Primary Source Assignment

Find one example of each in the reading:




Public School No. 188 is the largest public school in the world. In the great play yard in the central court the children were romping about so noisily that the two men had to cease talking. They could not hear each other. Then, of a sudden a gong sounded, and the hubbub was hushed. The boys on one side of the yard, the girls on the other, fell into lines, each representing a class and slowly and noiselessly, save for the shuffling of feet, they marched away to their classrooms. "You won't believe it, perhaps, that that little army you have just seen contained five thousand children, or as many as attend all the schools in the entire State of Nevada. Under this roof there are a quarter of a thousand more pupils than in all Columbia University. Indeed, there are seats enough for the students of Yale, Brown, Amherst, and Bowdoin combined."

Following the boys upstairs, the two men met Mr. Mandel, the principal, whose face brightened as soon as he was asked if they might visit the classrooms. "I guess you won't have time to go into all of them," he said, as he led the way. "You see there are ninety six altogether." Turning through a door the visitors found themselves confronted by forty lads poring over a history lesson. In the teacher's chair a boy had been left in charge. "A small sized republic," remarked the principal. "You see how well they can govern themselves. They have elected this president to administer affairs in the interim."

…Of the thirty-nine present, only one was undecided as to his life work. Eleven wanted to take up various business careers. Nine intended to be lawyers, six civil engineers, three dentists, three doctors, two teachers and one each for the various callings of mechanic, engraver, designer of clothes, and electrical engineer. Of the thirty nine, the majority were Jewish. On inquiry the teacher found that the reason why six had chosen civil engineering was because they had watched the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge.

...Across the hall the visitors found a class hard at work at English composition.

The subject of the essays was, "My Vacation." And when they were handed in they showed that nearly all of the class had spent the summer in East Side streets. One spoke of an "outing" in Central Park, and another had gone "camping" in the Bronx. A third devoted his whole composition to a baseball game. It, to him, was the most important happening in the last two months. The teacher read it aloud as follows: "During vacation our team and another team arranged a game of baseball. It was to be played at 6th Street block for $2. The game started and it was the ending of the fifth inning. The score was in favor of the other side, 7 to 0 when the pitcher went to pieces and we hit him for ten runs and won out by 10 to 7."

"No city in the world spends as much as New York for education. Even London takes second rank," the Principal told us. "With 2,000,000 more inhabitants London appropriates several million dollars less a year for schools than we do. In 1900 that city spent for 500,000 pupils $16,988,000, or a little more than two thirds New York's appropriation for an enrollment of 555,000." Mr. Mandel brought the conversation to a close by leading the visitors into another classroom…

The class of foreign girls was hard at work learning such words as "head," "hand," and "foot" when the visitors arrived.  All of the thirty-three girls were foreigners. Twenty were born in Russia, seven in Hungary, and six in Austria. Half had arrived in New York in the last six months and had fled from Russia to escape the torch and the saber. Several of the girls were thirteen or fourteen years old, and, according to their teachers, they were proficient in arithmetic and Russian literature. "But do they appreciate the opportunities of this country?" asked the author. "Ask that little one whom you call Rosie how she regards America." In Yiddish the teacher asked the question, and Rosie's answer, translated, was, "I love sweet America. They are kind to me here."


From, "The Largest Public School in the World," The New York Times, November 25, 1900.


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