• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Foreword
 Diagram of bulletin production
 Explanation of diagram and use...
 Part I: Consideration basic to...
 Part II: Suggestions for improving...
 Part III: Illustrations of improved...






Group Title: Its Florida program for improvement of schools Bulletin
Title: A Guide to improved practice in Florida elementary schools
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00096125/00001
 Material Information
Title: A Guide to improved practice in Florida elementary schools Prepared at the Curriculum laboratory, Florida state college for women
Physical Description: x p., 1 ℓ., 308 p. : diagr. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida -- State Dept. of Education
Florida State College for Women -- Curriculum Laboratory
Publisher: Florida State Dept. of Education
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Fla.
Publication Date: 1940
Copyright Date: 1940
 Subjects
Subject: Education   ( lcsh )
Teaching   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: M.L. Stone, curriculum director. W.T. Edwards, consultant.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00096125
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 04880621
lccn - e 41000004

Table of Contents
    Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Foreword
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
    Diagram of bulletin production
        Page viii
    Explanation of diagram and use of bulletin
        Page ix
        Page x
    Part I: Consideration basic to an improved program
        Page xi
        Page xii
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    Part II: Suggestions for improving learning situations
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    Part III: Illustrations of improved practice
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Full Text

1- -I1


A Guide


TO IMPROVED PRACTICE IN

FLORIDA ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS



IP MEANT




FLORIDA PROGRAM
FOR IMPROVEMENT OF SCHOOLS

Bulletin No. 9
October, 1940
75,00O9r9






STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA
COLIN ENGLISH, Superintendent












UNIVERSITY
OF FLORIDA
LIBRARY





A Guide

TO IMPROVED PRACTICE IN

FLORIDA ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


Bulletin No. 9
October, 1940













Prepared at
THE CURRICULUM LABORATORY
Florida State College for Women
M. L. STONE, Curriculum Director
W. T. EDWARDS, Consultant


STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA

COLIN ENGLISH, State Superintendent of Schools
M. W. CAROTHERS' 'DireOrfq-f Instruction

.. .. ....: ..:. ..



















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Fd 3 ~-1O





CONTENTS

Page
F o rew ord .............. ............................ ....... ........ ................... .................... ........... .. v

Diagram of Bulletin Production ... .. ................. ......... viii

Explanation of Diagram and Use of Bulletin ............. ......... ix



PART ONE

CONSIDERATIONS BASIC TO AN IMPROVED PROGRAM
Chapter
I. Problems Which Challenge Elementary Teachers .... 1

II. The Growing Child in a Complex Society ....... .......... 17

IIT. Improving the Total Elementary Program ..... .......... 47

IV. Organization of the Elementary School Curriculum ..... 76



PART TWO

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING LEARNING SITUATIONS
Brief Introduction to Part Two ............................... ........ ........ 119
Chapter
V. Experiences in Language Arts ......... .......... .. ... .. 121

VI. Experiences in Social Studies ............. .... ..... ... 151

V II. Experiences in Science ...... .............. .............. .. .... 173

V III. E experiences in N um ber ........ ..................... .. ........... ..... ..... 196

IX. Eperiences in Practical Arts, Fine Arts, and Music 220

X. Experiences in Healthful Living ................... 246



PART THREE

ILLUSTRATIONS OF IMPROVED PRACTICE
XI. A Growing Teacher and a Growing Faculty ...... 273

iii


ii 6 2s










Foreword


FURTHER PLANS FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF INSTRUCTION
IN FLORIDA SCHOOLS



As a part of the total program for improvement of Florida
schools, the State Department of Education in the fall of 1939 made
available to the teachers, principals, and supervisors a number of
instructional bulletins. These have received wide distribution and
have been used by many total faculty groups. They have been
discussed in professional meetings held both in the local schools and
in connection with county or regional associations. Such enthusi-
astic and diligent effort on the part of those who participated in
the work has, without doubt, resulted in vastly improved teaching
in a large number of classrooms in the state.

The development of the extensive phase of the Florida Program
for Improvement of Instruction has proceeded so rapidly that it is
not advisable in this short foreword to enumerate all of the bulle-
tins which have been prepared. The reader can, however, obtain
an overview of the production up to the present time by referring
to the diagram and brief explanation which is given on the succeed-
ing pages. It is important to note, however, that the plan is a uni-
fied one and that schools can profit most by carrying on a continu-
ous study of the curriculum as suggestive guides are issued from
time to time. For example, schools that gave serious consideration
to the material contained in Ways to Better Instruction in Florida
Schools (1939) are in a much better position to move forward in
their study of the present bulletin. At the same time, every ef-
fort is being made in the production of the series of instructional
bulletins to make it possible for faculties to consider any particular
bulletin even though they may not have found it possible to study
the previous bulletins.

The intensive phase of the Florida Program for Improvement
of Instruction has likewise gained momentum during the 1939-40







session. Workshops were conducted at both state institutions of
higher learning during the first summer term and the total facul-
ties from some thirty schools were in attendance. Supervisory ser-
vice was extended during the past year to the six original cooperat-
ing schools and a similar service is planned for those schools whose
faculties participated in the 1940 workshops both at Tallahassee
and at Gainesville. Experience is demonstrating the value of mak-
ing an attack on instructional problems through using both the
intensive and extensive approach in such a way that they supple-
ment each other.
A Guide to Improved Practice in Florida Elementary Schools
is presented to the elementary school faculties of Florida with the
hope that it will provide guidance for them as they seek to improve
the instruction in classrooms of our state. Much emphasis is placed
throughout the bulletin upon the strategic importance of the class-
room teacher. It seems clear that we have reached the point in edu-
cational advance where increased budgets and increased public sup-
port will depend largely upon the quality of the product which the
schools develop. The outcome which we should seek is obviously
that of developing boys and girls who not only understand and
appreciate democratic institutions but also are willing to use demo-
cratic principles as the guide to a richer life for all.
This bulletin was prepared during the summer of 1940 at the
Curriculum Laboratory, Florida State College for Women, by a
group of Florida teachers and principals. It challenges the ele-
mentary teachers and faculty groups to analyze their present offer-
ings in the light of basic considerations regarding the nature of the
child and the nature of the democratic society. The bulletin clari-
fies for elementary schools the general principles outlined in Ways
to Better Instruction in Florida Schools and suggests appropriate
criteria for evaluating major phases of the school program. The
criteria should be regarded as a tentative definition of the desirable
elementary school. While it is recognized that these statements are
not objective and may need to be modified from time to time, they
may well serve as a cheek-list which can be used by the local faculty
or by the county and state administration in making an evaluation
of the instructional program.
The preparation of this bulletin was made possible through con-
tributions by the Florida Education Association and by School







Boards in the following counties: Escambia, Dade, Duval, Gads-
den, Leon, Palm Beach, and Polk. The cooperation of these agen-
cies and of the faculties of the teacher-training institutions is greatly
appreciated. Recognition and appreciation are also extended to
the teachers and principals who took part in developing this bulle-
tin and to the consultant under whose leadership the work was ac-
complished. The membership of the committee was as follows: D.
R. Allen, Graceville; Pearl Clark, Miami; Mary Elam, Miami Beach;
Cora Fay, Tallahassee; Gladys Foster, Pensacola; Jessie Foster,
Jacksonville; Arabelle Grant, St. Andrews; Edna Parker, West
Palm Beach; Joyce Pritchard, Tampa; Mildred Swearingen, Eagle
Lake; Alma Sylvester, Quincy; Violet Watts, Melbourne. Leona
Davis, Babson Park, and Nellie Cooke, Jacksonville, also participated.
The State Department is particularly indebted to certain staff
members of the two state institutions of higher learning for the
assistance which they gave in the production of the bulletin. Staff
members of the University of Florida to whom recognition is due
include Cleva J. Carson, Kathleen T. King, and W. L. Goette.
Clara M. Olson, consultant for the secondary bulletin which was be-
ing prepared at the Florida Curriculum Laboratory in Gainesville
during the same period, also gave valuable comments and sugges-
tions. At the Florida State College for Women, Dora Skipper,
R. C. Moon, H. L. Waskom, and Ralph Eyman read portions of the
manuscript and offered many suggestions for improvement. While
the services of all these persons are deeply appreciated, none of the
inaccuracies or omissions which may be found in the present bulle-
tin are to be attributed to them.
Among the persons from outside Florida to whom special credit
should be given for timely aid and criticism is B. 0. Smith, Pro-
fessor of Education, University of Illinois. Acknowledgment and
appreciation is extended to the publishers who gave permission
for the use of certain materials and to the many other individuals
who indirectly or directly made possible the completion of this bul-
letin in the short space of eleven weeks.




State Superintendent
of Public Instruction























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THE PRODUCTION OF INSTRUCTIONAL BULLETINS IN THE
FLORIDA PROGRAM FOR IMPROVEMENT OF SCHOOLS




An Explanation of the Diagram.-The diagram contained on the
opposite page has been designed to aid teachers in seeing the con-
tinuity and relationship existing among the various instructional
bulletins which have been produced in the Florida Program for Im-
provement of Schools during the past several years. It is important
to note the fact that the program has been one of continuous devel-
opment and that considerable effort has been exercised in order to
maintain consistency. The importance of Ways to Better Instruc-
tion in Florida Schools as the bridge between the older and the later
series of bulletins should not be overlooked. The two basic bulletins
for elementary and secondary schools are essential to any intelligent
application or use of the many source-materials bulletins which are
to follow. The importance of Avenues of Understanding, a bulletin
for parent and lay groups, will be evident to all those interested in
improving public education in the state. It will be noted that in
some cases the bulletins containing source materials are equally ap-
plicable to the elementary and secondary school. In such cases, the
titles have been duplicated in the diagram. The reader should give
attention to the footnotes which are included with the diagram since
they give important information concerning whether or not the ma-
terials are now available. Additional bulletins are being planned in
both the elementary and secondary field but definite announcement
concerning them cannot be made at this time.

The Relationship of This Bulletin to Others in the Series.-The
present bulletin should serve as an intermediate step in the series
of instructional bulletins devoted to elementary education. It is
designed to accomplish five purposes: (1) to make clear for ele-
mentary school faculties the implications of the general principles







contained in Ways to Better Instruction in Florida Schools, (2) to
point to certain necessary adjustments in the work of the elemen-
tary school as now suggested by the Florida Elementary Course of
Study (1933), (3) to describe a type of elementary program de-
signed to promote the total growth and development of the child,
(4) to provide a check-list by means of which individual teachers
or total faculty groups may evaluate their present efforts in pro-
viding desirable learning situations for the elementary school child,
and (5) to provide the basis for a proper interpretation and use of
subsequent bulletins containing appropriate source materials. The
fact that separate source bulletins will be issued in such areas as
those of art, science, or number should not be interpreted by the
reader as indicating a trend away from the integrated program for
it is planned that the material contained in them will be treated in
a manner similar to that employed in Part Two of the present
bulletin.
Suggestions Concerning the Use of This Bulletin.-The bulletin
consists of three parts: (1) Part One, which contains material
basic to the total elementary program; (2) Part Two, which offers
suggestions regarding desirable learning situations in the areas of
language arts, social studies, science, number, practical arts, fine
arts, music, and healthful living; (3) Part Three, which gives con-
crete illustrations of the kind of work which is being done by the
growing teacher and the growing faculty. It should be possible for
the individual teacher or total faculty group to begin a study of the
bulletin at any point which seems to be of interest. However, a
hasty general reading of the entire bulletin done on an individual
basis, supplemented by concentrated faculty study at certain points,
would, perhaps, be the most desirable approach. The challenges
and the criteria suggested at the close of Chapter Eleven may well
serve as points of departure for a long-range attack upon the many
curriculum problems of the elementary school.



















PART ONE









Chapter One

PROBLEMS WHICH CHALLENGE ELEMENTARY
TEACHERS


In education, as in other phases of life, the past two decades have
brought considerable change and unrest. Many suggestions have
been offered for the improvement of instructional methods and ma-
terials. School authorities have not been alone in being outspoken in
their concern for educational advance. National leaders, parents,
and lay groups each day are becoming more articulate in their views
as to the kind of school experience which would prove of worth to
boys and girls. Consideration of the problems of the school over a per-
iod of years has led to a clearer realization of the way in which the
difficulties are related to those of society itself. From present in-
dications, it seems likely that teachers will assume increasing re-
sponsibility and become more aware of their opportunities for service.

THE CHANGING ROLE OF THE TEACHER
At least three factors are at present involved in increasing the
importance of the work done by the classroom teacher. In the first
place, the schools are reaching a greater number of pupils for longer
periods of time and thus are exerting their influence more widely
and consistently. A greater percentage of children of school age is
enrolled, a greater percentage is in daily attendance, and the length
of the school term is being increased. All of these things have added
to the work and responsibilities of those who have been chosen to
guide the experiences of boys and girls.

In the second place, new responsibilities have been placed upon
the schools. There was a time when the chief purpose of a school
was the teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Today, the
kinds of experiences which children receive in their out-of-school
life have become in some cases so limited or changed that things for-
merly taught by the home and community must now be assumed by







2 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


the school. Thus health, safety, profitable use of leisure time, vo-
cational information, and well-rounded personality development
need to be included in any comprehensive list of responsibilities
placed upon the school. Many of these new obligations fall squarely
upon the teacher. Experts, administrators, and consultants render
valuable assistance, but the discharging of many duties is still the
work of the person who deals directly with the pupil, namely, the
classroom teacher.

A third factor which adds to the importance of the teacher is the
increasing share which the faculty group now assumes both in plan-
ning and executing school policies. The activity of teachers in the
curriculum field has increased many fold. Furthermore, a society
that accepts democracy as a way of life should expect its major in-
stitutions to operate along democratic lines. In the case of the
school, not only does the institution gain in effectiveness but the
pupils themselves benefit directly by observing and experiencing
democracy at work.
It matters not what new approaches are made by the philosopher,
or what facts are revealed by the psychologist, or what techniques
are devised by the educational theorist; none of these will influence
the pupils unless the teacher understands and translates them into
practice in the classroom as she works with boys and girls from day
to day.

With the growing knowledge of child personality has come a
realization of the role which the teacher often unwittingly plays in
the life of the individual. If the teacher is to guide a pupil in
worthwhile living, she must herself be fundamentally well-adjusted,
vital, and ready to enjoy and to enrich living. Furthermore, the
teacher must be well-grounded in many fields of knowledge, a gen-
eralist in several fields rather than a specialist in a particular field.
While it may be desirable for the teacher to have experienced some
types of activity deeply, it is equally, or even more important in
the elementary school, that the teacher have a wide range of inter-
ests. Present trends in curriculum making place upon the teacher
a heavy responsibility in discovering the needs of the pupils, in
choosing appropriate content and materials, and in assisting pupils
in sensing the relationships that exist in the work over both long







PROBLEMS WHICH CHALLENGE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS 3


and short periods of time. She must be able to think through prob-
lems, to envision goals, and to shape policies toward desired ends.
Yet she must above all be a realist, able to trace problems from their
surface aspects to the factors that lie beneath.

FLORIDA TEACHERS FACE THEIR PROBLEMS
Teachers are in daily contact with the pupils in the classroom.
It is there that most of the problems arise and there that the pro-
posed solutions must be applied. Any attempt to solve these prob-
lems theoretically without using the direct experience and knowl-
edge of the teachers tends to produce a result that is either mechan-
ical or academic. Often such proposed solutions miss the point of
the difficulty as it exists in the classroom. Teachers throughout the
nation are beginning to realize what can be accomplished by ana-
lyzing their own problems, by tracing them to their foundation, and
by planning individually and in faculty groups for a point of attack.
Teachers are recognizing that school problems are in some respects
similar to icebergs-the part that shows merely serves to call at-
tention to itself; the great bulk of the matter, although submerged,
is an important part that must also be accounted for.
Since about 1928, there has been a rapid expansion of interest
in curriculum improvement. Teachers in all parts of the nation
have contributed to the construction of improved curricula and in-
struction guides. Bruner estimated that the movement for curricu-
lum revision was touching one-fourth of the teachers of the coun-
try.' The Florida Elementary Course of Study (1933) was among
the early curriculum publications prepared with the assistance of
teachers. Recently, the cooperating school plan for reorganizing
and improving instructional practices has been used successfully.
Under this arrangement an entire faculty works for a summer term
at an institution of higher learning, studying the difficulties of the
particular school and developing a total school plan. The teachers
of Florida are undoubtedly becoming more alert to their problems
and increasingly aware of the value of concerted action.
What problems do they face and what is the trend of the think-

'H. B. Bruner, "Criteria for Evaluating Course of Study Materials,"
Teachers College Record, XXXIX (November, 1937), p. 107.







4 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


ing of teachers with regard to them? Some of the difficulties are
known to occur frequently and to be common to all parts of the
state. In the spring of 1940, over one thousand Florida elementary
teachers expressed their opinion not only as to the vital problems
confronting them but also as to the underlying basic issues. For
the benefit of individual teachers and of faculty groups who did not
participate in filling out the check-list a reprint of the issues is given
below. The position which was favored by a majority of those who
responded is given in italics. This should not be taken as an indi-
cation of correctness; it indicates only the position taken by many
Florida teachers with regard to the issues that were proposed.2

PROBLEMS AND ISSUES

Problem One: Who should determine what the school's curriculum
shall be?

1. I believe the entire curriculum should be defined and stated by some
expert agency outside the classroom, such as the State Department of
Education, the textbook, or the course of study.
2. I believe most of the curriculum should come from some expert source
outside of the classroom, but that the teacher and the pupils should be
permitted to supplement it as needs appear.
3. I believe that some of the curriculum should be determined by expert
agencies outside of the classroom, but that most of the curriculum should
be determined by the teacher and the pupils as needs appear.
4. I believe that none of the curriculum should be prescribed and that it
should be determined entirely by the teacher and pupils as needs appear.

Problem Two: When shall the teaching of any particular knowl-
edge or skill or the development of any particular concept, attitude,
or understanding be undertaken?

1. I believe we should teach these things as called for by the course of
study or the textbooks.
2. I believe these things should be taught when the child feels a need for
them.
3. I believe these things should be taught according to a sequence determined
by a consideration of expert opinion, child interests, needs, and matura-
tion levels.

'For a complete discussion of these issues the reader should consult
A Preliminary Guide to a Study of the Elementary School Curriculum in
Florida, Bulletin No. 3, State Department of Education (Tallahassee: 1939).








PROBLEMS WHICH CHALLENGE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS 5


4. I believe we should teach according to the sequence indicated by the
course of study or the texts, but should allow a little opportunity to vary
the procedure according to special interests and needs as they arise.

Problem Three: What should be the criterion for promotion?

1. I believe the student's knowledge of subject-matter and skills should
be the criterion.
2. I believe the chronological and social age of the child should determine
promotion.
3. I believe the student's knowledge of subject-matter and skills is of pri-
mary importance, but that the factors of chronological and social age
must be taken into some account.
4. I believe that the chronological and social age of the child is of primary
importance, but that knowledge of subject-matter and skills must be
taken into some account.

Problem Four: To what extent should a teacher group his pupils
within the room for instructional purposes?

