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Manual training of children between 7-14 years =: Arbetsstugor för barn in Sweden Author(s): Hierta-Retzius, Anna Wilhelmina Source

: Earl Grey Pamphlets Collection, (1900) Published by: Durham University Library Stable URL: Accessed: 09/09/2010 04:31
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pedagogical slojd and cooking degree. been introduced in many schools. are left undeveloped. In former times. a revolution has taken place in the educa¬ tion of the nations. writing and arithmetic. has raised book learning to become the centre of education. In consequence the children are left to themselves during the hours free from school. In order to repair these defects. when every piece of dress and food was prepared at home. to a certain drawing. but only a few hours . with compulsory attendance. Book learning had but small place in their training.Th lie remarkable changes that have taken place in our civilized societies. technical education — — has. in order to work from morning until night in the manufactories. or as apprentices of trades. but the exercise of their practical and executive powers. The introduction of public board-schools. children learned in their homes. great industries have done away with the former manual home work. from the parents and the surroundings. and good citizens. They have been taught reading. the necessary knowledge and'skill to prepare them to become useful members of their family. require new methods of education and in¬ struction for the young generation. and not the least feature of modern life is that such a number of parents have to leave their homes. and several other good things at school. which in former times had been trained at home. In this century. The children were educated for practical life. the most important of popular instruction. it has grown to be regarded as the At the same time.

the young are easily tempted into bad habits. but also the parents' sense of responsibility gets weakened. and the temptations for a poor and hungry child. roam about in the streets during their free hours. In most countries — oven in England. all of which are the consequences of a vagrant life in the streets. and confess that they are beyond their control.are given to this. leagues of vagrant children and young roughs are becoming a plague to their home and to their parents. as I learn from the »Beport The increased in recent years. their children. and a danger to modern society. and »hom«s». These dangers are of course worst in the centres of industry and the great cities. while still almost the whole of school time is devoted to book training. Then. which has sharpened their intelligence without teaching them to love work. France and Austra¬ lia — juvenile offenders have. By the bad example of older comrades. and can early glide into mischief. . than to take them away altogether. or socalled »reformatory schools*. that it is much better to let the children remain even in bad homes. not only do the children lose the consciousness of owning a home. of the Howard Associations. take the neglected saving them. is an additional danger The parents often are strangers to to many of the young. The chil¬ dren. whose parents are absent and cannot take care of them. The lessons they there learn. In this way. or — in prison. are so evident that I need only to mention them. there is another danger of modern life. and put them into costly »indu¬ strial schools*. The very education. and to force the parents to improve. Great authorities on this subject tell us. or in the hope of In order to make them inoffensive. the States or communities children from their parents. It is considered a charitable thing to take the children away from bad parents.

by what means is this to be done? The greatest charity is. to help people to help themselves. This autumn.experience from the Reformatory schools is not en¬ Young criminals are couraging to continue in this direction. The whole system of education and instruction of the young must be reformed. in the beginning of 1887. so the number next year will be at least 40. and altogether 38 in Sweden. rather than afterwards to try to correct them at great cost in re¬ formatories and prisons! But. And I fully agree with the american pedagogue Mr Charles Leland's conclusions. »Lars Hierta's Minne->. expected to be reformed in the daily association with each other! How much wiser would it not be to prevent the evil by saving the children from entering the path of crime. as an experienced man says. that the ago of the first schoolyears were of the greatest importance for the training of the children in a good direction. As a step towards gaining this end. With this purpose. I founded the first Swedish Arbetsstuga with the aid of money given by a Memorial Fund of my father. the institutions called Arbetsstugor for bam — »Workshops for children* — were founded in Scandinavia. that the years of This is in fact a 7—14 are momentous for their development. Mr Leland tells us. one Arbctsstuga after another was esta¬ blished in different parishes of Stockholm and in many other towns of Sweden. several new ones are to be founded. I had recognised. discovery of great bearing. At present. there are Arbetsstugor in every parish of Stock¬ holm. The . that in those years quickness of perception may be brought forth to an astonishing degree in every mind and that almost in all chil¬ dren in this age handiness can become developed. In a few years.

