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John Franklin Bobbitt.

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23. The decay of old ideas of honesty and thrift.

24. The lack of standards of judgment as to where one's individual
economic rights end; laxity in the search for any such limiting
standards.

25. Square pegs in round holes, and vice versa.

26. Low standards of living; and the undesirable living conditions
that are made necessary by low wages.

27. Inertia, indolence, laziness, usually symptoms.



r



68 THE CURRICULUM

28. Inability to meet new labor conditions effectively.

29. The mechanization of men through years of automatic labor,
who are then thrown upon the scrap-heap because of the
general atrophy of their powers, and their inability to turn
to new types of labor.

When we examine reports of vocational surveys to see
to what extent they have discovered the serious occupational
difficulties that are to be met by better occupational edu-
cation, we are disappointed in finding that many of them
have discovered little beyond the technical inefficiency of
the worker. The program of training which they recom-
mend, therefore, is too often but training for technical
efficiency. This cannot be too much emphasized. But tech-
nical inefficiency is but one of many shortcomings; and from
an educational point of view, it presents the simpler prob-
lems. Some of those on the wider social level are education-
ally more baffling and will require more extended and elab-
orate educational treatment.

In such a list of occupational weaknesses we can dis-
cover the objectives of occupational education. The pur-
pose is so to train men and women that the weaknesses will
not appear. Occupational education will seek to develop
those abilities, dispositions, bodies of knowledge, types of
skill, social attitudes and valuations, etc., the possession of
which negative or prevent these and other technical and
social deficiencies.

More and more schools are recognized as the agencies of
social progress. Where deficiencies are discovered in any
aspect of social life, schools are being called upon to over-
come and prevent. For example, let agricultural production
fall short of needs and of what experiment stations show to
be easily possible, and business men, Congressmen, and all
others interested set up a great clamor for agricultural edu-
cation. Millions of dollars are then voted and agricultural



PURPOSES OF VOCATIONAL TRAINING 69

courses introduced into land-grant colleges, high schools,
continuation schools, extension systems, etc. There is pro-
vision for long courses, short courses, and brief institute
opportunities. County agents are appointed to lead and
supervise. The practical men are very much convinced that
education is the way to bring social progress. Let factory
production be inefficient, and business men call in no un-
certain tones for industrial education. Where commercial
and clerical work is not well done, the call is for commercial! **
and clerical education. When figures show the extent of
physical defects, illness, and premature deaths, there is a- *)
demand for efficient health training in our schools. When
our young men in large numbers are found to be physically
unfit for military duty, there is widespread demand for
military training in our high schools that will prevent our
being caught unprepared. When traffic accidents grow com- ^
mon on our crowded streets, the cry goes up for "Safety-
First " training in our schools. When a generation appears
that seems insufficiently to value money and tends to squan-
der it, the call is for teaching " Thrift " in our schools. And
so it goes. Practical business men are the first to call on the
aid of the schools, and thus to recognize their fundamental
position as agencies of social progress.

As agencies of social progress, schools should give efficient
service. And efficient service, we are nowadays coming to \
know, is service directed, not by guess or whim or special
self-interest, but by science. To be efficient, schools are not
to wait till somebody guesses that a certain type of social
progress is desirable, or until it is prompted by desires of
larger personal profits, or of avoidance of paying damages.
Scientific management demands prevision accurate pre-
vision. It demands understanding that sees all factors in
true and balanced relation without any distortion due to
claims or oppositions of special interests. This means that



70 THE CURRICULUM

scientific survey and analysis of human needs must be the
method of discovering the objectives of the training that is
demanded, not by individuals, but by the conditions of
society. Such surveys will demand only what is practicable.
But they will look to human conditions from no partial
angle. In a democracy they will look impartially to all
things that promote the total human welfare. They will be
disproportionately interested in no special class, whether
high or low, rich or poor, cultured or uncultured; but with-
out prejudice or partiality will look equally to all.



