Popular Science Monthly/Volume 21/September 1882/The Functions of an American Manual Training-School
|THE FUNCTIONS OF AN AMERICAN MANUAL TRAINING-SCHOOL.|
By Professor C. M. WOODWARD, Ph. D.,
OF THE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, ST. LOUIS.
WITH his gentle lance Emerson pricked many a bubble, and, though collapse did not always follow immediately, the wound was always fatal. In 1844, in his essay on New England reformers, he charged popular education with a want of truth and nature. He complained that an education to things was not given. Said he: "We are students of words; we are shut up in schools and colleges and recitation-rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing. We can not use our hands, or our legs, or our eyes, or our arms." And again, speaking of the exclusive devotion of the schools to Latin, Greek, and mathematics, "which, by a wonderful drowsiness of usage" had been "stereotyped education, as the manner of men is," he says: "In a hundred high-schools and colleges this warfare against common sense still goes on. ... Is it not absurd that the whole liberal talent of this country should be directed in its best years on studies that lead to nothing?"
This is evidently too severe, bat we must admit that Emerson anticipated and greatly aided a reform which has been gathering strength for a whole generation. Hence it is to-day scarcely necessary that I should present arguments in favor of manual education. The great tidal-wave of conviction is sweeping over our whole land, and the attitude and aspect of men are greatly changed from what they were ten years ago. What I said in 1873 in a public address in favor of technical education was held to be rank heresy. I fear it would be regarded as rather commonplace to-day. The progressive spirit of the age has actually penetrated our thick hides, and we are trying to keep step with the universe.
In every community the demands of technical education have been discussed, and, in every instance when the old system has been subjected to the tests which good sense applies to business, it has been found wanting.
Defective Education.—Is, then, I ask—is the education we give as broad and round and full as it ought to be? Is the time of tutelage most wisely spent? Do the results we secure justify the means and methods we use? Is the relation between education and morality as close as it should be? Does our education fill the definition of Pestalozzi? I think to these questions we must seriously answer: No! There is a lack of harmony between the school-house and the busy world that surrounds it. Some have even claimed that we are wrong in supposing that education diminishes crime. Let us see if there is any truth in their position.
You know how often a life is a failure from defective education. Too often do we see young people, who might have been educated to eminent usefulness, cast
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I have seen poor lawyers, who, under a proper system of training, would have made excellent mechanics, and not a few highly educated, able-bodied men actually begging for the price of a day's board. I recall one man in particular who was able to speak several languages, but because no one would employ him as a linguist he must needs beg, for he knew not how to work. Now, when a man's education has been misdirected, and he is thrown upon the world shackled by outgrown theories, bewildered by false lights, and altogether unprepared for the work which perhaps he was born to do, and when in his extremity he resorts to knavery and violence and fraud to secure what he knows not how to get by fair means, those who directed or should have directed his education can not be held blameless.
The moral influence of occupation is very great. A sphere of labor congenial and absorbing, that fully occupies one's thoughts and energies, is a strong safeguard of morality. If you would keep men out of mischief, keep them busy with agreeable work or harmless play. The balance of employments is fixed by our state of society and the grade of our civilization. Now, if indiscriminately we educate all our youth away from certain occupations and into certain others, as is very clearly the case, some employments will be crowded, and consequently degraded; in others, the choicest positions will be filled by foreigners, and the lowest posts, wherein labor is without dignity, must perforce be filled by those who have neither taste nor fitness for their work. The result is broils, plots, and social disorder.
Thirty years ago an eloquent Frenchman (Frédéric Bastiat) charged the one-sided education of his countrymen with being an actual danger to society. He argued that the "stranded graduates," as he called those who, unable to navigate the rough waters of practical life, had been tossed high and dry on the reefs along the shore, "filled with a sense that the country which had encouraged them to devote their best years to classic studies owed them a living, or a means of living, would become the leaders of mobs and officers at the barricades."
