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Without his education forms the common mind. Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined. With. This serious the tender twigs proposes to bring together those best able to address themselves to the individual and social problems of youth in the twentieth century. It proposes to discuss a few of the most clearly recognized problems of our time. Mental health. Delinquency crime social pressures and human growth. And the practical steps the parent school community and church may take. In order to ensure youth development. That is safe. Sane and straight. The tender twigs is produced and recorded by W. K.. Our
radio at Michigan State University under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters the tender twigs. Are you a task to help them grow safe sane and straight. The title of this program the teacher's influence never ends. This program features a single guest. Each week we present a distinguished person who we feel has left a mark on our time by their thought and by their work. As it relates to our youth our guest is Dr. Alice Keller her professor of education at New York University chairman of the home responsibility Committee. The attorney general's conference on prevention and control of juvenile delinquency. Our interviewer for the series is Ben Thompson a research sociologist with the Michigan Department of Corrections.
Dr. Keller from your many years of experience with the public schools what can we use as a definition of a good teacher. That's a large order but I will attempt it. I think in the first place teachers have to be people centered. I really believe this in spite of early anguished talk right now about the failure of our schools to push hard enough and to give enough subject matter if the child and the youth is not really hitting on all eight in terms of his adjustment if he's got a few of his cylinders fouled up because he's pushed too hard because he's worried because there's a creature there in his classroom who doesn't understand him and he knows she isn't going to. Then he isn't going to produce. Now I want a child to produce all he can. But he'll do that if he has a teacher who really is interested in
people. And what makes people tick and how to untangle and Ravel some of the difficulties. This is a fascinating thing but I'm afraid that once in a while we get a teacher who out of the goodness of his heart is feels that subject matter is his first concern and then you see the subject matter doesn't get over that I think. Carlier do that a good teacher has to be sensitive. You really have to have a bit of extra sensory perception. And when this 13 year old girl comes in with a sort of a hangdog expression you go over you touch your shoulder you let her know you're there and if she feels like talking she may tell you that Pop this morning or that there were vicious words over breakfast or that papa's vanish. Or sometimes mothers vanished. So the teacher has to be sensitive.
And then I'm a great believer in teachers be relaxed enough. So that they can really. So children can get through to them. I've had teachers in my life who couldn't relax one split second and you had a feeling that you just couldn't get through no matter what it was. One of them in my adolescent years did a great great piece of writing you know you always do your best writing when you're 14 or 15. I did a study that must have been 80 pages long on medieval monasteries but I didn't have a teacher. I felt I could show it to him because I didn't think that my teachers were really free enough in their own feelings that I could take this to them and have them say I understand why you did this. I was searching for religious values you see. And yet I didn't have a single teacher who was relaxed enough and felt free and wasn't under
such terrific time pressure that I could turn to a teacher and say here's the thing I'm concerned about and interested in. But since I've said so many things it's soft permissive and do as you please. I also think that our youngsters need teachers who know how to be firm when firmness is called for. This is especially true with little children who tend to have 10 tantrums and tempers and difficulties and they need a strong person person who can say now look I just don't do that here. We don't do that now. This doesn't fit in and with firmness enough. But you see a child will listen to firmness and they accept it. If he's pretty sure that the understanding in the sensitivity are there too. I think that goes far enough. Those are good teachers. How about Dr. Keller would you comment concerning the current attacks on our
education system which we're seeing so much in our periodicals these days. Yes and particularly in the the period right after Sputnik there was so much of it. I've been puzzled frankly by a lot of it because actually this just statistics show that our children right now read better than children of a generation ago they even spell better than children of a generation ago. I have a kind of feeling that when Sputnik went up there into space ahead of our three that are still up there by the way. That it opened a kind of Pandora's box of bad feeling and it had to focus somewhere. You know a lot of us go around with a good bit of free floating hatred hostility in us and we have to focus it we have to pass it on. And it got passed on to the teachers. And so much is being said. The I've
