Oscar Israel Woodley.

The profession of teaching online

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of it he desires to enter.

Methods of choosing a vocation. An example may make
this method of reaching a decision more clear. The young
person making his choice of a life-work may prefer some
phase of industrial work. In this case he may select, from
among the many kinds of productive effort or from the many
branches of the manufacturing industry, the particular one
which best suits his taste and his opportunities for prepara-
tion. If his own inclination and aptitude for a particular
kind of occupation are not sufficiently pronounced, or if he
has not sufficient knowledge of the various departments of
industry that are open to him to make a selection, he may
investigate them in turn, eliminating one after another
until he discovers the one which his own natural qualifica-
tions and his circumstances make most desirable. It may
be that the young person choosing his life-work may wish
to enter one of the professions. If he has no guiding predilec-
tion for a particular one to enable him to make his choice,
he may, by a process of elimination, after careful investiga-
tion of the conditions governing each, be able to decide upon
the one which best suits him. In each case he should make
a thorough investigation and study of the requirements of
the various occupations under consideration. The impor-
tance of a careful selection of a vocation is the more apparent
when one considers that the choice which a person makes
of a career or a life-work will in a large measure determine
his success and happiness or his failure and disappointment.

Suggestions for instruction in vocational guidance. In
order that the boys and girls who are trying to solve the
problem of choosing a desirable vocation may make the
careful analysis and selection discussed above, they must


receive instruction and guidance from those who have made
a critical study of the problem and its difficulties. To this
end there should be in all school systems carefully directed
and supervised instruction and individual counsel in voca-
tional guidance. Each teacher cannot, along with all the
other things he must learn, become an expert in vocational
guidance. He can, however, under the direction of a super-
visor or director of vocational guidance carry out his par-
ticular part of the program in giving proper instruction and
help, just as the various teachers in a school system work
under supervisors of music, drawing, and other so-called
special subjects in carrying out the programs in these sub-
jects. True, the individual teacher must know how to select
and use the subject-matter of the course of study so that
the pupil may gain the kind of information and experience
that will helj) him to understand and make use of the
definite instruction and help in vocational guidance.

In these early days of experimentation in vocational
education in our schools, teachers in the majority of cases
find themselves without the necessary knowledge and under-
standing of methods to be employed, and as a result they
are somewhat dismayed at the prospect of being expected
to give assistance in this matter. The same condition has
existed to a greater or less degree with all beginnings in
special branches of instruction; but in time the normal and
teachers' training schools have provided the means for
teachers fitting themselves to give this instruction under
the direction of supervisors, or even without it, as in the
case of small schools where there is no special supervision.
Is it not probable that the same experience will be repeated
in the matter of instruction in vocational guidance for the
smaller school systems that cannot have the various depart-
ments of vocational instruction and help? In the meantime
those teachers who earnestly desire to help their pupils in


this important matter can do much, if they will take the
trouble to read and inform themselves regarding the ways
and means that are being tried out in other schools and to
study the immediate problem as it affects their own pupils.
They can adapt to local conditions the means that are prov-
ing of value in other places, and they can devise plans for
meeting the conditions and the vocational opportunities in
their own communities.

Practical suggestions for vocational guidance. A few
practical suggestions as to instruction in vocational guid-
ance are offered. The teacher can formulate many other
exercises of a similar character, selecting his material from
the distinctive classes of vocations in the immediate locaUty.
When possible, j)ersons from the various occupations in the
town should be asked to speak to the school upon various
phases of their respective vocations. Conferences should be
held by the teacher and pupils, with the assistance of the
vocational director, where there is one, for the discussions
of the vocations under consideration.

Pupils should be encouraged to ask questions, to be made
the subject of study and investigation on the jxirt of them-
selves and their classmates. Reports upon these investiga-
tions should be made the occasion for free and lively dis-
cussions of the questions and problems presented. Such
conferences will prove a means of arousing interest and of
furnishing opportunities for investigation and concrete
experience The reports should sometimes be written, as the
writing of a carefully prepared report will make it necessary
that pupils obtain accurate and somewhat complete infor-
mation upon the particular phase of the vocations being
reported. Some outlines are given, as suggestive for the
treatment of some of the local occupations. These are not
intended to be exhaustive, but are offered merely as examples
of tlie kind of instruction regarding the vocations that can


be given in any school. Other vocations might have been
taken instead of the ones selected, and the teacher can ana-
lyze in a similar manner those which in his judgment best
suit his particular requirements.