CHAPTER VIII

SPECIALIZED TECHNICAL TRAINING

SPECIALIZED technical training aims at a productiveness
far beyond that of a pre-scientific generation. The efficient
farmer, for example, in terms of proved standards, is one
that raises, not one hundred bushels of potatoes to the acre,
which is about the average, but rather two hundred to five
hundred bushels. The efficient cotton-planter raises, not
the average three eighths of a bale to the acre, but one full
bale. The efficient bricklayer lays three hundred and fifty
bricks per hour, instead of the usual one hundred and fifty.
The efficient machinist in cutting steel turns out, not, as in
the recent past, his ten units of product per day, but rather
his forty, sixty, or one hundred units.

This setting forward the standards of accomplishment is
not chimerical. Scientific industry has proved its entire
feasibility. It is to be done through the application of science
to labor. It is the next step in the increase of productive-
ness. Labor-saving machinery has been able to double,
quadruple, or even at times to multiply the product a
hundred-fold without increasing human labor. We are now
being told that through the application of science to indus-
try an equal further gain may be made.

Each occupation is to be analyzed into the tasks that make
it up; each task into the factors that require control. The
science needed for the regulation of each factor is then to be
assembled, and placed in secure control of every work-
situation. The science is in control when it dominates the
consciousness of the worker. He must think each factor in
terms of the science of that factor. His planning consists of



72 THE CURRICULUM

putting his science-ideas to work. Thus he predetermines
and foresees maximum results before a stroke of the work
is done.

Along with the primary matter of technical intelligence
there is the secondary matter of operative skill. In some
occupations, as, for example, stenography or telegraphy,
the amount of practice needed for skill is large; and requires
more time and effort than the technical information. But
in general the large educational tasks relate to developing
understanding rather than operative skill.

The work of the farmer affords a good illustration. Rais-
ing a crop of corn, for example, presents the problem of
controlling a large number of independently variable fac-
tors : soil ingredients, lime, nitrates, phosphates, sand, clay,
moisture, soil oxygen, weeds, quality of seeds, temperature,
light, plant parasites, and a number of others. For each
factor in a given situation there is one optimum degree of
strength; if its influence is either too weak or too strong, the
crop is lessened. He must see each factor in its separate
working in order to control it. Most of them are invisible
or indistinguishable to the eye of sense; they are to be seen
only by the inner eye of technical agricultural science. The
trained farmer has this inner light and this inner vision.
He can see and control the factors so as to secure his sixty
or one hundred bushels per acre, while his unseeing rule-of-
thumb neighbor secures only his twenty-five or forty
bushels. The difference is not mainly due to a greater amount
of manual labor or of operative skill; but to the ability to
see the conditions requiring control and a knowledge of the
adjustments that are best under the conditions.

After the trained farmer has examined all the factors that
enter into a given situation, and has drawn up his plans,
naturally he must have the operative skill for performing
the processes: the ploughing, harrowing, cultivation, har-



SPECIALIZED TECHNICAL TRAINING 73

vesting, storing, etc. Some practice is required; but this
presents no large problem.

We have not been sufficiently accustomed to think of
science as the source of maximum occupational productive-
ness. We have, for example, ordinarily thought of efficiency
on the part of a machinist or a plumber as mainly a matter
of general intelligence and manual dexterity. There must
be skill of eye and hand, as we have phrased it. There must
be operative skill. We have given insufficient thought to
the intellectual elements.

Technical efficiency in a surgeon is very differently con-
ceived. He, too, must possess great operative skill. Hand
and eye must be as thoroughly trained as in the case of the
mechanic even more so. But back of the hand and guid-
ing it, and back of the eye giving it vision, there must be
fullness of technical knowledge. With the surgeon, skill of
hand and eye is mainly a matter of intellectual discernment.

