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popular programmes ? Think of the effect on the habits and expressions of children when they become familiarized with such scenes as appear frequently on the screen ! We want our children to learn to speak and write good English, and what they learn in school goes for nothing when they are tickled with the smartness of vulgar slang. Not words only—they are bad enough, illiterate, coarse and ugly—but deeds, tricks, attitudes, frequently degrading, and the more dangerous when amusing. The outlook on life, so material, so cunning and smart, so destructive of domestic virtues, the un-British methods of police and law court proceedings, the under-world rowdyism and worse, and all the impossible situations depicted in some of the most beautifully produced films. Ah, the pity of it! How can we deal with these things? The State censor would “ pass " the great majority of films. He would not be supported if he attempted to deal with the morally impossible, provided he banned the immoral. There is a good deal of difference.
We think much of preserving child-life, or at least we recognize that we ought to think much of it. Baby-saving devices, welfare centres, play centres, all are good, but we must become more alive to the danger of the mental and moral poison which in many cases goes on unchecked in our midst. What a child sees and admires that he will be, and do, or try to do. And according as a child thinks, so will his conduct in after life be guided. As the seed of to-day, so is the fruit of to-morrow. There has been a plentiful sowing of seed during the last four years, through lack of home discipline, of which the crop is yet to be gathered. It is indeed time to awake.
Some may say : “You are preaching to the already convinced. People are awake!” Are they? Who? Not the people who can pull the strings, who can find the sinews of war, or surely every education committee throughout the country would have tackled the subject. I hear of no great demand for appliances, for estimates for cost of installation, of certificated operators, for circulating libraries of films, no demand for school subjects, for films to be produced to conform to the school curriculum, nature study or science subjects taken in conjunction with an arranged programme at the local cinema. All these are possible. A similar scheme is being carried out successfully in America. It must come to pass in England, too. But these things do not come, as the wind, without human agency. They require thought and energy and united effort.
The Cinema Recreative Circle aims at securing these developments and many others not confined merely to the wants of the child. It is essential to our welfare as an Empire that we do not lag behind in these matters. I know of no more certain and effective way than by means of the cinema, with lectures or lessons prepared before, and compositions written afterwards to ensure that no child now living shall grow up in ignorance of the issues now at stake. By means of films I would have presented to them stories of heroism, ideals of freedom, civilization, humanity, and the destruction of military tyranny for which we are fighting. And for all, not children only, what a mine of untold wealth lies waiting to be explored! The wonders of Nature and the works of man of all ages and all climes should no longer be for the delight and inspiration of a few and a sealed book to the millions of toilers in monotonous labours, whose souls cleave to the dust, when they might soar on wings of imagination and revel in realms of beauty.
Will these be money-earning films? The time is coming when that will not be the first consideration, though, to be quite fair and candid, it has to be so for places of amusement run for profit. Schools, polytechnics and clubs, country parish rooms, and travelling cinemas will be a marked feature of “after the war conditions. As an association we hope to do much to recreate the public mind, to create a demand for the beautiful, the wonderful, the heroic, and the romantic. To set forth noble living, in fietion or in fact, and to show, or cause to be shown, “whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report,” will, we are convinced, tend towards that better England we all long to see built in our midst.
85, Upper Gloucester Place,
ABSTRACTS AND EXTRACTS. Under this heading are gathered thoughts from literature, both ancient and modern, which seek to
provide information likely to be of assistance to students of child life and practical workers for child welfare. It is hoped that our readers will co-operate in making this section both suggestive and serviceable.
THE INSTITUTIONAL CARE OF
CHILDREN. War has demonstrated even the most obtuse minds the real meaning of man-power.
