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cian, a locomotive engineer, a manager of an industrial en-
terprise ?

(a) It is obvious that these problems are capable of be-
ing scientifically investigated as soon as psychology possesses
the necessary tools. There exist now a large variety of pop-
ular beliefs or prejudices on the subject. For example :

( 1 ) Some vocational school authorities believe that boys
aged 16 or more, who wish to learn a trade, succeed much
better if from 14 to 16 they have had a miscellaneous indus-
trial experience as job workers in various unskilled or ju-
venile occupations. But effect of selection is obvious here,
and is probably deceptive. Only boys of exceptional char-
acter, probably, seek admission to industrial schools after
such a period of miscellaneous experience.

(2) There is a widespread belief that the varied and
often intensive experience obtained in farm life constitutes a
valuable basis for almost any kind of subsequent employment.

(3) It is also believed in some quarters that persons who
have for several years habituated themselves to a special line
of manufacturing or commercial employment (for example,
bookkeeping, shoemaking, draftsmanship, weaving) are
permanently disqualified in large measure from taking up
employment in other fields.

Special Problems of Vocational Education 375

(&) Even superficial analysis will show that these prob-
lems must be approached with reference to particular types
of qualities involved. For example, few people would assert
that skill obtained in playing baseball can be directly utilized
in learning to swim. On the other hand, results of physical
development, such as lung power, strength of arm muscles,
etc., obtained in baseball may constitute valuable assets in
learning to swim. Again, the life of the farmer's son may
give little direct preparation in skill or knowledge for the
work of a physician, but, on the other hand, a general atti-
tude toward work, a disposition to finish jobs once under-
taken, an appreciation of the value of money or recogni-
tion resulting from successful work, may in large measure
be transferred.

(c) Much will depend, naturally, upon the relation-
ship of the various occupations involved, according as these
deal with similar working conditions, similar tools, identical
materials, etc. One would expect a drill press operator to
bring to the work of the planer a variety of important as-
sets, while one would not expect the bookkeeper to bring to
house carpentry at least similar assets.

(d) It must be recognized that prolonged practice in any
occupation may, in an important degree, disqualify the per-
son for pursuit of another not related to it. The man who
has followed farming for several years is in many respects
disqualified to become a counter salesman of dry goods;
the actor disqualified to become a farmer; the machinist to
become a bookkeeper, etc.

(e) The question is an important one for several reasons.
In the first place, there are many occupations which cannot
be entered upon in youth for example, that of locomotive
engineer. The locomotive engineer must have served in
some other calling for several years, for which, presumably,
he could have systematic training. Will his previous ex-
perience as stationary engineer or as fireman constitute, in

376 Vocational Education

the long run, a sufficient preparation for his work as loco-
motive engineer? Again, systematic vocational education
in schools for some occupations is easily possible ; for others,
extremely difficult. If a transfer can be easily effected, then
we might train a person to be first a house carpenter or a
farmer, even though we knew that eventually he would fol-
low the sea as a sailor or work underground as a coal miner.


The problems of professional education are in the main
remote from the purpose of this book. But one of general
interest is that relating to the extent to which a program of
professional training should base the so-called technical
studies upon foundations of practical experience.

Problem 1 . To what extent does effective vocational edu-
cation for any profession require that the present order of
studies, which involves the giving of technical instruction in
advance of practical experience, should be modified, or even
reversed in order that a certain amount of practical experi-
ence shall be taken perhaps at the outset and at intervals
in the course of professional training?

For example, in the training of teachers it would be prac-
ticable, if desirable, to have a certain amount of^practice
teaching done at the very start as a basis for the subsequent
study of methods, theory, etc. An engineering student
might at the outset be given practical employment in some-
thing of an apprentice capacity along practical lines. A
prospective physician might serve as a hospital orderly,
nurse, etc., before completing his training.

Problem 2. To what extent shall training for professions
which are not as yet clearly differentiated presuppose, as a
basis, a complete professional training along the lines of pro-
fessional training already established ?

In agriculture, for example, professional fields of " ad-

Special Problems of Vocational Education 377

ministration of agricultural plants," " rural engineer/' " ru-
ral journalist," etc., seem to be in process of differentiation.
In medicine, there is a demand for specialists in such fields
as optometry, school physician, etc. In the commercial
occupations, certain fields of expert inquiry, statistical work,
and salesmanship seem to be assuming the proportions and
standards of professions. In industry, we have as yet sys-
tematic training for the positions of foreman, overseer, and
the like, only in very few fields.

