Imagens das páginas

the schools, from the very nature of school training, its adaptation or lack of adaptation to the occupations of the community, its success or failure will determine in large degree what doors shall be open or closed to those who leave school. The aptitudes and ambitions gained in school and from the surrounding neighborhoods shape the children's possible careers.

This guidance must be incomplete even when the school system frankly recognizes its duty toward vocational training. It is through the door of the vocational guidance and training that the school enters into immediate concrete contact with the homes and neighborhoods from which the children come, as well as with the industries into which they enter, and the meaning for the school of this contact is not exhausted when it undertakes various types of training in the industrial and household arts. The destination of the particular child can not be left to his own immature judgment or whim; nor is the teacher alone a competent judge; nor can the decision be safely left to the parents alone-in whose hands it might seem to be most safely left.

The experience in vocational guidance in England and in this country is conclusive upon this point. The parent, the social worker who so frequently must help parents to interpret their social situation, the teacher, and some one who understands the labor market for children and the character of the occupations, especially what they have to offer the employees in the future, must get together if the best possible chance is to be offered the child. This is especially true if the child leaves school with but little training and faces a market for only unskilled labor. To find that opening which carries with it some training in skill, some future beyond the minimum wage, which avoids the blind alleys and the many pitfalls that child labor so abundantly provides, to find this opening for the immature child who goes out to work for the community under the least satisfactory conditions is surely the common duty of the school and of the community. And it is an individual task that has a new character with each child. It can not be undertaken or carried out in a wholesale manner. No child should leave school to go to work without the benefit of all the guidance which those who have reared and taught and are about to employ him can give. The meagerness of the training which we can give the majority of our children emphasizes this duty. It is further emphasized by the value for society of the human material with which we are dealing.

But in our interest in the particular child we must not overlook the immense value which such interest should have for the school itself. It is the process by which the institution of the school passes from its fixed dogmatic stage into that of a working institution that has come to consciousness and can test its methods and presupposi

tions by its results. For in this task of guiding the individual child into his occupation, the school faces its own accomplishment tested by the most important value which society possesses, its future citizen. The standpoint for the judgment of the school and all its works is inevitably given in the conscientious attempt to guide the particular child into the best occupation he can find in view of his training and background.

It is upon this phase of vocational guidance that I wish to insistits value for the school. Its importance for the individual child is too evident to need argument or rhetoric. The obligation of the community that employs the child; that too often exploits him; that turns him loose upon the streets at the age of 14 and refuses him any employment with a future until he is 16; that invests great sums in an education which half the time it does not carry to the point of adequate return either to the child or to the community-the obligation of this community to reach out its hand to the child and guide him to the most favorable opening is also evident enough; the only difficulty is to find the corporate bodies of the community upon whom this obligation can be fastened. To a very large extent this sense of responsibility has come home only to the social worker whose interest. in the child and his family has made his individual case real and pressing. Even the employer has come to realize in some cases the value of vocational guidance to the business that employs the child. The teachers who inevitably feel a genuine interest in their pupils will, if they are able, extend this interest to these most crucial moments in the child's career-when he seeks his first job. Beyond this human interest there is the import to the school of this first test of the child's training. The test, of course, is that of the whole educational process and it affords ground to criticize the age at which the child comes to school, the whole training given in the school, the age of leaving school, the forms of occupation these factors prescribe for the child, and the care of the child after he has left the schoolhouse up to the time of the completion of his training for his occupation.

It is not too much to say that our schools are still in one respect medieval. They assume more or less consciously that they are called upon to indoctrinate their pupils, and that the doctrine which they have to instill-whether it be that of language, number, history, literature, or elementary science-is guaranteed as subject matter for instruction by its own truth, by its traditional position in the school curriculum, and finally by its relation to the rest of the ideas, points of view, artistic products, historical monuments, which together make up what we call our culture. These tests of subject matter in instruction may be fairly called internal and do not carry the judgment of the pedagogue out of the schoolhouse. The subject matter is determined, then, in a real sense by authority, and it follows that

when the results of the training are disappointing, the pedagogue feels that he is secure within his institution and can calmly pass the charge of inefficient training on to other social agents and conditions. No one will question the legitimacy of these tests if they are recognized as organic parts of the larger test of the working of the child's school training when brought up against its use in practice.

The medieval character of the school is shown in the separation of the institution, which has the doctrines of education intrusted to it, from the other training processes in which the intellectual content is at a minimum and the practical facility is at a maximum. In the real sense the doctrine which the school inculcates should be continually tried out in the social experience of the child-there should be a play back and forth between formal training and the child's actual conduct. Until this is brought about the school will continue to be in some degree medieval and scholastic; but every fresh contact with the situation of the child who has been imbibing the doctrine and now must make use of his training in his social world outside is of immense value in enabling us to bring the child's training as a whole a little nearer the normal education of the citizen to be. No small part of this criticism must fall upon industries which are willing to exploit children, in some sense enticed from the school by the promise of a paltry wage, and upon the inadequate training regulations of the governments of our school districts.