More Light.—When the shadow of death was drawn over the great Goethe, he uttered his last wish for "more light." We must echo his cry, if we would prepare our American system of education for a more glorious destiny. We treat our children too much as the unskilled gardener treats his plants. He puts them by a window, and pours over them a flood of light and life-giving rays. Instinctively they turn out toward the source of their strength. They put forth their leaves and budding promises, and, as we look at them from the outside, we mark their flourishing aspect and rejoice. But, if we look at the other side, we shall find them neglected, deficient, and deformed. What they want is more light light—on the other side. Were the sun always in the east, our trees would all grow like those on the edge of the forest, one-sided.
So in education, we must open new windows, or rather we must level with the ground all artificial barriers and let every luminous characteristic of modern life shine in upon our school-rooms. We must pay less heed to what the world was two or three hundred years ago, and regard with greater respect what the world is to-day.
The Arts of Expression.—Dr. Youmans recently said ("Popular Science Monthly," May, 1882): "The human mind is no longer to be cultivated merely by the forms or arts of expression. The husks and shells of expression have had sufficient attention; we have now to deal with the living kernel of truth. . . . Under the old ideal of culture, a man may still be grossly ignorant of the things most interesting and now most important to know. . . . Modern knowledge is the highest and most perfected form of knowledge, and it is no longer possible to maintain that it is not also the best knowledge for that cultivation of mind and character which is the proper (i. e., the highest) object of education."
I desire, for a moment, to direct your attention to the arts of expression. Next in rank to the ability to think deeply and clearly is the power of giving clear and full expression to our thoughts. This last can be done in various ways. As this brings me squarely upon a subject I wish to impress strongly upon you, I will illustrate it by a somewhat elaborate example:
A gentleman recently called upon me for my opinion concerning a certain automatic brake for freight-cars. The device was new to me, but it lay pretty clearly defined in the mind of my visitor. It was not original with him, but for the purposes of my illustration it might have been. Before I could pass judgment, the device must lie as clearly in my mind as, perhaps more clearly than, it did in his; so he set out to express his thought. He was what we call well educated, being a graduate of the oldest university in the land, and was well versed in the conventionalities of spoken and written languages. Accordingly, he proceeded to utter a succession of sounds. His lips opened and shut with great rapidity, and without intermission a series of sounds fell upon my ears. The sounds I heard were quite familiar to me, as I had been listening to them in one order and another for over forty years, and, as they had always been associated in my mind with certain concrete things and the relations of such things to each other, certain thoughts about those things began to take shape in my mind.
Of course, the sounds I heard had not the smallest likeness to the things called up by them in my mind. To an Italian peasant, or to Archimedes of Syracuse, they would have been as unintelligible as the chattering of a magpie. They were purely arbitrary or conventional; yet, much of our education had been devoted to their mastery. Nevertheless, as a means for expressing thought, they were, in the present case, quite inadequate. The ideas aroused in my mind were confused and fragmentary, and altogether unsatisfactory. The images lacked precision. Had my friend resorted to writing a description of the invention, in either English, French, German, Latin, or Greek, using in every case a set of purely conventional symbols (to represent the other set of conventional sounds), which we had both spent years in getting some knowledge of, he would have succeeded little better. Whether speaking or writing, much of his thought he could not clothe in words. He, therefore, abandoned the wholly conventional, or verbal, art of expression and turned to the pictorial.
But, here he soon confessed that his education was deficient. He had never studied the art of representing objects having three dimensions on a surface having but two, and hence he was ignorant of the methods he ought to adopt to express by drawings the objects he was thinking of. However, I caught more of his meaning from some crude attempts at sketching than I had from all his talk. A few lines were luminous with meaning; yet, they left far too much for me to supply by my imagination; hence, my visitor withdrew and sent me a full set of what we called "working drawings," made by the inventor, who was a draughtsman.
