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manity. The plan we have been working out is simple. We
explore the aptitude of our pupils in order to ascertain and
develop an individual vocational bent, though we in no
way attempt to force a premature choice of career. But
when it declares itself as it often does by the tenth grade
we place this vocation at the center of the student's educa-
tional program. From that time on, subjects that have a
general cultural value are approached through their bear-
ing on this special interest.

For fifteen years we have been at work on this theory



255



256



A TEACHER FORGES NEW TOOLS




Five drawings from Theatre Arts Design
Class: Unborn Soul



in our pre-vocational
art course. We now
believe our results
warrant extending
both theory and tech-
nique to our whole
system of secondary
education, and de-
monstrating on a
larger scale what we
have already worked
out in this one educa-
tional field.

At present, we
grant two diplomas,
one general, one in
art. By September,
1928, we hope to add
a difierentiated course
for the 'future busi-
ness man, and one for
the girl whose busi-
ness or professional
ambition does not ex-
clude the prospect of



a home. As soon as we can, we intend to educate in one
administrative and social unit general professional students,
artists, homemakers, industrial executives, and business men,
carrying our work through what are now the 'freshman
and sophomore years of college, and feeding many of our
graduates directly into the professional schools. For this
purpose we are supplementing our present building with an
adequately endowed pre-professional day-school at Riverdale.
In our present narrow quarters in New York City, how-
ever, the educational principle is already operating in our
Art High School. In history, for instance, the students
actively interested in art find that they are studying social
and political developments which found expression in the
Parthenon, the decorations of which mark a period in their
study of design. In literature they read the philosophy, the
poems and dramas which filled the minds of the Athenians ;

and the great dialogues of Plato, the tragedies ^

of Euripides help weave the course
in art, in literature and in his-
tory into a living Kultur-

geschichte. For the next

two years we have as

yet only two of our

proposed four years

an interest in art mo-
tivates a study of the

men who created the

art, their racial traits,

and the geographical

situations and historical

events that shaped them.

Already interested in

temples, in sculptured

gods and goddesses, in

the rich ornamentation

of cathedrals and the

fervor of religious paint-
ings, a student becomes



absorbed in uncovering the philosophical and religious idesl
these works of art express. His art gives him allurin
glimpses of the daily life of peasants and nobles, of scholai
and statesmen, of home and community. History an
literature courses that reveal this life more fully are nc
irrelevant distractions impatiently endured ; he accepts thet
eagerly as part of his own inner life.

Where the general student experiments with the formula
of the chemistry text-book, the student in the art cours
analyses the pigments which he is using in painting, th
clay and glazes of his pottery, the aniline dyes with whic
he colors his fabric, the mordants of his etching. In th
process, he comes to understand the scientific accurac
traditionally alien to his temperament. To force on hii
in the name of general culture a text-book course in scieni
is to exasperate him, not to endow him with the sympathet
comprehension of scientific method and point of view whic
he needs if he is to live and think intelligently in the moder
world. But in this special course at every step he lean
physics and chemistry by seeing that through science he
gaining better control of the tools of his craft.

Since we have used a special art interest as an approac
to the general courses, we find that our art students rare)



shut themselves off
the world in the
ties of their chosen
for a grown-up to
ate intensity with
votes himself to
he aspires to that
Norma Talmadge
"The next day af-
job as an actress,
returned to school.




High Places



from the rest i
narrow technical
field. It is hai
realize the passioi
which a child d
one subject wht
as his life jo
recently sak
ter getting my fir
Baby and I agai
But I, for on




Stage sets of a machine age



gained very little knowledge. Across the pages of my hi
tory book stepped brave knights in doublet and hose; an
beautiful ladies in trailing gowns, with diadems in the.
hair, were gesticulating before a camera. During the Enj
lish period, the books we studied began to dramatize then
selves in my mind as motion pictures. Algebra became u
terly hateful because I could find no way of relating it 1
my brief public acting experience. I ha
'/ flunked in nearly all my classes fo

cause my mind was on or
thing only: when woul
j^ that letter come from tl
studio?" This sort <
adolescent interest w
at Ethical C u 1 t u r
School are learning I
enlist consciously an
systematically througt
out our pre-profession;
training.

