Alwin Pabst.

Handwork instruction for boys online

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HfAndvork in-

struction for boys


Southern Branch
of the

University of California

Los Angeles

Form L I







Instruction for Boys

By Dr. Alwin Pabst

Director of School for Training Teachers of Handwork
Leipsic, Germany

Translated from the German

By Bertha Reed Coffman, A. M.

St. Louis, Missouri












In translating this work I have endeavored to be as
literal as possible w^ithout injury to the English. The
clear, concise style of the author has made this easier to
do than would be the case with many German writers.

For the convenience of English readers all technical
terms have been translated, with the exception of a very
few which have no English equivalent.

In America there is no institution which corresponds ex-
actly to the Volksschule, Bürgerschule, Gymnasium, Real-
schule, Seminar, or Hilfschule.

The Volksschule (plural Volksschulen) is the elemen-
tary school of Germany. It differs from the public schools
of America in several essentials. In the Volksschule
every pupil must pay tuition unless he is too poor to do so.
Another point of difference is that while the public schools
of our country are attended by nearly every child of school
age, the German Volksschule loses many children who pre-
fer to attend other schools.

The Bürgerschule (plural Bürgerschulen) as its name
indicates, is a school for the middle classes.

The Gymnasium (plural Gymnasien) has a course of
nine years of classical work preparatory to the university,
while the Real-Gymnasium prepares for advanced tech-
nical work in the Technische Hochschule, or technical col-

The Realschule (plural Realschulen) is a non-classical
school offering a course of six years in mathematics, the


sciences and modern languages. This school corresponds
to some extent to the American high school.

The term Seminar (plural Seminare) may mean a nor-
mal school for the training of teachers or it may refer, as
in the American universities, to a special class organized
for advanced study in any particular subject. Dr. Pabst
uses the term with the former significance.

Under the term Hilfschule are included many kinds of
institutions. In the beginning of the fourth chapter Dr.
Pabst explains his use of the word, applying it to all insti-
tutions for the training of mentally defective children. It
is also applied to reform schools.

It affords me pleasure to express at this time my appre-
ciation of the assistance rendered by all who have aided in
the preparation of this work. I wish especially to thank
the author, who has taken an active interest in this Ameri-
can edition, furnishing the photographs and offering valu-
able suggestions, and Mr. Charles A. Bennett, who has
read critically the entire manuscript and rendered valuable
aid throughout the progress of the work.

McMillan Hall,
Washington University,
Siint Louis
November, 1909.


Chapter I. — Instruction in Handwork Based
Upon the History of Civilization (Socio-
logical AND Technological), upon Psy-
chology^ and upon the Demands of
Teaching 13

The human hand and the tool. Motor sensations
and exercise of the muscles. The significance of the
activity of the hand for spiritual development. The
sociological importance of instruction in handwork.
Instruction in handwork as a means toward educa-
tion in general.

Chapter H. — Instruction in Handwork in
the History of Pedagogy and in the
Light of Modern Pedagogical Tenden-
cies 32

Comemius, Rousseau, the Philanthropists, Pesta-
lozzi, the School of Herbart, Fröbel, and others. The
modern movement toward instruction in work:
Biedermann, Clauson Kaas, von SchenckendorflF and
the German Society for Handwork for Boys. The
movement toward instruction in work in the north-
ern lands, in France, England, and other countries,
especially in North America. The psychologic-
pedagogic, the sociologic-pedagogic, and the art-
pedagogic tendency of our time and their influence
in instruction in work.


Chapter III. — Instruction in Handwork as a
Means of Education (outside the
School and in Institutions of a Particu-
lar Kind: Workshops for Pupils, Boys'
Homes, Boarding Schools, etc.) 72

The educational momentum in instruction in hand-
work and the subjects taught in pupils' workshops
(tasks for preparatory work, work in pasteboard,
wood, and metal, modeling, etc.).

