Popular Science Monthly/Volume 31/June 1887/Industrial Education and Railway Service
|INDUSTRIAL EDUCATION AND RAILWAY SERVICE.|
MUCH has been heard, during the discussions of the labor question, about the rights and interests of manufacturers and of workmen, but comparatively very little about the claims of the work. While the contention between manufacturers and their men has always been hot, and sometimes vital, the product of their joint energy, upon the best availability of which for its intended purpose the life of both parties depends, has been left to shift for itself. Producers have relaxed their pains to secure the best possible product, in order that they might put more money into their pockets, or recoup themselves for the losses they have had to suffer by the antagonism of their men; and workmen have, in obedience to some "union" or "chapter," systematically slighted their work, as one of the means by which they imagined they might get even with the capitalists. The result has been, in England and to some extent in the United States, a falling back in the standard of manufactured products, and decline of trade in them, in favor of those countries in which, as in Germany, excellence and attractiveness in the executed work are recognized as entitled to equal consideration with the capitalist's desire for immediate profits and the workman's championship of "organized labor."
This tendency—for it is still, happily, in the United States a tendency rather than an accomplished fact—has been recognized most quickly by others than the parties who should seem to be most directly interested; and the efforts to counteract it have led to the establishment of several technical and art schools, either as university departments or on independent footings, some of which have proved themselves very efficient.
It has also engaged the attention of a number of manufacturing establishments and other corporations employing large bodies of workmen, who have had the sagacity to perceive that their permanent interests were identified with their turning out the best products. Among these was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, which in 1881 commended to Dr. W. T. Barnard, assistant to the president, a proposition for the establishment of a technical school for scientific and mechanical instruction, to examine into and report upon. Without waiting for his full report, the company, under Dr. Barnard's management, made a start of such a school in 1885, in connection with its shops at Mount Clare. Dr. Barnard's report has just appeared, and covers a wide ground, including a sketch of the effects of technical education in Europe; a review of its progress and present status in the United States; discussions of the need of more thorough and extended technical instruction in Baltimore, and of the advantages which the Baltimore and Ohio Company, together with other railway interests, would derive from a thorough system of this character; and a programme for inaugurating systematic technical instruction in the service of that company.
To prepare himself more thoroughly for his work, Dr. Barnard, besides studying the subject in books, made personal examinations of the principal existing technical schools in the United States and Europe. The result of this investigation was so to impress him with the vital importance of technical education to the industrial and commercial interests of the United States in general as well as with the particular concerns he at first had in view; and also with the almost universal ignorance of its potency displayed by those whom it would most beneficially affect, that he has deemed it a duty to make his report one that would be generally useful.
"In Europe," says the author, "the necessity of technical education for industrial laborers, felt and freely acknowledged many years ago, was forced into prominence through the increasing rivalry between manufacturers and other producers competing with like articles in the same markets. In order to counterbalance the advantages which some manufacturers engaged in a given industry enjoyed through the possession of cheaper raw material, labor, prestige, or favorable situation, their competitors of foreign—and even of the same nationality—were compelled to look to improved methods of manufacture or production in order to hold their ground, and were thus brought to realize that educated labor and technical skill were the soundest elements with which to defend themselves in trade competition, in that they promote excellence of execution, inventiveness, enterprise, and all the qualities required to successfully conduct progressive industries. Under this pressure producers and manufacturers, through their guilds and other associations, were soon able to exert an influence upon their governments which has resulted in every European nation's making greater or less provision for public industrial education; until at this time not only England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, and Italy, but all the minor Continental states, have their governmental schools for both elementary and higher technical instruction." Russia also has established Imperial Technical Institutes at St. Petersburg and Moscow, which are classed as among the finest in Europe, and the action of the Government has been supplemented by schools established by the leading railroads at their principal works. "While the technical schools and departments in France are excellent of their kind, it is in Germany and Switzerland that the movement for industrial education has attained its highest development. In the latter country, the British Royal Commissioners found the value of its technical schools distinctly illustrated in the marked improvement of manufactures; in the elevation of the producing classes; in the diminution of crime; in the popularization of education; and, generally, exercising a most important influence upon the nation's industries and welfare. In summarizing the results of their investigations in Germany, they remark that the conviction is universal among the German people that they can only meet the competition of their rivals in other countries by training their workmen in taste and skill, and that the prosperity of their industries will increase only in proportion as they keep up the efficiency of their schools and spread their influence among the workers themselves. The direct and indirect effects of technological schools upon the industries of their respective countries were, immediately upon their establishment, felt to be beneficial in the highest degree. Their graduates were eagerly sought out to fill important and responsible positions in manufacturing and commercial establishments, many of which had sustained serious losses through the ignorance and consequent bad management of administrative officers; and this inquiry soon far exceeded the supply. As the result of this appreciation of, and demand for, skilled laborers and supervisors, many enterprising corporations, and even private firms, engaged in manufacturing and other industries dependent for their successful operation and development upon intelligent direction and skilled labor, individually organized scientific schools and training-classes in connection with their works. Some of these private schools are equal to or excel in particular features the government and municipal institutions. The conductors of many of them claim that the best results are obtained where intimate relationship between the school and the actual workshop is maintained; thereby facilitating the adaptation of theoretical training to the needs of the pupils and the character of the work on which they are engaged.
