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or commodities essential to their support. Temporarily, a
man may have other occupations than his vocation, just as,
permanently, he may have one or more avocations besides
his vocation. A man's occupation outside of hours devoted
to his vocational life may be that of recreation, or extending
his personal culture, or helping his wife in her vocation
that of homemaking or in drilling for military service,

Some Future Problems 399

or in forwarding the ends of his political party. The word
" career," on the other hand, seems more inclusive than
vocation. It includes not only the idea of vocation suc-
cessfully pursued, but its consequences on social position,
prestige, opportunities for leisure, etc.

Because, historically, the welfare of man as well as that
of his family has depended so greatly upon the success
wherewith he pursues his vocation, it has been natural for
that vocation to hold a central or primary place among the
activities with which he concerns himself and especially
as he becomes purposive, self -controlled, and " civilized."
Furthermore, it has been natural for society to think of man
in terms of his calling more frequently than in terms of his
other occupations, just as it frequently happens that a man's
dress, manners, facial expression, and even mental and social
characteristics are often greatly affected by his vocation.
Nevertheless, as " civilization " advances, society probably
thinks less rather than more in terms of the man's vocation,
partly because the range of his possible activities outside his
calling, especially in urban communities, becomes more ex-
tended. Of four persons at a club largely indistinguishable
in dress and manner, one may be, as to business, a lawyer,
another a bank cashier, another a college teacher of modern
languages, and the fourth a real estate dealer. By their
non-vocational activities they are variously designated as
Catholics or Unitarians, Republicans or Socialists, golf-
players or hunters, family men or bachelors, and the like.

Of the artisans going home after an eight hour day's
work, one may be a horseshoer, another a stairbuilder, an-
other a riveter, and a fourth a pattern-maker. But they,
too, have their varied non-vocational activities in which they
may join cooperatively with each other, or occasionally
cooperatively with the clubmen above.

It seems to be a social fact of general application that the
more primitive and undifferentiated a man's vocation, the

4OO Vocational Education

more it seems to affect and control all his other activities.
The primitive farmer, sailor, fisherman, hunter, domestic
servant, priest, homemaker, teacher, and small trader seem
to follow their respective vocatiohs three hundred and sixty-
five days in the year and twenty- four hours in the day.
But is this a condition approved by men possessing the
advantages of high vocational competency and good general
intelligence? Is it not a fact that for these the ideal is
" work while you work, play while you play " ? In all high-
grade professional, commercial, and agricultural pursuits
(and one sees signs of it too in military, navigational, and
homemaking pursuits) there is an increasing tendency for
each person to have a definite working day or schedule of
working hours, after which, having produced a sufficient
amount of those economic goods (commodities or service),
whereby he becomes entitled to his needful share of the
goods produced by others, he turns to his other activities
to his avocations, and his recreations, or to his religious,
political, domestic, social, or cultural duties.

It is in the light of these tendencies that the following
passage from Dr. Dewey's chapter referred to above must
be examined :

" We must avoid not only limitation of conception of vocation to the
occupations where immediately tangible commodities are produced, but
also the notion that vocations are distributed in an exclusive way, one
and only one to each person. Such restriction of specialism is impos-
sible; nothing could be more absurd than to try to educate individuals
with an eye to only one line of activity. In the first place, each indi-
vidual has of necessity a variety of callings, in each of which he should
be intelligently effective; and in the second place any one occupation
loses its meaning and becomes a routine keeping busy at something in the
degree in which it is isolated from other interests. No one is just an
artist and nothing else, and insofar as one approximates that condition,
he is so much the less developed human being; he is a kind of monstros-
ity. He must, at some period of his life, be a member of a family; he
must have friends and companions; he must either support himself or
be supported by others, and thus he has a business career. He is a
member of some organized political unit, and so on. We naturally

Some Future Problems 401

name his vocation from that one of the callings which distinguishes him,
rather than from those which he has in common with all others. But
we should not allow ourselves to be so subject to words as to ignore
and virtually deny his other callings when it comes to a consideration
of the vocational phases of education."

Vocational Specialization Now, whether we like it or

not, it is a fact that vocational specialization is the rule in
the modern economic order. It has proceeded far in those
callings collectively designated as commercial and industrial.
It is steadily proceeding in the professions and agriculture.
It seems the inevitable accompaniment of the efforts of men,
confronted by the pressures resulting from increasing den-
sity of population and rising standards of living, and aided
by the possession of invented tools, scientific knowledge,
ambitious leadership, and reserve capital. The more able
and enlightened men and women of our time in all lines
are seeking opportunities to do their economically produc-
tive work the part constituting their vocations as here
defined in highly specialized fields. If we compare the
specialized productive vocations of California, Massachu-
setts, or Wales on the one hand, with those of Turkey,
Bengal, or Shantung Province on the other, the distinctions
between old and new, archaic and modern, retarded and
progressive, will at once appear.

