Popular Science Monthly/Volume 46/April 1895/Manual Training II
By Dr. C. HANFORD HENDERSON,
PRINCIPAL OF THE NORTHEAST MANUAL TRAINING SCHOOL, PHILADELPHIA.
IT will be remembered by those familiar with biblical lore that when Saul, the son of Kish, went forth in search of his father's asses, he found, instead of these humble animals, a kingdom and a crown. Not every man is so fortunate. Indeed, as we all know, the experience is often reversed. Yet it does fall out from time to time that a very modest journey into the world of thought or action lands one in the midst of wholly unexpected possessions. The Burgomeister of Dessau, patiently gazing at the sun day after day for thirty years, and noting the sun-spots as they waxed and waned, to discover in the end their remarkable periodicity, is a more modern instance. Others might be cited. We go in quest of a given end. We travel a few paces. A chance experiment, an almost random thought, and behold—a new world! It is no miracle sprung full-grown from the womb of the impossible. It is an orderly sequence, the wider prospect which comes from a better point of view.
I have had a somewhat similar experience in this matter of manual training. I came in search of a quiet good; I find a kingdom.
We are inquiring into the inner content of manual training. Let us begin at the beginning—at the mystery of birth. It is a favorite starting point of mine, for life best stands out in all its cosmic relations when I view it as a sublime panorama, watching the human soul as it emerges from the mists of infancy and following it until it sinks below the horizon of the grave. It is a method which has the disadvantage of long prefaces, but perhaps the compensation of clearer conclusions.
A child, then, is born into the world—a puny, screaming, reddish creature—a very fragment of humanity. Were we gods, unacquainted, let us say, with the wheel of birth and death, and did we find ourselves for the first time face to face with infancy, we would see in it but little promise. If we found our infant, like Romulus, suckled at the breast of a she-wolf, and had we no more developed human with whom to compare it, our amazement would fast turn into repulsion. The child would appear a helpless parasite, sucking in the outer world and making no return. The picture would not attract, for it would be devoid of that element, dear alike to gods and men, the element of power. But add now another figure. Let it be the picture of mother and child. It is a picture which for many centuries has claimed the adoration of mankind—an adoration shown as well in its art as in its religion. And back of the art and back of the religion there is, I think, a significance still deeper and still more catholic. The second figure has changed our entire attitude. The helplessness no longer repels. It is seen to be a phase and not of the essence. What the one is, the other may become. We love the child for its sweet promise, and, though we may be disappointed a hundred times, the next-comer is the occasion of renewed hope.
Yet the mystery is not dispelled.
By what divine metamorphosis, we should ask, is this crude, rebellious organism transformed into the likeness of the serene and beautiful mother? We could only answer this self-put question if we stopped and watched the unfolding. What the elfin child of our imagination appeared to be doing the human child in reality does. It drinks in the outer world; and it must do so, for upon this depend its life and its growth. Food and air and light must flow to it from their several sources. They are the material of its body and the stuff of its increase. The faculties must exercise themselves upon the many objects of perception. They must transmit to the brain their corresponding sensations. These are the material of thought and the food which nourishes intelligence. Who the alchemist is the subtle inner self which transmutes the seemingly dead elements into a living organism and the accumulated sensations into coherent thought—we do not know. Let us call it the human spirit, the sum of human faculty; or, to be brief, the soul. This is, I think, a legitimate use of the word. But the point I want to emphasize is this, that the soul, whatever it may be, whether the cause of the life process or its result, is no creator. It is a living fabric, woven on the warp and woof of cause and effect. It depends for its growth upon the materials of growth. The spinning must cease when there are no more strands to be woven. And so it comes about that souls differ from one another in magnitude. They are stunted, if the material of growth be limited. They are generous, if the material of growth be plentiful. And by material of growth I mean available material. A dyspeptic organism in the presence of food which it can not assimilate; a feeble brain structure face to face with possible sensations which for it are impossible—these are the victims of a fatal stint. We can set no limit to the power of assimilation. We can see no boundaries to the possibilities of sensation. The unfolding spirit finds itself at the beginning of a road, the end of which lies in infinity.
The distance between the mother and child is very great. Yet it may be traversed, and by one path, that of experience. This is only another way of saying that the child drinks in the outer world. The avidity with which it drinks, the completeness with which it assimilates, these condition its growth. What the one is, the other may become. What the one is, the other does not necessarily become. The process of education, conscious and unconscious, formal and informal, the education of daily contact with life, determines the resemblance or divergence.