The leading merchants and manufacturers of Crefeld, Prussia, affirm that its silk industries largely depend for success on the influence of their technical school, which, among other things, raises the tone and increases the knowledge of rising manufacturers and foremen, and, by spreading technical education broadcast among industrious and ambitious artisans, very materially widens the field from which successful manufacturers and specialists may be chosen. At Mülhausen, Germany, manufacturers go so far as to say that their trade could not prosper without the influence of the textile museum; and citizens look upon the prosperity of the town as a result of what is learned at the technological institutions, whose action has exerted a marked influence in suppressing trade jealousies, which had almost entirely disappeared from the community. The chief hope of Verviers, Belgium, in maintaining pre-eminence in its textile industries, has been publicly acknowledged to rest upon the superiority and not on the cheapness of its productions. "This community has felt none of the evils of the late labor troubles in Belgium." The variety and excellence of the textile manufactures of Chemnitz, Saxony, are accredited by the British Royal Commissioners to the weaving-school; and the appreciation had by the citizens of the place for technical education is attested by the fact that, up to 1883, they had contributed over $440,000 for the support of their industrial schools. So, among the results that have accrued from the operation of the weaving and dyeing schools of Roubaix, France, are less need of supervision, economy in production, fewer mistakes, and more reliable and efficient work.
Of the same order with these facts is the acknowledgment said to be commonly made by the proprietors and managers of mines that young men who have been educated in technological schools heat their boilers better and with less coal than do the other workmen, and that their scientific knowledge enables them to escape many accidents and to avoid stoppage of machinery and repairs. In short, Dr. Barnard observes, "it is the testimony of all who have studied the subject that technical schools, when rightly directed, give wonderful impulses to industrial pursuits, by promoting scientific investigation and methods. Although at first this influence affects only those who attend the classes, it soon makes itself felt throughout the entire body of workmen of the community to which the school belongs, and the increased interest in scientific subjects on the part of employés, thus developed, in turn reacts to the pecuniary advantage of their employers, because mechanics who have been trained in the scientific principles that underlie their handicrafts are thereby enabled to understand the technical publications affecting their trades, and to utilize new inventions and improved methods of work; while men uneducated in the rudiments of science ignore such sources of knowledge, and, quite naturally, oppose all improvements as innovations calculated to work injury to the laboring-classes. Cultivate a laboring-man's intelligence to a point where it recognizes improvements and comprehends their nature; his opposition ceases, and he will himself likely invent improved processes, which will inure to his employer's benefit. Technical education has been the means of attracting capital not only to specific localities, but to countries. Indisputable evidence of this is found in Switzerland, and notably in Zürich, where for years a technical school has been conducted at government expense. When, recently, the Federal Council was disposed to lessen the usual grant for its support, the manufacturers showed, by undeniable evidence, that this single institution had in a few years been the means of bringing capital to the country to the extent of millions of pounds sterling."
The British Royal Commissioners testify that a few years ago the question of technical education in England would have been a debatable one, but that now no argument is needed to convince English employers of its importance; that it has been tried, and has given the highest satisfaction; that in nearly all the great industrial centers schools of science and art, of various grades, together with numerous art and science classes, are to be found in successful operation, and that their influence may be traced in the improved productions of the localities in which they are placed; in the decreased consumption of crude material, and in saving of time required for the performance of labor. Through the agency of technical schools, wherever they have been established, originality has taken the place of servile imitation; decaying industries have been revived, and new ones promoted; while they have exerted a most marked influence in developing the intelligence and skill, and consequently in securing the permanent prosperity of the industrial classes generally, by enabling them to develop the sources of wealth peculiar to each country.