1. I believe the best work can be done by considering the class as one group,
and by teaching the same materials with the same methods to all.
2. I believe the best work can be done by completely individualizing in-
struction within the room.
3. I believe the best work can be done by grouping according to I.Q. and
achievement ratings, and that these groups should be kept relatively
constant.
4. I believe that best work can be done by grouping according to specific
achievement, disabilities, and special interests, but that the grouping
should be quite flexible.

Problem Five: To what extent should the content of the curriculum
be adapted to pupil-felt needs?

1. I believe the content as set forth in the course of study or the textbooks
is of worth in itself and the children should adapt themselves to it.
2. I believe the content may be adapted sometimes in accordance with pupil-
felt needs but that in most instances it is the pupil who must be adapted.
3. I believe the content should be adapted to the pupil-felt needs in the
main, but that it is undesirable to do this all of the time.
4. I believe the entire content can and should be adapted to pupil-felt needs.

Problem Six: Upon what basis shall pupils be grouped into the
several sections within a given grade?








6 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


1. I believe the sections should be as homogeneous as possible according
to general intelligence and achievement.
2. I believe in taking into account, to some extent, other factors in group-
ing, such as social interests, individual personality, but that I.Q. scores
and achievement ratings still would be the dominant factors.
3. I believe that as many factors as are known should be taken into account
so as to make each section as nearly as possible a random sample of the
school population at any given level.
4. I believe the social and personal factors alone should be the basis for
grouping.

Problem Seven: To what extent should the elementary school cur-
riculum be composed of independent subjects?

1. I believe that the entire curriculum should be organized with inde-
pendent subjects and that a definite time should be set for learning each
subject.
2. I believe that it is desirable to combine or correlate certain subjects
sometimes, such as health and science, geography and history, music and
art, hut that in the main, "subjects" should be kept separate.
3. I believe that it is desirable to organize the curriculum so that most
subject-matter lines are eliminated, but that some fields of study lend
themselves better to separate instruction.
4. I believe that it is desirable to erase all subject-matter lines, having no
"subjects" as such, and that all the needs of the child can be met by
integrated instruction.

Problem Eight: Who should determine what activities are to be
carried on in classroom?

1. I believe the teacher or some other agency beside the pupil should de-
termine the activities.
2. I believe the teacher should determine most of the activities, but the
pupils should suggest some.
3. I believe the pupils should determine most of the activities, but the
teacher should determine some.
4. I believe only activities which are suggested by pupils should be used.

Problem Nine: Of what value are manipulative activities such as
modeling, painting, and constructing things?

1. I believe that manipulative activities are valuable in and of themselves.
2. I believe that there is relatively little value in manipulative activities
except for stimulating interest.








PROBLEMS WHICH CHALLENGE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS 7


3. 1 believe that there is much valueQ in manipulative activities only where
they are used to promote purposes of education similar to those outlined
in Bulletin Two.
4. I believe there is no value in manipulative activities.

Problem Ten: Should the teacher work for one objective at a time
until all objectives have been realized, or should he keep in mind all
of the objectives all of the time

1. I believe the teacher can do a better job if he takes one objective at a
time and helps pupils attain it.
2. I believe the teacher should concentrate on one objective but bring in
related objectives where possible.
3. 1 believe the teacher at any given time may develop several objectives
or one objective in accordance with the demands of the situation, but
that these should be related to the other objectives and to the general
aim of education.
4. I believe the teacher must give equal attention to all of the objectives
all of the time.

Problem Eleven: In what terms shall we evaluate the results of our
educative process?

1. I believe we should evaluate only in terms of acquisition of subject-
matter and skills.
2. I believe we should evaluate in terms of subject-matter and skills mainly,
with some attention to personality development.
3. 1 believe we should evaluate in terms of personality development, and
also subject-matter and skills, but give emphasis to the former.
4. I believe we should evaluate only in terms of personality development.

Problem Twelve: What should be the relative emphasis of mean-
ing and repetition in developing skills?

1. I believe repetition is by far the most important factor.
2. I believe both are important, but that repetition is the more important.
3. 1 believe that both are important, but that meaning is the more important.
4. 1 believe that meaning is by the more important factor.

What the Responses Indicate.-Before any inferences are drawn
from the responses to the check-list, attention should be called to
certain difficulties that are involved. First, some teachers may
have chosen certain positions hastily with little consideration of
deeper issues. Second, some may have chosen the position they







8 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


thought to be progressive even though their classroom practices might
have reflected a different point of view. Third, the questions may
not have been given the same interpretation by all the teachers. One
should also take note of the fact that there was a wide range in the
thinking; every position except Position One under Problem Seven
received some support. However, the majority opinion indicated
a clear preference in most cases. With the exceptions of Problems
Six and Eight, the majority opinion in each instance represented
more than sixty-five per cent of the reactions expressed.
Just what do the preferred position in the above problems imply
as to thinking of Florida teachers? First, the positions chosen for
Problems One, Two, and Six, dealing with the content and sequence
of the curriculum, indicate that teachers believe: (1) that the child
and his needs are the starting point for organization of the curricu-
lum, (2) that a felt need is extremely desirable as a prerequisite to
good learning, (3) that a child may not always be aware of his needs,
and (4) that adult experience and research are therefore important
in discovering further needs. The positions for Problems Four, Six,
and to some extent Five, all of which relate to individual differences,
indicate that teachers believe: (1) that a pupil's abilities and inter-
ests are not necessarily uniform, (2) that small flexible groupings
are more desirable than completely individualized instruction in
meeting this problem, (3) that although pupils differ from one an-
other as to abilities, all can contribute to the group. The positions
for Problems Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, and Twelve, which relate to
the psychology of learning, imply that teachers believe: (1) that a
pupil's ability to see relationships is of major importance, (2) that
learning is not merely an S-R bond but is a matter of understanding,
and (3) that manipulative activities may serve many purposes.
A very interesting lack of consistency in point of view is re-
vealed by comparing the responses given in Problems Eleven and
Three. The responses to Problem Eleven, which deals with evalua-
tion, show that the teachers believe: (1) that the development of
the pupil's personality is of major concern, and (2) that subject-
matter and skills are important as means to that end rather than
as goals in themselves. On the other hand, the position chosen un-
der Problem Three, which was concerned with promotion, indicates







PROBLEMS WHICH CHALLENGE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS 9


that teachers believe that the pupils are not ready for the experi-
ences of a succeeding grade until they have attained mastery of the
specific subject-matter of the previous grade. This position, there-
fore, contradicts the belief expressed in regard to evaluation. It
would be interesting to know whether this contradiction is the result
of genuine confusion in thinking or the outcome of the conflict be-
tween what teachers think in regard to promotion and what tradi-
tional community and school policy forces them to do. It is to be
noted, however, that a considerable number of teachers chose Posi-
tion Four, a position which was consistent with their opinion on
evaluation.

In brief summary it may be said that Florida teachers appar-
ently think that:

(1) The school should be organized around the pupil and his needs,
needs which the pupil does not always sense without adult guidance.
(2) The pupil should receive that kind of guidance from the school
which would enable him to reach his maximum potentialities.
(3) The purpose of mastering subject-matter and acquiring skills is
to see relationships and arrive at understandings.
(4) Progress should be judged in terms of personal-social development
as well as mastery of subject-matter.


SOME SPECIFIC QUESTIONS OF FLORIDA TEACHERS

There is further evidence which shows that Florida teachers are
thinking in the manner just described. At the time when the twelve
basic problems were presented, the elementary teachers were re-
quested to indicate their interest in certain specific questions that
were listed and, in addition, they were asked to suggest other of
immediate concern to them. The questions proposed in the original
list and those which were added by the teachers themselves tended
to fall into four overlapping groups: (1) those dealing with ad-
justing individual needs and existing school organization, (2) those
relating to improving skill in the techniques and procedures, (3)
those concerning the public relations of the school, (4) those deal-
ing with the conservation and wise use of teacher energy.

Under the first group teachers asked for a discussion of the fol-
lowing questions: (1) entrance age of first grade pupils, (2) kinder-







10 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


garten for the immature, (3) grouping of first grade children, (4)
grade lines and promotion basis, (5) minimum essentials, (6) fail-
ure after repeating a grade, (7) no promotion until end of third
year, with no grade distinction, (8) social misfits, (9) character ed-
ucation, and (10) influence of home life of the pupil. The ques-
tions of this group were the ones most often repeated. Evidently
the teachers feel particularly in need of help in solving problems
arising from the individual differences of pupils.

If the teachers really believe that the school should be organ-
ized around the pupil and his needs, that each pupil should be guid-
ed in developing his capacities to a maximum, and that progress
should be judged in terms of personal-social development of the
children as they use many kinds of subject-matter, then it is almost
inevitable that many difficult problems will arise. It is interesting
that our present grade system of schools was in itself an early at-
tempt to provide for individual differences. Teachers of that ear-
lier period, too, realized that pupils had individual needs, but the
chief kind of need which they took into account in grouping was that
of mastery of reading, writing, and arithmetic. To take up the lag
between what is believed and what is commonly practiced requires
thoughtful effort on the part of every teacher. Usually, teachers
working together can be far more effective than when working sep-
arately. An entire faculty will want to combine its efforts in order
to form desirable policies. Such policies will, of course, depend
upon the point of view of the faculty as to the purpose of educa-
tion today. The point of view, in turn, will depend upon an un-
derstanding of the role of the school in a democratic society.

The second group of questions centered about the improving of
the techniques and procedures now in use by some teachers, which
only recently are being explored by others. Teachers asked that
they be given aid on the following: remedial reading, unit teaching,
selecting titles for units, relating skills to unit teaching, accounts
of large unit teaching, visual education, reading readiness, pupil
time allotment, number of activities in progress at one time, judg-
ing when activities are purposeful, obtaining social values through
arithmetic, choosing books for the library, adapting difficult reading
material, the place of phonics, supervised play, manuscript writing,







PROBLEMS WHICH CHALLENGE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS 11


effects of departmentalization, discipline, lesson planning, and as-
sembly programs.

A few of these problems can be solved to some degree of satis-
faction by the implications of present research, provided one looks
at the purposes, values and procedures used by those conducting the
experiments. However, teachers and faculty groups, after reading
the research must decide for themselves what action, if any, would
be desirable in their own situation. For example, the question of a
desirable age for entrance to first grade receives some light from the
studies of Washburne, Harrison, and others which show that the ma-
jority of pupils are not successful in learning to read until they have
attained a mental age of six and one-half years.3 With regard to
this same problem, Gates points out, however, that mental age is not
the only factor to be considered and that children with unusually
broad experiences, or with a very high intelligence, or with excep-
tional physical stamina can succeed even when their mental age
drops below six and one-half years. Thus he makes it clear that
there are crucial points, limits within which success is possible but
not probable.

Some teachers or school faculties might conclude upon reading
a piece of research, such as that of Washburne, that mental age was
the only factor to be considered and that the school could do nothing
but wait. Such a conclusion would be unfortunate, for research,
after all, does not plan for the school its program of action but
rather assembles data to assist the teachers in planning intelligently.
If the school must admit children who are chronologically aged six
years but who on account of mental age or lack of direct experience
are not ready to read, certain adjustments are needed. Perhaps the
work of the first grade should not be devoted so exclusively to read-
ing, especially during the first half of the year. Conversely, if the
program for each first grade pupil is to be fixed in advance and is
to involve formal exercise in reading, then a change in the legal re-
quirements for entrance to first grade should be effected. Since the
citizens of Florida seem at present committed to a program of pub-

'See Language Arts Chapter of this bulletin for a more detailed discus-
sion of problems relating to reading readiness.







12 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


lie education beginning with the six-year-old child, the more accept-
able course of action would be to work out a flexible program for
the primary child. Moreover, many of the factors needed in getting
the child ready to read will not be taken care of merely by forcing
him to stay at home. In order that individual teachers and faculty
groups may solve successfully the problems of entrance and other
similar problems, they will need to have available the most reliable
information possible on child development in all its aspects-phys-
ical, mental, and emotional.

The third group of questions, which are concerned with home
and community relations, involved such problems as: report cards,
special programs, observance of special days and events, meeting
special requests from local groups or organizations, and the inter-
pretation of the school program to the public. The fourth group of
questions which are concerned with the use of teacher energy, involved
the following problems: conservation of teacher strength, meeting
teacher needs as well as pupil needs, meeting the requirements of
an overcrowded daily schedule. In considering both the third and
fourth groups of problems teachers will find it necessary, whether
working individually or as a faculty, to come to a clear understand-
ing of their own beliefs as to what is really important in education.
To do this they will again need knowledge of child development and
the place of the modern school in society.


STATEMENTS WHICH FREQUENTLY CONFUSE TEACHERS

In recent years many theories of education and principles of
child development have been proposed which have a bearing on the
improvement of methods of instruction and upon the content appro-
priate for use. Some of these suggestions have been regarded al-
most as panaceas, and consequently have been subject to extreme
interpretation and indiscriminate use. The claims and counter-
claims advanced by advocates of various ideas have tended to cloud
real issues and to hinder independent thinking. Confusing, even
opposing interpretations of current theory and practice have re-
sulted. An observer might easily gain some of the following im-
pressions:







PROBLEMS WHICH CHALLENGE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS 13


1. That all children are created equal.-The schools of yesterday
assumed that children were so nearly equal that every child could,
if he would only make the effort, reach the standard set for all.
Mental testing and daily observation of child behavior are reminders
that differences do exist.
2. That individual differences are paramount.-Some people go
to the opposite extreme and assume that because children have dif-
ferences, they have nothing in common and that each pupil must
have a program different from every other. Where individualism
is carried to this extreme it is doubtful that the school makes much
contribution to the building of a type of common concern which is
necessary for participation in a democracy.
3. That in education the word "activity" means physical activity
only.-The extreme emphasis given the physical aspect has caused
some people to think that an activity program is a constant round of
construction, dancing, and playing. It is obvious that thinking,
planning, writing, discussing, questioning, reading, or listening also
constitute valid activities if used in appropriate situations.
4. That a pupil must experience success all of the time.-The
stress given by some writers to the need of pupils for tasks at which
they can succeed has led some uncritical persons to suppose that the
child must live in a continuous stream of success, receiving praise
for every effort even though he does not attain his own highest
standard of accomplishment. However, teachers generally have
not used praise to excess. There have been far too many illustra-
tions typical of situations in which young children have known
nothing but failure during their experiences at home and school.
Constant failure can be quite disintegrating. It is not the failure
to accomplish things that hurts the child most; rather, it is the feel-
ing which he, his family, and friends have concerning failure that
counts most and sometimes leads to serious maladjustment.
5. That in an activity program content is not important.-In
revolting from a slave-like following of the textbook, some teachers
have discarded all organization of material and have followed the
current whims of the pupils. Today, it is clear that what a pupil
experiences, and the coherence of these experiences will determine
to a large degree his ability to sense relationships and to obtain un-







14 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


derstanding. However, he will need to share in the process and
work out more logical arrangements in keeping with his individual
growth.
6. That all textbook teaching is bad.-After reading the advice
of some educators, teachers feel guilty if they are seen using a text-
book. Yet modern textbooks are free from many faults of the ear-
lier ones. In many cases, they represent the work of expert educat-
ors, writers, and illustrators.
7. That a good textbook is a magic carpet.-No textbook, how-
ever beautifully illustrated, logically organized, and psychologically
pitched to the level of the pupil is sufficient for the finest teaching.
Nothing can take the place of some first-hand experiencing, and no
writer can take the place of the vital teacher in leading pupils to
understanding relationships in terms of the immediate setting and
in reference to the individual differences of various members of the
group.

8. That all change in educational method is terrifying.-Every
good teacher has probably been growing from her first day at work,
and searching to some extent for improved methods and procedures.
Innovations need to be adapted to local situations and given thought-
ful trial.

9. That reading readiness is the product of time alone.-Reading
readiness is definitely connected with age but not with age alone.
The passing of days will not in itself bring the readiness to read.
The experiences that a pupil undergoes during the readiness period
also have a definite bearing on the readiness of the child to attack
the work in formal reading. -It must be admitted, however, that no
amount of readiness material or experiences designed to build read-
iness can or should be used in an attempt to force the individual to
read before proper physical, mental, and social maturity has been
reached.

10. That discipline is a problem in itself.-Except for extreme
cases of maladjustment, discipline problems usually are the visible
aspects of underlying difficulties-insufficient planning on the part
of the teacher and pupils, failure to establish good social attitudes,







PROBLEMS WHICH CHALLENGE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS 15


uninteresting assignments. Very definitely the child who is a prob-
lem has a problem.
11. That the Intelligence Quotient remains constant.-Interpre-
tation of early tests created the impression that the Intelligence Quo-
tient was a fixed quantity. For many years now the results of im-
proved tests and procedures have indicated that the intelligence of
a person is not determined by heredity alone, but may vary consider-
ably according to the interaction of both heredity and environment.
12. That children of the same grade are at the same level of
accomplishment.-Every teacher can testify to the error of this
assumption, and yet many plan a day's work as though it were true.
One Florida school found that according to a standardized reading
test, its sixth grade pupils ranged from the first to the twelfth
grades. This is by no means an unusual occurrence despite the
wide-spread practice of failing the lower quarter of pupils during
the primary grades in an effort to obtain homogeneous groups.
To solve their problems and to avoid confusions such as those
listed above, Florida teachers need to think their way through the
uncertainties and doubts that surround the major issues in educa-
tion. Probably neither individual teachers nor faculties would care
to arrive at a decision as to absolute values in education. It would
be of great benefit, however, if they could reach a common point of
view, operational rather than absolute, in nature. Then they would
have a guide for keeping their decisions appropriate and consistent.
They could at the same time, reserve the right to change their fun-
damental beliefs as new evidence is brought to bear on the problem.
In this way, it is possible for individual teachers and total faculty
groups to go on solving difficulties as they arise. It is to help in
such clarifying of thinking that Chapter Two, dealing with the
child and his complex society, is presented.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. BRUNER, H. 13., "Criteria for Evaluating Course of Study Ma-
terials," Teachers College Record, XXXIX (November, 1937),
p. 107.
2. HARRIS, P. E., The Curriculum and Cultural Change, New York,
D. Appleton-Century Company, 1937.






















16 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


3. KILPATRICK, W. H., (Editor), The Teacher and Society, First
Yearbook, John Dewey Society, New York, D. Appleton-Century
Company, 1937.
4. LEE, J. M., AND LEE, D. M., The Child and His Curriculum, New
York, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1940.
5. McGAUGHY, J. R., An Evaluation of the Elementary School, New
York, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1937.
6. NEWLON, J. H., Education for Democracy in Our Time, New
York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1939.
7. Preliminary Guide to a Study of the Elementary School Curricu-
lum, Bulletin No. 3, October, 1939, State Department of Educa-
tion, Tallahassee.










