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FRIDAY AFTERNOON, JANUARY 7, 2.30 O'CLOCK.
New Willard Hotel.
Chairman: JOSÉ MARIA GÁLVEZ.
Discussion of the Pan American Topic:
How can a nation prepare in the most effective manner its young men for a business career that is to be pursued at home or in a foreign country? ̧
(a) In schools that are a part of the public-school system.
(b) In schools of private endowment.
(c) In special business schools of private ownership.
Outline a course of study that will best prepare young men to engage in such a business career. Each suggested outline should consider not only the character of the educational system of the country, for which the course of study is intended, but the desirability and practicability of a uniform course of business education for all Pan American countries.
Papers presented by
SANTIAGO H. FITZSIMON, Professor International Correspondence Schools, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
AGUSTIN T. WHILAR, Lima, Peru.
ANTONIO L. VALVERDE, Professor, School of Commerce, Habana, Cuba.
A. AUBERT, Managua, Nicaragua.
M. DELLEY, Caracas, Venezuela.
FRANCISCO ARAYA BENNETT, Valparaiso, Chile.
In the belief that the main facts of the papers presented before the subsection on commercial education should be made known as early as possible, the Commissioner of Education of the United States requested the publication of the abstracts of these papers in advance of the publication of the latter in the proceedings of the Second Pan American Scientific Congress. These abstracts have been made by the writers of the papers or by the compiler of this bulletin. In a few cases the statement is taken from the official stenographic report.
The Secretary of Commerce of the United States, under whose direction the Department of Commerce has shown a keen interest in the early establishment of commercial education in schools and colleges, was the first speaker at the opening session of this subsection. Mr. Redfield spoke, in part, as follows:
It is a sad fact that in business of all lands science and commerce have been greatly divorced. They have looked at each other askance, and not in this country alone, for there have been in America, and there still are, men who speak of the "practical" things as distinguished from the scientific thing; who argue that the scientific mind is the most modest of all minds if it be truly scientific, because it is that mind which seeks ever for the new truth. And
this antagonism between the so-called practical and the scientific method has been deeply hurtful to American commerce; has resulted too much in the reign, now largely passing, of what we may call the "rule of thumb." I find in a newspaper published this week what will strike you, I am sure, strangely as the title of the article. It reads, "Adapting Science to Commerce." As if science, after all, was to come to be a servant and handmaiden of this thing we call commerce! I hope there yet may be a larger development of this thought, and that we shall come to recognize our own beginnings, at least, of a science of commerce, that we shall consider commerce itself as a matter requiring in very truth a scientific training.
And now, how do we make the science with which we have to deal the servant of commerce? I purpose to touch only very briefly on a little of what the scientific work of the Government does, so far as we have to do with it. First, as to how it affects the commerce of the country; for, to my thinking, we shall never reach what the commerce of America ought to be; it will never be the friend of our country and the other countries that it is possible it may be; it will never spread its influence abroad as it ought to do until we picture the United States aiding her commerce with the light that science can shed upon it. We need our industries; we greatly need the aid and constant thought of scientific men. We are as yet bunglers in much of our commercial work. We are attempting to do a great deal of commercial work all over the land with untrained and untaught instruments. We have not yet developed a class of trained commercial men. If you knew the difficulty we have to get men fit to go into the lands at the south, fit to be seen in the presence, as the equals in mind and training, of the great merchants and bankers and business men of the great South and Central Americas, you would realize this more fully. The simple question: What modern languages does this gentleman speak? mows down like a scythe the great mass of applicants for commercial work. In what particular branch of commerce is the gentleman trained? acts like a sickle. The few we are able to get are pitifully few as compared with the needs that exist for trained men, speaking the languages of the living world, and not the dead languages, and knowing something at least of what commerce means in all its broad significance. For the modern conquistador of commerce leaves no ruins in his path. He is a builder up of things. He is not the man who tramples with the iron heel of war, but he is a true constructor. He draws nations together; and just as the conquistador of old had to be trained for his fierce and cruel war, so the conquistador of to-day needs to be trained for his work of useful living, of helpful service. And we know perfectly well that to send men out into the great commercial arenas of this world untaught, untrained, with what we are pleased sometimes to call a general education, is to send him to defeat, and to submit the nation to harm because the man is not equipped for the task. That is a branch of commercial education which has its manifold phases. I could not as much as touch upon them all here to-day, but I may lift a corner of the veil which shows how true it is that the scientific man of this hour is the servant and supporter of commerce, and how upon his work commerce is building. If it were not for applied biology, there would be no pearl-button industry in America. I presume there are a great many pearl buttons in this audience. You take them and use them, pay a few cents for them without one thought that it requires constant active work of biological scientists to provide so simple a matter as a pearl button. And yet if we did not have applied biology your pearl buttons would be very high-priced, because the supply of them now comes from the rivers of the Mississippi Valley and the supply was long ago threatened to be exhausted. How was the supply
replenished? That meant that some one, somewhere, must find where the freshwater clam came from, for it is his shell that provides the raw material from which the pearl button is obtained.
