Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

theory of training? Not being a politician, I answer unhesitatingly, let us first of all stop once and forever the flood of illiteracy and inferior intelligence from Europe, and admit only the foreigners who can strengthen our stock and ideals. We shall have difficulties enough in maintaining our standards with the handicap of our own homemade morons, and the assimilation of the weaker foreigners that we have already received. Our educational policy requires us to carry our own people, but we need not undertake to shoulder the burdens that have been evaded by Europe and Asia as well. Now, having decided not to enlist any more recruits in the ranks of illiteracy and mental deficiency than we are obliged by home conditions, let us see what may be done to improve the educational situation. In the first place, we must find some way to stop those wholesale withdrawals from school. It is intolerable that thirty percent of our young people should drop out before they are fourteen and sixty percent before they have completed the eighth grade. Our compulsory attendance laws and the drag-nets necessary to enforce them must be greatly strengthened in most of our states. In my judgment it would also be well for the school authorities to study the situation through experts and visiting teachers, and see how far the work of the school itself is to blame for the elimination. Many of our young people do leave school because of dire poverty at home or the selfishness of parents, but in numerous other instances the failure to go on is due to a want of appeal in the course itself. There is no doubt but that the introduction of the industrial element in the upper grades and the establishment of trade schools and technical high schools have secured greater interest and enabled public education to reach

larger numbers, especially those who are stronger in mechanical than in abstract intelligence, or those who feel that they must become self-supporting and responsible citizens as soon as possible. Undoubtedly we should in the future greatly extend this industrial training and greatly broaden it by correlating with it the work in English, mathematics, science, and history. But even when we have rendered this industrial work most efficient and most broadening, our statistics indicate that there will still be a large body of young people who do not stay in school, because of want of intelligence. And the needs of these sub-normals should be met by some form of continuation or part-time work. With their lack of intelligence, it will be impossible for them to appreciate any schooling that does not touch immediate needs and interests. They need the stimulus of the contact with actual work, to get the feeling of reality, and the schooling that they secure through part-time must apply to concrete situations if it is to seem of value. And I may say in passing that I am just heretical enough to believe that they will obtain far more from this type of work than they will by worrying along in the lower grades of the high school, and incidentally diluting the work of secondary education, as is too often the case at present. The requirements of these young people of weaker intelligence are already being met to a considerable extent and will be more adequately provided for in the future, especially if we learn to adapt the continuation work in the public schools more nearly to their needs. It should aim to be less a review of the common branches or a study of the academic subjects and more of a training in the vocations,—trades, industries, and commercial fields. The work under various religious organiza

[graphic]
[graphic]

tions, such as the Y. M. C. A., the Y. W. C. A., the Catholic, and the Hebrew associations, and the various private and special schools, such as the correspondence schools, the mechanics’ institutes, and the schools for apprentices and employees of the large manufacturing and mercantile establishments, have, for this reason, proved in the past more effective in dealing with continuation education than have the public schools. But much more serious is the situation caused by our failure hitherto to select and properly educate the gifted among our young people who have, because of poverty, want of interest, or other accident, dropped out of school early and gone to work. The selection and training for leadership in a democracy is the most important function to be performed by our public education. The absurd notion of democracy as implying that all men are born equal in ability has prevented us from fully realizing this. We have assumed that equal educational opportunity means the same education for all, and have not appreciated the absolute necessity of training leaders for a democratic society. We average individuals can for a while conserve the achievements of the past and keep the machinery of everyday life in operation, but we are obliged to look to our intellectual superiors for the new steps in progress that alone can keep the world from stagnating. Unless we select and train our genius, society must slip back into barbarism. The leaders in intelligence have made our inventions and discoveries, have organized our industries, have produced our inspiring literature, and have written our constitutions. And the best that we Americans can hope to do is to select such geniuses from our numbers, see that they are properly educated, and then trust to their leadership. There is no investment made in their

education that does not yield large dividends in the way of increased prosperity and happiness for the rest of us. By means of intelligence tests and vocational guidance, it is now possible to approximate the place in life that should be occupied by each of us and thus greatly increase the welfare of all. And it is known that we cannot hope to predict from what stratum of society our genius will arise. We must, therefore, seek the most efficient means of detecting and training him, wherever he may be found. We have now to a certain extent succeeded in providing for him through differentiation of the work in the elementary school and in the variety of elections and options in the high school, and, west of the Alleghenies, he may obtain a higher education in almost any line with little or no financial resources. But, in spite of this provision, there still remains the problem of furnishing a training for those natural leaders, who, through straitened circumstances, want of interest in the ordinary school course, or accident of location, have been prevented from securing the education that would develop them best and enable them to accomplish the most for society. The opportunities furnished for them at present in the evening courses, both in extent and variety, are quite inadequate. Occasionally one of the intellectual leaders has shaken himself loose from his surroundings and after maturity has obtained a higher education, but he has had to achieve this through some private foundation. Even such institutions as the private normal schools—Lebanon, Valparaizo, Ada, Fremont—have in the past, every now and then, helped develop leaders for the world in this way, and in the future the meagerly equipped but enthusiastic trade union college may accomplish much the same purpose for democratic society.

