Page images

our Agricultural and Mechanical College shows that the State is beginning to recognize this need.

But our State has not yet recognized in any way the need for this generally educative manual training as a part of our general educational system. It has not yet been seen that this work may be made something more than mere technical training for a specific occupation, that it is a part of all true education, and that the boy or girl who passes through school without it goes out into life deprived of a valuable part of his intellectual, moral, and physical training, as well as handicapped in the battle of life by the lack of a fund of useful knowledge about the most necessary affairs of life.

Most people who have not carefully considered this matter think these claims for manual and domestic training as a part of general mental training are extravagant. Let us look now at just a few facts bearing upon the educational value of manual training. In other words, let us psychologize manual training. That properly conducted manual training work trains the pupil to careful observation, discrimination and habits of accuracy, exercises the memory, imagination, reason and will, as does other laboratory work, is evident to anyone who has seen this work well taught. It is to the advantages peculiar to this work that I wish here to call attention.

1. Is not physical activity the most fundamental instinct of the child? Yet outside of the kindergarten our whole education is based upon an unnatural' repression of this activity, instead of utilizing it for educational ends. Industrial training takes hold of the natural love and instinct of the child for this kind of activity and organizes and uses these for his education.

2. A young person loves to see actual visible results of his labor and the well-made and useful article carried home by the student gives a real inspiration to do something more and something better. While there are some visible material results to be seen by the children in the several fields of school work, in no other work is this so much so as in manual and domestic training, and in the actual experience in the schools, it is seen that in no other class are children so eager to learn thoroughly and produce a result fit to be shown to their parents.

That this work does appeal to the interest of the child and arouse his or her best effort is plainly seen as soon as one enters

such a class. In fact, it is the only part of our school work in which the students can be disciplined by requiring them to quit the class. This is the actual practice in Austin and works perfectly.

3. Manual and domestic training is especially valuable because the hands, the eyes, the body, and the intellect, the will are all called in to co-operate. In this work we find a means of training the whole man or the whole woman in harmony-not some intellectual hysteric with no ontrol over her body, nor some one-sided and impractical speculator and dreamer, but a person that can think and do-in short, the whole brain is sent to school, and not a few little centers for the tongue and visual and auditory images.

4. The impressions made on the brain through this manual exercise furnish a needed basis for higher mental development. All of the child's thinking must be done in terms of images left in his mind by his past experience. These impressions are the raw material of thought out of which his active mind builds his world, whether it be rational or fanciful. Physiological Psychology has shown us that the human mind can frame no sensuous image of anything till the proper nerve cells in the brain have first been stimulated through the external sense organ. The wisest congenital blind person that ever lived can not think one thought in terms of light or visual images. He substitutes touch images and gets along somewhat with regard to shapes, but on light and color he is absolutely imbecile—or rather absolutely empty. So of hearing, taste, touch, and the other senses, the stimuli must arouse the outer sense organ and go on into the brain and stimulate the proper nerve cells, or no image can arise in the mind. The passing of this stimulus through these brain cells once seems to leave a trace there of such a nature that these cells can act a second time without the aid of external stimuli, and can produce these images again and associate them in all sorts of ways in memory, imagination, or reason, and thus build up the higher products of mind. But nothing save the outward stimulus of the sense organ can arouse the nerve cells the first time, and give this raw material for thought. The breadth and accuracy of the results of the loftiest operations of the most exalted mind are limited by the number and correctness of the original sense impressions. The congenitally deaf man can do no correct thinking about music.

The color blind man must ever have a mistaken and limited notion of color. Recent study of Psychology has shown that the touch and the muscular and joint sensations produced in mind by brain stimuli gotten from physical movement of the hands play an astonishingly large role in our mental growth.

