Popular Science Monthly/Volume 72/June 1908/The Relation Between Recent Industrial Progress and Educational Advance
|THE RELATION BETWEEN RECENT INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS AND EDUCATIONAL ADVANCE|
By FRANK T. CARLTON, Ph.D.
ALBION COLLEGE. MICH.
WRITERS and students who have turned their attention to educational problems have almost without exception given adherence to what may be called the "great-man" theory of educational progress. They have maintained the thesis that educational advance has been chiefly, if not wholly, due to the efforts and the perseverance of certain great personalities, who have pushed their particular contribution upon a reluctant public, by the sheer force of personal ability and merit. During the first period of great educational activity in the United States, according to this theory, our educational progress was attributed to Horace Mann, Henry Barnard, James G. Carter, Samuel Lewis and others. Without in any way depreciating the value of the labors of these able and earnest men, it is just and proper that recognition be given to the underlying social and economic conditions which produced the situation that enabled them to carry their propaganda to a more or less successful issue; and which, indeed, indicated to them the heed of such works and filled them with the zeal and ardor necessary to carry them out in the face of determined and powerful opposition. Mann and his associates exercised a "directive," as Lester Ward expresses it, influence; but a further search must be made for the "impelling" forces. Only when the student comes to the more recent period of manual, scientific and commercial training, and of recreational education, does he find any important recognition of the underlying influence of social and industrial changes. Even in this period little has been done except to point out in a general and casual way, the fact that industrial progress and the growth of cities have led to many hap-hazard additions to the curriculum, and have been the real cause of bitter conflicts between the "reformers" or "fadists," and the "conservatives." The reformer, educational or otherwise, is a product of his time; if he is successful, it is because he has, in a measure, correctly interpreted the hitherto vague and undefined demands of the classes of people which are rapidly rising in influence and importance.
The many striking and important social and industrial changes which have occurred during the last two or three decades, make many new demands upon our educational system. In recent years the broad conception of education as a lifelong process has been generally accepted. It is no longer conceived to be solely confined within the walls of school, college or university. Many different agencies,—the home, the playground, the press, the pulpit, the lecture platform, the library, the labor union, the store, the shop, the farm, the office, the society—all supplement and complete the work of the school. In considering the duty and work of our public school system at the present time, or at any other period, attention should be paid to the functions which these other institutions are able to perform at the time under consideration. The school is normally a time and labor-saving device, as well as an institution which forms the character and aids in the development of the individual, and in the progress of society. It should convey to the student the accumulated experience of past generations, it ought to show the significance of his daily experience, and coordinate the latter with his studies and investigations; it ought to train him so that he can and will wish to continue his education by the aid of these other secondary educational agencies; and lastly, but not least, it should attempt to supply any deficiencies which change may develop in any one or all of these other agencies. The real function of the school is to adjust the individual to his environment—physical, industrial and social.
In the study of educational, problems at the present time, two important, but often overlooked or neglected, facts confront the investigator. In the first place, the social environment, the sum total of influences which bear upon the life of the individual, has been increased in extent; in other words, the entire world has been drawn closely into touch. People, intelligence, goods, now come from and go to the most distant parts of the globe quickly, surely and regularly. On the other hand, occupations and certain characteristics of home life have changed so as to tend to produce narrow views of life, and to confine the vast majority of individuals within narrow grooves of action and thought; the tendency is to cause him to live in "parenthesis," disconnected from the great world of thought and action. While modern communication and transportation, and world markets demand a broader life and tend to produce broad, liberal views of society and of the world; occupations have been specialized and subdivided until the life of the majority of individuals is cramped. Our daily work and home environment, whether rural or urban, tend to contract and astigmatize our view at the very period when democracy and the idea of a community spirit should thrive and be actually transformed into a reality. This is indeed a grim paradox of modern industrial life.
The earlier forms of industry gave the worker a relatively broad outlook; division of labor and specialization of industries tend to narrow this vision. As the division becomes more and more minute, the production of goods requires the cooperation of a constantly increasing number of workers. Each one forms but a link in a great industrial chain, and consequently sees only a minute part of the entire operation necessary to make the completed article. Machine production aims at making a uniform and interchangeable product. The workman is unfortunately bound down to a rigid and monotonous routine; he becomes in time almost automatic in his movements. He struggles blindly on, working and producing, without recognizing the end in view, without feeling that he, himself, is an integral and necessary factor in the formation and operation of a great industrial machine or organism.