(a) At present it is often assumed that before one may
take up professional training in these undifferentiated or
" nascent " professions, it is necessary that he should have
a complete professional training along some established
line. This process, however, is costly, and it is a question
whether the resources of the community or of the individual
trained are always equal to it. The question of necessity
must also be considered. For example, the school nurse and
school physician represent distinct demands to-day in special-
ized fields for which it is doubtful if the historic training of
the nurse and of the physician are at all necessary prerequi-
sites. The professions of rural engineer and of rural jour-
nalist may, on the other hand, be of such a nature as to re-
quire not so much a large amount of technical training in
agriculture, as maturity and a wide range of experience be-
fore they are taken up.

(b) In many instances, indeed, the problem involved is
one of maturity and experience rather than the purely tech-
nical training of the person embarking in such work. Most
directive or managerial positions require as primary essen-
tials, maturity and experience. It is quite probable that in
some of these professional lines the ultimate solution will
be that the person will take a definite amount of practical
training for the historic occupation itself, and will then en-
ter upon some field of practice with a view of returning,
later, for advanced study toward managerial or other related

378 Vocational Education

work. It has been proposed, for example, that a school for
the preparation of superintendents and principals of schools
should presuppose perhaps five years of experience as
teacher before systematic study for the administrative work
is begun.


Because of the highly differentiated character of the
trades and industries a series of problems arise in industrial
education which have not yet appeared in other fields.

Problem 1. To what extent and under what conditions
shall training be given for highly specialized occupations
in manufacturing and other related callings where so-called
" unskilled " or specialized service is in large demand?

For example, in the manufacture of cotton and woolen
cloth, the number of specialized occupations is now nearly
one hundred. Some of these seem to require little or no
special training, and may be adequately supplied by the labor
of children or women. In shoemaking it is said that the
number of specialized operations for each of which individ-
ual workers are employed now reaches several hundred and
is steadily increasing. Similar tendencies toward differen-
tiation and specialization of occupation are found in food-
packing, iron and steel working, small hardware and jewelry
manufacturing, printing and publishing, the building trades,
transportation, and even certain phases of agriculture, such
as sugar production, wheat growing, etc. The building up
of department stores, large jobbing houses, and the like in
commerce increases, also in a large degree, specialization in
salesmanship and clerical service.

(a) There is no evidence that the tendency toward ex-
treme differentiation and specialization in occupational fields
will be stayed. In proportion as economic units of produc-
tion and exchange enlarge, supervision becomes more efH-

Special Problems of Vocational Education 379

cient, and mechanical devices are invented and improved,
so, it would appear, in almost all occupational fields special-
ization and the relatively large employment of unskilled serv-
ice seem to increase. The persistency of this tendency
will depend upon the economic advantages resulting from
such specialization.

(b) On the other hand, from the standpoint of the in-
dividual worker, serious questions, as yet very slightly in-
vestigated, arise as to the psychological, moral, and physical
effects of extremely specialized occupation. A large part
of personal growth in character, physical powers, and prob-
ably also in mental capacity has always been dependent upon
the occupation followed. Early specialization may con-
ceivably result in partial or complete arrest of development
in these lines.

It is probable, however, that specialization of occupation
for one whose physical, growth has been completed is much
less dangerous than for one still plastic. Hence, while ex-
treme specialization for a worker at 15 years of age may
give bad results, the same may be not at all true if the occu-
pation is entered upon at the age of 22 or 23. This repre-
sents a promising field for further inquiry and investiga-

(c) In the meantime there are good grounds for urging
that all persons be given an opportunity for systematic voca-
tional education, either in some trade requiring various oper-
ations, or over a series of the special operations found in a
highly specialized manufacturing or other economic pro-

Problem 2. To what extent and under what conditions
can training for f oremanship be organized and conducted ?

In almost all fields of organized industry the post of fore-
man, overseer, or other special director of groups of workers
is clearly recognized. Such posts commonly require (1)
the degree of expert knowledge of the occupation which a

380 Vocational Education

skilled worker is supposed to possess; and also (2) qualities
not easily described, but related to leadership, capacity to
direct workers, knowledge of human nature, organizing abil-
ity, etc.

(a) Foremen must combine, of necessity, native ability
with high degree of training; hence almost invariably these
must be selected men who have had considerable experience.

(b) Experience does not suggest that industrial schools
can train foremen, as such, economically. Young people
from 14 to 20 years of age can hardly be selected with refer-
ence to their native ability to serve as foremen. Hence,
training in the special lines of knowledge required for fore-
manship would be largely wasted. On the other hand, when
skilled workmen are selected after several years of experience
for positions of foremanship they often find themselves
handicapped for lack of the technical knowledge which fore-
men should have.

