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that the general law must apply to our school department. As long as this opinion is held we cannot hope to reach an ideal school administration, for that which is best for our city would not be the best for the smaller towns of our state and the rural school districts. After all, it is not so much the laws that make for righteousness, but the persons who administer the affairs of state. The appointment, by the mayor, of a board of education consisting of four members, who are directly accountable for the administration of our public school system, fixes and centralizes responsibility. The charter also provides that this shall be a continuous body, one going out of office each
No argument is necessary to prove the wisdom of this, for in past years the radical change of policy of school boards has almost wrecked our public school system. * * *
* For some time past the California Club of our city has conducted successfully a children's play-ground on the school lot located on Bush Street. I believe it is the duty of the municipality to equip and conduct children's play-grounds, and the school board has asked the supervisors to set aside $5,000 for that purpose. In many cities of our Union this has already been done, and the children's play-ground movement has been so successful that they have grown in number, and all cities that have tried the experiment have been exceedingly liberal in their appropriation for this purpose. It is hoped that the children's play-grounds of this city will be conducted in the best possible manner, not only as a place of recreation, but also as a place to develop the mental, moral, and physical nature of the child. This can be done by employing persons who have made a thoro study of children's games, and who can properly conduct and supervise this most important work.
Vacation classes for the poor children who are unable to go to the country are an outgrowth of the children's play-ground movement.
These classes combine work and play in an admirable manner. A certain amount of time is devoted to games, and when the child tires of that, he turns his attention to manual training or sloyd. Nature-study has also been introduced in these classes, not as a set task to perform, but the observing of the habits of animals, the beauties of the flowers, and the study of the child's environment in a simple way. The girls are provided with all kinds of games, and certain times during the day their attention is turned to cooking and sewing. An equipment of this kind is not very expensive, and the cost of instructors not very great. Also, kindergarten children are not only taught to play together in harmony, but they are taught instructive games. Pretty songs are sung, beautiful pictures are shown to them, and delightful stories are told to them. * * * * * * *
* The time has now come for the introduction of manual training and sloyd in our grammar schools. In years past, this most important branch of instruction has been spasmodically introduced, and I regret to say that in some cases those persons who were employed to teach manual training were not properly qualified for the work. As we visit schools from day to day,
and notice the tendency of boys to leave school at an early age, the Board feels that something must be done to awaken an interest, so that they will endeavor to remain in school. It is our plan to establish sloyd and manual training centers in different parts of the city, so that all grammar pupils can be accommodated. We have been exceedingly fortunate in securing the service of Mr. C. T. Work, of the Teachers' College of Columbia University. Mr. Work is highly qualified for the position he is called to occupy. He is a graduate of the state normal school of Indiana. Pennsylvania, the Boston Sloyd Training School, and now holds a fellowship in the Teachers' College of Columbia University. He has had a broad range of experience, extending over a period of twelve years,— in a district school, then in a graded school, two years as superintendent of public schools of an Eastern city, and seven years as an instructor in sloyd and drawing in the Colorado State Norma School, which position he now holds. Mr. Work, in his seven years as head of the sloyd and manual training of the Colorado State Normal School, has graduated many students who are now supervisors of sloyd in various cities, and for that reason we feel that his experience with teachers will be of great value to us in inaugurating this most important work. He is a man of pleasing personality. We have been guided in our selection by strong letters of recommendation from James E. Russell, dean of Teachers' College, New York; Charles R. Richards, director of manual training, Teachers' College, New York; James M. Canfield, ex-president of the National Educational Association; Nicholas Murray Butler, editor of the Educational Review, and head of the Department of Philosophy of Columbia University; Z. X. Snyder, president of the Normal School of Colorado. The letters of recommendation of Mr. Work were heartily indorsed by President Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President David Starr Jordan, and Dr. Frederic Burk. We believe that the Board has selected a proper person, and hope that the introduction of sloyd and manual training in our schools will benefit our entire department.
