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Elementary Conditions of Social Education

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ELEMENTARY CONDITIONS OF SOCIAL EDUCATION The features, then, of social education are civic or social nurture, economic efficiency, and physical well-being. Consider some of the very elementary corollaries.

First there must be room for all the children; and the seats must be where the children are. There should not be seventy thousand children in Texas who have no chance to go to school, nor forty thousand in New York City on half-time, while there are fifty thousand more seats in all the school houses of the city than there are children to be pro vided for. A prerequisite for this is such a col lection of population statistics and interpretation of them as will rightly forecast the location of buildings to meet future needs, and such liberality of expenditure as will actually meet them. A permanent census or registration of all the popula tion, corrected to date by recording all removals, as well as births and deaths, would be the most satisfactory and economical method of securing such data. All such calculations will be more easily made and more nearly correct after every city has its definite plan, its particular zones for business, for manufacturing, and for residences of different kinds.

In the commodious and well-placed school-build ings there must be an abundance of fresh air. In this climate some of them might be built without glass in the windows, like open sleeping porches. The rosy cheeks of healthy children would be their ornament, and joy and zest in work the guarantee stamp of their quality.

The next essential is a course of study, organized, as the New York Committee on School Inquiry puts it,* around human problems, and made simple and elastic enough to permit of differentiation to meet the needs of different nationalities and groups.

The next is a corps of trained and competent teachers, capable of carrying such a simple and elastic curriculum, of differentiating and adapting it, of criticizing and overhauling it when necessary, of keeping it alive and elastic and discovering from time to time those human problems around which the curriculum is to be organized. Politics has no

legitimate place in this selection of teachers, of course. Security of tenure and the easy elimina tion of demonstrably unfit are of equal importance. Whether the teachers are women or men, adequate pay to justify professional preparation and to meet the increasing competition of other callings is necessary in the interests of the schools.

Specialized instruction for individuals who are above or below par is quite as justified as average instruction for average children. It is contrary to the interests of society that genius should remain undetected and unencouraged, just as it is wasteful and absurd for backward children and defective children to be treated as if they were not defective or backward. Fit and appropriate opportunity for each according to his needs: the blind and the * A Committee of the Board of Estimate and Apportion ment, 1913.

deaf, the crippled and nervous, the exceptionally gifted and well prepared, the clear thinkers and the hard workers. To subject all to the same un differentiated, uniform, mechanically prescribed routine squares neither with efficiency principles nor with common sense.

Ungraded classes, sufficient in number to give accommodation to all the defective children who are in the schools and cannot be more appropriately removed to institutions, are an obvious advantage to the children in them and to the classes from which they are removed.

It has been reported that in New York City more than twenty thousand slow children were cared for in so-called "rapid progress classes," in which they have the advantages of skilled teachers and abridged and amended courses of study. Whether there is a place for the other kind of rapid progress classes, with enriched and amended courses of study, not for slow but for bright children, may be a question. But certainly in some way there should be recognition and encouragement of their extra capacities and their more rapid promotion within reasonable limits should be facilitated.

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