Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/July 1898/The Philosophy of Manual Training: The Methods of Manual Training II
|THE PHILOSOPHY OF MANUAL TRAINING.|
By C. HANFORD HENDERSON,
LECTURER IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY.
II.—THE METHODS OF MANUAL TRAINING.
THE general project of manual training depends for its motive upon our scheme of ethics, and for its underlying principle and justification upon our philosophy of life. The methods of manual training depend no less completely upon our current psychology. But in this there are two distinct elements to be considered. One element, which I think we do not make enough of, is the psychology of the teacher; and the other element, which we are only coming slowly to make enough of, is the psychology of the child. By the psychology of the teacher I mean something extremely definite. I do not mean the general laws of mind as applied to the men and women who teach manual training. Their minds operate on much the same principle as do the children's, except that, being older, they are naturally less flexible and less open to outer influence. But I mean especially the hold which these teachers have upon the philosophy of manual training; the view which they entertain in regard to its function and its relative place in the general scheme of education; and, finally, their own intellectual and emotional and bodily culture.
Some one, I believe, has been pleased to calculate that the efficiency of school work depends upon the equipment to the extent of only fifteen per cent, and upon the personnel of the teaching force to the extent of eighty-five per cent. You remember, perhaps, what was said of Mark Hopkins: Put Mark Hopkins on one end of a plank, and a boy on the other end, and you have a university. I do not think these estimates are exaggerated. It is the human element that counts.
The bulk of our secondary education in America is carried on in the public schools, and there is much to be said in favor of this arrangement, and somewhat to be said against it. The fortunes of these schools are for the most part in the hands of boards of education, which are composed mainly of prominent and successful business men—men with a large turn for affairs, and scant patience with the theorizing of philosophers. It is noteworthy that the class of problems with which these men have principally to deal in their private affairs are concerned with material ends, and it is only natural that, when they come to turn their hands to public affairs, the material aspect of things should most claim their attention and energy. I say that it is only natural. It is none the less unfortunate.
Now, the personnel of the. teaching force is just one of those immaterial problems with which these popular committees are both by training and disposition least prepared to deal. It constitutes, I think, a particular weakness in public education, and one that we can only overcome by taking the practical conduct of education more and more out of the hands of those admirable citizens whom we may call the friends of education, and putting the matter more and more into the hands of men and women specially trained for this most important service.
When you come to the carrying out of a special scheme of education, such as manual training, you will readily see that its methods necessarily depend very largely upon teacher psychology, and I propose to devote the first part of this paper, which has to do with the methods of manual training, to an examination of the attitude of mind which the teacher of manual training brings to his work.
There are, of course, as many views of manual training as there are people thinking about it, but in a broad way there are two very distinct and I may say somewhat antagonistic views. These are not, however, views which men and women have looked upon and deliberately elected. They are much more organic than that. They are views which have grown out of their daily living, and represent their unconscious attitude toward life itself. This genesis gives them both the respectability that is inherent in all honest opinion, and. also the fixity that is the most hopeless quality in prejudice. I may, for the sake of a handle, name the two views the educational and the artisan view.
Manual training as a scheme of education occupies a curious middle ground. It has not been evolved in the schools themselves. Like most of our educational innovations, it has been forced upon the schools from without. But the lack of harmony in our conception of manual training does not grow out of this circumstance. Indeed, were it a brand-new thought, offered us from any one of the world's intellectual or industrial camps, we might expect it to present a unit conception, to be accepted, or declined, as the case might be. But such has not been the genesis of the manual training idea. It has not been introduced into education as the embodiment of the educational creed of any one party. It has come into the schools from two different directions, and in its outer form is the incarnation of two distinct and radically different modes of thought. You can hardly understand manual training as a system of education unless you understand its history; and you will readily see that the methods used by the teachers of manual training, while conforming in a general way to one pattern, depend for their essential spirit upon the path by which these teachers have approached the subject. While manual training in some form is a part of all education and appears in all grades, it began its career as a distinct scheme of education in schools of high-school grade. All the early manual training schools were high schools. Even now, when manual training has grown and spread beyond our most sanguine expectations, the typical manual training school is still a high school. Now, the high school occupies a middle ground. It has, on the one side, the elementary school and kindergarten, and, on the other, the college and technical institute. The curriculum of the high school is consequently a composite, and contains elements borrowed from the lower schools and from the universities, or thrust upon it from one of these sources. But as a rule each element in this composite has come into it from one direction, either up or down, and has not assailed it from both sides. Manual training occupies the exceptional position of having come from both directions, from above, from the technical schools, and from below, from the kindergarten and from sloyd, and to have brought from both of these sources fundamental ideas much at variance with each other. In the technical schools manual training is pursued purely as an end in itself and absolutely without thought of its culture value. It is wanted simply as a help to engineering studies. The formal manual training had such an origin. It sprang up in Russia in the technical schools of Moscow, and first attracted any general attention in America at the time of the Centennial Exhibition in 1876. The thought back of it was purely utilitarian. It was, I believe, quite devoid of any idea of physiological or mental reactions of definite and independent educational value.
