Chicago Vacation Schools

Gertrude Blackwelder
1905 The Elementary School Teacher  
The idea is gradually gaining ground in our city that society has a responsibility toward the children of the crowded districts which does not end at the close of the regular school year in June. Teachers have long been aware of the need of some kind of wholesome training and restraint for the young ones who are literally turned into the street at this time, but the public is slow to realize the conditions under which thousands of them exist during the summer vacation. Driven from their crowded
more » ... from their crowded homes by the heat and general discomfort, the children, from the baby carried in the arms of some " little mother," to the adolescent boy or girl, find their social life in the streets. This life is as different from the natural, playful existence of children in the country or small town as can be imagined. Nothing which can be called " play" is to be seen; there is no possible chance for games of any sort. A municipal horse trough, or the dirty puddles after a rain, satisfy that mysterious longing for water which seems to be inherent in all children. The popularity of the swimming and wading pools in our new small parks proves that this youthful desire for contact with water, which may be reminiscent of ancient life-forms, is found in the tenement district as well as the country. Not all of the joy in childish pleasures has been rooted out by unwholesome and unnatural surroundings. The fact that vacation schools recognize and develop this desire for play, the birthright of all children, goes far to account for their popularity. But the child craves something besides play; he likes to work, if suitable stimulus is given. This desire was recognized by the framers of the vacation-school curriculum and ample provision made for handwork. It was their intention to develop manual training along educational, rather than industrial, linesto treat it as a form of expression, and for the first few years this branch 211
doi:10.1086/453536 fatcat:vrd4cr5z3zfn3emnjxcsu4e4kq