Styled “the famous baby scholar,” three-year-old Viola Rosalia Olerich caught the attention of the world with her advanced learning. According to accounts in 1900, she thrived in many subjects, her parents employing the “natural method.”
Asked if the same methods could be employed in public schools, her mother told the Boston Globe in 1900: “As soon as our public schools are brought in harmony with the laws of life all natural methods can be used in them. To compel little children to sit quietly and silently for four or five hours a day is the most injurious punishment that can be inflicted. This forced and unnatural conduct of children does not only destroy the interstate’s for learning, but stunts the mind and impairs the health of every child that is so treated. I use the natural method, the method that works in harmony with interest, kindness and freedom. The school must come to the pupil, and not the pupil to the school.”
From The Typewriter and Phonographic World (New York), September 1900 —
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