Besides enriching th
curriculum itself, we to
lieve that our pre-prc
fessional reorganizatio
enriches the social er
vironment. At preser
the small general schoc
either prescribes for a
students the college prt



A TEACHER FORGES NEW TOOLS 257.

paratory course suited to a few, or segregates in completely weekly period of art criticism, caught the ardor donned
separate courses those who drop out of the general course, a smock, and joined the painters. Meanwhile the pupils
Typical larger systems build a separate classical high school with mechanical ability built the sets and the natural
for college preparatory students, a technical high school for cutives organized an increasingly complex undertaking tiut
prospective engineers^ and mechanics, and a commercial high at last absorbed the entire personnel of the school, student*

and faculty. When the Yarmarka was over, one
of the most critical seniors said eagerly, "Why
can't we begin every year with something of this
sort? I always thought So-and-so and So-and-so
were just plain dumb!"

Had we been a classical high school, the project
would have lost much of its real beauty. Had we
been an art school pure and simple the enterprise
would have lacked its firm organization and would
have tended to subordinate the philanthropic and
educational purpose to the best possible display of
individual talent. As it was, each group had op-
portunity for self-expression, but the self-expression
instead of being anti-social at the expense of
other groups was social so directed as to elicit
the best contributions of every other element in
the school community.
To our way of thinking, the current tendency



school for those who are to enter
business immediately. These separa-
tions are a source of misunderstand-
ing, envy and class hostility. All
school authorities would gladly build
high schools which would keep to-
gether pupils of all types, but the
administrative technique is lacking;
and on this point, too, our experiment
seems to throw light.

The studies stressed in high school
contain elements valuable to all stu-
dents, whatever their vocational plans.
These elements may be termed the
common core of the subject, and
should be studied by all sorts of stu-
dents together. In this way each type
profits by contact with others whose
bent is different. Division into vocational groups comes
properly only when those elements of the subject are reached
which are of varying degrees of significance, depending on
the future vocation of the individual.

In mathematics, for example, methods of approximation
and measurement, interest tables, progression and principles
applicable to statistics, the nature and validity of proof, and
the part played therein by postulates, assumptions, defini-
tions and previously established truths, are important to the
engineer, scientist, lawyer, physician, business man and
manufacturer. These are some of the common elements of
mathematics which meet a common educational need. Only
for special needs is it necessary to divide into special groups.




Doo



of American education to split off whenever differences ap-
pear is vicious. We would help develop the individuality
of each strand in the complex thread of our population,
but weave them all together into a strong-fibred cord.

Special interests direct the education of a girl or boy in
the present American school system only when he is handi-
capped. A certain efficient Board of Education typical
of the best in the country represents the educational organ-
ization of its city by a great tree. The first members to
branch off are those children of poverty who must leave
school and support themselves almost always by unskilled
manual work in their early teens. Then those for whom
the foreign languages are a barrier, not a bridge, are turned



The system is similar both to the tutorial method now aside into the technical and commercial high schools, and



being employed at Harvard, Princeton and a number oi
other colleges and to the lecture-section-meeting organization
which has been in use for many years. The difference lies
in teaching general principles to the group as a whole and
then gathering into small sections students whose voca-
tional interest is identical and in the section making
those special applications in which each group is
particularly interested. In the general group the
discussion is varied and enlivened by including
pupils of widely differing interests, and the smaller
groups enthusiastically master the elements par-
ticularly applicable to their vocations.

This means that our students work in an environ-
ment of natural variety. Differences of endow-
ment and differences of training become a source
of pride and of successful functioning, not of dis-
crimination and envy.

