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VIII. PREVOCATIONAL EDUCATION.
1. (Descriptive). Within the last few years the term "prevocational education" has been introduced into educational literature, apparently with several meanings.
(a) The term "prevocational education" sometimes refers to studies and practices which, while not constituting a specific part of vocational education, nevertheless, are assumed to be a valuble or even essential preliminary thereto.
In a broad sense, ability to read and write is preliminary and essential to almost any form of vocational pursuit under modern conditions. Similarly, a knowledge of arithmetic is essential as preliminary to the commercial and many other callings. In professional education biology and chemistry, for example, are frequently spoken of as “prevocational" to the study of medicine; history and economics to the study of law; Greek and Latin to the study of theology; mechanical drawing and trigonometry to the engineering professions, etc. Similarly, it has been held that manual training or sloyd (tool work with wood and metals) can be "prevocational " to the mechanical trades. Whether any particular study "functions" as prevocational training can, of course, be determined only by observation and experiment.
(b) The term "prevocational education" at present seems more commonly to be used to designate programs of instruction and training designed to assist an individual in making an intelligent choice of an occupation, through giving him opportunity to participate in a series of practical experiences related to many vocations.
For example, it has been asserted that manual-training courses are, or can be made, of value in enabling a boy to "find himself" as regards his natural aptitudes for some one of the tool trades. Similarly, it has been asserted that so-called "commercial" studies and practices as found in public high schools enable the youth to "find himself" as regards his aptitudes for some commercial calling. It has been claimed that students taking mechanical drawing frequently discover from this their qualifications or lack of qualification for various trades in which mechanical drawing applies.
(c) The importance of prevocational education of the type described under (b) increases in proportion as intelligent vocational guidance develops, on the one hand, and varied opportunities for systematic vocational education are established, on the other. We may assume that, in time, in any urban community a large number and variety of departments of vocational education will be open to a youth at 14 or 16 years of age. It will be important that the youth. choose wisely the school which he shall enter. It is not economical on the part of a vocational school to admit a considerable number
of persons who must early be eliminated because of innate or other disqualifications for the work selected. If programs of prevocational education can be developed which will accomplish this end, much good will result.
It has been suggested, for example, that through the seventh and eighth grades, instead of the present somewhat rigid courses in manual training, there should be presented to boys a large variety of opportunities to participate in constructive and practical work along industrial, agricultural, and commercial lines. The exercises and opportunities for practical achievement should be related as closely as practicable to various occupational pursuits as now followed. Considerable opportunity for election should be given, and for the early giving up of uncongenial forms of work. Good amateur standards should prevail in this work, rather than so-called "professional standards." The teachers should be persons possessing varied forms of skill and wide industrial experience, selected with a view to their capacity to advise boys wisely as to vocations in which they would probably succeed. Similarly, it is suggested that opportunities could be provided for girls to "find themselves" in homemaking, industrial, and commercial pursuits.
(d) The problem of the immediate future is to define the purposes of prevocational education, if useful purposes can be found, and then to adapt programs of practice and instruction to the realization of these ends.
2 (Definition). Prevocational education includes any form of education designed to enable a youth to discover for which one of several possible vocations he is best fitted by natural ability and disposition, the program of instruction and practice for this purpose being based mainly upon actual participation on the part of the learner in a variety of typical practical experiences derived from the occupations involved.
IX. VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE.
1 (Descriptive). Vocational guidance represents an attempt (first through philanthropic initiative and support, and later appearing through agencies for public education) to lessen the misdirection of energy and general loss of effectiveness at present involved in the efforts of young persons, especially in urban centers, to find suitable employment.
The historic agency of vocational guidance has been the home. Under primitive and settled conditions, the occupation of the child usually followed that of the father. In the modern urban community, the home becomes less and less adapted to giving effective vocational guidance. There is also available, now, a large amount of organized knowledge as to hygienic conditions surrounding any
given field of work, the requirements which such work makes for intelligence or special training, etc., which can be imparted by organized effort. As conditions now exist, youths are commonly unprepared to take advantage of the opportunities for becoming more efficient and for promotion.
2 (Definition). Vocational guidance includes all systematic efforts, under private or public control, and excluding the traditional activities of the home, the conscious and chief purpose of which is to secure the most economical and effective adjustment of young people to the economic employments which they can most advantageously follow.
