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further. Before anything is settled about our training school in applied philanthropy save the bare fact that such a school is needed, we should search the country over for the right man to organize it. We need a university-trained man who is now engaged in charitable work, and who has had wide, practical experience in it. There are a few such men. I have one in mind this moment, who, after successful work as the head of a volunteer society in one State, took an official position in another State, where he has been instrumental in securing better administration and better laws. His experience has been varied, though he is still young; and not only is he a man of originality and force, but the spirit of his work is admirable. I have no idea, of course, whether he would be willing to drop his present work to undertake the difficult task of embodying a new idea; but, to succeed, he must believe that a training school for charity workers is necessary and practicable, and he must be guaranteed time, money, and entire freedom of action, together with the hearty support of our leading charitable specialists.
You will observe that, having found one man, it will become immediately necessary to find another, to furnish the money for this experiment. And this, to some, is like to be the rock on which our new craft might go to pieces. But consider the things that people do spend money for. I remember to have heard of the experiments of a psychologist for which an American millionaire has been furnishing large sums of money. By some very complicated machinery the experimenter hopes to determine the colors of our emotional states. Now, if such fanciful science as that can find a patron, why should our school go a-begging if we can once heartily agree that it is practicable?
Given the money and the head master, I can imagine that the latter's first care would be to make a detailed inquiry into the paid service demanded by our charities. His next would be to determine the school's location and affiliations. Probably he would choose a large city,— the larger, the better; and it may be that he would seek connection with some institution of learning, though it should never be forgotten that emphasis is to be put on practical work rather than on academic requirements. Vital connection, therefore, would of necessity be made with the public and private. charities of the city. Here students could observe the actual work of charity, and take part in it under the daily supervision of their
instructors. Theory and practice would go hand in hand, and our best specialists would be engaged to deliver courses of lectures during the less busy months of the year. A two years' course would probably begin with general principles, and would specialize later, so that all regular students would take some of the courses together. Nor would the needs of special students, such as those who could spare only a few months, be overlooked; and probably volunteers who are interested in some particular charity would be glad to avail themselves of the school's opportunities.
I offer this plan in all its crudity, without attempting any elaboration, because I feel that it needs, and I trust will receive, the frankest criticism. There is often only a little difference between knowing and not knowing. I would not, therefore, exaggerate the importance of merely technical training. In the town which needed a charity superintendent, Miss Dawes tells us that "a superintendent of a New York mission, a local philanthropist, a benevolent woman, a Young Men's Christian Association secretary all proved to be without the technical knowledge necessary for such work"; and surely this is a strong argument for training. But more important than any training in detail is the opportunity which a good school would offer for the development of higher ideals of charitable service. "Ideals are catching," some one has said. How important, then, to send our young people, our future workers, where ideals can be "caught"! A friend of mine is in the habit of saying, in praise of a certain college, that its graduates are never ashamed to acknowledge their ignorance, that the school has given all its pupils a certain candid habit of thought. To give our professional charity workers better habits of thought and higher ideals, this should be the chief aim of our School of Applied Philanthropy. I need not say how slowly a good school grows, or how slowly it makes its influence felt. But, if these twenty years have taught us anything, they have taught us that plans which are to find their full realization the year after next are not worth initiating. The chief and perhaps the only claim which this rough sketch of a plan can have to consideration is to be found in the willingness of its advocate to leave much to the future.
The following letter from Miss Frances R. Morse, of Boston, refers to Miss Richmond's plan:
It seemed to me at first that the difficulties in the way of such a plan as Miss Richmond proposes outweighed the possible good; but, as I have thought further, the difficulties seem to me probably surmountable. I do not even now see the way clear to a Normal School of Applied Philanthropy, but rather the possibility of what might be called normal school teaching in that field.
I should fear, in creating such a school as sketched, that we should get a somewhat academic and opinionated graduate,—the young men and women who had gone through a two years' course would feel too much that they knew all that could be learned. This seems a frivolous objection, if they could really learn in such a school as the medical student learns in his school, and the sophomorical feeling would be soon outgrown; but the analogy of the medical school is not a true one. Philanthropy cannot be measured by such exact standards as can medicine. It does not now stand on such a professional basis. The answer to this will be, I am sure, that the best way to put it on a professional basis is to make it an object of serious study; and there undoubtedly we should all agree, with perhaps differences of opinion as to how such study can best be pursued. Such work might stand a better chance of being ultimately of the best quality if it were attached to Harvard or Columbia or Johns Hopkins.
