Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/September 1898/The Philosophy of Manual Training: The Results of Manual Training IV
|THE PHILOSOPHY OF MANUAL TRAINING.|
DIRECTOR OF THE HIGH SCHOOL DEPARTMENT, PRATT INSTITUTE, BROOKLYN, N. Y.
IN looking at the actual and possible results of manual training, I come to one of the most attractive aspects of my subject. I find these results, in the main, to be very favorable, but I should be unwilling to use this as an argument for manual training unless it could be shown at the same time that there was an organic relation between these results and the underlying principles. Many of our current social and economic fallacies owe their too long life to just such an appeal to results. The underlying philosophy of manual training might be quite false, and its methods quite unpsychological, and yet the entire scheme in the hands of devoted men and women might be so far modified and colored as to give admirable results. And I am the less willing to use this argument because I should not admit the propriety of its application in the case of unfavorable results. Could the actual results of manual training be shown to be poor, or at least indifferent, I should conclude that it had missed its mark, and had been badly carried out, and not that manual training itself was a poor scheme. It would be quite possible for manual training to be a perfectly sound scheme of education, and the one best qualified to develop the individual and national life, and yet in the hands of men and women who did not understand its end and purpose, to give results so meager and undesirable as to make the whole scheme seem to stand self-convicted.
And I find lurking somewhere in the corner of my mind a second reason for this disclaimer. I should be unwilling to have the manual training movement, which seems to me so full of seriousness and of promise, suffer in your esteem by reason of the aberrations of any of its less enlightened exponents. We are sometimes murdered in the houses of our friends. And manual training, sloyd, and the kindergarten have suffered much at the hands of their friends. The real justification for manual training, let me repeat, is to be found, not in any aspect of its practice or results, but in a far deeper sense in that system of social ethics which growls out of an evolved philosophy of life. If this has seemed to you sound ground, the results flowing out of it must be equally sound. This may seem a somewhat sophisticated way of escaping a dilemma, but, believe me, it is nothing so trivial as that. It is a strong desire that your judgment should be on the essential and not on the accidental features of manual training, righteous judgment and not judgment according to appearances.
The human race is very old and human effort is very old; and education, whether systematic or unconscious, has been going on ever since the hand of man fashioned the little black tablet recently found by Dr. Hilprecht in Babylonia, and dating back to the sixth millennium before Christ. Education is a very old process, certainly eight or ten thousand years old, and probably very much older. It is, therefore, I think, entirely modest and reasonable, in speaking of anything so very modern as manual training, which in America can not yet claim a score of years in the matter of age, to speak both of the actual and possible results, since manual training has not been in. existence long enough to have come to anything like its full powers. And yet these actual results have already attained very respectable dimensions. I feel constrained to add still one more word of caution. Not only has manual training not yet perfected itself as a tool, but even as an imperfect tool its term of service is at present limited to about three years, and the actual results, under the most favorable conditions, can not be regarded as more than a mere fragment of the possible results.
Knowledge is a perception of relations. We have agreed upon this, I think, as a sound definition. The coming into knowledge is the coming into a perception of these relations. The coming into life is a coming into a realization of self, and of one's relation to all that is not self—to other individuals, to the social order, to Nature, and to the Supreme Intelligence of the world. All that helps on this perception of relations among outer things, and helps on the realization of one's own relation with the world that is not self, is in the highest degree educative. The process of education being the conscious direction of evolution, the creation of a definite environment in order to realize definite moral and aesthetic ends, must produce results, if any, just along these lines, must bring one into a perception of relations, must help one to realize self, and not less materially must help one to realize one's relation with a world that is not self. The results of manual training, so far as they are educational, must be along some such lines as these. Let us look at the results so far as knowledge is concerned—a perception of relations.
We can know about a thing, and we can know the thing itself. There is a tremendous difference. We can know about verbs and adverbs, nouns and adjectives, and all the rest of the nine parts of speech, and we can decline, compare, conjugate, analyze, parse. But we can never know the parts of speech themselves until we know them as a reality of use, until we experience them either in literature or in our own efforts at expression. We can know about the world and about foreign countries, and can form vague mental images to correspond to them, but we can not know the world itself or other lands except through travel, through actual experience. We can know about the world of matter, about rocks and minerals and animals and plants, and be well read in regard to their appearance and qualities, but we can only know this world of matter by personal contact. It is the same in a less material world. We can know about the emotions, about love and friendship and conscience and duty and hate and remorse, but we can not know the emotions themselves until we ourselves have felt. It is a very unreal world that is built upon the report of others, rather than upon the report of our own senses, a world in which books take the place of life, in which maps take the place of lands, in which pictures and drawings take the place of Nature and of art—a flat world of two dimensions, lacking the third dimension of solid reality. Those only can know who live in a world of reality and of direct sensational experience.