All vocations offer both advantages and disadvantages.
All vocations have features that make them attractive and
other features that make them unattractive to certain indi-
viduals. This fact will furnish the basis for the first analysis.
Other considerations may be made the basis for further
study if desired. It will readily be understood that some
phases of the analysis and many questions arising from it
should be answered by some person who thoroughly under-
stands the vocation under consideration. The discussion
and investigation of a vocation presented for study may be
carried as far as the particular case indicates, and reix)rts
both oral and written may be called for upon certain fea-
tures. Similarly, other vocations may be discussed in con-
nection with it, and persons following these particular voca-
tions should be invited to address the school and attend
the conference following the address or discussion. As an
example of a study of a well-known and typical vocation,
that of the profession of medicine is offered : —

The Profession of Medicine as a Vocation

I. Advantages: —

1. A highly respected and creative vocation.

2. Insures a good living income.

3. Affords an opportunity for highly specialized effort.

4. Furnishes constant opportunity for service to humanity.

5. Gives a high standing in the community and hence influ-
ence as a citizen.

6. Imposes a stimulating responsibility upon those engaged
in it.

7. The aim is definite and unmistakable.


8. Furnishes opportunities for growth.


II. Disadvantages and difficulties: —

1. It requires years of study and much expense in prepara-

2. A long time often necessary for establishing a reputation.

3. Uncertain hours — subject to call at any time of day or

4. Responsibility for human life often a great burden.

5. DiflBculty of collecting bills often entails financial loss.

6. Arduous duties of the physician very wearing upon the

Discussion of the profession of medicine. A skillful and
worthy representative of this profession is always assured
of a good standing in the community and of the respect and
confidence of his associates. Since the treatment of disease
requires special knowledge and skill, the physician is a so-
cial necessity. Hence his importance among his fellow-men.
Because of the knowledge and skill required for the success-
ful practice of his profession, it is not surprising that it
should be considered so important and that the worthy
members of this profession should have the respect and
confidence of society. The physician has to deal with people
of all classes and conditions, rich and poor, young and old,
and under the most trying circumstances. Hence he must
be a man who, to his knowledge and ability as a practitioner,
adds infinite patience and skill in dealing with different
classes of people and with widely different temperaments.
It is not every person who has these qualifications; and the
one who does not possess them, at least in a moderate degree,
or who cannot increase and build upon those which he has,
should not select the profession of medicine as a life-work.
Moreover, the physician should be a person with a strong
physical constitution, in order to be able to endure the
strain to which he is often subjected by long hours and
great responsibility. lie should be a man with a cheerful
disposition and a kind and sympathetic nature, and at the


same time be possessed of decision and firmness. In short,
he should be the tyi)e of man who, by his presence, words,
and manner, insj)ires confidence and gives hope and cheer.
With the natural qualifications suggested above and a
genius for hard, painstaking work, the person who has an
inclination for the kind of effort and the life which this pro-
fession offers should make a worthy and able physician,
provided he has the means for making the required prepara-
tion. This preparation must be thorough; for the responsi-
bility of a doctor for the lives antl welfare of his patients is
too great to be assumed by a person who has not made the
necessary preparation for it. Besides, the physician must
be a man who loves his chosen work well enough to put his
whole heart and soul into it, must love it sufficiently to
bear all kinds of inconvenience and fatigue in the discharge
of his duties, and must be willing to make any necessary
sacrifice of personal pleasure and profit for the physical
welfare of those intrusted to his care. Although the re-
quirements are positive and the responsibilities great, the
profession offers attractive features to those who have the
natural taste and aptitude for it. It is one of the most
noble of the professions and one in which the man who
desires conscientiously to serve his fellow-men will find full
opportunity for the exercise of his powers.

Agriculture as a Vocation
I. Advantages: —

1. It is a creative vocation, since science has been applied
to farming methods.

2. More independent than most vocations.

3. Man can engage in agriculture and maintain himself on
a small capital.

4. Healthful, because of wholesome food, pure air, and a
sense of freedom.

5. Competition less hurtful then in most vocations.


6. Abundant opportunity for specialization. Can vary crops

to suit location and markets.

7. Less risk than in many other vocations.

8. Morally healthful for the young.

9. Children acquire fundamental concepts through constant
contact with material things.

IT. Disadvantages: —

1. Actual returns or profits in money usually small for the
effort expended.

2. Difficulty of securing intelligent and skillful workers.

3. Possible inconvenience or isolation of location.

4. Possible lack of good church, school, library, and other
intellectual advantages.

5. Products determined by uncertain weather conditions.

Vocation of agriculture considered. The advantages enu-
merated above indicate that when a man likes to live in
the country he will find much in agricultural life that will
commend it to him. It will be especially attractive to
those who, with natural inclination toward the particular
kind of life and work which an agricultural pursuit offers,
have little capital with which to begin. The independence
of the life of the agriculturalists appeals to many who do not
enjoy working for wages or upon a salary in the factory, in
the shop, or in the office of another man. Moreover, the
varied phases of agricultural effort make it possible for a
man to select that particular kind which suits his taste, the
character of his land, and the demands of his market. There-
fore he may choose, according to conditions, fruit-raising,
gardening, dairy-farming, poultry-raising, or general farm-
ing, and he may combine any of these or other lines that
appeal to him. Since scientific knowledge has been applied to
agriculture, and instruction in this important branch of
industry has been added to the college curriculum, agricul-
ture has become a highly creative vocation. Another result