A noteworthy example of the collective advantages which technical education can confer is afforded by Switzerland, a country which is without navigable rivers, canals, mines, fertility, and the other natural gifts which are the usual foundation of the prosperity of civilized states, but where industrial education is highly developed. From it are yearly exported industrial products exceeding in value all the importations of the cantons, and also more than sufficient to cover the cost of internal administration.
If the results of an educational system can be ascertained from a close inspection of those industries in which the mass of a country's population is engaged, and in which their knowledge is displayed by the fruits of their labor, it will be found that the national system of popular education in the United States fails entirely in accomplishing its mission, in several important particulars. For example, in the public schools our youth are, as a rule, entirely untaught in even the rudiments of industrial occupations, and upon passing from the schoolroom are generally utterly incompetent, unassisted, to earn a livelihood in any trade or pursuit requiring manual dexterity. Even our high-schools leave their graduates to drift, by accident or unintelligent direction, into vocations generally foreign to their abilities, and, as a rule, with few exceptions, unequipped with that character of knowledge or expertness without which a comfortable living becomes difficult—prominence impossible. It is commonly accepted as a fact that a good elementary education, such as is afforded by our public-school system, gives a child that which will carry it well along in life; but this is true only of agricultural, or at most of sparsely settled districts, and is then true only within limitations. The tendency of the system is by elevating pupils above their actual or probable stations in life, and prompting in them desires and aspirations of which there is little chance of fruition—to turn out a large class of consumers, who fail utterly of success in the professions and kindred occupations, under conditions which, had their efforts been directed to mechanical or other industrial pursuits, would have made them efficient producers. A remarkably small percentage of our public-school graduates in the Middle and in the Southern States engage in any kind of manual labor.
Recognition of this lack of utility in our educational system has, of late years, become quite general, resulting in efforts to ingraft upon our higher-grade institutions industrial and scientific instruction, and the colleges and schools whose curricula embrace those subjects which fit our boys and girls to participate in the practical work of life are now rapidly increasing. There have long existed in the United States a certain number of educational institutions wherein special attention is given to technical and scientific training in mining, civil and mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, physics, and the natural sciences, which are fully equal to the best of similar schools in Europe. Among the most prominent of these are the School of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts of Cornell University, the School of Mines of Columbia College (New York), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Lawrence School of Science in connection with Harvard University, the Pardee Schools, the Stevens Institute at Hoboken, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Sheffield School at Yale; but the high tuition fees charged by these and similar schools make instruction therein available only for the wealthier classes. Elementary science is also now taught in numerous colleges, academies, and high-schools. But, while this instruction, in point of cost and preliminary educational qualifications, is generally within the reach of the masses, the subjects taught and, as a rule, the manner of teaching them, have but little practical bearing on industrial pursuits. However, in the last few years considerable progress has been made in introducing a substantial help to industrial education—that of manual training-schools—and already their feasibility and desirability as a feature of popular education have been practically demonstrated. Well-equipped schools of this character are to be found in St. Louis, Chicago, Toledo, Philadelphia, and Boston.
The secret of the popularity of this kind of education is to be found in the natural and practical combination it makes of intellectual and manual training. Both thought and action are developed equally, and the skill acquired at school, together with the respect for industrial pursuits there fostered, makes their pupils useful, wealth-producing citizens.
It is undeniable that our national prosperity has been greatly promoted by the pre-eminence of certain of our manufactures in the markets of the world; but our success in this respect has been due not to the superior intellectual cultivation or manual skill of our native artisans, but to very different causes, which we may regard as, in comparison, accidental; and it is sad to reflect what greater success might have been achieved by combining with these causes that high degree of intelligence and skill that European nations are cultivating in their industrial classes. While the value of our great workshops as practical technical schools may be admitted, the ordinary workshop does not yet combine mental instruction with manual training. At the same time, our science-teaching is of too high a grade to be assimilable by the ordinary mechanic and mechanical apprentice, and is too theoretical to be adaptable to the current work of the shops. There is too little application of science to our handicraft, and a lack of intelligent effort to teach apprentices in our workshops the mechanical dexterity which they are supposed to acquire there. Now that the old system of apprenticeship is becoming obsolete, the question of what shall take its place in the way of educating and training the youth of our working-classes becomes an important consideration.