often said if somebody tells you some outrageous thing about your high school for instance go and look and see if you're getting just hearsay and hearsay based on hearsay and hearsay based on further hearsay. We have struggled for years for instance and I think this is quite appropriate for the problems of delinquency and of our adolescence we've struggled for years to get human relations understanding in schools for adolescents Michigan has done a very good job I think of putting in good programs of understanding human beings. They may call it life adjustment which has been a great target since but. But do you realize that three quarters of a million American adolescent girls still in high school are married. What about this problem the married girl presently in school this is one of the targets for criticism. Well maybe she's better off married. Is
she better off in school. I think so. I personally can't see any reason why a girl who is perhaps well a better adjusted than her unmarried classmate shouldn't go on and finish her education I think she's entitled to it. Now of course the prediction on these adolescent marriages is not so good. But right now the thing that I've seen over my 55 years of life is that sophistication is coming much earlier. I think the mass media have a good bit to do with that. You can't see the the rather outspoken material being presented now on television for instance as these adolescents do and not get much more sophisticated attitudes toward life. Girls and boys are going steady much earlier than they used to. It's a pattern of our culture. I think it's also
a terrible loneliness of adolescence. I think this gets kids into trouble this loneliness. So when it comes to whether or not married youngsters should stay in high school I'd rather keep them in school and try to build some fundamental dignity around our children instead of always assuming that they're going to do something bad. How about the proposal for creating schools for the elite for the gifted child. Well I personally think this is very mischievous. We are aspiring to be a democracy. And furthermore we want to use our gifted children to the full. I don't want anybody to assume that I don't want our gifted children to give all I have to give. But when I say give all I have to give it's not giving it for themselves and their own single personal advancement is to give to a society
the gifts they have which means of course they have to know how to get along with people. And I think the saddest person in the world is the very bright person who just because of his brightness is isolated from people. He's a lonely person. I think that's an awful price to pay for having a good brain don't you. I agree. How about the three Rs. Back to the three Rs. Let's try the FALDER. The three Rs we're teaching the three Rs. But you see let's look at some of these children who are in trouble. We have a number in the community where I live in schools that are specially set apart for the side too seriously. You set apart a building for delinquent youngsters and they pass word around on how to be more effectively delinquent. They know better how to conceal weapons they know better how to openly joining them in the various vending
machines they know a better way to hide their loot. Well the whole thing is a self-education in more delinquency when you put all these delinquents together. Now one of the things we find is of course that many of these youngsters are poor readers and every now and then we get someone who says poor reading equals delinquency. But it isn't that way. It's a poor adjustment fright lack of support or lack of any kind of an organized day for living. Lack perhaps of intelligence and all of this leads both into poor reading and into delinquency. If you were chairman of the home responsibility section of the attorney general's conference on Crime and Delinquency. What is a good home or what can the home do to create children who are safe sane and straight. I think you and I might reflect for just a minute before I tell you what we
said about that. You never get so old that you don't wish you could go back to your parents with your problems with your difficulties with your successes. I've lost mine many years ago and I still wish I could go home and be accepted you know whatever I've done. If I happen to be a little bit successful in something I'd love to have my father and mother gloat over it. And if I've gotten into a little mischief too. I know they're going to take me back and accept me. So we said that a good home might be a trailer or it might be a 12 room house but it would have to be a home in which a child is loved and wanted and knows it. Now that you say that every now and then parents will go on them and say Of course I love my child they're very indignant that there's any thought that they don't.
