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Newspaper Page Text
WOULDN'T LITTLE SIX, SEVEN
By Jane Whitaker.
Little six and seven and eight-year-old,
imagine how splendid it would be
if, instead of sitting on a hard bench
before a desk, with "reading and writ
ing and 'rithmetic" to study, you
could play out in the great out-of-doors
and still call it school?
It sounds like a dream, doesn't it,
and yet. one woman teacher ias put
such a thought into effect and is hav
ing wonderful success with it.
Her name is Mrs. Marietta L. John
son. She says she has been a teacher
"for a hundred years" and she told
the Federation of Teachers all about
her new system of teaching little six
and seven and eight-year-olds, and.
even tots that are nin6 and ten and
eleven by the out-of-door method.
"Like all teachers, my idea of edu
cation was to plan how to force so
much knowledge upon the brain of a
child in a given number of years,"
Mrs. Johnson said. "And I believed
in that plan as we all do, until one
day my principal came to me and
handed me a book..
" 'Education is all wrong,' he said,
unless it leads to this.',
"I was amazed. How could edu
cation be all wrong? Hadn't we led
it up to what we considered perfec
tion? But that night I read the book.
It was called 'Development of the
Child,' and I saw then that our system
of education was all wrong and re
solved that if I ever had a child of my
own I would experiment with a new
brand of education.
"Education is life. Would life ever
make round-shouldered, anaemic,
nervous children?; Could the teacher
ever break down teaching if she is
giving life? Education would be life
giving to the teachers as well as to
the children. A sound, accomplished
body, an intelligent-mind, a sincere
spirit, this is education.
"Our educational system is based
on promotion. . We say to two' little
six-year-olds: 'Study this and you
AND EIGHT-YEAR-OLD LIKE TO
will be promoted,.' And one learns
'rapidly and the other slowly and one
is promoted and the other is not. One
is considered superior and the other
inferior, whereas they-are only nat
ural. And thus they experience in
justice disguised as justice and their
views of justice are early distorted.
"It was some time afterward thatL
had my own little boy and I put into
practice my theory of proper train
ing. I started 'several children at the
"There were no benches and no
desks to sit in front of. There were
no studies for the little six, seven and
eight-year-old. They had what I call
ed the life class. All that wag re
quired of them was just to live. They
were not humped up over books, they
were free to move around.
"They danced, they played "games,
they followed their natural .inclina
tions. They had physical develop
ment, not routine physical culture,
but physical development by sport.
"They were taught to love music,
not by studying notes which mean
nothing to the child, but by Rearing
the melodies that children love. They
did not learn to read out of a book,
but listened as stories were readtd
them and discussed the stories after
ward and retold them. " "
"They were not permitted to do as
they pleased. There wa"s no disobedi
ence; they had certain hours to play
and certain others to listen to music
and certain others to follow their
"The children of nine, ten and elev
en followed the same program, al
most, though they were put to read,
write and make figures, but there
were no home tasks. They opened a
book and discussed what was in it
and their interest was aroused, they
did not hate books.
"These children also learned cook
ing, sewing ami manual training;
Both classes had gardens where they
spent a'littietime each day.