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The following interesting and successful experiment in pre-vocational work is reported in the Educational Bulletin of the State of New Jersey. It will be suggestive, and is worthy of imitation by other teachers.
“Supervising Principal J. R. Beachler, of Nutley, has organized under the manual training law two valuable experiments in prevocational work, one for boys and one for girls. The school for boys is now well into its second year. Under the direction of a teacher who knows considerable about building, and who may be termed a “jack-of all-trades,” the boys work in an old school building which they have remodelled to meet their needs. They are put through a round of experiences which consists of considerable carpentry work, some cabinet making, brick laying, cement work, lathe work and a little forging; in addition, they do some gardening.
A special feature is made of outside work. Several small buildings have been erected under the direction of the teacher; one of these is a garage. The boys are also encouraged to do repair work for their neighbors. From the proceeds of the repair and construction work is deducted the cost of material, and the balance is retained by the boy who performed the work. He is required to deposit this money in the bank and may not draw any part of his savings without the consent of the manual training supervisor.
A teacher of related academic subjects handles the regular school work, correlating it wherever possible with the practical work. The regular hours are 8.30 to 12 and 1.15 to 3.30. Boys are admitted, however, at 7.30 and may remain for work until 5.30. Half the day is devoted to academic work and the other half to manual work.
Thirty-six over-age boys from the fifth, sixth and seventh grades of the other schools were enrolled in this school.
Mr. Beachler reports the experiment satisfactory from every point of view. He has now added a department which gives home-making work to a group of girls. While this department has not been organized long enough to prove its value, everything at the present time points to success.”
Vol. XIV, No. 9 of the University of Colorado Bulletin is entitled “Latin and Greek in Education." Dr. George Norlin, Professor of Greek, in the introduction, deplores the condition of "modern” high school curricula which fail to find room for classical study, and points out the practical benefits of studying Latin and Greek during the high school age. In conclusion he says, "When a student reaches college he has left behind him those years in which his mind is as fit for the patient mastery of the details of language study as it is unfit for a number of subjects in the high school curriculum which have taken its place.”
Thorough preparation in the classical languages is urged by practically all the professors in the University. In law, in engineering, in medicine, and in teaching, the value of a basic understanding of Latin and Greek is felt, say the professors.
Dr. Norlin cites numerous instances where college professors prefer students with an understanding of Greek and Roman civilization through a study of these languages. He refers to a statement of the principals of the five Denver High Schools in which they uphold the study of the classics as affording “discipline in logical thought, an intimate acquaintance with the life, personality, and religious mythology of the ancients, and a fluency and ease in speaking and writing good English.”
T. H. Harris, State Superintendent, Louisiana, raises a question that is worthy of the serious attention of school officials.
“Complaint,” he says, “is pretty general in all the states that teachers do not remain long in the same positions, but wander about from place to place. The following is the situation for Louisiana, excluding New Orleans, where the teachers are somewhat permanent in their positions : In the same positionTen years or more.
2.14% Five years, only.
2.76% Three years, only.
9.49% One year, only..
54.07% Excluding the beginners who are teaching their first session, these figures show that more than forty per cent of the teachers in the state, outside of New Orleans, swap positions every year. It seems reasonable to assume that a teacher who remains at one place for a number of years would grow in usefulness from session to session, and, therefore, that the right teacher in the right position should be retained as long as possible. In order to do this, would it not be wise to increase the salaries of such teachers, within certain limits, where boards are able so to do?”
A Bulletin from the Department of Education at Washington calls attention to the change that is taking place in the popular conception of that necessary school official known as the "truant officer.”
“The old idea of the truant officer as a 'kid cop' is passing away. The new truant officer is a man of entirely different type, quite frequently, in fact, a woman. In several cities a large percentage of truant officers are college graduates; in other cities they are men and women with experience as social workers; but whether college graduates or not, they are required to know and understand the home conditions of school children.”
“Attendance officers of the new type," the report goes on to say, “are interested in removing fundamental causes of truancy rather than in merely catching the offenders. The chief cause of the failure to obey attendance laws, according to the national league of compulsory education officials, is inadequate family life. Resolutions adopted at the recent meeting of this organization, therefore, called for ‘adequate and uniform marriage and divorce laws for the protection of childhood; enactment and enforcement of laws pertaining to the issuance of marriage licenses that will prevent child marriages and prohibit the marriage of persons physically, morally, and mentally unfit to wed. They urge that the juvenile courts be given definite authority to place parents, as well as children on probation for truancy and delinquency; they ask better state supervision of dependent children; civil service for all truant officers; and the maintenance of parental schools, special rooms for truants and incorrigibles, and health inspection of schools as material factors in child welfare.
The attendance officer of the new type is to be a far better trained man or woman and is to receive better pay. Superintendents of some of the largest school systems in the United States joined in advocating a minimum salary of $100 per month, with services for 12 months in the year, in order that the officers may be in constant touch with the home conditions of the boys and girls.
The United States Bureau of Education has agreed to co-operate with the league of compulsory school attendance officials in the collection of statistics bearing on attendance problems. As part of the movement for better attendance, it has been urged that a permanent census bureau be established and maintained in every city in the United States."
