School Credit for Home Work

School Credit for Home Work

L. R. Alderman
L. R. Alderman

Author: Alderman, L. R. (Lewis Raymond), 1872-1965
Grading and marking (Students)
School Credit for Home Work

Mabel C——, aged 12, Algona, Washington





The Riverside Press Cambridge

The Riverside Press

Who made their boys happy partners in the
work of the home and farm


It has been a surprise and a delight to me, as this book has been in progress, to learn of the many different ways that people have worked out these home credit plans. It has been as if I could see into many happy schoolrooms. Letters from mothers and fathers boasting of the accomplishments of their children, have brought to me a little glow from the hearthsides of many homes. A father brought his boy—or rather the boy brought his father—up to see me and talk over what the boy was doing at home. The father boasted of the boy’s fine garden, his big pumpkins, his watermelons that would attract the neighbors. Johnny almost burst the top button off his vest with pride as his father praised him and patted him on the head. After this happy meeting, the father and the son got on the high wagon seat and rode home; and as I saw them going down the street, I could imagine what they talked about. Such glimpses help to make a school man’s life worth while; and I have had many of them as I have been writing this book.
For the fact that this book exists at all, I am indebted to my wife, who has helped me with every part of it, and to Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Thomason, of Olympia, Washington, who believed in the book from the first. Mrs. Thomason has also done much work on the book; she has gathered all the illustrative material, visiting many schools and writing many letters. She and my wife have done most of the organizing of material, and have gone over the manuscript together. To Miss Fanny Louise Barber, of the Washington High School, Portland, I am grateful for her careful reading and revision of several chapters. I owe thanks to Mrs. Sarah J. Hoagland, of Belt, Montana, for the true and vivid stories she has sent me; and I am thankful to all the home credit teachers, with whom we have been corresponding, for their painstaking answers to our letters, as well as for the valuable plans that they have originated.
L. R. Alderman.
Portland, Oregon,
November 16, 1914.



I. Introduction 1
II. Mary 7
III. The Spring Valley School 11
IV. What will become of the Algebra? 24
V. Honoring Labor 34
VI. Habit-Building 39
VII. That Other Teacher and that Teacher’s Laboratory 46
VIII. Stella and Sadie 53
IX. A Story and Letters from Teachers 60


I. Illustrative Home Credit Plans                                         71
II. Home Credit in High Schools 156
  Appendix 167
  Index 177


Feeding her Bird Frontispiece
Spring Valley School 12
Picnic Luncheon, Spring Valley 20
Joe in the Garage 28
Work Credited at School 36
Earning Home Credits 42
O. H. Benson Potato Club 88
High School Boys in Railroad Shops 156





The child is a born worker; activity is the law of his nature.
Francis W. Parker.

This book is simply the narrative of the working-out of an idea. The idea first came to me from memories of my own home, where tasks were assigned to us children and were made to seem important. With my father, the work was always carried on in the spirit of a game, and the game could be made as interesting as any other game; in the meantime something was being done that was worth while. Among many other memories there comes one of our laying a rail fence by moonlight, after a freshet had taken the other fence away; when the game was to get the line completed before the moon went down. I can still see father laying rail on rail, and enjoy his glowing enthusiasm at our accomplishment. The fence still stands. Besides seeking to make the work interesting in itself, father had a device to put a value on time for his boys by giving us free time after the tasks were completed to do as we saw fit.
The desire, after I became a teacher, to put myself in the enviable position of my father as an inspiring influence with children, was the motive that took my thoughts out of the schoolroom into the homes of my pupils. Should not the school be simply a group of people come together for improvement, with the teacher as their best friend, ready to discuss and promote everything that seems worth while? We found it easy to talk at school about the things the children were concerned with out of school. One spring my pupils carried home, from our little boxes at school, cabbage plants and tomato plants to become members of their families for the summer. Later we had a county school fair for the exhibition of the children’s clear jelly and fine bread and vegetables and sewing and carpentry. The schools were trying to recognize “the whole child.”