After all, the school is the self-conscious expression of the community in child training; it is the rational, intentional institution; and however essential the activity of outside agencies are in direction and training of children, the school should be the central and organizing agency. It can, however, become such a central and organizing agency only as it abandons its medieval position of giving a body of doctrines and techniques which find their justification in themselves rather than in their value in conduct, at home, in the neighborhood, and in the vocations.

Such a testing of the doctrine and technique of school training is not to be taken in any narrow sense. In the first place, it is the final good of the child rather than his immediate wage that must be considered; in the second place, we all realize that many of the values that accrue to the child from the school training are intangible and can be stated with difficulty, if at all, in terms of his success in a trade or an office. What I am pleading for is the recognition that it is in relation to his vocation that all the child has acquired should be regarded, even if some of the acquirements are intangible and can not be weighed in the coarser scales of wage and advancement. In a word, it must be through the child's vocation that he can get to the positions in which these very intangible results of schooling will have

their season of flowering and fruiting. Unless a child can get into life he can not have it, no matter how well he may be prepared to appreciate much that is fine therein. The school may not concentrate its efforts upon values to be realized later unless it sees doors open through which the child can reach the uplands of life. It is the whole life of the child that the school must envisage, but it must conceive of it as growing out of the child's first beginnings in the world after he leaves school. Unless the school helps the child effectively into the larger fields, it is in vain that it has given him their chart.

Now it is at least consonant with the traditions of American schooling to assume that culture and training form a whole, and that the higher values grow out of the immediate necessities; to assume that in the immediate experience of the child there are found the opportunities for development of what the school has to inculcate. It is not only possible, but pedagogically correct, to give a child the history of his country from the standpoint of the industries into which he must enter; to follow the line of the child's vocational interest in organizing his course of study, with the full recognition that such a vocation has its essential relations to all that the child has to learn. Even from the point of view of the subject matter of the curriculum, the school can profit by making its standpoint vocational guidance, the guidance of the child becoming the guiding principle of the curriculum. The illustration has been taken largely from the case of the children who go direct from an incomplete elementary schooling into the shop, factory, or office; but it must be remembered that the same principle holds, whatsoever the vocation of the child may be, and it is even true that the child may well profit in his elementary and perhaps secondary, training if he looks toward some vocation whose outline he can discern better than the profession which he may later follow. Trade training when adequately given is sound education even for those who will not be tradesmen.

But it is the still broader outlook that I would insist upon for the school. Not only should the school conceive of its subject matter and method from the standpoint of the success and failure of the children when they leave school; it should be humanized and socialized more completely by keeping the human fortunes of its children perpetually before it, and by continually questioning its own material and method when its graduates stumble and fall before the obstacles that confront them when they leave the schoolhouse. It should be so organically related to the other agencies that regard the success and failure of children-the home, the social workers, the employment agencies, the employers and their various plants, the higher schools into which some of its pupils will pass, and the whole

community into which as citizens it will send its students-that the contacts which vocational guidance brings with it will be largely sought and intelligently used for purposes of criticism and interpretation.

To sum up, vocational guidance means testing the whole training given the child, both within and without the school. It is the point of contact with the outer world from which to criticize both this training and the occupations into which society admits the children whom it has partly educated. The healthful relation of the school to the community, and especially to the other agencies that train our children, depends upon the school making the standpoint of vocational guidance a dominant one in its whole organization.

In accepting this standpoint the school will abandon the medieval position and will come into full human relationship with homes, neighborhoods, occupations, and all the agencies that are bound up with the development of the rising generation. In accepting the challenge of formulating the education of the child on terms of the uses to which he will put it, the school should abandon nothing of the higher values of which it conceives itself to be the carrier, but should recognize its task to be the statement of these values in terms of the child's own experience.

In vocational guidance the school finds its supreme task as the conscious educational institution of a democracy.

In endeavoring to formulate the larger meaning of vocational guidance for the school, I seem to have gone away from the immediate concrete and often meager undertaking of the vocational guidance with which we are familiar, but acquaintance with intensive studies of the schooling and occupations of children in a povertystricken industrial section of Chicago has convinced me that the task of following up the boys and girls who, with incomplete schooling, search after wretched jobs, brings out with terrible force the necessity of regarding and judging our whole process of child training from the standpoint of the vocations into which we are unconsciously driving them. The children are worth so much more than the occupations to which we dedicate very many of them, and, after all, the school is the one institution which can express this value of the children in terms of the preparation it gives them for life; hence it can speak with authority to society as to the occupations into which the children may enter. It is at this meeting point of training and occupation that the school can criticize its own achievements and at the same time the life into which the children are to enter. It seems to me of supreme importance both to the children's training and to their vocations that both should be formulated in terms of vocational guidance.

« AnteriorContinuar »