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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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6. Writing and Spelling

Many schools consider that these subjects should not be taught in the
first grade. Children in the lower grades should not write with a pen
and should have paper with lines very wide apart, to give the hand free
movement and prevent it from becoming cramped. Words for spelling
should in the lower grades be taken largely from the words misspelled
by the children themselves.

Get the teacher to talk on methods of teaching these subjects or make
report on descriptions of them contained in the Common School Manual
or one of the book references at the end of this chapter.

7. The Day's Program

With the teacher, make out for each of the lower grades a table showing
the amount of time given to each of the grade subjects during the day.
Make a table such as the following:

Subjects Minutes





Seat work


Opening exercises

Industrial work

♦Schools may well be encouraged to use some standard test in arithmetic. Apply
to the State Department for help and suggestion concerning tests of this sort.

The Lower Grades, 1 to 4 59

Arrange the studies according to the amount of time taken for each — •
the one taking most time, first, and the one taking least time, last. ' Add
up the total to find how many minutes there are in the school day and
divide this total into each of the different numbers to find the per cent of
tiBie given to the various school activities.

You should expect in the first grade to find reading taking the most
time, although this percentage will naturally decrease in the higher grades.
Are there any activities that seem to need more time than is given to
them? Let. the teacher discuss the arrangement of subjects and her
ideas as to its adequacy or inadequacy.


. Educative Seat Work — by Worst and Keith
Common School Manual — State Department of Public Instruction
Teaching the Common Branches — by W. W. Charters, Houghtan,

Mifflin Co., New York.
Teaching Children to Read — by Clapper, D. Appleton & Co., Chicago,



1. Textbooks

With the teacher look over the textbooks which are being used in the
upper grades and see in what condition they are (torn, need repairing, etc.)
Cannot some of the repairing work be done by the children themselves?*

Notice when the textbooks were published, and discuss with the teacher
whether they seem at present adequate to the needs of the children. Is
there enough supplementary and reference material in subjects such as
history, geography, etc.? Members of the committee should ask their
own children for their opinion on the school textbooks, as their criti-
cisms may contain suggestions. If the teacher reports that textbooks are
not adequate, the possibihty of adding to the supply should be discussed.

If the school has not free texts, this possibility should be discussed.
Advantages of free texts are: make school easier for poor children, less of
a hardship if texts are changed; books apt to be in better condition as
school can supervise. Advantages of pupil-owned texts are: less
expensive for school district as a whole; enables the child to have his
own books to keep; can be made more sanitary when supervised by

Have free textbooks ever been fumigated or disinfected? It is essen-
tial to the health of the school children that precautions be taken to be
sure that infection is not carried through textbooks. Find out how
many years sets of textbooks have been in the building; how often they
have been sterilized or disinfected, and how many epidemics have been
found in the various rooms since their adoption.

Magazines are more and more coming to be used as texts in the school.
Such papers as "Current Events", "The Little Chronicle", "The Inde-
pendent", "The Outlook", and ethers are being used as material for
reading history, geography, and other subjects. What does the teacher
think of the use of this form of text? Discuss advantages and disad-

2. Class Work and Study

EfTicient study will do more than any other one thing to make children
good pupils in school. Studying at home is to be minimized as much as
possible in the grades. It is probably the case that children in the first
two years of school are not capable of what is commonly known as study-
ing. Home conditions are often not conducive to successful study.

Let the mothers composing the committee making this study determine
from their children or from other upper grade children how often they
study at home. What are the conditions under which home study
is done? Are mothers always careful to give the children a quiet

*A New York school found that by having school boys build a green house,
window breaking in the school was done away with. This principle will be found
helpful in many cases.

Upper Grades, 4 to 8 61

place in which to study? Are children interrupted to run errands, carry
in wood, wash the dishes, etc., or is a definite schedule made whereby
there is a time in the child's day for the performance of home duties and
a time set apart for study?

Get the teacher to talk on the question of whether children need to
study at home or not. Is the case of the children studied above typical
as to amount of home study performed? If these children need to study
at home less than the average, can not the need for home study be done
away with in the case of the others? Calculate the amount of study time
during the school session. Is this time fully used by the pupils? It has
been calculated that if schools were run on a task, instead of a time basis —
that is, if the requirement for dismissal was performance of a given task
instead of the coming of a given hour — a school session would be much
shorter than it now is, as children would be stimulated to their full activity.
This task system to be sure is at present impractical as a device.

Let the teacher discuss which subjects are most frequently taken home
to study. Arithmetic is one which is very often used for home study
and it is perhaps the worst for this purpose, as children can get their
examples done for them at home in arithmetic most easily, and there is
least necessity of the child's gaining knowledge from the study period.

