Billeder på siden

How may this knowledge guide the association worker in the religious education of boys?

In the first place, it may help to give the work a better aim. We see that the adolescent period is one of rapid growth and adjustment. It is the whole boy, and not only a part of him, that is growing and undergoing adjustment, and we cannot concern ourselves simply with his soul and neglect all of the rest. The Young Men's Christian Association is unique among religious agencies in its recognition of man's allround nature, but we do violence to the idea when we try to separate into distinct natures the body, the mind, and the soul. It is the whole boy that we are to help into the richest and fullest life. With that aim, the gymnasium may be more of a religious agency than the Bible class. It should be at least as much. The boy himself takes to this all-round idea. To have Christ with him in his sports, to help him have a strong mind, to help him love and serve the other fellows, is the burden of the spontaneous prayers we often hear from the lips of boys about the summer-night camp-fire or in the boys' meeting.

[ocr errors]

In the next place, this knowledge gives us points of contact with the boy. For instance, there is the gang instinct. This may be made to contribute instead of being a menace to the boy's higher - that is, religious life. To illustrate, the conventional agencies of religious culture in the Young Men's Christian Association are the Bible class and religious meeting, but instead of an unorganized meeting modeled in most respects like an adult gathering, a club may be organized of the entire membership, with officers, dues, rules, etc.,- boys readily take to parliamentary law,— and the particular form of meeting or means to religious culture may be carried on by the leading boys with but little adult supervision. Bible classes may be organized in the same way. There are some so organized where the boys debate on Bible topics.

The fondness for secrecy in organization has been taken advantage of for the religious good of boys in some associations in the organizing of Bible classes on a Greek-letter fraternity basis, with all that it implies of initiations, grips, signs, passwords, secret sessions, and pins of mystic significance. There is the gang idea for younger boys of red Indian organization, with braves, sagamores, and sachems.

Another point of contact is the hero-worshiping tendency. All the notorious prize-fighters have an immense following among boys of all classes. The feats of our naval and military heroes during the Spanish-American war stirred boydom to the core. The most eloquent clergyman in the city will not attract boys to a religious meeting to half the extent the popular Yale or Harvard half-back will. The boy is quick to recognize that the fighter or runner or football-player must use

his brains as well as his muscles. He knows that the clever or "foxy athlete is usually the winner. To admire mental and moral strength is the next natural step that we may help the boy to take. The material for illustration and study may not only be drawn from the Old and New Testament characters, but from the fascinating field of missionary effort, with its heroes of the Faith. All history in the past and history in the making furnish examples of men and women who fought and sacrificed for high principles. The heroes are not all dead. We can make more vivid the Josephs and Samuels, Joshuas and Daniels, of ancient times by combining with their study their modern types from industrial, professional, or political life. The point is to take every advantage of the hero-loving instinct to bring to the boy the examples of the best sort of heroism, to help him to feel that present-day living is not all pleasure-seeking or money-grubbing, and that there is a chance for him to do something heroic. Jesus Christ may be made the boys' Hero as well as the boys' Saviour. Because the boy is a hero-worshiper he is an idealist. He will overlook the faults and magnify the virtues of his ideal. Usually the ideal takes on the flesh and blood of some older person whom he thoroughly likes and whose ways of doing and ways of thinking he promptly imitates.

Within a year or so a number of boys' departments have secured excellent results in their Bible-class work by having popular older boys act as teachers. Judged by educational standards, the teaching does not rank very high, but it ties up a group of boys to some one whom they sincerely believe in and whom they want to be like. The older boy feels the responsibility of his position as most adult teachers do not, and he is being developed in usefulness, instead of being just a recipient of the privileges the association offers.

We find the adolescent boy to be a realist as well as an idealist. To succeed in his religious education, we must keep in mind real ends. Religious impulses must have a practical outlet in something more than glibness in answering questions in the Bible class. In fact, too much religious work for the boy is separated from the real life of the boy. It is too external. It is a matter to the boy for a definite time and definite place and from a definite book. We must make it easy for the boy to give expression to his religious impulses in many ways of useful effort. Help him to find opportunities that are religious, in the broad sense as well as in the more restricted. Praying or talking to another boy about Christ is good; so is keeping the back alley clean.

Service for the good of others counteracts a tendency for too much introspection; a tendency in some cases running into morbidness, with much attending mental suffering.





[ocr errors]

The following outline has been prepared in response to the request of the committee of the Department of Associations for a course of twenty-five lessons in "Philanthropies. It was the intention of the committee that the word "philanthropy" should be used in its large sense, thus allowing the treatment of the " Problems of a Twentiethcentury City" under that head. Before outlining such a course, it is in order to give some reasons why such a course should have an important place in a curriculum of religious education.

