Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

“Most Of Our Music Teachers Incompetent” — Frank Damrosch

From September 3, 1911

MOST OF OUR MUSIC TEACHERS INCOMPETENT -- FRANK DAMROSCH

MOST OF OUR MUSIC TEACHERS INCOMPETENT — FRANK DAMROSCH: Well Known Conductor Deplores the Condition of Musical Instruction in This Country and Tells Why It Is So Bad. (PDF)

Frank Damrosch was a German-born American conductor, and director of the New York Institute of Musical Art. In this article, he bemoans the state of music education in America:

“Ninety-nine per cent of the music teachers in the United States are totally incompetent to teach music… Thousands of so-called music teachers are not in any way qualified to teach,” he continued, “because they have not been trained to teach, nor have they received even a rudimentary knowledge of music.”

“Many so-called music teachers have had only inferior instruction on the piano and have learned to play a few pieces after a fashion. Such persons start to teach for a livelihood on this slender foundation because it seems to them to be the easiest and pleasantest way to earn a living. The general ignorance of the public in matters musical makes it possible for such teacher to get employment…

“And this has a bad effect on society in general. It places society on a low plane of culture. It affects the music in the churches, and causes those who cater to the amusement of the public to provide an inferior class of music.”

Thirteen years later, the Institute of Musical Art became the Juilliard School of Music, still today one of the most prestigious performing arts conservatories.

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Written by David

September 2nd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Education,Music

Government Is Investigating Fake Universities

From August 27, 1911

GOVERNMENT IS INVESTIGATING FAKE UNIVERSITIES

GOVERNMENT IS INVESTIGATING FAKE UNIVERSITIES: Degrees Given Practically for a Few Dollars — Institutions That Sound Big on Paper but Shrink on Investigation — The Oriental University’s Odd Curriculum. (PDF)

These fake universities, sometimes called diploma mills, or degree mills, are still around and are still a problem. I occasionally see people in the news who have been exposed for their fake diplomas, like this guy in Philadelphia who used a fake degree to commit fraud. There’s even a blog about diploma mills in the news.

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Written by David

August 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Education,True Crime

The American Student Acquiring A Uniform Face

From July 9, 1911

THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE

THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE: Mayor Gaynor’s Statement to That Effect Starts a Discussion — A Distinct American College Type Being Developed, Unlike the European University Man (PDF)

The two faces in the middle of the page are composites of 25 boys and 25 girls, to create the “typical” student face. In modern times, this has been done digitally to interesting effects. I wonder if this is the earliest known example of such a composite.

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Written by David

July 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Why Music May Be A Luxury Few Can Afford

From June 25, 1911

WHY MUSIC MAY BE A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD

WHY MUSIC MAY BE A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD: An Item in the High Cost of Living That Has Far Reaching Results (PDF)

Before MP3s, DRM, Compact Discs, and before the phonograph was very popular, people enjoyed live music in their homes. And that meant vocal lessons.

Time was when the middle-class dweller on Manhattan Island could take vocal lessons or send talented members of his family to the studio without fear of bankruptcy. But that good time is of the past. To-day the young man who would like to study vocal culture after office hours, hoping to follow in the footsteps of a Bispham, has scarcely the ghost of a chance.

I wonder how the average cost of voice lessons in 1911 compares to the average cost today, when I suspect the demand is much lower, and it’s more of a niche occupation.

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Written by David

June 21st, 2011 at 11:30 am

There Is Too Much Waste In Our Educational System

From June 11, 1911

THERE IS TOO MUCH WASTE IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

THERE IS TOO MUCH WASTE IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM: Business Principles of Factories Should Be Applied to It, Says Leonard P. Ayres, of the Sage Foundation. We Don’t Demand Definite Results and Don’t Know What We’re Aiming At. (PDF)

I don’t have time to write more comments on this article because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

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Written by David

June 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Mrs. Belmont Training Girls To Be Agriculturists

