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Every society that commands the effort of good men and women must have something good and vital in it, and this element of good we miss when we begin by disagreeing with methods instead of sympathizing with the spirit. If other societies are to help us or we them, it is by letting sympathy precede criticism. A sympathetic recognition of the good work of other people does more to help the spread of charity organization principles than the soundest reasoning unsympathetically applied.
Third. We must take more pains to make our position clear and intelligible through the newspapers and popular magazines. Many able articles are published in the Charities Review and in other sociological and ethical periodicals, but those speak chiefly to those who already think alike. The people to persuade and win are those who are indifferent or who cordially dislike the name of charity organization. Especially do we want to get a hearing from those who are at work in one way or another.
There are matters constantly claiming public attention in the newspapers which might be advantageously considered from the charity organization point of view. If we do not speak on these subjects at the moment when we might affect action, if we wait until steps have been taken in what we believe to be the wrong direction, and then criticise, we have made two mistakes, and we have lost the chance of winning acceptance for our point of view. When we write, we should try to be neither negative nor obscure: busy people want short and plainly marked paths to ends which they can see are worth working for. We should get the business men and women among us to write on charity organization and on all subjects coming within its scope as simply and clearly as they would write on business; the politicians, as earnestly and tersely as they would write about politics.
It lies with us to make it clear that, when the true spirit of charity organization is at work, there is a common ground on which many different societies can meet and help each other; that each society then feels itself upheld and invigorated by the warm sense of comradeship of all the others; that the matter of interference with human lives is then treated as respectfully, as tenderly, and with as deep a sense of continued responsibility when we come to them by the way of philanthropic effort as when we reach them by the road of acquaintance and friendship.
This is our aim. We do not reach it, but we may get nearer to it than now. It is a very simple end to work for; and hundreds of people are working toward it to-day who do not count themselves with us, but who would if they saw how plain were our working principles.
If we can show, by our treatment in the papers of every-day subjects as they come up, how plain these principles are, that nothing human is foreign to us, we shall get the hearing we ask from people with whom we want to be fellow-workers, and we shall help toward the extension of the spirit of charity organization, by whatever name it is called.
Our plan for the extension of the organization of charity would then be:
First, make each large charity organization society a well-equipped centre of information, with a committee of the board of directors in close relation with it; second, make our co-operation with other societies more sympathetic and thorough-going; third, publish more, keep articles going in important daily papers, written from the charity organization point of view.
THE NEED OF A TRAINING SCHOOL IN APPLIED PHILANTHROPY.
BY MISS MARY E. RICHMOND,
SECRETARY CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY, BALTIMORE, MD.
It is just twenty years since certain new ideas about the administration of charities came to have currency among us in the United States, and led to the founding of voluntary associations known as charity organization societies. The question now is how to get educated young men and women to make a life vocation of charity organization work. We must educate them. Through these twenty years our charity organization societies have stood for trained service in charity. We are thoroughly committed to that, in theory at least. But it is not enough to create a demand for trained service.
Having created the demand (and I think we may claim that our share in its creation has been considerable), we should strive to supply it.
Moreover, we owe it to those who shall come after us that they shall be spared the groping and blundering by which we have acquired our own stock of experience. In these days of specialization, when we train our cooks, our apothecaries, our engineers, our librarians, our nurses, when, in fact, there is a training school for almost every form of skilled service, we have yet to establish our first training school for charity workers, or, as I prefer to call it, Training School in Applied Philanthropy.”
It is only gradually that the need of such a school has made itself apparent; but I was not surprised, upon writing a few months ago to a number of workers, engaged in different branches of charity work in different sections of the country, to find that the idea had occurred to several of them. We have known for a long while that we wanted young people of high character and unusual attainments to devote themselves to a cause which has seemed to us of the first importance; but we are just beginning to understand that these young people have a right to demand something of us in return. Surely, they have a right to demand from the profession of applied philanthropy (we really have not even a name for it) that which they have a right to demand from any other profession,-further opportunities for education and development, and, incidentally, the opportunity to earn a living.