The time has passed when it is doubtful whether sloyd and manual training should be introduced in the grammar schools, for many of the leading cities of our country have incorporated it in their courses of study, and without an exception it has proven a lasting benefit to the boys that have had the opportunity to train their hands in conjunction with the training of their minds. It also has a helpful effect upon the development of the boy's character, and many a young man, who would have left school early in life, and been forced out into the world without a proper training, has been awakened and aroused to further pursue his course of study, and receive an education which would otherwise have been denied him, for his lack of interest in the school-work would have driven him into the streets. It is also well known tliat the mental training coming from a proper course of study in sloyd and manual training is equal to that which is derived from study in text-books.
Closely connected with the manual training for boys is the sewing for girls. It is intended that sewing, under the direction of principals, be introduced in the course of study, and while the boys in the grammar schools are taking their lessons in sloyd, the girls will be occupied in sewing lessons. It is not merely what the pupil learns in the actual lessons in sewing, but this branch of instruction also develops the mind, interests the girls in school work, makes them more careful of the appearance of their clothing, and, above all, makes them more domestic in their tendency. This last result is exceedingly important, and especially is this true in city life, where the real idea of home, and the real love of home life, is deficient. The Board trusts that it will receive hearty co-operation in the introduction of sewing in the department.
Closely allied with manual training and sewing is the introduction of cooking. This we advocate most strongly, not only for the real educational value it possesses, but also for that most important reason, the training of the girls of our public schools in the affairs of real home life. This is very important, for all of us know that the average young woman of to-day looks with contempt upon the fact that some day she may have to be able to enter upon the real duties of a domestic career. Besides, we men folks appreciate the great importance of the proper teaching of cooking, and this would make many a home happier, many a man brighter, and many a life sweeter, if the wife of to-day really knew and appreciated good cooking. I would not disparage the seeking, on the part of the young women, for all the education possible, but at the same time with the acquiring of book-kuowledge, and with the cultivation of the æsthetics, let them also bave the ability to sew, to cook, and to make their home attractive, for this will induce many a man to acquire domestic babits.
The Board also intends to reorganize and strengthen the drawing department, for it thinks it impossible for one person to supervise the subject of drawing in primary and grammar schools. For that reason, and after carefully looking into the qualifications, the board has selected a Miss D. Beebe, a graduate of the Teachers' College of New York, and particularly trained for the position of supervisor of drawing. Miss Beebe has successfully taught drawing in the California School of Mechanical Arts, and comes highly recommended by Prof. Churchill, director of the Art Department of Teachers' College, Columbia University. She is also highly recommended by George A. Merrill, principal of the California School of Mechanical Arts; W. B. Elkins, Ph.D., instructor of psychology and education, Columbia University; F. M. Murray, professor of theory and practice of education in the same college ; and Thomas S. Noble, principal of the Cincinnati Art Academy. Miss Beebe has also had experience in supervising and instructing in drawing in Eastern cities. Her work will be confined to the supervising of the primary schools and the assisting of the teachers.
While the laws of our state governing compulsory education are exceedingly weak, at the same time we believe much can be done to force parents to send their children to school. The census report of this year will reach nearly 80,000 children. The enrollment will probably be 48,000, and the average daily attendance 36,000. About 10,000 children attend private schools. By these figures you can notice the great number of children who are running about the streets, receiving no education, except that of vice, and in a few years will be grown men, leading either a life of idleness or possibly of crime. Do you not think that it is necessary for our city to attempt to enforce the compulsory education law, for it is a duty that we owe to the state, to educate the children, so that in the future our republic will be sure to stand, and not be liable to be overrun by the ignorant and the vicious. The city of Boston has thirty-five truant-officers, and it must be said to the credit of that city that compulsory education is enforced. Boston has also assumed that it is the duty of the city to educate its children, and has in a number of instances taken children from their parents, and sent them to a truant school, where they were fed, clothed, and educated, and were returned again to their parents when reformed.