These drawings, though a sort of ocular resemblance to the things signified, were still half conventional, and required, on my part, a certain amount of training to enable me fully to understand them; this, fortunately, I had received, and, through the art of expression embodied in them, I gained a tolerably clear idea of the thought of the inventor. With scarce a written or spoken word, they expressed that thought far more clearly and fully than any merely verbal description could do; they showed the relations of parts which were beyond the reach of words.
But my friend was not content to stop there. The drawings had been but partially intelligible to him with their "plans, elevations, and sections," and, judging me by himself, he believed that a third art of expression would outvalue both the others; he, therefore, invited me to call at a shop and examine a specimen of the device itself, produced by a skilled mechanic. The real article, which is the mechanic's art of expression, proved to be an improvement even upon the thought of the inventor. The latter had not been a mechanic, and he had made the sort of mistakes that draughtsmen, who are not something of mechanics, always make. Certain parts it had been practically impossible to construct, as they involved shapes that could not be molded by ordinary means. A nut had been placed where it was next to impossible to turn it; and certain parts which were to be of cast-iron had been given such dimensions that the castings would have snapped in pieces while cooling. These errors had been corrected by the mechanic, and the perfected thought lay fully expressed before me.
In this illustration we have three greatly different methods of expressing essentially the same thought. Each constitutes a distinct language, and each is absolutely essential to modern civilization.
You will note how a crude thought often takes practical shape in the hands of the draughtsman and the mechanic. "Drawing," says Professor Silvanus P. Thompson, "is the very soul of true technical education, and of exact and intelligent workmanship." Those who have tested this can tell how many marvels of ingenuity, as lovely as châteaux en Espagne, have vanished in the presence of "plans and elevations"; and how many beautifully drawn designs have been mercilessly condemned as impracticable by judges versed in the laws of construction and the strength of materials.
Much more could be said upon the arts of expression, their relative importance and proper cultivation. You will readily think, as did Lessing in his Laocoon, of poetry, painting, and sculpture. You will recall how lofty thoughts have in all ages found expression in architectural forms, and yet, throughout all the history of architecture, the laws of mechanics as then understood and the properties of the materials used have determined the different styles. In our own age we are trying to express ourselves in iron and steel, and to cast off the fetters of an age of marble and granite.
In a recent address Mr. Charles H. Ham, of Chicago, said that, by putting thought into seventy-five cents' worth of ore, it is converted into pallet-arbors worth $2,500,000. He continues: "Skilled labor is embodied thought—thought that houses, feeds, and clothes mankind. The nation that applies to labor the most thought, the most intelligence (i. e., that best expresses its thought in concrete form), will rise highest in the scale of civilization, will gain most in wealth, will most surely survive the shocks of time, will live the longest in history."
But some one will say, as to methods of expression: "One art is enough for me; make me master of one, and I will care for no second." I answer, you are thinking of an impossibility. If a mechanic is only a mechanic, he is never a master, even of his own art. He is crippled at every turn; in expressing himself, he is limited to what he can make. He is without that powerful ally, drawing, the short-hand of the imagination, and in the presence of thoughts that baffle concrete expression he is dumb. Valuable machines even are sometimes purely imaginary. Clerk Maxwell, in his "Theory of Heat," says: "For the purposes of scientific illustration we shall describe the working of an engine of a species entirely imaginary—one which it is impossible to construct but very easy to understand," referring to Carnot's engine. In like manner, if one would command confidence as a draughtsman he must be a mechanic as well. And, finally, if I am a student of words alone, and if I go not beyond my dictionaries, I shall never guess their meaning. A large proportion of our emphatic words are technical; they belonged originally to some craft, and none but a craftsman knows their exact meaning. President Eliot, of Harvard, once said that the highest education was that which gave one the fullest and most accurate use of his mother-tongue. I would modify the statement, and claim that the highest and most liberal education is that which, besides cultivating most fully the powers of thought, gives one full command of all the arts of expression.
I need not remark that many, perhaps most thoughts, do not admit of concrete nor even of pictorial expression, as, for example, all abstractions; hence they suffer seriously from want of clearness. If you have a clear thought on abstract matters you can never be sure you have expressed it clearly.
