Reasonably full treatment is given in this chapter to the work of the Committee of Seven of the Northern Illinois Conference on Super- vision1 for the following reasons: The experiments in placement conducted by the Committee of Seven have been directly in line with the general purpose of the Yearbook and have been the first and most extensive investigations in this field. They began in 1926 and are still continuing. They have consisted of controlled, cooperative experiments in 255 cities and towns in 16 states, involving 1190 teachers and 30,744 children.
The conviction is growing that the development of a better understanding of the significant problems now facing our disordered society and the cultivation of the ability to deal with them more effectively are vital and major responsibilities of the school. The brunt of these responsibilities has fallen upon the social studies, and workers in the field have responded with much philosophizing and heroic lists of goals or objectives to be achieved. The outcomes have been conceived primarily in terms of what the child "ought" to know.
Teachers are aware that pupils bring into the educational situation a complex system of interests, attitudes, and emotional tendencies. To a considerable degree these factors determine the direction and the efficiency of intellectual effort. If we accept the principle that effective teaching requires some attention to a pupil's interests, it is only a step to the further assumption that a school should be concerned with the emotional and social development of its pupils. Such an assumption rests upon the fact that an emotionally disordered or socially maladjusted child is in a poor state to organize his interests or to profit from classroom experiences.
It has been necessary, for the reasons already pointed out in the Prefatory Note to Section II, to consider the various fields of children's learning and activities separately. As said at that point, this in no way implies that the actual organization of work within the classroom on the basis of such compartmentalization is either necessary or desirable.
Our whole view of the complex subject of this chapter will be clarified if we constantly bear in mind the fact that every curriculum and every placement of subject matter represents a compromise between the child's abilities and interests and the demands of society. At an age when he is, perhaps, but poorly equipped for the material he is required to master, a child may have to learn some things that will make him function more efficiently in the surroundings in which he finds himself at the moment or will find himself later.
The purpose of this chapter is to summarize in integrated form the research problems revealed in the Yearbook as pertinent to its fundamental purpose. It is hoped by this means to stimulate teachers and others to undertake the much-needed research.
If the present writer understands the point of view of the Yearbook, it assumes that there is in existence a body of subject matter, the learning of which constitutes an education. The immediate educational problem, therefore, is that of determining when or at what stage of development such material can best be taught. If one accepts this basic point of view, he will no doubt feel that the present volume is a significant contribution. The data have been carefully compiled and treated in a scholarly fashion. Each chapter contains an analysis of significant researches bearing on the major problem of the Yearbook.
It is too early to attempt any historical appraisal of the present scientific activities in the field of child development. In a certain sense the preschool child, both as an educational and a hygienic problem, has been only recently rediscovered. We are in the midst of a movement, both humanitarian and scientific in temper, which is conferring an altogether new social status upon the early period of childhood. The present yearbook is a symptom of this period of transition. It is significant that only ten years ago such a volume could scarcely have been either projected or launched.
Investigations of motor development have been an outgrowth of a number of interests, distinct in their origin, but involving a somewhat common goal. Ten such types of interest may be noted.
In view of the conflicting opinions in regard to what language development is, no attempt is made in this section to settle upon any one definition of the term. It is impracticable to include here the report of all studies of young children of which language and speech, in their broadest connotation, are a part, for practically every study on the preschool child would be included. This section is therefore arbitrarily limited to a discussion of those studies in which the primary purpose has been to investigate the speech or language development of the young child, either as a separate phase or in combination with other phases of development. A few additional significant studies have been included, in which language, particularly vocabulary, has been a prime essential to the subject matter under investigation.
In reviewing the literature on intelligence and intelligence testing, there seem to be two outstanding points of view. On the one hand, the emphasis is placed on mental processes, the capacity to analyze and synthesize on a conceptual level, or, according to Terman, ''the ability to carry on abstract thought." On the other hand, mental processes, if indeed they exist at all, have their expression in behavior, and behavior, alone, is open to scientific investigation.
When Wundt founded his psychological laboratory in Leipzig, he opened to experimental investigation all of the phenomena in which the psychologists were interested. As was to be expected, he first employed the methods borrowed from physiology with which he was most familiar. Furthermore, the aspects of the subject matter experimented upon were closely allied to the correlated biological interests of the times: reaction time, sensory discrimination, etc. The interpretations of results were largely introspective in implication—that is, the 'sensory' or 'motor' type of reactor, the subjective basis of color mixing, etc. The textbooks of the day indicated by the emphasis upon certain themes for study, such as sensation, perception, etc., the direction in which the psychologists were proceeding.
