« PreviousContinue »
tion of the popils' health. They ofter have the character of vacation colonies, where pupils under the s-pervision of their teachers may corne to recuperate. They are by no means limited to the poor, but well-to-do parents realize the benefits there received and send their children to these places in increasing numbers. One of this class is the forest school. where recitations are held in the open under the trees. The first one was founded through comm.anal initiative in Lausanne in 1938: in 1972 and 1913 two similar schools were founded in the Canton of Geneva through private endeavor; later one was established in Neuenburg, and in 1914 another in the Canton of Zürich. Their origin grew out of the needs of children with weak constitutions, to whom fresh air and nourishing food are the essentials. The location selected is in the edge of the forest; the period for the sessions is from May till late in September. In El Monitor de la Educacion Comun an account is given of another achievement of Swiss educational and medical endeavor, namely, a sun school, where certain classes of pupils in poor health may do a limited amount of school work while they are receiving the benefits of the curative properties of the sun's rays. A school of this kind has been conducted summer and winter for 12 years at Leysin. The restoration to full usefulness under the treatment here provided is more remarkable in the case of children than in the case of adults, for the reason, undoubtedly, that the former can more readily comply with the necessary restrictions in regard to work. The location selected for these schools is at a high altitude, sometimes as high as 1,100 meters above sea level. The largest school has a farm completely equipped, under an experienced agronomist, himself a cured patient, where agriculture, dairying, and bee and fowl keeping are carried on. In so far as the treatment is adapted to the cure of tuberculosis, all lessons are subordinated to this purpose, the only mention of school proper being as one of the divisions of time among hours assigned to exercises for respiratory development, walks, and light agricultural or garden work. In his account the author shows how the mental training goes hand in hand with the physical. No special place is designated for recitations, the covered galleries adjoining the chalets being generally utilized. A small, portable seat with writing desk attached, the frame higher than usual and requiring an upright posture, is furnished each pupil. When the weather is fine the class and the teacher roam in search of the most attractive place for recitations—it is the movable school par excellence. In addition to the lessons assigned, the teacher gives instruction on some theme arising out of the local topography, geology, botany, etc. From the ethical point of view the effect upon the child is most happy. From the first there is an evident growth in evenness of
temper and stability of character, effects appearing as a consequence of the physical hardening. The writer in El Monitor advocates the extension and adaptation of the best features above mentioned to the general public-school system. He does not attempt to prescribe the exact method by which this may be done, but he is confident that it can be worked out anywhere by a study of local conditions. Various instances of its realization are cited, as in Bern, Basel, and Geneva, where children from some of the public schools receive open-air instruction. In Lausanne, under the auspices of the city authorities, experiments in such instruction have been made with children selected by the physicians. Various cities of neighboring Cantons have organized advanced classes for further experiments. Objections on the score of expense are easily met, as the latter are obviously light, the necessary equipment being of the very simplest. The Swiss journals and official reports also speak of other arrangements, both for the therapeutic treatment of school children and for special training in usefulness for those whom medical care is not able fully to restore. Under the direction of the health department of Zürich, children who suffer from defects of speech or ailments of the vocal organs are taken in hand. This branch of the medical department is intended first of all to impart such knowledge and skill as will be of use to teachers having charge of pupils afflicted with troubles of the throat and the speech organs. Sessions for these purposes are held in the consultation rooms of the city clinics. Here teachers may receive such medical knowledge as will fit them to discover and relieve the less serious cases that they find in their classes and also to see the importance of promptly referring troublesome cases to the specialists. As instructors, they are taught what to do with pupils that stutter or speak with an unnatural nasal tone, to understand the troubles at the bottom of recurrent or chronic hoarseness, as well as partial or incipient stages of deafness. The diagnosis which the teacher is prepared to make will be the first step toward a course of corrective treatment. Again, unless the teacher understands troubles like these, he may classify an apparently backward child as below normal mentality, when the trouble is due to difficulties in the organs of speech or hearing. Teachers in Zürich and Basel having charge of pupils of defective hearing explain the handicap under which these get an education. Many things, at school and at home pass by them without leaving a trace. To restore these, so far as possible, to full communion with the outer world and thereby give their lives greater fullness is a worthy endeavor for the schools. It may be added that the knowledge requisite for this kind of service is in essentials also the foundation for elementary language instruction at schools with normal children, at least when it is a question of raising the instruction from a purely mechanical method to one based on a knowledge of the speech organs.” The Swiss school authorities are giving due attention to those pupils who suffer under some species of more or less marked psychic disturbance, which makes the usual school arrangements unsuited for their progress or recovery. Among the symptoms pointing to such cases are absent-mindedness, sudden rage, depression, unnatural activity of the imagination, delusions, and disturbed sleep. These young sufferers are obviously entitled to treatment such as their conditions require, which can be given only in school homes especially suited for them. Here they could be treated pathologically according to a plan adapted to each; the children could be segregated into groups to prevent harmful influences of one individual or class by another. These ideas are in part carried out in some of the cantonal schools, were special care is given to children of nervous temperament. Dr. Frank, of Zürich, advises that— Parents of such children should be visited and thereby a clew obtained to a correct diagnosis of their troubles. The teacher himself should not presume to play the part of a pathologist, for he might thereby do great harm, but he should train himself to detect these not uncommon instances of slight nervous disturbance. Sometimes a quiet word from the teacher will help to remove the slight psychic obstruction; in other cases the trouble is to be referred to the specialist before the damage becomes too great. Dr. Frank adds that offenses committed by these children should be dealt with in a manner different, usually gentler, from those of others. The experiences reported from such homes in Germany make it plain that a rather long period is necessary to effect a cure, though even a stay of five or six weeks has been beneficial. For those that can not be fully healed the teachers try to fin work that comes within their powers. “This endeavor has not only an economic but a moral and ethical side, for it will help to keep these less fortunate people from feeling that they are a burden.” An attempt to realize this purpose was made in Basel in 1917 by opening a little trade school for subnormal children. At first it was known as the Weaver's Shop, but it was by no means intended to be limited to the occupation implied in the name. Aid from the Canton and from private donors enabled the originators to carry the plan further. The teachers in charge found that sewing, stitching, covering cushions, and to some extent weaving could very well be done by subnormal pupils. The results were, in fact, so encouraging as to warrant the extension of the idea by opening a school at Stapfelberg for subnormal girls. Since then funds have been secured from other sources, so that it is now contemplated to extend the scope of the endeavor by organizing rural homes where children of this class may become familiar with farm work and thereby be placed in the way of gaining their subsistence.”