But this service should not be limited to private education, and it never can be satisfactorily performed upon a commercial basis. It should be the effort of all proprietary institutions to render themselves unnecessary. They may perform duties to which the dear public has not yet aroused itself, but if there is any function of education that requires attention, it should be made possible to carry it out under public auspices. The training of leaders who have not had an opportunity in the ordinary public schools, like all other adult instruction, has as yet been very

the persons not now provided for in the public system. And this must be done, not at the expense of the training of children under fourteen, but through a separate and distinct appropriation for the purpose. Neither phase of our public education can be neglected. They are both absolutely essential to the preservation of our democratic ideals and form part of the educational policy to which we have committed ourselves. Every school budget must contain as large an item for adult instruction as it required to provide for the continuation schools that are in each case nec

little developed, but in the future of our democracy it is destined to become a most important part of educational service. And, as a whole, every sort of adult education must be provided by evening or day classes, by long or short courses, and through training adapted to the abilities, interests, and needs of

essary to train all those beyond school age for a greater personal development or more complete preparation for social service. And this must be quite independent of the various expenditures that are needed to render the education of children under fourteen attractive

and efficient.

Camp Roosevelt --- Boy Builder

The system of Personal Efficiency which is taught and developed at

Camp Roosevelt, the national educa

tional encampment for boys, presents a new era. In business, the man begins to realize shortcomings he may possess. He studies personal efficiency to make himself more valuable to his firm. But it usually takes a few years of concentrated effort to imbibe the course as laid out by any of the numerous colleges and universities maintaining this important branch of learning. To span the years and take the boy— the raw material—and train him right from the beginning so that there will be no need of going back when he grows to manhood, is the unique manner of teaching as demonstrated at Camp Roosevelt. The boy learns to study

himself, he learns first to obey commands and later to make commands. He develops training, leadership, initiative, and becomes more alert mentally, stronger physically, and sounder morally. He becomes an asset to society, and returns home and to school in the fall, a leader in the community in which he lives. This training is given as part of the instruction received in the school of the young soldier. The camp is thoroughly organized and oiled for smooth running. From the minute the boy enters the camp, until he leaves, he is under the care and supervision of an organization that is efficient without being mechanical—an organization that moves the lad along through his period of training, but refuses to regard him as a mere

boyish automaton. The efficiency is there, but the human touch is also present, which probably accounts for the efficiency after all. At the head of Camp Roosevelt, and constantly directing its activities is Major F. L. Beals, U. S. A., the commanding officer and founder. This man is himself a boy lover and a boy builder.

The individual is thus required to submerge his individuality for the common weal and this simple fact alone rubs out many wrinkles, for it is the individualist among boys who causes most of the trouble in boydom. Democracy is one of the first lessons at Camp Roosevelt. A sense of responsibility and obligation is easily lesson

Winchester Junior Rifle Range at Camp Roosevelt

He understands boys, being pretty much of a boy himself at heart, in spite of the manifold duties which engross his time and thought. Under Major Beals is an efficient military organization, consisting first of commissioned and non-commissoned officers of the Army, detailed for the special duty by the war department, and including finally the leaders among the boys themselves, who have won promotion through merit. Order and discipline prevail at the camp just as at West Point, though less exactingly. The boys rise at reveille and their day's activities are regulated with military promptness and precision.

number two. Cleanliness is a camp virtue soon learned. Obedience comes to be a natural qualification in a military atmosphere. Alertness goes along with the training because the dullard has to overcome his dullness in order to keep step with his fellows. Intolerance for authority is soon displaced by an admiration for good leadership. To the boy who is overmanaged or undermanaged at home, Camp Roosevelt is a godsend. Here he has an opportunity to see what he can do under firm but sensible supervision, and the manner in which youngsters develop is one of the joys in observing the work of the camp. At Camp Roosevelt every boy knows just what is required and expected of him. Nothing is left to chance. The routine of the camp and the activities of each boy in it are subject to camp regulations worked out in detail and brought officially to the attention of every youngster in the camp. From all of the above, it would seem that Camp Roosevelt is strictly a military camp. But such is not the case. In fact, the military phase enters into the camp life only to the extent of maintaining law and order, and the necessary high standard of efficiency. The summer school is one of the important correlative features of the camp. The summer school is an auxiliary of the Chicago summer school and credits obtained are honored on the same basis as are the Chicago summer school credits. The facilities of the camp school are marvelous. The boy who wishes to learn printing or woodworking or automobile construction finds a completely equipped workshop, built of logs, and competent instructors ready to teach him the most approved methods. Zoology, botany or any other of the sciences, are taught and natural resources for laboratory analysis are found within the confines of the campgrounds. English, algebra, and all other branches of high school courses are taught, by x perts, in a wholesome, healthy environment, with a mind fresh and clear, quick to grasp the problems which are confronted. The boy who prefers only to get the benefits of an outdoor vacation and to build up his physical body in such shape as to better master the coming winter's hardships, finds just what he wants in the physical course. The boy who wants to learn leadership, or who needs disciplining, or who wants initi

[graphic]

ative and self-development, selects the military course. And the youngster, from ten to fourteen, finds suitable companionship in the Junior Division of the camp, where the mysteries of woodlore and campfire are delved into. Sixth, seventh, and eight grade subjects are also taught in the summer school for those younger boys who wish to pursue school instruction. Recreation plays a big part in the daily program, for it is considered an essential part in the well-being of the boy. This great project would not fulfill the purpose for which it was intended were it to cater to but a select few. In order to make it easily accessible to boys from all walks and stations of life, Major Beals made the camp a philanthropic institution. The necessary financial support was secured from prominent business men, who appreciated at once the good work for which the camp was founded. Boys who attend pay but a low fee for attendance, a fee which any boy desirous of going can earn by a few weeks’ labor. The camp is divided into two periods of three weeks each. A boy may attend either one or both of these periods. If he desires to make summerschool credit, however, it is necessary to remain for the entire season. The camp headquarters is at the Chicago Board of Education, 460 South State Street, Chicago, where full information may be obtained.

‘‘Ideals are like stars. You will not succeed in touching them with your hands; but, like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and, following them, you eventually reach your destiny.”—Carl

Schurz.

« IndietroContinua »