I am stating one of the actual results of manual training when I say that it not only attempts to bring boys and girls into touch with reality in thoughts and things, but that it truly does so. And it does so by letting them alone, by providing an environment rich in its invitations to action, but one in which the action must be self-directed. Furthermore, it is an environment in which the world is very meagerly reported, only so much as is absolutely necessary, but in which the boy is thrown back upon the reports of his own senses and must taste life at first hand. One can not live in such a world, can not be constantly doing things with one's hands and eyes, without coming more and more to adapt means to end, without growing more and more into a realizing sense of the principle of cause and effect. In a manual training school there are, of course, stupid boys who never come into a full measure of knowledge, and there are clever boys who quite of their own self-activity would have come into a full measure of knowledge. Better than any training is it to be well born. But the average boy, neither stupid nor clever, is certainly aroused to a keener perception of relations—that is, into a deeper knowledge. The realization of self, the coming into possession and control of one's self, is a large developmental process which means many things. Take a boy as he is. Picture him as he might be. The realization of self means nothing less than the spanning of this considerable chasm. I do not for a moment believe that manual training accomplishes all of this, but I do believe that one of the actual results is to bring a boy out of his smaller into his larger self, and so points toward the realization of this ideal. The necessity for adapting means to ends forced on a boy by his manual work, the presence both of the principle and the idea of cause and effect which he meets at every turn, conspire to give him a very practical habit of mind, a habit which brings about a more complete adjustment of acts to ends than you will find in boys who have not had this special form of judgment training. And this complete adjustment, as we have seen, is the mark of highly evolved conduct. This result ought to follow from manual training, and I should in any case count it among the possible results, but our experience is now large enough to enable me to say that it does actually follow, and that it follows in large measure. I have watched the boys very carefully inside the schools themselves, have watched their habit of dealing with problems and facts, and I have followed their careers and kept in correspondence with hundreds of them after graduation, and I find them marked by a power of thought and action that quite differentiates them from ordinary boys.
I have been the head master in schools where manual training was taught and where it was not taught, and have had an opportunity, therefore, to come in contact with both classes of boys; and I have come to separate the two very distinctly in my mind, because I detect in them a marked difference of quality.
But while this nice adjustment of acts to ends constitutes highly evolved conduct, it is only touched with morality when the ends are moral—that is, are happiness-producing in a very deep and genuine sense. This disposes of an objection which is sometimes urged against the moral claims of manual training, and quite naturally urged, I think, that skillful workmen are not always good men, are indeed often men of quite impeachable moral habits. Without knowing in any statistical sense—and it would be almost impossible to collect such statistics—I am nevertheless disposed to believe that an essentially good workman is also a good man, for a love of good workmanship must beget a love for all else that is good and true. But without insisting on this view, it is enough to point out that manual training teaches the adjustment of acts to distinctly ethical ends—ends that involve the most complete self-realization, the full development of all the powers and faculties, and consequently to that full measure of life and happiness that is the goal of morality. And manual training leads to this result by a very direct path. All the manual work is undertaken for the sake of its mental reactions, and these reactions have a very definite character. The manual occupations are so arranged physiologically as to strengthen the brain centers controlling the extremities, and thus secure general increase of brain power. They are made as varied as possible in order to stimulate a many-sided interest. A greater number of boys remain to graduate in manual training schools than in the ordinary high schools. The general interest in life awakened in these boys is somewhat akin to the freshness and enthusiasm that you find in young children. The schools stimulate curiosity, and I use the word as Arnold used it, to mean intellectual interest. This result seems to me of large importance. We all have this curiosity when we are young. If the emotional life be strong, if desires grow apace with their gratification, we retain it to the end. Life remains a beautiful laboratory in which the invitation to investigate is forever strong. The drying up of the emotions, the loss of this curiosity, is the tragedy of old age. You have doubtless seen old men and women in whom the physical life is still sufficiently strong to keep them in motion, but in whom the psychical life, the desires and feelings and interests are completely dead. Do you know anything more tragic than this? I do not. It is one of the saddest sights of Europe to see the elderly men and women, many of them our compatriots, who are enduring Europe rather than enjoying it, who are dragging themselves from place to place in the vain thought that they are on the road to pleasure, men who have given their strength and manhood to money-getting, and who have let go, only to find that they have no interest and no genuine capacity for pleasure left to fall back upon; and women whose prime has been given to triviality, and who show in their faces the bitterness and ennui of old age. If I did not hate commercialism for its own sake as something quite unsocial and quite unworthy of the human spirit, I should hate it for the sake of these, its pitiful products. Who can not recall a succession of elderly men who have given up their business pursuits at the solicitation of their friends, and who have been rewarded in a very few years by death? You know why they died. It was because the spirit was already dead. And who has not heard it said that Mr. Smith or Mr. Brown or Mr. Jones is kept alive by his business? In view of what men might be interested in, it seems to me a very poor and bare and altogether a pitiable thing to be kept alive on.
