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in building up the style of life. Then I tried to make clear
to them that, for this very reason, the school was the only
place where these children, freed for a little time from the
home influences, could be studied and helped.

Gloeckel's efforts in the school reform gave more and
more opportunities to unite parents and teachers in the
work of education. He understood what I was trying to
do and some of his assistants were former pupils of mine
or recognized my efforts. An organization of parents and
teachers was formed, before which both home and school
problems could be discussed.

In Vienna, as in all great cities, there are districts where
almost every child is a problem child. But even in some
Viennese school districts which were once honeycombed
with gangs and where all sorts of juvenile delinquency
truancy, lyii'g, stealing, sexual abnormality constantly
occurred, everything began to change. All the former
difficulties, which were due to faulty attitudes toward chil-
dren both at home and at school, have disappeared. The
effect of our work was so striking that the teachers went
to the Board of Education without my knowledge and asked
for my appointment as a teacher in the Pedagogical In-
stitute of Vienna, in which teachers for the city schools
are trained. The Board of Education agreed and for three
years I have lectured to the teachers-in-training on problem



children. There have come into my classes more than six
hundred public school teachers, a great part of the present
teaching staff in the schools of Vienna.

I believe we can solve the problem of criminality only
through such work as is done in these clinics. The roots of
criminality are always in the first childhood. Looking at
a four or five-year-old child, no one can truly say, "This
child is going to become a criminal." But it may be said,
"Here are tendencies developing which will make this child
a criminal in certain situations, if they are not checked."
The problem is to avert this development and so minimize
the possibility that the child will in adult life commit crime
or develop neurosis. Both theory and experience convince
me that a child's school life will accentuate bad tendencies
only if the child has lost faith in his future. My goal has
been to make the school strengthen the child's belief in
himself and in life.

I have talked with many delinquent children and with
many criminals. I invariably find that people deviate from
the useful way of life because they have lost their courage.
It is possible to make children see that the great criminals
murderers, highwaymen, robbers are in reality cowards.
So, in the same sense, are those who commit suicide. The
only way the child can get this point of view is through the
schools. No psychologist, no physician, no clinic can reach
every child individually. But the school is the center where
all children may be trained in right attitudes. Perhaps in
spite of the wise teacher's best efforts the abnormal and
feeble-minded may persist in crime. But these are diseased
personalities. They must be treated separately, for their
own sakes as well as for the safety of society. Normal
children trained in our ways laugh at the idea of an intelli-
gent person committing crime, or even taking part in gang
activities ! They know the meaning of the other way, of
the high road of usefulness. Our work has results as far
flung aj human life itself.

I am thinking of a boy whose life I touched through one
of our clinics. He was known as the worst pupil in his
school. At thirteen, besides being a truant and a thief, he

was called a "corrupt influence" among his school-
mates. No child could have made a worse be-
ginning at the business of living. His mistakes
were appalling. But his new teacher, who was at
pupil of mine, became very suspicious of the'
genuineness of his depravity. One day he asked
this sinner, "Fritz, what do you do with the things
you steal ?" "I give them to the other boys," said I
Fritz. "And why do you do that?" "To make
them like me. They won't play with me because
I am so dumb, and because I'm such a bad lot."
The boy had been trying to bribe his way into
popularity, to buy companionship. Now when the
teacher, who consulted me about the case, told me
that the boy was starved for warmth and appre-
ciation, I wondered whether there was not some-
thing behind this desire for approbation. "Fritz,"
I said to him, "were you always this sort of a boy ?"
"No," he replied quickly, "the first three years I
was in school I was a good boy. But not after
that, not after we got Mr. H - (a former
teacher). He always had it in for me." Here was
the problem with Fritz: he could be "good" only
in an atmosphere of approval. The first three years
of school life he had had a kind and gentle teacher
and he had been a good boy. But he could only live con-
ditionally in our world. Lacking an environment of warmth
and love and appreciation, he became a "problem" to himself
and to society. The same factor conditioned his truancy.
We discovered that when he ran off in the night he gathered
firewood and put it outside the kitchen door for his mother.
They were poor people, and firewood was always needed.
He was trying by this means too to make his mother think
of him and love him. It was the school's business to get this
boy back on the right road. That was quite simple, when
we understood what lay behind his boyish crimes. If we
wanted a normal boy instead of a truant and a thief, we
must give him friends, and surround him with affection and
approval. It is always easy to get children's cooperation in
such an undertaking. The teacher suggested that one or two
schoolmates invite Fritz to study his lessons with them.
That was the first step. The teacher realized that it was-
not a matter of a week or two and gave the boy time. He
devised special assignments for him and warmly praised
every sign of progress. The parents were made to under-
stand the situation. The mother became more openly in-
terested in her son, the father stopped scolding and
punishing. Eventually, this boy became one of the best
students in the public schools of Vienna.

