Wisconsin. Dept. of Public Instruction.

Suggestive studies of school conditions; an outlined study in school problems for women's clubs, parent-teacher associations and community organizations online

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drinking to the children in the schoolroom? Have they individual cups?
If so, how often are such cups cleansed and is boihng water used for this
purpose? Would the school profit by an inexpensive source of running
water for drinking, bubblers, etc?

The Anti-Tuberculosis Society of Milwaukee is glad to send a sample
card showing how to fold individual drinking cups and these are worth
considering for the use of the school.

Toilets. With the teacher inspect both boys' and girls' toilets on several
occasions. Is there an odor? Are the floors clean? Are there any obscene
markings? What is the method of disposal of refuse?

Seating. Observe the schoolroom during general exercise. How many of
the children seem: 1. Comfortable as to seating and desk arrangements?
2. Slightly uncomfortable? 3. In very bad position? Observe also during
a writing lesson and during a reading lesson. Are the desks used adjustable?
Has the teacher adjusted them? If not, make the proper suggestions to
teacher or janitor.

Lighting. How many windows are there in the schoolroom? How near
the top of the room do the windows come? Calculate the light area in
each room. Divide this into the area of the floor and see whether the
quotient is more than five. Does the light come from the left of the pupils?
What are the conditions in regard to shades, and, if they are bad, could
the domestic science classes help remedy, or should new shades be pro-

Bear in mind that the best shades in the world will do a schoolroom no
good unless the teacher sees to keeping them always adjusted. This
responsibihty may be delegated to one of the more mature pupils, if it is
impossible for the teacher to remember always. The teacher also is the
only person who can make good conditions as to seats really possible.

. 5. Cleanliness

A. Standard. "All floors must be thoroughly swept, or cleaned, each
day, either after the close of school in the afternoon, or one hour before
the opening of school in the morning. Before sweeping is started the


Suggestive Studies of School Conditions


H -a

0. 3

Physical Conditions




window space

floor space

Children need 1/5
as much window as
floor space

Our school has




1/9 as much
window as floor space


36 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

floors must be sprinkled with moist sawdust or other substance so as to
prevent the raising of dust. (The floors in all schoolrooms and halls should
be thoroughly scrubbed with soap and water at least once each month)."

Windows should be cleaned as often as may be necessary to keep them
bright and shining.

B. Comparison. In spite of the above quoted ruling of the Wisconsin
board of health, many schools do not scrub the floors as often as the laws
of health require. How often are floors in the local schools scrubbed?

Find out how often the school halls and classrooms are scrubbed and
when the windows were last cleaned. Are the children trained to keep little
bits of paper and other waste material off the floors? Do the floors look
such as you would want to see in your home kitchen? Perhaps they cannot
be brought up to this standard, but probably something can be done to
improve conditions if these are poor. (See plate IX.)

6. Conclusions

It is not likely that any school will be found where conditions reach the
standard in all the foregoing respects. The club will undoubtedly wish
to make a number of changes. Several methods are listed below.

a. Put all interesting stories in chart form for use in the school exhibit.
Keep all data on physical conditions at the school.

b. The local newspaper may be informed of bad conditions and some-
thing will be published about them. This method is probably not to be
recommended until other methods have failed. Destructive criticism in
print is more likely to arouse wrath than effect reform.

c. Talk over conditions with members of the school board. They
probably know the bad conditions already but, if not, take them to the
school building to see the facts. Ask individual members to report condi-
tions to the board at its meeting, or" to the voters if more taxes are neces-
sary, and enlist their cooperation in improving conditions.

d. Sometimes a parent-teacher association will wish itself to raise
money for buying apparatus to improve conditions, and this may be done
in any of the time-honored ways which clubs have fovmd practicable —
socials, school fairs, bazaars, solicitation of donations, and other means.

e. Often the condition to be remedied will be found to be one for which
money is not essential. Possibly the janitor is the one who can improve
conditions. If so, he should be interviewed, with a view to finding out
what are his reasons for not living up to the best that a school janitor can

f. The teacher can do almost anything in improving the physical con-
ditions of the school where these do not require or need a cash outlay.
The parents' association should stand back of the teachers, encouraging
them in every way possible to work out the best of their ideas on hygiene.

g. The pupils may be enlisted as hygienic assistants. Groups of pupils
appointed as "health officers" for a fortnight or a month each, so that each
pupil will have a term of service during the year, can be credited with their
work as part of "physiology and hygiene," "nature study," "domestic
science" "biology," "physics or chemistry." Such work is "applied

Physical Conditions



When your child comes home he finds a floor cleaned
once a week

When he goes to school he finds a floor scrubbed once
a term




Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

Physical Conditions



W 2

^ °
< o

40 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

Health ofTicers should read thermometers hourly, and chart the tem-
peratures on a blackboard r-eserved for it, so that pupils, principal, janitor,
and visitors can see the record at a glance. When conditions permit, they
should adjust windows, heating apparatus, or ventilators, for the proper
temperature, which should not exceed 68° Fahrenheit in the months when
artificial heat is required.