A few years ago, our student body was eager to
raise funds for European relief. Accordingly, the
annual school festival was given over to a three
days' Russian fair. For it the art pupils made
floor plans, building designs, and costume color
schemes. For a week this small group of gifted
students worked indefatigably and vividly, to the
admiration and delight of the whole student body.
Luis Mora, the portrait painter, dropped in for his



the main trunk rises undivided through college, to separate
and flower much later in the graduate

schools. ^^i^MMB^^^r:-',^ Rut smce wc

at the




and of the world of fantasy



258



A TEACHER FORGES NEW TOOLS



Ethical Culture School, under Felix Adler's able leader-
ship, discovered that it was possible to gain through courses
related to art the general powers demanded for college
admission, we have been able to destroy this unsound tradi-
tion that a specialized school course was suited only to those
of special disability. We have found even that no gulf
separates general students preparing 'for college from art
students who are not. It was first necessary, of course, to
establish that one can be an
artist without being queer or
dull. Once that had been
proved, those students who
were not college-bound had
one great advantage: their
general programs could be
lightened of some of the
language drill and some of
the training in mathematics
which prevented their college-
bound classmates from de-
veloping to the full their tech-
nical ability and from com-
pleting their artistic projects.
Some students academically
admissible to college, prefer-
red instead the earlier profes-
sional training. Best of all,
these artistic children with
their sensitive temperaments
were in a healthy atmosphere
of boys and girls of different tastes. They had their extra-
vagances checked by wholesome laughter, their achievements
admired by a lay audience, their lives kept sweet and human
and normal. Day after day through their school life, they
used their talents and training to contribute to the success
of common enterprises ; they learned to respect the executive
ability, the mathematical calculation, the sturdy workman-
ship of their 'fellow students in practical arts and to exact
these virtues from these same fellow-students when they
were not immediately forthcoming.

We believe that the expansion of the Ethical Culture
School into its new country day school holds the sure promise
of a place where business men, artists, doctors, lawyers,
teachers and engineers of the next generation will work to-
gether and play together, learn to respect themselves and each
other in the impacts of differing interests, and obtain an edu-
cation which is special but not narrow, general but not aim-
less. In such a school we hope to produce specialists efficient
in their own fields, who at the same time will have proved
by daily contact and experience that differences in endow-
ment and vocation can be made the basis of
respect, admiration, and understanding.

Such a school is devoted not merely
to the education of a few hundred
young persons nor even to changes
the educational system of




Tu;o exercises in imaginative design and composition,
both by first-year High School students



It ad-

prob-

men



in

the United States,
dresses itself to the
lem of the type of
and women which our
civilization is destined
to breed the question
whether as civilization




proceeds, human beings are to be cut into smaller and
smaller slices, to become less and less human because more
and more fragmentary, or whether it is possible to save the
wholeness of a man's life without the sacrifice of his use-
fulness in particular ways.

We believe that some such solution as ours is the most
valid pre-university training. Colleges in the East particu-
larly are specializing more and more narrowly on the edu-
cation of those boys and girls
who are academically apt. Yet
so long as American parents
believe that the only way to
give their children a chance in
modern American life is to
send them to college, no ad-
ministrative device can with-
stand the power of money and
social position to force into col-
lege boys and girls who art
intellectually unfit. Some one
must open other roads that
lead to success with equal di-
rectness.

We are trying to show that
different specialties can be
given an efficient, pre-profes-
sional training in a single,
small high school group. li
we succeed, it will be possible
to build small, convenient

regional schools in each suburb instead of the present huge,
central, specialized education-factories.