I should like to talk to you about the researches in the Bureau of Standards; to go into the great facts, the great truths which underlie our industries. There we keep something like 400 young scientific men working all the time. Did it ever strike you that there is no such thing as a standard of color? That your views and your fellowman's views as to what was red, yellow, or green may be different? There is no such thing as a standard red. Did you ever realize that there are great industries depending upon accurate colors? And there is no standard by which these things can be positively determined; so that I doubt if there is anyone in this room who could say with accuracy as to red, green, blue, or yellow. If I asked you to bring me red, I am sure 20 different shades, if not 200, would be brought. These things have to be known. There are industries depending upon a definite known standard of color, such as oleomargarine, butter, cottonseed oil. We are working at the department on what standards of color are. It is our duty to go into many facts which are a little beyond the ordinary things of living and bring them out and see if we can determine the lines by which nature operates and make them useful to mankind. In all this we are simply the servants of commerce, and it rejoices us day by day and more and more to see the recognition of this service coming from the men who are the great producers of the commercial world, until we have come to believe that the veil is lifting and the scientific man is finding his place, and that we shall add to the science of commerce as it should be done by trained men in science, in all its bearings, backing up commerce by scientific truth and supporting commerce in its final phases.
The Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Hon. Andrew J. Peters, followed the Secretary of Commerce, and in his remarks, particularly timely because of his intimate knowledge of the very successful achievements of the recent Pan American financial conference, convoked in the city of Washington by the Secretary of the Treasury, addressed himself, among other things, to the question of training for foreign trade. Mr. Peters said:
Since the outbreak of the European war interest in foreign trade in the United States has been something entirely unparalleled in our previous experience. During the last half century, when our foreign trade has been growing steadily from year to year, we have not had the same attitude toward foreign trade which the people in the principal nations of Europe have had. In the first place, we have not possessed a merchant marine. Thus our foreign trade has been physically in the hands of the people of other commercial nations. We have exported chiefly raw materials and agricultural products which practically sold themselves, and consequently did not have to go out and study foreign markets and possible foreign outlets for our principal export products. Instead, the representatives of foreign merchandising concerns and the foreign merchants came to us and took off our hands what we had to supply, and there was the end of the transaction. All the merchandising problems, with a few notable exceptions, were solved for us by the mere force of economic conditions. We were anxious to sell only to the same extent that foreign buyers were anxious to buy.
The result of it all has been that foreign trade has not offered a career to a large number of Americans in the same way that foreign trade has offered a
career to a large number of Englishmen, a large number of Dutchmen, Germans, and Frenchmen. The peoples of those nationalities have for years been marketing manufactured products, and manufactured products which required the cultivation of sales ability and vigorous penetration into foreign markets. Those countries have been developing their merchant marines and have been actually handling their own export commodities up to the time when they reached the consumers in foreign lands. Foreign commerce in those countries has consequently for years offered a career. In England young men starting in business have been confronted with specific opportunities to go to the colonies and to go to foreign countries representing English industrial concerns. In France the development has been along the same lines, though on a smaller scale. In our country we have thought of "the learned professions," the Army and Navy, and possibly some other branches of Government service under the conception of a career. Certainly the ordinary employee beginning with a commercial concern has had no such lofty idea as that of a career ahead of him. He has had a job, no very definite aims or ambitions; if another line of employment offered a better job he would take it no matter how far removed it might be from the line he was in before, if he thought he could hold down the new job, liked the firm, etc.
