PRINCIPAL OF THE NORTHEAST MANUAL TRAINING SCHOOL, PHILADELPHIA.
THE editor of The Popular Science Monthly has always taken a warm interest in the question of manual training. On two occasions he has been kind enough to allow me to speak to his readers in the columns of the magazine. I have much valued these opportunities. The first article appeared in August, 1889, and was entitled The Spirit of Manual Training. It dealt with the general aspect of the subject, and more especially emphasized the ethical significance of well-performed action. The second article appeared in May, 1894, under the title of Cause and Effect in Education. It contained no direct reference to manual training. It was intended, however, to serve as an introduction to the two articles which the editor now asks me to write. It did this by illustrating the main proposition upon which manual training rests its educational claim, the very simple and undeniable proposition that we can only attain a rational education by setting in operation adequate causes. I am referring to these previous articles in order to avoid repetition. In the present paper it is my purpose to speak of the outward aspect of manual training, and in the succeeding paper, of its inner content.
It must be borne in mind at the very outset that manual training is not a complete and separate system of education, excluding other branches of human culture, and only administered during a definite period of boyhood. On the contrary, it is but one branch out of the many which make up the sum of education, and as such is applicable in every grade of school life. One must dismiss the idea that a manual training school is a "peculiar" institution which has parted company with the older avenues of culture, and has struck out in a new and somewhat erratic path of its own. It is quite possible that its early advocates held some such conception of its mission, but the view is certainly not shared by those who are trying to give manual training daily expression in the schools. A more modest conception prevails. Manual training is held to be a part of culture, not culture itself.
Curiously, manual training effected its entrance into the curriculum at both ends of the educational sequence—in the kindergarten and in the scientific departments of the universities. From the bottom and from the top it has been steadily pushing its way toward the center, until now the two frontiers are within plain sight of each other. The manual activities of the kindergarten,