Charles Henry Ham.

Manual training : the solution of social and industrial problems online

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to prison, and tortured to blindness. After his death in
prison at the age of seventy-seven years, his right to make
a will was disputed, his body was denied burial in con-
secrated ground, and his friends were prohibited the priv-
ilege of raising a monument to his memory in the Church
of Santa Croce in Florence.

Eighteen hundred years ago a Roman emperor refused
to sanction the use of improved machinery in the prose-
cution of a great public work, on the ground that it
would deprive the poor of employment.

In 1663 a Dutchman erected a saw-mill in England,
but the hostility of the workmen compelled its abandon-
ment. More than a hundred years elapsed before the
second saw-mill was put in operation in England, and
that was destroyed by hand-sawyers.

The Flemish weavers who introduced improved weav-
ing machinery into England in the seventeenth century
were met by protests. One of these protests, addressed
to Parliament, represented that the Flemish weavers had


" made so bould as to devise engines for working of tape,
lace, ribbin, and such like, wherein one man doth more
among them than seven Englishe men can doe, so as
their cheap sale of commodities beggereth all our Eng-
lishe artificers of that trade and enricheth them."

A little more than a hundred years ago, in England,
when the Sankey Canal, six miles long, was authorized,
it was upon the express condition that the boats plying
upon it should be drawn by men only.

Illustrations of the vis inertia of ignorance might be
multiplied indefinitely. Ignorance reverences the past.
Ignorance never doubts. Ignorance is content ; perfect-
ly satisfied with its own knowledge, if the paradox may
be allowed, it never seeks to increase it. But it is sus-
picious. In every effort to enlighten it discovers a con-
spiracy to undermine. Incapable of the intellectual ef-
fort of inquiry, it stagnates, and regards as a deadly enemy
those who seek to disturb the serenity of its muddy pool.

When labor was only another name for a state of slav-
ery, to teach men to labor skilfully was merely to raise
them to a little higher grade of servitude. Hence it is
only at a very recent period that it has occurred to man-
kind to teach skilled labor in the schools. All educa-
tional systems, our own among the rest, seem to have
been intended to make lawyers, doctors, priests, states-
men, litterateurs, poets. But this is the age of steel, the
age of machines and machinery. Tremendous forces in
nature have been discovered and utilized, and these dis-
coveries and their utilization have so multiplied vast en-
terprises that the importance of the more ornamental
branches of learning is dwarfed in their presence. This
is the practical age, and an educational system which is
not practical is nothing. We shall still have our Tenny-



sons, and our Longfellows, and our doctors of abstract
philosophy ; but there is little time to sentimentalize with
the poets or speculate with the philosophers. There is
work to do. The mine is to be explored and its treasures
brought to the surface; more and more powerful ma-
chines are to be constructed to bear the burdens of com-
merce ; new elements of force are to be discovered and
applied to the constantly increasing wants of mankind.*

On the subject of the demand for a more comprehen-
sive educational system, Col. Augustus Jacobson says,
with great force, "Youth is the expensive period of
man's existence. Youth produces nothing and eats all
the time. If the youth is not trained there can hardly
be a profit to mankind on his existence. As mankind is
liable for, and bound to pay, his expenses, he should be
so trained that he may repay them. He can only become
a profitable investment by training. If he is left un-
skilled, the money spent on him is wasted. There is
no profit on a whole generation of Spaniards or Turks.
Mankind should be wise enough to reap the profit there
always is in finishing raw material, by making human
raw material into a highly finished product."