From May 14, 1911

MRS. BELMONT TRAINING GIRLS TO BE AGRICULTURISTS

MRS. BELMONT TRAINING GIRLS TO BE AGRICULTURISTS: Nine of Them in Overalls Learning ‘How to Become Farmers and Landscape Gardeners on Her Estate at Hempstead, and They Are Only the Advance Guard. (PDF)

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Written by David

May 10th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Sectional View Of New York’s New Public Library

From May 14, 1911

SECTIONAL VIEW OF NEW YORK'S PUBLIC LIBRARY

SECTIONAL VIEW OF NEW YORK’S PUBLIC LIBRARY: Some Idea of the Size and Completeness of the Structure May Be Had from the Accompanying Drawing. (PDF)

I love this illustration. I like to imagine that the cutaway walls are really like that, and you can go up to the roof of the library and slide down them.

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Written by David

May 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Babies Sacrificed To The Ignorance Of Mothers

From April 23, 1911

BABIES SACRIFICED TO THE IGNORANCE OF MOTHERS

BABIES SACRIFICED TO THE IGNORANCE OF MOTHERS: Mrs. Frederic Scholl, President of the Mothers’ Congress, Laments the Lack of Preparation for Parenthood, and Says Infant Mortality Can Only Be Checked. (PDF)

Is good parenting a natural instinct, or something that is learned? It’s probably a bit of both, and in 1911 the Mothers Congress sought to train mothers in good parenting practices. They wanted to cut rates of infant mortality, and reduce the number of kids who grow up to be criminals.

I had a talk with Mrs. Frederic Schoff, who… is perhaps, best qualified to speak [about parenting] for she is President of the Mothers Congress, a body of industriously thinking women who have turned their industry of thought especially upon this subject of the possibilities of motherhood carried to their utmost.

“Child welfare,” said Mrs. Schoff enthusiastically. “It is man and woman welfare; it is nation welfare, really. Let me tell you what trained motherhood can do.”

“I thought motherhood,” I interrupted, “was instinctive. I thought it alone, of all things, needed no training. I supposed it came quite naturally to the woman, as it comes to animals. Mother love! That certainly does not need training, and the mother who loves her children will take care of them, won’t she?”

“You are like the vast majority of men,” she answered. “You yourselves known nothing thoroughly through instinct. You expect far more of us than of ourselves. You wouldn’t trust your fancy dogs to untrained care, no matter how devotedly your groom loved dogs, et you would trust your children, and have the world intrust its children, to unskilled hands because their touch was loving, to ignorant brains because they were affectionate. That this, since time began, has been the way, is one of the great handicaps beneath which humanity has staggered. That things are bettering now is scarcely to your credit — they should have bettered long ago.

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Written by David

April 22nd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Education,Life

Moving A Million Books Into The New Library

From April 16, 1911

MOVING A MILLION BOOKS INTO THE NEW LIBRARY

MOVING A MILLION BOOKS INTO THE NEW LIBRARY: Transfer of the Lenox and Astor Library Contents to the Beautiful New Building at Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue a Big Undertaking. (PDF)

The worst thing about moving is all the books. They take much longer to pack than you think they will, they fill more boxes than you guess they will, and they’re a lot heavier than you remember them being. The last time I moved, I probably had a few hundred books that came with me. That’s about 0.02% of what had to be moved into the new library.

At the Forty-second Street entrance to the new building there is always a long line of moving vans, and sixty men from the establishment which is handling the job go in and out, bent under the weight of learning, like frugal ants stocking their hill for the Winter. At the entrance a lady in a sheath skirt, with her hair done in the style of 1860 and her finger poised under her chin, watches the laborers. Even though she is marble, she seems to grow daily more bewildered at the endless procession.

To any oen who has ever moved from one abiding place to another, the mere statement that 1,300,000 pieces have had to be packed, transported, and unpacked is enough without elaboration. When to this is added the fact that many of the volumes are old and of great value and that two picture galleries have had to be moved as well, there is room for amazement that the readers of the city are not going to be deprived of their books for a longer period.

