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THE BROADVIEW BOYS INSTITUTE AND ITS FIELD OF WORK.
C. J. ATKINSON, SUPERINTENDENT, TORONTO.
Our work might be summed up briefly in this expression "Vocational Education and Industrial Play." Those five words express a feature of our work that distinguishes it from other boys' clubs. While we felt that we should emphasize the vocational side, we did not want to assume that there was too much cultural education, but that there was not enough of the industrial or technical. And, therefore, the plans of the Institute from the very beginning were developed on that idea. There was a feeling in the minds of those who were promoting the work that play as play was, if anything, being over-emphasized. For instance, in the purchase of playing material for the boys instead of buying bats and balls and other implements of sport, we felt that work benches and other implements that could be used in an industrial way along the line of labour and work, and yet could be made play for boys, would accomplish more, giving them recreation, and, in addition to that, much useful information. We felt that in the education of girls much better judgment was used. For instance, girls are provided with dolls, they play at housekeeping and keep school and so on; their play is along the line of their future pursuits in life. With boys, however, it is, apparently estimated that their future pursuits are to be playing Rugby football and professional baseball and so on, judging from the way we treat them. We believe that just as girls enjoy playing at what their elders are doing, for the same reason boys should be provided with the same advantage. That in short is the principle with which we started, and I am going to tell you how it has worked out. We felt from the educational standpoint that although we were situated in a city we should have all phases of activity represented, not only the industrial work of the city, but also the agricultural element introduced. Some of our boys had been brought up on the farm, and we felt that they would be still interested in this work, and so in planning we secured sufficient land to have vegetable beds-a township it was called. This township was divided into little farms, so called, and all the boys who cultivated these were called farmers, and, boylike, they must assume all the paraphernalia of the office, and so they appeared at their work in overalls, large straw hats and high boots, and so on, and gloried in the fact of being called farmers. We felt that it was a good thing to get the boys to appreciate the good qualities of their industry. These little farms were 10 feet by 40 in size and we provided 70 of them. From the first we never had a vacant plot, and we have a long list of boys waiting for plots. Last year on account of putting up a new building we had to secure land 5 miles out of the city, and while we still retained some flower plots at the Institute, it was all taken up and more than subscribed for. Some 25 boys went regularly out five miles to cultivate their little farm plots, and brought in their produce and exhibited it at our Fall Fair; this will show the interest they took. This work gave not only an opportunity of interesting them in the soil but of educating them. along the line of citizenship, because these little plots-the township was called a municipality—the Broadview Boys Township, and they elected their reeve and councillors; these in turn appointed pathmasters; we had inspectors and constables, and a system of municipal Government was very effectively carried out. There were annual elections, which were very exciting contests, sometimes involving a big organization, men with a long line of bicycles at the door, and if any of the voters were a little slow coming to vote the bicycle riders chased after them and brought them in. Each of the contending parties, of course, advocated an advanced policy
for the township, better work than ever had been done and a higher standard for everything. The carrying out of an election like that has an influence for citizenship. The ballots used were printed by the boys on the premises; booths were fitted up in the regulation way--a curtain hung in the corner and a pencil with a string in the rear with a little table, as much like the real election booth as possible and there the boys marked their ballots in secret, and we have yet to record an entirely spoiled ballot. There is no ballot stuffing and no disputes afterwards in regard to that. Occasionally, there would be a ballot that would be a little questionable and that was made the basis of a little talk to the electors assembled on election night to hear the results, samples of ballots shown that were just a little irregular— the cross not made quite in the right place or not made quite in the right way, so that they might be carefully educated along the line of voting. Citizenship, then, you will see, was an important part of the training involved in our municipality; in addition to that we found it developed a wonderful business instinct. The boys soon found that they could sell the produce of their little plots to their neighbours; sometimes they sold it at home. They soon found that their own family and friends and neighbours were anxious to buy their vegetables because they were always fresh. They were cheaper than could be purchased from the grocer and the boys were being encouraged. This led to the cultivating of certain things for the purpose of marketing them and resulted in the making of money. The boys discovered that with five cents worth of seed they could produce vegetables worth 75 cents or a dollar, and, a little later on, the boys were impressed with the fact that the cultivation of the soil was a profitable business. They found that with a little expenditure of money, and with a reasonable amount of care the sunshine and the rain did their work, and agriculture impressed itself upon the boys as a profitable pursuit. It went still farther, however. One boy was anxious to borrow some money after he had invested all his savings so that he might purchase the produce of some of the other boys. He gave them so much for raising the crops and he did the marketing; for the sake of ready money they were willing to sell and in a little while he had one third of the township bought up. He went about and secured his customers and then he engaged other boys to distribute the produce, with their waggons made from baby carriage wheels and soap boxes. On Saturday the manager of this business made his collections. He made his deposits at our savings bank and did splendidly the whole season. I requested him to be particularly careful in keeping track of his sales and he kept his books very accurately. For instance, he took five rows of onions at 10 cents a row and sold them for $1.50. Later on when the boys of the municipality had their farmers' supper this was the occasion for drawing lessons and morals from the summer's work. We spoke of this boy's experience with the five rows of onions, and it was pointed out how later in life they could be 50 cent men or $1.50 men, and according to the experience they were getting now, so would they do later on in the larger affairs of life. Many men do not find that out until it is too late; they did not get the information early enough to take advantage of it. The result was that next year that boy could not carry on his enterprise, because the rest organized into groups. One boy who had the capacity would do the selling, while others who preferred to work on the soil did the cultivating, and so we had half a dozen combines throughout the township doing business. It is not necessary for me to point out the educational value of such training. They would get greatly excited when they saw the first shoot coming out of the ground, and would watch the growth with interest. More definite instruction was not given because we wanted to bring out the individuality. Other classes