The case of the surgeon exhibits the two factors of tech-
nical efficiency in proper balance and relation. The mechanic,
as popularly conceived, represents an incomplete stage in
the development of technical efficiency. Trained to strength
and dexterity on the operative side, and this alone, he has
had but one side of the training he needs, and the less funda-
mental side. He lacks the thought-materials in terms of
which to think the factors of his work-situations. Without
this he lacks power to see his work on anything but a rule-
of -thumb level, or to know that there can be any other level.
His great need also is a knowledge of technical science back
of the hand for guiding it, and back of the eye for giving it
vision. For the tradesman as well as the surgeon, effective
operative performance must in the long run be mainly a
matter of scientific discernment.

In all parts of the occupational world to-day, rapid change
is the rule. Workmen everywhere are being confronted



74 THE CURRICULUM

with new tasks and new conditions. In the presence of a new
and strange work-situation, the technically untrained work-
man does one of three things: (1) he blindly applies his rule-
of -thumb procedure, trusting that it will work well enough.
Generally it is inefficient, and sometimes wholly unwork-
able. (2) He guesses at an adaptation that will meet the
new conditions. Scientific studies have proved that there
are incalculably more ways of going wrong than right.
He therefore usually guesses wrong; and the work is in-
efficient, or a failure. (3) He is nonplussed by the situation.
He cannot make even a plausible guess.

Not one of the three things that he can do is usually the
right thing. And for him in his intellectual blindness there
is no fourth possibility. He finds himself caught hopelessly
unprepared. He can act only as directed by others; and
usually only inefficiently. The condition of feudal servitude
in which he works is the necessary result of his ignorance.
And in his rewards he can reap only the fruits of ignorance
and inefficiency. In his work he can never have any proper
human opportunity; never possess the full-grown man's
independent outlook and ability. And what is more, out-
side of his work, because of his inefficiency, he never can
have any full human opportunity. In general, and the
conception is becoming more accurately defined each year,
one can have only in proportion as one earns. Unfitted
to produce the means required for life upon a proper human-
istic level, he never can attain it. His ignorance largely shuts
him out both from work and from life.

On the other hand, the technically trained individual is
not perplexed by new occupational situations. He does not
have to guess. He does not mechanically apply blind habit.
And the reason is simple. The new situations that he meets
are not new in the elements that compose them. He sees
within them the same familiar factors, only differently bal-



SPECIALIZED TECHNICAL TRAINING 75

anced and arranged, with which he has been dealing all the
time. He simply takes the measure of the factors in their
new forms and goes on applying the same science. In his
work he can feel himself a full-grown man; and with the
fruits of his efficient labors, he can provide for himself and
his family a full human opportunity.

There is another closely related matter. The education
which comes in youth must consider the technical intelli-
gence needed for a lifetime. But a large proportion of the
science needed in most fields is yet undiscovered. And natu-
rally this portion of it cannot be now taught. But many of
the things needed by those now entering upon their work
will be discovered within a few years. If they are not to be
left behind and cast upon the scrap-heap at an untimely
age, they must keep abreast of discoveries and inventions
relative to their specialty. For the technically untrained
individual such progress is impossible. Lacking the main
body of science, he has no apperceptive basis for appre-
hending new developments, nor any vital interest in them.
Inferior position or the scrap-heap is his inevitable portion.
The technically trained individual is prepared to make the
additions, the emendations, and otherwise to keep abreast
of his science. He alone can value it. He will keep up with
it as it appears in his technical journals; assimilate it with-
out effort; and put it to practical use. While the schools
cannot teach the undiscovered, yet they can provide the
conditions that later will automatically take care of the
matter.

The technical training is here treated briefly because
many of its aspects were presented in chapters m-v.



CHAPTER IX

THE SPECIALIZED TRAINING OF GROUP- WORKERS

THE day of independent tradesmen and of other disasso-
ciated workers is past or rapidly passing. In their places
we have great factories, department stores, public-service
corporations, railroad systems, school systems, hospitals,
ecclesiastical organizations, building-construction com-
panies, mining companies, etc. The productive capacity of
specialized individuals in a cooperative labor-group is much
greater than that of the same individuals working independ-
ently. They turn out a larger product, a better product,
and at a reduced cost. Because of the greater efficiency it is
probable that the movement will continue until it embraces
most occupational fields. Education's larger problem of
technical training relates, therefore, not to the training of
the independent specialist, but rather to the specialized
training of associated workers.