There are millions of " bright, capable " little human
beings in the schools of the United States, receiving,

* " To know the ' use ' either of land or tools you must know what
useful things can be grown from the one and made with the other.
And therefore to know what is useful, and what useless, and be skil-
ful to provide the one, and wise to scorn the other, is the first need
for all industrious men. Wherefore, I propose that schools should
be established wherein the use of land and tools shall be taught con-
clusively in other words, the sciences of agriculture (with associated
river and sea culture), and the noble arts and exercises of humanity.
"Fors Clavigera," p. 302. Part. III. By John Ruskin, LL.D. New
York: John Wiley & Sons, 1881.


doubtless, excellent intellectual or mental training. But
they are not being trained for the actual duties of life as
the savage child is taught to fight, to fish, and to hunt.
They are not taught to labor with their hands, either
skilfully or unskilfully. They are not given instruction
in any department of the useful arts, notwithstanding
the fact that in the case of a vast majority of them the
alternative of earning their bread by the labor of their
unskilled hands, or resorting to their untrained wits for
a support, will be presented immediately on their en-
trance upon the stage of active life. The apprentice
system gave skilled mechanics to England, and her splen-
did manufacturing prosperity is the result. The trained
English apprentice became an inventor, and his inven-
tions and art discoveries studded the island with workshops
filled with automatic product-multiplying machinery.

The savage of Australia in Captain Cook's time could
kill a pigeon with a spear at thirty yards, but he couldn't
count the fingers on his right hand. The Southern Es-
quimau turns a somersault in the water in his boat with
ease. But his more Northern brother has no canoe, and
is ignorant of the existence of a boat ; he has no use for
a boat, because the sea in the latitude of his home is
frozen the entire year. The savage is taught what he
needs to know in his condition, and is taught nothing
else ; hence his skill in the few avocations he pursues.

The civilized boy in school is taught many theories,
but is not required to put any of them in practice ; hence
he enters upon the serious duties of life unprepared to
discharge any of them.* It may be said that he is in

* Discussion of the subject of technical education at a meeting of
the Society of Arts, London, England, 1885.
Dr. Gladstone, F.R.S. : "It should be their aim in [elementary


real danger of the penitentiary until he learns a profes-
sion or a trade. "Of four hundred and eighty -seven
convicts consigned to the State Prison for the Eastern Dis-
trict of Pennsylvania in 1879, five-sixths had attended pub-
lic schools, and the same number were without trades."
It is noticeable also that during the same period "not
five were received who were what are called mechanics."
In the penitentiary of the State of Illinois four out of
five of the convicts have no handicraft. The fact that
the skilled workman is far more likely than the common
laborer to keep out of the penitentiary is a powerful
argument in favor of joining manual training to the
mental exercises of our common schools.

The general adoption of a comprehensive system of
mechanical education in the public schools would quickly
dispel the unworthy prejudice against labor which taints
the minds of the youth of the country. The splendid
career which this age opens to the educated mechanic
would become clear to the vision of every boy in the
land, and he would see, in the tools he was taught to

schools] to give such a notion of the value of materials and the use
of tools as could afterwards be turned to use in any required direc-
tion. There were two great difficulties in the way of doing this.
The first and greatest was the inveterate notion that education con-
sisted of book-learning. . . . Another difficulty was the ignorance of
teachers in this respect. If an endeavor were made to introduce
some knowledge of science into schools, they generally found that
the teachers had some kind of theoretical knowledge, but it had been
obtained mainly f rotn books ; and what was chiefly wanted was that
things should be taught as well as words and before words."

Prof. Guthrie, F.R.8. : "This method of bringing the hand and
the mind to work together really lay at the basis of all true tech-
nical instruction; where the mind alone was employed the knowl-
edge acquired passed away, but when the mind and the hand had
been educated together the knowledge was never forgotten."


handle, the key not only to fair success, but to wealth
and fame. Professor Thurston, President of the Ameri-
can Society of Mechanical Engineers, thus depicts the
tremendous power wielded by the mechanic :

" The class of men from whose ranks the membership
of this society is principally drawn direct the labors of
Nearly three millions of prosperous people in three hun-
dred thousand mills, with $2,500,000,000 capital ; they
direct the payment of more than $1,000,000,000 in annual
"svages ; the consumption of $3,000,000,000 worth of raw
material, and the output of $5,000,000,000 worth of man-
ufactured products. Fifty thousand steam-engines, and
more than as many water-wheels, at their command turn
the machinery of these hundreds of thousands of work-
shops that everywhere dot our land, giving the strength
of three million horses night or day."*

* Inaugural address, as President of the American Society of En-
gineers, New York, November 4, 1880.