Dr. Dewey seems to feel that this subdivision of labor is
undemocratic besides being otherwise undesirable :

" Any scheme for vocational education which takes its point of
departure from the industrial regime that now exists, is likely to assume
and to perpetuate its divisions and weaknesses, and thus to become an
instrument in accomplishing the feudal dogma of social predestination.
Those who are in a position to make their wishes good, will demand a
liberal, a cultural occupation, and one which fits for directive power the
youth in whom they are directly interested. To split the system, and
to give to others, less fortunately situated, an education conceived
mainly as specific trade preparation, is division of labor and leisure,
culture and service, mind and body, directed and directive class, into a
society nominally democratic. Such a vocational education inevitably
discounts the scientific and historic human connections of the materials


4O2 Vocational Education

and processes dealt with. To include such things in narrow trade
education would be to waste time; concern for them would not be
' practical.' They are reserved for those who have leisure at command
the leisure due to superior economic resources. Such things might
even be dangerous to the interests of the controlling class, arousing
discontent or ambitions 'beyond the station* of those working under
the direction of others. But an education which acknowledges the full
intellectual and social meaning of a vocation would include instruction
in the historic background of present conditions ; training in science to
give intelligence and initiative in dealing with material and agencies of
production; and study of economics, civics, and politics, to bring the
future worker into touch with the problems of the day and the various
methods proposed for its improvement. Above all, it would train power
of readaptation to changing conditions so that future workers would
not become blindly subject to a fate imposed upon them. This ideal
has to contend not only with the inertia of existing educational tradi-
tions, but also with the opposition of those who are intrenched in com-
mand of the industrial machinery, and who realize that such an
educational system if made general would threaten their ability to use
others for their own ends.

" But this very fact is the presage of a more equitable and enlight-
ened social order, for it gives evidence of the dependence of social
reorganization upon educational reconstruction. It is accordingly an
encouragement to those believing in a better order to undertake the
promotion of a vocational education which does not subject youth to
the demands and standards of the present system, but which utilizes
its scientific and social factors to develop a courageous intelligence, and
to make intelligence practical and executive."

Now it is certainly true that in the present industrial
regime there are all sorts of undemocratic possibilities.
But are these inherent? If so, how do we explain the fact
that with perhaps one exception, modern industrialism has
advanced farthest in countries and regions most noted for
political democracy Scotland, Massachusetts, northern
France, northern Italy, Michigan? One does not look for
modern industrialism in Turkey, Russia, India, China, or
Egypt, notwithstanding their natural resources and their
pressure of population.

Vocational vs. General Education. It is one of the most
pronounced contentions of the proponents of effective and
democratic vocational education (for all, that is, a few

Some Future Problems 403

leaders, as Dr. Dewey properly says, have long had these
opportunities in the undemocratic order of the past) that
one effect of modern specialization of occupation is to render
impracticable any considerable blending, on the one hand,
of vocational and non-vocational education, and on the other
of vocational education for one vocation with that for
another. In actual administration this should mean that
each pupil should complete, to the fullest extent practicable,
his non- vocational or liberal full-time education (largely
designed to prepare him effectively for the non-vocational
duties of life) before beginning his necessarily specialized
vocational education, and that thereafter his liberal educa-
tion should be continued outside of " working hours."

Vocational education, it must repeatedly be said, consists
only of divisions or subjects of all possible instruction and
training which primarily prepare one for the effective exer-
cise of vocation over that span of years during which it is,
or normally should be, followed. In practice, we think of
the vocations of the barber, poultry grower, bookkeeper,
tailor, sailor, high school teacher of physics, grocer, dentist,
machinist, stenographer, house carpenter, cattle grower,
priest, army officer, miner, and the like as filling up a long
span of life, and for each of them specific vocational training
and instruction in a special school or elsewhere is
quite conceivable. It is true that for the successful pursuit
of all or most of these vocations good health, good moral
character, and literacy are also valuable or essential. But,
in greater or less degree, the qualities and powers included
under these terms are valuable or relatively essential alike
for all the vocational, as for the no less important non-
vocational, activities of life. Hence these become the proper
aims of general or non-vocational education. It is only to
the production of those specific skills and forms of knowl-
edge wherein the dentist differs, as respects the production
of economic goods, from the barber that the words voca-
tional education, properly or in best recent usage, apply.

