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of responsibility. We may stress many obvious things ;
regularity of living, consistency of purpose in family life,
cultivation of socially useful habits, recognition of skill and
achievement in the individual child, use of social resources,
the building up the feeling of confidence in the trustworthi-
ness of adults. But these are end-results. The essential
core is found in the attitude of the parent toward personality.
If the parent is possessive in his relationship to his child,
if he merely projects his own ambition the child will turn
elsewhere. If the parent is genuinely solicitous for the well-
being of the child he will be incapable of thwarting his
growth attempts.

IT is a curious fact that adolescent children who are
antagonistic to their parents appear to seek the missing
parent among their adult friends, or their contemporaries.
The personality of the undesirable friend is so often an image
of the dream-parent, a kind of substitute for what the child
desired of his parent!

From delinquent "leaders" has been withheld, not only
normal parental relationships but adequate understanding
on the part of the community. Rejected by the school, the
church, and the club, isolated and distorted by neighborhood
gossip they find their only road to prestige to be in rebellion.
Equipped with energy, both physical and mental, possessed
of surprising buoyancy and courage these young people ex-
plore every avenue and find it blocked. The wise parent is
the one who opens doors, and who realizes that while ulti-
mately "loyalty" may be "the devotion of the self to the
community,"' the chief door to it in adolescence is the at-
traction of personality.




Forty Years in Kindergarten

An Interview with Patty Smith Hill
By BtULAH AMIDON



PATTY SMITH HILL said, "Great things have
been happening in kindergarten and primary
education in the last forty years."
My mind flashed back across three decades to
the kindergarten in a prairie town taught by
Miss Emma and Miss Julia in a church basement. In those
days one's chief responsibility in kindergarten, as in school,
was to learn to do as one was told. There was a white
circle painted on the floor. There was a locked cupboard
to which Miss Julia kept the key. One sat on the white
circle while Miss Emma told a story embodying some
spiritual "lesson" and one did not squirm or ask questions.
One sat in a little red chair "hands folded at the edge of
the table," when Miss Julia unlocked the cupboard, placing
in front of each child The Gift, while Miss Emma ex-
plained precisely what was to be done with it.
Richard might aspire to a pattern of his own
design on his peg board. Kathleen might feel
more like clay modeling than paper weaving.
Margery might prefer cutting paper doll
dresses from her blue paper to folding it
into a geometric form. But in kinder-
garten one did as one was told, all except
David who flew into tantrums of outraged
dignity and thwarted ambition and was
finally refused as a kindergarten pupil by
Miss Emma.

Miss Hill said, "I think the children are
happier now than they used to be more
normal in mind and in body because we under-
stand them better."

Not long before our interview, I went with
the four-year-old that I know best to visit his
school. Betty and Philip were making "work
aprons" for themselves out of gay cretonne.
John and Kendall were modeling clay ani-
mals. Three other children were cooperatively
building a subway system with the big blocks.
Several small persons clustered about an
assistant teacher planning a museum trip. Jane
and Dorothy were feeding the class bunny.
Hector and Mary and Roderigo were ham-
mering away in the construction of their
grocery store for which Freddy and Miss C.
were printing a sign. Yes, these eager children
in this "junior primary" room, absorbed in
their own projects, wen: happier than the
regimented kindergartners of forty years ago.




Patty Smith Hill was one of the pioneers in bringing about
this change.

Miss Hill first became known to the educational world
in the early nineties, as the result of her experimental work
in a demonstration kindergarten in Louisville, Kentucky.
Since 1905 she has been on the faculty of Teachers College,
Columbia University, and today she is Professor of Edu-
cation in this institution, one of only three women to hold
a full professorship in this famous training center for
school leaders.

In herself and in her work, Miss Hill typifies the
cleavage in American education between the traditionalists
and the progressives between those who cling to old
ways simply because they are old ways, and those who
swing forward in the pioneer spirit seeking broader
fields through research and experiment.

Patty Hill, herself, is tall and vigorous
and wholesome, with unshorn iron gray hair,
very young, very blue eyes, and quiet, capable
hands.