It would be a serious matter if we allowed the education of the child to proceed without guidance. This would be to lose the profit of our own experience. It is a still more serious matter when we attempt to guide it. I am afraid that with our sophisticated ways we often do things which make life, acting unconsciously, a far better schoolmaster than we, with all our conscious methods.
Have I made myself clear? Have I pointed out with sufficient plainness and sufficient emphasis that men are the children of their own experience; that education is a process by which we enlarge this experience; that the art of teaching lies in the discrimination with which we decide upon the desirability of any possible experience, and the skill with which we bring the selected experience within reach of the child? I have meant to do so, and for a special reason. What to do?—that is one question. How to do it?—that is another. These two lie at the basis of manual training, as they do at the basis of every other scheme of education. The different answers give rise to the different schemes.
In adding manual training to current education, we are called upon to justify both the end and the means. The end must be rational; the means must be adequate. This is a reasonable demand. I am glad to answer for manual training, and to try to tell why we do it. I hope that others will be minded to correct and to complete the answer that I am about to give.
We did it in the first place for a quiet good.
In the face of matter, man seemed so helpless. In taking boys from the home and field and farm, and packing them into school-houses, we robbed them of much of their natural physical activity, and lessened the education that comes through the senses. There were some compensations. We brought about a certain amount of self-control. We made the boys acquainted with certain facts. We bespoke an interest in the things of the spirit. The humanities made some progress. But the fact remained that in all this we were dealing with the symbols of things rather than with the things themselves. It was observed that our children dwelt in a curious and a somewhat unwholesome world of unreality. It was startling to find, as I once did, a boy of fourteen who had been so persistently taught that the moon shone by reflected light, that he believed the moon to be nothing more than an image of the sun cast on the celestial sphere, much as we throw a sunbeam on the wall. He was greatly surprised at the time of an eclipse to find that the moon was a solid body. It reflected somewhat on the usefulness of geography to find children whose main impression, after a considerable study of the map, was that Pennsylvania was yellow and New Jersey pink, while for some unexplained reason New York was green. Doubtless things have improved since those days, but even now, in the year of grace 1895, the study of child psychology is revealing the fact that large percentages of our school children are ignorant of the most everyday realities of life. These same children can out-talk and out-name their less-schooled elders. They can make a quiet country boy silent and abashed in the presence of their wordy knowledge. But in spite of it all they leave an impression of undesirable helplessness. Now, we are all agreed that, as things stand at present, the school can not be dispensed with. Its benefits are much too substantial. But it can be supplemented, and some at least of these deficiencies corrected. The early motive for the introduction of manual training was precisely this. It was a desire to bring boyhood back into a world of reality through an acquaintance with things. Dexterity in the use of tools, and in the handling of such stubborn facts as wood and clay and metal, was held to be important as a part of this reality. The work went on with earnest singleness of purpose and commands the respect of even those who see in manual training something much deeper than this mere convenience.
This first end was objective. It must always remain valid. An intelligent regard for the conditions imposed by a world of matter is a large element in successful living. No one appreciates this more keenly than your out-and-out transcendentalist. After all, he is our truly practical man. But this quiet good began to expand into something larger when men came to cherish it for a wider motive. To do certain things was useful—to saw and plane and chisel and turn and chip and file. To do them well was more useful. It was recognized as a part of virtue. It meant not only an ability to accomplish certain practical operations successfully, but it also meant much more than this. It meant the cultivation of character. It meant the growth of patience, of perseverance, and of judgment. It meant the development of the sturdy virtues of self-reliance and self-poise. Manual training came to have an ethical value. I can not do better here than to quote with cordial approval a passage from Mr. Edward Carpenter's Essay on Desirable Mansions:
"Man is made to work with his hands. This is a fact which can not be got over. From this central fact he can not travel far. I don't care whether it be an individual or a class, the life which is far removed from this becomes corrupt, shriveled, and diseased. You may explain it how you like, but it is so. Administrative work has to be done in a nation as well as productive work; but it must be done by men accustomed to manual labor, who have the healthy decision and primitive, authentic judgment which comes of that, else it can not be done well. In the new form of society which is slowly advancing upon us, this will be felt more than now. The higher the position of trust a man occupies, the more will it be thought important that at some period of his life he should have been thoroughly inured to manual work; this not only on account of the physical and moral robustness implied by it, but equally because it will be seen to be impossible for any one without this experience of what is the very flesh and blood of the national life to promote the good health of the nation, or to understand the conditions under which the people live whom he has to serve."
