Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/420

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

greatest possible quantity of a uniform quality; therefore, as far as inventive skill will allow, the machine and natural forces, rather than human skill and energy, are employed in producing goods which satisfy the common needs of all men. The class of work in which skill is the determining factor aims to improve the quality rather than to increase the quantity produced. As the demand for the latter class of goods increases the call for skilled workers will also increase.

There are indications of a revival of those industries involving more skilful hand work. More interest is being manifested, throughout the country, in art, architecture and the products of the various handicrafts. The increased attention paid to art and drawing in our public schools is another indication of the coming change in the spirit and demands of the American people. The result of such training on the next generation will be great, and its effect cumulative on the succeeding one. Industries involving artistic ability and intricate manual skill are incapable of minute division of labor. The gain resulting from the centralization of industry and the division of labor is very small in this class of work. It is well adapted, however, to small factories and workshops, and forms an appropriate kind of industry for small villages. If there is to be any considerable revival of village industry, it must come through an increase in the demand for the products of skilled manual work.

The use of steam and the lack of adequate rural transportation facilities forced the abandonment of village industry and built up the existing great industrial centers. In recent years the increasing use of electricity for the distribution and application of power is changing the location and internal arrangement of our shops. This, together with the rapid growth of suburban and interurban electric lines, is placing the villages and rural community in a better condition for industrial pursuits. The separation of agriculture and manufacture will, as a result, probably be less in the future than in the present or the immediate past.

Two great forces, in addition to the work of the school, may be discerned to be removing the obstacles in the path of the arts and crafts movement—the decentralizing tendency of electricity when used to transmit power, and the growth of the labor movement which demands shorter hours and better shop conditions. Just as the manual training movement was a result of economic and industrial changes, so is the call for art in the crafts the result of such forces. As the machine displaces workers, they are pushed higher up in the industrial scale. Such a phenomenon must also be accompanied by an increased demand for the products of skilled workers. This movement is not something evolved out of the minds of a few thoughtful devotees of art; but is in harmony with and dependent upon the needs of industrial and educational life. It is an evolutionary movement.