And then you have to say Does your child know it. Has he gotten some kind of an idea that maybe he's the runt pig of the family. He is the last of five children and he hasn't gotten as much attention as all the others. And you say all sure I love my fifth child. But somehow or other he doesn't know it because somehow or other the time distribution hasn't been fair to him he hasn't gotten as much attention or worse perhaps somebody has said Now look here your sister Suzy was four years old or is such a brilliant reader and why aren't you who this hurts because oftentimes little boys are fast readers anyway. They take a little longer to grow. So then we said a child needs to be helped to grow up by not having either too much or too little done for him. You've been in homes I know where the mother runs around medleys just races all day doing things for the children I see teachers who do this to
her. I had a teacher who complained about having to count the milk money teaching sixth and he had on the blackboard a lot of arithmetic examples he did stay after school and make up out of his head and here was an arithmetic problem that was for real. We see this at home so off I sit with a young adolescent girl who wants to get in the kitchen and wants to be free. Wants to make that cake and Mother's over her shoulder telling her every move to make so eventually it turns out you know mother finishes the cake and the girl's gone because she hasn't had a chance really to try herself out. And mother does too much for but I think in the delinquent group that we're terribly concerned about in many cases too little is done for. We have so many mothers who don't get up in the morning and give the child a good start by fixing a breakfast and seeing that he's off to school on time. And of course as the child gets marked play
when it ought to be the mother. Then we set a good home a child ought to have some time and some space of his own. That really is. Even if it's just a little homemade bookshelf where you can keep this rock collection. Then he oughta feel free when he leaves home in the morning to know the rock collection is going to be tampered with while he's gone. You know we have a two way set of values here. Youngsters can't tamper with father's pipe or father's cellar. But he can tamper with anything that belongs to his kid. And this sometimes creates a good bit of resentment and hostility. And we felt terribly important was that a child feels that he really belongs to the family. He has fun with them and they work out some fun. I worked with a youngster who was a already embarked on a delinquent
career. He was spending time with me in the country. I realized that his problem was that he didn't feel he belonged to the family. I got his mother to make a very dramatic trip to come and join him and then I fixed a very silly lunch for him to take up the mountain. And I put something inside something inside something and said something you know and also put in a little bit of cleaning fluid and said if you catch new fish bring them home clean. Just silly. This mother was looking over my shoulder and she said you know I wouldn't take time for that kind of foolishness. And I said Well with your 11 year old boy maybe this kind of foolishness is a token of affection that he knows that you're taking time to do this sort of thing and to have fun with him so of course when the basket came home from a hike up the mountain I got all kinds of silly things back and it made a connection between us that for the 11 year old
it taught me most of the moron jokes I know. It made him feel well I belong here I'm comfortable this is my my medium this is my life. And then of course the great problem in the homes is understanding how normal these early mistakes are that children make. Life doesn't end when the child takes the penny that sitting there exposed on the table because he doesn't know when he's born that our society says don't take pennies that are right out on the table yes to learn that what I feel earns it with someone who raises the problem and is about ready to strike him for it. Then this creates terror and panic. But if he learns quietly in a dignified way that there are things that belong to you and things that belong to other people and we don't take the things that belong to other people without asking
then in a quiet dignified kind of way. He learns these literally there are millions of things a child has to learn. That little 8 pound baby born today you know doesn't know all those things he has to learn them. So we're saying let's help him learn them yes let's let's be consistent in helping learn them but we don't have to get anguished and panicked because he makes a mistake. This is a part of his learning. And then of course we need to really appreciate is his growth. When I was working with doc to get cell with the infants we took movies you know the babies in their mothers once or twice when the baby took his first step I saw a mother wince. Because you see when a baby starts to walk it walk away from you and unconsciously you may be thinking that but I saw many other mothers who just gloated when the child took his first step so the child brings home his
first book. And if you're a decent grown up you stop and you are elated and you help him. It brings home his first painting and instead of saying well Lott on earth is that. You say. And you may feel that way if you're a decent grown up you say oh yeah nice that you brought that to me. Appreciating these growing skills because the thing we're missing right now I think is that children want to grow and children want to learn. And sometimes they show it in queer ways. But we have to be smart enough to see it and detect it. So we said that we felt very strongly the home ought to be a place where growing skills are appreciated and supported and then the child has the sense well I'm going to go on and grow some more because these people like it when I grow they appreciate it. They get happy and I like to make them happy. I couldn't help but think about the child who brings home his first date.
Yes. Yes and this date isn't groomed properly and isn't wearing the right clothes and maybe doesn't use the right verbs with the right now. And I think you and I ought to reassure parents that this isn't the final choice. There are going to be many more dates Grado and they need to be helped probably to go through the first two in the second and the third in the fourth. Yes but you know sometimes when parents get awfully panicky about their first date it fixes it the child says oh well now this is something I'm going to hang on to or I'm not going to bring any more of them home. Yes I'll meet them somewhere else. And this is pretty dangerous. We who have been connected with delinquency particularly I think have some kind of feeling about the relationship of the father to the boy and the mother to the boy. And I wonder if you would comment specifically about the father's role and the
mother's role in developing healthy young people. Yes the these are the most vital people in any child's life. Father and Mother even when children are in very serious trouble the people they love the most and still love the most are father and mother. Now let's remember as we think about adolescence today that these are the war children. We've had simply serious problems in New York with an adolescent crime adolescent difficulties of all sorts of hostility and so on. And I have to keep reminding my associates that these are the children who were born in 42 43 44 and 45 now fathers were away then in many cases in a good many of the cases of the children who get in serious trouble father didn't come back or father was never legally married to mother. So the concept of father is missing.
