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"We grant all the liberty that the children can properly use, and draw the line when abuse begins. It seems to us that for the preparatory pupil it is not wise to attempt organized selfgovernment.”—Friends' Central School, Philadelphia, Pa.
“Self-government as a separate activity is not in practice in Masten Park High School. We had a "self-governing commonwealth” for some six years, but the students were better satisfied with the sane and fair treatment given them by the principal and faculty, and the student court died of inanition.”—Masten Park High School, Buffalo, N. Y.
The conclusion to be drawn from the replies is, that at present the majority of secondary school principals are opposed to organized self-government; and that the schools in which it is a success, are thus governed because the principal prefers to handle disciplinary matters in this way instead of in the ordinary manner, and has the personality and enthusiasm to make this method appeal to the students, but that teachers and pupils connected with these latter schools are enthusiastic in their support of the system.
If then, so many educators are opposed to this form of school government, is pupil government pedagogically sound ? Dr. Eliot answers this question as follows: "Student self-government enforces positive activity; it appeals steadily to motives in the boys which will serve them when they become men; and it is constantly trying to develop in the boyish community the capacity of selfgovernment. Therefore, I say it is based on sound educational principles.”
Dr. Swift says: “Pupil government is no longer an experiment. It has secured results which the schoolmaster has failed to obtain by the traditional method; and it has gained these results in enough schools and under sufficiently unfavorable conditions to enable us, in case of failure, to know that the blame rests on the principal. It is a matter of understanding boys and being able to treat with them on terms of equality.”
4 Youth and the Race-Swift.
If then, self-government is theoretically sound and is potent in the moral development of the child, why have so many schools which have adopted it, failed to make it a success?
Mr. Frank Kiernan, executive secretary of the Self-Government Committee, told the writer in a personal interview, that about 40% of the schools failed in their attempt to introduce selfgovernment. These failures are due to indifference on the part of teachers or pupils, poor management, too much machinery, or weak personality. In order to successfully start the plan, the
, public sentiment of teachers and pupils must be in its favor. Mr. Kiernan advises that the system be one of gradual growth; that it be introduced at first only in its simplest form, and that at all times cumbersome machinery be avoided.
The following advice from Dr. Cronson, concerning the conditions favorable for the starting of self-government in a school, appeals to the writer as being especially safe and sane.
“I need scarcely add that I am not one of those who believe that the mere introduction of the scheme of self-government among children will necessarily insure their training in moral conduct. On the contrary, I believe
“1. That, so far as it concerns the elementary schools, civic government is primarily an end. As a means, it is of little or no value to the untrained child; for the mere knowledge of the machinery of government, even the participation in it, will not make a child truly self-governing.
"In this I differ radically from Mr. Gill, and I assign this difference of opinion to the fact that I view this question from the standpoint of the practical teacher rather than that of the enthusiastic theorist. For both experience and observation, as well as theory, have convinced me.
“2. That a certain amount of training in right conduct is an essential prerequisite to the introduction of the scheme. Selfgovernment, as the formal expression of the moral self, presupposes the existence of an inner appreciation of right conduct, of a tendency to right judgment when confronted by deliberation, and of a will that executes in the presence of what is conceived to be duty. These bespeak a degree of moral development, the result of training. In other words, the introduction of self-government into a school is contingent upon the answer to the question: Are the conditions favorable to the reception of the scheme? If the answer is in the negative, the child's participation in the scheme of self-government is a mere formal act; and the new rights and privileges with which the child is invested, finding no apperceiving moral mass which may interpret them in terms of duty, are liable to degenerate into license. If, however, the answer is in the affirmative, if the child possesses the essential training, then self-government should be introduced.”5
The Self-Government Committee says: “Experience has proved the necessity of three general conditions for the successful organization and conduct of a plan of pupil co-operation in school government."
“(a) That the principal shall consider the co-operation of the pupils as a means of moral and civic training rather than as a school device for the improvement of discipline."
“(b) That the conditions in the school shall be such that the establishment of a system of pupil co-operation will furnish an efficient instrument for the functioning of a well developed and intelligent school spirit, and
"(c) That teachers refrain from discouraging the undertaking.”
These conditions are amplified and enlarged in the committee's booklet, “Suggestions Regarding the Organization of Pupil Government."
Some time since, the writer, while principal of a small private boarding and day school, gave self-government a limited trial. A representative council was elected, and the control of the dormitory handed over to the boys. The results were fairly satisfactory. However, the system was not continued after the close of that school year. The conditions in a small boarding school are such that self-government does not seem advisable.
For success there must be a strong sentiment in favor of the idea, and also strong, influential, student leaders, who can and
8 Pupil Self-Government-Cronson, pages 8-9.
will make the student body feel its responsibility in the matter. Without such continued backing, self-government will fail, as it will fail when handed over to pupils without proper preparation.
Undoubtedly the movement is spreading; the testimony of the Self-Government Committee and of the replies to the questionnaire force this conclusion.
Whether it ever becomes a universal method of school govern. ment depends upon the next and succeeding generations of teachers. The present generation will not accept the idea, except to experiment with it here and there.
It is an inherent characteristic of the child to organize into societies and gangs. That this quality can be appealed to and used to advantage in organizing self-governing schools is beyond question. That the idea, when successfully carried out, improves the work, spirit, and morale of the entire school community is the verdict of the large majority of those who have tried it.
It is evident, therefore, that the idea is one which thinking school men cannot dismiss with humor or sarcasm. It demands consideration.
Educational Uses of the Play Motive ROLLAND MERRITT SHREVES, Ph. D., HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND PSYCHOLOGY, STATE NORMAL SCHOOL,
KEARNEY, NEBRASKA. JURURAMETUMMCT is not our purpose here to go into detail as to the
uses of the play motive in the work of the school. We will only suggest a few vital points.
1. Free Play.
There are people who believe that to be of great value, play must not degenerate into a service of some ulterior end. These are the advocates of free
and unrestricted play. They argue that play defeats its own ends when it is made to serve some end outside of itself. It does not seem to me that there are reasons to believe this is well supported. On the other hand, it does seem to me that there are reasons to believe that play can be directed to useful ends, and at the same time observe its own purposes of growth, development and pleasure. Through play symmetrical growth and development may be gained at the same time that it is serving the end of acquiring a variety of larger experience and appreciation of the world.
2. Story-Telling: Play of the Imagination.
One form of play that the teacher is very apt to overlook, because it is not so easily seen, is the play of the imagination. It is well represented in all forms of childish fancy, day-dreams, fairy tales, folk lore, and romance. These are forms of play quite as valuable and necessary as those of a more physical sort. The teacher who fails to make wide use of story-telling as a means of stimulating the development of the play interests, is losing sight of one of the chief methods of education.
3. Dramatization. No specialized form of play is more susceptible of modification