I hope they remembered to lift with their knees, not with their backs.

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Written by David

April 15th, 2011 at 11:00 am

New Method Of Teaching Morality To The Young

From April 2, 1911

NEW METHOD OF TEACHING MORALITY TO THE YOUNG

NEW METHOD OF TEACHING MORALITY TO THE YOUNG: Visual Instruction in Right and Wrong and Niceties of Conduct the Keynote of Novel Educational Movement Begun by Milton Fairchild. (PDF)

Milton Fairchild was concerned that kids weren’t getting the morality instruction they needed:

“Most children are left in ignorance of what is considered right by intelligent people. How many parents or teachers have ever fully explained property rights to the children in their care. We teach geography, but the chart of life, by which our boys and girls can make a true success of life, is not taught, either at home or in school. And I might add that I believe most parents are no more fitted to teach morals than they are geography.”

So Fairchild developed a series of lessons in morals accompanied with photographs Fairchild himself took.

“To throw upon a screen pictures taken from a boy’s life of our own time, photographs of real boys doing the things that every boy does or sees done, and point out to him while he sees the picture the diference between wrong and right, between cheating and fair play, between contemptibleness and manliness.

“For example, take the lesson on ‘The True Sportsman.’ The attention of the boys is caught and held by screen pictures of a bicycle race, in which it can be plainly seen that the boy who is losing is deliberately running into the winner to foul him.”

Especially interesting to me is Fairchild’s description of the covert way he took the photos:

“The pictures have to be taken especially for this purpose, because no one but myself has been taking snapshots of matters of importance to child morality. It is a matter of very close study of child life to choose the pictures and ideas for a morality lesson.

“Shortly after starting on this work I found that it was necessary to devise a special camera for my own use. You see, it is a a very difficult matter to get just the kind of pictures that I wanted, for no faked photographs would answer. I knew that my audience of schoolboys would look upon a posed photograph as a put-up job, and would reject the moral application as quickly as they would reject a goody-goody story.

“In order to successfully stalk these scenes of child life, I had a camera built, the box of which looked like a suit case. It was fitted with a swift lens and a focal-pane shutter.

“After five years spent in what was practically preliminary work, I spent six years more in making my collection of negatives. Armed with my camera, I tramped the streets of nearly al the large cities of the Eastern States. In 1903, I went to England for scenes to add to my collection.”

I would love to see the photos he took. Considering that his goal was to capture all sorts of moral and immoral behavior, he must have created an interesting archive of photographs showing life in the early 20th century.

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Written by David

March 30th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Education

Booker T. Washington’s Logical Successor

From February 19, 1911

BOOKER T. WASHINGTONS LOGICAL SUCCESSOR

BOOKER T. WASHINGTON’S LOGICAL SUCCESSOR: An Elevator Man Who Plans to Carry the Tuskegee Plan Into Oklahoma. Described as Possessor of “a Black Man’s Skull Filled with a White Man’s Brains.” (PDF)

In 1926, Carter G. Woodson named the second week in February as Black History Week. Eventually the whole month became Black History Month. So it’s fitting that we have this article this week, even though it was publishing before any of that happened, to teach us a little bit about black history that we might not already know.

Booker T. Washington is a familiar name. I remember learning about him and his 1895 speech on race relations that brought him to prominence. He was born into slavery, and later became an educator and black leader. His autobiography, Up From Slavery is available as a free download from Google Books.

But until I read this article, I wasn’t familiar with Willis Nathan Huggins, here proclaimed as Booker T. Washington’s logical successor, even though he was only working as a hotel elevator operator:

Employed as night elevator man in one of the smaller but best-known hotels of Washington, D. C., is a negro whose self-education and mental development is such that many white persons of position and influence at the Capital look upon him as the logical successor of Booker T. Washington in the uplifting of the negro race. Black in color as the proverbial “ace of spades,” and having all the facial characteristics of the true African negro, those who have become interested in him and have studied him describe him as possessing “a black man’s skull filled with a white man’s brains.”

