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Title: Schools of to-morrow
Author: Dewey, John, Dewey, Evelyn
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Schools of to-morrow" ***

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[Illustration: A test with books open. (Fairhope, Alabama.)





    COPYRIGHT, 1915



    _First Printing, May, 1915._
    _Second Printing, August, 1915._
    _Third Printing, March, 1916._
    _Fourth Printing, March, 1916._
    _Fifth Printing, July, 1916._
    _Sixth Printing, July, 1916._
    _Seventh Printing, Jan’y, 1917._
    _Eighth Printing, Jan’y, 1917._
    _Ninth Printing, April, 1919._

    The Knickerbocker Press, New York


There has been no attempt in this book to develop a complete theory
of education nor yet review any “systems” or discuss the views of
prominent educators. This is not a text book of education, nor yet an
exposition of a new method of school teaching, aimed to show the weary
teacher or the discontented parent how education should be carried on.
We have tried to show what actually happens when schools start out to
put into practice, each in its own way, some of the theories that have
been pointed to as the soundest and best ever since Plato, to be then
laid politely away as precious portions of our “intellectual heritage.”
Certain views are well known to every teacher who has studied
pedagogy, and portions of them form an accepted part of every theory
of education. Yet when they are applied in a classroom the public in
general and other teachers in particular cry out against that classroom
as a place of fads and caprices; a place lacking in any far reaching
aim or guiding principle. We have hoped to suggest to the reader the
practical meaning of some of the more widely recognized and accepted
views of educational reformers by showing what happens when a teacher
applies these views.

The schools we have used for purposes of illustration are all of them
directed by sincere teachers trying earnestly to give their children
the best they have by working out concretely what they consider
the fundamental principles of education. More and more schools are
growing up all over the country that are trying to work out definite
educational ideas. It is the function of this book to point out how the
applications arise from their theories and the direction that education
in this country seems to be taking at the present time. We hope that
through the description of classroom work we may help to make some
theories living realities to the reader. On the other hand, we have
dwelt on theoretical aspects in order to point out some of the needs of
modern education and the way in which they are being met.

The schools that are used for illustration were chosen more or less
at random; because we already knew of them or because they were
conveniently located. They do not begin to represent all that is
being done to-day to vitalize the school life of children. Schools
with like traits may be found in every part of the country. Space
has forced us to omit a very important movement--the reorganization
of the rural school and the utilization of agriculture in education.
But this movement shows the tendencies that mark the schools we have
described; tendencies towards greater freedom and an identification of
the child’s school life with his environment and outlook; and, even
more important, the recognition of the rôle education must play in a
democracy. These tendencies seem truly symptoms of the times, and with
a single exception proved to be the most marked characteristics of all
the schools visited.

Without the very material help and interest of the teachers and
principals of the schools visited this book would not have been
possible. We thank them most sincerely for the unfailing courtesy they
have shown in placing their time and the material of their classrooms
at our disposal. Our thanks are especially due to Mrs. Johnson of
Fairhope and to Miss Georgia Alexander of Indianapolis for information
and suggestions. The visiting of the schools with one exception was
done by Miss Dewey, who is also responsible for the descriptive
chapters of the book.



    CHAPTER                                                  PAGE

       I EDUCATION AS NATURAL DEVELOPMENT                       1


     III FOUR FACTORS IN NATURAL GROWTH                        41


       V PLAY                                                 103

      VI FREEDOM AND INDIVIDUALITY                            132


    VIII THE SCHOOL AS A SOCIAL SETTLEMENT                    205


       X EDUCATION THROUGH INDUSTRY                           251

      XI DEMOCRACY AND EDUCATION                              287



    A TEST WITH BOOKS OPEN. (FAIRHOPE, ALA.)           _Frontispiece_

          THEY ARE MEN.                                             8

          (TEACHERS’ COLLEGE, N. Y. CITY)                           8

          (FRANCIS PARKER SCHOOL, CHICAGO)                         15

    (1) AN HOUR A DAY SPENT IN THE “GYM.”                          30



    (1) THE BASIS OF THE YEAR’S WORK. (INDIANAPOLIS)               58

          CHICAGO)                                                 58

          INDIANAPOLIS)                                            75

          IND.)                                                    87

          INDIANAPOLIS)                                            97

          (TEACHERS’ COLLEGE PLAYGROUND, N. Y. CITY)              109

          SCHOOL, CHICAGO)                                        109

          (PLAY SCHOOL, NEW YORK CITY)                            118

          (COTTAGE SCHOOL, RIVERSIDE, ILL.)                       129

          SOCIAL LIFE. (TEACHERS’ COLLEGE, N. Y. CITY)            140


          THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL. (GARY, IND.)                       177

          BEGINNING. (GARY, IND.)                                 193


          (PUBLIC SCHOOL 26, INDIANAPOLIS)                        218

          (GARY, IND.)                                            255

          (GARY, IND.)                                            269

          KNOW ABOUT. (GARY, IND.)                                284


          (GARY, IND.)                                            297




“We know nothing of childhood, and with our mistaken notions of it the
further we go in education the more we go astray. The wisest writers
devote themselves to what a man ought to know without asking what a
child is capable of learning.” These sentences are typical of the
“Émile” of Rousseau. He insists that existing education is bad because
parents and teachers are always thinking of the accomplishments of
adults, and that all reform depends upon centering attention upon the
powers and weaknesses of children. Rousseau said, as well as did, many
foolish things. But his insistence that education be based upon the
native capacities of those to be taught and upon the need of studying
children in order to discover what these native powers are, sounded the
key-note of all modern efforts for educational progress. It meant that
education is not something to be forced upon children and youth from
without, but is the growth of capacities with which human beings are
endowed at birth. From this conception flow the various considerations
which educational reformers since his day have most emphasized.

It calls attention, in the first place, to a fact which professional
educators are always forgetting: What is learned in school is at the
best only a small part of education, a relatively superficial part; and
yet what is learned in school makes artificial distinctions in society
and marks persons off from one another. Consequently we exaggerate
school learning compared with what is gained in the ordinary course
of living. We are, however, to correct this exaggeration, not by
despising school learning, but by looking into that extensive and more
efficient training given by the ordinary course of events for light
upon the best ways of teaching within school walls. The first years of
learning proceed rapidly and securely before children go to school,
because that learning is so closely related with the motives that are
furnished by their own powers and the needs that are dictated by their
own conditions. Rousseau was almost the first to see that learning is
a matter of necessity; it is a part of the process of self-preservation
and of growth. If we want, then, to find out how education takes place
most successfully, let us go to the experiences of children where
learning is a necessity, and not to the practices of the schools
where it is largely an adornment, a superfluity and even an unwelcome

But schools are always proceeding in a direction opposed to this
principle. They take the accumulated learning of adults, material that
is quite unrelated to the exigencies of growth, and try to force it
upon children, instead of finding out what these children need as they
go along. “A man must indeed know many things which seem useless to a
child. Must the child learn, can he learn, all that the man must know?
Try to teach a child what is of use to him as a child, and you will
find that it takes all his time. Why urge him to the studies of an age
he may never reach, to the neglect of those studies which meet his
present needs? But, you ask, will it not be too late to learn what he
ought to know when the time comes to use it? I cannot tell. But this I
know; it is impossible to teach it sooner, for our real teachers are
experience and emotion, and adult man will never learn what befits
_him_ except under his own conditions. A child knows he must become
a man; all the ideas he may have as to man’s estate are so many
opportunities for his instruction, but he should remain in complete
ignorance of those ideas that are beyond his grasp. My whole book is
one continued argument in support of this fundamental principle of

Probably the greatest and commonest mistake that we all make is to
forget that learning is a necessary incident of dealing with real
situations. We even go so far as to assume that the mind is naturally
averse to learning--which is like assuming that the digestive organs
are averse to food and have either to be coaxed or bullied into
having anything to do with it. Existing methods of instruction give
plenty of evidence in support of a belief that minds are opposed to
learning--to their own exercise. We fail to see that such aversion is
in reality a condemnation of our methods; a sign that we are presenting
material for which the mind in its existing state of growth has no
need, or else presenting it in such ways as to cover up the real need.
Let us go further. We say only an adult can really learn the things
needed by the adult. Surely the adult is much more likely to learn
the things befitting him when his hunger for learning has been kept
alive continuously than after a premature diet of adult nutriment has
deadened desire to know. We are of little faith and slow to believe.
We are continually uneasy about the things we adults know, and are
afraid the child will never learn them unless they are drilled into
him by instruction before he has any intellectual or practical use
for them. If we could really believe that attending to the needs
of present growth would keep the child and teacher alike busy, and
would also provide the best possible guarantee of the learning needed
in the future, transformation of educational ideals might soon be
accomplished, and other desirable changes would largely take care of

It is no wonder, then, that Rousseau preaches the necessity of being
willing to lose time. “The greatest, the most important, the most
useful rule of education is: Do not save time, but lose it. If the
infant sprang at one bound from its mother’s breast to the age of
reason, the present education would be quite suitable; but its natural
growth calls for quite a different training.” And he says, again, “The
whole of our present method is cruel, for it consists in sacrificing
the present to the remote and uncertain future. I hear from afar the
shouts of the false wisdom that is ever dragging us on, counting the
present as nothing, and breathlessly pursuing a future that flies as we
pursue; a false wisdom that takes us away from the only place we ever
have and never takes us anywhere else.”

In short, if education is the proper growth of tendencies and powers,
attention to the process of growing _in the particular form in which
it goes on from day to day_ is the only way of making secure the
accomplishments of adult life. Maturity is the result of the slow
growth of powers. Ripening takes time; it cannot be hurried without
harm. The very meaning of childhood is that it is the time of growth,
of developing. To despise the powers and needs of childhood, in behalf
of the attainments of adult life, is therefore suicidal. Hence “Hold
childhood in reverence, and do not be in any hurry to judge it for good
or ill. Give nature time to work before you take upon yourself her
business, lest you interfere with her dealings. You assert that you
know the value of time and are afraid to waste it. You fail to perceive
that it is a greater waste of time to use it ill than to do nothing,
and that a child ill taught is further from excellence than a child who
has learned nothing at all. You are afraid to see him spending his
early years doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy, nothing
to jump and run all day? He will never be so busy again all his life
long.... What would you think of a man who refused to sleep lest he
should waste part of his life?” Reverence for childhood is identical
with reverence for the needs and opportunities of growth. Our tragic
error is that we are so anxious for the results of growth that we
neglect the process of growing. “Nature would have children be children
before they are men. If we try to invert this order we shall produce a
forced fruit, immature and flavorless, fruit that rots before it can
ripen.... Childhood has its own ways of thinking, seeing, and feeling.”

Physical growth is not identical with mental growth but the two
coincide in time, and normally the latter is impossible without the
former. If we have reverence for childhood, our first specific rule
is to make sure of a healthy bodily development. Even apart from its
intrinsic value as a source of efficient action and of happiness, the
proper development of the mind directly depends upon the proper use
of the muscles and the senses. The organs of action and of reception
are indispensable for getting into relation with the materials of
knowledge. The child’s first business is self-preservation. This does
not mean barely keeping himself alive, but preservation of himself as
a growing, developing being. Consequently, the activities of a child
are not so aimless as they seem to adults, but are the means by which
he becomes acquainted with his world and by which he also learns the
use and limits of his own powers. The constant restless activities of
children seem senseless to grown-up people, simply because grown-up
people have got used to the world around them and hence do not feel
the need of continual experimentation. But when they are irritated
by the ceaseless movements of a child and try to reduce him to a
state of quiescence, they both interfere with the child’s happiness
and health, and cut him off from his chief means of real knowledge.
Many investigators have seen how a sound bodily state is a _negative_
condition of normal mental development; but Rousseau anticipated
our present psychology as to the extent in which the action of the
organs of sense and movement is a positive cause of the unfolding
of intelligence. “If you follow rules that are the opposite of the
established practice and instead of taking your pupil far afield,
wandering to distant places, far-off lands, remote centuries, the ends
of the world and to heavens themselves, you keep him to himself,
to his own concerns, he will be able to perceive, to remember, and to
reason in nature’s order of development. As the sentient infant grows
into an active being, his discernment keeps pace with his increase
in strength. Not till strength is developed beyond the needs of
self-preservation is the faculty of speculation manifested, for this is
the faculty of employing superfluous strength for other than necessary
purposes. Hence, if you would cultivate your pupil’s intelligence,
_cultivate the strength it is meant to control_. Give his body constant
exercise, make it strong and healthy in order to make him good and
wise; let him work, let him do things; let him run and shout; let him
be on the go.... It is a lamentable mistake to imagine that bodily
activity hinders the working of the mind, as if the two kinds of
activity ought not to advance hand in hand, and as if the one were not
_intended to act as guide to the other_.”

[Illustration: (1) Nature would have children be children before they
are men.]

[Illustration: (2) Teach the child what is of use to him as a child.
(Teachers College, N. Y. City.)]

In the following passage Rousseau is more specific as to the way in
which the physical activities which conduce to health and the growth
of mind reinforce each other. “Physical exercise teaches us to use our
strength, to perceive the relation between our own and neighboring
bodies, to use natural tools which are within our reach and adapted
to our senses.... At eighteen we are taught in our schools the use of
the lever; every village boy of twelve knows how to use a lever better
than the cleverest mechanician in the academy. The lessons the scholars
give one another on the playground are worth a hundredfold more than
what they learn in the classroom. Watch a cat when she first comes into
a room. She goes from place to place; she sniffs about and examines
everything. She is not still for a moment. It is the same with a child
when he begins to walk and enters, as it were, the room of the world
about him. Both use sight, and the child uses his hands as the cat her

“As man’s first natural impulse is to measure himself upon his
environment, to find in every object he sees the qualities that may
concern himself, so his first study is a kind of experimental physics
for his own preservation. He is turned away from this, and sent to
speculative studies before he has found his own place in the world.
While his delicate and flexible limbs and keen senses can adjust
themselves to the bodies upon which they intended to act is the time to
exercise senses and limbs in their proper business--the time to learn
the relation between themselves and things. Our first teachers in
natural philosophy are our feet, hands, and eyes. To substitute books
for them does not teach us to reason; it teaches us to use the reason
of others rather than our own; it teaches us to believe much and to
know little.”

“Before you can get an art, you must first get your tools; and if you
are to make good use of your tools, they must be fashioned sufficiently
strong to stand use. To learn to think, we must accordingly exercise
our limbs, our senses, and our bodily organs, for these are the tools
of intellect. To get the best use of these tools, the body that
supplies us with these tools must be kept strong and healthy. Not only
is it a mistake that true reason is developed apart from the body, but
it is a good bodily constitution that makes the workings of the mind
easy and correct.”

The passage shows how far Rousseau was from considering bodily
development as a complete end in itself. It also indicates how far
ahead he was of the psychology of his own day in his conception of the
relation of the senses to knowledge. The current idea (and one that
prevails too much even in our own time) was that the senses were a sort
of gateway and avenue through which impressions traveled and then
built up knowledge pictures of the world. Rousseau saw that they are
a part of the apparatus of action by which we adjust ourselves to our
environment, and that instead of being passive receptacles they are
directly connected with motor activities--with the use of hands and
legs. In this respect he was more advanced than some of his successors
who emphasized the importance of sense contact with objects, for the
latter thought of the senses simply as purveyors of information about
objects instead of instruments of the necessary adjustments of human
beings to the world around them.

Consequently, while he makes much of the senses and suggests many
games for cultivating them, he never makes the mere training of the
senses an object on its own account. “It is not enough,” he says, “to
use the senses in order to train them; we must learn to judge by their
means--we cannot really see, hear, or touch except as we have learned.
A merely mechanical use of the senses may strengthen the body without
improving the judgment. It is all very well to swim, run, jump, whip a
top, throw stones. But we have eyes and ears as well as arms and legs,
and these organs are necessary for learning the use of the rest. Do
not, then, merely exercise strength, but exercise the senses as the
powers by which strength is guided. Make the best use of every one of
them, and check the results of one by another. Measure, count, weigh,
compare. Do not use force till you have estimated the resistance; let
estimation of the effect always precede application of the means. Get
the child interested in avoiding superfluous and insufficient efforts.
If you train him to calculate the consequences of what he does and then
to correct the errors of his prevision by experience, the more he does,
the wiser he will become.”

One more contrast between teaching which guides natural growth and
teaching which imposes adult accomplishments should be noticed. The
latter method puts a premium upon accumulating information in the form
of symbols. Quantity rather than quality of knowledge is emphasized;
results that may be exhibited when asked for rather than personal
attitude and method are demanded. Development emphasizes the need of
intimate and extensive personal acquaintance with a small number of
typical situations with a view to mastering the way of dealing with the
problems of experience, not the piling up of information. As Rousseau
points out, the facility with which children lend themselves to our
false methods is a constant source of deception to us. We know--or
fancy we know--what statements mean, and so when the child uses the
proper form of words, we attribute the same understanding to him. “The
apparent ease with which children learn is their ruin. We fail to see
that this very ease proves that they are not learning. Their shining,
polished brain merely reflects, as in a mirror, the things we show
them.” Rousseau describes in a phrase the defect of teaching _about_
things instead of bringing to pass an acquaintance with the relations
of the things themselves. “You think you are teaching him what the
world is like; he is only learning the map.” Extend the illustration
from geography to the whole wide realm of knowledge, and you have the
gist of much of our teaching from the elementary school through the

[Illustration: To learn to think, we must exercise our limbs. (Francis
Parker School, Chicago.)]

Rousseau has the opposite method in mind when he says, “Among the
many short cuts to science we badly need one to teach us the art of
learning with difficulty.” Of course his idea is not to make things
difficult for the sake of having them difficult, but to avoid the
simulation of learning found in repeating the formulas of learning, and
to substitute for it the slow and sure process of personal discovery.
Textbooks and lectures give the results of other men’s discoveries,
and thus seem to provide a short cut to knowledge; but the outcome is
just a meaningless reflecting back of symbols with no understanding
of the facts themselves. The further result is mental confusion; the
pupil loses his original mental sure-footedness; his sense of reality
is undermined. “The first meaningless phrase, the first thing taken
for granted on the authority of another without the pupil’s seeing
its meaning for himself, is the beginning of the ruin of judgment.”
And again: “What would you have him think about, when you do all the
thinking for him?” (And we must not forget that the organized material
of our texts and set lessons represents the thinking of others.) “You
then complete the task of discrediting reason in his mind by making him
use such reason as he has upon the things which seem of the least use
to him.”

If it was true in Rousseau’s day that information, knowledge, as an
end in itself, is an “unfathomable and shoreless ocean,” it is much
more certain that the increase of science since his day has made
absurd the identification of education with the mere accumulation of
knowledge. The frequent criticism of existing education on the ground
that it gives a smattering and superficial impression of a large and
miscellaneous number of subjects, is just. But the desired remedy will
not be found in a return to mechanical and meager teaching of the three
R’s, but rather in a surrender of our feverish desire to lay out the
whole field of knowledge into various studies, in order to “cover the
ground.” We must substitute for this futile and harmful aim the better
ideal of dealing thoroughly with a small number of typical experiences
in such a way as to master the tools of learning, and present
situations that make pupils hungry to acquire additional knowledge. By
the conventional method of teaching, the pupil learns maps instead of
the world--the symbol instead of the fact. What the pupil really needs
is not exact information about topography, but how to find out for
himself. “See what a difference there is between the knowledge of your
pupils and the ignorance of mine. They learn maps; he makes them.” _To
find out how to make knowledge when it is needed_ is the true end of
the acquisition of information in school, not the information itself.



Rousseau’s teaching that education is a process of natural growth
has influenced most theorizing upon education since his time. It has
influenced the practical details of school work to a less degree.
Occasionally, however, experimenters have based their plans upon his
principles. Among these experiments is one conducted by Mrs. Johnson
at Fairhope, Alabama. To this spot during the past few years students
and experts have made pilgrimages, and the influence of Mrs. Johnson’s
model has led to the starting of similar schools in different parts of
the United States. Mrs. Johnson carries on a summer course for training
teachers by giving a working object lesson in her ideas at Greenwich,
Connecticut, where a school for children has been conducted as a model.

Her main underlying principle is Rousseau’s central idea; namely:
The child is best prepared for life as an adult by experiencing in
childhood what has meaning to him as a child; and, further, the child
has a right to enjoy his childhood. Because he is a growing animal who
must develop so as to live successfully in the grown-up world, nothing
should be done to interfere with growth, and everything should be done
to further the full and free development of his body and his mind.
These two developments go on together; they are inseparable processes
and must both be constantly borne in mind as of equal importance.

Mrs. Johnson criticizes the conventional school of to-day. She says
it is arranged to make things easy for the teacher who wishes quick
and tangible results; that it disregards the full development of
the pupils. It is arranged on the fatal plan of a hothouse, forcing
to a sterile show, rather than fostering all-around growth. It does
not foster an individuality capable of an enduring resistance and of
creative activities. It disregards the _present_ needs of the child;
the fact that he is living a full life each year and hour, not waiting
to live in some period defined by his elders, when school is a thing
of the past. The distaste of children for school is a natural and
necessary result of such mistakes as these. Nature has not adapted the
young animal to the narrow desk, the crowded curriculum, the silent
absorption of complicated facts. His very life and growth depend upon
motion, yet the school forces him into a cramped position for hours at
a time, so that the teacher may be sure he is listening or studying
books. Short periods of exercise are allowed as a bribe to keep him
quiet the rest of the time, but these relaxations do not compensate
for the efforts which he must make. The child is eager to move both
mentally and physically. Just as the physical growth must progress
together with the mental, so it is in the separate acts of a child. His
bodily movements and his mental awakening are mutually dependent upon
each other.

It is not enough to state this principle without carrying its proof
into practice, says Mrs. Johnson. The child with the well-nourished,
active body is the child who is most anxious to do and to know things.
The need of activity must be met in the exercise of the school, hour by
hour; the child must be allowed to move about both in work and in play,
to imitate and to discover for himself. The world of objects around him
is an unexplored hemisphere to the child even at the age of six years,
a world constantly enlarging to his small vision as his activities
carry him further and further in his investigations, a world by no
means so commonplace to him as to the adult. Therefore, let the child,
while his muscles are soft and his mind susceptible, look for himself
at the world of things both natural and artificial, which is for him
the source of knowledge.

Instead of providing this chance for growth and discovery, the ordinary
school impresses the little one into a narrow area, into a melancholy
silence, into a forced attitude of mind and body, till his curiosity is
dulled into surprise at the strange things happening to him. Very soon
his body is tired of his task and he begins to find ways of evading
his teacher, to look about him for an escape from his little prison.
This means that he becomes restless and impatient, in the language of
the school, that he loses interest in the small tasks set for him and
consequently in that new world so alluring a little while ago. The
disease of indifference has attacked his sensitive soul, before he is
fairly started on the road to knowledge.

The reason for having a school where children work together is that
the child must learn to work with others. Granting this, Mrs. Johnson
has tried to find a plan giving the utmost liberty of individual
development. Because the young child is unfitted by reason of his soft
muscles and his immature senses to the hard task of settling down to
fine work on the details of things, he should not begin school life by
learning to read and write, nor by learning to handle small playthings
or tools. He must continue the natural course he began at home of
running from one interesting object to another, of inquiring into the
meaning of these objects, and above all of tracing the relation between
the different objects. All this must be done in a large way so that
he gets the names and bearings of the obvious facts as they appear in
their order. Thus the obscure and difficult facts come to light one
after another without being forced upon the child’s attention by the
teacher. One discovery leads to another, and the interest of pursuit
leads the child of his own accord into investigations that often amount
to severe intellectual discipline.

Following this path of natural growth, the child is led into reading,
writing, arithmetic, geography, etc., by his own desire to know. We
must wait for the desire of the child, for the consciousness of need,
says Mrs. Johnson; then we must promptly supply the means to satisfy
the child’s desire. Therefore, the age of learning to read is put off
until the child is well grounded in his experience and knowledge of
the larger relations of things. Mrs. Johnson goes so far as to prevent
children from learning to read at too early an age. At eight or nine
years, she thinks they are keen to explore books just as they have
previously explored things. By this time they recognize the need and
use of the information contained in books; they have found out they can
get this information in no other way. Hence, the actual learning to
read is hardly a problem; children teach themselves. Under the stimulus
of interest in arriving at the knowledge of some particular subject,
they overcome the mechanical difficulty of reading with ease and
rapidity. Reading is not to them an isolated exercise; it is a means of
acquiring a much-desired object. Like climbing the pantry shelves, its
difficulties and dangers are lost sight of in the absorbing desire to
satisfy the mental appetite.

Each of the subjects of the curriculum should be given to the child to
meet a demand on his part for a greater knowledge of relations than
he can get from studying objects. Arithmetic and abstract notions
represented by figures are meaningless to the child of six, but numbers
as a part of the things he is playing with or using every day are so
full of meaning that he soon finds he cannot get along without a
knowledge of them.

Mrs. Johnson is trying an experiment under conditions which hold in
public schools, and she believes that her methods are feasible for any
public school system. She charges practically no tuition, and any child
is welcome. She calls her methods of education “organic” because they
follow the natural growth of the pupil. The school aims to provide for
the child the occupations and activities necessary at each stage of
development for his unfolding at that stage. Therefore, she insists
that general development instead of the amount of information acquired,
shall control the classification of the pupils. Division into groups is
made where it is found that the children naturally divide themselves.
These groups are called “Life Classes” instead of grades. The first
life class ends between the eighth and ninth years; the second between
the eleventh and twelfth, and since an even more marked change of
interests and tastes occurs at the period of adolescence, there are
distinct high-school classes. The work within the group is then
arranged to give the pupils the experiences which are needed at that
age for the development of their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Doing forced tasks, assignment of lessons to study, and ordinary
examinations have no share in the Fairhope curriculum. Hence, the
children do not acquire that dislike of learning and mistrust of what
a teacher or text-book says, which are unfortunately so common among
scholars in the ordinary school. They exercise their instincts to learn
naturally, without that self-consciousness which comes from having been
forced to keep their minds on examinations and promotions.

Bright and intelligent children often acquire a distaste for the
schoolroom and what comes out of it, which they not only never wholly
outgrow but which is a real handicap to them as they grow up, often
preventing them from taking their college work seriously, and making
them suspicious of all ideas not actually deduced from their own
experience outside the classroom. Perhaps they grow so docile they
acquiesce in all authoritative statements whatsoever, and lose their
sense of reality. We tell our children that books are the storehouses
of the world, and that they contain the heritage of the past without
which we would be savages; then we teach them so that they hate books
of information and discount what a teacher tells them. Incompetency
is general not because people are not instructed enough as children,
but because they cannot and do not make any use of what they learn.
The extent to which this is due to an early mistrust of school and the
learning associated with it cannot be overstated.

The students at Fairhope will never have this handicap to contend with.
They are uniformly happy in school, and enthusiastically proclaim
their “love” for it. Not only is the work interesting to the group
as a whole, but no individual child is forced to a task that does
not appeal; each pupil may do as he pleases as long as he does not
interfere with any one else. The children are not freed, however,
from all discipline. They must keep at work while they are in school,
and learn not to bother their neighbors, as well as to help them when
necessary. Caprice or laziness does not excuse a child from following a
healthy or useful régime.

Mrs. Johnson feels that children in their early years are neither moral
nor immoral, but simply unmoral; their sense of right and wrong has
not yet begun to develop. Therefore, they should be allowed as much
freedom as possible; prohibitions and commands, the result of which
either upon themselves or their companions they cannot understand, are
bound to be meaningless; their tendency is to make the child secretive
and deceitful. Give a child plenty of healthy activity. When he must
be disciplined, do not appeal to a sense which he has not got, but
show him by a little pain if necessary what his naughty act meant to
his playmate. If he is to share in fun and good things with his family
and friends, he must behave so that they will want his company. This
is a motive which a young child can understand, for he knows when his
friends are agreeable or disagreeable to him. There is less in such a
scheme of discipline that impels the child to shirk or conceal, to lie
or to become too conscious of his acts, than in a discipline based on
moral grounds, which seems to the child to be a mere excuse for forcing
him to do something simply because some grown person wants it done.

Lack of self-consciousness is a positive gain on the side of happiness.
Mrs. Johnson’s scheme of discipline contributes toward that love
of school and work which all teaching aims to establish. When work
is interesting, it is not necessary to hamper children in their
performance of it by meaningless restrictions and petty prohibitions.
When children work willingly they come to associate learning with the
doing of what is congenial. This is undoubtedly of positive moral
value. It helps develop a confident, cheerful attitude toward work; an
ability to face a task without dislike or repulsion, which is of more
real value in character building than doing hard, distasteful tasks, or
forcing attention and obedience.

The division into age groups or “life classes” takes away that emphasis
upon the pupils’ failures and shortcomings which is bound to be more
or less evident where pupils are graded according to their proficiency
in books. The child who is slow mentally is not made to feel that he
is disgraced. Attention is not called to him and he is not prodded,
scolded, or “flunked.” Unaware of his own weaknesses, he retains the
moral support of confidence in himself; and his hand work and physical
accomplishments frequently give him prestige among his fellows. Mrs.
Johnson believes that the recitations and examination of the ordinary
schoolroom are merely devices to make the work easier for the teacher;
while the consciousness of what he does or does not “know,” resulting
from marks and grades, is harmful to the child just as an emphasis of
his failures is harmful.

Especially marked is the contrast of the classroom exercises at
Fairhope with recitations where, sitting still with their books closed,
the children are subject to a fire of questions from the teacher
to find out how much they remember of a lesson they are supposed to
have “studied” alone. To quote again from Rousseau: “He (the teacher)
makes a point of showing that no time has been wasted; he provides his
pupils with goods that can be readily displayed in the shop windows,
accomplishments which can be shown off at will.... If the child is
to be examined, he is set to display his wares; he spreads them out;
satisfies those who behold them, packs up his bundle, and goes his
way. Too many questions are tedious and revolting to most of us and
especially to children. After a few minutes their attention flags;
they cease to listen to your everlasting questions and they answer
at random.” At Fairhope the children do the work, and the teacher
is there to help them to know, not to have them give back what they
have memorized. Tests are often conducted with books open, since they
are not to show the teacher what the child can remember, but rather
to discover his progress in ability to use books. Lessons are not
assigned, but the books are open in the hands of the pupils and with
the teacher they discuss the text, getting out of it all the joy
and information possible. This stimulates a real love of books, so
that these children who have never been assigned a lesson to study,
voluntarily study the text after the class work. They are not tempted
to cheat, for they are not put in the position of having to show off.

The result of this system of discipline and study over and
above satisfactory progress in the “three R’s,” is freedom from
self-consciousness on the mental and moral side; the ability of a
child to put all his native initiative and enthusiasm into his work;
the power to indulge his natural desire to learn; thus preserving joy
in life and a confidence in himself which liberates all his energies
for his work. He likes school and forgets that he is “learning”; for
learning comes unconsciously as a by-product of experiences which he
recognizes as worth while on their own account.

The following activities have been worked out at Fairhope as a
substitute for the usual curriculum: physical exercise, nature study,
music, hand work, field geography, story telling, sense culture,
fundamental conceptions of number, dramatizations, and games. In the
second class map drawing and descriptive geography are added, for
reading is acquired, and the number work is modified by the knowledge
of figures. Each lesson is planned as a concrete experience with a
definite end in view, appealing to the child as desirable. As would be
expected from the emphasis put upon following the development of the
child, physical exercise plays an important part in the day’s work. It
comes every day, during the regular school hours and usually in the
first part of the morning while the children are fresh and energetic.
For an hour the school is outdoors in a field the children call “the
gym.” Bars, horses, etc., are scattered about, and there is some
one there to help them try new things and see that the work is well
balanced, but formal gymnastics in the accepted meaning of the term
do not exist. Mrs. Johnson believes that the distaste of children is
sufficient reason for doing away with them, and that, since the growing
child is constantly seeking of his own accord opportunities to stretch
and exercise his muscles, all the school needs to do is to supply the
opportunity, seeing to it that this is not indulged to the point of
harming the child. The children fall naturally into groups; those who
want to swing on the bars and rings, those who want to climb, to jump,
or run, or throw, etc. Running usually takes the form of races; a
tree is used as a target in the stone throwing contests. The children
themselves have invented games to use on the apparatus, and the hour
in the “gym” is one of the busiest in the day. It leaves the
children eager and stimulated for their mental work, since it has meant
no overworking of one set of muscles, no dull repetition of meaningless
movements at some one else’s command. Besides this regular time for
exercise, the children may study outdoors, and many of the classes
are conducted in the open air. Indoors there are games, handwork, and
dramatizations, all of which contribute to the physical well-being of
the children. There are no cramping desks, the pupil may sit where or
how he pleases, or even move from place to place if he does not disturb
his fellows. The classes go on in a room in which two groups, each of
fifteen or more children, are working, and the necessary quiet and
order exist.

[Illustration: (1) An hour a day spent in the “Gym.”]

[Illustration: (2) The Gully is a favorite textbook. (Fairhope, Ala.)]

Nature study and field geography are conducted almost entirely out of
doors. The children go into the fields and woods and look at the trees
and flowers, ask questions about them, examine the differences in bark,
leaves, and flowers, tell each other what they think, and use their
books to answer questions that the trees and plants have suggested
to them. They learn the meaning of the words pistils, stamens, and
petals with flowers they have gathered, or watch a bee carrying
pollen from plant to plant. Individual pupils are encouraged to tell
the class what they may have learned at home, to bring flowers from
their gardens, or to tell of things they have seen. The class visit a
neighboring truck farm, recognize as many vegetables as they can, and
learn the names and characteristics of the new ones. When they are
back in the schoolroom those that can write make a list of all the
vegetables they can remember, thus combining with their nature lesson
a lesson in writing. There is a garden in the school grounds where the
pupils learn to plow, rake, and plant, watch their seeds come up and
grow and flower. In a little plot of ground that is their own, they
observe all the phases in the cycle of plant life, and besides get
the benefits of the moral training that comes from carrying through a
piece of work that lasts several months and demands constant thought
and care. This sort of work plays a large part in the curriculum of the
younger children, for it seems to belong particularly to their world;
to the world of definite concrete objects which they see about them
every day, which they can handle and play with, and which consequently
arouse their curiosity.

The field geography is conducted in much the same way. Even the very
young children acquire a good idea of the different sorts of rock
formations, of the action of the wind and rain, of river currents,
by direct observation; if text-books are used they come afterwards,
to explain or amplify something the pupils have seen. The soil about
the school is clay and after a rain the smallest stream furnishes
excellent examples of the ways of rivers, erosions, watersheds, floods,
or changing currents, while an explanation of tides or the Gulf Stream
is made vital by a little trip to the Bay. A gully near the school
building not only furnishes a splendid place for play but serves as a
text-book in mountain ranges, valleys, and soil and rock formation.
All this serves as an excellent foundation and illustration for the
descriptive geography which comes later. The more advanced geography is
principally commercial geography; and with the scientific background
that the pupils have already obtained, the real significance of the
relations between climates and crops, industries, exports and imports,
and social conditions is much more likely to be understood.

