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proud of our American common public school, but we have never been quite clear what our schools have done for us, nor from just what standpoint we should criticize them. They have been the bulwark of our liberties, but we have been very generally unwilling that they should undertake more than the drill in the three R's. When we have overloaded their curricula, and the cry has arisen against the "fads and frills," there has been no definite conception of what they should do by which we can test the demands of rival educational theories.
To a large extent the educational policy of most of our large cities has represented a fluctuating compromise between forces that have been by no means all educational forces. This situation is common to our popular education and to our popular government. We know that they are precious institutions, but we treat them with a great deal of good-humored ridicule. They are the palladia of our liberties, but concretely we have not wished to have to take them too seriously. The school-teacher and the politician have been standing subjects for the wit of humorous papers.
But a change has come about in our attitude toward our governmental institutions. It is a great deal clearer to us what these institutions should and can do. We may not be any clearer as to the fundamental theories of government, but the community now knows that popular government is itself our most precious treasure and it is becoming aware that this precious institution can be called upon to do certain specific things.
Industrial education and vocational guidance mark the points at which our public schools are making such contact with actual life that the community may intelligently criticize the schools and control them in something like the same sense that it may control the management of technical departments of our governing bodies.
Fruitful contact implies primarily that the community shall be able to pass in certain respects intelligent criticism upon the school, criticism which the school authorities will themselves seek and of which they will be able to make profitable use. This implies further that the school life reaches back into the home and the community of which the home is a part and out into the occupations which the children enter when they leave the school. Lack of such intelligence and such connection between the school and the life of the community is evidenced in a type of criticism with which we are familiar. These criticisms gather mainly about the lack of drill in the three R's. Spelling, number work, and English, we are told, are slovenly; the graduates of neither the grades nor the high schools can write a fairly respectable letter; the commonest words are misspelled; the English is atrocious; the ability to cast up a simple column of figures is
lamentably absent; and yet the children are so possessed with a sense of their own competence that they can not be corrected nor taught in the offices where they are employed. The cry arises at once that the curriculum is stuffed with comparatively useless subjects while the weightier matters of essential importance for vocations are neglected.
The school authorities are compelled to bear the onslaught of this irresponsible criticism. Their critics hark back to the good old years when the simpler courses of study and the sturdier discipline of the rod brought forth the results so lacking in our degenerate days. They continue thus to criticize though actual proof from the tests of the schools of our grandfathers clearly indicates that the children came out of these more Spartan institutions less well-equipped even in the three R's than are the graduates of our own grades. These attacks upon the schools are recurrent. Each year when the employer of boys and girls loses control of the irritation caused by youthful incompetence he is apt to pour out his wrath on the institutions from whose hands he receives his employees.
Unfortunately the relation between the school and the occupation has been so slight that the comment and criticism called out by the child's failure to fit into the machinery of the office, the shop, or the factory has little value beyond the registration of friction and of the need of adjustment. It is not illuminating comment and criticism. The teacher naturally resents the implication that the child's entire education should consist in drills in spelling, penmanship, and figuring, flanked by stenography, typewriting, and cataloguing. If the child's employer is to have and express an opinion upon the child's school training, that opinion must be more enlightened and more improved by interest in the child's entire welfare. The teachers, failing to find such all-round judgment in members of the community who employ the graduates of our public schools, naturally come to regard themselves as the only competent judges of what the school training should be.
Fortunately this gap between the community and the school has been bridged at a number of points. The schools have undertaken a certain amount of vocational training, and upon strictly vocational training the comment and criticism of those representing these specific vocations is felt to be pertinent. It has been even in some degree sought by the school itself. Out of this interplay have arisen various departments of vocational training, such as technical high schools and commercial high schools. In touch with these schools the business and technical men have formed advisory boards for consultation with the teaching and administrative forces of the school, both as to curriculum and as to the actual conduct of the training itself, and the teacher, on the other hand, has on occasion followed the child in his first entrance into work, at times guarding the child's
interests and himself getting concrete material for the subject matter of the schoolroom work. The commercial high schools in Boston and in Cleveland and the technical schools in a number of our cities are illustrations of institutions in which the occupational training already present in the school has not only been improved by this technical outside interest and cooperation, but in which the vocational training has become more educative and cultural than it was when it lacked this outer stimulus to efficiency.
The inference from this is that what we have lacked in the community's complaints against school training has been a larger and more fruitful contact between the school training and the social situation for which the child is trained.