Manual training has thus shown two aspects. It presents itself as a convenience, and as an agent of moral culture. To-day it is entering a new phase, and is expanding into a kingdom. It is doing so through the recognition of its psychological import.
Consider the structure of the human body. It is an organism made up of many complex tissues, of bones, muscles, and nerves. The whole is nourished by blood, manufactured within its own precincts. Special organs and ducts provide a system of sewerage for the prompt disposal of waste. In health, the blood supply is ample, its aëration complete, the renewal of tissue is prompt, the removal of waste is without interruption. Each organ performs its function. We have a healthy human animal—a rare sight. We value it for what it is and for what it can do. The indicated strength must be turned to some account. The well-poised head must display intelligence. A failure in these expectations, and our seemingly perfect human mechanism is a sad disappointment. It is the informing spirit and the disciplined will that make the Apollo admirable. These do not spring like Venus from the forehead of Jove. They are the children of a slower evolution. Each organ performs its function so perfectly because of the discipline of use, because of the slow discipline of long-continued use. We recognize this in the matter of the actions called physical. We build gymnasiums on this principle, and lay out our athletic grounds accordingly. The runner wants well-developed nerve and muscle, and he wants the habit of rapid action. The champion in every sport needs the human apparatus, the nerve and sinew, and he also needs the habit of prompt exercise. It is the same with the bodily organs and functions. Strong lungs come from deep breathing and the pumping of maximum quantities of air. If we want a strong stomach we must give it work to do. We must eat cheese and nuts and other foods that are hard to digest. It will never do to live on peptones. All this is very obvious. But it is less obvious when we come to speak of the operations of the spirit. Yet the case is quite the same. We need the organ and, through exercise, the well-developed function. Our thinking is connected with molecular changes in the brain and spinal column. It will depend upon these and upon the degree of their organization. But thinking is a complex operation. It may be resolved into simpler elements, into sensations. But even here it no longer suffices to say that these sensations are transmitted to the brain. This language is entirely too general. Their destination may be specifically stated. They go to a particular part of the brain, depending on their nature.
With respect to the outer world, we have but one sense, and that is the sense of touch. All our impressions are tactile. The outer world has for us but one mode of operation, and that is through motion. The organs of sense are attuned to different degrees of motion, and unerringly pick out their own notes. The ear, sensitive enough to the coarse air waves which constitute sound, is utterly deaf to the minute light waves which so easily affect the eye. The ego touches the outer world only at its own bodily extremities. What it comes in contact with is motion. For us, then, the outer world is coextensive with motion, and with only so much motion as we can perceive. The outer world has different dimensions according to the sensitiveness of this power of perception. The motion to which we do not respond is an unseen and unknown world—an undiscovered country. The motion to which we do respond makes up our entire world. It is our universe.
The impressions gathered by the several senses are transmitted to the brain over their appropriate nerve routes. Here at this central station the same exquisite division of labor prevails as at the outlying stations on the circumference. In receiving sensations, the brain does not act as a whole. It is rather a series of resonance boxes, each box responding to vibrations of particular pitch. The reports of the several senses are all duly pigeonholed. In the same way every outgoing nerve impulse comes from a special center. It is not by a general action of the brain that we carry on our several activities, but by the action of a special part of the brain, depending on the nature of the activity. Any injury to this center, and the activities connected with it are as completely paralyzed as if the whole tissue were destroyed. By so much is a man dead; by so much is his universe curtailed. On the other hand, any increase in the power of these centers, and there comes an increase of life, an expansion of the realized universe.
Power, that is what we are after. Let us keep it always in mind. Let us not be turned off from the main quest, however alluring the side issues. We want the increased power of the human spirit.
Now, power is a result as well as a cause. Intellectual power is the result of a developed brain organism. This development comes through use. Any activity at the circumference means a corresponding activity at the center. The exercise of any one of the senses means the development of its corresponding brain center. The sum of this development is intelligence. This is what I mean by the psychological import of manual training. This it is which makes the lovers of power value manual training. Each movement of a motor nerve, whether it be in the fashioning of wood or metal or clay, involves a corresponding brain movement. These movements stimulate growth, and growth is what we are after. Intellect is a function of brain surface.