It becoming increasingly clear that the future existence of the British Commonwealth will depend upon the citizens which are now in the making, the children which are being born and bred in these unparelled days of service and sacrifice. Every child must be 'either a helper or a hinderer of the State. Nothing should be allowed to hamper the development of our children. Every child must be given an opportunity of fulfilling his or her destiny. A recognition of the paramount value of child life is leading to a demand for the rais. ing of our standards in all matters relat. ing to child welfare work. For long homes and orphanages, reformatories and industrial schools and other institutions have sought to provide in some measure for the requirements of motherless and fatherless boys and girls and other neces. sitous children. Large numbers of insti. iutions have been established in this land and have accomplished notable service. They have varied greatly in size, form, constitution, government, aims, and it must also be added in standards. Some still maintain a mediæval outlook, clothing their young charges in uniform type of dress reminiscent of the early foundling hospitals and charity schools, and adopting ways and means which the modern educational spirit has not hesi. tated to condemn. Many institutions caring for children are now subjected to systematic Government inspection. The inspector should be one who by position and knowledge has the right to be considered an expert, and his chief duties should be those of an adviser to the staffs and committees of management of the various institutions he is expected to visit. In the light of to-day reconstruction and re-adjustment should be comparatively easy, and at all events opposition to
enterprises and endeavours making for progress should cease. Child welfare workers are now the possessors of a New Message, and in the spread of this fuller Gospel of Truth and Righteousness there is need of a New Ministry. Much of existing child welfare work, as conducted in homes and orphanages, reformatories and industrial schools, and other institutions devoted to the interests of child life, undoubtedly leaves much to be desired. Defects are mainly due to the lack of trained workers. There is urgent need for the establishment of training centres where men and women undertaking the care and education of necessitous children, whether in State in itutions or in voluntary homes and orphanages, should undergo a systematic course of instruction. Under existing conditions institutional care of dependent, defective, diseased and delinquent children leaves much to be desired. A valuable address
“ The Limitations of Institutional Training” was delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Reformatory and Refuge Union by Dr. A. H. Norris, H.M. Chief Inspector of Reformatory and Industrial Schools, and Chairman of the Special Home Office Committee dealing with Juvenile Organizations, and is reported in detail in the June issue of Seeking and Saving, the official monthly journal of Reformatories, Industrial School and Preventive Institutions, published by the Reformatory and Refuge Union, Victoria House, 117, Victoria Street, S.W.1. Dr. Norris's address is peculiarly timely and contains most valuable information and suggestions. We venture to present extensive quotations : “What should be our ideal ? Surely that every child should be trained to be a healthy and honourable citizen, willing and able to do his fair share of work in the world, able to stand by himself and shoulder the responsibilities of his position, an example of all that is good to his comrades. The training in an institution should be such that when a child leaves those who have
advised, guided, and controlled him, and goes out into the world, he will not be ignorant of the conditions he now encounters for the first time, will not feel strange and lost, but will know the manners and customs of his own class, so that on mixing with his new comrades he will do so without making mistakes which may make him look ridiculous in their eyes and his own, with loss of much self-respect. How far do our institutions orphanages, industrial and other schools -attain this end ? Let us consider institutional life from a few points of view, commencing first of all with the buildings. These are often so vast that the child knows but a portion of them and feels no
sense of home or possession. The rooms are large and lofty, well ventilated, but, alas, too often little used, heated by hot pipes or radiators, but with no fireplaces; the staircases and passages are roomy and well lit, presenting none of the peculiarities of the twisting staircase of an ordinary cottage; bathrooms and lavatories are on an elaborate scale with every convenience, closets are provided with an automatic flush which calls for no responsibility on the part of the user for flushing of the same; the furniture is limited, though there is generally an ample supply of tables, forms, cupboards, shelves-indeed, there is a place for everything, but chairs are often completely absent, and a child may spend years in an institution and never sit on a chair, or at any rate on an upholstered
It is not, therefore, surprising to hear of the boy leaving such a school and entering an ordinary sitting-room to be astonished at all he sees, to hear that on being told to sit down on a chair upholstered with springs he quickly rose, thinking a joke had been played upon him, much to the amusement of his comrades and his own confusion. Carpets are almost unknown, oilcloth or scrubbed boards being the rule, so that it matters not if food is dropped on the ground for it can quickly be cleaned up and no harm is done. Surely a child trained in some institutions will never to his dying day scrub a floor again if he can help it. Enamel-ware is seen only too frequently; it is comparatively cheap, though admittedly unhealthy, but it admits of much rough usage—a bad training for the future of crockery. So, too, the
dining-room tables are still occasionally seen without tablecloths, or covered only with American cloth, for can it not be so easily washed over if the boy is badmannered enough to put his bones or potato peelings on the table? He is not encouraged to drink with his dinner; he can put his mouth to a common tap in the yard afterwards or drink from a cup used by all comers, healthy or otherwise. From such a building he is suddenly transferred to a small cottage in the slums of one of our great towns. Can he be said to be trained to live in such a house? Is it not possible to arrange for a child about to leave an institution 19 have the last few weeks of his or her training in a cottage with a sensible man and his wife, and so get accustomed to the conditions under which his future is to be spent ? Next consider those who undertake the training, the education, the care of the health of the institution child, those who will very largely make or mar his future. In most institutions to-day these are people with a very real love for their work, toiling on year after year, with but an indifferent salary, and often still more indifferent quarters, overworked, with little recreation or holiday. The superintendent and matron are re. sponsible, not for two, six, or perhaps ten children, their own flesh and blood, but for perhaps a hundred, two hundred, or even more, many of whom are abnormal and difficult to manage. Whilst it is remarkable how intimate is the knowledge they possess of the children committed to their care, yet there are instances where there is no one in the institution who in any way approaches the position of the parent. It is still possible to enter an institution and hear such an order as, “ Number sixty-nine, send thirty-seven to the office.” However willing or observant, no man or woman can know a hundred children as intimately as a parent would know his children or bring the same influence to bear on them.
