Pratt is known as the founder of City and Country School in the Greenwich Village section of the borough of Manhattan in New York City; the inventor of unit blocks; and as the author of I Learn from Children (HarperCollins, 1948; rereleased in 1990; to be republished by Grove Atlantic in May 2014), an autobiographical account of her life and educational experiments, philosophies and practices. Pratt's specific style of progressive education, focused on first-hand experiences, open-ended materials, and social studies, has been cited and described by figures as noted as John Dewey and the architect and playground designer David Rockwell. Her original vision endures at City and Country School, which she founded in 1914 in the Greenwich Village section of New York City.
Pratt was born in Fayetteville, New York, on May 13, 1867. Her formal primary education was conventional, but her experiences of active, independent play with friends in Fayetteville’s rural setting were to be more influential in her work.
After graduating high school on June 24, 1886, she spent a year caring for her ill father at home. In the fall of 1887 she was asked to accept a position teaching first grade in the village school. She held this job until the fall semester of 1892, at which point she moved to New York City and enrolled in Teachers College. Although she began by studying kindergarten, she turned her attention toward earning a certificate from the Manual Training Shop, eventually earning a bachelor of pedagogy and a position teaching manual training to future teachers at the Philadelphia Normal School in 1894.
Six women including Mary Dreier, Ida Rauh, Helen Marot, Rena Borky, Yetta Raff, and Mary Effers link arms as they march to City Hall on December 3, 1909 during the New York shirtwaist strike to demand an end to abuse by police
Caroline Pratt was an American social thinker and progressive educational reformer whose ideas were influential in educational reform, policy, and practice. In Philadelphia, Pratt became friends with Helen Marot, a feminist, social investigator, and writer. Marot founded a small library called the Library of Economic and Political Science. Pratt and Marot moved from Philadelphia to New York City in 1901. In New York, Pratt and Marot lived in Greenwich Village until 1940, when Marot died from a sudden heart attack.
Pratt joined the Philadelphia Normal School for Girls only six months before its manual training program’s inception. She was a special instructor in woodworking, training teachers to be proficient in skills such as gauging, squaring, sawing, chiseling, planning and boring, doweling, and chamfering. Pratt’s understanding of the relationship between hands-on learning and other subjects in a school’s curriculum would be evident throughout her career.
Pratt’s had a commitment to lifelong learning. In Philadelphia, she became friends with Helen Marot, a feminist, social investigator, and writer. Marot founded a small library called the Library of Economic and Political Science, in which liberals and radicals would congregate and exchange ideas, where Pratt absorbed the spirit of progressivism. Pratt and Marot moved from Philadelphia to New York City in 1901. In New York, Pratt and Marot lived in Greenwich Village, where the Association of Neighborhood Workers of New York City hired Marot, and Pratt worked various jobs teaching manual training and carpentry. They lived together until 1940, when Marot died from a sudden heart attack.
Caroline Pratt is featured in the American artist Thomas Hart Benton’s mural America Today in the panel "City Activities with Dance Hall."
Upon her first observations of children recreating their worlds through play, Pratt wished to provide tools for children to expand on this natural activity. Around 1911, she devised a line of toys, Do-With Toys, for children to dramatize their observations and construct their knowledge through play. The toys comprised simple people, animals, and furniture, to be used in open-ended contexts as devised by the child.
In 1913, Caroline Pratt enacted a two-month experiment with young children from Greenwich Village. In this setting, the children were free to use materials to construct their knowledge about the world, using Pratt’s unique designs for hand-made unit blocks. This experiment led to her launching the Play School, which embodied a child-centered approach to education. with a strong emphasis on community as children worked together to reconstruct their experiences through play. The curriculum was drawn from the children’s environment: observations about the neighborhood, for example, would inspire children to reflect on their world directly so that they could make sense of their experiences. With the support from the Bureau of Educational Experiments, the Play School expanded to brownstones on West 13th and 12th Streets, where it remains today, and was renamed the City and Country School. (See City and Country School for full history and contemporary profile.)
Under her leadership, the City and Country School developed an open-ended approach to teaching and learning that led to the design of several well-known programs. The Blocks Program, the Jobs Program, Rhythms, and a social-studies core curriculum were all (and continue to be) hallmarks of the school. Unit blocks continue to be used in classrooms and homes the world over, and C&C is well known for its commitment to progressive practices and hosts numerous visitors, researchers, and education experts to the present day.
She was Principal of the City and Country School until she retired in 1945. She continued on as Principal Emerita until her death on June 6, 1954.
Helen Marot (June 9, 1865 – June 3, 1940) was an American writer, librarian, and labor organizer. She is best remembered for her efforts to address child labor and improve the working conditions of women. She was from Philadelphia and became active in investigating working conditions among children and women. As a librarian, she worked at several important institutions and helped organize the Free Library of Economics and Political Science in 1897. Marot was a member of the Women's Trade Union League. She later organized the Bookkeepers, Stenographers and Accountants Union in New York. In 1912, she was part of a commission that investigated the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. She was an active writer and her articles about the labor movement appeared in many periodicals of the day.
