Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 379
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 379
in him,” said one of his old college professors to me; “if anything, he was rather a dull student.” It seems, then, that even colleges are not always institutions for “discovering aptitude.” It was reserved for Chrystie Street in Willard’s case.
  Once a week another teacher comes to the Tombs school, and tells the boys of our city’s history, its famous buildings and great men, trying so to arouse their interest as a first step toward a citizen’s pride. This one also is sent by a club of women, the City History Club, which in five years has done strange things among the children. It sprang from the proposition of Mrs. Robert Abbe that the man and the citizen has his birth in the boy, and that to love a thing one must know it first. The half-dozen classes that were started for the study of our city’s history have swelled into many scores of times that number, with a small army of pupils. The pregnant fact was noted early by the teachers, that the immigrant boy easily outstrips in interest for his adopted home the native, who perchance turns up his nose at him, and later very likely complains of the “unscrupulousness” of the Jew, who forged ahead of him in business as well.
  The classes meet in settlement, school, or church to hear about the deeds of the fathers, and, when they have listened and read, go with their teachers and see for themselves the church where Washington worshipped,



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