They sit around In some of the largest buildings each as in a home. gives up the whole or part of her time to this work. without failing to make them attractive to the children The parish generally provides the rooms gratuitously. is managed by its own council and with its own Arbetsstuga organization. Though there exists a healthy competition amongst them. and they are now becoming favourite schools with the children. the Arbetsstugor in order that as many pupils as possible expense as possible. tables. as a rule. For the younger children. three times a week each. which from the beginning have proved successful. We have many young ladies who have devoted year after year to this noble and blessed vocation. Thus. The teaching is given by a staff of young ladies who mostly give their time freely. Kp the number of children. Practical tradesmen are also engaged to teach the diffe¬ rent trades. with their parents and with the governing bodies of the com¬ munity. We have indeed succeeded to an astonishing degree in maintaining the schools at a small cost. though some gentlemen also are members of the councils. The number of children attending one Arbetsstuga varies from 50 to 200. that is. they are chiefly the work of Swedish women. Every They have grown quietly.The excellent influence these institutions have had upon the character of the children has been proved everywhere. for two conse¬ cutive hours. the classes are mixed. or for very small remuneration. Boys and girls attend the Arbetsstuga separately every other day. who need to be taken care of are organized with as little is very large. Ten to twelve form one class. . The head of every Arbetsstuga is a lady who. may profit by them. They are organized and conducted by ladies. they are all founded on the same principles. and with full liberty.

which is visited by the inhabitants of the parish and the friends of the cause. weaving. or both. fret-sawing. rapidity and perfection in work. In order to counteract the restless dispositions so common to children part of the plan of the Arbetsstuga is. mended shoes. petticoats. chip and bast plaiting and needlework. This gives them handiness. that the pupils shall make several of each sort of article before they begin a new kind of work. rakes. they have woven mats. expenses of fresh materials for further work. brush-making. children's dresses and aprons. baskets of many kinds. for those who spend . Doctor Sven Nilsson. spades. shelves. for the elder pupils (10—14) various styles of bast work. small iron beds. they contribute The work done towards the maintenance of the Arbetsstuga. &c. wood-carving. sledges. the children have made numerous different kinds of objects. tables. hammers and other tools. chairs. with the simple and excellent new method of ventila¬ tion that has been invented by a Swedish pedagogue. or at one great public sale for all These sales more than cover the such worshops of the city. The ivorlt that is taught has been of various kinds: for the youngest (from 7— 9 years). aprons. either dinner or supper.Even small rooms separate trade is taught in a separate room will do. the children. baking troughs. pantaloons. made slippers. They have plaited hats. carpentering. basketwork. metal work. &c. but they get a meal instead. are sold once or twice a year at a kind of bazaar in the Arbets¬ stuga. netting. of the children's own work. a thing that the German medical men complain of as being done in the Kindergarten. made waistcoats with the buttonholes. as is not given to a reward. These numerous articles. We are very particular never to choose such kinds of work that will hurt the eyes of the children. they have made iron and steel instruments. &c Thus. shoe-mending.

considering it a severe punishment to be deprived of it. and also other materials. They put by the money received in this way. At present therefore. it teaches the young how to make good use of their leisure hours. gas and the teachers' salaries are defrayed by the above mentioned sales of work. The pupils wTho can do their work well receive. The expenses for food.500 poor children are taught and fed in the twelve Arbetsstugor of Stockholm. The money payed so much a yard. the ladies still keep as economical in their management as before. and they are most anxious to get this work. coals. as the children call it. by voluntary gifts and by contributions from the parish and from the municipality. has acted as a missionary at home and been the instrument of reforming bad parents. The children will often say to the teachers: »please give us some home work. through its enthusiasm unconsciously for work. service. thus gained by their own efforts is extremely valuable to them.the greater part of their day in the Arbetsstuga. everything included. many a child. and is chosen with regard to the tastes of the children. They may thus get chips. even if not paid for. The parents too appreciate it highly. or raffia bast for hat plaiting. and quietly. for which a small payment is given. When the income increases. Thus. materials for »home¬ work*. 1. The food is well prepared. in order to be able to receive proportionately more children. as well as to health and economy. The home-work has proved to be a valuable means of education. I may here quote what a Swedish sister af charity has told us: »I occasionally visited the home of a poor family living . The average cost of each child has amounted to from 15 shillings to one guinea a year. materials. as a re¬ ward for good behaviour or dexterity. in a savings bank by the help of the headmistress. we do so want to have some occupation at home».

