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E. THE CONTINUATION SCHOOLS OF CINCINNATI AS A MEANS OF VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE.
EDWARD D. ROBERTS,
Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Cincinnati, Ohio.
There is so little of mystery shrouding the origin of the Cincinnati continuation schools that one can readily affirm that the dominant motive in this origin was vocational guidance.
These schools are the outgrowth of an interesting combination of circumstances. First, Cincinnati shared with other cities the feeling of regret and responsibility that so many children had each year been leaving school to go to work as soon as the law allowed, that is, when just 14 and upon completing the fifth grade. There is reason to believe, too, that for a large number of pupils, "having completed the fifth grade," as specified by law, is not much more than a phrase without significance.
Second, the success of the work done in the Cincinnati Continuation School for Apprentices was of great influence in the organization of the compulsory continuation classes. The school for apprentices was organized in 1909, at which time it included classes for apprentices in machine shops and in pattern and drafting trades. Two years later classes were formed for apprentices in the 11 trades classed as the allied printing trades. This school is attended by boys who range in age from 16 to 21. They are in school one 4-hour session each week. This school attendance is paid for by the employers at the regular shop rate, and the boys are docked for absence or tardiness. The course of study is entirely academic and cultural. There are no machines in the school, all the direct practical experience being secured by the boy while in regular employment in his own shop.
The teachers in this school are both expert craftsmen and expert teachers. With these qualifications they retain the respect of the boys, to whom they become a very real inspiration, and they command the approval and support of the labor organizations and the employers. Their work is supplemented by the voluntary service of owners, superintendents, and foremen of the shops, and of representatives of labor organizations, who give instruction from time to time and assist in keeping the school and the shop in close connection.
Third, the Women Teachers' Association of Cincinnati has given serious consideration to the problem of girls who leave school to go to work. During the Christmas holidays in 1909 this organization devoted a meeting to the discussion of how to reach girls who were forced by need to leave school for work. At that meeting a committee was appointed to consider the whole matter, to make an investigation of conditions, and to suggest methods by which conditions might be bettered. This committee was called the continuationschool committee. At least half a dozen meetings were held by the
committee in 1910, at which were considered as many phases of the problem as it was possible to study by reading, by inquiry, and by actual observation. The members of the committee became convinced that there should be established a school to which the young women at work could come for at least one-half day a week, and they so recommended to the superintendent of schools.
As a result of these various movements, Supt. F. B. Dyer and the board of education began, in the spring of 1910, a movement to secure legislation upon the subject. In May, 1910, largely as a result of the work of Mr. Dyer and his board, the legislature passed the following law:
In case the board of education of any school district establishes part-time day schools for the instruction of youth over 14 years of age who are engaged in regular employment, such board of education is authorized to require all youth who have not satisfactorily completed the eighth grade of the elementary schools to continue their schooling until they are 16 years of age: Provided, however, That such youth, if they have been granted age and schooling certificates and are regularly employed, shall be required to attend school not to exceed 8 hours a week, between the hours of 8 a. m. and 5 p. m., during the school term. (Sec. 7767, Rev. Stat., Ohio.)
In January, 1911, the board of education adopted a resolution to establish part-time day schools in accordance with the law. These schools were to be opened the following September, when attendance would be compulsory for those subject to the provisions of the law. Employers were so notified and preparations were begun by the school authorities for organizing the work.
In February, 1911, a very competent elementary teacher, who was recommended by the committee of the Women Teachers' Association already referred to, was appointed supervisor of the continuation schools. Her first work was to visit all the department stores, in order to explain the work and to secure the cooperation of the employers. The response of the business men was unanimously sympathetic, and it was decided to open immediately a school of salesmanship.
In May, 1911, this continuation school of salesmanship was opened, under the direction of the supervisor and in immediate charge of a second very capable elementary teacher. This teacher had previously been granted a three months' leave of absence in order to attend the school of salesmanship connected with the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, Boston, Mass. To this initial effort in the field of continuation schools for girls, 25 firms sent their employees, usually young women over 16, one-half day a week. They attended without loss of pay and received instruction in English, civics, the art of salesmanship, store arithmetic and accounting, textiles and fabrics (objectively illustrated), applied art and decoration, personal hygiene, life ideals, and home economics. The school enrolled over
200 students (firms sending from 2 to 20 girls) and continued for three months, until the exigencies of the store vacation period made it necessary to close the school. The following September the attendance decreased because of the great burden put upon the store authorities by the organization of the compulsory continuation classes.
It can readily be seen that this school of salesmanship was entirely vocational in its intent, though its effect in the direction of guidance was rather secondary. Nevertheless, the good results for the employers, evidenced by the repeated expression of approval from them and by the fact that one firm arranged with the superintendent of schools for the exclusive services of the salesmanship teacher for some months, were not greater than the thoroughly stimulating and beneficial results upon the pupils.
The spirit of this school of salesmanship has proved to be the spirit of all the continuation-school work. Compulsory classes for those between 14 and 16 who were regularly employed, having the required age and schooling certificate, were organized in September, 1911. The teaching staff consisted of four persons, who gave their full time to this work, and of a large number of principals and teachers from the regular elementary and high schools. The pupils had left school presumably only after the completion of the fifth grade; but the evident lack of preparation for work which ought to be given such pupils made it doubtful whether many of them had completed the required grade in any very real sense.
