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Friends, be careful where you place your feet, cerning the primary aims of the First-day school. for you may tread upon some of the precious | I found that practically all of the forty Friends flower's springing up out of God's earth.
from the various Yearly Meetings who replied, GEORGE Fox united in maintaining that the First-day school
should aim ultimately toward the development of I waited several years until Philadelphia Yearly moral character and religious insight through inMeeting was ready to receive my message on the struction. In order to accomplish this twentysubject of human slavery, so as not to create dis- seven maintain that the schools should specifically cord in the body.
JOHN WOOLMAN. aim to bring new members into the Society and
thirteen consider that this should be a natural
sequence and in no wise a direct aim. Seventeen HARMONY.
emphasize the teaching of the history, principles, 'Twas the voice of a brick in a building high,
and testimonies of the Society of Friends. Ten A brick of the lower tier:
especially desire a careful and appreciative study “Behold, my brothers mount up to the sky
of the Bible, and four insist on a better appreAnd leave me forgotten here. But I hold my place, and I bide my time,
ciation of the Inner Light. One who unfortunateThat must come to the great and small;
ly appears to be in a class by herself, urges that And though I be lost in the dirt and the grime,
we gather in the children who do not attend any I'm the hope of the whole high wall.
Sabbath school. “There be brothers of mine at the very top
These are the views of a few interested Friends, Of the building so broad and high,
but I believe they fairly represent the views of the And they think to go forward and never to stop
Society in general, and they will thus form in a This side of the sun-kissed sky.
measure the center of orientation from which I "Oh, the poor, dull bricks of the lower wall, They cry as they look below;
may further exploit my views. If the First-day But their harsh words ruffle me not at all,
schools do not effectively accomplish these aims For the base of their strength I know.
they forfeit their sole excuse for the right of ex"It is on my shoulders they upward mount
istence and should be replaced by other more useTo their place in the sunlight fair,
ful organizations. And, though far below them, I still account
The Relation of the First-day School to the Myself the highest there.
Meeting.--The First-day school is a natural afFor the law that governs I understand,
filiation of the meeting, and I cannot conceive how And the law of the world to be; It is this: We are all as one in the land,
so many earnest, conscientious Friends can view As the drops are all one in the sea."
this relationship with indifference. The First-Charles Eugene Banks. day school needs the constant support of the meet
ing and the meeting is dependent for its future
existence on the First-day school. A constant INCREASING OUR MEMBERSHIP THROUGH feeling of mutual sympathy, friendship, and helpTHE FIRST-DAY SCHOOL.
fulness is necessary, and ministers and members We have involved in this subject three import- of the meeting must frequently be seen in our ant problems, which, when viewed from the stand- First-day schools. There is a parallelism here point of the future development of our religious between the relationship of parents and children. organization, are fundamental in character. What The secret of good guidance, dear friends, is comare the primary aims of the First-day school? | radeship, and if our parents understood this vital Should the First-day school consciously aim to principle they would mingle with their children build up the Meeting? How can it be done?
as companions, whether it be in the First-day The Aim of the First-day School.-In order to school, in the home or on the playground, and just get a consensus of opinion and thus be able to as our young boys and girls need the guiding symformulate a statement which would represent the pathy of a thoughtful father and a loving mother, united views of some of our representative mem- so the First-day school needs the encouragement bers of the Society who have had experience in and support not only of the “Committee of OverFirst-day school work, a query was sent out con- sight” but the entire meeting. Conversely the
[Seventh month 11, 1908
First-day school must necessarily act as an im- power to make these schools increasingly effective portant source from which the meeting must gain in reaching and helping all members of the Sonew interests, new ideals, and new members. The ciety, including both the possible and probable First-day school must never doubt its mission to ones. It is imperative that we increase the numstrengthen the meeting in every available manner. bers in our First-day schools.