Chapter Two


THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY



Certain problems and issues raised by Florida teachers have
been reported in the previous chapter. Other problems will arise
in the minds of teachers as they seek to improve the type of guid-
ance that they are giving to the boys and girls now enrolled in the
elementary classrooms of the state. Some of these perplexing prob-
lems are due in no small way to the changing flavor and tempo of
American life; others arise from the nature of the child himself as
he finds it necessary to work out an adjustment to and control over
his changing environment.
From a study of the nature of the child and of the complex
world which is forcing adjustments not always in harmony with his
development, the thoughtful teacher may evolve new purposes for
what she will attempt to do from day to day. She will realize that
no intelligent solution to any problem concerning the elementary
school can be evolved without considering the child and society in
relationship to each other. The first half of this chapter, therefore,
deals with the influence of a changing and complex society upon
problems of child adjustment; the latter half of the chapter is de-
voted to a study of the growth and development of the child as these
express themselves through his interaction with his physical and
social environment. Charts I and II which are presented in Chap-
ter Four are directly related to the discussion given in the present
chapter. In addition, many of the principles which are developed
and applied in the various chapters of Part Two have their origin
in the material presented in the paragraphs which follow. A pre-
vious bulletin issued by the State Department of Education1 pre-
sented some of the trends of our present day society and a few of
the outstanding principles of child growth and development. It is

'Ways to Better Instruction in Florida Schools, Bulletin No. 2, State
Department of Education (Tallahassee. 1939).
17







18 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


the purpose of the paragraphs which follow to elaborate upon the
trends and principles set forth in the previous bulletin, as they have
a particular bearing on the elementary school.


I

CHANGING CONDITIONS THAT SET NEW PURPOSES
FOR THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Changed Status of the Home.-Perhaps no change is more far
reaching and at times more subtle in its influence on the child than
the changed status of the home. Seventy-five years ago, nearly all
children returning from school in the afternoon found their mothers
at home, and their fathers at work nearby in small business estab-
lishments or in the fields. The children usually had their allotted
chores about the house and garden. On the farms, the work of the
children was essential. The family of that earlier day, in addition
to working together, usually had all its meals together, took its re-
creation together, did its limited traveling together, and attended
church together. The children, being so much in the presence of
their parents, tended to absorb one set of moral and social values.
As the years have passed it has grown increasingly common for
children returning from school to find both parents away at work,
with the home either empty or cared for by a servant. Allotted
chores lack the zest of family enterprise; recreation is sought separ-
ately, and members of the family often spend little time in one an-
other's presence. Moving to a new neighborhood or city is frequent.

The home, of course, in spite of these disrupting forces remains
the most important influence in the life of the child. But the close-
knit quality of family life of former years created by the perfect
dovetailing of emotional, economic, and social interests is largely
lacking today. The sense of stability, security, even refuge, of the
earlier home is often missing today as a major steadying guide in
the child's adjustment to life.

What is the significance of this change in society so far as the
school is concerned? In reality, it creates a new purpose for the
school, that of concern for the personality development of the pupil.







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY 19


No amount of instruction designed to make the individual literate,
no amount of exposure to the social heritage or of training for social
utility will be effective if the pupil is so beset by the feeling of in-
security that he cannot find his place in the scheme of things. Teach-
ers need to be so familiar with child development that they can rec-
ognize the symptoms of maladjustment, and provide situations that
enable the individual to develop a sense of belongingness, purpose-
fulness, and adequacy.
The Specialization of Labor.-In earlier times the child saw, as
they were carried on in the home and community, nearly all of the
processes necessary for the feeding, clothing, and sheltering of the
family. He saw the crops cared for and harvested, the garden tend-
ed, the food prepared for the table, wool sheared from the sheep and
made into cloth, and mittens knit by his mother to be traded at the
village store for salt. Economic relationships tended to be direct
and simple. Furthermore, the child himself took a real part in many
of these transactions and situations. His labor was vital to the suc-
cess of the family. He learned about many kinds of work and ac-
quired individual skill in some of them.
Today, the situation is different. The articles consumed by the
family such as clothing, household equipment, and even food are
largely prepared outside the home, sometimes at considerable dis-
tances. The child has little opportunity to see the many kinds of
labor necessary to satisfy the needs of a family. He may not even
have a chance to see or to understand what goes on in the factory in
his own community, since children are for the most part barred
from industrial plants. Economic relationships are not simple and
direct. The distances involved in trade, the carriers and middlemen
necessary to the exchange of goods, all make the economic scene dif-
ficult to understand. A child may have certain tasks to perform
about the house, but in many cases they do not create for him the
sense of adequacy that might be expected, since it is now all too
plain to the child that whether the family eats or not depends on
the wage-earning ability of the adults.
What does this condition imply for the school? Again, it calls
for an increased emphasis on personality development. Genuine un-
derstanding and insight is needed by the teacher in order to recog-







20 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


nize child need which results from so complex a situation. There are
at least three general ways in which the school can help compensate
for the results of the specialization of labor: first, it can provide
group experiences that necessitate cooperative planning, working,
and contributing; second, it can help the child to see relationships;
third, it can provide vocational information. The skills need, of
course, to be left to the high schools, technical and vocational schools,
colleges, or factories, but elementary pupils need a constantly ex-
panding general acquaintance with the kinds of work done in the
world and with the contribution of the various workers.
Urbanization and Concentration in Cities.-The shift in society
from the agrarian to the industrial life has naturally been accom-
panied by problems of urbanization. The extreme interdependence
of the economic world is perhaps the greatest single factor giving rise
to many current problems. Employment and wages often depend on
factors far beyond the control of the worker, regardless of his ability
and desire to work. Thus the wages in a citrus canning plant in
Florida may depend in part on the apple crop in Washington and
Virginia, while the production of automobiles in Michigan depends
on both. This unstable condition has consequences, particularly
with reference to the emotional life of the child.
Furthermore, the concentration of numbers of people in cities
creates situations that restrict and even endanger his well-rounded
development. What he can or cannot do is hedged on every side by
the needs of large numbers of people. He must cross the street in
certain spots, play in given areas, and observe all the Stop," Go,"'
"Prohibited," "No Admittance," "No Parking," and "Danger"
signs. Every person must learn to adjust to others, but it can
hardly be desirable to have the restrictions imposed by group living
so constant that a childs curiosity and attempts at exploration and
originality are blocked at almost every turn.

What can the school do to meet the need set up by this changing
condition in society? First, it can aid the child in developing in-
itiative and personal responsibility by providing situations in which
he can originate and carry through projects that are expressions of
his own developing power. Thus, he can observe a sequence of
events and note the effect of his efforts from step to step. At least







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY 21


he should have an opportunity to enjoy some first-hand experiences
and develop thereby a considerable degree of resourcefulness. The
child in earlier American society had, as do many rural children
today, such opportunities in their immediate, natural environment.
Second, the school can redirect the energies of the children so that
the thwartings and restrictions of the urban setting need not result
in frustrations and unhappiness. For instance, manual arts and
music can become the media through which a child expresses much
of his fancy, originality, and desire for proving his adequacy when
many other avenues of creative expression are blocked.

Concentration of Economic Classes.-The problem of concentra-
tion of economic classes into special areas is present in society where-
ever people live in groups. Certainly, it was true of the feudal per-
iod although American society has been particularly free from re-
stricting class lines until recent times. This was in part the result
of an agrarian society where specialization of labor was not great
and in part the effect of a continuous supply of new immigrants,
but chiefly it was an indirect result of the presence of the frontier.
If a man did not like the position in which he found himself, there was
always the possibility of improvement by moving to new lands. With
the rise of industrialism and the closing of the frontier, the group-
ings into economic classes tended to be more permanent.

What is the responsibility of the school in this case? In a city,
children in a given school are likely to be of the same economic class
since they are drawn from the same area. If these pupils have ex-
periences common only to their own economic group, class lines tend
to be perpetuated. The school needs to be alert to this situation so
that through experiences, both direct and vicarious, the pupils may
have contacts with all levels and kinds of living. This need is as
great among the wealthy groups as it is among the underprivileged.
Increased Mobility of the People.-The invention and immediate
adoption of rapid, cheap means of travel and communication have
influenced the habits of living of all members of society and have
radically changed the lives of many. This mobility of people and
goods has often determined the location of factories and therefore
of homes. Employees in all kinds of work may live miles from their
place of employment and commute daily. Mobility has had a







22 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


marked influence on the home and therefore on children. Frequent
changes in residence place a child under considerable strain. He
must constantly be adjusting to new locations, new playmates, new
school regimes, and new neighborhood customs. The home loses the
aid of a consistent community support in helping the child to de-
velop acceptable social relationships and reactions.
In addition, easy mobility affects the family in quite a different
way. Commuting over long distances takes time, and hours thus
spent keep the father or other members of the family away from
home where their presence should be felt. Mobility also tends to
destroy the togetherness of the family in matters of recreation and
leisure hours. Ease of getting about makes it simple for different
members of the group to seek separate entertainment.

Finally the very speed of present day transportation is fatiguing.
It puts a strain on the eyes and nerves in avoiding accident and in
adjusting to rapidly changing situations. Tensions are easily built
but no provision made for releasing them. This applies particularly
to the young child who arrives at school following sometimes a long
and fatiguing trip by bus and who must await the dismissal of older
children before starting for home when the school day is over.

What meaning does the increased mobility of the people have
for the school? The presence of transient pupils calls for a special
effort to orient them as rapidly as possible so as to help them build
a sense of adequacy in the new situation. Second, since confusion
easily results when a pupil is exposed to the multiplicity of stimuli
through mobility, it is desirable that he experience at school a sense
of reasonableness and purposefulness in the activities of the day. He
should participate in the planning and shaping of events. Third,
the school can attempt to vitalize and extend the character education
phase of its work. The efforts of the home need special supplement-
ing to help the child build a sense of social values. It is interesting
that the very mobility that makes it difficult for a community to
help the home with its social taboos and approvals should at the
same time make particularly necessary citizens who are self-disci-
plined and responsible. With regard to the strain caused by long
bus rides in reaching school, it is obvious that a well-balanced pro-







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


gram of rest, play, exercise, and work will be needed if the child is
to maintain even his physical health.
Increased Conflict of Patterns.-In the family life which was
described above, especially in connection with the changed status
of the home, it was clear that a child in the nineteenth century was
subject largely to only one cultural pattern. The emotional bond
that held the family together was reinforced by the economic asso-
ciation (since the family worked on a common enterprise), by re-
creational interests (since the family provided much of its own en-
tertainment), and by socio-civic similarity (a child, being so much
in the family tended to absorb the social outlook of his elders, which
in turn was usually fairly consistent with that of the locality). Such
consistency in the cultural pattern meant that the child had a genu-
ine guide for making decisions, that he acquired a sense of stead-
fastness about his environment. Such variations as occurred did
not seriously shake this steadfastness, for the preponderance of the
major pattern was great.
The situation for the child of today is different. The emotional
bond is still the unifying medium for the family, but the cultural
pattern set up is often challenged in part, rather than reinforced,
by the other aspects of the surroundings. The school may set up
one set of values; the play-group may have another; the movies
present standards of behavior at all levels; the radio and newspaper
reveal countless sets of values by which people live. The very in-
tensity of these stimuli draws attention to differences in patterns and
forces a child to choose his values or to become largely indifferent to
all except personal expediency. The conflicts thus set up in a child
are often severe, giving rise to tensions and personality disorders.
Children with foreign backgrounds are, of course, especially subject
to such conflicts.
What can the school do to help the child resolve the conflicts re-
sulting from his cultural environment? Perhaps much unhappiness
can be relieved when teachers train themselves to recognize the symp-
toms of distress created by such conflicts. Pupils classed as disci-
pline problems are often the victims of conflicts in the social forces
playing on their lives. Instead of criticism and punishment, these
pupils are often in need of guidance and of help from someone who







24 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


will take a sympathetic and analytical approach to their problems.
In addition, the school can help the pupil build a conscious code of
ethics through functional character education and through aware-
ness of the reasoned purposefulness of the activities of the day.
Unpredictability of the Future.-The unrest of the times and
the unpredictability of the future bring anxiety to people of all
ages. Young people especially often suffer keen distress through
lack of security. They have not the philosophic attitude of their
elders. This is due in part to their limited years since children have
little perspective of time and cannot see a present uncertainty in its
relation to the rest of their lives. The imminent present obscures for
them both the past and the future. Children too young to grasp the
significance of events often reflect the tensions of other members of
the family simply through imitation or the presence of a general air
of uneasiness and foreboding.

How can the school help combat the effects of the uncertainty of
the times? A strong, well-balanced personality would be a child's
greatest asset in living through periods of restlessness, stress, and
strain. The schools can help build well-balanced personalities by
providing a breadth of experiences and by giving the opportunity
to see relationships, to use various media for self-expression and ac-
complishment. Perhaps the most important factor would be the use
of situations demanding problem solving. The child should develop
a sense of adequacy in meeting new situations so that he will not
have a feeling of dread in the presence of that which is unfamiliar.
The example set by teachers who are themselves calm and adequate
in meeting the problems of the day can exert a deep influence upon
the child.
The Extension of Democracy.-Particularly far-reaching in its
effect upon current classroom practice as well as upon the philosophy
of education is the extension of democracy to include a way of life.
Social purpose in education or the need for enlightened citizens was
emphasized even by the founders of the United States. However,
during the years of geographic and economic expansion little real at-
tention was given to the interrelationship of education and democ-
racy. Now that events of recent times are forcing clearer thinking
in regard to democracy, both as to its nature and its values, the re-






THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY 25


ciprocal relationship of education and democracy once more has be-
come apparent.

In times of stress people tend to analyze their surroundings more
carefully than usual. Americans in clarifying their thinking re-
cently with regard to democracy have discovered that the word has
lost its exclusive political connotation and now extends to the social
and economic meaning as well. Democracy has become almost syn-
onymous with social progress and with a definition of the good life.
McSwain2 develops the idea as follows:
Some view democracy as a governmental pattern inherited from the
founders of our republic . . others accept it as a social and political
pattern but are unwilling to apply it in the economic area. Many think of
democracy as a complete, final pattern of social endeavor and thus they
strive to preserve e he pattern as it now operates. Democracy by its evolu-
tionary nature cannot be limited to any one pattern of thinking or acting.
Democracy, as a philosophy of social living, is rooted in a dynamic stream
of social thought and action and therefore, must be evolutionary in nature,
structure and operation. The fundamental elements inherent in democracy
are the evolutionary concept of man and society, the dignity and worth of
the individual, and intelligence as the instrument for social organization
and social reconstruction.

It is interesting to note, before proceeding further, that the three
fundamental elements just named-the evolutionary concept of man
and society, the worth of the individual, the intelligence as a means
of social reconstruction-already have their parallels in recent de-
velopments in education; namely, the emphasis on the curriculum
not as an "absolute" handed down from high authorities but as a
body of experiences evolved to meet pupil needs, the emphasis on
meeting individual differences, and the emphasis on training in
problem solving as a means to constructive thinking.

What significance does the concept of democracy as a philosophy
of social living have for the school? Such a concept of democracy
changes the point of focus for all education. The former focal points,
social heritage and social utility, become marginal, contributing
their worth to the emerging focus-the training of youth for a

"George E. Axtelle and William W. Wattenberg, editors, Teachers for
Democracy, Fourth Yearbook, John Dewey ,Society (New York: D. Appleton-
Century Company, 1940), p. 113. , .







26 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


society continuously evolving toward social betterment. Members
of an evolving society must be able to adjust to changing conditions,
able to do reflective thinking, and able to identify the welfare of
self with the welfare of the group. Children cannot acquire the
attitudes and skills needed in an evolving society merely by study-
ing about them; children can develop social attitudes and skills of a
vital, usable kind only through direct experiencing of situations that
call for critical thinking, group participation, individual responsi-
bility, and social vision. The providing of such situations is the pur-
pose of the school.

Among the factors which influence and set new purposes for the
elementary school, additional knowledge concerning the growth and
development of the child is significant. While the explanations con-
cerning the way in which children develop physically, mentally, and
emotionally are far from complete, enough information is available
to bring about a considerable change in thinking in regard to child
nature and current practice. The succeeding paragraphs of this
chapter present a few of these findings and attempt to point out to
the teacher the bearing which these discoveries have with regard to
guiding the learning experiences of the child.

It should be observed that the material contained in the remain-
ing portion of this chapter is related to Chart II of Chapter Four
in much the same way that the preceding portion was related to
Chart I. Either discussion would be incomplete without the other.
Just as heredity and environment cannot be divorced completely
but must always be studied together, in a similar way the child and
society must be considered parts of a unified whole.


II

THE CHILD AND HIS DEVELOPMENT
The children of Florida are coming to school! They enter the portals
of learning each year-brave, afraid; independent, helpless; strong, frail-
from homes of opulence, homes of privation, of squalor, of desperation; safe
homes, sound homes-from communities of factories, farms and groves:
from communities of gusty sea life. of bleak sandy stretches, of teeming







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


industrial centers; from thickly-peopled towns, from scattered places, from
solitudes.'
From these varied environments children of every race and creed
enter the public schools. What are the hopes and ambitions that
fill the hearts of these young children? What are the needs and de-
sires that must be fulfilled if they are to establish themselves in this
complex world of today? How many times they are not even aware
of the real needs and ambitions which lie dormant within them until
some one with understanding and genuine interest leads them to
find the possibilities they had not seen. Only through a knowledge
and understanding of children, the way in which they grow, their
likenesses, their differences can the interested teacher or parent
guide their experience in the direction of fulfillment or at least to-
ward more complete self-realization. How difficult it is for the
parent or teacher to build an adequate understanding of the child
becomes apparent when one faces the enormous complexity of the
human organism called the child. He is an individual who is a cre-
ation of heredity and environment interacting with each other.
"Needs and environment contrive together with the heritary en-
dowment of the individual to make him strong, confident, compas-
sionate; to warp and twist or break him."4 Within him are phases
of growth taking place, each phase so interwoven that it is impos-
sible for one to develop to its fullest capacity unless provision is
made for the wholesome development of all the others. His physi-
cal, mental and emotional growth requires an environment which
will provide experiences that will insure growth of every part in
relation to the dynamic whole. As long as these needs are met in
a fair proportion the child will adjust himself to new situations and
experiences. Zyve expresses the responsibility of the school to the
child in these well-chosen words: "While the school does not accept
the whole care of the child, it does accept the real care of the whole
child. Nothing more can be expected, nothing less can the school
give."5

'Adapted to the Florida setting from a series of statements by Lorraine
Sherer, Their First Years in School (Los Angeles: County Board of Edu-
cation, 1939), p. 25.
'Ibid., p. 65.
5Claire T. Zyve, Willingly to School (New York: Round Table Press,
1934), p. 10.







