Social Bearings of Industrial Education
There have been certain coincidents in the educational system, the training system of our children, that have been in the last generation pretty definitely broken down, coincidents which are supposed to exist, but no longer exist.
The coincident between the fourteen-year period, the compulsory period of education and the elementary school period. It is assumed that the child spends fourteen years in school education and that this fourteen years carries him through the elementary school. Actually, as we know from many statistics which have been brought to our attention in so many different ways, something like 50 per cent of the children fail to complete the grades in this fourteen-year period, they drop out, and are supposed to go to work.
It is a very unfortunate situation, for it has been pretty definitely shown and is pretty definitely recognized, that children who do not stay through the elementary school period are not able to assimilate and hold onto that which they get in the lower grades. A child drops out in the fifth, yes, even the seventh grade, and leaves school and goes to work, or tries to go to work, spend his time trying to find
( 2) jobs; such a boy, if he is subjected to a fifth grade test, will be found as a rule to fall down in the test, to be unable to response, even to the simple propositions called for, those which he at one time knew, but which he has been unable to hold onto. Taking our school system as it is at the present time, the children that leave school before they have completed the eighth grade, lose a very large part of that which they have already gained, so that when we say that these two periods no longer coincide, that it is no longer true that children spend fourteen years and at the end of that fourteen year period have passed out of the eighth grade, we have said not only that the children have failed to complete the eighth grade, but also that they have lost that which they have supposed to have acquired, and we know that what they have acquired is very slight at the best, and if they have lost that, they are really simply in a pitiful condition from the point of view of schooling.
I can speak with some assurance on this subject, because the committee of which I was a member was instrumental in having a series of tests given to boys who had left school before the eighth grade, as well as those who had finished the eighth grade and some of them had gotten into the high school. These boys in Chicago were to be found in some of the shops, in some large mercantile establishment, were picked up in some of the settlements, were found in the night schools and
( 3) other places, and the results of these tests were that which I have already given to you, namely, the boys who had left even in the seventh grade were not able to pass the simple fifth grad test in arithmetic, nor yet was their English what we would have a right to expect from children who had had fifth grade training. Even those boys who had been in school during the seventh grade were unable to meet this test of a grade which was two years below.
When we say then that fifty percent of our children drop out of the elementary school before they have reached the eighth grade, we are saying that they have practically dropped out of the fifth grade; we are saying that the educational control which they have gotten, or are supposed to have gotten, that this control falls below the fifth grade, and it is a very lamentable situation from the point of view of education, and from the point of view of the children it is a tragic situation, for, as these children get older, they feel the need of that training which is requisite to bring them up, they realize that great lack. We met a number of boys who were quite unable to pass the fifth grade tests, young men who would have been glad to have an opportunity at their age to do more, but were quite unable to really help themselves out; who were not able to make use of the night schools in such a way as to put themselves back where they ought to have been because of this lack of early training
You can say then of the schools at the present time, the elementary school period, has failed to do what it is supposed to do for the boy, and this is not true simply of Chicago, but of the other large cities, and of most of the smaller cities, and I imagine it will hold fairly well for out in the country.
There is another coincidence which no longer exists, but which is presupposed in the education of our children, and that is the coincidence between the end of the school training and the beginnings of the apprenticeship. The boy who goes out at the end of the fourteen-year period is supposed to commence work, to have gained the training that he needs in order to become an artisan, or if he is working on a profession, to start in on that training. The elementary school period is supposed to carry all of our children up to this point, at which their training looks in some sense toward some sort of a vocation. Of course our high schools would not regard themselves as looking definitely toward any specific calling in life; they assume that the training which they give is that of a cultural character. For those who enter and continue in the high schools, to a very large extent they are looking forward to some other sort of training; they have in mind entering upon some profession, or a type of education which will be of advantage to them if they enter into business. Those who do not go on with the high school
( 5) may go into the technical high school where they will receive some sort of training of a mechanical, or technical type; or they may go out from the schools entirely, and as it is assumed, enter upon some sort of apprenticeship for a trade.
This assumes that the children who are going to leave the schools are going to be able to enter upon some definite apprenticeship. The general training which they have received in the schools and at home will be continued in training for a trade, or the profession which they are undertaking. That of course is the case if they are going to enter a profession; if they enter the high school and go on to college, they find the requisite methods of training for their choice in life — they are carrying from one school to another. Everything is arranged so that there is no gap.