Manual training is still too new to have seen its generations of schoolboys grow gray-haired, and it may easily turn out that when gray hairs do come, the disintegrating forces will have done their perfect work, and the boys now so full of promise will be found among the sad company that I have been picturing. As Thoreau says, we begin to gather the materials for a palace, and end by building a hut. But I do know that at least they start out in life warm and eager, that they are aglow with interest and vitality, and that they find life very full and rich.
The session of the manual training school ends between two and three. In those schools where that spirit of the complete life most prevails, where that spirit of radiancy is dominant, you will find boys and masters still at work at four, at five, and even at -six o'clock. And it is not uncommon for it to be necessary to make a rule when the boys must leave the building, in order to give the women a chance to make things clean and tidy for the next day. In the morning the boys begin coming at eight; they would come earlier if they were allowed. This voluntary devotion to the school is not to me without a deep significance. It shows that boys are happy at their work, that they are alive and interested. It indicates a measure of self-realization.
The increase of health which comes from the bodily exercise, and particularly the increase of muscular power that the manual work engenders—I mean muscular power not in an athletic sense so much as in a general organic sense—make the organism finer and better adapted to the work of the spirit, if I may use this dualistic phraseology without misleading any one. We can not make bricks without straw, and we can not build up emotional and intellectual power in the air. Like the energy which is the subject-matter of physics, this power is always associated with matter, may indeed be called the spiritual energy in matter, but with matter of a certain quality, highly organized, sensitive, sound. Dr. Johnson said that sick men were rascals, and I believe that he was more than half right. This statement will at once call to mind a goodly company of men and women, world heroes in fact, who were half invalids or wholly invalids, and who yet accomplished marvels in art, in science, and in humanity. But in no case can it be shown that this invalidism was in the brain tissue. The malady was of some special organ, and was perhaps a mortal malady, and yet for a time the brain centers remained sound and intact. But even here the question is legitimate as to how much greater heroes they might have been had the weaknesses of the flesh not weighed so heavily. Such a statement, too, is apt to call up another and quite a different company of people, rosy-cheeked and bright-eyed, and as stupid as they make them. George Eliot's heroines, when they are beautiful, nearly all come to some bad end; and when they are plain, end by making you love them, Charlotte Brontë is given to the same association between outer ugliness and inner beauty. Even the genial Thackeray makes Amelia somewhat empty-headed. You may also be led to reflect that college athletes are not always the intellectual giants of later life. The honors still fall in part to the shabby, ill-favored men.
It would be easy to multiply this contradictory evidence, but my sole purpose is to make it clear that the problem is double-faced. How shall we get at the truth?
A. favorite maxim of mine applies here very well. It is this, that what is true at all, is true in the extreme. It is a convenient practical process for testing all sorts of conclusions, and I recommend it to those who may, like myself, have little skill for more subtle processes. Applied to the case in hand, it would lead us to pass from the normal to both extremes of society. Let us then ask what is the motor sensibility of the beautiful but empty-headed heroines: do they play music that any one cares to hear; do they paint pictures that any one cares to look at; do they make fancy work that any one cares to receive; in a word, do they show any quickness of motion, do they do anything that would lead you to suspect a high degree of organization along with the anatomical perfectness? If your experience has been like mine, you have found them statuesque and clumsy. They make beautiful photographs, for it is perfectly natural for them to sit still. And you can quite as readily recall a series of men, handsome and dull, a delight to look at and a bore to talk to.
