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Our whole system of education exists primarily for the benefit of the child. Therefore the child must be interested in and have a share in everything connected with the school. Unless we can arouse the interest and sympathy of the child and make him feel that he has a part to perform in the great work of education he will reap but little advantage from the public schools. One's training for the work of life is begun in the home and continued in the schoolroom, and the child as he de velops into manhood should have healthful and beautiful surroundings if his future is to be healthful, happy, and progressive.
Educational training is the result of a direct and conscious effort on the part of the parent and teacher combined with the indirect result of the surroundings in which the child is placed. The environment of the child exerts a greater influence on his life than we Educational sometimes think and it is unfortunate that school surround Training. ings at least are not always such as conduce to a proper desire on his part to be helpful and a still more important desire for better things.
The child may be forced to go to school but he likes school only when it is worth liking, and it is not until he likes it that he learns. The most costly school apparatus will not atone for a cheerless schoolroom and grounds. If daily surrounded by those influences that elevate and tend to cleanliness and good order, that cultivate a love of flowers, good pictures, and proper decorations he will soon reach that degree of culture where nothing else will please him and when he grows up and has a home of his own, the effect of early training will then be seen in the clean, neat yards, good pictures on the walls, shade trees, and flowers properly arranged around the buildings. These things will be demanded because he has been brought up to be happy in no other environment.
A trip through the rural school districts of the State will convince the most doubting that one of the chief causes of the decline of the rural school is that the schoolhouse and its grounds are bare, harsh, cheerless, unattractive, and sometimes immodest. To Rural require that eight months in each year be spent amid such Schools. surroundings is enough to chill any desire on the part of the child for education and to destroy completely all love for the beautiful. He naturally loves the beautiful, often seeing beauties in nature that are unobserved by the more mature eye and mind. In childhood the mind is impressionable and whether it is realized or not the discomforts of the average schoolroom, the lack of harmony and beauty in its adorn
ment, the rough and uncouth school grounds and outbuildings will, consciously or unconsciously, make a deep and lasting impression on the mind and tend to loose habits, a lack of respect for law and the rights of others, and above all a lack of care for the property of the public.
Because in the early days most of the school districts in the State were organized when the forests had not yet been cleared away, the
people did not appreciate the value of a good sized school Value of lot, nor the value of trees and shrubbery, but they are now Trees. beginning to understand and regard these things. That this
is true is shown by the organization of the State Forestry Commission which is making strenuous efforts to re-forest large tracts of land.
If we are to secure from our rural schools the results that all the people really desire there must be a radical change in the attitude of the people toward the school and especially toward school property. Many farmers have their orchards and buildings surrounded by well kept groves, neat shrubbery, and flower beds in the door yard, and it is not uncommon to find beautiful and well kept lawns around farmers' homes. It is my opinion that the time has come when the people of Michigan should interest themselves in school environment and by well directed efforts afford an opportunity for the child to study the beauties of nature at first hand.
The two following cuts show the conditions of more than half the rural schoolhouses and grounds of the State of Michigan. Possibly the reader has noticed some of them :