« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
way. The easiest place for little children
to play is on the floor. Why not a school floor? Why not let him construct his little scheme on the floor and then use this scheme to carry out in action whatever miniature dramatic situation he has created? Could there be a better use of a laboratory floor? It seems obvious that a child turned loose with appropriate appliances-appropriate to his ends rather than the teacher's-will develop his own method of expression. He will enjoy it, too. For up to the age of 6 a child is an extreme individualist. He does not naturally do things co-operatively. There comes a time, however, when he steps from his individualistic into a social world. The school should meet the requirements of his individualistic period and bridge the gap when he begins to be a communist soul. Here again, toysfree materials--are the school's chief reliance. They adapt themselves to the needs of a project in which a whole group of children spontaneously develop joint floor schemes such as a section of a city with its streets full of autos and carriages, lined with trees, flanked by houses, restaurants with outdoor gardens, railroad station with incoming and outgoing traffic, river with wharves and shipping, grocery shop, baker's shop, factories and all the endless array of industrial activities which make up our modern world. This is not a theoretic description. It is the kind of thing that those who work with free materials and comparatively free children constantly see. It is what keeps their courage steady! But it is all important that a child should not be forced too soon into a social world. He must work his own way gradually from his own concrete interpretation of a special fact or situation to a social interpretation. To socialize a child's entire day implies that he has reached a stable stage where he has something to say which will contribute to the little society of which he is a part, and that he knows how to say it. It is doubtful if many children acquire this stability during 'kindergarten age'though the kindergarten practices are based on the assumption that they do. There are, to be sure, some practical difficulties in devising a schoolroom where little children may have both ample
privacy and ample social life, particularly if they work with free material. In one school, the mechanical difficulty has been met by two simple devices. Small, low, and easily handled screens are placed so as to give each child his own isolated space on the floor. Here he is free to follow his own bent-to draw, to model, or to construct and develop a miniature dramatic scheme, as he may desire. And when this individual expression is completed and the floor space is needed for common purposes, the screens may be removed. By the other device-a small balcony, easily built in any room-the additional space needed for co-operative floor schemes' is secured. This balcony may be too low to let a grown-up pass underneath, but it doubles the space for the children. Much of the furnishing of a school room, such as screens, folding tables, chairs, rugs, etc., is good dramatic material. And so is whatever there may be in the way of outdoor apparatus. If children are encouraged to use materials freely they fashion almost anything into their dramatic purposes. It is their natural attack on life. But even if it be conceded that free play with appropriate playthings is good for little children, since it may make them resourceful and observant and independent, it does not logically follow that it covers the whole ground -that it is a substitute for lessons'that it gives the child the 'tools of learning.' Of course, it is obvious that playschemes may be made an excuse for making children swallow sugar-coated pellets of arithmetic and reading and writing. Devices of this sort to beguile the unsuspecting child have multiplied like weeds in recent classrooms. They are largely responsible for the common suspicion that freedom within a schoolroom must mean either coaxing or license. They are devices, nothing more. And they are a bit unworthy of the situation. It is not that the play of children affords an opportunity to slip in unnoticed something which an adult values, but which the child would repudiate if he were not duped. It is that interpretive play, constructive play, depends in its very essence upon the same relations, whether expressed in human terms or in books, upon which our real world de
pends. In order to carry on organized life we find it necessary to use symbols. These symbols have grown just because they are necessary to facilitate the processes of the world. The same necessity will be felt by the children in any play which produces these processes. And the use of symbols will grow up in the same natural way. Children cannot reproduce an environment which implies a number sense without having that number sense; children cannot do exact bench work without measuring; children cannot play store without arithmetic. This is less true of reading and writing. It remains to be determined through further experimenting whether this means that reading and writing must be taught formally or that reading and writing are a later necessity for children. The problem of reading and writing links itself very closely with the whole problem of the use of books and stories and pictures. Books for children have as yet hardly been thought of as 'free material' at all. They have been like the toys of old-to amuse; or like the lessons of old-to instruct. They have been either fairy tales, steeped in the imaginary romance of an imaginary world, which has little significance in understanding the very real romance of the modern world, or textbooks, dominated by the purposes of a grown-up, and with no place left for the child except as a passive recipient. But is it not possible to extend the method of learning through experiment to books as well? Could they not be regarded as an environment for the child, an environment a little larger in scope and a little more remote from his immediate experience than the one he would find for himself, but still an environment which he could fashion to his own ends by means of his play-be it constructive or dramatic? We need a new literature for children. We need stories which recognize the art--the play spirit in
words. We need stories and information which will supplement the child's immediate limited surroundings, but still be free material for him to make his own by means of his natural play-thoughts and play-activities. There is no telling into what new forms of play-expression, of art, he might mould this enlarged environment if it came to him real and free-not fictitious and dictated. Not till we have this new literature will we have anything like a well-equipped laboratory for our little children."”
