Editorial Notes: Resolution on Industrial Training
The N.E.A Resolution on Industrial Education
In the last number of this journal editorial comment was made upon the resolution of the National Education Association with reference to industrial training. The failure of this great body of teachers to emphasize the higher intellectual and educational interests for which they stand called not only for comment but criticism.
European Continuation Schools
It may, however, be said in defense of this resolution that its recommendation corresponds closely with the achievement of such schools elsewhere. The continuation schools in Germany, France, and England in which the larger part of their industrial education is given, have curricula which answer simply to the immediate demands of the trade for which the laborer is trained. There is, to be sure, some attention given to the vernacular, but this with strict reference to its uses by the laborer in his later occupations. This European schooling is built upon the old apprenticeship system. It aims to do what, relatively to the former situation, the training of the apprentice accomplished.
American and European Educational Situations Compared
We have in America, in the first place, hardly the remainder of an apprenticeship system, and in the second place, nowhere should the advantages which America possesses in her democracy show themselves so definitely as in the education of her workment. The limitations of European industrial schooling are quite comparable to those of the European common schools, which are distinctly schools of a lower social class. Neither the task of enriching the common-school education by the interests of the trade, nor that of interpreting the trade activities through instruction in the schoolroom is seriously undertaken by these continuation schools. These tasks are appropriate, and imperative, in America.
(157) The absence of social classes has constituted the profoundest difference between America and Europe. Industrial training in this country should aim to give to the laborer not only professional efficiency but the meaning of his vocation, its historical import, and some comprehension of his position in the democratic society into which the artisan enters.
Technical Skill as the Sole Aim a Confession of Failure of the American Common School
It will be a distinct acknowledgement of failure of American common schools if they undertake industrial training without recognition of broader intellectual and spiritual interests. These have been constantly present in the common schools, both in the grades and the high schools, often surcharging the curricula and inadequately taught. But these so-called cultural studies have stood for the demand that the meaning of life in our community belonged to every citizen and should not be reserved for an upper social class, with especial educational privileges.
Illiberal Industrial Education an Acceptance of Class Distinction
It is perhaps the most serious evil which has come in the wake of European immigration
that public opinion has insensibly set up a different and lower standard of life and
training for the factory and unskilled laborer. We are encouraging a class distinction
which must be destructive of American democracy if it persists, and at no pint can it be
either rendered more permanent or be more successfully fought than in the industrial
training of those who are to labor with their hands. American industrial training must be
a liberal education.