This system was seized upon in America by men of the industrial type of mind, and was valued for what I may call its bread-and-butter reaction. While I do not sympathize with their main thought, I do not wish in any way to discredit that part of it which was undoubtedly admirable. These men looked upon the high schools of America and saw that many of them were not educational. They saw that they were commercial, that they were teaching commercial geography, commercial arithmetic, commercial penmanship, commercial bookkeeping, and the like, and that as a result they were turning out a race of clerks with ideas little above those of trade and bargains, who could be had by the thousand in any of our great cities for from five to ten dollars a week—perhaps I ought to say from three dollars a week upward. Meager as is the ideal of life presented by industrialism, it was a great step forward as compared with the commercialism which it is meant to supplant. Viewed from the human standpoint, it is a step forward just in proportion as the thoroughgoing artisan, with his strong, lithe body, his quick eye, his skillful hand, his somewhat independent habit of mind, is better than the thoroughgoing clerk, with his endowment of all that is commonplace and subservient. But the men who introduced manual training into America saw that these commercial young people from the high schools had not deliberately chosen so mean a plan of life, but had rather been forced into it by the absence of any better plan. I do not mean to go into the vexed question of free will and necessity, but I think as students of education that we can not shut our eyes to the fact that the young person we are considering, now midway in his teens, is still the victim of his own inexperience, and is very far from free, and that the older half of society has very obvious duties to this same young person, not only in creating generous ideals of life, but not less in inaugurating a social régime which will open the way to their realization. It is quite useless to allow, or perhaps I ought to say force, boys and girls to grow up in the atmosphere of a low social ideal, and then blame them for it. It is quite useless to consent to a social order which presses sadly upon the majority of men, and then despise humanity for not making way against the inevitable.
And the Centennial Exhibition opened the eyes of the nation to another fact. It showed us that despite our boasted Yankee ingenuity, American workmen were far less skillful than their European and particularly their Continental brethren, and the fact had to be accounted for. It was seen that in America manual labor was looked down upon, that the social as well as the educational pressure was all in the direction of commercialism and away from handicraft, and finally that the boy who braved social opinion and went in for hand work had to do it almost by stealth. The old institution of apprenticeship had died, and the present order of artisan had been so far tainted with the commercial spirit as to be jealous of his skill. He hoarded it like a miser, unwilling to pass it on from generation to generation. The ranks of skilled workmen in America were and are renewed from the more fertile soil of Europe. Furthermore, in 1876, education in America was even more a mechanical process than it is to-day. All these forces conspired to give manual training a distinctly industrial trend. And this trend was manifestly strengthened by the fact that manual training had been originally apprehended as a form of industrial education. It had indeed appeared in the literature under that name, and under that name was being advocated in Switzerland, in France, and in parts of Germany. I do not think that in 1876 manual training was anywhere being put forward as a culture branch. The movement in America began largely as an artisan movement. The schools that were started in the decade following the Centennial Exhibition were all conceived in this spirit. Some of them have experienced no change of heart since then, but others, I am happy to say, have been transformed and transfigured. Like Saul, the son of Kish, we unexpectedly found a kingdom. Later schools have had much the same history. In some the leaven of the new idea has worked; in others not.