Before we devote ourselves exclusively to the arts of expression, we must cultivate all the faculties and encourage the growth of thoughts worthy of expression. The thought must precede its expression by any method, and in the cultivation of the thinking mind the concrete should precede the abstract. Give children clear and accurate thoughts of real things, of the material world we live in, of real plants and animals, of the laws of materials, of qualities and then of quantities, before you venture on the field of abstractions. Before you cultivate the high arts, make sure of the low ones; without them as a foundation no superstructure of fine art can stand overnight. As Emerson says (in "Man, the Reformer"): "We must have a basis for our higher accomplishments, our delicate entertainments of poetry and philosophy, in the work of our hands. We must have an antagonism in the tough world for all the variety of our spiritual faculties, or they will not be born."
A habit of clear thinking once formed will never leave us, however abstract our investigations become; while a habit of stopping short with ill-defined results, of resting content with obscure and half-grown mental images, a mental attitude of fogginess, has a stultifying effect which seriously dwarfs the mind. This is a most important subject, but I have place for but a few words of exhortation. Give children clear thoughts, and begin with the concrete. When the mind is too weary or too sick to clear up obscurities, it is time to seek rest and recreation and fresh air. Beware of straining the powers of attention by too much schooling; beware of overtaxing the mind by too many and too difficult subjects, and especially beware of poisoning the blood and debilitating the brain by bad air. The fruit of any and all these evils is mental as well as physical decrepitude.
The Aims of Education.—But to return. I claim for these forms of expression, which I have taken pains to distinguish, more nearly equal care and consideration in the elementary education of every child. Teach language and literature and mathematics with a view to make each child a master of the art of verbal expression. Teach mechanical and free drawing, with the conventions of shade and color, and aim at a mastery of the art of pictorial expression. And, lastly, teach the cunning fingers the wonderful power and use of tools, and aim at nothing less than a mastery of the fundamental mechanical processes. To do all these things while the mind is gaining strength and clearness, and material for thought, is the function of a manual training-school.
Prejudices to be overcome.—The traditions are heavily against us, but the traditions of the fathers must yield to the new dispensation. As was to have been expected, the strongest prejudices against this reform exist in old educational centers.
As President Walker, of the New York Board of Education, frankly admitted at the laying of the corner-stone of Professor Felix Adler's splendid institution, "The Workingman's School and Free Kindergarten," the methods and aims proposed by the advocates of manual training-schools are a criticism upon the methods and aims of the established system, and nothing is more natural than for it to resent the criticism and discourage reform.
No man has done more—nay, no man has done as much—to introduce the manual feature into American education as Professor John D. Runkle, of Boston, and yet the School of Mechanic Arts established by him in connection with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has, after an existence of several years, been apparently almost frozen out in the biting atmosphere of that highly aesthetic city. I doubt if one could find on American soil a more unpromising field for a manual training-school than beneath the lofty elms of Cambridge and New Haven.
Luxuries ix Education.—There are luxuries in education, as in food and dress and equipage, and in wealthy communities the luxuries command the chief attention. At the English Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, a large proportion of the students expect to be gentlemen of leisure. The idea of giving heed to the demands of skilled labor, of preparing for lives of activity and usefulness—the idea of earning one's daily bread and of supporting one's family—scarcely enter their heads. Either they inherit livings, or they seek to get livings through the Church, or they enter the army with commissions purchased by kind friends who wish to get them out of the way, or they go into law or politics. It is no wonder that such men devote themselves largely to the luxuries of education—Greek, astronomy, philology, higher mathematics, Latin hexameters, Italian—in a word, to "polite" learning. In such an atmosphere as that how incongruous is the plea of mine for an education to things; for a training of the hand and eye as well as the intellect to lives of useful employment! Yet half the colleges in the United States ape the English universities, and half the high-schools ape the colleges.