The First-day Schools are Rapidly Decreasing The First-day Schools Should Aim to Bring in Numbers.--Numbers frequently do not mean New Members Into the Meeting.-One New York anything, but they some times indicate tendencies. Friend, in answer to the above query, wrote me, If the First-day schools continue to decrease in "It does not seem to me that it (the First-day numbers as rapidly as they have during the past school) need aim to bring new members into the eight years, they will be extinct in about thirty Society. I do not know why it should, nor how." years, and they will be known only as a part of This view appears rather strange after what has our history. From 1900 to 1906 the numbers in been said and yet it is the view of a very large the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting decreased from number of influential Friends who consider those 5,366 to 4,524, and this year's report at Yearly who join the meeting as an unimportant by-prodMeeting indicated that the numbers have con- uct. tinued to decrease to 4,102. Twelve hundred and There are a few fundamental reasons why we sixty-four First-day school pupils lost in eight should aim to increase our numbers if we profess years in our Yearly Meeting, and several of the to be earnest Christian workers. First, as Mary other meetings are losing more than we are. From Whitson suggests, if our foundation principles are 1900 to 1906, Baltimore lost the difference between true and our form of worship valuable, it is well 1,509 and 1,101; New York, 484 and 329; Ohio, to bring others to accept them, and, as Amy Wil70 and 57; Indiana, 333 and 271; Genesee, 236 and lets states, “The membership has been helpful to 58; and Illinois increased from 180 to 227. Dur- us and we want others to know of the same." We ing these six years the number of schools de- need to increase our numbers, for as Thaddeus creased from 145 to 129. We will look forward Kenderdine says, “Birthright members are getwith much interest and anxiety for this year's re- ting so scarce that our Society will die out if we port at the General Conference.
depend on this source alone, so we must seek those Does this mean that we are failing? Yes, in in sympathy with us and make Friends of them." numbers, decidedly so. In the methods of work, Howard M. Jenkins forcibly said a few years ago in the plans of organization and in their influence that "If Friends have a right to be, they have a for righteousness, our schools never were doing right to increase." Do we not all really agree with such good work as they are doing to-day. Static Dr. Janney when he holds that "the more people schools can no longer exist. They must grow and who support the Friends' principles the better?” develop or else they degenerate. New First-day Then why do we not make more conscious efforts schools should be established where there are op
in this line? "The members of the First-day portunities and needs, and not too much senti- school should be asked in a friendly and persistent ment should be wasted over the old schools that way to join the meeting and take an active interhave outlived their usefulness. If there is any
est in its affairs," writes J. F. Scull, and Henry W. doubt as to the mission of the First-day school in
Wilbur adds, in his usual logical manner, "It its attitude toward the community and toward the Would seem that the First-day school which does meeting, I think we should become clear in our not become a feeder of the meeting, has not perminds as to just how we stand. A doubt is fre- formed its main duty thoroughly and intelliquently a good thing, but an earnest conviction gently." is more effective when it comes to organization.
Joining Meeting Through Convincement.--To Friends have always appreciated the necessity join the meeting through convincement is vital. of educational opportunities and educational ad- People as a rule are not going to take this step vancement, and the First-day school which has unless they are earnest Christians who wish to denow been permanently established for nearly fifty velop themselves spiritually and aid others who do years, is, from an educational standpoint, a ne- likewise. While pure Quaker blood circulated cessary part of our system of religious training; through our ancestors, and while we prize the it is an essential requisite for the spiritual de- rich heritage which has blessed so many of us livvelopment of our boys and girls and it has been a ing to-day, there are those of us whose immediate most important factor in keeping the religious parents are not Friends, who can hear and, I hope organization intact. The boys and girls in these and pray, heed that Divine "still small voice" schools will be the leaders among the Friends of which speaks alike to you and to me, of the imthe future, and we must do everything in our manence of God in man. May that Divine light
send its beneficent rays out to many others and because of the spirit of the times. Times are difbring them in to work and pray with us.