the room and asked what it was for. a certain wellI saw a great deal of raffiabast in being seemed to prevail. children who truth-loving. come. indeed. who had been dull and lazy in the board-schools have. the home looked dirty and desolate. industrious and obedient. »Father and I are making baskets out of it>. In my report of 1897 upon the ten preceding years. Moreover. only a mother! — belonging sometimes to the lowest grades of society. by quotations from various authorities.* After this short sketch of the aim and organization of the Arbetsstugor of Sweden. Still. not seldom. that the results have been most cheering and encouraging. where the parents are unable to give them care and training. the parents — or. The pupils Their influence upon the children is very evident. The husband was out of work and a drunkard. Their home now looked orderly and the furniture was restored. which an expe¬ rience of twelve years has afforded. a great number have not had what might be called a home. after some time. almost everything was pawned and misery reigned in the family. there remains but to state briefly their results and their influence upon the children. I have already shown. Arbetsstuga and have taught father how to do it and it does interest him so much. those from even such homes have become kindly. from the poorest of homes. The husband had left off drinking and the family had been able to pay their debts. Mother sells the baskets and we earn a good deal of money by it. said a young >I have learnt this work in the daughter who came forward. A year after I came to the same place. been awakened . had before shown themselves untoward. as a rule.9 4 in the outskirts of Stockholm.

and is so. But greater still. is the clangor from the continual brainwork of our . one is struck by the good behaviour that reigns there. which forbids children to move in their seats. The usual severe school discipline. This allowance of a certain amount of freedom is of no small importance. One would imagine that the pupils had come from good and happy homes. an Arbotsstuga was opened there on behalf of the numerous badly behaved children of the district. the teacher does not interfere. had had to do with the police The experience of other countries about the excellent in¬ fluence upon the young of manual training. ment are inseparable. They devote their entire attention to their occupations. but it seldom happens that they are too restless.10 * and have been able to master their lessons with diligence and This beneficial influence upon the pupils is understanding. borne witness to by the boardschool teachers. Unless that occurs. that not one of these pupils. is a danger to their health and contrary to the laws of physiology. although a matter generally too little considered by pedagogues. both boys and girls. One of the suburbs of Stockholm has rather a bad repu¬ Ten years ago tation for the low condition of its inhabitants. they were able to state. from the physiological and hygienic point of view. To sit still for hours at a time. is unhealthy for grown up people. for children. and it has been of such service that when the 10 years' report was published by the council. Manifestations of wickedness and bad actions seldom occur. and several of the trades require the children to move about. is in agreement with ours. even in after years. Manual work and move¬ Severe discipline is not necessary. to a far greater degree. In visiting these workshops.

If. One day a board-school in Stockholm was closed for clea¬ A comrade early in the morning came to fetch one of ning. They love their Arbetsstuga. a poor widow. processes . though the lessons did not begin til one. They consider the place as a second home. The children's attendance at the Arbetsstugor is not com¬ pulsory. This little fellow was then 10 years old. »I hope you will mind the time and not miss the Arbetsstuga. The experience of our Arbetsstugor has taught us how attractive manual training is to the young. and during school holidays.' *Oh mother*. the pupils who used to spend most of the day in the Arbets¬ stuga. In illustration of this. »you need not remind me. There are many touching instances of this love. you should be there at one o'clock. and non-attendance is rare. In the postoffice saving bank he has got 60 kronor (3 guineas). but they love to come there. that he has earned farthing by farthing speech at the ClarkUniversityin 1899:Psychic r) See prot. I will quote some: schools. exclaimed Oscar. that ho can copy any fancy work he sees.11 I have heard several medical men and physiologists*) pronounce themselves very decidedly against it. for a long walk. he is 12 now and so clever arc his little fingers. said his mother. on Sundays too they would like to come. and constantly invents new models of baskets and fancy work. even if ill. is a most useful employment of all the faculties. it is suspended or closed. They want to come. our Arbetsstuga is the clearest of all to me!» At 11 o'clock Oscar was already at work in his Arbets¬ stuga. Angelo Moss>o's and muscularexercises. they are very unhappy. »Oscar*. Manual training. for some reason. who went out as a charwoman. on the contrary. and how wonder¬ fully it develops mind and body.

