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Manual Training And Industrial Subjects

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

All teaching, all educational work, has for its aim the making of more useful boys and girls, and consequently men and women. Those things which promise to develop to the highest degree the native capacity for usefulness in each individual, those things which will best fit the individual to find his place in the general scheme of society, are included in the school curriculum. For these reasons, reading and writing are the first subjects taught in school, for they form the best means of approach to many sorts of knowledge, and through knowledge, to usefulness.

But knowledge, of the sort which is commonly known to be imparted by the schools, is not the only kind of knowledge which makes, for the useful development of the individual. After all, but a limited number of children continue their studies far enough to enter one of the professions, which are based upon continued intellectual effort. Every year thousands upon thousands of young men enter upon the various skilled and semi-skilled trades, which stand behind all industry, commerce, manufacture and agriculture.

The schools have already realized their obligation to these many students, have realized that the traditional academic courses can, after a while, have but little interest for young boys who look forward to entering the trades sooner or later, and in many cases at the earliest opportunity. Realizing that these young students usually have left school with no knowledge of any vocation, and that their lack of knowledge often leads them to choose the wrong occupation, or causes them to see no relationship at all between school work and their life work, the schools some time ago made their first effort to help these students by providing for a certain amount of instruction in industrial subjects.

In the very beginning, when "manual training" was first instituted, its purpose was perhaps more disciplinary than vocational.

That is, it was looked upon more as training for the student in the correct carrying out of various isolated processes than as a possible introduction to the actual processes common to most trades which make use of hand work. The chief value of manual training is its educational one; but it has an industrial value as well. Manual training is not meant to prepare students for any particular trade, but rather to give them a grasp of the underlying principles of all mechanical work. It is intended to provide an approach to industrial study. Through manual training many students receive their introduction to the basic principles which are the foundation of all work connected with the mechanic arts.

Manual training thus serves a twofold purpose. It enlarges the field of education, through presenting to students another branch of knowledge, some slight acquaintance with which, at least, will bring about a better understanding of industrial conditions later on; and it enables the pupil to develop the use of his hands as well as his head. It serves also as a determining factor, in many cases, in the student's decision regarding his future vocational choice. Through manual training, mechanical aptitudes, or their lack, are frequently revealed in the students; and so in this way also manual training serves a distinctly practical purpose. Manual training is the form which industrial instruction usually takes in the elementary school, and in the traditional high school. It has its place also in the curriculum of the pre-vocational school, and, to some extent, in the normal school and college.

Since manual training is a part of the general educational scheme, having as its main objects the general development of the student's mind and muscles, and the arousing of his vocational interests, it does not require a great amount of specialized trade training on the part of the teacher. It does require on his part a certain love for mechanical work, an appreciative understanding of industrial life and the common industrial processes, and the sort of personality which will impress and influence young boys. This means energy, enthusiasm and the ability to obtain the confidence of pupils and to keep them busy and interested in their work. Added to these qualifications should be teaching ability and training for the work of teaching. It is usual for the would-be manual training instructor to go through high school, and then to take a normal school course of from one to two years' duration. In the normal school, he is instructed in the principles of manual training and in the principles and methods of teaching. Besides the normal schools, many of the state universities give courses in manual arts for teachers Some of these courses are not open to students without some previous college education but, in other cases, shorter courses, open to men with only partial high school education, are offered.

Since manual training is concerned not with the teaching of particular trades but with an introduction to the fundamentals underlying numerous hand processes employed in industry, the manual training teacher need not have as much actual trade experience as must the teacher in more strictly industrial classes. However, even for the manual training teacher, a certain amount of practical shop experience is desirable. It gives him a better insight into the processes he wishes to teach, a broader viewpoint, a fuller realization of the benefits of manual training and, above all, more authority in dealing with his subject and with his pupils. Children are quick to sense the self-confidence or lack of it in a teacher, and for this reason alone, if for no other, some shop experience is of great value to the manual training teacher.

The next step up from manual training is prevocational work. In reality, manual training is a part of prevocational training, which is simply education of the sort which will lay a good foundation for later more definite vocational courses. Manual training offers students practice in hand work of various sorts, such as might be encountered later in studying trades. Prevocational education attempts to convey to the children a certain amount of information about industry in general, and to give them a taste of various trades. The work in the prevocational class is more varied and more individual than that in the manual training class. In manual training, the entire class is usually set to work to solve some one definite problem, through drawing and construction. In prevocational work, the elementary processes of a number of industrial occupations are taught, and the natural aptitudes of each student considered, in assigning constructive work to him.