But even within the bounds of the artisan spirit, a restraining grace came into play, which illustrates very well, I think, the tendency of education to continue its search for underlying principles, however unfavorable the conditions, and so to substitute the general for the specific. Manual training, even in the hands of these industrialists, never developed into the teaching of specific trades—the manual training schools were always distinct from the trade schools. Whether the industrialists were appalled by the diversity of trades to be taught, or were restrained by some vague notion that the state ought not to foster one craft rather than another, or were frightened by the prospective antagonism of the trades unions, I do not know, but certain it is that the movement gained educationally with each repetition of the assertion that no trades were taught, but only the principles underlying all trades. The growth of this universalizing spirit has made possible a far broader conception of the true function of manual training.
But meanwhile the manual training idea had been making its way into the curriculum from the other direction, from the lower schools, and from them it came purely as an educational idea. The educational conception has come from the kindergarten, from sloyd. and last of all from a more abstract source, from philosophy. Let us glance at these three elements.
Manual training permeates the whole Froebelian philosophy. Arnold has said that religion is morality touched with emotion. One might characterize the kindergarten as activity touched with sentiment. As far as may be, the activity is all self-directed, for that is the only sort that has any educational value. The hand comes in as the instrument of much of this activity. It is particularly to be noted, however, that the training is quite without industrial import. It has no ulterior purpose, but is simply and solely directed to the development of the child as an organism—an organism whose function is thinking and feeling and acting. The activities of the kindergarten are manifold, but the motif is always the same. It iseducational. Between the kindergarten and the manual training high school there is a gap of between seven and eight years, the dreary desert of the elementary school, where I sometimes think that children are taught with infinite patience things that they would have found out for themselves next year. But the spirit of the kindergarten has crossed this gap, and has made itself felt in the high school as the educational advocate of manual training. Froebel built true and firm in resting the foundations of the kindergarten upon the self-activity of children, and its motif, development, carried into the work of older children, must take some form of manual training. And so manual training came knocking at the doors of the high school, not alone from above, from the technical schools, but from below, from the kindergarten as well, but from this side it was a triple knock.
In the far north, in Sweden, there had been growing up a system of manual training for elementary schools based entirely upon the educational idea. It was not called manual training, but was known as "sloyd," which signifies handy or dexterous. It involves the idea both of planning and executing—that is to say, the idea of creative work—and is a direct and beautiful application of that principle of self-activity which Froebel made the corner stone of the kindergarten. It is permeated with the true Froebelian spirit, and is quite worthy to follow the kindergarten in a rational scheme of education. As the basis of sloyd we have the old peasant hand work, rich both in beauty and in sentiment. This has been systematized into a scheme of regular school work, and has been made purely educational. But it has not lost, I am happy to say, the sincerity and reality that characterized the old peasant handicraft, and I value it so highly, not alone for its true educational spirit, but quite as much for the warm human sentiment that is an essential part of it. Sloyd is very thoroughgoing in its methods. It strives to develop the body by a series of physical movements physiologically arranged, to develop the mind by means of the rich mental reactions which accompany all motor activities; and not less to develop the heart by enlisting in all the work the child's good will and unselfishness. Sloyd has been well defined by Mr. Gustaf Larsson, the head master of the Sloyd Training School in Boston, as "tool wprk so arranged and employed as to stimulate and promote vigorous, intelligent self-activity for a purpose which the worker recognizes as good." It is a capital definition and a noble aim.
Sloyd constituted the second party in that triple alliance of which I have spoken. But there is still a third element involved, one too recent to have had any history, but destined, I am bound to believe, to do great things and to win the day against the combined forces of industrialism itself. The third element comes from the universities, but approaches the high school along the path of the lower schools, and so allies itself with the kindergarten and sloyd in forcing manual training into secondary education on purely educational grounds. It is nothing less powerful and modern than experimental psychology itself. The study of human physiology, and especially the study of brain action, is showing us each day more and more conclusively that if you want good work you must have a good tool—that is to say, a good organism—and that is precisely the educational basis of all manual training. It is the search for organic power.
