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Germany.—In Berlin 1,900 pupils of the public elementary schools were, in 1891, definitely excused from school at the close of the seventh year (at 13 years of age), owing to the poverty of the parents, who needed their children's aid. In 50 families, it was conclusively shown, the misery was so great that the chil dren had to be excused at 12 years of age. The compulsory attendance law leaves such cases to be decided by the supervisory authority, to whom is given a wide margin of discretion. (Fr. pacd. Blaetter.)
England.-Concerning compulsory attendance at school in England, there is little known in this country, hence a plain statement of facts may be welcome. The "elementary educational act" of August 9, 1870, provides as follows:
"Every school board may, from time to time, with the approval of the education department, make by-laws for all or any of the following purposes: Requiring the parents of children of such age-not less than 5 years, nor more than 13 years-as may be fixed by the by-laws, to cause such children (unless there is some reasonable excuse) to attend school; imposing penalties for the breach of any by-laws. Any of the following grounds shall be a reasonable excuse: namely, (1) that the child is under efficient instructions in some other manner; (2) that the child has been prevented from attending school by sickness or any unavoidable cause; (3) that there is no public elementary school open which the child can attend within such distance--not exceeding 3 miles, measured according to the nearest road from the residence of such child-as the by-laws may prescribe. Thes by-laws were issued by the diferent school boards sanctioned by Her Majesty in council and published in the appendices to the annual reports of the education department. There still existed boroughs and parishes enough which did nothing at all in this matter.
To amend this elementary act, other acts were pa-sed in 1873, 1876, 1879, and 1880, among which that of 1876 is most important as to compulsory attendance. Sections 4 and 12 of chapter 79 run as follows: (4) It shall be the duty of the parent of every child to cause such child to receive efficient elementary instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and if such parent fail to perform such duty, he shall be liable to such orders and penalties as are provided by this act. (12) Where an attendance order is not complied with without any reasonable excuse, a court of summary jurisdiction, on complaint made by the local authority, may, if it think fit, order as follows: In the first cas of noncompliance, if the parent of the child does not appear, or appears and fails to satisfy the court that he used all reasonable efforts to enforce compliance with the order, the court may impose a penalty not exceeding, with the cost, 5s.; but if parent satisfi s the court that he has used all reasonable efforts as aforesaid, the court may, without inflicting a penalty, order the child to be sent to a certified day industrial school. Moreover, this act provides for the appointment of a school attendance committee for every borough and parish for which a school board has not been elected. The act of 1880, which is very short, provides that the education department may make by-laws for those districts which have not made them for th mselves. By it compulsion was first fully and universally es tablished. All public elementary schools are administered by these acts, as well as by codes, of which a new one is issued every year. (Gust. Lenz.)
Germany. The numbers annually published by the German statistical bureau concerning crimes in Germany, or the number of convictions, may, in a sense, be considered a barometer of public morals. For several years a gratifying satisfaction was entertained at the decrease in the number of crimes against property, and it was concluded that the economic conditions of Germany were steadily improving. On the other hand, it was considered an ominous sympton that the number of crimes against state, public order, and religion, as well as against the person was steadily increasing. It was regarded as a ray of hope when, in 1889, a check in the increase was noted. That year was (since 1882) the first in which a notable decrease in the number of crimes of the second kind could be recorded.
At present the result of the statistical labors for 1889 is before us, but, alas, it does not show a continuation of the tendencies marked in 1888, for not only the number of crimes against state, public order, religion, and person has increased beyond expectations, but also the seemingly constant tendency toward decrease in crimes against property has ceased, and the year 1889 exhibits a deplorable increase.
Some characteristic numbers may illustrate the foregoing statements. The crimes against state, public order, and religion in 1882 numbered 51,623 (convictions are meant); this number rose until 1887, when it reached 62,348. The year 1888 showed a decrease, namely, 61,806 convictions. But the year 1889 again records an increase, the sum total during that year being 62,815. This increase is chiefly found in the great number of cases of breach of peace (16,244 as against 14,851 in 1888), inducement to perjury (292 as against 221), public resistance (361 as against 163), while the number of escapes from service in the army decreased from 21,421 to 19,683.
The number of convictions for crimes against the person was 107,398 in 1882. It rose to 137,745 in 1887. In 1888 it fell to 134,670, but in 1889 it again increased to 139,639. Especially the convictions on acount of verbal offens ≥ (43,600 against 42,959 in 1888), assault and battery (19,730 as against 18,374), and inflicting wounds (57.191 as against 55,223) show a deplorable increase.