28 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

The child develops as a whole and each activity affects the total
organism. While the center of the activity may seem to be concen-
trated in one region or part, any single activity affects all parts of
the body in greater or less degree. Even in so simple an act as writ-
ing, the whole body is actually brought into play. The posture of
the body, the mental concentration, and the emotional reaction are
involved. Increased tension in muscular control is present which
sets up a certain degree of tension throughout the organism. Ac-
tivities placing stress upon other centers of the system will relieve
the strain and restore the balance which the body requires.
Muscular Development.-The healthy child is an energy system
filled with a zest for living, doing, being. His whole body demands
physical exercise. Running, dancing, skipping, climbing-all fur-
nish appropriate and profitable activity for the young child. Such
activities bring the large muscles into play and provide opportunity
for their growth. It is at the early period in the child's develop-
ment that motor coordination of the large muscles is of particular
importance. Proper equipment for climbing, sliding, and swing-
ing gives the child opportunity to use these muscles; from such ac-
tivity, he will likely gain a sense of balance and rhythm. Carefully
selected games affording rhythmic activity on the child's level will
also develop balance, and through these rhythms the child's crea-
tive being can respond. Pleasurable, rhythmic activity may open
new opportunities for creativeness as the child devises interpreta-
tions which portray his thought and feelings.
Careful guidance is needed in order to protect the child from
over-exertion. He is not aware that his seemingly boundless energy
surpasses his physical endurance and that fatigue comes easily. A
well-planned program for the day should maintain a balance of ac-
tivity and rest, for the whole body of the child requires this rhythm.
Rest should not always imply sitting quietly or taking a nap, for
these activities can be as fatiguing to the individual when they are
rigidly employed, as would continuous activity. Rest should be
thought of as a change in the activity which will provide for a re-
lease of tension that has been built up through constant exercise of
certain parts of the system. Ordinarily, the young child should not







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY 29


be required to sit still for a longer period than fifteen to twenty
minutes.
If activities have been stimulating in the classroom there is per-
haps a need for quiet games. An exhilarating period of play out-
of-doors may be balanced by quiet activities in the classroom which
will provide the necessary relaxation. Lorraine Sherer6 suggests
the following provisions for rest and relaxation: (1) Each child
lying quietly on his cot or rug for a few minutes, (2) the period of
quiet and rest, as during a story-telling hour, or a music period
which is quiet in mood, (3) provision for recreating activities, as a
period during which children may look at books, or paint, or play
quiet games, (4) the mid-morning lunch hour, and (5) a carefully
arranged noon period.
Coordination of the large muscles may be developed through the
use of appropriate tools and equipment. Consideration should be
given to the selection of materials by which the young child can do
his best work and experience a degree of success. Large materials
such as large pencils which are not too smooth so as to cause diffi-
culty in grasping, large crayons, large sheets of paper, blackboards,
and easels enable the child to express himself without undue strain.
They also give him a sense of freedom and inspire confidence in his
ability to express himself freely. Miniature tools, or construction
materials which are small in size or hard to handle, will likely build
only tension and result in poorer muscular control.
As the child grows older, his large muscles are reaching maturity
and the accessory muscles will need activity and appropriate ma-
terials in order that coordination may be developed. Physical ac-
tivity will tend toward games requiring more skill. Since organized
games make an appeal to the older child, he will practice diligently
to gain a degree of proficiency in them. Guidance is still needed to
guard against too great an exertion without the rest that will restore
balance to his whole body. The periods of rest need not be as fre-
quent for him as for the younger child because his resistance to fa-
tigue is greater. However, he should not, under ordinary circum-
stances, be required to sit still for a period longer than thirty
minutes.


'Sherer, op. cit., p. 98.







30 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


The finer coordination of the accessory muscles may be gained
through decreasing gradually the size of the materials which the
child will use. Activities of a more complex or detailed nature,
such as playing musical instruments, developing skill in drawing
and writing, should be provided and participation in them should
be encouraged.

Motor development is dependent on the mental and emotional
status as well as upon the stage of muscular coordination of the in-
dividual. The child will be able to experience success in muscular
activities only to the degree to which his mental capacity and de-
velopment can provide direction of these activities. His emotional
status will determine in large measure the amount of self-confidence
with which he will attempt participation in such activities.
Development of the Sense Organs.-What are the causes that
lie behind much failure in the child's first years in school? Why
does the child with the adequate mental capacity fail to make the
grade? Some of the answers may be found in the difficulties of a
sensory nature that are experienced as he enters school. Perhaps
his eyes have not yet made the adjustment from far-sightedness to
normal vision. He should have had little reason for using his eyes
at close range; at this period images are seen as a whole rather
than in detail. For the first period or year of his school life, ex-
periences which require concentration of the eyes, but not controlled
focus, are needed. His ability to focus both eyes together is becom-
ing stabilized, although in some cases this process may be delayed
or rendered impossible due to factors which may need the attention
of a specialist. Large materials employing building, drawing, cut-
ting, manuscript writing, looking at picture books may be provided
in order that adjustment of the eyes to images of a more detailed
nature may be made. As this gradual focus is developed his eyes
will be ready for some reading experiences that, too often, are pro-
vided before this adjustment has taken place. Here, again, a well-
balanced program of rest and activity is beneficial for it will insure
the child against long periods of close visual work.
Deficiencies in the development of the sense organs need discov-
ery and correction early in school life. Near-sightedness is some-
times caused by use of the eyes for close visual work before they







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


have reached maturity. Any defect of the eye or ear should be re-
ferred to a specialist for correction. The school may help the in-
dividual make an adjustment to his deficiency through a careful
selection of a suitable seat and through giving attention to proper
lighting. A seat that will provide for the best accommodation of his
vision will aid in warding off added strain on the eyes, failure in
school work, and personality maladjustment. Deficiency in hearing
necessitates similar provision. If deafness is present in the left ear
a seat on the left side of the room will increase the ability of the
child to make an adjustment; conversely, provision for deafness in
the right ear should be made.7

Level of Maturity.-Some six-year olds have the motor control
of some nine-year olds; some kindergarten pupils can sit still longer
than some eighth graders; some boys have better development than
some girls several years older. Each child is an individual problem
and his needs must be met.s Special care and attention is needed for
each phase of growth in each individual. Many factors are involved
in this development. Heredity and environment interacting with
one another determine the rate of growth as it varies in each indi-
vidual. The growth of his bone structure, the coordination of his
muscles, and the glandular development vary in their rate of ma-
turity. No longer may a static measure such as a height and weight
chart be used to determine the physical status of the child. Con-
formity to his own biological norm or standard is all that can be
expected of each individual. Provision for an environment that will
permit him to grow at his optimum rate is the school's responsibility.
Teachers need to be aware of the fact that children differ greatly in
the rate of developing coordination in the use of their muscles. Some
children of a given age will be ready for activity which will pro-
vide for fine muscular coordination while other children still need
activities which will increase better coordination of the large mus-
cles. "Children who are chronologically at the same age may vary
from four to five years in maturity. "9

'Paul A. Witty, Charles E. Skinner and Others, Mental Hygiene in
Modern Education (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, Inc., 1939), p. 401.
'J. Murray Lee and Dorris May Lee, The Child and His Curriculum
(New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1940), p. 33.
9Ruth Strang, An Introduction to Child Study (New York: The Mac-
millan Company, 1938), p. 7.







32 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


Not only does each individual differ in his rate of development,
but a significant difference is present in the rate at which boys and
girls develop. This difference is present as the child enters school
and increases with each year. By the second grade, the typical girl
of seven is a year ahead of the boy in maturity. The girl is steadier
in muscular control, does not tire as easily, can sit still longer, and
at least by eight years of age has a longer attention span than the
boy.10 There is a psychological effect resulting from these differ-
ences if proper consideration is not given and adequate provision
made. Boys are likely to become the problem children of the group.
They are given the same work to do and held to the same standards
of work and conduct as the girls. By this situation wrong attitudes
may be developed in both boys and girls.

It is necessary in making provisions for this situation, to recog-
nize again individual differences in both boys and girls and to un-
derstand that some boys of the same chronological age as some girls
will have reached a higher level of maturity. Individuals of both
sexes experience periods of latency in growth and periods when
spurts of growth seem to occur. This variation in intensity of
growth affects the child's whole organism. During the period of
rapid growth of the body, emphasis is upon this development and
latency in other growth will be present. The child cannot be expected
to experience the same degree of success or standards in all phases
of work during his growing period.
Consideration of this factor should be given in planning a pro-
gram for balanced development, and measurement of the child should
be made in light of this difference in his rate of growth. A devia-
tion in physical maturing may result in severe emotional strain on
the part of the individual unless the teacher exercises wise guid-
ance. The thin child, the fat child, the tall child, the short child,
the lame child, the unwell child-each finds himself unable to par-
ticipate in some of the normal activities of the group. Wise guidance
of the teacher in leading these misfits to find emotional release
through appropriate activity will prevent the development of un-
desirable behavior and personality maladjustment.

"Ibid., p. 322.







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT
The mental development of the child proceeds along lines very
similar to those which have been discussed in reference to his physi-
cal development. There is the same increasing complexity, the same
relatedness of parts to larger wholes, and the same variation in in-
tensity of growth. However, this does not imply that there is a
one-to-one relationship between physical and psychological growth.
Images obtained by the sense organs have various meanings to dif-
ferent individuals at different stages in their social and psychologi-
cal maturity. In addition, much depends upon the types of exper-
iences which these individuals have had. Many children whose
sight or hearing may be perfect and who are consequently obtaining
perfect sense impressions cannot read, despite the obvious advan-
tage of good physical equipment.
That there is, in most cases, a strong relationship between the
physical and mental growth of the child has been shown by care-
fully plotted growth curves which indicate that a rise in the former
is usually followed by a rise in the latter. Contrary to popular be-
lief, growth in mental ability, grip age, dentition, social adjustment,
and physical status tend to go together."1 In the comparatively few
instances where these curves do not go together, problem cases are
likely to be found. The strong interdependence of physical, mental,
and social growth suggests a total patterning of the organism which
evolves from day to day, a general patterning whose limits are set
only by the interaction of heredity and environment as they operate
together in the life of the child.
Seeing Parts in Relationship to Larger Wholes.-In a preceding
section of this chapter it was pointed out that physical growth pro-
ceeds in such a way that control over larger muscles precedes con-
trol over finer movements. Similarly, in his psychological develop-
ment the child tends to see things in bold relief and to be unable
to discern smaller parts as related to the larger whole. A study of
the drawings of the pre-school child reveals the fact that he does not
at first note many details. Even when he grows more mature, his
drawings may present objects with their parts out of proportion to

"For an elaboration on this point the reader should consult the studies
by Willard C. Olson conducted at the University of Michigan.







34 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


the entire object which he is attempting to depict. Very often he
tends to emphasize or to draw largest the part to which he has been
most attracted. Similarly, in language development, he is likely to
use single words not as single words at all, but as thought wholes.
In such cases each word represents a total idea or conveys a general
meaning. Later, he fills in the gaps with various modifiers; still
later, he uses complex sentence structure more in keeping with his
complex thought. His thought and his thought symbols thus de-
velop together.
The sensing of relationships is necessary in all forms of learning
for only as the individual can relate the new experience to that which
he already knows will it have meaning for him. A wide variety of
experiences should be provided before formal or abstract learning is
expected. As will be pointed out later in the chapter dealing with
the language arts, direct experience with words and their meanings
in situations vital to the child are of extreme importance. Symbols
such as printed words or numbers, therefore, will be sensed by the
child as having meaning and significance to the degree that they are
related to activities in which he and other members of the group
have participated. Thus, if the teacher introduces words or other
symbols in relationship to direct experiences they will usually be
learned more easily. As the child comprehends the general thought
or meaning of a situation he can use this general interpretation in
working out parts. For example, the teacher, acting as scribe for
a class not yet ready to write their experiences, may at the dictation
of the pupil place the following on the board: We play games. We
play with toys. We play with our pets. Some child with a great
deal of glee points out to the other children: "Look-we, we, we."
"We" had become an intelligible symbol to this child because he
had linked it with things known, because it had been used to ex-
press a general idea known to him. Given the word "we" out of
this setting and with no direct experience with which he could re-
late it, his insight would have been reduced if not altogether blocked.
On the other hand, as he gains an ever-widening stock of word
meanings, he may use these in finding out about many things which
he has not experienced directly.
Rate of Maturity.-As has already been indicated, the rate of
mental development is not necessarily equal to the rate of physical







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


development in an individual. A child may be chronologically six
years of age and show a mental age of five. The mental age of a
child is, of course, dependent upon the interaction of heredity and
environment. Many authorities now agree that it is futile to at-
tempt to make a close distinction between the two. They are both
acting in conjunction with each other from the moment of concep-
tion to produce an individual different from all others in potenti-
ality, capacity, and ability. The special function of the school
should be to provide situations which enables each child (1) to have
rich experiences that will broaden his understanding and lay a foun-
dation for further learning, (2) to acquire emotional stability
through the development of appropriate attitudes and habits, and
(3) to receive remedial treatment of physical and sensory defects
that will aid in making necessary adjustments.

Mental ages are derived from the scores made on intelligence
tests; when a comparison is made between mental and chronological
age the resulting ratio is referred to as the Intelligence Quotient.
It has been generally assumed that this remains constant. How-
ever, recent investigations reveal the fact that when children are
tested at regular intervals over a period of several years their In-
telligence Quotients are found not to be as constant as formerly
assumed.12 Where wide variations occur, several factors may be in-
volved. Some children grow slowly, others rapidly; some seem to
follow the curve common to many children; others follow no curve
except their own general pattern which is evolved as heredity and
environment interact. Whenever the teacher makes a study of a
particular child she should use recent data concerning the status of
his mental development as well as that which has been collected
over a long period of time. A single test or a series of tests given
several years earlier are not reliable checks.13 In a class of aver-
age size one child may possibly change his intelligence score, on re-
testing, twenty or more points, a degree of change which would
seriously affect any academic recommendation made on the basis of
one test.14

2"Witty, Skinner and Others, op. cit., pp. 29-37.
"Ibid., pp. 29-37.
"Strang, op. cit., p. 322.







36 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


Because of the differences in the rate of mental maturation of
individuals, experiences which are suited to several levels of ma-
turity and of intelligence should be provided, if the teacher wishes
to promote optimum growth in each individual. Ordinarily the
child will seek activities which will fit his level of mental develop-
ment provided a sufficiently wide range of experience situations have
been planned. Only when such a variety has been provided can the
child select the activity to which he may make a real contribution
and thereby preserve his sense of adequacy. Such a feeling of be-
longing and of adequacy must be developed early if one is to expect
the child to undertake activities at increasing levels of difficulty.

Factors That Affect Learning.-Learning can be adventure.
What could be more stimulating than the exploration of the many
phases of life which surround the child? As his understanding of
the immediate environment increases, adventure may lead him to
explore the fascinating life of places beyond his own horizon and
discover how the whole universe touches his own life. Opportuni-
ties for learning, presented with color, atmosphere, and simplicity,
with the feeling and language of the age for which it is intended
will transform learning from a dull, drab process to a vital, live
experience. "The child learns just as the scientist or artist creates,
with an imagination that is vivid and a feeling that is intense.""1

When children are doing things in which they are interested,
they are happier, learn more, and become better adjusted in per-
sonal relationships-all of which decreased the need for emphasis
on discipline. Immediately, there is a response "In what things are
children interested?" To answer this question the most vital fac-
tor to be understood is that of interest. Interest is present in the
individual when there is an awareness within him of a need to be
fulfilled. Unless there is a need (expressed or unexpressed) there
can be no interest. When tension is built up within the child so
that he is motivated to engage in some kind of activity for release
of the tension, interest is high and learning may take place. Learn-
ing experiences should therefore be pitched to the level of the learn-
er. They should be related to former experiences of the individual in

"Raymond Holder Wheeler and Francis Theodore Perkins, Principles of
Mental Development (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1932), p. 4.







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


order that he might have a clear understanding of the problem and
be concerned with its solution.
Self-evaluation of effort tends to stimulate the child to further
effort. A pupil-teacher conference, in which the teacher leads the
child to discover wherein he has succeeded or to understand why he
has had difficulty, is invaluable in helping him to evaluate his work
and maintain a balance of experiencing accomplishment and disap-
pointment. This balance protects his sense of adequacy and guards
against a feeling of inferiority or unwarranted self-confidence. Op-
portunity for evaluation of previous effort will often result in care-
ful and more adequate solutions. It is as important for the child to
understand why his final result was correct as it is for him to under-
stand why it may be incorrect. Furthermore, accomplishment or
lack of accomplishment needs to be judged on a relative basis. The
ability of the child physically, emotionally, and mentally to partici-
pate in the learning situation needs consideration. Undue reward
or undue blame may bring very unwholesome results.
The importance of direct experience in the learning process needs
emphasis. First-hand contact with the actual things of life is ex-
tremely important in the first stages of learning. Without such ex-
periences, learning becomes useless verbalism.16 "The most realis-
tic experience an individual can have is the actual handling of an
object, the observation of a process or an event, or experimentation
with materials in creating new or more usable articles."17
These experiences need careful selection in order that they might
be paced to the level of the understanding of the group. They should
be chosen in light of the possibilities they afford in laying a basis
for further exploration through second-hand or vicarious exper-
ence. Dealing with abstractions through reading and discussion will
be more meaningful if the background for the study has been built
up through first-hand experience. It has been commonly assumed
that direct experiences are to be provided only in the case of very
young children. While no particular value can be obtained from
repeating direct experiences which the group or the individual may

"Newer Instructional Practices of Promise. Twelfth Yearbook, Depart-
ment of Supervisors and Directors of Instruction of the N.E.A. (Washington,
D. C.: 1201 Sixteenth Street, 1939), p. 27.
"lbid., p. 57.







38 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


have had, one should be aware of the fact that even the adolescent or
adult has not had direct experiences along every line of activity.
When this is the case, direct experiences are needed, even though
the child may have reached an advanced grade level in the school,
Pupils coming from schools where planned experiences in science
or art have been entirely omitted from the curriculum exhibit spe-
cial needs in this regard and often must begin work on a level in
keeping with their present development. This implies that older
children may frequently be found working with materials in much
the same manner as younger children.
Learning is a continuous process beginning before birth and
continuing throughout life.18 No learning situation should be or
can be an entity in itself. As an outgrowth of past experience and
a link in the direction of future activity, it becomes an evolving pro-
cess. Long-time planning which is used in unit teaching has merit
because each experience involved in the unit has relationship to the
whole program. It is necessary that each activity contribute to a
better understanding of the total situation. Joint planning of the
teacher and pupils has much value in preserving the continuity of
learning experiences for it gives the pupils a better understanding
of the activity in which they will engage.
Relationship of Skill to Meaning and Understanding.-Skill in
any activity requires some understanding of the general processes
involved in the activity. Because no two situations are exactly the
same, the child must be able to handle successive problems in terms
of understanding and meaning. As he generalizes upon his experi-
ences in one situation, he builds up a method of attack, a way of work,
and an ability to see relationships which can be used in other situa-
tions. Of course, the wider the variety of situations with which he has
dealt under the guidance of the teacher, the more likely he is to de-
velop a control over subsequent problem situations. The amount or
strength of stimulation for an activity by the teacher will be of no
avail in causing a response by the individual unless he understands
the factors involved in the activity. Meaning and understanding of
the necessary response in its relationship to situations should be
built if a degree of skill is to be accomplished. Practice that is ne-


"Wheeler and Perkins, op. cit., p. 8.







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


cessary for attaining a high degree of skill is more effective when
it is carried on in relationship to the whole. Drill which is unre-
lated to meaning and spaced with little regard for the nature of
the organism does not bring proper return for the effort expended.
Long periods of drill are fatiguing to the whole organism; when
fatigue comes, it causes increased tension that may result in the
failure to make a desirable response. The close relationship be-
tween skills and meaning, insight, or understanding has not been
clearly understood by teachers. Rather than oppose each other,
they can be handled in such a way as actually to bring reinforce-
ment and mutual support.