The Boy Scout Official Photo Play has been prepared by the Transatlantic Film Company under the title of "Boy Scouts --Be Prepared." It has been approved and passed by the Chief Scout, who him. self is depicted in two of the episodes. The play will be released to the public on October 18, and will be shown as a serial in eight episodes, all over the British Isles and in other countries. The Chief Scout hopes that scoutmasters and scouts, wherever the play is shown, will themselves see the film and interest themselves in bringing the serial to the notice of all in their district.
"Nelson's History of the War," by John Buchan, steadily progresses and fully maintains its high standard. Vol. XVII has just been issued, and deals with the great world struggle from the opening of the Rumanian Campaign to the change of Government in Britain. There are fine descriptions of Brussilov's check, von Falkenhayn's crossing of the Carpathians, the position in the Balkans, the French advance at Verdun, doings at sea, the developments in the Air Service, and in the appendix there are records of the work of the British at Salonika. The excellent maps and charts continue to form special features of this notable history.
CHILD WELFARE AND STATE SERVICES.
In this section are inserted records of the progress of Child Welfare Work as carried out by various State Services dealing with Health, Education, Industry, Delinquency, Defectiveness, and other questions relating to the care and control of the young. We shall be glad to receive copies of reports and all other official publications as soon after issue as may be possible.
THE NEW EDUCATION BILL
The Education Bill introduced by Mr. H. A. L. Fisher on Friday, August 10, and explained by the President of the Board of Education in a masterly speech, marks the beginning of a new era in the history of education in this country, and will rank as an epoch-making measure in the development of our British Commonwealth. The Bill has been judiciously restricted, for it is essential that as far as possible contentious matter should be excluded if a safe and speedy passage through Parliament is to be secured. Every educationist and true patriot should study the Bill in its entirety. The Times Educational Supplement for Thursday, August 16, gives a complete report of Mr. Fisher's speech and the full text of the Bill. It is of the utmost importance that the aims of this great measure should be made known in all parts of the land. It is a noble charter of national progress, and deserves the fullest study and loyal support of all classes of workers for child welfare. Mr. Fisher has formu. lated his specific proposals under six heads, thus: (1) We desire to improve the administrative organization of education. (2) We are anxious to secure that every boy and girl of elementary school life up to the age of 14 shall be unimpeded by the competing claims of industry. (3) We desire to establish part-time day continuation schools, which every young person shall be compelled to attend, unless he or she is undergoing some suitable form of alternative instruction. (4) We make a series of proposals for the development of the higher forms of elementary education and for the improvement of the physical condition of the children under instruction. (5) We desire to consolidate the elementary school grants. (6) We wish to make an effective survey of the whole educational provision of the country, and to bring private
educational institutions into closer and more convenient relations to the national system. Mr. Fisher has indicated his desire to improve the fabric of our elementary educational system in the following concise summary: (1) We propose to encourage the establishment of nursery schools for children under 5. (2) We propose to amend the law of school attendance SO as to abolish all exemptions between the ages of 5 and 14. (3) We propose to place further restrictions upon the employment of children during the . elementary school period. The Government, as Mr. Fisher announced, are wishful to assist in the physical development of the nation in every way possible, and to this end the Bill contains provisions : (1) It gives physical training a place in the continuation schools. (2) It empowers the local education authority to establish nursery schools, and to maintain playing fields, school baths, game centres, and equipment for physical training. (3) It extends the powers with respect to medical inspection now possessed by the education authorities. Members of the School Medical Service and workers for child welfare will be specially interested in Mr. Fisher's proposals regarding the establishment of so-called nursery schools for "toddlers" and young children under 5 years of age: "We propose to encourage the establishment of nursery schools for children under 5 years, and local education authorities will be empowered to raise the age at which normal instruction in the elementary schools begins to 6, as soon as there is an adequate supply of nursery schools for the younger children in the area. We also propose to amend the law of school attendance so as to abolish all exemptions between the ages of 5 and 14, and to place further restrictions upon the employment of children during the elementary school period, The first of these proposals rests upon the belief that children are introduced to
the normal instruction of public elementary schools at too tender an age. At 4 or 5 years sleep and play are far more important than letters, and we feel that, wherever the home is good, the child should be encouraged to stay with his or her mother. We do not desire to compel the provision of nursery schools, but we intend to enable such schools, attendance at which must be voluntary, to be aided from the rates, and we believe that in the development of these schools, which will, I trust, often be open-air schools, we may reasonably look for a real improvement in the health of young children."