The prevocational school is open to boys below or above four-teen years of age, and does not close the way to the further education of these students. The shopwork is an important feature, of course, but bookwork is not neglected. However, the bookwork also has an industrial trend—the subjects taught, mathematics, geography, English and others, are taught in such a way that their connection with industrial pursuits is manifest to the children.

The bookwork or academic teacher of a prevocational class needs, more than long academic training in the principles of teaching, a sympathetic love for children, a broad outlook, the ability to work in close cooperation with the shopwork teacher and the ability to make the subjects he touches upon of vital interest to pupils, by correlating these studies with their shop interests.

The shopwork teacher should above all else be a man with real trade experience. The more varied and thorough such experience has been, the better. The shop teacher in the prevocational school is called upon to introduce the pupils to a number of trades. For this reason, he must be interested in constructive problems in general, and not merely in one special line of mechanical effort. Unless he is a thoroughly competent craftsman, he will be unable to keep his classes well under control, and, without a good deal of resourcefulness and sympathetic imagination, he will hardly be able to cope with the problems which will be sure to arise in the course of his daily work.

It has been found that men with trade experience; with the ability to explain the processes whereby simple operations are performed; with cheerful, energetic, confidence inspiring personality; men who are not too critical nor apt to set too high standards for amateur work may be turned into very capable shop teachers. In order to obtain shop teachers who will combine industrial experience with some teaching knowledge, short courses are offered by some school boards to give local industrial workers some knowledge of the essential principles of teaching. These courses consist, usually, of a certain amount of reading, of lectures by the principal of the school or perhaps by the director of vocational education, and of some practice teaching. A number of universities and other schools also give short courses, often in the evenings, to train prevocational shop teachers. These courses will be more fully discussed later.

The manual training in elementary and high schools, and the courses in prevocational schools, are meant simply to serve as an introduction to the world of industry, to reveal to the child the world of work, and to make him aware of the possibility that his own vocation may lie in one of the trades. There are a number of different types of schools, which have as their purpose the training of workers who have already chosen their trades, and who wish to gain either elementary or more advanced instruction in the processes of those trades.

The first of these schools is the continuation school. The continuation school may be either a trade continuation or a general continuation school. In either case, the students are young people who have already entered upon some trade, and who give part of their working time to school. In the case of the trade-continuation school, trade education is the principal thing. Students either study the processes of their own occupations further, so as to attain greater efficiency, or begin the study of altogether different trades. In the general-continuation school, stress is laid not only upon industrial training, but upon the general education of the students.

What the continuation school does to a certain extent, the trade school does much more thoroughly. There are two chief types of industrial schools which offer all-day courses for the purpose of training industrial workers. The first type is the unit trade school, in which one certain trade or branch of a trade is taught. In such a school, specialization is the rule, and the teacher must be expert in the particular trade he is to teach, and must, in addition, have some general understanding of related subjects. The second type is the vocational, or the general industrial, school. Here, different trades, or related trades which form one industrial group, are taught. Teachers in the general industrial school must, like those in the trade school, be thoroughly experienced in one trade and, in addition, have some knowledge of related subjects.

Three types of teachers are usually needed in the continuation, trade and vocational schools. They are the trade, the technical and the non-vocational or academic teachers. The present discussion is concerned with the first two types only. The trade teacher is, of course, the shop teacher, whose duty it is to give instruction in the manual part of the work—in shop practice. In the case of the shop teacher, actual mastery of the particular trade taught and real industrial experience are absolutely essential. The trade teacher must be a skilled and thoroughgoing workman, with knowledge not only of the mechanical processes of his own trade but with a thorough acquaintance, also, with its related subjects, including shop mathematics and shop drawing.

The technical teacher or teacher of "related subjects" must also be considered as an industrial teacher, for he gives instruction in subjects that form part of the trade knowledge. Chemistry, physics, drawing and other such subjects, some knowledge of which is necessary in certain industrial occupations, come under the heading of "related subjects." These studies are always adapted to the particular occupation taught in the school, and have, therefore, a distinctly industrial character. The technical teacher needs much the same personal characteristics as does the trade teacher, but he does not need equal industrial experience. He should, however, have thorough technical training in the subjects he is to teach.

Instruction in trade subjects in industrial and technical high schools differs somewhat from that offered in the schools whose chief aim is trade education. The broader educational back-ground of high school students admits of their undertaking more technical studies; and so the scientific and mathematical principles of the trades, and the application of these principles to actual industrial work, are more fully gone into than is the case in schools of lower rank. But seldom do the technical high schools prepare pupils for any definite trade. Their purpose is, rather, general education which will take some account also of manual and technical processes connected with industry. Shop teachers in the technical high schools should, like those in the lower grade industrial schools, be men of sound mechanical knowledge and industrial experience.