Uh… I think that was meant as a compliment, but yikes.

Huggins eventually moved to New York, where he became a teacher and an activist in the New Negro Movement. He went on to write several books on black history.

Huggins remained a teacher in New York City until December of 1940, when he went missing. His body was found in the Hudson River the following summer. Police ruled his death a suicide, although some were suspicious he was murdered over bad business deals.

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Written by David

February 16th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

How The Brains Of Animals Work

From February 12, 1911

HOW THE BRAINS OF ANIMALS WORK

HOW THE BRAINS OF ANIMALS WORK (PDF)

The 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica marked the beginning of its transition from a British to American publication. It came out in several volumes between 1910 and 1911. The New York Times asked noted zoologist Ray Lankester to select some excerpts from the encyclopedia.

Here, he has selected excerpts from the entry for The Intelligence of Animals. Since the 1911 edition of the encyclopedia is now public domain, you can read the full entry as it originally appeared in print. And for comparison, here is the Wikipedia entry on Animal Intelligence.

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Written by David

February 11th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Education,Science

Why Don’t College Women Marry? Only One-Third Of Wellesley Graduates Wed

From January 22, 1911

WHY DONT COLLEGE WOMEN MARRY? ONLY ONE-THIRD OF WELLESLEY GRADUATES WED

WHY DON’T COLLEGE WOMEN MARRY? ONLY ONE-THIRD OF WELLESLEY GRADUATES WED: Interesting Facts Gathered from the Records of Other Institutions, Together with Some Analysis of Them. (PDF)

Oh, sure. I could make the obvious joke about Wellesley girls not getting married because they’re all lesbians. But instead I’ll just point you to the 2001 Rolling Stone article by Jay Dixit called The Highly-Charged Erotic Life of the Wellesley Girl and you can make your own jokes.

True, 90 years passed between the two articles, and the atmosphere at Wellesley was probably quite a bit different back then, but Dixit’s article is a more interesting look at the school than this one. Here’s an excerpt from his article:

Sandra North explains the process: “For a while, someone might go around telling people she’s asexual, saying, `I’m not attracted to anyone,’ which sometimes is a cover for starting to become attracted to women.” If she develops a crush on somebody, she might check the woman’s “résumé,” the electronic profile on Wellesley’s e-mail system. “That’s actually a pretty big part of Wellesley’s sex culture,” says Sandra. “That’s where a lot of flirtation goes on.” It can also act as an informal registry of who’s straight and who’s gay or experimenting. “One girl wrote on her resume, ‘I am now open to dating women. If you want to talk to me, here’s my extension,’” Sandra explains.

It helps that dating women is so convenient. “You just run upstairs and there’s your girlfriend,” says Jess. “Here, you can practically have an apartment set up with your girlfriend. At most coed places, a girl would probably have trouble getting a room with her boyfriend.”

And the atmosphere is so open that even the more conservative groups on campus tend to be socially liberal. Sarah Spurgeon, a member of the Wellesley Republicans, says, “I don’t care what someone does in their bedroom or whom they marry, and I also think women should be able to play like men do in the battle of the sexes. It is simply a matter of personal freedom.” Heather Gay says, “It’s an environment where being a lesbian is considered almost cool.” Growing up, Heather was always embarrassed about her name. “But once I came out at Wellesley, it became a big joke,” she recalls. “We’d have posters advertising the Café Hoop that would say BE GAY and just have a big picture of my face.”

That’s a good one to add to your Instapaper reading list.

cc: longform.org

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Written by David

January 21st, 2011 at 9:30 am

Answers To Queries Asked By Readers Of The Times

From January 22, 1911

ANSWERS TO QUERIES ASKED BY READERS OF THE TIMES

ANSWERS TO QUERIES ASKED BY READERS OF THE TIMES (PDF)

The New York Times has a history of answering reader questions in columns like Science Q&A and the F.Y.I. feature of the NY/Region section (available in two paperback compilations called The Curious New Yorker and Only In New York).

