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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/647

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AN AMERICAN MANUAL TRAINING-SCHOOL.

impartially and thoroughly as possible, and then it is but a step to a trade.

And this brings me to a very important point. Admitting that, with a suitable outfit of tools, shops, etc., a programme such as I have described can be carried out, you ask: "What, after all, is the manual training acquired at school good for? Has the mind been nourished through the fingers' ends? Has the hand gained any enduring skill? Is it really but a step from the door of the manual training-school to the shop of the craftsman?"

Experience answers all these questions satisfactorily, and adds that there is scarcely a calling in society that is not edified by manual training. Rousseau once remarked that "to know how to use one's fingers gave a superiority in every condition in life." I recently made systematic inquiry among the parents of my boys as to the effect of the one or two years' training in our school. Their reports on the points now under consideration are both interesting and encouraging. They write:

"Gerald takes great interest in fixing up things generally."

"Charles fixed my sewing-machine."

"George has made many little matters of household utility, and seems to delight in it."

"We go to Henry to have chairs mended, shelves put up, etc., and he does excellent work. He made a fine set of screen-frames."

"The mechanical faculty was quite small in John's case, and it has been developed to a remarkable extent."

"Leo does all the jobs around the house."

And so on, for nearly a hundred pupils.

Again, the parents testify to an increased interest in practical affairs, in shops and machinery, and in such books and periodicals as the "Scientific American." Beyond question, there is a certain intellectual balance, a good mechanical judgment, a sort of level-headedness, in practical matters consequent upon this sort of training, that in value far outweighs special products. Said Rousseau, in his "Emilius," one hundred and twenty years ago: "If, instead of keeping a boy poring over books, I employ him in a workshop, his hands will be busied to the improvement of his understanding; he will become a philosopher while he thinks himself only an artisan."

As to enduring skill, I will let you judge for yourselves. The blacksmithing has occupied the second-year class about two hundred hours—ten a week. Each man had his forge and set of tools, and each executed substantially the same set of pieces. Here is a partial set of the work done. The pieces are numbered in the order in which they were done. They were first wrought in cold lead while the order of the steps and the details of form were studied, and then they were executed in hot iron. I have a few of the lead specimens here. The boys have not yet learned to weld the lead. The instructor's estimate