SOCIAL GROWTH
The child begins his social adjustment as soon as he becomes a
member of the family group. The extent to which his needs-phys-
ical, mental, and emotional-are met in the family group will de-
termine in a large measure the kind of adjustment he will be able to
make with respect to other groups of which he will later become a
part. Each child has individual problems in making adjustments,
for no two children have the same kind of environment, nor do they
react in the same way to what may appear to be similar environ-
ments. It often happens that children of the same family differ to
a marked degree. One child may be sober, another laughing; one
may be retiring, another friendly; one may be stolid, another alert.
How the child responds to others will influence the reaction of both.
It is in the common give-and-take situations of life that attitudes
are developed and changed. Thus are attitudes early learned.
Adjusting to Home and Family Life.-In family life there are
several factors which may have influenced the attitudes and habits
of the child even before he enters school. These may include the
economic status of the family, the emotional atmosphere of the home,
and the number of children and adults included in the family group.
The child's status within his family will greatly affect his behavior.
If he has been made to feel that he "belongs," he will develop a
sense of security that will carry him through many difficult situa-
tions where further adjustment has to be made. If he receives too
little affection, the child may develop a feeling of insecurity that is
likely to result in undesirable attitudes of jealousy, resentment,







40 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


anger, or fear. On the other hand, the child who has been too much
sheltered will have difficulties in weaning himself from the affection
and attention upon which he has become dependent.

Adjusting to Life at School and in the Wider Community.-
From varied environments and with wide range of habits and atti-
tudes, children come to school and find a situation which is new to
each of them. No longer does each child feel the security of the
small family group which, up to this time, has constituted so large
a part of his experience. He now finds himself in a large group
where individual whims and caprices cannot be catered to and where
attention will not be centered on any one individual. There is much
to be experienced in learning to adjust to this new situation.

The role of the teacher is most important in these early grades.
She should "recognize that the school experience is a weaning ex-
perience and that the child must at first be slowly led out from what
the family means; and that there is an artist's task of weaning the
child from the one to the other."19 Individual differences are pres-
ent in social growth as in physical and mental growth. "Many
children meet the essentials of the school room experience one, two,
or three years before they enter the school room, and others are
slower in making the adjustment, so that the kindergarten, first-
grade and second-grade teachers often have to continue for some
time what is essentially the family pattern."20

The school represents the first organized institution where the
child must learn to adjust himself to the demands of the group, al-
though many children have had informal contacts with this ex-
perience earlier.21 There is an adjustment to be made in his habits
and attitudes in order that his behavior will bear a more direct re-
lationship to the needs and interest of the group. The child must
learn that courtesy has a broader meaning as he participates in the
larger group. Learning to keep quiet when others are speaking,
speaking in turn, being tolerant of the ideas and actions of others,
paying attention at the proper time, and learning to control his ang-

".James S. Plant, Personality and the Cultural Pattern (New York: Com-
monwealth Fund, 1937), p. 285.
"lbid., p. 275.
"'Ibid., p. 277.







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


er will be new habits that he must form. How well these habits will
be formed will depend in part upon the kind of situations provided
for learning them. The way in which people respond to his acts,
the satisfactions derived from them, and other conditions in his en-
vironment will of necessity influence his response. It is for this and
other reasons that habits should be developed in relation to skills,
knowledge, interests, and standards.22
Adjusting to the Group.-Group experiences can become very
valuable in developing strength and assurance in individuals. With-
out this feeling of self-assurance and stability with reference to par-
ticipation in the group, they may have as Plant says, "A feeling of
loneliness, of being undressed, of being at the mercy of their en-
vironment when they are not given this experience of being gathered
up in the group.'"23
It is paradoxical-this desire to be like others in the group, to
be a member of a group and yet to desire at some time to become a
leader of the group. And yet "this paradox of life-this fact that
in everything a person says or does appears the craving to be the
follower, doing what others do, living as they live, lost in the crowd,
and with it all, the wish for one little corner of life where one is the
leader, is different, is individual-expresses one of the outstanding
and basic conflicts of all individuals.""24 This problem may be met
through providing many types of experiences for the group and for
individual enterprise. The experiences may be selected with consid-
eration for the development of leadership, and encouragement should
be given for many children to have opportunity to satisfy this de-
sire. Development of hobbies will allow individual recognition which
is so necessary in establishing selfhood.

Definite allegiance to the group often begins to be formed as
early as eight years of age. This is the beginning of the gang spirit
which has great value if it can be directed in the proper channels.
The approval of the parent or teacher that has been so diligently
sought in the past now gives way in many instances to the approval
of the group. Children learn through this medium that which no

'2Strang, op. cit., p. 507.
2~Plant, op. cit., p. 277.
"lbid., p. 2.







42 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


teacher could teach them. They are learning the give and take of
leadership. They are beginning to form their own judgments and
need guidance of an adult but not interference. They are gaining
a respect for personal and property rights of others. This gang
spirit may be directed, with much advantage, through group activi-
ties in the classroom.25 The importance of these experiences can
scarcely be questioned since it is through them that selfhood can
often be established. As the child seeks to establish his status with
the group by forming new relationships, he must stand or fall on
his own merits. His functioning in these groups must be effective
in order that he might feel that he belongs. The achievement of ma-
turity of the child requires a steady widening of this belonging from
the family to play group, to the school class, to clubs and so on.26

In order that his participation in these groups may be effective,
the individual needs to experience a degree of success. The activity
in which he engages must be in accord with his capacity for engag-
ing in it. However, it is not necessary for him to experience suc-
cess in all of his undertakings any more than it would be desirable
for him to meet continuous failure. A balance between the two will
help him and his classmates to maintain appropriate attitudes to-
ward his ability. One authority says that "It is such a deadly ex-
perience to be daily in the company of other children but not be
able to participate with them in any valued way that the school simp-
ly should not permit this to happen to any child."'27 Chart II which
appears in Chapter Four of this bulletin is designed to assist teach-
ers in becoming aware of some of the adjustment problems of the
growing child which have been described in this chapter.

PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT

Personality is not a static condition or thing. As the individual
grows physically, mentally, and socially, what one calls personality
will likewise grow and change. So interwoven are the phases of
growth and so varied are they in their occurrence and patterning,

"Lee and Lee, op. cit., pp. 49-50.
"Daniel Alfred Prescott, Emotion and the Educative Process (Wash-
ington, D. C.: American Council on Education, 1938), p. 117.
"Ibid., p. 216.







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY 43


it is not possible to present a full description of their interactions.2s
The preceding discussion pointed to certain basic needs which must
be met in the lives of most individuals if they are to develop whole-
some personalities. These needs included a sense of security, affec-
tion, likeness to others, a recognition of reality, a recognition of
authority, and self-direction.

Security29 is present when the child feels that regardless of at-
tainment he is still accepted as a member of the group. He rests in
the knowledge that he is established in the scheme of life. Society
can offer no cure for insecurity. However, the child who does not
have this security will be able to combat his sense of insecurity by
developing a sense of adequacy. Society may offer many opportuni-
ties for this development. Opportunities for achievement within
the level of the learner will give self-confidence to him. Recogni-
tion of his achievement will satisfy the desire to build an acceptable
status. This recognition should be a sincere effort which will need
to be given constantly if the child is to be able to maintain his status.
It is desirable that each day provide the possibility that some situa-
tion will arise when each child, in some way, may feel that his ef-
forts are needed and he is adequate to meet the demands of the
situation.

Affection is fundamental in the life of each individual and is
sometimes linked with the need for security. Many children ex-
perience the satisfactions of this need in the home. Others come to
school with a craving for affection which has been denied them. While
the school cannot supplant the home in fulfilling the need, it can at
least do something to help the child feel that he is wanted. The
teacher has many opportunities for developing such a feeling through
showing a genuine personal interest in the child, through maintain-
ing a sympathetic attitude, or through giving a warm smile. On
the other hand children who have experienced an over-emphasis of
affection may need a firm, sympathetic, yet different treatment.

"Witty, Skinner and Others, op. cit., p. 133.
"The term security here refers to the state of being in which the child
feels important and worthwhile because of "who he is" while adequacy
refers to the state of being in which the child feels important and worthwhile
because of "what he does." For a full discussion the reader should consult
the reference to Plant as given elsewhere in this chapter.







44 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


Here, the teacher will serve as a guide who will assist the individual
in developing a kind of stability which does not require a super-
abundance of attention and affection.
Likeness to others is a measuring rod by which the individual may
evaluate himself. He must not fall too far short of the measuring
rod in physical appearance, or mental ability if he is to develop
wholesome attitudes about himself or others. The possession of
characteristics which causes one person to differ too sharply from
others, is a handicap and a hazard; at the same time they furnish
.opportunity for unusual prominence of success. Even great talent,
however, may distort or warp the personality if it interferes with
the feeling of being-one-of-the-group.30
The only basis a child has for developing attitudes and forming
habits is his experience. These experiences should be as rich and
varied as life itself. The child should be privileged to experience
moderate success and disappointment, antagonism and cooperation,
pain and pleasure. Only through a wide range of experiences can
he come to know life as it is and learn to meet these problems.31
The wise teacher will, of course, handle the situation in such a way
that extreme tension, frustration, or despair will not occur when-
ever they can be prevented through appropriate measures under
her control.
The development of an intelligent respect for authority and a
recognition of the larger forces operating in human life is very
necessary in the life of any individual. The influence of authority
and of control may be experienced with regard to one's physical
body, in relationships with other persons of the immediate environ-
ment, in relationships with wider social groups, and in dealing with
physical phenomena in the environment: The child may have little
control over sleep that presses in upon him, bodily pain that he ex-
periences, or physical maiming of his body. Persons who are in
authority over him because of age, relationship, or possession may
seek to exercise complete control. The authority of society may
bear heavily upon him through the culture patterns of family,
neighborhood, school, and community. In his early years the child


"Prescott, op. cit., p. 118.
"Ibid., p. 119.







THE GROWING CHILD IN A COMPLEX SOCIETY


begins to comprehend authority through observation of the forces
of nature.32 The child needs to recognize all of these manifesta-
tions of authority as being at least partly beyond his control and
should be guided into harmonizing his life with reality. In so far
as he learns the laws through which authority operates and makes
his own behavior harmonize with these laws, he can use these things
to his advantage.33
On the other hand, there are many situations over which the child
as well as the race can and should exercise control. For this reason,
the child should be given the privilege of initiating many of his ac-
tivities. He should be able to care for many of his personal needs
even before he enters school. Encouragement in carrying out his
responsibilities in work and play is necessary in order that these
responsibilities will widen, as he grows older, to enable him to make
a great many decisions for himself as he reaches adolescence.84
Instead of asking "What shall I do?" he will be doing and enrich-
ing his background of experiences upon which he can draw for fur-
ther decisions. In this way, he can develop those qualities of living
which are necessary if democracy itself is to survive.
"Plant, op. cit., p. 86.
"Prescott, op. cit., p. 120.
"Ibid., p. 123.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. AMIDON, BEULAH, Democracy's Challenge to Education, New
York, Farrar and Rinehart, Inc., 1940.
2. AXTELLE, G. E., AND WATTENBERG, W. W. (Editors), Teachers
for Democracy, Fourth Yearbook, John Dewey Society, New
York, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1940.
3. HARRIS, PICKEN E., The Curriculum and Cultural Change, New
York, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1937.
4. Purposes of Education in American Democracy, Educational
Policies Commission, Washington, D. C., 1938.
5. PRESCOTT, DANIEL ALFRED, Emotions and the Educative Pro-
cess, Washington, D. C., American Council on Education, 1938.
6. PLANT, JAMES S., Personality and the Cultural Pattern, New
York, Commonwealth Fund, 1937.
























46 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


7. STRANG, RUTH, An Introduction to Child Study, New York,
The Macmillan Company, 1938.
8. SHERER, LORRAINE, Their First Years in School, Los Angeles,
County Board of Education, 1939.
9. WITTY, PAUL A., SKINNER, CHARLES E., and Others, Mental
Hygiene in Modern Education, New York, Farrar and Rine-
hart, Inc., 1939.
10. SALISBURY, FRANK S., Human Development and Learning, New
York, McGraw-Hill Company, Inc., 1939.










Chapter Three

IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY
PROGRAM



Florida elementary schools should be organized to provide for
well-rounded development of the child. The educational growth of
the child is best served if the content of the curriculum is organ-
ized around whole aspects of the environment, taking into account
the problems of both the child and society. Neither can be consid-
ered apart from the other in working out a satisfactory curriculum.
To provide proper learning experiences for the development of the
whole child, the school program will probably be organized in such
a way as to provide for three types or phases1 of instruction: the
integrated, the direct-teaching, and the individual.

CARING FOR THE THREE PHASES OF THE CURRICULUM

Providing for Integrated Experiences.-For several years Florida
elementary schools have been providing for an integrated phase in
planning their total programs. This has been considered necessary
in order that the child might have rich and broadening experiences
which are needed in social and personal development. Such exper-
iences give many opportunities for the child to see that his learn-
ing and various activities of life are related to one another. In
this way activities out of school can be associated with experiences
that he has while in school. This prevents a separation of life at
school from his living in the home or in the community. Units

'The integrated phase of the curriculum refers to that portion of the
total learning situation in which the child explores fully and freely problems
of interest to him and of value to society. Large unit teaching is another
term which has been applied to related experiences of this kind. The direct
teaching phase refers to that portion of the total learning situation in which
the child deals more directly with the skills, meanings or understandings
necessary to carry on the activities of the unit or to meet other needs that
he may have. The individual phase refers to what is commonly called indi-
vidualized instruction. As is pointed out later, the three phases should be
kept related if best results are to accrue.







48 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


which are developed in the integrated phase of the program should
be related to the problems of the child as he attempts to adjust
himself to a complex society. However, units should not be thought
of as something to be carried out following the completion of rou-
tine work. Experiences gained in the integrated phase can further
child development in a manner that cannot be duplicated through
other phases of teaching.
Illustrative of the type of experience which the child gains in
connection with unit teaching might be a well-planned trip to the
canning plant, lumber mill, or some similar enterprise. Any one
of these should open up new and interesting channels of learning.
The questions that arise after such an experience will provide many
approaches to enriched learning. In supplying needed information
the pupil will see the textbook as an invaluable aid. The library
will take on new meaning as he searches for an answer to the ques-
tions that are in his mind. The information supplied by the plant
foreman, taken in connection with what members of his own fam-
ily group might have to say, will bring the pupil to see that educa-
tion is not alone confined to the area enclosed within the four class-
room walls. An assembly program emerging from the experiences
of the pupils as a unit evolves will be entered into with an enthu-
siasm quite different from the forced type of participation so often
apparent. This, again, will permit the sharing of the experiences
with other pupils. Democratic living will become a reality as the
pupil actually helps plan and direct group action.
Providing for Direct Teaching Experiences.-In providing for
instruction the teacher should realize that the needs of all the pu-
pils may not be reached satisfactorily through the school's provi-
sion for integrated experience. In the development of a unit, pro-
vision for all of the worthwhile experiences that are needed by the
children at a given level of maturation may not receive enough
consideration. This is particularly true in the case of the teacher
who is just beginning to plan experiences of this type. Further-
more, out of an expanding unit of work there will emerge situations
that can best be taken care of in a period devoted to direct teach-
ing. The arithmetical calculations involved in the construction of
a play house, or in the excavation for a fish pond may necessitate
direct attention to these matters; otherwise, the children will re-







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 49


main handicapped and unable to proceed with their project. Num-
ber takes on a renewed interest at this stage of the learning exper-
ience. Practice exercises can be made to function in the life of the
pupil as the immediate need is felt. Thus, direct teaching need not
be unrelated to the major problem at hand.
Providing for Experiences in Terms of Individual Needs.-In the
course of the group activities mentioned above, many opportunities
for the use and improvement of personal abilities will no doubt arise.
The improvement and refinement of skills should continue in ac-
cordance with the immediate and long-range needs of the pupils. It
is, therefore, necessary that the teacher set aside a portion of time
for meeting these individual needs as they arise. However, the
teacher should not interpret individual needs wholly in terms of
skills yet to be mastered. Personality needs are of even greater im-
portance. Many times children do not take an active part in group
activities because their personalities are of such a nature as to
make them shy or retiring. Here is opportunity for individual
guidance on the part of the teacher which may result in much
improvement.
Thus, the teacher should provide in the daily program a time for
both individual and direct instruction, as well as time for the in-
tegrated work. The school can best be regarded as an extension of
the home, as a place where the activities of the day are planned in
large blocks of time. In this way a balance can be maintained.
There will be a time for group planning by the pupils and teacher,
a time for group activities, a time for direct instruction as the need
arises, and a time when the teacher meets the needs of individual
pupils through a personal touch. Such a division will enable the
teacher to know individual pupils and to guide them most adequate-
ly. The conference period, in particular, offers an unusual oppor-
tunity for instructional guidance. In such a situation both the teach-
er and pupil are placed in a relationship that is conducive to good
learning. The practice period will also afford time necessary for
meeting individual need. Some pupils do not grasp information as
readily as others; timid children often do not make known their
desires before the entire group. In addition to those needing spe-
cial aid in skills or in personality development, a number of the
pupils who are doing more advanced work may need special atten-







50 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


tion. The teacher through spending a small amount of time with
these children during the period devoted to meeting individual
needs may enable them to go far in independent problem solving.

CARING FOR THE CHILD NEEDS THROUGH PROVIDING
ADDITIONAL FACILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES
To carry out these important phases of instruction, adequate
school facilities must be available. The school plant should pro-
vide workshop space, adequate library materials, sufficient play-
ground space, and other equipment essential to the maintenance of
a successful program. The truly educative effect of the school de-
pends largely upon the general type of school life for which pro-
vision is made. Among other plans necesasry for a good school pro-
gram should be an adequate plan for taking care of the health of
teachers and pupils. Arrangement should also be made for library
facilities in keeping with financial ability and need. There should
also be a plan for improving the "living in the school," a plan in
which all pupils and workers participate.2 Since well-kept build-
ings and attractive grounds help to create an atmosphere conducive
to joyous living, allowance for these should be made in connection
with the general plans for school improvement. Finally, the good
elementary school will plan for individual and group guidance as
an integral part of the total program and keep such records of pupil
behavior as can be utilized successfully in obtaining a more com-
plete understanding of the growth and development of each child
entrusted to its guidance and care.
Providing Adequate Health Facilities.-The changed conception
of education has resulted in an expansion of school activities hav-
ing to do with health. No longer is the home regarded as having
the whole responsibility for the physical condition of the child. The
assumption of the modern school is that the physical and mental
health of the child should be of as much concern as is intellectual
growth. Almost any school can improve its health facilities and
provide for a more adequate health program by facing the issues
squarely and by using the bulletins which have been developed to

2For a more elaborate treatment of living in the school, see Chapter
Eight, Ways to Better Instruction in Florida Schools, Bulletin No. 2, State
Department of Education (Tallahassee, 1939).







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 51


give aid in this regard.3 It might be well for a faculty to prepare
a few questions that would enable them to take stock of present con-
ditions and see how nearly they are meeting the health needs of
their pupils.
Questions similar to the following might be used: Do our sani-
tary facilities need improving, and what can be done about it? How
can proper consideration on the part of individuals and groups help
the janitor keep these sanitary facilities clean? Is there a suffi-
cient number of drinking fountains for all of the pupils? Is there
a place provided where pupils who are tired or ill may obtain
needed rest?