Such a curriculum must include not merely the study of the nature and history of religion and the psychology of the religious nature, but also the activities of religion. By religious activities is meant those to which men are inspired by a religious motive, or which are the products of religious institutions or incentives. It is not necessary for us to enter into any careful analysis of the nature of the religious motive. It is enough to call attention to the fact that from the beginning Christianity has expressed itself in philanthropy. A genuine love to God has always expressed itself in the service of man. Such being the case, a study of the principles and practice of social service must be of first importance in religious education; and that, not merely for the sake of religious intelligence, but for the development of the religious nature.

A study of philanthropy will naturally center in the city, since cities are the strategic points of our modern civilization. In the cities are massed, not merely the most powerful economic and political forces, but also the most powerful ethical and educational forces. In the cities all the forces which make for righteousness and against it meet in deadly conflict. We find there are not merely all the problems of the ages past, but of the age present and to come. Cities are on the firing-line of the march of civilization.

The Young Men's Christian Association is itself a product of city life. It is an organized attempt on the part of the church to meet one of the most pressing needs of city life, a social center for young men, where all wholesome and educative influences shall be massed attractively and effectively. We have long since recognized that the effective

worker must be an expert in all that pertains to the life of young men. It is evident that the men who are in the field are realizing that they must study not only the young man himself, but the great city of which he is an organic part. The secretaries and directors of the association must become experts in municipal sociology. In studying the lives of young men, they will become so of necessity. As a matter of fact, the officers of the association constitute a natural bureau of information as to all the forces and conditions of city life which affect young men. In some of our largest and most effective associations, the secretaries are becoming recognized as specialists in the problems of city life, both to the benefit of the city and their own work.

In order to meet these conditions, it is clear that the study of municipal sociology should be a part of the training of those who are to be leaders in association work, but in addition to this there is a large group of young men in every city community who need to study intelligently and thoroughly the problems of city life and the forces which make for civic righteousness.

The following is the outline of a course of twenty-five such lessons, designed to meet the needs of young men in our average associations. It is a modification of a course given to the students in the Young Men's Christian Association Training School in Springfield, where a similar course is being followed in the local Association.

Owing to limitations of time and space, only the general headings of the lessons have been given, with a suggestive but not complete bibliography.

The conduct of the course in any special field will be determined by local conditions, and the teachers, speakers, and books which are available. The following suggestions will apply, however, in most city. associations: The class should be organized as a club, say a "Civic Club," or a "Social Welfare Club," with president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and at least a programme and social committee. It will help the effectiveness of the club immensely if a man of high standing in the community can be secured as president. If possible, a teacher should be chosen who is familiar with the general field to be covered, and a specialist in some part of it. To him should be given the general organization of the course of study and the assignment of special topics of investigation to members of the club. If the club or class is well officered and respectable in size and enthusiasm, it will not be difficult to get in as speakers men who are specialists in some department of philanthropy, or who are or have been in the service of the city. A large club will be able to attract speakers of more than local fame.

Ideally, as large a number of themes as possible should be given to the members of the club for investigation. Care must be taken, however, to distribute such studies in such a way as to break up any monotony. Club suppers and occasional "ladies' nights "will add to the enthusiasm of the organization, and so to the quality of its work.


The following suggestions may be of help in carrying out such a course as the one outlined. "The City in its Relation to Civilization" may be the theme of an inspirational and suggestive address given by the teacher or any capable man in sympathy with the aims of the club. After such an address will be a good time to organize the club. Growth of Modern Cities " can probably best be treated by the teacher, making use of the charts given in the last Statistical Atlas. The subjects of lessons 3, 4, 5, 6, can be divided between specialists and members of the class. The city physician, the chairman of the board of health, the city forester, and the officers of local hospital associations should be available. As to how far the problems of morals, lessons 7, 8, 9, 10, may be studied through investigations of local conditions, there will be difference of opinion. The literature of the subject is copious and well adapted to analysis by members of the club. In the study of the problems of philanthropy the representatives of local institutions can be used, but members of the club should be encouraged to visit them and report. The principal of the high school, the superintendent of schools or teachers should be enlisted in the discussion of the problems of education. To lend variety to the work, the problems of administation might be treated through club debates, while city officials may be secured to explain the nature of their work. The representatives of various welfare agencies will naturally explain the work of their organizations. The last theme, "Christianity and the Social Spirit," should be presented by the very largest man available, and should be the grand summing up of the year's work.



Lesson 1. The City in its Relation to Civilization.

Lesson 2. quences.


The Growth of Modern Cities. Causes and Conse


Lesson 3. Dwellings. Tenements and. Tenement-house Reform. Lesson 4. Streets - Relation to Health, Cleaning, Regulation, Use. Lesson 5. Parks, Playgrounds, Public Baths, Recreation Piers, etc. Lesson 6. Hospitals and Sanitaria, Public Hygiene.

« ForrigeFortsæt »