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With the help of the employers, short "try-out" courses are being organized in many lines of work. When a pupil finds himself or herself in one of these "try-out" courses, this course extended becomes a preparatory vocational course. When the course is completed the shop instructor assumes the responsibility of placement.
One more point. I know one manufacturer who keeps only 10 per cent of the persons he tries out. Relieved of this "try-out" process, which is vocational analysis from the employer's point of view, that employer would be able to pay a much higher initial wage to the 10 per cent selected for him than he could pay to the 100 per cent whom he must try out. It is this higher initial wage that will hold pupils in school long enough for us to give them real vocational guidance.
B.-GUIDANCE BY SYSTEMATIC COURSES OF INSTRUCTION IN VOCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS.
F. M. GILES,
Principal of De Kalb Township High School, De Kalb, Ill.
What I shall describe is a practical experiment in vocational guidance that we have been carrying on in our town for a number of years. Ours is a town of about 10,000 people, a manufacturing center, with definite agricultural, commercial, and professional elements. Although the work was designed for this community, its elements are such that it might be adapted to towns of larger or smaller size.
We undertook this problem of guidance for the following reasons: We felt that we were sending students into the world with very little understanding of the vocations into which they were to go, and with very little idea of the meaning of the industrial world about them. We felt that guidance was a practical problem that demanded immediate action; that we could not wait till a perfect system for guidance was devised, but that we must do something at once.
In taking up our task we decided, first of all, that we ought to know our school from an occupational point of view. Accordingly, we took a survey to find how many different prospective occupations were represented among our students. Perhaps some figures of the results of the survey will be of interest. We found that about 30 per cent of our students had made no choice of an occupation. Here was a problem-to find material for these children which might help them to make an intelligent decision. Next, we discovered that about 23 per cent of all the students, or about 50 per cent of the girls, were going into teaching. Here was another definite
1 It should be remembered that Northern Illinois State Normal University is located in this town, which accounts for these figures.
group to be considered in any guidance work. Our next largest group was bookkeeping and stenography, with 10 per cent choosing these occupations. Next was agriculture, with 8 per cent; and then came engineering, toward which about 5 per cent of the boys were aiming. Then, in smaller groups, came the machine trades, music, and, finally, a number of scattering occupations.
We had gathered some definite facts which would be of help to us in planning our school work, but we had found also that we had a complicated problem if we were to prepare people definitely for the 24 different occupations represented in our survey.
The next problem was, Could we use our school as a laboratory to help different vocational courses? Could we organize it so that the curriculum would represent in a general way some of the great groups of industry, such as commercial work, trade work, agricultural work, professional work, and domestic arts? Would it not be advisable to let each of our vocational teachers become a specialist in the industrial conditions in his line in our community? For instance, would it not be worth while to ask our commercial man to become thoroughly familiar with commercial conditions in De Kalb; our manual training man, with trade conditions; our agricultural man, with farm conditions; the principal, with professional conditions?
With this idea in mind, we began to study our community, and we devised several blank forms for the purpose of making a survey. For instance, we had what we call our industrial blank, by means of which we made a sort of survey of the industrial conditions in the community. We asked the employer to tell us how many boys he employed; at what wages they were employed; what he paid his men. Then we asked some general questions, as, Are boys deficient in shop work, in mechanical drawing, in book work, or in character qualities?
On our commercial blank we asked the employers questions related to commercial lines, such as the wages paid in stores, the chance of advancement, whether boys were deficient in penmanship, spelling, arithmetic, business training.
To get at these facts in trade lines, we asked our manual-training teacher to go out into the community, from shop to shop and to get, as far as possible, answers to the questions indicated above; our commercial man was to do the same in the stores. We found very soon that we got better results by going to the shop foremen than we did. by going to the heads of the business.
We found, for instance, in the commercial investigation, that the things demanded were practically three. Nearly every employer asked that boys be trained thoroughly in penmanship, spelling, and arithmetic. Some employers asked for salesmanship as an additional training, and a few asked for certain character qualities, such as
trustworthiness and courtesy. A few employers were decidedly critical, and reported boys as lacking almost all desirable qualities.
As to the pay, we found that in general it was quite low; and I suppose this is true of the average small city. It varied in the commercial work from a beginning wage of $4 a week for girls to about $6 or $8 a week for girls with experience; and for boys, from $4 a week up for beginners, to $10 or $12 in some of the higher classes of salesmanship. In the trades we found the wages paid boys were from $5 a week up to 19 cents an hour.
Now, what did our investigation show as to the industrial training demanded by the average employer? We found, somewhat to our surprise, that the majority of the shops did not demand a very high training. In general, the foremen stated three things as requisites. They would like to have a boy able to run a drill press, to read a mechanical drawing, and to read a micrometer caliper. Several of the men stated that the boys lacked perseverance. They said that they put a boy on a drill press and that he would stay only about three months.
