Speech to Chicago Bar Association, April 22, 1914 (excerpt)



Alienist Says Criminals Result from Effort to Make Children Fit Curriculum


Tells Bar Association Law Is Made Too Unattractive to Command Respect.

Dr. William O. Krohn, a Chicago alienist, told the Chicago Bar association last night that criminals are made because boards of education try to make the children fit the curriculum, instead of making the curriculum fit the children. He was the first speaker at a dinner in the Midday club.

After enumerating and describing the periods of development in children, during which they respond to certain courses of study, he attacked the present method of teaching.

"We must make our education fit the various periods of development," he said. "As it is now we teach one subject all through the elementary school. Boards of education throughout the country -- and there are usually lawyers on the board -- make castiron systems of study, and their idea of giving a boy his education is to press him in this castiron machine until done.

"The step-children of the state, whom the state finds itself compelled to care for, are wards because they were misfits. We pay the penalty in those whom we have to provide for because they were not understood."

Miss Jane Addams of Hull House blamed the "unattractiveness" of the law for much of the evil of the city.

"In our district," she said, "the boy who is the leader of a gang is the one who most successfully tells the other boys how to 'put things over' without getting caught. If the boy is particularly successful he becomes the alderman of the ward.

"The law stands outside -- as something harsh and to be avoided. Many people think of the policeman as the law. Couldn't something be done to make his interpretation of the law more attractive?"

Miss Julia Lathrop, head of the child bureau at Washington, praised the Chicago Juvenile court as the most advanced in the world.

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