I believe, then, that the very strongest argument for manual training is not the practical value of the skill which it develops, not even the moral significance of the sturdiness which it inculcates, but that it is something which includes these and the other ends of culture, that it is the increased intellectual power which is the necessary physiological result of such training. This is a large claim, and one that has never been urged before, I believe, on precisely these grounds. But it is a claim which can be fully substantiated.
Perceiving, as we must if these considerations are well taken, that manual training means power because it leads to the development of the brain as an organ, and to increase of function as a result of this growth—it becomes very evident that manual training is by no means the only method of securing this development. It is far from being the end of the purpose which it involves. It is only one out of a group of possible methods which have a common purpose, the development of human faculty. To accomplish this full purpose we shall need the cultivation of all the senses. What we want, then, is not only manual training; it is something larger than this—tactile training, the training of the eye, the ear, the hand in a word, the cultivation of all the senses. And this, bear in mind once and always, not alone because the development of these senses means a large addition to the practical art of living, but still more because such a development means increased brain power, and the consequent generation of men and women of greater worth.
We hold manual training, then, not as the last word in education, but rather as a mere preliminary word—a preface which is to lead to that fuller unfolding of human faculty which will eventually be the meaning and purpose of education. We are engaged in a process, the unfolding and perfecting of the human spirit. We can accomplish this process intelligently only by keeping in mind the ideal we wish to realize. It is well to stop from time to time and examine this ideal—to state clearly to ourselves just what it is—and then, in the light of this knowledge, to examine into the efficacy of our chosen means. What do I mean when I say "a man"? Why do I feel a thrill quite different in kind and degree from the feeling aroused by such words as "wealth," "knowledge," "country"? What is this creature who is thus able to arouse in me the deepest reverence of which I am capable? Certainly it is not the average man of the streets, whose main study is bread and butter, with a casual thought to the rearing of progeny. Certainly not the petty trader who barters the glories of a universe for a few trinkets he calls wealth. One can not seriously cherish as an ideal any of the million of dead souls who daily walk our streets and with their small activities pester the beauty out of the days. To discard these types is not pessimism. It is rather a loyal optimism which insists upon the essential dignity and worth of manhood. When I say "a man" I mean a creature very different from these ghosts of the market and factory. I mean a radiant man, one who is the center of an abounding life and in whom is fulfilled the promise of the days. It is quite possible that by holding men so dear we should make certain material enterprises, now much esteemed, entirely out of the question; but, if so, we can better afford to lose the enterprise than the men. It is a devil's price which is paid in men. Education must look beyond boyhood and ask itself for what type of manhood it is planning. What sort of boys will evolve into this type of glorious, radiant manhood? Prigs will not do. No winged creature ever hatched from such a chrysalis. Neither will dullards nor bullies. Nor can we hope for much from the most current type of all, the pale-faced, anæmic boys, with their dull ears, near sight, short wind, bad breath, and a measure of life too large to permit dying and too small to permit living. What we need for such an evolution is radiant boys, breathing the full breath of life and health, thinking clearly, feeling deeply, rich in the fine riches of the human spirit, the riches that come from the expanding and unfolding of the human faculties.
This is an ideal boy, but it is not an impossible boy. He is a boy of flesh and blood—firm flesh and pure blood—and he shall not be driven out by any cry of Utopian!
It is the sort of boy I have in mind when I pronounce that word which should be a magician's word, the Open Sesame to many a human wonder, the word Education. It is by this standard that I must try all methods of education, manual training among the, rest. It is not so much whether they produce this type of boy—we live in a world of the imperfect, one whose beauties are daily sung by the minor poets—but whether they have it in mind to produce them, and do actually tend that way.
Now, I have tried to show that manual training has its face turned toward this perfection, and that it does realize a first step toward its attainment. It is this feeling that urges upon us the necessity of other steps. I see very clearly where we should begin. We should begin with the naked boy. It is not enough to impress his head. It is not enough to impress his hands. Life is a question of the whole body. I am trying at the present moment to introduce physical examination into our own school, and to place our work upon a sound physiological basis. It is an innovation. I do not know whether I shall succeed. Society at present furnishes us with a supply of very imperfect boys, furnishes to us who are a set of very imperfect teachers. Between us, imperfect units on both sides, the process of education is to be realized. It is very evident that the remedy for all this is the generation of a more perfect race. And this dream should be the ever-present dream of education. By entertaining it, it will become less and less Utopian, and more and more American. There is no reason why we should not realize it. There is every reason why we should. We have only to believe more in men and less in things.