of applying scientific principles to agriculture has been to
make it more highly productive as well as more interesting
and attractive to intelligent and educated people.

At no time in the world's history has the vocation of
agriculture been considered more dignified and attractive
than now. To add to its natural attractions, modern ma-
chinery and improvements have contributed greatly toward
doing away with the former drudgery and the disadvan-
tages of life and work in the country. Now the farmer
may ride his plough, his harrow, his mower, his rake,
and other machines. By means of the telephone, the free
delivery, and the automobile, he enjoys practically all the
advantages of the town, and by means of the modern im-
provements in his home, his wife and daughters are greatly
relieved from the drudgery which formerly made life on
the farm for them so irksome. It will be very easy for the
teacher to extend the discussion of the advantages of agri-
culture as a vocation by going more into details and taking
certain kinds of agriculture for special consideration. By
presenting the attractions of life in the country to those
who enjoy the beauty of nature, and the free, healthful life
that it offers, a study of this vocation may be made inter-
esting as well as instructive.

With regard to the disadvantages of agriculture as a vo-
cation, some of these in a great many districts have been
overcome. In many localities the distance from the towns,
with the consequent isolation, is no longer the great hard-
ship that it was in earlier days when the farmer was obliged
to drive to the nearest town for his mail, his merchandise, or
to discuss matters of business with those with whom he had
dealings. Now in many localities his merchandise and his
mail are brought to his door; and by means of the telephone
he can talk with whom he wishes at any time of the day.
The clubs and other organizations for the social and business


intercourse of the farmers with their neighbors have done
very much to reUeve the loneUness of which people living
in the country formerly complained.

Manufacttjring as a Vocation
I. Advantages: —

1. A positive vocation and the work highly creative.

2. Afforrls desirable contact with man and life.

3. Furnishes opportunities for development and growth.

4. Steady demand for manufactured product.

5. In general a respectable and dignified occupation.

n. Disadvantages: —

1. Plant and equipment, usually expensive, requiring large
capital investment in the beginning.

2. Constant repair and renewal of plant necessary.
8. Insurance and other current expenses large.

4. Length of time required to make needed preparation for
assuming management of business.

5. Competition with unscrupulous competitors who pro-
duce inferior articles.

6. Strikes and other labor diflBculties.

Manufacturing considered. The above items relate to the
owner or the manager of a manufacturing plant. Many of
them apply to the hired individual workers as well. The
characteristics of the vocation are somewhat the same,
whether one is the owner of the factory or is a hired laborer
in it; and the opportunities for advancement are always
open to those who bring intelligence, industry, and sincerity
to their work in whatever branch of the industry they may
be employed. While the employee is not directly concerned
with the expense of the plant, the capital required to meet
the expense of producing the manufactured articles, and the
condition of the market, he is indirectly affected by these
matters, as they determine his wage and the permanence of


his position. Strikes and other outcomes of the struggle
between capital and labor fall with as great severity upon
the employee as upon the employer. With regard to the
preparation of the individual worker, this will depend
entirely upon the particular branch of the industry in which
he wishes to engage, and the time required to make this
preparation will be governed accordingly. Naturally the
broad and intimate knowledge of the various departments
of the industry which are necessary for the manager is not
required by the laborers in the various departments, and
the responsibility of the latter is limited to their particular
work. For exami)le, a cutter in a shoe factory is resi)on-
sible only for the work which he himself performs. He has
nothing to do with the making of the shoe which he cuts

Manufacturing as a vocation presents many attractive
features and has much to commend it to those seeking a
creative, profitable, stable, and interesting vocation. The
many constant opportunities which it offers for creative,
productive effort make a strong appeal to those who with
some originality have the talent for applying this to their
work. The results of such effort in the improvements in
machinery and methods of work and the attractive incomes
are continually increasing the desirabiUty of manufacturing
as a vocation and drawing to it a more intelligent and better
educated class of men both as managers and as owners.