were in clay modeling, and wood carving. Later we had telegraphy, freehand drawing, mechanical drawing, architectural drawing and office work classes. All these things were along industrial lines and quite different from the courses usually taken up at such clubs. Out of a total membership of 415 there was an attendance at these classes of 337, which well illustrates the interest shown. As to the effect of this upon the boys (for this is not a thing of yesterday, it has been in operation ten years) we find boys from our Institute working as printers, lithographers, and so on, earning good money. Boys who are not turned in the right direction take jobs that are worth $5, and $6 a week with poor chances of improvement. It is not fair to them to start them off with any such handicap; they are innocent in the matter. You will find many misplaced men; there are farmers who should be at a trade in the city, and so-called mechanics that would be a far better success tilling the soil. To make a success of life you must not look on Monday as a sad day, but as a time to take up happily the work left off Saturday. The only way to remedy that is to get the boys into callings that they will enjoy; that is where industrial play comes in. We have carried this municipal Government to the extent of having a Commonwealth with four Provinces-Education, Agriculture, Athletics, and Camp. They have exciting times at Camp; in the flickering light of the camp. fire a boy will get up and make his first speech much better than in a hall with many eyes on him. He cannot see any one looking at him, and it is the greatest development for public speaking I have yet seen; get him at camp and interest him in an election campaign, and all calling for him and he will get up and make his first speech. We are in the throes there now of an election campaign, and if the contending parties in the Province at present want some up-to-date planks they can go down here and get them. Each party is trying to put forward the most advanced platform along the various phases of moral reform; why their legislation should take that particular direction at this time I cannot say. When Parliament opens it is a State occasion, cannons roar and the Boy Scouts act as escorts, and so on, and the full routine is gone through in proper manner. The various departments of state are all carried on; there is the Minister of Agriculture, Minister of State and so on. A revenue is raised and it is expended pretty much as it is in the regular Parliament; this is a real parliament to those boys-we need to remember that; we think boys are playing when they are in dead earnest. Their election is as large an issue to them as the present Provincial election is to many of us. The plan is better than the Mock Parliament; that is good but it is not the ideal thing for educational purposes. You must have the real thing, and when you have that you get better results. When I spoke of placing boys in various callings I should have referred to the most important item of all, and that is 20 or 30 boys have gone from our little township farm and proved great successes. Three of them went to the Agricultural College at Guelph, the majority of them are located in the Northwest. As some of the individual cases are most interesting, I could not do better than to cite one. Two brothers had their farms in the township .and were very industrious, so much so that I used to hear them about the place at 5 o'clock in the morning. They were 15 and 16 respectively, and had to be at work at 7 in the morning. They would be over at the grounds at 5 o'clock-before breakfast-cultivating their little plots. It was not a surprise, therefore, when we heard these two boys were trying to persuade their father to exchange his house and lot on Broadview Ave. for a farm. Finally they went on a farm between Port Hope and Cobourg where they are doing well. They were particularly successful with tomatoes, knowing from experience on our little township farm what they could do with them
and went in for them. These boys will undoubtedly be successful, and, in addition, the father has regained his health; and they attribute it all to starting on our farm plots. This illustrates what I want to emphasize that in our cities, large and small, towns and villages, the public schools should in some way introduce agriculture in a practical way.
I have tried to make clear what I mean by vocational education and industrial play-getting the boys simply to play at the things now that they will follow later in life, to find out what they would like to pursue later on, and then their labour when they go out into the greater and larger world will become a pleasure to them and a delight rather than a drudgery.
THE PRESIDENT: We are delighted with Mr. Atkinson's address; it shows that if you are to make anything out of boys and girls you have got to take hold of them while they are young.
J. LOCKIE WILSON: I do not see why some system such as Mr. Atkinson has adopted in the Broadview Boys Institute should not be adopted at the O. A. C., Guelph. The education of young men along the line of municipal Government seems very useful, and the authorities at Guelph College should take this matter into consideration.
A MEMBER: There is another side of boy life that is being developed at the Broadview Institute, and we should like to hear the story of Little Scotty, as told by Mr. Atkinson.
C. J. ATKINSON: Educating the boys along the line of making money, getting the dollars and cents, is good, but it is not the best thing. They should be educated along the line of spending their money properly and generously, and where it will do most service. There are other ways for the boys to make money which I have not mentioned. One was by means of the Bee Company, which never paid less than 20 per cent. dividend and sometimes 50. In five years they have got twice the value out that they put in, and still have their shares at double par value. Then there is the Broadview Boys Trading Company and the Broadview Boys Transportation. They made money out of all these things except one, and, perhaps, it was as well, or else they might think that every joint stock company must be successful, simply because it is a joint stock company. They organized a potato company, but it was not a good year, and they lost money on that. We thought we should have some way of educating the boys to spend their money generously, and a suggestion was made that we adopt a boy, perhaps a boy of their own age or a little younger, 10, 12, or 14 years of age. The matter was left for a week to be thought out, so that there would be no snap judgment on the matter. A committee of three was appointed to select the boy, and a condition was made that the boy must be an orphan, because, as they said, they wanted to give a boy a chance who hadn't half a one. The Committee started to visit some of the homes and consulted Mr. Kelso. Finally they saw the boy called Scotty, a cripple, and as the boys said, "We intended to get a boy that hadn't half a chance but this boy hasn't a quarter of a chance." He was selected and brought to the Institute, and provision made for clothing him and sending him to school. The contributions on Sunday jumped from $1 to $3. or $4 per week. and appeals for the "Help the Other Fellow Fund" brought ready responses every time. And the boys about the Institute who were inclined to sulk and be a little vicious were, strange to say, the