These two conflicting ideals of manual training meet and do battle in the manual training schools. If you take a school built up on the educational ideal, and another built up on the industrial ideal, you will find them both doing apparently the same thing, but you can not, I think, get very far beyond the threshold without observing a tremendous difference—a difference that you will remark in many quarters, but nowhere so distinctly as in the faces and persons of the boys themselves. The difference is not due to any variation in the material equipment, perhaps to no great change in the curriculum, but to a very subtle, intangible thing, to the point of view of the head master. It all depends upon him and upon which view of manual training he entertains and would have prevail. I can not too much emphasize this point. Back of all action there is an idea, a motive. If you would change the action, you must first change the idea. It makes a tremendous difference what people are thinking about as they carry on their work. This principle is the basis of all scientific pedagogical effort, of all scientific reform, indeed, of all well-directed work of any kind which has to do with human elements. It is the fault of the old education and of the old schemes of reform, and, for that matter, of too much of current education and current schemes of reform, that they address themselves solely to the outer event, and leave the motive, the idea back of it all, quite undisturbed. The real pivot upon which the manual training movement swings is in the idea. In presenting manual training to you as a scheme in which two opposite and antagonistic ideals are now contending for the mastery, I do but state the fact. But I have large faith that the educational ideal will ultimately prevail, and this in spite of the fact that the schools themselves—that is, the manual training schools proper—are largely in the hands of the industrialists, and avowedly represent the artisan point of view. I have tried to do full justice to that point of view, and I want to say again that as a substitute for the commercial training of the average high school, with its bookkeeping, and commercial arithmetic and commercial geography, and commercial ideas of life generally, even the artisan training is a marked advance. It is to be welcomed by all who value a more sturdy living and who esteem power. As a man, the decent artisan is infinitely ahead of the smug shopkeeper. Furthermore, the same artisan point of view, by cultivating self-reliance, by spreading self-supporting ideas of life, by imparting useful skill, by encouraging self-activity, does render a large social service, and does, quite unconsciously, possess a large educational power. I should be unwilling in any way to belittle this service. It is something to be socially grateful for, and to be appreciated at its full value. But the criticism remains true that what is not the best is bad, and the artisan point of view, not being the best, I must maintain is relatively bad.
Many of the training schools represent this artisan view, and one need never go far afield to find striking examples. In my own city of Philadelphia, which I believe is chiefly known in New England for the excellence of her butter and the whiteness of her doorsteps, there are two manual training schools, in which from the very start the educational purpose has been bravely upheld. The two ideals have been in conflict there as elsewhere, for we are a thrifty city with some talent for turning an honest penny, in spite of our love of comfort and grandfathers, but the fight has been a good one, and in the main a successful one.
It is always more effective to paint in black and white than it is in neutral tones, but in presenting these two views of manual training as so sharply distinct, I have not been bent, I think, by artistic motives. I believe the two views to be as sharply distinct as I have painted them.
Assuming, then, the educational point of view on the part of the teacher, we may turn to the second element, the psychology of the child, as our monistic philosophy sees it, and may inquire into the methods which that psychology suggests.
First and last and always, the problem is human. Manual training has but the one purpose, the development of the child, and it can only carry out this purpose by learning how the child develops. Every organism—and manual training, as we have seen, considers the child to be a unit organism—is in contact with an outer world, with something which is not self. This contact produces sensations. We can not know the outer world, can not know whether indeed there be an outer world. We can only know our sensations and the stream of thought into which they merge. As soon as we begin to think, we are forced into some stage of idealism, but whether we take the moderate, in a sense realistic, ground, that there is an outer world, but that we have no knowledge of it except as a mental experience; or the middle ground, that there may or may not be an outer world, that we have no warrant for either affirming or denying its existence, but that the one undeniable reality is consciousness; or the extreme ground, that there is no outer world at all, but that the drama of life is a drama carried out simply and solely in consciousness, it makes, happily, little difference in the practical methods of education, provided we do not vivisect the child, and get something out of him other than a unit. What we have to deal with in any case is human consciousness, and our work is to unfold and perfect that.