This book is written in the hope that parents, teachers, and children may be helped to work together more joyously and harmoniously on the real problems of life.
When I was teaching in the University of Oregon in the spring of 1910, I wrote and had published in the Oregon papers the following article:—

We all believe that civilization is founded upon the home. The school should be a real helper to the home. How can the school help the home? How can it help the home establish habits in the children of systematic performance of home duties so that they will be efficient and joyful home helpers? One way is for the school to take into account home industrial work and honor it. It is my conviction, based upon careful and continuous observation, that the school can greatly increase the interest the child will take in home industrial work by making it a subject of consideration at school. A teacher talked of sewing, and the girls sewed. She talked of ironing, and they wanted to learn to iron neatly. She talked of working with tools, and both girls and boys made bird houses, kites, and other things of interest. Recently a school garden was planned in a city and one of the boys was employed to plow the land. Seventy-five children were watching for him to come with the team. At last he came driving around the corner. He could manage a team. He drove into the lot, and a hundred and fifty eyes looked with admiration at the boy who could unhitch from the sled and hitch to the plow; and then as he, “man-fashion,”—lines over one shoulder and under one arm,—drove the big team around the field, all could feel the children’s admiration for the boy who could do something worth while. And I have seen a girl who could make good bread or set a table nicely get the real admiration of her schoolmates.
The school can help make better home-builders. It can help by industrial work done in the school, but as that is already receiving consideration by the press and in a few schools, I shall not in this short article treat of it.
The plan I have in mind will cost no money, will take but little school time, and can be put into operation in every part of the State at once. It will create a demand for expert instruction later on. It is to give school credit for industrial work done at home. The mother and father are to be recognized as teachers, and the school teacher put into the position of one who cares about the habits and tastes of the whole child. Then the teacher and the parents will have much in common. Every home has the equipment for industrial work and has some one who uses it with more or less skill.
The school has made so many demands on the home that the parents have in some cases felt that all the time of the child must be given to the school. But an important thing that the child needs along with school work is established habits of home-making. What people do depends as much upon habit as upon knowledge. The criticism that is most often made upon industrial work at school is that it is so different from the work done in the home that it does not put the child into that sympathetic relation with the home, which after all is for him and the home the most important thing in the world. Juvenile institutions find that they must be careful not to institutionalize the child to such an extent that he may not be contented in a real home. In my opinion it will be a great thing for the child to want to help his parents do the task that needs to be done and to want to do it in the best possible way. The reason why so many country boys are now leading men of affairs is because early in life they had home responsibilities thrust upon them. I am sure that the motto “Everybody Helps” is a good one.
But one says: “How can it be brought about? How can the school give credit for industrial work done at home?” It may be done by sending home printed slips asking the parents to take account of the work that the child does at home under their instruction, and explaining that credit will be given for this work on the school record. These slips must be used according to the age of the child, so that he will not be asked to do too much, for it must be clearly recognized that children must have time for real play. The required tasks must not be too arduous, yet they must be real tasks. They must not be tasks that will put extra work on parents except in the matter of instruction and observation. They may well call for the care of animals, and should include garden work for both boys and girls. Credit in school for home industrial work (with the parents’ consent) should count as much as any one study in school.

To add interest to the work, exhibitions should be given at stated times so that all may learn from each other and the best be the model for all. The school fairs in Yamhill, Polk, Benton, Lane, Wasco, and Crook Counties, together with the school and home industrial work done at Eugene, have convinced me most thoroughly that these plans are practicable, and that school work and home work, school play and home play, and love for parents and respect for teachers and fellow pupils can best be fostered by a more complete coöperation between school and home, so that the whole child is taken into account at all times.

After the home-credit schools of Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Conklin were well under way, I received many inquiries about the home credit idea. As I was then State Superintendent, I had a pamphlet printed by the State Office, describing the workings of the plan, and had it distributed to Oregon teachers. Fifteen thousand copies were also printed for Mr. Claxton, Commissioner of Education, in the summer of 1912, and distributed by the National Bureau to superintendents and teachers throughout the United States. Since this pamphlet has been out of print there have been many inquiries sent me about home credit, and I hope that this book may answer some of them.



The brain and the hand, too long divorced, and each mean and weak without the other; use and beauty, each alone vulgar; letters and labor, each soulless without the other, are henceforth to be one and inseparable; and this union will lift man to a higher level.—G. Stanley Hall.

