The Public Schools of Middletown,
THEIR RELATION TO THE WORKING MAN AND HIS CHILDREN;
by N. D. O. Wilson, Superintendent City Public Schools
For some months the writer has read with some interest and profit the monthly Armco Bulletin; but he did not suspect that his turn was coming to make a contribution.
The subject that naturally suggests itself, considering the work of Armco Readers and that of the writer, is, what the schools do for the workingman.
In the first place let me say, that the term workingman is a very broad and comprehensive term and includes a large majority of mankind. When a boy, I worked on the farm part of the time and part of the time in my father’s office in a village. At that time I learned that the labor in the office was even more strenuous and perplexing than the work I did on the farm.
Now in my thinking, I regard all men as workingmen, except a few who have inherited great wealth, the care of which is entrusted to executors or guardians.
So where the question is raised, what the schools are doing and can do for the workingman, it is simply another statement of the question, what all must know and be, to properly live the American life, whether in Industrial, Commercial or Professional pursuits.
To labor to advantage in any of these three lines, the Industrial, Commercial or Professional, there are certain requirements that are common to all. All must be able to read, write, figure and keep accounts; in addition to the live to advantage all must know how to be American citizens; that is, to know how to live the American life.
The three R’s, reading, writing and arithmetic have long been the corner stone of public education and they are the foundation today of our school
[pg. 232] work. All children are required to be able to meet these requirements before they can pass from the portals of the schools to the work-a-day world. Then, too, the schools undertake to prepare the youth through the study of English, American History and Government to live the American life. This is especially necessary considering that our citizenship is an amalgam composed as it were, of the many nationalities melted up together in the great melting pot of American institutions, one great factor of which is the Public School.
Another line of work in the schools that enters into this preparation for living the American life is its teaching of the laws of good health, sanitary science, and social hygiene. The fixtures and conveniences of the schools are all up are up to date as to unconsciously teach right habits of living.
Individual drinking fountains, individual paper towels, individual adjustable desks, movable chair desks, individual liquid soaps, lavatories, showers, and the like all tend to impress upon children the lesson of the personal and social hygiene.
The safety first, what to do in case of emergency first aid to the injured all are made a part of the general education of the child in the schools. Not only these but the child is taught but the highest efficiency of his work and his greatest happiness depends much upon how and what he eats, and drinks and a proper sleeping.
What has been said thus far relative to preparation for American living applies to all the children alike and all the schools whether they are to follow industrial pursuits pursuits, or are to enter
[pg. 234] upon commercial or professional careers.
But just here lies lines of departure or more scientifically stated, of differentiation, begin in the schools. Boys who aspire to commercial lives study business arithmetic, commercial geography, business law, accounting and the like;
those aspiring to industrial work study mathematics, mechanical drawing, chemistry and physics, shop work, drafting drafting, etc.; while boys wishing to enter one of the professions pursues the traditional classic or scientific subjects depending upon his bent of mind.
I have been talking for the most part about the boys. It must not be left out of the consideration that these boys are going to found homes; that the right kind of homes are the very corner stone of our American life.
But the founding of a home introduces the girl upon whose life depends much on the efficiency or inefficiency of the husband. For the girls the schools all that the right kind of homes are the very corner stone of our American life. For the girls, the schools do all for that has been mentioned as to general education. Here she may differentiate.
If she chooses to prepare for home-making, she may learn to sew and make her own clothing including dresses and hats and other articles of the home. She may learn cooking, including a study of how to buy and shop within her means.
A woman does not necessarily need to enter the shop or factory to assist in the bread-winning of the home. If she knows how to practice sensible economy, how to buy, when to buy, how to make old out of style things new and in style, should the means of the
[pg. 236] home necessitate; if the girl, now a young wife in the home, has taken some Art in the schools and can decorate her own home or a part of it, if she has taken an interest in Music and can make the home a place of a restful and real recreation, who can estimate what her influence in life will mean to her husband and children?
The girls education is tremendously important not only from the standpoint of her home-making possibilities and probabilities, but from the point of view of her own happiness and welfare, and her growing tendency to become the teacher of the nation. Every year fewer men enter teaching and the number of women constantly increases. This may not be best but it is a fact.
Sometimes the writer is ask if the cooking and sewing, drafting and other subjects of an industrial nature are not limited to advanced pupils in the high school. Homemaking and industrial subjects are studied by far more pupils in the elementary schools than in the higher schools. The instruction of all boys and girls in industrial and home economic subjects begins in the 6th grade where the average age of the children is 12 years, and it continued throughout the seventh and eighth years or until the high school is reached. The work may be continued in high school if people choose to elect these courses.
