Charles Henry Ham.

Manual training : the solution of social and industrial problems online

. (page 17 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 17 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of rectitude, while the minds of the millions of men who
permitted him' to die unfriended, a prisoner in the Bas-
tile, were developed unnaturally. Their education was
unscientific, and their characters were hence deformed.
The one symmetrical character was that of Palissy, the
lover of truth, who was ready to starve, if need be, for
his art, and ready to die for his faith. The thin ranks
of the so-called heroes of the ages of history constitute
the measure of the poverty of the systems of education
that have prevailed among mankind. These so-called
heroes are merely normally developed men men who
search for the truth, and having found it, honor it always
and everywhere. They are peculiar to no clime, to no
country, to no age. They are cosmopolitan, and the fact
that they are honored after death by succeeding ages is
proof positive of the world's progress, or rather of the
progress of moral ideas.

The civilization of Italy in the middle of the fifteenth
century presents the most violent possible contrast to
that of America in the last half of the nineteenth cen-
tury. But the one produced Savonarola, the hater of
abuses in the Roman Catholic Church, and the other

with ray grief." "Palissy the Potter," Vol. I., p. 190. By Henry
Morley. Boston : Ticknor, Reed & Fields, 1853.


John Brown, the stern, uncompromising hater of human
bondage. Four hundred years is a long period in the
history of civilization, but the priest of the fifteenth cen-
tury, and the farmer of the nineteenth, are as near of kin
in spirit as if they had been born of the same mother, and
reared in the same moral atmosphere.

The true hero is always inexorable as Savonarola in
the presence of the majesty of a dying, remorse-stricken,
half-repentant prince, and John Brown in the presence
of his exultant but half-terrified captors. When Lorenzo
di Medici lay terror-stricken, on his death-bed, Savonarola
demanded of the dying prince, as the price of absolu-
tion, a restoration of the liberties of the people of Flor-
ence ; and this being refused, the priest departed without
one word of peace.

When John Brown, wounded and bleeding, lay a cap-
tive at Harper's Ferry, listening to the taunts of angry
Virginians, he said, calmly and firmly, " You had better
all you people of the South prepare yourselves for a
settlement of this question. It must come up for settle-
ment sooner than you are prepared for it, and the sooner
you commence that preparation the better for you. You
may dispose of me very easily I am nearly disposed of
now but this question is still to be settled this negro
question, I mean. The end of that is not yet."*

There is nothing grander in history, whether real or
mythological, than the picture of the humble priest of
the fifteenth century, with no power except the justice
of his cause, shaking thrones and making proud prelates,
and even the Pope himself, tremble with fear ! And the

* "The Public Life of Captain John Brown," p. 283. By John
Redpath. Boston : Thayer & Eldridge, 1860.


exact parallel of this picture is found, four hundred years
down the stream of time, in the person of the farmer,
John Brown, defying the Constitution, law, and public
sentiment of his country in the interest simply of the
cause of justice.

It has been shown through citations from the Walton
report, as well as by the opinions of many competent
witnesses, that the New England system of education,
whether correct in theory or not, is, in actual operation,
very defective. But at the time of its establishment it
was the best system in existence. To it this country owes
the quality of its civilization. The neglect of education
by the Government of the United States is the most as-
tonishing fact of its history. It is incomprehensible how,
with a comparatively excellent educational system in op-
eration, and in full view in the New England, Middle,
and Western States, the National Government could calm-
ly and inactively contemplate the almost entire neglect
of popular education in the States of the South, and ig-
nore, from year to year, the steadily accumulating hor-
rors of ignorance and vice which were destined to lead
to such deplorable political and social results.

The difference between the civilization of New Eng-
land and that of South Carolina, for example, is exactly
measured by the difference between their respective edu-
cational systems. New England undertook, at a very
early day, to educate every class of its citizens ; South
Carolina made a monopoly of education, confining it to
a single class.

