« AnteriorContinuar »
who are best at the handwork are likely not to succeed at the machines. They believe that there is a natural difference between those who are most likely to succeed at handwork and those who are most likely to succeed at machine work.
Among the occupations for men in a shoe factory, one of the most skilled is that of a shoe cutter. The shoe cutter has the problem of taking a piece of leather and getting from it as many of the various parts for the shoe as he can. If there are any flaws, they must be placed in such a way that they will miss the cutting or be put in some part of the shoe where they will not spoil its appearance. The work must be done quickly and rapidly. If you ask the foremen or the employers what qualities are required for a shoe cutter, they all make the same answer: "Oh, that takes judgment!" This is not a very definite or specific answer, but it is characteristic. There are very few employers who are able to analyze their own jobs.
We realize in this country more and more that if vocational guidance is to be made effective, it must be through the schools. The great need is for more money for the public schools, and for three distinct purposes. In the first place we need more teachers and smaller classes even for the kind of work we are now giving. In the second place we need a far greater variety of instruction and the equipment that goes with it. In the third place we need departments of research both for economic information and for psychological information, which ought to be parts of the public-school systems.
III. VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE WITHIN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL
A.—GUIDANCE BY MEANS OF A SYSTEM OF
ALFRED P. FLETCHER,
Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Rochester, N. Y.
I shall attempt to answer four questions, hypothetical but definite. First Is vocational guidance needed; and, if so, of what kind? Second: How can that vocational guidance be given? Third: Can it be given by means of differentiated courses of study? Fourth: How should such courses be organized?
The first question needs no answer; we all admit that vocational guidance is greatly needed. I should like, however, to cite two instances that prove it.
Last year the records of 4,708 boys and girls of Rochester were collected. A majority of these youths left school at the age of 14, from the seventh and eighth grades.. They had been at work or out of work for periods of from one day to four years. The boy of twoyears' working experience had averaged six jobs under six different employers. Since they left school over 80 per cent of the 4,700 children had done nothing that led up to the life work in which they were most interested. They surely needed vocational placement.
Three years ago, in the city of Bridgeport, I had occasion to advertise for an elevator boy. Thirty applied. Some of them had been out of work for months. All were mighty anxious to get that job, and at almost any wage. I sat at a table in the center of the schoolroom, with my hat off. The 30 boys came, one at a time, sat down at the table, and gave their experience and qualifications for the position. As the first half dozen were examined I noticed that no one of them took his hat off; so I resolved to give the position to the first boy who removed his hat as he sat and talked with me. No one of the 30 got the job. These boys all needed vocational guidance in applying for positions.
Vocational guidance is the selection of, the preparation for, and the placement in a life work. It should begin when the boy or girl first
begins to think about going to work and should continue until the boy or girl is securely placed in the chosen vocation. Let us think for a moment about vocational analysis and vocational selection. We are looking forward to the day when the psychologists will tell us how to analyze the boy so that we may know exactly what kind of work he is fitted for. I suppose, however, we must wait until the psychologists have themselves found out how to make these analyses. But even if we were able to say to a boy, From a diagnosis of your case I have discovered that the thing you are best fitted for is the trade of patternmaking," it is certain that the average boy would say: "Go to, now, I am going to be something else. Right now I am going to take a job as messenger boy until I can get a chance in the thing I want."
We have heard a great deal in the last few years about fitting square pegs into round holes. Some of us have discovered that it is not an easy task to fit square pegs into square holes when the square pegs are self-willed American boys who do not wish to go into square holes. In the Old World about all that is necessary is to fit the boy to follow his father's trade, but here boys follow their mates and their whims. In one vocational school in Rochester, all of the boys who entered from Seward School, No. 19, wished to take up carpentry because one boy who was a leader came from that school and took up carpentry. From another, Andrews School, No. 9, every boy wished to be a plumber, and in a short time the school had more plumbers on hand than could be properly placed in good positions. Vocational selection was a game of "follow the leader." We must find some way to give the boy experience and interest in the vocation for which he is fitted.
I have been trying to imagine what a man would do if he were a director in a number of large industries and had a favorite nephew who looked to him for guidance. Mr. Director is to give vocational counsel to his nephew William. What shall he do?
Plan No. 1: Talk the matter over with William, select some one industry in which the opportunities seem to be good, go to the superintendent of that plant and say: "I wish you would try William for three months. At the end of that time, you, William, and I will decide whether or not he ought to remain and take up this business as a life work." Mr. Director goes to Europe and William goes to work. At the end of three months (assuming that William has stuck it out that long), Mr. Director talks with the superintendent and with William, and if the lad has made good and likes the work, the chances are that he will remain. If he had made a failure he is tried out in something else until he finally sticks. That is the method of trial and error, with emphasis on the error.
