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Is it true that some children would be better off in industry than in school, and what is the responsibility of the schools?—This question was discussed in connection with the matter of compulsory attendance and the present-day tendency toward raising the compulsory age limit. It was said that in the cases of some over-age children the school had seemed to work more harm than good, and that occasionally a psychiatrist had advised industry in preference.
Mr. Newton H. Hegel, director of the department of research and guidance of the Minneapolis schools, further developed this point as one worthy of serious attention. As cases of serious school unadjustment had often been referred through his department of visiting teachers to the Child Guidance Clinic, Mr. Hegel asked that the problem be discussed by Dr. Lawson G. Lowrey, formerly director of the Child Guidance Clinic of Minneapolis, now of Cleveland. Dr. Lowrey called attention to children of the duller groups who, failing to make good in the regular curriculum, often become conduct problems in the more rigid school systems.
Miss Brown, principal of Skinner Junior High School, Denver, spoke of the very flexible system within her school, and the grading arrangement by which the duller children could advance at their own rate with a sense of normal achievement because of the adaptability of the marking system. She also spoke of the enriched curriculum, mentioning manual crafts, mechanics, shops, etc. She said that they had no trouble with children wishing to leave school, even from the dull groups.
Dr. Elizabeth Woods, school psychologist, Los Angeles, discussed modern trends in education which were developing out of the psychological gradings.
Dr. Lawson G. Lowrey emphasized the point that because the present school curriculum is too seldom adapted to the typical child one should not feel that the problem will be solved simply by releasing the child into industry, but look forward rather to the further development of the school to meet his needs. The concensus seemed to be that, when it comes to a point of responsibility for the child who wishes to leave school, provision for his education and training under supervision can be better met in the school than in industry. In this connection the problem of the gifted child was also introduced. Dr. Lowrey said that superior children, when misplaced in their grades and their abilities thwarted, will often produce a clinical picture not unlike that presented by the dull or even defective child.
SUPPORT AND INTERPRETATION OF CHILD
INTERPRETING CHILD WELFARE WORK TO THE
Ralph Barrow, Executive Secretary, Connecticut Children's
Professor Lang, of the University of Alabama, tells of a curiously interesting incident of which he had been a witness during a season of post-graduate work in the University of Edinburgh. Announcement was made of a lecture by Mr. Arthur Balfour on the subject, "The Moral Values which Unite the Nations." Professor Lang, desirous of taking advantage of so great an opportunity, was among the first to arrive at McEwen Hall on the appointed evening. Seated immediately opposite him, he noticed a Japanese student also engaged in graduate work. Mr. Balfour's lecture proved a masterly presentation of the different ties that bind together the peoples of the earth, common knowledge, common commercial interests, the intercourse of diplomatic relationship, and the bonds of human friendship. As the presiding officer arose, following the great wave of applause, to voice his appreciation, Professor Lang saw the Japanese student rise also, and lean on the balcony, and before the chairman of the meeting could speak, the Japanese student had asked, "But, Mr. Balfour, what about Jesus Christ?" Professor Lang said that one could have heard a pin drop. Everybody felt at once the justice of the rebuke. The leading statesman of the greatest Christian empire in the world had been dealing with the different ties that are to unite mankind, and had omitted the fundamental and essential bond. And everyone felt, too, the dramatic element in the situation, that the reminder of his forgetfulness had come to him from a Japanese student from a far-away non-Christian country.
It seems to me that application might well be made of this story. It is the moral values which unite the social work organizations of today with each other and with the communities in which they exist. By values, I do not mean alone the results obtained from the working out of problems along prescribed lines through masterly technique, but rather the gaining of the shining principle of human unity and the giving to mankind the instruments through which its common life may best be expressed, and by which its common work may most enduringly be done. Such values must of necessity be spiritual values, causing good to replace evil, beauty to transform ugliness, kindliness to cover cruelty, freedom to unshackle fear.
Spiritual values are of greater import than the most highly developed theories, which oftentimes are no better than empty gestures. They permit outgrowth of the growth of yesterday; they are the compensation for all suffering, all inequalities. They endure. I am convinced that we can no longer attack
and conquer the problems of our individual organizations without recognizing, accepting, and incorporating into those organizations the unmeasured strength of spiritual values. Nor can we leave them out when we attempt to interpret the high purpose of social work to the communities in which we serve. To set forth any form of social endeavor clearly and simply, making truth stand out so nakedly that all doubt as to its need is dispelled, requires consecration and fearless leadership.
Therefore, as one connected with a private agency desirous of making child welfare a living thing in the community, I would suggest:
First, a determination to find the correlation that should exist in any given community between private and public agencies. The private agency being willing to be the trail blazer using its resources as a laboratory in which experiments may be tried out to failure or success, and, if the latter is the resultant, turned over to the public agency to be assumed as part of its job, the burden of experimentation, however, not having been an additional tax ot public funds. Is it fair to say in general that the public agencies' job is to keep the community giving to its children the things which have been approved as good, and to restrain the community from giving to its children what has been proven bad? The private agency's job goes farther, it is it which must keep the community continually hungering and thirsting after the newer things.