The school must aim to demonstrate the social necessity of each worker's task, and to give a clue to the great, intricate industrial labyrinth. The problem of the relation of labor to capital can not be solved until the work and function of all factors of production are clearly understood by a majority of the people; when such a condition obtains, the question of the proper distribution of wealth will be greatly simplified. The school attempts to meet the new economic condition by enlarging its curriculum; it now aims at more than mere mental training and discipline. Manual training, nature study, kindergartens, athletics, physical training, commerical training, agriculture, domestic science, cooking, sewing, drawing, modeling, painting and music are now incorporated into the course of study. These added features are merely tentative attempts to give training which was formerly provided outside the school, but which can not be so provided under present conditions. Much of this work has been added in a haphazard manner, in order to fill a vaguely defined need, without proper arrangement or agreement with the older portion of the school curriculum. These additions, the direct result in many instances of a vigorous popular demand, have increased the importance of the school, and have made it a more potent factor in the industrial, economic, and social progress of this country. Nevertheless, after this enlargement and enrichment of the course, there still remain many gaps in our educational system which are yet to be bridged over.
The order in which these additions have taken place is fairly well defined. As scientific discoveries and the practical applications of steam and electricity multiplied, our industrial methods underwent an almost complete transformation. A universal need for scientific and technical knowledge was felt. The first notable change from the time honored curriculum was made in response to this demand. The physical sciences, physics and chemistry, were advanced to a position of equal rank with mathematics and language. Next appeared a demand for the kindergarten, manual training, drawing and domestic science. This demand is the result of a conscious or unconscious recognition of the undesirability of a wide separation of hand work from head work, aided by the call of manufacturers for young men possessing trained hands and eyes. The need of such training was not urgent previous to the wide-spread development of the factory system. Treading on the heels of the manual-training movements came physical training, night and vacation schools, training for citizenship, nature study, school gardening, the study of agricultural science, and the special school for the truant and the "incorrigible." Not all of these additions to the work of the school are to be found in any one system, but each has been somewhere recognized as a desirable feature of the educational program. In general, it may be affirmed, that as a people pass from a semi-primitive agricultural stage with isolated, nearly independent families, to the more complex industrial life involving mutual interdependence and specialization of occupation; the importance of the education gained within the school increases relatively to that acquired outside.
What is the significance of these changes to society? It seems indisputable that the importance of the school relative to that of the home in the education of youth, has increased and is still increasing. This fact grows naturally out of the changed functions and environment of the home of the present as compared with that of immediately preceding generations. Home training is highly individualistic; school training is not. The state educates the young in order to advance the welfare of society, in order to form the good citizen—the efficient producer and consumer. The desired result is the elevation of the standard of living of society—a social benefit. The mass can, however, be elevated only by acting upon each individual composing it. The school becomes society's agent for the promotion of its collective welfare; its purpose is chiefly directive. As society is recruited from the young, it is necessary that the incoming generations be worthy successors of the outgoing. The attention should be fixed upon those institutions which train the growing child, and not so much upon those corrective and repressive institutions which are needed because the early training and direction of their inmates were not what they should have been. Too much money is spent upon the diseased tree, but not enough on the growing twig. The functions of the school should include the intellectual, physical, industrial and moral training of the young, and of the older persons as well; the greater the efficiency and effectiveness of the school, the less the need for corrective and repressive institutions.
The cure for many industrial and social ills is to be found in the proper use of increased leisure which improved industrial methods make possible, and which the modern ideal of democracy proclaims to be the birthright of each and all. Leisure makes possible study, social intercourse and the expansion of the life of the individual to the measure which the modern world community spirit demands.
At the beginning of the last century, the United States was a weak nation possessing an unknown immensity of undeveloped resources. In a century it grew to be one of the richest and most powerful nations of the earth—an acknowledged great power. Development of resources was the demand and the necessity of the period. Exploitation of natural treasures and constant expansion was the program of the century. Resourceful, self-reliant and individualistic men who were willing and able to devote untiring energy to the task of building up the material strength and resources of the nation, were needed, and became the familiar, successful and progressive type of American manhood. The fundamental, all-absorbing economic question was production, which was carried on chiefly through the exploitation of natural resources. The rough and crude form of frontier life reacted upon the entire people, and left an imprint which many generations will not entirely eradicate. As long as the frontier remained there was continual contact with the new and primitive. This type of civilization tended to continue and to perpetuate itself long after the conditions which caused it had passed into history. The primitive type of society is highly individualistic; it resents the interference of organized society in any form. In such a community might often spells right. It places little or no limitation upon the use or abuse of property. The right of the individual completely over-towers the right of society.