3. Training for Citizenship

The question of training for patriotism and citizenship is one which
has recently acquired large interest. There are probably few schools in
which there is no study of current events. It is not so frequently the
case, however, that pupils are aroused to interest in the affairs of the
locaUty — ^voting, the town or city organizations, local and national
pohtics, and functions of local boards and ofTicials, etc. In New York
City patriotism and the duties of citizens are emphasized in assemblies,
class exercises, flag salutes, through national airs for singing and marching,
holiday speeches, etc.

"The duties of patriotism are emphasized in civics and current events
courses; by visits to "city fathers"; by addresses of public officers explain-
ing citizen relation to the fire and health departments, etc; by moving
picture reels showing how fire, disease and disaster are prevented or dealt
with; by visitation of school by Grand Army Posts to make pupils realize
what patriotism may cost."*

4. Examinations

There is perhaps no branch of the modern pubhc school system which
is more in need of revision than the system of examinations at present
prevaiUng. The examination should be a test of the pupil's ability to
use what he has been taught. It should therefore be practical and con-
nected with concrete experience and should involve some active reasoning
on the part of the child, as well as a memory of the subject studied.

The failure of examinations to indicate practical ability was shown in
Springfield, Mass., where a group of prominent business and professional

*"High Spots in New York Schools" by Wm. H. Allen, Institute for Public
Service, New York City.


62 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

men were given a set of seventh grade examinations in the various school
subjects. The results showed that these men were easily surpassed by
the average seventh grader in ability to pass the questions and yet there
could be no question about the greater ability of these men in a practical
way. Examinations of the same sort have been given to other groups
of successful and cultured people and the results have never failed to
show that the things which have been used in life are ordinarily not the
thinfis which examinations test.

Let the teacher try on the club members a set of examinations given
to seventh graders and mark the members of the club as she would mark
the children. .Discuss the questions with the teacher to see which of
them show knowledge that would be of definite use to the children in
life. Discuss other examination questions taken from grade examinations
to see whether these seem to test knowledge which can be used by the

Are any examination "follow-ups" used? Very often when results
in examinations are poor, there is a definite practical reason or bearing
of the fact. It may mean that the teaching is not what it should be.
It may mean that the children's disciphne is poor, or that there are out-
side distractions which keep the children from doing the work they should.
This should be analyzed at the close of each examination.

Do pupils dread examinations? Can they be shown to be a definite
strain on the pupils? Many good schools offer exemption from exami-
nations for pupils having good class standings. Let the upper grade
teachers tell whether examinations are needed in order to show where
the children stand. In how many cases could the teacher mark the child
before the examination as accurately as the examination mark? Standard
tests in the fundamental subjects (See introduction) are sometimes
given the child at regular intervals to grade improvement in a given time.
This is a possible variation on the conventional examination.

5. Subject Contests

Many schools find that it stimulates interest to have subject contests
between pupils. An algebra contest recently held in Minneapolis pro-
voked great enthusiasm in this subject among high school children.
County contests are now generally held in spelling, arithmetic, industrial
subjects, etc.

Arrange with the teacher for a contest in sixth grade geography or in
some one of the grade subjects between pupils of the local school and of
some other school. Let the pupils know about this some time in advance
to be sure that their enthusiasm and interest are aroused. Does such a
contest as this hel]) the work in this subject? Can the system well be
extended to others?

6. Correlation of School Work and Life

The trend of the modern school is toward using the activities of out-
of-school life as material for school training. Take up separately each
one of the common school subjects for discussion. What training do

Upper Grades, 4 to 8


you want your child to receive in, for example, reading, which will be of
most use to him or her outside of school? What are the practical yvays in
which this subject will be used by the child who goes through school?
(Bear in mind that use may lie in several directions instead of in the one
direction of training to earn a living. . See section 1, topic 1)

A few of the ways in which subjects may be correlated with life are:*

From "High Spots on New York Schools" by W. H. Allen

Arithmetic; Model stores, home account keeping of children, school
savings banks, use of life insurance charts,, management of school business,
school bank, school lunch rooms, and other work of correlation that
needs to l>e done.

*Use in connection with this topic "High Spots in New York Schools," Institute
for Public Service, 51 Chambers St., N. Y. city.

64 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

Geography; Excursions to nearby points, physical geography trips to
factories, district surveys, moving pictures, use of current magazines,
building up of school museums.

Civics: Visits to polling places, participation in community activities
such as "Clean-Up-Day," interviews with officers of local government,
such as aldermen, marshals, etc., conducting of complaint bureau, writing
and acting of civic life plays, self-government.