She said, "If I am to talk to you about my
work and the changes in education with which
I have been associated, I must start by talking
to you about my mother and father and the
wonderful home in which I grew up. My
wish to work and my ability to work I trace
back to the childhood they gave me."

Miss Hill was one of six children. Her
father, a Princeton graduate, was a Presby-
terian minister who also became at differ-
ent times in his life headmaster of a girls'
school, president of a woman's college, and an
editor.

(< \ f Y mother grew up in a college town
Ivl. in the South. She was not allowed
to matriculate because the college was for men
only but a college education she must have,
so the professors tutored her outside the sacred
college walls. 'I grew up in the days when the
South was endeavoring to recover from the
effects of the Civil War, when a college edu-
cation was next to impossible. I have spent a
life time studying and teaching, but I have
always been too busy to stop long enough for
my own degree."

Miss Hill looked up at the sensitive, gravely
smiling face of her father's portrait and said,



506



FORTY YEARS IN KINDERGARTEN



507



"There was a man who really understood young people.
He never had any disciplinary problems in his college be-
cause he gave his students what he called 'wise freedom.'
My mother's philosophy was a happy one. She asserted that
every child should have any reasonable pleasure he desired.
Those were puritanical days and dire results were prophesied
as she planned the life of her children along these lines.
Every child in our family had his own little garden. We
were allowed to go to the workshop, encouraged to work
with hammer and saw and nails. We were taught that
idleness, not work, was a disgrace. This all sounds com-
monplace enough now, doesn't it? But in those days it was
daringly unconventional. My father went even farther.
He believed that every girl should grow up with a pro-
fession. This was a radical idea everywhere fifty years ago,
particularly in the South. My father had a horror of girls
'marrying for a home,' and he felt that the only way to
avoid this catastrophe was to prepare every young woman
to 'stand on her own feet' economically. For this reason
from our earliest years sisters and brothers alike discussed
together and with our parents the type of work we wished
to pursue when we were grown."

PATTY HILL is sure she had selected her own career
by the time she was eight or nine years of age. "I know
that I made up my mind very early in life that the care of
young children was to be my work when I was grown
up. I can scarcely remember when I did not have this
ambition."

In September, 1887, two months after Miss Hill
graduated from the Louisville Collegiate Institute, the
Courier-Journal announced a new educa-
tional venture to be started in that city.

A FREE KINDERGARTEN

Miss Bryan Returns to her Kentucky

Home to Instruct Poor Children



scientific knowledge available in his day. I am sure that he
would have been one of the first to grasp with full under-
standing and sympathy the viewpoints that science brought
into education. As I read his life he never looked upon
his scheme of education as complete. He was constantly
sending out material to mothers and teachers urging them
to criticize it after experimentation. Those who came after
him did not have this fresh and adventurous spirit. In their
hands his incomplete experimentation grew into a cult. The
purpose of the kindergarten movement ceased to be a
progressive scheme of education and became a 'system'."



She Will Also Train Young Ladies for

Teaching Methods of the

Celebrated System.

Miss Hill immediately enrolled under Anna
E. Bryan in this first training class for a new
type of teaching.

"I was the youngest member of my class
but from the very beginning my training
teacher observed an ability to depart from
traditional procedure which she encour-
aged. She used to say 'You do not have to
follow Froebel. I want to see what you
yourself will do.'

Miss Hill continued : "Most of the Ameri-
can pioneers in kindergarten education were
Hegelians. Many of them identified them-
selves with the .Transcendental School of
Philosophy at Concord. In the days of
Emerson this was the philosophical back-
ground for such leaders as Elizabeth Peabody,
Susan Blow, William T. Harris, Denton
Snider, and others. Those in this group who
lived to see the new day found it difficult to
square their 'world view' with modern
science. Froebel himself went from one
university to another, digging out the scant