But, meanwhile, the imperfection is here, and the problem is how to deal with it.
It has struck me for some time past that the friends of darkness are more successful than we, the friends of light, because they so persistently address themselves to the means of accomplishing their purpose, and only gloat occasionally over the end; while we, with better purpose and nobler end, we, with education and the universe on our side, are so constantly failing because we set our eyes on the end, and its glories blind us to the means. What reformer so unimaginative that he does not thrill at his own mind-pictures of a perfected humanity! But, alas! how few reformers, however earnest, who are patient enough to build from the mudsills up! For the most part we are a set of idle dreamers. Science has reclaimed from the unknown much more than we teachers have utilized. The laboratory is far ahead of the classroom. To our shame be it said. We know better than we do. The time has come to stop this trifling. I, a man, cry to myself, Halt! And I ask myself what I would do if I did the best I knew. The answer comes clear and unmistakable. I would stop trying to educate boys by the hundred—an impossible task and devotedly try to educate a little group. I would begin at the beginning. One must know the sort of material one has to work upon. This is the beginning. Education must take in the whole day, and not a mere fragment of it. Knowing the condition of the whole organism, the powers and defects of each organ, our first business is to set about making this organism healthy and adequate for the life of a man. This is a matter of daily régime and not of intermittent treatment. It is a matter of food, baths, clothing, rest, and exercise. It can not be divorced from school life any more than it can from home life. This is the first and great requirement. No boy, unless heavily handicapped at birth or by subsequent accident, will fail to respond to such treatment and come out a relatively healthy organism.
Meanwhile, we are not forgetting that power resides in the head. But neither are we forgetting that the head is only made possible by the rest of the body; that the supply of blood depends on that pumping engine down below, the heart; that the condition of the vast system of nerves of which the head is the center depends upon the health of the entire network; in short, that not the least and meanest function of the organism is without influence.upon the crown of it all. Education begins by a bodily renovation. And while this renovation is in progress, much else is being done. Each organ of sense is not only to be in health through its own health and the general health of the entire organism, but it is to be gaining power through exercise, for it is the office of the senses to supply the brain with raw material—that is, with sensations. There are many opportunities for such exercise. To begin with, let us consider the eye. Incidentally, all life contributes to its culture, and yet for lack of adequate training it remains a very inaccurate instrument. Its function is to appreciate distance, color, tone, light and shade, proportion. Put in the most general terms, it is to apprehend relations. Many wholesome exercises could be devised to develop these several phases—judgments of distances, discrimination between different colors and different shades of the same color, the evaluation of light and shadow, the study of the æsthetic principles underlying the sense of proportion. An eye trained in this way would be a source of endless delight, a constant finder of new beauties. And back of the eye is the seeing brain whose growth would be in proportion.
The ear is an equally promising field for training. Think of the world of harmony and music closed forever to those who, like poor Trilby, are tone deaf! Think of the thousand sounds in Nature which are full of meaning to those who have ears and hear; of the countless shades of meaning conveyed by the human voice to those who are sensitive enough to apprehend! At present this realm of sound is to most of us a coarse convenience, a quick way of ordering our dinner, and little more. It might be a garden of delight; and the time to open this garden is in youth, when the tissues are flexible and the life plastic. It is a tragedy that when we might be opening such treasures as these to our boys, we teach them, instead, bookkeeping and interest! And back of the ear is the hearing brain whose growth would be in proportion.
There is no sense organ which might not be stimulated by some well-directed training and made to yield its corresponding brain reaction. Even taste need not be omitted. It would be an exercise of serious value to have a boy learn to detect the percentage of sugar or salt or lemon juice in the glass of water he is drinking, for it would mean the exercise of attention and discrimination. Something might even be done with the nose. Its judgments might be refined and made analytic as well as aesthetic. And, again, back of the tongue and the nose is the tasting and smelling brain, and it is this always that we have in mind.
In manual training we appeal to touch, and incidentally to sight. But we have scarcely broken ground. The hand could be cultivated to a thousand delicacies of touch which are merely foreshadowed in our present clumsy exercises. Both hand and foot are capable of many movements which would add not only to health and convenience, but also furnish nerve and muscle reactions of large value. To sum up the present gains, I would say that manual training gives us increased dexterity and greater keenness of observation. Of still greater value is its higher gift, an increased development of the corresponding nerve centers in the brain, and the consequent increase in general intellectual power.
