Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/564

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The family is the original social group, the oldest school, and should not transfer its legitimate functions to the kindergarten, graded or high school. The kindergarten is unimpeachable in aims, if not methods. Public schools, in general, are something to be proud of. But the kindergarten is limited in its mission without family co-operation, and "the public school accomplishes but little, except when it supplements the intellectual life of the home." Perhaps the latest assumption of family functions in the school line is seen in the establishment of parental schools for incorrigibles, usually under the care of school boards. Not only are incorrigibles provided for by public institutions, but the sick, the aged, the infants, the imbeciles, and a legionary body of unfortunates. Benevolent and reformatory institutions must needs be, in moderation, especially for such classes as the blind, the deaf-mute, the insane, the orphan, and the homeless. But, as propagation is the exclusive function of the family, is not the family bound to do its best and its utmost for its own progeny? Are not families becoming too willing to roll off family burdens on to the state?

Even the religious training of children is willingly turned over to the church and Sunday school by families capable and responsible not only for laying foundations for the Sunday school to build upon, but for co-operating with the Sunday-school teaching. The Jewish church began in a family, and the Gentile church began in a family. Does the family pew in the meeting house show that the church is still in the family, or does it indicate family disintegration? If it does, there will be reintegration when fathers and mothers no longer look lonesome in the "family pew" because their children are scattered around in other pews, visiting with other people's children, or in other assemblies, or oft on the road bicycling, and when children no longer look lonesome in the family pew because parents are "taking it easy" at home.

The aim of social settlements, like the Hull House, Andover House, Hiram House in this country, Oxford House, Mansfield House, and the teetotums in London, is to supplement family life, or, more correctly, to substitute something for nothing, or something good for something bad in the numerous and prolific families that barely exist in one room, two rooms, or three rooms in the rookeries of all great cities. This fact, together with the facts we have been considering, proves the family to be the social group first in importance, as well as first in order of being. And so we conclude that there is not only danger to society in the ill performance of family functions in "Mulberry Bend," New York; Drury Lane, Bethnal Green, and Spitalfields, London; in the two- and three-hundred-