Chapter IV. — Instruction in Handwork in
THE School (School for Defectives,
Volksschule, Higher School) and in the
Seminar for Teachers 88

The significance of instruction in handwork in
sound pedagogy. Attempts to include instruction in
handwork in the course of the Volksschule (Hertel,
Springer, Brückmann, Kumpa, Scherer). Dexterity
of the hand in the service of instruction in the nat-
ural sciences in the higher schools and in the sys-
tematic training of the normal school.

Chapter V. — Systems and Practical Carrying
out of Instruction in Handwork in Dif-
ferent Countries (Swedish Sloyd, In-
struction in Handwork in France, Eng-
land, North America, and Japan) 112

System and method of Swedish sloyd and of the
French instruction in handwork. Hand and eye
training and manual training in English and Amer-
ican schools. Instruction in handwork in the educa-
rional exhibits in Paris, 1900, and St. Louis, 1904.


I. Boys at Woodwork in the Teachers' Training School
at Leipsic.

II. Models for Benchwork in Planing and Carving, Teach-
ers' Training School, Leipsic.

III. Modeling, Teachers' Training School, Leipsic.

IV. Workroom in School of Handwork, Hildesheim.

V. Feeble-Minded Pupils at Handwork, Institution for
Feeble-Minded at Potsdam.

VI. Class in Sloyd at Gothenburg, Sweden.

VII. Class in Sloyd at Frederikshavn, Denmark.

VIII. Manual Training Center in Glasgow, Scotland.

IX. Class in Sloyd in an Elementary School in Aberdeen,

X. Chestnut Street School Shop, Springfield, Massachusetts.

XI. Tabourets and Plate-racks designed in Grade VIII,
Springfield, Massachusetts.


The origin of the following work goes back to six lec-
tures which, in compliance with an invitation from Profes-
sor Rein of Jena, were delivered before the summer school
there in August, 1906.

I have consented with greater willingness to let these
lectures appear in enlarged form because I am convinced
that the question of instruction in handw^ork for boys is
one of the most important problems which is under dis-
cussion at the present time. It lays claim to a universal
interest, for to handwork, so often discussed with great
vehemence, more than to any other branch of education,
can the word of the poet Schiller be applied, Von der
Parteien Gunst und Hass verwirrt schwankt ihr Charak-
terbild in der Geschichte. (Confused by the favor and
hatred of parties, its image changes in history.)

In reality it concerns not simply a new branch of in-
struction, but a deep-rooted principle of our whole educa-
tional sj'stem. Therefore something further must be
brought out if one is fully to comprehend handwork in
its significance for education. The superficial way in
which this question is frequently treated in meetings and
by the press can lead to nothing but a war of words, at
the end of which neither opponent convinces the other. To
avoid the possibility of falling into this error, it has been
necessary to bring together material from different fields
of knowledge in a comprehensive and yet condensed form
in order to establish the necessity of instruction in hand-



The history of civilization teaches that the saying Wis-
sen ist Macht^ (knowledge is power) does not stand with-
out modification. Knowledge in itself is not power, but
it becomes power in the service of the will and understand-

This acknowledgement is decisive in the examination of
our present day education, and the discussion of the prob-
lems of education from this point of view leads us, as a
matter of course, to the necessity of turning our attention
also to other civilized countries. Scarcely a phase of in-
tellectual life reflects the national character of a people so
clearly as that of education !

The studies of school matters and systems of education
which the author has had the opportunity to make in dif-
ferent European countries, and in North America, have
contributed essentially to develop fundamental doctrines
which are expressed in the book here presented. He
who believes with the author that the kind of education
given determines essentially what will result from the
youth of a people in the future and how they will stand the
test in the conflict of the ruling civilized peoples, will also
admit that we must go back to the fundamental problems
of our education and to the foundations of our civilization
if we wish to secure a clear judgment in such a deep-rooted
question as that of instruction in handwork for boys.