ferent at present. Our children need and require The First-day School May Help the Meeting careful education in religion, and we are turning by the Indirect Means Given, and by Holding its them away, or at least letting them turn themMembers Until they Join the Meeting.–Formu- selves away at the time when we need them and lating a consensus of views held by experienced when they most need us. and interested workers in the First-day school
The Solution. What are the causes of this reand meeting, as to the methods of keeping the pu- markable decline in interest in our religious worpils in our schools, we find them emphasizing the ship at this particular age? What are the possivalue of sympathy and encouragement on the part bilities if it could be avoided ? of the older members, the value of example, the There are two ways of seeking a solution. One benefits of putting pupils on committees for "Ac- is to study the outside fortuitous influences which tivity,” as Ellwood Roberts states, “in good, is the are brought to bear on the boy or girl at this age grand panacea for deliverance from evil.”
The in the way of entertainments, social engagements, value of teachers with strong personalities is em- clubs, etc. phasized and about one-half of the number say But these are surface conditions. What are the that young people should be solicited, not nagged, real causes? They lie deep down in the physical, in a Friendly and persistent way, both publicly intellectual, social and religious development of and privately, by showing them we would like to the boy or girl. It is during this critical period have them with us, both in the First-day school that education has made the most mistakes and and in the meeting. Last week one of the best practically all religious institutions are still unstudents in our large State Normal School came aware of the problems and grave responsibilities to me and said, in a serious and rather pathetic which here confront us. The First-day school tone, "I am the only one left." "The only one must hold these people, and in order to do so they left?" "Yes, father and mother joined the Pres- must have teachers with psychological insight and byterians last First-day, and I am the only one rare intuition. Several Friends have written me left in our large family who wants to join the that it is more difficult to get teachers than pumeeting, and I cannot join now because I may not pils. Should a Society like ours permit such conbe near meeting when I go to teach next year.' ditions? Our great need to-day is trained teachThere are a great many young people who need ers, and nearly all Friends recognize this. We a little more encouragement than they are getting must not discourage the good men and women in reference to joining meeting.
who are doing more by their strong character The Fundamental Problem.--The above are im- and Christian influence than any amount of speportant phases of the work in connection with our cial training can ever hope to do; the Greatest schools, and I wish I had time to discuss each one Teacher that ever lived spent eighteen yars in of them. Friends, there is one way, and at this preparation, but the unparalleled influence of Jetime a more important way, in which the First- sus as a Teacher was due to the fact that He lived day schools can strengthen themselves and their the truth He taught. The fact still remains, the meetings. It is not mentioned directly in any of great need of the First-day schools at present is the forty answers to the queries, but Florence H. trained teachers who understand boys and girls of Tittensor refers to it indirectly. In thirty-five the adolescent period. cases it is definitely stated by various representa- It will not be possible to take up the fortuitous tives of the seven Yearly Meetings in answer to influences. What are we doing in this line? Vigmy question, "At what ages is it most difficult to orous social life at this age is exhausting and conhold the young members of the First-day sequently it needs guiding and controlling, but to Schools ?'' that it is almost impossible to hold boys, eliminate it is disastrous. Why not put some of it and in many cases girls, between the ages of four- into our First-day schools? Some adult classes teen and twenty-two. At our exercises at the last I visited in England seemed to partially meet this Yearly Meeting in Philadelphia there were prac- condition. tically no boys at our afternoon session, of these The Meaning of Childhood.—Children are no ages, excepting a class from Fairhill, and a few longer considered little men and women, neither scattered here and there in some of the other is childhood a direct preparation for maturity. classes. What does this mean? It means that we Parents and teachers are beginning to realize that are losing our hold at the very time we should childhood has a meaning of its own; it has its strengthen it. When our beloved Society was or- own problems and its own purposes, and the child ganized by George Fox the whole religious world is a distinct human being, who differs from its was in a state of ferment. People joined church future self physically, mentally, and morally. Phys
[Seventh month 11, 1908
