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of which is used, will soon be thus provided. This is something which cleanliness, comfort, and health alike demand. It is now well known that the sense of fatigue is mainly due to the waste of muscular action that is thrown into the blood. This waste is ordinarily thrown out upon the skin by the sweat glands. If it is not washed away, it may be reabsorbed, thus poisoning the whole system.
Some may and do question how far it is legitimate to put gymnastics in place of play. It is something easy to overdo; but, within limits, gymnastics are real play for the children. Play also gives an opportunity for personal inspection and setting up.
The starting and maintaining of tournaments between the different playgrounds give an added interest to the regular work, and have a great influence in keeping up a school spirit. Pittsburg has taken the lead by building an arena where these games and contests could take place. I believe such an arena should be possessed by every large city. It could not fail to be a great incentive to every sort of athletic and gymnastic practice, and would seem to give the city's sanction to a good physique. The contests in New York have heretofore been held in Crotona Park; but this is rather distant for most of the children. Mr. Stover hopes that the playground in Seward Park will be used in this way, and it is certainly much better than anything we have had before.
SOCIAL CONDITIONS IN THE PLAYGROUNDS.
A number of problems that occur in every playground will be treated under this head, and also a superficial glance at social and moral conditions in the playground will be given.
Cleanliness.-One of the things which claim the attention of every playground worker is the cleanliness of the children. Of course no very high standard can be exacted. The child who comes clean in the morning will not be clean after he has played basket ball for an hour. But there are some children who come so dirty when left to themselves that other children (especially true of girls) do not want to associate or play with them. Their appearance is a disfigurement to the playground and a bad example to the other children. A child, who will behave very respectably when he himself is clean, will tend to live up to a very different standard when he is filthy. Of course, dirty children can not be allowed to take books from the library, or play many of the games, or do industrial work, so it follows that some standard of cleanliness must be insisted on. This does not extend to excluding children with bare feet, in my opinion, though this has been done. In general, a great deal can be accomplished by putting in as monitors and leaders only those children who are clean, and let the other children know why these children were selected. In drills some teachers give a military inspection of the line and insist on some standard of neatness. Occasional praise of neat children and hints to those who are too careless of their appearance are usually sufficient, but children are sometimes sent home for too great negligence in this matter.
Politeness. —Politeness is another problem. A high standard of parlor etiquette can not be required, neither can the roughness of the street be tolerated. If the leader does not insist on politeness to herself she will not be respected, and if the children do not grow more polite to each other neither can her influence be availing, nor can the playground furnish a very wholesome social life. There is an unquestionable increase in politeness among the children frequenting any wellmanaged playground. This is due in part to the kindly spirit which pervades the play, and in part to the children learning that there is such a thing as politeness in play, and something of its requirements. It may seem absurd, but it is really true, that most of those children have never dreamed that politeness applied to such things as their play with each other. But the main source of this improvement is the example of the teachers, who take pains to be very polite in playing the games and in the general treatment of the children.
Justice, waiting their turn.-One of the best effects of the playground movement has been the cultivating in the children a sense of justice. In the street might makes right. When the playgrounds opened, the large children did not expect to wait their turns with the small children at the swings or apparatus. They went to the head of the line, or even pulled the small child out of the swing. This has changed, but whether it indicates any considerable reformation or only respeet for authority it is hard to tell, but the influence on the child is sure to be good. This respect for the rights of others is one of the most needful lessons for a child to learn, and the writer knows no better way to teach it. The method that has ordinarily been employed to prevent a scramble for scups.swings, seesaws, etc., is to line up the children and put a monitor in charge to give each child so many swings. This in itself is not always effective, as children will step out of their places and step up ahead of other children. To prevent this the children are sometimes lined up acccrding to their size, or each child is given a slip with a number on it. A reliable child with a little instruction will manage this. Often some game like bean bag or buzz is started for the children who are standing in line.
Stealing.–Stealing is likely to occur in any playground, especially in the first week or two it is opened; but if the worker succeeds in raising a school spirit, the older children will soon cease to take things.
Gangs.—The playgrounds of most cities were troubled at first by gangs of boys who came in for mischief. In the first week or so they often caused great annoyance, so that a policeman was stationed in every playground in New York. The gang problem is becoming much less acute as the system becomes better organized and the workers learn better how to deal with them. ' The gang can often be conquered by turning them into a gymnastie or basket ball team. In this they have the advantage over other teams in having a strong spirit of loyalty to each other. They will usually respect a gymnast who is capable and tries to help them, and they will expend their superflous energy in work instead of mischief. In order to do this it is usually necessary for the teacher to make friends with the leader. By making monitors of one or two of the moving spirits, the whole gang is often subdued and very effective assistants are gained in the playground. This is a method that must be used with discretion, as the influence of such monitors on the other children is not always good. This same method will very often work with the troublesome child in general. If he can be influenced to help or if he is pat in charge of something, he ceases to be a nnisance and makes a very effective assistant. After the work of a playground is well organized the home talent will generally take such good care of its premises that a troublesome gang will soon find the street a pleasanter abiding place. Gangs have not made much trouble for the past two years.
