« PreviousContinue »
study. There was a great deal of rough contagious diseases are prevalent in winhandwork which exercised the coarser ter, and there is so much fatigue at the muscles, and some pottery, weaving, and end of the day that studies demanding drawing to gain control of the finer ones. mental acumen must be placed at the beTheir arithmetic was related to the lay- ginning of the program. All school-chiling out of gardens and practical problems dren are usually in poorer condition at the in measuring and building; they were end of the term, and the mental and taught the care of their bodies and of ani- physical breakdowns and a susceptibility mals; and were themselves made to par- to disease at the adolescent period seem to ticipate in the actual running of the school be alarmingly increasing. Teachers suffer through the performance of duties that likewise. They are worn out at the end usually fell to servants and teachers. of the day from the high nervous tension
An improvement in weight, vitality, re- and the wracking problems of discipline, liability, and good temper was rapidly ap- and in poor health at the end of the year. parent, and some cases were entirely cured “Studies of air conditions in the classof incipient disease. These results, how- rooms for normal children,” says Dr. ever, were not a matter of great surprise; Woodruff, Medical Inspector of the New but what was surprising was the fact that York Public Schools, "revealed the fact these children, while devoting to school- that in most of them, as measured by preswork somewhat less than half as much ent ventilating standards, they were very time as their companions in the regular good. Yet the fact remained that teachschools, did not fall back in their studies, ers and children seemed to become 'run but were easily able to rejoin the classes down' during the winter, while children they had left.
already subnormal physically improved in Of course the application of this educa- the fresh-air classes for anemic children, tional idea to public-school methods of and that the teachers in these classes reinstruction involves changes so deep-seated ported themselves in much better condiand revolutionary that it can be ap- tion at the end of the school year than proached only gradually and after many prior to taking the classes.” readjustments; but meanwhile the volume Physicians are almost unanimously of fresh air in the world remains un- advocating the policy, which has proved limited and readily accessible to those who effective in the treatment of the anemic can appreciate its value.
classes, of throwing open the school-room School practice, in its attempt to adjust windows winter and summer; of turning itself to the tremendous strides in popular off the artificial ventilation and all but a education, has been hampered by many little of the heat; of allowing the children conventions, the consequences of which to wear their outer garments if they dehave come to be regarded as more or less sire, creating their own animal heat axiomatical, and received with a through physical exercise. prising amount of philosophic acceptance. The first experiment of this kind was
The stuffy school-room is proverbial. A undertaken six years ago by Mr. Watt, person who is not accustomed to remain- principal of the Graham School, Chicago, ing in one for any length of time invari- with excellent results. Subsequently the ably experiences a feeling of relief in idea was utilized in the reconstruction of getting out into the air again, even when the buildings of a large and modern high the room has been ventilated after the school in a suburb of Chicago, and it was most approved methods. If it affects discovered that the standard of scholaradults apathetically, what must its effect ship among the students increased thirty be on children, who are subjected to it as per cent., while the expenses for fuel and a matter of course?
current were decreased three thousand In city schools the absence of color is dollars. It has been found particularly pronounced in the children. Colds and advantageous in kindergartens throughout
the Middle West, and in some towns in only superficially so, and there is always a Michigan has been adopted throughout danger that in the hands of well-meaning, the entire public-school system.
but injudicious, people the measure may New York City, however; has put out be made to defeat its own end. Also, certhe most concentrated effort in this direc- tain combinations of circumstances have tion. In the last three years the idea of tended to bring about better results than these classes has been steadily increasing in others. Upholding it, however, we have favor, until now there are a hundred of several years' experience, the medical pro
' them distributed over the schools of Man- fession, and some of the foremost educahattan and Brooklyn, with unanimity of tors of the day; but the contribution of impression enough to be highly suggestive. the open-air school to education has not One New York teacher reports:
been solely one of hygiene.
Francisco Ferrer, the educational marChildren much brighter, more active, and
tyr of the century, wrote a few years bemore responsive. Self very much stronger, fore his death : appetite improved. Never feel so tired and exhausted at the end of day as I did for- Almost everywhere children still study merly. Would not wish to give up open- text-books on grammar, arithmetic, and hiswindow class under any circumstance while tory by heart. That is to say, that a child's possible to keep it.
memory is exclusively advanced, instead of
his intelligence being solicited. Hardly Another states:
ever, even when
is easy to do so, is the
living reality approached. A few yards For the last few years I have been trou
away from the threshold of the schoolbled with tonsilitis. This year, not at all.
house grass is springing, flowers are bloomThe effect on some of the children has been
ing, insects hum against the classroom very marked. A few of my children were
window-pane, but the children are studying out a great deal last year on account of
natural-history text-books! coughs and colds. Very rarely have the children had colds this year in the same The education of the passing generaclass.
tion has been breathless in its endeavor to
keep up with the ever-widening field of Beside the physical improvement, the possibility. It has seemed necessary for gain in mental ability is fairly well estab- one to know everything, so that no branch lished. Mr. Watt found that the Graham which might prove useful should be School children learned much faster and omitted. But the phantom we have been better, and in several cases classes were chasing has proved elusive; just as we are ready for promotion in a little more than about to grasp it, it bursts out in a hunhalf a year. In New York the temptation dred new directions, and keeps us, foothas been prevalent to turn them into sore and weary, ever stumbling on. rapid-advancement classes, which, of There have been some pioneers, howcourse, has been discouraged.
ever, who have realized these efforts to be Discipline also seems to have been ren- futile, discouraging, and misdirected. dered easier, on account, no doubt, of the Since one can never hope to master all the necessity of allowing greater freedom in branches of knowledge, they have permoving about the classroom, and because ceived the necessity of restoring to educasome of the physical causes of restlessness tional processes that wholeness which and irritation were removed.
enables one to meet and conquer the emerOf course any movement which breaks gencies of life, and which comes only in upon long-established precedence has to when all the physical and mental phases run the gantlet of opposition from all of the growing child are sympathetically sides, some objections reasonable and some included in the range of instruction.
