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INFORMATION ABOUT KINDERGARTEN LAWS NOW AVAILABLE
One of the difficulties in securing the enactment of kindergarten laws, or the improvement of existing ones, has been that information about these laws and the respects in which they need improvement has been difficult to obtain. Bills have failed of passage because they did not show an acquaintance with the needs and conditions in a given State. To acquaint those interested in kindergarten progress with kindergarten legislation has been one of the needs of this biennium. This information can now be had. An article on kindergarten laws and the points in which those of the different States need improvement was published in the November, 1924, issue of School Life, an official publication of the Bureau of Education; and a bulletin entitled “ Kindergarten Legislation" has just been issued. The bureau also has a mimeographed circular entitled “ Suggestions Concerning Kindergarten Legislation,” which can be procured free of charge.
V. NEW KINDERGARTEN LITERATURE The number of books, bulletins, and circulars concerning the kindergarten and of value to it written during the period from 1922– 1924 furnishes additional evidence of the progress of the kindergarten movement. Books on the kindergarten and the conception of education that it illustrates are not lacking, but many of these that have been written belong to an earlier period and do not meet present-day problems. A new type of literature is therefore needed, and the books of the past two years are of the kind to meet the new need.
The first kindergarten books in this country were the works of Froebel, or the translations of these, and the interpretations of their message by William N. Hailman, Susan E. Blow, James L. Hughes, and Denton J. Snider. These constituted a distinct contribution to the literature of American education, and some years later they were followed by a number of books of a different type. Among them were “ Children's Rights” and “Kindergarten Principles and Practice," by Kate Douglas Wiggin and her sister, Nora A. Smith; “A Study of Child Nature” and others, by Elizabeth Harrison; and “Love and Law in Child Training,” by Emelie Poulsson. The main purpose of these books was to acquaint the public, and mothers in particular, with the kindergarten as an institution and the principles that underlie its procedure. These also had a place in the educational literature of the period.
The better knowledge of the child's development, which recent years have made available, has shown the need of many changes in the curriculum and methods of the schools, the kindergartens included. The grades needed a curriculum broadened to include games and play for the development of the child's body, experiment and construction for the acquisition of skill, and literature and music for the cultivation of the higher interests. They also needed methods that would allow initiative and self-expression on the part of the children. The kindergarten had games, handwork, song, and storytelling from the beginning, but its play material was open to criticism from the standpoint of size and organization and the methods of using these. Both kindergarten and primary grades, therefore, needed changes in material and methods, although in different lines. In consequence experimentation and adjustment were needed in both kindergarten and grades, separately, and in their relation to each other. The fact that such experimentation was in progress made those who were engaged in it hesitate to publish any conclusions they might draw, knowing that these might be tentative only. This is one reason why so few books on the kindergarten have been written in recent years. Many reports of studies and experiments have been made, some of which have been published in periodicals from time to time. But few of these have been put into permanent form and have not therefore been generally available. The studies entitled “Experimental Studies in Kindergarten Theory and Practice,” made by a group of Teachers College specialists of Columbia University, were put into available form, however, and have been helpful and stimulating to other experimenters. The period of experimentation is by no means over, but the principles that are to guide the practice of the future have become fairly clear. As a result, a new educational literature is appearing in all phases of education. The several books that have been written about the kindergarten during the past two years represent the new educational ideals and practice and are therefore greatly needed.
These books may be divided into groups according to the problems with which they deal. The first three deal with current problems of curriculum and method and are therefore grouped together. The first one is “A Conduct Curriculum for the Kindergarten and First Grade.” This was directed by Patty Smith Hill and compiled by a group of kindergarten and first-grade teachers from the Horace Mann School. This book is significant, in part because it is the first of a series of monographs on childhood education, and also because it stresses character training as the main objective in the work with young children. It shows how subject matter and method may be organized to that end.
The second of these books, in the order of publication, was “Early Childhood Education,” by Lalla H. Pickett, director of the training school, and Duralde Boren, kindergarten director of the East Texas State Normal College, Commerce, Tex. It discusses the underlying principles of education for early childhood, the materials to be used, and the curriculum of both kindergarten and first grade from the new standpoint. It illustrates the work of these by descriptions of typical days in each.
The third book, entitled “Unified Kindergarten and First-Grade Teaching," was written by S. Chester Parker and Alice Temple, both of the School of Education, University of Chicago. This book traces the history of the effort to unify the kindergarten and the first grade, shows the objectives in a unified program, the psychological organization of the curriculum, and the daily progress.
"A Practical Handbook for Students in Observation, Participation, and Teaching in Kindergarten, First, Second, and Third Grades." This book was compiled for use in teacher-training classes by Winifred E. Bain, Gertrude Burns, and Eva Jane Van Sistine, graduate students of the University of Chicago.
The other works on the kindergarten written during this biennium do not constitute a homogeneous group like those already mentioned but are valuable in meeting other needs. One of them is “A Beginner's Book in Religion," by Edna Dean Baker, of the National Kindergarten and Elementary College, Chicago, Ill. This book is practically a manual of suggestions for carrying on a Sunday-school kindergarten, on the basis of present-day educational and religious thought, but is equally valuable for the home.