But the boy who is going into a trade finds between the period of fourteen and sixteen years of age that there is no training for him. No factory will receive him, as for a skilled occupation, and he will not be taken in as an apprentice into any trade. Between those years then, fourteen and sixteen, he is left without anything, and those are the years that call for training perhaps more definitely than the years which go immediately before; they are specially the years in which the training of character should be emphasized; there is practically no more critical period in the boy's life. An yet we drop the boy from the elementary
( 6) school, expecting him to go into a trade, but between those years, fourteen and sixteen, he is left without a training. It is even worse than this, for not only is he left without any training, but the type of occupation which he is able to pick up, the sort of occupation he can get as an errand boy, or as a clerk in the corner grocery, or working for the Western Union Telegraph, the sort of thing he gets in going from one shop to another, is one which is disintegrating in its character, and at the end of that period he is worse off than when he left school at fourteen.
I presume that all of you are familiar with the report brought out by the Commission of the State of Massachusetts, which deals with this age in boys between fourteen and sixteen.
It is very important, if we are looking to the training which our schools system gives to its children, that we should recognize this very serious gap between the ages of fourteen and sixteen after we have taken the children through the elementary period -- that is, about fifty per cent of them, and then we expect them to get into the work of their lives. In order to do that, they have to have some sort of apprenticeship, but the fact remains that the doors to that apprenticeship are shut in their faces, so that for two years they wander from one thing to another, simply forming the bad habit of leaving one job and taking up another and what-
( 7) -ever job they do get, fail to give them any training either in schooling or in character.
There we have two connection which we are supposed to make in the education and training of our children that we no longer make. Our society distinctly fails to make the connection between the period of compulsory education and the actual elementary school period for the majority of the children, and there is a failure to connect between the elementary school and the compulsory period, and the apprenticeship into which the boy is supposed to go and which is to give him a very large part of his training.
Now, there is another circumstance which confronts us. The industrial situation at present demands far more skill of its employees that it has demanded in the past, demands specialized skill, demand the skill of a mechanic, a competency which was not demanded in the past, and America, from having been a country satisfied with its high mark so far as its manufactures are concerned, is reaching abroad and insisting upon competing with other countries, and in order to do that it must be able to get skilled workmen, so that our manufacturers are turning around and considering what sort of training laborers are getting, and we find the situation to which I have referred, that the elementary schools are not giving to the children the education which they are supposed to give them, and that our children are not in the
( 8) condition they should be when they come into the skilled industries after they have spent two years at this most critical time of their lives in the manner of which we have spoken, and then when they come into the trade they are not the stuff they ought to be.
This thing has been brought home to us by the societies for the encouragement of industrial trade, and the manufacturers themselves have waked up to the fact that the community is not giving the training which is demanded, and they are turning around and demanding that this training should come in in some way, or that the system of education should be so changed as to bring this about.
So that we are finding that there are various experiments being tried in different parts of the country, in different school systems, experiments which show an attempt to meet this situation to which I have just referred.
We naturally look abroad, for our competition comes from abroad. We know that in Germany they are meeting this situation more satisfactorily; that they felt this same demand for the training of skilled employees, and that it should be given by the community, and their school system has adapted itself to this situation, and has formed what are commonly called "continuation" schools which take the boy after he has left the elementary school and has entered into some sort of apprenticeship, and enables him to continue work
( 9) in this trade, at the same time giving him a certain amount of schooling, a certain amount of training. In this way the whole knowledge and skill which the boy may have acquired is increased at the points at which he needs definite increase. The "continuation" school has been a specific German institution, an addition to a system of education which endeavors to deal with this demand for better laborers; it is an attempt to deal with an industrial crisis in education.
Many of us have assumed that the sensible thing to do is simply accept the "continuation" schools from the hands of Germany, which introduced them into our system, to secure efficiency is our laborers by giving them continuous training after they have left the elementary schools.
We have some continuous schools at various points. There are in Cincinnati very interesting continuation schools which apply, however, to the secondary school period, and even perhaps carrying them beyond the secondary school period into the college period, continuation schools for highly skilled labor, where the boys spend half of their time in shops, and accomplish in that way, from the point of education, frequently, more than those who spend all of their time in shops.
We had similar continuation schools in connection with the Lewis Institute in Chicago which are successful, and it might be assumed on the basis of such success, that we should
( 10) introduce the continuation school into many trades and that we should assume that this will enable us to meet the situation we are facing.
There are also in Chicago certain apprenticeship schools and there are instances of those elsewhere in the country. The Carpenter's Union insists that their apprentices shall take three months school during certain years before they are allowed to become masters in their own trade, and the training which they get in the schools in Chicago at the present time is very admirable training as far as it goes.
