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educational



EDITED BY HENRY SUZZALLO

PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON



THE VOCATIONAL
GUIDANCE OF YOUTH

BY
MEYER BLOOMFIELD

DIRECTOR OF THE VOCATION BUREAU OF BOSTON

LECTURER ON VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE, HARVARD UNIVERSITY

SUMMER SCHOOL

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY PAUL H. HAN US




HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO SAN FRANCISCO

$be ftiuewi&c ptw, Cambridge






COPYRIGHT, IQII, BY MEYER BLOOMFIELD
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



REPLACING



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.



To

MRS. PAULINE AGASSIZ SHAW

WISE AND GENEROUS FRIEND OF YOUTH



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION vii

I. THE CHOICE OF A LIFE-WORK AND ITS

DIFFICULTIES i

II. VOCATIONAL CHAOS AND SOME OF ITS

CONSEQUENCES 12

III. BEGINNINGS IN VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE . 25

IV. VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE IN THE PUBLIC

SCHOOLS 72

V. THE VOCATIONAL COUNSELOR .... 86

VI. SOME CAUTIONS IN VOCATIONAL GUID-
ANCE 101

VII. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC GAINS THROUGH

VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE 109

REFERENCES 117

OUTLINE 121



INTRODUCTION

THREE of the important tendencies in the
educational activities of to-day are everywhere
engaging the serious attention of thoughtful
people within and without the teaching profes-
sion. These tendencies are really only different
phases of one comprehensive movement for ap-
proximating more closely our democratic ideal
of individual welfare and social progress. These
tendencies are the safeguarding and promotion
of bodily health and vigor by an important ex-
tension of the work of departments of school
hygiene and physical training in our schools;
the progressive establishment of public voca-
tional schools of elementary and secondary grade,
i. e., of vocational schools other than profes-
sional schools, for increasing the efficiency of
all who must work for wages ; and a wide-
spread effort to make the non-vocational schools
we already have, of every grade and kind, more
vital to make the pupil's school life so signifi-
vii



INTRODUCTION

cant a part of his whole life that it shall be and
remain a permanent guiding force, no matter at
what point his school life must close.

The increased attention to bodily health and
strength in school is the natural concomitant of
the awakened public interest in physical health
and strength, not merely for our physical wel-
fare but also as one of our most important social
resources. Quite apart from the misery ill-health
orphysical weakness usually .entails, it is clear
that economic efficiency depends on it. The
relation of a youth's physical health and vigor
to success and satisfaction in his vocation is
clear. If, possessing physical inaptitude or weak-
ness, he enters a pursuit that is not adapted
to him, only moderate usefulness and perhaps
early incapacity must be his fate. Neither he
nor society can afford to take such a risk.
Hence the necessity of a close relation and
ultimate cooperation between all the agencies
for promoting the public health and vocational
guidance.

The establishment of schools at public expense
for the training of workers in our industries, on
viii



INTRODUCTION

our farms, and in commerce is making decided
progress. Throughout the country such schools
are discussed or already actually established,
with more to follow. Schools of commerce, of
industry, of agriculture, whether day schools,
part-time schools, day and evening continuation
schools, are a response to the demand for in-
creasing economic efficiency, without which in-
dividual welfare and social progress are impossi-
ble. The opportunities for vocational training
thus afforded and the growing demand for more
opportunities obviously point to the necessity of
wise choice on the part of those who are to
profit by them, and hence the close relation
between vocational guidance and vocational
training.

The movement for vocational education has
directed attention to the aims and work of the
existing public schools with a view to appraising
the social significance of that work, and partic-
ularly its significance with respect to the voca-
tions toward which they point their pupils, and
what vocational preparation they should offer.
Such an examination of the aims and work of the
ix



INTRODUCTION

public schools is by no means new, it is in fact
perennial; but the recent and contemporary
interest in vocational education has reenforced
it. Hence a conspicuous tendency in educa-
tional activity to-day is the effort to make the
school a more effective factor in shaping the
pupil's career. While enabling him to appre-
ciate the spiritual and institutional (political)
resources and problems of our age, it shall also
render him responsive to our economic resources
and problems, and in particular it shall bring
home to him the importance and the dignity of
work of all kinds as the foundation of all indi-
vidual and social welfare.