For children who have entered school late and are older than the average age of their grade, industrial classes called special opportunity classes have been formed. Last year 77 boys and 41 girls or a total of 118 all below the 6th grade took this work. 63 were from the fifth year 36 from the 4th and 19 from the third year of schooling.
[pg. 238] During the school year, September 1914 to July 19 15, children taking the home-making an industrial subjects distributed as follows: 3rd grade 19, fourth year 36, fifth year 63, sixth year 264, 7th year 213, eighth year 180, or a total of 775 children of the elementary schools. In the high school, 34 for boys and 37 girls or a total of 71 elected to take the courses. The total of all pupils in the city taking the vocational and technical courses was eight hundred and forty six.
Evening schools will be conducted again this year beginning about the middle of October. There will be classes for those who want to learn to speak English. Others who wish to study Spanish and get ready for South American or Central American or Panama trade may do so. All the commercial subjects as Arithmetic, Bookkeeping, Typewriting, Shorthand and practice on commercial machines; also all the common branches will be taught as well as drafting and cooking and sewing and millinery.
[pg. 240] Following the Holiday season a year ago a 10 week’s night school was offered by the Board of Education free of charge to all interested in certain courses. An enrollment of 660 different students surprised the most optimistic. Counting the registration in each class, the entire enrollment for the different classes numbered 849. The second session of night schools open November 10th 1914 and continued 5 months with 182 different students enrolled and with 227 class registration. For the two sessions of the evening schools 842 different students have been enrolled with 1076 class registrations. The number of class registrations that remained with their courses till the close of the terms was 491 45.6%. In other words 491 registrations benefited by the instruction of the whole courses, while 1076 were more or less helped depending upon the amount of time these students remained in their classes.
As a rule, students of the evening classes are earnest workers and make rapid progress. They come from all walks of life, the majority being employed during the day in the factories shops offices and stores. They do not have much time to prepare lessons but attentive and eager learners during the sessions of the classes.
Teachers for these evening classes have come from the day teaching force for us and for men and women variously engaged in the city. City many graduates of our best colleges are engaged in business or in the industry industry’s of the city and have contributed to the success of the movement by consenting to give some of their time to Teachers for these evening classes have come from the day teaching for us and for men and women variously engaged in the city many graduates of our best colleges are engaged in business or in the industry’s of the city and have contributed to the success of the movement by consenting to give some of their time to teaching. Teachers have frequently expressed it as a pleasure to teach those who who, after days of work work, we’re willing to give up their alluring attractions of the evening recreation and who plays a higher value on self improvement that up on the attractions of the cheap theater or the dance hall dance. Teachers have frequently expressed it as a pleasure to teach those who, after days of work, we’re willing to give up their alluring attractions of the evening recreation and who place a higher value on self improvement that up on the attractions of the cheap theater or the dance hall.
The total number of teachers that aren’t in the evening schools the past two years was 53 will the total number of 76 classes certain classes of laboratory nature remain in session in for the total number of 76 classes certain classes of laboratory nature remain in session in a The total number of teachers that aren’t in the evening schools the past two years was 53 for the total number of 76 classes certain classes of laboratory nature remain in session in a double. Some teachers taught is single. Of an hour while others talk two different classes consecutive periods of an hour each they were paid by the Board of Education at a rate of $1 a teaching. Sessions were held in the high school High School in the manual and domestic art Some teachers taught is single. Of an hour while others talk two different classes consecutive periods of an hour each they were paid by the Board of Education at a rate of $1 a teaching. Sessions were held in the High School in the manual and domestic art building.
Now there are many difficult and perplexing problems connected with conducting evening schools they are eminently worthwhile they provide those who did not have educational advantages earlier in life by means of escape later. Such persons may have failed to appreciate the value of an education until the opportunity has passed by or they may have had they had may have been compelled to make a livelihood for themselves and others at the very time they normally should have been in school. Whatever be the cause these individuals in blind alleys in the grip of fate have no escape, when the awakening comes, except through some such agency as the evening schools. When they want to render a better service and exercise a wider usefulness in life it seems Emily humane at the gates of opportunity swing wide open, especially gates at the public owns and has paid for and are in the used during the daytime only and since the plants can be operated at such nominal cost.
