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Some Experiences With Trade Education
A. W. FORBES, WORCESTER, Mass.
1. A boy with two years training in electrical work in a trade school, did not prove satisfactory with this work, but did good work with machine tools. 2.
A graduate in a short course in mechanical drawing, with excellent recommendations from his teacher, did good work as a machinist where he had had no experience or instruction, and very good work in assembling, but was not satisfactory in mechanical drawing.
3. A graduate of a four years trade school machinist course, with high standing at the school, and with excellent recommendations from his teachers, did not make good as a machinist or in electrical work. He did not stay to try other work.
Are these typical cases or exceptions? In my shop they are typical. I have never known one school trained tradesman who made good in the line in which he was trained, but have known a number who made good in something else. This is doubtless partly due to the limited number of cases under observation, but it does not seem possible that all my cases were exceptions. Then it may be due to the peculiarities of my shop, which I will agree is exceptional. We have a much greater variety of work, and I demand more head work, and less mere knowledge than most shops. Possibly the trade school graduate would do better if placed in the shop where everything is systematized, but trade school training does not seem necessary for such a shop.
I have also employed a number of students from one of our leading technical schools. They were given general work in the machine shop, and also some electrical work. No upper classman has shown as good judgment in handling the work as the majority of freshmen, and those freshmen who did exceptionally well their first year have shown a decided change for the worse during their second year. The decline in judgment and general mechanical ability has about equalled their gain in experience and knowledge of the work. The fault I find is decidedly intellectual in nature. I have never noticed much change in willingness to work.
These are the facts as observed, too limited in number to be regarded as proof of anything, and having the further defect that the boys were only observed under one employer. Similar observations for other shops where it is possible to compare the work of a boy on the job for which he is prepared and on another job, or where it is possible to get observations on a boy during his training, would be of considerable value.
Can it be possible that the progress made by the trade school and the techanical school graduates is due solely to the class of boys that enter these institutions, and that they succeed in spite of their training instead of as a result of it? There is much to support this view. Not being satisfied with the kind of employees that I could find for the responsible positions in my shop, I started some time ago to find a few boys that I could train for the work. The training would be at least equal to that of the technical schools, the time being divided between shop work, technical study of the theories of the design and construction of our machines, and one or two courses in the local high schools or colleges selected for general culture. The results to date have been zero.
That is, I have not been able to find a single boy, whom I considered to have the qualifications suitable to learn the work, who had not definitely decided to go to some college or technical school. The schools are so well advertised that every boy with ability, energy and other qualifications, refuses to consider anything but school training, and they find the financial requisites some way, or at least the exceptions are so few that it is difficult to find one.
I have talked with probably a thousand boys with this is view, but have reached the conclusion that the colleges or equivalent institutions get all the best, and that they turn them out less suited to learn to handle the responsible work of an industry like the one in which I am engaged, than they were when they entered. Observations of the leading men in industry show that they are not college men as a class, in spite of the fact that the boys whom we should expect to develop into leaders of industry go to college.
A number of explanations should be considered, but two facts about school training stand out prominently, that may have much to do with results. In school the boys are being continually helped. Instructions are given for every detail in the trade courses, and when books are used the students are even told what page to read for each fact that they are supposed to learn. The trade school trained electrician and the technical school trained engineer have a quantity of facts at their disposal, but they seem to have lost to a considerable extent the simple and direct quality of judgment that they possessed when they entered the institution. And this is but natural. There is but little in the school training that encourages this quality.
Another characteristic of the school training, particularly of the technical school, is the vast quantity of facts that the student is supposed to learn. How is it possible for a person who is so swamped with things to learn, to give much attention to making observations on those things ? The result is a mass of undigested information which the student tries to use in meeting a probleni, but a lack of understanding of the fundamental principles. I can remember how, while sitting in a park two years after studying calculus, a certain calculus problem occured to me, and it seemed very easy so I worked it out on the back of an envelope. I did not understand this problem while taking the course, but after the details of the calculus had been forgotten the difficulties vanished. I had happened to get an understanding of the basic principles incidentally, but more often the student gets only the details, and then when these are forgotten, nothing remains except a little confusion.
It may be possible to avoid these defects in the trade and technical schools, but why the necessity as long as there is so much opportunity for learning the trade in the shops or on the job. It is an open question how many opportunities would open up to learn the work on the job, if the schools would give up the boys who are capable of learning, but there are certainly enough vacancies at the present time for the few who wish to take advantage of them. The old apprentice system produced good results, but it is of course of no value without apprentices. As for the class of boys who are now going into industry at the legal age, the technical schools will not attempt to do anything with them, and the trade schools do not seem to be able to do much. There is plenty for the teachers to do in general culture without attempting the impossible,—the teaching of an occupation in school.
Sing As You Go
And share not the joys of the way,
Like monks of old and mourn the day.
You'll travel the way but once, my lad,
So enjoy the world as you go;
So sing and be gay as you go.
And scorn the homely joys of life;
Through gloom and sadness, and woe and strife.
You'll travel the way but once, my lad,
So enjoy the world as you go;
LEWIS SPRAGUE MILLS.
Teacher Training in Armenia
E are all familiar enough with Teachers' Institutes
and Summer Training Schools. Throughout the length and breadth of the United States teachers gather from every region to gain, in the few months vacation breathing space, a wider vision, a better technique, a more united front for the great educational campaign. There are many serious prob
lems and grave issues facing the teachers, and much thought has gone into the preparation of the work for these great assemblies, that the word that should go from them should be tingling with a true message for the needs of the country.
During these same months another group of teachers are meeting together on the other side of the world. They, too, have grave problems to meet, issues very literally of life and death for the children of their land. They have not much leeway, hardly breathing space in which to face these problems, for theirs is an all-year-round responsibility for the boys and girls, who have no home to go to in the summer-time. They have to deal with the orphan children of Armenia, the salvage of war and massacre and deportation, whom the American Near East Relief has rescued.
In Constantinople and in some of the largest centers of the Near East summer courses are conducted for the orphanage teachers during July and early August. Such a brief training period was, not long ago, organized in Caesarea. It was only a three-weeks course, attended, however, by eighty persons, the teachers from orphanages of a number of near-by towns.
The program was simple enough: courses in General Methods aná School Management, supplemented by special lectures. Model classes were conducted by trained teachers and opportunities provided for observation and practice teaching. School sessions were given in story-telling, and a half-hour a day of elementary work