I have spoken with Dr. Charles P. Putnam about this scheme. Oddly enough (if similar coincidences did not so often happen), some one here had just proposed to him something of a like nature. As we talked, he said, Why would not it be possible to work a sort of co-operative normal training plan between the larger charity organization centres ? " We had not much time to work it out beyond this preliminary suggestion; but it seems to be a valuable
What I understood was an arrangement by which some one, who perhaps wanted ultimately to be a wise officer of a large relieving society, should be able to consult in either of the centres nearest her some person or persons a part of whose business it was to keep the whole field in mind (I should suggest that, besides the general secretary, a committee of one, two, or three of the directors should also have this constantly in mind), as to how she could best prepare herself, either by two years' work or one. She might be advised to go to the city in which the best charity organization work was done: first, as general preparation; then, after six months of the sort of work we give our agents in training, there might be three months of work, perhaps in the bureau of informaton of our own Children's Aid Society, to learn in how many ways a child may be helped without removal from his own home, and, if the removal has to be made, what care has to be taken in investigating homes, and how unceasing must be the vigilance and faithfulness of agent or visitor when the child is placed. This, of course, would take her for part of the three months into a different department of the work.
Then it would be desirable to learn something of the working of the public indoor and outdoor relief, and of course other things come to one's mind as one thinks.
It may seem as though I had lost sight of the need of training; but I believe that, if in our larger charity organization societies, and in the best societies of other kinds, such as children's aid societies, provident societies, and col
lege settlements, it were admitted that we wanted to get certain well-planned courses, and guidance in those courses, we could begin, at least, to get at what we all want, without establishing a normal school,— something that should take the place with regard to philanthropic work that University College, London, does to literary and scientific work, if I understand aright, giving opportunities to study and practice under guidance, with even, possibly, some form of examination at the end. I believe that an associated and responsible group of people could be made up from such societies as I have named, who should work out something that should be real in its nature and not what I fear we might get from a so-called normal school,—something rather dry and, as I said, academic.
The initial difficulty occurs to every one, that many of the would-be workers would be wholly unable to give their time for one year, much less for two. This would weigh, I think, against establishing and endowing a normal school. I would rather make gradual approaches of the kind I have tried to describe.
A few young people might be willing to take this as a part of their education, and a few more might be helped to it by scholarships.
THE DISTRICT PLAN OF ORGANIZATION VERSUS THE CENTRALIZED PLAN.
BY JEFFREY R. BRACKETT,
CHAIRMAN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE BALTIMORE CHARITY ORGANIZATION
The charity organization idea, like everything that is worth anything, has met with some adverse criticism in the course of its progress. I do not refer now to those critics who wish to be aided by us in their own way only, and whose ways are not our ways. There are other critics, here and there, good persons usually, anxious to see the world better. Their opposition to us, we shall find, is based on various arguments which are often very contradictory, and most of which, we believe, are contradictory to the possibilities of human nature and the teachings of experience.
There is one criticism which we should heed, however, because it is possible that we might deserve it, the criticism that, in general, our charity organization societies are inclined to become mechanical in method, and not to get sufficient positive results. The
justice of this charge we shall, I believe, be able to deny in toto, if we strive to hold to the best development of the charity organization idea.
I have several times had the privilege, at previous sessions of the Conference, of urging the development of volunteer service in charity work, especially of "friendly visiting," as a great safeguard in keeping to the highest ideas of organized charity. To-day I speak of the district plan of organization for a society. I choose this topic because, while apparently a surface one, it goes straight to the bottom of the spring of organized charity.
The development of a charity organization society must, like our treatment of cases of need, be dependent on many circumstances. There is no hard and fast rule for it. So I will merely take as my text the statement that the district plan is the one which we all should follow as far as possible. And I will try to justify my text with arguments that the plan is a great help to treatment of individual cases of need, and is a safguard against our work becoming mechanical and lacking in positive results.
By the district plan of organization I mean that in a large community, where the life and interests of its people are divided to some extent into districts or neighborhoods, there should be a charity organization office, an agent, and a board of volunteer workers — in short, a charity organization centre in each of the districts. This district plan stands, in my mind, in very distinct contrast to what we may call the centralized plan, where the society's activity is largely or wholly centred in one place. In the district plan the investigations are made, and the reports sent, and all dealings with the poor of a district are had, by an agent who always works in that one district; while the central management of the society merely sees, as a rule, so far as the treatment of residents. goes, that applications for aid which come to it reach the proper agent, and that there is uniformity in work throughout the districts according to the aims of the society.
The idea of a central registry office is good, and should be used; but such a registry, which shall be a clearing-house for the whole community, is a very difficult one to realize. This is chiefly because churches and individuals cannot be depended upon to report to it what they are doing and giving. But churches and individuals are very extensive sources of charity, and are certainly to be developed