We can make the educational problem clear with an illus-
tration or two. In the old days a shoemaker was master of
his entire craft. He took the original order, prepared the
leather, designed the shoe and each of its parts, cut each
piece, did the sewing, the finishing, and finally the selling.
For efficiency he had to have a command over all of the
technical factors. At the present time, however, one man
cuts out the sole; a second cuts the parts for the upper; a
third, the lining; a fourth man sews the top to the vamp; a
fifth sews on the toe-cap; a sixth gashes the insole prepara-
tory to sewing it to the vamp; and so the process continues,
the shoe passing down the line of several dozen workmen
before it reaches the last one who places the finished shoes
in the box ready for shipment.



SPECIALIZED TRAINING OF GROUP-WORKERS 77

In this factory situation it is the manager who controls
everything. Like the old-time shoemaker he has command
of the technical information, makes all the necessary judg-
ments, and operates his man-and-steel machine in such a
way as to perform all the processes. The one difference is
that he uses a more elaborate set of tools and has devised a
complicated machine that uses all of them at once. The men
along the line are but fingers and wheels and levers in one
large shoemaking machine. So far as their function is con-
cerned, they are scarcely men at all. Had the manager all
the inventions that he would like, he would have a machine
into which he could feed the leather at one end, and out of
which he could receive the finished product, ready boxed
for shipment at the other, about such an arrangement
as we already have in the production of our large newspapers.
As a matter of fact, he has just that kind of a machine,
though not yet perfected. The men scattered along the line
are there temporarily to supply flexible fingers of flesh until
cheaper and more skillful fingers of steel can be invented
to fill the gaps, and the machine thereby completed.

Lest it be thought that all tendency to mechanization of
the workers is to be found only in the field of material pro-
duction, let us note a case upon the professional level: that
of teachers. One finds in a large city building a line of highly
specialized teachers, each performing, as in the factory, a
small portion of the total task. The first teacher in line
receives the original raw material in the kindergarten and
performs the first process. It is then taken by the I-B pri-
mary teacher for a half-year. She passes it on to the I- A
primary teacher, who gives to it her half-year of effort.
And so the product in more and more finished form is passed
down the long line of specialists. In the later years of de-
partmental teaching, the tasks are more minutely specialized
and the material passes through many hands.



78 THE CURRICULUM

Now, here, as in the shoe factory, the things aimed at are
the finished products, and the labors from beginning to end
must all aim at the same products. But since each teacher
performs but a fragment of the total process, the results of
which usually do not greatly resemble the ultimate objec-
tives, it follows that somebody whose vision is single for the
final product and who sees all the steps to be taken must
think for the whole organization and direct the steps. Super-
intendent and principal, therefore, lay out the courses of
study, choose the books, supplies, and equipment, and direct
the methods. The supervisory brain, so to speak, does the
thinking for the whole organization; the teachers are but
hands and voices to this brain.

This feudal theory tends at present to be strong wherever
organization develops whether in factory or school, rail-
road or hospital, department store or ecclesiastical organ-
ization. It appears to demand specialized technical training
for the five or ten per cent who lead and think and plan;
but for the vast majority only such little training as they
need for skill in routine labor. The less they trouble their
superiors by thinking and insisting upon being heard, the
better for all.