Now the opportunities for education and development must always be extremely limited in any calling which has not established a professional standard, a certain fairly definite outline of what the practitioner in that field is expected to know and to be. We are all agreed, I think, that such a standard is desirable. But the matter about which we are likely to differ is this: Some of us will think that a training school is impracticable until we have acquired a professional standard, and others will think that we can never acquire a professional standard until we have the school. This latter is my own view, though I would avoid, if possible, the clamorous solicitude about it of a hen who has only one chick. It may be that we are not quite ready for the school, that such a plan is premature. If so, I urge that we should begin to move without delay in the direction, at least, of some definite system of training.
Let me borrow, as we continually are tempted to borrow in our charity work, a few illustrations from the medical profession. I have been reminded that the analogy between the charitable and the medical professions is not a true one, that the science of medicine is a far more highly organized body of knowledge. For that very reason we so often turn to the physicians: they are what we merely hope to be. We ourselves may be said to have advanced no further than that rudimentary stage of charitable progress where our barbers let blood and pull teeth, where the priest is still our chief medicine man, or where to our pharmaceutical apprentices is intrusted the delicate task of making diagnoses. We know that even in the medical profession almost every crude form of earlier practice still survives; but these survivals are weighed and found wanting by a definite professional standard, and such a standard is sadly needed in our charity, to discredit unintelligent work. I am little versed in medical history; but is it not probable that the profession of medicine owes a large part of its inheritance of knowledge and principles to its schools, which have established the tradition that the members of a liberal profession should be not only practitioners, but teachers?
An experienced worker has written to me that a difficulty in the way of a school of applied philanthropy on a sufficiently broad and inclusive basis would be the fact that our charity work has become so highly specialized. This is true, but our specialization is often essentially false. It is still as erratic as the specialization of the barber who pulls teeth. In the division of modern medicine into many special departments we find few such anomalies. We find, moreover, a broad field of knowledge which is common ground. If, for instance, a neurologist has occasion to confer with a surgeon, each can take it for granted that the other has mastered the elements of anatomy and physiology. But what can we take for granted in a similar case? If an agent of a relief society has occasion to confer with the head of a foundling asylum, is it not likely that the ends they have in view, that the principles underlying their work, that the very meanings which they attach to our technical terms, will prove to be quite at variance? What an incalculable gain to humanity when those who are doctoring social diseases in many departments of charitable work shall have found a common ground of agreement, and be forced to recognize certain established princi
ples as underlying all effective service! Not immediately, of course, but slowly and steadily, such a common ground could be established, I believe, by a training school for our professional workers.
This question presents itself in different ways, according as one looks at it with reference to the needs of small or large towns, of public or private charities, of institutions or societies. Miss Anna L. Dawes who was the first one to suggest the need of a training school for our new profession, conceived the idea after unavailing efforts to find a suitable superintendent for the charitable society of a small city. What was needed was a man with a knowledge of the "alphabet of charitable science, some knowledge of its underlying ideas, its tried and trusted methods, and some acquaintance," to quote her own words, "with the various devices employed for the upbuilding of the needy, so that no philanthropic undertaking, from a model tenement house to a kindergarten or a sand-heap, will be altogether strange to his mind." Taking for her model the school for Young Men's Christian Association secretaries at Springfield, Mass., it was Miss Dawes's idea that the course should be inexpensive and practical, even superficial, if need be, as the small cities cannot pay large salaries.
Working, as I do, in the charity organization society of a large city, the matter has presented itself to me in a somewhat different way. Like some other charity organization societies, we give our agents a preliminary training in charitable theory and practice; but this training specializes too soon, and our leaders have felt the need of a more intimate and sympathetic acquaintance on the part of our agents with child-saving work, almshouse work, reformatory work, care of defectives, and all the other branches of work represented at this Conference. We feel, of course, that every form of charity could be improved by a better knowledge of charity organization principles; but it seems to us of the first importance, also, that our agents should have a better all-round knowledge of other forms of charity. The school that is to be most helpful to our charity organization agents, therefore, must be established on a broad basis, and be prepared to train relief agents, child-saving agents, institution officials, and other charitable specialists. An important part of their training would be in that shoulder-to-shoulder contact which makes co-operation natural and inevitable.
I recognize that all this is very vague. Let me venture a step