We must acknowledge that Germany is indisputably ahead of us in the whole matter of vocational training, and though the development of the fine network of schools of commerce in that country is recent, the system has brought and is bringing such good results that the appropriations for the extension of this kind of instruction have not been begrudged. It is in these schools that the Germans get the training which fits them for commerce as a career; those who select foreign commerce, world commerce, receive the proper training for their chosen work. Before 1880 the commercial schools (Handelsschulen) were almost unknown even in their elementary forms, and it is only since 1890 that their development has been really notable. The commercial schools were at first looked upon as superfluous or as specializing too early or too highly. Gradually, however, the various governments, the trade organizations, the chambers of commerce, came to realize the importance of this class of instruction, and to-day in Germany the higher institutions of learning devoting special attention to the training of men to meet the vast problems of world trade are better established and better equipped than those of any other country. The trade schools teach the artisan how to apply science and skill in the handicraft employments, and the commercial schools educate the merchant, the wholesaler, the world dealer, the great banker, the consular officer-in short, the men who stand at the head of the commerce of the Empire. It is felt that both systems of education are necessary for the successful development of the manufacturing industry and the marketing of commodities, upon which, in truth, the success of the manufacturing industry so largely depends. A few years ago United States Deputy Consul Meyer made an interesting report on the development of these schools and on the attitude toward them in Germany. This report was published by the Department of Commerce as Special Consular Reports, volume 33. Mr. Meyer has pointed out that in Germany education invests a man with a peculiar social prestige, irrespective of his personality. The social standing of the mercantile classes has been elevated by a higher education in the schools of the type of the commercial high schools. Instruction in these schools is given not only by the regular professors, but is in a very large measure given by practical men of affairs. The effort has constantly been made to safeguard the instruction from becoming too academic and including too practical aspects; that is, to keep the instruction from becoming of a typical professorial sort. In one
or another of the schools practically all the languages of the civilized world are taught, not only the ordinary commercial languages which are a subject of instruction in our universities, but even the most outlandish tongues, such as the bantu and other negro dialects which prevail in some sections of Africa where the Germans have been seeking foreign trade.
In our Government service we have recently expanded our foreign trade work in consequence of the ever-increasing demand for such work on the part of American manufacturers. I have been informed that the Department of Commerce and the Department of State have experienced difficulty particularly in getting men with the proper education and training to do this class of work. In language training most candidates have been decidedly deficient. The Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce of the Department of Commerce has been conducting examinations practically every month during the year 1915. Candidates have reported that they have studied French, German, or Spanish for so-and-so many years in our universities, and when the tests have come it has been shown that they are woefully deficient in practical knowledge of the languages. Their training in commercial geography and in matters relating to the technique of the export trade has been equally deficient. Perhaps the most discouraging feature in this problem is that the leaders in our schools and colleges seem unable or unwilling to see the need, or, having seen it, are unable or unwilling to give the thorough instruction necessary. If ever the educator had a definite, concrete problem to solve, it is this. Up to the present time there are no appreciable results. Several of the commercial schools and colleges are giving excellent instruction to young men intending to engage in business in this country, and some are offering good courses in foreign trade. But these courses have not been grouped so as to give the all-around training necessary for success in export trade; the language work is inadequate, and no opportunity is provided to acquire the requisite practical experience.
Mr. Fahey, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, called attention in his paper to the increasing interest on the part of the business men in the United States in the schools of the country, and to the fact that emphasis is being laid upon education for business and commerce as never before. Referring to the successful High School of Commerce in Boston, he said:
This school has been established something like nine years now, and at present is educating a little less than 1,600 pupils. The course is a four-year course. The average number of graduates is in the neighborhood of 200; and as an evidence of the value of this type of education, the fact that there is a demand for it, you will be interested to know that fully 70 per cent of the graduates have positions waiting for them two and three months before completing their education, and most of the others are quickly snapped up by the business houses of Boston and Massachusetts. The system has been developed to a point where, in the view of our local business men, it is meeting their needs in a most satisfactory way. The school has an advisory committee composed of business men among the business men of our community who give their time willingly in superintending the courses of study and the detail work. Moreover, they are devoting their time to series of lectures on the part of the business men to the pupils of the school. The young men in the school do a certain amount of continuation work in that a large proportion of them secure positions during the holiday season and during the summer vacations in business houses in and about Boston. The records they have made there have been