Provision for teaching mechanic-trades was attempted in the organization of the agricultural colleges, but most of these institutions have drifted away from the original intention of the authors of the act, and there is in them, generally, little or no effort to combine theoretical instruction with practical mechanical training in other than those branches of knowledge closely related to agricultural pursuits; and much remains to be done before they can be of any material advantage to manufacturers and others requiring skilled labor. Our privately endowed schools do this work more directly and efficiently, but not as perfectly as they ought. Our university special departments, and our technological schools, even aggregated, are insignificant in number, and in most of them instruction in the mechanical arts has not been strictly adhered to, having been obscured by the literary and art-science sides of education. That this tendency is a very grave danger in technological schools generally, is very apparent from a study of those in England, where most of the institutions established purely and simply for technical instruction are already drifting into devotion for the higher branches of the natural sciences and mathematics, to the exclusion of drawing, applied science, and mechanical teaching. Judge MacArthur says that while we have schools for all sorts of instruction in mathematics, history, literature, and philosophy in abundance, they fit nobody with either knowledge or skill in any particular branch of industry. There is even a tendency in them to beget dislike for those pursuits that require manual labor. Our national system of elementary education is also drifting to the literary side, and tending to beget a distaste for manual work and industrial pursuits in general. Among the defects charged against existing provisions for industrial training, are that the instruction is too expensive for work-people; that the conditions of admission are too advanced for the mass of the people; that the instruction in most of the schools is too theoretical; and that, for the lack of evening instruction, the masses of mechanics who are compelled to labor during the day are debarred from availing themselves of their advantages, such as they are.
A dark-shadowed picture is drawn of the condition of the trade and the manufacturing industries of Baltimore. The former has declined in an alarming degree, and the latter have never been developed to any notable extent. Facts are presented bearing on some of the particulars of these categories, and evidence is given from which the conclusion is deduced that the manufacturing arts of the community are languishing as much for the want of skilled and intelligent artisans and managers to direct their operations, as from the lack of capital, cheap raw material, or natural facilities for production.
Johns Hopkins University, from which much might have been expected, lacks departments for training in practical industries. "With an income of $225,000 a year," says Mr. William Mather, an English observer of our schools, "it would appear possible for a larger amount of work to be done by this university among the people of the city, without in any degree diminishing the high class of instruction in the advanced stages of literary and scientific study."
In no field is more room afforded for the application of such skill and knowledge as technical training gives, than in the management and operation of railroads. Railroading has, in fact, become a profession, fully as exacting and requiring as high degrees of professional skill and intellectual attainments as the liberal professions. Yet Dr. Barnard has failed to find that "any of our railway managers have a proper appreciation of the situation, or that there has been any well-digested effort in the direction of educating railway officials or employés upon systematic lines, such as, for example, produce at "West Point and Annapolis corps of young men whose basic education and training, with a little experience, fit them for any position of responsibility and trust in our military and naval service. Unquestionably there must be in many of our large railway organizations those who have long recognized the need of, and would warmly welcome, this educational factor in railway management, and doubtless many of them are, from previous education and long experience, peculiarly qualified for making a forcible presentation of the advantages of—and in view of the great changes that scientific discoveries are making in methods of production and transportation, and the new industries that are continually springing up, I may say the absolute necessity for—a combination of scientific and technical education for the operatives of the transportation service of the country. But, unfortunately, men of this type are, as a rule with few exceptions, overtasked with responsibilities and harassed with anxieties that leave few opportunities and little inclination for expressing their views on any subject foreign to their specific duties."
In the same ratio that our extensive railway system surpasses all other branches of industry in the magnitude of its business, the number of its departments and the interests affected, is there greater need for economy of administration and greater necessity for the application of the highest obtainable scientific knowledge and manual skill to its various operations. It has become the almost universal practice of our great railway corporations, and especially those whose lines are reaching out into undeveloped and sparsely settled territory, to assume the entire repairs of their plant, even when they amount to practical reconstruction, and there is also a steady tendency on the part of such companies in the direction of manufacturing their own equipment from raw materials. This places them in the category of manufacturers, and makes them amenable to the laws and factors regulating production. Because of the nature of their service, involving the transportation and care of many lives and valuable property, no less than as a matter of economy, is it of prime importance to such corporations that, in the construction and in the repair of their rolling-stock and appliances, they should employ workmen of exceptional competency.