This article is one early example of a column that ran at least as far back as 1908, often under the name “Queries From The Curious And Answers To Them.”

Here are the rules for submitting a question to the “Queries” column:

This department does not pretend to be infallible. It will endeavor, however, to answer questions sent to it by Times readers to the best of its ability, reserving the right to ignore all that are trifling, or of concern only to the questioner.

To receive attention, every query must bear the name and address of the person sending it. This does not necessarily mean it will be published; only the initials will be used if the questioner so desires. No attention will be paid to queries in which this rule is not followed.

Hundreds of letters are received by this department every week, and it is obviously impossible to answer the writers intelligently through the mails. This is done only in exceptional cases.

Questions concerning the correctness of English sentences will NOT be answered for the reason that the proper reference books are available for the public generally.

Questions as to the value of coins and stamps will invariably be ignored.

And here is a sample question and answer from this week’s column:

Have our scientists ever definitely proved the theory that there are canals on the planet Mars? I am led to ask this question for the reason that I read an article on the subject recently in which the writer, supposedly a man well informed on the subject, appeared to accept the theory as a fact. For my own part, I have always supposed that it was a question admitting of much doubt and one that must forever remain unsettled.

Although the “Canals of Mrs” have long been a subject of discussion among astronomers, it would be incorrect to suppose that there has been any consensus of opinion that these canals actually exist. In fact the most distinguished astronomers look on them as purely mythical and certainly no one has ever come forward with any proof that the marks seen on the planet with powerful telescopes are actually inland waterways…

For a broader look at the column, here’s a sampling of questions asked of the Times over a four year period:

“Kindly let me know whether a Hebrew or a Catholic can be nominated for the Presidency of the United States.”

“Who deserves the credit of being called the discoverer of the art of photography? When and where were the first pictures made?”

“Where is the body of Christopher Columbus buried? Is its present resting place the original grave or was it transferred?”

“Is there any way by which we can determine approximately how old the earth is? I have read and heard the most divergent statements on this question, and am wondering if any one has ever reached what might be called even a fairly accurate conclusion.”

“Is the plural of money ‘monies’ or ‘moneys,’ or is either correct?”

“Has any one — scientist or philosopher — ever attempted to calculate the number of hairs on the human head? We are told by the Good Book that every hair on the head is numbered, but for my part I have never seen any figures on the subject. Can The Times gratify my curiosity?

“We expect to go to Los Angeles or San Francisco, Cal., to live for one year, beginning next month. Would you kindly tell us whether or not it would be advisable to take a set of furs there? In other words, is it cold enough there during the Winter to make furs a necessity?”

“Who was the first Poet Laureate of England, and how did the creation of the title come about?”

“How many pounds in the average bale of cotton?”

“Has a foreigner the right to own real estate in the State of New York?”

“Are Japanese who are born in this country American citizens?”

“Which city in the United States was the first to adopt electricity for street lighting?”

“Please publish the names of the President, of the Vice President, and of the Cabinet.”

“Are there any classes in drawing for adults in the public High Schools evenings?”

“What day did Nov. 13, 1875 fall on?”

“When was the obelisk on Central Park brought to New York, and on what ship? What is the significance of an obelisk?”

“Which is correct: ‘Two teaspoonfuls is the same as one,’ or ‘Two teaspoonfuls are the same as one’?”

“In order to settle a dispute, please tell me what is the height of the Singer Building and the Eiffel Tower?”

“Where can I take a swim near Twenty-eighth Street and the East River?”

“Is it true that there are places in the world where rain never falls? I have traveled rather extensively in various parts of it, but must say that I have never discovered a place where the drouth was perpetual.”

“Please tell me the name of the city in which we live. I have always supposed that it was simply New York, but find that some of my friends think it is New York City in the strict sense.”

For the answers to these and many other questions, download this 6.5MB PDF in which I’ve compiled a sample of “Query” columns from 1908-1912.