This would mean releasing children from the strain of
crowded cities during the "fidgety teens." It would mean a
pleasant school community, with time and space for the
growth of rich friendship and understanding hardly pos-
sible in the modern city high school, with its thousands of
students, its corridor traffic system, its clanging bells, its
time-table progress from class to class. These would be
contributions to sound health and dependable nerves as direct
as the good air and spacious playing fields of the suburbs.
In these schools can be trained men and women who are
free, efficient, cultured, and humane. They can be free
since they will have learned to adjust their individualities
to the needs and idiosyncrasies of others. They will be
efficient because they will be trained for some one oc-
cupation instead of drifting at last by compulsion or mere
chance into a vocation with whose requirements they are
unacquainted, and where they may be defeated because
they are misplaced. They can be cultured, because they
will see their narrow tasks as part of the great
and various fabric of human endeavor.
They will be humane because they
will have grown up with, worked
with, lived with, and learned to
respect rich and poor, of differ-
ing creed and race. Andi
from childhood to matur-
ity they will have caupht
glimpses however dim
and fleeting of the col-
lective aim of humanity
regarded as a whole.



Antioch and the Going World



By ROBERT W. BRUERE



I HAVE just spent five days at Yellow
Springs, Ohio, exhilarating and mind-
stretching days. My industrial studies had
led me to believe that cultures are largely
determined by the tools men use in getting
a living and the special groupings and
activities induced by their tools. I was curious to learn the
effect of the interplay of academic and industrial disciplines
at Antioch upon the young men and women exposed to
them. Quite deliberately I had avoided the literature on
the experiment President Morgan and his associates are
making, hoping to get fresh and unedited impressions
from the minds of the students themselves.

It was five of a Saturday afternoon that I reached the
college. There at the center of the campus was a turreted
building of the Fifties, startlingly reminiscent of the building
in which for four long years I had myself listened to lectures,
symbolic of the period when New Englanders carried the
torch of learning to the stump-grubbing and shirt-
sleeved frontier. About me as I crossed the campus were
doves "moaning in immemorial elms" Tennyson, Cam-
bridge, England echoes of that glamorous cultural tradi-
tion that lured me like a mirage away from the ugly realities
of pioneer life, and blinded me, too, to its titanic oppor-
tunities. The main building of my Alma Mater was divided
by a masonry wall ; on the one side were the engineers, on
the other, the consecrates to letters and the learned pro-
fessions. There was no commerce between them. Practical
men, money-grubbers scholars and gentlemen ; the two
didn't mix, scorned mixing. Here at Antioch. . . .

MY one letter of introduction was to John Rosslyn Earp,
A.M., Cambridge, England; yesterday medalist in
public health, University College, London; today director of
hygiene, Antioch College. Needless to say, this biographical
summary was not on the envelope. I take it from the college
catalogue. Here was a scion of a different Cambridge from
that of the moaning doves. I had known of Mr. Earp
through his studies of the effect of public health nursing
upon the infant death rate in Ohio. His major interest is
public health administration. What his students are prin-
cipally interested in, he told me, is his course on mental
and social hygiene, an elective course, dealing with the
reflex, the conditioned reflex, association, suggestion, the
complex, conflict, repression, dissociation "the normal
mind considered as the controlling force of a well-integrated
personality." Hallmark of contemporary youth as the tripos
was the hallmark of the Cantab young gentleman! The
mind as controlling force, and, critically understood, con-
trollable. The hallmark, I venture to say, of youth at
Antioch. Not once during five days of informal contact,
days that sometimes began at seven in the morning and ran
past midnight, did I hear so much as an echo of the facile
Village pseudo-psychoanalytic jargon. Earp, I felt at once,
would know how to safeguard his students from that. But
an immense intellectual curiosity, a quite contemporary zest



for getting at that center and mainspring of human be-
havior; not morbidly egocentric, but wholesomely eager and
experimental minded. The effect, in part at least, of
President Morgan's stress upon the "symmetrical per-
sonality" as the substance of education. The students, not
the faculty or the catalogue, gave me this impression.