But going a step further from the normal, let us inquire into the mental capacity of rickety children. The testimony here is very sad. The inco-ordinated movements of the body are not a physical defect alone. They are a mental defect. There is the same lack of co-ordination in their mental processes. You know what secrets are let out in a simple handshake—the firm, strong grasp of the strong; the weak, flabby, repulsive touch of the weak. There are few teachers who have not wept bitter tears in spirit, if not in fact, over the little people whom they have come to care for, but in whom they have had to recognize that a deficient organism would forever bar the way to the highest achievements—children for whom there seemed but this one hope, that they might one day be born over again. I have known with some degree of intimacy about fifteen hundred boys, and over periods ranging from a few months to as many years, and one can not know them and be interested in them without reaching a number of generalizations about them. I have come to be very fearful of the development of any boy who is markedly clumsy, and I have come as the result of experience to mistrust the reliability of his mental processes.
I am not fond of Calvin. I think he did little to set free the spirit of man. But I find in the limitations imposed by the bodily organism a predestination as real and as bitter as any that Calvin taught.
If we go one step further toward the extreme of acknowledged deficiency, we shall meet still more striking testimony. This pathological region is a most depressing one and to be entered unwillingly, but health has undoubtedly gained much by a study of disease. The localization of brain action has been established for psychologists by the study of abnormal cases and by accidents. Where death or the necessity for some surgical operation has made it possible to examine into the brain structure, the most intimate connection has always been found between function and organ, and between special function and special organ. A failure in the power of speech, or the loss of any special faculty brought about by sudden accident, can always be traced to the injury of some part of the brain tissue. Sometimes the injury is so vital that the tissue is completely impaired, and in that case I believe there is no hope of recovering the lost faculty. But sometimes an operation can restore the normal order. A clot of blood has perhaps been formed and presses against some center. When the clot is removed, and with it the undue pressure, the lost faculty is restored. You will find many such instances recorded in the pages of experimental psychologies. But the application for us, in studying the results of manual training, lies in the thought that the poor, undeveloped brain centers in the deficient might be strengthened by exercise brought about at the extremities. It is a logical suggestion. The bodily faculties are peripheral, the brain central. As a matter of experience, and as a necessary inference from our philosophy, the interaction between them is complete. The health of one means the health of the other.
Following this thought, manual training has been introduced as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of feeble-minded and deficient children, as at Elwyn, Pennsylvania, and in the treatment of the morally oblique, as at the Elmira Reformatory, New York. The results are now matters of statistics, and are probably in part known to you all. Nothing has been found quite so effective in concentrating the wandering attention of the feeble-minded and in co-ordinating their mental and bodily movements as just this manual activity. In the treatment of the morally oblique, manual training has proved a veritable redeeming force. Dr. Barr, the chief physician at Elwyn, writes me: "The secret of the development of the imbecile lies undoubtedly in manual training. The schools for the feeble-minded in England and on the Continent, recognizing this, have gone far along this line, while we have wasted years in trying to force abstract theories upon mental defectives. Surely a truer thing was never said than 'The working hand makes strong the working brain.'" Mr. Bates, the director of manual training at the Elmira Reformatory, sends me the following striking letter:
"The influence of manual training processes upon the originally selected defectives was so marked that the Board of Managers unanimously decided to increase it so as to take five hundred of the special defectives, classed as follows:
"Group 1 are those mathematically defective, those who fail continuously in arithmetic, failures beginning with 'evening kindergarten,' and continuing into Set 1 and Set 2, in which advanced problems in percentage are taught.
"We find that by manual processes judiciously selected and properly taught, keeping the object in view in each case, we are able to assist men to acquire the necessary proficiency in elementary mathematics to pass in their respective arithmetic sets. I give you in advance of our 1898 yearbook, statistics on that point as follows:
"Out of an actual number of pupils—viz., fifty-eight in Group 1—we have to show graduation of thirty-four, which is fifty-eight per cent—that is, returned to the usual reformatory treatment as susceptible to the conditions governing their release.
"Our second group deals with the men who are assigned for the development of 'self-control,' which comprises by far our largest assignment—viz., two hundred pupils, made up of men who are intellectually bright in most cases, but this intellectuality runs riot, so that they are habitually breaking the demeanor regulations in the institution, and so must regularly be depressed in grade and their time of commitment correspondingly lengthened. We select for such men manual processes calculated to overcome, by the concentration of mind and regularity of muscular movement, the defective element in their nature.
"We are able to show out of an actual number of pupils—viz., one hundred and seven—twenty-three per cent as having been returned susceptible to the reformatory treatment. The moral influence of the manual training department is better observed from this group than any other. We note a particular instance of a man assigned to the manual training from the third grade (incorrigibles), who had committed almost all the crimes known to prison life. After seven months of treatment in Group 2 he was graduated, and has for the past three months been filling one of the most honorable positions attainable in the walls of the prison, and is on a fair road to ultimate parole release.
