Sunday, February 07, 2010

what's right with this picture?

The illustration is from the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, and shows the inside of the Kindergarten Cottage, set up by the Froebel Society of Boston. At this exhibit, thousands became enthralled with the hands-on learning method developed by Friedrich Froebel and promoted by dedicated enthusiasts from around the world. The numbers of kindergartens in American Schools increased exponentially following the Exposition.

My mother became a kindergarten teacher in Ft. Dodge, Iowa in 1943. For the sake of cmparison, count the number of students in the illustration above, and count the teaching staff. In my mother's first year she had 45 students in a class which she was expected to handle on her own. The other teachers were watching to see that she did so, but facing similar situations of their own did not offer help.

A practiced story teller, my mother has some favorites to tell about her experience. One was the rope at the top of the stairs with a sign that said "pull," that had to be passed each time she ushered her 45 children upstairs to the boys and girls restrooms. A great invitation to beginning readers, but one that brought the fire brigade.

Another story involves "little Dougie Denker." He slipped out the window, making his escape from schooling. Called on the phone, his mother said, "Don't worry about Dougie, he knows his way home." An hour later, the school was informed by the police that Dougie was at the corner on Main Street directing traffic.

It is easy to take a wonderful idea and cheapen it by increasing the numbers and it is easier for students and teachers to find successful, rewarding experiences in the classroom when there is a reasonable ratio between them.

No comments:

Post a Comment