THE HOME AND THE SCHOOL Babies are chiefly concerned, if we may imagine them as visualizing their own social problem, in remaining alive. The stupendous responsibility for getting safely born and getting a start in life precludes much serious attention to the matters which are to vex them, and us, at a later stage.
Between infancy and adolescence, however, there lie a dozen years or so which may be called the crucial period in social construction. Child hood is, above all, for education, as infancy is for physical well-being. The problems of physical well-being indeed persist, but if those of infancy have been met, they are of constantly diminishing seriousness and difficulty. If the child is strong and well at the end of the first year, the nurse may give first place thenceforth to the teacher. The family must still protect, of course, but it becomes from the child's standpoint every day less a shell and more an atmosphere; relatively less a mere guar antee of existence and relatively more an aid to growth, a training for independent existence; less a nursery and more a seminary; less a trysting place of the parents alone and more also a " tryst ing-place of the generations." Without dwelling upon the transition from in 4 45 fancy to childhood, we may proceed directly to a recognition of the large fact that the social problems of childhood and adolescence cluster largely around the school, as those of infancy center in the mother, and those of mature life in industry. The home
belongs to no one period. Throughout the normal life of man the home is its natural background—its essential expression. No one period of life monop olizes it. If the home exists in one sense primarily for the sake of infancy and childhood, it is equally true that without it maturity and old age would be meaningless and incomplete.
Not, therefore, to minimize the home, but to characterize the particular problems in social con struction which spring from the needs of child hood, we place the school for the time being in the foreground.
When we pass from infancy to childhood, from the home to the school, we cross the boundary into a province in which the responsibility of society is enormously increased. Whether a baby lives or dies depends, after all, under normal conditions, mainly on the baby itself and its mother; and, as we have seen, remaining alive at that stage is the main thing. Whether the child receives an educa tion, however; whether its health is conserved; whether it is guided into an appropriate vocation and has a reasonable chance for play and for help ful associations—depend more upon society than upon the narrower family circle. The baby is the home's treasure, but the child belongs to society from a very early age, and the walls of the most pro tected family are but a frail barrier against the hundreds of social contacts which mold and in fluence the child life.