Imagens da página


quiet games). A child is expected to take work in one shop or studio for one-third of a year and then change off to another activity. Thus, if a boy has drawing the first thirteen weeks, he will take science the next term, and some manual activity like manual training, gardening, or printing the last term. The object of this rotation is to give him a chance to experiment with various forms of construction in order to discover which way his interest and talent lie and to give him social insight and efficiency. The Gary school does not attempt to choose a career for a child; nor does it take any steps which will necessarily fix his social rank or status. In most European states children are obliged early to make a choice--usually at ten or elevenwhich is irrevocable, and which destines them to a life of trade or industry or a university education and a profession. This social cleavage is emphasized by requiring fees in the secondary school, while the education of the humbler class is free. In this American democracy of ours we want all the children to have equal opportunity, and we do not desire young children who have not yet developed or discovered their powers to make an irrevocable choice. The Gary school offers all children an opportunity to become industrially efficient, but it encourages all to remain in school as long as possible. When a child elects to go into a shop, his academic education goes on just the same as before; it is not curtailed in any respect. He may learn the rudiments of half a dozen bread-winning arts while he is preparing for college.

There is a slight difficulty in our city about this alternation of activities. In Gary each yearly grade is divided into three parts instead of two. Thus, in New York we have grades A, B, 2A, 2B, etc. In Gary they have IA, IB, IC; 2A, 2B, 2C, etc. Children, in other words, are promoted every thirteen weeks, instead of every twenty. Thus the alternation of special work fits the school organization. But in New York the thirteen-week period is awkward. If, for instance, a 7A boy takes drawing in September, he will go to science about December 1. It is

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

assumed that he will have finished the 7A grade by that time, for he has drawing every day for 40 minutes. Some time in March he will take, say, science in the laboratory. By this time he is in 7B. As he remains in science until June, he misses the 7B drawing. In view of this difficulty it has been suggested that we have each of three activities in one term, making the terms of alternation respectively 7, 6, and 7 weeks. Another way of effecting the adjustment would be to rearrange the subject matter of a year's work into three portions instead of two. Doubtless, after the twelve schools in my district which have been selected for the experiment shall have been transformed into Gary schools, the combined wisdom of the principals will discover the best way of meeting the difficulty.


A shop period is 80 minutes in length; and each shop has four sets of children a day. Each shop is thus used 320 minutes a day.

(1) Manual Training.--This work is much the same as that of similar shops in New York schools, except that it is more practical. It aims to turn out an industrial product. It is not based on the formal discipline theory, as such work originally was. Things the children make are for use in the school or home. The shop is open to girls as well as boys; and all the children from the fifth grade up have a chance to go there.

(2) Carpentry.-- This shop cooperates with manual training. It is in charge of a real carpenter, who turns out work needed in the repair or equipment of the school. His helpers are four of the most skilful boys found in each manual training class. Sixteen different boys thus re

. ceive training in the carpenter shop every day.

(3) Cooking.--The kitchen is also very practical. It prepares real meals and sells them at a slight profit to teachers, visitors, and children. It employs a teacher who does the laboratory or theoretical work, and a practical woman who directs the actual cooking and housekeeping. The kitchen earns all its supplies and the wages of the practical woman.

Children from the fifth year up learn to cook. They have a lesson every day for thirteen weeks; then go to sewing, millinery, or something else. A little cashier with à cash register in front of her reminds you, as you leave the kitchen, that you are expected to pay for your food.

food. And thus these little housekeepers learn not merely the science and art of preparing food, but get actual experience in the buying and selling of it. From the point of view of the future wife this economic aspect of cookery is quite as important as the matter of preparing and serving food.

(4) Millinery.-Girls from the fifth year to the eighth may learn to make their own hats in P. S. 45. In each class there are some children from grades 7A-8B who do the responsible work, and also generally a few children from the fifth or sixth years who act as helpers and observers. In this way children live early in an atmosphere of industrial activity and pick up much social insight and technique quite unconsciously without formal teaching. When these younger children reach the higher grades they are already familiar with the processes and all the usual preliminary teaching of novices is unnecessary.