Hygiene and Physiology: Interviews with boards of health, sanitation
surveys of the district, fresh air band, hygiene inspection drills, instal-
lation of shower baths in school.

Reading: Reading to hospital patients and shut-ins for school credit,
reading at home, reading and following directions in industrial and
construction work.

Writing: Writing letters of application for positions, writing for bulle-
tins, circulars, etc. writing contests in school.

Discuss with the teacher the practicability of these and other sug-
gestions in this field.

7. Miscellaneous

The club can help in forming and directing special day programs for
grade children.

Study may be made of reference reading in the grades to see how many
children are stimulated by their grade studies to be reading related books
on their own initiative.

A study of school credit for home work may be made with a view to
the introduction of this in the school curriculum. (See bulletin No. 18,
Department of Public Instruction, Madison, Wisconsin.)


Use pamphlets, Self-Governihent Committee, 2 Wall Street, New York City.

1. Moral Instruction

The school and home must cooperate not only in making the child an
intelligent citizen, but in forming his character to make him of good moral
nature. First, the aims of moral instruction should be taken up and
discussed and, second, the means to attain these ends.

Collect from the committee members and individual club members a
symposium on the aims of directed moral development and the amount
of such instruction which can be and is given at home. What phases
of character do not appear m the home and can be better treated in the
school? What ones do appear in the home, but on account of reasons
such as the reluctance of mothers to treat them, can be better treated in
the school?

Moral instruction is of two kinds, direct and indirect. Direct moral
instruction aims to teach through precept, study, and lecture the rules
of conduct. Indirect moral instruction includes development through
the lesson of the particular occasion as it arises through unexpressed
morals in stories, . good examples, and the inevitable consequences of
immoral acts. Discuss the place in school for each of these branches of
moral instruction. Can either be entirely omitted?

Is any moral instruction given in the school and if so, is it direct or
indirect? How can the home and school cooperate along this Une?
Let each teacher tell what her ideas relating to this subject are and how
she works them out. Other topics in this section will suggest some
possible ways of organizing moral instruction in the school.

2. The Rule of Fear »

Many parents and teachers follow Solomon's dictum as to the rod and
the child. Many others feel that it is not necessary to hurt a child to
make him good and that fear is a degenerating rather than an ennobhng
influence. These people feel that "mischief" is often the outcome of an
over-supply of energy which should be directed instead of being supressed
and punished. The child who makes trouble in home or schoolroom is
frequently the child with much physical energy and can be worked with
by giving him responsibility wisely, by supplying an outlet for energy,
through physical exercise, and by other means.

Is corporal punishment advisable? Is it used in local homes? Is it
used in school? Can it be done away with? Discuss possible means.
Do teacher's and parent's attitude toward a child suspected of being in
need of whipping ever make it harder for him to be^^good?

66 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions

3. Truancy and Lying

How many cases of truancy have there been in the school during the
past year? Discuss this topic in the light of these instances, noting if
any special causes are at work.

Truancy may be inspired by any of several causes: a distaste for
school leads some children to run away. This distaste may be purely
individual and it may be caused by the fact that the school does not
appeal to children as it should. Many schools for example find indus-
trial work a cure for truancy. Truancy may be caused by the restless
energy of a child which will not permit his being quiet in school. Will
botanical excursions, geographical trips to nearby factories and other
points of interest, playground apparatus and use help in this? Truancy
may also be caused by lack of respect for school on the part of the home
in which case the remedy lies within the home circle. Finally the cause
may be laxness on the part of the teacher or truancy official which should
be corrected. Other possible causes for truancy may be brought out and

A common trouble with young children and children even in the adoles-
cent period is that they seem unable to distinguish between truth and
falsehood. How much of a real menace is this to their later development?
Let the members of the committee glance back to find how frequently
lies were told by them in their childish days. Do adults find it difficult
to tell the truth? Do adults He to children, or in their presence? How
many children's lies arise through fear, through the child's imagination
and how many are of the kind which are properly designated as lies,
that is, malicious perversions of truth?

Is this the proper remedy for this kind of lying in children, punishment
which may drive them into lying more and more to avoid punishment?
Is the remedy to be found in ignoring this condition on the part of children?
Most thinking people will answer "no" to both questions and decide that
the remedies lie in a strict example of uprightness, and proper instruction
on the part of elders. An explanation of why lying is not a good thing
in our present society and a giving of the responsibility to the child may
help in many cases and will do a great deal to eliminate deception in a
natural way. It is ver^ often found that children who lie at home or in
school will not lie to other children or cheat in the playing of games.
Discuss the cause for this and how the school and home may make the
standard of honor in the child high.

