Albert Edward Winship.

Danger signals for teachers online

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Parents did not discriminate between the
educational value of bricks and brains.

Parents would make a vigorous campaign to
get a new schoolhouse in their district, and an
equally vigorous campaign to prevent increase
in salaries. A himdred thousand dollar school-
house was worth fighting for and a five dollar
a month increase for the teachers in the build-
ing was worth fighting against.

The United States of to-day will pass on to
the children and the children's children tens of
billions of debts for them to pay. They will


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pay it gladly if they know the truth, but they
will groan and growl if they are made to be-
lieve that it is merely for the cost of war.

This has not been war for war's sake, but
war for the sake of peace. The schools must
be required to teach this war as the World-
War for Peace. These words, War and
Peace, must be indissolubly blended in all edu-
cation of all the allies.

In this glorious new mission of the schools
we shall be hampered and hindered, harried
and heckled by those who are infected with
Superstition and Tradition, Narrowness and

The new demands demand intense public
devotion to education, supreme wisdom in
school administration, imalloyed patriotism in
teachers, and joyful financial support of the
tax payers.

The real difficulty is that the public has
never believed that good teaching is a neces-
sity. The public has never appreciated that


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good teaching is the great necessity. . The
public has never realized that no other neces-
sity in city, county, state, or nation is as great
as good teaching. The public has never ad-
mitted, directly or indirectly, that a good
teacher is indispensable, absolutely indispens-

There is no one in the employ of city,
county, or state quite as vital to the community
as those who have in their keeping the welfare
of the children. The future of America and
all her interests are in the hands of those who
have the children in their care.

The fire department can try to protect a
house, a block, or a city from destruction.
Sometimes they protect, sometimes they fail,
but the city always taxes the people to pay for
the department that tries to protect their prop-
erty. When the old hand tub engine was in-
adequate, the public bought horses and an
equipment of hose wagon, ladder truck, fire
engine, and chemical engine. When the


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horses were not speedy enough the public paid
for motor engines. When the department
failed to cope successfully with a fire the de-
partment was never blamed, but lack of ade-
quate equipment, and vast sums were appro-
priated for new equipment until now there is
nothing in the world more marvelous than the
equipment of a fire department,

A house, a block, a city can be rebuilt and
is improved by the rebuilding. The money
for the rebuilding is mostly provided by the in-
surance companies.


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The schools are trying to prevent a confla-
gration much worse than any with which the
fire department tries to cope. The social con-
flagration is more liable to occur than any fire
calamity. There are social and civic tinder
boxes more risky than any rookeries and
shanties that endanger some cities.

There is no insurance in case of social and
<!ivic conflagration, and there is no rebuilding.

The schools save a larger proportion of their
risks than does any fire department. When
the schools fail, the public blames the schools
instead of increasing and improving the equip-
ment. An assumed failure of the schools
turns loose a lot of pulpiteering and editorial
denunciation. And the tax payers have a new
excuse for opposing added provision to prevent
social and civic conflagration.


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The teacher is the one tax-supported per -
son whose whole business is to try to prevent
fire carelessness, poverty, insanity, hospital
needs, anarchy, riots, and all other social and
civic diseases.

The schook of all the people are alone ade-
quate for providing opportunity for essential
intellectual virility and vitality. A child can
never be educated alone, nor in a home. He
may get scholarship, but not education, in a
home or a select school.

Intellectual education can only be had
through matching brains with brains; through
matching brains with those of diflFerent social
and financial strata; through competition with
those who think in diflFerent units.

Scholastic aristocracy, while diflFerent, has
all the elements of political aristocracy.

The man who thinks in culture units needs
to associate with one who thinks in scientific
units and both with a man who thinks in nature


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The boy who can spell surcingle and rhubarb
is more of a boy if he associates with boys who
can use the one and raise the other.

When the son of a university president or
the daughter of the president of the Browning
Club matches wit with the son or daughter of
the foreign born from humble homes and is
beaten in the game of wit, it is as intellectually
wholesome for the child of f ortime as for the
one of misfortune.

No one but the teacher of all classes of so-
ciety has equal opportunity for equipping chil-
dren with knowledge and processes and the
skill to apply this equipment for better health,
better manners, better behavior, and better

While some homes can do something in im-
proving manners, morals, and behavior, few
homes have the skill, the art, the patience to
do for the child what the school can do.

Manners and morals of children can only be
perfected in society, and with children of their


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own age in society. They can never be at-
tained by associating with adults, nor with
brothers and sisters alone, nor with children
of their own stratum in society. Even the so-
called best children, associating with their own
class, are liable to become dudes.