Perhaps I should qualify that statement, because in our
group discussions it was not easy to distinguish students
from teachers, except in the case of an old friend like
William Leiserson. Leiserson could no more than Socrates
hide himself in a company. But the talk was good general
talk, meaty and relevant, and without sophomoric sags.
Mr. Earp was my guide to Leiserson's house, an ample,
genial, colonial white house, snugly at home under its great
oaks and elms. Seven children! How they tempted one to
forget Antioch, those seven radiant children. But Leiserson
moved among them all smiles and without bumpings at
corners ; he knew how to extricate even me who didn't want
to be extricated. We walked to the campus to fetch my
handbags; and as we walked he hailed men and women,
teachers and students, telling them that here was a friend
come to learn about Antioch. That seemed notice enough.
There was not an empty chair or room for another before
the log fire that evening. Nor at breakfast at another in-
structor's house. And the largest company of all before
Leiserson's fire again Sunday evening. A coal miner's son,
and the son of a poet; daughters of business and pro-
fessional men. Most of them, I gathered, upper class
students, who spent and were spending alternate five week
periods out on the job and at college.

Years ago, I collaborated in a book on the rural school
with Joseph D. Eggleston, state superintendent in Virginia
at the time when Dr. Pritchett rated her public school
system first for progressive vitality. Our argument was that
the child must be central to any sound system of education
and that the materials of instruction must be drawn out of
the normal life about him. "While learning 'culturally'
the life of the race in general, he needs 'practically' to learn
the 'life of the race' in Possum Hollow in particular." We
held that "the foundation of an effective school program
must be a community survey," and that in rural districts,
class-room teaching should be supplemented by demonstra-
tion work in the garden, on the farm, in the harvest fields.
And we contended that "to isolate the 'cultural' studies in
one school and the 'practical' studies in another is a distinct
menace to our democracy. Our practical activities need to
be permeated with idealism ; our ideals need to be crystal-
lized into concrete results."

A'jL this flashed back to me as I talked to these Antioch
students. It became clear as I listened that at
Antioch the student and the symmetrical development of his
individuality are the central considerations. Every one of
them discussed education in terms of self-appraisal. But not
that alone They were singularly free from self -conscious-
ness self-preoccupation. They discussed education also in



259



260



ANTIOCH AND THE GOING WORLD



terms of necessary adjustment to the industrial and business
world as they had made acquaintance with it. They dis-
cussed education i-hour after hour with the zest and critical
connoisseurship with which most collegians of my ac-
quaintance discuss football or the midyear prom.

The one thing they did not discuss was my own special
preoccupation, the question of labor, industrial conflict, or
as I would put it, the problem of industrial government in-
volving that current adjustment between wage-earning and
proprietary groups which to many of us seems crucial to
the future of our democratic civilization. Since Antioch
students must spend alternate five week periods on wage-
earning jobs, this struck me as singular. I consulted the
catalogue. I found that in 1926, 600 students had been
employed by 160 employers in 15 states. And I found this:
The success of the cooperative plan at Antioch depends upon
whole-hearted effort on the part of the student. Employers
are under no obligation to employ Antioch students, and
they can be expected to do so only if students do well the
work which is assigned them. A cooperative job is not a
right a student can claim, but a privilege he must deserve.
For him to fail through carelessness or unwillingness to do
his best is to undermine the whole plan. I recalled how in
an address in Boston in 1923, President Morgan had
limited the vocational objective of Antioch to "training for
administration or proprietorship." Was this the provocation
ior the bright quip of a critic who joshed Antioch as a
"factory for the mass-production of Babbitts?" Of course
there was Leiserson who as impartial chairman in the men's
clothing industry had dealt with unions on a parity with
employers' associations and the fact that one or more of
Antioch's former big-business boosters had turned from
the college in dudgeon because in brave defiance of such
consequences he had been appointed to the faculty. But
the omission of the subject from our group discussions
bothered me. I decided to follow it up as one test of
Antioch's experimental freedom.

One morning, I had taken refuge in the rough-timbered
attic of the old main building, Antioch Hall, to mull the
thing over, when Shirley Norman, whose photographs



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