Exposition and Education



Someone has said that the wisdom of the fabled gods and the self-poise of a Milo are hardly sufficient equipment for training the children and youth of our land. The old theory that a knowledge of the three R's was amply sufficient for the task is being supplanted and we are beginning to realize that men and women of the highest intellectual capacity and the broadest sympathies are needed to guide and mold the minds of young children as well as those of a larger growth.

This truth is vividly impressed on one while examining the work of the state reformatory school for girls and boys and the school for feeble minded youth. It is to be regretted that these schools, with the exception of the boys', have not sent data with their exhibits, showing something of their history, of the number and ages of pupils, courses of study, etc. Anyone wishing to make a careful comparison of the schools with others of a like nature can do so only indirectly by inference from the amount and character of the work displayed. It is not too late to remedy this omission.

From the Kearney boys' school come several letters and one composition of some length, which give considerable insight into the methods of the school and the character of its inmates. Once a month, as a part of the regular school work, the pupils fortunate enough to have parents, guardians or friends, write them letters. The letters shown are exactly as written, copies being mailed instead of the originals. A prefatory note by the teacher states that they are designed not so much as specimens of composition as to show something of the boy's daily life and trend of thought. From the composition the following is gleaned: "The school was opened in July, 1881, and consisted of one building. Since that time various buildings have been added as required, so that it is now conducted on the cottage plan. The boys are divided into four grades, or 'families'—B, C, D and E—according to size and, as far as practicable, the families work together. In 'E,' the largest family, size, not numbers, being the consideration, there were in April forty-three boys; the average age was 14 years and 5 months, the oldest 17 and the youngest 12. Their school hours extend from 7 to 11:15 a. m. daily, with an evening session of one hour, for nine months in the year. Fifteen of these boys had no mother, twelve neither father nor mother, twelve came from good homes, thirteen from fair and eighteen from bad. This 'family' is fairly typical of the others. In grade B the ages range from 7 to 14. Some of the grades have school room work in the after-noon, so for the house, shop and farm work, for there is a farm of 320 acres be-longing to the school, there is a force or 'detail' at all times."

The shop work includes printing, tailoring, shoemaking, carpentry and iron working. All clothing except "Sunday shirts" is made in the tailor shop. A large glass case contains working suits and best suits; there are also several pairs al shoes, and the case itself was made in the carpenter shop. From the printing office are letter and bill heads, forms of admission to the various state institutions, report blanks and business cards, besides a bound volume of the Industrial School Journal, published by the school.

The school room work includes instruc-Lion in the common branches, typewriting, bookkeeping and drawing. A great degree of proficiency is shown in the crayon and pen and ink portraits. On entering the school a pupil is given from 4,000 to 6,000 demerits, depending on the cause for which committed. Every day, when perfect in deportment, studies and manual labor, he is credited with a reduction of 10 marks. When a pupil has worked out his demerits he can be paroled, providing his parents or guardians furnish transportation, but he remains I in charge of the school until his majority , and may be recommitted for cause.

One of the letter writers tells his mother that he has 175 demerits and can get out in forty-eight days, at the rate of ten credits a day, with thirty perfect days. Another boy says: "Mamma, will you send some jacks and the game of Babes in the Woods, because we have so few games to play here. I never thought of seeing you or papa see me behind the bars." Still an-other says: "I have not run away yet and don't think I will."

This extract shows interest in the exposition: "We are getting a lot of work for the Transe-Mississippi. Company 'E' is going Write letters and We are going to send a lot of Arithmetic and a couple or verces of Poetary and the Third reader class (that's the class I are In) is going to write a story of ourselfs."

The most pathetic letter of all contained congratulations on the mother's salary being raised to $4 a week, inquiries as to the health of a younger brother and sister and closed with the sentence, "Mamma, if I could staid with you, I don't believe I'd be here now." The letters, as a whole, show great interest in the work of the school.

The composition before referred to states there have been 1,066 boys admitted to the school, besides 1S0 girls, previous to opening the girls' school at Geneva. During the first fifteen years but three deaths occurred, one due to drowning, one to injury from a machine and one from fever. This certainly speaks well for the sanitary conditions. The composition closes with this statement: "Many of the boys leave the school and become worthy and respected citizens and others graduate into the penitentiary."

The Girls' Industrial school sends a great variety of work from the domestic science department. A dainty collection of knitted and crocheted pieces, embroidery, hem-stitching, drawnwork and real lace is protected by a a glass case. A pretty piece of outline embroidery is the work of a 7-year-old pupil. In a quaint little frame made of thread are seen two sweet-faced children marked "our babies." Then on a shelf are several inviting sofa pillows and above them are hung work dresses carefully made. Buttonholes made by pupils of 6, 9, 10 and 11 years are noticed.

In the written work are sets of examination papers in history, geography, arithmetic and spelling, many of which are graded "100." The drawing shows several views in perspective of the different school buildings—the main building, engine room, laundry and store room. The element of paintings—the main building, engine room, laundry and store room. The element of patriotism is not lacking, for there are Cuban and United States flags and a map of Cuba, having underneath a suggestive sketch of "Yankee Swine." The flora of Nebraska is well represented in the drawing and there are many sketches from life, one of which may be intended as typical of latter-day conditions. It represents a couple evidently resting from a bicycle trip, the young man completely exhausted, leaning against a tree, while his companion, who is caring for the wheels, looks as though she were not in the least tired.

The work sent from the Beatrice School 1 for the Feeble-Minded Youth is placed in a booth, the walls and ceiling of which are covered with blue and white bunting, forming a pleasing background for the mounted work. The feature of the exhibit impressing one most strongly is the effort made to hold the attention of the pupils and quicken their perceptions. As instances of this may be mentioned the brightness and number of tints used in the kindergarten department and the real things traced in the outline embroidery—animals, fruits and flowers. In drawing, too, the game subjects preponderate. Several more than ordinarily well done pieces in penci and crayon are in the collection, among them the head of deer, a horse, a dog ant a retriever evidently bringing a snipe or plover to his master.

Two large cases of exquisite embroidery and all kinds of needlework are placed at the rear of the boolh. Between them is a case of bristle brushes, the work of the boys.

While there is less written work from this school perhaps than any of the other defective schools, there is quite as much care and nicety in its preparation. The mounted cards show arithmetic, geography and language work, while on the shelves are completed books of vertical penmanship from both boys and girls.

In the prospective exhibit mentioned the other day in connection with the manual training department of the High school, it should have read "live," not "line" exhibit.