With the increasing emphasis on the importance of the preschool years, the interest in the study of physical growth has made notable progress. To scrutinize the research in physical growth, as it relates to the preschool child, that has been done in the past few years, and to select and interpret briefly the significance of certain outstanding studies; to find out what research is in progress at the present time; to review the tests and methods by which physical growth is measured; and to suggest lines in which further study is especially needed, have been the aims in making this survey.
The building up of routine habits is a basic function of education, none the less important because it has been comparatively unrecognized as a responsibility of education until recently. "Learning" includes more than mastery over the printed symbol; it is synonymous with habit and attitude formation in physical and mental health, and in the total personality development.
While every aspect of the child's early life may be considered as related to his play, special attention is given here to the values, the activities, and the educational provisions for that form of play which manifests itself predominantly in physical activity and movement. Other forms of play are considered in subsequent chapters.
The child's musical development during the preschool years is of importance if for no other reason than the joyousness of the experience. Although there still needs to be definite research in regard to the value of music education in these early years, there have been instances enough in the cases under observation to prove that early provision for music education is a wise measure.
The child enters the world endowed with a rich social heritage, a large part of which may be attributed to the development of language through the centuries. That ''social unity can be secured only when some method is provided for holding individuals to the same inner patterns of thought and desire" has been pointed out by Judd. ''That device for producing a common way of thinking was developed in language . . . Language is not merely a vehicle for the transmission of ideas from mind to mind; it is a compelling institution which forces men to become alike in their associations of ideas." Countless generations have cooperated to simplify and systematize the collections of ideas that have been in the possession of the groups.
How may the young child learn to live with others happily? How does he acquire those habits and attitudes which govern his reactions to other persons? The two leading theories to explain social development are that social development is instinctive or, on the other hand, that it is the interaction between the child and his environment.
The aim of the nursery school and the kindergarten is to provide for the child those opportunities for growth and development which will permit him to develop his capacities fully.
Most organizations dealing with preschool children find some sort of record of each child a necessity, since scientific treatment can be based only upon accurate data. The memory of individuals is too inexact, too incomplete, and too personal to be relied upon. Written records are usually compiled of observations and measurements from many sources and thus tend to give an unbiased picture of the child. A written record is cumulative. It preserves an ac- count of the child at one stage of development, so that it can be studied later in the light of further information.
Parental education up to the present time has devised no unique methods of procedure in the conduct of its teaching. A large variety of techniques such as are ordinarily employed in college courses and in non-academic discussion groups have been adapted to this particular branch of adult education. The dynamic quality of the material and the immediate and active interest on the part of parents render discussion in parental education work far more live than the rather passive material in many academic courses.
The value which society has placed upon human life has increased tremendously with the advance of civilization. This is particularly true regarding the life of the child. Economic states, religious rights, and strange superstitions no longer challenge the right of the child to exist. His prenatal development is carefully supervised. With adequate medical attention, he is assured of a comparatively safe passage into the world, and his physical well- being continues to be a matter of great concern. Nutrition, posture, teeth, tonsils, and all measures which tend toward the preservation of health are now accepted as matter-of-fact parental obligations.
My assignment is to describe the American elementary school for those from without our country; to explain as best I can what manner of school we have, its theory and practice, but most of all the manner and degree in which it answers to the needs of the American situation.
The American school system, as a system, is defective in that its constituent parts are not sufficiently related to each other. In theory each grade is introductory to the grade next succeeding, and we pride ourselves on having an educational ladder reaching from the kindergarten to the university.
The purpose of this number of the RECORD is to give an account of the work done by the department of psychology in Teachers College, and to present some of the more important data of Child Study in a form accessible to all students of children and convenient for teachers of special subjects.
This commentary discusses how readiness, a concept often associated with early childhood policy and practice, is being “pushed-up” creating a chain between early childhood and employment. The authors argue a need to break the readiness chain and suggest the break begin within the context of higher education. Further, the authors propose that breaking the readiness chain be the impetus for deserting the concept of readiness and rethinking the view of the student as capable and competent.