The teaching of trade subjects in normal schools and colleges is usually quite different from the teaching of similar subjects in industrial schools. The reason for this is not only that the students have a greater amount of education, but also that the purpose of the trade courses is a different one. Trade subjects in normal schools and colleges are given, usually, as part of the preparation of future manual training and industrial teachers. For this reason the instructor in the normal school needs a some-what different equipment from that of the teacher in the trade school. A thorough grasp of the principles of pedagogy, and the power to analyze industrial processes and to teach his pupils the fundamentals of these two branches, are essential. Added to this should be a broader technical training than is necessary for the shop teacher in an industrial school. The instructor should have some general industrial experience, but he does not need the practical trade experience that the ordinary industrial teacher ought to have, since he teaches not so much the trade as the way in which the trade should be taught.

In one other way is industrial knowledge imparted. This is through training courses offered in the industries themselves. Many firms train their own workers, because the specialized processes of the industry make this necessary. Others train workers because there are not yet sufficient industrial schools to afford an adequate supply of efficient men. In the apprenticeship and short training courses offered in the industries, men who have shown trade and executive ability in combination are frequently selected to act as instructors. These men are usually given a brief preliminary training in the methods of teaching industrial practice, and are then set to work in the firm's school.

Teachers in corporation schools must first of all be masters of their trade, and know how to get along with other men. They must have authority, confidence, patience, the ability to make clear the processes they are teaching and the ability to make the boys and men respect them and take their teaching seriously. No man academically trained alone could ever satisfactorily fill such a position. First-hand knowledge of the trade, and as complete as possible, coupled with that understanding of industrial conditions which comes from real experience are absolutely essential for successful work on the teacher's part in the corporation schools.

The qualifications of industrial teachers of practically all kinds may be summed up as follows: They should have a knowledge of the trade to be taught, the ability to teach it and the sort of personality that will bring out the best efforts of those who are being taught.

Knowledge of a trade, of course, comes best through working in it. Personality is largely a matter of one's character and one's willingness to learn. The man with a good foundation of trade knowledge, who is pleasant and cheerful in his contact with others, neat and clean in appearance, of good habits and with the ability to supervise the work of others usually makes excellent material for an industrial teacher. All he needs to complete his equipment is some training in the teaching of his subject. This training has not, until very recently, been easy to acquire. Training courses for industrial teachers are comparatively new. It is only now that schools are beginning to realize the fact that the academically trained man, whose entire trade experience is limited to that obtained in the school shops, is hardly a logical instructor in a trade or general industrial school. It is the man with practical experience who seems to be the most fitting candidate for trade-teaching positions, and a growing acknowledgment of this fact has led to the establishment of a number of courses designed to train capable workers to become trade teachers.

The most practical courses offered such workers are those given in the evening, since men employed in an industry have no time for attending day classes. These courses are usually of short duration, aiming to give the students intensive instruction in the fundamental principles of teaching and to provide them with an opportunity to spend some time in practice teaching. These courses make no attempt to teach trades, but simply to train vocational instructors. Men admitted to these courses are expected to have at least an elementary school education or its equivalent. If they have high school training also, so much the better. They are required also to be men of good personality, and with practical experience along the lines of the industrial work they desire to teach. A number of local industrial schools also offer similar short instructor-training courses to men with trade experience. Information regarding such courses may be obtained from your state or local Board of Education.

There is an active and constantly growing demand for men who combine trade experience with teaching ability. Such men are wanted in all the types of schools mentioned. There are as yet but very few who are properly equipped to undertake industrial instruction, and so there is a large uncrowded field for capable men.

There are other courses, which have as their purpose the imparting to students of both trade and teaching knowledge. These courses are, of necessity, much longer in duration than the short specific evening classes conducted for workers. They are generally all-day courses, lasting from two to four years, and are given at normal schools, state universities and technical schools. They attempt to teach trade processes and to give also, professional teacher training. These courses generally have one fault—they do not offer real trade experience. If students work at a trade during their summer vacations, this lack may be overcome. These courses are open in most cases to boys with a high school education. Graduates of such courses are competent to hold manual training positions, or, if they have supplemented their school work with practical shop experience, they may make good industrial teachers in trade schools and technical high schools.

Training courses for manual training teachers are offered by many normal schools and a number of colleges. These courses, too, are generally at least two years long, and are open usually to high school graduates. The training is quite academic, offering but a limited amount of practice in the manual arts, and fitting students for work as manual training teachers in elementary, high and normal schools.

Combined instruction of trade, technical and professional types is offered by a number of institutions, some of which give both day and evening courses, of the intensive and also of the more prolonged sort. These institutions train regular students and also, in some cases, men who are already employed and who wish to become shopwork teachers. They are generally technical schools of secondary grade, or higher, and in many cases offer excellent preparation for the prospective industrial teacher.

