals were engaged in each survey; and the published reports varied from six pages to 2,573 pages in size. Much good has come to the systems thus surveyed in the relation of supervising and teaching forces to each other and to boards of education; in the vitalizing of courses of study and methods of work; in securing minimum standards for drill work, notably in the three R's, setting free much time for work of greater value. As a result many new surveys are being called for by city and rural school authorities. A number of cities, indeed, have established permanent bureaus of efficiency. Notable among these are Boston, Detroit, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York and Oakland.
Parent-teachers' Asociations. — Ideally, the public school is an organic factor of our democracy. By it the coming citizens are to be fitted in knowledge and character for the performance of their duties. On its work depends the political and economic welfare of the state, as well as the individual and social welfare of each coming citizen. It is obvious, therefore, that fathers and mothers should feel a direct and personal interest and civic responsibility in the organization and work of the school, an interest and responsibility that cannot wholly be delegated to representatives. To such considerations the school owes the organization within recent years of mothers' clubs, parents' guilds and parent-teachers' associations which by their very existence have been and are exerting a highly beneficial influence upon the progressive development of the school. In a general way, the object of these associations is co-operation between the home and the school, to induce the school to consider in its work the needs of the home and to induce the home to aid the school in its attempts to meet new conditions and civic needs. In a city of 100,000 inhabitants in the Middle West such associations provided pianos, valuable art objects, stereoscopic lanterns and slides, and other physical apparatus, thereby declaring emphatically and in most amiable fashion that in the opinion of the people music, art and science had a legitimate place in the curriculum. Elsewhere the schools owe to such organizations in a large measure the establishment of kindergartens, the teaching of domestic arts, the enrichment of school libraries, the introduction of school luncheons, the encouragement of schoolgardens, of school festivals and school exhibits. They arrange for round table discussions of topics relating to the children's health, their conduct in and out of school, the nature and value of play, the influence of environment and every phase of child-study (q.v.). They invite experts to lecture on similar and other timely topics.
Social Centres. — Of deep significance for the further development of the elementary as well as for the other departments of the public school is a correlated movement of recent origin, namely, the wider use of school buildings for “social centre” and “community centre” activities. Aside from the fact that it utilizes the costly school plants for worthy purposes of public import at times when they are not needed for the direct purposes of the school, this movement means that the people are begining to realize the deeper fact that the school has not completed its work when it has dismissed its pupils to enter upon some way to earn a living and that these young people still need opportunity for further social and character development as well as for additional instruction under wholesome conditions. The movement originated in efforts to vitalize the work of rural schools by a variety of social occasions interesting to parents and in the needs of parent-teachers associations in cities; but within less than a decade it has assumed wider proportions. In 1915 the Bureau of Education received reports from 603 cities of 5,000 inhabitants and over, detailing the more or less extended adoption or admission of social, civic and educative activities in their schools. Among the activities mentioned the following are prominent: meeting of mothers' clubs, parent-teachers' associations, women's civic clubs, musical organizations, art clubs, Chautauqua circles, Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls, gymnastic clubs, dramatic and literary clubs, debating societies, lectures, evening schools for a variety of purposes. Already 18 States have secured legislation permitting the use of schools for the purposes indicated.
The management of these activities still is in an inchoate condition. In Youngstown, Ohio, the local playground association provides for supervisor and supports social centres in the schools. In Trenton, N. J., it is the Social Centre League, assisted by the principals and teachers. In Plainfield, N. J., there is a citizens' committee on evening recreations in which the Board of Education is represented by its president and the superintendent of schools. In Grand Rapids, Mich., the park and school boards together maintain a department of municipal recreation. Philadelphia has a municipal recreation commission and in Kansas City, Mo., the public welfare board co-operates with the board of education. Quite steadily, however, the responsibility is passing into the hands of school-boards and its employees. Thus, in Pittsburgh, Pa., the direction is in the hands of the director of evening schools; Cincinnati has a special director of social centres; in Boston, a similar official works directly under the superintendent of schools and has the advisory assistance of the Women's Municipal League; in Milwaukee, a special department of school extension controls the after-school activities.
Increasingly, too, we find in new elementary school plans adaptations to the new uses of the buildings. Prominent among these are auditoriums, gymnasiums, lunchrooms, plunges, library rooms, swimming pools, in one case a pair of bowling alleys. In the equipment movable the Women's Municipal League; in Milwaukee, the social centre directors are provided with amply furnished private offices; many of the rooms intended for recreational work are in the basement and have been made attractive through the use of paint, pictures, book cabinets and a supply of suitable chairs and tables. The assembly rooms are provided with large electric lamps of high power and stoutly screened to adapt the room for basket ball and similar games. In most of these large rooms there are also trough footlights and sliding curtains, as well as motion picture booths.
Bibliography. — Bunker, Frank Forest, “Reorganization of the Public School System” (Bulletin of the Bureau of Education, 1916, No. 8); Bulletins of the Bureau of Education: 1911, Nos. 4 and 14; 1912, Nos. 16 and 21; 1913, Nos. 13, 31, 39; 1914, Nos. 2, 4, 6, 18, 48; 1915, Nos. 24, 28, 36, 41; 1916, Nos. 3 and 8; Reports of the Commissioner of Education for the years 1910-15. Cole, Percival A., “Industrial Education in the Elementary School” (1915); Eliot Charles W., “The Tendency to the Concrete and Practical in Modern Education” (1916); Hanus, Paul H., “School Efficiency”; Weeks, Ruth Mary, “The People's School” (1915).
Rural Schools: Betts, Herbert George, “New Ideals in Rural Schools” (1913); Dexter, Edwin Grant, “A History of Education in the United States” (1914); Cubberly, Elwood P., “The Improvement of Rural Schools” (1912); Bulletins of the Bureau of Education: 1912, Nos. 21 and 28; 1913, Nos. 2, 8, 32, 42; 1914, Nos. 12, 25, 27, 28, 30, 44, 49; 1915, No. 20; 1916, Nos. 2 and 8; Reports of the Commissioner of Education for the years 1910-15.