404 Vocational Education

Now this may mean educational dualism, but if so, it is a
dualism based upon the present and probable future realities
of life. But it is in reality a kind of pluralism of ends by
which we are confronted. We do not teach singing by the
same means, in the same places, or at the same times that
we teach arithmetic. We expect the man or woman con-
sciously and purposefully to differentiate play from work;
and in all good domestic or school regimes we expect young
people, at least those upward of twelve years of age, to do
the same, in the degrees appropriate to their development.
In our well-ordered life, we differentiate seasons for sleeping,
for eating, for friendly social intercourse, for concentrated
work; and no less, we differentiate the processes of training
and instruction by which we habituate the young to these
respective spheres or types of activity.

It is certainly true that a man's various activities sum up
into a kind of unity, as does a house, a farm, a tree, the
human body, or any other composite of more or less inter-
dependent parts. But, for practical purposes, we can con-
sider not only separateness of part or function, but also the
special means of producing or improving specific part or

For many readers the fact that Dr. Dewey does not carry
his discussion to the point of at least illustrating by con-
crete reference to age groups proves a source of uncertainty
and confusion. With such a statement, for example, as
" the only adequate training for occupations is through
occupations " all can agree. But when he says, " to pre-
determine some future occupation (vocation?) for which
education is to be a strict preparation is to injure the
possibilities of present development and thereby reduce the
adequacy of preparation for a future right employment,"
we find ourselves in agreement or disagreement according to
the age and other conditions of the particular persons under
consideration. Would Dr. Dewey apply this dictum in the

Some Future Problems 405

case of a young man of twenty who, one or two years before
completing his general college course, makes up his mind,
on his own initiative, or is even induced to do so, that he
will specialize in preparation for the practice of medicine
on graduating from college? If a young woman, pressed
by family circumstances to become self-supporting at a rela-
tively early age, is advised to enter normal school at eighteen
years of age and take the training required to make her a
good elementary school teacher, will this "predetermina-
tion" injure her possibilities of future development? But
it is still a social fact as it always has been, that the great
majority of young people elect, or are obliged, to become
productive workers (often in juvenile vocations, of course,
from which they will seek other vocations more suited to
adults when they acquire the requisite maturity, experience,
and, in some cases, training) between the ages of fifteen
and eighteen. It is highly desirable, certainly, that, as
far as practicable, these early choices of vocations should not
be final and irrevocable and nowhere has freedom to shift
from calling to calling been further developed than in
America. Towards assisting and rendering more effective
this mobility of labor its present wastefulness is appall-
ing agencies of vocational guidance and of vocational
training at the right stage should be developed to the utmost.
If, however, Dr. Dewey has in mind the possible voca-
tional predestination of young children or youths yet far
removed from the necessities of entering upon productive
work, then of course the best of sociological and educational
opinion is entirely in accord with him. Under these con-
ditions, we can heartily approve his recommendation that
" the only alternative is that all earlier preparation for voca-
tions be indirect rather than direct." But, in fact, where
vocational specialization has proceeded far as in the mod-
ern industrial and commercial center it may be doubted
whether much of an " indirect " nature can be accomplished

406 Vocational Education

that will function later as specific vocational competency.
Hence it may prove most effective to preserve as dominant
aims in all earlier education, physical, moral, and cultural
growth and training, as these are required for a common
basis of good citizenship and good personality, irrespective
of the particular vocation to be entered upon later. That as
large a part as practicable of this " general " education
should consist of means and methods designed to enable the
youth to " find himself " as respects the vocations most
suitable for him in later years goes without saying. No
item of his " social education " is more important than this.

Educative Values in Vocations One other problem dis-
cussed by Dr. Dewey is certain to give difficulty to the social
economist and educator. Dr. Dewey is right in analyses of
present industrial and commercial specialization (pp. 366-
68). Without doubt, " while the intellectual possibilities of
industry have multiplied, industrial conditions tend to make
industry, for great masses, less of an educative resource
than it was in the days of hand-production for local mar-
kets." Precisely: and it is for just this reason that many
educators hold as necessary the conscious differentiation of
education for citizenship from education for vocation. We
may say, indeed, that modern production, as a condition of
economic efficiency, tends to regiment its workers as work-
ers; but it should not, and does not, if properly safeguarded,
regiment them as citizens or cultured personalities.

For the sake of a fairly illuminating comparison, let us
press further the analogy between an industrial and a mili-
tary army. In each specialization of function proceeds very
far. Workers, according to their inherent and acquired
powers, are variously differentiated for the performance of
specialized forms of work. A few highly gifted and trained
persons are placed (either by democratic election or by
imposition from outside) in positions where planning on a
large scale and far in advance of the event is required.