FH some children we find that the release of the 1
creative impulse is all they need to set them in a use-
ful way of life. The impulse to make and to do is deep in all
of us. In many cases, the expression of that impulse works
miracles. We found, for instance that every child can become
a painter, can learn the meaning and value of line and space
and color as a mode of expression, even though they are
not greatly talented. Cizek believes that every child has
within him an artist, and the results that Cizek gets from
his classes, in the work the children accomplish and in their
development through their work, show that under a wise 1
teacher this holds great educational truth. I have known i
adults who learned to model in clay, to make beautiful
things and to strengthen their personalities through their



vvork. This is worth while, even though they do not be-
:ome Michelangelos. There is a teacher in Germany who
nas paralleled Cizek's art work in music. All this experi-
-nent and experience we use in the schools, to help our
:hildren gain freedom through creative expression.

MY idea, when I undertook my work, was that the
knowledge and technique of the psychologist and the
jhysician would both simplify and enrich the vast, creative
>rocess we call education. For myself, my ambition was to
>ecome superfluous. Progress has been swifter than I dared
lope. Remembering the old days, what I see and hear in
he schools now is like a miracle. If I visit a clinic which
las been at work for two or three years, the teacher
lescribes and interprets the cases under consideration so
:ompletely that I can only listen instead of leading there
s nothing left for me to say. The teacher needs me only
o explain our work to his associates who are not so far

In schools with which I have been connected for some
.rears, the teachers tell me that there are no more difficulties
tvith problem pupils, that they make out no bad reports,
hat the drudgery and humiliation of "repeating" a class is
low unheard of.

A little while ago I could not have spoken in this way.
The teachers would not have understood me if I had told
hem, "You are responsible." My statement would not
lave been true, from their point of view, because to them
ny words would have conveyed another meaning from the
>ne in my own mind. Thus I would have been a liar with
he truth so very often a man can lie by telling the truth,
>ecause his words have one meaning for him, another for
hose to whom he speaks. Austrian teachers used to feel
hemselves underpaid and looked down upon in the
:ommunity. There was a restless, peevish dissatisfac-

When Alfred Adler of Vienna came to staff
luncheon with The Survey he sat at the head of
the table like a calm and kindly Mandarin, just a
little perplexed by the sharp clatter of conversation
but enormously interested in a new group and a
new experience. Author of Individual Psychology,
internationally known for his unique contribu-
tions to psychology and education, Dr. Adler was
in this country several months lecturing on this
new way of looking at ourselves and our children.
When Dr. Adler talked to the Survey staff, three
stenographers hurried after him, trying to catch
his heavily accented speech and to take down his
Teutonic sentences. He talked to us for nearly
two hours and we went away from that conference
feeling that we had been in contact with a
glowing mind and a great and simple personality.
A staff member translated the fifty pages of
the transcription into idiomatic English, and
from it pieced together this first hand account
of Dr. Adler's work in the public schools in

tion among them. But now
I was surprised when some
of these teachers went before
the Board of Education re-
cently to ask that the report
card system be abolished. In
the old days, report cards
were one of the chief re-
sources of the teachers who
used them as goads to force
and threaten the children to
greater effort.