These and other questions may lead to creative solutions not con-
sidered as even remotely possible at the present time. For exam-
ple, the faculty may discover that sanitary fountains to care for a
large number of pupils can be readily prepared at very little cost
and with the assistance of governmental agencies. A canvas army
cot placed in the cloakroom, back of the classroom, or in a curtained-
off portion of the hall, may provide at least temporary quarters for
pupils needing a place in which to lie down. First-aid supplies
need not be expensive and can be always available in a cabinet
which the pupils can build themselves; if no other space is avail-
able, the supplies can be kept in the teacher's desk. In addition to
the provisions already mentioned and which are of primary im-
portance, a good health program should provide for a periodic phys-
ical examination of all pupils. Local doctors in many instances
will gladly cooperate where a county health unit is not provided. The
examination should have a follow-up through securing the coopera-
tion of parents as well as through the efforts of civic and service
clubs. Even when the school itself is unable to secure all of the
necessary corrective measures for the pupils, it can usually keep
simple cumulative health records. In addition, the school program
can be adjusted to those children having special deficiencies or who
are in need of special care. Any immunization program should

'The Florida State Department of Education with teacher assistance has
prepared much valuable materials in Health Education and in Physical Edu-
cation. These bulletins are now available to teachers and will give excellent
assistance in planning a functional health education or physical education
program.







52 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


have the full cooperation of the parents in order that it may best
serve the needs of the school and community. A good school health
program will in many instances tend also to make the community
itself health-conscious.
Providing Necessary Library Facilities.-The elementary library
has become an increasingly important part of the school, and its
actual use is a significant factor in any thorough-going evaluation
of the total school program. Adequate library facilities are almost
indispensable to enriched child experience, particularly in cases
where most of the content with which the children are to deal comes
rather exclusively from books. The wider use of books and refer-
ence materials has been given a definite impetus by a more vital
type of elementary education in which child development is brought
about through active participation in social and physical surround-
ings. Since this is true, the library becomes a most essential aid in
all phases of teaching. Modern teaching methods require the use of
many books from many subject fields. As the child searches for
necessary information, the school library becomes a positive, active
force in his everyday living.
There are three general plans of elementary library administra-
tion in use in the elementary school of today: (1) the classroom
collection, in which each room has its own independent library unit;
(2) the central library within the school, in which all the library
materials are housed and recorded in a special room but are avail-
able to every classroom through a loan procedure; and (3) the coun-
ty circulating library, operated by the county board of public in-
struction and often serviced by governmental agencies. The cen-
tralized plan seems to be highly desirable where there can be found
a suitable room to house the library and a competent person avail-
able to take charge of the resources. The person who is in charge
must, of course, understand the philosophy of the school. Other-
wise she would do much to defeat the purposes of library experi-
ences. However, centralized libraries are not possible for every
school, and the inability to provide for such an arrangement should
not discourage any school from developing adequate library facili-
ties. A corner of the classroom can be turned into a room library
by the pupils and can be made most attractive at a very little cost.
A table can be constructed from scrap materials, or a suitable one







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 53


may be brought from home. Orange crates and apple boxes may
be converted into chairs and stools. Older pupils within the school
may be called upon by the students to assist in their preparation if
necessary. A desk for a student librarian will add much to the ef-
ficiency and to the students' joy in having a room library.
Even where schools maintain a central library, it may not be
wise to do away with the room libraries. In fact, having a central
library should tend to increase their use and importance rather than
make them less desirable. The mere adding-to the number of books,
magazines, and other materials will not solve the library problem,
unless the teachers and pupils are aware of the library facilities and
have a definite plan for obtaining maximum use of all available
material in every phase of the teaching program. A library club
organized by the pupils may result in the library's becoming more
useful and essential to their activities. An assembly program may
develop as an outgrowth of the room library club, and in this way
the pupils will have an opportunity to share their experience with
other children in the school. The central library plan tends to make
it possible to withdraw and return books to the common collection
without friction or annoyance; in any case, the library facilities
should be available to all the pupils who are in need of them. Unless
the library is making a contribution to the activities of the whole
school, it is not serving its highest purpose.
Library materials should include magazines, newspapers, clip-
pings, pictures, maps, charts, and other materials that will make
facts real and functional in the lives of boys and girls. These ma-
terials should be supplemented with bulletin boards, book displays,
articles in the school paper, and assembly talks. The resources of
the community may also be drawn upon to supplement the materials
already available in the school library. The magazines to which citi-
zens of the community subscribe often are valuable sources to schools
unable to afford regular subscriptions. However, these donations
should be carefully evaluated. Not only will many excellent maga-
zines be obtained in this manner, but also better home and school
relationship can be established through such participation and shar-
ing. Teachers and principals have also found that it is quite as
necessary to eliminate as it is to discover and to add new material.
Many volumes found in schools have practically no educational value.







54 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


Worn or out-of-date books, uninteresting bulletin board displays, as
well as inartistic posters often tend to detract from collections that
have real teaching value.

If boys and girls are to become independent searchers for knowl-
edge, they should learn to exercise judgment in making book selec-
tions and in seeking materials containing necessary information.
Leisure time reading in the library or library corner is a necessary
part of the total school program and can be utilized in such a way
as to teach pupils to become more self-reliant in making choices.
Such practice should develop habits of reading that will build a
need for the use of home and public libraries throughout life. Read-
ing has long been a most important factor in education; however,
the goals of reading instruction will not be obtained merely by
supplying the library with challenging books. The responsibility
for guiding the child in a gradual improvement of reading tastes
falls upon teachers, librarians, and parents. In the past, teachers
sometimes have thought of the library as a place where one comes
to read for pleasure only. In the modern educational program the
library should become an orderly yet busy workshop in which stu-
dents find facts and information needed in solving problems as well
as one in which they may obtain adequate materials for meeting
leisure-time interests.

The library should be made as attractive as possible in order that
it may best contribute to school living as a whole. Flowers, win-
dow boxes for growing plants, pastel drapes at the windows, and at-
tractive pictures will add a great deal to the pupil's joy in using
the library. The pleasant effect will add to their love for reading
as well as provide an illustration of satisfying intelligent living.
Reading a book amid attractive surroundings is, indeed, a valuable
and enjoyable experience. In all reading the individual has the
privilege of sharing the experiences of others. May Lamberton
Becker has said, "A man makes a book from many sources; his
failures, his disappointments, his dreams, his very life blood as it
were. Into that book goes his very life. That book never lives, how-
ever, until it lives in the lives of its readers."4

'Newer Instructional Practices of Promise, Twelfth Yearbook, The De-
partment of Supervisors and Directors of Instruction, (Washington, D. C.:
National Education Association, 1939), p. 225.







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 55


Providing for Wholesome Living in the School.-What the school
thinks of the child is not nearly so important as what the child
thinks of the school. Since one's surroundings play an important
part in his development, the school today must be viewed as a chil-
dren's laboratory in which they live and learn through the living
as they experience it from day to day. Through their everyday liv-
ing in attractive surroundings, children are guided in such a way
that they become more conscious of the contributions made by
physical environment to wholesome living and are more inclined
to assume a responsibility for its improvement. Attractive sur-
roundings should induce a civic pride and mental contentment that
tend to develop attitudes in keeping with democracy. This develop-
ment may be achieved only as the children come through actual ex-
perience to enjoy and to appreciate the type of living which is pos-
sible in a democratic environment.

Education is a social process; through participation in group
activity, the individual becomes a part of the group and is able to
share his experiences with other members. As children take part in
making their classroom and school a pleasant place for effective and
enjoyable work, and as they accept the responsibilities that are
brought about through group participation, they are enjoying some
of the most educative experiences of the school. A definite amount
of satisfaction and pride can come to the child as he contributes his
part toward furthering group accomplishment.

Many schools could be made more attractive and home-like with
only a little planning by the children, teachers, citizens, and patrons
of the community. Clean-up days can be organized soon after the
opening of school in the fall. School premises are often allowed to
become very unattractive during the months of vacation. Broken
branches, weeds, and paper are often scattered over the grounds.
Room committees may be organized and plans drawn by the pupils
to set about taking immediate care of the situation. Cooperation
with others may result in a sharing of responsibility and may lead
to similar cooperative projects in the larger community. Many trees
and plants suitable for landscaping the school grounds can be read-
ily procured from the woods.







56 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


A little courage and ingenuity and a large amount of energy can
do much in transforming an unattractive school into one having a
home-like atmosphere where children can live, work, and play hap-
pily and effectively. A variety of plants may be brought by the
children from their own homes. Very practical and desirable learning
experiences can evolve from the student's planning, planting, or es-
timating costs. In order to answer questions relating to types of
soil, time of planting, size of plants, or number of plants needed for
a specific plot of ground, the children may find it necessary to write
the Department of Agriculture for bulletins dealing with trees and
shrubs, or to a nursery requesting their catalog and price list. Na-
tive Florida trees and shrubs such as dogwood, crepe myrtle, red
bud, magnolia, and live oak, can be planted in the northern and
western part of the state, whereas sub-tropical plants, suitable to
their localities might be used in the southern portion. Through
proper care and effort, the school grounds might easily become the
outstanding spot of beauty in the community.
The mere physical attractiveness of the building and grounds
is not all that is essential for rich living in the school. It is the
working, laughing, and living together that really count. The chil-
dren, the teachers, and all the school assistants will need to under-
stand each other and work toward common goals if this is to be ac-
complished. It is the quality of living in the school with which
teachers should be most vitally concerned. Modern school buildings,
spacious lawns, trimmed hedges, and flower gardens can mean only
so much superficial display, if real teaching and real living do not
go on inside the school itself.
The function of the school administration should be to serve
wisely the faculty and the pupils. It should provide opportunities
and facilities by which teachers and pupils may learn to use more
freedom and to live and work together more effectively in keeping
with the democratic way of life. Every effort should be made
whereby the integrity and personality of each member is safeguard-
ed. It must be remembered that the child is a living personality
and that he has problems just as real, just as disturbing to him as
those of adult years. The child is thus entitled to the companionship
and guidance of an understanding teacher who knows and respects
his personality. As was pointed out in Chapter Two, the physical,







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 57


emotional, and social natures of the child are interwoven so that the
organism acts as a whole. Too often the emotional side of the well-
being of the child is neglected or even seriously harmed. Greater
respect for child personality calls for a different relationship be-
tween the individual pupil and teacher than has ordinarily been
found in the past. The teacher's place should be one of sharing,
not dominating. She should strive to guide the child in such a way
that he becomes increasingly independent, increasingly able to act
in such a way that external control becomes progressively unneces-
sary as internal control is built. To guide each child in this way
the teacher will need to study the individual, his reactions, his back-
ground, his abilities, and desires. In accomplishing this the teacher
must maintain a relationship to the child which makes it likely that
her influence and guidance will be sought and respected. A period
of orientation at the beginning of the school year is not time wasted
but is necessary to the development of the best school living. With-
out a dynamic and sympathetic teacher, the building and its admin-
istrative organization would be an empty shell.
The formulation of standards and regulations should be a co-
operative enterprise in which both teachers and pupils participate.
There are certain standards of fairness, courtesy, and mutual help-
fulness that seem desirable guides to conduct on the part of indi-
viduals and groups. However, the pupils will attach much more im-
portance to codes of conduct that they themselves have had a part
in formulating. Standards which have been defined by the group are
better than rules formulated by the teacher. Indeed, a rule dic-
tated by the teacher or other constituted authority is likely to be
accepted by the child as a negative challenge or a dare; he may
even demonstrate his individuality through attempts to break such
a ruling. Standards set by the pupils are, on the other hand, likely
to challenge the group to make frequent checks to ascertain whether
its members are persons of dignity and merit, capable of being re-
lied upon to maintain the code that has been developed. While the
teacher must also be conscious of standards of growth and achieve-
ment, she must not allow herself to insist upon standards beyond
the maturity level of the group.
To many beginning teachers, discipline stands out as a factor
which operates quite separately from the other factors involved in





58 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


teaching. They feel they must "make the child behave" before
they can teach him anything. It is true that the development of
appropriate patterns is an even more important outcome than is the
mastery of subject matter itself. However, some teachers are not
sufficiently aware of the relationship between pupil interest and
discipline or of the contribution which everyday experiences and
learning in the classroom can make to the building or increasing
control on the part of the child. If the child is to secure the neces-
sary self-control, the school must provide a disciplinary policy which
recognizes social maladjustments as signs of inner needs for satis-
faction, rather than evidence of deliberate malice.

PROVIDING FOR INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP GUIDANCE
Provision for a functional guidance program in the elementary
school is recognized as an important factor in child development.
Many teachers have thought of guidance as a special field, requiring
the services of a specialist to administer; in reality, the classroom
teacher can render very valuable service in assisting the child in
making necessary adjustments. Reference to individual needs has
been made in the preceding chapter on child growth and develop-
ment and will be pointed out again in Chart II of Chapter Four.
During the first few days of school it is imperative that teachers
take time to know their pupils, to discover handicaps and abilities,
and to make special provisions to meet needs as they are brought to
light. The entire school program should contribute to individual
and group guidance. Because she is in close contact with her pu-
pils during most of the school day, the elementary teacher is particu-
larly well fitted to guide personality development. Every aspect of
the child's school experiences should be carefully planned to meet
the needs of his unique personality. The total school program can
be organized with a great deal of flexibility in order that it may
serve the needs, interests, and capacities of each child. The inte-
grated phase of the work can be utilized in such a way as to pro-
vide stations whereby the individual may make contributions which
will increase his feeling of adequacy. This will not be true, how-
ever, if the product becomes in the mind of the teacher such an
important objective that personality development is disregarded.
All study and activity assignments, including practice periods as
well as home work, can be adapted to the needs of the individual
child. The teacher who is genuinely concerned with guidance will







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM


plan these with the children in such a manner as not to cause undue
worry, fatigue, or interference with normal play and sleep.
Teacher Cooperation in Guidance.-It is necessary to have the
wholehearted cooperation of every member of the faculty in order
to develop an adequate program of child guidance. The present
practice of having a different teacher for the child every year re-
quires a very close relationship and cooperation among all teachers
in a school and also among other schools to which and from which
individuals are transferred. While guidance at the high school level
is concerned with both the personal and vocational aspect of the
child's living, the elementary school should be more particularly
concerned with the adjustments of children within the home, the
school, and immediate environment.
Elementary pupils need considerable guidance in the use of school
facilities. The library may remain just another room unless the
teacher awakens the group to a realization of its possibilities. The
recreational facilities of the school may not be utilized or given
proper care, unless the teacher has developed with the pupils an un-
derstanding concerning their use. Good study habits are formed
early in life. The elementary teacher should be alert to the possi-
bilities for developing appropriate study practices with her pupils.
The elementary pupil preparing to enter high school with its sub-
ject electives, will need preliminary advice from his elementary
teacher if he is to be prepared for making adjustments in a satis-
factory manner.
Developing Desirable School-Home Relationships.-A satisfac-
tory guidance program cannot be planned unless favorable rela-
tionships exist between school and home. These two agencies are
among the most important influences that affect the life of the young
child. They have the responsibility of joint guardianship and
should function in unison. There must be a sincere and sympa-
thetic understanding between the parent and teacher.5 A parent-
teacher organization or periodic notes to the homes do not alone
complete a satisfactory understanding. Whenever possible, there
should be established a more direct relationship. Personal confer-

"For further reference regarding teacher-parent relationship, teachers
should consult Avenues of Understanding, (Tallahassee: State Department of
Education, 1940).







60 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


ences with parents are sometimes difficult to arrange and carry out,
particularly when a teacher has a large number of pupils, or when
the teacher can find time for at least one well planned conference
with the parents of each child during the school year. While per-
sonal conferences are extremely urgent in cases of maladjustment,
the teacher should utilize opportunities for holding conferences
which involve success and praise as well as trouble or blame. If
the first conference deals with favorable reactions and a stronger
bond of understanding is woven between parent and teacher, more
difficult matters can be attacked in subsequent conferences.

The teacher should welcome and encourage parent participation
in those activities of the school to which they can make a contribu-
tion. She should not feel as if the inquiring parent is interested
merely in finding fault. Because of the emotional quality of par-
ental relationship, the parent tends to identify himself with the
problems of his child. He thinks of criticism of his child as directed
toward him, and his normal reaction may, therefore, be one of de-
fense and resentment. The thoughtful teacher who maintains her
poise can do much to change parent reactions of the kind just
described.

Personal interviews with parents have often solved minor dif-
ficulties of the school before these problems could reach major im-
portance. Such matters as an understanding about the amount of
home work given a child, an interpretation of school marks, the rea-
son for providing for periods of rest and play, as well as the school's
disciplinary policy can be dealt with more effectively through per-
sonal contacts with the home.

Reporting to Parents.-There is a feeling among many teachers
that report cards should be replaced by conferences between par-
ents and teachers. This is perhaps the most satisfactory solution.
The development of a child is too complex a matter to be reduced
to the "letter shorthand" of typical grading systems. Furthermore,
the record which a child makes in his intellectual and social devel-
opment should be regarded as very personal data to be seen and
used as members of the medical profession now use the case his-
tories of their patients.







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 61


It will often prove effective to send to parents informal letters,
discussing in detail the problems, abilities, and contributions of the
child. Although these letters are at first somewhat difficult to com-
pose, they are of very definite value. Such letters should suggest
ways and means of improvement rather than point only to the
weaknesses. In addition, they should request assistance from the
parent in meeting the more significant problems of child adjustment.
These letters may also provide space for evaluations by the pupil
and parent, as well as by the teachers. Changing the grading sys-
tem from numbers to letters or from five letters to a simple pass
or failure has by no means solved the reporting problem. It is
evident that both parents and teachers have emphasized and encour-
aged competitive grading and anti-social attitudes through stressing
grades as things valuable in and of themselves. Maximum growth
for each individual within the limitations and forces surrounding
him should serve as the focal point of all efforts to evaluate his
behavior.

Keeping Records of Child Behavior.-An individual folder for
each child should be kept by the teacher. In this folder should be
filed any data that would enable the teacher and parent to see the
whole child in the light of his total development, or any informa-
tion which would help in guiding him in a solution of his problems.
It may be necessary, at times, to eliminate much of the accumulated
materials as the child grows to a point where the data no longer
bears upon a problem crucial to him. Only that which will tend to
continue to have a bearing upon his behavior and development should
be preserved. Samples of the child's work at crucial stages in his
development as well as cumulative health records should be preserved.

Anecdotal material relating to actual incidents in the life of
the child should be selected with care so as to provide a balance
between the favorable and unfavorable. Sometimes there is a ten-
dency to write down unsatisfactory reports rather than examples
of exemplary conduct. The incident should be reduced to the form
of clear-cut evidence. The teacher's immediate interpretation may
not be a correct one and may influence subsequent judgments re-
garding the child. Any policies concerning pupil reports which are
adopted by the school should be in keeping with the basic purposes







62 IMPROVE PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


of education rather than reflecting current practice as gathered from
sources where the basic thinking is inconsistent or opposed to the
values accepted by the local faculty group.

Contributing To Community Improvement.-One of the most im-
portant purposes of the school is to work toward an improvement
of living in the community. Since important aspects of the life
within the community often escape the attention of both the teacher
and the pupils, a careful community survey conducted from an edu-
cational point of view may be highly desirable. Such a survey may
reveal that rich natural resources are not at present being utilized,
that mosquito control is necessary to combat the high incidence of
malaria, that there is a lack of sufficient industries to provide for
employment, or that waste, poor management, and failure to pro-
vide for future planning has impoverished the community and made
relief and governmental assistance necessary. While these prob-
lems are hardly appropriate for extensive treatment in the element-
ary grades, they are, nevertheless, having a significant influence upon
the lives of both teachers and pupils.