It is the teacher only who can adjust all
American children to all other American chil-
dren. Teachers literally have the fortunes of
the United States for twenty years at least in
their keeping.

You can never have public schools or public
school teachers without tax-money, and you
can never have adequate tax-money without
public sentiment favoring it.


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Some tax payers say that teachers should
have a higher motive than teaching for a sal-
ary. "Teach from love of the dear children,"
says the tax payer. Oh, no, not mitil fathers
pay taxes for the love of their dear children.
The able-bodied man, or a man with a good
income, who asks the teacher to teach his chil-
dren for love, is not worthy of his children.

For a man to draw a good salary or have a
good income and make no eflFort to have the
city pay teachers a thrift wage is as contempti-
ble as to feed skim milk to his children and
Jersey cream to his hogs.

But who is primarily responsible for the lack
of a thrift wage for teachers?

The board of education, city and state, is
elected to do one thing and one thing only —
it is expected that every member of the board


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of education, state and city, shall insist upon
having everything done that can be done for
the children through the schools. There is
no school without teachers. No school is sat-
isfactory that is not the best possible and no
school is the best possible unless the teacher
has the best conditions under which to work.
It is the one business of the board of educa-
tion to make these conditions the best possible.

It is a civic crime and should be an indictable
offense for a member of the board of educa-
tion to watch the treasury. He is not elected
to do that. Tax payers will watch the treas-
ury. Politicians will watch the treasury.

When the Department of Labor was estab-
lished by the Federal Government and Wil-
liam B. Wilson was appointed Secretary of
Labor the manufacturers called upon him and
told him how pleased they were with his ap-
pointment, for they would now have someone
to smooth out labor troubles. "Oh, no," said
Secretary Wilson, "I represent labor, just


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as the Secretary of Agriculture represents the
fanner. He never represents the tax payer.
He never tries to see how little money he can
get along with but how much he can use wisely
and he makes it his business to get that money,
and he gets it. I represent Labor, and I shall
get for Labor whatever I can get honorably."

That should be the attitude of every board
of education in the United States. It repre-
sents the children. For a board of educa-
tion to represent tax payers should be an in-
dictable crime.

Let us go back two hundred years in Old
England. I quote some lines from William
Cowper in "The Task." After picturing the
great need a lad has of a good teacher, he says:

**And such a one is rare, . • .
But having found him, be thou Duke or Earl,
STww thou hast sense enough to prize the pearl.

Respect, as is hut rational and just^

A man deemed worthy of so dear a trust.**

Public sentiment does not appreciate that

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teachers are the one essential in making democ-
racy safe for our children and our children's

Teachers cannot live under an autocratic
public sentiment and make the children demo-


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The Armistice on November 11, 1918,
started something as intensely noble as that
which the Potsdam Council started on July 5,
1914, was ignoble. The Armistice sounded
taps on autocracy and the reveille on democ-
racy. It said to autocracy, "Lights out. All
quiet." It said to democracy, "Awake!
Arise I Prepare for a new day."

America was no better prepared to greet
democracy on that November morning than it
was to meet the god of war on that April day
nineteen months before. America knew how
to prepare for war when it was necessary and
prepared for the democracy of peace when the
time came.

The first lesson of the new democracy was
so simple and self-evident that it almost took
erne's breath away. It was so new that it


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seemed miraculous. The community is the
unit of democracy. Democracy can only be
built out of communities.

Democracy can no more be made of indi-
viduals than a rope can be made of sand.
There is neither warp nor woof that is not in-
tensely adherent. Fibre not only is needed
but it is indispensable. Democracy can only
be woven of individuals already adherent in
a community. Community necessitates com-
mon, uniform, universal service. Reciprocal
service is as indispensable in a community as
are heart and lungs for pure blood.

Autocracy is in constant fear lest individuals
cohere. The fear of a community of interests
keeps autocrats and aristocrats in a constant
spasm of nightmare. Autocracy treats the
conmion people as a chain gang. The as-
sumption is that individuals must have no free-
dom to be mutually attractive. Individual at-
traction is fatal to autocratic safety. Aristoc-
racy fences out all but aristocrats. Between


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the aristocrats and the common people is a
great barrier. Affiliation is unthinkable.

There is no democracy where there is either
autocracy or aristocracy.

Democracy is merely a community of com-
munities. It is the common service of many


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The universe is the great democracy. A
million smis, each with a group of planets, are
the universe. The sun and its community of
planets with their communities of planets play
their part so loyally that with unseen and un-
traced attraction there is never a jolt or jar,
never the suspicion of friction.