The young man with an elementary education, a love for mechanical work and the desire to become an industrial teacher often does well to enter some such technical school, where, in the course of two, three or four years, he obtains a fair amount of technical and professional training. The young man who is already employed in a trade will find the short courses offered by such technical schools, by local public industrial schools, by university extension departments and by the large corporations of the industry in which he is engaged very valuable in preparing for teaching work.

To some young men of executive ability and of thorough pedagogic training the position of supervisor or director of industrial education will offer a strong appeal. Such a position entails considerable responsibility and is usually open only to teachers of experience. It is the duty of the director of industrial education in a town or city to provide for a system of courses in trade training and trade-teacher training. He must make this system part of the educational and industrial life of the community, a force whose influence is clearly felt and appreciated. In order to do this, the supervisor must be able to keep in close and friendly touch not alone with school authorities but also with the business men of his community.

The supervisor and the director of industrial work plan courses, supervise the teaching staff and are more or less in charge of all or part of the industrial education of the city or school. Their work requires executive ability, great tact and a sound appreciation of the meaning and value of industrial education. Supervisors and directors are usually normal school or college graduates, but some of the best in the country today are men who came right out of the shops, and who, by dint of superior ability, hard work and the right kind of study after school hours, have made enviable names for themselves in the teaching profession.

For the young man of mechanical tastes and good personality, industrial teaching offers a splendid field of employment. It is a profession which has until now been hardly recognized, and which, coming into greater and greater prominence, offers the advantage of a steadily growing demand for capable men. The pay is usually better than that of a man engaged at the actual work in the trade, and the greater amount of leisure, due to lighter hours and long vacations with pay, gives the teacher much opportunity for rest, recreation and self-improvement. Like the academic teacher, the industrial teacher usually works under a fixed salary schedule, which includes a minimum and a maximum salary and an annual increment. The salaries vary in different communities, but the minimum is usually about $1,500 a year, while the maximum salary in the large cities reaches up to $3,250 a year for elementary schools, and $3,800 a year for high school teachers. The beginner usually starts at the minimum salary, but sometimes receives credit for outside work, which may raise his initial salary considerably. After appointment, an increase of from $100 to $200 a year is generally provided for, until the maximum salary is reached. Employment is usually for life, with a substantial pension for old age.

The work is, to the right type of man, very pleasant and interesting, giving him, as it does, an opportunity to exercise his executive faculty and his mechanical ability. It is, furthermore, work whose usefulness cannot be overestimated. To help develop more useful men and better citizens, is a great privilege. Every year several hundred thousand children leave school before they have finished the elementary grades, and with no proper preparation, attempt to enter industrial life. In many cases an adequate system of vocational instruction would keep these children in school a few years longer, prepare them to be of real use when they are ready to go out into the world and increase their earning power, their self respect and their general intelligence and happiness. Where the system of industrial education is worked out so that these results are in some measure accomplished, the industrial teacher can feel that it is largely through his efforts that this is true. His work is that of preparing, for effective citizenship and useful living, the great mass of our future working population.


ALLEN, CHARLES R.: "The Instructor, the Man and the Job : A Handbook for Instructors of Industrial and Vocational Subjects," J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, 1919. "Instructor Training," Federal Board for Vocational Education, Bull. No. 62, Trade and Industrial Series No. 18, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1921.

JARVIS, CHESTER D.: "Vocational Teachers for Secondary Schools; What the . Land-Grant Colleges Are Doing to Prepare Them," Bureau of Education Bull. No. 38, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1917.

KELLY, Roy W.: "Training Industrial Workers," The Ronald Press Co., New York, 1920.

LEAVITT, FRANK M. and BROWN, EDITH: "Prevocational Education in the Public Schools," Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1915.

ROBISON, EMILY (compiler) : "Vocational Education," The H. W. Wilson Co., New York, 1918.

SIEBERT, ALBERT F.: "Courses of Study for the Preparation of Teachers of Manual Arts," Bureau of Education Bull. 1918, No. 37, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1919. "The Selection and Training of Teachers for State-aided Industrial Schools," Rev. Ed., National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, Bull. No. 19, National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, 1917. "Training in Industrial Plants," U. S. Department of Labor, U. S. Training Service, Training Bull. No. 14, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1919.


Educational Administration and Supervision, Warwick & York, Inc., Baltimore, Md.

Industrial Arts Magazine, Bruce Publishing Co., Milwaukee, Wis. Industrial Education Magazine, Manual Arts Press, Peoria, Ill. School Arts Magazine, Davis Press, Inc., Worcester, Mass.

Vocational Education Magazine, J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia.

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