Railroad enterprise is a comparatively new thing in the world's history, and its development has been sudden. Men trained to carry on the work could not easily be obtained. They were picked up where they could be found; lacking scientific training, they were naturally guided by "rule-of-thumb" practice, and their lives were sure to be narrowed, till they acquired a pride in being known as "practical" men. These men naturally transmitted their narrowness of knowledge and skill to their apprentices; and thus has been developed the average railroad workman of to-day. Many of our railroads employ armies of people, all of whom are supposed to be technically expert in their various vocations; but it is a well-known fact that in many railroads only one or two men in a road-gang know how to tamp a tie so that it will not require resetting the same season; and extensive lines are known to the author that do not possess a foreman—perhaps not a supervisor—who can adjust a curve with instruments. In these extensive enterprises the efficiency of the unit the individual workman becomes an item of grave economic consideration; for if it be true that the value of the individual's work (whatever it be) is increased through greater intelligence and special training, though it be only by a few cents per day, the total is of no inconsiderable moment, when his services continue through a series of years, and when, instead of one workman, thousands are employed. If even a slight deficiency in the skill and intelligence of one workman makes a few cents' or a few dollars' difference in the cost of the products of each week's labor; if the incompetency of one foreman or one manager lacking scientific training does usually—as so positively stated by competent authorities—net an appreciable loss; multiply the result to corporations like, for instance, our Eastern trunk-lines (one of which employs at least fifty thousand people on that part of its system east of the Ohio River, and more than half as many more west of it); realize that in such extensive organizations few if any of the practical details of the operating departments can be accurately gauged by those whose interests are most vitally concerned; comprehend how many important matters, involving grave consequences in their execution, must be intrusted to superintendents, master-mechanics, and foremen; then obtain a correct measure of their education and general knowledge (to say nothing of their scientific attainments), and we shall begin to appreciate the importance and bearing of this question of technological education, and the enormous losses the lack of it yearly entails upon investors in railway securities.
In railway service there is frequent necessity for sending to a distance, and beyond supervision, one or more thoroughly competent men, who shall not be simply mechanics, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, but who shall be able to turn their attention to work coming under their notice, whether they have before done that thing or not. At present such men are rarely found enrolled in the rank and file of railway mechanical departments; yet it is testified by many manufacturers who have afforded their operatives the advantages of technological instruction, that they have no difficulty in filling such positions with boys of twenty or twenty-one years of age, whom they send long distances and place in their hands work with which they have had little or no previous acquaintance, and by their intelligence they not only give the greatest satisfaction, but frequently develop into competent teachers of others.
The reason for the educational deficiencies of railway operatives is apparent when we consider how few opportunities they have for acquiring theory and practice in the same place and at the same time. The chasm between our schools and our workshops is not bridged, and consequently manual skill and intelligence remain divorced. All our higher schools, and even our technological schools, turn out students who are well up in theory, but deficient in practice. It is at the same time difficult to procure at any price men who combine superior skill, comprehensive mechanical knowledge, and general intelligence in such proportions as to make them valuable as foremen, managers, and specialists in mechanical pursuits or in the operating branches of railway service. Graduates of technological schools, when introduced into these positions, are apt to continue to show themselves more theoretical than practical. This constitutes an objection to depending on men of this class. The Pennsylvania Railroad pursues the plan of exacting of the graduates of technological institutions entering its service a novitiate in the construction and repair shops at Altoona before they are permitted to enter active service. Many young graduates of technical schools so highly value the opportunity of studying the scientific methods and enjoying the instruction of the Altoona shops—as it is said—to disregard pecuniary compensation, in a wise desire to avail of the fine training obtainable there. At the same time, this instruction is believed to be neither so specific nor so thorough as it should be.