It is clear that with this tendency well estab-
lished in the schools the question of vocational
guidance is a pressing question. Where this ten-
dency is not yet marked, vocational guidance is
even more vital, for there the pupil is likely to
be quite helpless when he makes the momentous
transition from school to work. This transition
cannot be safe unless the choice of the pupil's
life career is deliberate. Even then mistakes
will be made, but we may expect they will be



INTRODUCTION

insignificant in number and importance as com-
pared with the mistakes of random choice or
mere " hunting a job."

It is clear that much preparation is needed by
those on whom the duty of vocational guidance
may fall. Information must be had of the young
people themselves, their physical condition, their
capacity, their ambitions, the opportunities and
circumstances of their lives ; similarly, informa-
tion is needed about occupations, their advan-
tages and disadvantages in view of the natural
and acquired equipment for them possessed by
their prospective workers ; the kind of prepara-
tion required for them, and the extent and qual-
ity of the available preparation for a progressive
career in them, and what success in them means.
To gather this information and make it available
for use will require time and effort. And to give
satisfactory guidance by properly trained persons
to the great body of young people whose life
work is now almost inevitably determined by
chance, will require an army of devoted workers.

It is clear, also, that one important duty of
the advisers of youth is to bring home to all who
xi



INTRODUCTION

can be brought to see it the enormous value of
more education for every capable pupil, no mat-
ter when he leaves school, and no matter
whether the chief purpose of the school he at-
tends is to give general education or to prepare
him for a particular calling. One valuable result
of satisfactory vocational guidance ought to be,
therefore, to lengthen the period of education
for all but the incurably dull or the permanently
unambitious.

Mr. Bloomfield's work has long required him
to study the problems of vocational guidance,
and as Director of the recently organized Voca-
tion Bureau of Boston he is necessarily brought
face to face with those problems in all their
variety and complexity. The insight he has
gained and the suggestions based on it are made
available in the present monograph to teachers,
parents, and the general public. He has made
an important contribution to the solution of the
problems of vocational guidance. The vital need
of such guidance is clearly set forth, and the
encouraging beginnings of organized effort to
secure preparation for discharging satisfactorily
xii



INTRODUCTION

the duty of vocational guidance are described.
It is clearly shown, also, that vocational guid-
ance does not mean helping boys and girls to
find work, but to find the kind of work they are
best fitted by nature and training to do well.
It does not mean prescribing a vocation. It does
mean bringing to bear on the choice of a voca-
tion organized information and organized com-
mon sense.

PAUL H. HANUS,

HARVARD UNIVERSITY.



THE VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE
OF YOUTH



THE VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE
OF YOUTH



THE CHOICE OF A LIFE-WORK AND ITS
DIFFICULTIES

" HE therefore sometimes took me to walk with
him," writes Benjamin Franklin of his father,
"and see joiners, bricklayers, turners, braziers,
etc., at their work, that he might observe my
inclination, and endeavor to fix it on some trade
or other on land."

The busy age we live in does not seem so fa-
vorable for the kindly offices of youth's natural
advisers. While many a parent, teacher, or friend
spends energy and sympathy to give some girl or
boy vocational suggestion and help, the fact is
clear enough that a vast majority of the young
people in our land enter upon their careers as
breadwinners in the trades and professions un-
guided and uninformed. Chance is usually given
I



. ... ,. VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

th -upper hand to make or mar the critical period
of working life.

At no other time in history have the sons and
daughters of the people been turned out to earn
their living on so large a scale, or into so complex
a social order. Never has there been so great a
need as now for intelligent cooperation with the
novitiates in the vocational life.