The crimes against property also exhibited a constant decrease in number from 1882 till 1887, namely, from 169,334 to 152,652. But the year 1889 again shows a remarkable increase, namely, to 165,623. In this increase may be recognized the characteristic feature of the criminality of 1889. It indicates a different direction from that illustrated by the numbers of 1882. The numbers especially interesting are 71,881 cases of petty larceny, (as against 65,050 in 1888); same with second conviction, 11,085 (as against 10,185); larceny, 7,978 (as against 6,972); burglary, 2,412 (as against 2,160); embezzlement, 15,888 (as against 14,781); defraudation, 15,205 (as against 13,493).
The increase of crimes against property is frequently considered to stand in intimate relation to the advance in prices of commodities and necessities; but it should be remembered that the prices of provisions did not rise until the second half of the year 1889, and that the general economic conditions of Germany were better in 1889 than in any previous year. Of course, though one is inclined to think that the rise in prices has something to do with causing the increase in the number of crimes against property, it can scarcely fully explain it when the increase in these crimes is taken in connection with that of others. One thing should be noticed, that during the reign of "protective tariff" a constant reduction in the number of crimes against property was noticeable.
How unfavorable the statistics of crime for the year 1889 are, may be seen from these totals:
Italy.-An exhibition was held in Milan in the first week in May, 1891, for the education and hygiene of children. The character of the exhibits is best seen from the programme. In Class I, toys of every description; in Class II, children's implements, musical instruments for children, etc.; Class III, under the title "The Little Artist," a collection of tools for every kind of handiwork; Class IV, contains room games; Class V, little theaters; Class VI, garden games; Class VII, apparatus for gymnastics, fishing, hunting, swimming, etc.; Class VIII, velocipedes, carrousels (merry-go-rounds), swings, and hammocks. While this part is an international exhibition, the following is strictly national. It contains in section 1, text-books and other publications, drawings, models, apparatus for object lessons, furniture and tools for schools and kindergarten; in section 2, education, apparatus for teaching how to walk, food and clothing for children, etc.
France. The commission charged with viewing the biennial exhibition of design and manual work in the primary schools of the Sarthe district, France, has made its report. It states that the teaching of design shows a marked tendency to become more rational. The copies of models are rarer and the designs are less illassorted. Linear design is not proportionally represented, and there are many patterns beyond the capacity of the child. The teaching of sewing has made a great advance in the line of common sewing and the making of simple garments for daily use. The method of teaching and the arrangement of the programmes is in need of improvement and revision. Too many teachers succeed in giving the little girls a taste for luxury and frivolity, besides causing them a loss of precious time. (Lond. Ed. Times.)
Monsieur Jules Simon has inaugurated a novel and interesting exhibition in Paris, organized by the hygienic society for children, a body established four years ago for promoting the health and welfare of the young. The exhibits consist of various kinds of hygienic, orthopedic, and surgical appliances, clothing, toys, industrial products, and other articles intended for the use of children in health or in sickness. The most remarkable feature of the exhibition is a very curious and complete collection of quaint cradles, chairs, and gocarts, dating, some of them, from extremely remote periods. One of these gocarts affords a most curious illustration of primitive ingenuity, having been made by hollowing out the trunk of a tree. There are also specimens of baskets and bags used by miners' wives for hanging up their babies while at work and a wooden "creche," used for the reception of foundlings at Lille during the Middle Ages. (Lond. Jl. of Ed.)
The Pedagogical Museum of Paris is a permanent exhibition of all kinds of teaching material from abaci and alphabet cards up to the most delicate and complicated apparatus, and all the civilized nations of the world are laid under contribution. The minister of public instruction has lately decided to enlarge its scope by the addition of a section devoted to sample copy bɔɔks and exercise books to show the handwriting of the French youth. The Revue Pedagogique characterizes the new departure as a happy idea. It quotes at length the official circular inviting the cooperation of the chief inspector in preparing for the exhibition. Every district of France is to be included, but both, the class (or grade) of pupils represented, and the variety of schools are to be changed from year to year. The caligraphy of both boys and girls is to be shown, and each primary inspector is charged to submit three specimen books from his district. The minister is careful to direct that the books should be the ordinary samples, and not specially prepared for transmission to the capital. At the option of the inspector the books may contain the teacher's correction of the day's work. (Schoolmaster.)
