Imagens da página

and the variety of products simply indescribable, but with an eye single to typical ways by which raw materials are transformed it is not impossible to leave with twelve-year-old children a lasting impression of the modes of operation in any industry and the nature of the most important results.

I am well aware that this plan will be criticized by some as being retrogressive, a return to a logical control of childish activities, and by others as abandonment of the new education through motor training. It may mean revolution, but if it results in a richer and more unified curriculum one critic is answered, and if the curriculum is thereby simplified the other critic will get no hearing from the American public. But how is the curriculum strengthened? First, it must be conceded that the content of industrial education, as I have defined it, has some value; whatever that may amount to is a distinct gain. In the second place, the plan calls for richer courses in arithmetic, nature study, and geography. The quantitative measurements of arithmetic will find concrete application in every step of the industrial process from the first step of production of the raw materials to the end of the series when goods are turned to practical use. How much, how many times, how often, in what proportion, at what cost, are questions which must be answered by the child at every turn. The computations called for in the manufacture, transportation, and final distribution of any commodity are in daily use in trade and commerce, and should be the staple requirement of the school. Nothing will vitalize the study of arithmetic more than to create in the school a need for quantitative measurement and for the employment of business methods in business affairs. Such a situation suggests clearly the place and scope of commercial training in the upper grades or high school for those who are in training for commercial vocations. The natural distribution of metals, fuels, clays, and other earth materials, the climatic and physiographic conditions which determine the location, amount, character, and availability of our flora and fauna, the factors which control transportation by land and water—these are problems in geography which become concrete and vital in the study of industries. The correlations are so obvious that only a stupid teacher can miss them. In nature study we shall find a real place for the elements of agriculture and forestry; no longer aimless meandering in any scientific field, but definite attention to those occupations concerned with the production of materials good for food, clothing, and shelter, the conditions calculated to give best results, and the resistance which men meet in doing their work. The growing of any crop, even in a window garden, will epitomize the farmer's labors in tilling the soil, supplying plant food, utilizing light, heat, and air, overcoming disease and insect pests, and reaping his harvest. Every step takes on new meaning when the learner sees its place in the series of operations culminating in the commercial food supply of his own community, its sanitary regulation and domestic consumption. The elements of physiology and hygiene, and of physics and chemistry, are also called into requisition; they are all indispensable in fixing values of industrial products and determining economy in technical operation. What makes for hygienic living is as well worth knowing from the economic standpoint as what mechanical appliance will most increase the output. A proper study of the industries, therefore, I contend, will bring about a unified and closely correlated course in the biological and physical sciences by way of supplying the information wanted by the child in adjusting himself to the real world.

Perhaps some timorous soul will interpret my outline of the pedagogical relations between the sciences and the industries as a denial of any independence to arithmetic, nature study, and geography. Far from it. The scientific subjects have a function of their own in the curriculum, as do the humanities and the industries. The use of language and the arts of reading and writing in studying the industries, even the generous use of supplementary readings giving industrial information, does not preclude the study of literature in progressively systematic form. The course of study in every subject may have two aspects, one peculiar to itself by virtue of which we recognize it as a distinct subject, the other relative to other subjects which the child may be learning. In arithmetic, that which is peculiarly mathematical looks forward to the systematic development of the science of mathematics, and it is possible so to emphasize this aspect as to make the study almost exclusively formal. The natural sciences may be so taught as to have no direct bearing on the child's experience. My thought is that any subject worthy of a place in the school curriculum should be developed along systematic lines characteristic of the subject itself by means which function in the child's experience with other subjects of information. This is only another way of saying that whatever is learned should be applied in practise. Perhaps better said, it is the harmonious interaction of all subjects in the curriculum which gives zest to study, solidarity in the knowledge acquired, and efficiency in converting knowledge into power. The reason for this is that the learning process is a unity; the child's experience in gathering information from many sources is unified, and it is his own; his instincts, impulses, and all his activities belong to him alone, and however segregated the ultimate ends of his endeavor may be in the mind of his teacher, he weaves all his experiences into the fabric of his own life. Whether or no that fabric be technically correct depends upon the systematic ordering of his experiences; its serviceableness for any particular purpose depends upon the materials which have entered into it.