The result of all this has been a certain false æstheticism which turns away from the materialism of our new notions. The highly cultivated would soar away into purer air and nobler spheres. There is a feeling more or less clearly expressed that the material world is gross and unrefined; that soiled hands are a reproach; that the garb of a mechanic necessarily clothes a person of sordid tastes and low desires. As Dr. Eliot, of St. Louis, has expressed it, "It is thought to be a sad descent for a university whose aim should be the highest education to stoop to the recognition of handcrafts of the mechanic."
Manual Education.—Perhaps no better general statement of the new creed has been made than that of Stephen A. Walker, in a speech already referred to. He put it for us thus: "Education of the hand and the eye should go along, pari passu, with the education of the mind. We believe in making good workmen as well as in making educated intellects. We think these are things that can be done at the same time, and our proposition is that they can be done better together than separately."
As I said in the beginning, this proposition is meeting with general favor among the people. I have pointed out the sources of some of the opposition; it remains for me to touch upon the two objections which I surmise are about the only ones in the minds of my hearers. You ask first, "Is your proposition practicable?" You doubt the feasibility of uniting in a real school such incongruous elements as arithmetic and carpentry, history and blacksmithing. You fear either that the shop-work will demoralize the school, or that the shop-work will never rise above the dignity of a mere pastime.
Now, I claim not only that what I propose can be done, but that it has been done in St. Louis, and perhaps elsewhere as well.
Organization of a Manual Training-School.—Professor Thompson, in his valuable essay on the apprenticeship schools of France, classifies French technical schools under four heads:
1. The school in the workshop or factory.
2. The workshop in the school.
3. The school and the shop side by side.
4. The half-time schools.
To the first class the school is subordinate to the factory; the boys or girls learn a particular trade, and everything in the school as well as in the shop is designed to meet the wants of those expecting to enter the particular trade. For obvious reasons there can be no general adoption of such a combination in the country. Professor Thompson gives his verdict in favor of the school and the shop side by side, though there is much to recommend the second plan. No one of the French plans exactly suits me. I prefer to incorporate manual with intellectual education, and include both under the name school. We do not have what you call school in the morning and shop in the afternoon; nor do we spend the forenoons with tools, and devote a few evening hours to study and recitation.
The Manual Training-School of St. Louis differs from all other technical schools with which I am acquainted. It much resembles the Boston School of Mechanic Arts, though it differs from it in admitting boys at fourteen instead of fifteen years of age; in having a three years' course instead of two, and in having a full and independent equipment of study and recitation rooms, as well as shops. I gladly avail myself of this occasion to publicly acknowledge our indebtedness to the able reports and papers published by ex-President Runkle on the Russian system of tool-instruction and the organization and work of his school.
Prospectus of the School.—A prospectus of our school has just been issued, giving in detail our course of study, and the methods of tool-instruction. I shall be happy to give a copy to every one who is sufficiently interested to ask for it. To those who do not care for the details, I will say that our course of study runs through three years, in five parallel lines:
1. A course in pure mathematics.
2. A course in science and applied mathematics.
3. A course in language and literature.
4. A course in penmanship and drawing.
5. A course in tool-work in woods and metals.
Our school is not managed on the assumption that all the boys who go through it will become mechanics, or that they will be manufacturers. Our graduates will doubtless be found in all the professions. We strive to help them find their true callings, and we prejudice them against none. I have no sort of doubt, however, that the grand result will be that many who otherwise would eke out a scanty subsistence as clerks, book-keepers, salesmen, poor lawyers, murderous doctors, whining preachers, abandoned penny-a-liners, or hardened school-keepers, will be led, through the instrumentality of our school, to positions of honor and comfort as mechanics, engineers, or manufacturers.
No Articles made for Sale.—For the purpose of discountenancing certain grave popular fallacies in this country, I will add a word, even at the risk of repeating what I have said elsewhere, as to our plan of shop management. We do not manufacture articles for sale, nor do we pretend to fully teach particular trades.
