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The organization of the National Vocational Guidance Association was completed during a series of meetings held in 1913 at Grand Rapids, Mich., October 21-24, inclusive. This was the third national conference on vocational guidance, previous meetings having been held at Boston in 1910 and New York City in 1912. At the latter meeting the conference authorized the selection of a committee to arrange for a convention in 1913 and to present plans for a permanent organization should such a procedure seem advisable after due consideration of the opportunities for service presented by present-day conditions.
In accordance with this authorization, the National Vocational Guidance Association was duly organized at Grand Rapids by the acceptance of the report of the organization committee, the adoption of a constitution, and the election of officers.
This bulletin contains the formal papers presented at the conference.
In addition to these papers, mention should be made of a Round Table Question Box "2 and of a remarkable session devoted to a series of demonstrations of the Grand Rapids plan of vocational guidance conducted in the Central High School and the Junior High School in Grand Rapids, the demonstrations being carried out largely by the pupils themselves. The questions presented and discussed at the round table showed more clearly than did the deliberations of any other session the need for such an organization as the National Vocational Guidance Association.
Perhaps the formation of a new society such as this, when societies are multiplying so rapidly, demands a word of explanation, if not of defense.
The new association was organized only when a careful study of the situation had disclosed the fact that no existing organization was in a position to do the work to which the association proposes to address itself; a work, furthermore, which should be undertaken immediately. There is no doubt that a widespread demand exists
1 By Prof. Frank M. Leavitt, University of Chicago.
* See Appendix B, p. 91.
for a more rational and humane guidance of the youth of the land toward and in vocational life, yet even a superficial study of the movement reveals the fact that divergent, if not conflicting, opinions are held as to the duties of public-school authorities to give advice to their pupils, or to exercise vocational supervision over the children who become wage earners at an early age. It is also clear that, as the result of several excellent but nevertheless partial investigations, a mass of information has been collected which must be more carefully collated before wholly trustworthy conclusions can be drawn. Particularly important is the fact that the demand for guidance seems to come from three rather distinct sources. There is the economic demand, made in recognition of the fact that our industrial system needs a better or more efficiently chosen body of employees. This is closely allied to the phase of scientific management which shows the need of more scientific methods of selecting workmen.
Then there is the educational demand that our schools enlarge their functions to include not only preparation for vocational life, but also a specific plan of vocational guidance, even to the extent of finding employment for children about to leave school, especially for those who must do so at an early age to become wage earners. But it is not alone for the future industrial workers that teachers are demanding vocational guidance. Recently there has been a severe self-examination by the schools, and educators are coming to feel that even in the high schools and colleges courses of study are too often adopted at the dictation of tradition and too seldom with a clearly defined purpose. It is therefore quite as truly for the benefit of those more advanced students whose education is frequently misdirected, inappropriate, and unapplied, that the schools propose to exercise some form of vocational guidance.
Finally, there is the social demand for the guidance of youth, particularly those destined for early employment, for the very preservation of society itself. Such a demand recognizes the difference between the finding of employees for positions and the finding of suitable employment for would-be workers. It recognizes the need of important modifications in school methods and organization, and also the necessity for larger measure of social control of the conditions. of labor in child-employing industries.
It was in recognition of the threefold nature of this demand, economic, educational, and social, that the organization of the new association was recommended. It was felt that it could help materially in coordinating the results, if not the efforts, of chambers of commerce and employers' associations, of educational systems, and of charitable or philanthropic societies in the important project of securing more adequate vocational guidance and supervision of the youth of the land.