The value of handwork is strongly emphasized at Fairhope, consistently
with the emphasis put on physical growth. The little child must go on
learning to coördinate with more and more skill his muscular movements
if his body is to be developed to the highest standards of health and
efficiency, and nothing contributes to this better than the controlled
and rather delicate motions necessary for making things with the hands.
The fact that he is making things gives just the stimulus the child
needs to enable him to keep on at the task, to repeat over and over
the same efforts of mind, hand, and eye, to give him real control of
himself in the process. The benefits of handwork on the utilitarian
side are just as great. The child learns how to use the ordinary tools
of life, the scissors, knife, needle, plane, and saw, and gets an
appreciation of the artists’ tools, paint and clays, which lasts the
rest of his life. If he is a child with initiative and inventiveness
he finds a natural and pleasant outlet for his energies. If he is
dreamy or unpractical, he learns a respect for manual work, and gains
something toward becoming a well-rounded human being. Boys and girls
alike do cooking and carpentry work, for the object of the work is not
to train them for any trade or profession, but to train them to be
capable, happy members of society. Painting or clay modeling play quite
as large a rôle, even with the little ones, as carpentry or sewing,
providing they serve a purpose or are sufficiently connected with
other work to hold the pupil’s interest. A sense of the beautiful is
not consciously present in small children and must be developed through
their handling of every-day objects if it is to become a real force in
their lives. Therefore “art” is taught as part of the handwork, the
story telling, the dramatization, or the nature study. The youngest
children in clay modeling, painting, weaving paper mats, making paper
or wooden toys, etc., are asked as much as possible to suggest things
they want to make. With the acquisition of skill, they go on making
more and more difficult objects; pupils of nine or ten make raffia
baskets, boats, and dolls’ furniture.

The story telling and dramatization are very closely connected and
(up to the age of about ten) take the place of the usual bookwork.
Stories of literary value, suited in subject matter to the age of the
pupils, are told or read to them, and they in turn are asked to tell
stories they have heard outside of school. After the ninth or tenth
year, when the children have learned to read, they read stories from
books, either to themselves or aloud, and then the whole class discuss
them. The Greek myths, the Iliad, and the Odyssey are favorites at
this age, and very frequently without directions from the teacher,
a class will act out a whole story, such as the Fall of Troy, or any
tale that has appealed especially to their dramatic imagination. The
school believes that this is the true way for young people to approach
literature, if they are to learn to love and appreciate it, not simply
to study the text for strange words and figures of speech. The pupils
are not allowed to use books until the eighth or ninth year, and by
this time they have realized so keenly their need, they beg for help in
learning. The long, tiresome drill necessary for six-year-old children
is eliminated. Each child is anxious to read some particular book, so
there is little or no need to trap his attention, or to insist on an
endless repetition. Mrs. Johnson believes also that it is better for
the natural physical and mental development of the child, if learning
to write and figure is put off as late as possible. Then pupils
approach it with a consciousness of their real need for it, of the help
it will be to them in their daily life. Their background of knowledge
of things and skill acquired through handwork renders the actual
processes of learning comparatively simple. Mrs. Johnson is convinced
that a child who does not learn to read and write in her school until
he is ten years old, is as well read at fourteen, and writes and
spells as well as a child of fourteen in a school where the usual
curriculum is followed.

The fundamental conception of number is taught orally. The smallest
children begin by counting one another or the things about them.
Then perhaps at the blackboard they will divide a line in half, then
into three parts, then quarters. By means of objects or lines on the
blackboard they next begin to add, to subtract, to take three-fourths,
even to divide. The oral drill in this kind of work is constant, and
the children become thoroughly familiar with the fundamental processes
of arithmetic, before they can write a number or know the meaning of
the addition or multiplication sign. Then when the time comes, at about
the age of nine, to learn to write numbers, the drill is repeated
by using the conventional signs instead of lines or objects. The
school has found that this method does away with the usual struggles,
especially in learning fractions and their handling. Long division
and the other complicated processes are taught after the pupils can
write well and easily, and no emphasis is put on formal analysis
until repeated drill has made the children fairly familiar with, and
proficient in, the process. Games and contests of all sorts invented
by the individual teacher are used to make this drill interesting to
the pupils.

Sense culture means the specific training of the child’s body and
muscles to respond accurately to the desire to perform definite
muscular or other sense acts; or more technically it means
motor-sensory coördination. Besides the general training coming from
handwork and physical exercise, special games are arranged to exercise
the different senses. The youngest class does relatively most of this
sense gymnastic. The whole class sits motionless and in absolute
silence; some child tiptoes from his seat to another part of the room,
and then with his eyes shut every other child tries to tell where he
is; or one child says something and the others try to guess who it was,
by the voice. To train the sense of touch, a blindfolded child is given
some ordinary objects, and by touching them tries to recognize them.
One of the favorite games of the whole school was invented to train
muscular accuracy. Children of different ages, divided into groups,
throw stones at a large tree in the yard. This game has all the zest
of competition, while teaching the eye and hand to work together, and
exercising the whole body. The unusual physical control of the Fairhope
pupils is seen best in the carpenter shop, where even the youngest
children work and handle full-sized tools, hammers, saws, and planes
and do not hurt themselves. There is a foot power jig-saw in the shop
and it is an instructive sight to see a child of seven, too small to
work the pedal, holding his piece of wood, turning and shaping it in
the saw without hurting himself.

The Fairhope pupils compare favorably with pupils in the ordinary
public schools. When for any reason they make a change, they have
always been able to work with other children of their age without
extra effort; they are apt to be stronger physically and are much more
capable with their hands, while they have a real love of books and
study that makes them equally strong on the purely cultural side of
their work. The organic curriculum has been worked out in detail and
in use longest for the younger children, but Mrs. Johnson is convinced
the principle of her work will apply equally well to high school pupils
and is beginning an experiment with high school children. Under her
direction the school has proved a decided success. Time and larger
opportunities will undoubtedly correct the weak spots and discrepancies
that are bound to appear while any school is in the experimental stage.
The school has provided conditions for wholesome, natural growth
in small enough groups for the teacher (as a leader rather than an
instructor) to become acquainted with the weaknesses of each child
individually and then to adapt the work to the individual needs. It has
demonstrated that it is possible for children to lead the same natural
lives in school that they lead in good homes outside of school hours;
to progress bodily, mentally, and morally in school without factitious
pressure, rewards, examinations, grades, or promotions, while they
acquire sufficient control of the conventional tools of learning and of
study of books--reading, writing, and figuring--to be able to use them



The Elementary School of the University of Missouri, at Columbia, under
the direction of Prof. J. L. Meriam, has much in common with Mrs.
Johnson’s school at Fairhope. In its fundamental idea, that education
shall follow the natural development of the child, it is identical, but
its actual organization and operation are sufficiently different to
make a description of it suggestive. In common with most educational
reformers, Professor Meriam believes the schools of the past have been
too much concerned with teaching children adult facts. In attempting to
systematize and standardize, the curriculum has ignored the needs of
the individual child. He believes that the work and play of the school
should be children’s work and play; that the children should enjoy
school. The life there should be like, only better than, the life of
the children outside the school; better because they are helped to know
how to play and work correctly and to do it with other children.

“Do children remember how they learned to talk? No, but their parents
remember for them. Yet most of us, both children and adults, remember
how we struggled in learning to read and write at school. We learned to
talk simply by talking when we were in need or had something to say.
We learned to say, ‘Please, Mamma, give me a drink,’ when we wanted a
drink. We did not practice on such words at nine o’clock each morning.
The pupils in the University Elementary School learn to read, to write,
to draw, and to do other things, just when they need to do so. The
pupils do in this school about what they would do at home, but they
learn to do it better. They work and play. At home they are very active
most of the time doing many things; and so they are in this school.”

What would these children naturally be doing if there were no school?
On the answer to this question Professor Meriam has based his
curriculum, which contains but one subject that appears on the ordinary
program; namely, handwork. They would, he says, be playing outdoors,
exercising their bodies by running, jumping, or throwing; they would
be talking together in groups, discussing what they had seen or heard;
they would be making things to use in their play: boats, bean bags,
dolls, hammocks, or dresses; if they live in the country they would
be watching animals or plants, making a garden or trying to fish.
Every one recognizes that the child develops quite as much through
such activities as through what he learns in school, and that what he
learns out of school is much more apt to become a part of his working
knowledge, because it is entirely pleasurable and he recognizes the
immediate use of it. Again, these occupations are all closely connected
with the business of living; and we send our children to school to
learn this. What, then, could be more natural than making the school’s
curriculum of such material? This is what Professor Meriam does. The
day is divided into four periods, which are devoted to the following
elements: play, stories, observation, and handwork. For the younger
children the work is drawn almost entirely from the community in which
they live; they spend their time finding out more about the things they
are already familiar with. As they grow older their interest naturally
reaches out to remoter things and to the processes and reasons back of
things; and they begin to study history, geography, and science.

The time of the first three grades is divided in this way: From 9 to
10:30, observation; 10:30 to 11, physical exercises; from 11 to 12,
play; 1:30 to 3, stories; and 3 to 4, handwork.

[Illustration: Games often require muscular skill, reading, writing,
and arithmetic. (University School, Columbia, Mo.)]

The observation period is devoted to the study of one topic, and this
topic may take only a single morning or it may take several weeks.
While there is a general plan for the year’s work, if the children
bring up anything which seems of importance to them and which fits in,
the program is laid aside and the teacher helps the pupils in their
study of their own problem. This might be true of any of the studies
of the day; the program is flexible, the school aims to meet the
individual needs of the child and the group. The observation periods of
the first three grades are devoted to a study of flowers, trees, and
fruits; birds and animals, of the weather and the changing seasons, of
holidays, of the town grocery store, or the neighborhood dwellings, and
the clothing that the children see for sale in the stores. The pupils
learn to read and write and figure only as they feel the need of it to
enlarge their work. The nature work is taught as much as possible out
of doors; the children take walks with the teacher and talk about the
trees, plants, and animals they meet on their way; they gather tadpoles
and fish for the school aquarium and pick out a tree to watch and
keep a record of for the whole year. Their study of the weather also
lasts through the whole year; they watch the changing seasons, what
things look like in the fall and what happens as winter begins, what
the plants and animals do in winter, etc. In this way they watch the
whole cycle of the year, and learn unconsciously the relation between
their own climate and the vegetation and animal life about them.

The study of their own food, shelter, and clothing is concentrated into
a consecutive period, and as interest and time dictate it is added to
by a study of some phases of local life that are not concerned with
the actual necessities of life. They learn about their neighbors’
recreations and pleasures by studying the jewelry store and the circus,
or the community interests of their parents by studying the local fire
department and post-office.

The method of study is the same for all work. First, with help from
the teacher the children tell all they know about the subject they are
beginning to study; if it is food, each child has an opportunity to say
anything he can think of about it; what his own family eats, where the
food comes from, how it is taken care of, what he has noticed in the
grocery stores, etc. Then the whole class with the teacher make a visit
to the grocery store, spend perhaps all the morning there, each child
trying to see how much he can find out for himself. Before they start
the teacher has called their attention to the fact that the things
are sold by the quart, etc., for the subject of weights and measures
seems to be of absorbing interest to the children when approached from
this side. Some first grade children have proved to be remarkably keen
detectives in noticing the grocer’s innumerable devices for making
quantities look greater than they are. The pupils are also encouraged
to note and compare prices, and to bring food budgets from home
whenever their parents are willing. When they return to their classroom
they again discuss what they have seen, and those who can write make a
list with prices of all the articles which they can remember, or write
an account of their visit, which is dictated by the teacher from the
oral accounts the children themselves have given of it.

The pupils who cannot read will draw a picture of the grocery store or
perhaps have a reading lesson in the catalogue the grocer has given
them. Later they will study the way the grocer delivers his goods to
his patrons, and in a very general way where the things come from.
They will bring grocers’ bills from home, compare them, add them up,
and discuss the question of economical and nutritious food. Perhaps
they will do the same thing with the milk and bakery business, before
moving on to the question of the houses in the neighborhood. This and
the clothing and recreation of the town will be studied in the same
way. Later the class will visit the fire department and the post-office
and find out what each is for and how they are conducted. This and
the study of local amusements usually come in the third grade. The
opportunity for the constant use of reading, writing, and arithmetic,
and for drill in the correct use of spoken English, is obvious.
Professor Meriam is insistent upon the fact that this study of the
community in which the child lives is made for the educational value of
the work itself to the pupil, never as a mere cloak for the teaching of
“the three R’s,” which must be done only as it contributes directly to
the work the children are doing.

The period devoted to games by the first three grades is of the same
educational value. The children are exercising their bodies, learning
to control them and to make skillful motions aimed at some immediate
result. Much variety and liberty is allowed in this work, and the
teacher is only an observer. Most of the games the children play are
competitive, for they have found that the element of skill and chance
is what the pupils need to make them work hard at the games. Bean
bags and nine pins are favorites; any game, in fact, where they can
keep score; the teacher acts as scorekeeper for the little children,
and when the game is over they copy the score in a folder to refer to
and see how they progress. The better they play, the more they enjoy
the game; so they watch the best player, studying how he moves and
stands, and make drawings. The teacher also writes on the board some
of the things the pupils say as they play, and at the end of the game
they find a reading lesson which they have made themselves and which
gives an account of their game; in copying this into their folders
they have a writing lesson. The children are allowed to talk and laugh
as much as they please while they are playing, and this is an English
lesson. Great variety is introduced into the games so as to encourage
the pupils to talk freely, and added stimulus is given by using
interesting things to play with, bright colored balls, dolls, and gaily
painted “roly-polys.” The new words and phrases the children use are
written down in the daily account of the game, and in this way their
vocabulary is enlarged in a natural way.

The hour devoted to stories is no more a reading and writing lesson
than all the rest of the day’s work. Children immensely enjoy good
stories, therefore they ought to be given plenty of opportunity to
become acquainted with them. During this period, the teacher and the
children tell stories to each other; not stories they have studied
from their primers, but stories that they already know, that they have
listened to, or read because they enjoyed them. Every child likes to be
listened to, and they soon discover they must tell their story well or
they will get no audience. Some stories they tell by acting them out,
others by drawing. Soon they want to learn a new group of stories, and
then, quite naturally, they go to the school library, pick out a story
book and read. It has been found that the first grade pupils read from
twelve to thirty books during the year; the second grade pupils from
twenty-five to fifty. In this way they learn to read, to read good
books--for there is nothing else in the library--and to read them well,
for they always have the desire to find a story to tell to their class,
or one that they can act. Appreciation of good literature begins very
early in this way, or rather, it is never lost. Very small children
always enjoy most the best stories--Mother Goose, Hans Andersen, or
Kipling’s “Just So Stories.” The dislike of books gained in school
turns children from literature to trash. But if children are allowed
and encouraged to hear, and read, and act out these stories in school
just as they would at home--that is, for the sake of the fun there is
in it--they will keep their good taste and enjoyment of good books.
Songs, says Professor Meriam, are another sort of story, and little
children sing for the fun of it, for the story of the song; so the
singing at this school is part of the story work, and the children work
and learn to sing better, in order to increase their enjoyment.

Children are always clamoring to “make something.” Professor Meriam
takes this fact as sufficient grounds for making handwork a regular
part of the curriculum and having it occupy an hour a day, a period
which usually seems so short to the pupils that they take their
work home. The youngest children, boys and girls alike, go into the
carpenter shop and learn to handle tools and to make things: furniture
for their dolls, a boat, or some present to take home. Weaving and
sewing interest both boys and girls alike and give scope to the young
child for beauty and utility, so they do a lot of it. The youngest
begin usually with dolls’ hammocks; then they learn to do coarse
cross-stitching and crocheting. An entire class, especially among
the youngest children, usually make the same thing at the same time,
but they may suggest what they want to make, and the older children
are allowed a great deal of liberty. The work naturally increases in
variety and complexity as the pupils grow older, and as they acquire
skill in the handling of tools. Some of the fifth and sixth grade boys
have made excellent pieces of furniture which are in constant use in
the school. The handwork furnishes another opportunity for drawing and
color work, in the making of drawings for patterns.

With the fourth grade there is a marked shift in the work, due to the
widening interests that are coming to the child. The day is divided
then into three periods, which are devoted to industries, stories, and
handwork. Organized games no longer appeal to the pupils; they want
their play outdoors, or in the freedom of a big gymnasium, where they
can play rougher, noisier games, and they are big enough to keep their
own scores in their heads. The “industries” period takes the place of
the “observation” of the younger children, and continues the same sort
of work. The child has learned the meaning of the immediate objects he
sees about him, their relation to himself and his friends, and he is
ready to go on and enlarge this knowledge so as to take in the things
he cannot see, processes and reasons, and relations that embrace the
whole community, or more communities, and finally the whole world.

In the same way that the younger children study their immediate
environment, the fourth grade studies the industries that go on in
their own neighborhood: the shoe factory, the flour mill, the work in
the wheat and corn fields. They go on excursions to the factory and
farm, and their work in the classroom is based on what they see on
their trips. Their writing and composition are the stories of their
trips, which they write; their reading, the books that tell about
farming or shoemaking; their arithmetic the practical problems they
find the farmer or foreman doing; all done so that it will contribute
to the pupils’ understanding of the industry he is studying. Geography
too comes from these trips. It answers the questions: Why do they grow
wheat? Where will it grow best in the neighborhood and why? etc. This
school happens to be situated in a small town where the industries are
chiefly agricultural, but obviously such a plan could easily be adapted
to any community by substituting the industries that are found in the
immediate neighborhood.

In the fifth and sixth years the study of industries is continued,
but the scope is extended to include the principal industries of the
world. Here, of course, pupils must learn to substitute more and more
the printed page for their former excursions. This includes drill in
reading, writing, and mathematics, related to earlier studies, and
also more and more geography. The use of the library becomes of great
importance, for the pupils are not given one text-book from which they
study and recite. Work in geography begins with this question: What
becomes of the things made in this town, which we do not use up? The
next step is: Where else are these same things made, and are they made
in the same way? What else is made in that place and how is it done?
Then, where and how are the things made that we get from elsewhere?
No one text-book could suffice for this work, and if it did it would
contradict the idea of the school that the children should learn by
investigation. They must find for themselves from among the books in
the library the ones that tell about the particular industry they
are studying. Every child does not read the same book, and as far as
possible each pupil makes some contribution to the discussion. Just as
in the lower grades, the older pupils all make folders where they keep
their descriptions of the industries and illustrations of machines and

In the seventh and highest grade in the school, the study of industries
is continued as history; that is, the history of the industries
connected with clothing, feeding, and housing is taken up. The pupils
study the history of shelter from the first beginnings with a cave or
a brush thicket, through the tents of the wandering tribes and the
Greek and Roman house, to the steel skyscraper of to-day. They study
the history of agriculture and learn to understand the development of
the steam reaper and thresher from the wooden stick of the savage.
The study of the industries in these four higher grades includes a
study of the institutions of government. The fourth grade studies the
local post-office, in the fifth and sixth they study the mail system
of the United States, and then how letters are carried to all parts
of the world. The seventh grade studies the history of some of these
institutions. Part of their time during the past year was devoted to
finding out how the different peoples of the world have fought their
battles and organized their armies, first by means of reading and then
by discussing what they had read. Each pupil kept a record of this
work, writing a short paper on the army of each country he studied and
illustrating it as he cared to.

The story period of the four highest grades continues the work begun
in the lower grades. Music and art become more and more concentrated
into it. The children continue reading and discussing what they have
read. Each pupil keeps a record of the books he reads with a short
account of the story and reasons why he liked it, and these records
are kept on a shelf in the library where any other pupil can consult
them for help in his choice of books. Even in high school, Professor
Meriam does not believe in teaching composition for its own sake, nor
literature by the usual method of analysis. All the work of the school
is a constant drill in English, and by helping the pupils to use and
write good English during every school hour, more is accomplished than
by concentrating the work into one hour of formal drill.

The teaching of French and German is also considered part of story
work. It is a study the pupils take for the pleasure they get from
talking and reading another language; for the sake of the literature
they will be able to read. For this reason it finds its place in the
curriculum among the things that are purely cultural: for recreation
and pleasure. The studies that come under the title of “stories” are
the only ones where homework is given. The children come to school to
do their work, and it is not fair to ask them to do this same work at
home as well. They should look forward to school as a pleasure, if they
are to get the utmost benefit out of it, but if the doing of set tasks
becomes associated with school work, the pupil’s interest in his work
in school is bound to diminish. If, however, some of the school work is
regarded as appropriate to leisure and recreation, it is natural that
the children should keep on with it out of school hours, in their homes.

The school has been working with this program for eight years, and
has about 120 pupils. The school building has few rooms and these are
connected with large folding doors. At least two and usually three
grades work in the same room, and the pupils are allowed freedom to
move about and talk to each other as long as they do not disturb
their classmates. One teacher takes charge of an entire room, about
thirty-five children, divided into several groups, each doing a
different thing. Individual teachers in some of the neighboring country
public schools have also followed the program through one grade and
have found that the pupils were all ready for promotion at the end of
the year and that they did their work in the next grade with as much
ease as if they had followed the usual formal drill. Records are being
kept of the graduates of the elementary school. Most of them go into
the high school of the university, where there is every opportunity to
watch them closely. They find no unusual difficulty in keeping up with
the regular college preparatory work, and their marks and the age at
which they enter college indicate that their elementary training has
given them some advantages over the public school pupils in ability to
do the hard formal studying.

Professor Meriam is also director of the high school, but has not as
yet changed the regular college preparatory curriculum, except in the
English. He expects to do so, however, and believes an equally radical
reorganization of the work will have beneficial results. In the high
school, English is not taught at all as a separate study, but work
on it is continued along the same lines followed in the elementary
school. A study of a certain number of graduates from the university
schools and an equal number from the town high school, has indicated
that the pupils who have received none of the usual training in English
during their high school course do better work in their English courses
in college than those who have followed the regular routine.

[Illustration: (1) Printing teaches English. (Francis Parker School,

[Illustration: (2) The basis of the year’s work. (Indianapolis.)]

Of course, judging an educational experiment by the pupil’s ability
to “keep up” with the system the experiment is trying to improve, is
of very little value. The purpose of the experiment is not to devise
a method by which the teacher can teach more to the child in the same
length of time, or even prepare him more pleasantly for his college
course. It is rather to give the child an education which will make
him a better, happier, more efficient human being, by showing him what
his capabilities are and how he can exercise them, both materially and
socially, in the world he finds about him. If, while a school is still
learning how best to do this for its pupils, it can at the same time
give them all they would have gained in a more conventional school, we
can be sure there has been no loss. Any manual skill or bodily strength
that their schooling has given them, or any enjoyment of the tasks
of their daily life and the best that art and literature has to offer,
are further definite gains that can be immediately seen and measured.
All contribute to the larger aim, but the lives of all the pupils will
furnish the only real test of the success or failure of any educational
experiment that aims to help the whole of society by helping the whole



Rousseau, while he was writing his Émile, was allowing his own
children to grow up entirely neglected by their parents, abandoned
in a foundling asylum. It is not strange then that his readers and
students should center their interest in his theories, in his general
contribution to education rather than in his account of the impractical
methods he used to create that exemplary prig--Émile. If Rousseau
himself had ever tried to educate any real children he would have found
it necessary to crystallize his ideas into some more or less fixed
program. In his anxiety to reach the ideal described in his theories,
the emphasis of his interest would have unconsciously shifted to the
methods by which he could achieve his ideal in the individual child.
The child should spend his time on things that are suited to his age.
The teacher immediately asks what these things are? The child should
have an opportunity to develop naturally, mentally, spiritually, and
physically. How is the teacher to offer this opportunity and what
does it consist in? Only in the very simplest environment where one
teacher is working out her own theories is it possible to get along
without a rather definite embodiment of the ideal in specific materials
and methods. Therefore in reviewing some of the modern attempts at
educational reform, we quite naturally find that emphasis has been put
upon the curriculum.

Pestalozzi and Froebel were the two educators most zealous in reducing
inspiration got from Rousseau into the details of schoolroom work.
They took the vague idea of natural development and translated it
into formulæ which teachers could use from day to day. Both were
theorists, Froebel by temperament, Pestalozzi by necessity; but both
made vigorous efforts to carry their theories into practice. They
not only popularized the newer ideas about education, but influenced
school practice more than any other modern educators. Pestalozzi
substantially created the working methods of elementary education;
while, as everybody knows, Froebel created a new kind of school, the
kindergarten, for children too young to attend regular primary classes.

This combination of theoretical and practical influence makes it
important to discriminate between the points where they carried the
idea of education as growth forward, and the points where, in their
anxiety to supply a school program to be followed by everybody, they
fell back upon mechanical and external methods. Personally, Pestalozzi
was as heroic in life as Rousseau was the reverse. Devotion to others
took with him the place occupied by a sentimental egotism in Rousseau.
For this very reason, perhaps, he had a firm grasp on a truth which
Rousseau never perceived. He realized that natural development for
a man means a social development, since the individual’s vital
connections are with others even more than with nature. In his own
words: “Nature educated man for social relations, and by means of
social relations. Things are important in the education of man in
proportion to the intimacies of social relations into which man
enters.” For this reason family life is the center of education, and,
in a way, furnishes the model for every educational institution. In
family life physical objects, tables, chairs, the trees in the orchard,
the stones of the fence, have a social meaning. They are things which
people use together and which influence their common actions.

Education in a medium where things have social uses is necessary for
intellectual as well as for moral growth. The more closely and more
directly the child learns by entering into social situations, the
more genuine and effective is the knowledge he gains. Since power
for dealing with remoter things comes from power gained in managing
things close to us, “the direct sense of reality is formed only in
narrow social circles, like those of family life. True human wisdom
has for its bedrock an intimate knowledge of the immediate environment
and trained capacity for dealing with it. The quality of mind thus
engendered is simple and clear-sighted, formed by having to do with
uncompromising realities and hence adapted to future situations. It is
firm, sensitive and sure of itself.”

“The opposite education is scattering and confused; it is superficial,
hovering lightly over every form of knowledge, without putting any
of it to use: a medley, wavering and uncertain.” The moral is plain:
Knowledge that is worthy of being called knowledge, training of the
intellect that is sure to amount to anything, is obtained only by
participating intimately and actively in activities of social life.

This is Pestalozzi’s great positive contribution. It represents an
insight gained in his own personal experience; for as an abstract
thinker he was weak. It not only goes beyond Rousseau, but it puts what
is true in Rousseau upon a sound basis. It is not, however, an idea
that lends itself readily to formal statement or to methods which can
be handed from one to another. Its significance is illustrated in his
own early undertaking when he took twenty vagabond children into his
own household and proceeded to teach them by means of farm pursuits in
summer and cotton spinning and weaving in the winter, connecting, as
far as possible, book instruction with these active occupations. It
was illustrated, again later in his life, when he was given charge of
a Swiss village, where the adults had been practically wiped out for
resistance to an army of Napoleon. When a visitor once remarked: “Why,
this is not a school; this is a household,” Pestalozzi felt he had
received his greatest compliment.

The other side of Pestalozzi is found in his more official school
teaching career. Here also he attacked the purely verbal teaching of
current elementary education and struggled to substitute a natural
development. But instead of relying upon contact with objects used in
active social pursuits (like those of the home), he fell back upon
bare contact with the objects themselves. The result was a shift in
Pestalozzi’s fundamental idea. Presentation of objects by the teacher
seemed to take the place of growth by means of personal activities. He
was dimly conscious of the inconsistency, and tried to overcome it by
saying that there are certain fixed laws of development which can be
abstracted from the various experiences of particular human beings.
Education cannot follow the development going on in individual children
at a particular time; that would lead to confusion and chaos, anarchy
and caprice. It must follow general laws derived from the individual

At this point, the emphasis is taken from participation in social
uses of things and goes over to dependence upon objects. In searching
for general laws which can be abstracted from particular experiences,
he found three constant things: geometrical form, number, and
language--the latter referring, of course, not to isolated verbal
expressions but to the statement of the qualities of things. In this
phase of his activity as teacher, Pestalozzi was particularly zealous
in building up schemes of object-lesson teaching in which children
should learn the spatial and numerical relations of things and acquire
a vocabulary for expressing all their qualities. The notion that
object-lessons, by means of presentation of things to the senses, is
the staple of elementary education thus came from Pestalozzi. Since
it was concerned with external things and their presentation to the
senses, this scheme of education lent itself to definite formulation of
methods which could be passed on, almost mechanically, from one person
to another.

In developing such methods, Pestalozzi hit upon the idea that the
“order of nature” consists in going from the simple to the complex.
It became his endeavor to find out in every subject the A B C (as he
called it) of observation in that topic--the simplest elements that can
be put before the senses. When these were mastered, the pupils were to
pass on to various complications of these elements. Thus, in learning
to read, children were to begin with combinations like A B, E B, I B,
O B; then take up the reverse combinations B A, B E, B I, B O, etc.,
until having mastered all the elements, they could go on to complex
syllables and finally to words and sentences. Number, music, drawing
were all taught by starting with simple elements which could be put
before the senses, and then proceeding to build up more complex forms
in a graded order.

So great was the vogue of this procedure that the very word “method”
was understood by many to signify this sort of analysis and combination
of external impressions. To this day, it constitutes, with many people,
a large part of what is understood by “pedagogy.” Pestalozzi himself
called it the psychologizing of teaching, and, more accurately, its
mechanizing. He gives a good statement of his idea in the following
words: “In the world of nature, imperfection in the bud means imperfect
maturity. What is imperfect in its germ is crippled in its growth. In
the development of its component parts, this is as true of the growth
of the intellect as of an apple. We must, therefore, take care, in
order to avoid confusion and superficiality in education, to make
_first impressions of objects as correct and as complete as possible_.
We must begin with the infant in the cradle, and take the training
of the race out of the hands of blind sportive nature, and bring it
under the power which the experience of the centuries has taught us to
abstract from nature’s own processes.”

These sentences might be given a meaning to which no one could
object. All of the educational reformers have rightly insisted upon
the importance of the first years in which fundamental attitudes
controlling later growth are fixed. There can be no doubt that if we
could regulate the earlier relations of children to the world about
them so that _all_ ideas gained are certain, solid, definite, and right
as far as they go, we might give children unconscious, intellectual
standards which would operate later on with an efficacy quite foreign
to our present experience. But the certainty and definiteness of
geometrical forms, and of isolated qualities of objects are artificial.
Correctness and completeness are gained at the expense of isolation
from the every-day human experience of the child. It is possible for
a child to learn the various properties of squares, rectangles, etc.,
and to acquire their names. But unless the squares and rectangles enter
into his purposeful activities he is merely accumulating scholastic
information. Undoubtedly it is better that the child should learn the
names in association with the objects than to learn mere strings of
words. But one is almost as far from real development as the other.
Both are very far from the “firm, sensitive, and sure knowledge” which
comes from using things for ends which appeal to the child. The things
that the child uses in his household occupations, in gardening, in
caring for animals, in his plays and games, have real simplicity and
completeness of meaning for him. The simplicity of straight lines,
angles, and quantities put before him just to be learned is mechanical
and abstract.

For a long time the practical influence of Pestalozzi was confined to
expelling from the schools reliance upon memorizing words that had no
connection with things; to bringing object-lessons into the schools,
and to breaking up every topic into its elements, or A B C, and then
going on by graded steps. The failure of these methods to supply
motives and to give real power made many teachers realize that things
which the child has a use for are really simpler and more complete
to him, even if he doesn’t understand _everything_ about them, than
isolated elements. In the newer type of schools, there is a marked
return (though of course quite independently of any reference to
Pestalozzi) to his earlier and more vital idea of learning by taking a
share in occupations and pursuits which are like those of daily life
and which are engaged in by the friends about him.

Different schools have worked the matter out in different ways. In the
Montessori schools there is still a good deal of effort to control
the growth of mind by the material presented. In others, as in the
Fairhope experiment, the material is incidental and informal, and the
curriculum follows the direct needs of the pupils.

Most schools fall, of course, between these two currents. The child
must develop, and naturally, but society has become so complicated,
its demands upon the child are so important and continuous, that a
great deal must be presented to him. Nature is a very extensive as
well as compact thing in modern life, including not only the intricate
material environment of the child, but social relations as well. If
the child is to master these he must cover a great deal of ground. How
is this to be done in the best way? Methods and materials must be used
which are in themselves vital enough to represent to the child the
whole of this compact nature which constitutes his world. The child
and the curriculum are two operative forces, both of them developing
and reacting on each other. In visiting schools the things that are
interesting and helpful to the average school teacher are the methods,
and the curriculum, the way the pupils spend their time; that is, the
way the adjustment between the child and his environment is brought

“Learning by doing” is a slogan that might almost be offered as a
general description of the way in which many teachers are trying to
effect this adjustment. The hardest lesson a child has to learn is a
practical one, and if he fails to learn it no amount of book knowledge
will make up for it: it is this very problem of adjustment with his
neighbors and his job. A practical method naturally suggests itself as
the easiest and best way of solving this problem. On the face of it,
the various studies--arithmetic, geography, language, botany, etc.--are
in themselves experiences. They are the accumulation of the past of
humanity, the result of its efforts and successes, for generation
after generation. The ordinary school studies present this not as a
mere accumulation, not as a miscellaneous heap of separate bits of
experience, but in some organized way. Hence, the daily experiences
of the child, his life from day to day, and the subject matter of the
schoolroom, are parts of the same thing; they are the first and last
steps in the life of a people. To oppose one to the other is to oppose
the infancy and maturity of the same growing life; it is to set the
moving tendency and the final result of the same power over against
each other; it is to hold that the nature and the destiny of the child
war with each other.

The studies represent the highest development possible in the child’s
simple every-day experiences. The task of the school is to take
these crude experiences and organize them into science, geography,
arithmetic, or whatever the lesson of the hour is. Since what the child
already knows is part of some one subject that the teacher is trying to
teach him, the method that will take advantage of this experience as a
foundation stone on which to build the child’s conscious knowledge of
the subject appears as the normal and progressive way of teaching. And
if we can enlarge the child’s experience by methods which resemble as
nearly as possible the ways that the child has acquired his beginning
experiences, it is obvious that we have made a great gain in the
effectiveness of our teaching. It is a commonplace that until a child
goes to school he learns nothing that has not some direct bearing on
his life. How he acquires this knowledge, is the question that will
furnish the clew for natural school method. And the answer is, not by
reading books or listening to explanations of the nature of fire or
food, but by burning himself and feeding himself; that is, by doing
things. Therefore, says the modern teacher, he ought to do things in

Education which ignores this vital impulse furnished by the child is
apt to be “academic,” “abstract,” in the bad sense of these words.
If text-books are used as the sole material, the work is much harder
for the teacher, for besides teaching everything herself she must
constantly repress and cut off the impulses of the child towards
action. Teaching becomes an external presentation lacking meaning and
purpose as far as the child is concerned. Facts which are not led up to
out of something which has previously occupied a significant place for
its own sake in the child’s life, are apt to be barren and dead. They
are hieroglyphs which the pupil is required to study and learn while
he is in school. It is only after the child has learned the same fact
out of school, in the activities of real life, that it begins to mean
anything to him. The number of isolated facts to which this can happen,
which appear, say, in a geography text-book, are necessarily very small.

For the specialist in any one subject the material is all classified
and arranged, but before it can be put in a child’s text-book it must
be simplified and greatly reduced in bulk. The thought provoking
character is obscured and the organizing function disappears.
The child’s reasoning powers, the faculty of abstraction and
generalization, are not adequately developed. This does not mean
that the text-book must disappear, but that its function is changed.
It becomes a guide for the pupil by which he may economize time and
mistakes. The teacher and the book are no longer the only instructors;
the hands, the eyes, the ears, in fact the whole body, become sources
of information, while teacher and text-book become respectively the
starter and the tester. No book or map is a substitute for personal
experience; they cannot take the place of the actual journey. The
mathematical formula for a falling body does not take the place of
throwing stones or shaking apples from a tree.

Learning by doing does not, of course, mean the substitution of manual
occupations or handwork for text-book studying. At the same time,
allowing the pupils to do handwork whenever there is opportunity for
it, is a great aid in holding the child’s attention and interest.

