Charles A. (Charles Allen) Prosser.

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Reprinted from Vocational Education, January, 1913.


Charles A. Prosser.

Secretary National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education.

IN the discussion of the topic "Facilities for Industrial Education,"
the term ' 'industrial education" as distinguished from manual
training will be used as meaning a course of instruction for boys
and girls between fourteen and eighteen years of age who, while being
trained for good citizenship as well, are at the same time being prepared
for successful service as wage-earners in agriculture, household arts, or
industry. Wherever facilities for manual training or training in the
practical arts as a part of a general education are discussed, this will be

Those who are attempting to bring about industrial training in their
communities find themselves confronted with two great difficulties: the
lack of funds, and the lack of knowledge, in this new field where the
work is to a considerable extent yet experimental, as to the kind of train-
ing which is necessary in order to fit boys and girls properly for wage-
earning careers. School authorities find it almost impossible to secure
funds which they need in order to meet the new duties and responsi-
bilities in the general education of the child which our day is thrusting
upon them. This not only requires state and national aid to stimulate
and encourage local communities everywhere to take up practical educa-
tion, but makes it necessary also that the work should be begun on a small
scale and, unfortunately, many times without proper facilities for carry-
ing it on successfully.

The course of study and the method of instruction in the work
cannot be arrived at by the theory of the schoolmaster from within the
school but must be determined as the result of the study of the particular
industry for which the school attempts to prepare the child. In many
lines of industrial education today we do not know with sufficient
clearness what should be given the child to justify us in carrying on the
work on a large scale. We do know, in part at least, what should be
done in training girls in millinery, dress-making, machine operating, and
to a considerable extent at least, for home-making. We do know what
we should do in training boys for woodworking and metalworking. We
do not know, for example, what we ought to do as yet in training chil-
dren for textile working and shoe working.



These considerations make it necessary that school systems should
proceed on an experimental basis in dealing with different new groups
of children who are to be trained and with new lines of industry which
we have not yet entered with practical education. Only in this way
can the school learn the kind of plant and equipment necessary in order
to deal with the problem on a larger scale.


Sometimes the training is given in a separate school and sometimes
in a department of the regular high school. Where the work is given
in a separate school, three kinds of plant are to be found in this country:
— the special building erected for the purpose usually by an issue of
bonds; the old factory building remodeled for the purpose; and the
abandoned schoolhouse which has outlived its usefulness for general
education and is remodeled to serve temporarily for industrial training.

The Williamson Trade School near Philadelphia, and the Wentworth
Institute at Boston, which are private endowed schools, the Worcester,
Massachusetts Trade School for Boys, and the Milwaukee Trade School
for Boys, which are publicly supported, are quartered in special build-
ings planned for the purpose. See Fig. 1. This seems to be a wise and
safe course to pursue in cases where the local authorities are certain that
they know just what kind of building is needed to meet the local situa-
tion. It insures proper conditions for doing the work from the start.
There is danger that the building will not meet the changing conception
of the service which the school should give its pupils. Experience seems
to show that where a special building is erected for giving industrial
education it is advisable to build it one wing at a time, each wing being
devoted to some one feature of the work, and wings being added from
time to time which are adapted to meet the needs of the school.

The New Bedford and Springfield, Massachusetts Independent In-
dustrial Schools and the Industrial School at Rochester, New York,
occupy old factory buildings which have been remodeled so as to provide
for a time at least fairly adequate accommodations for the school. See
Fig. 2. This method of housing the work is one which can be resorted
to successfully in communities which are not yet ready to issue bonds in
order to provide a special building, or the school authorities of which
have not yet determined just the kind of plant they need to meet their
changing ideas of what the school should do. The plan has some excel-








lent features to commend it. The rent for the old factory is small.
Plenty of floor space is usually secured. The school has from the start
an air of reality and commercialism that appeals to many children who
desire to go to work. Alterations in the building are readily and cheaply
made. Changes and additions to the building and the installation
of fixtures and equipment afford an excellent opportunity for productive
work of a kind not offered by the special industrial school building.
See also Fig. 3.

The factory building, however, is usually poorly adapted for school
purposes. Sometimes the location is bad; usually the lighting is poor
and the heating ararngements inadequate. Such buildings should proba-
bly be regarded as a makeshift or device to be used for a period of, let
us say, from three to five years as the first step in the introduction of
industrial education in the community.

The Newton, Lowell, and Somerville Independent Industrial Schools,
of Massachusetts, are quartered in old schoolhouses which have been
remodeled. See Fig. 4. This method of introducing industrial educa-
tion is good when the community is carrying on a small experiment or
beginning in the work. The expense for rent of the factory or issue of
bonds at a time w T hen this might be burdensome to the community is
avoided. School authorities are able to find out thru this kind of small
beginning what should be done on a larger scale with any kind of train-
ing. An opportunity is given to prove the worth of the work before
larger public funds are asked for. Public sentiment is created in favor
of the new kind of education and the public becomes accustomed to the
presence of the new kind of education and the need of its adequate
support by the community.