Using Community Resources in the Classroom.-As they become
more familiar with some of the community resources and needs
which are not too complex for the understanding and appreciation
of the group, the pupils and teacher make plans for trips to points
of interest or bring into the classroom itself products of the local
culture. Successful field trips are the result of careful planning.
Teachers should not lose sight of the fact, however, that the children
are themselves representative of the general life of the community
and that the things they have experienced during out-of-school hours
can be utilized in an educational way. Field trips, though valuable,
should not be taken so frequently as( to give the idea that they serve
as the only means of connecting school with life. The community,
its resources, its ways of life, its potentialities, and shortcomings
are brought into the school room each day by pupils who have per-
haps spent a great deal of time observing happenings in the local
setting which they would like to have discussed and clarified. The
field trip, whenever it is used, should make a definite contribution
to the child's understanding, further insight, and should serve as
a means of developing a stock of experiences which the individual







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM


may have in common with the group. A recent bulletin of the
Department of Elementary Principals makes the following state-
ment which is pertinent to the entire discussion relative to school-
community relationships:
It seems safe to predict that the emerging curriculum will be concerned
with the improvement of living in the community. The pupil will have
increased contact with his natural and social environment. The whole
community will serve as a laboratory for learning. The school will be a
community of children within a larger social community, and its program
will touch every phase of group experience-home life, government, indus-
try, commerce, recreation, transportation, communication, and organized
social life. The school of the future will indeed be a community school.'

Pets or novelties obtained by some pupils in travel may bring
enjoyment to those not having had similar opportunities. Interest-
ing people whq reside in the community may be invited to come and
talk with the pupils and share their experiences with them. There
may be a sea captain, a retired army officer, a circus performer, or
even an Italian fruit peddler living near the school. Such persons
will in most cases gladly make their contribution to a study in which
they are interested and with which they have had some special pre-
vious experience. In using the human resources of the local com-
munity, the teacher and the pupils should make careful plans. The
patience of persons in charge of stores, mills, and canning plants,
has often been severely tried when subjected to frequent visits for
which it was evident that the children were poorly prepared. The
teacher, whenever possible, should make the visits previous to the
date set for the visiting of the children. Where the school is large, the
teachers should make their plans together to avoid any overlapping
or unfavorable reception by those in charge of the various com-
munity enterprises.


PLANNING AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROGRAM IN TERMS
OF ORGANIZATIONAL DIFFICULTIES

Teachers need not feel that they are unable to have an enriched
program because of organizational difficulties. It is necessary, how-

'Department of Elementary Principals, Enriching The Curriculum For
The Elementary School Child, Eighteenth Yearbook (National Education
Association, Washington, D. C., 1935), p. 457.







64 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


ever, that the teacher who has several grades think carefully about
the type of program and schedule best suited to local needs. In
doing this planning it is, of course, necessary to take into account
the total enrollment, the abilities of the pupils, their ages, and the
number of grades for which provision must be made. The teacher
who has a combination of grades should arrange her daily program
in large blocks of time. Work may be combined and grade lines
ignored in those activities and experiences in which pupil interests
and abilities are rather closely related. Ordinarily the integrated
or unit teaching phase of the program can be utilized to good advant-
age in giving a feeling of oneness to the group.

The teacher should not feel that it is necessary to consider a
separate and distinct list of subjects for each grade or to apportion
her time equally among the groups. Where the teacher's time is
divided in this way, the pupils, in reality, often receive only a frac-
tion of a school day so far as actual learning experiences are con-
cerned. Seat work, work books, and busy work are common means
too frequently used by teachers in order to preserve discipline among
the pupils not otherwise engaged. If the teacher will thoroughly
acquaint herself with Chart III, contained in Chapter Four, many
interesting possibilities for developing units adapted to as wide a
range as three grades should appear.

In elementary schools where subject fields are now maintained
separate and apart from one another, many combinations may be
effected. Although the "Florida Elementary Course of Study" (1933)
suggests such a departure, teachers have not, generally speaking, put
the proposals into effect. Social studies may readily be organized
together. Geography and history each have a contribution to make
to the other, even though there may be a difference of two or three
grades in the organizational content. Language, health, science, and
music can be used in like manner to contribute much to the integrat-
ed experiences of the pupils. The direct teaching phase of the cur-
riculum presents more difficulty, but not so much as was formerly
supposed. Flexible groups can be arranged during the blocks of
time devoted to special work on skills. For example, the reading
groups may not be any more numerous in the room of thirty pupils
with three grade levels, than in a room with a like number of pupils







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 65


all supposedly of the same grade level. Although pupils of one grade
may be combined with pupils of different grade levels for certain
learning experiences, this arrangement would not prevent their being
classified in a single grade for purposes of administration. In all
such cases, it is very important that careful records be kept of the
year's work in order that the pupils may not be required to repeat
the experiences year after year.

The organization of instruction in the one teacher school requires
even more extensive planning because of the. chronological and grade
distributions of children in the same room. In such circumstances,
it may be necessary that the teacher divide her pupils into two or
three groups. She may then make subject combinations and pro-
vide for an integrated program within these group divisions. In
any case, there can be certain phases of the work which will be com-
mon to all and in which each individual may make his unique con-
tribution. The group might participate as a unit in certain dis-
cussions, projects, and conferences. However, each pupil makes his
particular contribution on his own level of experience and within
the limitations of his abilities and interests.

By using a daily schedule composed of large time blocks, the
teacher will be able to do more effective direct teaching. She will
have more time to devote to the individual pupil during the blocks
of time set aside for practice than she would otherwise have been
able to give within physical schedules consisting of many short and
independent periods. Through planning of this kind, enriched learn-
ing experiences will become possible for every boy and girl.

PLANNING A BALANCED AND FLEXIBLE PROGRAM

To provide appropriate learning situations for the child of ele-
mentary school age, it is necessary that the school program be
planned in such a way as to maintain both balance and flexibility.
While it is true that the type of schedule most appropriate for any
given classroom can and should be worked out by the individual
teacher in keeping with the immediate situation, some general sug-
gestions with regard to planning can be made. Four factors are
of particular importance: (1) the maintenance of balance over long







66 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


periods of time; (2) provision for a suitable distribution of the
time which is to be devoted to the several areas; (3) provision for
a balance with respect to the types of activity carried on with the
more general areas; and (4) provision for flexibility within the
general pattern of the schedule which has been adopted. While it
is important that teachers plan, there should be no kind of com-
pulsion which forces a teacher to follow a specific pattern without
reference to the emerging needs of her group.

Balanced As To Time Elements.-In the past, when emphasis
was placed on the teaching of subjects for content values alone,
the daily schedule often consisted of a series of short, broken periods.
Activities and discussions carried on by the children during one
period often bore no relationship to that which preceded or followed.
Such an arrangement prevented the child from sensing relationship
or unity of purpose in his work. Just at the point where interest
and efficiency was at its height, an entirely new and different sub-
ject was taken up for study. Under such a plan, large unit work
was simply impossible. A recent bulletin issued by the Mississippi
State Department of Education has given a description of desirable
teacher planning in the following words:

The daily plan reflects the educational philosophy of the school and
reveals the teacher's method of applying this philosophy. When a school
conceives its purpose as that of drilling children for the mastery of facts,
the daily plan consists of a series of short lessons or drill periods. However,
the school whose ainm is the development of democratic behavior, uses a
more flexible plan characterized by a few long periods for the day's work.'

It is clear that the school program must provide for large blocks
of time if there is to be sufficient opportunity for the development
and use of new interests as they arise out of children's purposeful
activity. An effective instructional program demands a daily sched-
ule with provision for some time blocks of from one to two hours
in length in order that worry and strain may be avoided. During
this longer period, pupils should engage in various forms of physical
and mental work related to the units they are developing. However,
definite time allotments are provided for efficient practice in the

'"Mississippi Program for the Improvement of Instruction," Bulletin
No. 6 (Jackson: State Department of Education, 1939), p. 39.







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 67


various skills and techniques as they are related to the integrated
part of the program. The teacher should assume the responsibility
of insuring proper breadth and balance in the many learning experi-
ences and knowledge of her pupils. Perhaps no general order of
time periods can be held as ideal in all situations. The schedule
should not be changed just in order to appear more modern, but the
transition should be undertaken naturally and in keeping with pupil
needs. Short periods for each subject may be combined as the
activities undertaken spread into subjects and materials that have
been occupying several periods. The schedule should, however, be
altered whenever individuals or group needs require it.

It is desirable that a schedule make provision for at least the
following: (1) a general planning period, (2) a general activity
and discussion period, (3) a period for physical activities involving
plays, rhythms, music, etc., (4) a special practice period for work
in skills, (5) a period devoted to individual reading and creative
work, and (6) a period devoted to conference and evaluation.
The planning period may include the taking of the roll, Bible
reading, or other appropriate exercises, and the daily health check.
The teacher and the pupils can, during this opening period, plan
briefly together and lay out certain work to be accomplished during
the day. This period may also provide time for teacher conference
with pupils and time for pupil committee work. During the gen-
eral activity and discussion period the content fields will be con-
sidered as independent or related subject activities. The inexperi-
enced teacher should probably begin with the independent subjects
and from that point begin to relate the work. The work in history
and geography can readily be related, while science and oral and
written language can be more gradually worked into many phases
of large unit teaching. Through planning purposeful activities with
large groups, and through construction work, dramatization, field
trips, and other integrating experiences, numbers, art, and music may
all become unified in effective learning experiences.

The physical activity period should be organized so as to give
ample time out of doors for games and exercises in which the larger
muscles come into play. The special practice period will allow for
practice in the fixation of various skills as the needs have been







68 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


discovered through the large group activities. This may include
work in number, oral and written expression, and reading. The
creative period should provide for more individual work as it is
related to the general work period. The pupils will work more or
less silently and independently. Reading in the library, drawing,
art, and music will utilize most of their time. Finally, during the
evaluation period the teacher will assist the pupils to check their
work and to evaluate the progress made. In the first three grades,
the teacher may give help to individuals or to small groups in crea-
tive work or practice on skills. She may also use this time for music
and rhythm games. The fourth, fifth, and sixth grades will use
the period more for checking, evaluating, and having conferences
with the teacher as well as with other pupils when necessary. For
some pupils the period may be devoted to recreational reading in
the library or at their seats.
A diagram which contains suggestions to the teacher with respect
to formulating a schedule suited to local needs is given on the suc-
ceeding page. Variations with respect to the time of beginning or
ending the school day and to the time for play or lunch will obvi-
ously appear. Furthermore, the teacher need not follow the sequence
suggested in making her plans for taking care of the five major
phases of the schedule to which attention has been called.
Although the teacher is frequently required through state reports
to give an outline of her typical schedule, no one could possibly ex-
pect her to follow this schedule rigidly. It should not be necessary
either for purposes of local or state administration that the teacher
be required to make a schedule more detailed than the general out-
line suggested below.
The arrangement of subject activities is designed to provide for
large blocks of time as well as to suggest how some subjects may be
correlated or integrated. The degree of correlation will, of course,
depend upon the teacher's readiness to develop this type of program.
The time elements may be varied as well as the arrangement of
activities within the period blocks, according to the needs of the
pupils and the local school organization. Many schools have found
a shortened day advisable for primary pupils. First grade pupils
are often dismissed at noon during the first few weeks following the







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM


opening of school. In other cases, schools have adopted a shorter
day for children who are physically handicapped, immature, or tem-
porarily ill. These arrangements will, of course be made after care-
ful consideration is given to such factors as: (1) community under-
standing, (2) the type of school organization, and (3) the nature of
the instructional program provided.
If schools are to be reading and writing schools, with little or
no time provided for relaxation and rest, it may be preferable to
safeguard the health of the younger children by freeing them from
the school routine at a time much earlier in the day than that planned
for the more mature pupils. On the other hand, a school which main-
tains for its pupils a well-balanced program involving a rhythm of
activity and rest, of classroom work and out-of-door activity for both
mental and muscular relaxation, may find it possible to protect the
health of the children and to provide for their optimum growth,
even though it must keep them for an extended day.
It is not intended that elementary teachers accept the plan given
on the preceding pages as a standardized pattern, but that it be
used merely as a suggestive guide for improving their present daily
schedule. Each level represents a more flexible and balanced ar-
rangement of the day's work. It is assumed, however, that teachers
will move gradually from one level to the next only as they and
their pupils come to understand and need a greater amount of time
and freedom for purposeful activity. Many Florida teachers have
for some time been using a schedule similar to that suggested by
levels two and three in the diagram.
Balanced As To Areas Of Experience.-The organization of in-
struction should be so balanced as to provide many areas of experi-
ences essential to a well-rounded development of the child. Since
no single type of experience will adequately care for this growth,
the teacher should provide varied learning situations rather than
concentrate upon any one particular field even though she may
find it desirable and helpful to begin with things in which the child
is already interested. Schools may easily become merely "reading
schools" when over-emphasis is placed upon this subject. Similarly,
too much emphasis may be placed upon spelling or number or any
of the other subjects that have been thought essential to preparing








70 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS



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72 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


one for life's activity. On the other hand, due to stress on particular
subjects, many fields and avenues of experience have been left wholly
untouched. For example, the very young child will ordinarily exhibit
considerable interest in plants and animals and in the whole physical
environment which surrounds him. Despite this fact, in many schools
provision for this type of work is often neglected.

In some schools no provision is made for music and art, and, as
a result, the child may be denied experiences that can contribute much
to the development of appropriate attitudes and creative effort.
Another area from which pupils may secure worthwhile experience
is that of physical education. While most schools provide for a play
period, such periods often do not obtain the values which accrue in
the case of a properly organized period devoted to experiences in
this area.

Balanced As To Types Of Activity.-The school program should
be balanced as to the types of activity for which it makes provision.
Formerly, it was assumed that at certain periods of the day pupils
were more efficient mentally than at other times. Subjects that were
thought to be more difficult than others, such as mathematics, were
accordingly placed early in the school day, while music and art and
subjects supposed to be less difficult, were scheduled in the late after-
noon. Recent research has shown this assumption to be without suf-
ficient foundation. There are, however, certain guiding principles
which one should take into account. Activities and subjects that
make similar demands on pupils should be alternated with subjects
of a different type in order to avoid monotony and fatigue.
Subjects with content closely related should be arranged so that
the work may be integrated as much as possible. It is also desirable
that there be a teacher-pupil planning and conference period at the
beginning of a day's work, as well as time provided for evaluation
and checking of results at the close of the day, or at other times
should the occasion arise. A rest period should be provided follow-
ing a period of extensive mental or physical activity. Work that
requires the use of the finer muscles, such as, writing or art, should
not follow an active period in which there may have been undue
excitement or fatigue, unless a brief rest period intervenes. For the
same reason, a strenuous period should not follow the lunch period.







IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM


For obvious reasons, the school lunch period should be carefully
planned and supervised. Consideration should be given to the con-
servation of teacher strength in working out a satisfactory arrange-
ment. The rotation of all supervisory duties throughout the day
should receive the attention and cooperation of the entire faculty.

The good school will, therefore, take precautions to prevent an
over-emphasis in any one activity or phase of work. The current
practice of having an excessive amount of writing or seat work is
not in harmony with many of the broad principles of child growth
referred to in the previous chapter. Workbooks, when they serve
the purpose of busy work, or it is evident that they are placing too
much strain upon the pupil, may also be criticized. In general,
schools should allow for much freedom of movement, especially dur-
ing work periods. Increased freedom can be utilized in such a way
as to provide increased responsibility in group living.

Introducing Variety Without Disintegration.-In the usual class-
room, the variety of activities is frequently very limited. If the
purpose of the school is to develop the whole child, its activities
should be so varied as to provide for an abundance of learning ex-
periences, yet so balanced as to make for an orderly and uniform
development. Evaluation is necessary in order that proper balance
of the activities that are afforded through living in the school may
be maintained. However, variety should not be introduced for the
sake of variety alone, but should be introduced in keeping with the
needs of the pupils. If used otherwise, it may readily become a
disintegrating influence.

The physical, mental, social, and emotional nature of the child
requires many interpretative experiences. The school should provide
activities which stimulate and develop intellectual curiosity, critical
thinking, keenness of observation, a sense of fair play, and an appre-
ciation of the beautiful. The child should have opportunity for con-
tact with other children and adults, of sharing responsibilities, as
well as of enjoying people and friends; and in participating in activi-
ties which will tend to make an appeal to his ideals, aspirations, and
beliefs in order that his outlook on life may be elevated and that he
may experience to the fullest extent, abundant living.








74 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


III


CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING GENERAL PLANNING
IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

A. The Major Aspects of The Program
1. Is there provision made for the integrated, direct-teaching, and
individual phases?
2. Are the experiences which the child gains in each of these related?
3. Are the types of activity sufficiently varied?
4. Are the experiences which the pupils enjoy shared with others?

B. Additional Facilities and Opportunities
1. Is there provision made for proper sanitary facilities?
2. Is the school library well-balanced so as to provide materials in
science, social studies, and health?
3. Is the library organized to provide reading materials for individual
ability levels and pupil interests?
4. Is there a plan for improving the school building and grounds for
better school living?
5. Is there a wholesome atmosphere existing between all school work-
ers, teachers and pupils?
6. Is guidance provided as an integral part of the total program, and
are individual behavior records kept of all pupils?

C. Community Resources and Organizational Difficulties
1. Are the various resources of the community used in learning
experiences?
2. Is there provision made for field trips in the community and to
places of interest?
:. Are the experiences gained by field trips or in visual aids related
to other classroom work?
4. Is the daily schedule organized in large time blocks?
5. Does it include varied types of learning experiences?
6. Is some of the work related and combined in classrooms having
more than one grade in order to provide more teaching time for
individual pupils?
7. Is planning in keeping with organizational difficulties?

D. Balance and Flexibility in the Program
1. Is the school program balanced as to areas of experiences?

















IMPROVING THE TOTAL ELEMENTARY PROGRAM 75


2. Is there provision made for many different types of activities in
the daily program?
3. Is variety introduced in the school program without disintegration?
4. Is the school program providing opportunities for the pupils to
accept responsibility, as well as to share experiences?


BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. BRUECKNER, LEO J., The Changing Elementary School. The
Regent's Inquiry, New York, Inor Publishing Company, 1939.

2. Growth Through School Living, Compiled by Claire T. Zyve,
The Association for Childhood Education, Washington, D. C.,
1940.