From this point of view the author would like to have
the following work regarded as a contribution toward the
solution of an important problem of education-

A. Pabst.

Leipsic, Nov., 1906.

1 Saint Chamberlain, Die Grundlagen des XIX Jahrhunderts
(Foundations of the Nineteenth Century).


Instruction in Handwork Based Upon the History
OF Civilization (Sociological and Technologi-
cal), upon Psychology, and Upon the
Demands of Teaching.

Aristotle calls the human hand the "tool of tools," and
it is really that in a threefold sense. In the first place, it
is the natural tool given to man at birth ; then it serves as
a pattern for the artificially formed mechanical tools; and
finally the construction of the latter, which are commonly
called "hand tools," depends primarily upon its activity.

On account of its formation, by which it is wonderfully
fitted for the most varied functions, the hand furnishes
the model for all artificial tools. All the tools which
were made by primitive man are evidently planned with
the intention of reinforcing the activities practiced by the
hand, and assume the form of a perfected human hand.

The stone with a wooden handle, for example, is the
simplest artificial imitation of the forearm with the fist
clenched, and a,ll hammers and axes can be traced back to
this fundamental form. The same form has remained
almost unchanged even to the present time in the ham-
mers of smiths and miners. Even the gigantic steam ham-
mer still shows this fundamental form ; and however great
the contrast may be between this mighty tool of modern
technique and the stone hammer of remote antiquity, yet
there exists, without doubt, a certain connection between



the lines of thought of the designer of the steam hammer
and those of the primitive man who used the first stone

The hammer experienced an important transformation
when it was changed into the hatchet and ax by the for-
mation of an edge; thereby not only its utility as a tool
was increased, but its effectiveness for the purpose of de-
fense as well. The incisors have evidently furnished the
pattern for this transformation ; in the same way the simple
row of teeth on the file and saw are designed, while the
hand in the act of grasping something and the teeth of the
upper and lower jaws are copied in the head of the nip-
pers and the jaws of the vise- In a similar way the
knife and chisel point back to the incisor, and the gimlet
to the extended index finger with the sharp nail. Ham-
mer, hatchet, saw, pliers, knife, chisel and gimlet repre-
sent primitive tools, the invention and use of which mark-
ed the first step in a broader advancement of civilization
for the primitive man, as we observe this even to-day in
races which stopped at a lower stage of civilization-

The value of tools increased naturally with the use of
different materials (wood, horn, bone, shells, stones of
different degrees of hardness, and metal) which gave the
tool greater strength and made possible a form better
adapted to its purpose. Concerning these stages of de-
velopment the history of primitive ages gives us informa-
tion which teaches us that the iron age followed the stone
and bronze ages, while the success of modern technics
could be attained only through the use of the hardest steel.
In the improvement of tools there have been only gradual
changes, for the steam hammer in its fundamental form
is just as much a hammer as one of stone, and in the same


y we may trace numerous other tools and implements

:k: to certain fundamental forms which are suggested

the natural tools of man — the hand, arm, and teeth.

e cup goes back to the hollow hand out of which we

nk; the hook finds its origin in the bent finger; the

ce is a prolongation of the arm, the strength of which

ncreased; and so it is with many other weapons and

ruments which are used in the hunt, in catching fish,

agriculture, and in the working up of raw materials.

the improvement of all these tools, which in their

;inal forms are primitive and incomplete, it was of

It advantage that nature herself furnished in part the

able materials (thorns, teeth, and pieces of bone from

aals, fire stones, etc.) and that through the use of fire

hardening, hollowing out, sharpening and polishing of

s materials were made possible.