Profanity, obscenity, and cruelty.--All of these offenses will be met with in the playgrounds. There are cases of children who are lewd both in actions and language. There has been trouble in some cases from loose girls in their early teens. The only cure of the evil seems to be to exclude the girl. Playgrounds can not be made reformatories for such characters. The influence of the teacher is divided among too many children, and these characters may have a bad influence over many. The teacher can not correct it, because these things will be said when she is not around.
There are some children who like to see animals and other children suffer. They will strike them just for the sake of hurting them. The writer once had a boy in a playground under his charge who would intentionally strike or otherwise hurt four or five smaller boys every half day he was in the playground. He seemed to take pleasure in the act for its own sake. No amount of talking to him seemed to have any effect, and he finally had to be excluded.
Playground spirit.—To a keen observer who visits different playgrounds it is soon evident that there is a different spirit in each. The children have a different attitude toward each other and toward the work and teachers in the various playgrounds. Some playgrounds do not seem to differ from the streets; there is no loyalty. In other playgrounds you feel that there is an air of friendliness; you find older children assisting the younger ones; often the teacher may go away and the playground will take care of itself. It is the creation of this spirit that is the hardest task of playground teachers. It requires unusual qualities for one to be largely successful. The writer has never known but two or three such leaders of children. If this school spirit is analyzed it seems to me to resolve itself into a threefold loyalty. It consists in loyalty to the leader, loyalty to the playground, and loyalty to the other members. In most cases one or two of these elements are lacking, and consequently the result is imperfect.
Discipline.—There are not many ways of punishment open to the playground teacher. The main method must always consist in having the work so well organized, the children so friendly, and surplus energy so well consumed that disorder will not naturally occur. When it does occur, the moral penalty of the disapprobation of the teacher and the other children will then be a strong preventive. When this is not effective the child is excluded from teams or games or, as a last resort, from the playground.
Social and moral influences.-As the playground has always been regarded as something of a social settlement, it remains to say a few words of its social and moral forces. The first of these is the playground itself, in removing the children from the temptations of the street. There is a suggestiveness about the playground which differs from that of the street. The child does not naturally think of doing the same things. The games themselves have a great influence on overcoming race prejudices and cementing friendships among the children.
The teachers have often taken a great interest in the work and in the children, and their personal contact with them has borne fruit in a copied politeness, gentleness, and justice.
Salaries and appointments.-In all cities in the early days, and in most cities still, the playgrounds are either a semiphilanthropy or a practice ground for the normal apprentice. At present the requirements for eligibility and the salaries of playground teachers are fixed by law in New York. The requirements for eligibility are a college diploma or experience in teaching. The salaries are $4 per session for principal of a playground, play center, or roof playground; $2.50 for a head teacher, and $1.50 to $1.75 for an assistant teacher.
Value of directed play.-It has often been said that directed play is not good for or pleasing to children. The director, or better the organizer, of plays and games must not be a man of mechanical rules and iron discipline, but there can be no doubt that children choose an older person for their leader. The children will always flock into the game teing played by the teacher and abandon their own games. Where there are two vacant lots side by side in one of which there is directed play while in the other there is not, there will always be found to be many more children in the lot with the teacher, and often this will be crowded while the other is quite deserted. It is Joseph Lee's testimony that the free playgrounds in Boston are not used, and the observations of the writer in New York are quite in line with this.
Is it worth while?-It is very evident to everyone that these new departments of school work represent a very great departure from the traditional work of the school. In it the school has left its allotted portion of the year and invaded the vacation time. It has undertaken to give not only physical, social, and moral training, but it has attempted also to provide for recreation. New York is spending upward of $150,000 a year to provide the children with these facilities. Some have thought such an expense unjustifiable. Most of those who take a negative view of the value of the playgrounds consider them from a very narrow point of view. The street department could very nearly or quite afford to maintain the playgrounds for the sake of improving the streets. New York pays more than this for removing one large snowfall, yet there is no obstacle in the street that is half so troublesome as the child. You can steer around a post, but you never know where a child will be the next moment. Every kind of dray or carriage or car must reduce speed, and every driver of these thousands of vehicles is put under a nervous strain by the presence of the children, and the passers-by and the stores at the side are constantly annoyed by their games. The expense of the playgrounds is easily justified by the protection of the children. This means, hygienically, protection from extreme heat, from noxious dust and filth of nameless composition. It means, physically, protection from accidents. Many parents have come to the playgrounds in New York and told the teachers that formerly they could never take any comfort in vacation time because they were always leaning out of the window to see if their children were safe. Morally, the playground has meant to the children protection from almost constant temptations. The number of arrests of children in any neighborhood always falls off abruptly on the opening of a playground.