Quietly and perseveringly, some private The founder of “The New York Outschools have been for several years testing door School" believed that children both from its physical and psychological turned as naturally to the out-of-doors as point of view the value of outdoor edu- a flower turns to the sun. Restlessness cation for normal children.
and inattention seemed to her due to the Schools have so long been associated in child's thoughts wandering out of the our minds with large buildings, and edu- window to the place where he wanted to cation with formal classes, curriculum, be. With his mind at ease and his body and routine, that they have come to be freed from restraint, gaining his interest confused with the process of learning it- and concentration no longer became a self. The open-air school movement has problem. been directed away from formal and text- The school has access to a large room in book knowledge, toward the cultivation which it meets in inclement weather, but of the power of the mind, of independence every fair day the children are seen pulland of intellectual poise, so that the child, ing their loaded express-wagon across the well equipped, can set out by himself to street to the Natural History Museum discover the road to the world's glorious Park, where they do their sums on the possibilities. Borrowing from Pestalozzi sidewalk, hold their reading-class on some and all the great educators from Erasmus logs in a shady corner, play games to culto Ellen Key, they have sent the child out tivate their sense of sound and feeling, or into nature, and utilized his sense of free- carry out the directions of their drawingdom to give him the desire and strength lesson on their movable chart. Nestled at to overcome the impediments which the the foot of one of the city's most classic giant Knowledge puts in the way of tiny, fountains, the story class affords many a groping feet.
passer-by a pleasurable moment. In the city, the favorite locations of In a bright sunlit garden, with rabbits private open-air schools are on roofs, in and all manner of growing things, the public parks, and in back-yard gardens. Child Garden of the School of Mother
Seven stories above the city street, with craft Aourishes. Here children and motha view of the breadth of Manhattan Island ers come to school together, or else the and a good stretch of its length, the little little school goes traveling to the zoo, the open-air pupils of the Horace Mann aquarium, the park, or the museum. School are being initiated into a process of In suburbs of large cities there is a parlive education. There the children study ticularly good field for the open-air the wind and weather changes at first school. Plots of ground are usually availhand; there they watch the sun and the able there for various out-of-door activirain, and keep close tabs on the weather ties, and there are always sufficient prophet. In little garden-boxes they children in the neighborhood to form the plant their nature-study seeds, and care nucleus of a school. The Misses Mills for the tiny shoots day by day. In the School at Mount Airy, Pennsylvania, sand-box they make their geography maps represents a modernly equipped and welland primitive villages. They wear woolly developed example of this type. little bags and hoods at their desks, but Every class is carried on in a pavilion they much prefer warming up by exercise with sliding-doors and transom windows, in the adjoining play-yard, because it is kept open winter and summer. Between such fun to use your wits jumping puddles every recitation period there is time for a and clearing away the snow.
short run in the open. Physical manual The parks of Boston, Chicago, and work is emphasized, and the children make New York are dotted here and there in in their shop a great many of the things the morning hours with groups of teach- that are used in the school. They also ers and children learning and playing to- bind their own books, make the armor and gether.
costumes used in their festivals, care for
their gardens, and recently the kindergar- These studies are linked with regular ten has hatched a whole brood of chick- graded lessons, but always, when it is ens, with which they are delightfully sible, the deed is supplied for the written sharing quarters.
word. History is acted out over and over Ultimately, however, the country, with again in this peaceful valley: Washingits limitless possibilities for human ac- ton crosses the Delaware with a fleet of tivity and experience, must be recognized canoes, and Paul Revere comes riding as the particular province of childhood. down the road at regular intervals to
California has always made the most of notify the Concord farmers to protect her climate and verdure for bungalow their homes. schools filled with outdoor life, and the When a boy or girl enters the school movement has been sweeping east, finding he learns that it is a place not alone of idyllic tarrying-places in Maryland and work, but a place to be happy; and in Virginia, to the New England coast. order to be happy one must always bear
In a broad expanse on the edge of the his share of the responsibility for the hapConnecticut valley, an experiment in man piness of others. and woman making has been going on for The purpose of the school is to educate the last five years. It is known by the by living with the children, is the thought name of “The Little School in the of the kindly interpreter, “by enjoying Woods” and has as its patron that beloved what they enjoy, by showing them how to friend of children, Mr. Ernest Thompson enjoy what we like, by teaching them how Seton.
to cultivate their happiness, their intelliThe school work is carried on under gence, their skill, by accepting with them the broad expanse of heaven on ground and with their enthusiasm the common which is rich in the fundamental elements life and its wonderful procession of creaof nature. “Ancient trees, glacier rocks, tive events from day to day." many, many kinds of wild flowers, water And does a child really learn in these running in a stream, little wild wood ani- circumstances? is the query of those who mals, -and some domestic ones,—birds, are seeking an early fulfilment of college and a broad sweep of sky”—all enter into requirements for their children. the daily lessons of these fortunate chil- In this regard, the results of the private dren, and from these they study the va- open-air schools only confirm those of the rious branches of natural science, learning Charlottenburg experiment, and demonthe things of heaven and earth at first strate strikingly the economic value of hand.
more play and better work.