"Our third division, Group 3, is one to which men are assigned for general 'mental quickening.' These pupils are nonsusceptible to our parole regulations. They have failed habitually in trade school, school of letters, and in some cases in demeanor markings. For this group, out of fifty-one actual pupils we can show twenty-nine per cent who have been sufficiently awakened mentally and physically to be susceptible to reformatory measures and conditions governing their parole release."
According to the philosophy of life which I have tried to present to you, evil is the absence of goodness, cold as opposed to heat, ignorance as contrasted with knowledge. It is a negative quality, and is to be fought as such—not something to be met and dealt with in itself, but something to be met and dealt with through its opposites. This was the view of Socrates, as it was later of Emerson and many other earnest souls. When carried out in any thoroughgoing way, it changes the whole aspect of things. Evil ceases to be the great central fact of philosophy and religion. Ahriman gives up his eternal conflict with Ormuzd. The dualism of the moral world becomes a strict monism; the one force of religion and morality is seen to be righteousness. The voice of religion directs itself less and less against evil—with only the good listening—and more and more to the realization of good. Morality concerns itself less with the things we must not do, and more with the things we must do. It gives us no longer the chill pictures of renunciation, of Anthony, and Simon Stylites, and the rest, living in caves and standing on pillars and doing other useless and foolish things, but glowing pictures of a positive life, warmed with wholesome human passion, and directed to wholesome human ends.
"Whom man delights in, God delights in, too."
And when this morality becomes touched with emotion, when this passion for the perfect life has mixed with it the sentiment of reverence for that goodly company of men and women who have passed toward the same ideal, has mixed with it a sublime faith in the unseen world, in the eternal things that are yet to be—a faith still more the child of knowledge and insight than of ignorance and superstition—then morality becomes religion and the human heart finds peace.
It is in this spirit that manual training accomplishes its moral work. It fights disease by setting free the forces that are health-giving. It conquers evil by the establishment of good. Such a moral betterment results from the betterment of the organic tissue of the brain. If you will look at the faces of the children and the men and women published in such a record as the Elmira yearbook, first when they enter the institution, and then six months, twelve months, or eighteen months later, after they have felt the force of self-activity directed to some good end, you will be convinced, I am sure, that Ormuzd has been at work. And this intellectual betterment of the feeble-minded, and this straightening up of the morally oblique, are the result of definite reactions brought about in the brain tissue, in the tool itself; are organic, and as such are permanent and nonforfeitable.
What is true at all is true in the extreme. We have taken the extreme at the minus end of humanity; let us take now, somewhat more briefly, the extreme at the plus end. Never before, I think, was there such a keen interest as now in the popular and experimental study of the mind. Francis Galton opened the way in such books as Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development, and Hereditary Genius. There is wide interest in the experimental work of psychologists. Even such morbid books as Lombroso's Man of Genius and Max Nordau's Degeneration attract thousands of readers, as well as the reply that Dr. Hirsch has made in Genius and Degeneration. These studies have concerned themselves quite as much with genius as with the normal and deficient. There is the reservation that the material for study is not so abundant. At Elwyn there are about one thousand deficient children. I think you could not find the same number of geniuses brought together at any one place, perhaps not even at Harvard. The results are, therefore, more meager and more uncertain. There has always been thought to be an intimate connection between genius and insanity, and, as you know, one extreme view is that genius is only a beneficent form of insanity. In most of our State institutions the insane and the deficient are put into the same general class, but in reality they represent the organic extremes. But while insanity and genius stand at the same end of mentality they are not, in spite of Lombroso and Nordau, to be in any way confounded. Both represent an excess of organization, a delicate bit of machinery capable of doing the finest work or of getting the most seriously out of repair. The very fact of genius seems to be made possible only by the disproportionate development of some part of the brain. If this take place and leave the other portions at least normally active, the result is beneficent, and there is no affiliation with insanity. But if such an overdevelopment take place at the expense of neighboring centers, sooner or later there comes an occultation of some of the other powers, and insanity results. In a rough way this explains, I think, the relation between genius and insanity. Both are an overbalance. They have this in common. But genius is an overbalance between the special gift and normal powers, while insanity is an overbalance between high organization on the one hand and deficiency on the other. The examination of brain power shows it to be dependent upon two factors, size and quality. A large brain, full of gray and white matter of low organization, may belong to an intellectual infant. A small brain, composed of highly organized matter, may be the tool of an intellectual giant. In a general way intellectual power seems to be