Now the teachers insist
that it is the teacher's job to
make his pupils happy in
the school environment, to
see that they progress natu-
rally and joyously in their
studies. If a pupil is so mal-
adjusted that he is falling
behind in his work, it is because the teacher deserves a bad
report and has not yet found the right method for him.

The school men themselves have not only admitted their
responsibility they rejoice in it. There is a new spirit
among these teachers. Their new vision of the dignity and
worth of their profession colors their lives, gives meaning
to all their days.

From this point the way is clear. Twenty-two clinics
have been established. The number of my students increases
every year, and so does the interest in our work. I hope
in a year or two that we shall have a hundred clinics, and
then I am sure the Board of Education will take over this
private enterprise. The teachers themselves are making such
progress in comprehension and deft application of our
methods that many of them do not have to use the clinics
any more. They themselves can handle the problems of
their pupils as they arise.

The time is at hand when the education of problem
children will be the most important phase of teacher
training. If I began with the significance of the physician
in public life and the difference between his and the un-
trained point of view, I hope it is equally clear that what
I have been striving to do was to close this gap and give
to teachers the experience and the understanding hitherto
united only in the mind of the physician. This, I believe,
is the forward step that we have made in Vienna. Nor is
it confined to this one city. Similar clinics, started by my
friends and pupils, are now to be found in Berlin, Munich,
Frankfort in practically every German city of importance.
I have also visited clinics in The Hague modeled on
our plan.

I know that when my work began our Viennese children
were misunderstood, mismanaged, beaten, both at home and
at school. Now not only are they much less generally and
less cruelly punished, but the whole spirit of the people
toward youth is changed. Parents and teachers unite in
giving the children the environment and the understanding
which make for independence, and courage and self-
confidence. These children learn to be happily at home in
the world in which they live, because grown-ups have come
to see the connection between mismanagement of children
and the suffering and defeat of men and women.



The Child Who Is a Leader


THE night clerk of the hotel has been summoned
to court and is annoyed. What are all these
women fussing about? "Yes, Miss Johnson came
to my hotel. No, I didn't know she was having
boys in her room. I can't watch the company of
tenants." It irritates him to answer useless questions and to
realize that all the adults in the court think he is a guilty
person. And so he is, on two counts. First under the law
which declares that any adult who commits any act or omits
the performance of any duty, which causes or tends to cause
a person under twenty-one to come before the Juvenile Court
may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a
minor. Second, under the ancient law of witches for we
still believe in witches we must find and punish the person
who is responsible for our troubles.

But why did Miss Johnson who is Elsie Johnson, just
fifteen go to the hotel ?

The question arises, at what point shall we stop in the
long chain of cause and effect? Is there something in Elsie's
family life that makes her susceptible to the allurements of
a cheap rooming house? Her mother cannot understand it.
"She always took my judgment in everything, even about her
clothes, until she met Bertha. Now she won't listen. She
left home to be with Bertha." The school authorities say:
"Bertha is the worst girl in the neighborhood. There is
always a crowd of young people around her. She does noth-
ing in school. If you remove that girl, we can handle the

Who is this girl who needs only to crook her finger and
another girl, of good family, ignores her parents and aban-
dons their standards?