A few Million People now wield twice as much Industrial Power as
all the People on the Globe exerted a Hundred Years ago. A
Revolution wrought, not by the Schools and Colleges, but by the
Mechanic. The Union between Science and Art prevented by the
Speculative Philosophy of the Middle Ages. Statesmen, Lawyers,
Litterateurs, Poets, and Artists more highly esteemed than Civil
Engineers, Mechanics, and Artisans. The Refugee Artisan a Pow-
er in England, the Refugee Politician worthless. Prejudice against
the Artisan Class shown by Mr. Galton in his Work on " Hereditary
Genius." The Influence of Slavery: it has lasted Thousands of
Years, and still Survives.

AVnAT the civil engineers and mechanics of England
have done for that country the same classes here have
done for America. It is by these classes that all civilized
countries have been made prosperous and great. And
the agent through which the power of man has been
augmented a thousand-fold is steam. "In the manufact-
ures of Great Britain alone, the power which steam ex-
erts is estimated to be equal to the manual labor of four
hundred millions of men, or more than double the num-
ber of males supposed to inhabit the globe."* This is the
most significant fact of all time, namely, that a few mill-
ions of people in a small island now wield twice as much
industrial power as all the people on the globe exerted
one hundred years ago. And it is a fact of the utmost

* "Brief Biographies: James "Watt," p. 1. By Samuel Smiles.
Chicago : Belford, Clark & Co., 1883.


significance that the public educational institutions of
England contributed scarcely anything to this industrial
revolution, whose influence now comprehends all civilized
countries. The men by whom it was wrought came not
from the classic shades of the universities, but from the
foundery, the forge, and the machine-shop. There has
been very little change in educational methods since the
time when Bacon said, " They learn nothing at the univer-
sities but to believe." lie proposed that a college be es-
tablished and devoted to the discovery of new truth. No
such college has, however, been established, but many new
truths have been discovered. Suppose all the universities
of England, of the United States, and of all other highly
civilized countries had, from the time of Bacon, been
conformed to his ideas, and devoted to the discovery of
new truths? Such a course would have united science
and art, and insured vastly greater progress, no doubt,
than that which has actually taken place. The union of
science with art has thus far been rendered impossible
by reason of the wide prevalence of purely speculative
views. The speculative philosophy of the Middle Ages
still projects its baleful influence over our institutions of
learning. Abstract ideas are still regarded as of more
vital importance than things. Statesmen, lawyers, litte-
rateurs, poets, and artists are more highly esteemed than
civil engineers, machinists, and artisans. Mr. Smiles, in
his excellent work on the Huguenots, has shown that
England owes to the French and the Flemish immigrants
" almost all her industrial arts and very much of the most
valuable life-blood of her modern race." 45 " Commenting

* "In short, "wherever the refugees settled they acted as so many
missionaries of skilled work, exhibiting the best practical examples of
diligence, industry, and thrift, and teaching the English people in the


upon this fact in his work on " Hereditary Genius," Mr.
Francis Galton says,

" There has been another emigration from France of
not unequal magnitude, but followed by very different re-
sults, namely, that of the revolution of 1789. It is most
instructive to contrast the effects of the two. The Prot-
estant emigrants were able men, and have profoundly
influenced for good both our breed and our history ; on
the other hand, the political refugees had but poor aver-
age stamina, and have left scarcely any traces behind

This is the testimony of a distinguished student of
biology ; and it is to the effect that the refugee artisan is
of immense value to the country where he finds an asy-
lum, while the refugee politician is of no value at all.
We should naturally say, our author having made this
important discovery will make much of it. First of all,
he will deduce the conclusion that if the refugee politi-
cian is of no value to the country where he finds an asy-
lum, the home politician is an equally unimportant factor
in the social problem. Then he will make an exhaustive
study of the industrial class as the chief basis of his prop-
ositions and speculations on the subject of the science of
life. Not at all. Mr. Galton, in his work on " Hered-
itary Genius," offers another striking illustration of the
repressive force of habit and the influence of popular
prejudice. In his classifications of men according to

most effective manner the beginnings of those various industrial arts
in which they have since acquired so much distinction and wealth."
"The Huguenots," p. 107. By Samuel Smiles. New York: Har-
per & Brothers, 1867.