Second, the importance of a staff of high caliber, well educated, well trained men and women, who realize that "in vain we build the world unless the builder also grows." Especially must the case worker accept the challenge consciously and planfully to interpret child welfare to her community through the direct medium of the foster mother and the neighborhood forces. It is the building which she builds that the community really sees. Heretofore we have been content to have her artisan only; hereafter we also should emphasize her responsibility as hostess. This is fundamental to a plan of exposition to the community. The point for us to emphasize for purposes of interpretation is that the best way to teach is to do. The most vivid media is the actual use of case work, case by case. It is a well-known fact that the most prolific source of foster home applications comes through friends of successful foster mothers who, seeing their good works, become enamored of this concrete demonstration of child welfare and go about singing its praises and seeking to do likewise. More and more the country over we are placing emphasis on the teaching responsibility of the case worker-for her own enthusiastic development, as well as for social work; and more and more we are learning that the greatest textbook for preaching and teaching child welfare, as for other subjects, is the laboratory.
Third, the importance of small joint committees of staff workers and laymen, thus stimulating a simple, frank discussion of the meaning of social work and its relation to their own local community. Here is the real bed-rock use of the case committee. It is the community normal school for child welfare.
Fourth, the distinct advantage of the loan by a private agency of one of its
highly specialized workers to some of our non-socially staffed public agenciesthe court, the schools, the commission-thus holding before the community a visible demonstration of the preventive value of intelligent social work. In a certain Connecticut city the private agency loaned a skilled, magnetic worker -may her tribe increase to a staid New England court. Day by day she showed how good case work for children solved many of the court's adoption problems. A whole county was convicted of its child welfare needs by this loan method.
Fifth, the wisdom of developing a board of officers-directors, committeemen-representative of the community at large, not for their financial or social status alone, but because of their broadminded interest in human beings, their tolerance of new ideas, their willingness to drown personalities in the working out of high ideals into practices and laws safeguarding the lives of little children.
Sixth, a continual voicing to the public of the need of education-by executives, by staff, by officers-education of a preventive nature, teaching the higher standards of morals, of health, in the training of children. Much of this can be done through the issuing of annual reports, through letters and pamphlets so designed and compiled as to command perusal, and above all through understanding, consistent use of the daily newspaper, and through those larger broadcasting organs, the churches and the public schools. I cannot say enough of the yet untouched powers within the churches and the public schools. However, our publicity must be built of such human material and told in such simple, forceful, untechnical language that it will be understood by the mass of people without whose aid all the social workers in the country are unavailing. Elihu Root, with no attempt to exaggerate, described the sometimes seeming futility of our "wordy" campaigns in comparing its results to the well-known waste in burning coal for fuel:
The power of coal saved in our locomotives is a little less than 5 per cent and the loss 95 per cent, and if there is that loss in the power of coal in the transportation, you may multiply it by one hundred in order to obtain an idea of the loss of all the vast multitude of words that are poured out upon the people of America day by day and night by night in the newspapers and magazines and books and lectures and classrooms and public meetings-words upon words in fogs, and there is not one-tenth of one one-hundredth of one per cent of them which makes a lodgment and amounts to anything in the minds of men to whom they are addressed.
Only the people read things who do not need to read them. The people who ought to be affected by the speech are bored by it. We keep saying over and over again to each other the things that we agree on, but we never get at the people who don't agree with us. The mobilization of the tools of effective publicity and education demands a publicity program definitely focused from objective to objective, just as we have a plan for our individual children. Right here I might state that one of the acid tests of good publicity, from the standpoint of the private case working agency, is--Do we, in our attempt to educate our communities, exploit our children? One of the children of the Connecticut
Children's Aid Society is a case in point. John was already a problem boy. His story and picture were featured in our publication. The booklet was awarded a prominent place in our doctor's waiting-room. John read about the John who was baffling the Children's Aid Society. John had to be sent to the New England Home for Little Wanderers, his already acute behavior problem became a conscious adventure to him-his riddle is still unsolved to us-unwittingly we exploited him; it was wonderful publicity for some remote sister agency; it was ethically unsound for us. The moral is plain. And this means that the publicity specialist is an integral, vital factor of every complete staff, a person equipped with the technique for interpreting children's work ideals to the community which connotes understanding of and sympathy for not only the general ends of child welfare, but the immediate and more intimate purposes as well. A publicity person so equipped with social work background harmonizes the various elements in the agency and dissolves the conflict between publicity needs and case work standards. It has been a great advance to sell the general idea of child welfare in terms of budgets and finances-it will be a greater forward move to direct, through this publicity specialist, like energy into the interpreting to the community of our standards, ideals, and policies a real social educational campaign. Most of us, however, will have to enter this program with the dual purpose of money raising and education-but with a hope, ever and ever, of making the educational by-product some day the chief article of merchandise.
Seventh, for the private organization, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of interpreting child welfare and its ramifications through dramatization. The institution folks, pioneering the way for all other forms of child welfare, used the show-case method to great advantage. The suggestion of child welfare to the average American brings to mind a picture, and that picture is a tidy, well-kept orphanage with neat, well-fed, and well-groomed children playing and working within. Up until now this image is indelibly fixed upon our national retina. It is a wonderful testimony to the grippingness of the visual picture method. We are an objective-minded people. We learn by seeing.
Recently a conference made up of a mixed group of laymen and professionals met in the study home of the New England Home for Little Wanderers. The meetings were gone through, so to speak, right in the midst of the children under study at the home. Deducting for any possible exploitation, much constructive work was interpreted to several communities. Many methods of picturization will suggest themselves: (a) cinema; (b) drama; (c) a Parnassus on wheels, similar to the traveling health clinics and partaking of their message; (d) an adaptation of that inspiring program-the American Child Health's personification of health characters-Cho Cho, the Clown, and the rest—who are now as much household characters as the calico cat and the gingerbread dog; (e) the silhouettes, "Building Happy Childhood," "The Child is the Future,” etc., are a beginning, but why not picturize some of the common ideals— mothers aid; the normal home; kinship ties-which have gained acceptance