The writer has in his possession the following clipping, believed to be from the report of the Chicago schools and addressed to the superintendent:
MY DEAR SIR: I am pleased to drop you a line in relation to the decrease in patrol calls during the recent vacation. Ordinarily the telephone would ring almost continually, complaining of boys playing ball in the streets, stealing fruits, swimming in the canal, etc., but this year we have experienced quite a relief, and I am candid enough to believe it is largely due to your summer schools and the Mothers' Club baseball grounds.
Hoping for greater success during the next season along these lines, I am pleased to remain, Very respectfully,
Chas. R. WRIGHT,
Chief of Police. If the view herein set forth of what the playgrounds have accomplished in the way of physical, mental, moral, and social training for the children is true the playgrounds are well justified by the positive benefits.
Control of playgrounds.—The question still remains, admitting that this work is worth doing and should be done, does it belong to the department of education? So long as it is carried on in connection with the school buildings it can not be well left to any other department. But the question of the control of the new municipal or model playgrounds which are being laid out so rapidly at present may well be raised. If the question be well considered it will be seen that there are three or four departments concerned in the playground problem. Some of these departments do not yet realize it, apparantly, but it is sure to be forced on their attention in the near future.
The first department is the tenement-house department, which must be brought to provide some playground in the center of the block for the small children. The center of a tenement block is to-day the dreariest spot in the “city wilderness." Partially occupied by unsightly stables and tenements and factories, crossed by ugly partition fences and a labyrinth of clothes lines, it is the most depressing outlook in the city slum. This spot must be brought to stand for nature in the form of shrubs and flowers. It must be made a playground for the small children, who are not safe on the streets.
The second department concerned is the street department. For the streets, after all, are going to be used largely in this capacity, and of many streets of my acquaintance it must be said that their function as playgrounds is much more important than their function as thoroughfares. Recognizing this fact, such streets should always be asphalted, thus giving a usable surface for running and roller skating. They should be cleaned not with a view of making them passable for wagons, but of making them fit playgrounds. The traffic should be so regulated or turned into other streets that the children will not be exposed to unnecessary dangers.
The third department is the department of parks, which is at present so active in building model playgrounds.
The fourth is the department of education.
The question as to whether each of these departments should be stimulated to carry on this work and each set to compete with the other, or whether a playground department should be created to take charge of this side of the work of all departments will not be discussed, but this is certainly an important consideration at the present moment.
Games in the curriculum.-Should we introduce games into the curriculum as the Germans have done? Should we attempt to make athletics compulsory where it is possible, as it is in the English public schools? There would be a great improvement in the attitude of the teachers and scholars toward each other if they might play together more often, and I hope this question will soon claim the attention of American educators.
Normal training for vacation teachers.—The very rapid development and wide extent of the movement seems to demand that the normal schools pay more attention to this side in their training. New York will employ nearly 2,000 teachers in this work this summer, yet her normal schools are giving no training. The training required will pay more attention to gymnastics, to physiological laws, and the aims and methods of social work.
PSYCHOLOGY OF PLAY.
Any treatment of the playgrounds would seem incomplete without some brief treatment of the psychology of play.
There have been two chief theories in the field—the Schiller-Spencer theory and the theory of Professor Groos. The first theory, which has been most intimately connected with the name of Herbert Spencer, is the theory that play is surplus energy. Spencer says an animal in its daily pursuits generates a certain amount of energy. When conditions of life become easier for any reason, the amount of energy which was only sufficient in other times now is in excess of requirements, and this excess is expended in play. It is like a locomotive; when it is running on the tracks and drawing its load it uses its steam, but when it stops at the station it soon begins to blow off. The young animal having no serious activity, and no way to use the energy it generates, uses all of this energy in play and gains physical development thereby. The human brain is like a steam chest; as the process of nutrition goes on the brain cells are constantly being nourished beyond the point of nervous equilibrium and tend to a nervous discharge. Children can not sit still. The writer has tried hundreds of small children, and there are very few children under five who can be got by any inducement to sit still for one minute. By actual register with pedometers he found that the ordinary child of five or six not in school will walk or run around 8 or 9 miles a day. These facts seem to show the presence of this surplus energy and this tendency to nervous discharge. Anyone may notice the sedate pace of the plow horse as he comes from his work, and the wild gambols of the idle steed unloosed from his stall.
Professor Groos says, however, that this is all very good so far, but why does