We are glad to see that Mr. Fisher boldly attacks the existing halftime system : "We propose the abolition of what is known as the half-time system. This is a system which at the present moment mainly flourishes in certain parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, where some 30,000 children between the ages of 12 and 14 are permitted to divide their working day between the factory and the school. Originally the half-time system represented a concession to the claims of education. Boys and girls in Lancashire were released from the factory for a halfday's schooling at a time when in other parts of the country they were still deprived of all educational opportunity. Now the situation is reversed, and the child population in half-time regions suffers under peculiar and exceptional disabilities. The system, of course, has its defenders, just as any system long continued must have. The wages earned by the children are acceptable to the parents; the labour supplied by the children is acceptable to the employers; but it is very difficult to see any grounds, apart from the convenience of cheap labour, upon which the continuance of this exceptional system can be defended. It is no argument to plead that the regions in which this system is practised are conspicuously vigorous and intelligent. If any such statement be true, as I believe it to be, it only proves once more how native vigour can triumph over serious obstacles. I do not wish to be understood to be bringing any form of accusation against the employers of halftime labour, many of whom are most considerate to the claims of their workpeople. But the system has been condemned by
every educationist and every social reformer. It is bad for the physique of the children, it is injurious to the intellectual prospects of the half-timer, it has been shown that the work upon which the children are engaged is not such as to develop the higher forms of industrial activity, and it has been shown that when the half-time system is once admitted in the textile industry it spreads to other forms of employment as well. We consider, then, that the time has come when in the general interests of the country and in the special interest of the children notice should be given that this system should, after a convenient interval, come to an end. And I consider that the termination of the War, when a large mass of new labour will be thrown on the market, will be a convenient period at which to terminate it." The portion of the Bill which deals with the problem of the half-timer will doubtless come in for much criticism. It is most desirable that all workers for the betterment of adolescents should rally to Mr. Fisher's support over this matter. The President of the Board of Education has the courage of his convictions, and he has not hesitated to deal with the associated subject, the employment of school children out of school hours: "Another measure for improving our elementary school education is the further regulation of the employment of children during the period of daily elementary school life. We desire
a full period of school life, unimpaired by the competing claims of employment, for all children of the working population. At the present moment the effect of our elementary school education is greatly harmed by the work which is imposed on children out of school hours. They are liable to be employed for three hours before the school opens and for some hours after the school closes, and the general opinion of inspectors is that of all reforms affecting elementary education there is none more vital than the enforcement of strict limitation of the employment of children in their schoolgoing days. This is not merely a question of scholastic efficiency; it affects the physical welfare of the race. We have now an overwhelming mass of evidence to the effect that the health of our children suffers from premature or excessive
employment. You may trace the evil effects in diminished height and weight, in curvature of the spine, in cardiac affections, and in deficiency of the senses, especially the sense of vision and in the bad dentition of our working classes. The reports of our school medical service are full of them. Accordingly, we propose that no child under 12 shall be employed for profit, and here we have already been anticipated by by-laws passed in some of our large municipalities; and we further provide that no child under 14 shall be employed on any day on which he is required to attend school before the close of school hours or after 8 p.m. on that day, or on other days before 8 a.m., or after 8 p.m. Under this provision a child between 12 and 14 may be employed between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays and during school holidays. Though we have come to the conclusion that there is something to be said for a little employment on days on which the school provides no regular work, we are fully sensible that this liberty may be abused in the future as it has been in the past. The Bill accordingly provides that the local education authorities, if they are satisfied on the report of the school medical officer or otherwise that the child is being employed in such a way as to be prejudicial to health or education, may forbid or regulate that employment. We have also come to the conclusion that if the local education authority should decide that it would be wise to continue the elementary education in the elementary schools either of the boys or the girls in their area or of boys or girls following particular occupations in that area up to the age of 15 they shall be empowered to do so. There is much else in the Bill to which we should like to direct attention, but, as already indicated, we consider it the duty of all educationists and every sincere worker for child welfare to study the measure in its entirety. The more the Bill is considered, the more evident will become its far-reaching powers for national progress. We hope that Members of Parliament will lose no time in drawing the attention of their constituents to this great contribution to the up-building of our British Commonwealth. Educationists of every school should unite in
the educational propaganda which, it is hoped, will be carried out, so that all members of the community may be convinced of the necessity, practicability and general righteousness of the new Education Bill. In concluding this all too brief notice we venture to quote the words which the President of the Board of Education used in closing his most masterly introductory speech: "We assume that education is one of the good things of life which should be more widely shared than has hitherto been the case amongst the children and young persons of the country. We assume that education should be the education of the whole man, spiritually, intellectually, and physically; and it is not beyond the resources of civilization to devise a scheme of education possessing certain common qualities, but admitting at the same time large variation, from which the whole population of the country, male and female, may derive benefit. We assume that the principles upon which well-to-do parents proceed in the education of their families are valid mutatis mutandis for the families of the poor, and that the State has need to secure for its juvenile population conditions under which mind, body and character may be harmoniously developed. We feel also that, in existing circumstances, the life of the rising generation can only be protected against the injurious effects of industrial pressure by a further measure of State compulsion, But we argue that the compulsion proposed in this Bill will be no sterilizing restriction of wholesome liberty, but the essential condition of a larger and more enlightened freedom which will tend to stimulate the civic spirit, promote general culture and technical knowledge, and diffuse a steadier judgment and a betterinformed opinion through the whole body of the community."
The attention of teachers and others is drawn to a scheme drawn up by the Food Economy Section of the Ministry of Food, and approved by the London County Council, for a series of addresses to be given to elementary school children on the necessity of economy in food. The addresses are to be followed by an essay