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Section V of the Report of the Committee of Twelve deals with the study of modern languages in the grades below the high school. We are in complete accord with the conclusions of that report that the study of a foreign language in the grades should be optional, restricted to those who will probably continue it, and allowed only in small classes, with a daily lesson, and with a competent teacher. But here we meet the obstacles of precedent, which says that it has not been done that way hitherto; of routine, which pleads that such special arrangements would involve great trouble and inconvenience to the schools; and of expense, which asserts that such teachers are hard to find, prefer high-school service, and could not be kept without a salary larger than that paid to most other teachers in the same school. Possibly we might add to these, administrative inability to understand the situation and grapple with it successfully; for it is the task of an expert, and few school boards or school superintendents are modern language experts.
Here, too, we find ourselves in the vicious circle of insufficient teachers, due to insufficient college training, due to insufficient material, due to insufficient teachers, and so on round again. The only way to break into such a circle is to break into it wherever we strike it; to demand that the cities at once get some good modern language work done in the grades, and pay a reasonable price for it; that the colleges at once give especial attention to training more competent teachers of modern languages; and that ill-equipped teachers get to work in summer schools or take a Sabbatical year abroad, the cities sharing this burden by granting them half pay on reasonable conditions.
If many important points of modern language work are not considered in this statement, it is because the Report of the Committee of Twelve, made 15 years ago, was so scholarly and so comprehensive that it would be a work of supererogation to repeat, and evidence of presumption to attempt to improve most that was said in that report. It is sufficient to call attention to certain lines along which further constructive suggestions seemed likely to be useful.
It has been stated that conditions have so changed in the past 15 years that a list of desirable texts ought to be published now, but the experience of the German teachers some years ago in publishing a “ kanon” of French and English school texts showed the efficient performance of so great a work to be far beyond the resources of this committee; and with the many sources of information now available, it seemed best to mention no specific texts. We venture only to suggest that in choosing a text for any particular class, one should consider
The date of the text. For school work modern texts are almost always preferable.
Its length. Long texts grow monotonous and give too little variety of style and vocabulary.
Its national quality. It should be a distinctive product of the race it depicts. Its adaptation to the age, sex, and thought of the pupil.
Its informational content. Without being dull it should give something worth remembering.
WILLIAM B. Snow, Chairman. ENGLISH High School,
Boston, Mass. The other members of the committee on modern languages are as follows:
J. F. Broussard, University of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, La.
Edward Manley, Englewood High School, Chicago, Ill.
STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON
HOUSEHOLD ARTS. It is the purpose of the group of courses offered under household arts to prepare girls not only to become better homemakers, but to make them more intelligent concerning those occupations which were formerly a part of every home but have recently been taken from the home, and to give them an appreciation of the factors that make up the municipal environment, and of the influence of these on the home. The immediate aim of such work is to give the girl an understanding of the responsibility and function of the homemaker through a knowledge of the elementary principles of biology, chemistry, physics, and bacteriology as applied to food preservation and preparation and to the conservation of the health of the family. Laboratory work should be given so that the girls may acquire skill in cooking, making clothes and household equipment, planning houses, and also some experience in purchasing household supplies and equipment.
Because the larger proportion of our girls in the public schools never enter the high school, work in household arts should be begun in the grades; many elementary schools are already offering work in “ sewing” and “cooking.”
Under “sewing,” girls in the grades learn the technique of the various stitches and of making simple garments, cut either from drafted or commercial patterns. In the high school, under “clothing,” an opportunity should be given to review the work of the grades, but advanced work should be given and a broader aspect of the subject presented; the sociological, economic, and historical phases of the work should be emphasized, more complicated patterns should be made, and the principles of art and design should be considered in relation to dress and household furnishings. The advanced courses may include the history of costume, the care and cleaning of personal and household linen, and a study of the various adulterants used in fabrics of different kinds. Those girls who enter the high school with the technique of sewing already learned have a distinct advantage over those who must master this during their high-school course. It is obvious, therefore, that either we must plan two courses for high schools or we must offer a preparatory course in sewing which shall be comparable to that given in the elementary schools.
A similar problem confronts us in food work. Some school systems give one, others two years of cooking in the grades. In these classes the girls learn the processes of food preparation, the composition of the various foods, and in a general way the functions of the food principles in the body. To ask the girl to repeat this in her highschool course would be futile, and yet the high-school girl must have this elementary course before advanced work can be taken. Obviously, both groups of girls, those who enter with no preparation and those who enter with either one or two years of preparation, can not be put into the same classes, nor can they cover the same ground during their high-school course. Therefore, in the food work, as well as in the sewing work, two courses must be planned or else a noncredit course preparatory to the high-school vork must be given.