[Illustration: Songs and games help arithmetic. (Public School 45,

Public School 45 of the Indianapolis school system is trying a number
of experiments where the children may be said to be learning by doing.
The work done is that required by the state curriculum, but the
teachers are constantly finding new ways to prevent the work becoming a
mere drill in text-book facts, or preparation for examinations. In the
fifth grade, class activities were centered around a bungalow that
the children were making. The boys in the class made the bungalow in
their manual training hours. But before they started it every pupil had
drawn a plan to scale of the house, and worked out, in their arithmetic
period, the amount and cost of the lumber they would need, both for
their own play bungalow and for a full sized one; they had done a large
number of problems taken from the measurements for the house, such as
finding the floor and wall areas and air space of each room, etc. The
children very soon invented a family for their house and decided they
would have them live on a farm. The arithmetic work was then based on
the whole farm. First this was laid out for planting, plans were drawn
to scale, and from information the children themselves gathered they
made their own problems, basing them on their play farm: such as the
size of the corn field, how many bushels of seeds would be needed to
plant it; how big a crop they could expect, and how much profit. The
children showed great interest and ingenuity in inventing problems
containing the particular arithmetical process they were learning and
which still would fit their farm. They built fences, cement sidewalks,
a brick wall, did the marketing for the family, sold the butter, milk
and eggs, and took out fire insurance. When they were papering the
house the number of area problems connected with buying, cutting, and
fitting the paper, were enough to give them all the necessary drill in
measurement of areas.

English work centered in much the same way around the building of the
bungalow and the life of its inhabitants. The spelling lessons came
from the words they were using in connection with the building, etc.
The plans for the completed bungalow, a description of the house and
the furnishings, or the life of the family that dwelt in it, furnished
inexhaustible material for compositions and writing lessons. Criticism
of these compositions as they were read aloud to the class by their
authors became work in rhetoric; even the grammar work became more
interesting because the sentences were about the farm.

Art lessons were also drawn from the work the children were actually
doing in building and furnishing the house. The pupils were very
anxious that their house should be beautiful, so the color scheme for
both the inside and outside furnished a number of problems in coloring
and arrangement. Later they found large opportunities for design,
in making wallpaper for the house, choosing and then decorating
curtains and upholstery. Each pupil made his own design, and then the
whole class decided which one they wanted to use. The pupils also
designed and made clay tiles for the bathroom floor and wall, and
planned and laid out a flower garden. The girls designed and made
clothes for the doll inmates of the house. The whole class enjoyed
their drawing lessons immensely because they drew each other posing
as different members of the family in their different occupations on
the farm. The work of this grade in expression consisted principally
in dramatizations of the life on the farm which the children worked
out for themselves. Not only were the children “learning by doing” in
the sense that nearly all the school work centered around activities
which had intrinsic meaning and value to the pupils, but most of the
initiative for the work came from the children themselves. They made
their own number problems; suggested the next step in the work on the
house; criticised each other’s compositions, and worked out their own

In almost all the grades in the school the pupils were conducting
the recitations themselves whenever there was an opportunity. One
pupil took charge of the class, calling on the others to recite; the
teacher becoming a mere observer unless her interference was necessary
to correct an error or keep the lesson to the point. When the class
is not actually in charge of a pupil, every method is used to have
the children do all the work, not to keep all the responsibility and
initiative in the hands of the teacher. The pupils are encouraged to
ask each other questions, to make their objections and corrections
aloud, and to think out for themselves each problem as it comes up.
This is not done by giving a class a set lesson in a text-book as an
introduction to a new problem, but by suggesting the problem to the
class and by means of questions and discussion, helped out whenever
possible by actual experiments by the pupils, trying to bring out
the solution of the problem, or at the least to give the pupil an
understanding of what the problem is about before he sees it in print.

The method can be applied to all the classroom work, but one
illustration taken from a geography lesson is especially suggestive.
One grade was studying the Panama Canal, and had great difficulty in
understanding the purpose or working of the canal, and especially
the locks; in other words, they were not intellectually interested
in what the teacher told them. She changed her method entirely and
starting from the beginning, asked the class to pretend that Japan and
the United States were at war, and that they were the Government at
Washington and had to run the army. They at once became interested,
and discovered that a canal across Panama was a necessity if the
United States’ ships were to arrive in the Pacific in time to defend
the coast and the Hawaiian Islands. The mountain range seemed an
impossible barrier, until the locks were explained to them again, when
they seized the principle. Many of them, indeed, became so interested
that they made models of locks at home to bring to school. They used
the map freely and accurately in their interest in saving the country
from invasion, but until one pupil asked why the United States did not
actually build a canal across the Isthmus, they did not notice that
their exciting game had anything to do with the puzzling facts that
they had previously been trying to memorize from their text-book.

The teachers in the school make use of any illustrations from the
practical life about them that fit in well with the work the grade
is doing. Thus the third grade set up a parcel post system in their
classroom, basing all their English and arithmetic work on it for
some time, and learning to use a map and scales and weights as well.
A retail shoe store gave the first grade plenty of work and fun, and
games and dances with little songs have proved a great help in their
number work. Most of the furniture in the school office was made by the
big boys in their shop work, and several of the rooms are decorated
with stencil designs the pupils made in their art lessons. The number
work of the whole school is taught from the concrete side. The little
children have boxes of tooth-picks and paper counters, which they
use for adding and subtracting; the older pupils may tear paper or
draw squares when they are learning a new process. The class is given
something to do which illustrates the process to be taught; then the
children themselves analyze what they have done and, as the last step,
they do examples with pure numbers.

Many of the public schools of Chicago are also trying in every way
possible to vitalize their work; to introduce into the curriculum
material which the children themselves can handle and from which
they may get their own lessons. This work is fitted into the regular
curriculum; it is not dependent on any peculiarities of an individual
teacher, but may be introduced throughout the entire system, just
as text-books are now uniform through a large number of schools.
The work has been applied principally in history and civics for the
younger grades, but it is easy to imagine how the same sort of thing
could be used in geography or some of the other subjects. The history
in the younger grades is taught largely by means of sand tables. The
children are perhaps studying the primitive methods of building houses,
and on their sand table they build a brush house, a cave dwelling, a
tree house, or an eskimo snow hut. The children themselves do all the
work. The teacher steps in with advice and help only when necessary
to prevent real errors, but the pupils are given the problem of the
manufacture of the house they are studying, and are expected to solve
it for themselves. Sand tables are used in the same way by a third
grade in their study of the early history of Chicago. They mold the
sand into a rough relief map of the neighborhood and then with twigs
build the forts and log cabins of the first frontier settlement, with
an Indian encampment just outside the stockade. They put real water
in their lake and river, and float canoes in it. Other grades do the
same thing with the history of transportation among the first settlers
in this country, and with the logging and lumber industry. The older
grades are studying the government of their city, and make sand tables
to illustrate the different departments of city government. One room
has a life-saving station, with different types of boats, and life
lines that work. Others have the telephone, mail carrier, and parcel
posts systems, and a system of street cleaning of which the children
are particularly proud, because they have copied conditions which they
actually found in some of the alleys near the school buildings. Beside
the alleys which were dirty, like those in the neighborhood, they have
constructed a model alley with sanitary garbage appliances made on the
best plane based on what the teacher has told them about systems in
other cities.

In another building all the pupils above the fourth grade have
organized into civic clubs. They divided the school district into
smaller districts and one club took charge of each district, making
surveys and maps of their own territory, counting lamp posts, alleys,
and garbage cans, and the number of policemen, or going intensively
into the one thing which interested them most. Then each club
decided what they wanted to do for their own district and set out to
accomplish it, whether it was the cleaning up of a bad alley or the
better lighting of a street. They used all the methods that an adult
citizens’ club would employ, writing letters to the city departments,
calling at the City Hall, and besides actually went into the alleys
and cleaned them up. The interest and enthusiasm of the pupils in
this work was remarkable and they are now undertaking a campaign to
get a playground for the school, by means of advertising and holding
neighborhood meetings. The English work in these grades is based on the
work of the clubs; the pupils keep track of the work they do, make maps
and write letters.

Most of the hand and industrial work, which is not taught for strictly
vocational purposes illustrates the principles which “learning by
doing” stand for. Examples of this are to be found in nearly all
schools to-day which aim to be progressive. Many school systems all
over the country have tried having a printing press operated by pupils
with great success. The presses were installed not to teach the pupils
the different processes in the trade, but so that the children might
themselves print some of the pamphlets, posters, or other papers that
any school is constantly needing. Besides the interest that the pupils
have shown in setting up the type, operating the presses, and getting
out the printed matter, the work has proved itself especially valuable
in the teaching of English. Type setting is an excellent method of
drilling in spelling, punctuation, paragraphing, and grammar, for
the fact that the copy is going to be printed furnishes a motive for
eliminating mistakes which exercises written by a pupil for his teacher
never provides. Proofreading is another exercise of the same sort. In
such schools the press publishes practically all the printed matter
that is needed during the year, including spelling lists, programs, and
school papers.

Schools are trying all sorts of experiments to make the work in
English concrete. The text-book method of teaching--learning rules and
definitions and then doing exercises in their application--has proved
unsuccessful. Every teacher is familiar with the story of the boy who
wrote, “I have gone,” on a piece of paper fifty times, in order to
impress the correct form on his mind, and then on the bottom of the
page left a note for the teacher beginning, “I have went home.” A
purpose in English work seems absolutely necessary, for the child sees
no gain in efficiency in the things he is most interested in due to
progress in isolated grammar or spelling. When the progress is brought
about as a by-product of the scholars’ other work the case is quite
otherwise. Give him a reason for writing, for spelling, punctuating,
and paragraphing, for using his verbs correctly, and improvement
becomes a natural demand of experience. Mr. Wirt in the Gary, Ind.,
schools has found this so true that the regular English required by
the state curriculum has been supplemented by “application periods in
English.” In these hours the class in carpentry or cooking discusses
the English used in doing their work in those subjects, and corrects
from the language point of view any written work done as part of their
other activity. A pupil in one of these classes, who had been corrected
for a mistake in grammar, was overheard saying, “Well, why didn’t they
tell us that in English?” to which her neighbor answered, “They did,
but we didn’t know what they were talking about.”

In some schools as in the Francis Parker School, Chicago, and in the
Cottage School at Riverside, Ill., English is not taught as a separate
subject to the younger grades, but the pupils have compositions to
write for their history lessons, keep records of their excursions, and
of other work where they do not use text-books. The emphasis is put on
helping the child to express his ideas; but such work affords ample
opportunity for the drill in the required mechanics of writing. Grammar
no longer appears as a separate subject in the Chicago public school
curriculum; the teacher gives a lesson in grammar every time any one in
the classroom talks and with every written exercise.

[Illustration: The pupils build the schoolhouses. (Interlaken School,

However, grammar can be given a purpose and made interesting even
to eleven-year-old children, if the pupils are helped to make their
own grammar and rules by doing their own analyzing as the first step
instead of the last. This is being done with great success in the Phœbe
Thorn Experimental School of Bryn Mawr College. Grammar had no place
on the curriculum, but the pupils asked so many questions that their
teacher decided to let them discover their own grammatical rules,
starting from the questions they had asked. A few minutes were taken
from the English hour two or three times a week for their lessons. At
the end of three months the class could analyze any simple sentence,
could tell a transitive from an intransitive verb instantly, and were
thoroughly familiar with the rules governing the verb to be. The
grammar lesson was one of the favorite lessons; the teacher and pupils
together had invented a number of games to help their drill. For
example, one child had a slip of paper pinned to her back describing
a sentence in grammatical terms; the class made sentences that fitted
the sentence, and the first pupil had to guess what her paper said.
No text book was used in the work, and the teacher started with the
sentence, called it a town, and by discussion helped the pupils to
divide it up into districts--singular, plural, etc. Starting from
this, they developed other grammatical rules. The general tendency in
the progressive schools to-day, nevertheless, seems to be toward the
elimination of the separate study of grammar, and toward making it and
the remainder of the English work (with the exception of literature) a
part of other subjects which the class is studying.

The motto of the boys’ school at Interlaken, Ind., “To teach boys to
live,” is another way of saying, “learning by doing.” Here this is
accomplished, not so much by special devices to render the curriculum
more vital and concrete, and by the abolition of text-books with the
old-fashioned reservoir and pump relation of pupil and teacher, as by
giving the boys an environment which is full of interesting things that
need to be done.

The school buildings have been built by the pupils, including four or
five big log structures, the plans being drawn, the foundations dug and
laid, and the carpentry and painting on the building done by boy labor.
The electric light and heating plant is run by the boys, and all the
wiring and bulbs were put in and are kept in repair by them. There is a
six hundred acre farm, with a dairy, a piggery and hennery, and crops
to be sowed and gathered. Nearly all this work is also done by pupils;
the big boys driving the reapers and binders and the little boys going
along to see how it is done. The inside of the houses are taken care of
in the same way by the students. Each boy looks after his own room, and
the work in the corridors and schoolrooms is attended to by changing
shifts. There is a lake for swimming and canoeing, and plenty of time
for the conventional athletics. Most of the boys are preparing for
college, but this outdoor and manual work does not mean that they have
to take any longer for their preparation than the boy in the city high

The school has also bought the local newspaper from the neighboring
village and edits and prints a four-page weekly paper of local and
school news. The boys gather the news, do much of the writing and all
of the editing and printing, and are the business managers, getting
advertisements and tending to the subscription list. The instructors in
the English department give the boys any needed assistance. They do all
these things, not because they want to know certain processes that will
help them earn a living after they are through school, but because to
use tools, to move from one kind of work to another, to meet different
kinds of problems, to exercise outdoors, and to learn to supply one’s
daily needs are educating influences, which develop skill, initiative,
independence, and bodily strength--in a word, character and knowledge.

Work in nature study is undergoing reorganization in many schools in
all parts of the country. The attempt is to vitalize the work, so that
pupils shall actually get a feeling for plants and animals, together
with some real scientific knowledge, not simply the rather sentimental
descriptions and rhapsodizings of literature. It is also different
from the information gathering type of nature study, which is no more
real science than is the literary type. Here the pupils are taught a
large number of isolated facts, starting from material that the teacher
gathers in a more or less miscellaneous way; they learn all about one
object after another, each one unrelated to the others or to any
general plan of work. Even though a child has gone over a large number
of facts about the outdoor world, he gains little or nothing which
makes nature itself more real or more understandable.

If nature study is turned into a science, the real material of the
subject must be at hand for the students; there must be a laboratory,
with provision for experimentation and observation. In the country
this is easy, for nature is just outside the school doors and windows.
The work can be organized in the complete way that has already been
described in the schools at Fairhope and Columbia.

The Cottage School at Riverside, Ill., and the Little School in the
Woods at Greenwich, Conn., both put a great deal of stress on their
nature study work. At the former, the children have a garden where they
plant early and late vegetables, so that they can use them for their
cooking class in the spring and fall; the pupils do all the work here,
plant, weed, and gather the things. Even more important is the work
they do with animals. They have, for example, a rare bird that is as
much a personality in the school life as any of the children, and the
children, having cared for him and watched his growth and habits, have
become much more interested in wild birds. In the backyard is a goat,
the best liked thing on the place, which the children have raised from
a little kid; and they still do all the work of caring for him. They
are encouraged in every way to watch and report on the school pets and
also on the animals they find in the woods.

In the Little School in the Woods at Greenwich outdoor work is the
basis of the whole school organization. Nature study plays a large
part in this. Groups of pupils take long walks through the woods in
all seasons and weathers, learning the trees in all their dresses,
and the flowers which come with each season. They learn to know the
birds and their habits; they study insects in the same way, and learn
about the stars. In fact, so much of their time is spent out of
doors, that the pupils acquire first hand a large fund of knowledge
of the world of nature in all its phases. The basis of this work, the
director of the school calls Woodcraft; he believes that experience
in the things the woodman does--riding, hunting, camping, scouting,
mountaineering, Indian-craft, boating, etc.--will make strong, healthy,
and independent young people with well developed characters and a true
sense of the beauty of nature. The nature study then is a part of this
other training. A teacher is always with the pupils, whether they are
boating, walking, or gardening, to explain what they are doing and
why, and to call their attention to the things about them. There is no
doubt that the children in the school, even the very little ones, have
a knowledge and appreciation of nature which are very rare even among
country children.

Nature study in the big city, where the only plants are in parks and
formal yards and where the only animals are the delivery horse and
the alley cat, offers a very different problem. The teacher may well
be puzzled as to the best way to teach her pupils to love nature when
they never see it; or be doubtful as to the value of trying to develop
powers of observation when the things which they are asked to observe
not only do not play any part in the lives of the pupils but are in
quite artificial surroundings. Yet while wild nature, the world of
woods and fields and streams, is almost meaningless to the city bred
child, there is plenty of material available to make nature a very real
thing even for the child who has never seen a tree or cow. The modern
teacher takes as a starting point anything that is familiar to the
class; a caged canary, a bowl of gold fish, or the dusty trees on the
playground, and starting from these she introduces the children to
more and more of nature, until they can really get some idea of “the
country” and the part it plays in the lives of every one. The vegetable
garden is the obvious starting point for most city children; if they do
not have tiny gardens in their own backyards, there is a neighbor who
has, or they are interested to find out where the vegetables they eat
come from and how they are grown.

Both in Indianapolis and Chicago, the public schools realize the value
of this sort of work for the children. In Indianapolis, gardening is
a regular department in the seventh and eighth grades and the high
school. The city has bought a large tract of land far enough in town
to be accessible, and any child who cannot have a garden at home may,
by asking, have a garden plot together with lessons in the theory and
practice of gardening. The plots are large enough for the pupils to
gain considerable experience and to put into practice what they learn
in the classroom. Both boys and girls have the gardens, and are given
credit for work in them just as for other work. All through the school
system every attempt is made to arouse an interest in gardening. From
the first grade on, statistics are kept of the numbers of children with
gardens at home, whether they are vegetable or flower gardens, and
what is grown. Seeds are given to the children who wish to grow new
things, and the child is supposed to account to his grade for the use
he has made of his garden.

This work has become a matter of course in many rural districts; every
one is familiar with the “corn clubs” among the school children of the
South and West, and the splendid example they have set the farmers as
to the possibilities of the soil. In many small towns seeds are given
to the children who want gardens, and in the fall a competitive flower
and vegetable show is held, where prizes are given, as a means of
keeping track of the work and arousing community interest. It is true
that most of these efforts have been grafted on to the schools by the
local agricultural interests, in an effort to improve the crops and so
increase the wealth of the neighborhood; but local school boards are
beginning to take the work over, and it is no less real nature study
work because of its utilitarian color. It may be made a means of making
a real science of nature study; in no way does it hinder the teaching
of the beauty and usefulness of nature, which was the object of the
old-fashioned study. In fact, it is the strongest weapon the school
can make use of for this purpose. Every one, and children especially,
enjoy and respect most the things about which their fund of knowledge
is largest. The true value of anything is most apparent to the person
who knows something about it. Familiarity with growing things and with
the science of getting food supplies for a people, cannot fail to be
a big influence towards habits of industry and observation, for only
the gardener who watches all the stages and conditions of his garden,
seeking constantly for causes, will be successful. Added to this is the
purely economic value of having our young people grow up with a real
respect for the farmer and his work, a respect which should counteract
that overwhelming flow of population toward congested cities.

[Illustration: Real gardens for city nature study. (Public School 45,

The work in the Chicago public schools has not been organized as it
is in Indianapolis, but in some districts of the city a great deal
of emphasis is put on nature study work through gardens. Many of the
schools have school gardens where all the children get an opportunity
to do real gardening, these gardens being used as the basis for the
nature study work, and the children getting instruction in scientific
gardening besides. The work is given a civic turn; that is to say,
the value of the gardens to the child and to the neighborhood is
demonstrated: to the child as a means of making money or helping
his family by supplying them with vegetables, to the community in
showing how gardens are a means of cleaning up and beautifying the
neighborhood. If the residents want their backyards and empty lots for
gardens, they are not going to throw rubbish into them or let other
people do so. Especially in the streets around one school has this
work made a difference. Starting with the interest and effort of the
children, the whole community has become tremendously interested in
starting gardens, using every bit of available ground. The district is
a poor one and, besides transforming the yards, the gardens have been a
real economic help to the people. With the help of one school a group
of adults in the district hired quite a large tract of land outside the
city and started truck gardens. The experiment was a great success.
Inexperienced city dwellers, by taking advantage of the opportunities
for instruction which the school could offer, were able to plan and do
the work and make the garden a success from the start. The advantage to
the school was just as great, for a large group of foreign parents came
into close touch with it, discovered that it was a real force in the
neighborhood, and that they could coöperate with it. This element of
the population usually stands quite aloof from the school its children
go to, through timidity and ignorance, or simply through feeling that
it is an institution above them.

The impetus to “civic nature study” in Chicago, aside from the district
just described, has come largely from the Chicago Teachers’ College,
where the teacher of biology has devoted himself especially to working
out this problem. In addition to the familiar gardening work, with
especial attention to the organization of truck gardening, plants
are grown in the classroom for purposes of developing appreciation
of beauty, scientific illustration, and assistance in geography. But
plants are selected with special reference to local conditions, and
with the desire to furnish a stimulus to beautifying the pupils’ own
environment. For it is found that the scientific principles of botany
can be taught by means of growing plants which are adapted to home use
as well as by specimens selected on abstract scientific grounds. By
making a special study of the parks, playgrounds, and yards of their
surroundings, the children learn what can be done to beautify their
city, and secure an added practical motive for acquiring information.
They keep pets in the schoolroom, such as white mice, fish, birds,
and rabbits. While these are utilized, of course, for illustrating
principles of animal structure and physiology, they are also employed
to teach humaneness to animals and a general sympathy for animal life.
This is easy, for children are naturally even more interested in
animals than in plants, and the animals become real individualities
to the children whose needs are to be respected. As the effect of
conditions upon the health and vigor of their pets is noted, there is a
natural growth of interest in questions of personal hygiene.

It will be observed that while nature study is used to instill the
elements of science, its chief uses are to cultivate a sympathetic
understanding of the place of plants and animals in life and to
develop emotional and æsthetic interest. In the larger cities the
situation is very different from that of rural life and the country
village. There are thousands of children who believe that cement and
bricks are the natural covering of the ground, trees and grass being
to them the unusual and artificial thing. Their thoughts do not go
beyond the fact that milk and butter and eggs come from the store;
cows and chickens are unknown to them--so much so that in a recent
reunion of old settlers in a congested district of New York one of
the greatest curiosities was a live cow imported from the country.
Under such circumstances, it is difficult to make the scientific
problems of nature study of vital interest. There are no situations of
the children’s experience into which the facts and principles enter
as a matter of course. Even the weather is tempered and the course
of the changing seasons has no special effect upon the lives of the
pupils, save upon the need for greater warmth in winter. Nature study
in the city is like one of the fine arts, such as painting or music;
its value is æsthetic rather than directly practical. Nature is such
a small factor in the activities of the children that it is hard to
give it much “disciplinary” value, save as it is turned to civic ends.
A vague feeling for this state of affairs probably accounts for much
of the haphazard and half-hearted nature study teaching which goes on
in city schools. There is a serious problem in finding material for
city children which will do for observation what the facts of nature
accomplish in the case of rural children.

A valuable experiment with this end in view is carried on in the
little “Play School” taught by Miss Pratt in one of the most congested
districts of New York City. Nature study is not taught at all to
these little children. If they go to the park or have pets and plant
flowers it is because these things make good play material, because
they are beautiful and interesting; if the children ask questions and
want to know more about them, so much the better. Instead of telling
them about leaves and grass, cows and butterflies, and hunting out
the rare opportunities for the children to observe them, use is made
of the multitudes of things which the children see about them in the
streets and in their homes. The new building going up across the street
furnishes just as much for observation and questioning as does the
park, and is a much more familiar sight to the children. They find out
how the men get the bricks and mortar to the upper floors; they see
the sand cart unloading; possibly one child knows that the driver has
been to the river to get the sand from a boat. They notice the delivery
man going through the streets, and find out where he got the bread to
take to their mothers. They see the children on the playground and
learn that besides the fun they have, the playing is good for their
bodies. They walk to the river and see the ferries carrying people
back and forth and the coal barges unloading. All these facts are
more closely related to them than the things of country life; hence
it is more important that they understand their meaning and their
relation to their own lives, while acuteness of observation is just
as well trained. Such work is also equally valuable as a foundation
for the science and geography the pupils will study later on. Besides
awakening their curiosity and faculties of observation, it shows them
the elements of the social world, which the later studies are meant to

The Elementary School at Columbia, Missouri, has arranged its
curriculum according to the same principle. All the material from
nature which the children use and study they find near the school or
their homes, and their study of the seasons and the weather is made
from day to day, as the Columbia weather and seasons change. Even more
important is the work the children do in studying their own town, their
food, clothing, and houses, so that the basis of the study is not
instruction given by the teacher but what the children themselves have
been able to find out on excursions and by keeping their eyes open.
The material bears a relation to their own lives, and so is the more
available for teaching children how to live. The reasons for teaching
such things to the city bred child are the same as those for teaching
the country child the elements of gardening and the possibilities of
the local soil. By understanding his own environment child or adult
learns the measure of the beauty and order about him, and respect
for real achievement, while he is laying the foundations for his own
control of the environment.



All peoples at all times have depended upon plays and games for a large
part of the education of children, especially of young children. Play
is so spontaneous and inevitable that few educational writers have
accorded to it in theory the place it held in practice, or have tried
to find out whether the natural play activities of children afforded
suggestions that could be adopted within school walls. Plato among the
ancients and Froebel among the moderns are the two great exceptions.
From both Rousseau and Pestalozzi, Froebel learned the principle of
education as a natural development. Unlike both of these men, however,
he loved intellectual system and had a penchant for a somewhat mystical
metaphysics. Accordingly we find in both his theory and practice
something of the same inconsistency noted in Pestalozzi.

It is easier to say natural development than to find ways for assuring
it. There is much that is “natural” in children which is also
naturally obnoxious to adults. There are many manifestations which
do not seem to have any part in helping on growth. Impatient desire
for a method which would cover the whole ground, and be final so as to
be capable of use by any teacher, led Froebel, as it has led so many
others, into working out alleged “laws” of development which were to
be followed irrespective of the varying circumstances and experiences
of different children. The orthodox kindergarten, which has often been
more Froebellian than Froebel himself, followed these laws; but now we
find attempts to return to the spirit of his teaching, with more or
less radical changes in its letter.

While Froebel’s own sympathy with children and his personal experience
led him to emphasize the instinctive expressions of child-life, his
philosophy led him to believe that natural development consisted
in the _un_folding of an absolute and universal principle already
_en_folded in the child. He believed also that there is an exact
correspondence between the general properties of external objects and
the unfolding qualities of mind, since both were manifestations of
the same absolute reality. Two practical consequences followed which
often got the upper hand of his interest in children on their own
account. One was that, since the law of development could be laid down
in general, it is not after all so important to study children in the
concrete to find out what natural development consists in. If they
vary from the requirements of the universal law so much the worse for
them, not for the “law.” Teachers were supposed to have the complete
formula of development already in their hands. The other consequence
was that the presentation and handling, according to prescribed
formulæ, of external material, became the method in detail of securing
proper development. Since the general relations of these objects,
especially the mathematical ones, were manifestations of the universal
principle behind development, they formed the best means of bringing
out the hidden existence of the same principle in the child. Even the
spontaneous plays of children were thought to be educative not because
of what they are, directly in themselves, but because they symbolize
some law of universal being. Children should gather, for example, in a
circle, not because a circular grouping is convenient for social and
practical purposes, but because the circle is a symbol of infinity
which will tend to evoke the infinite latent in the child’s soul.

The efforts to return to Froebel’s spirit referred to above have
tried to keep the best in his contributions. His emphasis upon play,
dramatization, songs and story telling, which involve the constructive
use of material, his deep sense of the importance of social relations
among the children--these things are permanent contributions which
they retain. But they are trying with the help of the advances of
psychological knowledge since Froebel’s time and of the changes
in social occupations which have taken place to utilize these
factors directly, rather than indirectly, through translation into
a metaphysics, which, even if true, is highly abstract. In another
respect they are returning to Froebel himself, against an alteration
in his ideas introduced by many of his disciples. These followers have
set up a sharp contrast between play and useful activity or work, and
this has rendered the practices of their kindergartens more symbolic
and sentimental than they otherwise would have been. Froebel himself
emphasized the desirability of children sharing in social occupations
quite as much as did Pestalozzi--whose school he had visited. He
says, for example, “The young, growing human being should be trained
early for outer work, for creative and productive activities. Lessons
through and by work, through and from life, are the most impressive
and the most intelligible, the most continuous and progressive, in
themselves and in their effect upon the learner. Every child, boy and
youth, whatever his position and condition in life, should devote,
say, at least one or two hours a day to some serious active occupation
constructing some definite external piece of work. It would be a most
wholesome arrangement in school to establish actual working hours
similar to existing study hours, and it will surely come to this.” In
the last sentence, Froebel showed himself a true prophet of what has
been accomplished in some of the schools such as we are dealing with in
this book.

Schools all over the country are at present making use of the child’s
instinct for play, by using organized games, toy making, or other
construction based on play motives as part of the regular curriculum.
This is in line with the vitalization of the curriculum that is going
on in the higher grades by making use of the environment of the child
outside the schoolroom. If the most telling lessons can be given
children through bringing into the school their occupations in their
free hours, it is only natural to use play as a large share of the work
for the youngest pupils. Certainly the greatest part of the lives
of very young children is spent in playing, either games which they
learn from older children or those of their own invention. The latter
usually take the form of imitations of the occupations of their elders.
All little children think of playing house, doctor, or soldier, even
if they are not given toys which suggest these games; indeed, half of
the joy of playing comes from finding and making the necessary things.
The educational value of this play is obvious. It teaches the children
about the world they live in. The more they play the more elaborate
becomes their paraphernalia, the whole game being a fairly accurate
picture of the daily life of their parents in its setting, clothed in
the language and bearing of the children. Through their games they
learn about the work and play of the grown-up world. Besides noticing
the elements which make up this world, they find out a good deal about
the actions and processes that are necessary to keep it going.

[Illustration: (1) Making a town, instead of doing gymnastic exercises.

(Teachers College Playground, N. Y. City.)]

[Illustration: (2) Gymnasium dances in sewing-class costumes.

(Howland School, Chicago.)]

While this is of real value in teaching the child how to live, it is
evident as well that it supplies a strong influence against change.
Imitative plays tend, by the training of habit and the turn they give
to the child’s attention and thoughts, to make his life a replica of
the life of his parents. In playing house children are just as apt
to copy the coarseness, blunders, and prejudices of their elders as
the things which are best. In playing, they notice more carefully and
thus fix in their memory and habits, more than if they simply lived
it indifferently, the whole color of the life around them. Therefore,
while imitative games are of great educational value in the way of
teaching the child to notice his environment and some of the processes
that are necessary for keeping it going, if the environment is not good
the child learns bad habits and wrong ways of thinking and judging,
ways which are all the harder to break because he has fixed them by
living them out in his play.

Modern kindergartens are beginning to realize this more and more.
They are using play, the sort of games they find the children
playing outside of school hours, not only as a method of making work
interesting to the children, but for the educational value of the
activities it involves, and for giving the children the right sort of
ideals and ideas about every day life. Children who play house and
similar games in school, and have toys to play with and the material to
make the things they need in their play, will play house at home the
way they played it in school. They will forget to imitate the loud
and coarse things they see at home, their attention will be centered
on problems which were designed by the school to teach better aims and

The kindergarten of the Teachers’ College of Columbia University
could hardly be recognized as a kindergarten at all by a visitor who
was thinking of the mechanism of instruction worked out by Froebel’s
disciples. The kindergarten is part of the training school of the
university, and from the start has been considered as a real part of
the school system, as the first step in an education, not as a more or
less unnecessary “extra.” With a view to laying a permanent basis for
higher education, the authorities have been developing a curriculum
that should make use of whatever was of real worth in existing systems
of education and in the experiments tried by themselves. To find what
is of real worth, experiments have been conducted, designed to answer
the following questions: “Among the apparently aimless and valueless
spontaneous activities of the child is it possible to discover some
which may be used as the point of departure for ends of recognized
worth? Are there some of these crude expressions which, if properly
directed, may develop into beginnings of the fine and industrial arts?
How far does the preservation of the individuality and freedom of the
child demand self-initiated activities? Is it possible for the teacher
to set problems or ends sufficiently childlike to fit in with the mode
of growth, and to inspire their adoption with the same fine enthusiasm
which accompanies the self-initiated ones?”

The result showed that the best success came when the children’s
instinctive activities were linked up with social interests and
experiences. The latter center, with young children, in their home.
Their personal relations are of the greatest importance to them.
Children’s intense interest in dolls is a sign of the significance
attached to human relations. The doll thus furnished a convenient
starting point. With this as a motive, the children have countless
things they wish to do and make. Hand and construction work thus
acquired a real purpose, with the added advantage of requiring the
child to solve a problem. The doll needs clothes; the whole class is
eager to make them, but the children do not know how to sew or even
cut cloth. So they start with paper and scissors, and make patterns,
altering and experimenting on the doll for themselves, receiving
only suggestions or criticisms from the teacher. When they have made
successful patterns, they choose and cut the cloth, and then learn to
sew it. If the garments are not wholly successful, the class has had a
great deal of fun making them, and has had the training that comes from
working towards a definite end, besides acquiring as much control over
scissors, paper, and needle, and manual dexterity as would accrue from
the conventional paper cutting, pricking, and sewing exercises.

The doll needs a house. In a corner of the room there is a great
chest of big blocks, so large that it takes the whole class to build
the house, and then it is not done in one day. There are flat long
blocks like boards for the walls and roof, and square blocks for the
foundations and window frames. When the house is done, it is big
enough for two or three children to go into to play with the doll.
One readily sees that it has taken a great deal of hard thinking and
experimenting to make a house that would really stand up and serve such
uses. Then the house needs furniture; the children learn to handle
tools in fashioning tables, chairs, and beds, from blocks of wood and
thin boards. Getting the legs on a table is an especially interesting
problem to the class, and over and over again they have discovered for
themselves how it can be done. Dishes for the doll family furnish the
motive for clay modeling and decoration. Dressing and undressing the
dolls is an occupation the children never tire of, and it furnishes
excellent practice in buttoning and unbuttoning and tying bows.

The changing seasons of the year and the procession of outdoor games
they bring furnish other motives for production that meet a real
need of the children. In the spring-time they want marbles and tops,
in the fall, kites; the demand for wagons is not limited to any one
season. Whenever possible the children are allowed to solve their
own problems. If they want marbles they experiment until they find a
good way to make them round, while if they are making something more
difficult where the whole process is obviously beyond them, they are
helped. This help, however, never takes the form of dictation as to how
to perform each step in its order, for the object of the work is to
train the child’s initiative and self-reliance, to teach him to think
straight by having him work on his own problems. The little carts which
the older children make would be beyond them if they had to plan and
shape the material for themselves; but when they are given the sawed
boards and round pieces for wheels, they find out by trying how they
can be put together, and thus make usable little wagons. Making bags
for their marbles, and aprons to protect their clothes while they are
painting the dolls’ furniture or washing the dishes after lunch, offer
additional opportunities for sewing.

From the needs of an individual doll the child’s interest naturally
develops to the needs of a family and then of a whole community. With
paper dolls and boxes, the children make and furnish dolls’ houses for
themselves, until all together they produce an entire village. On their
sand table the whole class may make a town with houses and streets,
fences and rivers, trees and animals for the gardens. In fact, the
play of the children furnishes more opportunity for making things than
there is time for in the school year. This construction work not only
fills the children with the interest and enthusiasm they always show
for any good game, but teaches them the use of work. In supplying the
needs of the dolls and their own games, they are supplying in miniature
the needs of society, and are acquiring control over the tools that
society actually uses in meeting these wants. Boys and girls alike take
the same interest in all these occupations, whether they are sewing
and playing with dolls, or marble making and carpentry. The idea
that certain games and occupations are for boys and others for girls
is a purely artificial one that has developed as a reflection of the
conditions existing in adult life. It does not occur to a boy that
dolls are not just as fascinating and legitimate a plaything for him as
for his sister, until some one puts the idea into his head.