Young Franklin on a brief visit to the shop or
foundry could probably have seen a whole trade
in process. To-day this could scarcely be. Mi-
nute division of labor, specialization to a degree
that leaves the average worker in ignorance of
the steps which go before or follow his own par-
tial operations, do not encourage the same per-
sonal view of industry. Commerce and the liberal
professions are hardly less detailed, and hardly
less in the hands of specialists. Spinning, weav-
ing, and the making of a coat, the manufacture of
nails, watches, and shoes involve scores of opera-
tions. Likewise the management of a store, an
office, or a factory calls for qualities peculiar to a
highly developed age of applied science. A new
profession has arisen in the efficiency engineer,

2



CHOICE OF A LIFE-WORK

whose business it is to study the costly results
of overlooked waste and extravagance in our
large-scale production and distribution of goods.
Big establishments are working out personal data
sheets in order to measure scientifically the value
of their employees. One specialty store in Boston
has developed a system of personal records which
leaves little to guess-work in the employment and
promotion of its eight hundred or more people.
We are indeed living in the midst of a restless
period, impatient with crudeness, and too preoc-
cupied to pause over the stumblings and grop-
ings of its bewildered youth. Into this arena of
tense effort, the schools of our country send out
their annual thousands. We somehow trust that
the tide of opportunity may carry them to some
vocational destination. Only the relatively few
who reach the higher training institutions can
be said to have their problems at least tempo-
rarily solved during the critical period of adoles-
cence. What becomes of that young multitude
sent out to cope with the new conditions of self-
support ? Whose business is it to follow up the
results of this transition from school to work ?
3



VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

Whose business is it to audit our social accounts,
and discover how far our costly enterprises in
education, the pain, the thought, the skill and
the sacrifice we put forth with the growing gen-
eration, are well or ill invested in the field of oc-
cupation ? These are vital questions, and perhaps
the most vital is how far the work our children
turn to is the result of choice, accident, or ne-
cessity. The higher training schools are as pro-
foundly concerned in this problem as are the
elementary schools. The well-to-do are no less
affected than the poor. Until society faces the
question of the life careers of its youth, the pre-
sent vocational anarchy will continue to beset the
young work-seekers. Wasting their golden youth,
they discover too late how much a helpful sug-
gestion at the critical moment might have shaped
their destinies. They are unhappy and discour-
aged, and hence the pitiful letters written to
those who care about these problems, from men
and women who realize too late the reason for
their futility as workers.

Society has been slow to recognize the need
of cooperating with its future workers in the
4



CHOICE OF A LIFE-WORK

choice of their careers. It has not realized that
successful choice of life-work is impossible to the
unadvised and the unprepared. Common sense
tells us that intelligent selection of life-work is
the result of intelligent preparation. We cannot
expect youth to find itself vocationally without
furnishing it with the raw material for thought-
ful selection. In other words, there can be no
one detached day or moment for choosing, but
rather all one's training is tested by the culmi-
nating process of deciding on a vocation.

Now real selection is impossible where the
range of occupation is a dark continent. Choice,
like play, is usually the product of many influ-
ences, not the least of which are suggestion and
imitation. The children of a neglected neigh-
borhood mimic the drunken woman arrested by
the policeman, while those of the well supervised
city playground have opened to them a world
of wholesome activities. A city kindergarten
teacher spending her vacation in a Nova Scotia
fishing hamlet gathered about her one day a
group of the fishermen's children. She tried
them at the game of "Trades." They could go
5



VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

through the motions only of net-making, hauling
in of fish, and the simple household crafts of spin-
ning, carding, and weaving which they saw their
mothers and grandmothers engage in. The mo-
tions of the urban workers, like the plumber,
engineer, the merchant, and the newsboy were
quite meaningless to these children.

The young people of a crowded district imitate
the ambulance driver, the fireman, the street-
cleaner and the actor of cheap melodrama ; but
when older, and the sense of adventure is less
keen in their impulse for vocational expression,
one finds how much local social ambitions count.
The neighborhood doctor who drives about in a
shiny buggy, or perhaps in a motor car with con-
spicuous red-cross devices; the lawyer and his
nonchalance in the dread police court of the dis-
trict ; the dentist with his gilt signs across a
private dwelling in the tenement district, carry-
ing proudly the title of doctor; and the druggist
- that master of confections and magic drugs
these weigh heavily in the family judgment at the
infrequent vocational conferences of the tene-
ment home. To be sure, there is the school-
6



CHOICE OF A LIFE-WORK

teacher, the civil engineer, and the man on the
road, whose rise from the unfavorable environ-
ment carries vocational suggestion to the neigh-
borhood, but this is feeble compared to the potent
example of local social esteem which the above-
mentioned personages carry.