A shop which manufactures for the market, and expects a revenue from the sale of its products, is necessarily confined to salable work, and a systematic and progressive series of exercises is practically impossible. If the shop is managed in the interest of the student, he is allowed to leave a step or a process the moment he has fairly learned it; if it is managed with a view to an income (and the school will be counted a failure if its income is wanting), the boys will be kept at what they can do best, and new lessons will be few and far between. In such a shop the pupils will suffer too much the evils of a modern apprenticeship.
"The common apprentice is a drudge set to execute all kinds of miscellaneous jobs. There is no systematic gradation in the difficulty of the exercises given him; more than half his hours are purely wasted, and the other half are spent on work unsuited to his capacity. What wonder that four, five, or six years make of him a bad, unintelligent, unskillful machine!" (Professor Silvanus Thompson).
A very bright boy of seventeen years had expected last fall to enter a pattern-shop in St. Louis as an apprentice, but was disappointed, there being no vacancy in the number of apprentices allowed. He therefore came to the Manual Training-School, and during the year made excellent progress, not only in carpentry and wood-turning, but in drawing, mathematics, and physics. When he showed me some of his handiwork at the end of the year, I asked him if he would have made equal progress as an apprentice. "No," said he, "I should have spent most of the first year sweeping out offices and running errands."
(Since the above was written, a gentleman told me of his father's experience when learning the trade of a tanner in Philadelphia, many years ago. He lived in the family of his employer, and during the first six months he tended the baby.)
Self-supporting Schools.—I fancy there is no more pernicious fallacy than this of making a school self-supporting by manufacturing for the market. Suppose you attempt to maintain one of these popular humbugs, a commercial college, on that theory, or to run a full medical school without endowment on the self-supporting plan (the students would probably write prescriptions cheap, and cut off legs for half price); or to manage a public school of oratory and English composition on the strength of an income derived from contributions to newspapers and magazines, and from orations made and delivered to order. Nothing could be more absurd, and yet the cases are closely parallel. No; do not be beguiled by the seductive promise of an income from the shop. Admit from the first the well-established fact that a good school for thorough education on whatever subject costs money, both for its foundation and its support.
Closely connected is the matter of teaching particular trades, to which the lads shall be strictly confined. Such a course may work well in monarchies, where the groove in which one is to run is cut out for him before he is born; but it is unsuited to the soil and atmosphere of America. A single trade is educationally very narrow, while their number is legion. "The arts are few, the trades are many," says Mr. Runkle. The arts underlie all trades; therefore let us teach them as impartially and thoroughly as possible, and then it is but a step to a trade.
And this brings me to a very important point. Admitting that, with a suitable outfit of tools, shops, etc., a programme such as I have described can be carried out, you ask: "What, after all, is the manual training acquired at school good for? Has the mind been nourished through the fingers' ends? Has the hand gained any enduring skill? Is it really but a step from the door of the manual training-school to the shop of the craftsman?"
Experience answers all these questions satisfactorily, and adds that there is scarcely a calling in society that is not edified by manual training. Rousseau once remarked that "to know how to use one's fingers gave a superiority in every condition in life." I recently made systematic inquiry among the parents of my boys as to the effect of the one or two years' training in our school. Their reports on the points now under consideration are both interesting and encouraging. They write:
"Gerald takes great interest in fixing up things generally."
"Charles fixed my sewing-machine."
"George has made many little matters of household utility, and seems to delight in it."
"We go to Henry to have chairs mended, shelves put up, etc., and he does excellent work. He made a fine set of screen-frames."
"The mechanical faculty was quite small in John's case, and it has been developed to a remarkable extent."
"Leo does all the jobs around the house."
And so on, for nearly a hundred pupils.
Again, the parents testify to an increased interest in practical affairs, in shops and machinery, and in such books and periodicals as the "Scientific American." Beyond question, there is a certain intellectual balance, a good mechanical judgment, a sort of level-headedness, in practical matters consequent upon this sort of training, that in value far outweighs special products. Said Rousseau, in his "Emilius," one hundred and twenty years ago: "If, instead of keeping a boy poring over books, I employ him in a workshop, his hands will be busied to the improvement of his understanding; he will become a philosopher while he thinks himself only an artisan."