The program of this kindergarten is not devoted exclusively to play
construction. It occupies the place of the paper folding, pricking and
sewing and the object lesson work of the older kindergartens, leaving
plenty of time every day to try their playthings and to take care of
their little gardens out of doors, as well as for group games, stories
and songs.

An interesting application of the play motive is being tried at the
Teachers’ College playground, by the same teachers who are conducting
the kindergarten. There is an outdoor playground for the use of the
younger grades after school hours. Instead of spending their time
doing gymnastic exercises or playing group games the children are
making a town. They use large packing cases for houses and stores, two
or three children taking care of each one; and have worked out quite
an elaborate town organization, with a telephone, mail and police
service, a bank to coin money, and ingenious schemes for keeping the
cash in circulation. Much of the time is spent in carpentry work,
building and repairing the houses and making wagons, furniture for
the houses, or stock for the two stores. The work affords almost as
much physical exercise as the ordinary sort of playground. It keeps
the children busy and happy in a much more effective way, for besides
healthy play in the open air they are learning to take a useful and
responsible share in a community.

A kindergarten conducted along the same lines exists in Pittsburgh as
part of the city university. It is called “The School of Childhood,”
and emphasizes the healthy physical development of the children. The
work is centered around the natural interests of children; and while
they apparently do not do as much construction work as in the Teachers’
College kindergarten, there is more individual play. The writer has not
visited the school, but it seems to embrace a number of novel elements
that ought to be suggestive to any one interested in educational

The “Play School” conducted by Miss Pratt in New York City organizes
all the work around the play activities of little children. Quoting
Miss Pratt, her plan is: “To offer an opportunity to the child to pick
up the thread of life in his own community, and to express what he
gets in an individual way. The experiment concerns itself with getting
subject-matter first hand, and it is assumed that the child has much
information to begin with, that he is adding to it day by day, that it
is possible to direct his attention so that he may get his information
in a more related way; and with applying such information to individual
schemes of play with related toys and blocks as well as expressing
himself through such general means as drawing, dramatization, and
spoken language.”

The children are of kindergarten age and come from homes where the
opportunities for real activity are limited. Each child has floor space
of his own with a rug, and screens to isolate him sufficiently so that
his work is really individual. There is a small work shop in the room
where the pupils can make or alter things they need in their play. The
tools are full size, and miscellaneous scraps of wood are used. In
cupboards and shelves around the room are all sorts of material: toys,
big and little blocks, clay, pieces of cloth, needle and thread, and a
set of Montessori material. Each child has scissors, paper, paints, and
pencil of his own, and is free to use all the material as he chooses.
He selects either isolated objects he wants to make, or lays out some
larger construction, such as a railroad track and stations, or a doll’s
house, or a small town or farm, and then from the material at hand
works out his own execution of his idea. One piece of work often lasts
over several days, and involves considerable incidental construction,
such as tracks and signals, clay dishes, furniture or new clothes for
the doll. The rôle of the teacher is to teach the pupil processes and
control of tools, not in a prearranged scale but as they are needed in
construction. The teacher has every opportunity to see the individual’s
weaknesses and abilities and so to check or stimulate at the proper
time. Besides the motor control which the pupils develop through their
handling of material, they are constantly increasing their ingenuity
and initiative.


[Illustration: Constructing in miniature the things they see around

(Play School, New York City.)]

The elements of number work are taught in connection with the
construction; and if a child shows a desire to make letters or signs
in connection with his other work, he is helped and shown how. The
toys used are particularly good. There are flat wooden dolls about
half an inch thick, men, women, and children, whose joints bend so
that they will stay in any position; all sorts of farm animals and
two or three kinds of little wagons that fit the dolls; quantities of
big blocks that fasten together with wooden pegs, so that the houses
and bridges do not fall down. Everything is strongly made on the
simplest plan, so that material can be used not only freely but also
effectively. Each success is a stimulus to new and more complicated
effort. There is no discouragement from slipshod stuff. The pupils
take care of the toys themselves, getting them out and putting them
away. They also care for the classroom and serve their mid-morning
luncheon. This work, coupled with the fact that the constructions are
almost always miniature copies of the things that the pupils see in
their community, saves the work from any hint of artificiality. The
children’s constructions grow out of the observations already spoken of
(p. 100), and give a motive for talking over what they have seen and
making new, more extensive and more accurate observations.

The natural desire of children to play can, of course, be made the most
of in the lowest grades, but there is one element of the play instinct
which schools are utilizing in the higher grades--that is, the instinct
for dramatization, for make-believe in action. All children love to
pretend that they are some body or thing other than themselves; they
love to make a situation real by going through the motions it suggests.
Abstract ideas are hard to understand; the child is never quite sure
whether he really understands or not. Allow him to act out the idea and
it becomes real to him, or the lack of understanding is shown in what
is done. Action is the test of comprehension. This is simply another
way of saying that learning by doing is a better way to learn than
by listening--the difference of dramatization from the work already
described lies in the things the child is learning. He is no longer
dealing with material where _things_ are needed to carry an act to a
successful result, but with _ideas_ which need action to make them
real. Schools are making use of dramatization in all sorts of different
ways to make teaching more concrete. For older children dramatization
is used principally in the strict sense of the word; that is, by having
pupils act in plays, either as a means of making the English or history
more real, or simply for the emotional and imaginative value of the
work. With the little children it is used as an aid in the teaching of
history, English, reading, or arithmetic, and is often combined with
other forms of activity.

Many schools use dramatization as a help in teaching the first
steps of any subject, especially in the lower grades. A first year
class, for example, act the subject-matter of their regular reading
lesson, each child having the part of one of the characters of the
story, animal or person. This insures an idea of the situation as a
whole, so that reading ceases to be simply an attempt to recognize
and pronounce isolated words and phrases. Moreover, the interest
of the situation carries children along, and enlists attention to
difficulties of phraseology which might, if attacked as separate
things, be discouraging. The dramatic factor is a great assistance in
the expressive side of reading. Teachers are always having to urge
children to read “naturally,” “to read as they talk.” But when a child
has no motive for communication of what he sees in the text, knowing
as he does that the teacher has the book and can tell it better than
he can, even the naturalness tends to be forced and artificial. Every
observer knows how often children who depart from humdrum droning,
learn to exhibit only a superficial breathless sort of liveliness and
a make-believe animation. Dramatization secures both attention to the
thought of the text and a spontaneous endeavor, free from pretense
and self-consciousness, to speak loudly enough to be heard and to
enunciate distinctly. In the same way, children tell stories much more
effectively when they are led to visualize for themselves the actions
going on, than when they are simply repeating something as a part of
the school routine. When children are drawing scenes involving action
and posture, it is found that prior action is a great assistance. In
the case of a pose of the body, the child who has done the posing is
often found to draw better than those who have merely looked on. He
has got the “feel” of the situation, which readily influences his
hand and eye in the subsequent reproduction. In the early grades when
pupils fail in a concrete problem in arithmetic, it is frequently found
that resort to “acting out” the situation supplies all the assistance
needed. The real difficulty was not with the numbers but in failure to
grasp the meaning of the situation in which the numbers were to be used.

In the upper grades, literature and history, as already indicated, are
often reënforced by dramatic activities. A sixth grade in Indianapolis
engaged in dramatizing “Sleeping Beauty,” not merely composed the words
and the stage directions, but also wrote songs and the music for them.
Such concentration on a single purpose of studies usually pursued
independently stimulates work in each. Literary expression is less
monotonous, the phrasing of an idea more delicate and flexible, than
when composition is an end in itself; and while of course the music is
not likely to be remarkable, it almost always has a freshness and charm
exceeding that which could be attained from the same pupils if they
were merely writing music.

A shoe store in the second grade furnished the basis of the work for
several days. The children set up a shop and chose pupils to take the
part of the shoe clerk, the shoemaker, and the family going to buy
shoes. Then they acted out the story of a mother and children going to
the store for shoes. Arithmetic and English lessons were based on the
store, and the class wrote stories about it. This same class sang and
acted out to a simple tune a little verse about the combinations that
make ten. The same pupils were doing problems in mental arithmetic
that were much beyond the work usually found in a second grade, adding
almost instantly numbers like 74 and 57. They probably could not have
gone so rapidly if they had not had so much of the dramatization work.
It served to make their abstract problems seem real. In doing problems
about Mrs. Baldwin’s shoes they had come to think of numbers as having
some meaning and purpose, so that when a problem in pure numbers was
given they did not approach it with misgivings and uncertainty. One of
the fifth grades had installed a parcel post office; they made money
and stamps and brought bundles to school, then they played post office;
two boys took the part of postmen, weighed the packages, looked up the
rate of postage, and gave change for the customers. Tables of weights
ceased to be verbal forms to be memorized; consultation of the map was
a necessity; the multiplication table was a necessity; the system and
order required in successful activity were impressed.

The Francis Parker School is one of many using the dramatic interest
of the pupils as an aid in teaching history. The fourth grade studies
Greek history, and the work includes the making of a Greek house, and
writing poems about some Greek myth. The children make Greek costumes
and wear them every day in the classroom. To quote Miss Hall, who
teaches this grade: “They play sculptor and make clay statuettes of
their favorite gods and mould figures to illustrate a story. They model
Mycenæ in sand-pans, ruin it, cover it, and become the excavators who
bring its treasures to light again. They write prayers to Dionysius
and stories such as they think Orpheus might have sung. They play Greek
games and wear Greek costumes, and are continually acting out stories
or incidents which please them. To-day as heroes of Troy, they have a
battle at recess time with wooden swords and barrel covers. In class
time, with prayers and dances and extempore song, they hold a Dionysiac
festival. Again, half of them are Athenians and half of them Spartans
in a war of words as to which city is more to be desired. Or they are
freemen of Athens, replying spiritedly to the haughty Persian message.”
Besides these daily dramatizations, they write and act for the whole
school a little play which illustrates some incident of history that
has particularly appealed to them. History taught in this way to little
children acquires meaning and an emotional content; they appreciate
the Greek spirit and the things which made a great people. The work so
becomes a part of their lives that it is remembered as any personal
experience is retained, not as texts are committed to memory to be
recited upon.

The Francis Parker School takes advantage of the social value of
dramatizations in its morning exercises. Studying alone out of a book
is an isolated and unsocial performance; the pupil may be learning the
words before him, but he is not learning to act with other people, to
control and arrange his actions and thought so that other persons have
an equal opportunity to express themselves in a shared experience. When
the classes represent by action what they have learned from books, all
the members have a part, so that they learn to cherish socially, as
well as to develop, powers of expression and of dramatic and emotional
imagery. When they act in front of the whole school they get the value
of the work for themselves individually and help the growth of a spirit
of unity and coöperation in the entire school. All the children, big
and little, become interested in the sort of thing that is going on
in the other grades, and learn to appreciate effort that is simple
and sincere, whether it comes from the first grade or the seniors in
high school. In their efforts to interest the whole school the actors
learn to be simple and direct, and acquire a new respect for their work
by seeing its value for others. Summaries of the work in different
subjects are given in the morning exercises by any grade which thinks
it has something to say that would interest the other children.
The dramatic element is sometimes small, as in the descriptions of
excursions, of curious processes in arithmetic or of some topic in
geography; but the children always have to think clearly and speak
well, or their audience will not understand them, and maps or diagrams
and all sorts of illustrative material are introduced as much as
possible. Other exercises, such as the Greek play written by the fourth
grade, or a dramatization of one of Cicero’s orations against Cataline,
are purely dramatic in their interest.

The production of plays by graduating classes or for some specific
purpose is of course a well-known method of interesting pupils or
advertising a school. But recently schools have been giving plays and
festivals for their educational value as well as for their interest
to children and the public. The valuable training which comes from
speaking to an audience, using the body effectively and working with
other pupils for a common end, is present, whatever the nature of
the play; and schools usually try to have their productions of some
literary value. But until recently the resources of the daily work
of the pupils for dramatic purposes have been overlooked. Being for
purposes of public entertainment, plays were added on after school
hours. But schools are beginning to utilize this natural desire of
young people to “act something” for amplifying the curriculum. In
many schools where dramatization of a rather elaborate character is
employed for public performances, the subject-matter is now taken from
English and history, while writing the play supplies another English
lesson. The rehearsals take the place of lessons in expression and
elocution, and involve self-control. The stage settings and costumes
are made in the shop and art periods, the planning and management being
done by the pupils, the teacher helping enough to prevent blunders
and discouragement. At Riverside one of the classes had been reading
Tolstoi’s “Where Love Is There Is God” for their work in literature.
They rewrote the story as a play and rehearsed it in their English
lessons, the whole class acting as coach and critic. As their interest
grew they made costumes and arranged a stage setting and finally gave
the play to an audience of the school and its friends. At another
time the English class gave an outdoor performance of a sketch which
they had written, based on the Odyssey. The American history class at
the Speyer School give a play which they write about some incident in
pioneer history. During the rehearsal nearly all the children try the
parts, quite regardless of sex or other qualifications, and the whole
class chooses the final cast. The fifth grade was studying Irving’s
“Sketch Book” in connection with its history and literature work, and
dramatized the story of Rip Van Winkle, doing all its own coaching and

[Illustration: Using the child’s dramatic instinct to teach history.
(Cottage School, Riverside, Ill.)]

The Howland School, one of the public schools of Chicago situated in
a foreign district, gave a large festival play during the past year.
The principal wrote and arranged a pageant illustrating the story of
Columbus, and the whole school took part in the acting. The story gave
a simple outline of the life of Columbus. A few tableaux were added
about some of the most striking events in pioneer history, arranged
to bring out the fact that this country is a democracy. The children
made their own costumes for the most part, and all the dances they
had learned during the year in gymnasium were introduced. Thus the
whole exhibition presented a very good picture of the outline of our
history and the spirit of the country, and at the same time offered
an interesting summary of the year’s work. Its value as a unifying
influence in a foreign community was considerable, for besides teaching
the children something of the history of their new country, it gave
the parents, who made up the audience, an opportunity to see what the
school could do for their children and the neighborhood. The patriotic
value of such exercises is greater than the daily flag salute or
patriotic poem, for the children understand what they are supposed
to be enthusiastic about, as they see before them the things which
naturally arouse patriotic emotions.

Exercises to commemorate holidays or seasons are more interesting
and valuable than the old-fashioned entertainment where individual
pupils recited poems, and adults made speeches, for they concentrate
in a social expression the work of the school. The community is more
interested because parents know that their own children have had
their share in the making of the production, and the children are
more interested because they are working in groups on something which
appeals to them and for which they are responsible. The graduating
exercises at many schools are now of a kind to present in a dramatic
review the regular work of the year. Each grade may take part,
presenting a play which they have written for work in English, dancing
some of the folk or fancy dances they have learned in gymnasium, etc.
Many schools have a Thanksgiving exercise in which different grades
give scenes from the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth, or present
dramatic pictures of the harvest festivals of different nations. In
similar fashion Christmas entertainments are often made up of songs,
poems and readings by children from different grades, or by the whole
grade, which have been arranged in the English and music classes. The
possibilities for plays, festivals, and pageants arranged on this plan
are endless; for it is always possible to find subject-matter which
will give the children just as much training in reading, spelling,
history, literature, or even some phases of geography, as would dry
Gradgrind facts of a routine text-book type.



The reader has undoubtedly been struck by the fact that in all of
the work described, pupils must have been allowed a greater amount
of freedom than is usually thought compatible with the necessary
discipline of a schoolroom. To the great majority of teachers and
parents the very word school is synonymous with “discipline,” with
quiet, with rows of children sitting still at desks and listening to
the teacher, speaking only when they are spoken to. Therefore a school
where these fundamental characteristics are lacking must of necessity
be a poor school; one where pupils do not learn anything, where they do
just as they please, quite regardless of what they please, even though
it be harmful to the child himself or disagreeable to his classmates
and the teacher.

There is a certain accumulation of facts that every child must acquire
or else grow up to be illiterate. These facts relate principally to
adult life; therefore it is not surprising that the pupil is not
interested in them, while it is the duty of the school to see that he
knows them nevertheless. How is this to be done? Obviously by seating
the children in rows, far enough apart so that they cannot easily talk
to each other, and hiring the most efficient person available to teach
the facts; to tell them to the child, and have him repeat them often
enough so that he can reasonably be expected to remember them, at least
until after he is “promoted.”

Again, children should be taught to obey; efficiency in doing as one
is told is a useful accomplishment, just as the doing of distasteful
and uninteresting tasks is a character builder. The pupil should be
taught to “respect” his teacher and learning in general; and how can
he be taught this lesson if he does not sit quietly and receptively in
the face of both? But if he will not be receptive, he must at least be
quiet, so that the teacher can teach him anyway. The very fact that
the pupil so often is lawless, destructive, rude and noisy as soon as
restraint is removed proves, according to the advocates of “discipline”
by authority, that this is the only way of dealing with the child,
since without such restraint the child would behave all day long as he
does when it is removed for a few uncertain minutes.

If this statement of the disciplinarian’s case sounds harsh and
unadorned, think for a moment of the things that visitors to “queer
schools” say after the visit is over; and consider whether they do
not force the unprejudiced observer to the conclusion that their
idea of schools and schooling is just such a harsh and unadorned
affair. The discussion of freedom versus authoritative discipline in
schools resolves itself after all into a question of the conception
of education which is entertained. Are we to believe, with the strict
disciplinarian, that education is the process of making a little
savage into a little man, that there are many virtues as well as facts
that have to be taught to all children so that they may as nearly
as possible approach the adult standard? Or are we to believe, with
Rousseau, that education is the process of making up the discrepancy
between the child at his birth and the man as he will need to be, “that
childhood has its own ways of seeing, thinking, and feeling,” and that
the method of training these ways to what a man will need is to let the
child test them upon the world about him?

The phrase, “authoritative discipline,” is used purposely, for
discipline and freedom are not contradictory ideas. The following
quotation from Rousseau shows very plainly what a heavy taskmaster
even his freedom was, a freedom so often taken to mean mere lawlessness
and license. “Give him [the pupil] no orders at all, absolutely none.
Do not even let him think that you claim any authority over him. Let
him know only that he is weak and you are strong, that his condition
and yours puts him at your mercy; let this be perceived, learned and
felt. Let him early find upon his proud neck the heavy yoke which
nature has imposed upon us, the heavy yoke of necessity, under which
every finite being must bow. Let him find the necessity in things, not
in the caprices of man; let the curb be the force of conditions, not

Surely no discipline could be more severe, more apt to develop
character and reasonableness, nor less apt to develop disorder and
laziness. In fact the real reason for the feeling against freedom in
schools seems to come from a misunderstanding. The critic confuses
physical liberty with moral and intellectual liberty. Because the
pupils are moving about, or sitting on the floor, or have their chairs
scattered about instead of in a straight line, because they are using
their hands and tongues, the visitor thinks that their minds must
be relaxed as well; that they must be simply fooling, with no more
restraint for their minds and morals than appears for their bodies.
Learning in school has been so long associated with a docile or passive
mind that because that useful organ does not squirm or talk in its
operations, observers have come to think that none of the child should
do so, or it will interfere with learning.

Assuming that educational reformers are right in supposing that the
function of education is to help the growing of a helpless young animal
into a happy, moral, and efficient human being, a consistent plan of
education must allow enough liberty to promote that growth. The child’s
body must have room to move and stretch itself, to exercise the muscles
and to rest when tired. Every one agrees that swaddling clothes are a
bad thing for the baby, cramping and interfering with bodily functions.
The swaddling clothes of the straight-backed desk, head to the front
and hands folded, are just as cramping and even more nerve racking to
the school child. It is no wonder that pupils who have to sit in this
way for several hours a day break out in bursts of immoderate noise
and fooling as soon as restraining influences are removed. Since they
do not have a normal outlet for their physical energy to spend itself,
it is stored up, and when opportunity offers it breaks forth all the
more impetuously because of the nervous irritation previously suffered
in repressing the action of an imperfectly trained body. Give a child
liberty to move and stretch when he needs it, with opportunities for
real exercise all through the day and he will not become so nervously
overwrought that he is irritable or aimlessly boisterous when left to
himself. Trained in _doing_ things, he will be able to keep at work and
to think of other people when he is not under restraining supervision.

A truly scientific education can never develop so long as children
are treated in the lump, merely as a class. Each child has a strong
individuality, and any science must take stock of all the facts in its
material. Every pupil must have a chance to show what he truly is, so
that the teacher can find out what he needs to make him a complete
human being. Only as a teacher becomes acquainted with each one of her
pupils can she hope to understand childhood, and it is only as she
understands it that she can hope to evolve any scheme of education
which shall approach either the scientific or the artistic standard.
As long as educators do not know their individual facts they can never
know whether their hypotheses are of value. But how are they to know
their material if they impose themselves upon it to such an extent
that each portion is made to act just like every other portion? If the
pupils are marched into line, information presented to them which they
are then expected to give back in uniform fashion, nothing will ever be
found out about any of them. But if every pupil has an opportunity to
express himself, to show what are his particular qualities, the teacher
will have material on which to base her plans of instruction.

Since a child lives in a social world, where even the simplest act or
word is bound up with the words and acts of his neighbors, there is
no danger that this liberty will sacrifice the interests of others to
caprice. Liberty does not mean the removal of the checks which nature
and man impose on the life of every individual in the community, so
that one individual may indulge impulses which go against his own
welfare as a member of society. But liberty for the child is the chance
to test all impulses and tendencies on the world of things and people
in which he finds himself, sufficiently to discover their character so
that he may get rid of those which are harmful, and develop those which
are useful to himself and others. Education which treats all children
as if their impulses were those of the average of an adult society
(whose weaknesses and failures are moreover constantly deplored) is
sure to go on reproducing that same average society without even
finding out whether and how it might be better. Education which finds
out what children really are may be able to shape itself by this
knowledge so that the best can be kept and the bad eliminated. Meantime
much is lost by a mere external suppression of the bad which equally
prevents the expression of the better.

If education demands liberty before it can shape itself according to
facts, how is it to use this liberty for the benefit of the child?
Give a child freedom to find out what he can and can not do, both in
the way of what is physically possible and what his neighbors will
stand for, and he will not waste much time on impossibilities but will
bend his energies to the possibilities. The physical energy and mental
inquisitiveness of children can be turned into positive channels. The
teacher will find the spontaneity, the liveliness, and initiative of
the pupil aids in teaching, instead of being, as under the coercive
system, nuisances to be repressed. The very things which are now
interferences will become positive qualities that the teacher is
cultivating. Besides preserving qualities which will be of use to the
man and developing habits of independence and industry, allowing the
child this freedom is necessary if pupils are really to learn by doing.
Most doing will lead only to superficial muscle training if it is
dictated to the child and prescribed for him step by step. But when the
child’s natural curiosity and love of action are put to work on useful
problems, on finding out for himself how to adjust his environment to
his needs, the teacher finds that the pupils are not only doing their
lessons as well as ever, but are also learning how to control and put
to productive use those energies which are simply disturbing in the
average classroom. Unless the pupil has some real work on which to
exercise his mind by means of his senses and muscles, the teacher will
not be able to do away with the ordinary disciplinary methods. For in
a classroom where the teacher is doing all the work and the children
are listening and answering questions, it would be absurd to allow
the children to place themselves where they please, to move about,
or to talk. Where the teacher’s rôle has changed to that of helper
and observer, where the development of every child is the goal, such
freedom becomes as much a necessity of the work as is quiet where the
children are simply reciting.


[Illustration: Learning to live through situations that are typical of
social life. (Teachers College, N. Y. City.)]

At present, the most talked of schools in which freedom and liberty
are necessary for the children’s work are the schools of Madame Maria
Montessori in Italy and those of her pupils in this country. Madame
Montessori believes, with many educators in this country, that liberty
is necessary in the classroom if the teacher is to know the needs and
capabilities of each pupil, if the child is to receive in school a
well-rounded training making for the best development of his mind,
character, and physique. In general, her reasons for insisting upon
this liberty, which is the basis of her method, correspond with those
outlined above, with one exception. She holds that liberty is necessary
for the child if a scientific education is to be created, because
without it data on which to base principles can not be collected;
also that it is necessary for the physical welfare of the pupils and
for the best development of their characters in training them to be
independent. The point of difference between the Italian educator and
most reformers in this country lies in their respective views of the
value of liberty in the use of material, and this point will be taken
up later.

Madame Montessori believes that repressing children physically while
they are in school and teaching them habits of mental passivity and
docility is mistaking the function of the school and doing the children
real harm. Scientific education not only needs freedom for the child
in order to collect data, but liberty is its very basis; “liberty is
activity,” says Madame Montessori in her book called “The Montessori
Method.” Activity is the basis of life, consequently training children
to move and act is training them for life, which is the proper office
of the schoolroom. The object of liberty is the best interests of the
whole group; this becomes the end of the liberty allowed the children.
Everything which does not contribute to it must be suppressed, while
the greatest care is taken to foster every action with a useful scope.
In order to give the pupils the largest possible scope for such useful
activity, they are allowed a very large amount of freedom in the
classroom. They may move about, talk to each other, place their tables
and chairs where they please, and, what is of more significance, each
pupil may choose what work he will do, and may work at one thing as
long or as short a time as he wishes. She says, “A room in which all
the children move about usefully, intelligently, and voluntarily,
without committing any rough or rude act, would seem to me a classroom
very well disciplined indeed.” Discipline, in short, is ability to do
things independently, not submission under restraint.

In order to bring about this active discipline, which allows free
scope for any useful work, and at the same time does not stifle the
spontaneous impulses of the child, the ordinary methods of discipline
are done away with, and a technique is developed to emphasize the
positive, not the negative, side of discipline. Montessori has
described it in this way: “As to punishments, we have many times come
in contact with children who disturbed the others, without paying any
attention to our corrections. Such children were at once examined by
the physician. When the case proved to be that of a normal child,
we placed one of the little tables in a corner of the room, and in
this way isolated the child, having him sit in a comfortable little
armchair, so placed that he might see his companions at work, and
giving him those games and toys to which he was most attracted. This
isolation almost always succeeded in calming the child; from his
position he could see the entire assembly of his companions, and the
way in which they carried on their work was an object-lesson much more
efficacious than any words of the teacher could possibly have been.
Little by little he would come to see the advantages of being one of
the company working so busily before his eyes, and he would really
wish to go back and do as the others did.” The corrections which the
teachers first offer never take the form of scoldings; the child is
quietly told that what he is doing is not polite or disturbs the other
children. Then he is told how he ought to behave to be a pleasant
companion, or his attention is diverted to a piece of work. Because
children are working on something of their own choice, and when they
want to, and because they may move and talk enough so that they do not
get nervously tired, there is very little need for any “punishment.”
Except for an isolated case of real lawlessness, such as Montessori
refers to in the quotation just cited, the visitor to one of her
schools sees very little need of negative discipline. The teachers’
corrections are practically all for small breaches of manners or for

Activity founded on liberty being the guiding principle of the
Montessori schools, activity is expended by the child on two sorts of
material. Montessori believes that the child needs practice in the
actions of daily life; that, for example, he should be taught how to
take care of and wait on himself. Part of the work is accordingly
directed to this end. She also believes that the child possesses
innate faculties which should be allowed to develop to their fullest;
consequently part of the work is designed to give adequate expression
to these faculties. These exercises for the culture of the inner
potentialities of the child she considers the more important of the
two. The child needs to know how to adjust himself to his environment
in order to be independent and happy; but an imperfect development
of the child’s faculties is an imperfect development of life itself;
so the real object of education consists in furnishing active help
to the normal expansion of the life of the child. These two lines of
development Madame Montessori considers to be so distinct one from the
other that the exercises of practical life cannot perform the function
of the exercises arranged to train the faculties and senses of the

The exercises of practical life are designed to teach the child to
be independent, to supply his own wants, and to perform the actions
of daily life with skill and grace. The pupils keep the schoolroom
in order, dusting and arranging the furniture, and putting away each
piece of material as soon as they are through with it. They wait
on themselves while they are working, getting out the things they
want, finding a convenient place to work, and then taking care of
the apparatus when they have worked with it as long as they like. In
schools where the children do not live in the building, a midday lunch
is served for the pupils; and, except for the cooking, the children do
all the work connected with the meal, setting tables, serving food, and
then clearing away and washing the dishes. All the pupils share alike
in this work, regardless of their age; children of three and four soon
learn to handle the plates and glasses, and to pass the food. Wherever
possible the schools have gardens, which the children care for, and
animal pets of a useful sort--hens and chickens or pigeons. Even the
youngest children put on their own wraps, button and unbutton their
aprons and slippers, and when they can not do it for themselves, they
help each other. The necessity of the pupils’ learning to take care of
themselves as early as possible is so much insisted upon that in order
to help the youngest in learning this lesson, Montessori has designed
several appliances to give them practice before they begin to wait upon
themselves. These are wooden frames, fitted with cloth which is opened
down the center. Then the edges are joined either with buttons, hooks
and eyes, or ribbons, and practice consists in opening and closing
these edges by buttoning, hooking, or tying as the case may be.

These appliances may be taken as a bridge between the two sorts of
exercises in use in the Montessori schools. They mark a transition
from the principles which are common to most educational reformers to
those associated particularly with the method worked out by Madame
Montessori. Another quotation from her first book gives the clew to
an understanding of this method: “In a pedagogical method which is
experimental the education of the senses must undoubtedly assume
the greatest importance.... The method used by me is that of making
a pedagogical experiment with a didactic object and awaiting the
spontaneous reaction of the child.... With little children, we must
proceed to the making of trials, and must select the didactic materials
in which they show themselves to be interested.... I believe, however,
that I have arrived at a selection of objects representing the minimum
necessary to a practical sense education.”

Madame Montessori started her career as a teacher among deficient
children in the hospitals where Seguin had worked. Naturally she
experimented with the material used with her subnormal pupils when she
began working with normal children. It is equally natural that many of
the objects which had proved useful with the former were also usable
with the average school child. Ordinary school methods succeed with
deficient children when used more slowly and with more patience; and in
the same way Madame Montessori found that many of the appliances which
had before been used only for deficients produced remarkably successful
results with ordinary children, when used with more rapidity and
liberty. Therefore her “didactic material” includes many things that
are used generally to develop sensory consciousness among deficients.
But instead of using the material in a fixed order and under the
guidance of a teacher, the normal child is allowed complete liberty in
its use; for the object is no longer to awaken powers that are nearly
lacking, but to exercise powers that the child is using constantly in
all his daily actions, so that he may have a more and more accurate and
skillful control over them.

The exercises to develop the faculties of the child are especially
so arranged as to train the power to discriminate and to compare.
His sensory organs are nearly all exercised with apparatus designed,
like the button frames, to allow the child to do one thing for one
purpose. The pupil does not have to use these objects in any fixed
order or work for any length of time on one thing. Except for the very
youngest children, who do only the very simplest exercises, pupils
are at liberty to work at any one they wish and for as long as they
wish. Montessori believes that the child will turn naturally to the
exercise he is ready for. The materials to develop the sense of touch
are among the simplest. There are small boards with strips of sandpaper
running from the roughest to the smoothest, and pieces of different
kinds of cloth; these the child rubs his hands over while his eyes are
blindfolded, distinguishing the differences. The appliances designed
to teach the child to distinguish differences of form and size use the
sense of touch as a strong aid to sight. There are blocks of wood with
holes of different diameters and depths, and cylinders to fit each
hole. The child takes all the cylinders out, rubs his fingers around
their edge and then around the rim of the holes and puts them back
in the proper hole. The ability to judge of size is also exercised
by giving the child a set of graduated wooden blocks with which he
builds a tower, and another set which he may use to make a stair. The
power to distinguish form is developed by wooden insets of all shapes
which fit into holes in a thin board. The child takes out the insets,
feels of them and then replaces them. Later the teacher tells him the
geometrical name of each form while he is touching it, and then has him
distinguish them by name.

There are sets of cardboard forms to correspond to the wooden ones,
and metal plaques where the form appears as a hole in the center of
the plaque. These are used in games which consist in matching the same
form in the different materials, and for drawing the form in outline on
paper to be filed in with colored pencils.

The method of teaching reading and writing uses the sense of touch to
reënforce the lesson the pupil gets through the eye and ear. Sandpaper
alphabets with each letter pasted on a square of cardboard are given a
child. He rubs his finger over these as if he were writing and makes
the sound of the letter as he rubs. Movable letters are used only after
the child is familiar with the letters by touch, and with them he makes
words. Writing usually precedes reading when children learn in this
way; when they take pencil or chalk, they are able to trace the letters
with very little difficulty because the muscles as well as the eye are
familiar with the forms.

The sense of hearing is exercised by means of two sets of bells, one
fixed to give the scale, the other movable, so that the child can make
his own scale by comparing with the fixed scale. The children play a
number of games where they are as quiet as possible, acting out simple,
whispered directions from the teacher. There is as well a series of
rattles filled with sand, gravel, and grains, and the game is to guess
which rattle is being shaken. The sense of color is developed in the
same way by means of specially arranged apparatus. This consists of
small tablets wound with colored silks in all colors and shades, which
are used in many different ways, according to the age and skill of the
pupil. The youngest learn to distinguish two or three colors and to
tell dark from light shades. The older pupils who are familiar with the
colors acquire enough skill in their manipulation to be able to glance
at one tablet and then go to the other side of the room and bring
either an exact match or the next shade lighter or darker, according to
what the teacher has asked for.

Muscular development is provided for by giving the children plenty of
time during the school day to run and play, and by means of apparatus
for free gymnastics, while the finer coördinating muscles are being
constantly exercised while the child is manipulating the appliances for
sense training. The faculty of speech is trained by having the children
practice the pronunciation of words and syllables. The fundamental
conceptions of number are taught much as are reading and writing.
Besides the sandpaper numbers and the plain cardboard ones, there is
a series of wooden bars varying in length from one to ten meters,
which the children use in connection with numbers in learning the
combinations up to ten.

The foregoing description of the didactic material is very brief
and general and omits many of the uses of the appliances as well
as reference to some of the less used material, but it serves to
illustrate the nature and purpose of the work done by the children.
Pupils acquire a marked skill in the handling of the material which
appeals especially to them, and children of four and five learn to
write with very little effort. In fact, Madame Montessori believes
that the average child is ready for many of the ideas which he usually
does not get until his sixth year at an earlier age, when they can be
acquired more easily; and that a system such as hers which allows the
child to perform one set of acts at the time when he is ready for it
saves him a great deal of time later on, besides giving a more perfect
result than could then be achieved.

Each piece of material is designed to train singly one specific sense
through the performance of one set of fixed acts. Consequently if
liberty is confounded with doing as one pleases, this method must
appear very strict. Liberty is found in the use the children make of
material. The amount of freedom the pupils are allowed in the classroom
has already been described, and the rôle of the teacher is made to
correspond with this liberty. She is trained not to interfere with any
spontaneous activity of the child and never to force his attention
where it is not given naturally. When a child has turned of his own
accord to a certain apparatus the teacher may show him the proper use
of it; or in rare cases she may try to direct the child’s attention to
a different type of work if he seems inclined to concentrate to excess
on one thing, but if she fails she never insists. In fact nothing is
done by the teacher to call the child’s attention to his weaknesses
and failures, or to arouse any negative associations in his mind.
Madame Montessori says, “If he [the child] makes a mistake, the teacher
must not correct him, but must suspend her lesson to take it up again
another day. Indeed, why correct him? If the child has not succeeded
in associating the name with the object, the only way in which to
succeed would be to repeat both the action of the sense stimuli and
the name; in other words, to repeat the lesson. But when the child has
failed, we should know that he was not at that instant ready for the
physic associations which we wished to provoke in him, and we must
therefore choose another moment. If we should say, in correcting the
child, ‘No, you have made a mistake,’ all these words, which, being
in the form of a reproof, would strike him more forcibly than others,
would remain in the mind of the child, retarding the learning of the
names. On the contrary, the silence which follows the error leaves the
field of consciousness clear, and the next lesson may successfully
follow the first.”