At the beginning the work was based upon the regular elementary course. It soon became possible, however, to modify this course, partly by adapting the old material to a new method of treatment and partly by utilizing new material. The course was organized in detail at weekly conferences of teachers held throughout the first year of this work.
English and arithmetic form the backbone of the course, which includes also civics, hygiene, geography, physics, handicraft, art, and salesmanship. Daily drills are given in spelling, correct English, and rapid calculation. English includes reading, spelling, and correct usage, the aim being to connect these subjects with the daily life and work of the child. The work is made intensely practical, so that the spelling lessons will be words suggested by the child's occupation of the day. It is hoped, however, that the reading period will afford an opportunity to bring into the child's life a bit of the ideal, the cultural, which he might otherwise lack.
Arithmetic includes much practice in the fundamental operations, as well as work in fractions, percentage, business forms, pay rolls, the keeping of accounts, and simple bookkeeping.
Civics and hygiene, including moral instruction and personal guidance in conduct, is given more serious consideration than any
other part of the work. It not only has its place on the week's program, but it is brought in incidentally whenever possible.
Geography is studied largely from the commercial point of view, and is brought into close relation to present-day conditions in the child's own city and country. Much use is made of the stereopticon in connection with the geography work, as well as in the study of civics.
Physics has been given with a desire to broaden the child's outlook on life. The work is given by a regular high-school physics teacher, and consists of simple experiments, which illustrate some of the more common experiences of everyday life.
The handicraft or industrial work receives one-third of the pupil's time and, for the eighth-grade boys and girls, may occupy the entire four hours. Many of the boys who thus spend their full time in the shop taking a special line of work have completed the eighth grade and are attending continuation classes voluntarily. The girls who devote their whole time to industrial work are those who are preparing themselves for trade work in millinery or dressmaking.
It is this field of industrial work which offers the largest opportunity for vocational guidance. Not only is instruction closely related to the field of the child's present activity, but opportunity is offered for the child to receive preparation for the field of his preference. It is a common experience to have a child who is working at a blind-alley job elect at school the subject which will fit him or her for a job with a future. Many of the "vocational hoboes" have manifested a very strong desire to cease being such and to settle down with thought for the future.
In dealing with such pupils, the continuation-school teacher has a unique opportunity, for the teacher here deals with a child who has left the regular school and has gone into daily occupation in the business world. The boy or girl attends the school, it is admitted, through compulsion, but nevertheless with the always present consciousness of the job and its significance. To discuss with such children the opportunities of the curriculum and to allow the choice. of subjects of instruction which have meaning in the world of jobs and wages, is the special advantage here.
The range of the school's activity in the industrial and commercial lines is therefore made clear to the child. Boys are allowed to elect shopwork in wood and iron, with classes in cabinetwork, woodturning, forging, and electrical work. Art of the applied type, as well as mechanical drawing and lettering, open to the boys an attractive and desirable field. Girls may choose work in either sewing or cooking, as well as in novelty making and in millinery. Classes are conducted in salesmanship by an expert instructor.
In all the industrial work the effort is made to group, as far as possible, the children who work in one line of industry. This makes it possible to give the classes special instruction relating to that industry. However, the work is not always immediately related to the child's regular occupation-partly from a desire to counteract the results of purely automatic work and partly in order to give the child an insight into other lines of industry than those with which he is familiar.
The art course for boys is planned to give the development and skill which will secure him promotion in his field. Thus, the boy engaged in jewelry making is given problems in the designing of jewelry, and one employed in process engraving is given work in line and wash rendering. Mechanical drawing is taught to those who need it in their daily work. A study of simple lettering is made, as well as of the principles of proportion and of good and poor arrangement in signs and advertisements.
Girls who elect sewing or cooking spend half the time in this special field. The work is very practical in character. In sewing, the girls are taught garment making by machine, as soon as they have mastered the simplest principles of sewing. In cooking, emphasis is placed upon practical work and correct methods, the combination of suitable dishes for simple meals being the teacher's aim.
Novelty making is taught in some classes, the pupils being given instruction in sample mounting, making of novelties, covering and lining of boxes and cases, accurate measurements, and the solution of problems pertaining to the economical use of materials. Trade orders are solicited by the teacher, and the articles are made in class, with a view to emphasizing the trade side or money value of time, skill, and materials. The art work in color and design correlates with the work of the novelty-trade teacher. In a similar manner girls in the sewing and millinery classes have one period each week in drawing. This art work This art work is closely connected with sewing and
Instruction in salesmanship is given to girls from the retail stores. The course consists of practical lessons in business arithmetic, including sales-slip practice and cash accounts; textiles, including cotton, flax, silk, and wool from raw material to finished product; color and design, including color combinations as to counter and dress; and salesmanship, including care of stock, approach, analysis of sale, closing sale, courtesy, demonstration sale. This work is plainly of great vocational value.
Thus, I have attempted to indicate the directions in which the Cincinnati compulsory continuation schools have developed and have seemed to be of vocational significance. To bring the story up to