'hese examples drawn from an inexhaustible supply of
;rial may suffice to show the origin of the first tools
their significance in the further development of civili-
in ; at any rate they give us some idea of the truth and
ling of the assertion of Edm.und Reitlinger that "the
e history of man, if examined carefully, finally re-
itseff in the hii,\.u[j c?/ d.c invention of better tools."
In a similar way the machines and technical aids of our
highly developed industry can be traced back to simple
fundam.ental forms. The steam flour mill, for example,
and the primitive flour mill of the first people are con-
trivances for grinding which 'liave in common, as their es-
sential element, the millstor^e which furnishes a more
effective substitute for the molkr teeth.

The tool constantly serves the pu'rpose of giving to man
a greater mastery over nature and her products. Through


the use of mechanical tools this mastery is remarkably in-
creased and strengthened. Even the scientific instruments
and apparatus are nothing but improved and refined tools,
which are especially constructed to secure for us a more
complete knowledge of the natural bodies and the powers
of nature than would be possible for us with our senses
alone. Just as the ordinary tools assist the hand, so the
microscope and the telescope assist the eye, the telephone
the ear, and the telegraph makes possible communication
at great distance without change of place.

So man has gradually risen by means of the perfection
oi tools to higher stages of culture; he can rightly be re-
garded as the tool-using creature and in this respect is
distinguished from all other creatures. But since the dis-
covery and improvement of tools depends not alone upon
intellectual activity, which, to be sure, cannot be spared,
a further development of the hand must take place along
with the perfection of the tools. The improved tool de-
mands a more skillful hand, and in the same measure as
the tool of the present diflEers from that of primitive times,
the skill of our hand differs from that of the hand of the
primitive man.

By the use of the tool the '\^ ViQ-*l ov.V^ tiained, but
it is protected as well. It is saved from coming in direct
contact v^ith hard material and has thus attained a greater
delicacy, sensitiveness, rxnd flexibility. Thus in mutual
reaction the tool has aided the development of the natural
organ. This in turn, after attaining a higher stage of
skill, has brought about thf_" perfection and development of
the tool, and both factor^o have increased in power mutu-
ally until they have reached the highest attainments pos-
sible, as exemplified in the handwork and in the tool of


the operator, artist, or skilled mechanic- The latter, for
example, who has to work with the finest instruments for
measuring, can develop his hand into such a fine tool, that,
in the testing and fitting of the draw tube of the microscope
into its sheath, it can distinguish dififerences which cannot
be measured by any tool.

The statement that the improved tool demands also an
improved hand is clear without further explanation ; its
application to machine w^ork may not be quite so self-evi-
dent in current opinion. Indeed, many are of the opinion
that the machine which saves man from rough work and
which performs even finer tasks with a precision which is
not possible for the hand, especially in large quantities,
makes a further development of the hand unnecessary,
while it turns over to it only the work of assistance and
takes from it, on the other hand, the real execution of the
work. However, this conception is not correct, for a
more careful examination shows that progress is possible
in the use of machines only when it is united with a cor-
responding progress in the development of the people who
use the machine. The uneducated workman, for example,
who can use a simple agricultural instrument well would
utterly fail in the use of the complicated machines of
mechanical weaving. The more complicated the machine
becomes, the better must be the training of the hand which
u^es it, and such a training of the hand is necessarily linked
with greater executive power of the brain. When the
fingers must work so accurately that they deal with differ-
ences of millimetres, such exactness is impossible without
a corresponding training of the eye, and trained intellec-
tual ability, — in other words, a higher executive power of
the brain.,


With reference to the use of scientific apparatus and of
fine instruments for measuring, this is quite obvious; it
applies, however, to every kind of mechanical and techni-
cal work as well. Nature has also provided that it should
not be possible for a person to receive a wholly one-sided
development for a particular service ; if a particular service
of the eye or hand is required from a person, the entire
man must be developed to a certain power of achievement.
Just as it is impossible to bring any particular part of a
machine to perfection and develop in it great power of
execution at the expense of the other parts which are left
in their primitive form, there are also certain fundamental
limitations in the development of the power of execution
in single organs of man on account of their relation to
other organs and their dependence upon them.