The simplicity and passivity of the teachers’ rôle are increased by
the nature of the didactic material. Once the child has been taught
the nomenclature connected with the apparatus, the teacher ceases to
teach. She becomes merely an observer as far as that pupil is concerned
until he is ready to move on to another appliance. This is possible
because of what Montessori calls the “self-corrective” nature of her
material. That is, each thing is arranged so that the child can do
but one complete thing with it, so that if he makes a mistake the
apparatus does not work. Thus a child working with any one thing does
not have to be told when he makes a mistake how to correct it. He is
confronted with an obvious problem, which is solved by his own handling
of the material. The child is educating himself in that he sees his own
mistakes and corrects them, and the finished result is perfect; partial
success or failure is not possible.

Take the simplest piece of material, the block of wood in which solid
cylinders are set. There are ten of these cylinders, each varying,
say, in length about a quarter of an inch from the one next it. The
child takes all these cylinders from their proper holes and mixes
them up; then he puts them back in their right places again. If he
puts a cylinder in a hole too deep for it, it disappears; if the
hole is too shallow it sticks up too far, while if every cylinder is
put in its proper hole, the child has a solid block of wood again.
All the geometrical insets are self-corrective in exactly the same
way. Even the youngest child would know whether he had succeeded
with the button and lacing frames. The tower blocks will not pile up
into a tower unless the child piles them one on top of the other in
decreasing sizes, nor will the stair blocks make a stair unless they
are laid side by side according to the same principle. In using the
color tablets the child needs rather more preparation; but when he has
learned to distinguish the eight different shades of one of the eight
colors, he is ready to arrange them so that they blend from dark to
light, and if he makes a mistake the tablet placed in wrong sequence
will appear to him as an inharmonious blot. Once the pupil gets the
idea with one color he is able to work it out for himself for the
other seven. Since the pupils are never allowed merely to play with
an apparatus, it becomes associated in his mind with performing the
right set of actions, so a misstep appears to him as something to be
undone, something calling for another trial. The educational purpose
Montessori aims to serve in making her material self-corrective, is
that of leading the child to concentrate upon the differences in the
parts of the appliances he is working with; that is, in trying for the
fixed end he has to compare and discriminate between two colors, two
sounds, two dimensions, etc. It is in making these comparisons that the
intellectual value of training the senses lies. The particular faculty
or sense that the child is exercising in using any one apparatus is
sharpened by concentration upon the _relations_ between the things.
Sense-development of an intellectual character comes from the growth
of this power of the sense organ to compare and discriminate, not from
teaching the child to recognize dimensions, sounds, colors, etc., nor
yet from simply going through certain motions without making a mistake.
Montessori claims that intellectual result differentiates her work from
the appliances of the kindergarten.

As we said above, the difference between the Montessori method and the
views of American reformers lies not in a difference of opinion as to
the value of liberty, but rather in a different conception of the best
use to be made of it. Physically the pupils of a Montessori class are
freer than they are in the classes of most American educators with
whose views this book has been dealing; intellectually they are not
so free. They can come and go, work and be idle, talk and move about
quite voluntarily; getting information about things and acquiring skill
in movement are the ends secured. Each pupil works independently on
material that is self-corrective. But there is no freedom allowed the
child to create. He is free to choose which apparatus he will use, but
never to choose his own ends, never to bend a material to his own
plans. For the material is limited to a fixed number of things which
must be handled in a certain way. Most American educators think that
the training of the pupil to habits of right thinking and judgment
is best accomplished by means of material which presents to him real
problems, and they think that the measure of reality is found in
connection with the experiences of life out of school. The big thing
that children have to learn is twofold; for their adjustment to the
world in which they find themselves involves relations to people and
to things. Adjustment means not simply the ability to control their
bodies, but an intellectual adjustment as well, an ability to see the
relations between things, to look behind their surface and perceive
their meaning not alone to the individual, but to the community as
well. “The best way of making sure that children learn this double
adjustment is,” says the American school-teacher, “to give them work
which represents truly the conditions they have to deal with out of

[Illustration: Solving problems in school as they would have to be met
out of school.

(Francis Parker School, Chicago.)]

Outside the classroom the child is constantly having to bend material
things to his own needs, and to satisfy the demands that are made
upon him because he lives with other people. If he is to accomplish
this successfully for himself and others it is important that he
learn to see things as they are; that he be able to use his senses
accurately to understand the meaning that things and people have to and
for him as a member of society. Hence the need of freedom to meet and
solve these problems in school, much as one has to do out of school.
Madame Montessori, on the other hand, believes that the technique of
living can best be learned by the child through situations that are
not typical of social life, but which have been arranged in order
to exercise some special sense so as to develop the faculties of
discrimination and comparison.

The difference of opinion resolves itself into the acceptance of
different views of the nature of the human intelligence. Montessori,
in common with the older psychologists, believes that people have
ready-made faculties which can be trained and developed for general
purposes, regardless of whether the acts by which they are exercised
have any meaning other than the training they afford. The child is born
with undeveloped faculties which can be made to blossom by suitable
appliances, and then devoted at will to other uses. Most educators in
this country agree with the newer psychological theories that skill
can not be achieved independently of the tools used and the object
fashioned in the accomplishment of a special end. Exercises which
distinguish for the child the abstract qualities like length and color,
regardless of the things of which they are qualities, may give the
child great skill in performing the special exercise, but will not
necessarily result in making him more successful in dealing with these
qualities as they appear as factors in the situations of life. Much
less will they train powers of comparing and discriminating at large
so that they may be transferred to any use. A child is not born with
faculties to be unfolded, but with special impulses of action to be
developed through their use in preserving and perfecting life in the
social and physical conditions under which it goes on.

If, accordingly, the child in an American progressive school does
not usually have as much freedom of moving about and of choice of
his time for doing work, the explanation does not consist in a less
degree of belief in the value of liberty. The emphasis falls on the
larger freedom of using and testing senses and judgment in situations
typical of life. Because these situations are social, they require
that children work more together in common pursuits; because they are
social they permit and often require the teacher’s aid, just as one
gains assistance from others in the ordinary affairs of life. Help from
others is not to be feared as an encroachment upon liberty, but that
kind of help which restricts the use of the children’s own intelligence
in forming ends and using ingenuity, initiative and inventiveness in
the selection and adaption of materials. The limitation of material to
performing exercises calculated to train an isolated sense--a situation
that never presents itself in life--seems to the American teacher a
greater limitation of freedom than that which arises from the need of
coöperation with others in the performance of common activities. It
is desirable not merely that the child should learn not to interfere
with others as they execute their own ends, but also that he should
learn to work with them in an intelligent way. Hence the scope of the
material should not be limited to training the discriminations and
comparisons of a single sense (however valuable this may be with very
young children who are incapable of coöperative activity and whose
main business is to master the use of their organs),[A] but should
be varied enough to offer typical problems calling for the kind of
comparison and discrimination used in ordinary life-situations. And
when pupils are making real things for real uses, or finding out
about the activities and materials of out-of-school life, several
children need to work at the same thing and keep at one thing with some

    [A] It is significant that many who have experimented with
        the apparatus hold that its value is greatest with quite
        young children--three and four years old.

But if the educators of this country differ with Montessori as to
the existence of innate faculties which can be trained for general
application by special exercises designed only for training and not
for the accomplishment of results in which training is incidental,
they welcome her efforts to secure that degree of freedom in the
schoolroom which will enable teachers to become acquainted with the
real powers and interests of the child and thus secure the data for
a scientific method in education. They appreciate the force of her
point that artificial conditions of restraint prevent teachers from
getting true knowledge of the material with which they are dealing, so
that instruction is limited to repetition of traditional processes.
They perceive that her insistence upon touch associated with muscular
movement as a factor in learning to write and read, is a real
contribution to the technique of elementary instruction. She has become
a most important factor in the popularizing of the gospel of liberty
as indispensable to any true education.

With a wider understanding of the meaning of intellectual and moral
freedom, and the accompanying breakdown of the negative and coercive
ideas of discipline, the chief obstacle to the use of the teacher’s
own powers of observation and experimentation will disappear. The
scientific interest which requires personal observation, reflection,
and experimental activity, will be added to the teacher’s sympathetic
interest in the welfare of children. Education that associates learning
with doing will replace the passive education of imparting the learning
of others. However well the latter is adapted to feudal societies, in
which most individuals are expected to submit constantly and docilely
to the authority of superiors, an education which proceeds on this
basis is inconsistent with a democratic society where initiative and
independence are the rule and where every citizen is supposed to take
part in the conduct of affairs of common interest. It is significant of
the wide-reaching development of the democratic spirit that the voice
most influentially identified at the present time with the ideal of
liberty in education should sound forth from Italy.



Work is essentially social in its character, for the occupations which
people carry on are for human needs and ends. They are concerned with
maintaining the relations with things and with others which make up
the world we live in. Even the acts that are concerned with keeping
alive are arranged to fit into a social scheme which has modified all
man’s instinctive acts and thoughts. Everything about this scheme is
dependent upon the ability of people to work together successfully. If
they can do this a well-balanced, happy and prosperous society results.
Without these occupations, which are essentially social life--that
is human life--civilization can not go on. The result is a sort of
social education by necessity, since every one must learn to adapt
himself to other individuals and to whole communities. When it is left
to circumstances this education, although necessary, is haphazard and
only partial. We send children to school supposedly to learn in a
systematic way the occupations which constitute living, but to a very
large extent the schools overlook, in the methods and subject-matter
of their teaching, the social basis of living. Instead of centering
the work in the concrete, the human side of things, they put the
emphasis on the abstract, hence the work is made academic--unsocial.
Work then is no longer connected with a group of people all engaged
in occupations, but is isolated, selfish and individualistic. It is
based on a conception of society which no longer fits the facts, an
every-man-for-himself society which ceased to exist a hundred years
ago. The ordinary school curriculum ignores the scientific democratic
society of to-day and its needs and ideals, and goes on fitting
children for an individualistic struggle for existence, softened by a
little intellectual “culture” for the individual’s enjoyment.

Schools started in this country in pioneer days, when a comparatively
small number of people were scattered over an immense country that
offered them unlimited and unexplored opportunities. The pioneer was
dependent upon his own ability in seizing these opportunities, in
getting ahead, in his use of nature’s raw material. He lived much alone
and for himself; no one was really dependent upon his relations with
others; for there were few people, endless material, and unorganized
communities, without traditions or institutions. The welfare of the
country was dependent upon the spread of the doctrines of getting
on, and every man for himself. It was entirely natural that the new
schools should reflect this ideal and shape their work to drive home
the lesson. Our early settlers came from countries with traditions of
culture and “learning”; and it was natural that they should look to
their schools to keep alive these transplanted ideals in the midst of
their struggle with nature. Culture did not mean to them a harmonious
development of all the child’s faculties, but it meant rather the
storing up of historical facts and the acquiring of knowledge and the
literatures of the past. Learning, too, did not mean finding out about
the things around them or about what was going on in other parts of
the world; it meant reviewing the achievements of the past, learning
to read the dead languages, the deader the language the greater the
reputation for “learning.” The school curriculums were principally
devoted, therefore, to turning the eyes of the pupils to the past,
where alone they could find things worth studying and where, too, they
might find the refinements of esthetic and intellectual development. A
knowledge of the “three R’s” and a little natural “smartness” was all
the social equipment the child needed, all the preparation that was
necessary for him to begin to get on in the world. Once he had that
equipment the schools could then turn their attention to giving him

However interesting or enlightening such culture might be to the
individual, obviously the first business of the public school is to
teach the child to live in the world in which he finds himself, to
understand his share in it, and to get a good start in adjusting
himself to it. Only as he can do these things successfully will he have
time or inclination to cultivate purely intellectual activities.

The public schools started with the awakening of the spirit of liberty
and democracy. More and more people realized that there was no
possibility of an equal chance for every one, if a very small minority
of the population had entire control of the material of science, which
was so rapidly changing all social and industrial conditions. Naturally
enough when these popular schools were started, the community turned to
the schools already in existence for their curriculum and organization.
The old schools, however, were not conducted to give equal opportunity
to all, but for just the opposite purpose, to make more marked the line
between classes, to give the leisure and moneyed classes something
which every one could not get, to cater to their desire for distinction
and to give them occupation.

People lived generation after generation in the same place, carrying
on the same occupations under the same conditions. Their world was so
small that it did not seem to offer much in the way of material for a
school education; and what it did offer was primarily concerned with
earning a living. But the schools were for people who did not earn
their own livings, for people who wished to be accomplished, polished
and interesting socially, so the material was abstract, purposely
separated from the concrete and the useful. Ideals of culture and
education were and still are to a surprising extent based entirely upon
the interests and demands of an aristocratic and leisure class. Having
such an ideal of culture it was natural to the pioneers to copy the
curriculum of the schools made for this ideal, even when the purpose
of their schools was to give an equal industrial and social chance to
all. From the very beginning of the public schools in this country
the material of the curriculum reflected social conditions which
were rapidly passing away: ideals of education that a feudal society,
dependent upon its aristocracy, had developed.

The tremendous change in society which the application of science to
industry brought about, changes which caused the French Revolution and
the general revolution of 1848, effected a reconstruction of nearly
all the institutions of civilization, the death of a great many, and
the birth of many more. The need of popular education was one of the
results of the change, and with this need came the public schools.
As their form did not adapt itself to the new conditions, but simply
copied the schools already existing, the process of reconstruction to
fit the new society is still going on, and is only just beginning to
become conscious. A democratic society, dependent upon applications of
science for all its prosperity and welfare, can not hope to use with
any great success a system of education which grew up for the ruling
body in an autocratic society using only human power for its industries
and wealth. The ever-increasing dissatisfaction with the schools and
the experiments in trade and industrial training which are being
started, are protests against clinging to this outworn inheritance.
They are the first steps in the process of building a new education
which shall really give an equal chance to every one, because it will
base itself on the world in which the children live.

There are three things about the old-fashioned school which must
be changed if schools are to reflect modern society: first, the
subject-matter, second, the way the teacher handles it, and third,
the way the pupils handle it. The subject-matter will not be altered
as to name. Reading, writing, arithmetic and geography will always be
needed, but their substance will be greatly altered and added to. In
the first place modern society realizes that the care and growth of the
body are just as important as the development of the mind; more so,
for the latter is dependent upon the former, so schools will become
places for children to learn to live physically as well as mentally.
Again we need to know how to read and write nowadays so that we may be
able to do the simplest daily actions, take the right street-car, avoid
dangerous places, and keep in touch with people and events we can not
see, and, in fact, do almost everything connected with our occupations.
But the schools are still teaching reading and writing as if they were
ends in themselves, simply luxuries to be acquired by pupils for their
private edification. The same thing is true of geography; pupils learn
boundaries, populations and rivers as if their object was to store up
facts that everybody may not know. But in a society where railroads
and steamboats, newspapers and telegraph, have made the whole world
neighbors, and where no community is self-supporting, the desirability
of really knowing about these neighbors is obvious. In other words our
world has been so tremendously enlarged and complicated, our horizons
so widened and our sympathies so stimulated, by the changes in our
surroundings and habits brought about by machinery, that a school
curriculum which does not show this same growth can be only very
partially successful. The subject-matter of the schoolroom must be
enlarged to take in the new elements and needs of society. This can be
done without overburdening the pupils by effecting the second and third
necessary changes.

The complication and multiplication due to machinery and the increase
in the mere number of facts that are known about things through
scientific discoveries, make the task of mastering even one subject
almost impossible. When we consider all the facts connected with
teaching the geography of our own country, the climatic and geological
facts, the racial facts, the industrial and political facts, and the
social and scientific facts, we begin to realize the hopelessness of
teaching with lists of facts. Geography embraces nearly the entire
range of human knowledge and endeavor. The same thing is true to a
lesser extent of all the subjects in the curriculum. The great number
of facts at our disposal in any one branch makes a mere classification
of the principal ones seem like a makeshift. So teachers, instead
of having their classes read and then recite facts from textbooks,
must change their methods. Facts present themselves to every one in
countless numbers, and it is not their naming that is useful, but the
ability to understand them and see their relation and application to
each other. So the function of the teacher must change from that of a
cicerone and dictator to that of a watcher and helper. As teachers come
to watch their individual pupils with a view to allowing each one the
fullest development of his thinking and reasoning powers, and to use
the tables of reading, writing, and arithmetic as means of training the
child’s abilities to judge and act, the rôle of the child necessarily
changes too. It becomes active instead of passive, the child becomes
the questioner and experimenter.

It is the rare mind that can get relations or draw conclusions from
simply hearing facts. Most people must see and handle things before
they can tell how these things will behave and what their meaning is.
The teacher then becomes the one who sees that the pupils get proper
material, and that they use it in ways that are true; that is, in ways
that represent relations and conditions that actually exist outside the
classroom. This is simply another way of saying that in a society where
every one is supposed to take care of himself, and is supposed to have
liberty of person and action, up to the point of harming others, it is
pretty important that every one should be able to conduct himself, that
is, to act so that he can take care of himself successfully. For its
own sake society can not afford to train up its children in a way that
blunts and dulls the quickness and accuracy of judgment of the baby
before it begins school. If it does this it is increasing the number
of incompetents who will be a drag on the whole of society. Dogmatic
methods which prescribe and make for docility and passivity not only
become ineffective in modern society but they actually hinder the
development of the largest possibilities of society.

All the educational reformers following Rousseau have looked to
education as the best means of regenerating society. They have been
fighting against the feudal and pioneer notion that the reason for a
good education was to enable your children and mine to get ahead of
the rest of the community, to give individuals another weapon to use
in making society contribute more to their purse and pleasure. They
have believed that the real reason for developing the best possible
education was to prevent just this, by developing methods which would
give a harmonious development of all the powers. This can be done by
socializing education, by making schools a real part of active life,
not by allowing them to go their own way, shunting off all outside
influences, and isolating themselves. Froebel, Pestalozzi, and their
followers tried to effect just this linking up with society which would
result in the development of a social spirit in every one. But they
did not have the means for making their schools embryo communities.
The demand for popular education was still so small that the community
was not willing to recognize the schools as an integral part, and the
idea that children were anything but miniature grown-ups, was still
so new that successful methods of handling groups of children had
not been developed. The rôle of the community in making the schools
vital is just as important as the rôle of the school itself. For in a
community where schools are looked upon as isolated institutions, as
a necessary convention, the school will remain largely so in spite of
the most skillful methods of teaching. But a community that demands
something visible from its schools, that recognizes the part they
play in the welfare of the whole just as it recognizes its police and
fire departments, that uses the energies and interest of its youthful
citizens, not simply controlling their time until they are prepared to
be turned out as citizens--such a community will have social schools,
and whatever its resources, it will have schools that develop community
spirit and interests.

A great deal has been written lately about the public school system
at Gary, Ind., with special reference to the novel features of school
administration that are being worked out there, or else with emphasis
on the opportunities for industrial training. But the biggest idea
there is the one behind these new features. It is the social and
community idea. Mr. Wirt, the superintendent of schools, has had an
opportunity to make the schools of the steel town almost from the
very beginning of the town, and he has wanted to do it right. He
did not visit the most famous schools all over the country or send
for the best school architect; instead he stayed right at home, and
forgetting what had or had not been done in other places, he tried
to make the best possible schools for Gary. The question he tried to
answer was this: What did the Gary children need to make them good
citizens and happy and prosperous human beings, and how could the
money available for educational purposes supply all these needs? The
industrial features of his schools will be taken up later, but it may
be well to point out in passing that they were not instituted to turn
out good workers for the steel company, nor to save the factories the
expense of training their own workers, but for the educational value
of the work they involved. In the same way it would be a mistake to
consider the Gary schools simply as an attempt to take the unpromising
immigrant child and turn him into a self-supporting immigrant, or as an
attempt to meet the demand of an industrial class for a certain sort of

[Illustration: The pupil stays in the same building from day nursery
through high school. (Gary, Ind.)]

Mr. Wirt found himself the superintendent of schools in an American
town, responsible for thousands of children coming from all sorts of
surroundings. It was his problem to take care of them for a number
of years in such a way that at the end of the time each child would
be able to find his own job and do it successfully, whether this was
feeding a machine or managing a business, whether it was taking care
of a family or working in an office, or teaching school. His problem
is not to give the special information each one may need for the
details of his work, but to keep the natural interests and enthusiasms
of childhood, to enable each pupil to gain control of his mind and
body, and to insure his being able to do the rest for himself. To be
successful as a human being and an American citizen, is the goal that
the public schools of the country have set for their pupils: earning
a living forms part of this ideal, and follows as a matter of course
if the larger training is successful. There are many factors to be
considered in deciding on the best ways of reaching this goal: such as
the individual peculiarities of every child that goes to school; the
people that will teach; the neighborhood in which the child lives; and
the larger community which pays for the schools. Mr. Wirt’s plan takes
advantage to their full value of the contributions each one has to make
to the whole scheme. Each factor is a contributory asset; without it
the others could not perform their work; therefore it means a weak spot
in the result if anything is overlooked.

A tremendous waste in the organization of the ordinary public school
appears at the first glance to a critic who is seeking to spend the
school taxes with the greatest possible benefit to the children and
to the taxpayers. The entire school equipment of building, yard, and
supplies stands empty for half of every school day, besides summer
vacation and Saturdays. The buildings are expensive and for the greater
part of the time are not in use at all. This is an extravagance in
itself, but when we consider the way the average child who goes to
public school in town or city spends the hours when he is not in
school, and the very incomplete education he gets during the school
hours, we begin to realize just how serious this extravagance is. Mr.
Wirt decided to keep the schools open all day in Gary, so that the
children would not be forced to spend the greater part of their time
playing in the alleys and on crowded street corners, exposed to all the
dangers to health and morals that such places offer for the loiterer.
Still the buildings would be closed for many hours a day and for many
weeks, and he decided that the people who built the buildings--the
taxpayers--ought to have a chance to use them for public purposes
during this time, so the Gary schools have evening school, Saturday
classes, and summer sessions. This makes the up-keep of the buildings
much more expensive than having them open for a few months only,
therefore some way of running the plant more economically must be

Children can not sit still all day at their desks as they do for five
hours in most schools; therefore other things must be provided for them
to do if they are to keep well and busy during eight hours of school.
The Gary buildings obtain this necessary economy by using a building
for twice as many pupils as the ordinary building is supposed to be
able to take care of. There are two schools in every house, one from
eight to three and the other from nine to four, and each takes its turn
at the regular classrooms during alternate hours, the remaining half of
the day being spent in the various occupations that make Gary unique.
In this way enough money is saved to equip shops and pay extra teachers
for the subjects that supplement the regular curriculum, and to pay
for the extra sessions. Thus with taxes of ordinary size the people
of Gary get schools that utilize the children’s time, and give them
greatly increased facilities for learning, besides offering the adults
of the community opportunities for special courses in evening school.
At present in Gary the number of adults using the school buildings
is greater than the number of children, though of course the number
of hours they attend school is much shorter. By having two duplicate
schools in every building one half the usual cost per classroom is
saved, and enough money to supply healthy activities for the children
for eight hours a day and to keep the schools open evenings, holidays
and Sundays for adults is obtained.

Each building is equipped with a gymnasium, swimming pool, and
playground, and has physical directors that are in attendance for the
entire eight hours. Physical training is as much a part of the regular
school work as anything else, and besides the work that is part of
every pupil’s program there are two hours a day when the playground
is open for the children to use as they please. Instead of going to
the streets to play, the children stay in the school and use the play
opportunities it offers. For the most part the physical training takes
the form of supervised play and apparatus work. Experimentation has
shown here as in so many other places that the pupils are not really
interested in the formal group exercises, and that they go through
with them under compulsion and so lose most of the benefit. So for
the gymnastic drill, swimming pool, tennis courts, and apparatus are
largely substituted. The directors see that the individual gets the
special exercise that he needs so that the work does not lose its
orderliness or effectiveness, and besides getting physical development
suited to his needs, every child has a healthy and pleasant place to
play or otherwise spend his time outdoors.

The Gary pupil is expected to gain physically during the school year
just as he is expected to keep up with his grade in his other work.
Each child is examined by a doctor, and the pupils who are not strong
enough for the strain of the classroom work are not sent home to do
nothing until they are stronger, but are kept in school and given a
program suited to their strength, their classroom time is cut down
to a minimum, and they spend most of the day on the playground or in
the gymnasium, doing the sort of things the doctor says they need to
get strong. The physical growth of the pupils is just as important as
the mental, and by devoting the same care to it that is given to the
child’s progress through the grades, the schools go a long way towards
making themselves a small community which gives every opportunity for
a normal and natural life.

The schools are open eight hours a day, but the grade teachers teach
for only six hours, while the physical directors are on duty for the
whole time. Four hours of each school’s time is given to the regular
classroom work or laboratories, and one hour for the auditorium and one
hour for “application” or play. Then there are the other two hours when
the children may use the play facilities if they wish, and they all do
use them. By rotating the classes the number of teachers does not have
to be increased, and the pupils get the benefit of teachers especially
trained for the subject they are teaching. By dividing each school into
groups of pupils the classes are smaller than in most public schools.
For the first two hours in the morning--from 8:15 to 10:15--one school
has the use of the classrooms, studios, shops and laboratories, one
group in a recitation room for the first hour and in the shops for
the second, the second group beginning with the shop work. The other
school uses the playground for the first hour and attendance is not
compulsory, for the second hour one group goes to the auditorium and
the other remains on the playground for systematic gymnastics or has
an “application” period. Then at 10:15 the first school goes to the
auditorium and playgrounds for its work and the second school takes
possession of the class and shop rooms for two hours. Grades one to
five have two hours daily in regular classrooms for formal instruction
in language, history, literature, and mathematics. Grades six to twelve
have three hours daily for this formal instruction. The additional hour
is taken from the play and application periods. Grades one to five
have one hour of laboratory work in science or shop work in industrial
training, thirty minutes for music or literature, and thirty minutes
for physical training. Grades six to twelve have the entire two hours
for shop work in industrial training, laboratory work in science, or
music and drawing.

By this scheme of alternation of classes and schools twice the number
of children that are usually cared for in one building are taken
care of in smaller classes by teachers who are specialists in their
subjects. For besides the industrial teachers, there are teachers for
French, German, history, mathematics, literature, music, art, nature
study, and the sciences. This additional efficiency is paid for by the
saving on buildings effected by the two school systems. Each grade room
is used by at least four different classes, so each child does not
have a desk where he keeps his things and belongings, but has a locker
for his books and changes his classroom at the end of the hour. No one
teacher is responsible for one set of pupils, but for her own work, and
in the same way the pupils are responsible for themselves. Obviously
such a scheme as this requires a real spirit of coöperation among the
pupils and teachers, and also good business management.

Mr. Wirt believes that lack of just this has been one of the reasons
why the public schools have lost so many of the opportunities that Gary
is using. Running a big institution successfully from the business end
is a large order in itself, and Mr. Wirt feels that school principals
and supervisors have been too greatly handicapped in being expected to
do this business while carrying out an educational program. He believes
that the school principal or superintendent should be a business
manager, an administrative officer simply for the building or for the
city. The educational policy of the schools, the program, and methods
should be looked out for by experts who are free from the details of
administration. These supervising educators should not be appointed for
districts but for subjects, and should move their offices from time
to time from one school to another, so that they may really keep in
touch with all the work in their subject, and so that no one school
will be overstrong in one subject. These supervisors should act as the
educational principals of the schools where they have their offices
for the time, and the whole body of supervisors arrange the curricula
for all the schools. Gary has too few schools as yet to enable the
completion of such a plan, but the present organization shows the same
broad-mindedness and desire to get the coöperation and value of all the
work of all the teachers through the system, from the newest assistant
to the superintendent himself.

In discipline, in social life, and in the curriculum the Gary schools
are doing everything possible, in coöperation with church and home,
to use to the best educational purpose every resource of money,
organization and neighborhood influence. The school is a small
community in its discipline, and a democratic one. The work is so well
arranged that the children want to go to school; there is no need to
drag them with truant officers or overawe them by a show of stern
authority. Once in the school building they feel at home and take the
same interest and responsibility in the work that they take in their
own homes. Each child knows what all the other children and classes
are doing, for all the children are constantly meeting in the locker
rooms or as they pass through the halls for their change of classroom
at the end of every hour. The auditorium and the system of visiting
classes, and the repairing and manufacturing of school equipment by
the students, are strong factors in creating the spirit that prevails
among the scholars. There is a student council in each school elected
by the students to attend to the interests of the student body and
to the order of the building. There are health campaigns carried on
by the school doctors coöperating through the school printing press
with the English classes and the auditorium periods. The children take
such a keen interest in these, and work so hard that there is a larger
percent of contagious diseases among the children under school age than
among those in school, in spite of the greater chances for contagion
among the latter. Instead of simply enforcing the health laws, the
school authorities tell the children what the laws are, why they were
made and how they can help to keep down contagion and all sorts of
sickness; in chemistry and cooking the pupils are taught enough about
germs and physiology so that they understand what contagion and dirt
mean. The result is that the children themselves take every precaution
to prevent sickness, and when a classmate is sick they see to it that
quarantine is enforced and that the school doctor is notified.

The schools have carried on a pure milk campaign in the same way; the
pupils brought samples of milk from home and tested it, and then saw
that their parents did something about it if impurities were found. An
anti-fly campaign goes on all the time and meets with a real response
from the children. In the matter of health the schools not only do
their share as a part of the whole community, they do more than this,
acting as assistants to the board of health and getting rid of the
prejudice and fear of city doctors which is so common in our foreign
communities, and which makes it so hard to keep down disease and take
care of school children. Once the coöperation and understanding of the
children is gained by the city doctors, it is not hard to have their
adenoids or eyes attended to. The children know why these things need
to be done even if their parents do not, and they see to it that the
parents are kept from interfering and that they help.

Another difficult problem for the public schools in an industrial
community with a foreign population is to keep the children in school
after the legal age at which they may leave. The Gary schools go
about this just as they attack the question of public health, not by
making more rules or trying compulsion, but by getting the children
themselves to help, by making the schools so obviously useful for
each individual that he wants to stay. There are no “High Schools” in
Gary! A pupil goes to school in one building from the day he enters
kindergarten until he is ready for college or until he goes into
business or the factory. There is no graduation with a celebration
and a diploma at the end of the eighth grade. When a pupil begins the
ninth grade his program deviates from the plan of previous years, but
otherwise there is nothing done to make the child think he has gone
as far as he needs, that from now on he will simply be getting frills
and luxuries. The teachers do not change. The same history, language
and literature teachers conduct all the grades; and in the shops the
pupils get a chance to learn some one thing thoroughly. The pupils
do not look forward to the last four years of school with dread of a
hard and useless grind, they look at it as a continuation of their
school life, getting harder from year to year as their own ability
increases. And especially they regard this period as an opportunity
to get training whose immediate value they can see. The arguments of
the school to persuade the pupils to stay in school are practical,
telling arguments, things the children can see. The school press prints
from time to time bulletins explaining to the pupils and their parents
the opportunities that the Gary schools offer in the way of general
education and of special training. These bulletins give statistics
and information about the opportunities in the different fields of
work; they show the boys and girls in figures the relative positions
and salaries of high-school graduates and those who leave school at
fourteen--as they appear one, two, or ten years after leaving school.
Business men come to the schools and tell the students what the chances
for graduates and non-graduates are in their business and why they want
better educated employees. Statistics of Gary pupils are kept and shown
to the pupils. The usual break between the eighth grade and high school
does not exist, and, therefore, parents do not think it necessary to
take their children out of school. They find that the sacrifices they
have made to keep the children in can be kept up for a few years more.
If children are going to learn a trade better by staying in school
than by leaving, and if children are keen to continue in school with
definite plans for the future, even the most poverty-stricken parent
is unwilling to thwart the advantage of his children. It is well known
that in big cities where the proportion of pupils who leave school at
fourteen is overwhelming, and where the usual reason given is that the
parents need the financial help of the children, the real reason for
defection is the indifference of the pupils themselves to school. The
almost invariable answer given by the child to the question, “Why did
you leave school?” is, “Because I did not like it.” This fact taken
with the poverty at home is enough to make them leave school at the
first chance. Give the child work that he recognizes as interesting and
valuable and a chance to play, and his hatred of school will speedily
be forgotten.

The inflexibility of the ordinary public school tends to push the
pupils out of school instead of keeping them in. The curriculum does
not fit them, and there is no way of making it fit without upsetting
the entire organization of the school. One failure sets a pupil back
in all his work, and he soon gets the feeling that his own efforts
are not important, because the school machinery works on at the same
rate, regardless of any individual pupil or study. Indifference or
dislike is almost surely the result of feeling that work is making no
impression, that the machine for which he is working is not after all
affected or dependent upon his work. In Gary organization has been
made to fit each individual child, and is flexible enough so that even
the most difficult pupil can not upset its working. The child and the
school get along together. We have explained in an earlier paragraph
how the two-school system works so that an individual can spend more
or less time on any one subject, or can drop it altogether. The child
who is weak physically spends much of his time on the playground, while
the child who is weak in arithmetic or geography can take these lessons
with both schools or even with a grade below, and hundreds of children
in the same building can make the same sort of change in their program
without disturbing the orderly conduct of the school routine. A pupil
who is stronger in one subject than in the rest of his work, can take
that subject with a higher grade. The pupil who is losing interest in
school and falling behind in most of his studies, or who is beginning
to talk of leaving, is not punished for this lack of interest by being
put still further back. His teachers find out in what he is good and
give him plenty of time to work at it, and to get ahead in it so
that his interest in his work is stimulated. If he later wakes up to
an interest in the regular school program, so much the better. Every
facility is given him to catch up with his grade in all the work. If
this awakening does not come, the boy or girl has still been kept in
school until he or she learned some one thing, probably the one most
suited to the pupil’s ability, instead of leaving or failing entirely
by being held back in everything until even the one strong faculty died
and the pupil was without either training or the moral stimulus of

[Illustration: Special teachers for special subjects from the very
beginning. (Gary, Ind.)]

The school program is reorganized every two months and the pupil may
change his entire program at any one of these times, instead of having
to struggle along for half a year with work that is too hard or too
easy or not properly apportioned. For administrative convenience the
schools still keep the grade classifications, but pupils are classified
not according to the grade number, but as “rapid,” “average,” and
“slow” workers. Rapid pupils finish the twelve years of school at about
sixteen years of age, average workers at eighteen, and slow workers
at twenty. This classification does not describe the quality of work
done. The slow worker may be a more thorough scholar than the rapid
worker. The classification is used not to distinguish between the
abilities of scholars, but to take advantage of the natural growth of
the child by letting his work keep abreast with it. The rapid child
moves as quickly as possible from grade to grade instead of being held
back until his work has no stimulus for him, and the slow worker is not
pushed into work before he is ready for it. Does this flexible system
work successfully or does it result in easy-going, slap-dash methods?
We have only to visit the schools and see the pupils hard at work, each
one responsible for his own movements through the day, to be convinced
that the children are happy and interested; while from the point of
view of the teacher and educator, the answer is even more positively
favorable, when we consult the school records. Fifty-seven per cent.
of all the school children in Gary who are thirteen years old are in
the seventh grade or above it. This is a better showing than most
industrial communities can make, and means that the majority of all the
Gary school children go through school at about the same rate as the
average pupil who is preparing for college. Even more remarkable than
this are the figures regarding the pupils who have gone on to higher
schools or colleges after leaving the Gary schools. One-third of all
the pupils that have left the Gary schools during the eight years of
their existence are now in the state university, in an engineering
school, or a business college. When we remember that the population
of Gary is made up principally of laborers in the steel mills, and is
sixty per cent. foreign born, and compare with this the usual school
history of the second generation in this country, we realize how
successful Mr. Wirt has been in making a system which meets the needs
of the pupils, a system that appeals to the community as so good that
they want to go on and get more education than mere necessity requires.

