The aim in the best schools is clearly a social one. Much is accomplished toward this end when the child works with love and interest on something dear to his own life; greater good, however, will be gained if, through the work, he learn to consider and assist others, and thus understand and sympathize with the world's work. The mere repeating of primitive arts will not accomplish this in the best way. The child's world is circumscribed. His home, his play, and his school are his world, containing all he knows of society. If he would serve, he must begin to do so where he can see the value of the service. The handwork suggested by the use of early arts alone often fails to connect with the life of to-day, or does it so indirectly that the value to the home of the increase of a spirit of true service is less than it may be; for, in such cases, the completion of the article and its connection with the past are too often the final aims of the work. The need of beginning early with classes of handwork which are in direct connection with everyday life is especially pressing in the education of girls. American life would be greatly benefited if they had a better conception of home life and were able to inaugurate improvements in home management. The strides made in industry, science and trade have not been paralleled by corresponding improvements in the methods and life of the home. The statement is familiar that the home and the school must be united, but very little has yet been done to really cement the union and cause the school to react favorably on the home. One great opportunity for this interaction lies in the proper use of handwork.
The home as a goal for the use of the simple industries will yield infinitely more to the girl than will the mere copy of early crafts without this ideal. A teacher however cannot carry out this aim satisfactorily unless she has given some study to household conditions and to the possibilities of improvement in them. Strange to say, a thoughtful, scientific investigation of the entire domestic situation has hardly yet begun, and few teachers are prepared to deal adequately with it in the class work. The very familiarity of every one with home life has made its study difficult. It should be viewed from such standpoints as the primitive industries once practiced there and which have been retained, or can be still utilized; the art possibilities; the repairs to clothing, furniture and utensils; the economics of consumption; the better management with respect to expenses and service; the relation of the home to society at large; and the comprehension of, and sympathy with, the constant labor needed there. A study such as this will lead the teacher to see how the handwork in every grade of the school may develop industrial intelligence, and may also serve an excellent purpose in the home. In addition it should lay a good foundation for trade life, if the girls desire to become wage-earners.
It is not possible to lay out a course of handwork suited to all conditions of the school or of life. The outlines which follow are suggestions for articles suited to different ages of children and which may be used to develop interest in the home and in society. Each teacher must study the environment and capacities of her children before selecting the exercises which will best serve her aim. She must, when possible, correlate with other subjects of the grade, and must see to it that the ideals she gives become actualities in the girl's life, at home, at school, or in her contact with the outside world. The pupil should gradually increase in skill and gain a wider interest in, and grasp of, her relation to a well-managed home and of her responsibility for conditions in the industrial world.
Many of the articles mentioned in the outlines are as fitted to one grade as another, the manner of making constituting the difference. The teacher should select from the lists the things she desires, and supplement them with others which are appropriate, as there is an infinite possibility for new and interesting combinations.
In the first three, or perhaps four, grades the boys and girls should be together in all of their classes. The handwork should offer many varieties of industries, and the regular teacher should conduct the work. Later, the girls can continue with the household arts in a group by themselves, while the boys take the handwork fitted to their interests. A special teacher will probably be required for these later grades, for much skill and knowledge will be needed. In large cities a supervisor is appointed who plans the work and either teaches the grade teachers how to give it or has her own special staff to teach it. The lists given below are suggestions for application primarily in sewing, but also refer to other lines of household art handwork which are closely connected.