"Many of the discoveries of the day are not used because workmen do not understand them, or are incompetent or unwilling to utilize them, and there is also an acknowledged deficiency in the ability of railroad employés to determine, with scientific accuracy, the shapes and dimensions which are best adapted to stand the strains of the various working parts of the locomotives and other machinery used by railroad companies. Though much has been done in this direction by specialists, it is more than probable, from their testimony and from the deficiencies of such machinery, that scarcely a tithe of the facts that may and ought to be known in this matter are yet discovered, or, where known, availed of. Such investigations, owing to the scarcity of men combining both practical and theoretical knowledge, are so costly and uncertain, and require so much skill and technical training to conduct them, that manufacturing companies can not often afford to hire specialists or bear the expense of experimenting; but in a school connected with railway-shops, under competent guidance and instructors of ability, much may be done, as a part of the school and shop-work instruction, that will, at the same time, accomplish desirable results in other fields. It is the testimony of many of our best educated engineers that the engineering profession in all its departments is continually hampered by the want of more extensive and more accurate experiments. They say that 'in far too many matters they have nothing to rely on but the imperfect or imperfectly reported results of antiquated experiments.' The difficulty is, that most of their experiments and observations have necessarily to be of short duration, and that they have insufficient data upon which to base their conclusions. If, now, we can introduce the scientific method of original research and experiment into our workshops; if, instead of one experimenter, there may be dozens of wide-awake, observing, and energetic men in search of scientific and mechanical truth; if, instead of one experiment at a time, there may be several under different circumstances going on at the same time; if, instead of continuing a single day or a single week, these experiments in the workshop may be continued through months and even years; if, in other words, our workmen, or a large number of them, can be taught to regard the workshops themselves as great laboratories for continued research, experiment, and observation with a view to gaining original information for practical purposes—then there need be no more complaint in the realm of applied science about inadequate data and uncertain conclusions."
This system would also furnish a stimulus to invention and improvement and to the adaptation of economical devices. The importance of technical training is so well recognized among European manufacturers that many employers are said to be in the habit of sending to home and foreign exhibitions, at their own expense, those of their young people most advanced in technological study and of quickest perceptions, in order that they may study new inventions, machinery, etc.; while many others allow their apprentices and young men to leave their work an hour or more before stopping-time, on class-nights, without abatement of their wages. Many European manufacturers and the managers of some foreign railway-works now call the particular attention of their workmen to new designs, improvements in machinery, and methods of work, and to successful inventions that have been made by other workmen trained in technical schools. Such workmen can not fail to become constantly on the alert for opportunities to accomplish something above the performance of mere routine duty; whereas, lacking scientific knowledge and technical training, they would probably be contented to go on in the old paths of routine, and might even oppose improvement.
Among other advantages of technological schools adapted to the wants and standard of the workmen who are to attend them are, that they will do much to prevent and overcome labor troubles, which often arise through misunderstandings that the instruction given by such schools and their influence would anticipate; that their effect will be to diminish the tendency to dissipation among the workmen, and increase their efficiency; and that, by providing useful and congenial employment for the leisure time of apprentices, they will, promoting good habits and discouraging the formation of bad ones, have an especially beneficial effect upon their future. Workshop-schools have the further advantage over others that, giving easy access to machinery, and directly applying the principles and theory learned in the school-room to work in the shops having a commercial value, they would make their instruction practical in a high degree. They are also especially valuable for training the young of our industrial classes, because the pupils are thereby enabled to earn a livelihood while acquiring theoretical and practical knowledge as they go, each supplementing and assisting the other.
Whatever the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad has achieved in the way of commercial success has not resulted from superior skill or intelligence of its subordinate officers or of the rank and file in its several departments, but rather in spite of their deficiencies. The company has been fortunate in one sense, in that the geographical isolation of its main stem and branches has contributed to the gradual formation of a corps of operatives who, by descent, tradition, and personal attachments, may be said to belong to the road. From their earliest youth they have looked forward to an active participation in the operations of the line as a means of livelihood, and all their aspirations and ambitions are associated with its service. This condition has been fostered by the custom of regarding the children of meritorious operatives as entitled to prior consideration in making appointments. While this has resulted in creating and maintaining a corps of operatives of exceptional devotion and loyalty, and has in many other ways been advantageous to the service, it has also in some ways that were unforeseen proved prejudicial to the company's interests. Thus, the inhabitants along the main-stem divisions are destitute of educational facilities, and this, coupled with the sense of proprietorship in the positions and the idea that education beyond the bounds of his trade is of no practical use to a mechanical workman, has created indifference on the subject. This was one of the considerations which prompted the establishment of the school at Mount Clare. Of the first class of boys examined for admission to the school, only forty were found in such a condition of discipline and grounding in the common English branches as to justify the hope that they could enter upon the course for graduation as mechanics, and not one of them was capable of entering upon the higher studies necessary to qualify him for an officer's position in the service. It being thus manifested that there was no material from which to manufacture efficient officers, nor was any likely to be acquired under the then existing system, a general order was issued promulgating regulations for the future admission of apprentices, and prescribing the minimum qualifications of candidates, which, while neither onerous nor of a high grade, provided a sufficient foundation for the technical instruction necessary to make a fairly educated mechanic. In the same general order the lines upon which the educational work was to be conducted were defined in general terms. The plan outlined in that order contemplated.