It must be admitted that the American statesmanship
of the whole period of our history has been scarcely less
short-sighted than that of England under the Georges,
which resulted in saddling upon her people a debt that


they can never pay. If England had provided a com-
prehensive and scientific system of popular education at
the beginning of the eighteenth century, who doubts that
the wars through which her debt was incurred would
have been averted? If the Government of the United
States had compelled the adoption of a scientific educa-
tional system by the States of the South, who doubts
that slavery would have peaceably passed away, and the
occasion for war passed away with it ?

The conspicuous failure of American statesmanship
consists in a failure to appreciate the value of scientific
education. It shows that good citizenship is impossible
without good education for good education and good
citizenship are convertible terms. And it is easy to show,
by the past, that to hesitate on the subject of education is
to be lost.*

Why do we provide for popular education ? Is it out
of pure generosity that the rich citizen consents to be
taxed to pay for the education of his poor neighbor's
children? Does the man who has no children willingly
surrender a portion of his estate for the education of the
children of others, as an act of benevolence ? Not at all.
There is no security for property in a community devoid
of education and consequent intelligence. Intelligence
alone confers upon property a sacred character. In one

* " If you examine into the history of rogues, you will find that they
are as truly manufactured articles as anything else, and it is just be-
cause our present system of political economy gives so large a stimu-
lus to that manufacture that you may know it to be a false one. We
had better seek for a system which will develop honest men than for
one which will deal cunningly with vagabonds. Let us reform our
schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons."
"Unto This Last," p. 50. By John Ruskin. New York: John
Wiley & Sons, 1883.


of two ways only can property be rendered secure in the
owner's hands. It may be protected by a hired soldiery,
through the force of arms, or through the force of a pub-
lic sentiment enlightened by education. The reason why
the poor but educated citizen would not lay violent hands
on the rich citizen's property is the fact that he indulges
the intelligent hope of himself acquiring property. Be-
sides, the morals of a community are in the ratio of its
intelligence. The indulgence of hope promotes self-es-
teem, and self-respect, and these qualities react upon the
moral nature.

It should be borne in mind that while one of the
main purposes of all governments is to preserve property
rights, nearly all the governments of history have been
shattered in pieces in the effort to fulfil this function of
their existence. It may be said that there is never any-
thing sacred about property unless it is honestly acquired.
All the force of our own government was exerted in a
vain effort to protect property in slaves. England has
been compelled to disturb the property rights of the
Irish landlords, and this is only the prelude to an attack
upon the property rights of her own landlords. It was
the ignorance of the English people hundreds of years
ago that permitted the establishment of a land system
which is now about to crumble in pieces, and in its fall
wreck certain property rights.

There is nothing sacred about property unless it is hon-
estly acquired and honestly held ; and property can only
be honestly acquired and honestly held, in communities
intelligent enough to guard its acquisition, and continued
possession, by just and adequate laws. It follows that edu-
cation is the sole bulwark of the State, and so of property.

The question of the first consequence is, therefore,


always, What is the best system of education ? It is ob-
vious, also, that the subject of cost should not enter into
the discussion ; that the best education is the cheapest,
is an indisputable proposition. We have seen that the
New England system of education, which has spread over
the whole country, is very much better than the system
which prevailed in those States of the Union where slav-
ery continued to exist down to 1864. But we have seen,
also, that that system is very defective ; that it is auto-
matic, and hence not natural, not practical, not scientific.
It does not produce great merchants, great lawyers, great
judges,, or great legislators. That it does not, is abun-
dantly shown by the fact that in mercantile life there are
ninety-three to ninety-seven failures in every one hun-
dred experiments ; by the fact that there is notoriously a
general failure of justice ; and by the fact that here, as in
Great Britain, the chief business of statesmen is the un-
doing of vicious legislation.