The preparation necessary for engaging in this voca-
tion will be determined by the requirements of the partic-
ular branch of the industry in which a man wishes to
engage and by the particular kind of work he wishes to do.
If he wishes to fit himself for the management of some
particular manufacturing industry, he must, after having
decided upon the special branch in which he will engage,
gain a clear knowledge of all its requirements. He must


know something of the sources of the raw material and of
how it can be best and most economically obtained. He
must familiarize himself with the markets, the probable de-
mand for the manufactured article, and the cost of placing
it within reach of the consumer. He should have a thorough
knowledge of the particular manufacturing process, includ-
ing an acquaintance with the best machinery and the best
methods. With such a preparation, combined with intelli-
gence and industry, a man has every chance under normal
conditions to make a success of his undertaking.

As already suggested, the preparation of the individual
worker or citizen depends largely upon the particular line
of work in which he wishes to engage. Hence his prepara-
tion is not of necessity so broad as that of the person who
plans and oversees the work of the various departments
of a manufacturing plant. What he needs primarily is a
mastery of the technique of his particular line of work. In
connection with his own special work, it is of importance
that he have as complete knowledge as possible of the other
departments related to his own, and even more important
than this, he should have an understanding of the principles
and rules underlying the industry as a whole. The farther
he is able to carry this last the better prepared will he be
for doing his particular work intelligently, rather than
merely mechanically, and the more likely will he be to

Trade and Commerce as Vocations

I. Advantages: —

1. When reputable are desirable and respected vocations.

2. May be made creative.

3. May be begun with small capital.

4. Reasonable returns for effort expended.

5. Stimulates one to best effort.


IT. Disadvantages: —

1. Sharp competition.

2. Insurance and current expenses high.

3. Loss through carelessness, waste, surplus stock, and de-
terioration of goods.

4. A fickle public, making market variable.

5. Success largely dependent upon prosperity of the com-
munity or the consumers.

The advantages of commercial vocations are apparent,
and a person having a natural taste for trade and commerce,
in some of its many branches, will find many attractive fea-
tures in them. On the other hand, there are many disadvan-
tages that one should consider carefully before taking up
mercantile life or any branch of commercial business. As
an evidence that a person should exercise the greatest care
in considering the relative advantages and disadvantages
of a commercial life and also his fitness and proper prepara-
tion for it, we have the unmistakable testimony of statistics
to show that fully seventy per cent of those who enter mer-
cantile pursuits do not make a success of the undertaking.

Various reasons are given for this great number of failures;
but the main reasons are undoubtedly want of proper prepa-
ration, and consequent ignorance of the business, coupled
with insufficient knowledge of the conditions to be met and
the difficulties to be overcome. Much of the success in a
commercial life depends upon the ability to buy advan-
tageously; that is, not only to get full value for the money
expended, but to buy such goods as will meet the demands
of the buyer and hence will find a ready sale. It is true that
many financial failures in the commercial world, as well as
in other lines of business, are due to outside conditions —
such as panics — which even the most skillful and careful
business man is unable to overcome. To meet such condi-
tions without being submerged by them, one must have


more than a knowledge of the details of his particular line
of business. He must be possessed of that particular apti-
tude for his particular vocation which is known as "busi-
ness sense." It has taken a long time for people to leam
that every one cannot make a success of buying and selling,
that it requires special qualifications and a careful prepara-
tion on the part of those who wish to make a success of it.
In many respects commercial vocations are among the most
uncertain and hazardous, but when they are successful
they are both remunerative and satisfactory.

Local industries and business. Naturally children will
have some first-hand knowledge of local industries and will
in consequence be most interested in them. This knowledge
the teacher can use as a starting-point in getting information
about and reports upon certain vocations or particular
branches of vocations in the locality. The discussions that
should follow these reports will arouse and stimulate inter-
est, set the pupils to thinking and investigating for them-
selves, and thus lead to practical results.

Every community has some men engaged in the various
vocations and professions who will be wilhng to come to the
school and give practical talks upon the characteristics of
these occupations, their advantages and disadvantages,
the requirements for success in them, and the preparation
needed to enter them. These may be made of great value to
the pupils, as these men out of their own experiences will
give much practical information and make manj'^ instruc-
tive and helpful suggestions. IVIany a thoughtful boy will
be directed in his choice of a life-work by the information
thus gained, or as the result of the response within himself
that brings into consciousness his own natural bent, pref-
erences and possibilities.

Vocational counselor. Another important phase of voca-
tional guidance is that of the vocational adviser or coun-


selor. Such a counselor may work in conjunction with the
school or he may be connected with a distinct vocational
guidance bureau, not connected with the school. In the
larger cities where vocational guidance and instruction have
become an established feature of school work, there is usu-

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Online LibraryOscar Israel WoodleyThe profession of teaching → online text (page 22 of 27)