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Visual Aids in American Schools

Nature volume 143, page 633 (15 April 1939) | Download Citation



A BECBNT survey of the employment of visual aids in schools representing two thirds of the total enrolment in public elementary and secondary schools in the United States indicated that the use of (1) pictorial materials, (2) objects, specimens and models, and (3) visual aids which require mechanical equipment, was habitual in the instruction of (1) 61 per cent, (2) 52 per cent and (3) 27 per cent, respectively, of the pupils included in the survey, and that about 10,000 projectors were owned by the schools. A large percentage of the school systems not reporting were in rural districts, and the data concern, therefore, conditions in urban communities primarily. An interpretative study of these data has been published by the Office of Education (“School Use of Visual Aids”. Supt. of Documents, Washington, D.C. 10 cents). There is very widespread interest in the subject (which formed the theme of thirty-seven research studies in 1936–37), and there is general agreement that the motion-picture has great potential educational value and but little apprehension that it may prove, as forecast by Georges Duhamel (in “Défense des Lettres”) and others, to be one of applied science's Greek gifts to culture. Among the further developments recommended in the light of this survey are the production of high-grade educational films, a nation-wide distribution system, training courses in the technique of teaching with motion pictures and other visual aids and improvement of the 16 mm. projector so as to make it easier for amateurs to operate.

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