Germany. The subject of mental overpressure is important not only for parental consideration, but for scientific investigation. The capacity of the child, the number and nature of the studies, and especially the length of the recitations, are features which ought not to be overlooked or be left to the discretion of educators. That much can be gained by experimental study of overpressure is shown by a paper read by Dr. Burgenstein, of Vienna, before the congress of hygiene in London, upon The Working Curve of an Hour. The writer had for his object the study of the mental power of children, and he arranged his experiments with a view to demonstrating the fluctuations of brain power in
children during one hour's occupation with a familiar subject. Simple addition and multiplication sums were given to two classes of girls, of an average age of 11 years and 11 years and 10 months, and two classes of boys of the average age of 12 years and 2 months, and 13 years and 1 month. After ten minutes' work the sums were taken away from the children; after a pause of ten minutes the work was resumed, the alternation continuing for an hour, so that there were three periods of work. The results were interesting. During the experiment 162 children worked out 135,010 figures, making 6,504 mistakes. It was found that the number of mistakes increased in the different periods and that during the third period the quality of work was at the lowest. The general result showed, according to the investigator, that "children of the ages stated become fatigued in three-quarters of an hour; that the organic material is gradually exhausted; that the power of work gradually diminishes to a certain point during the third quarter of the hour, returning with renewed force at the fourth quarter." The recommendation was made that no school lesson should last longer than three-quarters of an hour, and should be followed by a quarter of an hour's rest. Such a study is of especial benefit at the beginning of the school year. Children are often reprimanded for inattention when they are overfatigued, and are spurred forward when their minds need rest. "Mental overpressure is the usual result. (London Journal of Education.)
In Germany an experiment was tried upon 162 children from 11 to 13 years of age, who were set to work out sums in simple addition and multiplication for ten minutes; then after five minutes' rest, for ten minutes more, and so on for four periods of ten minutes each in all. The result was that the total number of mistakes made was 6,504, the number increasing in the second and third period, but diminishing again in the fourth, which appears to have been better than the second. Regarding this as an experiment upon overpressure, the first thing that suggests itself is, that forty minutes of simple arithmetic, divided into periods of ten minutes each, with an interval of rest between, seems such a small amount of work to produce symptoms of fatigue that one is led to ask whether there may not have been some other cause to account for the deterioration observed? How were the intervals of rest employed? Is it not probable that such frequent interruptions may have produced a feeling of distraction and loss of concentration sufficient in itself to account for the falling off in the quality of the work? Again, 6,504 mistakes gives an average of one mistake per minute for every child; surely work so careless can not have been the cause of much mental pressure. It seems strange, too, on the evidence, that three-quarters of an hour should be proposed as the limit, taking no account, apparently, of the revival of energy in the last ten minutes of the hour. (London Ed. Times.
France. A convention of school physicians in Paris has unanimously recommended to the city school authorities to provide every school with a set of surgical instruments for cases of emergency. Injuries, as they sometimes occur in schools, could then be attended to without delay by the teachers.
Sweden. Dr. Wertlind, physician in the schools at Gotenburg, Sweden, has weighed the pupils of three girls' schools twice a year since 1870. During his observations, for the period of twenty years, he found that the increase in weight during the three vacation months (June, July, and August) was comparatively greater than during the remaining nine school months. The following table gives the exact average increase in Swedish pounds:
The Prussian Pädagogische Zeitung says:
From this table it is seen that after the eighth year of age the development of girls during the nine school months is not proportional to that which takes place during the three vacation months. Up to 9 years of age the girls are not materially checked in their bodily development, but from that year on the development is checked the more the older the pupils are. We must alsɔ, in scanning this table, remember that, as a general thing, the summer is not conducive to an accumulation of flesh and fat; hence these figures are more eloquent than would seem at first. But it does not follow from the facts here presented that it would seem better to keep the pupils out of school. All that follows is that school instruction should be attended by less worry and more cheerful play. If our girls must acquire mental development at the cost of nervous prostration, as is done so frequently, it certainly is too costly an article. (Paed. Ztg.)
Denmark.-A Danish school principal in Copenhagen, Dr. Vahl, publishes the result of his similar observations through a period of nine years. He weighed his pupils twice a year, on April 1 and October 1. His observations are very valuable, since they embraced children of prescholastic age. The remarkable fact was found that during the six summer months the increase in weight was on an average about one-third greater than through the winter months. Here are the figures:
Italy.-Mr. Bodio, director of the Central Statistical Bureau in Rome, has recently published a memorial upon the subject of elementary education in Europe, and particularly in Italy. In this book we find a complete summary of the results of education measured by the number of illiterates in the army during the last fifteen years. "This summary," says Mr. Bodio, "may cause us some mortification."