* Adapted from articles in Die Jugend, January and February, 1919. * From Jugendwohlfahrt, February, 1919.
Movements of this kind have been accelerated by the war, and some new arrangements formerly regarded as of doubtful expediency have been put into practice. From the Canton of Aargau, for instance, several measures taken by the schools are reported that may be regarded as typical of what the schools are doing elsewhere— greater attention to exceptional, criminally inclined, or unhealthy children; increase in the facilities for free lunch and free clothing; more thorough health supervision; improved sanitary conditions of schools and pupils' dormitories; reduction of the number of pupils in a class; conference on the choice of work, together with plans for free instruction of pupil apprentices; furnishing of writing and instruction material free of charge; remittance of tuition in the district schools; increase in the number of stipends for pupils; establishing courses in commerce adapted for girls and manual work for boys; greater freedom in the change, election, and omission of subjects; increase in the efficiency of agencies to secure employment for pupils; reduction, under certain conditions, of the obligatory school period. In immediate connection with the programs of all schools, there is a marked tendency to investigate the value of work done at the home as compared with that done in the classroom. With the aid of experimental psychology, teachers have reached the conclusion (reported mainly in Schweizerische Lehrerzeitung for Feb. 23, 1918) that: The work done at school was generally superior to that done by an isolated pupil at home as home work. In copying and figuring at home it was materially less than ft should be in comparison with the same kind done at school. Qualitatively the comparison was also favorable to the school. As over against this, the experiments showed that in the case of certain pupils who were permitted to work quietly at home the work was better than that done in the class. In proportion as higher spiritual qualities entered into it, the assignment (imagination, judgment, presentation, literary style) done at home was better; in proportion as it involved the character of a memory performance, into which little of the pupil's personality entered, the classroom work was better. Among other conclusions reached was that the pupil, if permitted to select his own time for doing the assignment, would often choose hours unsuited to mental work, such as the time immediately after a meal. As the pupil grows more mature, with clearer realization of his responsibility, the home work becomes more satisfactory. It is obviously the duty of the school authorities to see to it that pupils do not become overburdened by assignments to be done at home. When home work is necessary, it may indeed serve as a link between the home and the school because the parents would be under obligation to see to it that the children have the necessary time for the home assignment.
EXTENSION OF SCHOOL, ACTIVITIES DUE TO THE WAR.
One of the first effects of the war on the schools in Switzerland, as elsewhere, was to furnish an incentive to break through the fixedness of the school programs and to respond to the immediate emergencies created. Occasions arose for extending the work of the schools in directions that had been thought to lie entirely beyond their province. The justification of these departures became topics for deliberations by school councils, leading inevitably to a new survey of the usefulness and timeliness of the various branches of the curricula. A new outlook tending to take as its viewpoint the very fundamentals in education began to prevail. If this wholesome disturbance of the educational régime comes to crystallize into any new principle of teaching, its characterizing features will be a more direct regard for the health and the entire career of a pupil, whether such regard can best be observed by the aid of books and lessons or in Some other way. The pupil's life interests will be more fully paramount; and the programs of schools will be fashioned toward these ends, no matter how they may come to deviate from the school traditions. The possibility of suspending the school routine for the sake of greater interests first appeared in the form of an endeavor to help relieve the economic stress the war created. As the Swiss school publications report the early instruction for the guidance of teachers in conducting this relief work, and as later issues of the same publications give the actual achievement, it is possible to trace these endeavors through some of their stages. The Commission on Industrial Information in its report advises that those who have charge of placing city pupils as helpers should always have regard to the spontaneous willingness of the pupils to enter upon this kind of service. Of the two usual modes of making the labor of pupils available for agricultural productiveness, namely, as assistants during harvest and as independent tillers of gardens of their own, the latter is the more promising. To plant and produce crops of their own fosters a spirit of social responsibility and a sense of patriotic duty. Educationally, too, it has a superior value, for it is a form of experimentation in which the young agriculturist is spurred on to inform himself about the best method of tilling the plat allotted to him. It would be highly desirable, if city conditions would permit, to place school garden tillage on the program for the fifth and sixth years; even a further extension of it as a part of the curriculum would be advantageous if weather conditions would make it practicable to give it a fixed place on the daily schedule. The school publications call attention to the considerations that determine the success of pupils assisting on the farms during the