AWA E. BRYAN broke with this tradition. When Miss
Hill speaks of this teacher there is reflected in her face
the glow of a fine and stimulating comradeship, though Miss
'Bryan died in 1901. Across the years Miss Hill feels that,
much as she owes to such great teachers as John Dewey,
William Burnham, G. Stanley Hall, Edward Lee Thorn-
dike, her dominating love for children was first directed
into channels of growth by Miss Bryan's inspiring vision.
Upon her graduation with the first training class Miss
Bryan put Patty Hill in charge of the demonstration kinder-
garten. Miss Bryan made her feel that the kindergarten
was her laboratory and even then Miss Hill grasped the
significance of purposeful activity and set herself the task
of so presenting the kindergarten resources that they would
stimulate creative thinking in children. Instead of "dic-
tating" the building of a cube from the rectangular blocks
of the Fourth Gift, Miss Hill began to suggest the possi-
bility of constructing a doll bed or a table or a barn from
the blocks without dependence upon direction. This was a
step behind the self-motivated projects of the
modern kindergarten-primary school, but it
was far in advance of the orthodox kinder-
gartens of the day.

At the meeting of the National Educa-
tional Association in 1890 Miss Bryan read
a paper with the suggestive title, The Letter
Killeth. Miss Hill illustrated this talk with
charts, showing how she led children to create
their sequences as a substitute for the dictated
forms of preceding years. As a result of this
meeting it began to be noised abroad that
something out of the ordinary was happening
in the kindergartens of Louisville, Kentucky.
People came from all parts of the country to
see this new type of work. The last year that
Miss Hill had charge of the demonstration
kindergarten more than three thousand guests
were registered in the visitors' book.

At the end of 1893, Miss Bryan was re-
called to Chicago and Miss Hill, though still
in her early twenties, became principal of the
training school as well as supervisor of the
kindergartens. In spite of the strenuous duties
of the school year, her summers were spent
in study, in preparation for new under-
takings.

"Every time I heard of a teacher who was
breaking ground in my field I traveled any
distance to get acquainted with him and his
work at first hand. In 1890, I studied with
Colonel Francis Parker in the famous old
Cook County Normal School, in Chicago. A



508



FORTY YEARS IN KINDERGARTEN



little later than this a monograph came into my hands
written by John Dewey in which he endeavored to present
to teachers the psychological fact that a mode of expression
apart from a vital idea to express is barren and stultifying.
This was my own starting point in getting away from the
formalism of the traditional kindergarten procedure. As
soon as I could, I went to study with Professor Dewey.
When I returned to my work I gave over all of the tradi-
tional procedure, convinced that creative thinking, not
standardized practice, should be the guiding principle in the
education of little children."

In 1896 G. Stanley Hall issued a questionnaire on
kindergarten programs, making a drastic criticism of the
traditional plan. As soon as this material came into Miss
Hill's hands she was on the way to study with Dr. Hall.
"While a large number of kindergartners responded to Dr.
Hall's invitation, at the close of his first class only two
students remained for the exceedingly strenuous summer
course he proposed Miss Bryan and myself. This gave us
a rare opportunity, as we had the whole summer for un-
interrupted study under Dr. Hall and Professor Burnham.
Here we were introduced to the new child study movement,
to the necessity for changing materials, curricula, and
methods in the light of new knowledge about both physical
and mental health."

In 1905 Dean Russell called Patty Hill to Teachers
College to introduce these new ideas in education in
the East where the work was of a very conservative
type.

"You know, Teachers College always presents both sides
of a controversial issue," Miss Hill reminded me. "That's
a tradition but not a bad one. Susan Blow, the great leader
of the conservatives, was present at all of my classes and
I had the privilege of attending all of hers. The same
group of students was exposed to these diametrically
opposed points of view on different days." Miss Hill
chuckled. "It's a wonder the class survived!

"Teachers College even at that time had a scientific atti-
tude toward education. It was not a fertile field for either
mysticism or traditionalism. In a short time it was clear
that the progressive point of view was to prevail here."

A year later the first classes for supervisors and training
teachers were placed under Miss Hill's charge. During
more than twenty years of service to Teachers College Miss
Hill has helped bring about a complete shift in emphasis
from the exact practice of a standardized routine to a scien-
tific study of childhood through intelligent experimentation.
From the beginning she was interested in the clinical study
of children and worked toward the establishment of what
was later called the Institute of Child Welfare Research.
Through Miss Hill's effort Dr. Helen T. Woolley, a re-
search expert in the new field, was brought to Teachers
College as the Institute's Director.