Here, as the lawyers say, we rest our case.
If manual training has, as I fully believe that it has, this vastly important psychological import, it is the herald of a coming education. If it has not, then its only value is industrial and utilitarian. It is an artisan movement, useful and in its way valuable, but nothing more.
And here let me say very explicitly that the matter is not one to be disposed of, for or against, by mere opinion. In view of its seriousness such disposal would be simply cavalier. It is a matter for scientific inquiry and decision. I am not an advocate of manual training any more than I am an advocate of the vortex theory of atoms. Such a position is not defensible, I stand toward the problem, as I do toward other problems of science, simply as a student weighing the evidence. I would ask for a similar attitude on the part of other teachers, and for nothing more. The final judgment will come, bear in mind, not from schoolmasters and school committees, but from the men who are patiently and experimentally studying the brain as the organ of human intelligence, and mind as a function of brain,
I have here tried to tell the main ground for the faith that is in us—the raison d'être of the manual-training cult. One other question remains: What does this training lead to? It is the question of a practical world, of a world which pays the bills, and very properly looks into the quality of its purchase. The question may be answered in two ways: one is the very cold and matter-of-fact way of telling just what the graduates of a manual-training school are doing at the present moment; the other is the more rosy method of setting forth what we think these same graduates, in view of their education, ought to be doing, and what, when manual training shall have done its perfect work, they undoubtedly will be doing. I shall combine these methods by giving the statistics of our own school and then criticising them.
It has become a custom for some of the principal manualtraining schools to publish in their catalogues a list of graduates with their occupations. These lists form very instructive reading, for they tell in the most practical way just what the training does lead to. The Northeast School has graduated but two classes, or one hundred and twelve boys in all. An examination of their record shows the following results:
|Arts and sciences||1|
|Trade school (plumbing)||1||—38|
|Students (brought forward)||38|
|In business for themselves||4|
|In business with father||5|
|Without occupation, or occupation unknown||7|
The first thing to strike one about this list is the large number of boys who continue their education in higher institutions. One third of this particular company of graduates are now at work in the several departments of the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, and Drexel Institute, and in other medical, art, theological, and trade schools. The percentage is, I believe, considerably lower than in the four-year classical high schools of New England; but taking all the high schools throughout the country, and the percentage is much above the average. The result is gratifying, for it shows at least that the school has cultivated an appreciation of wisdom if it has not always succeeded in imparting it. Several factors have combined in turning the faces of so many boys toward college. In the first place, a manual-training school is a very practical school, and it does teach and illustrate the fact that if one wants to do good work one must learn how. Many of these boys have a distinct purpose in life, and they are at college in order to prepare themselves for carrying it out. Further, it so happens that a majority of the faculty are college-bred men, and have a sympathetic appreciation of college advantages. We have indeed made a special effort in this direction, and have tried to turn the most promising of our material collegeward, for we do feel that between the man who goes to college and the man who does not there is a difference of mental outlook which makes them the inhabitants of different worlds—a larger and a smaller universe. These influences within the school have been greatly strengthened by the friendly attitude of our university—an attitude constantly manifesting itself in cordial generosity and sympathy.
Almost another third of the boys find their career in technical work, made possible in large measure by the school training. They do not always get on very well with the "practical" men of the shops. A common criticism is that the boys know too much. But this is a criticism which may be interpreted in two ways. At any rate, they have a habit of coming out on top with a speed which indicates that any over-confidence at the start is soon cured. Our own graduates are still quite young, but the records of the Central School and of other training schools throughout the country show a goodly number of manual boys in positions of large responsibility, as teachers, fellows, inspectors, foremen, head draughtsmen, managers, and in other posts not awarded the incompetent.
The remaining third are distributed among a number of callings. It is a matter of regret to me that so many should have been willing to accept mercantile positions. In a number of cases, however, they are held only temporarily until something better can be found. With so many interesting possibilities in the world, it seems, to say the least, a very commonplace disposal of one's self to go into any trading operation. The influence of a manual-training school is decidedly against this sort of thing. I think I may say that it is somewhat aristocratic in its tendencies. It proposes that a man shall gain his living by some useful performance rather than by clever manipulation of stocks and markets. The tendency of manual training is distinctly away from commercial enterprises of a speculative character.
Of last year's class of fifty-nine boys but two are without regular occupation at the present time. This year's class has been less fortunate, for the depression in all manufacturing activities has made it more difficult to secure satisfactory posts.
