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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/107

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THE UTILITY OF SCHOOL-RECESSES.

tions of life. They can not always be held in their nurses' arms. They will meet with accidents which, if they are accustomed to the games of the play-ground, will not affect them at all, but which, if they are not, will lay them up with a lame side, a sprained ankle, or a dislocated joint. Falls and tumbles occur daily upon the play-ground, with no injurious effects whatever, which would put some of the tenderly nurtured in bed for a week. The play-ground is the only place connected with the schools where children can become hardy: and this element of hardiness has been very strongly marked in all successful men. It is not the carpet-knights who to-day rule in politics or in business—no, nor in science or religion—but the men who have grit and toughness, men who fear neither ridicule nor a crowd of rowdies.

Take the boy who has a few companions to play with him upon his own lawn, and who, like himself, are carefully kept from the society of the rougher and more world-wise boys of the street, and how is he to get any knowledge of the methods or the power by which these others are to be controlled in after-life? Yet this boy and his class are those who in many respects ought to have a controlling influence on the destiny of his neighborhood, but, because he has no acquaintance with the other class, because he does not know what are their ruling motives, he is powerless for good among them. By means of this knowledge those agitators among the people, like Moody and Dennis Kearny, the leading politician in each town and ward, and the organizers of strikes, have such power among the masses; and their lack of this knowledge is the main cause of failure of our citizens' social-reform societies and kindred organizations which attempt some very laudable reforms. As the boy is father to the man, so the play-ground is the antecedent of the future society of the town or ward, and upon the play-ground, more than in the school-room, the leaders of the future are made; there the boy must learn, if he ever learn it, how to lead, control, and master the others—boys to-day, but men to-morrow. The school-room is an autocracy, with the teacher for autocrat and the pupils for subjects, but the play-ground is a pure democracy: there each, in proportion to his strength, dexterity, and skill, is equal to any other; there the egotist learns his insignificance, the rude boy gets his first lessons in common courtesy, and there the bully learns that his ways are not approved.

But the ruling sentiment of the play-ground must not be allowed to form itself by accident: children must not be left to themselves at these times.

An out-door recess needs the controlling presence of the teacher quite as much as an in-door one, and more than the ordinary exercise of the school-room, and because this has been neglected is the reason why some people have objected to it. Several hundred children, after experiencing the restraint of the school-room, should not be released upon the play-ground without supervision competent to suppress what-