The motive back of these changes from the routine curriculum is always
a social one. Mr. Wirt believes that if the social end of the school
is properly emphasized the pedagogical will take care of itself. The
public schools must study the needs and qualities of its pupils,
the needs of the community and the opportunities that the community
contributes to the schools’ welfare. We have seen how the physical life
of the child and the health of the community are used in the school
curriculum, so as to make the curriculum more interesting, and for
the good of the community as well. This same close connection is kept
up between the school work and other community interests and matters
of daily life. Every advantage is taken of the social instincts of
children in the teaching. Instead of isolating each grade and cutting
off the younger children from the older, the two are thrown together
as much as possible. The younger grades use the laboratories and shops
which would be an unwarranted extravagance if the high-school pupils
were not in the same buildings and using them also for technical
training. They use them not only for beginning lessons in science or
manual training, but they go into them when the older classes are
working there to act as helpers or as an audience for the higher
grades. Fourth and fifth grade pupils thus assist seventh, eighth, and
ninth grade students in shops, studios, and laboratories.

The older children learn responsibility and coöperation from having to
look out for the little people, and the latter learn an astonishing
amount about the subject from waiting on, watching, and asking
questions of the older pupils. Both grades find out what is going on
in the school and get thereby a large feeling of fellowship, while
the interest of the lower one grows and finds reasons for staying
in school. The work of the older children is used, wherever it is
feasible, in teaching the lower grades. Maps and charts made in drawing
are used for less advanced pupils in nature study or geography; the
printing shop makes the spelling lists and problem sheets for the whole
school; the doctor in his health campaigns calls in the art and English
workers to make posters and pamphlets. The halls of the schools are
hung with notices of what is going on in the school, with especially
good and interesting drawings or maps, with information about what is
being made in the different shops, or about anything that the whole
school ought to see or know.

Another strong element in making public opinion is the auditorium,
where every pupil in the school spends one hour each day, sometimes
for choral singing, sometimes to hear an older grade tell about an
interesting experiment in physics, to find out from a cooking class
about cheap and nutritious bills of fare, or to hear the doctor
tell how the school can improve the health conditions in its home
neighborhoods. The auditorium period is for the use of the general
community as well. Ministers, politicians, any one in the city who is
doing anything interesting, may come in and tell the children about it.
The school invites all social agencies in the neighborhood to come in
in this way.

The hour for “application” contributes to the same end. The children
go to the nearest public library to read or to look up references for
their class work, or simply for a lesson on the use of library books;
or they may go to the neighboring Y. M. C. A. building to use the
gymnasium or to listen to a lecture; or they may go to any church or
club that offers religious instruction desired by the parents. The
school is a social clearing house for the neighborhood. The application
period is also used to supplement the regular classroom studies by
means of practical work in the shops or on the playground. Thus an
arithmetic class may get a lesson in applied mathematics by laying out
the foundation for a house on the playground, or by spending an hour
in the school store, a room fitted up like a grocery store, where the
children get practice in mental and oral arithmetic and in English by
playing “store.” The application period may also be spent in doing work
for the school building. Thus an older pupil, studying stenography
and typewriting or bookkeeping, might go to the school office and
do an hour of real work, helping one of the clerks. The boys in the
fifth grade put in this time in tending the school storeroom. They
take entire charge of the school supplies, check up all the material
sent in by the board and distributing it through the building to the
teachers and janitors. The records of the pupils in the different
shops are kept by other pupils in their application time. One paid
bookkeeper has general charge of an office, where the pupils come with
printed slips filled out by the shop teacher, giving them credit for
so much time at a certain rate of skill; the pupil clerks give the
pupils credit on their record for this work and keep all the records.
Pupils also run a post office for the building, and the writer saw a
sixth grade boy delivering salary checks and collecting receipts for
them through the building. Children who do this kind of work are not
only learning arithmetic and bookkeeping, they are learning as well
responsibility and reliability. They get an appreciation of what their
school means, and are made wide-awake to its welfare; they learn that
they are the real school, identical with its interests.

The school lunch room is conducted by the cooking department. When the
Emerson School was first built it was equipped with the regulation
cooking school desks, individual gas burners, tables and lockers.
All this has since been turned into a serving table where student
waiters serve the food they have cooked--real lunches to their fellow
students, who pay a student cashier. The younger girls get their
cooking lessons by going to the older girls’ cooking lessons as helpers
and watchers. The girls do all the menu planning and buying for the
lunch room and keep the accounts. They have to pay expenses and serve
menus that come up to the standard set by the chemistry department,
where they have analyzed food and made tables of comparative values.
The result is steaming hot food, nourishing and well cooked, sold very
cheaply. The daily menu is posted with the price of each article and
its food value, and the walls of the lunch room are hung with posters
and charts showing the relative values of foodstuffs, sample menus for
cheap and nourishing meals, and the extravagance of poor food. These
have all been made by the cooking school students and are the result of
actual experimentation.

Gary schools do not teach civics out of a textbook. Pupils learn civics
by helping to take care of their own school building, by making the
rules for their own conduct in the halls and on the playgrounds, by
going into the public library, and by listening to the stories of
what Gary is doing as told by the people who are doing it. They learn
by a mock campaign, with parties, primaries, booths and ballots
for the election of their own student council. Pupils who have made
the furniture and the cement walks with their own hands, and who
know how much it cost, are slow to destroy walks or furniture, nor
are they going to be very easily fooled as to the value they get in
service and improvements when they themselves become taxpayers. The
health campaigns, the application work which takes them to the social
agencies, of the city, the auditorium periods when they learn more
about their city, all give civics lessons that make their own appeal.
The children can see the things with their own eyes; they are learning
citizenship by being good citizens.

The value of this practical civics is doubly great because of the
large number of children with foreign parents, who know nothing about
the government or organization of the city in which they are living,
and who, because they do not understand what they see about them,
cannot know its possibilities and limitations. The parents learn
nothing of the laws until they break them, of public health until
they endanger it, nor of social resources until they want something.
They are naturally suspicious of government and social authority in
consequence, and it is very important that their children should have
some real knowledge on which to base a sounder judgment. Besides giving
them this, the schools try to teach American standards of living to
the pupils and so to their parents. On entering school every pupil
gives the school office, besides the usual name, age, and address,
certain information about his family, its size, its resources, and the
character of the home he lives in. This record is kept in the school
and transferred if the child moves out of the school district. Every
grade teacher takes a certain number of squares in the school district,
and they make plans of this area. The children make a large scale map,
with streets, walks, lamp posts and mail boxes, locating every house,
barn, or shed and every empty lot. This is altered as changes are made.
Every child brings measurements of the rooms in his home and draws a
floor plan of his house. These plans are kept with the teacher’s map of
her district, so that she has a complete map of the neighborhood and
home of every child living in it. By comparing these with any family
record, it is a simple matter to tell if the family are living under
proper moral and hygienic conditions.

The teacher has a district small enough to know it thoroughly,
and as far as possible she gets acquainted with all the children
living in it. If bad conditions are due to ignorance or poverty, the
teacher finds out what can be done to remedy them, and sees to it
that the family learn how they can better themselves. If conditions
are very bad, neighborhood public opinion is worked up through the
other children on the block. From time to time an auditorium period
is devoted to showing these maps and pointing out the good and bad
features of blocks and neighborhoods. Children always carry the
news home to their parents, and as rents and accommodations are
freely discussed, these reports are often acted upon. The parents
are encouraged to come to the school and ask for information, and on
more than one occasion some newly arrived family has moved from an
overcrowded rear shack to a comfortable flat with the same rent because
through the children they found out that their bad quarters were
unnecessary. Because the school does this work to help, and as part of
its regular program, it is accepted by the children and their parents
as a matter of course. Information about improvements, sanitation, the
size and comfort of the houses, and the rents, is given to the parents.
If a block is poor a good block near by where conditions are better
and the rents the same, is shown them. Thus the schools not only teach
the theory of good citizenship and social conditions, they give the
children actual facts and conditions, so that they can see what is
wrong and how it can be bettered.

Gary schools use the community as much as possible as a contributor to
the educational facilities, and in so doing they give good return in
immediate results, besides the larger return in alert and intelligent
citizens. Conditions in Gary are not ideal. The schools have no larger
sums to spend than any city of its size, the teachers might be found
in any other town, and the pupils come for the most part from homes
that offer their children no training, while the parents are trying
to adjust themselves to entirely new surroundings. But these schools
have done much by showing a good business management, by spending
the taxpayers’ money in an economical way so as to give the younger
generation the largest possible facilities for spending their time
profitably. The results of the system as seen in the school buildings
and playgrounds, the alert and happy students, and the statistics of
their progress through school as well as their careers afterwards,
are doubly inspiring just because they have been accomplished with the
resources available in any public school.



Schools all over the country are finding that the most direct way of
vitalizing their work is through closer relations with local interests
and occupations. That period of American school history which was
devoted to building up uniformity of subject-matter, method, and
administration, was obliged to neglect everything characteristic of
the local environment, for attention to that meant deviation from
uniformity. Things remote in time and space, and things of an abstract
nature, are most readily reduced to uniformity and doled out in doses
to children in a mass. Unfortunately the consequences were too often
that in aiming to hit all children by exactly the same educational
ammunition, none of them were really deeply touched. Efforts to bring
the work into vital connection with pupils’ experiences necessarily
began to vary school materials to meet the special needs and definite
features of local life.

This closer contact with immediate neighborhood conditions not only
enriches school work and strengthens motive force in the pupils,
but it increases the service rendered to the community. No school
can make use of the activities of the neighborhood for purposes of
instruction without this use influencing, in turn, the people of the
neighborhood. Pupils, for example, who learn civics by making local
surveys and working for local improvements, are certain to influence
the life of the locality, while lessons in civics learned from the
purely general statements of a text-book are much less likely to have
either applicability or application. In turn, the community perceives
the local efficiency of the schools. It realizes that the service
rendered to welfare is not remote, to appear when the pupils become
adults, but a part of the regular, daily course of education. The
statement that the schools exist for a democratic purpose, for the good
of citizenship, becomes an obvious fact and not a formula. A community
which perceives what a strong factor its school is in civic activities,
is quick to give support and assistance in return, either by extending
the use of its own facilities (as happens in Gary) or by the direct
assistance of labor, money, or material when these are needed.

The supervising principal of public school No. 26 in Indianapolis
is trying an experiment unlike any other known to us in an effort to
make his plant a true school; that is, a place where the children
of his neighborhood shall become healthy, happy, and competent both
economically and socially, and where the connection of instruction
with the life of the community shall be directly recognized both by
children and parents. Mr. Valentine’s school is located in the poor,
crowded colored district of the city and has only colored pupils. It
is not an attempt to solve the “race question” nor yet an experiment
suited only to colored people. There is nothing in the school not
entirely practical in any district where the children come from
homes with limited resources and meager surroundings. A visitor when
leaving this school can not fail to wish that such ventures might
be started in all our great cities,--indeed in any community where
people need to be aroused to a sense of their needs, including the
fact that if they are to contribute to the best interests of the
community, they must be taught how to earn a living, and how to use
their resources for themselves and their neighbors both in leisure
time and in working hours. Mr. Valentine’s school is a school for
colored children only in the sense that the work has been arranged
in relation to the conditions in the neighborhood; these modify the
needs of the particular children who are the pupils. Yet the success
of the experiment would mean a real step forward in solving the “race
question” and peculiar problems of any immigrant district as well.
Mr. Valentine is not interested in illustrating any theories on these
points, but in making up for gaps in the home life of the pupils;
giving them opportunities to prepare for a better future; in supplying
plenty of healthy occupation and recreation; and in seeing to it that
their school work reacts at once to improve neighborhood conditions.

Mr. Valentine’s school is really a social settlement for the
neighborhood, but it has a decided advantage over the average
settlement, for it comes in contact with all the children living within
its district for a number of hours each day, while most settlements
reach the children for only a few scattered hours each week. The school
has a larger influence than most settlements because it is a public
institution for which the people who use it are paying their share;
they feel that their relation to it is a business one, not a matter of
philanthropy. Because of this businesslike relation the school is able
really to teach the doctrines of social welfare. In any settlement
the work is always handicapped by the fact that the people who make
use of it feel that they are receiving something for which they do not
pay, that something is being done for them by people who are better off
financially than they are. But giving a community facilities that it
lacks for special classes and recreation through the public school of
the district put the work on a different basis. The school is really
the property of the people of the district; they feel that they are
more or less responsible for what is done there. Any wider activities
that a school may undertake are to a certain extent the work of the
people themselves; they are simply making use of the school plant for
their own needs.

The neighborhood around Mr. Valentine’s school is one of the poorest
in Indianapolis, and once had a bad reputation for lawlessness and
disorder as well. The school had struggled along for years with little
or no support from the community as a whole or from individual parents.
The per cent. of truancy was high, and a large number of cases were
sent to the juvenile court each year. The children took no interest
in their work as a whole, and cases of extreme disorder were not
infrequent; one pupil tried to revenge himself on his teacher for
a merited punishment with a butcher’s knife, in another case it was
necessary to arrest a boy’s father as a lesson to the neighborhood.
Besides this attitude of hostility and of unwilling attendance, the
school had to contend with immoral surroundings which finally made
it necessary to do something to isolate the school building from
neighboring houses. Finally the school board bought the tract of land
and wooden tenements around the school building. It was at first
proposed to tear down the old buildings, but the authorities were
persuaded to turn them over to the school for its use. The school now
found itself the possessor of a large playground and of three frame
tenements in the worst possible condition, the board having stipulated
that this added property should mean no further expense to the city
after its purchase and the cleaning up of the grounds. It was decided
to use the buildings for social and industrial purposes. One of them
was fitted up by the pupils and neighbors interested as a manual
training building. In this there is a carpenter shop, a sewing room,
and a room for the class in shoemaking. Each grade devotes a regular
number of hours a week to hand work, and has an opportunity to join
other industrial classes after school. The immediate practical appeal
of the work is never lost sight of, and the work is arranged to fit the
needs of the individual pupil.

The carpenter shop is open all day, and there are classes for the girls
as well as for the boys. Pupils are at liberty to go into the shop
and work whenever they have any free time. The work is not confined
to exercises to train the child in the use of tools, but each pupil
makes something that he needs or wants, something that will be of real
use to him. Processes and control of tools are taught the pupil by
means of the piece of work he is doing. This is the keynote to all the
industrial work done in the school. The more remote end of teaching the
child processes which will be useful to him later is not lost sight
of, but material is always used which has some immediate value to the
child or to the school. The boys have learned carpentry work by making
things that were needed in the school building--tables, cupboards,
and bookcases--and by doing some of the repairing on the building.
The girls have learned to sew by making clothes for themselves, for
their brothers and sisters, and by making curtains and linen for the
school. They have learned to cook by making soup for hot lunches for
the school and the neighbors, and by cooking a whole meal for their
own class. Besides the cooking and sewing department for the girls,
there is a class in millinery and in crocheting. These two classes are
conducted from the commercial point of view, to teach the girls to do
something that will enable them to earn some money. In the millinery
class the pupils start by making and trimming hats for themselves, so
that they learn the different processes in the trade. The girls in the
class who show the most skill are then allowed to take orders from
friends and neighbors and trim or make hats for them. Besides the cost
of the material the buyer pays a very small sum for the work, and this
goes into the school treasury. The millinery class has done quite a
business in the neighborhood, and turned out some very successful hats.
Crocheting is taught as a trade, and any girl who wishes to make some
money has an opportunity to learn how to make lace, table doilies, and
all sorts of crocheted articles, like hoods, etc., which will sell. As
the girls are learning, they are working on something which they can
use for themselves or in their homes.

The work for the boys is arranged in the same way. Besides the
carpenter work and the repairing there is a boys’ cooking class, a
shoe-repairing department, and a tailoring shop. The cooking class
is even more popular with the boys than with the girls. In the
shoe-repairing shop, which holds classes after school hours, the boys
learn to mend their own shoes. A professional cobbler is the teacher,
and the mending must be neatly done. The boys begin work on their own
old shoes and as they progress in skill, are allowed to bring shoes
from home to be repaired, or to mend for the girls and for the younger
boys in the school, who, however, pay a small sum for the work. The
tailoring department is run on the same plan, to teach habits of
personal neatness and of industry through giving the pupils work that
results in neatness and gives some manual skill and control of tools.
The class is taught by a tailor, and the boys learn to patch and mend
their own clothes, as well as to sponge and press them. Attendance is
entirely voluntary, and the class meets after the regular school work
is over. Knowing how to keep themselves tidy has resulted in a very
marked improvement in the appearance and habits of the boys in the
class, and has had an influence not only on the whole school, but on
the neighborhood as well. The boys no longer resent the attempts of
the teachers to influence them towards cleanliness and neatness, for
they have become conscious of the advantages of these habits.

The cooking and domestic science classes are taught in one of the
tenements turned over to the school without having been repaired,
although the cooking equipment was supplied by the city. All the other
work on the building--cleaning, painting, repairing, furnishing, and
decorating--was done and paid for by the pupils of the school with
help from the neighborhood clubs that use the building. There is a
large cooking room, a demonstration dining and sitting room, and two
bedrooms. The girls not only learn to cook real meals, but they learn
how to serve them, and then how to take care of the demonstration
house. The domestic science classes include lessons in buying, the
comparative costs and values of food, something of food chemistry and
values, and large quantity cooking. This work is done in connection
with the soup kitchen. A group of girls have charge of the kitchen
long enough to really learn about the work. They plan the menu and
do the buying, cooking and serving of the soup, selling it for three
cents a bowl to the pupils of the school and to neighbors. They keep
all the accounts and not only have to make all their expenses, but
are expected to make some profit for the use of the school as well.
They have made enough profit in one year to furnish most of the
demonstration house. Aside from teaching how to do housework thoroughly
and easily, the purpose of the house is to furnish an example of what
can be done to make one of the regular frame tenements of the district
comfortable and attractive, without more expense than most of the
people now put into their homes. The house is very simply furnished,
with cheap and strong things, in plain colors that are easily kept
clean; the painting and papering was done by the pupils. The sewing
class has made all the curtains and linen for the house, and made
furniture by covering boxes, etc. Besides the class work that goes on
in the building, the rooms are also used as a social center for the
girls of the school.

The third building left standing on the ground purchased by the school
authorities has been turned into a boys’ club house. There is a
gymnasium, two club rooms, and a shower bath room. This house was in
exceedingly bad condition when it became part of the school property,
and there was no money and not much lumber available to repair it. But
the boys of the school wanted the club house, and were not discouraged
because it was not given to them all finished. They started out, as
they had done in the manual training and domestic science buildings,
to do the work themselves. Under the direction of the manual training
teacher, they pulled off old paper and broken plaster, tore up uneven
floors and took out partitions. Then they laid floors, put in woodwork
and painted it, rehung doors, mended windows, and made furniture and
gymnastic apparatus. When there was a job they could not do, such
as the plastering and plumbing, they went among their friends and
asked for money or help in work. Plumbers and plasterers who lived
near the school came in and gave their time and work to help the boys
get their building in order, and other friends gave enough money to
finish the work. Men in the neighborhood dug a long ditch through the
school grounds for sewerage connections. Gradually they are adding to
the gymnasium apparatus and to the simple bathing facilities, while
cleaning and keeping up the painting continue to supply opportunities
for useful work.

As already indicated, the reflex effect upon homes in the vicinity
has been marked. The school board had intended to wreck the three
tenement houses when they bought the land; but Mr. Valentine saw the
opportunity to give the community something which they needed, and at
the same time to arouse a spirit of coöperation and interest among
both parents and pupils in place of the old spirit of distrust and
antagonism, when he persuaded the board to turn the buildings over to
the school. He told the pupils what could be done with them and asked
for their help in doing it. He got a hearty response at once, and so
went out into the district with the children and told their parents
what he proposed to do and asked for help. He got the same generous
response for the first building, the manual training shops, as for the
boys’ club. Besides the time and material which the skilled workers
of the community have contributed, the community has given $350 in
cash, no small sum for people as poor as they are. The value of the
work being done in these buildings and of the training the boys have
had in making them over, is proved by the fact that the community and
the boys themselves wanted the work badly enough to pay for getting
it in money and work. While it has undoubtedly been a struggle for
the school and the district to contribute so much, the benefit to the
school and to the community has been greater just because of these
sacrifices and struggles. The work has made over the relations between
the school and the pupils. The children like to go to school now, where
before they had to be forced to go with threats of the truant officer,
and their behavior is better when they get to school. The children’s
parents have changed their attitude in the same way. They not only see
that the children go to school, but they want them to go because they
appreciate that the school is giving them things they need to make them
self-supporting; but they also see that they have their own share to do
if the work is to be successful. The school has been the cause of the
growth of community spirit in increased civic and social activities of
the district. With improved attendance and discipline, the number of
cases sent to the juvenile court has decreased one-half in proportion
to the number of pupils in school. Meanwhile the educational value of
the work done has undoubtedly been greater than that of work done in
disconnected shops and kitchens.

[Illustration: (1) The boys like cooking more than the girls do.]

[Illustration: (2) Mending their own shoes, to learn cobbling.

(Public School 26, Indianapolis.)]

The school is also carrying on definite work to arouse the pupils to
a sense of responsibility for their community and neighbors. Giving
the pupils as much liberty and responsibility as possible around
the school buildings is an important factor. Each pupil in the higher
grades is given some small child in one of the lower grades to look
out for. On the playground they see to it that the charge has a
fair chance to play, and that he behaves himself; they see that the
little boy or girl comes to school clean and tidy, if necessary doing
the washing or mending themselves. This work has proved especially
successful in doing away with bullying and in arousing personal pride
and a sense of responsibility in the older children; the younger ones
are better looked after than before and have many opportunities to
learn things from the older and more advanced pupils. The older pupils
are also encouraged in every way to help in carrying on the outside
activities of the school. They make calls and write notes to keep
up the attendance at the night school; they see to the order of the
principal’s office and keep the boys’ club house in order. All the
teachers of the school are agreed upon a policy of frank discussion of
the poverty of the district, and of urging the pupils to earn money to
help their parents by becoming as nearly self-supporting as possible.
Each grade keeps track of what its members earn and how they earn it,
and the grade with the largest sum to its credit feels that it has
accomplished something worth while during the year.

There is a savings bank in the school to teach the children habits
of thrift and economy; here a pupil may deposit any sum from a penny
up. The pupil receives a bank book in which stamps are pasted for his
deposits, the money being kept in a city savings bank. The school also
has a branch library, and the pupils are taught how to use it. Part of
the playground has been made into a school garden, and here every pupil
in the higher grades has a garden plot, also instruction which enables
him to grow successfully some of the commoner fruits and flowers. This
work is made very practical; the children have the sort of garden that
would be useful and ornamental if it were in their own back yard. The
school carries on a neighborhood campaign for home gardens, and the
pupils with school gardens do much of this work, telling the people
who want gardens what to plant, and giving them practical help with
their plot until it is well established. In all these ways the teachers
are trying to make ambitious, responsible citizens out of the student
body. Inside the school pupils are taught higher standards of living
than prevail in their homes, and they are taught as well trades and
processes which will at least give them a start towards prosperity,
and then, too, they are aroused to a feeling of responsibility for the
welfare of the whole community.

All these things are done as part of the regular work of the school,
and to a large extent during regular school hours. But there are many
other activities which, while not contributing so directly to the
education of the children, are important for the general welfare of
the whole community. There is a night school for the adults of the
neighborhood who want to go on learning, the shops being used as well
as the schoolrooms. A group of people especially interested in the
school have formed a club to promote the interest of the night school,
and to see that the men of the community understand the opportunities
it offers for them to perfect themselves in a trade or in their
knowledge and use of English. This club is made up of men who live near
the school and who are sufficiently alive to the needs of the school
and the community to work very hard to let all the district know what
the school is already doing for its welfare and what it can do as the
people come to demand more and more from it. Besides keeping up the
attendance at the night school, the club has done much for the general
welfare of the school, like helping raise money for remodeling the
buildings and giving an expensive phonograph to the school. The success
of the school as a social center and the need for such a center are
realized when we remember that this club is made up of men who live in
the district, whose children are using the school, and who are perhaps
themselves going to the night school.

There is also a vacation school during the summer time for the children
of the neighborhood, with some classroom work and a great deal of
time spent on the playground and in the workshops. The school has an
active alumni association which uses the school building for social
purposes and keeps track of the pupils that leave. A parents’ club
has been started as an aid in gaining the coöperation of the pupils’
parents in the work of the school and as a means of finding out the
real needs of the neighborhood. The parents are brought in even closer
contact with the school through the series of teas given by the grades
for their parents during the year. Each grade serves tea once a year
in the domestic science house for the mothers of its pupils. The
children do the work for the teas as part of their domestic science
work, and write the invitations in their English class. The teachers
use these teas as an opportunity for visiting the children’s homes and
getting acquainted with their mothers. The teacher who knows the home
conditions of each child is much better able to adjust the work to the
child, being aware of his weak and strong points. To poverty-stricken,
overworked mothers these social gatherings come as a real event.

The pupils of the school are given social as well as educational
opportunities through their school life. The boys’ club house is opened
nearly every night to local boys’ clubs, some of them being school
organizations and some independent ones. There are rooms for the boys
to hold meetings and to play games, and a well-equipped gymnasium. The
teachers of the school take turns supervising these evening gatherings.
The attendance is large for the size of the building. Giving the
boys a place for wholesome activities has done much to break up the
habits of street loafing and the gangs which were so common in the
district. The girls of the school use the domestic science house for
social purposes. Two chapters of the Camp Fire girls hold regular
meetings in the building and get help and advice from the teachers.
Each domestic science class aims to teach the girls how to live a
comfortable and self-respecting life, as well as how to do housework,
and so becomes a social center of its own. The girls learn to cook and
serve good cheap meals, and then they sit down together and eat what
they have cooked. They talk over their individual problems with the
teacher and with each other, and give each other much practical help.
The domestic science teacher helps the girls who have some skill find
work to do after school hours so that they can help their families by
helping themselves; she helps the pupils find steady work as they leave
school and then keeps track of them, encouraging them to go on fitting
themselves for better work.

The success of the settlement work the school has done points strongly
to the fact that the schoolhouse is the natural and logical social
center in a neighborhood, the teachers coming into closer and more
natural contact with both children and parents than is possible in the
case of other district workers.

There are large economies combining the school and the settlement in
districts where the social and economic standards of living are so
low that the people are not especially successful citizens. Both the
school and settlement facilities are enlarged by using the same group
of buildings for both purposes. The settlement has the use of better
and larger shops and classrooms than most settlements can command, and
the school uses the social rooms and activities to become itself a
community. The school comes in contact with almost all the families in
a district so that community action is much easier to establish. But
even more important than these economies are the far-reaching results
which come from the fact that the school settlement is a democratic
community, really reflecting the conditions of the community.

In using the school plant for any activities, whether simply for the
usual eight classes or to supply the community with all sorts of
opportunities, as the Gary schools are doing and as Mr. Valentine’s
school is doing, the people of the community feel that they are using
for their own ends public facilities which have been paid for by their
taxes. They want to see real, tangible results in the way of more
prosperous and efficient families and better civic conditions, coming
from the increased plant in the district school. Because the schools
are public institutions in fact as well as in name, people know whether
the schools are really meeting their needs and they are willing
to work to see that they do. The school settlement reaps all the
advantages of working for definite ends and of having the businesslike
cooperation of the community as a body. In spite of the fact that the
work of Mr. Valentine’s school has been hampered by lack of funds, and
that some of the special things done are suited to one particular local
population, the changes which have taken place in the neighborhood in
the relation between the school and the parents, and in the spirit of
the pupils in their school attitude, show what a public school may
mean to its neighborhood when it ceases to be an isolated academic

The Gary schools and Mr. Valentine’s school have effected an entire
reorganization in order to meet the particular needs of the children of
the community, physically, intellectually, and socially. Both schools
are looking towards a larger social ideal; towards a community where
the citizens will be prosperous and independent, where there will be
no poverty-ridden population unable to produce good citizens. While
changes in social conditions must take place before this can happen,
these schools believe that such an education as they provide is one
of the natural ways and perhaps the surest way of helping along the
changes. Teaching people from the time they are children to think
clearly and to take care of themselves is one of the best safeguards
against exploitation.

A great many schools are doing some of the same sort of work, using the
activities of the community as a means of enriching the curriculum,
and using the school plant for a neighborhood center. The civic clubs
of the Chicago public schools, which have already been described, are
aiming at the same thing: the better equipment of pupils for their
life in the community with the hope of improving the community itself.
The Cottage School at Riverside, Illinois, where pupils all come from
well-to-do American families, has found a similar club valuable for the
pupils and of real use to the town. The school organized by the pupils
into a civic league has made itself responsible for the conditions of
the streets in certain portions of the town, and is not only cleaning
up but trying to get the rest of the town interested in the problem.
Mock elections and “self-governments” based upon political organization
are examples of attempts of education to meet the need for training
in good citizenship. Using the school plant as a social center is
recognition of the need for social change and of the community’s
responsibility to help effect it.

The attempt to make this enlarged use of the school plant is not
so much in order to train young people so that they can assume the
burden of improvement for themselves as to give the neighborhood some
immediate opportunities which it lacks for recreation, intercourse
and improvement. The school plant is the natural and convenient place
for such undertakings. Every community has the right to expect and
demand that schools supported at public expense for public ends shall
serve community uses as widely as possible. As attempts in socializing
education have met with such success and such enthusiasm among the
children that their value as educational tools is established, so
giving the people of the community a real share in activities centered
in school buildings and employing school equipment, is one of the
surest ways of giving them a more intelligent public spirit and a
greater interest in the right education of the youth of the land.



The chief effort of all educational reforms is to bring about a
readjustment of existing scholastic institutions and methods so that
they shall respond to changes in general social and intellectual
conditions. The school, like other human institutions, acquires
inertia and tends to go on doing things that have once got started,
irrespective of present demands. There are many topics and methods
in existing education which date back to social conditions which are
passing away. They are perpetuated because of tradition and custom.
Especially is it true of our institutions of learning that their
controlling ideals and ideas were fixed when industrial methods
differed radically from those of the present. They grew up when the
place of industry in life was much less important than it is now when
practically all political and social affairs are bound up with economic
questions. They were formed when there was no positive connection
between science and the operations of production and distribution
of goods; while at the present, manufacturing, railways, electric
transportation, and all the agencies of daily life, represent just so
much applied science. Economic changes have brought about a closer
interdependence among men and strengthened the ideal of mutual service.
These political, intellectual, and moral changes make questions
connected with industrial education the most important problem of
present-day public education in America.

The fact that the Greek word from which our word “school” is derived
meant _leisure_ suggests the nature of the change which has taken
place. It is true at _all_ times that education means relief from the
pressure of having to make a living. The young have to be supported
more or less by others while they are being instructed. They must
be saved from the impact of the struggle for material existence.
Opposition to child labor goes hand in hand with the effort to extend
the facilities of public schools to all the wards of the nation. There
must be free time for schooling, and pupils must not come to their
studies physically worn out. Moreover, the use of imagination, thought
and emotion in education demands minds which are free from harassing
questions of self-support. There must be an atmosphere of leisure if
there is to be a truly liberal or free education.

Such things are as true now as when schools were named after the idea
of leisure. But there was once assumed a permanent division between a
leisure class and a laboring class. Education, beyond at least the mere
rudiments, was intended only for the former. Its subject-matter and its
methods were designed for those who were sufficiently well off so that
they did not have to work for a living. The stigma attached to working
with the hands was especially strong. In aristocratic and feudal
countries such work was done by slaves or serfs, and the sense of
social inferiority attached to these classes naturally led to contempt
for the pursuits in which they were engaged. Training for them was a
servile sort of education, while _liberal_ education was an education
for a free man, and a free man was a member of the upper classes, one
who did not have to engage in labor for his own support or that of
others. The antagonism to industry which was generated extended itself
to all activities requiring use of the hands. A “gentleman” would not
use his hands or train them to skill, save for sport or war. To employ
the hands was to do useful work for others, while to render personal
service to others was a badge of a dependent social and political

Strange as it may seem, the very notions of knowledge and of mind were
influenced by this aristocratic order of society. The less the body in
general, and the hands and the senses in particular, were employed,
the higher the grade of intellectual activity. True thought resulting
in true knowledge was to be carried on wholly within the mind without
the body taking any part at all. Hence studies which could be carried
on with a minimum of physical action were alone the studies belonging
to a liberal education. First in order came such things as philosophy,
theology, mathematics, logic, etc., which were purely mental. Next
in rank came literature and language, with grammar, rhetoric, etc.
The pursuit of even what we call the fine arts was relegated to a
lower grade, because success in painting, sculpture, architecture,
etc., required technical and manual training. Music alone was exempt
from condemnation, partly because vocal music did not require the
training of the hands, and partly because music was used for devotional
purposes. Otherwise education should train men to appreciate art, not
to produce it.

These ideas and ideals persisted in educational theory and practice
long after the political and industrial conditions which generated
them had begun to give way. Practically all the conceptions associated
with culture and cultural education were created when the immense
superiority of a leisure class over all working classes was a matter
of course. Refinement, polish, esthetic taste, knowledge of classic
literatures, acquaintance with foreign languages and with branches of
sciences which could be studied by purely “mental” means, and which
were not put to practical uses, were the marks of culture, just as
they were the marks of leisure time and superior wealth. The learned
professions--divinity, law, and, to a less extent, medicine--were
admitted upon suffrance to the sphere of higher education, for the
manual element in the service rendered to others was not so great as
in industrial pursuits. But professional education was looked upon
with disparagement in contrast with a liberal education just because
its aim was rendering service to others. And for a long time medicine
in particular occupied a mediocre and dubious position just because it
required personal attention to the bodily needs of others.

Opposition to the introduction into higher education of the natural
sciences was due not only to the conservative dread of change on
the part of established institutions, but also to the fact that
these sciences emphasized the use of the senses (which are physical
organs), of physical apparatus, and of manual skill required in its
manipulation. Even the representatives of mathematical science joined
those of literary studies in assuming that the natural sciences must
be less cultural than sciences like geometry, algebra, and calculus,
which could be pursued in a more purely mental way. Even when the
progress of social changes forced more and more useful studies into the
curriculum, the idea of a graded rank in the cultural value of studies
persisted. Occupations like banking and commerce involved less manual
activity and less direct personal service to others than housekeeping,
manufacturing, and farming, consequently the studies which prepared for
them were at least more “genteel” than studies having to do with the
latter. Even at the present time many people associate mental activity
with physical acquiescence.

The first breach in this order of ideas occurred in elementary
education. Along with the spread of democratic ideas which took place
in the eighteenth century, there developed the idea that education was
a need and right of the masses as well as a privilege of the upper
classes. In reading Rousseau and Pestalozzi, an American student, who
is used to the democratic idea of universal education, is not likely
to notice that their conception of the educational development of all
as a social necessity is even more revolutionary than the particular
methods which they urged. But such was the case. Even so enlightened a
liberal as John Locke wrote his educational essay with reference to the
education of a gentleman, and assumed that the training of the laboring
classes should be of a radically different kind. The idea that all the
powers of all members of society are capable of development and that
society owed it to itself and to its constituent members to see that
the latter received this development, was the first great intellectual
token of the democratic revolution which was occurring. It is
noteworthy that Rousseau was Swiss by birth, that democratic political
ideas were rife in France when he wrote, and that Pestalozzi was not
only Swiss by birth but did his work in that republican country.

