« AnteriorContinuar »
The possibility of securing the same results through subcommittees of the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education and of the committee on vocational education of the National Education Association was thoroughly discussed. It is believed, however, that more immediate and certain progress can be made by a relatively large association of individuals interested especially in the problems of vocational guidance than by small committees of organizations as strong even as the two societies named. Conferences with representatives of these societies revealed the fact that both had as many specific problems under consideration as could well be studied for some years to come. The National Vocational Guidance Association hopes to cooperate with these and with other strong organizations. It is planning to meet in 1914 with the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, as it did in 1913, and it is assured of a continuation of the helpful services which that society rendered the new association at its organization meeting.
With a clear definition of its field of effort the National Vocational Guidance Association enters upon its work and invites the membership of all who can help it or be helped by it. In the words of the constitution:
The objects of this association shall be to promote intercourse between those who are interested in vocational dance; to give a stronger and more general impulse and more systematic direction to the study and practice of vocational guidance; to establish a center or centers for the distribution of information concerning the study and practice of vocational guidance; and to cooperate with the public schools and other agencies in the furtherance of these objects.
The organization committee was as follows: Chairman, Frank M. Leavitt, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.; secretary, M. Edith Campbell, director Schmidlapp Bureau, Cincinnati, Ohio; treasurer, James S. Hiatt, secretary public education association, Philadelphia, Pa.; Meyer Bloomfield, director vocation bureau, Boston, Mass.; Alice P. Barrows, director vocational educational survey, New York, N. Y.
The officers elected at Grand Rapids for the year 1914 are: President, Frank M. Leavitt, Chicago, Ill.; vice president, Alice P. Barrows, New York, N. Y.; secretary, Jesse B. Davis, Grand Rapids, Mich.; treasurer, James S. Hiatt, Philadelphia, Pa. Executive council: Meyer Bloomfield, Boston, Mass.; M. Edith Campbell, Cincinnati, Ohio; George Platt Knox, St. Louis, Mo.; O. W. Burroughs, Pittsburgh, Pa.; E. M. Robinson, New York, N. Y.
I. THE LARGER SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, AND EDUCATIONAL BEARINGS OF VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE.
A. VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE AND CHILD LABOR.
OWEN R. LOVEJOY,
General Secretary, National Child-Labor Committee, New York.
The present awakening toward practical education has been stimulated from the industrial rather than from the educational side. This fact is both promising and disquieting.
In so far as society is coming to realize that the whole problem of feeding, clothing, and housing the race is a problem of social interest, we may welcome every tendency to make labor significant and purposeful. We have too long divided labor into mental and manual, assuming that although both were necessary to society, they were not both necessary to the same individual. The result has been to exalt those forms of work in which mental activities were most necessary-which demand initiative, originality, creative and organizing genius-and to leave to the less fortunate members of society the physical forms of work called "manual" labor. The effect of such a division is fatal to the progress of those who engage in the manual forms and fatal to the society of which they are a part. It has served for centuries to keep a large percentage of people just above the plane of bare subsistence in reward for the hardest kind of labor.
Furthermore, much of such work has been poorly done. With no incentive to higher positions; with no release from a long daily grind upon forms of work that are crude and monotonous; with quantity rather than quality the measure of usefulness; with a decreasing wage accompanying advancing age; it is not strange that the industrial life of thousands of workers is barren of inspiration or hope. Nor is it surprising that the products of such labor have been the least satisfactory of any, whether viewed from the standpoint of the employer or from the wider considerations of social wealth.
Over 60 years ago Lord Macaulay declared on the floor of the British Parliament in reference to the employment of children:
Intense labor, beginning too early in life, continued too long every day, stunting the growth of the mind, leaving no time for healthful exercise, no time for intellectual culture, must impair all those high qualities that have made our country great. Your overworked boys will become a feeble and ignoble race of men, the parents of a more feeble progeny; nor will it be long before the deterioration of the laborer will injuriously affect those very interests to which his physical and moral interests have been sacrificed. If ever we are forced to yield the foremost place among commercial nations, we shall yield it to some people preeminently vigorous in body and in mind.
