• U.S.

Education: Teaching Films

4 minute read
TIME

That the talking cinema is capable of important functions other than mass entertainment has long been obvious. Whether one of these other functions is public school education was the question which a boy and girl from the District of Columbia and every State except Washington gathered last week in Washington, D. C, to answer.

The 48 boys and 48 girls were comfortably housed at the huge Wardman Park Hotel where they splashed about in the swimming pool and gazed at big league ball players in the lobby. The first day they took, at George Washington University, an examination in history, geography, science and civics. The examinations were in the form of printed statements which the examinees marked true or false. The second, third and fourth days, the 48 boys and 48 girls saw eight short cinemas, made by Fox, dealing with geography, science (development of glaciers, life of a frog), history and civics (immigrant learning about U. S. Government agencies and their functions). Then they took examinations much like the first ones but more difficult, to see how much they had learned.

Two of the children, David Turner, 13, of Montgomery, Ala., and Jane Dickinson, 14, of Keene, N. H., had learned more than the others. For doing so, each got a wrist watch. The rest had learned enough to make the original sponsors of the test, 25 public school pedagogs from large U. S. cities, pass a resolution: “We endorse the experiment in sound pictures and urge that additional facilities be supplied for such instructional methods as rapidly as possible.”

So well pleased were Fox officials that they said they would forthwith produce a large and complete library of educational sound films for use in U. S. public schools.

A corollary to the question which the boys and girls answered last week is this: Can public schools become a profitable market for the wares of cinema producers? It would have been fair to assume that Fox Film Corp. was much more interested in the answer to this question than in the other, were it not for the fact that Harley

Lyman Clark, president of Fox, utility tycoon, became interested in cinema through consideration of its use as an educative medium. In 1920 he founded the Society for Visual Education, invested a half-million dollars in producing educational films. When the 25 school superintendents approached Fox last year to see what could be done about manufacturing sound films for school use, Mr. Clark agreed to manufacture films for schools if it could be demonstrated that the. schools were prepared to use them.

The 25 school superintendents then persuaded President Hoover to request all the 48 Governors to have their school superintendents select a boy and girl “of at least grammar school age and mentally adapted to the test,” send them to Washington. All except Washington’s Governor Roland H. Hartley complied. Governor Hartley said: “One of America’s alarming problems is the mounting cost of public education. . . . The thought of adding to the unbearable burden by the addition of talking movies … is inconceivable. . . . Innovations already introduced have undermined the quality of education . . . amply proved the policy of spoon feeding.

Wisconsin’s Nardin

It was annoying to girl students at the University of Wisconsin to be told that they should not “arouse” the male students by wearing red dresses or puckering their red lips. They thought it oldfashioned of their 53-year-old, unmarried Dean of Women, Frances Louise Nardin, to tell them they must not wear clocked stockings or lean over to drink from water fountains.

Off vacationing last week, many a Wisconsin girl was looking forward to wearing what she wished next autumn, to arousing the young men as much as she liked. Miss Nardin, dean since 1918. had been offered the choice of a year’s leave or a position in the English department, had accepted neither. Observers guessed that Mrs. Meta Berger, relict of the late Socialist Victor Berger, and Authoress Zona Gale, both influential Liberals in a university where Liberalism ebbs and flows erratically, had aided in easing out Dean Nardin.

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