Health officers of twelve and over in addition should measure relative
humidity, estimate or measure dust, air currents and freshness, cleanliness
of washbowls, water-closets, and other parts of the premises. Permanent
records in a substantial book are also to be kept, to take the place of
opinions and guesses in administration of sanitary affairs.

Health officers from upper grades can be appointed for rooms of children
too young to do the work.


Your child must have healthful conditions in the schoolhouse and school-
room. The requirement of health, however fundamental, is not the only
one which must be met. Every child needs, and has a right to have,
beautiful and inspiring surroundings in which to work and play. No
matter how sanitary the schoolhouse may be, if it does not give the child
some beautiful things to observe, beautiful grounds to play in, or beautiful
materials to work with, it is not fulfilling its whole duty to the child.

1. Cleanliness of Grounds

The welfare of children makes it right to demand that the school yard
and grounds should be neat and clean. Paper should not be strewn around,
and while spaces without grass are unavoidable where children play,
still play spaces should never remain in a littered condition.

Visit the school on several occasions and notice the condition of the
yard. Do you find waste paper on the ground? How much chalk writing
on the outer walls of the schoolhouse, or what other disfigurements? Do
the children seem to take pride in making their surroundings neat and
clean? Does the schoolhouse need paint?

Often the problem of keeping the school yard clean seems almost im-
possible of solution on account of the pupils themselves. They often seem
unwilling to make an effort to keep the grounds neat and are able to litter
them faster than they can be cleaned by the teacher or janitor. Pupils
must be led to take pride in keeping the school yard clean. Oftentimes
they would do this if properly stimulated.

In case there is necessity for improvement in this direction, organize
with the teacher and principal a "Clean-Up Day" for the school. Have
captains appointed to direct the work of cleaning, possibly dividing the
school yard into two parts and instituting a clean-up race. Then have
each section responsible for the cleanliness of its territory, and see if the
pupils themselves cannot be gotten to take a personal interest in keeping
the yards as clean as possible. This plan might be extended to the roads,
leading away from the schoolhouse. The pupils in each direction would
have particular charge of the condition of "their roads," and prizes might
be given for the best work.

In many locaUties there will be found a need for a "Clean-Up Day" for
the whole village or section. In many cities "Clean-Up Day" is held once
a year, and all citizens cooperate in cleaning up their yards and pubUc
places as well. The school children can be used to great advantage in this
sort of work.

2. Beauty of Grounds

Trees and shrubs and flowers may be induced to grow in any part of
Wisconsin. A schoolhouse should have trees surrounding it (though not

42 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

so near as to interfere with the light), and there should be banks of shrubs
and beds of flowers to give the pupils their due, — beauty of surroundings.
Lists of trees which can be planted, lists of shrubs which are suitable for
school grounds, and directions for planting shrubs, trees and flowers may-
be secured from any nursery catalog, from the Home Gardening Associa-
tion, No. 612 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, or from bulletins of the
state department of public instruction at Madison, the University of
Wisconsin, or the United States Department of Agriculture.

Make a diagram of the school grounds, showing the school building,
any trees, location and kind of tree, any shrubbery, location, size of plot,
and variety of shrub, and the flower gardens in the same manner. If there
are none or too few of these things make another diagram of the school
and grounds, including possible beautification. Make this plan as definite
as possible, giving varieties of plants desired, and, if necessary, securing
the cooperation of outside authorities for the plotting of the grounds. It
is very important that a complete plan should be worked out and submit-
ted to school board or county superintendent before beginning the planting.
A little of the plan may be worked out each year. Shrubs may be started
by seeds or cutting from homes in the vicinity of the school. Here are a
few rules to follow in landscape planting.

1. Plant about the borders of the lawn space leaving spacious grass
plots inside.

2. Avoid planting either trees or shrubs in straight lines, but plant
rather in masses or bunches.

3. Leave gaps for vistas between the bunches of shrubbery or trees.

4. Mass shrubery in the angles or about the corners of the building,
but do not completely cover the view of the building.

5. Cover unsightly places by vines or high shrubbery.

6. Plant flowers along the front border of shrubbery.

7. Make use of native shrubs and trees as far as possible and avoid
plants not adapted to the region.

8. Give some place to shrubs and trees that will furnish food for birds,
e. g., mulberry, wild cherry, sumac, elderberry, June berry, dogwood,
viburnum, (high bush cranberry especially good) mountain ash, haw-
thorne, etc.