We have in this country already begun to reap the harvest of consigning a certain part of our family to tasks of meaningless, manual drudgery, and naturally enough we do not like the harvest. Let us not be misled by the fact that the prophecy in Lord Macaulay's indictment has not come true. We are gratified that we are not " forced to yield the foremost place among commercial nations." This is not, however, because of our intelligent organization of labor. It is simply because there is no such other race as Macaulay described-" some people preeminently vigorous in body and in mind."
That many other nations have apparently resigned themselves to the fate of such commercial prosperity as they may grind out of their underpaid and overworked children has been amply demonstrated in the international response to the recent proposal in the United States tariff bill to exclude the products of child labor from our ports. The National Child Labor Committee proposed this amendment to the tariff bill, not with any expectation of its enactment, but for the double purpose of calling the attention of our sister nations to the awakening conscience of American citizens against exploitation of young children for the convenience of the purchasing public and with the further object of forcing into the spotlight of universal condemnation those few of our Commonwealths that still persist in exploiting the labor of children of 12 or 10 or even less years. Both purposes have been achieved. The European press has called us hypocrites for proposing an international 14-year age limit while certain of our own States permit children to work at 12; and both the European and the Asiatic press have resented the proposed action of the United States as a menace to their commercial intercourse with us.
The matter is mentioned here because it throws into definite perspective the generally accepted policy of forcing, or at least permitting, a certain portion of every community to become the so-called "unskilled workers," glad to take any kind of job for any kind of wage. In the past our own people have been inclined to uphold such a system because they thought there was economy in low wages; but we are awakening to learn that the system is one of extravagance
instead of economy, and naturally our captains of industry, our leaders in manufacturing enterprises, are among the first to see the error and are clamoring for efficient workers.
It is a commonplace to hear that positions requiring brains can not be filled; that important departments of large manufacturing and commercial enterprises suffer because there are none among the workers who can advance to positions of responsibility requiring initiative and mental resourcefulness. Therefore business is calling on the schools to turn out a better product and to supply the demands of our enterprising industrial age.
The employers have a very definite program. They know what they want and are going after it. Let us not delude ourselves by thinking they are actuated by philanthropy. It is simply good business. They want a crop of fresh, young labor furnished them every year that can make fewer mistakes and more profits.
This is extremely gratifying, if educators will have the courage to take the helm. It indicates that economic self-interest is attempting to shake off the double burden society has long borne the burden of using goods worth much less than they cost because poorly and inefficiently made, and of supporting by charity those paid less than their work is worth because of their poverty, inefficiency, and consequent helplessness. But while employers are awake to the need of efficiency, industry is not. Industry still beckons to the inefficient, the immature, the unprepared. Low wages and casual employment are open switches that lie ahead on the track of the child laborer of today. Society is very far from having reached a decision that unskilled labor must be abolished. The occupations which, outside of agriculture, absorb the output of our schools are barren of any element to make them of present interest to the child or to offer any hope for the future. The report of the Massachusetts commission made this clear a few years ago. A recent investigation by the
Federal Bureau of Labor shows that of a certain number of children under 16 years who left school to work 90 per cent entered industries in which the wages of adults were $10 a week or less. A vocational survey in New York City soon to be published exhibits in one group 101 boys between 14 and 16 years of age and an analysis of the work they are doing. For only five of them is there any opportunity to advance or improve; 96 are in dead-end occupations.
Business is now saying that if we had the right kind of schools all this would be changed; that child labor would become a blessing instead of an abuse for children. We are constantly told that, if the schools had the right kind of curriculum and gave the right kind of training, every child would have his natural capacity developed, and we should speedily put an end to the army of industrial misfits.