« EelmineJätka »
No one there present had ever heard of a school nurse, for no city in the world employed one. But today seventy-six American cities have corps of school nurses as permanent parts of their educational forces. Had anyone in that Chicago meeting dared prophesy that we should soon employ dentists to care for the teeth of our school children, his words would have been greeted with derision; but today forty-eight cities employ staffs of school dentists.
Ten years ago those who discussed the problems of educating the mentally deficient, the blind, the crippled, and the deaf thought and talked only from the standpoint of treatment in special institutions. But today New York City alone has in her public schools one hundred and ten classes for mentally deficient children, with ever-increasing provision for the other classes of unfortunates, and the work there is merely a sample of what is going on in the cities thruout our land.
These changes represent no passing fad or temporary whim. They are permanent, significant, and fundamental. They mean that a transformation has taken place in what we think, as well as in what we do in education. They mean that the American common school has ceased to be merely a place where for a few brief years our children shall acquire useful information. Instead, it has entered upon a new rôle, in which it is destined to reach and to reach profoundly the whole of every child. These changes mean that in ever-increasing measure our schools are to reach the exceptional child as well as the normal and are to make provision for his physical well-being as well as for his intellectual development.
This profound change in our educational practice did not come thru the slow processes of philosophy, nor because we were awakened by the stirring words of voice or pen of any educational prophet. No school men can claim great credit for having hastened its advent. It was forced upon us, first by the natural results of compulsory education and still more definitely and directly by three of the strangest allies that ever contributed to the work of social reform.
THE FIRST REFORMER
-THE CONTAGIOUS DISEASES OF CHILDHOOD
The first of these three reformers was the contagious diseases of childhood. When Boston began medical inspection in America in 1894 by dividing her schools into fifty districts and placing a doctor in charge of each district, she did so in the hope that the new measure would curb the waves of contagious disease that repeatedly swept thru the ranks of the children, leaving behind a record of suffering and death. The experiment was successful and when the other cities learned how Boston was solving the problem, they too began to employ school physicians and to organize systems of medical inspection.
During the first years the spread of the movement was slow, only one or two cities taking it up each year. Then these pioneers were followed
by dozens of their sister cities, then by scores, and in the past few years by hundreds
This sudden recognition of the imperative necessity for safeguarding the physical welfare of our children grew out of the discovery that compulsory education under modern city conditions meant compulsory disease.
The state, to provide for its own protection, has decreed that all children must attend school, and has put in motion the all-powerful but indiscriminating agency of compulsory education which gathers in the rich and the poor, the bright and the dull, the healthy and the sick.
The object was to insure that these children should have 'sound minds. One of the unforeseen results was to insure that they should have unsound bodies. Medical inspection was the device created to remedy this condition. Its object was prevention and cure. But it was destined to have far greater influence than its early sponsors dreamed.
When school men watched the doctors discover and send home children suffering from contagious disease they asked whence those diseases came. They examined their records of absences and they discovered that in nearly every city the number of cases of contagion among children leaps up each year when the cold weather approaches and the children return to school to sit quiet in close contact with their fellows, to drink with them from the same cup, and breathe dust-laden and artificially dried air. And when spring returns and the windows are again opened and schools are closed for the summer, those who are left go forth to be comparatively free from disease until the return of the next school year.
School men pondered these facts well and now in city after city schoolhouses are being constructed in which the paramount object is to have the rooms so clean, the drinking-water so pure, the air so fresh, and the sunlight so plentiful that compulsory education shall no longer spell compulsory disease but rather compulsory health.
The sanitary drinking-fountain and the individual cup are fast driving out the common and dangerous tin dipper. Sixty-nine cities already clean their schools with vacuum cleaners and the days of the broom and the feather duster are numbered. We are nearing the day when our schools will be as clean as hospitals and for the same reasons.
Nor is it only within the four walls of the school building that provision is steadily being made for conserving health and developing vitality. The only educational movement that ever approached medical inspection in the rapidity of its development is the playground. Almost unknown ten years ago, it is now becoming as much a part of the modern school as the roof or the walls.
The movement for public school athletic leagues is spreading from city to city and carrying with it the knowledge of how to give every boy and girl the physical advantages thru exercise that were formerly reserved for those already so well endowed that they did not need them.
The child with contagious disease has done well and thoroly his work of educational reform. The health movement in our public schools has been transformed during the past decade from a merely negative movement having as an object the avoidance of disease to a splendidly positive movement having as its aim the development of vitality.
THE SECOND REFORMER- THE BACKWARD CHILD
The second of the strange allies that came to help us reshape our educational doctrines and practice was the mentally deficient child. We discovered that the dragnet of compulsory education was bringing into our schools hundreds of children who were unable to keep step with their companions, and because this interfered with the ordinary administration of our school systems we began to ask why these children were backward.
The school doctors helped us find the answer when they told us that hundreds of these children were backward purely and simply because of removable physical defects. And then we took the next great forward step for we came to realize that children are not dullards thru the will of an inscrutable Providence, but rather thru the law of cause and effect.
This led to an extension of the scope of medical inspection to include the physical examination of school children, with the aim of discovering whether or not they were suffering from such defects as would handicap their educational progress and prevent them from receiving the fullest benefit of the free education furnished by the state.