As to enduring skill, I will let you judge for yourselves. The blacksmithing has occupied the second-year class about two hundred hours—ten a week. Each man had his forge and set of tools, and each executed substantially the same set of pieces. Here is a partial set of the work done. The pieces are numbered in the order in which they were done. They were first wrought in cold lead while the order of the steps and the details of form were studied, and then they were executed in hot iron. I have a few of the lead specimens here. The boys have not yet learned to weld the lead. The instructor's estimate 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 testimony 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 contributed 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 practically 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 are practical men and women, and you wish now to sit down and count the cost.
We set out in St. Louis to have the best of everything. We bought the best tools and put in the best furniture. We have plenty of room and light and pure air. We aim to have good teachers and all necessary appliances. Our capacity is about two hundred and forty boys, in three classes of one hundred, eighty, and sixty, in the first-year, second-year, and third-year class respectively.
|Our building, complete, cost about||$33,000|
|Our tools and school-furniture||16,000|
|If we add the cost of the lot (150 x 1062 feet)||14,400|
|We have, as the total cost of our plant||$63,400|
Where land is cheap, and less or lighter machinery is used, less money would suffice, but let no one deceive himself by supposing that the reform proposed is to be at once a money-saving one. Such a school costs money, but it is a grand investment. Said one of our benefactors to me not ten days ago, "I feel better satisfied with the money I have put into the Manual Training-School than with any other money I have invested in St. Louis."
As to the cost of construction, the shop is about as expensive per hour as the recitation and drawing rooms. Good mechanics, fairly educated, who are at the same time endowed with the divine gift of teaching, are rare. We have a first-class machinist and an expert blacksmith, and pay each twelve hundred dollars per year. The size of our divisions is generally limited to twenty members in drawing we shall occasionally "double up."
Incidentals—wood, iron, paper, etc.—and the wear and tear of tools amounted last year to about ten dollars per head. The total cost of supplies and instructions and all incidentals, next year, is estimated to be seventy-five dollars per pupil.
How then, say you, can this costly reform be accomplished? The public schools have no funds to spare; salaries are still too low, and the demand for extensions outruns the supply. As Colonel Jacobson, of Chicago, has said: "The alternative before you is more and better education, at great expense, or a still greater amount of money wasted on soldiers and policemen, destruction of property, and stoppage of social machinery. The money which the training would cost will be spent in any event. It would have been money in the pocket of Pittsburg if she could have caught her rioters of July, 1877, at an early period of their career, and trained them, at any expense, just a little beyond the point at which men are likely to burn things promiscuously. It is wiser and better and cheaper to spend our money in training good citizens than in shooting bad ones."
How to go to Work.—There are two ways of going to work:
1. Cut down somewhat, if necessary, the curriculum of higher studies, and incorporate a manual department with your high-school. The investment will pay, and the means of further growth will soon be found.
2. Mature your plans and lay them before your wealthy, public-spirited men. Almost for the first time in America we are harvesting a splendid crop of millionaires. They abound in every city. They know that boundless wealth left to sons and heirs is often a curse, rarely a blessing, and they would fain put it to the noblest uses. In England such wealth would naturally go to the establishment of noble families, or the purchase of grand estates which should be transmitted unimpaired to the oldest sons through successive generations.
Our American peerage shall consist of those who devote the gains of an honorable career to the establishment of institutions for the better education of generations that shall come after them. Let others follow the example of Cornell, Vanderbilt, and Cooper, of New York; Stevens, of Hoboken; Girard, of Philadelphia; Johns Hopkins, of Baltimore; Case, of Cleveland; Rose, of Terre Haute; the Commercial Club, of Chicago; and those whom I could name in St. Louis.
- Address delivered at Saratoga Springs, New York, on Thursday, July 13th, before the joint meeting of the National Teachers' Association and the American Institute of Instruction.