« PreviousContinue »
VOCATIONAL SECONDARY EDUCATION.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT.
The present use of the term “ vocation” in the field of education is somewhat more comprehensive than the generally accepted idea of the word. Its earlier adaptation was more particularly to the “callings” or professions. It is almost within the present decade that its fuller meaning has been interpreted. This newer significance has not yet become sufficiently well and widely known to have the educational doctrines which it now includes generally appreciated either by educators or laymen.
In tracing the development of the doctrine of vocational secondary education, it is recognized that, in the earlier American life, handwork of all types was done in the home. It was here that the operator, obliged to know the whole process, turned out small quantities of manufactured articles. Even the young people who were to enter the professions were, for the most part, taught some of the home occupations. The points of contact were so numerous that differentiation was impossible. Whatever of direct instruction for a vocation was to be given was handed from father to son and from mother to daughter. This was not unlike the earlier practices in the European countries. With the increased population and the increased needs in America, it became necessary to produce in still larger quantities. Very naturally, then, did the people of this country turn to the experience of Europe. It was there that the apprenticeship systems, which existed somewhat among the Greeks and Romans and which were most pronounced during the Middle Ages, had become so highly systematized under the guilds. This influence assisted much in the introduction of the apprenticeship system in the United States.
Like the home shop the apprentice shop was soon forced to abandon its plan because of the increasing demands of society. The adjustments required a long series of intervening steps until industry, unable to produce goods in sufficient quantities, profiting again by European experience, adopted the plan for division of labor. This plan necessitated the employment of a certain number of persons highly skilled in several processes of a trade and of a much larger number of persons skilled to the degree of specialization in a single process.
1 The word " secondary " in these discussions is used to limit the field. This committee had to do particularly with a consideration of education of less than college grade for persons 14 to 18 years of age. This automatically excludes the professional schools, higher technical schools, etc., as well as elementary schools.
This evolution of industry which took place, not alone in America, but in the European countries as well, although less rapidly, resulted in a more limited supply of skilled workers. This latter fact made it doubly difficult in America, for, on the one hand, her own trained workers decreased in numbers and, on the other hand, the importation of such workers was lessened. Furthermore, many of the workers themselves had been forced for one cause or another to enter industry at an early age. They were obliged to specialize, as in the shoe industry, from cutters and last makers to inspectors of the finished product. They finally found themselves unable and unfit either to advance, to secure a more lucrative position, or to increase their output materially. Dissatisfaction, insufficient training, a lessened quality as well as quantity of work produced, and unrest were the result. This situation forced upon the manufacturer the necessity of a source of supply of labor and at the same time forced upon many of the workers the necessity of securing some form of instruction or type of work which would enable them in later years to increase their earning capacity.
So far as can be determined, the American manufacturer at the time of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia sensed for the first time the fact that abundant resources alone were insufficient to enable him to compete in the European markets with European goods or in the home market against these same goods. It was here that the American producer had his first opportunity to compare the products and workmanship in his own factory or shop with those of foreign producers. It is an historic fact that schools for art in industry were soon established in several manufacturing centers. Thus was the way opened for manual training, which was started in several of the larger centers before the expiration of another decade.
The lay public who had been educated under the theory of abundant mind training through the faculties were ready to accept the plan. They believed that through it would be derived a practical education, using practical in the sense of earning a livelihood. The more conservative were convinced of its value when it was explained that concentration, coordination of hand and brain, etc., would result. It required many years of experimentation to show the fallacy of the reasoning that hand training in general, however skillfully organized in successive steps, and however carefully correlated with intellectual attainment, would actually function in any specific occupation unrelated to the work previously performed.
It required the initiative of a man of large affairs, a man of industry, to inaugurate a movement to supply this deficiency. The governor of Massachusetts recommended to the legislature of 1905 an investigation and report upon the needs for industrial education in that State. A commission was appointed. Its report brought about drastic legislation, setting up in the first place an independent State body whose duty was to promote the interests of industrial education in the State. Additional legislation made possible the introduction of industrial education in a given locality with State aid on a graduating scale from 20 per cent to 50 per cent of actual expenditure for maintenance.
Other legislation of a positive nature followed. A commission was appointed the following year in Wisconsin. As a result of its report the Wisconsin Legislature adopted plans for vocational education in 1907 and 1911. New York established laws for vocational education in 1908.