physiologically a function of brain surface. The heightening of organization and increase of surface do not come about as the result of any and every sort of activity. The repetition of an act creates a path of least resistance, until at last seemingly difficult acts become far easier than simple ones that are new and untried. If the repetition proceed far enough, the mental reactions cease almost entirely, and we have automatic action. It is this consideration that makes us spend so much time upon the models used in sloyd and manual training. It is very important to have them properly graded, so that succeeding exercises shall present increasing difficulties. This constitutes a vital difference between industrial and educational training. Industrial work is only practicable where skill is so far automatic as to be utilized with economy of time. But when this takes place, education ends. And this is one of the great reasons why I so warmly disparage industrialism as an ideal of life. It produces, and must produce, fragments of men and women, automatic machines, instead of complete men and women open and ever open to new influences. I mean some time to develop this thought, and to show that in our choice of vocations, even intellectual, and the tenacity with which we stick to them, we practically put an end to our own growth, and rob ourselves of the most complete manhood and womanhood. And I mean to recommend that we make life itself educational, and that we undertake a rotation of related vocations just as our farmers do a rotation of crops. They could undoubtedly hoe corn more economically if they did nothing else, but the thing is that the ground would not stand it, and the crops would get smaller and smaller while the hoeing was growing more and more efficient. We can work more economically by sticking to our last, but the thing is that the spirit will not stand it, and the good that flows out of our shoemaking grows less and less, even though our rate increases.
There is a striking parallel between these reactions and the reactions that follow upon pain and pleasure. Those of you who have experienced grief and suffering know that the terrible thing about it is its monotony, its dull monotony, a monotony so terrible that if it continues too long it leads to despair and to the paralysis of feeling and action and thought. But the main characteristic of joy is its diversity, the wide range of its expression. To the lover—I am told—earth and air, sea and sky, reflect his happiness, and out of the quickening power of the greater sentiment have come the greater works. To fancied pain we owe the morbid and sickly pictures of our literature, but to satisfied love such delights as the Spring Symphony.
And so I believe in happiness, not alone as the only defensible ethical end, but also I believe in it organically, educationally, as an element essential to the best educational training, for out of it spring life and performance, and the fullness of life. In an age of too great pain and suffering, we do not want the gospel of endurance. We want the gospel of joy and health, the gospel of good tidings. It seems to me a ghastly thing, psychologically, morally, emotionally, to offer the deadening ideals of renunciation in place of the quickening ideals of a noble self-realization; in place of life, paltry excuses, buried talents wrapped up in the napkins of resignation.
But to return to our genius, who has been wondering, I am afraid, what was to become of him. I have wanted to point out that monotony and unhappiness do not make for that brain structure which is the tool of genius. In the genius we have the other extreme, a highly sensitive and highly organized brain tissue, and along with this complete organism, as an essential part of it, a marvelous power of movement. I doubt if there is such a thing as dormant genius. It is bound to express itself, to do something. This expression has to be in terms of the outer world, has to be through the medium of the bodily faculties. Genius means, in fact, the seeing eye, the feeling hand, the hearing ear. It means infinite patience exerted through action. Genius expresses itself through art, whether it be the art of action, in engineering, exploration, statesmanship, or the art of creative work, in painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and literature. This requires a high degree of activity on the part of the senses, and a very true and sound activity. Even the most immaterial of these expression forms of genius, literature, is dependent for its triumphs very largely upon the accurate report of the senses. Think of the alertness and the power of observation shown by Homer and Shakespeare. Nature has by no one been so accurately reported as by the poet and the littérateur. Do you remember that touching little scene in Cranford, where the old ladies go to see the yeoman farmer, and he shows them his garden, and tells them that he never knew the ash bud was black until it was pointed out to him by a young poet, a certain Mr. Tennyson? And here in our midst, Thoreau and Burroughs and John Muir have brought Nature nearer home than all the microscopes imported from Germany.
In most of the expression forms of genius the senses play an all-important part. They must not only report accurately, they must operate together accurately. Think of the part played by the eye, the hand, the ear in the fine arts of painting, sculpture, architecture, music. These artists of whatever field, these men of genius, can do things that other men can not, things finer, truer, quicker.
The biography of genius makes it very clear that along with the highly sensitive brain organization goes a power of co-ordinated bodily movement not found in those less favored of the gods, just as a study of the deficient classes makes it very clear that along with a poorly developed brain tissue goes a pitiful lack of co-ordination in the bodily movement.