* "Hereditary Genius," p. 360. By Francis Galton, F.R.S., etc.
New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1880.


their professions, with a view to the inquiry whether
"genius, talent, or whatever we term great mental ca-
pacity, follows the law of organic transmission runs in
families, and is an affair of blood and breed" in such
classifications Mr. Galton forgets for the time being that
there is an industrial class. He runs through the entire
social scale, from " the judges of England between 1660
and 1865," not omitting Lord Jeffreys, down through
statesmen, commanders, literary men, poets, musicians,
men of science, painters, divines, the boys in Cambridge,
oarsmen, and wrestlers of the North Country, but has
no word to say of the civil engineers, or of the invent-
ors those immortal men whose monuments in stone
and iron exist in every corner of England.

Buckles's caustic remark, "the most valuable addi-
tions made to legislation have been enactments destruc-
tive of preceding legislation, and the best laws which
have been passed have been those in which some former
laws have been repealed," does not apply to the works
of the civil engineers, inventors, and mechanics of Eng-
land or of any other country. Their works live after
them and never fail to reflect honor upon them. The
"acts" of the inventor may be amended but they are
never repealed. Each inventive step, however short and
apparently unimportant, constitutes a substantial link in
the chain of progress; and it is a substantial link, be-
cause it invariably contains a hint of the next sequen-
tial step.

Mr. Galton is an original thinker of great power, and
an untiring investigator. In contrasting the politician
with the artisan he discriminates admirably. He finds
that the politician is of no value, practically, to the com-
munity, while the artisan is of almost inestimable value ;


and tins conclusion he states curtly, without appearing to
care a rash for the public sentiment which reverences
politics and so-called statesmanship. But when he " makes
up his jewels," so to speak, on the subject of " hereditary
genius," Mr. Galton, as already remarked, forgets that it
is worth while to consider the class of men who in the
last hundred years have literally almost created a new
world. Why is this ? The late Mr. Horace Mann an-
swered the question long ago, and he answered it so well
that his answer is here reproduced in extenso : " Man-
kind had made great advances in astronomy, in geome-
try, and other mathematical sciences, in the writing of
history, in oratory and in poetry, in painting and in
sculpture, and in those kinds of architecture which may
be called regal or religious, centuries before the great
mechanical discoveries and inventions which now bless
the world were brought to light ; and the question has
often forced itself upon reflecting minds why there was
this preposterousness, this inversion of what would ap-
pear to be the natural order of progress ? Why was it,
for instance, that men should have learned the courses
of the stars and the revolution of the planets before they
found out how to make a good wagon-wheel ? Why was
it that they built the Parthenon and the Coliseum be-
fore they knew how to construct a comfortable, healthful
dwelling-house? Why did they build the Roman aque-
ducts before they framed a saw-mill ? Or why did they
achieve the noblest models in eloquence, in poetry, and
in the drama before they invented movable types? I
think we have arrived at a point where we can unriddle
this enigma. The labor of the world has been performed
by ignorant men, by classes doomed to ignorance from
sire to son ; by the bondmen and the bondwomen of the


Jews, by the helots of Sparta, by the captives who passed
under the Eoman yoke, and by the villeins and serfs and
slaves of more modern times."

When the great educational reformer of Massachu-
setts thus graphically pointed out slavery as the cause of
the contempt in which the useful arts had been held
from the dawn of history, four millions of men were
kept in bondage and compelled to toil under the lash
by one of the most enlightened nations of the earth.
Later thirteen millions of people pledged "their lives,
their fortunes, and their sacred honor " to the perpetua-
tion of slavery, and half a million soldiers marched re-
peatedly to battle to do or die in behalf of the right (?)
of one man to buy and sell the bodies of his fellow-men.

