Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/459

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
437
THE SPIRIT OF MANUAL TRAINING.

about it in. the right way. And the right way, here as elsewhere, is the natural way. A definite result is wanted. Let definite means he taken to reach that result. If strong men are wanted, let the conditions of the school be such that strength will he a necessity. In many of them at present it is not even a possibility. If honest men are wanted, let the training of the school tend to that end, even if one's knowledge of Timbuctoo and the Karakorum Mountains is not very definite. If self-reliant men are wanted, let education take the place of instruction. If useful men are wanted, let useful things be taught. If thoughtful men are wanted, let the appeal be made to the individual reason of the boy rather than to external authority. All this is very obvious; it is merely common sense, but unfortunately it is not the method of the schools. In a word, the problem of education is to be approached from the other side. We are to work backward from results. Instead of assuming certain studies to be useful, and then working on to decidedly variable results, we are to begin with results admitted to be worthy, and then work backward to a curriculum as varied as Joseph's coat if individual cases demand it. What the true educator most wishes to influence is the conduct of life. The object he holds sacred; the methods by which he compasses it, indifferent.

This is the spirit of manual training. Where this system of education has been introduced, it gives so distinct a character to the course of study that it has loaned its name to the school as a whole. In many respects this is unfortunate, as it has caused serious misapprehension in regard to the purpose of such schools, but apparently the name is now too well rooted in educational nomenclature to be easily changed. It should be borne in mind, however, that the name stands for an object rather than a method. The manual training school has sprung into existence for a purpose much more profound than that of merely cultivating the hand. It has come in recognition of the growing demand for a complete man. Our educational methods have too long been at work turning out fractional products, men strong perhaps in this or that particular department, but sadly deficient when viewed from the standard of complete manhood. The specific purpose of such schools is to offer an education that includes as far as possible all of the faculties. Its favorite maxim is, "Put the whole boy to school." Its mode of carrying out this purpose is the very practical one of occupying the time in any way, formal or informal, that will best lead to the end proposed.

The manual training school is now in its formative period, and the time is a critical one. Two rival theories contend for the mastery of its future. The one regards manual training as an end in itself, and subordinates education to technical skill. It con-