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Ernest Beckwith Kent.

The constructive interests of children online

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motive, they are just as nearly balanced for each year as they
are in the total.



Ages 9 10 II 12 13 14 9

Animal-Houses 321423 14

Animal-Traps 24232 13



These are the work of sixteen boys, four having made traps
alone, eight houses alone, and four both.



The percentages for art work as such are as follows :
Ages 8-9 lo-ii 12-14 9 10 II 12 13 14 8-14

Art Work 3 4 4 3423454

No. of children

reporting 221222



These figures have not the same significance as those already
discussed as they generally rest only upon some such statement
as "some paintings,'' "several drawings," etc., and so give
little idea of the comparative importance of this work in the
child's mind. The fact that fourteen out of the sixty-three boys
mentioned drawing or painting is more significant than the
general average of 4 percent which is an attempt at representing



32 THE CONSTRUCTIVE INTERESTS

the proportion of interest in this as compared with coRstructive
work. But in every case the per cent is based on a single sheet
and necessarily recorded as such. But the evenness of the per
cents for the different years and periods is equaled by that of
the number of children of such age reporting art work. It
seems safe to say not only that an average of two children in ten
do some such work of their own accord, but that two children
out of every ten do so, and no more. The attention given to
art work in the school room is too nearly the same in the two
schools to allow of any judgment regarding its influence upon
this form of home work. It is considerable in both of them.



The List of Articles by Classes



These lists which follow Table I on p. 22 present points
of interest, some of which have been already touched upon.
Some articles such as windmill, house, etc., appear in the list
of more than one class, the detailed description seeming to re-
quire this.

The play-utility class is seen to have the least variety of ar-
ticles, its size being considered, while the utility class is the
most diffuse in this respect. Even omitting the 64 boats and
the 28 animal contrivances which so far exceed everything else,
there are still the 12 wagons, 11 balls, 9 bows and arrows, and 9
houses, while in the utility class there are only four articles
mentioned more than once (6 picture frames, 3 boxes, 2 tool
chests, 2 pen wipers,) with 33 things mentioned only once, as
against 22 pieces mentioned once in the play-utility class, whose
total is four time=i as large. A rather common argument for
making only useful articles in the school room is based on the
thought that it is only such work that can be expected to appeal
to every child in a large class. If the play interests are as
general and the utility interests as highly special and individual
as these figures suggest ; if the tendency among boys to 2ise the
same things is so much weaker than that to play the same things,
an exactly contrary practice should prevail in so far as the cur-
rent one is based on this idea.



OF CHILDREN 33

It must be added at once that the useful-gift class is almost
as diverse as that of utility. The variety here is somewhat
against the suggestion already offered that the things made for
this purpose are largely suggested by adults; still the list of
articles does not read like one evolved wholly from a boy's inner
consciousness. The number of baskets recorded (14) is more
than twice that of any other article in the gift list. This is the
only kind of home work recorded by boys which gives evidence
of influence by the manual training work of the school, and it is
doubtful whether any would be made by children who were not
taught to do so at school. That so much of the work is done
outside is a decided argument for basketry as a part of school
handwork, and the fact of its almost exclusive connection with
the gift motive would suggest attention to basketry as one of
the most effective ways in which the school may encourage the
gift habit.

Perhaps mention .should be made of the articles mentioned
about ten times each which may be looked at as forrning a
second class: They are: Houses, 14; baskets, 14; toy
machines, 13; weapons, 10; picture frarnes, 10; bows and
arrows, 9; other shooters, 8; theatres, 8.

The suggestion offered by the play.utility list regarding the
relative popularity of the different projects is corroborated in a
striking way by a similar arrangement of Cros.swell's toy lists.
The same 12 articles rank first in both, with considerable agree-
ment respecting position within the group. Below are given
these twelve in the order of their rank in our own list, the rank
and the number of articles for each being expressed by open
figures, while their ranks and numbers in Croswell's list are
enclosed in parentheses.



1 (i) Boats 64 (205) 7 (6) Kites 5 (39)

2 (8) For animals 28 (27) 8 (11) Bean shooters 5 (16)

3 (3) Wagons 12 (138) 9 (7) Guns 3 (28)

4 (5) Balls II (42) f (2) Sleds 2 (151)

5 (4) Houses 9 (125) 10 -j (9) Whistles 2 (26)

6 (11) Bows and Arrowsg (16) t(io) Stilts 2 (25)



34



THE CONSTRUCTIVE INTERESTS



The evidence from these two lists seems to the writer
suflficient basis for an emphatic demand that the elementary
school include each of these twelve projects at least once, per-
haps oftener, as a part of its constructive work. His opinion is
that there are very few programs of handwork that touch even
half of them in any adequate fashion.



