Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/648

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632 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of each piece is shown in the per cent stamped on it. The pair of tongs was made on time less than four hours. On the day of our public exhibition, twenty boys worked at the forges about two hours. Practical smiths who were present highly commended their work. Their weakest point was the management of the fire.

Professor Clark wished me to bring some of the wood-work. I could easily have brought a cart-load, but thought it not necessary. The boys do not do fine work, of course, as these few specimens show. I, however, have tracings of the main exercises in wood-work.

As our school has seen but two years, I can not appeal to its graduates to answer the question, " How far is it from our door to positions as journeymen mechanics ? " hence, I avail myself of the tes- timony of Mr. Thomas Foley, instructor of forging, vise-work, and machine-tool work, in the Boston Mechanic Art School. He had him-, self served an apprenticeship of seven years, and, after several years at his trade, had given instruction for five years. We must consider him a competent judge. In his report to Professor Runkle, and con- tributed by the latter to the recent report of the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, Mr. Foley says : " The system of apprenticeship of the present day, as a general rule, amounts to very little for the apprentice, considering the time he must devote to the learning of his trade. He is kept upon such work as will most profit his employer, who thus protects himself. . . . Now, it appears like throwing away two or three years of one's life to attain a knowledge of any business that can be acquired in the short space of twelve or thirteen days by a proper course of instruction." (I take it that by twelve days he means one hundred and twenty hours distributed over about forty days.) "The dexterity that comes from practice can be reached as quickly after the twelve days' instruction as after the two or more years spent as an apprentice under the adverse circumstances mentioned above."

Mr. Foley secures the best results from lessons only three hours long. He adds : " The time is just sufficient to create a vigorous interest without tiring ; it also leaves a more lasting impression than by taxing the physical powers for a longer period. We have tried four hours a day, but find that a larger amount of work, and of better quality, can be produced in the three-hour lessons."

I consider this testimony of Mr. Foley very conclusive. It practi- cally disposes of the claim, so often brought forward by practical men, that no boy can learn a trade properly without going to the shop at seven o'clock in the morning and making his day of ten hours, " man- fashion "; and that dirt and drudgery, and hard knocks, and seasons of intense weariness and disgust, even, are essential to the education of a good mechanic.

The Cost. It remains for me to touch upon the second important question you all have in your minds, namely, that of the cost. You

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