These sensations, whatever their origin and precise nature, are certainly the primary material of thought. Knowledge is a perception of relations. The process of thinking is a process by which we bring our sensations into relation with one another, or bring a sensation into relation with some concept, which is the abstract of a previous group of related sensations, or bring one concept into relation with another. Knowledge, then, is the result of thinking, and it is only by thinking that we can grow wise. Experience being the best teacher, it is commonly stated that knowledge is the result of experience. But this is not strictly true. It is only true when you specify what sort of experience you mean. If the experience has resulted in an embarrassing wealth of sensations, and has created little disposition to bring these sensations into relation with one another, the product is not knowledge. Globe trotters are not proverbially wise people. But if the experience has taken. an inner turn, and has consisted in a careful and luminous working up of the crude materials of consciousness, the product is knowledge of the highest sort. This accounts, I think, for the fact that some of our most profound philosophers have been men of somewhat limited experience. But there are cautions in both directions. If the omnivorous reader and globe trotter stand at one extreme, no less does the closet philosopher, building tremendous structures out of insufficient material, stand at the other. Health is found in the golden mean-—to meet life and to reflect upon it. I take education and evolution to be one, the reaction of the environment upon the organism. The process consists in arousing in consciousness a group of sensations of the right sort, and in the right amount, and in inducing a habit of working up this material into thought. The process requires a wholesome organism, and one operating in obedience to some inner impulse—that is to say, it requires self-activity and not vicarious activity. It is a very subtle process, work for angels rather than for men, and all the while it must be carried out with utter unconsciousness on the part of the child as the result of his own spontaneity. The teacher may stimulate this self-activity, must supply materials for it to spend itself upon, but never—and this is the particular temptation in the path of the teacher—never must he substitute his own activity or his own impulse. It was a great day for me when I woke to the fact that one can only do what one wants to do. It was a great day for me, both because it taught me the source of my own actions, and because it taught me that to influence other people's actions you must first influence their desires. A given environment is not the same environment to two different children. Their power to respond is different. Their will to respond is unequal. If the environment is to react helpfully on both of them, either a change must be brought about in the children themselves, by means of a secondary or preliminary environment designed especially for that purpose, or else the given environment must present alternative elements calculated to appeal to different natures. Both methods are legitimate and both are often necessary. The first is brought about by the personal tête-d-tête work of the teacher, work wholly individual, work requiring the characteristics of both the serpent and the dove; and the second, by giving the school life that flexibility and many-sided interest which will allow some choice on the part of the child. The sensations that we want are only brought about by action, by direct physical contact with the environment, and this can only come as the result of desire. We live in a world rich in possible activities and sensations, embarrassingly rich, but possible only to those who want them. One can only do what one wants to do. The source of power and the limitation of power are one. It is found in the emotional life, in desire. Where this is manifold and rich, life is manifold and rich; where this is stunted and poor, life itself is stunted and poor. There is here a direct causal chain which can not be broken, and which must be taken into account in any rational educational method. It is desire, action, sensation, thought. I do not know whether psychological analysis will some time show us what desire is, or separate it into more primal elements, but, however composite it may turn out to be, it will always continue the mainspring of human action, and the primary element with which education will have to deal. Everything centers in the emotional life. To stunt and cripple and repress that is to make impossible a full life in other directions. Kill it, and you have the dead souls of our social world. In childhood, the emotional life is strong. And here, I think, and not in Florida, is to be found the fountain of perpetual youth. We should never grow old if in our hearts we could keep always the full flood of feeling. It is the drying up of this part of our natures that makes possible the dreadful indifference and paralysis of old age. And we want this prodigality of feeling because it will lead to action, and we want action because it will bring sensation, and we want sensations because they are the material of thought. Manual training builds its methods upon this psychology. It looks first and last and always to the motive power, to the emotions and desires. If these are strong, if the child is alert and full-blooded and interested, at once may be undertaken the more specific work of supplying a rich and suitable environment, to keep alive this emotional life, to strengthen it and to direct it to helpful and noble ends. Well-born children possess this full emotional life. But with apathetic children it must be aroused. The little childish heart must be set on fire with new desires and longings, and these made so strong that they simply must be satisfied. This is a difficult task, and one with which the older schemes of education do not pretend to cope, for they do not realize that it is an essential part of their work. Indeed, for the most part they address themselves to the very contrary proceeding, the repression of such childish desires as already exist and are found not to be convenient.
The method by which manual training arouses and fosters a many-sided interest and stimulates desire is by giving children something to do, and by allowing such a free play of choice and individuality both in the something and in the doing that at the very first possible moment the activity shall be self-directed. When this point is once gained, the work of education has begun. Where the will is weak, as in the case of poor, anæmic children, the interest may soon flag, may indeed sputter and go quite out. And all this is very discouraging. But the interest must simply be aroused and stimulated afresh. Never, however great the seeming extremity, must the interest and desire of the teacher be made to do duty for that of the child, for, the moment this occurs, the work of education ceases, and a meaningless, unpsychological process takes its place.
It is not much learning that makes us mad, but much interference.