Plan No. 2. Mr. Director says:
William, I will secure for you a place in six or eight of the businesses in which I am interested. You may remain three months in each. At the end of two years I will get a report from all the foremen and superintendents for whom you have worked. You may decide which kind of work you like best. If the reports of your employers and your own inclination coincide I will try to place you in the kind of work selected.
Plan No. 2 has some decided advantages over plan No. 1. In the first place, in that William's chance to find himself does not come through his failure in a preceding job. The loss of self-confidence in repeated failure is too great a price to pay for vocational guidance. Again, in the second plan the boy has a background of experience on which to make an intelligent choice. Again and again teachers have heard boys say, as they began a new line of work, or as they completed a term's work, "I would like to do that kind of work all my life." But only as a boy looks back over a variety of experiences and compares them is he able to judge intelligently.
Now, every William has not an influential uncle who is a director in a dozen corporations; so we are selecting vocational counselors to assume that rôle. So far their reward comes in their high-sounding title and in the satisfaction of performing a needed work.
But vocational counselors must do more than counsel. Guidance and advice are not synonymous terms. Advice, even vocational advice, has some decided limitations. If advice does not coincide with the boy's preconceived ideas, it isn't heeded. If it does coincide, it isn't needed. Its value is doubtful in either case.
The next question is:
Can not the general industrial school, or the prevocational school, or the intermediate industrial school—whatever it may be called-give this vocational guidance? Can it not help the boy to select his life work? Can it not prepare him for his life work or, at least, begin the preparation? In other words, can not these schools do effectively the work outlined in Mr. Director's second plan? Can not this type of school select the fundamental elements of some of the most important industries, organize these into courses, and "try the boy out"?
I imagine that you are already formulating the question, What industries should be represented in such a course of study? That question is best answered by a survey of the vocational opportunities of a locality, and such a survey need not be exhaustive and expensive to be valuable. One survey, lasting three months and costing only $300, gave material for the beginning of a good course in vocational preparation. Mr. Prosser has mentioned three essentials in a general industrial course for boys: Wood, metal, and power. A girls' school of this type would include the elements of home making as well as the elements of the common industries. I know of one course for boys which includes the elements of carpentry, cabinetmaking,
furniture making, pattern making, molding, casting and machine work, sheet-metal work, plating, printing, electrical wiring, motor maintenance and repair, salesmanship, and office practice.
May I anticipate your next two questions? Where can be found a jack-of-all-trades to teach such a course? Of what value is a course taught by a jack-of-all-trades, anyhow? The best answer to these questions has been given by Mr. McNary, of Springfield, Mass. Mr. McNary has tried out the plan of bringing in a journeyman from each trade to teach the elements of his craft. The plan has also been experimented with in other places. So far the results seem to show that both the regular shop instructor and the pupils profit greatly by this plan. The instructor and the journeyman working together can organize the subject matter so that it is brought down to the level of the pupil's comprehension. The pupils are greatly interested in the "practical" touch given by the work-a-day mechanic.
In one school the pupils have formed a corporation for the manufacture of all sorts of articles, and, although the pupils are not conscious of it, they are being "tried out " as they do the various kinds of work. After the costs of the materials have been deducted, the value of the labor and the profit are distributed as dividends-o -one half going to the school for the purchase of new equipment and the other half to the members of the corporation. The stock is purchased by salary checks paid to the pupils for work done. The possibilities for instruction of many kinds by such a plan are evident. I remember one boy who came to a trade school resolved to be a plumber. He could never have become a good plumber in a hundred years. Yet that boy after school could sell more copies of certain popular journals than any boy I ever saw. If a visitor came to the school, he would waylay him on the way out and sell him a copy. His instructors had to be watchful to avoid buying two copies of each issue. That boy was a born salesman, and the "corporation" plan of organization would have afforded him training in the line of his greatest ability. A classroom teacher whom I know has a typewriter and a mimeograph in his room and each year certain pupils naturally gravitate toward those machines. These pupils usually "find themselves" in the commercial high school.
A plan that is about to be tried out in an eastern city summarizes the points I have attempted to make. A survey of the youth of the city between the ages of 14 and 18 has been made, so that it is definitely known where pupils go when they leave school. A survey of the industries has been made so that it is known, first, what preparation is needed for each line of work in each industry; second, what kind of continuation or part-time instruction is needed to secure promotion in each line of work.