Abandoned schoolhouses, however, are poorly adapted to the work.
The lighting is always poor ; the rooms are not the right shape and size ;
the construction of the building is not adapted to the use of machinery;
the building does not appeal to the children from any standpoint. See
Fig. 5.

Experience shows that, on the whole, the best methods of establish-
ing a school, in the order of their desirability, are:

( 1 ) The special school fully equipped ;

(2) The old factory building remodeled;

(3) The abandoned schoolhouse remodeled.

The chances are that some of the states will attempt to solve the
problem of industrial education in separate departments of the regular






high school. The Page Bill, providing federal aid for vocational educa-
tion, leaves it optional with the states in the exercise of their autonomy
to use federal money for industrial training in separate schools or in de-
partments of the regular high schools, or in both. There can be no
doubt of the fact that at the present time, because of the academic tra-
ditions of the regular high school, the chances for effective work in
practical education are much better when it is given in a separate school
with a separate principal, separate teachers, separate courses of study
and equipment. It is probable that twenty-five years from now, as the
result of the experiments that are now being carried on whereby stan-
dards in effective training are being worked out, many high schools will
be able to do good work in fitting boys and girls for useful employment
that would not do so now. At any rate, there is great need for the de-
velopment of liberality on the part of the regular high school in dealing
with this problem and for the approach to it always in the experimen-
tal spirit.

Where vocational training is attempted by the regular high school,
certain conditions need to be created if the work is to be done success-
fully. The door of the industrial education department should be open
to the fourteen-year-old boy able to take the course even if he has not
graduated from the elementary school. He is the boy who usually is
going into the industries to be a machinist, a carpenter, an electrical
worker or a printer. In the development of the service to these
wage-earners, the high school must learn to follow the boy to the in-
dustry and thru a part-time arrangement with the employer bring him
back for a portion of his working week for the training he needs.

In most places, at least, the teachers who give the instruction in such a
department of the high school must be teachers with preparation, ex-
perience, and sympathetic point of view different from the equipment
of those who teach in the regular academic departments of the school.
Teachers of industrial or trade work should have had successful ex-
perience in the occupations taught. Teachers of the technical and aca-
demic work should have had sufficient contact with the industries for
which the children are being fitted to enable them to understand and
to deal successfully with the kind of boys and girls they must handle.
The academic work must be of a kind entirely different from that which
is given to those who are fitting for college.

There should be an absolute differentiation in the industrial or voca-
tional training from that of the regular high school in all practical and



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technical work at least. The departments of industrial education should
be under a separate department head who is an expert in the work. He
should be regarded as an expert by the principal of the high school and
the superintendent of schools, and under him there should be a corps of
teachers especially adapted for the kind of instruction which needs to be

While the children of the department of industrial education might
well participate in the social activities of the school, the best results will
be secured where their training is given in a distinct wing of the building
erected or set apart for this purpose. The difference in the character
of the work which they are carrying on requires such a separation for
much of the day.


It is an unfortunate thing for an industrial school to have a complete
building and equipment turned over to it at the outset. If the pupil
is to be adjusted to meet the demands of the industry, his training must
be real. If it is real, it must be given in a productive shop, making
useful things that can be utilized in the school system or sold on the
open market at or above the market price. See Fig. 6. Schools giving
training in such subjects as woodworking, metal working, electrical
working, can readily find use for the work of the pupils either in the
building itself or in the school system. Every school should make a
part of its own equipment. This has been done by most of the industrial
and trade schools. See Fig. 7. Enough equipment ought to be bought
at the outset to start the work. Sometimes an equipment sufficient to
give the first year's training is bought, after which the pupils are able
to make most at least of the tools and machines and facilities necessary
for their further training in the following years.

Where schools find themselves with limited resources at the start,
much secondhand equipment for use in the first year of the work at
least, can be bought that will serve its purpose well. In the other years
of the course, it is necessary to secure the very latest and best machinery
so that when the boy leaves the school he will be familiar with it and can
take his place in the shop successfully.

One of the handicaps under which the school shop must always labor
is that of keeping its machinery from time to time fully abreast of the
best equipment of the commercial shop. It is doubtful whether this
can be done altogether successfully. Under the stress of competition,




the commercial shop changes its equipment from time to time. The
school without such competition is very likely to remain content with
machinery that is behind the times. This is one of the strongest reasons
why the part-time scheme of education that enables a boy to get the most
of his practical training in the industry itself promises to be most effec-
tive in dealing with the great body of wage-earners between fourteen
and eighteen years of age.