9. Be surf^ that provision is made for the care of shrubs and trees during
vacations. Trees and shrubs are more apt to die the second year after
planHng than the first."*

3. School Gardening.

Where it is possible, pupils in a school ought to be given growing plants
to supervise and care for. This work will be found to improve greatly
work in the other school subjects. Schools in Wisconsin and other states
have experimented in gardens for the children, and have found that the
work makes the children far more interested in school and so improves the
regular work of the school. If the school is near or in a large town or city,
the school gardens may be made into a commercial enterprise for the chil-
dren, who may sell the produce raised and gain some profit therefrom.

Does your school have garden plots for the children? If not, does the
teacher encourage and cooperate in gardening work for the children at

*Froiii "'Lessons in Agriculture for Rural Schools" issued by Wisconsin State
Department of Public Instruction.

School Beautification 43

their homes? Talk this over with the teacher and see what can be done.
Suggest to some farmer or merchant that a small prize be offered for the
best yield of corn or other vegetable on a small plot by a pupil of the school.
If possible, point out a definite section of the school grounds which might
be used for possible gardening work. Ask the opinions of the pupils them-
selves as to their desire to do gardening work, as, if they desire it, they will
gain a great deal more from its practice.

Communicate with regard to school agricultural contests with the
county superintendent, the county training school, or the director of the
county fair. You will find that there are contests and prizes offered in
practically every Wisconsin county which will stimulate interest in this
sort of gardening work on the part of school children.

Your club may want to create sentiment or financially to provide for
the employment of a home gardening instructor (perhaps the high school
agricultural instructor) to work with the children during the summer
months. This may not be necessary. Some member of the club may be
willing to give time and instruction. A summer committee may be ap-
pointed to supervise home garden work as well as school gardens. School
gardens very often are allowed to remain uncared for during the summer
months. No matter whether school gardens are developed, or merely the
hedges and shrubs are to be cared for, there should be some provision
made for the summer care of the school grounds.

4. Indoor Decoration

A bulletin published by the Wisconsin state department of public
instruction called "The School Beautiful" gives many suggestions as to
the indoor decoration of the school. It is seldom well to use dark colors
in a schoolroom. The colors used should be light tones, usually cream,
tan, or light brown for the walls, and light gray or white for the ceiling.
The woodwork should be painted or revarnished when necessary, and
the walls should be kept clean and clear in tone.

One picture at least, and never too many, should be on the walls of
every schoolroom. Art catalogs will give a superabundance of subjects
from which to select. Casts and statuary are also advisable. The school-
house should be equipped with a few beautiful vases for flowers when
these may be obtainable. A few growing plants will lend cheerfulness and
attractiveness to a schoolroom. Winter flowers may be raised very cheaply
from bulbs. Beside these, there should always be some eye to changing
the surroundings of the schoolroom so as to show the pupils some new
thing, however, small, which will quicken and stimulate their artistic

Survey the schoolroom for beauty of surroundings. Compare it with
the most beautiful and comfortable places you know. (A meeting of
fathers held ia the schoolhouse at Council Bluffs, Iowa, brought forth first
many complaints, and then constructive work for the improving of con-
ditions). Have your meeting in the schoolhouse and compare the building
and rooms to what thev might be.

44 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

Docs the woodwork need doing over? Do the walls need repainting?
Will merchants make special prices to the school for the benefit of the
community or even give time and materials for its benefit?

Can the club make suggestions on inspiring and beautiful pictures for
the schoolroom? Let the children take a vote on small reproductions
before purchase is made, to see which one appeals to them most. In this
way the picture will be more the school's picture. The same method may
be used in regard to casts and statuary.

Is the teacher always trying to have the schoolroom contain something
of especial beauty? Do the pupils bring flowers for the school desk? Do
parents contribute for short periods of time beautiful, curious, or other-
wise interesting articles from their homes? Some schoolrooms contain a
stand or small table covered with a pleasing tapestry cloth or other scarf,
(changed frequently) on which are placed objects which the children may
see and appreciate. These objects may be historical works for the interest
of the history class, quaint stones or shells about which a story may be
told, old pictures or daguerotypes which have an interest as school
material, a flower or autumn leaf where the coloring is excellent, or other
articles. Articles should not be left on such a table or stand more than
a few days, and the children should be in every way encouraged to take
part themselves in their selection and placing. Groups of children by twos
and threes might attend to this in rotation.

In many cases it will be found that the school is in need of some concrete
article such as a victrola, piano, picture or some other thing. Many parent-
teacher associations and clubs find it possible to raise money for the pur-
chase of such articles.

The beautification of the interior of the schoolroom is one of the easiest
and most pleasant of the possible opportunities for service of the parent's
association. In every community is to be found abundant material.


Note: It is now legally required that each school in the state of Wisconsin pro-
vide some sort of a school'library for its pupils. You often find that your child is
more interested in books which he reads outside of school hours than in the text-
books in school subjects. The proper selection, care, maintenance, and complete,
use of a school library are of the .greatest importance in determining the nature,
character, and amount of a child's reading.