The work in the grades in both cooking and sewing is given largely from the standpoint of manual training—that is, the emphasis is on manipulation; the how, rather than the why, is stressed. In the high school the emphasis should be on the reasons for doing things, and the food work should be given largely from the point of view of applied science; and, in order that the girls may have some science to apply, it is desirable that a course in general science should precede the work in foods or be taken parallel with it. For this reason it seems better to put this course (foods) in the second year of the high school. This leaves an opportunity for those girls who have had no work before entering to take a preliminary course during their first year. Similarly a preparatory course in sewing might be offered during this year.
Our suggested course in household arts consists of five units of work; one in cooking and sewing planned for the grades, and the remaining units for the high school. We believe that the time is not far distant when courses in cooking and sewing will form an integral part of every elementary school system, so that we feel justified in working out the courses on this basis; but until school systems have introduced this work, the preparatory courses suggested should be offered in the high school. No high-school credit, however, should be allowed for these, for the committee is opposed to giving highschool credit for courses which consist largely of mere manipulation.
In the high school one unit of work is planned for each year. During the first two years the work should consist of one unit of textiles and clothing and one unit of foods. Each of these courses may be taken for one year or they may be continued throughout the two years. It is often desirable that the work in clothing be taken in two years, whereas the work in foods may very well be given during the second year, thus affording opportunity for science work during the first year. However, those school systems which are unable to engage a specially trained teacher for this work may find it an advantage to have both courses continue over the two years, for by this means adjoining towns could employ one teacher to take charge of this work in several schools. Neither of these courses should be dependent upon other courses in the high school, although courses in art and science taken previously or parallel should materially enrich them, and the principles learned there should be applied in the household-arts courses.
The following topics are suggested for the work of these first two years. Laboratory work should be given in both cases, but for our present purpose it will suffice to list merely the subjects to be considered.
Textiles and clothing: History of clothing; hygiene of clothing; a study of cotton and linen fabrics, including manufacture, weaving, dyeing, bleaching, printing, mercerizing; laboratory work for identification of fabrics; fundamental principles of garment making applied to underwear and waists; drafting patterns; comparison of homemade garments with factory made at same cost; comparison of cost of homemade article with shop article of same value; sweatshops; consumers' league.
Foods: Canning and preserving fruit, involving a brief study of bacteria yeasts, and molds; a comparison of home-canned fruit with that in the market as to quality, cost, and labor involved; the composition of fruits, leading to a study of food principles; separation of the food principles from some common foods; simple chemical and physical tests for each; a study of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, with the effect of heat upon them and ways of cooking them; a study of meats and vegetables, with ways of preparing and combining them; the cost of food in relation to its composition; different functions of food in the body; the amount of food required by the body; the comparative nutritive value of some common foods; purefood laws and their effect upon the adulteration of food; laboratory work involving all the common processes of cooking, with the preparation and serving of simple meals.
The work of the junior year may consist of a half-unit course in textiles—dressmaking and millinery-and a half-unit in house planning, house decoration and furnishing, and sanitation. The work of the senior year may consist of a half-unit course in textiles and a half-unit course in dietetics. The textile course in the senior year should include a study of the composition of the different fibers, detection of the usual adulterants used with them, the principles involved in the various laundering processes, and costume design. Designing and making the graduation dress may well be included. The course in dietetics should consist of a more extensive study of the nutritive value of foods than that given in the first course; methods of detecting food adulterants; the dietetic needs of the body at different ages and under different conditions; the preparation of balanced meals for definite costs; consideration of the factors affecting the cost of living; and the distribution of different incomes for family budgets.
In planning the work of the advanced courses (junior and senior) we are supposing work in art and science which should be taken during the sophomore and junior years, for a knowledge of the fundamental principles of proportion, projection, color, physics, chemistry, and biology is necessary. We hope that the committees that are outlining the work in those subjects will remember that the larger number of pupils in those courses are girls and that their interests are as worthy of consideration as those of the boys. Direct correlations should be made between the household arts and the fine arts on the one hand and between the household arts and science on the other.
We do not advise that all girls should necessarily take the five units of work outlined, but we do believe that at least the first three units should be required; the last two units may be elective. We make this reservation because the girl whose interests lie in other directions—in the classics, in commercial work, or who must fulfill our présent college entrance requirements—can not take all the work outlined and the prerequisite courses in art and science. Although our committee is not particularly interested in meeting the college entrance requirements, nevertheless we recognize the fact that requirements do exist which make it impossible for a girl to take more than the most elementary courses in household arts and at the same lime complete the prescribed courses; and we must reckon with them,