There is a system of training which produces a much
higher average of culture than that of the public schools
and the universities. We allude to the training received
by the students of special mechanical and technical insti-
tutions, and by the apprentices in trade-shops. The proof
of this is found in the world's railways, ships, harbors,
docks, canals, bridges, telegraph and telephone lines, and
in a thousand and one other manifestations of skill in
art. In the adaptation of means to an end, and in nicety
of construction, the mechanic and the civil engineer show,
in innumerable ways, with what thoroughness both their
minds and their hands have been trained. If mercantile
operations were governed by such excellent rules in pro-
jection, and by such precision in execution, ninety-seven
merchants in a hundred would not go to the wall.


A story has lately gone the round of the public prints
to the effect that, during a visit to a needle factory by the
Emperor of Germany, a workman begged a hair of his
head, bored an eye in it, threaded it, and handed it back
to the monarch, who had expressed surprise that eyes
could be bored in the smaller sizes of needles. It does
not matter whether or not this story is literally true ; it
illustrates the delicacy of modern mechanical operations.
Hundreds of similar illustrations might be given, show-
ing how marvellously skilful the hand has become.

It is not claimed that the hand is a nicer instrument
than the mind. As a matter of fact, in drilling the hole
in the hair the mind and the hand work together
the mind directs the hand, we will say. The mind de-
vises or invents a watch every wheel, pinion, screw, and
spring and directs the hand how to make it, and how to
set it up, and it ticks off the time. Why does the mind
succeed so admirably when it employs the hand to exe-
cute its will, but so ill when it devises and attempts, it-
self, to execute ? How is it that the mind invents a watch
which, being made by the hand, records the hour to a
second, ninety-nine times in a hundred, but fails ninety-
three to ninety-seven times in a hundred to devise and
carry into execution a mercantile venture? How is it
that the mind invents a steam-engine consisting of a hun-
dred pieces, so that, each piece being made by a different
hand, the machine shall, when set up, ninety-nine times
in a hundred, at once perform the work of five hundred
horses without strain or friction, but when it grapples with
law and fact in the chair of lawj^er or judge produces
a most pitiable wreck of justice? How is it that the
mind devises and the hand executes with such nice adap-
tation of means to the end in view, a bridge, that re-


sembles a spider's web, and yet bears thousands of tons
and endures for ages, but when it undertakes to legis-
late evolves statutes that wear out in a year ? The first
iron bridge constructed spanned the Severn, in England.
It was opened to traffic a hundred years ago, but it is
still a stanch structure likely to stand for centuries.
Where are the English statutes of that time ? Repealed
to give place to a long line of others which in turn have
been repealed. When the famous iron bridge across the
Severn was constructed, English legislators were passing
bills to compel the American colonies to trade only with
the mother country, and to tax them without their con-
sent. Lord Sheffield said, with charming frankness, that
the colonies were founded with the sole view of securing
to England a monopoly of their trade ; and Lord Chat-
ham declared that they would not be permitted to make
even a nail or a horseshoe.

In 1516 Sir Thomas More denounced the criminal law
of England, declaring that " the loss of money should not
cause the loss of man's life."* But this humane and en-
lightened sentiment had so little weight that during the
reign of Henry YIII. seventy-two thousand thieves were
hanged at the rate of two thousand a year. In 1785
twenty men were executed in London at one time for
thefts of five shillings. The Lord Chief-justice and the
Lord Chancellor agreed that it would be dangerous to
repeal the law punishing pilfering by youths. In 1816
the Commons passed a bill abolishing capital punishment
for shoplifting stealing the value of five shillings but
the Lords defeated it, Lord Ellenborough, Chief-justice,

* "The History of England," Vol. II., p. 83. By Harriet Mar-
tineau. Philadelphia : Porter & Coates.


observing, peevishly, "They want to alter these laws
which a century has proved to be necessary, and which
are now to be overturned by speculation and modern