There is no doubt that there are a great many children and youth in our public schools who are making a poor showing in scholarship for the sole reason that they are insufficiently or improperly fed. The human machine whether of child or adult will not run without fuel and it cannot run well and reach the highest point of efficiency without the best fuel. In the city of New York, according to Edward F. Brown, Superintendent of the Bureau of the Welfare of School Children, nearly 38,000 children are suffering from malnutrition. The same conditions exist all over the country; more, of course, where the population is congested and of the poorer classes, but oftentimes it will be found that the same causes are operating in well-favored districts and abundantly account for backward pupils, for failures to pass examinations, and for cases of dropping altogether out of school. Superintendent Maxwell in speaking of this subject, says:
“Though only a little over one-third of the children in the public schools of New York City) were examined last year by the physicians of the Department of health, very nearly 10,000 children were found to be suffering from malnutrition. That condition may arise either from lack of food or from defects in the quality or preparation of the food consumed. The latter is probably the cause of most of the cases. Whatever the cause it is only too evident that the child who is suffering from malnutrition cannot pay attention, cannot learn to study, is not a fit subject for the educative process. Hence arises the necessity for supplying wholesome food within the school building in our congested neighborhoods, on which the pupils may expend the pennies given them for lunch rather than on the wretched pickles, candy and cake with which they are tempted in the streets. I definitely recommend that such a system be organized. The cost may be materially reduced by utilizing our teachers of cooking for at least a part of the work. It may be even possible to use the services of our girl pupils in the upper grades in the cooking classes. In many of our high schools food is supplied by caterers who have obtained the privilege from the board and who make considerable profit from the service. In my judgment this plan is fundamentally wrong. Food, if furnished in schools at all, should be furnished at cost price."
We call attention to the conclusion, in this number, of Dr. Frederic Sanders' valuable treatise upon “The Organization of Education," the first chapter of which appeared in EDUCATION for January, 1914. Dr. Sanders was well qualified for the ambitious task which he set before himself to find a practical and reasonably definite plan for the reorganization of our American School system. In his scheme he has sought to retain “that which is essential to the general education of every future man and woman”; and at the same time to find a place for "the various forms of special, technical or other vocational training that may be necessary for the individual boy or girl.” We have followed the argument with deep interest and have found ourselves squaring the various considerations presented, with what we have observed locally in the public and private schools of our own neighborhood, and in a considerable range of experience in the schooling
of several children under our own personal direction. We especially approve the consideration of the individual needs of each particular child which Dr. Sanders' plan provides; also the provision which he makes for the avoidance of over-pressure upon the girls at times when functional activities make insistance upon school routine and preparation for recitations and exacting examinations a serious menace to health. The school, in his system, is made to meet very happily the demands of the young human being's physical and mental development as he passes from childhood to youth and from youth to maturity.
We believe that these chapters will have a real influence in the gradual re-shaping of our educational practices, even though it may prove impossible to adopt the system as a whole.
Should there be a wide demand for the publication of Dr. Sanders' work in book form, EDUCATION is in a position to consider the matter. We shall be glad to hear from any of our readers as to their impressions upon this subject.
COMPARATIVE STUDIES IN EDUCATION. The comparative view of different countries in regard to education has interest as well as importance; at the same time it.is apt to be extremely misleading because its actual value depends upon many conditions that are seldom taken into account. A very cominon comparison has reference to the proportion of the population enrolled in elementary schools. In its crude form this is significant. It indicates the extent of the school provision and the readiness or obligation of the people to profit by the provision. But an enrollment of 14 per cent of the population may not have a lower value than the rate of 16 or even 18 per cent. That depends upon the ratio which the population of school age bears to the total population, and also upon the length of the school year. It is obviously absurd, also, to compare school enrollment in an Empire of the extent and ethical conditions of Russia with the same item in a small kingdom with homogeneous population like Sweden. Careful study of the differing conditions of foreign countries, as regards density of population, and radical diversity, has led to the opinion on the part of specialists that a ratio of school enrollment to population less than 10 per cent indicates conditions that preclude comparison with countries in which the ratios range from 10 to 16 per cent. For example, if the entire population, white and colored of the provinces of South Africa be considered, the school enrollment falls below 2 per cent, but if the white population and the schools for the whites are alone considered, the ratios measure well up with the highest in Europe. It is noticeable, also, that ratios greatly exceeding the normal are often found in pioneer communities where the legal school age is extended beyond the customary limit, so that young people forced to bear their part in the work of frontier settlements, can alternate school with work up to 21 years of age.
Another item which is frequently selected for comparative purposes is that of school expenditure per capita of population. As a measure of popular interest this is always important; but where the per capita greatly exceeds the medium, it indicates peculiar conditions such as exist in new countries where everything is to be supplied at once, or unusual expenditures that are not separately tabulated.
SUBSTITUTES FOR STATISTICAL DATA. At the present time there is a tendency to supplement or replace statistical data by other measures of educational efficiency. This tendency appears in the discussions of nationalism, and internationalism which are becoming quite