Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/832

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812
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE HAND-WORK OF SCHOOL-CHILDREN.[1]
By REBECCA D. RICKOFF.

AN exhibition of children's hand-work was held last spring in one of the public schools of Yonkers. The large assembly-room of the school-house was filled with lines of tables, upon which were displayed the various articles to be exhibited. The room was handsomely decorated, and the tables were daintily covered and adorned with bunches of flowers. For each class-room in the house there was set apart one or more tables upon which was placed, under the direction of the class-teacher, the work of that class, the whole presenting the appearance of a very successful and pretty fair.[2]

While this exhibition was given in the school-house, and under the direction of the school superintendent and teachers, with the sanction and encouragement of the school board, and though the work was done by pupils of the school only, none of the things were made in the school, excepting the colored paper busy-work of the youngest children and, of course, the drawing. All the other things were made at home, and expressly for this exhibition. Too much credit can not be given to the teachers who undertook and carried forward this enterprise, it being entirely outside of the regular school-work. There were many difficulties to overcome. Numbers of the children were sure they could not make anything; but, by conversations with them about what they had done or seen done, and what they would like to do, by constant encouragement to at least attempt something, and advice as to ways and means, and especially by enlisting the pride of the pupils in this, which was to be peculiarly their exhibition, independent of school instruction, most of the children were induced to undertake something.

The next difficulty was to prevail upon them to persevere and complete the thing commenced, many of them beginning a half-dozen things before completing one. This failing, so common to all, was well dealt with by this exhibition, in that the necessity to have an article ready by a given day forced the child to exercise his own will-power in deciding upon and completing some one thing, and thus became a good moral lesson. The greatest care was taken by the teachers to impress upon the children the credit of honest work. They were advised to consult with relatives and friends as to what

  1. A report upon the Yonkers Industrial Exhibition of Children's Work, read before the Committee of Industries of the Industrial Educational Association of New York.
  2. The exhibition here described was given in school No. 2, of which Miss Dresser is principal, to whom and to her assistant teachers great credit is due. Similar exhibitions were given the previous year, in this school and also in school No. 6, of which Miss Spencer is principal, and equal credit is due to her and her assistants.