The cause of these failures of mercantile ventures, of
justice, and of legislation is this : Subjective mental
processes are automatic, and hence they neither generate
power nor promote rectitude ; they enfeeble rather than
energize the brain. Men whose characters are formed
by such educational processes never originate anything.
They become selfish, they venerate the past, their eyes
are turned backward ; hence, if they sometimes make a
feeble effort to move forward they stumble. The law-
yer, the judge, and the legislator are examples of this
class. Their guide-books are musty folios in a dead lan-
guage ; they look for " precedents " in an age whose civ-
ilization perished with its language, and whose maxims
and rules of life were long ago exploded. Such men can
be compelled to move forward only by the lash of public
opinion. Buckle, speaking of the reforms extorted from
the, legislators of England, says,

"But it is a mere matter of history that our legisla-
tors, even to the last moment, were so terrified by the
idea of innovation that they refused every reform until
the voice of the people rose high enough to awe them
into submission, and forced them to grant what without
such pressure they would by no means have conceded."f

On the other hand, the inventor, the discoverer, and
the artisan are always in the advance, and always moving

* "The History of England," Vol. II., p. 85. By Harriet Mar-
tineau. Philadelphia : Porter & Coates.

f "History of Civilization," Vol. I., p. 361. By Henry Thomas
Buckle. New York : D. Appleton & Co., 1864.


forward. They never look back except to catch the vital
principle of the invention or discovery of yesterday for
utilization in the improved machine of to-day. Their
acts are never repealed because they never become odi-
ous. They never become odious because they contain the
germs of imperishable truth. They are never false ; they
are suitable to their time and the stage of development ;
they constitute links in the chain of progress. While the
legislator is horrified at the thought of innovation, the
inventor, the discoverer, and the artisan are electrified
by the discovery of a new principle in physics, and de-
lighted at its application in a new invention, and its
practical operation in a new and useful machine.

The difference in effects upon the mental and moral
nature, between purely mental training and mental and
manual training combined, is susceptible of logical ex-
planation. It is only in things that the truth stands
clearly revealed, and only in things that the false is sure
of exposure.* Hence exclusively mental training stops
far short of the objective point of true education. For
if it be true that the last analysis of education is art,
progress can find expression only in things in the work
of men's hands. And it is true ; for ideas are mere vain
speculations until they are embodied in things. Nor is

* " To know the truth it is necessary to do the truth." . . .

"We rightly seek the meaning of the abstract in the concrete, be-
cause we cannot act in relation to the abstract, which is only a repre-
sentative sign ; we must give it a concrete form in order to make it a
clear and distinct idea ; until we have done so we do not know that
we really believe only believe that we believe it. A truth is best
certified to be a truth when we live it and have ceased to talk about
it." "Body and Will," p. 49. By Henry Maudsley, M.D. New
York : D. Appleton & Co., 1884.



this materialism unless all civilization is material; for
the prime difference between barbarism and civilization
consists in the presence, in a state of civilization, of more
things of use and beauty than are found in a state of bar-
barism. To exalt things is not materialistic; they are
both the source and issue of ideas, and the measure of
civilization. Ideas and things are hence indissolubly'
connected ; and it follows that any system of education
which separates them is radically defective.* Exclusive-
ly mental training does not produce a symmetrical char-
acter, because at best it merely teaches the student how
to think, and the complement of thinking is acting. Be-
fore thoughts can have any influence whatever upon the
world of mind and matter external to the mind origi-
nating them they must be expressed. They may be ex-
pressed feebly, through the voice, in words ; more dura-
bly, and therefore more forcibly, with the pen, on paper ;
more forcibly still in drawing pictures of things ; and,
with the superlative degree of force, in real things.
The object of education is the generation of power.