1. Instruction (in the apprentice class of such boys as could pass the examination therein indicated) of a character that will make them skilled and intelligent mechanics. While this first-class course would naturally lead up to the second or cadet class, it should provide within itself all the elements of technical instruction necessary to complete a journeyman's education.
2. A second or cadet course, which should also be complete within itself, and should provide such technical instruction in all the departments of railway service as would fit its students for all subordinate positions of responsibility and trust in the service, corresponding to what is known in European schools as the foreman's course of study. This course, while involving more thorough and wider theoretical instruction than the apprentice course, should, to the greatest extent possible, be framed with reference to the practical mechanical operations of the shops and of the service generally.
3. A third or cadet officers' course, the object of which will be to give to those who graduate with honor from the second class (and who have therein shown themselves possessed of ability and educational qualifications above the average) further technical training, of a still higher and more comprehensive type, which, when combined with familiarity with the operations of the various departments of the service, will go far toward qualifying the students of that course for the highest positions in the company's gift. To this end, opportunity should be afforded the pupils of this course, in its last year, to actively participate in the production, care, repair, and improvement of railway plant and in the practical operations of the service. This could readily be done—and with advantage to the service also—by distributing these students among the several departments as assistants, at the same time maintaining their connection with the school for further educational purposes. This course is not yet in operation.
In the apprentice course, school-instruction should be made secondary to shop-work, while in the higher courses shop-work should always be secondary to mental training.
Although these provisions relate especially to instruction in Baltimore, the plan has been drafted in a more general sense, and contemplates the gradual extension of this educational movement over the entire system of the railroad. While Baltimore will always be the center of such a movement, no great difficulty is apprehended in extending the apprentice course, at least, over the entire road, by establishing night-schools for drawing, mathematics, and elementary science, or securing the introduction of the boys into such schools as are already in operation, and the modification of their curriculum in the manner indicated.
Prior to the establishment of school-work at Mount Clare, the Baltimore and Ohio apprentices had neither incentive nor opportunity to develop into intelligent workmen, so that on starting the classes it was with great difficulty and only by absolute compulsion that the attendance of about forty shop-boys was secured. They were, with few exceptions, rude and almost unmanageable in the class-room, uninterested in the instruction, and scarcely able to await the hour of dismissal, when they would vacate the school-room rudely and in haste. Then the class-instruction was confined to the most elementary subjects, and the boys were unable or unwilling to read technical or scientific books with any show of profit. Now there are under school-instruction seventy-five as orderly and polite boys as are to be found in any high-school of the country, and among the very best of them are boys who a few months ago were conspicuous for rudeness and insubordination. There have been classes of apprentices in geometry, algebra, physics, locomotive-engine, mechanics, mechanical drawing, free-hand drawing, geometrical drawing, English and history, and a valuable method of instruction by special reading, selected and recommended by the teachers to each pupil, with special reference to his talents and the state of his education.
Last year, as a rule, boys had to be compelled to take up algebra and geometry; at this time many are promising promptness, regularity, and other inducements to secure admission to those classes, and a number have become very urgent for the higher science and mechanical studies. Many of these boys regularly spend their noons studying works in science and mechanics, going from shop to shop and from machine to machine, studying the principles involved in their construction and operation. Every examination for apprentices brings in a better class of applicants; as the result of which the standard upon which admission to the service is predicated is being gradually raised.
It may be added that the practical result of this report has been to induce the Board of Directors of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company to make a permanent appropriation of $20,000 annually for the conduct of this school, and that Dr. Barnard is now engaged in the preparation of plans for what will be the first technical railroad-school ever established in the United States.
- Abridged from a report by Dr. W. T. Barnard to the President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company.