It is in our centres of population, in the apart-
ment and tenement house districts, that the
masses of children are to be found. Here is the
most need for unfolding the panorama of occu-
pations to the quick intelligences of the young
people. Parents here are busy day and night, and
family relationships often suffer. The teachers
preside over large classes, and these neighbor-
hoods are filled with a crowd of the unskilled, the
poorly paid, the unemployed, and the misem-
ployed. It is a place of high lights and deep
shadows ; and for thousands of children, life opens
unpromisingly. Democracy probably still holds
out its opportunities to the child that can avail
himself of them. But the gifted as well as the
ungifted live here equally doomed to undevelop-
ing and cheaply paid labor.

Marshall the economist has told us how large
7



VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

a proportion of genius is lost to society because it
is born among the children of the poor, where it
perishes for want of opportunity. We have no
plan for conserving the talents of the poor ; no
plan for conserving the resources of the immi-
grant. Our schools are fettered by routine. Any
social experimentation calculated to call forth
the gifts of the new peoples is left to private
philanthropy. A large proportion of the children
in our cities who leave school for work as soon
as the law allows are foreign born or the children
of foreign born. Surely the hard-driven parent
stuggling for a foothold in an alien country must
fail as a vocational adviser to his children. The
truth is that parents do not tell their children
what they should be, but the children tell them
what they are going to be.

Who shall help such children ? To whom shall
they turn for counsel and information about the
vocations ? The gathering of helpful occupational
information involves painstaking labor and large
resources. Such information calls for the corre-
lation of a variety of facts from many and often
unfamiliar sources. An illustration of the kind
8



CHOICE OF A LIFE-WORK

of service needed is to be found in the use made
by one vocational adviser of a report on tuber-
culosis in the various industries, issued by the
Massachusetts State Board of Health. The re-
port disclosed the fact that granite-cutting was
among the most dangerous occupations. From
his experience as a social worker, this adviser
knew that many Italians are employed in quar-
ries and stone-yards, and that very many Italians
return to their own country to die of the white
plague. He took pains, therefore, to point out
wherever he could, particularly to teachers, that
when an Italian boy intended to work at stone-
cutting, the parent should see to it that a medi-
cal examination gave the boy a pulmonary clean
bill ; for the weak-lunged Italian boy who took
up stone-cutting would probably be committing
suicide.

Another illustration of vocational help has
been the work of a young woman who some years
ago was in charge of a small library in a social
settlement on the East Side of New York. Her
idea of circulating books was to work out with
each boy and girl the kind of book that would
9



VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

best minister to his or her needs. And those
needs were studied with infinite care. Her quiet
ministrations brought to the knowledge of the
ambitious and idealistic youth of her neighbor-
hood vocations that were unknown to them be-
fore. Forestry, social research, library science,
neighborhood work, social and civic service were
the careers opened to young boys and girls in
touch with the library and the other influences
which in time clustered about that institution.
And those careers are followed to-day with no
little distinction by the graduates of that vitaliz-
ing influence.

The time has gone by for a laissez-faire atti-
tude toward this most fundamental of conserva-
tion needs. The success achieved by those who
have helped to shape a youth's destiny is not
fully explained by pointing to gifts of insight and
patience of the adviser, or to the exceptional
qualities of the boys and girls who could benefit
by an interest in their welfare. To content one's
self with such explanations is to doom the mass
of our children to barren lives, a loss to them-
selves and to the community. After all, it is with
10



CHOICE OF A LIFE-WORK

the usual and not with the exceptional individual
that the community must mainly concern itself,
and results that are worth while have attended
even modest efforts at vocational guidance of a
large group, as of a school, a club, or like organi-
zation. The time for doing something to help
young people choose their life-work is at hand.
Only a backward social conscience will palliate a
lack of energy to attempt a remedy, however ten-
tative, for the present chaos in the transition from



schooling to self-support.