But still, after all, the continuation school in America is only at certain points, and not at the point where we feel the stress of the educational system the most, and on the whole it does not take the average laborer and give him the training which he needs for the sake of his own education or even for his trade, and it is very questionable whether we should produce any such elaborate system of trade schools as Professor Kerschensteiner presented to us in Chicago a few months ago as in use at Munich. Munich is a city of artisans and artists, there are no great industries in Munich, so that practically it is possible to connect every laborer with some form of a trade and it is possible to establish, as there has been established under the Professor, a continuation school for every trade. There a boy can go to a continuation school and get direction in his own trade, a train-
( 11) -ing something along the line of civics, which is an enormous advantage to him, but, as I said, Munich is a city of artisans and artists, and the problem which is presented to-day among the schools of America for low skilled laborers is not met by the continuation schools, for that problem is not presented in Munich.
There are very considerable difference in America also. If you take the situation on the Atlantic Coast, there is a large demand for skilled labor, certain types of textural manufacture, tools, etc., demanding a very high degree of skilled labor and demanding some form of industrial training which will give them skilled labor. In Cincinnati, there has been this demand fro greater skill among employers and there has been some response to that. And so you can pick out different cities in countries where there is a specific demand for skilled labor, but if we get to Chicago we find four great enormous industries, the garment making industry, which employs sixty thousand laborers, the Stock Yards industry, the Harvester industry and the Steel industry. If we take these industries right through, we will find probably that from seventy to seventy-five per cent of the laborers in these industries are either unskilled or low-skilled laborers; so far as these industries are concerned there is no great demand for great skill.
So far as that which we ordinarily call skill is concerned
( 12) there is comparatively little demand for skilled labor in Chicago that is not met. There is a demand for foremen, of course, in these very industries to which I refer. There is a demand for skilled labor which of course must be set in the higher positions in the trades, but, on the whole, Chicago has managed to meet the demand for skilled labor without feeling it nearly as much as it has been felt on the Atlantic Coast, or in such places as Cincinnati and other places in the country. You can see that the situation in Chicago is entirely different situation from that in Munich, and an entirely different situation from that even in the Atlantic Coast cities, and that a system of education which adjusts itself only to a demand for skilled industry, which is only trying to meet such a demand, would leave the great mass of laborers in Chicago entirely ignored. A system which should simply attempt to give us skilled labor is not going to take into account those children who are going on into the unskilled fields of industry, and if we should go out into other cities, I think we should find it true that the unskilled fields of industry, and if we should go out into other cities, I think we should find it true that the unskilled laborer represents the large majority. If we depend simply upon the demand which industry is making upon the community for skilled labor, we are only going to take into account, half or less than half of the children who are going on to work.
Now, that is not the side of the question which has
( 13) been emphasized by the National Society for the Encouragement of Industrial Education. This Society grew out of the demand for skilled laborers, and it is natural that they should consider that type of labor, or at least that all the institutions which are supposed to train children should seek to turn out those who have received this valuable training. Of course every one will admit the enormous advantage to the child if he can get that skill, but you can see that any such system of training looks toward the manufacturer for its stimulation, it looks toward the industry itself, and as long as it does that it is going to practically ignore more than half of all the laborers, it is not going to take into account the children who leave school at the age of fourteen, who go into an apprenticeship at that time and who are never going to an apprenticeship in a skilled trade; children who are going to become machine tenders and do the unskilled work of the world, and whose minds and soles are going to be deadened by that process. It would seem to me that children in that condition are more in need of training certainly than the children who are going into a trade, if we take the point of view of the child which most of us would naturally take. The probability is that any boy who is going into a skilled industry will get the training, not only of the hand but of the mind, he must get it, and with it there will be a certain gain in the matter of character; but the boy that passes into the factory and
( 14) becomes nothing but a machine tender, does nothing but carry out the few motions necessary to care for the machine, such a person becomes essentially a part of the machine and is in need of a considerable training if he is not to be worn out and paralyzed by this type of industry.
It would seen to me that if we were to take an ideal condition, or as near an ideal condition as we can present, we should demand that no person should enter an unskilled industry until he had reached the age of at least eighteen and until he has had a sort of education which would enable him to bear up against the deadening effects of the occupation which he is entering; until he had interests of a certain character, if they cannot be found in the industry itself, which would enable him to keep his mind at work, which would give him the basis of the formation of character from the point of view of his place in the community, if he cannot get it through his place in the industry. I say that under conditions which will approach in any way the ideal situation, children who are to go into the unskilled industries, take positions in factories where they are mere machine tenders, ought to be held in the school system for a longer period than those who are skilled and they should have a very careful education which will enable them to meet the deadening effects which they will there meet. It is a recognized fact that those who are in unskilled industries get no stimulation
( 15) therefrom, and it is only fair that they should have their stimulation, such stimulation as can come to them outside of their occupation.
