The effort of the Chicago Boys' Week Federation to select one boy as "Chicago's Best Citizen in 1950" deserves the serious attention of urban dwellers all over the country. Reports of the effects of a city on abnormal children are not lacking, but so far, no one has investigated the results of urban life on normal children. If it is carried out thoroughly, the Chicago plan ought to show what Chicago people think a citizen should be and also what they think their city is doing to children.
According to the secretary of the Federation, one hundred of Chicago's civic and business leaders will name the conditions which this boy must fulfill in order to qualify as the best citizen in 1950. Although these men know quite well that they can not prophecy correctly, they can decide what is the present ideal of citizenship, and by pinning these ideals on some young Chicagoan, give them a humman interest and a currency which they would not have otherwise. In confining the contest to boys between fourteen and eighteen years the Federation runs the risk, of course, of selecting one who will prove a hopeless failure, since his later training is subject to human caprice, but it will succeed in formulating a definite creed of citizenship.
So much has been said of the harmful effects of the city on children that it will be good to hear from the other side. Farm life is no longer held superior to city life as a healthful environment, and it may well be that the virtues of citizenship can flourish as vigorously under the elevated tracks as around the little red schoolhouse. If the Chicago experiment succeeds in defining good citizenship and in demonstrating that such high ideals are fostered by urban life, it will have done a most commendable service.
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