Bertha is a fifteen-year-old girl, flashily dressed, rather
over-size, fairly pretty, vivacious, smiling, good natured, of
average, that is to say mediocre, intelligence. She comes from
a broken home. She left school at the eighth grade, has
worked occasionally as a waitress. Wherever she goes, a
flock of boys and girls follow. On her advice, one girl con-
tracted a disastrous early marriage. Bertha arranged every-
thing, loaned clothes, hid the runaway bride, went with the
couple to the license bureau where she had no difficulty in
posing as the older sister. She "had a way with her" that
disarmed the suspicions of the clerk. She could cash a check
in any store or bank, rent a car without security, start a
charge account. In short, she was skilled in making use of
human beings. She was unknown to librarians, settlement
workers, club leaders, churches, extension classes and play-
grounds, very well known to soft-drink parlors, skating rinks,
and dance-halls. The only social agencies that knew her
were the day nursery where the mother left her as a child
of three, and the Juvenile Court which took charge of her

at thirteen. She was always successful in escaping commit-
ment because nothing could be really proved against her. The
others, her friends, were in more serious trouble. When she
came to court, her flashing smile and ready acceptance of the
point of view of her probation officer always succeeded in
winning another chance. Even the mother of Elsie admitted
that Bertha had not persuaded her daughter to leave home
Elsie had gone "just to be near her."

Now the court must act as a "wise parent"; children are
brought to it for protection and guidance. What is the
secret of attraction, the significance of personality, that leads
young people to follow undesirable leaders and embark on
anti-social courses ? Could we answer this question, the com-
munity could express its parenthood in more constructive
ways and the individual could protect his own child from
what we call "bad company." But in our modern world
protection cannot mean isolation or sheltering. A modern
parent can no more shut his child off from contact with
behavior codes, ideas, habits and personalities that are "un-
wholesome" than he can keep him out of germ-laden air.

Leadership is always mysterious. We do not know the
physical and mental forces that lie back of the personality
that becomes a dynamic center. But we are beginning to
understand some of the conditions under which it manifests
itself in anti-social ways. 1

The delinquent girl leader has tremendous vitality. As
we observe her she seems never to tire and she reports her-
self as being always "full of pep," "on the go." Her sched-
ule is full of useless activity. Her recreation does not leave
her with a feeling of satisfaction. Like the dancer, each
contact with the ground seems to serve as a stimulus to
send her further; unlike the dancer there is no rhythmic
pattern for her restless movement.

TAKE Rose, who is a delinquent girl leader of sixteen.
Wherever she goes, she plans what the crowd of boys
and girls does. It is not an organized gang, it is constantly
changing. Rose arouses no passionate loyalties, no one trusts
her very much, but she has great influence over one girl in
particular, Florence.

Florence is seventeen. She lives with her mother, father,
four brothers and sisters in a good neighborhood. She is
the youngest girl. She has been carefully brought up, in
fact never permitted to go anywhere alone. She is far
more intelligent than Rose, has finished the third year high
school and dropped out because of indifference. Shortly

1 Sybil Clement Brown in The Problem of Leadership, University of
Southern California, has been conducting research in leadership of de-
linquent girls of the Los Angeles Juvenile Court. It is upon her study
that the present article is based. Frederic M. Thrasher in The Gang,
University of Chicago Press, has studied some aspects of this problem in
boys' groups.




after meeting Rose at school she began slipping out of her
window at night. At first they went to church, waiting
after the young people's services were over to join a group
en route to the soft-drink parlor or to attend a church
party. Afterward there would be trips to the beach in
automobiles. Florence, whose manner was always listless,
began to take on more color. She was timid and it fright-
ened her to be deceiving her parents but when she was with
Rose she felt brave. The vigor and boldness of that young
person held an invincible attraction. Rose had with adults
a combination of pleasing manners and rudeness that never
failed to open doors. She appeared to know so much about
the adult world. She had learned some of its habits, like
drinking, smoking and swearing. She was unusually skilled
in repartee and knew just what to say to traffic officers,
policemen, dance hall proprietors, restaurant keepers, gay
young men with cars. No one could silence a shocked neigh-
bor as quickly as Rose.

EVEN when Rose's leadership somehow resulted in bring-
ing Florence before the court, Florence felt she had
gained more than she lost. "It was so dull at home. I just
felt I must get out whatever happened. I enjoyed getting
out at night and I would do the same thing over again only
I would be more careful what happened."