ically the composition of the body differs from awakening. This can no longer be denied and it the grown person, many organs are in a stage of must be recognized. growth, new bones are being formed and the pro- There is another awakening, frequently more portion of the various parts of the body differ. moral in its nature, between the ages of sixteen Mentally, the difference is greater than physically, and eighteen. This is the period when boys are the child lives more in the present, and is more doubtful and skeptical, physical science and mathopen to suggestions, because its nervous system ematics receiving most respect in their school is unstable and irritable, its memory is better, its studies. The girls are dissatisfied over conflicting senses keener, the emotions stronger and more ideas and feelings, and in the majority of cases fleeting; the imagination more vivid, and mental they remain in the First-day school a few years activity in general more vigorous. The instincts- longer than the boys. Should we condemn these those dynamic forces of education are at their young people for their doubts? Should we avoid maximum, and the child is always growing, pro- them? Should we turn them loose as we have been gressing, developing, maturing. Morally the dif- doing? No. This is an age when the child's moference is still greater and there are many prob- tive is of prime importance. The higher intellems and situations with which the child has lectual and spiritual activities are rapidly unfoldnever been face to face. “New occasions teach new ing and the feeling of sympathy is very promiduties," and the child must wait for the occasion. nent. The adolescent should in no case be conOften the child's vivid imagination causes him sidered an inferior and treated so; he or she to mistake the imagined for the real and he is should be treated as a friend who is very sensitive accused of falsehood when his motive is good. to blame and open to legitimate praise. During a reChildhood has its own significance, and every cent conversation with an ex-President of Swarthchild has a right to instruction, to protection, and more College, I was told that the secret of the to time for growth.
marvelous success of the present executive of that The young child accepts on faith and authority. institution with the young men and young women God is for it a personal God. Credulity is the was due to the wonderful way in which he took child's principal religious characteristic, and it the students into his confidence when considering must at first necessarily accept external authority problems connected with the life at the college. and sanctions, even though we may be able to
We have here a good example of the "preparation gradually lead it through its keen conscience to a for complete living" by actual participation in consciousness of the Divine indwelling. A deep the problems of life. insight into true morality and religion is not near- Young people respect an enthusiastic teacher ly so well developed with the child under eleven with a keen intellect and deep moral insight. Their years as it will be a few years later. At this likes and dislikes are very strong and they want younger age the child depends more on its sense some one who will actually raise their ideals and than on its reason. It is more habitual and au- not simply talk about doing so. They expect kind'tomatic in its actions and is therefore more sus- ness and they admire courage and strength. I ceptible to drill and discipline.
wonder if some do not leave First-day school beAdolescence.-Many revivalists have wrongly cause they have outgrown their teachers ? used the period of later childhood to "gather in" What these young people demand is an earnest, converts; to make converts. Friends do not be- impartial and intelligent search for the truth. If lieve that men ever make converts, and for fear we isolate them from our meetings we lose a large they might err in this line they have gone to the portion of what we have gained, and there follows opposite extreme and have become indifferent. We in most such disappointed people a long period should try to get the members of the First-day frequently a lifetime—of indifference, and a goldschool to join the meeting, in order to keep them en opportunity has been lost. We must hold these pure, as in early childhood. Pupils are very impres- young people. This is the crucial point where we sionable at this age and the outside world makes are failing. This is the main way in which the the impressions if our Society does not. In being First-day school may be used to increase the memcareful we have been neglectful.
bership of our Society. The public and private The period of credulity ends about the eleventh schools have failed, the Sabbath schools have very year, and after this the child begins to think for perceptibly failed, and here is a splendid opporitself, it begins to question authority and to as- tunity for Friends to do a great and useful work sume a more critical and skeptical attitude. Fre- for which the Society is especially adapted. We quently it rebels against authority: Between the can do more than any other religious organizaages of twelve and fourteen there is a religious tion toward the solution of this problem, because