While the development of public elementary schools for the masses
inevitably puts emphasis upon the usefulness of studies as a reason
for education, the growth of the public curriculum and methods
was profoundly affected by the surviving ideals of leisure class
education. Elementary education, just because it was an education for
the masses, was regarded as a kind of necessary political and economic
concession rather than as a serious educative enterprise. A strict line
was drawn between it, with its useful studies, and the higher education
of the few conducted for genuinely cultural purposes. Reading, writing,
arithmetic, the three R’s, were to be taught because of their utility.
They were needed to make individuals capable of self-support, of
“getting on” better, and so capable of rendering better economic
service under changed commercial conditions. It was assumed that
the greater number of pupils would leave school as soon as they had
mastered the practical use of these tools.

No better evidence could be found that primary education is still
regarded with respect to the larger number of pupils, as a practical
social necessity, not as an intrinsic educative measure, than the
fact that the greater number of pupils leave school about the fifth
grade--that is, when they have acquired rudimentary skill in reading,
writing and figuring. The opposition of influential members of the
community to the introduction of any studies, save perhaps geography
and history, beyond the three R’s, the tendency to regard other things
as “frills and fads,” is evidence of the way in which purely elementary
schooling is regarded. A fuller and wider culture in literature,
science and the arts may be allowed in the case of those better off,
but the masses are not to be educatively developed so much as trained
in the use of tools needed to make them effective workers. Elementary
instruction to a larger extent than we usually admit, is a substitute,
under the changed circumstances of production and distribution of
goods, for the older apprenticeship system. The latter was never
treated as educational in a fundamental sense; the former is only
partially conducted as a thoroughly educational enterprise.

In part the older ideals of a predominantly literary and “intellectual”
education invaded and captured the new elementary schools. For the
smaller number of pupils who might go on to a higher and cultural
education, the three R’s were the tools of learning, the only really
indispensable tools of acquiring knowledge. They are all of them
concerned with language, that is, with _symbols_ of facts and ideas,
a fact which throws a flood of light upon the prevailing ideas of
learning and knowledge. Knowledge consists of the ready-made material
which others have found out, and mastery of language is the means of
access to this fund. To learn is to appropriate something from this
ready-made store, not to find out something for one’s self. Educational
reformers may go on attacking pouring-in methods of teaching and
passive reception methods of learning; but as long as these ideas of
the nature of knowledge are current, they make little headway. The
separation of the activity of the mind from the activity of the senses
in direct observation and from the activity of the hand in construction
and manipulation, makes the material of studies academic and remote,
and compels the passive acquisition of information imparted by textbook
and teacher.

In the United States there was for a long time a natural division of
labor between the book-learning of the schools and the more direct and
vital learning of out-of-school life. It is impossible to exaggerate
the amount of mental and moral training secured by our forefathers
in the course of the ordinary pursuits of life. They were engaged in
subduing a new country. Industry was at a premium, and instead of
being of a routine nature, pioneer conditions required initiative,
ingenuity, and pluck. For the most part men were working for
themselves; or, if for others, with a prospect of soon becoming masters
of their own affairs. While the citizens of old-world monarchies had
no responsibility for the conduct of government, our forefathers were
engaged in the experiment of conducting their own government. They had
the incentive of a participation in the conduct of civic and public
affairs which came directly home to them. Production had not yet been
concentrated in factories in congested centers, but was distributed
through villages. Markets were local rather than remote. Manufacturing
was still literally _hand-making_, with the use of local water-power;
it was not carried on by big machines to which the employed “hands”
were mechanical adjuncts. The occupations of daily life engaged the
imagination and enforced knowledge of natural materials and processes.

Children as they grew up either engaged in or were in intimate contact
with spinning, weaving, bleaching, dyeing, and the making of clothes;
with lumbering, and leather, saw-mills, and carpentry; with working
of metals and making of candles. They not only saw the grain planted
and reaped, but were familiar with the village grist-mill and the
preparation of flour and of foodstuffs for cattle. These things were
close to them, the processes were all open to inspection. They knew
where things came from and how they were made or where they went to,
and they knew these things by personal observation. They had the
discipline that came from sharing in useful activities.

While there was too much taxing toil, there was also stimulus to
imagination and training of independent judgment along with the
personal knowledge of materials and processes. Under such conditions,
the schools could hardly have done better than devote themselves to
books, and to teaching a command of the use of books, especially since,
in most communities, books, while a rarity and a luxury, were the sole
means of access to the great world beyond the village surroundings.

But conditions changed and school materials and methods did not change
to keep pace. Population shifted to urban centers. Production became
a mass affair, carried on in big factories, instead of a household
affair. Growth of steam and electric transportation brought about
production for distant markets, even for a world market. Industry was
no longer a local or neighborhood concern. Manufacturing was split up
into a very great variety of separate processes through the economies
incident upon extreme division of labor. Even the working-men in a
particular line of industry rarely have any chance to become acquainted
with the entire course of production, while outsiders see practically
nothing but either the raw material on one hand or the finished product
on the other. Machines depend in their action upon complicated facts
and principles of nature which are not recognized by the worker unless
he has had special intellectual training. The machine worker, unlike
the older hand worker, is following blindly the intelligence of others
instead of his own knowledge of materials, tools, and processes. With
the passing of pioneer conditions passed also the days when almost
every individual looked forward to being at some time in control of a
business of his own. Great masses of men have no other expectation than
to be permanently hired for pay to work for others. Inequalities of
wealth have multiplied, so that demand for the labor of children has
become a pressing menace to the serious education of great numbers. On
the other hand, children in wealthy families have lost the moral and
practical discipline that once came from sharing in the round of home
duties. For a large number there is little alternative, especially in
larger cities, between irksome child labor and demoralizing child
idleness. Inquiries conducted by competent authorities show that in the
great centers of population opportunities for play are so inadequate
that free time is not even spent in wholesome recreations by a majority
of children.

These statements do not begin, of course, to cover the contrasts
between present social conditions and those to which our earlier school
facilities were adapted. They suggest, however, some of the obvious
changes with which education must reckon if it is to maintain a vital
connection with contemporary social life, so as to give the kind of
instruction needed to make efficient and self-respecting members of
the community. The sketch would be even more incomplete, however, if
it failed to note that along with these changes there has been an
immense cheapening of printed material and an immense increase in the
facilities for its distribution. Libraries abound, books are many
and cheap, magazines and newspapers are everywhere. Consequently the
schools do not any longer bear the peculiar relation to books and book
knowledge which they once did. While out of school conditions have
lost many of the educative features they once possessed, they have
gained immensely in the provision they make for reading matter and for
stimulating interest in reading. It is no longer necessary or desirable
that the schools should devote themselves so exclusively to this phase
of instruction. But it is more necessary than it used to be that the
schools shall develop such interest in the pupils as will induce them
to read material that is intellectually worth while.

While merely learning the use of language symbols and of acquiring
habits of reading is less important than it used to be, the question
of the use to which the power and habits shall be put is much more
important. To learn to use reading matter means that schools shall
arouse in pupils problems and interests that lead students both in
school and after they leave school to seek that subject-matter of
history, science, biography, and literature which is inherently
valuable, and not to waste themselves upon the trash which is so
abundantly provided. It is absolutely impossible to secure this result
when schools devote themselves to the formal sides of language instead
of to developing deep and vital interest in subject-matter. Educational
theorists and school authorities who attempt to remedy the deplorable
reading habits with which many youth leave school by means of a greater
amount of direct attention to language studies and literatures,
are engaged in a futile task. Enlargement of intellectual horizon,
and awakening to the multitude of interesting problems presented by
contemporary conditions, are the surest guarantees for good use of time
with books and magazines. When books are made an end in themselves,
only a small and highly specialized class will devote themselves to
really serviceable books. When there is a lively sense of the interest
of social affairs, all who possess the sense will turn as naturally to
the books which foster that interest as to the other things of which
they feel a need.

These are some of the reasons for saying that the general problem
of readjustment of education to meet present conditions is most
acute at the angle of industry. The various details may be summed
up in three general moral principles. First, never before was it as
important as it is now that each individual should be capable of
self-respecting, self-supporting, _intelligent_ work--that each should
make a living for himself and those dependent upon his efforts, and
should make it with an intelligent recognition of what he is doing
and an intelligent interest in doing his work well. Secondly, never
before did the work of one individual affect the welfare of others
on such a wide scale as at present. Modern conditions of production
and exchange of commodities have made the whole world one to a degree
never approximated before. A war to-day may close banks and paralyze
trade in places thousands of miles away from the scene of action. This
is only a coarse and sensational manifestation of an interdependence
which is quietly and persistently operating in the activity of every
farmer, manufacturer, laborer, and merchant, in every part of the
civilized globe. Consequently there is a demand which never existed
before that all the items of school instruction shall be seen and
appreciated in their bearing upon the network of social activities
which bind people together. When men lived in small groups which had
little to do with each other, the harm done by an education which
pursued exclusively intellectual and theoretic aims was comparatively
slight. Knowledge might be isolated because men were isolated. But
to-day the accumulation of information, just as information, apart
from its social bearings, is worse than futile. Acquisition of modes
of skill apart from realization of the social uses to which they may
be put is fairly criminal. In the third place, industrial methods and
processes depend to-day upon knowledge of facts and laws of natural
and social science in a much greater degree than ever before. Our
railways and steamboats, traction cars, telegraphs, and telephones,
factories and farms, even our ordinary household appliances, depend for
their existence upon intricate mathematical, physical, chemical, and
biological insight. They depend for their best ultimate use upon an
understanding of the facts and relationships of social life. Unless the
mass of workers are to be blind cogs and pinions in the apparatus they
employ, they must have some understanding of the physical and social
facts behind and ahead of the material and appliances with which they
are dealing.

Thus put, the problem may seem to be so vast and complicated as to be
impossible of solution. But we must remember that we are dealing with
a problem of readjustment, not of original creation. It will take a
long time to complete the readjustment which will be brought about
gradually. The main thing now is to get started, and to start in the
right direction. Hence the great importance of the various experimental
steps which have already been taken. And we must also remember that the
essential thing to be brought about through the change is not amassing
more information, but the formation of certain attitudes and interests,
ways of looking at things and dealing with them. If accomplishment
of the educational readjustment meant that pupils must become aware
of the whole scope of scientific and social material involved in the
occupations of daily life, the problem would be absolutely impossible
of solution. But in reality accomplishing the reform means _less_
attention than under present conditions to mere bulk of knowledge.

What is wanted is that pupils shall form the habit of connecting the
limited information they acquire with the activities of life, and
gain ability to connect a limited sphere of human activity with the
scientific principles upon which its successful conduct depends. The
attitudes and interests thus formed will then take care of themselves.
If we take arithmetic or geography themselves as subjects isolated
from social activities and uses, then the aim of instruction must be
to cover the whole ground. Any failure to do so will mark a defect
in learning. But not so if what we, as educators, are concerned with
is that pupils shall realize the connection of what they learn about
number, or about the earth’s surface, with vital social activities.
The question ceases to be a matter simply of quantity and becomes
one of motive and purpose. The problem is not the impossible one of
acquainting the pupil with all the social uses to which knowledge of
number is put, but of teaching him in such a way that each step which
he takes in advance in his knowledge of number shall be connected with
some situation of human need and activity, so that he shall see the
bearing and application of what is learnt. Any child who enters upon
the study of number already has experiences which involve number. Let
his instruction in arithmetic link itself to these everyday social
activities in which he already shares, and, as far as it goes, the
problem of socializing instruction is solved.

The industrial phase of the situation comes in, of course, in the fact
that these social experiences have their industrial aspect. This does
not mean that his number work shall be crassly utilitarian, or that all
the problems shall be in terms of money and pecuniary gain or loss. On
the contrary, it means that the pecuniary side shall be relegated to
its proportionate place, and emphasis put upon the place occupied by
knowledge of weight, form, size, measure, numerical quantity, as well
as money, in the carrying on of the activities of life. The purpose
of the readjustment of education to existing social conditions is
not to substitute the acquiring of money or of bread and butter for
the acquiring of information as an educational aim. It is to supply
men and women who as they go forth, from school shall be intelligent
in the pursuit of the activities in which they engage. That a part
of that intelligence will, however, have to do with the place which
bread and butter actually occupy in the lives of people to-day, is a
necessity. Those who fail to recognize this fact are still imbued,
consciously or unconsciously, with the intellectual prejudices of an
aristocratic state. But the primary and fundamental problem is not to
prepare individuals to work at particular callings, but to be vitally
and sincerely interested in the calling upon which they must enter
if they are not to be social parasites, and to be informed as to the
social and scientific bearings of that calling. The aim is not to
prepare bread-winners. But since men and women are normally engaged in
bread-winning vocations, they need to be intelligent in the conduct of
households, the care of children, the management of farms and shops,
and in the political conduct of a democracy where industry is the prime

The problem of educational readjustment thus has to steer between the
extremes of an inherited bookish education and a narrow, so-called
practical, education. It is comparatively easy to clamor for a
retention of traditional materials and methods on the ground that
they alone are liberal and cultural. It is comparatively easy to urge
the addition of narrow vocational training for those who, so it is
assumed, are to be the drawers of water and the hewers of wood in the
existing economic régime, leaving intact the present bookish type of
education for those fortunate enough not to have to engage in manual
labor in the home, shop, or farm. But since the real question is one
of reorganization of all education to meet the changed conditions
of life--scientific, social, political--accompanying the revolution
in industry, the experiments which have been made with this wider
end in view are especially deserving of sympathetic recognition and
intelligent examination.



The experiments of some of our cities in giving their children training
which shall make them intelligent in all the activities of their life,
including the important one of earning a living, furnish excellent
examples of the best that is being done in industrial education. The
cities chosen for description are Gary, Chicago, and Cincinnati. This
book is not concerned with schools or courses which are designed simply
to give the pupils control of one specialized field of knowledge; that
is, which train people for the processes of one particular industry
or profession. It is true that most of the experiments in industrial
education tried so far in this country have taken the material offered
by the largest skilled industries of the neighborhood for their basis,
and as a result have trained pupils for one or more definite trades.
But wherever the experiment has been prompted by a sincere interest
in education and in the welfare of the community this has not been
the object of the work. The interest of the teachers is not centered
on the welfare of any one industry, but on the welfare of the young
people of the community. If the material prosperity of a community is
due almost entirely to one or two industries, obviously the welfare of
the individuals of the community is very closely connected with those
industries. Then the educational purpose of training the children
to the most intelligent use of their own capabilities and of their
environment, is most easily served by using these industries as the
material for the strictly utilitarian part of this training. The
problem of general public-school education is not to train workers for
a trade, but to make use of the whole environment of the child in order
to supply motive and meaning to the work.

In Gary this has been done more completely than in any other single
place. Superintendent Wirt believes firmly in the value of muscular
and sense training for children; and instead of arranging artificial
exercises for the purpose, he gives children the same sort of things
to do that occupy their parents and call for muscular skill and fine
coördination in the business of everyday life. Every child in Gary,
boy and girl, has before his eyes in school finely equipped workshops,
where he may, as soon as he is old enough, do his share of the actual
work of running and keeping in order the school buildings. All of the
schools except one small one where there are no high school pupils,
have a lunch room where the girls learn to cook, and a sewing room
where they learn to make their own clothes; a printing shop, and
carpenter, electrical, machine, pattern, forging, and molding shops,
where boys, and girls if they wish, can learn how most of the things
that they see about them every day are made. There are painting
departments, and a metal working room, and also bookkeeping and
stenography classes. The science laboratories help give the child some
understanding of the principles and processes at work in the world in
which he lives.

The money and space required to equip and run these shops are saved
from an ordinary sized school budget by the “two school system” that
has been described above, and by the fact that all the expense usually
charged by a school to repairs and paid out to contractors, is spent on
these shops and for the salaries of the skilled workmen who teach in
them. The buildings are kept in better repair than where all the work
is done during the summer vacation, because as soon as anything needs
to be fixed the pupils who are working in the shop that does that kind
of work get at the repairs under the direction of the teacher. These
shops can not be considered in any way an unnecessary luxury because
they are used also by the high school pupils who are specializing
for one kind of work and by the night and summer school for their
vocational classes. The school management says in regard to the success
of this plan, “When you have provided a plant where the children may
live a complete life eight hours a day in work, study, and play, it is
the simplest thing imaginable to permit the children in the workshops,
under the direction and with the help of well-trained men and women,
to assume the responsibility for the equipment and maintenance of the
school plant. An industrial and commercial school for every child is
thus provided without extra cost to the taxpayers.”

[Illustration: Learning moulding, and manufacturing school equipment.
(Gary, Ind.)]

The first three grades spend one hour a day in manual training and
drawing, which take the form of simple hand-work and are not done
in the shops, but in an especially equipped room with a trained
teacher. The pupils draw, do painting and clay modeling, sewing and
simple carpentry work. The five higher grades spend twice as much
time on manual training and drawing. The little children go into the
shops as helpers and watchers, much as they go into the science
laboratories, and they pick up almost as much theory and understanding
of processes as the older children possess. The art work and simpler
forms of hand-work are kept up for the definite training in control and
technique that comes from carrying through a problem independently.
Because the small child’s love of creating is very great, they continue
until the pupils are old enough to choose what shop they will go into
as apprentices to the teacher. Since sixth grade children are old
enough and strong enough to begin doing the actual work of repairing
and maintaining the building, in this grade they cease to be watchers
and helpers and become real workers. Distributing school supplies,
keeping the school records and taking care of the grounds are done by
the pupils under the direction of the school office or the botanical
laboratory, and constitute a course in shop work just as much as
does painting or repairing the electric lights. The school heat and
power plant is also a laboratory for the pupils, in which they learn
the principles of heating and lighting in a thoroughly practical way
because they do much of the work connected with keeping the plant

The shop and science courses of the schools last only a third of
the year, and there is a shorter probation course of five weeks. The
pupils choose with the advice of their teachers what shop course they
will take; if at the end of five weeks they do not like it they may
change. They must change twice during the year. In this way the work
can not lose its educational character and become simply a method of
making juvenile factory hands to do the school repairs. Taking three
shop courses in one school year results in giving the pupil merely a
superficial knowledge of the theory and processes of any one kind of
work. But this is as it should be, for the pupils are not taking the
courses to become carpenters, or electricians, or dressmakers, but to
find out how the work of the world is done. Moving as they do from one
thing to another they learn as much of the theory of the industry as
children of their age can understand, while an all-around muscular and
sense training is insured. To confine the growing child too long to the
same kind of muscular activity is harmful both mentally and physically;
to keep on growing he must have work which exercises his whole body,
which presents new problems, keeps teaching him new things, and thus
develops his powers of reasoning and judgment. Any manual labor
ceases to be educative the moment it becomes thoroughly familiar and

In Gary, the child of the newly arrived immigrant from the agricultural
districts of eastern Europe has as much chance to prepare for a
vocation, that is really to learn his own capabilities for the
environment in which he finds himself, as the child of the educated
American. From the time he enters the public school system, whether
day nursery, kindergarten, or first grade, he is among people who are
interested in making him see things as they are, and in teaching him
how to do things. In the nursery he has toys to play with which teach
him to control his body; and he learns unconsciously, by being well
taken care of, some of the principles of hygiene and right living. In
the kindergarten the work to train his growing body to perform useful
and accurate motions and coördination goes on. In the first three
grades, emphasis is put on teaching him to read and write and obtain
a good foundation for the theoretical knowledge which comes from
books. His physical growth is taken care of on the playground, where
he spends about two hours a day, doing things that develop his whole
body in a natural way and playing games that give him opportunity to
satisfy his desire to play. At the same time he is taking the first
steps in a training which is more specifically vocational, in that it
deals with the practical bread and butter side of life. He learns to
handle the materials which lie at the foundations of civilization in
much the same way that primitive people used them, because this way
is suited to the degree of skill and understanding he has reached. On
a little hand loom he weaves a piece of coarse cloth; with clay he
makes dishes or other objects that are familiar to him; with reeds or
raffia he makes baskets; and with pencil or paints he draws for the
pleasure of making something beautiful; with needle and thread he makes
himself a bag or apron. All these activities teach him the first steps
in the manufacture of the things which are necessary to our life as
we live it. The weaving and sewing show him how our clothing is made;
the artistic turn that is given to all this work, through modeling and
drawing, teach him that even the simplest things in life can be made
beautiful, besides furnishing a necessary method of self-expression.

In the fourth grade the pupils stop the making of isolated things, the
value of which lies entirely in the process of making, and where the
thing’s value lies solely in its interest to the child. They still have
time, however, to train whatever artistic ability they may possess,
and to develop through their music and art the esthetic side of their
nature. But the rest of their hand-work takes a further vocational
turn. The time for manual occupation is now all spent on intensive and
useful work in some one kind of work or industry. These pupils are now
less interested in games, so they spend less time playing and more
time making things. The girl goes into the dressmaking department and
learns to sew from the point of view of the worker who has to produce
her own things. She is still too young to carry through a long, hard
piece of work, so she goes for the first two years as a watcher and
helper, listening to the lessons in theory that the seventh, eighth, or
ninth grade pupils are taking, and helping them with their work. A girl
may choose dressmaking for her first course, but at the end of three
months she must change to some other department, perhaps helping cook
the lunch for the school and learning about wholesome foods and food
chemistry for the next three months. Or if she is fond of drawing, she
may devote nearly all her time for shop work to developing her talent
for that.

In the same way the boy chooses what shop he will go into for three
months. In the carpenter shop he will be old enough really to make for
himself some of the simpler things needed in the school building. If
he choose the forging or casting shop he will have a chance to help at
shoeing the horses for the use of the department of education, or to
help an older boy make the mold for the iron stand to a school desk.
In such ways he finds out something about the way iron is used for so
many of our commonest things. In the fifth and sixth grades nearly all
the boys try to get at least one course in store keeping. Here they go
into the school storerooms with the janitor; and with the school lists
at hand unpack and check up the material which comes in both from the
workshops and from outside. Then as these things are needed through the
building they take the requisitions from the office, distribute the
material, and make the proper entries on the books. They are taught
practical bookkeeping and are responsible for the smooth running of
the supply department while they are working there. As they learn
the cost of all the material as well as the method of caring for it
and distributing it, they get a good idea of the way a city spends
its taxes and of the general business methods in use in stores. Both
boys and girls may take a beginners’ course in bookkeeping and office
management. Here they go into what is called the school bank, and keep
the records of the shop work of all the pupils in the school.

Before pupils can graduate from school they must have completed a
certain number of hours of satisfactory work in the school shops. In
order to fit the needs of every individual pupil, the amount of credit
does not depend upon the mere attendance through a three months’
course, but each pupil is given credit by the shop teacher for so many
hours of work for the piece of work he has done. The rate of work
is standardized, and thus a more equal training is insured for all,
for the slow worker will get credit for only so much completed work
regardless of the time it has taken him, and the fast worker will get
credit for all he does even if he outstrips the average. A fixed number
of “standard hours” of work entitle the pupil to “one credit,” for
which the pupil receives a credit certificate. When he has eight of
these he has completed the work required by the vocational section of
the Gary schools for graduation. All the work connected with keeping
the records for these credit certificates is done by pupils under the
direction of an advanced pupil.

From the seventh grade the pupils are the responsible workers in all
the shops. A pupil who knows that he has to leave school when he has
finished the eighth grade can now begin to specialize in the workrooms
of some one department. If he wishes to become a printer he can work
on the school presses for an entire year, or he can put in all his
shop time in the bookkeeping department if he is attracted by office
work. The girls begin to take charge of the lunch room, doing all the
marketing and planning for the menus and keeping the books. Sewing work
takes in more and more of the complications of the industry. The girls
learn pattern drawing and designing, and may take a millinery course.
The work for the students in office work is now extended to include
stenography and typewriting and business methods. The art work also
broadens to take in designing and hand metal work. There is no break
between the work of the grades and the high school in the vocational
department, except that as the pupil grows older he naturally tends
to specialize toward what is to be his life work. The vocational
department is on exactly the same level as the academic, and the school
takes the wholesome attitude that the boy who intends to be a carpenter
or painter needs to stay in school just as many years as the boy who is
going to college. The result is the very high per cent. of pupils who
go on to higher schools.

The ordinary view among children of laboring people in large cities
is that only those who are going to be teachers need to continue at
school after the age of fourteen; it does not make any difference that
one is leaving to go into a factory or shop. But since the first day
the Gary child began going to school he has seen boys and girls in
their last year of high school still learning how to do the work that
is being done where, perhaps, he expects ultimately to go to work.
He knows that these pupils all have a tremendous advantage over him
in the shop, that they will earn more, get a higher grade of work to
do, and do it better. Through the theory lessons in the school shop
he has a general idea of the scope and possibilities in his chosen
trade, and what is more to the purpose, he knows how much more he has
to learn about the work. He is familiar with the statistics of workers
in that trade, knows the wages for the different degrees of skill and
how far additional training can take a man. With all this information
about, and outlook upon, his vocation it is not strange that so few,
comparatively, of the pupils leave school, or that so many of those who
have to leave come back for evening or Sunday classes.

The pupil who stays in a Gary school through the four years of high
school knows the purpose of the work he is doing, whether he is going
to college or not. If he wants to go into office work, he shapes his
course to that end, even before he gets his grammar grades diploma
perhaps. But he is not taking any short cut to mere earning capacity in
the first steps of office work. He is doing all the work necessary to
give him the widest possible outlook. His studies include, of course,
lessons in typewriting and stenography, bookkeeping and accounting,
filing, etc.; but they include as well sufficient practice in English,
grammar, and spelling so that he will be able to do his work well. They
include work in history, geography and science, so that he will find
his work interesting, and will have a background of general knowledge
which will enrich his whole life. The student preparing for college
does the work necessary for his entrance examinations, and a great deal
of manual work besides, which most high school pupils are not supposed
to have time for. It is just as valuable for the man who works with his
brain to know how to do some of the things that the factory worker is
doing, as it is for the latter to know how the patterns for the machine
he is making were drawn, and the principles that govern the power
supply in the factory. In Gary the work is vocational in all of these
senses. Before the pupil leaves school he has an opportunity to learn
the specific processes for any one of a larger number of professions.
But from the first day he went to school he has been doing work that
teaches the motives and principles of the uses to which the material
world is put by his social environment, so that whatever work he goes
into will really be a vocation, a calling in life, and not a mere
routine engaged in only for the sake of pay.

The value of the pupils’ training is greatly increased by the fact that
all the work done is productive. All the shops are manufacturing plants
for the Gary school; the business school finds a laboratory in the
school office. In dressmaking or cooking the girls are making clothes
which they need, or else cooking their own and other people’s lunches.
The science laboratories use the work of the shops for the illustration
of their theories. The chemistry is the chemistry of food; botany and
zoölogy include the care of the school grounds and animals. Drawing
includes dress designing and house decoration, or pattern drawing for
the hand metal shop. Arithmetic classes do the problems for their
carpentry class, and English classes put emphasis on the things which
the pupils say they need to know to work in the printing shop: usually
paragraphing, spelling, and punctuation. The result of this coöperation
is to make the book work better than if they put in all their time on
books. The practical world is the real world to most people; but the
world of ideas becomes intensely interesting when its connection with
the world of action is clear. Because the work is real work constant
opportunities are furnished to carry out the school policy of meeting
the needs of the individual pupil. The classification according to
fast, slow, and average workers, both in the vocational and academic
departments, has already been described. It enables the pupil to do
his work when he is ready for it, without being pushed ahead or held
back by his fellow pupils; the slow worker may learn as much as the
rapid worker, and the latter in turn does not develop shiftless habits
because he has not enough to do. But if for any reason a pupil does not
fit into any of the usual programs of classification, he is not forced
to the conclusion that the school holds no place for him. The pupil
who is physically unfit to sit at a desk and study goes to school, and
spends all his time outdoors, with a teacher to help him get strong.

In the same way the two-school system enables the child who is weak in
arithmetic to catch up without losing his standing in other subjects.
He simply takes the arithmetic lessons with two grades. In the shops
the poor pupil simply works longer on one thing, but as his progress is
not bound up with that of the class it makes no difference. The pupil
who thinks he hates school, or is too stupid to keep on going, is not
dealt with by threats and punishments. His teachers take it for granted
that there is something wrong with his program, and with his help fix
it for him.

The child who hastens to leave school without any reason as soon as
he may, is told that he may come back and spend all his time on the
thing that he likes. This often results in winning back a pupil, for
after he has worked for a few months in his favorite shop or the art
room, he finds he needs more book knowledge to keep on there and so he
asks to go back to his grade. The large number of foreign pupils is
also more efficiently dealt with. The newcomer concentrates on English
and reading and writing until he is able to go into the grade where
his age would naturally place him, and the pupil who expects to go to
school only a very short time before going to work can be put into the
classes which will give him what he needs most, regardless of his age
or grade. The work around the school buildings which can not be done
by the pupils under the direction of the shop or department heads, is
not done by outside hired help, but is given to some school pupil who
is interested in that sort of work and is ready to leave school. This
pupil holds the position for a few months only, until he has no more
to learn from his work or gets a better position outside. These pupil
assistants are paid sightly less than they could earn if they went
into an office, but the plan often serves to keep a pupil under school
influences and learning when he would otherwise have to leave school
in order to earn money, perhaps just before he finishes his technical

[Illustration: Real work in a real shop begins in the fifth grade.
(Gary, Ind.)]

Gary has fortunately been able to begin with such an all-around
system of education, putting it into operation in all her schools in
a nearly complete form, because the town was made, as it were, at a
stroke and has grown rapidly from a waste stretch of sand dunes to a
prosperous town. But many other cities are realizing more and more
strongly the necessity of linking their curriculum more closely to
the lives of their pupils, by furnishing the children with a general
training and outlook on life which will fit them for their place in
the world as adults. Recently the Chicago public schools have been
introducing vocational work in some of the school buildings, while
technical high schools give courses that are vocational, besides work
in trade-training. Of course such elaborate equipment as that in Gary
is impractical in a building where the shops are not used by the high
school as well as the grades. Twenty or more of the regular school
buildings in the city have been fitted up with carpenter shops and
cooking and sewing rooms as well as laboratories for work in science.
Each one of these schools has a garden where the pupils learn how to
do practical city gardening. From one-fourth to even a half of the
children’s time is spent on manual training instead of one-eighth as
in the other schools of the city, and in other respects the regular
curriculum is being followed. The teachers in the schools who were
there before the change of program feel convinced that the pupils not
only get through with as much book work as they did when practically
all their time was given to it, but that they actually do their work
better because of the motive furnished by the hand work.

The courses given by the schools are not uniform, but most of the
schools include courses in mechanical drawing, pattern making, metal
work, woodwork, and printing for the boys, and for the girls, work in
sewing, weaving, cooking, millinery, laundry, and general home-making.
Both boys and girls have work in designing, pottery, bookbinding,
and gardening. The program differs somewhat in different schools to
meet the needs of the neighborhood or because of the resources of
the building; but all the pupils of one school take the same work,
so that when a pupil graduates from the eighth grade in one of these
schools he has acquired a good beginner’s knowledge of the principles
and processes underlying two or three trades. This special work is
supplemented by the regular work in music and art and this, with
work in the elementary processes of sewing and weaving and pottery,
constitutes the work for the younger grades. The object of this
training is to enable the child to pick up the thread of life in his
own community, by giving him an understanding of the elements of the
occupations that supply man’s daily needs; it is not to confine him to
the industries of his neighborhood by teaching him some one skilled

The laboratories for the study of the elements of science play a most
important part in this work. In them the child learns to understand the
foundations of modern industry, and so comes to his environment as a
whole. Without this comprehensive vision no true vocational training
can be successful, for it is only as he sees the place of different
kinds of work and their relation to each other that the youth can truly
choose what his own vocation is to be. Elementary courses in physics,
chemistry, and botany are given pupils, and the bearing of the work on
what they are doing in the shops is made clear. The botany is taught
in connection with the gardening classes, chemistry for the girls is
given in the form of the elements of food chemistry. One school gives a
laboratory class in electricity, where the pupils make the industrial
application of the laws they are studying, learning how to wire when
they are learning about currents, and how to make a dynamo when they
are working on magnets, etc. All the pupils take a course in the
elements of science, so that they may get a true basis for their ideas
about the way things work. There is no doubt that even in this rather
tentative form the vocational schools have proved themselves a decided
success, enabling pupils to do their book work better than before.
Linking it with the things of everyday life gives it meaning and zest,
and at the same time furnishes a mental and muscular control over the
sort of thing they are going to need as adults while earning a living.

There are five technical high schools in Chicago, four for boys and one
for girls. In all of these and in three other schools there are given
what is known as “prevocational” courses. These are for pupils who have
reached the legal age for leaving school, but who are so backward in
their work that they ought not to be allowed to do so, while at the
same time this backwardness makes them wish not to stay. These classes
have proved again the great value of training for the practical things
of everyday life to the city child. The boys and girls who are put
into these classes are by no means deficient: they are simply children
who for one reason or another have not been able to get along in the
ordinary grade school as well as they ought; often the reason has been
poor health, or because the child has had to move from one school
to another, or simply because the usual curriculum made so little
appeal that they were not able to hold themselves to the work. The
prevocational classes include the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades,
and give the greater part of the time to training the child through
developing skill with his hands. Book work is not neglected, however,
and the pupils are held up to the same standards that they would have
to reach in an ordinary school, though they do not cover quite so much
ground. The work can be made more varied than in the vocational grammar
school because the equipment of the high school is available. Moreover,
their ambition is so stimulated that very large numbers of them do
additional work and transfer to the regular technical high school work,
where in spite of their prior backwardness they do as well as the
regular students. Ordinarily not a single one of them would ever have
entered a high school.

The girls’ technical high school does about what the vocational
grammar schools are doing excepting that the work is more thorough,
so that the graduate is more nearly prepared to take up work in some
one industry. The cooking includes work in the school lunch room, and
training in marketing, kitchen gardening and general housekeeping. The
vocational classes proper take up large-quantity cooking, household
administration, and restaurant management. In sewing the girls learn
how to make their own clothes, but they learn as the work would have
to be learned in a good dressmaking establishment; there is a course
in machine operating for the girls who wish it. More advanced work
teaches such principles of pattern making and designing as would be
needed by a shop manager. But the most important difference is found in
the emphasis that is put on the artistic side of women’s traditional
occupations. Drawing is taught while the girls are learning to design
dresses, and color in the same way; how to make the home pleasing to
the eye is made a vital problem in the housekeeping department, and the
art department has decorated the model rooms. The pattern and coloring
for any piece of work, whether it is a centerpiece to be embroidered,
a dress, a piece of pottery, or weaving, has been carefully worked out
in the art department by the worker herself before she begins upon it
in the shop. The girls are not simply learning how to do the drudgery
of housework more efficiently; they are learning how to lift it above
drudgery by making it into a profession.

The vocational courses in the boys’ technical high schools continue
the pupils’ study in the regular academic subjects, and give them work
in excellently equipped shops. There is work in printing, carpentry,
forging, metal work, mechanical drawing, and in the machine shop, well
supplemented by the art department. The pupil does not specialize in
one kind of work, but secures general training. The object of all the
vocational courses in the grammar schools is to prepare the pupils
for any branch of work that they may want to take up by giving them
an outlook over all the branches of work carried on around them. The
work is cultural in much the same way that it is cultural in Gary. The
success of these courses in bringing boys back to school, in enabling
others to catch up with their grade, and in keeping others in school,
points strongly to the fact that for a great many pupils at least some
work which will link their school course to the activities of everyday
life is necessary.