Examples of the various means now employed, at least occasionally, for this purpose are: (a) Selected readings given under the guidance of the school, with a view to conveying information as to economic activities, the qualities demanded in the various vocations, etc.; (b) systematic reading and study of specially prepared pamphlets descriptive of the opportunities, requirements, etc., of various particular lines of employment-usually given under the direction of teachers—(c) individual or group conferences of pupils with teachers, for the purpose of discussing vocational opportunities, conditions required, etc.; (d) systematic study of young persons from the standpoint of their physical and intellectual make-up, with a view to advising them as to lines of employment which they can. most effectively enter; (e) "prevocational training" (see page 69), consisting of limited amounts of practical experience in connection with exercises taken from various lines of practical work, with a view to discovering the pupil's fitness therefor, or enabling him to discover his own more fundamental aptitudes and interest; (f) systematic study of various economic lines of employment, with a view to obtaining specific data to be used in advising young persons seeking employment; (g) maintenance of employment agencies for young persons in day or evening school, with a view to assisting them to obtain work in suitable occupations.
Vocational schools in general, in more or less organized forms, offer vocational guidance and act in a measure as employment agencies in placing their graduates. This is especially true of normal schools, industrial schools, commercial schools, technological institutions, and universities.
SOME WAYS IN WHICH VOCATIONAL EDUCATION MAY BE INTRODUCED.
The introduction of vocational education into any community at the present time is dependent upon certain rather clearly defined factors which are peculiar to this type of educational development. Among these are the lack of a body of preconceived notions of educational theory in this field, the recent demands of industry for trained workers, the failure of industry to be specific as to those demands, and the failure of the public schools to meet fully the needs of a large mass of pupils in the schools after the age of 14.
Experience is increasingly recognizing the fact that vocational education is a local and not a general issue. That is to say, its content and method as well as its organization must be adapted to the social, industrial, and educational conditions of the community, all of which conditions differ with localities. These conditions are obviously different in a New England textile city from those of an agricultural community. They are different also in a large city with greatly diversified industries from the conditions in a city with a single dominant industry, and different again in a community of from 10,000 to 25,000 inhabitants from those in a community which is either larger or smaller.
The above facts would therefore seem to indicate the need of a careful systematic analysis of all the conditions involved before the introduction of any system of vocational education is undertaken. Nor should such an analysis or survey be carried on by the school men alone. The close cooperation of employers and employees in the trades and vocations of the town is needed, if effective thinking and action are to result. To be more specific, it would appear that the most effective means of bringing about the additional equipment for vocational training is through the enlistment of the united interest and support of all forces working for community betterment; such as boards of trade, labor organizations, civic and educational associations, etc.
It is also clear that, in order to meet the exigencies of a changeable public opinion, such an analysis will require a democracy of interest. This will involve the inclusion of all forces of whatever nature at work in the community, if the result is to be permanently worth
while. Although it may be objected that this method is somewhat cumbersome and slower in operation, it is given emphasis here because of the well-known fact that several sincere and well-intentioned efforts have been ineffective through failure to use in a democratic way certain available sources of interest and help. It has been found, therefore, that full cooperation within the community itself may be best secured by the backing of a central board or a central committee made up of representatives appointed from the several organizations and interests which are in any way concerned. Such a committee in every case should include persons from the industries, both employer and employee, from the lay public, and from the school public.
The securing of such public interest and support requires a continuous campaign of publicity which will attract public attention sufficient to bring about a local demand for such an investigation and report. It would add materially to its value were such a report to thoroughly analyze the local situation and through constructive recommendations point out a line of action which appears to be reasonably easy of accomplishment and most likely to be effective. Such a comprehensive study might secure added strength, probably greater interest, and possibly more nearly convey the full meaning of the movement were it to be designated a "survey."
Such a survey will of necessity be quite inclusive. It should keep clearly before it the facts concerning each phase of the situation to be studied. It should be both comprehensive and detailed. It should recognize all interested parties. It should eliminate no factor, however simple, which would seem to have a bearing upon the solution of the problem. The necessity, therefore, for arousing all of the dormant forces in the community is apparent. The successful completion of the undertaking will depend quite as much upon the extent and strength of the movement as upon the actual installation of the work. For the purpose of starting in the right direction, as well as for utilizing the varied forces in the most helpful way, the following suggestions are made. They show rather clearly definite steps which may be taken to foster an interest in vocational education which may later result in a definite demand for a survey of local conditions.
1. By preparation and distribution of publications.-The purpose of such publications should be not only to give accurate information. in convenient form, but to present favorable arguments based on local facts and needs. These might be accompanied with, or followed by, publications from outside sources and from authorities on the subject.
The support of local newspapers should be secured in the printing of press articles and editorials on the subject. Newspapers afford