Karls, James M. (1927-2008)

On August 29, 2015 By

Dr. Karls’ greatest contribution to the public appreciation of social work is his development of the “person in the environment” (PIE) assessment system that distinguishes social work from the other mental health professions. Working with Dr. Karin Wandrei, Dr. Karls used the concept underlying social work practice of person-in-environment to develop a system for social workers to record the results of their assessment that addresses the whole person. It helps the practitioner determine recommended courses of action, and to clearly follow the progress of the work. PIE has been translated into many languages, and it has been computerized. It is used as a teaching tool not only in the US but in other countries. PIE provides an alternative to the medical model that has traditionally dominated mental health practice, and encourages social work leadership in social rehabilitation, community resources, and advocacy models.

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Company Towns: 1880s to 1935

On August 13, 2015 By

Traditional settings for company towns were for the most part where extractive industries existed– coal, metal mines, lumber — and had established a monopoly franchise. Dam sites and war-industry camps founded other company towns. Since company stores often had a monopoly in company towns, it was possible to pay in scrip (a term for any substitute for legal tender). Typically, a company town is isolated from neighbors and centered on a large production factory, such as a lumber or steel mill or an automobile plant; and the citizens of the town either work in the factory, work in one of the smaller businesses, or is a family member of someone who does

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Froebel’s idea – the kindergarten idea – of the child and its powers, of humanity and its destiny, of the universe, of the whole problem of living, is somewhat different from that held by the vast majority of parents and teachers. It is imperfectly carried out, even in the kindergarten itself, where a conscious effort is made, and is scarcely ever attempted in the school.

His plan of education covers the entire period between the nursery and the university, and contains certain essential features which bear close relation to the gravest problems of the day. If they could be made an integral part of all our teaching in families, schools, and institutions, the burdens under which society is groaning to-day would fall more and more lightly on each succeeding generation. These essential features have often been enumerated. I am no fortunate herald of new truth. I may not even put the old wine in new bottles; but iteration is next to inspiration, and I shall give you the result of eleven years’ experience among the children and homes of the poorer classes.

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A recognition of the necessity for kindergarten culture, and its speedy adoption by all the States of the Union as a part of the public school system, is a most important and urgent necessity, and would prove of great benefit to the coming generations. It has been delayed, perhaps, not so much from a lack of appreciation of its beneficial results, as from the fact that the masses have not as yet been able to comprehend its educational value. They have looked upon it as a work of charity, and have been unable to grasp the fact that instruction and play can and must go hand in hand.

The Kindergarten takes hold of the child at the most important epoch of life,- the formative period. Impressions precede expressions, and we should be most careful that the child receive none but the best impressions, especially when we consider that these will be lasting and affect his whole after life.

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The whole design of the Kindergarten system is to rear virtuous, self-governing, law-abiding citizens. The Kindergarten system, if faithfully followed, would prevent criminals. And what estimate shall be placed upon an instrumentality which saves the child from becoming a criminal, and thus not only saves the state from the care and expense incident to such reform, but also secures to the state all that which the life of a good citizen brings into it?

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To the question, “Do you notice any beneficial effects of the kindergarten upon the children’s homes?” the testimony is enthusiastically in the affirmative from all who speak from close and personal observation. As upon the children, so through them, upon the homes, the improvement in cleanliness, tidiness, order, is marked; speech and manners grow gentle, the house becomes an attractive home. “Many mothers have assured the teachers that, through the effect of the kindergarten upon their children, their own thoughts and actions have been influenced. They have learned to realize the duty of being ‘good mothers.’ Fathers have noticed their boys’ interest in the shop-work, and have become more interested in intelligent observation of their own work. The family life has grown more happy.”

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“…it must be an axiomatic proposition that the State should educate all its dependent children. It is not charity: it is simply providing for those of its own household, as when it furnishes schools for the well-endowed. I can see no reason why the means for such education should not be appropriated from the general school fund, without lobbying or begging. The question, then, is, In what respects must this provision for the feeble-minded differ from that given to others?”

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The delegates wanted the world to understand what they were doing, and why. So they appointed a committee to write a document giving the reasons for their actions. One member of the committee was the Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. He had already written a report criticizing the British form of government. So the other committee members asked him to prepare the new document. They said he was the best writer in the group. They were right. It took him seventeen days to complete the document that the delegates approved on July fourth, 1776. It was America’s Declaration of Independence.

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At the age of 24, Elizabeth Blackwell had a revelation that changed her life, taking her far from her tiny Cincinnati schoolroom where she was teaching. She had gone to see Mary Donaldson, a family friend dying of what was probably uterine cancer. “My friend,” Blackwell later recalled, “died of a painful disease, the delicate nature of which made the methods of treatment a constant suffering to her.” A “lady doctor,” Donaldson told her young visitor, would have spared her the embarrassment of having male physicians examine her. Indeed, Blackwell believed, had a female physician been available, Donaldson might have sought treatment in time to save her life. For the idealistic Blackwell, moved by her friend’s plight, the idea of becoming a doctor “gradually assumed the aspect of a great moral struggle.”

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The organization of municipal charities and corrections should be carried out in line with the principles of efficiency. The cities’ activities for social welfare should all of them be administered by a permanent staff of well qualified experts. This means a fair and practical merit system for the civil service. There is an increasing tendency to recognize the professional character of social work and to admit that training and experience are necessary, and this will receive increasing recognition on the part of all people who appoint workers to social service positions, whether they are civil service boards or not. One difficulty at the present time is that there is not an adequate number of qualified people seeking these positions or of people qualified to hold them if they got them. There must be increased training for public service. The difficulties connected with establishing the civil service of cities on a higher plane are not insurmountable and nobody is justified in dismissing this problem as a hopeless one. In fact, it is the special duty of social workers to see that the public service is improved and elevated in every possible way.

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