In young children, the great impulse is to play, and it was this form of self-activity that Froebel seized upon. But the desire to make things, the constructive faculty, is also there, and this is utilized in the weaving and other forms of paper work. In older children the play impulse weakens and the constructive impulse strengthens. It is this latter impulse that manual training appeals to. In doing this there is large choice of method. But the essential element is always the motive power, the desire. This bears the same relation to all that follows that the water or steam power does to the mill. It keeps it running.
The formal manual training does not concern itself specifically with the principle of interest. It lays out a series of abstract exercises, involving the primary tool operations in wood and metal. The exercises are as abstract as the propositions of geometry. They are carefully graded so as to be increasingly difficult, and are all dimensioned. Thus in wood, the first year's work may consist in a series of from seventeen to twenty-one exercises, beginning with a simple rectangular parallelopipedon, and ending with a somewhat elaborate dovetailed box. In the second year the joinery course gives place to pattern making, the creation of forms which are to be used as molding patterns in casting in lead and iron. Here, too, the exercises are carefully graded, beginning with simple forms and ending with quite difficult problems. The sequence differs in different schools, and no two schools use precisely the same exercises. But this is a detail which is not essential to the method. There are usually three terms a year—terms of about thirteen weeks each—and as the wood work runs for two years in the typical three-year manual training school, this gives six terms in all for the accomplishment of the instruction in wood. It is customary to devote one term to wood carving, and another term to wood turning. This latter is sometimes introduced during the first year, if there are enough turning lathes for all the boys to work at once, and sometimes it is given as a secondary course, running along with the joinery and pattern making.
The same principles hold in the metal working. It is all carefully graded. During the first two years it includes the primary operations of the machine shop and the blacksmith shop—chipping, filing, and fitting; molding and casting; forging and welding, ornamental ironwork and tinsmithing. During the third year the manual work, exclusive of the science laboratories and the drawing rooms, is usually confined to machine-tool practice, and here the time is divided between abstract exercises and finished projects.
The course is entirely logical. It was originally planned for the one purpose of imparting technical skill, and it does this in a large and surprising manner. It seems incredible that some of the work turned out could have been done by young boys.!Nor do the boys have to be urged to this work. Although the object is simply technical skill, and does not concern itself primarily with human motives, still the work is so thoroughly in line with boyish activity that it does quite unconsciously enlist those desires to a very large extent. You can see this if you will watch the little workers. They are for the most part absolutely absorbed, and quite unconscious of your own presence. There is in all of us a strong desire to excel, a delight in overcoming obstacles. We like to do battle, and especially when we are young. A cross-grained piece of wood, a stubborn bit of metal, are so many challenges, and an alert boy is eager to accept the gauntlet. Some of the boys, furthermore, have conceived the idea that they would like to be carpenters, or pattern makers, or wood carvers, or machinists, and work under the spur of an ulterior purpose. At fourteen they have already begun to live in the future, and have accepted the ideals of industrialism. The organic reactions that follow upon this manual activity, though not so good as would follow from a more psychological course, make, nevertheless, for increase of brain power. There is a notable enlargement of judgment, of accuracy, and of self-reliance. There is an actual increase of physical health, there is a usable skill. And all of this is very good. But these results, splendid as they are, can be made still better, and are being made still better by the humanizing of the whole scheme in the hands of educational workers. The spirit of the kindergarten, the spirit of Herbart, the spirit of sloyd—a spirit which finds no scheme of education tolerable which has not for its object the full and complete life, the life of body, of intellect, and of heart—this spirit, I say, has been permeating our thought and making its way into the high school. And this is precisely what the formal, technical manual training most needs. It needs to be humanized. It wants to be touched with morality, with beauty, with sentiment, in order to be the ideal education; for the end of education, as Herbart has well said, is to create in the child a moral and æsthetic revelation of the universe. I have confidence that this humanizing spirit will conquer, and that manual training will ultimately mean in all our schools what it means to-day in a few of them, and is coming to mean in many more—a complete, human, educational process and not simply an artisan training.