Many enthusiastic supporters of part-time education have been led
to claim that all the equipment the school needs in dealing with the
wage-earner for the time which it demands away from the shopwork is
a teacher, a textbook, a blackboard, and some desks. In their enthusiasm
they fail to recognize the conditions under which most of those who are
employed in the industries labor. Large scale production, extreme di-
vision of labor, and the specialized machine have supplanted the artisan
or tradesman with the machine-worker. The old trades in which men
were able to get experience with all the different tools, machines, and
processes of their callings are rapidly disappearing. Modern industry
does not give the worker a chance to get a broad experience in working
with different machines. The typical boy who comes to the part-time
school will be one who is spending his entire time at one machine making
one small part or portion of the final output of the factory.

The schools must always take the boy as it finds him and give to
him the training he needs. In giving part-time instruction to the worker
at the specialized machine, the school must provide under the school roof,
if it is to meet modern industrial conditions, a sufficient amount of
equipment to enable the boy to get the elementary practice and experience
at the machines, with the tools and in the process which the shop
denies him and which is necessary to his insight, interest, and growth
in the occupation. Every experience goes to show that a minimum
amount of equipment under the school roof is necessary as a teaching
device which will make it possible for the teacher to closely correlate
or connect the instruction which he is giving with the shop processes as
they can be illustrated on the machines.

One great mistake which many manual training and technical high
schools have made, and which industrial schools are in danger of making,
is that of providing a large number of tools and machines of one kind
rather that a smaller number of different tools and machines. There
are manual training and technical high schools in this country where in
order to carry on the teaching of pupils in groups enough metal lathes




have been secured to provide one for each pupil in the largest section
which the school handles. This policy requires both an enormous build-
ing with many different shop rooms and a large outlay of money for
equipment for the work, much of which is unnecessary and dooms the
school forever to a system of training where the pupil is taught by the
exercise rather than the job method, where individual instruction has no
place, and where the pupils are handled entirely in groups. The same
amount of money put into a more varied equipment would enable the
school, whether it be a manual training school or industrial or trade
school, to deal with the pupils individually so as to give each a wider
range of experience with different machines, substitute the individual
for the group method of instruction, and to approach more nearly the
conditions of real shopwork so necessary in the proper training for success
in the industries.

Many are coming to believe that training in the practical arts for
boys and girls between twelve and fourteen years of age in order to
uncover taste and ability is a necessary part of a program of vocational
guidance and direction. If children are to find out what they would
like to do, and what they are fitted to do, this training in the practical
arts should, during the two years from twelve to fourteen, bring the chil-
dren in contact with experiences drawn from many different callings.
A course in woodworking alone only determines whether or not the boy
would like to follow woodworking and whether he could do it success-
fully. The same is true of a course in metalworking alone. The school day
should be lengthened and not less than three hours per day given to
training in the practical arts in which the boy is subjected to a series
of jobs, projects, enterprises, or experiences drawn from woodworking,
metalworking, electrical working, printing, bookbinding, gardening,
leather working, clay modeling, etc. This work should be given not
with the expectation that it is to meet trade standards but for the purpose
of giving the boy an insight into the occupations among which he might
choose a life work.

If such a scheme as this were carried out, instead of having a car-
penter shop filled with carpenter benches and a printing shop full of
printer's cases, the school shop would be equipped with a small number
of tools and machines necessary to give in an elementary way experiences
in different occupations, and the progress of the boy thru the work
would be stated in terms of experiences which he would carry on indi-
vidually, drawn from these different lines of employment. Such a varied


equipment would not take any more room than that now occupied for
straight courses in wood or metal and would cost no more than the
amount which is now devoted by school authorities to the purchase of
duplications of the same kind of equipment for some one line of work
which does not provide any test of the pupil outside of that one line
and which does not afford any data upon which an intelligent choice
or advice could be given to him at the age of fourteen when he is facing
the question of what he shall do.

Doubtless in these early years of its growth industrial education will
have a difficult time to secure its fair share of money necessary in order
to secure the proper plant and equipment. If the public wants schools
that will better serve the needs of its children, it must give more money
by taxation for their support. When the public comes to feel, as it is
coming to feel strongly, that it is not only as wise but as equitable to
train the many for successful service in life as it is to train the few for
professional and technical leadership, it will find the way and the means
by which vocational education will receive at least as liberal support as
that which has been given to the general education of those over fourteen
years of age who are fitting themselves for college and professional
careers. It is probably fortunate at the present time, when industrial
education is finding its field and the kind of training it is to give for
different callings, that it is being checked in a too rapid development,
which would be fatal to its final success, by the lack of large resources
with which to carry on work that now needs to be approached carefully,
cautiously, and experimentally.

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Online LibraryCharles A. (Charles Allen) ProsserFacilities for industrial education → online text (page 1 of 1)