Page images
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

CONGESTED TRAFFIC ON FORTY-SECOND STREET: NEW YORK CITY This view of a jam at Fifth avenue and Forty-second street shows what a tremendous task the New York traffic policeman has to encounter. One who stands for an hour at a busy crossing like this and watches an officer keep order from descending into chaos knows that in Gotham there is efficiency both high up and low down. Often there is more journalistic space devoted to one stray deed of one stray policeman than to the ninety and nine good deeds of the ninety and nine earnest guardians of the law who remain in the fold of conscientious service.

Three people out of every four in the great metropolis were born under alien. flags or are the children of the foreignborn. But who that has studied the situation can gainsay New York's Americanism?

The story of how the one-fourth of the city's population that is of native

ancestry has Americanized the threefourths that is foreign in birth or parentage is revealed in the schools.

He who studies at first hand the processes of Americanization and citizenbuilding finds work being done which would stir the heart of the most unemotional observer. He realizes that all of

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]


In no other city does the sidewalk Demosthenes thrive so well as in New York, and in no part of New York so well as in Madison Square. He is always against things as they are. His doctrines are those of the Bolsheviki, and his remedies would undoubtedly be worse than the disease; but he always commands an audience and never passes the hat.

what is called New York's politics, stories of graft and the like, are but the froth and foam which fleck the waves of the city's life, while beneath runs a deep current of progress and public spirit, which takes form in carefully conceived and splendidly executed health laws, in a school system that has accomplished wonders, in a water system surpassing anything of its kind on earth, and in a hun

dred and one other ways not quite so dramatic as the printed stories of its politics and graft, but none the less full of human interest.


Along with many other cities, New York long since learned that a vast majority of the children who attend public schools do not go to college afterward.

[graphic][merged small]

GARMENT-WORKERS PARADING DOWN MADISON AVENUE: NEW YORK CITY Thousands of such humble folk as these find habitations in brownstone fronts that once were homes of the rich. The rich, fleeing with the approach of business, went uptown and duplicated their downtown brownstone fronts, and so millionaire mill-owner and poor garment-worker may live alike behind a brownstone front, the one above Fiftieth street and the other below Twenty-third.

In times gone by all elementary education was planned to fit boys and girls for colleges, and those who couldn't continue in the appointed channel found themselves half fitted for college, but not at all fitted for life. Then some one proposed that boys and girls whose education was almost certain to be limited should spend their school days preparing for their life work rather than for the college they would never be able to attend.

From that suggestion developed the idea of vocational education, which is now accomplishing wonders. Perhaps

more than any other one agency, it is helping to transform in heart and action the alien life of the metropolis into part and parcel of our body politic. The immigrant's children are being fitted for that economic independence which comes with skilled hands instead of being sent forth from school with untrained hands and poorly trained minds.

A day spent in visiting New York's prevocational and and vocational schools gives one much heart and hope. Go with me down on the lower East Side, where the tenement flourishes in all its fabled glory, and visit a prevocational school.

[graphic][merged small]


"Step lively" is the spirit of New York. The crossing policeman wants you to do so, the crowd steps on your heels if you do not, and the subway car door goes shut in your face if you are slow; for New York is too big to wait for anybody. One who lives there must be in a hurry, and the drones, whether in business, going to Coney Island, strolling up Broadway, or wherever they may be or whatever their circumstance, are always in people's way. This unusual photograph was made from a building opposite the Public Library.

Here we see children studying the things we studied in the little red school house, with touches of nature added here and there. There is a constant effort to grade the boys and girls, so that each child finds full scope for his capabilities..

The backward children are withdrawn from the regular classes, as are also the especially precocious ones. To go into a class-room where the precocious kiddies hold sway is to see a lot of high-school heads on sixth-grade bodies. It seems almost uncanny to hear such youthful pupils discussing the relations of Japan to the Siberian situation or America's attitude in the matter of after-the-war trade.


When the average boys and girls reach the age of thirteen, they are ready to take up something beside text-books. Aiming alike to prevent square pegs from getting into round holes and to lay the foundations for life training, the prevocational school has many lines of work for boys and girls.

In a boy's department are to be found courses in machine-shop activities, in sheet-metal work, electric wiring, plumbing, woodworking, mechanical drawing, sign painting, garment designing, and printing. Each boy has a number of metal tags like those used in every modern machine shop. These are given in exchange for the tools they desire and are claimed when the tools are returned..

The boys take three courses, which they select with the aid of their teachers. For the fourth term they go back to the one in which they desire to specialize. While they are taking these courses all book work is planned to dovetail with the handwork both in subject-matter and in hours. The sheet-metal worker's arithmetic will deal with sheet-metal workers' problems, and the electric wiring student's science will involve basic electrical principles. The girls' departments have courses in dressmaking, millinery, homemaking, etc.

When the children finish their work in the prevocational schools, some of them drop out, but most of them go to the vocational schools, where they carry on the course already begun. These are high

schools, training hand and mind together, and fitting the pupils for their life work. A boy who finishes the plumbing course at the Vocational School for Boys is real plumber, and the boy who puts up his building and wires it with every known sort of wire installation can give pointers to many a man who has spent a quarter of a century as an electrician. FITTING GIRLS FOR LIFE'S RESPONSIBILITIES

For girls, vocational education reaches its highest expression at Washington Irving High School. Here one sees a combination of head, heart, and hand training that transforms the tenement child into a young woman who possesses poise, who has a keen, alert, straight-thinking mind, who knows the responsibilities of life, and who has been imbued with a spirit of high patriotism, right purpose, and clean living.

To teach 5,600 girls every day, to train them in mind and body as Uncle Sam is training his armies at our soldier cities, is a great task. To take that many immigrants' daughters and make them orderly, as jealous of the school's discipline as if they were its responsible head, quiet and dignified in lunch-room, class-room, and corridor, gracious as hostesses to visitors and in their auditorium work, and as patriotic as if every line of their descent lay through Williamsburg or the Mayflower-that is a work inspiring in its proportions and rich in its results.

With its motto the three big "I's" of life-Intelligence, Industry, IntegrityWashington Irving High School truly educates head, hand, and heart. A fouryear academic course, a four-year librarian's course, a three-year commercial course, a three-year dressmaking and costume-designing course, and a threeyear industrial arts course are provided.

Go down into the big auditorium and see several hundred girls in a war-savings stamp meeting, and watch them on the stage making posters. Many a veteran "chalk-talk" artist would envy their work. In the design-drawing work the Washington Irving girls produced last winter successes in commercial art that will be in evidence all over the United States before a year has passed, for merchants and manufacturers in search of

« PreviousContinue »