The methods of this educational manual training concern themselves very much with the principle of interest. They seek not only to satisfy existing desires, but to create new ones. Theirs, you see, is far from being a doctrine of parsimony. It is rather a doctrine of ungrudgingness. In place, therefore, of abstract exercises, poor in present human interest, finished articles are offered. They are very simple, of course, but they are as carefully arranged and graded as the abstractions they replace. Groups also take the place of single articles, so that the boy may select his work, and so have the advantage of a deeper and more individual interest. In addition, the principle of service is brought in. The articles are useful—some little domestic convenience that may be given to the mother, some well-made trifle that the father will use and value. The sentiment which is thus woven into the work is far from idle. It is more than a pretty nothing. Have you ever reflected that all the great and beautiful things that have been made and done in the world—the great pictures, symphonies, poems, stories, buildings, exploits of all kinds that have needed the human spirit—have been made and done, not as the result of technical skill, but as the result of a sentiment, the sentiment of hope and love? I regret the partial decay of a visible religion in our midst, not because I believe that men need creeds to make them good on earth or to point out the way to heaven, but because it seems to me that an impressive worship, rich in color, in music, and in tradition, does so much to keep alive the sentiment of man, and give him the power of great and noble performance. I can not but envy the old painter who brought to his work the passion of a divine and human love, who painted the Mother of God with that face which embodied his own heaven. It may be that that passion for humanity which is appearing now as a redeeming force in modern society may some time touch afresh the national life with emotion, and open to us again a period of great performance.
The Herbartians are right, I think, in their scheme for the correlation of studies, when they group all the work about some sentiment study and invest all with human interest.
There is, further, an æsthetic objection to the abstract exercises of the Russian manual training. They are not beautiful. The finished projects of the American system—for so I shall in hope call the educational manual training—may be made beautiful. This, again, is a principle in both kindergarten and sloyd work, and one that we can not leave out of the count. It is, I think, an educational crime to have children deliberately make ugly things. Why should they, when there is so much possible beauty in the world, and so much real ugliness already? It is of large importance that children in all their work should regard beauty as a sacred and necessary quality.
The finished projects have a further advantage in better allowing a large proportion of free-hand work. Curved lines and warped surfaces that can only be judged by sight and touch are not only more beautiful but also more educative. A too great reliance upon calipers makes us all mechanical. It is quite possible to have the projects accurate and fully dimensioned, and yet largely free-hand. To fulfill all these requirements—to have the work proceed strictly as a result of the self-activity of the child, to invest it with an emotional interest, to make it sound physiologically and æsthetically—is not easy, and much ingenuity is required and will be required to work out a satisfactory set of models. It is just as important to have them carefully graded. It will never do to discourage the child by too great initial difficulties, nor to waste time by adding difficulties too slowly. There must be constant progress. When a bean stalk gets to be ten inches high, the next thing for it to do is to get to be eleven inches. And not only do the projects vary, but the materials as well. Wood and metal and clay, even leather and fabrics, all lend themselves to the purpose and are all utilized. If this work is to create that many-sided interest in life of which we have been speaking, it must have many sides to it. The projects, then, ought to have diversified social functions. The first interests of the child are all domestic, and it is entirely fitting that the first articles he makes should be borrowed from that aspect of life. But these interests want to broaden. With increased constructive skill, they may well take in more ambitious projects in both arts and science—steam engines, dynamos, cameras, scientific apparatus of all kinds, architectural units, and all the diversified objects of a rich and varied social life. This is in part the practice in the present manual training schools, as far as the third year's work is concerned. The graduating class makes one or more finished projects of a practical kind, sometimes in miniature, often of full size, so that the article may take its place in the equipment of the school. And I am glad to say that more and more the tendency is to substitute these projects for the less fruitful abstractions, and so to realize the educational ideal. Mr. Sayre, the principal of the Central School in Philadelphia, told me the other day that such was the tendency there. It was also the tendency at the Northeast School. Mr. Richards, of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, writes me that not only are they substituting simple finished pieces for the abstract exercises, but also that they are giving the preference to small individual projects over larger ones requiring group work, and that they are making these changes because they believe that in this way they develop greater individuality and arouse a keener interest. Dr. Belfield, the director of the Chicago Manual Training School, writes practically the same thing, and adds that they will probably make no more large pieces, except where they are needed in the equipment of the school, work quite justified by the altruism which it fosters. It would be easy to multiply testimony, but I think we should gain nothing by it. The point I want to make is that manual training in America, in spite of our potent industrialism, is becoming each year more educational, and this is most encouraging.