"'VXT'T'HEN I look back on my long experience in
^\/ teaching," said Miss Hill, "I am always grateful
for what I have learned from the children. If one is not
absorbed in administering 'a system' one can learn so much
in a schoolroom!

"There was Howard, for instance, back in the first
Louisville kindergarten. Howard could always manage to
say what he meant. Every schoolroom ought to have one
:hild who is able to express to the teacher what others
only feel. We were sitting in the traditional kindergarten



circle, the children and I. In those days it was part of a.
good kindergartner's job to get over to the children 'the
topic of the day.' I was earnestly holding forth looking
to right and left, to the front, and to the children on each
side when Howard lifted his face to mine. 'Say, Teacher,'
he demanded, 'who are you talking to anyhow?' At once
I realized what artificial nonsense the whole performance
was. In the circle I was not talking to anyone. I was just
spraying my ideas over a group of children, who had to
listen whether they wanted to or not. The circle as a
'symbol' was disbanded then and there. After this I did
my talking with individual children and little groups who
came to me to discuss matters of genuine interest. As soon
as we ceased to make a rite of it, it was easy to get ex-
change of ideas and vigorous discussion among little children.
This was an enormous gain in reality and directness, but
given our small, spontaneous groups as working units, I
found myself asking: How can we develop social conscious-
ness in children of this age?



"J



ACK taught me about this. Jack was in Miss Gar-
rison's group, here at Teachers College. A canary
bird had been given to the children. When Miss Garrison
carried the cage into the room, they all crowded about her,
exclaiming, admiring and asking questions. The cage was
finally placed in the window, and the children scattered to
their various occupations. Presently Jack tugged at Miss
Garrison's sleeve.

"What is the bird's name?" he asked.

"I don't believe he has a name."

"Then I will name him," said Jack. "I will name him
for myself: Jack."

"But Jack, does the bird belong to you?" asked Miss
Garrison.

"No, he doesn't."

"To whom does the bird belong?"

"I suppose he belongs to all of the children in this room."

"Well, then, who has the right to name him?"

"I suppose all the children ought to name him," Jack
answered slowly. "Miss Garrison, please call the children
together to name the bird !"

Miss Garrison waited a moment and then suggested, "But
Jack, you are the one who wants the bird named. Can't
you call the children together?"

It was a big undertaking for a five-year-old. Jack hesi-
tated, uncertain how to organize a "town meeting," but
convinced of the need of one. Finally he went from one
group of children to another saying, "Our bird hasn't a
name come on, let's name him. You can nail that after-
ward let's name our bird right away."

Jack persuaded Leland and Margot and Sally to help
him arrange chairs. They placed them in a big circle, "so
we can all see each other," with a seat for Miss Garrison.
But when all the chairs were occupied it was Jack, not the
teacher, who began to hold forth. The group entered into
animated discussion, Jack insisting that Jessie mustn't talk
till Emily was through and that everyone must be quiet
when Harold, who stuttered, began to talk. At last a
name was chosen, the big circle broke up and the children-
returned to their sewing and carpentry and painting. But
Jack had taught us something about kindergarten organi-
zation that we needed to know: the small, spontaneous,
group is the natural unit for work with little children.
A common interest is the only basis for calling together a



FORTY YEARS IN KINDERGARTEN



509



large group. Given such an interest, a large group can
function simply and spontaneously, and through it the
children gain experience as parts of a social whole."

Miss Hill continued, "Are you old enough to remember
how leaders in education used to say that little children
have no purpose? A group of six-year-olds taught me the
truth about this many years ago. They worked for a week
over a model of a Fifth Avenue bus which they built with
blocks. They criticized, discussed plans, and improved the
model with undiminished enthusiasm, till they were satis-
fied. We had to learn through these children what real
concentration is when a job challenges their interest. It is
astonishing the difference between attention which is only
a response to the teacher's demand and the concentration
inspired by enthusiasm for a job.