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Written by David

January 20th, 2011 at 12:49 pm

$163,197,125 Given In 1910 For Philanthropy

From January 1, 1911

163,197,125 GIVEN IN 1910 FOR PHILANTHROPY

$163,197,125 GIVEN IN 1910 FOR PHILANTHROPY (PDF)

1910 had some generous donors, including David Rankin, Jr., who this article describes as “giver of the year.” The 75 year old bachelor donated $3 million — his entire life savings — to a school in his name. It wasn’t the highest amount given by a millionaire, but it was everything he had.

2010 was no slouch, either. This year Bill Gates and Warren Buffet asked their fellow billionaires to pledge at least half their net worth to charity. Some who have agreed to do so include George Lucas, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Today is the last day you can make a donation to a non-profit and have it be tax deductible for 2010. If you haven’t already done so, and you want to actually see your donation make a difference, check out DonorsChoose.org where you can read about schools in need of help, and pick a specific classroom with a specific project that you want to see funded.

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Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 10:30 am

New York’s Fine New Library Nearly Completed

From December 11, 1910

NEW YORKS FINE NEW LIBRARY NEARLY COMPLETED

NEW YORK’S FINE NEW LIBRARY NEARLY COMPLETED: Will Be Ready Before the Contract Time, and Needs Only the Interior Furnishings (PDF)

Because I’ve done so much research for this website in the microforms room of this building at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, I was especially delighted to come across this article. It’s interesting to see the famous reading room totally empty of furniture.

After ten years of actual construction and an expenditure of upward of $9,000,000, New York’s new public library has been completed.

It is not to be opened for use until May of next year because the furniture has to be installed, and that cannot be done before the middle of April. But the last stroke of the builder’s hammer has already fallen. Bag and baggage, the building himself has been turned out, and at present the mechanical equipment of the structure, such as printing presses, type-setting machines, and book stacks are being installed.

But for the lack of furniture the building could be thrown open in a month.

Before the main branch of the New York Public Library was built, the entire block was occupied by the Croton Reservoir, a tall above-ground reservoir in the middle of the city. People could go for a stroll on top of the surrounding wall. The reservoir was torn down around 1900, and the library was built in its place.

In the article, a representative from the architectural firm which designed the building looks forward to today:

A century hence… the classic perfection herein attained by the artisans of the Hayden ateliers will have rendered this work, then softened with the passing of time, an antique that will be much appreciated.

He was specifically referring to a wood carving inside the building, but the same could have been said of the building itself. Unfortunately, the building has softened a bit too much with the passing of time, and has needed renovation. The interior restoration has already been finished, and the exterior renovation is currently underway. I assume it will be finished in time for the building’s centennial next year.

The main branch of the NYPL (now officially named the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

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Written by David

December 10th, 2010 at 9:00 am

America’s Great Scientists Rapidly Decreasing

From November 20, 1910

AMERICAS GREAT SCIENTISTS RAPIDLY DECREASING

AMERICA’S GREAT SCIENTISTS RAPIDLY DECREASING: Dr. James McKeen Catell of Columbia Says There Are Fewer Men of Distinction in Scientific Lines Than There Were Seven Years Ago. (PDF)

The point of this article is that the number of scientists in the country decreased over seven years from 1903 to 1910, and appeared to be an ongoing trend. That’s sad, and I wish the country today were more science-minded. I think too little value is placed on science education these days.

But mainly I want to point out that awesome drawing representing a scientist.

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Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Education,Science

New Meeting House For Society Of Ethical Culture

From October 16, 1910

NEW MEETING HOUSE FOR SOCIETY OF ETHICAL CULTURE

NEW MEETING HOUSE FOR SOCIETY OF ETHICAL CULTURE: Unusual and Interesting Features About the Edifice That Will Be Dedicated Next Sunday. Simplicity the Keynote — The Seats are Arranged Radially Around Slightly Elevated Platform. (PDF)

Over the previous two weeks, the Sunday Magazine had published several articles about religion. First, they had a front-page story in which Thomas Edison declares there is no soul or afterlife. The following week, they published articles in which experts claim that there surely is an afterlife. This week, they approach the topic from a different vantage, announcing the opening of a new meeting house for the Society of Ethical Culture, a non-theistic congregation led by Felix Adler.

