Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/167

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

pupil, which in Munich, for example, must be at least twenty-five square feet in area. In Berlin, there is a forty-acre play ground intended solely for small children. Play conferences are being held annually in the larger German cities and thousands of teachers are being taught to play games with the children.

France, on the other hand, has manifested much less interest in play. The games played by the children are mostly of a trivial nature, and there seems to be no literature on the subject. The superior morale of the German army, as evinced in the Franco-Prussian War, was the natural consequence of the better educational methods of the Germans. As the Duke of Wellington asserted that the battle of Waterloo was won on the football fields of Eton and Rugby, so one might say that the patriotic ardor of Jahn, who taught the Prussian soldiery gymnastic exercises from patriotic motives, bore fruit in the victory of Sedan. Yet in France, a strong attempt was made a few years ago to popularize athletic sports. Prizes were offered by various corporations and municipalities for excellence in various contests, in which thousands of the people, mostly I believe employees of the factories and shops, took a more or less conspicuous part.

In England, the home of manly sport, one finds many municipalities owning their football and cricket fields, just as they own a town hall, and many of the working men and boys spend their half holidays playing games. The public schools in that country are admirably supplied with playgrounds, and cricket and football are compulsory in these schools for all the scholars physically qualified to play, and, furthermore, the teachers are required to play with the pupils; and now in London the authorities declare their intention to have a playground within a quarter of a mile of every home.

In the United States there is an effort being made to replan our cities so as to make adequate provision for play for young and old. Our playgrounds are now absurdly inadequate. Until 1899, a section of New York City, containing 500,000 inhabitants, had no open space whatever for play. The movement toward bettering this condition of things is so vigorous and so general, thanks to the efforts of such philanthropists as Jacob Riis, and the results of what has already been accomplished in New York are so gratifying, that great and continued improvement may be confidently expected. The city now sets aside, we are told in the report of the United States Commissioner of Education, $300,000 each year for the purchase of playgrounds, and $1,000,000 a year for small parks. Unfortunately it will take $100,000,000 to buy enough land to provide the 630,000 children now in the city with room enough to play in.

Chicago has over 73 acres of playgrounds; Philadelphia 110 acres; Brooklyn 40, and Boston, the most intellectual city in the country, has