* " Prof. Huxley seems to hold that zoology cannot be learned with
any degree of sufficiency unless the student practises dissection. In
support of this position there are strong reasons. In the first place,
the impression made on the mind by the actual objects, as seen, han-
dled, and operated upon, is far beyond the efficacy of words or de-
scription. And not only is it greater, but it is more faithful to the
fact. While diagrams have a special value in bringing out links of
connection that are disguised in the actual objects, they can never
show the things exactly as they appear to our senses ; and this full
and precise conception of actuality is the most desirable form of
knowledge ; it is truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Moreover, it enables the student to exercise a free and independent
judgment upon the dicta of the teacher." "Education as a Science,"
p. 303. By Alexander Bain, LL.D. New York: D. Appleton & Co.,


But to generate and store up power, whether mental or
physical, or both, is a waste of effort, unless the power is
to be exerted. Why generate steam if there is no engine
to be operated ? Steam may be likened to an idea which
finds expression through the engine a thing. "Why
store the mind with facts historical, philosophical, or
mathematical which are useless until applied to things,
if they are not to be applied to things ? And if they are
to be applied to things, why not teach the art of so ap-
plying them ? As a matter of fact, the system of ed-
ucation which does not do this is one-sided, incom-
plete, unscientific. Rousseau says, "Education itself is
certainly nothing but habit." If this be true, it will
be conceded that the habit of expressing ideas in things
should be formed in the schools, because the chief way
in which man is benefited is through the expression of
ideas in things. The system of education which tends to
form this habit is that of the kindergarten and that of
the manual training school. These systems are one in
principle. They are not new ; they at least date back to
Bacon, who declared that he would " employ his utmost
endeavors towards restoring or cultivating a just and le-
gitimate familiarity betwixt the mind and things." The
kindergarten and the manual training school exactly re-
alize Bacon's idea. The idea of the manual training
school was in the mind of Comenius when he said, " Let
things that have to be done be learned by doing them."
It was in the mind of Pestalozzi when he said, " Educa-
tion is the generation of power." It was in the mind of
Froebel, not less than the kindergarten, when he said,
" The end and aim of all our work should be the harmo-
nious growth of the whole being."
These are excellent definitions of education, and they


are sequential. If things that have to be done are
learned by doing them, there will be in the course of the
process a wholesome exercise of both body and mind,
and this exercise will result in the generation of power
power to think well, and to do well ; and the process
being continued, the result cannot fail to be the harmo-
nious growth of the whole being. This is scientific, as
opposed to automatic, education.*

* "Intellectual progress is of necessity from the concrete to the
abstract. But regardless of this, highly abstract subjects such as
grammar, which should come quite late, are begun quite early. Po-
litical geography, dead and uninteresting to a child, and which should
be an appendage of sociological studies, is commenced betimes, while
physical geography, comprehensible and comparatively attractive to
a child, is in great part passed over. Nearly every subject dealt with
is arranged in abnormal order definitions and rules and principles
being put first, instead of being disclosed, as they are in the order of
nature, through the study of cases. And then, pervading the whole,
is the vicious system of rote learning a system of sacrificing the
spirit to the letter. . . .

"A leading fact in human progress is that every science is evolved
out of its corresponding art. It results from the necessity we are
under, both individually and as a race, of reaching the abstract by
way of the concrete, that there must be practice and an accruing
experience with its empirical generalizations before there can be
science." "Education," pp. 61, 124. By Herbert Spencer. New
York: D. Appleton & Co., 1883.




Fundamental Propositions. Selfishness the Source of Social Evil;
Subjective Education the Source of Selfishness and the Cause of
Contempt of Labor; and Social Disintegration the Result of Con-
tempt of Labor and the Useful Arts. The First Class-distinction
the Strongest Man ruled ; his First Rival, the Ingenious Man.
Superstition. The Castes of India and Egypt how came they
about ? Egyptian Education based on Selfishness. Rise of Egypt
her Career; her Fall; Analysis thereof. She Typifies all the
Early Nations : Force and Rapacity above, Chains and Slavery
below. Their Education consisted of Selfish Maxims for the Gov-
ernment of the Many by the Few, and Government meant the Ap-
propriation of the Products of Labor. Analysis of Greek Charac-
ter its Savage Characteristics. Greek Treachery and Cruelty.
Greek Venality. Her Orators accepted Bribes. Responsibility of
Greek Education and Philosophy for the Ruin of Greek Civiliza-

Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 17 of 30)