"As this experimental work continued my colleagues and
I found it necessary to build a new curriculum for kinder-
garten and primary children. Bit by bit we gave up prac-
tically all of the earlier Froebelian materials, though we
have kept the Froebelian attitude and spirit. We have never
used the Montessori material with American children. The
whole scheme was too rigid and artificial, and we could
not accept the psychological principle of the 'transfer of
training' upon which Mme. Montessori's entire plan is
based. This meant that we must work out our own
materials.

"We began with blocks. Children have always loved to
build. I looked back on my childhood when my sisters and
I tried to make houses big enough to get into but the
available materials were not suited to our purposes. We
tried placing boards on top of barrels but the construction



was so shaky that we were compelled to lie down after
creeping 'upstairs'. In 1898 I studied with Dr. Luther
Gulick who had the first school of play in America, and I
took for my problem a new set of building blocks on a scale
sufficiently large to enable children to play in the houses,
stores, and barns they built. We worked on this scheme
twelve or thirteen years before we devised our present set
of blocks which schools all over the world are using.

"We wanted music to be creative as well as interesting.
Up to this time the teacher 'taught' songs and the children
learned them by rote and sang them in chorus. We sub-
stituted short childlike songs and 'musical sentences.' We
introduced tone plays with bells, triangles, horns, water in
tumblers anything to call the children's attention to the
beauty of sound. Through these plays we were able to
detect tone deafness and monotones. We are still fighting
'concert singing' where children form bad musical habits
and where individual defects are covered up by the volume
of sound. We try to substitute for chorus work the primitive
instruments by means of which children can experiment
with sound. Rhythms are caught by the children as they
listen to the beat of the music sung or played by one
another or by the teacher. No one dictates the steps and
eagerly each child moves from discovery to discovery. This
is commonplace today but was epoch-making in its be-
ginning.

"We had a terrific battle on the subject of kindergarten
games. Here again it was the traditional idea for the
teacher to 'teach 1 and the children to imitate. We soon
discovered that if children were left to themselves they
would create their own plays, (Continued on page 523)




Training for Social Work



By BEULAH WELDON






CAN the undergraduate of 1927 be made into
a social worker? If not, why not? If so,
how? This discussion is not a fundamental
analysis of these queries. It is an aggregation
of impressions received from visits to twenty-
seven colleges, interviews with the directors of thirteen
schools of social work and with the recruiting officers of
six large commercial organizations. It seeks to raise ques-
tions rather than to answer them.

A generation ago, a zealous, self-sacrificing man or
woman with a "cause" could not only get a hearing on the
college campus but could with ease inspire large numbers
of the young ones to go out and do likewise. That day is
past. The modern college student is more skeptical of emo-
tional appeals, more intent on finding a reasonable basis
for work. The word "service" suffered at the hands of the
war propagandists and will not again quicken the pulses of
those who can remember as far back as 1914. As a promi-
nent social worker recently stated it, "They will respond
more readily to a vocation that promises them a life of
experience." The whys of modern college students take
them far outside the conventional paths of academic research.
To be sentimental is taboo ; to be hard-boiled a matter of
course and of pride. Social service has as strong an appeal
as the Wednesday night prayer meeting. In a mid-western
college, during my visit, a notice of a lecture by an insurance
expert was posted. The room was jammed. Another meet-
ing,. for a social worker, head of a large settlement house,
brought an audience of two students, both dragged in by
an embarrassed professor.

Even ten years ago a college girl found satisfaction in
playing games one afternoon a week in a settlement house
with the children, coaching a play, or teaching a sewing
class. Last spring a college junior who had struggled with
an embroidery class tendered her resignation to the head-
worker of the settlement saying she felt there was nothing
"vital" in what she was doing. The director agreed that
of course there wasn't; further she considered the girl
"egotistical" to expect to do anything "vital" in one after-
noon a week during the college year. Naturally they parted
with mutual misunderstanding. Superficially the only differ-
ence between the undergraduate today and the one a decade
ago is that the latter really believed what she did was
important.

The pioneers in social work were sure that their work



Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesThe Survey (Volume 58) → online text (page 113 of 130)