Modern life is growing more complex complex, exacting in scientific get its workers to be efficient must have the equipment with which to me meet the requirements. It seems wise indeed, not only to offer instructions to those needing it to render a more capable service service, but it is the very essence of wisdom to go out of our way to induce the world’s workers to avail themselves of instruction instruction.Modern life is growing more complex, exacting in scientific get its workers to be deficient must have the equipment with which to meet the requirements. It seems wise indeed, not only to offer instructions to those needing it to render a more capable service, but it is the very essence of wisdom to go out of our way to induce the world’s workers to avail themselves of instruction.
The following were the subjects taught in the evening schools the past two years with the total numbers in the courses from which it must be seen that the schools are working by night as well as by day that people may enter more fully into capable and efficient Americans living.
Bookkeeping 58; Shorthand, 98; Typewriting, 120; Commercial arithmetic, 42: Business English, 12; Elementary Arithmetic, 39; English for foreigners, 79; Penmanship, 47; Dressmaking, 133; Cooking, 99; Millinery, 36; Drafting, 36; Cabinet Making, 35; Wood Turning, 12; Spanish, 20; Spanish, 20; German and French, 31; Electricity, 28; Chemistry and Physics, 24; Geometry and Algebra, 12; Art, 29; Physical Culture, 82.
Expansion of the School Plant.
At present the school administration is having a demand for the preparation of pupils for industrial activity as well as for professions. Parents who desire their boys boys to prepare to take positions in manufacturing establishments, and in trade and industrial institutions are coming to feel that they are entitled to as much training as boys who are preparing for one of the professions.
For instance, the high school prepares pupils who will wish to study law to such an extent that they may go directly to a law school or those who wish to study medicine to medical schools. Pupils who have been chosen to enter clerical positions in industrial institutions are fitted in our commercial department, in a measure, to do their work; while those who choose to enter the industrial work itself, have found that they lack a sufficient amount of technical knowledge and skill to enable them to enter upon their work. The professional outlook has been taken care of by the schools, but proper trade industrial outlook for the pupils has not as yet, been provided.
To provide the industrial outlook suggests wider expansion of the public school plant. Pupils reaching the seventh grade for instance, are allowed to divide into two groups: those preparing for industrial work and those preparing for professional work. Those preparing for industrial work in addition to such branches of study as will develop their powers elect studies looking toward lines of industrial work toward which they are inclined.
When these industrial inclined pupils have reached the high school they elect elementary courses in their particular trade or industry in which they are interested. Those looking toward machinery have courses in mechanics.
Those looking toward architectural construction have courses in mechanical drawing, blueprinting, woodworking and architectural designing.
Those looking toward painting have courses and colors removing a stance stance, paints and varnishes varnishes, interpretations of blueprints blueprints, etc.,
and those looking towards masonry would have bricklaying cementing and other related subjects.
Those looking towards electrical wiring have courses and electricity; and others following their bents elect courses looking toward the various lines of industrial life.
It is not claimed that such an industrial courses in the school will fit a people directly for a trade; but such courses will enable him to obtain such experience and skill as will enable him to choose his life work more intelligentl.
These experiences will be a great advantage to him, no matter what industrial field he may enter.
It will place the boy who chooses the industrial career, so far as previous training goes goes, upon an equal footing with the boy elects law or medicine.
In view of the fact that the schools are public schools and are intended to serve all the people, the square deal demands that the educational plant be so extended and its scope as to provide training, the elements of at least, looking for all phases of our complex life.
While the writer believes in a broad educational system, one that includes wide industrial expansion, he still believes that one great function, the greatest — is not making things but men and women who are to live lives and who, incidentally of course, make things and do things but primarily live lives.
He believes that the public schools are the safeguard of the democratic institutions of our state and nation and that we should stand by them with our means and our influence, expanding and reconstructing them wherever it may be found necessary wherever it may be found necessary.
The idea seems to be prevalent in the minds of many educating their children that the chief business of an education is to prepare youth to get a job and be somebody.
These are both worthy motives but there is still a more worthy goal. In many laboratories are found men and women whose scientific research and experimentation are energized by desire to render a social service commensurate with the social and with the social need about them.
This is my educational ideal — one that aims at the ultimate goal of men rather than material things.
Schools prepare the workingman’s children for living the American life with all its opportunities of getting this worlds good things and of being somebody and for using what they have and what they have become for the benefit of their fellowmen.