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HEN The Place of Subjects in the Curriculum, Office of Education
Bulletin 1949, No. 12, was published it was stated that a number of

smaller bulletins exploring certain aspects of education touched on briefly in Bulletin 12, would follow. The present bulletin is one of this series. It is designed to show some of the ways in which successful teachers work with children in order to establish rapport and to guide them into productive and happy living.

This bulletin presents in the main a viewpoint based on the belief that if children live in a friendly school environment rich with experiences and materials that stimulate curiosity, and with adult guidance that senses the depth and direction of the curiosity and the possibilities that lie within it and at the same time recognizes the needs for development inherent in every child, desirable growth will result.

The viewpoint is borne out by some illustrations taken from schools here and there over the United States, schools where "good things” are going

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Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following schools for basic material or photographs: Tucson, Ariz.; North Little Rock, Ark.; Carmel, Calif.; Champaign, III.; Evansville, Ind.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Hammond, Ind.; Newton, Mass.; Boston University, Sargent College of Physical Education, Cambridge, Mass.; Greenville, Miss.; Reno, Nev.; Pickens Mills, S. C.; Port Arthur, Tex.; Cedar City, Utah; Glendale, Wis.


How Children and Teacher Work Together

OST CHILDREN like to go to school. They like to go for a variety

of reasons. Many school buildings are inviting. Even their strucWL ture seems to reflect a “you will be welcome here” air. School rooms with movable furniture, ample work space, chalkboards within the easy reach of all children, extensive bulletin boards, attractively colored walls, wide windows, and excellent lighting help children to feel at home. Once they are in school, flexible schedules which allow for work, rest, relaxation, and play add to the pleasure of being there. A wide variety of resource materials satisfies curious minds. But most of all when children are enthusiastic about going to school it is because they feel the teacher likes and understands them. In return, they like her. They feel important to the group; they know that they have come to school to learn, and they soon find out that they have much to give.

How do children develop these feelings? They develop them out of school experiences which are happy, in which children and teachers work in harmony, each gaining some satisfaction in achievement. And, achievement is measured by the way children meet the problems they face in everyday living.

The teacher is the key person in all this. She learns all she can about the children, observing them as they work and play alone and with others, becoming acquainted with their parents, visiting and conferring in their homes, studying cumulative records made by the school, and talking with teachers, the nurse, and other people who know the children.

“Working together” has a simple beginning. Young children have a chance to tell about themselves. The teacher helps them learn how to make simple rules about using toilet rooms, moving about their own rooms, going to the playground, getting out and putting away materials; to select games to play, stories to dramatize, or songs to sing; to choose what they want to dopaint, work with clay, look at books, play with toys, or take care of pets. When there is conflict in choice, or desires are beyond capacities, the teacher helps the boys and girls arrive at conclusions that are good for them.

The teacher encourages children who like to be together to work and play with one another. She is sensitive, however, to the needs of those who seem to be ignored or left out. She analyzes the reasons why and through skillful guidance helps the “unwanted” develop abilities which will help them win friends.


Children study in small groups, with the teacher ready to help

As the children grow older, they want to be more independent. At the same time, they face more complex problems. Curiosity and the desire to learn drive children to seek answers to their questions and to express new interests. They feel the need for having many resources at hand. The teacher understands how to guide curiosity to produce growth. She is alert to see that materials are secured when needed. She suggests ways in which the children can use their own initiative to get materials.

As children mature, they find that working together in groups is reassuring. The teacher helps the children use their time well by giving them opportunities to discuss their problems as a group. Then she works with individuals or small groups, helping them set up a simple scheme for keeping track of the activities within groups and for listing problems they cannot solve without additional help. She arranges for time when she can meet with groups who need her direct guidance.

Leadership within the groups is passed around. Cohesiveness is built as the children share ideas, work together, evaluate their progress, and examine their own skills. Group standards are developed as they work together. They have their own ways of spurring on the procrastinator, of helping those who don't see the point, of deciding what they want to accomplish and what they think is unimportant. The teacher is always aware of what is going on but she doesn't "take over” if things are not going exactly as she, in her adult way of looking at things, thinks they ought to go. This does not mean there is turmoil, frustration, or complete freedom. Rather, the teacher realizes that children learn through their mistakes as well as through their successes. Through a question here and a suggestion there, she leads them to evaluate their way of working and their achieve ments, and to remake their plans so that they may reach their goals. She may need to change the personnel of a group that is having trouble or sit with the children as they work.

Some of the "working together” is a very personal thing—between the teacher and a pupil. The teacher helps the child examine his strengths and weaknesses and plan steps to take so that he may in his own way develop greater skill. A child usually needs guidance in learning to read, to write, to spell, and to accomplish other skills involved in becoming independent, in working with people, in playing games; in short, in achieving those things which are important to him, his parents or teacher, or to the group of which he is a member.

Sometimes the “working together” involves the entire group, as for instance, when the work of the whole day is being planned or when the activity involves everyone in the class. Although goals may be set by all, usually the actual work involved in achieving the goals or purposes is carried out by small committees. The teacher takes time to discuss with the whole group and then with the chairmen and committee members of each group the responsibilities of a pupil chairman, and similarly, the responsibilities of the committee members. When committees work in a new experience, the committee members, sometimes with the teacher, take time out to discuss certain skills essential to working together--giving every member a chance to talk, giving each a responsibility, working without wasting time, using materials wisely, taking brief notes without copying directly from the book, reconstructing the notes and one's own ideas into interesting reports. The committees report back to the whole group when they are ready. They report in different ways. Some give oral reports or written reports; some use illustrations, some dramatizations; others present their reports in the form of radio broadcasts or panel discussions.

Sometimes the whole school works together on such things as planning a special program, studying ways to make the school safe, organizing an activity program to be carried on during the noon hour or while children wait for the bus, or naming a new school. At times, different grades assume responsibility for part of the work; at other times, “working groups” in. volve children from the various grades. Through planning and working to. gether with the teachers, the children learn to satisfy their own needs for growth and to enter into democratic living in small and large groups.

As the children and their teacher work, play, and live together in schools like this every child comes to know that:

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