The most unique system of compulsory education in our country is in Detroit, Michigan. This system has almost worked perfectly, and, briefly outlined, is as follows : 'A strong truant school is, established under the most skillful and able management, teachers who have not only made a study of the proper methods of instructing in different subjects, but have also made a deep study of the child pature and life of the abnormally developed child, who is intent on disobeying the rules and laws of society, rather than obeying them. This school is in the center of the city. The truant-officers report there daily. Telephone connections are made from the truant school to all of the schools of the city, and each morning pupils who are absent are reported to the truant school, together with their addresses, and then the officers are sent in search of the truant. Parents co-operate in every way, for the compulsory education law is such that it can be enforced, and the punishment cannot be avoided.
The Board hopes some day to introduce a plan of compulsory education, by organizing a system of truant-officers, and also the establishment of a strong truant school.
Another improvement which the Board hopes to make is the reorganization of the teaching of physical culture. This subject is a broad one, and comprehends more than the visiting of the schools once in six weeks by a person who teaches a few gymnastic exercises. If this is all that physical culture really means, then the principals and class teachers can carry on the work just as well as a special instructor. We believe, however, that it has a broader and deeper significance, and is one of the most important reforms that can be introduced into our public schools. Physical culture has come to mean not only the development of the muscle of the child, but also a deep study of the diet, nervous condition, habits,- in fact, the entire nature of the child. Many systems of physical culture are advocated by different instructors, but we care not what system is used, so long as the desired results are attained. We, as teachers, are also profoundly interested in physical culture for our own personal benefit, for much advice and many admonitions can be given to us by one who is competent, and who has made a thoro study of the proper modes of living.
In speaking of nature-study, I am reminded of those beautiful lines of Tennyson, which read thus:
“Flower in the crannied wall,
In these beautiful lines the poet really appreciates the study of nature. Again, we have it in the words of the Bible: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Here the wisdom of Solomon sinks into insignificance, compared to the beauties of the flower. I am also reminded of the great teacher Agassiz and the student Scudder, who, when given a fish to study, spent first a few hours studying it, and then returned to the master teacher. The student was sent back to again study the fish. Upon his returh he was again sent back, until finally, by coming in real contact, and studying the real fish, the seeds of investigation were sown, and the strong powers of observation were cultivated, so that the student Scudder became the great naturalist and scientist, whose authority is now taken all over the civilized world. Suppose that Agassiz had given the student a book to read on fish, do you suppose for an instant that Dr. Scudder would ever have had a deep and lasting desire to search for himself the truths of nature ? Nature-study is no fad, as it is the source of all knowledge and the foundation of real and true education. It seems a great pity that the children are deprived of the learning of the simple phenomena of nature, and it is a sad thing that in our crowded city life the real beautiful things that surround the child day by day are not seen by him, and that the period of his lite which should be developed in observing the beauties of nature pass by unheeded, and in after life he goes through the world, not appreciating the real, true beauties that surround him. The great difficulty, however, in introducing the subject of nature-study is, that most of us have not been trained in biology, or in the proper methods of teaching nature-study. This the Board hopes to introduce by degrees, and we trust that all of us will make an effort to appreciate the real, true nature-study; for, in the words of David Starr Jordan, “nature-study should be taught in the public schools, for it is the real and true foundation of all knowledge.” It is also an undisputed fact that the mental training derived from the study of a flower, the thoughtful observation of the babits of a cat, or of the close scrutiny of the life of an ant, has as much real mental training as a good deal of the nonsense that is now taught in arithmetic, grammar, history, etc. Besides, it furnishes a vast storehouse of composition-work, of oral recitation, and methods of awakening the talkativeness of the child.
Fellow-teachers, do not allow yourselves to be carried away with the thought that because you read from time to time in your classes about nature, that you are giving nature-study lessons. This not only is the improper way of teaching nature-study, but it also has a deadening effect upon the interest of the child.