The technical high schools give two-year courses for the pupils who can
not afford to stay in school for four years. They are designed to give
a boy training for a definite vocation, and are at the same time broad
enough to count for the first two years of high school work if the boy
should be able to go on later. At the Lane School two-year courses are
given in patternmaking, machine shop work, carpentry, electricity,
printing and mechanical drawing; all of these courses include work
in English, shop arithmetic, drawing, and physiology. The four-year
pupils take one of three courses, according to what they expect to do.
The technical course prepares students for college, the architectural
course prepares for work in an architect’s office, and the general
trade course prepares for immediate entry into industry. During the
first two years of work the student devotes his time to the study of
general subjects, and during the last two the major part of his time
is put in on work that leads directly to the vocation that he has
chosen. The two-year course has not cut down the total attendance at
the school by offering a short cut to pupils who would otherwise stay
four years. On the contrary, it has drawn a different class of boys to
school, those who had expected to go directly to work, but who were
glad to make a sacrifice to stay on in school two years longer when
an opportunity appeared to put those two years to definite account in
training for the chosen occupation. All these technical high schools
have shown conclusively that boys and girls like to go to school and
like to learn, when they can see whither their lessons are leading.
Giving the young work they want to do is a more effective method of
keeping them in school than are truant officers or laws.

In the Lane School the work of the different departments is closely
connected so that the pupil sees the relations of any one kind of
work to everything he is doing. A problem being set to a group of
students, such as the making of a gasoline engine or a vacuum cleaner,
the different elements in its solution are worked out in the different
classrooms. For the vacuum cleaner, for instance, the pupils must have
reached a certain point in physics and electrical work before they are
capable of trying to make the machine, since each pupil becomes in
a sense the inventor, working out everything except the idea of the
machine. When they are familiar with the principles which govern the
cleaner they make rough sketches, which are discussed in the machine
shop and altered until the sketch holds the promise of a practical
result. In mechanical drawing, accurate drawings are made for the whole
thing and for each part, from which patterns are made in the pattern
shop. The pupils make their own molds and castings and when they have
all the parts they construct the vacuum cleaner in the machine and
electrical shops. The problem of the gasoline engine is worked out in
a like way; and since all the work that is given the pupils has been
chosen for its utility as well as its educational value, the pupil does
everything connected with its production himself, from working out the
theory in the laboratory or classroom to screwing the last bolt. The
connection of theory and practice not only makes the former concrete
and understandable, but it prevents the manual work from being routine
and narrow. When a pupil has completed a problem of this sort he has
increased knowledge and power. He has tested the facts he learned and
knows what they stand for in terms of the use the world makes of them;
and he has made a useful thing in a way which develops his own sense of
independent intelligent power.

The attempts of the Cincinnati school board to give the school children
of that city a better education, by giving them a better preparation
for the future, have been made from a somewhat different point of
view. Three-fourths of the school children of Cincinnati, as of so
many other cities, leave school when they are fourteen years old; most
of them do not go beyond the fifth grade. They do this because they
feel they must go to work in order to give help at home. Of course a
fifth-grade pupil of fourteen is fitted to do only the easiest and most
mechanical work and so receives very low pay. Once at work in factory
or shop on this routine kind of work, the chances for the worker to
advance, or to become master of any trade, or branch of his trade,
are slight. His schooling has given him only an elementary control of
the three R’s, and usually no knowledge of the theory or practice of
the business he is engaged in. He soon finds himself in a position
where he is not learning any more. It is only the very exceptional
person who will go on educating himself and push ahead to a position
of independence or responsibility under such conditions. The person
who becomes economically swamped in the cheapest grades of work is
not going to show much energy or intelligence in his life as citizen.
The experiments of the Cincinnati schools in introducing manual and
industrial training have been directed to remedying this evil by
making the school work such that the pupil will desire to stay in
school if this is in any way possible; and if it is not, by giving him
opportunities to go on with his education while working.

The Ohio law requires children to stay in school until they are
sixteen unless they must go to work, when they are given a certificate
permitting them to work for the employer with whom they have found
their first position. This permission must be renewed with each change
of position. Consequently the pupil is kept in school until he has
found work, and if for any reason he stops working, the school keeps
in touch with him and can see that he goes back to school. The city
also conducts continuation schools, where most of the pupils who leave
between the ages of fourteen and sixteen have to return to school for
a few hours a week, receiving theoretical instruction in the work they
are doing. The cash girl has lessons in business English, arithmetic
of the sort she has to use, and lessons in salesmanship, and receives
a certain amount of general instruction about her special branch of
trade. There are voluntary continuation classes for workers above
sixteen years of age, by means of which any shop or store is able to
use the facilities of the public schools to make their workers more
efficient by giving them more knowledge of the theory of the trade.

These continuation classes are undoubtedly of the greatest value to
the employee who can not go back to school, but they do not give him
that grasp of present problems and conditions which would enable
him intelligently to choose the work for which he is best suited.
They improve him in a particular calling, but the calling may have
been selected by accident. Their function is to make up to the child
somewhat for what he has lost by having to become a wage earner so
young. The coöperative plan which is being thoroughly tried out in
Cincinnati is less of a makeshift and more of a distinct contribution
to education, and has so far proved so successful as to be of great
suggestive value. More than any other vocational plan it takes
advantage of the educational value of the industries that are most
important in the community. The factory shops of the city become the
school shops for the pupils. Many of the big factories of the city
have shown themselves willing to coöperate with the city for the first
year of the experiment. This has proved so successful that many more
factories are anxious to get their beginning workers in this way. In a
sense it is a return to the old-fashioned apprenticeship method that
prevailed when manufacturing was done by hand; for the pupils get
their manual skill and the necessary practice in processes and shop
conditions by working for wages in the city factories.

When the plan is further along the factories and stores will not be
the only community institutions that will furnish laboratories for the
school children of the city. The city college will begin its plan of
having the domestic science pupils get their practice by working as
nurses, cooks, housekeepers, or bookkeepers in the city hospital, and
the engineering and architectural students will get theirs by working
in the machine shops and draught-room of the city. As far as possible
the departments of the city government will be used for the pupils’
workshops; where they can not furnish opportunities for the kind of
work the pupil needs, he will go into an office, store, or factory
where conditions reach the standard set by the board of education. So
far this plan has been tested only with the boys and girls who are
taking the technical course in the city high schools. The pupils who
have finished the first two years of work, which corresponds to the
work of any good technical high school, begin working alternate weeks
in shop and school. The pupil chooses a kind of work in which he wishes
to specialize, and is then given a position in one of the factories or
shops which are coöperating with the schools. He receives pay for his
work as any beginner would, and does the regular work of the place,
under the direction of, and responsible to, the shop superintendent.
One week he works here under trade conditions, meeting the requirements
of the place, the next week he returns to school, and his place in the
factory is taken by another pupil who has chosen the same line of
work. The week in school is devoted entirely to theoretical work. The
pupil continues his work in English, history, mathematics, drawing,
and science, and enriches his trade experience by a thorough study
of the industry, all its processes and the science they involve,
the use, history, and distribution of the goods, and the history of
the industry. This alternation between factory and shop is kept up
for the last two years of the course, and also during the pupil’s
college course, provided he goes on to a technical course in the city

From the standpoint of vocational guidance, this method has certain
distinct advantages over having the pupil remain in the classroom
until he goes into a shop permanently. His practical work in the
factory is in the nature of an experiment. If his first choice proves
a failure, the pupil does not get the moral setback that comes from a
failure to the self-supporting person. The school takes the attitude
that the pupil did not make the right choice; by coöperating with him,
the effort is made to have his second factory experience correspond
more nearly to his abilities and interest. A careful record of the
pupil’s work in the factory is kept as well as of his classroom work,
and these two records are studied, not as separate items, but as
interacting and inseparable. If his class work is good and his factory
record poor, it is evident that he is in the wrong factory; and the
nature of the class work will often give a hint of the sort of work
to which the pupil ought to change. If all the work is mediocre,
a change to another kind of practical work will often result in a
marked improvement in the theoretical work if the change has been the
right one. The pupil has an opportunity to test his own interests and
abilities, to find if his judgment of them is correct; if it is not, he
has a scientific basis on which to form a more correct judgment.

[Illustration: Children are interested in the things they need to know
about. (Gary, Ind.)]

[Illustration: Making their own clothes in sewing class. (Gary, Ind.)]

The work is not approached from the trade point of view; that is, the
schools do not aim to turn out workers who have finished a two years’
apprenticeship in a trade and are to that extent qualified as skilled
workmen for that particular thing. The aim is to give the pupil some
knowledge of the actual conditions in trade and industry so that he
will have standards from which to make a final intelligent choice. The
school work forms a necessary part of the training for this choice,
for it is just as much a guide to the interests and bent of the boy as
would be his success in any one shop. And it lifts his judgments from
the plane of mere likes and dislikes to that of knowledge based on
theory as well as practice. For the exceptional pupil who really knows
what he wants, and is eager to go ahead with it, this plan offers
distinct advantages. The boy’s desire to get to work is satisfied by
his weeks in the shop, and in his classroom he is learning enough of
the larger aspects and possibilities of the trade to make him realize
the value of additional theoretical training for the satisfaction of
his own practical purposes.

As a result of the first year of working on this plan a large number
of factories, at first indifferent to the plan, have asked to receive
apprentices in this way, and a number of pupils have decided to go to
college who, when they were spending all their time in school, had no
such intention. The technical course for girls includes only those
occupations that are traditionally supposed to belong to women because
they are connected with home-making. They may continue for the four
years working in school, which is made practical by having the pupils
trim hats to wear, make their own clothes, do some commercial cooking,
with the buying, selling, and bookkeeping connected with it; or they
may specialize during the last two years as the boys do, by working
alternate weeks in shop and school. So far girls have gone only into
millinery or sewing establishments, where they work just as do the boys
under actual trade conditions. The aim of the work for the girl, just
as it is for the boy, is to help her find her life work, to fit herself
for it mentally and morally, and to give her an intelligent attitude
toward her profession and her community, using the shop experience not
as an end in itself but a means to these larger ends.



The schools that have been described were selected not because of any
conviction that they represent all of the best work that is being
done in this country, but simply because they illustrate the general
trend of education at the present time, and because they seem fairly
representative of different types of schools. Of necessity a great
deal of material that would undoubtedly prove just as suggestive
as what has been given, has been omitted. No attempt has been made
to touch upon the important movement for the vitalization of rural
education: a movement that is just as far reaching in its scope and
wholesome in its aims as anything that is being done, since it purposes
to overcome the disadvantages of isolation that have handicapped the
country schoolteacher, and to make use of the natural environment of
the child to give him a vocational education, in the same way that the
city schools use their artificial environment. And except as their
work illustrates a larger educational principle, very little attention
has been given to the work of individual teachers or schools in their
attempt to teach the conventional curriculum in the most efficient way.
While devices and ingenious methods for getting results from pupils
often seem most suggestive and even inspiring to the teacher, they do
not fit into the plan of this book when they have to do simply with the
better use of the usual material of the traditional education.

We have been concerned with the more fundamental changes in education,
with the awakening of the schools to a realization of the fact that
their work ought to prepare children for the life they are to lead in
the world. The pupils who will pass this life in intellectual pursuits,
and who get the necessary training for the practical side of their
lives from their home environment, are such a small factor numerically
that the schools are not acting wisely to shape all the work for
them. The schools we have been discussing are all working away from a
curriculum adapted to a small and specialized class towards one which
shall be truly representive of the needs and conditions of a democratic

While these schools are all alike in that they reflect the new spirit
in education, they differ greatly in the methods that have been
developed to bring about the desired results; their surroundings
and the class of pupils dealt with are varied enough to suggest the
influence that local conditions must exercise over methods even
when the aim is identical. To the educator for whom the problems of
democracy are at all real, the vital necessity appears to be that of
making the connection between the child and his environment as complete
and intelligent as possible, both for the welfare of the child and
for the sake of the community. The way this is to be accomplished
will, of course, vary according to the conditions of the community
and to a certain extent according to the temperament and beliefs of
the educator. But great as the differences are between the different
schools, between such a plan as that worked out by Mr. Meriam in
Columbia, Missouri, and the curriculum of the Chicago public schools,
an analysis of the ideas back of the apparent extreme divergence of
views, reveals certain resemblances that seem more fundamental than
the differences. The resemblances are more fundamental because they
illustrate the direction that educational reform is taking, and because
many of them are the direct result of the changes that modern science
and psychology have brought about in our way of looking at the world.

Curiously enough most of these points of similarity are found in the
views advocated by Rousseau, though it is only very recently that they
have begun to enjoy anything more than a theoretical respect. The first
point of similarity is the importance that is accorded to the physical
welfare of the pupils. The necessity of insuring the health of all
young people as the foundation on which to build other qualities and
abilities, and the hopelessness of trying to build where the body is
weak, ill-nourished, or uncontrolled, is now so well recognized that it
has become a commonplace and needs only a passing mention here. Health
is as important from the social point of view as from the individual,
so that attention to it is doubly necessary to a successful community.

While all schools realize the importance of healthy pupils, the
possibilities of using the activities of the child that are employed
in giving him a strong healthy body, for general educational purposes,
are not so well understood. As yet it is the pioneer in education who
realizes the extent to which young children learn through the use of
their bodies, and the impossibility of insuring general intelligence
through a system which does not use the body to teach the mind and the
mind to teach the body. This is simply a restatement of Rousseau’s
proposition that the education of the young child rests largely on
whether he is allowed to “develop naturally” or not. It has already
been pointed out to what an extent Mrs. Johnson depends on the physical
growth of her pupils as a tool for developing their intellectual
ability, as well as the important part that muscular skill plays in the
educational system of Madame Montessori. This seems not only reasonable
but necessary when we think of the mere amount of movement, handling,
and feeling of things that a baby must indulge in to understand the
most familiar objects in its environment, and remember that the child
and the adult learn with the same mental machinery as the very small
child. There is no difference in the way the organism works after it is
able to talk and walk; the difference lies in the greater complexity
of activities which is made possible by the preliminary exercises.
Modern psychology has pointed out the fact that the native instincts
of a human being are his tools for learning. Instincts all express
themselves through the body; therefore education which stifles bodily
activities, stifles instincts, and so prevents the natural method of
learning. To the extent of making an educational application of this
fact, all the schools described are using the physical activities
of their pupils, and so the means of their physical development, as
instruments for training powers of judgment and right thinking. That is
to say the pupils are learning by doing. Aside from the psychological
reasons for teaching by this method, it is the logical consequence of a
realization of the importance of the physical welfare of the child, and
necessarily brings changes in the material of the schoolroom.

What are the pupils to do in order to learn? Mere activity, if not
directed toward some end, may result in developing muscular strength,
but it can have very little effect on the mental development of the
pupils. These schools have all answered the question in the same
general way, though the definite problems on which they work differ.
The children must have activities which have some educative content,
that is, which reproduce the conditions of real life. This is true
whether they are studying about things that happened hundreds of years
ago or whether they are doing problems in arithmetic or learning to
plane a board. The historical facts which are presented must be true,
and whether the pupils are writing a play based on them or are building
a viking boat, the details of the work as well as the main idea must
conform to the known facts. When a pupil learns by doing he is reliving
both mentally and physically some experience which has proved important
to the human race; he goes through the same mental processes as those
who originally did these things. Because he has done them he knows the
value of the result, that is, the fact. A statement, even of facts,
does not reveal the value of the fact, or the sense of its truth--of
the fact that it is a fact. Where children are fed only on book
knowledge, one “fact” is as good as another; they have no standards of
judgment or belief. Take the child studying weights and measures; he
reads in his text-book that eight quarts make a peck, but when he does
examples he is apt, as every schoolteacher knows, to substitute four
for eight. Evidently the statement as he read it in the book did not
stand for anything that goes on outside the book, so it is a matter of
accident what figure lodges in his brain, or whether any does. But the
grocer’s boy who has measured out pecks with a quart measure _knows_.
He has made pecks; he would laugh at anybody who suggested that four
quarts made a peck. What is the difference in these two cases? The
schoolboy has a result without the activity of which it is the result.
To the grocer’s boy the statement has value and truth, for it is the
obvious result of an experience--it is a _fact_.

Thus we see that it is a mistake to suppose that practical activities
have only or even mainly a utilitarian value in the schoolroom. They
are necessary if the pupil is to understand the facts which the teacher
wishes him to learn; if his knowledge is to be real, not verbal; if his
education is to furnish standards of judgment and comparison. With the
adult it is undoubtedly true that most of the activities of practical
life have become simply means of satisfying more or less imperative
wants. He has performed them so often that their meaning as types of
human knowledge has disappeared. But with the school child this is not
true. Take a child in the school kitchen; he is not merely preparing
that day’s midday meal because he must eat; he is learning a multitude
of new things. In following the directions of the _recipe_ he is
learning accuracy, and the success or failure of the dish serves as an
excellent measure of the pupil’s success. In measuring quantities he
is learning arithmetic and tables of measures; in mixing materials,
he is finding out how substances act when they are manipulated; in
baking or boiling he is discovering some of the elementary facts of
physics and chemistry. Repetition of these acts by adults, after the
muscular and intellectual mastery of the adjustments they call for
has been established, gives the casual thinker the impression that
pupils also are doing no more than wasting their time on insignificant
things. The grocer’s boy knows what a peck is because he has used
it to measure things with, but since his stock of knowledge is not
increased as he goes on measuring out peck after peck, the point is
soon reached where intellectual discovery ends and mere performance
of a task takes its place. This is the point where the school can see
that the pupil’s intellectual growth continues; while the activity of
the mere worker who is doing the thing for its immediate practical use
becomes mechanical. The school says the pupil has had enough of this
particular experience; he knows how to do this thing when he needs to
and he has understood the principles or facts which it illustrates; it
is time he moved on to other experiences which will teach him other
values and facts. When the pupil has learned how to follow a recipe,
how to handle foodstuffs and use the stove he does not go on repeating
the same elementary steps; he begins to extend his work to take in the
larger aspects of cooking. The educative value of the cooking lessons
continues because he is now studying questions of food values, menus,
the cost of food, and the chemistry of food stuffs, and cooking. The
kitchen becomes a laboratory for the study of a fundamental factor in
human life.

[Illustration: Training the hand, eye, and brain by doing useful work.
(Gary, Ind.)]

The moral advantages of an active form of education reënforce its
intellectual benefits. We have seen how this method of teaching
necessitates greater freedom for the pupil, and that this freedom is
a positive factor in the intellectual and moral development of the
pupils. In the same way the substitution of practical activities for
the usual isolated text-book study achieves positive moral results
which are marked to any teacher who has used both methods. Where the
accumulation of facts presented in books is the standard, memory must
be relied upon as the principal tool for acquiring knowledge. The pupil
must be stimulated to remember facts; it makes comparatively little
difference whether he has to remember them in the exact words of the
book, or in his own words, for in either case the problem is to see
that he does store up information. The inevitable result is that
the child is rewarded when his memory is successful, and punished by
failure and low marks when it is not successful. The emphasis shifts
from the importance of the work that is done to the pupil’s degree of
external success in doing it. Since no one’s performance is perfect,
the failures become the obvious and emphasized thing. The pupil has
to fight constantly against the discouragement of never reaching
the standard he is told he is expected to reach. His mistakes are
constantly corrected and pointed out. Such successes as he achieves
are not especially inspiring because he does no more than reproduce
the lesson as it already exists in the book. The virtues that the
good scholar will cultivate are the colorless, negative virtues of
obedience, docility, and submission. By putting himself in an attitude
of complete passivity he is more nearly able to give back just what he
heard from the teacher or read in the book.

Rewards and high marks are at best artificial aims to strive for; they
accustom children to expect to get something besides the value of the
product for work they do. The extent to which schools are compelled to
rely upon these motives shows how dependent they are upon motives which
are foreign to truly moral activity. But in the schools where the
children are getting their knowledge by doing things, it is presented
to them through all their senses and carried over into acts; it needs
no feat of memory to retain what they find out; the muscles, sight,
hearing, touch, and their own reasoning processes all combine to make
the result part of the working equipment of the child. Success gives
a glow of positive achievement; artificial inducements to work are no
longer necessary, and the child learns to work from love of the work
itself, not for a reward or because he is afraid of a punishment.
Activity calls for the positive virtues--energy, initiative, and
originality--qualities that are worth more to the world than even the
most perfect faithfulness in carrying out orders. The pupil sees the
value of his work and so sees his own progress, which spurs him on
to further results. In consequence his mistakes do not assume undue
importance or discourage him. He can actively use them as helps in
doing better next time. Since the children are no longer working for
rewards, the temptation to cheat is reduced to the minimum. There is
no motive for doing dishonest acts, since the result shows whether the
child has done the work, the only end recognized. The moral value of
working for the sake of what is being done is certainly higher than
that of working for rewards; and while it is possible that a really bad
character will not be reformed by being placed in a situation where
there is nothing to be gained excepting through an independent and
energetic habit of work, the weak character will be strengthened and
the strong one will not form any of those small bad habits that seem so
unimportant at first and that are so serious in their cumulative effect.

Another point that most of the present day reformers have in common,
in distinction from the traditional way of looking at school work, is
the attempt to find work of interest to the pupils. This used to be
looked at as a matter of very little importance; in fact a certain
amount of work that did not interest was supposed to be a very good
thing for the moral character of the pupil. This work was supposed to
have even greater disciplinary qualities than the rest of the work.
Forcing the child to carry through a task which did not appeal to
him was supposed to develop perseverance and strength of character.
There is no doubt that the ability to perform an irksome duty is a
very useful accomplishment, but the usefulness does not lie in the
irksomeness of the task. Things are not useful or necessary because
they are unpleasant or tiresome, but in spite of these characteristics.
The habit of giving work to pupils solely for the sake of its
“disciplinary” value would seem to indicate a blindness to moral values
rather than an excess of moral zeal, for after all the habit is little
more than holding up a thing’s defects as its virtues.

But if lack of interest is not to be admitted as a motive in selection
of class work, it is fair enough to object that interest can not serve
as a criterion, either. If we take interest in its narrowest sense,
as meaning something which amuses and appeals to the child because of
its power of entertainment, the objection has truth. The critic of
the new spirit in education is apt to assume that this narrow sense
is what is meant when he hears that the pupils ought to be interested
in what they are doing. Then logically enough he goes on to point out
that such a system lacks moral fiber, that it caters to the whims of
children, and is in reality an example of the general softening of the
social fiber, of every one’s desire for the easy way. But the work is
not made easy for the pupils; nor yet is there any attempt to give
the traditional curriculum a sugar coating. The change is of a more
fundamental character and is based on sound psychological theory. The
work given to the children has changed; the attempt is not to make all
the child’s tasks interesting to him, but to select work on the basis
of the natural appeal it makes to the child. Interest ought to be the
basis for selection because children are interested in the things they
need to learn.

Every one is familiar with the way a baby will spend a long time making
over and over again the same motions or feeling of some object, and of
the intense interest children two and three years old take in building
a tower of blocks, or filling a pail with sand. They do it not once but
scores of times, and always with the same deep absorption, for it is
real work to them. Their growing, unformed muscles have not yet learned
to act automatically; every motion that is aimed at something must
be repeated under the conscious direction of the child’s mind until
he can make it without being aware of effort towards an adjustment.
Since the little child must adjust the things about him, his interests
and his needs are identical; if they were not he could not live. As
a child grows older his control over his immediate needs so rapidly
becomes automatic, that we are apt to forget that he still learns as
the baby does. The necessary thing is still, as it will be all his
life, the power of adjustment. Good adjustment means a successful
human being, so that instinctively we are more interested in learning
these adjustments than in anything else. Now the child is interested
in adjusting himself through physical activity to the things he comes
up against, because he must master his physical environment to live.
The things that are of interest to him are the things that he needs
to work on. It is then the part of wisdom in selecting the work for
any group of children, to take it from that group of things in the
child’s environment which is arousing their curiosity and interest at
that time. Obviously as the child grows older and his control of his
body and physical environment increases he will reach out to the more
complicated and theoretical aspects of the life he sees about him.

But in just this same way the work in the classroom reaches out to
include facts and events which do not belong in any obvious way to
the child’s immediate environment. Thus the range of the material is
not in any way limited by making interest a standard for selection.
Work that appeals to pupils as worth while, that holds out the promise
of resulting in something to their own interests, involves just as
much persistence and concentration as the work which is given by the
sternest advocate of disciplinary drill. The latter requires the pupil
to strive for ends which he can not see, so that he has to be kept at
the task by means of offering artificial ends, marks, and promotions,
and by isolating him in an atmosphere where his mind and senses are not
being constantly besieged by the call of life which appeals so strongly
to him. But the pupil presented with a problem, the solution of which
will give him an immediate sense of accomplishment and satisfied
curiosity, will bend all his powers to the work; the end itself will
furnish the stimulus necessary to carry him through the drudgery.

The conventional type of education which trains children to docility
and obedience, to the careful performance of imposed tasks because they
are imposed, regardless of where they lead, is suited to an autocratic
society. These are the traits needed in a state where there is one head
to plan and care for the lives and institutions of the people. But in
a democracy they interfere with the successful conduct of society and
government. Our famous, brief definition of a democracy, as “government
of the people, for the people and by the people,” gives perhaps the
best clew to what is involved in a democratic society. Responsibility
for the conduct of society and government rests on every member of
society. Therefore, every one must receive a training that will enable
him to meet this responsibility, giving him just ideas of the condition
and needs of the people collectively, and developing those qualities
which will insure his doing a fair share of the work of government.
If we train our children to take orders, to do things simply because
they are told to, and fail to give them confidence to act and think for
themselves, we are putting an almost insurmountable obstacle in the way
of overcoming the present defects of our system and of establishing the
truth of democratic ideals. Our State is founded on freedom, but when
we train the State of to-morrow, we allow it just as little freedom
as possible. Children in school must be allowed freedom so that they
will know what its use means when they become the controlling body,
and they must be allowed to develop active qualities of initiative,
independence, and resourcefulness, before the abuses and failures of
democracy will disappear.

The spread of the realization of this connection between democracy and
education is perhaps the most interesting and significant phase of
present educational tendencies. It accounts for the growing interest
in popular education, and constitutes a strong reënforcement to the
arguments of science and psychology for the changes which have been
outlined. There is no doubt that the text-book method of education is
well suited to that small group of children who by environment are
placed above the necessity of engaging in practical life and who are
at the same time interested in abstract ideas. But even for this type
of person the system leaves great gaps in his grasp of knowledge; it
gives no place to the part that action plays in the development of
intelligence, and it trains along the lines of the natural inclinations
of the student and does not develop the practical qualities which are
usually weak in the abstract person. For the great majority whose
interests are not abstract, and who have to pass their lives in some
practical occupation, usually in actually working with their hands,
a method of education is necessary which bridges the gap between
the purely intellectual and theoretical sides of life and their own
occupations. With the spread of the ideas of democracy, and the
accompanying awakening to social problems, people are beginning to
realize that every one, regardless of the class to which he happens to
belong, has a right to demand an education which shall meet his own
needs, and that for its own sake the State must supply this demand.

Until recently school education has met the needs of only one class
of people, those who are interested in knowledge for its own sake,
teachers, scholars, and research workers. The idea that training is
necessary for the man who works with his hands is still so new that the
schools are only just beginning to admit that control of the material
things of life is knowledge at all. Until very recently schools have
neglected the class of people who are numerically the largest and
upon whom the whole world depends for its supply of necessities. One
reason for this is the fact that democracy is a comparatively new
thing in itself; and until its advent, the right of the majority, the
very people who work with their hands, to supply any of their larger
spiritual needs was never admitted. Their function, almost their reason
for existence, was to take care of the material wants of the ruling

Two great changes have occurred in the last century and a half which
have altered men’s habits of living and of thinking. We have just seen
how one of these, the growth of democratic ideals, demands a change
in education. The other, the change that has come about through
scientific discoveries, must also be reflected in the classroom. To
piece together all one’s historical information into a rough picture of
society before the discovery of the steam engine and of electricity,
will hardly serve to delineate sufficiently the changes in the very
fundamentals of society that these and similar discoveries have
brought about. The one possibly most significant from the point of
view of education is the incredible increase in the number of facts
that must be part of the mental furniture of any one who meets even
the ordinary situations of life successfully. They are so many that
any attempt to teach them all from text-books in school hours would
be simply ridiculous. But the schools instead of facing this frankly
and then changing their curriculum so that they could teach pupils how
to learn from the world itself, have gone on bravely teaching as many
facts as possible. The changes made have been in the way of inventing
schemes that would increase the consumption of facts. But the change
that is demanded by science is a more radical one; and as far as it
has been worked out at present it follows the general lines that have
been suggested in this book. This includes, as the curricula of these
different schools have shown, not alone teaching of the scientific
laws that have brought about the changes in society since their
discovery, but the substitution of real work which itself teaches the
facts of life for the study and memorization of facts after they have
been classified in books.

If schools are to recognize the needs of all classes of pupils, and
give pupils a training that will insure their becoming successful and
valuable citizens, they must give work that will not only make the
pupils strong physically and morally and give them the right attitude
towards the state and their neighbors, but that will as well give them
enough control over their material environment to enable them to be
economically independent. Preparation for the professions has always
been taken care of; it is, as we have seen, the future of the worker in
industry which has been neglected. The complications of modern industry
due to scientific discoveries make it necessary for the worker who
aspires to real success to have a good foundation of general education
on which to build his technical skill, and the complications of human
nature make it equally necessary that the beginner shall find his way
into work that is suited to his tastes and abilities. A discussion of
general educational principles is concerned only with industrial or
vocational education which supplies these two needs. The questions of
specific trade and professional training fall wholly outside the scope
of this book. However, certain facts connected with the movement to
push industrial training in its narrower sense have a direct bearing on
the larger question. For there is great danger just at present that, as
the work spreads, the really educative type of work that is being done
in Gary and Chicago may be overlooked in favor of trade training.

The attention of influential citizens is more easily focused on
the need of skilled workers than on that of a general educational
readjustment. The former is brought home to them by their own
experience, perhaps by their self-interest. They are readily impressed
with the extent to which Germany has made technical trade training a
national asset in pushing the commercial rivalries of that empire.
Nothing seems so direct and practical as to establish a system of
continuation schools to improve workers between the ages of fourteen
and eighteen who have left school at the earliest age, and to set up
separate schools which shall prepare directly for various lines of shop
work, leaving the existing schools practically unchanged to prepare
pupils for higher schools and for the walks of life where there is
less manual work.

Continuation schools are valuable and important, but only as
palliatives and makeshifts; they deal with conditions which ought not
to exist. Children should not leave school at fourteen, but should
stay in school until they are sixteen or eighteen, and be helped to an
intelligent use of their energies and to the proper choice of work.
It is a commonplace among teachers and workers who come in contact
with any number of pupils who leave school at fourteen to go to work,
that the reason is not so much financial pressure as it is lack of
conviction that school is doing them any good. Of course there are
cases where the child enjoys school but is forced to leave at the first
opportunity in order to earn money. But even in these rare instances it
would usually be wiser to continue the family arrangements that were
in vogue up to the child’s fourteenth birthday, even if they include
charity. The wages of the child of fourteen and fifteen are so low
that they make a material difference only to the family who is already
living on an inadequate scale.

The hopelessness of the situation is increased by the fact that these
children increase their earning capacity much more slowly and reach as
their maximum a much lower level than the child who is kept in school,
so that in the long run the loss both to the child and his family more
than offsets the precarious temporary gain. But the commonest reason
advanced by pupils for leaving school is that they did not like it, and
were anxious to get some real work to do. Not that they were prepared
to go to work, or had finished any course of training, but simply that
school seemed so futile and satisfied so few of their interests that
they seized the first opportunity to make a change to something that
seemed more real, something where there was a visible result.

What is needed then is a reorganization of the ordinary school work to
meet the needs of this class of pupils, so that they will wish to stay
in school for the value of what they are learning. The present system
is bungling and short-sighted; continuation schools patch up some of
its defects; they do not overcome them, nor do they enable the pupils
to achieve a belated intellectual growth, where the maladjustment of
the elementary school has served to check it. The ideal is not to
use the schools as tools of existing industrial systems, but to use
industry for the reorganization of the schools.

There is danger that the concentrated interests of business men and
their influential activity in public matters will segregate training
for industry to the damage of both democracy and education. Educators
must insist upon the primacy of educational values, not in their own
behalf, but because these represent the more fundamental interests of
society, especially of a society organized on a democratic basis. The
place of industry in education is not to hurry the preparation of the
individual pupil for his individual trade. It should be used (as in the
Gary, Indianapolis, and other schools) to give practical value to the
theoretical knowledge that every pupil should have, and to give him an
understanding of the conditions and institutions of his environment.
When this is done the pupil will have the necessary knowledge and
intelligence to make the right choice of work and to direct his own
efforts towards getting the necessary technical skill. His choice will
not be limited by the fact that he already knows how to do one thing
and only one; it will be dictated only by his own ability and natural

The trade and continuation schools take their pupils before they are
old enough or have knowledge enough of their own power to be able to
make a wise choice, and then they drill them in one narrow groove, both
in their theoretical work and in their manual skill, so that the pupil
finds himself marked for one occupation only. If it proves not to be
the right one for him it is still the only one he is trained for. Such
a system does not give an opportunity for the best development of the
individual’s abilities, and it tends to keep people fixed in classes.

The very industries that seem to benefit most by receiving skilled
workers for the first steps of the trade will lose by it in the more
difficult processes, for the workers will not have the background
of general knowledge and wider experience that the graduate of a
technical high school or vocational school should have acquired. But
the introduction of the material of occupations into the schools for
the sake of the control of the environment brought by their use will
do much to give us the proportion of independent, intelligent citizens
that are needed in a democracy.

It is fatal for a democracy to permit the formation of fixed classes.
Differences of wealth, the existence of large masses of unskilled
laborers, contempt for work with the hands, inability to secure the
training which enables one to forge ahead in life, all operate to
produce classes, and to widen the gulf between them. Statesmen and
legislation can do something to combat these evil forces. Wise
philanthropy can do something. But the only fundamental agency for good
is the public school system. Every American is proud of what has been
accomplished in the past in fostering among very diverse elements of
population a spirit of unity and of brotherhood so that the sense of
common interests and aims has prevailed over the strong forces working
to divide our people into classes. The increasing complexity of our
life, with the great accumulation of wealth at one social extreme and
the condition of almost dire necessity at the other makes the task of
democracy constantly more difficult. The days are rapidly passing when
the simple provision of a system in which all individuals mingle is
enough to meet the need. The subject-matter and the methods of teaching
must be positively and aggressively adapted to the end.

There must not be one system for the children of parents who have more
leisure and another for the children of those who are wage-earners. The
physical separation forced by such a scheme, while unfavorable to the
development of a proper mutual sympathy, is the least of its evils.
Worse is the fact that the over bookish education for some and the over
“practical” education for others brings about a division of mental and
moral habits, ideals and outlook.

The academic education turns out future citizens with no sympathy
for work done with the hands, and with absolutely no training for
understanding the most serious of present day social and political
difficulties. The trade training will turn future workers who may
have greater immediate skill than they would have had without their
training, but who have no enlargement of mind, no insight into the
scientific and social significance of the work they do, no education
which assists them in finding their way on or in making their own
adjustments. A division of the public school system into one part which
pursues traditional methods, with incidental improvements, and another
which deals with those who are to go into manual labor means a plan of
social predestination totally foreign to the spirit of a democracy.

The democracy which proclaims equality of opportunity as its ideal
requires an education in which learning and social application, ideas
and practice, work and recognition of the meaning of what is done,
are united from the beginning and for all. Schools such as we have
discussed in this book--and they are rapidly coming into being in
large numbers all over the country--are showing how the ideal of equal
opportunity for all is to be transmuted into reality.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Illustrations have been repositioned between nearby paragraphs. In some
cases, they now appear on different pages than the ones in the List of

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Page 152: “one to ten meters” probably is a misprint for “centimeters”.

Page 154: “in other words” was printed as “others”.

Page 288: “truly representive” was printed that way.

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