There is, then, a logical reason for Mr. Galton's neg-
lect of the artisan class. Slavery in its most odious form
not only existed in the heart of a so-called "free" nation
twenty -five years ago, but dared Liberty to a deadly
contest. ]STor were the- upholders of slavery without
moral support among the governments and peoples of
the world. The government of England, of which Mr.
Galton is a subject, under cover of a pretended neu-
trality aided the American slaveholders' Confederacy in
sweeping Freedom's ships from the sea ; and the great
families of England, the families cited by Mr. Galton in
support of his proposition that genius "is an affair of
blood and breed " those great families were well pleased
when Freedom's ships went down and Freedom's armies
retreated before the assaults of the slave confederacy.

This somewhat extended reference to Mr. Galton is
not intended to impugn his good faith as an author. Its
design is simply to show that the influence of slavery is
not yet extinct; still moulds ideas, controls habits


of thought, inspires literary men, and permeates litera-
ture. In a word, the cause of the contempt in which
the useful arts were held in Babylon in the time of He-
rodotus was in full force in this country down to the
date of the issuance of Mr. Lincoln's proclamation of
emancipation; and it is scarcely necessary to observe
that the British Constitution grew out of the feudal sys-
tem, which was only another name for slavery. It is a
proverb in England to this day that it is safer to shoot a
man than a hare ; and the sentiment of the proverb is a
complete justification of human bondage, since it implies
that property rights are more sacred than the rights of
man. Thus slavery has kept its brand of shame upon
the useful arts for thousands of years, and the mind of
man has been so deeply impressed thereby that it does
not react now that slavery is extinct. Like the slave re-
leased from bondage, who still feels the chain, still winces
and shrinks from the imaginary scourge, the mind of
man continues to revolve automatically in the old chan-




The Past tyrannizes over the Present by Interposing the Stolid Re-
sistance of Habit. Habits of Thought like Habits of the Body
become Automatic. There is much Freedom of Speech but very
little Freedom of Thought : Habit, Tradition, and Reverence for
Antiquity forbid it. The Schools educate Automatically. A glar-
ing Defect of the Schools shown by Mr. John S. Clark, of Boston.
The Automatic Character of the Popular System of Education
shown by the Quincy (Mass.) Experiment. Several Intelligent
Opinions to the same Effect. The Public Schools as an Industrial
Agency a Failure. A Conclusive Evidence of the Automatic
and Superficial Character of prevailing Methods of Education in
the Schools of a large City. The Views of Colonel Francis W.
Parker. Scientific Education is found in the Kindergarten and
the Manual Training School. "The Cultivation of Familiarity
betwixt the Mind and Things." Colonel Augustus Jacobson on
the Effect of the New Education.

ALL reforms must encounter the stolid resistance of
habit. It is not less tyrannical because it is a negative
force. It braces itself and holds back with all its might.
It is in this manner that the past dominates the present.
This automatic habit of mind is precisely like certain
automatic habits of the body which operate quite inde-
pendently of any act of volition. For example : " When
we move about in a room with the objects in which we
are quite familiar, we direct our steps so as to avoid
them, without being conscious what they are or what we
are doing ; we see them, as we easily discover if we try
to move about in the same way with our eyes shut, but


we do not perceive them, tlie mind being fully occupied
with some train of thought."* In the same way the
mind under certain conditions becomes an automaton,
constantly revolving old thoughts after the causes that
gave rise to them have ceased to operate. Piano-forte
playing affords an excellent illustration of this automatic
action of the mind. " A pupil learning to play the piano-
forte is obliged to call to mind each note, but the skil-
ful player goes through no such process of conscious
remembrance ; his ideas, like his movements, are auto-
matic, and both so rapid as to surpass the rapidity of
succession of conscious ideas and movements."!

Freedom of speech and freedom of thought are catch-
penny phrases. There is much of the former, but very
little of the latter. Speech is generally the result of au-
tomatic thought rather than of ratiocination. Indepen-
dent thought is of all mental processes the most difficult
and the most rare; habit, tradition, and reverence for
antiquity unite to forbid it, and these combined influ-

Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 13 of 30)