One can not, I think, look these results squarely in the face—results from both extremes of the intellectual scale—without accepting the middle ground as well. A well-developed brain organism is always accompanied by well-developed sense powers, and the senses can not be well developed without a corresponding increase of brain power. It is then both an actual and a possible result of manual training that through the cultivation of the sense faculties comes an increased power of the organism; and through this one comes into more complete control and possession of one's self—becomes, in fact, a more evolved and more moral being.
I would not claim too much for manual training. It does not pretend to make deficient boys clever, or average boys geniuses; but it does make deficient boys less deficient, and average boys more clever.
From this renovated self spring enlarged ideas of one's relations to other individuals. Manual training fosters individualism, and I have long suspected this to be the only social creed, despite the taunting cry of the opposition, "Every man for himself." Increased personality, deepened individuality, mean increased and deepened respect for the personality and individuality of others. I find as an actual result of manual training that one is less and less willing to enjoy things at the expense of others or to be waited on by others; less willing, too, to serve others in ways that are not worthy; quite willing to show others how to serve themselves. Increase of personal power means increase of self-poise and self-sufficiency. It does not, however, mean a smaller sympathy. On the contrary, the more evolved imagination makes possible a larger sympathy. Mr. Fiske has successfully shown that much of the cruelty and inhumanity of the world is due to lack of imagination, and inability to picture another's point of view or to put one's self in another's place. But I want you to mark especially that the quality of the sympathy fostered by manual training, or by individualism, whichever you choose to call it, is somewhat different from the current ideal of sympathy. It is sympathy with joy and strength rather than with pain and defeat. In this it is somewhat stoical. I do not mean that individualism is indifferent to the woe of the world, or that it is insensible to the too real Weltschmerz, but it is more given to set to work to cure the woe than to drop a tear over it. A thoroughgoing individualist—and I detect in manual training a tendency to produce these—does not ask sympathy for himself in suffering. If it is preventable, as much of the suffering caused by illness is, he finds better consolation in the attempt to lead a saner life. If it is not preventable, if it is suffering that in the present order of things must be, such as the loss of a dear friend by death, the coming on of old age, the gradual decay of one's powers—and these are real tragedies—he would endure these things in silence, and ask rather that you rejoice with him over the good that is universal and eternal; and what he would ask for himself he would naturally give to others—comradeship and broad sympathy, but seldom tears.
There is another result of manual training which I may perhaps only hint at, but which I believe to be very real. It is the social conscience which springs out of individualism. Do you know that in this free land of ours we have millions of people who are only nominally free? The suffrage does not make one free, and the women, I am sorry to say, have not even the suffrage. There are millions of people, domestic servants, laborers of the field and mine, the factory and store, who are, as Helen Campbell has well called them, the prisoners of poverty. And these men and women, and too often children, are leading bare and stunted lives that no amount of well-being on the part of the upper classes and no amount of public achievement can socially defend or justify. A great blot upon the glorious civilization of Greece was that it was built up on human slavery. Our own civilization rests upon foundations too similar. We have a small privileged class, cultured, or pleasure-seeking, or both, living upon the Grecian foundation, upon the labor of others. Through interest, rent, taxes, royalties, land tenures, and monopolies of many names, these people are removed from productive labor. But they must all be fed and clothed and housed, and this luxuriously. Do you realize how this is done; what it signifies in human flesh and blood? It means, my friends, that some one else is doing it for them, that for each man and woman and child living in idleness, men and women and children, with needs as exigent, and capabilities ultimately as great, and hearts as hungry, are getting less than human allowance. I should be sorry to make this picture more pitiful than it is, or come anywhere near the boundaries of the melodramatic, but I can not walk the streets of our great cities, I can not turn north, or south, or east, or west, without confronting faces and figures that speak so hungrily of unappeased human need, that tell me plainer than any words could ever do that we are living in an age of low social ideals, that the social sensitiveness and the social conscience have yet to be aroused. I used to lay comfort to my heart by contemplating those great and glorious economic laws of supply and demand, production and consumption, the division of labor, and the other gods of wood and stone and brass that society has reared its altars to. I fancied that it was the function of the more fortunate classes to think for the rest and to lead. But it was an impious thought. One could as logically defend the most complete priestcraft. Why should men pray to God if this company of better-versed supplicants stand ready to pray for them?
