Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/39

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29
EDUCATION AS A HINDRANCE.

sary for the purpose of acquiring a practical knowledge of a trade; without this there can be no guarantee for good and efficient workmanship." Such is the dictum of one who speaks with authority from the point of view of labor, and the sentiment is the expression of that which all admit. Better education of the children—such, in fact, as is contemplated by the provisions of the Elementary Education Act of 1870—may, it is hoped, quicken the intelligence ere the are is reached at which apprenticeship begins: but will it do more? Nay, have we not indeed some reason rather to look askance at the work of the school boards, and the scheme of education which they offer to our juvenile artisan population? Cæteris paribus, the better educated our artisans are, the better workmen will they make; but we must take care that the education is of the right sort. Now, what will be the verdict of future generations on learning that the education which this great and powerful nation offers to the children of its artisans, to the class that will form the artisans of the next generation, was of a character purely literary, in no sense technical or even scientific? It is an education which, so far as it goes beyond the three elements of reading, writing, and arithmetic, is framed in all its essential features upon an exclusively collegiate type of studies; grammar, history, geography, foreign languages, and the like, being introduced, to the utter exclusion in all the most important of the successive "Standards" of any teaching of drawing, of mechanics, of the simplest facts of science or of natural history—of all, in fact, that most nearly concerns the workman throughout his entire career. In all the constructive trades the greater part of a workman's instructions are given to him in the form of working drawings. Yet we suffer the budding artisan to pass through the schools ignorant of the first rudiments of a science that is as essential to his work as are the four rules of arithmetic. And ought we, then, to be surprised if, in pursuance of the system we have deliberately marked out for the rising generation, we keep our future artisans, till they are fifteen or sixteen, employed in no other work than sitting at a desk to follow, pen in hand, the literary course of studies of our educational code, we discover that on arriving at that age they have lost the taste for manual work, and prefer to starve on a threadbare pittance as clerks or book-keepers rather than by the less exacting and more remunerative labor of their hands? At the present moment, this tendency to despise a life of honorable manual toil in straining after a supposed gentility would be truly pitiable, if the proportions it has attained did not awaken more serious apprehensions. It is an evil not confined to this country alone, but it is known, too, in the great cities of the States, of Germany, and of France. In a recent most able work upon primary education and apprenticeship in France, M. Salicis, a naval officer and cantonal delegate, speaks in forcible terms of the distaste for work of the children who leave the elementary schools of Paris: "These little bureaucrats, boys and girls,