The preceding statements lead up to a discussion of the
physiological - psychological principles of instruction in
handwork with reference to the facts given in the preced-
ing pages. As far as universal experience goes, the control
of the groups of large muscles is easy. On the other hand
the finer and finest perceptions of touch and motion of the
arm, the hand, and especially the fingers are learned only
with great pains. For example, it demands less skill to
handle the ax and split wood with the exertion of all the
hand and arm muscles than to take hold of a pen with
three fingers and write with it. In his first attempt at
writing, the child uses almost all the muscles of his whole
body; and even among grown people we frequently notice
that a movement of the muscles of the face accompanies
the motion of the hand in writing. What we call rough
work calls into activity the groups of large muscles with
their coarser adjustment, while the finer work exercises


groups of small muscles with their more delicate adjust-
ment. Therefore, the rougher work develops only a few
of the crude motor functions, while the finer work devel-
ops the more exact motor functions and requires a finer
adaptation of the movements of the muscles. This latter
alone is educative, while the hardest kinds of handwork
dull the motor perceptions. Not the ax and crow-bar, but
the light hammer, saw, plane, chisel, knife, and scissors
are the tools which ought to be used in the school for hand-
work- Hence it is also clear that the instruction in gym-
nastic activities does not suffice for the development of the
motor perceptions, but their value in other respects is not
affected by this fact.

The investigation into the development of the child has
taught us that the training of the motor perceptions must
begin early, for the brain centers which control the move-
ments of the muscles of the hand develop early (according
to Preyer the motions of grasp of the child can be clearly
recognized in the seventeenth week). If the training is
started at the right time, the m.ovements of the muscles can
attain a certain stage of perfection which is not possible if
begun at a later period in life. For among grown people
the paths of execution are already carved out to such an
extent in definite directions, and the cells of ganglion are
so far developed, that a perfection of the motor paths is
scarcely possible any longer.

The practical conclusion resulting from these statements
of psychological research must be that instruction in hand-
work should not begin too late. As experience has long
taught, it is best joined with the play of the children be-
fore the school period and in the first school years; and in
general it ought to be pursued as the chief thing in the


period from the eighth to the sixteenth year. By postpon-
ing systematic school exercises for the development of the
motor perceptions, the best time is lost and the result be-
comes thereby questionable.

To be sure we must not fall into the opposite mistake
and have the finer exercises, especially those of the fingers,
commence too soon. Even here a carefully graded ar-
rangement is indispensable; the universal, methodical
maxim, "From the easy to the difficult," when applied
particularly to the motor exercises, would be stated:
"From the larger to the finer."

It is very plain that in this we are only following the
law of development, which the course of human history
also recognizes, and which we may therefore apply with-
out hesitancy in this case.

In closing this line of thought, if we look over the
entire cultural-technical development from the first
crude tools to the system of the most highly developed
technique of the present, two principal points of view are
clearly to be seen: first, the tool is the only, and there-
fore, an indispensable means of raising the activity of our
minds to refinement and strength. Therefore the tool
alone affords us the means of gaining the first knowledge
or our surroundings, especially of the products of nature;
and upon it depends all further development in turning
the products of nature to account in advancing human
civilization. Moreover the tool stands as a result of the
activity of the brain and hand in such vital relationship
to the man himself that he sees in the creation of his hand
a part of his own being — his world of perception embodied
ir material revealed before his eyes. Also in the animal
world we find valuable technical means for furthering the


purposes of existence ; it may be observed even in the nests,
webs, and buildings of many animals. As is well known
division of labor is also practiced among many animals in
a tolerably perfect manner. "But only among men does
Nature use the tool as the most important contrivance for
the preservation and perfection of organisms. The tool
is a higher development, which is mechanically free from
organism, but biologically belongs to organism, as the shell

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Online LibraryAlwin PabstHandwork instruction for boys → online text (page 1 of 11)