3. HELSETH, INGA OLLA, Living ir the Classroom, Ann Arbor, Mich-
igan, Edwards Brothers Inc., 1939.

4. Newer Instructional Practice of Promise, Twelfth Yearbook,
National Education Association, Washington, D. C., 1939.

5. SHERER, LORRAINE, Their First Years in School, Los Angeles
County Board of Education, 1939.

6. Ways to Better Instruction in Florida Schools, Bulletin No. 2,
State Department of Education, Tallahassee, 1939.









Chapter Four
ORGANIZATION OF THE ELEMENTARY
SCHOOL CURRICULUM



As individual teachers or faculty groups attempt to improve the
kind of living and learning that goes on in the classroom, they have
found the need for general suggestions regarding methods of ap-
proach. Any systematic attack on the problems of improving instruc-
tion in elementary schools will usually involve the following: (1)
an analysis of the present situation, (2) a clarification of direction
or of purpose, (3) a general plan for the scope and sequence of the
learning situations to be provided in the total school program, and
(4) individual teacher planning in light of the general plan which
has been proposed. The steps will not need to be taken in the order
listed, but most of the elementary school faculties of the state who
are in the process of improving their present planning have found
it necessary to deal to some extent with each of them.
A previous bulletin1 issued by the State Department of Educa-
tion has given general suggestions appropriate to both elementary
and secondary schools with regard to making an analysis of the pres-
ent situation and to clarifying the objectives of public school edu-
cation in Florida. Since only a few copies of the former bulletin
are now available, it has become necessary to include in the present
bulletin certain statements concerning direction or purposes of edu-
cation and to point out more specifically their bearing on instruction
in the elementary school. Space will not permit the repetition of
the suggestions contained in the former publication regarding ways
and means of analyzing the present situation. However, suggestions
will be given in this chapter regarding the three other steps in plan-
ning for improved instructional practices in the elementary school.
Following the general discussion given in this chapter more detailed
help in planning better learning situations for the elementary school

1Ways To Better Instruction in Florida Schools, Bulletin No. 2, State
Department of Education (Tallahassee: 1939).
76







ORGANIZATION OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM 77


child will be given in Part Two. Part Three will offer material
illustrative of the use which individual teachers and total faculty
groups might make of the suggestions contained in the preceding
parts of the bulletin.

ATTACKING THE PROBLEM OF DIRECTION OR PURPOSE
The preceding chapters of Part One have served to bring out
some of the confusing problems which the elementary schools now
face. The confusion will probably continue to exist so long as there
is no common understanding with regard to the nature of the child
and the purposes of the school in a democracy or even with regard
to appropriate procedures for moving toward such a common under-
standing. Obviously, it is impossible to plan for improved practices
in the elementary school without a clear definition of what consti-
tutes a desirable learning situation or of democratic values which
are to be protected in the educational process. Chapter Two pre-
sented evidence to show that a changing society is setting new pur-
poses and responsibilities for the elementary school. It was also
pointed out that additional information concerning the way in which
the child grows and learns most effectively is having considerable
influence on both procedures and purposes of elementary education.
While the following discussion concerning objectives of the element-
ary and secondary school should receive careful consideration by
the reader, it should not be accepted without critical thought. The
objectives are, however, of importance in that they will be referred
to frequently in each of the succeeding chapters.
Function of Elementary and Secondary School Education in a
Democracy.-The following statement concerning the function of
elementary and secondary education in a democracy may be sug-
gestive. The school curriculum, including the elementary and sec-
ondary school, should be directed toward: (a) The development of
an individual who assumes increasing responsibility for self-direc-
tion and for the development of his potentialities in such a way as
to bring about optimum satisfaction both to himself and to society;
and (b) The development of an individual who assumes increasing
responsibility for clarifying the meaning of democracy and for the
solution of personal-social problems in terms of this ideal.







78 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


It will be noted that this definition involves a concept of democ-
racy. If this word is pulled out of the definition, we cease to have
a direction. Fascist societies would agree with the first part of the
statement provided they were permitted to define in their own way
the phrase "optimum satisfaction." Optimum satisfaction for the
individual and the group in a democracy involves a particular kind
of relationship between the two. The individual in a democracy is
satisfied only when his actions square with the best interests of the
group; the group is concerned lest the action of the majority press
too heavily upon the integrity of the minority or of the individual.
The individual is not free to do as he pleases, but there must be
enough freedom for him to think, plan, and suggest ways and means
of improvement; the group has a similar responsibility to each of its
members. Optimum satisfaction in a Fascist nation consists of con-
cern for the welfare of the state only. Individual worth gives way
to a blind faith in the leader who defines courses of action for the
state, and demands the loyalty of individuals whether they subscribe
to the policy or not. While the faculty may consider a discussion
of democracy a rather academic one in the beginning, it should be-
come increasingly clear to them that the meaning of this term is of
deep significance if it is to serve as a guide to action. Democratic
living in the school depends upon the meaning of what constitutes
democratic action.
Objectives of Public School Education.-There have been many
attempts to state the objectives of education. Perhaps the best-
known of all the recent statements concerning the objectives of the
public school was contained in the Seven Cardinal Principles; health,
command of the fundamental processes, worthy use of leisure, citi-
zenship, worthy home membership, vocational efficiency, and ethical
character. A more recent statement of the goals for education in
America has been made by the Educational Policies Commission. All
of such statements give direction only to the degree that they are
related directly to the meaning implied in "democratic living." In
fact, almost any statements regarding the purposes of American edu-
cation must be taken in their relationship to the democratic ideal
if they are to give direction. In other words, it makes considerable
difference in what way the problem of leisure is solved, how voca-
tional efficiency is to be related to total living, what kind of citi-







ORGANIZATION OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM 79


zenship is desirable in a democracy, and what constitutes ethical
character.

While it is true that general objectives must be elaborated upon
or analyzed in such a way as to give direction to the teacher in
doing his planning, it is also important that these "partial" objec-
tives be kept related to the continuing objectives. While many guides
to curriculum development have been issued in which a long list
of specific objectives of education and of particular subjects has
been set forth for the teacher, such a policy is not in keeping with
the present bulletin. Rather, it is assumed that faculty groups will
gain insight into what the public school ought to do and where it
ought to go, only to the extent that they connect more specific objec-
tives with their general understanding of the nature and needs of
the child and of the meaning of the democratic ideal. Accordingly,
any faculty attempting to formulate its own statement of the objec-
tives should do more than merely accept passively statements which
have been formulated by others. As an illustration of how objec-
tives may be developed from a careful study of basic assumptions
and implications, the following statements concerning the general
objectives of the school have been formulated and discussed. It is
significant that these objectives have been stated in terms of changes
desired in pupil behavior. The school should attempt to do the
following things:

1. To develop boys and girls who are socially sensitive.-Social
sensitivity involves an increasing concern on the part of the indi-
vidual for the welfare of the group, and on the part of the group
for the welfare of each individual member. Conditions in Florida
such as those pointed out in Chapter Two could not exist if the
schools and all other social agencies cooperated in the development
of wider common concern among individuals and groups. Many
plans for character training or citizenship have, in essence, aimed
at the development of persons who will be socially disposed to
do something for the improvement of humanity. Quite often, how-
ever, the deed or outward act has become more important than the
spirit and as a result, character education or citizenship training
have developed prejudiced loyalty to a particular group. Distribut-
ing baskets of food to the poor during the holiday season, for example,







80 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


is frequently carried on by persons who would be unwilling to see
wages raised so that the workman might buy his own Christmas or
Thanksgiving luxury. Persons who are very sensitive with respect
to their own immediate problems of health may or may not become
concerned about conditions "across the tracks." Even where they
move to do something about deplorable health conditions, their
motive may be related more to self-preservation than to any good
wish that others may share in the more abundant life. People
who are sensitive to the misfortunes of those within their own
economic level rarely appreciate or become concerned about the
fortunes of those at a different level. If these things are true,
it would seem highly desirable that each teacher of the school should
strive through the use of all the resources at his command to build
increasing understanding, appreciation, and concern among pupils
under his guidance.
2. To develop boys and girls who strive for increasing control
over those skills necessary for participation in a democracy.-In a
democracy, the contribution of each member of the group is wel-
comed; problem solving through group action is encouraged. In
order that one may get the true meaning or point of view of one's
fellows, it is necessary that he develop the ability to read and listen
attentively. In order that one may be able to transmit one's own
meaning to others, it is necessary to speak and write effectively. In
order to participate in the experiences of the race, it is necessary
that the pupil gain control over several media of expression, par-
ticularly, the language arts. Certain very definite mathematical
understandings and skills are needed by the individual who expects
to go into such fields as electrical or civil engineering. Certain skills
are also needed if one is to participate adequately in the field of rec-
reation; persons who play tennis well do not enjoy playing with
persons wh9 do not possess this skill. Thus, unless the school assists
pupils in gaining control over certain skills needed in connection
with recreational activities, it is likely that these individuals will
not be able to play games and to gain the social values which come
from such informal contacts.
At the same time great stress must be put upon the ends for which
skills are used. Even reading, writing, and arithmetic, important
though they may be, can be used for wrong ends. Skill in playing







ORGANIZATION OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM 81


games may be used only for competitive ends, and thereby lose much
of the social value. Skill in oratory is used by the cheap politician
as well as by the statesman. A person may be skillful enough to
drive a car at eighty miles an hour, but if he is socially sensitive will
be less likely to exercise this ability. Both a fascist and a demo-
cratic society would favor building up skills, but ,in the latter they
would be used for entirely different ends. Skills in a democracy
should be used to increase participation and to free the individual
from giving too great a share of his attention to details. This would
enable him to expend a great deal of his efforts in improving the
ends for which skills are used. In a fascist society, skill would be
used solely as a means of habituating the masses to a lock-step pro-
cedure, to carrying out in a skillful way the edicts of the dictator.
3. To develop boys and girls who will strive for increasing con-
trol over the process of reflective thinking and the scientific method.
-It has been assumed that many individuals, particularly children,
cannot and do not think. The fascist nations and autocratic govern-
ments of all ages have worked on this principle; it is necessary to
have a ruling class because the great majority of persons cannot
be developed to the point where they can make acceptable decisions.
Skills were placed in the elementary school because it was assumed
that the small child is not able to think. The process which is often
called reflective thinking was really born of science, and hence is
closely related to the scientific method. In short, it involves the
finding and testing of meanings. If the teacher thoroughly under-
stands the process himself, he can utilize many opportunities to
guide pupils in both elementary and secondary schools in gaining
control of this important instrument of progress.

Without reflective thinking, without checking on hypotheses,
without questioning, and without collection of more and more rele-
vant data, superstitions and blind acceptance of out-worn patterns
will continue. Democracy itself cannot long endure where there
is neither the opportunity nor the disposition to think. Some teach-
ers set forth facts, laws, and principles as if they were "untouch-
ables." The pupils are given to understand that the proof is already
sure and that their chief task is merely to understand or to dupli-
cate in the laboratory the processes which other persons have already







82 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


described. It is clear that no true reflective thinking can take
place when the answer is known in advance. There is also much
danger that the thinking may be used for wrong ends. Gangsters
think; sometimes they think faster than the common citizen. Thus
it makes a difference for what purpose one thinks. Thinking is good
only to the extent that it contributes to democratic action. Any
member of a group who uses his superior ability to think in such a
way as to delude or take unfair advantage of other members is not
contributing to the good life.
4. To develop boys and girls who strive for increasing under-
standing and control over self and over the relations of self to other
people.-It is not possible to live entirely apart from the social
group. Physical well-being, emotional stability, and personal dy-
namic are necessary if one is to participate joyously and fruitfully
with other members of society. Since such participation may become
thwarted, unhappy, or unsuccessful unless the individual does his
share by exercising a reasonable amount of self-control, school
should strive to develop attitudes and ways of behaving which will
bring about a desirable relationship between the individual and his
group. If, however, the individual sets about developing a per-
sonality which is mostly in the interest of self, common concern for
others will be neglected. In this case, a democratic society will
profit but little. Schools have, in the past, been attempting to build
up this concern for health, but they have not insisted so much upon
the importance of good health from a social as well as from an indi-
vidual point of view. Nor have they included in their definition
of good health the mental or emotional aspect. Most unfortunately
of all, they have attempted to develop the individual's control over
action through mere preachment or memorization of rules rather
than through providing situations in which the desired relationships
might arise under wise guidance of the teacher. It has been assumed
that democracy constitutes the most desirable social atmosphere in
which individual personality may be developed to a maximum. In-
justice to the principle is done when all of the attention of the
teacher is centered upon the individual, since the rights of other
human beings to develop must likewise not be infringed upon. Fur-
thermore, the relationships existing between the individual and his
group must be explored rather carefully before the school or the







ORGANIZATION OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM 83


teacher is able to plan intelligently any sort of treatment for improv-
ing the total personality of the individual. That schools have fre-
quently been responsible for creating situations in which individual
personalities have been crushed, disintegrated, or allowed to run
counter to the principle of democratic action is common knowledge.

5. To develop boys and girls who will strive to produce and
enjoy the processes and products of creative effort.-Man has im-
proved his lot only through creative effort. He has discovered many
ways whereby individual and group satisfaction has been improved
or extended. Each individual can participate in the richness which
comes from creative effort only to the extent that he himself is crea-
tive. In the past, the schools have largely interpreted the word
creative as belonging exclusively to the realm of the so-called aes-
thetic experiences of life. Today, it is believed that beauty or
creativeness may express itself in the careful wording of a new law.
in the planning of a new bridge, in the improvement of automobiles
or in a thousand ways other than in writing poetry or engaging in
the production of an opera. Furthermore, schools have laid much
more stress upon the products of creative effort than they have upon
the process itself. Teachers have concerned themselves much more
about the final poem or piece of woodwork than about the thinking
that went on in the child's mind as he produced it. Least of all has
any attention been given to the social values involved in creating
things; there has been little effort to guide the pupil in such a way
that he feels himself a participant in the creative life' all around him
and in the creative life which has gone on since the dawn of civili-
zation. Somehow, the notion has gone abroad that older things are
best; that the best painting, the best literature, the best art have
already been achieved. Little point is made of the fact that man-
kind the world over has always been interested in interpreting life
as he sees it, that the so-called cultural products of a race are a result
of the interaction of a people with the particular environing circum-
stances in which they find themselves. Certain personal satisfac-
tions, including the release of the tension which has been built up
through activities of daily living, may be accomplished best through
participation in creative work. Only when such creative activity
leads one to forget his fellow-man does it become a harmful factor
in democratic living.







84 IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


6. To develop boys and girls who will strive to perform some
useful work and to see the relationship of their work to democratic
living.-Neither society nor the individual can long tolerate in-
activity or idleness. When large numbers of persons are unemploy-
ed or are unemployable, democracy itself is at stake. The people
of Germany turned to a fascist society when they no longer believed
that individual or group security could be achieved through past
methods of social organization. The person who does not know how
to perform some useful task is to that extent unable to participate
with those who do know how to work and who have the opportunity
to do so. The schools must accept the responsibility for aiding youth
to find a, satisfactory place in the economic life about them. But in
doing this, the school should not permit the pupil to become so
narrowly centered that he does not see the relationship of what he
is doing to the total economic and social problems facing America
today. Because pressure groups\ have walled themselves off in terms
of their own narrow interests, it is hard to get legislation which is
fair to all vocational groups. Many individuals become discouraged
with the whole situation and live lives which indicate that they are
little more than cogs in a big machine. Unless our vocational train-
ing can carry with it a sense of dignity and worth and a feeling of
responsibility for groups beyond the narrow vocational group in
which one is engaged, democracy will, again, hang in the balance.
Moreover, it is the individual who has a rather narrow outlook on
life, the one who knows nothing more than to perform some single
specific act that finds greatest difficulty in adjusting to the shift-
ing demand for certain types of occupational labor. Vocational pro-
grams in schools should, therefore, contribute to the development of
the spirit, outlook, and attitude of the worker as well as to the devel-
opment of particular techniques and skills.

ATTACKING THE PROBLEMS RELATED TO
GENERAL PLANNING
Scope and Sequence in the Florida Program.-It now appears
that what is needed most in improving practice in the elementary
and secondary schools of Florida is not so much a re-allocation of
topics and themes to the various grades as a rethinking of the values
behind the present experiences which the schools are making avail-







ORGANIZATION OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM 85


able to their pupils. The charts which are included in this chap-
ter present a way of attacking scope and sequence should any teacher
or faculty group wish to give consideration to the problem. The
suggestions for scope given in this bulletin and in the Course of
Study follow the well-accepted principle that the child will grad-
ually experience things more and more remote in time and space;
consequently, the work of the first three years is centered around
the adjustment and control of the child with respect to his immed-
iate environment. The latter three years are given over to his ex-
periences in the wider environment. This is a well-accepted prac-
tice in almost every state and seems to have considerable evidence
to support it both in theory and practice. Whether or not the best
approach to control and understanding on the part of the child, with
respect to his expanding environment will come from experiences
in the social studies area or from more direct experiences in science
or art has yet to be explored, although some responsible leaders in
elementary education are predicting that the latter will be used to
an increasing degree.2

While the allocation of parts of the expanding environment to
certain grade levels as suggested in the course of study may not be
entirely justified, it does give some indication of the part of the
environment upon which the attention of the children at various
grade levels might profitably be directed.3 The allocation of the
new world to the fifth grade and of the old world to the sixth grade
has been to some extent limiting, although this restrictive influence
has not been felt by hundreds of the more able teachers. The prob-
lems which have been proposed in the present bulletin as suitable
for these grades will indicate a still more liberal trend. Although
the appropriateness of any given content for a particular group of
children cannot be determined from afar, the suggestions offered

'While the expanding environment of the child would continue to be
the basis for selection of content material, the more concrete activities of
man as he engages in experiences connected with art or science may be
more suitable for use with children. The curriculum would not as a result
become less concerned with the social meaning of life; it would attempt
to develop social meaning through the more concrete experiences in areas
similar to those mentioned above.
"The reader should note certain suggestions regarding changes of em-
phasis in the use of the content and in the allocation of certain skills as
given in the succeeding discussion and in the various chapters of Part Two.







IMPROVED PRACTICE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS


in the charts presented in the latter part of this chapter seem suf-
ficiently wide in their scope to enable individual teachers and local
faculty groups to make further adjustments in keeping with local
needs.
Concrete Examples of Difficulty with Scope and Sequence in the
Florida Program.-Many of the very fine suggestions contained in
the Florida Elementary Course of Study (1933) have not been fully
realized and some of the recommended practices have been misunder-
stood or applied without sufficient discrimination. A very apt illus-
tration at the primary level may be cited. Somewhat unsuited to
the early primary grades are the Indian, Dutch, and Eskimo units
which have been stressed out of due proportion by teachers in the
first three grades, merely because they happen to have been sug-
gested as possible centers of interest or aspects of the expanding
environment. This criticism should not, on the other hand, indicate
to teachers that Indian units may not be appropriate in communi-
ties of Florida where the children come into contact with real Indian
people, nor does it prevent the use of samples of life in faraway
lands at a time when the child has gained sufficient control of the
reading skills to make it possible through indirect experience. One
doubts, however, the wisdom of spending so much time with rela-
tively unimportant peoples as the Eskimos or Indians when little or
no opportunity is being afforded the child to get a glimpse of life
nearer home or in some of the lands which are contributing so largely
to events of the day.

Another evidence of a lack of balance in the choice of units has
appeared when teachers have repeated the same unit titles year
after year. Children have reported to parents and others the fact
that they have studied Indians, the Dutch, the Eskimos, or Trans-
portation for several successive years. Of course, one might infer
that the approach was made each time from a different angle or
that the thinking of the child was pushed deeper on each occasion.
The fact remains that teachers have not been sufficiently definite
in delimiting the part of the larger problem to be attacked. For ex-
ample, "How We Get to School" might be a better title for a unit
dealing with safety and transportation at the first grade level than
would be the more general term. Moreover, the title of the unit is no




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