Saturday, January 24, 2009

More from Mrs. Ida Hood Clark, 1905

This is just a bit more from Mrs. Ida Hood Clark, reminding that there were those, even in the earliest days of public education that gave deep consideration to the full development of each child.
"That the present course in our public schools is not sufficient to meet the demands of the times, is very evident. We need one that shall recognize the principles and ideals of this new education, one that will be in accord with our accepted philosophy of life, and one that shall satisfy the social and ethical ideals of the heart. Psychology provides that hand work is the strongest force in the primary grades. If this be true, then social occupations should be used as a center of our course of study and all the other subjects of the curriculum be grouped about them."

"It is not necessary to remind those who have given attention to the subject of education how important the influence of the beautiful is, in refining the sentiments and elevating the nature of the young. Let them model a leaf, a vase, a hand, a head, here we have the same advantage as in the making of a box--the object is concrete and therefore suitable for minds incapable of abstractions. What child is not happy if he has produced something tangible as the outcome of his own activity, especially if it is something beautiful. Then, too, he has learned to be exact--that is, truthful in his work and he will be inclined to be truthful in his thoughts. Children may be trained to detect beauty when they see it, and they will never be sure that they see correctly until they attempt to translate their impressions into actual form. So to appreciate what is beautiful, let them make things that are beautiful. If we all work together in this spirit, then the early years of childhood would be given to manual training enlarged into faculty training. Knowledge may be better than riches, but children are not able to use either if the knowledge is second hand. Children have an immense appetite for the concrete world, but they are satisfied with a very small reasoning of the abstract."
So how long has it been since you heard an educator speaking of the heart, or of beauty as a necessity in the education of our children? We have become far too focused on efficiency and economy in schools and it is time now to make a greater investment in education.

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