Then, too, they are but birds of passage, who will, after a few years, pass into the world, often to be lost sight of for years, though many, particularly those who have done well, will pay frequent visits to the old place. Number twenty goes out and another number twenty fills his place, the matron who would love the little orphan or neglected child has to bear in mind that she has little time or opportunity to feel or show any affection, nor would she be wise in showing any partiality for one or a few -the responsibility is hers to look after them all. No one, however, who knows anything of the work of institutions could speak of the superintendent and matron without paying a tribute to their devotion and zeal in carrying on the enormous amount of work they are called upon to undertake, the surprising amount of individual knowledge they acquire of the children, and their ceaseless care for the sick child; but even so it must of necessity be infinitely less than that of a parent for a few children. The lack of individual attention is by some said to develop character and independence, but there is little evidence of it, particularly amongst the girls. And so, too, the shoemaker, the tailor, and that relic of bygone ages, the labour-master, dealing with large numbers, which render individual attention impossible, often teach in 1918 exactly as they taught ten or twenty years before—they have drifted into a rut. Perhaps from time to time they pause to regret that all their training rarely produces a shoemaker or tailor. There are, of course, many exceptions, but these only emphasize the remainder. The staffs are often insufficient in numbers, and the pay sometimes is such as only to attract second-rate applicants, who have no real interest in their work and still less in the children whom they are supposed to be training. And of the child himself what can be said ? He may have been born in the institution, or entered it quite young, and in either case may be the victim of some hereditary disease or defect requiring special care and treatment. He may enter as a youngster with a history of ill-treatment or neglect, or he may come with a record of being out of control and with a career of crime or mischief. The immediate effect of institutional life on the latter is often striking. Instead of the growth, mental and physical, which might be expected, he ceases to grow, loses the wit and sparkle so typical of the London urchin, and becomes a source of anxiety to all concerned. The cause is not far to seek. His pre-institution life has been a very free one, he has worked, slept, and eaten pretty well when and how he
liked, and, contrary to the general supposition, his food and rest have been ample, if erratic and irregular, and he has more or less lived in the fresh air. Suddenly this has been changed; no longer does he wear an apology for a shirt and a ragged pair of trousers suspended by a combination of string and braces, no longer does he run free or sleep just when and where he feels the need of a “doss”; on the contrary, his life is ordered for him almost to the minute. He must rise at a certain time, work to exact and often too long hours, eat food of a different or often less appetizing kind, and last, but by no means least, he must wear clothes varying in weight in different institutions from two to fourteen pounds. It is not sufficiently realized how heavy clothing and boots may, and do, cause a child to become slow in movement and probably slow mentally. Then, too, he no longer dodges School Board officers, policemen, taxis, boys and men who would bully or ill-treat him, his irate mother and others who seek his welfare; he no longer need use his wits, or at any rate fails to do so; the necessity for quick action disappears and he ceases to think or move with his old activity. But whenever he enters he becomes one of a number, he must live by routine, he must do as the others do, he may have the same series of meals served in exactly the
way every week during all the years he is in the institution, he will wash when commanded to do so, play to order, and quickly tends to lose his individuality. The staff often realize it and fight against it, but it is extremely difficult to arrange it otherwise. Clothes, food, and the other necessities of life are bought wholesale, the food is cooked in bulk, and the children learn nothing of shopping, of the value of money, and the girl trained for service in some cases goes out unable to do the simplest cooking. Yet the school may, and often does turn out excellent bakers, provided they are allowed to bake by the hundredweight. The child's clothing is chosen for him in every way, and will probably be the same as for all his comradesmit may be uniform and therefore of exactly the same type all the time he is at the institution, and may be, and often is grotesque and ridiculous. The dress may