And I agree with the people who say that the fatherless boy is really in pretty grave danger. He needs the strong man to know what a man is like he needs the strong man to set standards for his behavior. He needs the strong man every now and then just to say a plain no to him. And many of these troubled confused panicky adolescents and a good many of them are really are grateful when somebody says no to them. I remember I had a little house on 18th Street over new Ninth Avenue in a pretty rundown district psuedo place 18:30 house where the high front stoop and the neighbor kids used to assemble on my front steps and in different age bands during the school day it was preschoolers climbing up and down the steps and after school it was a school age but in the evening it was the adolescence. I had a pair of young
lovers who spent one whole summer evenings on my front steps. Well I knew from that that they didn't have homes where they could meet the sinew said a few minutes ago so important that you go outside to meet. When I was very glad they were using my front steps to the truth because they could have been up to much mischief in that exposed situation. But I came home one night but taxi and got out and here are the 15 street gang were taking on my street here and I had a carton of empty Pepsi Cola modeled and they were having a Pepsi bottle fight. And so I marched up to them big as life and twice as fast. Very impressive in my stride you know and I said stop this you're going to get yourself in trouble. To the gang leader he said I'm going to draw blood on that kid.
I said that's just what you're going to do. You're going to draw blood and you may draw enough blood to kill him and then you'll go up the river and you'll take the rap and you may burn. You know it seems sort of funny for me with all my fashionable brat background to talk their language but I think this is very important. This kid looked at me so astonished. And a friend who was gone up the stairs ahead of me said that they'll hurt us and then hurt me. They're not after me and I said to this boy and I stopped and the kids scattered. Now of course that wasn't my role. Except for I think neighbors have been neighbors 24 hours a day and since I knew that what these kids needed was somebody to say no to them. They were almost grateful that somebody stepped in and stopped if they'd stopped themselves you see that I've lost face. But here was a middle aged woman stepping in there and saying Now you stop this. Now obviously if we had a policeman who walked the
beat the good old fashioned patrol cop but most of our policemen ride around in crews cars. Then he could have done that. That was really his job to know this youngster by name for instance and be able to go up to him and say Hey Johnny you know you're just heading for trouble. Yes. And Johnny would be grateful. And this is one of the things I think we don't understand about much of the current delinquency. I think these youngsters don't have enough intimacy in their lives. Many high schools are so big the teachers don't know the youngsters by name. The cops ride crews cars they don't know the youngsters by name. Even sometimes the parishes get so big that the clergy don't know the kids by name. Somebody needs to know you by name and somebody needs to help you govern your own behavior. Our guest has been Dr. Alice Keller her professor of education at New York University.
Next week seven hours a day five days a week 10 months a year. Our guest will be Dr. William Cooper C.S. professor of education. Boston University. You have been listening to the tender twigs a series devoted to ensuring youth development but a safe sane and straight. We invite you to join us next week at this time by the 10 to 20. Our interviewer was Ben Thompson. Research sociologist by the state of
Michigan was Department of Corrections. The tender twigs was produced and recorded by Wayne C. Wayne or w o k our radio at Michigan State University under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. And is being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
Tender twigs
Teacher's influence never ends
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Dr. Alice Keliher, New York University, recounts an experience of boys of the "8th Street Gang" as they prepared for a "rumble," or gang war.
Series Description
This series discusses problems affecting today's youth, such as mental health, delinquency, crime, social pressures. It also considers solutions for parents and youths to employ.
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Social Issues
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: Keliher, Alice Virginia, 1903-
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Wayne, Wayne C.
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-43-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:55
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Chicago: “Tender twigs; Teacher's influence never ends,” 1958-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “Tender twigs; Teacher's influence never ends.” 1958-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Tender twigs; Teacher's influence never ends. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from