One other important question awaits an answer. Will the plan I have proposed tend to simplify the curriculum? My answer is that at least four subjects will be combined into one, and in some elementary schools one teacher will take the place of four. Manual training, fine arts, domestic art, and domestic science will drop out below the seventh grade, and in their place we shall have the one subject of industrial arts, the elements of industries. The term “ manual training," if used at all, will cover the forms of motor expression employed in teaching reading, writing, and drawing, as well as the manual exercises used in agriculture or weaving or pottery making or carpentry. There will be no hours set apart in the school program for work exclusively with the hands, and teachers will not be expected to provide manual occupations for every minute of the time assigned to any subject. When manual work

is needed it will be demanded as insistently and employed as successfully in the humanities and the sciences as in the industries. In the lower school, manual exercises will be used as a means of self-expression, a method of teaching rather than a subject of instruction or a way of acquiring technical skill. That is, cooking in the lower school is to enable the child to know what happens when heat is applied to foods, and in what respects foods thereby are made more serviceable; cooking as an art in which a girl should excel belongs to a later period when she is fitting herself for housekeeping. Technical skill is a distinct aim in vocational training, but in the earlier years of school the purpose is general rather than specific, cultural rather than vocational.

In all industrial processes, wherever man transforms materials into things of greater value, he employs a technic peculiar to the situation, and gives to the product a touch which pleases his esthetic sense. Earthen bowls might be made, I suppose, without appreciable artistic merit, but the fact is, that the crudest pottery shows an effort to attain some ideal standard. This striving for artistic effect is as instinctive in childhood as in primitive man, and no worker ever loses it until he loses all pride in his handiwork. It is the source of every fine art. It is self-expression, which is at its best when bodied forth in doing things worth doing well. The teacher of art, therefore, finds his best opportunity in that field which offers greatest inducement to constructive design. The art training which belongs in the elementary school is that training which makes for a better appreciation of esthetic standards and which finds expression in making things more pleasing than they otherwise would be. It adds no burden to the curriculum; on the contrary, it enlivens it and makes its tasks more pleasurable because more gratifying to personal wants.

A systematic course in the industries will have the additional advantage of making it easier to teach everything else in the curriculum. Not only will the study of industrial processes give rise to concrete problems in mathematics and the natural sciences, but the practical character of such problems will incite children to find the surest and most business-like way of solving them. Time will be saved for drill in every other line. With fewer subjects and more practical problems, I should confidently expect better results in the three Rs and a more thoro discipline resulting from work in every subject. There would be no attempt to cover the whole field of human effort; the standard set in the study of industries whereby only the essential processes should be included in the course of study would react upon the courses of study in the humanities and the sciences. Let it be agreed that only fundamentals have a place in the elementary curriculum, and it will be comparatively easy to insist upon thoro work. Under such conditions there can be no excuse for not getting it. Those who believe, as I do, in the educational value of work well done, will join hands right here with those who advocate a curriculum which imposes tasks worth doing well.

My conclusion is that industrial education is essential to the social and political well-being of a democracy. It is the privilege of all, rather than the duty of a few, to be informed on matters affecting the social welfare of the body politic. A knowledge of how men get a living, the nature of their work, and the value of it, is a prerequisite to intelligent appreciation of the dignity of labor. A sympathetic understanding of the conditions underlying industrial competition will make for civil order and social stability. Training for citizenship may not safely disregard the dominant interests of the great majority of citizens. The public school must teach that which all should know. If only six years can be had for this work, the work must be done in six years. There is no alternative. It must be done in such a way, too, that children will grasp its significance and carry its impressions thruout their lives. It must establish such habits of thought and conduct that all subsequent work will be aided by the discipline. This is the ideal of the elementary school. Joined with the humanities and the sciences, a study of the industries rounds out the education of the citizen and equips him to begin his vocational training. On the threshold of active life it puts him on a par with his fellows. It assures him that kind of equality which is the opportunity of every American.



« AnteriorContinuar »