To stimulate this many-sided interest, and to cultivate genuine sentiment and æsthetic appreciation, are large elements in the method of manual training, but it shares this with other schemes of education. The part of its method which is distinctive is physiological. It is the cultivation of the brain through the body, and more especially the cultivation of the brain through the activities of the hand, the setting up of definite mental reactions as the result of definite muscular movements. Experiment shows that the brain does not act as a whole in its reactions with the outer world, but that for the various activities of life there are specialized local brain centers. Furthermore, function is shown to be directly dependent upon organ. If the organ be impaired, the function is crippled. If the brain center be destroyed, the function is annihilated. The reverse is also true—the inhibition of the function, and the organ atrophies. The exercise of the function means the health and growth of the corresponding center. The localization of brain function is one of the most interesting results of modern experimental psychology, and is well worth the attention of all interested in social movements. If these local brain centers could be stimulated and developed by increased contact of their tributary extremities with the outer world, we should have a strengthening of the brain tissue, a more sensitive organism, and, as a final result, a general increase of intellectual power. The most complete power would come from the most perfect development of all the parts. We want no repression, no thwarting, no deadening. We want the expansion of all the parts by the wholesome exercise of all the functions. And this expansion must go on pari passu, not the abnormal growth of one center through the undue exercise of its corresponding function, with the starving of surrounding centers and functions, but the normal and wholesome growth of all. As the hand is the chief instrument of touch, its exercise will cultivate the tactile and visual centers. By the skillful framing of these manual activities, and their arrangement in due sequence, we shall bring about a corresponding series of mental reactions of the highest evolutionary and educational value. Manual training means hand training; sloyd means skill; but the hand training is in reality the training of that part of the brain which directs the hand, and skill is in reality a mental quality. One's cleverness in arranging the manual work comes in right here. It is not in securing a series of mental reactions, for they would come willy-nilly, but it is in securing a series of mental reactions of the most desirable sort.
The term manual work is often used very loosely to include all forms of mere bodily work, such as the activities of the day laborer, of the washerwoman, and the domestic servant. But such work is not hand work. It is strictly bodily work, and the hand serves merely as the clutch by which the particular tool, whether shovel or broom, is fastened to the body. The main mental reaction is fatigue. But manual work proper is the sense of touch applied to the carrying out of some definite and intelligent purpose.
We do not yet know enough of these mental reactions to reach any finality in the matter of the manual exercises. It is for the present experimental. In the most progressive schools you will find a large amount of flexibility. The exercises of one year will not be the exercises of the next. There is the constant hope of something that will yield richer returns. But the underlying principle is the same. It is distinctly physiological, a system of brain gymnastics by which an expansion of function brings about the development of the organ. It is founded upon a monistic philosophy of life—a belief that man with all his diversity of need and of power is essentially one, a unit organism.
The mental reactions that manual training brings about are essentially ethical, and, since conduct has to do so largely with one's relations with one's fellows, they are also essentially social. The most evolved conduct, that which displays the most complete adaptation of means to ends, can be the result only of a completely rounded intelligence. Complete morality means the setting up of definite moral ends, and it also means their attainment. We weaken the moral fiber deplorably, it seems to me, in our modern way of looking at things, when we lay such moral and legal stress upon the motive, and so little upon the performance. The emphasis is not justifiable. Since motive and act stand in the direct relation of cause and effect it may be charitable but it is certainly not scientific to couple a good motive with a bad act. If the moral ends have been clearly seen, if that vision of the complete life has been fairly grasped, the more difficult and it seems to me the essential part of morality, the attainment of the complete life, still remains to be fulfilled. To accomplish this part of its mission, manual training seeks to make very clear the relation between cause and effect, and to eliminate the capricious and grotesque. Every bit of manual work is a practical adjusting of means to ends, an object lesson in causation, and when finished, it stands there before us, and tells us in very plain and unequivocal language whether the thing has been well done or ill. There is no room here for idle excuses.
These are some of the methods of manual training. Not one of them is sacred or fixed or unalterable. They are mere tools, a process, a means to an end, something to be altered, relinquished, supplanted, as a wide knowledge and a deeper love show such changes to be wise. But every detail of method has the one purpose, and this never changes—the unfolding and the perfecting of human nature. It is the search for human power through the perfecting of the human organism.