The democracy of the miiverse consists of a
million communities, each enjoying its oppor-
tunities to revel in the common service. The-
oretically if one individual planet would cease
to play its part in its commimity of planets it
might wreck that community and theoretically
that might wreck the universe of communities,
and the democracy of the universe might fail

No one in a democracy can play by himself.
Individuality is fatal to democracy. As fatal


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as it would be for the moon to decline to whirl
in its magical, mystical, rhythmic com'se about
the earth; as fatal as for the earth to refuse
to play its part with Jupiter and Mars, Venus
and Saturn, Neptune and Uranus.

Music is the humanly applied artistic com-
munity ideal. No note in the scale stands
alone. Every tone anticipates another tone.
Rhythm presupposes something in sympathy
with it. Melody is a combination of thrills
and harmony is the highest human art. An
orchestra is a democracy of communities of
stringed instrimients, wind instruments and
percussion instnmients. Let one individual
instrument in any one of these communities of
instruments try to be individual and it will not
only ruin its community of string or wind or
percussion instruments but it will make orches-
tral democracy impossible. Music is the best
inspiration to community democracy. Com-
munity singing electrifies all classes and con-
ditions and eliminates for the time being politi-


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chl animosities, sectarian prejudices and social

No community can spin or weave the spirit
of democracy except in some form of recrea-
tion. When a community is recreating it ia
re-creating itself. Recreation is more than
play, more than amusement, more than enter-
tainment. It is in the full sense a new birth
physically, socially, intellectually, civically and

There is a time to preach at people but this
is liable to be an anti-community activity, a,
dividing of people with groups of prejudices
instead of harmonizing them into a community.
It is liable to make lines of cleavage. This
may be necessary in order to survey a highway
to Heaven, but it is not a community affair.

A debate may have advantages as a discuss-
ing and cussing function but it is not a har-
monizing function.

Before an element can crystallize it must be
in solution. The particles must float care-


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lessly, freely, before their inherent tastes and
talents, so to speak, will come together with
the right faces and angles.

While there are things to be done by indi-
viduals, by churches, by societies, by clubs,
nothing is a community creation that does not
throw aU individuals into solution, as can only
be done through music, through recreation,
through pageants, through the neighborhood
drama and kindred harmonizing activities.

Is it not as essential to provide the morale
which can make commimity democracy a na-
tional democracy?

We need to guard this inspired and sacred
vision of community democracy lest it be cap-
tinned by political sdiemers who, however sin-
cere they may think themselves to be, will be
as fatal to commimity democracy as it is to a
sparkling mountain stream to transform it into
a stagnant pooL

What can be done to make this noblest of
community vision a universal fountain for the


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healing of the nation? Breathe its spirit into
the schools of America. For this the public
schools appear to have been created.

The schools now have a nobler mission than
the Americanizing of our foreign population.
The schools are not a melting-pot. That is al-
together too hot and misleading a phrase.

The public schools were established in the
long ago that they might be ready for use in
creating conununity democracy as much for
the descendants of Jonathan Edwards as for
those of Jukes, as much for the Cabots and
Lowells as for the Lenines and the Trotzkys.
Community democracy must conscript the de-
scendants of the aristocrats and of the common


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The great American vision is Real Democ-
racy in America.

The great American mission is Real De-
mocracy for the Allied countries and through
them ultimately of the world.

The first great need is a real definition of
real democracy. For this need I venture a
definition: Real democracy is public respect
for the common people and self-respect of the
common people.

This means that real democracy in education
means public appreciation of teachers and
teacher appreciation of the children of the com-
mon people.

This necessitates many changes for the sake
of democracy.

First: There must be less gush and more
cash from the federal Congress.


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Second: Thrift is indispensable to democ-
racy. Democracy means personal independ-
ence blended with service to others. A thrift-
less man cannot be a good democrat. A thrift-
less man cannot be highly serviceable to others.

Third: Teachers cannot train the young
for democracy on a living wage. They must
have a thrift wage. A living wage means hav-
ing to spend all they get on themselves and
when they are through depend upon someone
to take care of them.

Fourth: No country is a democracy that
pays its teachers less than a thrift wage. No
country is a democracy that does not educate
all children for citizenship in a democracy.
No country is educating its children for cit-
izenship in a democracy that demands that
teachers shall teach the children for love of
the children while the taxpayers spend money
on limousines for their boys and on theatre
tickets and sirauner vacations for wife and
daughters, or, what is worse, hoard it for af ter-


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death glory in promoting aristocratic scholar-

Fifth : There is no democracy possible with
an autocratic school conmiittee, board of edu-
cation or bureau of education. Autocracy at
the top never breeds democracy at the bottom.

