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- Community Civics and Rural Life - 6/88 -
price of underwear and fish, and it was only after careful investigation that the relation between these things was discovered. A family that is careless in the disposal of refuse from the household and stables may unconsciously poison the wells of neighbors half a mile away. Sometimes men oppose public improvements, such as better roads, or a new schoolhouse, because they see only the direct costs of the improvements, and fail to see the more important losses to themselves and to the community if the improvements are not made.
DANGER OF HASTY JUDGMENTS
One thing we may learn from such facts as these is the danger of forming hasty judgments about things that happen, or conditions that exist, or proposals that are made, in our community life. Even those conditions or events that are apparently most simple may be related to other conditions and events that are not at first apparent. Wise judgment and wise action are dependent upon the most complete knowledge obtainable.
We shall see, as we proceed with our study, how this fact of interdependence appears in every phase of our community life.
From observation in your own community, give illustrations to show how people, in attempting to satisfy their own wants, may interfere with the efforts of others to satisfy theirs. The following are given as suggestions:
An employer and those whom he employs.
A man who owns a house or farm and the tenant to whom he rents it.
A man who keeps a livery stable adjoining a schoolhouse.
A grocer who displays his goods on the sidewalk (especially food products).
Men who raise cattle and those who raise sheep on the western ranges.
A boy who raises chickens and one who has a garden adjoining.
Suppose a schoolmate comes to school with measles or some other contagious disease. How may this affect your schoolwork? your association with your friends? How may it even add to your father's expenses?
Show that your schoolmates are as dependent upon you as you are upon them.
Is the community in which you live dependent upon you in any way? Give illustrations.
Taxpayers like to keep the tax rate as low as possible. In their interest in doing this, is it possible that they might interfere with your getting a good education in favorable surroundings? Explain. Who are the taxpayers?
We often hear of "self-made men." What does it mean? Can a man be entirely "self-made"?
Does a child become more or less dependent upon others as he grows older? Explain your answer.
Show that as a person becomes more "self-dependent" other people become more dependent upon him; for example, in the home, and in school.
Watch the newspapers for items illustrating interdependence, or conflicts due to it.
Lessons in Community and National Life (see note on reference materials in Introduction)
Series A: Lesson 1, Some fundamental aspects of social organization. Lesson 2, The western pioneer.
Series B: Lesson 1, The effect of the war on commerce in nitrate. Lesson 2, The varied occupations of a colonial farm. Lesson 12, Impersonality of modern life.
Series C: Lesson 1, The war and aeroplanes. Lesson 2, Spinning and dyeing in colonial times. Lesson 9, Inventions. Lesson 11, The effects of machinery on rural life.
Dunn, Arthur W., The Community and the Citizen, Chapters i, v.
Tufts, James H., The Real Business of Living, Chapter xxxi (Problems of country life).
Earle, Alice Morse, Home Life in Colonial Days (Macmillan).
Finley, John H., "Paths of the Pioneers," in Long's American Patriotic Prose, pp. 1-4.
Pioneer stories from any available source, especially local history stories.
THE NEED FOR COOPERATION IN COMMUNITY LIFE
THE NEED FOR TEAMWORK
When people have common purposes and are dependent upon one another in accomplishing them, there must be COOPERATION, which is another name for "teamwork." A team of horses that does not pull together can not haul a heavy load. A baseball team, though composed of good players, will seldom win games unless its teamwork is good. A few soldiers may easily disperse a large mob because they have teamwork, while a mob usually does not. This principle of "pulling together," "teamwork," or "cooperation," is of the greatest importance in community life. There can be no real community life without it.
SIMPLE TYPES OF COOPERATION
In the early days there were "barn raisings," when neighbors came together to help one of their number to "raise" his barn; and all the men of a pioneer community contributed their labor in building the community church or schoolhouse. This was a simple form of cooperation. It may be seen now at threshing time, when neighboring farmers combine to thresh the grain of each, the same group of men and the same threshing machine doing the work for all. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that:
In a group of 14 farmers situated in a community in one of the best farming regions in the corn belt, ... it was found that 5 men out of the 14 failed to get all their corn planted by the last week in May. They had worked as hard and as steadily at that operation as had their neighbors, but they were delayed by one cause or another, such as lack of labor or teams, or were handling a larger acreage than their equipment would allow them to handle satisfactorily. In this same community were 3 men who completed all their planting operations before the 20th of May, and 5 others who completed their work by the 25th of May. ... If all these men had considered that corn planting was a national necessity and had pooled their efforts, all of the corn on all the farms could have been planted within the most favorable time. [Footnote: The Farm Labor Problem, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Secretary, Circular No. 112, p. 5.]
Give other illustrations of this sort of cooperation from the farm or community life of your neighborhood.
Give illustrations of such teamwork among boys and girls.
Give illustrations of the failure of enterprises in which you have been interested because of a lack of teamwork.
Why is it an advantage for the farmers to use one threshing machine for all the threshing of the neighborhood instead of each farmer having his own machine?
ORGANIZED COOPERATION AND LEADERSHIP
As communities grow and the people become more dependent upon one another, and especially when it becomes hard to see how one thing that happens may affect others, as shown in Chapter II, cooperation becomes more difficult, but it becomes even more necessary. It needs to be ORGANIZED, and it needs LEADERSHIP. The experience of fruit growers in California affords a good illustration of this. When they acted independently of one another, they often had difficulty in disposing of their product to advantage. Sometimes it rotted on the ground. As individuals they did not have the means of learning where the best markets were. They had to make their own terms separately with the railroads for transportation and since they shipped in small quantities, they paid high freight rates. They had no adequate means of storing fruit while it was awaiting shipment. They were dependent upon commission merchants in the cities for such prices as they could get, which were often practically nothing at all.
These and other difficulties that made fruit growing unprofitable were overcome by the organization of fruit growers' associations, in which each grower may become a member by purchasing shares of stock. The members elect from their number a BOARD OF DIRECTORS, who in turn appoint a BUSINESS MANAGER who gives his entire attention to the association's business. The association has central offices and storage and packing houses.
The manager keeps in close touch with market conditions,--where the demand for fruit is greatest, the kinds of fruit wanted, the best prices paid. He contracts for the sale of fruit at fair prices. Shipping in large quantities, he gets the advantage of low rates on fast freight trains with refrigerator cars. Uniform methods of packing fruit are adopted, sometimes the fruit being packed at the central packing house. Information is distributed as to the best methods of growing fruit, the best varieties to grow, and so on. On the other hand, supplies and provisions are bought in large quantities, securing the best quality at the lowest prices.
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