Marot was born on June 9, 1865 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She grew up in an affluent family and received a Quaker education. From 1895 to 1896, Marot was the literary editor of Ladies' Home Journal where she was responsible for answering literary queries to the magazine. During this time, she compiled a 288 page reader's guide containing over 5,000 books. Included were some 170 author summaries.
Marot left Ladies' Home Journal in April 1896 to organize the King Library of the Church of the Redeemer in Andalusia, Pennsylvania. In September 1896 she worked as a librarian in Wilmington, Delaware as a cataloger. She stayed at the library for three years. The head librarian at the time, Enos L. Doan, remarked on her work: "She brought to it taste and literary discrimination of a high order—qualities which, in addition to her thorough technical training, gave her unusual efficiency in the performance of her duties."
In 1897 Marot, along with Dr. George M. Gould and Innes Forbes, opened a private library specializing in works on social and economic topics. The Free Library of Economics and Political Science concentrated on issues relating to social and economic reform and was greatly influenced by The Fabian Society, a socialist organization. It was located on the second floor of a department store on Filbert Street in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Record described the library in its pages on June 15, 1897:
Philadelphia has been enriched with a library distinctively modern and progressive in spirit... The new library forms an important supplement to the municipal system, since the topics of the day and the problems of the industrial and sociological world cannot be thoroughly followed by an institution for the general circulation of books. With its proposed technical classification of magazine literature and an accessible collection of pamphlets and volumes, the Library of Economics should become a powerful factor for civic and social education in the community and Commonwealth.Marot explained the importance of the library in 1902: "It was founded on the idea that freely offered opportunities from education in economics and political science make directly for a more intelligent public opinion and a higher citizenship."
The collection included foreign and domestic literature. It consisted of six hundred books, over two thousand pamphlets, and ninety-one periodicals. This literature, more particularly the periodicals, was not found elsewhere and thus met a most specific community need. The entire collection was donated by individuals and various organizations such as American Academy of Political and Social Science, Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, Church Social Union, Civic Club of Philadelphia, Direct Legislation League, Englishwoman's Review, Fabian Society, Humboldt Publishing Company, Independent Labour Party, Indian Rights Association, Labor Exchange, and Land Nationalization League, among others.
To keep up to date with current information, the library collected news clippings and government publications, reports of labor societies, and other similar works. Indeed, a considerable part of the collection consisted of government, state, and municipal reports received from the United States government, the different states, England, New Zealand, and New South Wales. Although the collection was small, teachers, students, and library patrons found its classified and indexed pamphlets and magazine literature concerning present-day problems to be satisfactory.
In addition, the patrons could purchase books and were permitted to check out books when they were unable to come to the reading room during library hours. The library was open daily from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on Sunday, until 10 p.m. The small library soon became "the center of liberal thought in Philadelphia"—a popular gathering place for Philadelphian reformers and socialists. In addition to the usual work of a special library, public and private lectures and classes were given to different associations. Besides being the chairwoman of the library committee, Marot was also on the lectures committee, which were all well attended, the rooms being, in fact, more than filled.
The first lecture addressed the topic of "The Economics of Socialism." It was given free on October 30, 1897 by James R. MacDonald of the London Fabian Society and future Prime Minister of England. At the second meeting, on February 8, 1898, Professor Joseph French Johnson, Dr. Henry Rogers Seager, Charles Richardson, and Professor William I. Hull discussed and lectured on "Education in Economics." On March 19, 1898 a lecture on "Economic Education, the Salvation of Society" was given by Dr. Daniel G. Brinton.
Through her library, Helen Marot participated in educating Philadelphians to social changes and pursued the socialist cause for building a more just and humane society with perseverance, courage, and a combination of hardheaded realism and guileless romanticism.
In 1899 she published A Handbook of Labor Literature and also conducted and investigation for the U.S. Industrial Commission into working conditions in the custom tailoring trades in Philadelphia. In 1902 Marot investigated child labor in New York City for the Association of Neighborhood Workers and helped form the New York Child Labor Committee. With Florence Kelley and Josephine Clara Goldmark she drew up a report on child labor in the city that influential in the passage of the 1903 Compulsory Education Act by the state legislature.
In 1906 Marot became executive secretary of the New York branch of the national Women's Trade Union League. Marot also was responsible for creating the Bookkeepers, Stenographers and Accountants Union of New York. She was the organizer and leader of the first great strike of shirtwaist makers and dressmakers (1909–10) under the banner of the new International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
In 1913, Marot resigned from her work with the trade union league. In 1914, she published American Labor Unions (1914), a work on the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World. She then served on the editorial board of The Masses (1916–17), a radical journal. After, she then served on the staff of The Dial (1918–20). She was also a member of the U.S. Industrial Relations Commission (1914–16).
Helen Marot lived with her partner progressive educational reformer Caroline Pratt (educator) until her death in on June 3, 1940 in New York, New York.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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