(c) Probably the need should be met by (1) a syste-
matic course, offered to all alike, toward the occupational pur-
suit itself, followed by (2) opportunities at evening schools
and short courses for workers who have had a few years'
experience in the industry, further to qualify themselves if
they desire.

Problem 3. To what extent shall prolonged courses of
industrial training be offered to girls in industrial and other
occupational fields, who, in the main, will spend but from
four to seven years in the occupation, after which they will
take up homemaking?

The Census of the United States shows that at the present
time there are employed in this country a very considerable
number of girls from 14 to 20 years of age. It is well
known that the large majority, probably at least 90 per cent
of these in the wage-earning callings, will take up homemak-
ing as a career between the ages of 20 and 27. The prob-
lem of the industrial training of these, therefore, involves,

Special Problems of Vocational Education 381

on the one hand, comparatively short courses of training,
and, on the other, courses which will produce the maximum
degree of efficiency in early stages.

Problem 4. Are there callings in industrial fields inter-
mediate between those of a strictly professional nature, such
as engineering, and those of a strictly trade nature, for
which a large degree of technical instruction, as distin-
guished from practical training, is desirable?

It is sometimes alleged that there are such technical fields,
for which, for example, the technical training offered in
some of our high schools might be suited. Draftsmanship
is sometimes alleged as an example, while in other fields
such occupations as assaying, computing, and the like, may
serve as examples. No sufficient analysis of these possi-
bilities has yet been made.

Problem 5. What, at any given stage of vocational train-
ing for the industrial occupations, should be the proportion
of time and energy of the pupil given, respectively, to tech-
nical instruction and to practical training?

Extreme and opposed examples of the problem under con-
sideration are the following: (1) In the making of the
machinist, a boy beginning at the age of 14 might devote his
first two years very largely to such technical studies as draw-
ing, mathematics, mechanics and shop exercises, together
with shopwork and shop English, and on the other hand
give a minimum amount of attention to productive shopwork
of a thoroughly practical nature. Between his sixteenth and
eighteenth years the proportion of time given to his shop-
work might be very greatly increased, with a diminution of
the amount of attention given to technical work.

(2) On the other hand, a program of training could be
devised by which during the first year he might give from 60
to 80 per cent of his time to productive shopwork, with rela-
tively only a small amount of technical instruction related to
it. In his later years the proportion of time given to shop-

382 Vocational Education

work might be diminished, and the proportion of time given
to technical instruction might be greatly increased.

The problem involved is not one merely for a given in-
dividual, but one which shall meet the requirements of the
large proportion of individuals as these present themselves
for training. The first program might be the better for the
person, if he could be found, who possesses inherent quali-
fications for foremanship; but it might prove exceedingly
wasteful for that large majority of prospective workers in
iron and steel who have little capacity for abstract thinking.
The second program might prove much the better for the so-
called " concrete-minded " people, and might also prove
more effective for those who were capable of surviving four
or more years of training as given.


The chief problems found in commercial education at the
present time, apart from those involving its relationship to
general education, are found in connection with the unan-
alyzed character of the occupations, from the standpoint of
programs of commercial training.

Problem 1. To what extent should commercial occupa-
tions other than those of (a) accountancy and bookkeeping,
(b) stenography and typewriting, be differentiated for the
purpose of vocational education?

Statistics show clearly that in the commercial world ap-
proximately 80 per cent of the workers are found in fields
of salesmanship, etc., as against 20 per cent in the specialized
fields of accountancy, and stenography and typewriting.
For the former occupations, however, little or no systematic
vocational education is yet offered, in the main because re-
quirements of these occupations that might be met by school
vocational training have not been defined.

Special Problems of Vocational Education 383


The two chief problems connected with homemaking edu-
cation at the present time are (a) those connected with the
more effective coordination of that education with the home
activities of the pupils and (b) those connected with the
age at which it is efficiently practicable to begin systematic
vocational homemaking education.

Problem 1. To what extent and under what conditions
in a program of systematic vocational homemaking educa-
tion can cooperation with the home be secured, and the equip-
ment and facilities of the home be utilized for purposes of
practical training?

(a) Every girl seeking a homemaking education must
either live at home, in school dormitory, or under other
conditions involving close contact with the various opera-
tions for which she is being trained. An efficient program
of vocational homemaking education will involve the exten-
sive use of the facilities thus offered.

(b) The problem presents different aspects, according
as the vocational day school or the vocational evening school
is under consideration. The principle is the same in both
cases, however.

Problem 2. At what age is efficient homemaking educa-
tion most practicable?