(5) Dressmaking.--In this shop, as in the others, younger children from the fifth and sixth grades assist the older ones from the seventh and eighth years. The children make not only their own dresses and hats, but make articles to sell. The sewing is done by machines as well as by hand, as will be seen from the following list of articles completed by the girls in the dressmaking class:

One dozen 10-year-old 2-piece Rus

One dozen work aprons. sian dresses.

Two dozen embroidered towels. Two dozen 4-year-old 1-piece kimona One bureau and one buffet doily. dresses.

Three embroidered baby caps. One dozen mixt style dresses. One set scrim table and bureau covers. Two dozen chemise.

One and one-half dozen pairs rompers, One dozen linen middy blouses.

1-year-old. One dozen kimona nightgowns. Three dozen fancy lawn aprons.

Seventy-two girls have accomplished this in less than three months.

(6) Pottery.-We were fortunate enough to secure a potter who comes from the Five Towns in England, made famous by Arnold Bennett. He knows pottery; for that is the industry of the Five Towns; and he knows every street and alley and public square and house mentioned by Bennett in his books. Pottery is the oldest of the arts. It is one of the typical occupations of the race by which man provides for himself food, shelter, and clothing. “Art is a beautiful thought simply exprest,” says our potter; and this is to be the keynote of our pottery. Of course, everything is so new that we have not developed much skill as yet. But the children of P. S. 45 are Italians, and they have strongly marked artistic instincts. So we are expecting great things. The A-B-C of pottery is getting acquainted with the properties of clay. If it is too soft, it will not retain the shape the potter wishes to impress upon it. If it is too hard it loses the plasticity which the artist requires. We have been occupied chiefly with the alphabet of the art, but have a few beautiful pieces to our credit.

(7) Printery.—The print shop has been successful from the start. It is well equipt, tho still located in an improperly lighted room in the cellar. Boys and girls are learning the art. Most of those who have elected printing are from the sixth grade, but seven are in 8B. In three months one can expect little proficiency; but the shop has already turned out all sorts of blanks for use in the school and a book of the children's poetry which has elicited favorable comment. This shop furnishes excellent supplementary drill in English.

(8) Gardening.--Forty-eight boys are engaged eighty minutes a day in garden work. What a fine chance for the boy with an over-supply of animal spirits! The school has three separate gardens--all contributed without cost to the board of education. An unsightly corner opposite the school premises was graded, fenced, and planted by the boys of the school in cooperation with an adult Italian who agreed to take care of the garden during vacation for a share of its product. Five acres of unimproved land in Bronx Park were turned over to us by the very obliging and efficient Park Commissioner, Hon. Thomas W. Whittle. Still another plot is loaned to us by Fordham University and is being cultivated by the children of the ungraded classes. This is the way one of the children feels about the garden work:

"How we have watched it grow! How we have longed to be out in the warm sunlight, helping the out-door class with its flower beds, guiding the blind class over the rough places, assisting the farmers themselves in the vegetable patch, for we all love the garden.”

(9) Science.- Our laboratories are not yet equipt for individual experiments of pupils. One of the rooms has no special equipment at all; the other is an ordinary science room such as we use in the seventh and eighth grade work. It has a demonstration table with a supply of water and gas.

But our little scientists seem to be intensely interested in their work. The fact that they have a lesson every day helps to keep the enthusiasm at a high mark. The real Gary laboratory has the same sort of equipment that we find in our best high schools. If we are ever to be so fortunate as to get real laboratories, I feel sure that our science work will be far superior to anything of the kind we now have in elementary education. In these classes some children from the sixth grade meet with those of the last two years. In the absence of proper equipment this arrangement is not, in my judgment, very satisfactory. In a real laboratory the younger children act as assistants to the older and thus learn the technique of scientific investigation by observation. But as long as the teacher has to make the experiment for the class the little assistants have no one to assist. However, as our course of study prescribes no science work of any kind for the sixth year, what these children get in our science room is clear gain for them.

(10) · Drawing.Drawing is done by two specialists in

« AnteriorContinuar »