The following diagram has been prepared after careful study of the statutes of the several States. In many cases it has been somewhat difficult to determine whether or not vocational secondary education was permissible in any given State. This is all the more difficult in view of the fact that it is known to members of the committee that in some of the States in which there seem to be no laws providing specifically for vocational education certain types of vocational secondary education are being carried on at local public expense. In preparing this diagram, however, it was assumed that the statutes were a statement of fact and prima facie evidence that vocational secondary education was not legally recognized by the State in question.
16 No law
21 DIAGRAM 1.-Laws for vocational secondary education, distribution by States. According to the diagram there are 2 States at the present time in which it is proposed to pass laws bearing directly upon vocational
1 The States included in each of these classifications have been listed and will be furDisbed upon request to the Bureau of Education or to the committee.
secondary education; there are 9 States which have already passed laws aimed directly toward the introduction of vocational secondary education; there are 16 States in which under the present statutes, so far as can be ascertained from the statutes themselves, it would be possible to introduce some form of vocational secondary education; there are 21 States in which it would appear that there are no statutes having any direct reference to the introduction of vocational secondary education. In fact in these States it may be seriously questioned whether or not vocational secondary education could be introduced without a modification of the statutes. 1
Since 1908, as shown in the diagram, 7 other States have passed laws which have a direct bearing upon the question of industrial education. As a result, in most of these laws the State subsidizes the local community in carrying forward the work, provided the local authorities conform to certain rather definite requirements. Several other States have asked the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education to suggest legislation. As this bulletin goes to press there is a strong probability that Federal aid to vocational education will be granted by Congress. Hence it will be seen that within one decade the United States Government and a considerable number of the States of the Union have taken active measures toward introducing ways and means to provide additional education for those persons over 14 years of age who must of necessity enter some trade or enter industry.
That this demand for a type of education which shall correspond somewhat to life's activities is more than a mere whim is borne out by the extent of legislation already passed concerning manual training and household arts. In nearly every State these subjects are recognized as a legitimate part of public education. In by far the greater majority of these States work in both subjects is carried on in the schools. Despite the fact that in several of the States in which these subjects were introduced there is a feeling that they often fail to function in the lives of the pupils, the number continues to increase. In some of these States, however, this partial failure to reach the desired end has brought about commissions and laws looking toward a type of education which shall train for a specific purpose, that purpose to be easily recognized by the student and his parents.
Even the work in agricultural education, which has been fostered by the United States Government for many years, seemed to lack somewhat the necessary qualities to make it actually efficacious in
1 Mr. John A. Lapp, of Indiana, who has made a study of the constitutions of the several States, has found that in some cases at least it will be necessary to amend the constitution of the State before vocational secondary education can be introduced.
2 See Appendix for digest of these laws.
producing boys who can farm. The courses in this subject in many of the high schools were often purely textbook courses given in the abstract with practically no relation between the classroom work and the boy's job at home. Many times a modification of this textbook course resulted in so-called laboratory courses in agriculture which went little beyond the analysis of a few types of soil and the suggestion as to possible crops which might be propagated thereon. Boys on the farm were very rightly dissatisfied with this type of education, consequently many of them left their homes to gain a higher education which might be secured at some college. Those of them who had sufficient vision to see the possibilities of farm life often went to be sure, to the agricultural colleges which have done effective work for a considerable number of years; others with less vision felt that the professional pursuits were more advantageous to them from an intellectual and social as well as a financial standpoint. The parents of these boys gradually found that their farms were being deprived of the more intelligent among the youth of their community. Consequently, dissatisfaction with this sort of thing became quite prevalent. Very naturally, then, in certain communities there was a willingness to provide a type of agricultural education, even, which should actually train a boy to do real farm work.
Instruction for the girls in these rural communities was even less satisfactory than that for the boys. They were all taught the common-school branches, with a little algebra, possibly some geometry, and, if the community was large enough, a little Latin and one modern language subjects no one of which was designated to assist them in making themselves better homemakers or give them in large numbers a broader outlook upon the possibilities of home life, industrial life, or agricultural life in general.
In those communities where domestic-science courses were offered, the training was general and had no particular bearing upon the lives of the girls in their own homes. In many communities the appropriation was too meager to make this work actually meet conditions of the home. It is only within a very few years that definite projects have been set up for girls in rural communities which are interesting and which involve their ordinary daily activities. At the present time, however, the improved opportunities in the rural communities are having a wide influence upon this work in the country at large.
It would appear, then, from the foregoing facts and conditions that vocational education has not been a mere passing fancy or a project of an individual mind; it has had a definite and rather positive growth until, whether educators orlaymen wish it or not, certain definite types of vocational education will be demanded by the fathers and mothers of the boys and girls in the