Finally, what general estimate can we make as to the value of this survey? The greatest value, undoubtedly, was that it gave us a definite knowledge of our town as an industrial community, of the pay offered in various lines, the requirements in the way of training, the opportunity to advance. We are in a position to talk facts when advising a student as to opportunities in De Kalb. It has shown us also that in the smaller towns there are few positions open to the boy, and that promotion is, in general, slow. We see why so many of our students seek the larger cities. Secondly, it has helped our instructors of vocational subjects by giving them an accurate knowledge of shop conditions and demands. This I consider very valuable. It has shown us also that there is not such a demand for skilled or technical training as we thought. We are faced with the problem whether, so to speak, we shall train the boys for unskilled jobs or whether we shall train them for positions out of town.
So much for our preliminary work. We had now, undoubtedly, a better understanding of our school and of our community. The problem was now to give to our students in some way more adequate knowledge of industrial life in De Kalb and of the industrial world as a whole. In carrying out this aspect of the work, the principal planned to meet the upper classes once a week in what we call our "general assembly period." During this time we would talk over with them industrial conditions as related to the choice of a vocation. We realized that a difficult problem confronted us, as we had a big industrial world, with some 9,000 different kinds of jobs in it. But we felt that these different jobs could be classified, and that in
a general way the individual could decide the direction in which he would like to go.
Our plan now is to meet a class of from 40 to 50 once a week for a period of a year or more and talk to them definitely upon industrial conditions. The purpose of these talks is to help the students to see the organization in the business world and to understand something of the industrial life about them with the idea that they may decide more intelligently upon the occupation in which they will make a living.
Their decision as to an occupation should rest, they are told, upon two things: First, knowledge of themselves and their abilities; second, knowledge of social conditions.
You can find out something in regard to your ability by your success in school in the various courses. About other conditions you probably have little owledge. You will find, for instance, that some occupations are tremendously overcrowded. Other occupations have disadvantages as to working conditions or working hours. These are facts that you ought to know before you choose an occupation. We can not talk to you about all the great occupations to be found in the business world, but we can classify the occupations into great groups, and by considering the qualifications required in these great groups you will be helped somewhat to make a decision on the choice of an occupation. These groups, which we shall discuss from week to week, are as follows: Mercantile, manufacturing, and mechanical; railroads; agriculture; banking; Government service; personal service; the home.
The outline as given above is used as a basis for several talks with the class. In this connection I use diagrams to show the relations of the occupations and figures from the census to show the number of people earning their living in the different occupations. The purpose of these discussions, as I sometimes tell the students, is to give them a bird's-eye view of industry. It is doing in a certain way what Franklin's father did when he took his boy to some of the industries in Boston in order that the boy might more intelligently make a choice of his life work.
After the introductory talks we discuss in detail the characteristics of these groups mentioned before. Let us take as an example of this work a brief discussion of the manufacturing and mechanical group. We consider it first from our De Kalb conditions in order to make it concrete. The manufacturing and mechanical industries in De Kalb are pointed out-certain iron and steel industries, such as gas-engine works, cream-separator works, wire mills, refrigerating-machine factories, foundries, and blacksmith shops; certain wood industries, such as wagon works and planing mills; certain building trades, such as carpentry, plumbing, gas fitting; and certain leather trades, such as the glove factory.
These industries are all grouped together because they deal with the manufacturing and handling of materials. There are, I think,
certain tests by which a boy may tell whether he has ability in this line. For instance, in the mechanical trades, mechanical skill is a fundamental requisite. A boy must have the necessary skill to handle materials deftly. Next, he must have a liking for machines and power. He must have some inventiveness in making things. He should have some skill in mechanical drawing and be willing to learn the trade which lies at the basis of the industry into which he is going. He should not be afraid of hard and dirty work. He should be willing to put on overalls and get his hands dirty if necessary. Finally, he should try, if possible, to get the technical-school training, which is the basis of his trade.
To make this work concrete I try to find as many illustrations from actual life as possible, clipping constantly from the magazines for current material and preserving it in a scrapbook.
After we have discussed the general conditions of this group we bring up the question as to how the individual is to know whether or not he has the necessary skill to succeed in mechanical lines. We tell him that our school courses are planned to help him to decide for himself.
For instance, if you think your ability lies in the direction of mechanical trades, take the work in the manual-training shop and try out some of the courses which are offered in woodwork, metal work, printing, gas-engine work. If you find that your interest is aroused and sustained, that you have skill to do good work in the school shop, you have some indication of your ability. You may, further, use your summer vacations to good purpose by getting a place in some of our shops and finding out whether you really like the work which is carried on in them.
It will be noticed that we do not decide for the individual. We throw the burden back upon the student. Our purpose is to furnish the individual with the material for a more intelligent decision, not to make the decision for him.
Another great division in occupations to which I call the attention of our students is that between business and the professions. I call their attention to the fact that about 29 people gain a living in business to 1 who gains a living in the professions. Hence high-school students who contemplate going into the professions must consider certain things-first, whether they can get the necessary training through four, six, or eight years. They must consider whether they have the capital to get this training and to go through the usual starvation period that comes to the young doctor, lawyer, or architect after he has finished his course. They must consider whether they are interested in social service, for I believe that the professions demand a certain amount of service. They must consider, also, whether they are of a studious disposition, for to-day in law, medicine, teaching, engineering, the individual must be a constant student to keep up