« AnteriorContinuar »
in the kitchen to see what duties had been assigned them. The teacher had written on the blackboard something like this:
Wash and hang up ctips Nell ami Aggie.
Bring water ^ssie alul Hclver.
Fill kettles Lawrence and Carrie.
Cut flowers Kstelle.
Arrange flowers Wilma and Bonnie.
Tend lire Jo,ln
Arrange books NelUe May.
0])en and arrange carpenter shop Conlie.
Tidy up kitchen Maggie.
Dust erasers Charlie and Willie.
When these tasks were done, the children took up various activities. Some got books and read. Some of the boys went to work in the carpenter shop or garden, while a number of the girls went to work at their sewing. This activity was essentially spontaneous and natural; there was no restraint. Children were allowed to talk in an ordinary tone of voice when it did not disturb some one else. Brace wanted to know if he might whistle when he sawed. ITe was told that he might. The question of discipline took care of itself. All were busy and happy. The teacher's part was to help the children and not to dictate to them.
In all of our work we tried to make only those things of which we felt the need. The garden lines and stakes were made when it was necessary to have them. We soon found that we must have towels. After working in the garden our hands were soiled. We could wash them at the pump, but we needed something on which to dry them. Suppose each one hemmed a towel? The towel was accordingly planned and worked out in response to a definite need. The amount of material and the cost were ascertained, and then the sewing began. After the towels were completed, the owner's initials were worked on them in red. The word "initial" was a new one to the children, and as they worked each one gave the initials of a member of his family. They were taught that a person's initials must be written in capital letters with a period placed after each one.
The making of the towels furnished sewing for two months. After the individual towels were hemmed, others were hemmed for use in the kitchen.
Some of the words learned in making fhe towels were: Towel, side, end, hem, selvage, center, feet, inches, corners, square, oblong, width, length, long, small, wide, even, straight, measure, fold, under, turn, stitch, baste, ravel.
"When are we going to cook was the question asked daily for the first few days. Before we cook we must understand our range,"' was the reply. The children knew the names of most of the parts of the range and their uses, but they did not understand the drafts. A fire was lighted in the school range; then the drafts were closed, and the fire went out. The fire was built again. The drafts were turned on. The fire roared up the chimney. The top of the range was hot, but the oven was still cold. How could we send heat to the oven? Evidently we must send the flame' against it. The teacher then showed the children how to regulate the dampers for heating the oven and the water tank and how to boil water. Hot water or kettle tea was made and served for luncheon.
At the simple luncheon which followed this first cooking lesson the teacher secured a glimpse of the amount of true education that can be gained through the proper serving and eating of a meal.
Arithmetic was carefully related to the different activities. A great deal of number work can be obtained from the garden, the carpenter shop, the kitchen, and in sewing. The children measured the gardens, the length and the width. They measured the walks, the distance between the rows, the distance that the seeds were planted apart, etc. They counted the number of seed planted, and then learned to estimate the number of seed and not to count each one.
In cooking they learned to measure the materials they had to cook and to tell time by the clock in order that the food might cook the proper length of time.
In sewing they learned to measure by the yard, foot, and inch. In making towels the following number work was studied:
Length of towel in feet. Length of towel in inches. Width of towel In feet. Width of towel in inches. How many inches in one side of towel? How many inches In two sides of towel? How many inches in one end of towel? How many inches in two ends of towel? How many inches in one side and one end of towel? How many Inches in one side and two ends of towel? How many inches all around the towel? What is meant by "perimeter"? How long is the tape for your loop? Fold it in half. How many inches in each half? What is one-half of 5 inches? Find the half of the end of your towel. Measure how many inches in one-half of it. What is one-half of IS inches?
The care of the towels gave rise to another activity—that of washing. We had a tub and washboard, and as the children washed they sang:
This is the way we wash our towels,
Wash our towels.
Wash our towels.
After this they were hung smoothly on the line and fastened by clothespins. "When dry they were ironed. In all of this work the element of play entered; at the same time the children were shown how to do the work neatly and accurately.
The children were encouraged to talk as they worked, to describe the work, or to tell of something they had seen in the garden. If mistakes in English were made, they were so kindly corrected that the child was not embarrassed. In this natural social atmosphere the children rapidly gained facility in using the mother tongue.
We believed that we had rid ourselves of all preconceived notions of school, but one or two still persisted unconsciously. There was the traditional recess, for instance. At 10.30 sharp every day, no matter how interested the children were in the work they were doing, a recess was taken. The teacher played games with the children. They were natural children and liked games, but they liked better that pleasant game they had been playing, which some people erroneously call work. One by one the children gradually slipped back to their work. After the teacher had attempted to do tilings in her way for a while, she decided she was making a mistake, and thereafter she let the children order it in their own natural way.
A part of every day was spent in the garden. It was getting late in the spring, and very little time could be given to study of the soil or of the germination of the seeds. We planted onions, turnips, potatoes, radishes, lettuce, peas, beets, corn, beans, Swiss chard, okra, and tomatoes. Later peanuts and pop corn were planted. These were harvested in the fall, when the children returned to school.
School began in March and ended in July. During the summer vacation the children who lived nearest took charge of the garden and used the vegetables.
IN THE FALL.
Although gratified with the progress made during our first session, we realized that we must have real country children for our undertaking. A rural school within 4 miles of the college agreed to invest the amount they had been paying a teacher for a few months in the salary of a driver for nine months, so that the children could be hauled in each day. The college furnished the wagon.
When the country children came in September, practically a new start was made. Our pupils were not entirely new, however. We already had in our school some pupils who, though they came from the mill, were children of parents from the country and had many of the instincts of country children. We decided to keep these. One of our boys from the campus, Mclver Coker, also stayed with us. These children were of great service in helping to give the spirit of the school to the newcomers. Most of the new pupils had been to school, but they had learned only the restrictions—the "thou shalt nots." It required much skill on the part of the teacher to help them to see that school was a place for work, pleasure, fun, and even frolic.