No man who has failed to watch the training of a feeble-minded or idiotic child in one of our modern institutions can possibly appreciate how much our own intellectual development, even our God-like imagination and reason, are dependent primarily upon the stimuli given the brain through the physical movements of our bodies. Among these unfortunate feeble-minded children we always find a stiffened or a flabby and uncontrolled hand, and often in addition to this, an immobile body. These poor unfortunates, some of whom can neither articulate words nor recognize the faces of their parents, may now be brought to a considerable degree of intelligence, and it is all done primarily through their muscular movements. At first the whole body is rubbed and bent and moved and massaged for months, then the hands and fingers are worked and the expressionless face is manipulated. This physical movement stimulates and soon awakens the dormant brain, their eyes brighten, they notice things, and by patiently putting them through significant movements, accompanied with speech, these children are actually taught to know things and people and to care for themselves. It is perfectly plain here how entirely dependent upon the physical exercise is this rise in intellectual life. Now what is so plainly true in these cases is true, only to a less degree, with us all. Our Creator has so arranged it than man gained a large part of his intelectual and moral education in connection with the practical duties of life; that is, where intellectual activity usually accompanied physical exertion. It is time we recognize the natural constitution of man and put our educational efforts more in line with the plans of nature. In manual and domestic training this is done.

5. Another point in which manual and domestic training has an advantage over the ordinary method of education is that the pupil at first works from a model and must test and estimate for himself his own work. If his work be slipshod, he is bound to see it for himself and correct his own error. Later he prepares his own designs and works after his own plans, and this stimulates

his originality. Since his work is here self-directed, it develops his moral power and self-control.

6. In addition to these potent advantages, it can be claimed that this work develops the body and develops the esthetic sense. When properly taught, this is true.

7. Another great benefit undoubtedly arising from this work in the schools is the development in the child of a love for occupation and an appreciation of the dignity of labor; it makes possible a development of some real sympathy and mutual appreciation between the laboring and professional classes.

As yet no claim has been made whatever for this work, because it prepares for some useful occupation in after life. It is perfectly plain that it belongs in a rational system of education, and should be open to all children, even if they never expect to touch a trade in after life, just as percentage and interest and partial payments are studied by all children as a part of general education, even though they expect never to be either a borrower or lender of money.

Now let us consider some of the objections brought against the introduction of this work into our public school system: It is claimed:

1. That there are already so many studies in our schools that the children cannot keep up with what they have; all the time given to industrial education must be taken from something else already in the school; and there is simply no time for industrial training in public schools.

2. That a vast majority of our boys and girls are to be neither carpenters nor cooks, and they would be wasting time to study it. 3. That equipment and teachers for this work cost too much. Taking these up in order: The first objection, that time cannot be found for it is already answered by the bald fact that time has been found and the work put to practical test in several hundred public schools in America, and among these are the very best schools in the country. Instead of weakening the purely intellectual training in the schools, practical experience has shown that in many cases it improves it. The reason for this is obvious to one who has studied this work. The manual and domestic work is not simply an interesting physical diversion which children welcome after hours of routine class work, but it is taught so as to prac

tically apply the general principles learned in the other studies, especially in the Arithmetic, Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, and Drawing. Thus the child learns that his other studies do have some practical bearing and must be mastered in order to do his work well. The practical application in the manual and domestic work of the facts and principles learned in the class-room helps to hold these in mind.

I had heard educators claim this for years, but I did not really appreciate it until as a college graduate I entered a high school course in manual training and personally tried to find how to set my lathe to turn a six-inch-long piece of one-inch iron rod down. to seven-eighths of an inch in diameter for one inch of the length, and then taper the other five inches uniformly on down to one-half inch in diameter at the end. This gave me food for meditation until I tried, with the same lathe, to turn out a screw with twelve threads to the inch. That lathe got its power from a belt running over a twenty-four inch wheel. This belt could be worked on either of three pulleys on the lathe, each one rotating the piece of iron at a different rate. The lathe shaft on which these pulleys worked had a cog-wheel of a certain number of teeth, which might mesh with either or four other cog-wheels, each with different number of teeth; and finally the shaft on which these four cogwheels worked was itself threaded so many threads to the inch, and served as it rotated to drive along the tool which cut the threads in the bar of iron out of which I was trying to make that screw. By the time I got those belts on the right pulleys and meshed those cogs so that that piece of iron turned over twelve times while that tool passed along one inch, I must confess that I had done more fractions and compound proportion and downright hard, clear thinking than I had done before for several days. What was true in this case is true all through this work, the student is meeting with practical problems which demand that he know the useful general principles that are taught in his classes, and he is given the best sort of mental exercise in being forced to recall and apply these laws.

The same is true in the domestic economy taught the girls. For instance, in a class of twelve-year-old girls I heard a teacher ask why toasted bread was more wholesome than soggy or thick biscuit, and the pupil replied, "The starch in the bread is made up of

« PreviousContinue »