Under those circumstances, I think it is conceivable that a person should work, say even eight hours a day at unskilled industry and still not be deadened by the industry itself, not be ruined as a human being. I think human nature can stand as much as that if it has other interests to look to, and it is toward such an ideal as that that I think we might look in developing our schools, our society and our industries.
Well now, that presents a side of the problem of the training of those who are going into the industries which we should keep in mind, and when we think of the fortunate children who are going into skilled industries and demand that they shall have the training which will make them effective artisans, we should also remember those who are going into the unskilled industries and demand that they have a training which will meet the more deadening effects which they are bound to receive.
I have laid considerable stress on this, because it seems to me to indicate that they are not able to approach this problem of industrial training from the point of view of the continuation school. It does in a manner meet the demand for skilled industry, and it is natural that the employers
( 16) whose interests look in that direction first of all, should have conceived of the continuation school as a solution for this problem, but you can see that when we take into account all of our labor that from the human point at least this continuation school does not meet this demand.
To what then are we to turn? If we must turn away from industry because its interests are partial, to what shall we turn for the direction of the training which those who are going into the industries are to receive? Certainly we should turn to the schools. The school system is that system which has more consciously than any other institution certainly, the interest of the children at heart. It belongs to them to take care of those are passing through this period and to carry them on from the kindergarten up to the time that they enter into life. The school system certainly should take charge of the fortunes of the children who are going into the industries; we may legitimately turn to this school system as manufacturers demand that which shall give skill, if necessary, beyond what it has given them. If it fails to give that skill, then it is certainly fair for the manufacturers to complain and insist that that skill should be given.
But, on the other hand, the school system should look farther. It should consider the child who is to tend the machine, it should look upon this problem as one that belongs
( 17) to it and should insist that if we are to take the interest of all the children into account, that industrial training is something that belongs to its care. I do not think the school system wants to step to one side and leave to private interests —those who are interested in getting skilled industry to build up apprenticeship schools and provide themselves with skilled industry, and to leave the children who are to go into the unskilled industries and who need the training of their own schools, I say that I so not think that the school system wants to stand one side and leave these children unprotected.
The difference then between the situation as it exists here and as it exists in Germany at the present time is that the schools of America — the public school system which undertakes to give a democratic education which is fitted for all, for the unskilled as well as the skilled — the system in America will have to take over the care of the children from the period of fourteen until they enter into their vocation, or into the higher training which lies beyond the function of the period of the public schools. The public school system, it seems to me, definitely has to assume this burden; it has got to undertake this task and carry it out, not only for those children who wish to go on to a college education, but for all the children, and to adapt itself to this situation so that it will give that training which those are
( 18) going into the industries really need.
It certainly is a remarkable thing that we should spend such very large sums of money as we do on the secondary training of children who come into our high schools and some who are going beyond that into the college; it is remarkable that we are willing to spend as much as we do on this comparatively small fraction of the children in the community, and that we have done so little for the great majority of the children who never get into the secondary schools, and yet who need during this period specific training. This is of course in part due to the fact that the type of training which we have given in our schools has been that of members — language. It has not been native to the schools to take over the work of apprenticeship. It does not belong to the school to give the child the skill which is to gain in the trade itself; it has occupied itself very much with the use of the techniques of number and language. Lastly, we have carried into the schools what we call manual training and household arts, constructive activities, not occupied with the use of language or number, but which are occupied with the medium of construction, the training of the hand, training in a type of skill which cannot be analyzed on the old theory. We can explain to the child how he is to go at divisions, the extraction of the square root, but we cannot explain to the child how he is to get skill, such skill, for instance, as he is to use as a cabinet maker; that is a skill which has
( 19) got to be gained in doing the thing, the activity itself, and in brining over these constructive activities into the school, we have introduced another type of education beyond that which we have in the past, and these constructive activities have been introduced because there has been a demand for this sort of activity itself. They have not come into the school because of a demand for greater skill, we have not undertaken to train children in the skill which they will exercise in the industry itself; our schools have merely responded to the demand for skill in commerce. It would seem that we should be able to give such training as will enable our pupils to become clerks, stenographer. Up in Chicago at the present time there 19,000 children are attending business college, and they spend in these private business colleges as tuition more than Chicago spends on all its high schools. Our schools do not even fit our children for those occupations in which number and language are the techniques. The school system has not adjusted itself in the past to the demands which the community makes upon it in the way of occupation, of the manual training and the various constructive activities of an artistic character which have been introduced, not as representing the skill which the children are to exercise, but it is assumed that manual training educates the hand, and at the same time, the mind. it has been assumed that as far as constructive activities
( 20) which the children carry on are concerned, that they would serve to educate the child from an esthetic point of view; it has never been assumed that the skill which they are supposed to be getting is to be adapted to an occupation which they will carry on. We all know that we have even preserved in our arithmetic the types which will be carried out in business, and that there is no necessity of connecting the work in the schools with the work outside.
