Exposition and Education



To all interested in the educational problems of the day and the theories advanced for their solution, doubtless some one phase of the subject appeals with greater force than do the others.

The part of our state exhibit in which I have been most interested is that relating to the defective classes; the physically defective, which in a general way may be said to include the deaf, dumb and blind; the morally defective, found in the industrial reformatory institutions, and the mentally defective in the Institute for the Feeble-Minded.

The Institute for the Deaf and Dumb is located in our own city, that for the blind at Nebraska City, the School for the Feeble-Minded at Beatrice and the Girls' and Boys' Industrial school at Geneva and Kearney respectively.

The exhibit from each of these institutions occupies a booth in the south gallery of the Manufacturers' building and shows in a comprehensive manner the results accomplished and in some instances something of the methods employed in obtaining them. Present day philanthropy, which some one has said is but another I name for "enlightened selfishness," is directed toward prevention rather than reformation, and the problem confronting the state in regard to these wards is how to prevent them from being nonsupporting, or perhaps a better way of expressing it is, how to make them self-supporting, useful citizens.

While this goal may not yet have been reached, that it is being approximated no one will deny. It was my good fortune recently, because of a crowded car, to enjoy for some little time the society of a kind-faced elderly woman, who was on her way to visit a blind son, one of the instructors in the state institute. My question as to what she considered the chief benefits of the institution elicited in substance the following, which in large measure will apply to any one of the schools under consideration: That the pupils under trained experts are taught self-help; they are never given unnecessary assistance and are never pitied, as is the almost universal practice when trained at home. In other words, home training, because of the elements of affection and pity, results in increased helplessness and its natural corollary, selfishness. School training, on the contrary, develops all the latent powers, quickens the remaining senses and, as the mother said, makes the pupils of use to themselves and others. The statement was made, too, that as a rule the blind were much happier than the deaf and dumb. Not being able to make a comparison in this regard, I registered the hope that instructors of the latter might say the same, or rather that educating both materially increased their happiness.

To return to the exhibit made by the Institute for the Blind, it shows as one would naturally expect great skill in the use of the trained hand and mind.

In the front of the booth is a mounted glass case of bead work, the form of the various pieces, mats, baskets, chains and the like, are perfect, but the colors are confined to two or three. Fruit, vegetables ant geometric forms, modeled from clay by the younger pupils are with the bead work. The kindergarten work includes folding, weaving, pasting and sewing in simple designs.

The girls show many pieces of knitted work, capes, mittens, slippers and several pieces of lace of intricate pattern. Woven rugs, netted hammocks, and a patch-work quilt, which does not seem to be either the "rising sun" or "lone star" pattern, are bung on the side walls. I was much interested in the quilt, because of the patient effort it suggested. One seam had plainly been done over, but the few remaining "puckers" are the most attractive part to any one, unless it be a New England housewife of the olden school.

In the boys' industrial display are several bundles of brooms and brushes of different sizes. But the part of the work in which 1 the chief interest centers is the five volumes' of type-written work in New York point, the system adopted by the school. They contain matter illustrative of the Latin, English, his-tory, music and science courses. Nearly all have in connection with the raised point, which would be unintelligible to the average reader, an exact translation in ordinary typewriting. The two exercises are in most eases the work of the same person. The point paper is necessarily heavy and firm.

The volumes have admirable tables of contents, showing the subject, name of pupil, page on which work is found, and in many instances the age. The oldest observed was 29 years, the youngest 8 years.

Adjoining this booth is the one occupied by the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. In a general way the two exhibits follow the same lines. Their close proximity brings out strikingly the use of the trained eye in the latter.

In the girls' manual training department is seen much more sewing. A large case contains a cloth costume, quite an elaborate house waist and an evening waist. There is also a case of children's dresses and specimens of hemstitching, embroidery and drawn work not seen in the other exhibit.

The manual training display by the boys shows work in a finished state and also in various stages of completion, together with plans or working drawings.

In the kindergarten work the combination of colors is very pleasing. There are several calendars mounted on pretty woven backgrounds which one feels sure are samples of Christmas gifts sent home by the little folks.

The art department, which gives instruction in crayon, charcoal, pen and ink, oils, water colors, etchings and mottoes, sends specimens of each branch of its work. A picture of the Maine in oil occupies a conspicuous place. There is a large collection of written work, both mounted and hound. Its noticeable features are illustration and patriotism. Compositions on the present war, biographies of Grant and Lee, with portraits and flags in profusion, are noticed. Maps of Nebraska, of the United States and of the original thirteen colonies, with the subsequent acquisitions of territory, are parts of the geography work. Cards showing recent fieldday and commencement pro-grams, and the personnel of the school, teachers and pupils, and the Board of Trustees complete the distinctive features of the exhibit. ELLA B. PERRINE.