Thursday, July 5, 2018

The "Perfect" School

I'm currently reading the autobiography of Glenn Clark, a writer who influenced many in my parents' generation. He was born in 1882, which would make him about the age of my grandparents...

The book is an interesting read. His narrative style is modern and readable, so was shocking to realize that his younger brother, aged 10, died after the family doctor performed an appendectomy right in their home! (Were there no hospitals in the 1890's?)

Medical care has advanced so much in the past 150 years!

At one point in the story, I was puzzled by the author's reference to life in "the nineties." Surely he wasn't alive in the 1990's, I thought... I then realized that he was referring to the 1890's, when he was still in school. (Born in 1882, he lived until 1956.)

I was particularly interested in his reflections on education. When he was 12, he and his younger brother made a plan to improve elementary school education. He writes:

We would have schools hold sessions only in the mornings. The afternoons could then be turned into the most valuable part of our school plan. Hikes in the woods would give opportunity to study the habits of birds and ants and bees at first hand... Geography would be taught by imaginary trips in which big maps and blank books and lots of pencils for drawing would have a place. History could be turned into pageants and acted out...

He concludes with the comment: I still think that these spontaneous ideas... could make a big improvement over much of our education today.

All these years later, I totally agree!

No comments:

Post a Comment