It was this thought of what I myself might become, this picture of the complete man that might be aroused in me, that awakened me to the needs and the capabilities and the hunger of others. And I count it as one of the most precious of the actual results of manual training that in developing a most intense individuality in those who come under its influence, it fosters no less surely a sincere respect for the sacredness and individuality of others. I can not say that manual training has developed any specific social creed. But it has done this: it has created a profound and rational discontent with the present social régime, and has prompted a practical desire to set men free. It is not revolutionary. It sees in the present enginery of society a means for its liberation. In time this thought will flower into beneficent action.
The process of evolution is the rationalization of the world. With the passing of the centuries what is capricious, grotesque, impossible, slowly falls away, and there emerges a world of rationality and of order. The transforming power has been the continuous growth of the idea of causation. As this power lays firmer and firmer hold upon the minds of men, they become as gods, knowing good and evil, and pressing nearer and nearer to the life that is immortal. One can not live in such an unfolding world, revealed to him through the experiences of his own inner life, without feeling anew the sentiment of wonder and of worship, without possessing a sublime faith in the things that are and are to be. It is not a specific creed, but in it abides the essence of all religion, and in it one's relations to Nature and to the Supreme Intelligence are to be sought and found.
It has been the custom of many of the manual training schools to preserve a careful record of their graduates, and you will find in these records the most practical testimony available of the actual results of manual training. Dr. Woodward, the director of the St. Louis school, and one of the fathers of manual training in America, has given many individual records in his two books, The Manual Training School and Manual Training, especially in the former. The results quoted are mainly industrial, but they are nevertheless of high interest from an educational point of view. Some of the schools publish records of their graduates in their current yearbooks. I found, for example, in my own school that one third of the graduates were in universities and other institutions of higher learning; that one third were engaged in technical work opened to them by the special training of the school; and that the remaining third had gone into trade, had taken miscellaneous posts, or were still unsettled as to a career. The latter number was always small, and there were particular moments when less than one per cent of them were unoccupied. The records made by the graduates at college have been excellent. Three of the Philadelphia boys have held fellowships at Harvard, one in philosophy and two on the Hector Tyndale foundation in physics. It was noticeable, as I mentioned before, that the colored boys seldom graduated. They worked under many disadvantages of poverty, and later of race prejudice outside the school, and I should therefore not wish to draw any unfavorable conclusions from their failures. Those of mixed blood, especially Indian or West Indian, were sometimes very clever, and became quite skillful; but the full-blooded Africans were less successful, and I have come to think that they ought to be taught apart and at less speed.
It was also noticeable that the Jewish children were quite clumsy with their hands. So much was this the case that the instructors in the manual departments came to make allowance and to set a different standard for their work. It is quite explainable, I think, since the Jews as a people have been forced by circumstances into commerce and banking, and have been for centuries practically excluded from manual occupations. I mention it as an interesting racial result, and not at all by way of discouragement. I feel that the Jewish people would be very wise to persevere in their present brave attempt at manual development. Nor was the best manual work always done by the children of mechanics. Often it was done by the sons of musicians and other professional people, and even by the sons of business men. It would, I think, be more to the point to inquire into heredity on the mother's side, since boys more frequently resemble their mothers, but this is less practicable.
The Chicago Manual Training School, the oldest independent manual training school in America, publishes an interesting summary of the occupations of its graduates. Out of a total of 568, 158 are in college or higher schools, 66 are in manufacturing establishments, 48 are engineers, 52 are superintendents and managers, 33 are lawyers, teachers, or architects, 133 are in trade, and the rest at miscellaneous work, unknown, or dead.
The catalogue of the Philadelphia Central School contains the following paragraph:
"An examination of the records of the six hundred and fifty graduates reveals the fact that the claims made by the school as to its practical value in gaining a livelihood are fully substantiated—about seventy per cent being engaged in those pursuits in which a high order of intelligence as well as skill of hand are required. Already a large number occupy positions of trust and responsibility—as superintendents, managers, foremen, etc. That the school fosters a desire for higher education is shown in the fact that about twenty-five per cent of the graduates are students in colleges, universities, or technical schools."
These actual results are much the same in every manual training school in the land. They show increased power on the part of the graduates, and a practical ability to take care of themselves. And yet in quoting these results I am reminded of the little girl who said, when her drawings were highly praised, that they were not her best. She was urged so warmly to show the rest that she finally explained that her best drawings had not yet been made. These actual results of manual training are good, practical results and are most encouraging, but the best results of which it is capable have not yet been brought out. We stand only on the threshold. But in these large possible results I believe just as firmly, and I do so because I believe in cause and effect, believe that what you sow you reap, that beneficent causes are surely followed by beneficent effects.