National Geographic : 1918 Aug
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE craving for a knowledge of aeroplanes with the story of Aladdin's lamp. We wondered where those paper-bound pam phlets of fables and myths would fit in. We reached joyfully for the histories and found them built about the tales of the Crusades. One world map,-that was a glorious find-one world map upon which to build our empire ! To be sure, as time went on we found use even for Aladdin's lamp and sent for more discarded Fourth Readers. But that was when we ourselves discovered the connection between that lamp and aeroplanes. At the start we set about the manufacturing of our own "books." Charts were not new to us. Standard ized Peter Roberts charts and leaflets, dealing with military terms, camp eti quette, the care of the clothing, could be had ready made and were excellent. Lessons based on the vocabulary of the General Orders,-some day perhaps a tragedy will be written on the non-Eng lish-speaking soldier and his General Orders-these, too, had their place. But they were not enough. FIRST STEP-CONVERSATION All beginning lessons of immigrant edu cation must center about conversation. Much as he longs for the book and easily as he learns to read, the foreigner, whether in military camp or factory, needs, first of all, to understand and to be understood. There is nothing more difficult than to make a foreign pupil talk, for the cour age which is his when his hands grasp a book and his eyes are glued to its page forsakes him when hands and eyes lose their support. And between straight reading and straight speaking comes the picture chart. The subject - matter for beginners' charts centered about such words as "gun," "shoot," "soldier," "officer," "march," "drill," "tent," "eat," "run," "hear," "see," and we thought that they would be easy to make until we tried to find appropriate pictures for our illus trations. The "intermediate" charts were easier, and they were determined by a few brief questions in class. We take so easily for granted the sol dier's-any soldier's-knowledge of the tools of warfare. We somehow believe that even though he has neither news papers nor magazines, neither lectures nor casual war conversation, he still, by virtue of his months in a military camp, acquires military information through the pores of the skin, as it were. Which is true perhaps of the care of his gun and the hours for mess. THEY LACK PRIMARY CONCEPTIONS What is a tank? What is a submarine? What is a howitzer? Out of what are aeroplanes made? What is a transport? What is a destroyer? What is Red Cross? It is not that many of these for eign soldiers lack the English words to tell us. There is no concept of the things themselves. We gathered photographs and more photographs from the magazines in the camp library store-room. We procured huge sheets of wrapping paper. With these and with a stamping press, and scissors, and inkpads, and glue we made our charts-the tank and the aeroplane and the ships in the process of construc tion, at rest, in action, with appropriate words and legends printed under the pho tographs. All these were, primarily, for the less advanced classes, though we who made them gathered much new knowl edge as we worked. "HOW DO WE GO TO FRANCE ?" The geographic charts came later. It was Corporal Pickett who raised the question. Corporal Pickett-he is Pri vate Pickett now, for he learned that only privates were wanted for the last con tingent which went across-taught a class in the I6oth which met in the evenings stupid with weariness. Truly, this class needed a bright and stirring lesson. The magic word "France" was in the air, and Corporal Pickett asked a question, think ing of a lesson in transportation: "How do we go to France?" The class, to a man, looked him over indifferently and said no word. "Aw, come on now, fellows; how do we go to France ?" A very baffled teacher he was, face sunblistered, hair upstand ing, despair in his eyes. "Jose Cano, don't you know how we go to France?"