1. Library Housekeeping

Books must be well arranged and easily available to children before the
library can reach its maximum efficiency. With the teacher's permission,
make a study of the school library. Get the total shelf space which is
available. Are the shelves arranged so they can easily be reached by all
pupils, and are the books for primary children on the lower shelves? Do
the books present a good appearance on the shelves? Is there sufficient
shelf space to accommodate all the library books owned by the school?

If library conditions show the need of a library house cleaning, get
the teacher to set aside the last half of one or a series of Friday afternoons
for this purpose. If manual training work is offered, let the manual
training boys fix shelves, and let the domestic science girls clean the shelves
while the boys do the heavier work of handling the books.

2. Number and Sort of Books

If the library needs a house cleaning, it will form a good opportunity to
find out how many books the school owns, in what condition they are, and
on what subjects. First of all, how many excessively dilapidated or
antique books are there — volumes such as no pupil would be apt to be
interested in nowadays? These volumes can very well be relegated to
some storeroom. Legal library requirements (See Library Rebinding
pamphlet, issued by Department of Public Instruction) now demand
that books be set aside for rebinding when this may be necessary, and it
will be well to consult with the teacher as to how many books need re-
pairing and rebinding. Much of the repairing work can well be done by
the pupils.

Every schoolhouse is required by law to have certain books and to
purchase books for its library up to a certain sum per capita of enrollment.
Every school should have the township library list, issued by the State De-
partment of Public Instruction, from which to select books, and also
"Lessons on the Use of the School Library." The school library should
contain an unabridged dictionary, several good up-to-date maps, an atlas,
a newspaper or two, and one or more current periodicals of general interest.
It should also contain reference books and bulletin material for each sub-
ject taught in the'school, and, besides these, a number of books of general

46 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

interest to the children — stories, travel, adventure, etc. A special effort
should be made to have a good supply of story books suitable for children
in the primary grades, as most libraries are deficient in this respect.*

Find out the total number of books in the school library, eliminating
very old or unusable books. Classify material as books, magazines, bul-
letins, etc. Consult with the teacher as to deficiencies — in what subjects
reference material is most necessary or would be most appreciated. Discuss
with the club, ways and means for acquiring books. Often donations of
books are made, but it is necessary to be sure that such donations do not
include unusable books. It is generally better to buy books new from the
Township Library List. Many schools of Wisconsin have excellent li-
braries. There are few school libraries which could not profit by increasing
their amount of material. Books are perhaps more seldom donated to the
school than pictures; but, if clubs realized the value of this form of giving,
money would undoubtedly be used in this way. It will be found that a
school library may be very largely augmented by free bulletin and pam-
phlet material. Have the pupils write to the state department of public
instruction for names of bulletins on school subjects, which the teacher
may obtain free of charge, and then have pupils write letters requesting
such bulletins from publishing organizations. The list given in the intro-
duction to this course of study will give an idea of the wealth of material
on all phases of education which may be obtained free of charge.

3. The Use of Books

The value of books is completely lost if they are left unused or used
merely to weight papers or to press flowers in. The club should encourage
the use of the school library. A very inadequate equipment may be made the
basis of large profit if it is completely used.

Before any library agitation has been made, keep a record for a single
week or month of the number of books drawn from the library by school
children, or used during school hours. Find out what percentage of the
total number of books are read weekly. Show results graphically as in
plate XII.

Now begin agitation to get children to read more books. Have the
teacher or some member of the club tell stories from books in class, giving
a summary of the beginning of three or four interesting story books and
suggesting to the children that these are available in the library for their
use. After a period of such endeavor, make another book shelf, showing
the percentage of books used, and use this as contrasting data in place of
comparing poor conditions with the best possible ones as shown in plate
XII. Check the teachers' use of "Lessons on the Use of the School Li-
brary" in the various grades. Are teachers using this bulletin (published
by the state department of public instruction)? Can they be induced to do
so? Be sure that they use in each grade the work which is outlined as
proper for that grade.

In looking over the books find the ones which show most signs of wear.
Ask the children in the various grades which books they have read in

♦See bulletin "Suggestions on Reading in the Grades" by Miss Annie Reynolds,
issued by the Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction.

The School Library



Out of each 20 books
4 are read yearly



Why not have them all read?

Encourage your children to read
Give them school credit for reading
Provide interesting books to read
Read yourself



48 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

the school Hbrar\- during the past month or year, and find out from these
lists which are the most popular. It is sometimes well to institute a reading

1 2 4 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryWisconsin. Dept. of Public InstructionSuggestive studies of school conditions; an outlined study in school problems for women's clubs, parent-teacher associations and community organizations → online text (page 4 of 9)