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The New York Times, April 6, 1925


Dr. Neumann Makes a Plea for More Humor in Education.

Parents and teachers were urged to study Mark Twain's heroes in an address yesterday by the Rev. Dr. Henry Neumann before the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He said, in part:

"The laughter will make these elders better friends among the young. At the same time they will understand in a new way what good stuff there is in the most troublesome of boys. Huckleberry Finn, who hated to be washed and combed and wept over by the widow because he would not wear the 'clothes that just smothered him,' was true as steel when it came to essential matters. If boys of his type hate school let us ask ourselves what is wrong with the schools.

"In our over-finnicky city life, we are apt to set too great store upon standards that have no real meaning for a live youngster. Teachers are inclined to suppose that the best boy is the one who sits at his desk politely all day and never gives the least trouble. As a matter of fact, many of the men who have given most to the world were once boys who had been sickened by the highly artificial restraints of the ordinary class-room and broke loose. Some day we shall give all boys a schooling in which there is a chance to work off their wild energies in useful, fine, upbuilding pursuits.

"Let us have more humor in our education. Children love fun. something is seriously the matter with those who do not laugh at their teachers at least once in a while. The most sensible course is to see the funny side and laugh with them. If children get no opportunities for healthy sport, they will turn to horse-play, rough-house and mean practical jokes. So if the fondness for humor is not nourished on hearty and worthwhile jollity, it will feed on fun that is poor, cheap and degrading."

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