This work was in its infancy five years ago, but today two hundred cities have systems of physical examinations of their school pupils.
Nor was this the only contribution of the backward child. Along with the knowledge of the importance of physical defects came the realization that compulsory education lays a deep obligation on the state as well as on the parent. If it is to insist that every child shall attend school, it must provide schools fitted to the needs of every child. It is in response to this realization that thruout the land the public schools are opening their doors and fitting their work to the peculiar needs of the blind, the deaf, the crippled, and the mentally defective. It is in response to this realization too that we are at last beginning to make special provision for that still more exceptional and vastly more important group made up of the children of special talent and even genius.
Just as the work begun with the object of excluding disease from the classroom has developed until it is now redounding to the benefit of all school children, so the special provisions devised for dealing with the backward child have developed and expanded until they now bid fair to benefit the children who are not backward.
Teachers, principals, and superintendents have watched the splendid work of the special classes in giving education to children who formerly were doomed to lives of uselessness to themselves and deep menace to the community. And as they have seen the seeming miracles those classes perform, they are asking why the same measures of small classes, skilled teachers, play, manual work, and abridged courses of study should not give even greater results among normal children.
THE THIRD REFORMER-THE TUBERCULOUS CHILD
The last of the three allies in the work of educational reform was no other than the great white plague, tuberculosis. Four years ago the city of Providence started an open-air school for tuberculous children. During the following year two other cities followed her example. Two years ago five cities had open-air schools. Last year the number was eight and this year the new work is being done in twenty-eight cities.
In city after city across the country open-air schools have demonstrated their ability to take pale, wasted, and sickly children and convert them into strong, vigorous, and healthy children. And moreover they have proven their ability to teach these ailing children faster and better than the regular schools in the same cities can teach the strong and normal children.
And school men, reading the lesson so clearly taught, are asking why all children should not be allowed to breathe pure air. In answer to their question school architects and heating and ventilating engineers are discarding their traditional ideas of ventilation, and are even now constructing school buildings with the avowed object of bringing to every boy and girl the advantages heretofore reserved for the tuberculous.
KEEPING FOR THE STRONG THE BENEFITS DEVELOPED FOR THE WEAK
These three reformers—the child with contagious disease, the backward child, and the tuberculous child-have done their work well, and that work is not the mere provision for the needs of sick and exceptional children; it is the fundamental reshaping of our educational aim.
For nineteen centuries the educational world has held, as the most perfect expression of its philosophy, that half-line of Juvenal in which he pleads for the sound mind in the sound body. It has remained for the first decade of the twentieth century to awake to a startled realization that Juvenal was wrong-wrong because he bade us think that mind and body are separate and separately to be provided for.
Only now have we come to realize the error and to take steps to rectify it. Only in the last few years have we begun to see that educationally, at least, mind and body are inseparable, and that the sound mind and the sound body are inextricably related—both causes and both effects.
All these things mean that it is our splendid privilege to see and to be a part of a movement which is profoundly transforming our traditional ideas of education. They mean that our children and our children's children will be a better race of men and women than we are or were our fathers.
PUBLIC SCHOOL TRUE INSTRUMENT OF EUGENICS In recent years there has appeared a new science calling itself eugenics, that seeks to discover the secrets of heredity and environment and to develop methods that shall insure for future generations greater strength, more vitality, and enhanced intellect. The aims of that new science are high and noble beyond those of almost any other form of human activity. But in their methods its advocates are wrong.
They are wrong when they seek to apply to the breeding of men the lore of the stock-breeder, because they overlook the deepest and most fundamental factors in man's nature.
What they are aiming at is the steady improvement of the human race, and that is coming. But it is coming thru the public school of the future; the school in which the physical, the mental, and the moral will be developed together and not separately, the school in which the child will not only live in healthful surroundings but in which he will learn habits of health which will be lifelong.
The human race will be a better race because of the lessons that have been taught us by the child having contagious disease, the backward child, and the tuberculous child. Because of these lessons, the youth of the future will attend a school in which health will be contagious instead of disease, in which the playground will be as important as the book, and where pure water, pure air, and abundant sunshine will be rights and not privileges. He will attend a school in which he will not have to be either truant or tuberculous or delinquent or defective to get the best and fullest measure of education.
C. THE PEACE MOVEMENT AND THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
MRS. FANNIE FERN ANDREWS, BOSTON, MASS. “Educational Achievement and Educational Endeavor at the Close of the First Decade of the Twentieth Century,” the subject of discussion in this convention, can hardly receive complete consideration without taking cognizance of the peace movement, which may be said to have had its concrete inception in the first decade of the nineteenth century, and which, therefore, is just rounding out a century of significant development. The peace movement in its very nature is an educational movement, and the milestones of its progress must be recorded in any adequate survey of educational achievement. Moreover, the principles of this movement have, especially during the last decade, so impressed themselves upon the social, economic, and political life that their recognition must, from now on, form an integral part of the education of the people. Since the organization in 1815 of the New York Peace Society, the first organized effort for world-peace, the idea has gradually grown into conviction that