In other matters Florence showed indecision. She was
eager for approval, filled with anxiety at criticism. She said
in court, "I tried to take my boy-friend home but the girls
teased me about it." She gave the impression of yielding
limply to disapproval. It astonished her parents to learn
that their obedient youngest daughter, mild, tractable and
fearful of incurring their displeasure, had shown such
complete disregard of the moral instruction of a life-
time. "How did she dare?" said her

It was obvious that Florence had trans-
ferred her interest from what her family
thought of her to what her contemporaries

Rose's standards of conduct were shared
by most of the young people and many
of the adults in Florence's neighborhood.
Her family could not approve these stand-
ards. They had been caught in an en-
gulfing tide that had changed their com-
munity from a little group of homes to
a thriving city street, with filling-stations,
hot-dog stands, movies and stores a
miserable lot of buildings, but viewed
with pride at the booster-meetings.

Florence's father went to the meet-
ings, but it never occurred to him to find
fault with the neighborhood nor to the
mother who stayed at home belonging to
no clubs, the married daughter who had
moved away, the daughter next to Flor-
ence who was a successful business woman
and ashamed of Florence for dropping
out of school, nor to the two brothers,
one a retiring high school boy, the other
a hard-working mechanic. Each, save
Florence, had his place in some group.
It bored them to take Florence out ; long

ago the family stopped taking recreation together. There
was never any reading, music or games. Florence's sisters
had each had a brief blossoming period at which time the
parents had shown affection and interest. How difficult it
is for parents to have the skill to give equal growth-oppor-
tunities to all the children so that as one flourishes the
others are not crowded into the background!

Rose's family was quite different. Her father was dead.
She had one younger brother, aged thirteen. Her mother
had been a foster-child, overworked all her life. Rose's
father had been a defeated man. After a troubled boyhood
he escaped from the bullying of seventeen older brothers
and sisters and a tyrannical father, came west, married a
woman nine years younger than himself. He let his wife
earn the living and devoted himself to the children. He
read to them, and took an interest in their school work.
When Rose was twelve he died of tuberculosis. Rose used
to stand looking at his picture on the mantlepiece, but said
very little. Then she began to be truant from school. She
built bonfires in caves with the boys, cooked meals out of
doors, played ball. Her prestige had a long history. When
she was a little child she could always stay out an hour
or so longer than the other children. She was taller and
stronger, had more toys and spending money. The toys
had been constructed by her father, the money was given
by her mother who was trying to make her daughter's child-
hood different from her own bitter foster-child memories.
These advantages and privileges gave Rose a superior posi-
tion in the neighborhood. With adolescence came still more.
Her mother permitted her to come and go as she pleased.
Her dress was the shortest and tightest, her lips the red-
dest of any girl in the school.

When teachers remonstrated, the mother said the neigh-



bors "told her things," but she didn't know anything against
the girl. Occasionally she beat Rose. The school authori-
ties regarded Rose as a nuisance. She made the other
children restless. The principal, an old man, said "that girl
ought to have been put in the penitentiary long ago." Be-
fore she was fifteen two other groups had repudiated her.
She was fired from her job in the five-and-ten-cent store be-
cause she wore too much paint, and she was ejected from a
church party because she was a "rough neck."

THE mother was exhausted by her work. Rose became
a rebel from home and school. She had no responsi-
bility. Her personality took on a certain cheerfulness, opti-
mism and courage. She had a keen sense of humor. She
always shifted the blame to someone else. She was skilled
in lying and exaggeration. She would always take a dare.
Once she would have jumped off an ocean pier in her
clothes because some boys dared her.

During an unexpected early morning call a probation offi-
cer found Rose barefooted, lounging around the kitchen in
which the dirty dishes were piled. Rose seemed at great
pains to conceal a small cherub tattooed on her right calf.
"I did it on a dare; I'm kind of ashamed of it now."

She could drive any make of car, had amazing skill in

Online LibrarySurvey AssociatesThe Survey (Volume 58) → online text (page 111 of 130)