that they are among the best means we have of saving poor children from falling into the temptations to which they are . »Mother* exclaimed little John the next morning. »because the Arbetsstuara was made for poor boys and he was not poor enough*. But.12 during the 6 years that he has been a pupil in the Arbets¬ stuga and in the board-school he has the highest certificates for behaviour and for all other subjects A deeply touching story is told in the report of the council about a pupil of the Arbetsstuga in Upsala: *She was humpback and the bones of both legs were decaying. although she was 13 years old and no light weight. it was not long before the judgments were altered. nor stand. but a blessing must come from the happy hours that this sad and much-tried poor little girl spent there. be allowed to remain. she consequently was unable so walk. the Arbetsstugor had many adversaries. She could not — she walk. a small boy of eleven who had been a pupil of the Swedish university-town Lund and in the Arbetsstuga was told he could not was immensely fond of working there. what shall I do to become poor to be allowed to remain at the Arbetsstuga? When first founded. The opinion has become more and more general. and they are now the object of warm sympathies. but her sister every day carried her to the Arbetsstuga and back. nor sit knelt. poor little Anna. and are looked upon with great confidence. as is often the case with new institutions. Now she is dead. supported by her elbows it was her greatest and only joy when on the table! But she was allowed to be at the Arbetsstuga.* Little John.

for many years. and the surest guide during their future. Here. as they are treated with unfailing kindness by their teachers. they imbibe that love of worlc.13 usually exposed. at the same time. and which bring them the self-reliance that the poor are in such need of. From experience gained in the Swedish Arbetsstugor. and enthusiasm for it. Thus. Above all. been convinced of Personally. they get a substi¬ tute for the homelife of which they have been deprived. Their education and development are early — just in those years when it may be done with profit — led in a good direction. docks and markets. handiness and the faculty of perception — — between the ages of 7 and 14 may be best developed a period when we. Here also. and give the chief part of school time to manual training and practical work. We must abandon the one-sided book-learning. choose manual work of such kinds that are best adapted for their mental and physical benefit. I tried together with . Before closing this short account. to emphasize a matter of the greatest importance in the education and happiness of the coming generations. I wish. is their cha¬ racter formed. we are more and more convinced that a total reform in the educa¬ tion and instruction of the young is absolutely necessary. as Mr Leland asserts. Particularly is this essential during those early years when. their handiness and the faculty of perception developed. in our modern education. Here. put only almost books in the hands of the young. in connection with it. the}r have a refuge from roaming about the streets. which enable them to earn their living when they go out into the struggle of life. I have. Twenty-four )-ears ago. are opportunities of finding out their special gifts. and their lifework prepared for. They get. which is the best spur. too. howTever. these principles. They learn practical work and trades. We must.

which have to do with early childhood — from 3 to 7 years — but I will here only quote to the following periods in child life. healthy body and mind. with a vigorous. I do not hereby allude to Froebel and the Kindergarten. Its result is. it must interest. The programme of studies and exercises needs to be On the one hand it should be pruned of carefully revised. »Our duties and responsibilities students must therefore come out of school with the elements of high character. worthless appendages. he does not find himself in terra incognita. that when the child steps out of school into life. »The proper education of to-day is a preparation for the of life*. the ex¬ perience of our Arbetsstugor afford abundant proofs throughout of very great advantage. It is most gratifying to witness that these views are gaining ground more and more in other countries. . the words of Canon Faeeae: The traditional system of booktraining which we call educa¬ — I tion. attract and inspire with love those whom it now tires. for the training of the character tunity and of the will.14 some friends to introduce them practically in our first school for coeducation in Sweden and. Several great autho¬ rities have given their favourable opinion in this direction. able to put both hand and brain to work*. and for culture of the executive powers. and nearly all the faculties of some minds. The introduction of manual training will make school It will furnish oppor¬ work interesting and school attractive. on the other it should be enriched by It needs invigorating. repels / and disheartens. as above mentioned. says Canon Farrar quote Mr Woodward's -excellent book »Manual training in Education* — neglect some of the faculties of all minds. for personal action. says Mr Woodward. judicious additions.

to the poor. the primary as well as the secondary. .15 When this is recognised. it will lead to an entire change of our whole system of teaching. who must earn their bread with their hands that reform will become of the greatest importance and blessing. But. for the upper as well as for the lower classes.

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