For Sale:–Education in Human Relations. All buyers are referred to the Service Bureau for Education in Human Relations at 519 West 121st street, in charge of Mrs. Rachel Davis Du Bois, a Quaker school teacher.
The prospects are the public and the high schools throughout, the country, where an attempt will be made through the attempt will be made through the presentation of various cultural programs to inculcate a spirit of racial amity in the growing generation.
Additional high power salesmen are a board of twenty-two educators, with Professor Heber Harper of Teachers College, Columbia University, as chairman. In order to render judicious service in this field of racial harmony, two Jews, two Negroes and two Italians will act as advisors on the board. Mrs. Du Bois is executive secretary.
This is no brand-new untested commodity which Mrs. Du Bois offers to the schools. For seven years she has spread her material in Pennsylvania and New Jersey schools and found an enthusiastic and responsive clientele. Her assembly programs dealing in a friendly spirit with the valuable contributions of Jewish. Italian, Negro, Japanese and Chinese cultures have met with such success that she was flooded with requests from schools and teachers for more of her splendid ideas. The result was the official opening of the Bureau two weeks ago, which she aptly calls her “workshop.” Unable to cope with all the work alone, she enlisted the aid of other men and women educators who felt that such a precious article as racial amity needed more than one person to help put it across.
Yesterday a Bulletin reporter visited the lively, buzzing shop where CWA, workers are digging up fresh ideas for programs, and heard from Mrs. Du Bois an account of the purpose and origin of her interesting experiment. She is a tall, slender woman, with keen dark eyes and determined-looking features that promise victory to all her undertakings.
“The public and high schools in this country can be a powerful influence in counteracting prejudices imbibed in the home,” she declared emphatically. “It is only by dispelling these prejudices that we can ever hope for peace and order in this world.
“Years ago when I first began this work I noticed the lack of understanding and sympathy on the part of American children towards those of alien races. I personally witnessed incidents in a school in Woodbury, New Jersey, where I taught for four years. that brought this fact home to me very graphically. It was there that I inaugurated my assembly programs, introducing plays, tableaux, speeches and exhibitions aimed to show the youngsters the contributions of foreign elements to our civilization. These programs aroused such interest that other schools invited me to present them too. I therefore resigned my position as teacher to devote all my time to planning these ideas for assembly and class room work in social relations.
“Most teachers need assistance because of their lack of reference material. Since so many schools have sent in their requests, I found it necessary to establish this bureau where the technique and subject matter for practical school work is developed and then issued.”
Assisting Mrs. Du Bois in these plans are not only the educators on the board, but five or six young people from each cultural group, Jews, Negroes, Italians and so forth, who come on the average of once a week to lend their ideas and point out certain needs.
When asked what Jewish programs had already been used and found influential. Mrs. Du Bois answered:
“One excellent medium has been a play called ‘Famous Hebrews,’ another a sketch on ‘Hebrew Contributions to Music,’ one on ‘Hebrew Ideals’; also tableaux presenting ‘Contributions to America of Jewish Women Immigrants’ and Hebrew Contributions to Art, to Literature and to the Theatre’.”
As proof of the effectiveness of such assembly programs, Mrs. Du Bois quoted the head of an English department who said that recently, after a speech by Rabbi L. I. Newman in his school, he had noticed a greater respect on the part of the Gentile students toward the Jewish ones.
A test too was made on four thousand students in different schools in the East, both before and after the presentations of these programs and the resulting answers showed a definite change towards a more favorable attitude.
In reply to a query as to how the Jews can abet this courageous experiment, Mrs. Du Bois said:
“First by advising us in building our school programs. Secondly by inviting different groups to events of Jewish importance, and last by funds for books and supplies and by furnishing speakers.”
So far the work is practically a private enterprise. But Mrs. Du Bois expects that in the very near future the public and high schools will adopt her methods as part of the system of compulsory education.