No one will assume that such instances as these solve all the many problems of education which, old and rising in novel forms, face the teachers and administrators of our great public school systems. A very large number of our school children are not and can not be oriented toward such specific occupations that their training can be made frankly vocational, and we would be turning our backs upon the best educational traditions if we should separate those who graduate from the grades or the high schools into shops and offices from those who will continue their scholastic training or who have no specific vocations before them. A democratic education must hold together the boys and girls of the whole community; it must give them the common education that all should receive, so diversifying its work that the needs of each group may be met within the institution whose care and generous ideals shall permeate the specialized courses, while the more academic schooling may be vivified by the vocational motive that gives needed impulse to a study which may be otherwise unmeaning or even deadening.
Vocational training came into the American school system somewhat tardily, but it has at last passed the door. It is true that it still remains a question whether in the immediate future it will be frankly recognized as an integral part of our public school work under a single direction, or whether, under a separate direction, it is to be kept outside the organized system of public education.
However this question may be answered in the immediate future, I can not believe that eventually it will be possible to keep separate two sides of the training of children which in material and method supplement each other-as theory and practice, as material and interpretation, as technique and application.
There is a further powerful argument against the separation of vocational training from academic training in the public school, and that is that vocational training has made the contact with the community conditions under which this education is to be used and has thus brought itself into a normal situation within which it must be
checked and tested by its results. It is just this contact which our public-school training for life has hitherto lacked. In so far as vocational training and public schooling can become a part of the same educational process, just so far will the benefits of this close functional relation between the children's training and the life of the community pass over to all parts of the preparation of our children for life. I know of no answer that can be made to this argument exceept one which must maintain that vocational training may not be educational, and that the more academic subjects of the school curriculum have no organic place in the curriculum of vocational training-contentions which the best vocational training in this country and in Europe abundantly disproves.
It is to the other phase of this contact of the school with the community to which I wish to direct especial attention, the answering phase of vocational guidance. I hope, however, it has been sufficiently emphasized that vocational training and vocational guidance are normally linked together. Through these two doors the community gains admittance to the school.
Perhaps the most striking evidence that the community through vocational guidance is able to cooperate healthfully with the school and exercise a legitimate criticism in the process is found in the fact that the school more or less unwittingly has been itself a vocational guide, has been determining what occupations' many of the children who leave school shall enter, and the further fact that this unwitting guidance and direction, just because it has been largely unintentional, has been in no small degree unfortunate for the children. In so far as the school has fitted its pupils to enter one occupation rather than another, just so far it is guiding them to this vocation.
If the school had in the past as deliberately trained the children in the mechanical arts, had centered its study of history as diligently around the growth of industry, had studied the industries in the community as earnestly as it has trained them in the arts of the office and the counter, as it has organized its study of history about literature and politics, as it has studied the careers of its successful politicians, warriors, and literary men, it would unquestionably have been guiding them toward the mechanical occupations. But the school has uncritically accepted the general attitude of the community that each child should take advantage of the unequaled opportunities that America has offered of getting up in the world; and the uncritical assumption back of this attitude has been that the upward path lay away from the labor of the hands and led toward the labor of the wits, and that these were trained by the uses of language and mental arithmetic. Success has generally meant achievement in business, in politics, or in one of the professions; and the schools, apart from the
generalities found in its reading books or heard from its rostra concerning the nobility of labor and the beauties of the simple life, have unconsciously adjusted themselves to those callings in which lay the opportunities for the successful man. The training in these branches has not been extensive, but it used to be the boast of our American society that the grounding of the three R's gained in the common school was all that was needed for the energetic man; that he had much better get the rest of his vocational training in business or politics than in the school; while the professional man must gain his technique in professional training schools.
While the curricula of both the elementary and the secondary schools have been immensely enriched, especially in those subjects which are termed cultural, the trend of the training has continued to be toward business, politics, or further preparation for college or professional study. It has followed very naturally from this that the children find themselves directed toward office work, and that when training is offered in mechanical arts side by side with the technique of office work the training for the white-collar jobs is the more attractive. The schools growing up in the traditions of the American community have been guiding the children toward a certain type of vocation.
We have referred to positive guidance. There is a negative guidance, which is the more serious, because it arises from a lack of vocational training or direction. In the schools of the country at large between 40 and 50 per cent of the children in the elementary schools are eliminated before they have finished the grades—that is, before they have acquired a common-school education. It is the judgment of those who have studied these children that they are not able to retain even the meager acquirements of the lower grades. They are less capable readers and writers of English and less capable figurers in the years after they have left school than they were in the school itself. They constitute an inconsiderable fraction of those who attend the night schools. They have not that minimum of education which our common-school system, with the compulsory attendance regulations, contemplates. They are not fitted for any but the unskilled vocations; and our community, in leaving the schools with their predominantly academic curricula, their direction toward only one type of vocation and the inadequate laws governing school attendance is much more effectively guiding these unfortunate graduates of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades toward the unskilled. occupations than any system of vocational training could guide its graduates into the skilled trades.
It is impossible for the community to avoid the task of guidance. If it is not undertaken consciously and with adequate forethought,