The idea of giving school credit for home work first occurred to me when I was a high-school principal in McMinnville, Oregon, in 1901. Often, in the few years that I had been teaching, I had felt keenly a lack of understanding between school and home. As I was thinking over this problem, and wondering what could be done, I chanced to meet on the street the mother of one of my rosiest-cheeked, strongest-looking high-school girls. I saw that the little mother looked forlorn and tired. There was a nervous twitch of the hand that adjusted the robes about the crippled child she was wheeling in a baby buggy. I had frequently noticed that Mary, the daughter, who was one of the very poorest students in her class, was on the streets the greater part of the time after school hours. I thought, “What value can there be in my teaching that girl quadratic equations and the nebular hypothesis, when what she most needs to learn is the art of helping her mother?”
In the algebra recitation next day I asked, “How many helped with the work before coming to school?” Hands were raised, but not Mary’s. “How many got breakfast?” Hands again, not Mary’s. “I made some bread a few days ago, bread that kept, and kept, and kept on keeping. How many of you know how to make bread?” Some hands, not Mary’s. I then announced that the lesson for the following day would consist as usual of ten problems in advance, but that five would be in the book, and five out of the book. The five out of the book for the girls would consist of helping with supper, helping with the kitchen work after supper, preparing breakfast, helping with the dishes and kitchen work after breakfast, and putting a bedroom in order. Surprise and merriment gave place to enthusiasm when the boys and girls saw that I was in downright earnest. When I asked for a report on the algebra lesson next day all hands went up for all the problems both in algebra and in home-helping. As I looked my approval, all hands fell again, that is, all hands but Mary’s. “What is it, Mary?” I asked. “I worked five in advance,” she replied with sparkling eyes: “I worked all you gave us, and five ahead in the book!”
Since that day I have been a firm believer in giving children credit at school for work done at home. We did not work home problems every day that year, but at various times the children were assigned lessons like the one mentioned, and scarcely a day passed that we did not talk over home tasks, and listen to the boys and girls as they told what each had achieved. The idea that washing dishes and caring for chickens was of equal importance with algebra and general history, and that credit and honor would frequently be given for home work, proved a stimulus to all the children, and especially to Mary. Her interest in all her school duties was doubled, and it is needless to say that her mother’s interest in the school was many times increased as her heavy household cares were in part assumed by her healthy daughter.
A few weeks after the first home credit lesson Mary brought her luncheon to school. At the noon hour she came to my desk, opened her basket, and displaying a nicely made sandwich said, “I made this bread.” The bread looked good, and must have been all right, for she ate the sandwich, and it did not seem to hurt her. She came again wearing a pretty new shirt-waist, and told me she had made it herself, and that it had cost just eighty-five cents.
After Mary graduated from high school she went out into the country to teach, and boarded with her uncle’s family. Her uncle’s wife was ill for a while, and Mary showed that she knew how to cook a fine meal, and how to set a table so that the food looked good to eat. She made herself generally useful. Her uncle came to my office one day and told me that Mary was the finest girl he ever saw, and that every girl like that should go to college, and that he was going to see that she went to college if he had to sell the farm to send her. She went to college, but it didn’t take the farm to send her.



An excellent result of the absence of centralization in the United States…. The widest possible scope being allowed to individual and local preferences, … one part of our vast country can profit by the experience of the other parts.
John Fiske.
Kindly convey my blessing to that genius of a teacher in Spring Valley, the same to stand good till judgment day.

Wm. Hawley Smith.
Mr. A. I. O’Reilly, in the school at Spring Valley, Oregon, was the first to give systematic, certified credit for home work. He originated the idea of having a prize contest for credits, and put care for health and cleanliness on the list of home duties. Dr. Winship classifies new educational suggestions as dreams, nightmares, and visions. The remarkable success of Mr. O’Reilly in his home credit school should place his ideas in the “vision” list.
Spring Valley is a rich farming district in Polk County, Oregon, about nine miles from Salem. Mr. O’Reilly took the school in the fall of 1909. He rented a farmhouse about half a mile away, brought his wife and little boys out from Dakota, where he had served as county superintendent, and went to work building up his school. He gained great influence with the boys and girls, and was much respected and thoroughly liked by everybody.
He noticed that on each big, well-developed farm in the neighborhood there was a great deal of work for the boys and girls to do, but that they did not as a rule do it with cheerfulness and interest. He wanted, if possible, to change their attitude of mind. So, with the hearty approval of his board of directors, he arranged to give school credit for home work. This was in the fall of 1911. Various tasks that the children ought to do he put into a list, and allowed a certain number of minutes credit for each one.[1] The three

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