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room, two or three or even more different classes may work apart without any disadvantage; and this arrangement is a very convenient one for securing due supervision over younger teachers, and especially for the occasional junction of two or three classes for some lecture or special exercise which may be given collectively. Of course, if you are in circumstances which make you indifferent to cost, it is a good thing to have class-room accommodation enough for the whole school ; and a central hall for no other than quasi-public gatherings. Even then some of the adjacent class rooms should be so divided by moveable partitions that two of them may be readily thrown into one when occasion requires. But when circumstances render it important to economize space or money, one large room which will hold the entire school for collective purposes, and class-rooms enough to hold half the scholars, will suffice. This arrangement presupposes that, for ordinary class work, one half of the classes will meet and receive their lessons side by side in the principal room. Thus, taking 100 as the unit, there should be one room of 45 ft. by 20, in which all can sit, but in which half are habitually taught; and two class-rooms, about 15 by 17, each sufficiently large to provide accommodation for 25 scholars. Class-rooms should be adjacent and should have glass doors, not necessarily for easier supervision, though that is important, but for increase of light.
As to light, we have to remember that all glare should be avoided, and that therefore southern windows are not the best. It is well to have one southern window for cheerfulness, but the main light should be the steadier and cooler light from the north. I need hardly say that though sunshine may easily be in excess in a schoolroom, you cannot have too much of it in a play-ground.
Desks and their arrangement.
The best light for working purposes is from the roof; but sky-lights are often hard to open, and in snowy weather are apt to become obscured. They should not therefore be the only windows. You secure a better diffusion of light throughout a room and avoid shadows by having all windows high up, the lowest part being 6 or 7 ft. from the ground. But this is not, owing to the structure of rooms, always possible. When windows are low side light is preferable both to that from behind, which causes the pupil to sit in his own shadow, and to that from the front, which is apt to distress his eyes. And of side lights that from the left hand is always the best; otherwise the pupil's writing is done at a disadvantage and in the shadow of his own pen.
In planning desks, you have to consider several Desks. requirements. (1) They should be comfortable, with a height of 2 ft. for little children, and 2 ft. 6 in. to 3 ft. for older scholars, the seat in both cases being about as high from the ground as the length of the leg from the knee to the foot. There should be a back rail not more than 10 inches high, and for very young children about 7 inches high, to give support just at that portion of the back where it is most needed. Most backs to seats and pews are too high. (2) They should be easy of access; for in writing lessons, half the work of the teacher consists in going round the class pointing out the errors, correcting and pencilling them; and this is impossible, if the desks are long or too crowded. At least 1 ft. 8 in. should be allowed for each child. In some of the American schools access is facilitated by giving to each scholar a separate desk and seat, the latter revolving on a pivot and having its own back like a chair. But this is a very expensive arrangement. In the schools of the School Board for London, the desks are called
dual.' Each of these measures about 3 ft. 4 in. long and accommodates two children. They are constructed with a hinge, so that the front half can be lifted up when standing exercises are given. (3) The seats of scholars should be compactly arranged; so that for teaching the whole class may be brought well into one focus, and not spread over too wide an area for thorough supervision and economy of voice. This requirement appears to conflict in some measure with the first-named conditions. Yet it seems so important that, for the sake of it, I should be inclined to sacrifice some other advantages. The desks should be so arranged that the angle of vision for the teacher does not exceed 45°. It is a mistake to have more than five desks deep. If there are six the scholars behind are too far off for effective oversight or perfect hearing. (4) Desks should be very slightly sloped, nearly flat and about 1 foot wide; it will suffice if the seats have a width of 8 inches'. There should be a shelf-space underneath for books or slates, and when each scholar has a fixed place allotted to him this space may be kept for all his own books and belongings. But except for a very limited number of the eldest and most trustworthy scholars in a High school, it is not well to have lockers; all pigeon-holes and covered spaces which are appropriated to the use of individual scholars should be open or easily openable; there should be no secrets or private hoards, and the occasional and frequent inspection of them is itself a useful discipline in neatness. (5) I would have you distrust all contrivances by which desks like Goldsmith's “bed by
i For fuller details on this subject, and indeed on most of the topics treated in this chapter, the reader will do well to consult an excellent work, Robson's School Architecture, and also an American work by Barnard on the same subject.
night and chest of drawers by day” undertake to serve two purposes, e.g. to turn over and furnish a back suited for older people in a lecture-room, or to be fixed horizontally two together to make a tea-table. All such devices are unsatisfactory and involve a sacrifice of complete fitness for school purposes. The desks should be so arranged that the teacher from his desk should command the whole group. There are two ways of effecting this. If his own desk is on the floor, the fourth and fifth rows of desks at the back should be raised by two steps, so that each shall be higher than that in front. If, on the other hand, all the scholars' desks are on the same level floor, he himself should have his desk on a mounted estrade or piatform. (6) We have to remember also that all the work of a scholar has not to be done at a desk. For the due maintenance of life and animation in teaching, it is well, as I have already said, to give some of the lessons to scholars in a standing position. The change of attitude is a relief, and is conducive to mental activity. Do not therefore have so large a portion of your
school or class - room encumbered with desks as to mak this arrangement impossible. Always have space enough reserved to enable you to draw out the class into the form of a standing semi-circle. The questions of warmth and of ventilation should Ventila
tion. always be considered together. They are rather complex, owing to the very different form of buildings, the aspect of the rooms, and the relative position of near and surrounding objects. Teachers have few opportunities of being consulted by architects about the requirements on which they wish to insist, but it is well to have a few principles in view, ready for such an opportunity when it occurs. We have to remember that each of us breathes
about 16 times a minute or 960 times an hour, and that every time we do this the air in any confined room is partly vitiated. The indispensable thing is that every room should have some means of admitting fresh and emitting foul air. There are several ways of attaining this. When rooms open out into a corridor, a good place for a ventilator is over the door; when a group of gas burners is in the centre of the room, there should be a ventilating shaft above it to carry off the products of combustion. In some cases a ventilating opening in the wall of the chimney above the fireplace is useful. And for the admission of fresh air, a Tobin ventilating shaft in the corner of the room, communicating below with the outer air and open about 7 feet above the floor, so as to introduce a current of air where no draft will be felt by the head, is often an effective experiment all windows should be made to open, both at the top and bottom, and in any interval which occurs in the work of the class, they should be opened. A very slight opening both at the top and the bottom of a. window at the same time is often found to be effectual as a ventilator ; for you have here what the engineers call an upward and a downward shaft, the colder air coming in at the bottom and passing upwards so as to expel the bad air at the upper opening. And if owing to the defective supply of means for attaining this purpose, you have any reason to suppose that the air is likely to become bad in a three hour's sitting of the school, it is a good plan to break up the class for ten minutes when half the morning's or afternoon's work is over, and in this short interval to throw open all the windows and introduce a fresh supply, even in the coldest weather, of
The little sacrifice of time will be more than compensated.