4. Military Training*

Discuss the possibilities of some military training for boys in the grades
and in the high school. What are tTie advantages of this sort of work
over ordinary physical training? (develops obedience, cooperation,
patriotism, etc.) What are its disadvantages? (Develops miUtarism,
blind obedience, leaves girls idle, etc.) Discuss the value of patriotism

♦Write the American Union Against Militarism, Munsey Building, Washington,
]). ('.., for pamphlets and a poster exhibit on this suljject.

Discipline and Moral Instruction ('^7

as compared with the value of internationahsm, or the spirit of humanity.
Is miUtary training advisable for boys as opposed to a vigorous system of
phys'cal training and gymnasium?

5. School Discipline

Decide what constitutes good school discipHne. Let teachers give
their ideas on this subject. Discuss the discipline of immobility in which
the ideal is to have as little moving on the part of the children as possible,
the discipline of carelessness in which children are allowed to do as they
please, the discipline of respect in which lining and respect for the teacher
make children behave naturally and well, the discipline of interest in which
school work is made so vital to the child that discipline does not need to
be thought of, and the discipline of moral guidance in which children are
wdsely given responsibility for their own conduct. Get the teacher in
the school whose discipline best exemplififes the best of these forms of
discipline to give an account of her methods in such a way that it will
present suggestion^ for mothers and other teachers.

6. Self-Govem-ment

For this topic use the Self-Government Bulletins mentioned above.
These bulletins will give ideas of what self-governemnt means in a school
and how it has worked out in several places. Do you think the "objections
answered" represent a good answer to the objections to this form of school
organization? How much individual responsibility are children at present
given in school? Some teachers assign "special duties" to each child
such as watering the fern, winding the clock, seeing that the cloaks in
the cloak room are hung correctly, passing the wastebasket, etc., in which
children are given responsibility for schoolroom duties. Other teachers
carry this responsibility one step farther and have a pupil captain, and a
pupil court which is given responsibility for cases of pupil misconduct
and which administers a penalty. Such work as this should be intro-
duced very slowly into a school. There is more danger in responsibihty
conferred upon children and then withdrawn than in its never being con-
ferred. The plan must be introduced gradually and must take into
consideration all possibilities of failure.

7. Thrift

One of th,e best ways to get children out of the way of In-eaking, des-
troying, or wasting is to interest them in building, making, or saving.
Too few children have any conception of what money means and the
effort necessary to earn it, or the power which it is capable of storing
when saved. When asked what a penny is, or what money is, children
in the grades will often answer "something to buy candy with" or "some-
thing to go to the movies with", showing that to them money is simply
a thing to be spent.

Let the teachers ask the pupils in each grade these questions: Have
you a bank account? Have you a savings bank at home? Have you

68 Suggestive Studies of School Conditions


Insert picture of
savings bank

A School Savings Bank

Gives arithmetic practice
Stimulates earning
Develops responsibility
Teaches the value of money



Discipline and Moral Instruction 69

earned money during the past year and how? What did you do with
the money which you earned? Do you keep an account of the money
you spend? (Other questions may be included if desirable). It will be
found that school children almost universally neglect the saving of money
and, in many cases, the earning of it. Student earnings will be discussed
in section 12— Industrial Work. Student saving may be considered
here as contributing to the character building of the child.

How can children be induced to save? Ask the local banker to speak
on this subject. Write Supervising Principal, New Richmond, Wis-
consin, for information as to the school savings bank established there.
(See plate XVI). The school savings bank forms a center in which
children may bring their earnings for safe-keeping and offers practical in-
struction material in accounting and bookkeeping which will stimulate the
desire to earn and save. What will the local banks be ready to do to
promote this activity?


W. G. Bagley— School Discipline

Self Government Pamphlets — Self Government Committee, 2 Wall St.,
New York City.

Habit Club Booklets— Goodyear Marshall Publishing Co., Cedar
Rapids, Iowa.


The school of today is developing in the direction of practical, or
industrial work. In so far as this is an attempt to train the brain through
the hand or to train the hand and brain simultaneously, it is a step forward.
Where industrial work is not correlated with other school work, or where
academic work does not include some industrial and vocational subjects,
conditions are in need of improvement. In order to estimate the need
for or the efTiciency of. industrial work, it is necessary to fmd out the con-
ditions calling for instruction in this field and the effectiveness of the
plans which have been devised to fit these conditions.

1. Vocational Survey

Make a map of the school district including any territory which may be
outside the incorporated district but which sends pupils to the local
school. Place a mark within this territory for each individual showing
vocation or occupation. Make a cross for those in agriculture, a circle
for those in store and clerical work, a square for professional workers —
lawyers, pastors, etc. Then color the district with light water color
wash showing regions, — the commercial region, the agricultural region,

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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 6 of 9)