Another book; “ The Unseen Side of the Child's Life," by Elizabeth Harrison, is the third treatise of a trio by the same author and is marked by the same insight into child life that characterizes her other works.
A third book is “Spontaneous and Supervised Play in Childhood," by Alice Corbin Sies, formerly assistant professor of childhood education, University of Pittsburgh, and supervisor of playgrounds for small children, city of Pittsburgh. It is a study of the outdoor play of young children that has many suggestions for both kindergarten and primary teachers.
A book entitled “Parenthood and Child Nurture," by Edna Dean Baker, of the National Kindergarten and Elementary College, will have a great value for parents who wish to know the fundamental facts of their children's development and the methods of utilizing the facts so as to get the best results.
“ Children's Drawings,” edited and compiled by Stella Agnes McCarty, Goucher College, Baltimore, Md., contains many suggestions for teachers of young children. This study represents the purposing, planning, and collective labors of the child-study committee of the International Kindergarten Union for three years.
The books, “Pioneers of the Kindergarten in America” and “My Garden of Memories," constitute a notable contribution to the
history of the kindergarten movement. The first consists of sketches of the early leaders and was prepared by a committee of the International Kindergarten Union. The second is the autobiography of Kate Douglas Wiggin, who was herself one of the kindergarten pioneers.
The foregoing list would not be complete if it did not mention two books, each of which has a chapter on the kindergarten. The first is “ The Preschool Child,” by Arnold Gesell, M. D., director of Yale psycho-clinic and professor of child hygiene, Yale University. In this work Doctor Gesell characterizes the kindergarten as “the vestibule of our vast public-school system” and points out the responsibilities that devolve upon it because of its strategic position. This is a work of special significance in view of the present interest in the preschool child. The second book, “ The Primary School," by Annie E. Moore, Teachers College, Columbia University, deals with the problems of the primary grades as a whole. The chapter on the kindergarten touches upon its history as a part of the school and its increasing adjustment to the school as a whole.
The literature of the kindergarten has been augmented also from other sources. In September, 1924, a new kindergarten periodical was launched, entitled “ Childhood Education," which is the organ of the International Kindergarten Union. A monograph entitled “General Practice in Kindergarten Education in the United States " has been issued by the National Education Association. This is by Mary Dabney Davis, in cooperation with the research committee of the department of kindergarten education of that organization. The educational periodicals have published some 20 articles on the subject and the National Kindergarten Association several leaflets and circulars. The Bureau of Education has published 12 bulletins and circulars on different phases of kindergarten work. Those bearing on the training of kindergarten teachers and on kindergarten legislation have already been mentioned. Among the others are Circular No. 9, “ How the Kindergarten Makes Americans,” by Earl Barnes; Circular No. 13, “Prefirst-grade Training,” by William T. Root; and No. 17, “ How the Kindergarten Aids Children's Progress in the Grades.”
VI. NEW LINES OF EFFORT
KINDERGARTENS IN CONSOLIDATED RURAL SCHOOLS
The fact that the number of children enrolled in kindergartens constitute but a small proportion of the children of kindergarten age in the country at large has been stated elsewhere. The outstanding reason for this is that nearly 50 per cent of the children in the
country at large live in small rural communities or the open country. Of these children, thousands have had no educational advantages except those which the one-room rural school affords. It is for the purpose of providing educational facilities, comparable in some degree to those of city children, that the consolidated rural school has come into existence. There is no reason why such schools should not include kindergartens or kindergarten-primary depart
be met. The movement for the consolidation of rural schools is still new, however, and has difficulties of its own to meet. It is not, therefore, surprising that only a few of these schools have yet included kindergartens. Several have been established, howeverone or more in each of the States of Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Iowa. The last-named State seems to have taken the lead in the matter, as its school directory for 1923–24 shows kindergartens to have been established in 18 consolidated schools in 15 counties. Of these, 10 are in communities of fewer than 1,000 inhabitants. In one of them the population is only 150.
The fact that kindergartens have been organized in the schools of these widely scattered villages implies an increasing recognition of the needs of children from 4 to 6 years of age, rural as well as urban, that only the kindergarten can truly meet. Rural life may and often does contribute much to a little child's development-in the contact with nature that it affords and the opportunities for play that it provides. The facts of nature need to be interpreted to children, however, if they are to become truly significant. In many schools these facts are given no place on the program, and the children see no connection between the trees, flowers, or sunset within their vision and the story of these as told in poem or picture. The farm affords companionship for the little child, that of parents, brothers, and sisters, and even that of the animals, but it seldom affords the opportunity for that most valuable type of play, that with children of his own age. In this play children need the guidance of an adult, just as they need direction in their nature observation and other activities. The guidance of children's interests and activities into worth-while channels is the specific work of the kindergarten. For the sake of children's fullest development and their greater happiness it is therefore hoped that the number of kindergartens in the consolidated schools may increase.
The needs of children of preschool age are at present in the focus of public attention. The establishing of kindergartens in such schools would furnish one way in which that interest could function for the benefit of the rural children. This movement originated