For the unfamiliar, here is some of what Felix Adler has to say about ethical culture:

“Moral training is necessary for every one; religious training is another matter. Not every one is born with a religious nature; there can be unreligious persons just as there are unmusical persons.

“It is a gift, given to many and omitted almost entirely in the case of others.

“Very great harm is done by trying to force religion on people who are not by nature religious. They are not attuned to it, they do not grasp the real significance of it, and they inevitably degrade it. Much of the tragedy of history has arisen from no other cause than insistence in forcing religion on persons irreligious by temperament, and their consequent misconception of it.

“Therefore, in my own training of children I assume with regard to religion the attitude of ‘You may take it or leave it.’ A child of religious temperament may be trained in religious thought, but others may need only moral training, and would be better for not having the religious side forced on them.”

Today, the Society of Ethical Culture continues to have regular Sunday services for the unreligious community, and houses the Fieldston School, a notable private school whose alumni include Diane Arbus, Sofia Coppola, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Walter Koenig.

The article describes the building’s architecture, including its auditorium, which is used today not just for the Society’s services, but for other community events, too. I attended a Lydia Kavina theremin concert there in 2000, and a panel discussion on civil liberties after 9/11 moderated by Phil Donahue in 2002. You can find a calendar of events at the Society’s website

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Written by David

October 15th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Education,Religion

When Future Historian Comes To 1910

From August 7, 1910

WHEN FUTURE HISTORIAN COMES TO 1910

WHEN FUTURE HISTORIAN COMES TO 1910: Will He Look Us Up with Interest, or Pass Us by with a Grunt (PDF)

Back in 1910 the New York Times Sunday Magazine had a regular weekly column in which two characters known as the Office Radical and the Office Philosopher debate two sides of an issue. I’ve read a few of their debates while doing research for this blog, but I haven’t published any of their columns here so far. But this one was too good to pass up.

In this week’s column, they debate whether or not anything interesting has happened in 1910 that would be worth future historians looking at, especially as compared to all the interesting stuff their own historians have to look back on.

The Office Radical is sure that “some future historian will be ransacking the newspaper files and official records of 1910 the same way our present-day historians are ransacking those of, say, 1859 or 1770.”

The Office Philosopher says, “I’ll bet you 10 to 6 he doesn’t look at them for anything but Peary and the airships.”

I read this as I sat in the microforms room of the New York Public Library, doing research for this blog. I’d been researching the other 1910 articles I’ve posted over the last couple months, on topics that do indeed include Robert Peary and airships. And when I saw this discussion my eyes got wide and I thought, “They’re talking about me!”

I felt like Bastian in The NeverEnding Story when he realizes that the book he’s reading is talking specifically about him. Maybe this means I should write a post in which I wonder if future historians will ever look back at blogs of today with the same fascination I have in looking at newspapers of 1910.

So, obviously, I side with the Radical on this one.

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Written by David

August 6th, 2010 at 9:45 am

Why Some Children Are Always Lazy

From July 24, 1910

WHY SOME CHILDREN ARE ALWAYS LAZY

WHY SOME CHILDREN ARE ALWAYS LAZY: Experts Have Made a Study of This Familiar Weakness in Childhood and Suggest a Cure (PDF)

Maybe your child isn’t deliberately lazy. He might just be defective. Keeping in mind that a healthy child takes 8 years to complete 8 school grades, you can use this handy guide to see how long it might take your child to finish school, depending on what kind of defect your child has:

Defective vision: 8 years
Defective teeth: 8.5 years
Defective breathing: 8.6 years
Hypertrophied tonsils: 8.7 years
Adenoids: 9.1 years
Enlarged glands: 9.2 years

Woe is the child with enlarged glands and defective teeth. Luckily, these defects can all be counteracted with proper nutrition. This scientific study is based on a sample size of 27 children.

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Written by David

July 23rd, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Education,Science