It is quite probable that there must be differentiation of
groups for homemaking education, according to age as af-
fected by the occupations followed. For example, it may
be doubted whether girls who from 14 to 21 years of age
will be wage-earners in occupations not related to the home,
and who will be either living at home as boarders or in
boarding houses, can efficiently respond to vocational home-
making education until somewhat late in their wage-earning
careers. Again, when conditions of caste shall have been
so changed that home employment on a wage basis shall be

384 Vocational Education

attractive, systematic vocational education for this might
well be begun at 14 or 15 years of age. In the case of girls
not contemplating wage-earning careers, but who design
to remain at home, systematic vocational education might
well take place during the high school period.


Some examples now exist of successful programs of agri-
cultural vocational education wherein the home farm is
successfully combined with the school for instruction and
for the direction of practical work. The two problems at
present most pressing are ( 1 ) the provision of opportunities
for practical training for city boys, and (2) the problem
of combining secondary vocational agricultural education
with preparation for higher institutions for the study of

Problem 1. Under what conditions can boys living under
urban conditions be provided with facilities for that portion
of vocational agricultural education connected with practical

Experiments are being made in the direction of renting
vacant land adjacent to cities for this purpose and putting
boys in charge of their work on a project basis.

Problem 2. To what extent is it practicable for boys in
the course of receiving a vocational agricultural education
properly to qualify themselves for an agricultural college?

Obviously the requirements of an efficient vocational agri-
cultural education are defined by the conditions of success-
ful farming. It is not yet clear as to what should consti-
tute the minimum requirements for admission to the agri-
cultural college. Probably the college should distinguish in
its work between degree work and courses of agriculture of
a practical nature.

Special Problems of Vocational Education 385


The effectiveness of any form of vocational education de-
pends largely upon the degree to which those directing it
comprehend and respond to the practical requirements of the
occupations for which training is being given. There arise,
therefore, (a) problems as to obtaining teachers who have
had experience in the occupation for which training is being
given; (6) problems of keeping these teachers in intimate
contact with the practical requirements of these occupations;
(c) problems of maintaining or providing in connection with
the executive authority in charge of the schools, specialists
in vocational education; and (d) problems of providing,
either in the legislative authority in charge of the schools or
in an advisory relationship, representatives of the fields for
which training is being given.

Problem 1. To what extent and under what conditions
can teachers in vocational departments be equipped with
practical experience obtained through actual participation
in the callings for which they are giving education ?

(a) Experience seems to prove that effective vocational
education can only be given by persons who have had suffi-
cient experience in a practical capacity, in a particular oc-
cupation, to enable them to succeed on a commercial basis.

For example, where normal schools undertake to train
teachers for successful teaching (and not merely to teach
prospective teachers certain subjects of study) experience
seems to show that such teachers must themselves have been
successful in the field of practical work. In medical col-
leges it is rare to find successful teachers who have not been
commercially successful in practice. The best engineering
teachers are those who have served some years at commer-
cial work. In such trades as plumbing, pattern making, and
others it is now agreed that a successful teacher must him-


386 Vocational Education

self have reached a stage where he could readily procure
profitable employment. The situation is not clear as regards
commercial and agricultural teachers, but doubtless the same
principles apply in these fields, as well as in homemaking.

(b) Granting the necessity of a considerable amount of
practical experience on the part of teachers, the following
are methods by which it could be obtained in conjunction
with suitable training in the art of teaching: Vocational
schools might take as teachers only persons who have al-
ready demonstrated their capacity in the world of practical
effort, giving them in greater or less degree, just prior to
their entrance on teaching, such training in the art of teach-
ing as is practicable.

This method has been followed in the past by medical col-
leges, theological schools, and to some extent, engineering
colleges and law schools. It is now followed by trade
schools, and to a small extent, by schools of agriculture.

(c) A person seeking to become a teacher in a vocational
field might take pedagogical courses, followed by a certain
amount of practical experience as a prerequisite before tak-
ing up teaching. This is the prevailing method in normal
schools and in some engineering schools.

(d) A course of training might be devised whereby the
prospective teacher would first take a course in a school
looking toward teaching, followed by one or more years of
practical participation in commercial work, this to be suc-
ceeded by a definite period of study of the art of teaching,
preliminary to taking a teaching position. This method is
being proposed as a basis for the training of teachers of
commercial subjects, etc.

Problem 2. To what extent and by what means shall
teachers in vocational schools be required to keep in close
contact with the occupational fields for which they are giv-
ing training?

Jt is probable that in fields like industry and agriculture

Special Problems of Vocational Education 387

and others where changes are taking place efficiency can be
produced only by strongly requiring that teachers shall not
only observe but actually participate, on a commercial basis,

Online LibraryDavid SneddenVocational education → online text (page 31 of 48)