On the whole, the record is gratifying. It shows that the training has somewhat of that catholic character which has been claimed for it by its advocates. If any judgment may be founded upon the destiny of this particular group of boys, it is clear that the training does lead to a variety of vocations rather than to one particular set. This seems to me a great advantage. The boys in a high school are much too young to elect their future. The training should be of such a general character as to present life in its entirety, and to open the doors of destiny in all desirable directions.
And now one word in conclusion as to what I personally would like to have manual training lead to, for in such a matter I may not so far involve my colleagues in the movement as to use the plural pronoun and say "we." There is discernible some tendency to give the movement a socialistic turn, and to urge manual training on the ground that society needs for its many activities the skill imparted by such schools. The boys are regarded, if I may so phrase it, as social tools in the making, and a process which turns out useful, workaday tools commends itself to the majority. In a word, the movement is looked at from the point of view of the whole, and notably from that aspect of it which has to do with social convenience. The graduates in manual training are socially useful, because they can do something. Economically they are good products. Now, for my own part, I much deplore this view. I want the social welfare and the social health quite as earnestly as those of my brothers who call themselves socialists, but this social good is a mere phantasmagoria, unless it means the sum of individual good, and it is attained only by attention to the factors in this sum—that is to say, to the individual. As I see life, individual good is the means and the end, and social good but the sign and symbol that this has been accomplished. Looking at the matter in this way, I can not build backward from the whole to the parts. I am forced to build in the other direction. And so I want manual training to lead to no such social illusion. I want it to lead in precisely the opposite direction. I want it to lead to the one great reality in the drama of life—to the unfolding and perfecting of the individual human spirit. I would have it intensely individualistic, leading never to self-sacrifice—which has for its necessary corollary other-sacrifice but leading always to self-realization, a self-realization so glorious as to quicken neighboring dead souls into renewed life. So I say in effect to each of my boys: "I recommend manual training to you—not to society, but to you, the individual soul—that your faculties may unfold and that you may come into the full stature of a man. And I recommend it without reservation, recommend it whatever the trend of your genius, for it means increased power for every performance."
The end, then, in manual training which commends itself to me is not utilitarian or socialistic. It is human, personal, individualistic. I would have it lead first and foremost to complete manhood. There are many social necessities, so called, which lead the other way. There are hundreds and thousands of activities which destroy manhood, but which are urged in the name of society. What crimes are committed in this name! There are the grim fortresses of commercialism, twenty-three stories high, whose dismal, sunless cells are to be filled with young life, and to be its tomb. There are rows and rows of vulgar shops, with their poor wares and bad air, where there can be no thought of human perfection. There are industrial processes whose known cost is human life. There are many-storied factories full of human misery. There are hideous aspects of life called into being, enlarged, and, worst of all, justified by this same cry of social necessity.
Now, I do not believe in this. I believe in wholeness, in health, in vitality, in integrity, in goodness, in happiness. And I believe that manual training should lead to these, should lead to them inexorably. The same motive which makes me cherish manual training—the love of power, the love of perfection—makes me deny as its proper outcome any activity which disallows complete manhood. So manual training opens the doors of activity in all directions, only to declare that many of these doors are impossible. It consents only to those activities which, humanly speaking, are worthy; and the test of worthiness is not measured in the economic terms of productiveness; it is measured in the terms of the spirit, in its effect upon the worker. I do not succeed in impressing this view of life upon all of our graduates. I do not succeed in impressing it even upon a majority. But each year it does claim a small company, a company who believe with me that the most sacred thing about life is life, and who decline to violate this sacredness by any petty spoliation of the days. It does seem to us a tragedy that any young man, and particularly any young man in America, where the opportunities for rational living are so abundant, should deliberately elect a suicidal scheme of life, some dull routine which is to curtail experience and limit the universe to a daily round of sordid cares. Perhaps I should not have said deliberately. They do not do it deliberately; they do it because they do not see. They do it because culture and the ideal of life for which it stands have not taken hold of them; because we who represent this view of life have not been sufficiently active, insistent, loving, to win them over to our side. In any case it is a tragedy, and one that I much deplore. When education shall have done its perfect work, our boys and our men will declare with Walt Whitman, in his Song of the Open Road:
"Henceforth I ask not good fortune, I myself am good fortune."
And it is this to which I would have manual training lead, to the rare good fortune of a rich and full existence.