II



VOCATIONAL CHAOS AND SOME OF ITS
CONSEQUENCES

EVIDENCE of what the let-alone policy is cost-
ing society may be found on every hand. A talk
with any intelligent employer or with almost any
parent, teacher, or student of social conditions
reveals an astonishing abundance of testimony.
Indeed, the yield of information is only equaled
by the extensive failure to do something about
it. Little argument is needed to make out a case
in behalf of a plan for the vocational guidance of
youth ; and yet, on the whole, no problem has
elicited so little effort to meet it in the con-
structive way which modern methods of dealing
with social problems suggest.

Perhaps the most impressive body of facts
bearing on the consequences of our failure to
face the vocational interests of youth is to be
found in the report issued in England a year ago
by the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and

12



CHAOS AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

Relief of Distress. Nothing has more deeply im-
pressed that Commission in the course of its ex-
haustive investigation than the wanton pauper-
ization of England's energetic youth.

In the Majority Report, the Commissioners
lay stress on the great prominence given to boy
labor not only in the evidence which came before
them, but also in the various reports of the special
investigators; and the conviction is expressed
that this is perhaps the most serious of the phe-
nomena which they have encountered in their
study of unemployment. Well-trained boys find
it difficult enough to secure a foothold in the
skilled trades ; but if in addition to this there are
the temptations to crowd the occupations which
promise no skill, promise no outlook, no future,
the fact is clear that such conditions in the
British Empire are making directly for unem-
ployment in the future.

The Minority Report is even more emphatic.
It points out the effects of entering " blind-alley "
occupations, and states that perpetual recruit-
ment of the unemployable by tens of thousands
of boys is perhaps the gravest of all the grave
13



VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

facts which the Commissioners laid bare. " We
cannot believe/' the Commissioners say, "that
the nation can long persist in ignoring the fact
that the unemployed, and particularly the under-
employed and unemployable are thus being daily
created under our eyes out of bright young lives,
capable of better things, for whose training we
make no provision. It is, unfortunately, only too
clear that the mass of unemployment is continu-
ally being recruited by a stream of young men
from industries which rely upon unskilled boy
labor, and turn it adrift at manhood without
any general or special industrial qualification,
and that it will never be diminished till this
stream is arrested."

Prof. Michael E. Sadler, in commenting on the
evidence before the Royal Commission, states
that boys and girls are tempted by the ease, the
fairly good wages, and the sense of independence
in entering occupations that leave them at the
time when they begin to need an adult's subsist-
ence wholly out of line for skilled employments.
They are driven into the ranks of the unskilled.
Certain forms of industry squander in this way
14



CHAOS AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

the physical and the moral capital of the rising
generation. His conclusions are that if no coun-
teracting measures are taken, great and lasting
injury will befall the national life.

An official report some years ago on boys leav-
ing the London elementary schools shows that
forty per cent became errand and chore boys,
fourteen per cent shop boys, eight per cent office
boys and minor clerks, while only eighteen per
cent went definitely into trades. There is a fairly
satisfactory law in England governing employ-
ment in factories and work-shops. It is the un-
regulated drift from a vast variety of juvenile
occupations into the low-skilled labor market
that presents grave aspects. In his study of
boy labor, Mr. Cyril Jackson points out that
few boys ever pick up skill after a year or two
spent on errand or similar work. The larger
number fall into low-skilled and casual employ-
ments.

Ample confirmation of the Royal Commission's
findings may be found in the report of the Con-.
sultative Committee on Attendance at Continu-
ation Schools in England and Wales, published



VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE

at about the same time. The conclusions from
its exhaustive investigations and its interviews
with scores of employers and others read much
like the pages of the Royal Commission's report.
The evils of educational neglect during adoles-
cence, this Committee finds, are often aggravated


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