Now, if the school is to undertake the task of really caring for the training which the children are to have until they enter into their occupations or into the high schools of learning, it is evident that it has got to connect itself with the occupations outside very much more closely than it is at present. If it is going to do this, it must establish trade schools, and if it is going to establish trade schools, it must take into account a training period up to these trade schools. In other words, if the public system is going to establish trade schools it has got to establish preliminary schools, pre-vocational schools. If the public is going to take an interest in the fortunes of the children, it has got to consider not only the training it is going to give the child, but the kind of vocation which the child is going to select.
There is in Boston a vocational school which tries to find out what sort of occupation the children are going into
( 21) and the public schools of Boston have set aside one Superintendent to have charge of this matter and hope that it may render such assistance as should be give to a child in picking out its vocation. This selection of vocation becomes also a part of the schools system; if it is to train the child for its occupation, thus it must become or take over also this part of the educational system and become a vocational system.
Let us consider then what sort of a system we might look forward to in which the demands of industry would be made do far as industry itself is concerned, and so far as the demands of the child going into industry are concerned, what sort of a system would we have?
I presume we will recognize that children who are going into the trades and even those who are not going into the trades, might profitably take up some sort of scheme of occupation, some preliminary trade training as early as the seventh or eighth grade, at least that sort of experiment has already been tried. You will find in connection with the practice schools of Pittsburgh courses which are in some sense pre-vocational courses. During the seventh and eighth grade they add one hour to the school day which will give one third of the time to certain kinds of trade activities and they are able to carry on practically the same academic training which has been in the regular school course. At least they assume that the children who graduate from this
( 22) course are able to enter into any course in the high school. As I say in the seventh and eighth grade a portion of the time is given to what we call these pre-training steps, to cabinet-making, to carpentry, to metal work and various others, plumbing, and practically most of the building trades which have gathered about the construction of a house, in which the child can be profitably trained during this period, and if a training of this sort is given in the school period, which occupies from one third to half the time, it is still possible to carry the child through the seventh and eighth grad and to leave hime ready to enter any course in the high school, and there is a possibility of changing our system, so as to adjust it to the demand for skilled trade.
Now, what should we have after that? There would be of course under those circumstances the regular high school period, and then beside the high school period there would be the trade school; that could come in to fill this period between fourteen and sixteen. There could be the preparatory trade school; then the definite trade school, which would carry the boy on to the age of eighteen.
You may ask what would be the advantage of this for children who are to take up no skilled trade course. It seems to me it would be very fair to give to every child some sort of generalized trade training. In our technical high schools, we certainly could make changes which would practically increase, double, perhaps, treble, the number of
( 23) persons who could be taken into the schools by adding a certain period, say one hour each day. It would be possible under those circumstances to group and bring all special work as such into the first two years. After that it would be possible to give much more specialized training along certain lines out of which might come the more skilled mechanics or foremen, and it would be also possible to carry the children from this training even on into engineering and commerce.
In the high school in Boston they are taking children along in that way, so that they can actually meet the demand in the commercial world.
I have occupied more time than I expected to, but what I want to make clear is that there is possible such adjustment of our educational system as is necessary to meet this demand; that we must feel the responsibility of the education and care of our children up to the time at which they go into occupations, or into high schools, and that the advantages that will come are not only to be found in the lives of our children, but also in the system of education itself.
I am confident that industry at the present time presents a more liberal point of view from which to work out and develop such a curriculum than the point of view which we are occupying with our school system. We should be able to
( 24) give more consideration to the social conditions of our children; for instance, in teaching the History of America, we can teach it from an industrial point of view, instead of keeping before them examples of great warriors and wars of history, if we show them something of the history of the cotton gin and other inventions that bear upon those things they are likely to be interested in , it will throw more light on the history of the country than if we take the political view.
We have not begun to recognize the possibilities of liberal training that are to be found in the industrial world. I am very confident that if the schools will accept this responsibility of caring for the children up until the age in which they can go into an occupation, or into a higher trade, and attempt to fit them for that trade or occupation, they will find that they will enrich their curriculum, and that they are going to give a much wider, a much deeper, a much more vital education to those children than they have been giving in the past.