Sixth: It is hypocrisy raised to the nth
power for the United States to plead for mak-
ing the world safe for democracy over there
without making democracy safe over here by
giving Americans a real democracy in educa-


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There are men eminently devoted to educa-
tion who are genuinely troubled over the em-
phasis of the economic side of the professional
discussions. We have never shared their anx-
iety. We have never missed an opportunity
to take as active a part as possible in every
campaign for increased salaries and improved
conditions, for secure tenure and safe pensions.

We have never found it necessary to hesi-
tate to insist upon the highest standards of
professional progress.

We have never known the spiritual flavor of
a corps of teachers lowered because of a salary
raise, improved tenure, or secure pensions.

On the other hand, we have never known
gush to do as much as cash in improving the
professional devotion of teachers.

We have never known a corps of teachers to

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be more mercenary because they could live bet-
ter. We have never known a corps of teachers
who did not read better, dress better and im-
prove their home comforts by improved eco-
nomic conditions. We have never known a
corps of teachers to fail to improve in health,
in culture and in cheerfulness when they have
had any considerable increase in salary. We
have never been able to discover any improve-
ment on a raise of $5.00 a month.

Attention to the economics of the profession
is as important as putting extra capital into a
good business. Neglect of the economic side
of the profession in the interest of sentiment is
like taking needed money out of business to
promote one's social standing by high living.

There is more psychology in a twenty per
cent, salary increase than in any psychological
profundity we have ever known. The one is
psychology in action, the other is psychology
in cold storage.


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There is now a clear demonstration that the
politician in education is as much out-of-date
as a sailing outfit on a man-of-war. For
three-quarters of a century after warships were
steam crafts they carried a full outfit of masts,
spars, and sails on the theory that when run-
ning straight before a fair wind the sails would
increase the speed. For three-quarters of a
century it seems never to have occurred to the
traditional admiral or secretary of the navy,
even in England, that the outfit of masts and
spars not only retarded the ship in a head wind,
but was a source of danger in foul weather.

In the same way democracy, even in Amer-
ica, has been slow to realize that the politician
in education has been a handicap at all times
and a source of danger in every emergency.
In one state, a great state, as late as 1918


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there were 1,000 schools with no outhouse of
any kind. UnbeKevable! Unthinkable 1 In
the same state there were 8,000 schools with-
out decent outhouses. Why? Because in
4,000 school districts there was at least one
man who played cheap politics, at least one
man who saw to it that no man was elected as
school trustee who would waste the tax payers^
money on an outhouse or outhouse cleaning.

There has never been an American state leg-
islature that has not had as members some
very cheap politicians who tried to block edu-
cational progress by appealing to the lowest
motives of the cheapest element in the elec-
torate. There has never been a United States
Senate or House of Representatives that has
not had members of the same class, men who
from the lowest of political motives have tried
to block educational progress.

The World War will have failed largely if
it does not develop statesmen of education.

Even among educators it has been easy to

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make reputation by puttering and sputtering
about some inconsequential method.

The war has developed a statesman of edu-
cation in Great Britain, and one man in Par-
liament has a greater international educational
reputation than anyone America has devel-
oped since the days of Horace Mann. Great
Britain trailed on behind the United States in
public education from earliest times until 1917.
Now the United States is so far behind Eng-
land in appreciation of education that we can-
not even see the tail light in her flight.

Democracy has been the proud boast of the
United States for a century and a quarter, and
the public school has been the high spot in our
democracy, but we are doomed to wallow in
the Valley of Humiliation, unless there shall
arise a statesman in education. What Foch
was in the military triumph of democracy a
statesman must be in the educational triumph
of democracy.


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We were spending a week at a state uni-
Tcrsity. We went with the representative of
the State Board of Health to an outlying com-
munity to meet the local representatives of Red
Cross and Civic societies to plan for their
bringing into the university, the following
week, boys and girls for physical examination.

The most interested and, apparently, the
most intelligent woman had a twelve-year-old
son whom she said needed just such help as
would be given him. She said she could not
bring the boy in because of the university's
perversity in having that demonstration set
for the phase of the moon when they could
plant sweet potatoes. She said the university
people knew perfectly well that that week was
the sweet potato week of the moon.


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We laugh at these agricultural superstitions
when we have educational superstitions. We
say there is no hope of improving the farmers
until they are liberated from their supersti-
tions. It is just as true that there is slight
hope of improving education until we can res-

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Online LibraryAlbert Edward WinshipDanger signals for teachers → online text (page 6 of 7)