This feudal theory is being supplanted rather rapidly by
a democratic theory. Let us resume our two illustrations
by way of explaining its basic conceptions. Instead of its
being the manager of the shoe factory who takes the place of
the original independent tradesmen, it is the total group who
takes his place. In the school field, it is not the superintend-
ent or principal who takes the place of the general teacher
of a century ago, but it is the total group. It is not the mana-
ger, the superintendent, or other head of an organization
who is to do the thinking that goes into the work; it is rather
the entire associated group. Managers and superintendents
are those who have specialized in leadership. They are gen-



SPECIALIZED TRAINING OF GROUP-WORKERS 79

eralists; while the individual workers are specialists. Where
all are made intelligent as to the group-labors, the sum of
the knowledge of the specialists added to that of the gener-
alists is greater than that of the generalists alone; and this
aggregate is a more effective directive agency. And as work-
ers are changed from industrial serfs to freemen with minds
and rights to think and with responsibility resting upon them
for thought and suggestions, they are filled with a new
spirit. Recognized as men, they become men; act like men;
and the curve of their operative efficiency mounts rapidly
upward.

The accompanying diagram will show the relations within
the school organization; and is typical of right relations in



EDUCATIONAL SCIENCE



MM!

History Geography Science Literature




Teacher of History
Teacher of Geography
Teacher of Science
Teacher of Literature

Principal

FIG. 2. To represent the relations of specialists, generalists, and the
controlling science in the management of group-labors.

all organizations. Over all the group, specialists as well as
generalists, is the science that should control in taking every
step. Both must read it. But it is not to be read in books



80 THE CURRICULUM

of abstractions; however valuable they may be as helps. It
is to be read within the practical situations where they work;
and by those in contact with the actualities in their details.
Some things can be seen most clearly by the generalist;
other things most clearly by the specialist. As indicated
by the width of the bars, the generalist will see everything
equally in balanced relation, his function being interpreter
and coordinator for the whole. But every part of the work
is vitally related to every other part. The specialist cannot
see his duties if lie looks to them alone without regarding the
labors of the whole organization. He can rightly see any
task only as he sees it as a part of the whole organization-
task. As shown by the width of the bars, he will have a fuller
understanding than the principal in his special field; but he
must also have an understanding of the whole field that is
much like that of the principal, except as to its complete-
ness. Each teacher is, so far as possible, to be his own co-
ordinator. Otherwise there can be no efficiency in organi-
zation labors. The principal cannot be always at the elbow
of every teacher dictating every coordinating adjustment*
It is educational science that must preside at every teacher's
desk and do the dictating. The teacher is, therefore, to be
a specialist in one thing and a generalist in all. Having oper-
ative skill in one thing, he needs nothing more than the gen-
eralist's skill in the others. He needs to think all, but not to
do all. For his thinking he needs to be trained in the work of
the entire organization; for operative skill, he needs to be
drilled and practiced only in the special tasks required of him.
An orchestra provides us with a perfect illustration. The
conductor is a generalist; but every individual player must
also be a generalist, or he cannot be a perfect specialist. He
must think the whole piece, his consciousness must move as
the full current of the total music, in order rightly to place
his special part. The kettle-drummer, for example, must



SPECIALIZED TRAINING OF GROUP-WORKERS 81

strike at exactly the right instant, with the right degree of
loudness, and with his instrument properly attuned. Con-
ductor and music-score are necessary helps to his thinking;
but they alone cannot determine any one of the three
enumerated elements with exactness. He needs to be trained
on the conscious side to the whole of the music rightly to play
his part. But on the operative side he may be skillful with
but the one instrument.

The two illustrations are taken from fields where it is
admitted that the specialized workers must be generalists
in thought in order efficiently to coordinate their speci-
alties. Not so obvious is the need in the case of factory, rail-
road, or large department store. Recently, however, in all
these types of organization, schools are being voluntarily
established in which specialists are not only trained for
their specialties, but also to an understanding of the whole
in order rightly to understand each specialty. This move-
ment shows promise of abundant growth. Industrial and
commercial organizations are becoming conscious of the
inter dependencies of all the parts, and of the subtle and in-
finitely numerous ways in which inefficiency or maladapta-


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Online LibraryJohn Franklin BobbittThe curriculum → online text (page 6 of 22)