Some Future Problems 407

In many connections and at many levels, specialists are at
work performing detailed functions and effecting specific

Now it is generally conceded that in each type of army,
multiplication of functions has gone so far that it is utterly
beyond the power of even the most gifted person to acquire^
even moderate appreciation, to say nothing of executive
mastery, of the various specialized processes involved. The
president of a railroad system is never expected, however
able, to be a locomotive engineer, tunnel digger, train dis-
patcher, freight agent, repair shop superintendent, or con-
ductor. The general in the army is never expected to be
an aviator, signaler, machine gun operator, truck driver,
surgeon, or paymaster. But neither is it practicable, even
if it were ideally desirable, for the locomotive engineer to
understand, in any technical sense, the plans of the directors
to extend their trackage, to petition for higher rates, to begin
the systematic training of telegraphers or to adopt a new
style of freight car. It is not practicable for the machine
gunner to know the plans of those " higher up " with regard
to feeding the army next winter, or improving on range
finders, or taking steps to lessen communicable diseases. In
all these cases, we are in the presence of limitations inherent
in the very conditions of modern social organization.

On the other hand, in political democracies the soldier and
the industrial specialist, whether of high or of low rank,
are also citizens and more or less cultured individuals (i.e.
socially perceiving and feeling personalities). In these
capacities, like all other citizens and cultured individuals,
they should have the fullest practicable opportunities of
comprehending, enjoying, and reacting upon the world of
which they are a part. The soldier votes upon questions
that affect the policies of the army of which he is a part;
but no less he must also vote upon questions that affect the
railway system of which vocationally he is no part. The

408 Vocational Education

locomotive engineer is expected as a well-informed man to
know something of the significance of the railway system in
which he is one instrument; but, no less, he is expected to
know also something of the other railway systems, of his
country's army system, and of all other social agencies which
make up the vital elements, civic and cultural, in the world
of which he is a part.

It is apparent that Dr. Dewey, as all other persons sen-
sitive to the pathological situations produced by the modern
industrial order, greatly desires educational readjustments
that will, as he hopes, tend to remove the limitations implicit
in the systems described above. What many of us doubt
is the practicability of achieving the desired ends along the
lines indicated by Dr. Dewey. In so far as the suggestions
contained in the following paragraphs can be carried out in
schools of general education, he has our hearty support.
But in so far as he makes these proposals as possible contri-
butions to programs of vocational education, they seem pur-
poseless and futile :

" Both practically and philosophically, the key to the present educa-
tional situation lies in a gradual reconstruction of school materials and
methods so as to utilize various forms of occupation typifying social
callings, and to bring out their intellectual and moral content. This
reconstruction must relegate purely literary methods including text-
books and dialectical methods to the position of necessary auxiliary
tools in the intelligent development of consecutive and cumulative

" But our discussion has emphasized the fact that this educational
reorganization cannot be accomplished by merely trying to give a tech-
nical preparation for industries and professions as they now operate,
much less by merely reproducing existing industrial conditions in the
school. The problem is not that of making the schools an adjunct to
manufacture and commerce, but of utilizing the factors of industry to
make school life more active, more full of immediate meaning, more
connected with out-of-school experience. The problem is not easy of
solution. There is a standing danger that education will perpetuate the
older transitions for a select few, and effect its adjustment to the newer
economic conditions more or less on the basis of acquiescence in the
untransformed, unrationalized, and unsocialized phases of our defective
industrial regime. Put in concrete terms, there is danger that voca-

Some Future Problems 409

tional education will be interpreted in theory and practice as trade edu-
cation : as a means of securing technical efficiency in specialized future

" Education would then become an instrument of perpetuating un-
changed the existing industrial order of society, instead of operating
as a means of its transformation. The desired transformation is not
difficult to define in a formal way. It signifies a society in which every
person shall be occupied in something which makes the lives of others
better worth living, and which accordingly makes the ties which bind
persons together more perceptible which breaks down the barriers of
distance between them. It denotes a state of affairs in which the
interest of each in his work is uncoerced and intelligent: based upon
its congeniality to his own aptitudes. It goes without saying that we
are far from such a social state ; in a liberal and quantitative sense, we
may never arrive at it. But in principle, the quality of social changes
already accomplished lies in this direction. There are more ample
resources for its achievement now than ever there have been before.
No insuperable obstacles, given the intelligent will for its realization,
stand in the way."

Obviously the questions here raised by Dr. Dewey are
sociological first and educational second. Society, in its
pro founder evolutions, uses education as a means ; and it is,
of course, true that the education of to-day determines in
part what the next generation shall think and feel. But
educators are prone to lose sight of the fact that throughout
all historic times education has been the means employed by
the controlling forces in society; it is merely a pleasing
fantasy that educators as a class have any extensive control
of this means. The "social forces" growing out of

Online LibraryDavid SneddenVocational education → online text (page 33 of 48)