STATISTICS OF THE GIRLS' HANDWORK



The same scheme of classification is used as for the work of
the boys except that a special place was made for the food-mak-
ing activities to avoid the responsibility of placing them in any
one of the other classes, for the source of interest here seems a
peculiarly even combination of manipulation, imitation pleasure
and utility pleasure. This need not, however, be called a de-
parture from the first tabulation scheme, as not a single boy re-
ported the making of food or candy.

The results looked at in a broad way, point to two main
classes for girl's constructive work: (i) The making of things
directly connected with doll play, (2) the making of (more or
less) useful gifts ; the one having a general average of 24 per
cent, the other of 40 per cent. The only other class with any
claim at all to a place beside these is that of utility with 14 per
cent, nothing else rising above 6 per cent.



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STATISTICS OF THE JGIRLS' HAND-WORK






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36 THE CONSTRUCTIVE INTERESTS

LIST OF THE ARTICLES MENTIONED BY GIRLS. BOTH

SCHOOLS

Utility, 75 articles: Baskets 7, collars 5. hats 5, pen-wipers 4, ties 5, box-
es 3, shirt waists 3, skirts 3. aprons 3, trimming hats 3, mats 3, purses 2, pillows
2, pen cushions 2, picture frames 2, night gowns 2, dresses 2. Napkin ring,
table cover, doily, pillow case, quilt, guimpe, glove case, "patches," darning,
wash cloth, "made my bed during summer," address book, sachet bag,
pencil slip, stockings, slippers, school bag.

Useful Gifts ^ 380 articles : Doilies 48, baskets 27, picture frames 13,
pin cushions 13, sewing bags 10, "embroidery" 10, calendars 10, pillows 9,
mats 6, needle cases 6, silk bags 6, pen wipers 5, tidies 5, handkerchiefs 7,
collars 5, babies' garments 5, slippers 4, pillow cases 4, book-marks 4, dish
towels 4, napkin rings 3, books 3, wash cloths 3, napkins 3, towels 3,
dusters 3, capes (crocheted) 3, sachet bags 3, picture mounting 2, book cov-
ers 2, card cases 2, glove cases 2, match-scratchers 2, glove menders 2, nap-
kins 2, Christmas tree decorations 2, stockings 2, towels 2, shaving-paper
holders 2. Apron box, shawl, stamp case, picture easel, iron holder, copper
bowl, curtains, toothbrush case, hair receiver, handkerchief case, hat, shirt
waist, blotter, envelope, tapestry, portfolio, shaving case, neck tie, clipping
holder, postal holder, jewel bag, bib.

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44 THE CONSTRUCTIVE INTERESTS

with the boys — 25, 14, 11 per cent; (2) Something of an in.
crease in the use of cloth— 46, 51, 55 per cent (not fully sup-
ported by the separate record of the Ethical School).

Since all but one of these changes rome within a range of
10 per cent, the general averages may be taken as fair indica-
tions of the relatixe suitability of these different materials to
the needs and powers of the children during this whole period,
and they offer direct suggestions of some value regarding the
comparative attention to be given in the school room to work in
these different materials. These points hardly require detailed
comment, being sufficiently suggested by the figures themselves,
as are also the differences between boys' and girls' materials.



Materials. General Averages






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Boys 42 13 55 8 6 14 5 I 6 4 4 5 10
Girls 3 3 4 II 15 39 13 52 8 9 5



II. THE EARLY INTERESTS AND EDUCATION
OF 72 TALENTED ENGINEERS

Introduction

It will hardly be questioned that the lines of school hand-
work now in use give some general motor training which is of
value to the child, and some knowledge of tools, materials and
processes which is different in degree or quality from what he
would otherwise acquire ; or that these various acquisitions,
skill, knowledge, inventiveness, aesthetic appreciation, habits
of social action, and the like, so far as developed thereby, would
increase somewhat the child's value to society.


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Online LibraryErnest Beckwith KentThe constructive interests of children → online text (page 3 of 6)