After the disappearance of the frontier a different set of conditions confronts the people of the United States. Widely separated farming communities or sparsely settled mining districts, and the presence of immense tracts of practically free land, demand one system of ethics, one code of human relations, and one kind of educational principles and precepts; while densely populated cities, the scarcity of free land, and increased mutual interdependence make imperative a new scheme of social relations. The disappearance of the frontier induces a weakening of the individualistic and a strengthening of the social qualities of the American people. Sociological, as well as psychological, principles begin gradually and timidly to creep into the educational world. Society must adjust itself to a more crowded environment; and the problem is to make this adjustment along the lines of least resistance. New social, industrial, agricultural, commercial, educational, ethical and legal forms now become necessary. What is desirable and even highly commendable in a new, fertile, undeveloped and expanding country may become a positive menace and hindrance in an older, better developed and more densely populated nation. New aims and new ideals are requisite to this adjustment from the old to the new. Education now assumes a position of greater importance than it held in former generations. Changed environment, crowded cities, more intensive and more scientific agriculture, quicker and more regular methods of transportation and communication are producing effects which are plainly noticeable in the life, thought and action of the entire nation. It is, however, extremely difficult for a people schooled for generations in the university of self-reliance and of individual liberty to graciously accept the restrictions and modifications which this new era makes necessary; but such acceptance is inevitable. If education lags behind, rather than precedes, this changing sentiment, if it is merely passively carried along with the stream, instead of actively aiding in controlling its progress and direction; it fails utterly to effectively perform one of its most important duties—that of minimizing the friction of readjustment to a new environment and a new set of social and industrial conditions. This need of adjustment should be recognized by educators, and intelligently dealt with.
The men of the present are not Robinson Crusoes, they live in a busy world peopled with millions of other similar fellow creatures. An individual is what he is because of the existence and influence of other men; he is distinctly a social product. Development of the individual is the resultant of individualistic and of social demands; but the latter are now beginning to take precedence over the former. Purely psychological and individualistic needs and desires must more and more be modified by those of a sociological character. Society is a complex and delicate organism or piece of mechanism; the wishes and ambitions of the individual must, in an increasing measure, be subordinated to and dovetailed into, the needs of society considered as a whole.
The disappearance of the frontier leads to the gradual elevation of the moral tone of the people. It is an important factor in assigning greater importance to questions of distribution and consumption. Business and political ideals are higher to-day than formerly. Many political methods which were in vogue as late as 1896, are not considered to be in good form to-day. The doctrine that property is a social trust is gaining ground as it could not have done twenty or forty years ago. We are examining closely the methods employed in wealth production. The monopolist and the men of great wealth are now put on the defensive. Each must justify the social utility of his industrial power or his amassed fortune. Race solidarity and the brotherhood of men are now shibboleths. This spirit of brotherhood is first manifested between members of the same trade or society—comparatively small groups; but gradually it enlarges its scope and becomes more inclusive. To-day the laboring man is found preaching the solidarity and mutual interest of all workers in the United States—skilled and unskilled alike. A great strike is conducted upon a clear recognition of this principle, one which could hardly have risen into consciousness if a great mass of fertile and easily accessible land was still our national heritage. Such a change as this calls insistently for new ideals in education.
America is an enormous assimilative cauldron. Here are gathered nearly all the tribes and peoples of the earth in one great heterogeneous mass; and the public-school system is the official assimilator. It deals with the young and plastic. Excepting those who attend private and parochial schools, our laws bring all the children of the entire country under the influence of the public school system. The immigrant comes to us from an entirely different environment; he has developed under different influences. His home life is not the same as ours; his child possesses other concepts, traits and ideals than those of the American boy or girl. The process of assimilation usually means the molding of this people in conformity to the so-called Anglo-Saxon cast. It is forgotten that these people have many characteristics and traits which might well be grafted into our civilization and thus perpetuated. Miss Jane Addams has done much to emphasize this important fact. She points out that it is characteristic American "complacency" to utterly ignore the past experience of the immigrant who comes to our shores. Earnest Crosby makes the indictment more sweeping and severe: "And not content with stifling the originality of the immigrant, we must needs carry our missionary zeal for uniformity to foreign lands in the hope of destroying all individuality. In Anglo-Saxonizing India and Japan we are crushing out the most wonderful of arts beyond a possibility of resurrection. We are the Goths and Vandals of the day. We are the Tartars and the Turks. And the countries which we overrun have each their own priceless heritage of art and legend which we ruthlessly stamp underfoot." Some attempt certainly should be made to preserve and continue the desirable traits and gifts of the different alien peoples who crowd to our shores; and to assimilate these traits into the sum total of our national characteristics. Few educators have as yet seen the possibilities and the desirability of progress in this direction.
It should be noticed that not until after our frontier was practically a thing of historical significance only, did the immigration from Southern Europe begin. These people lack individual initiative; they live in little communities. With the rise of modern industrialism and of urban life, our civilization took on aspects which were attractive to the more docile and less individualistic emigrant of many sections of Europe. The traits of these people are more nearly consonant with the life of to-day than that of the early individualistic Anglo-Saxon frontiersman. The assimilation of these races and of their culture may modify our civilization and traits in a very desirable manner. A Greek immigrant, in a letter recently published, clearly states the proposition. "In this country there is a great movement against the foreigners and especially those of Latin, Slavic and Jewish origin. The Latin and Jew (altruist and sentimentalist) will give in this country some of their qualities that the northern people don't have. The Americans (egoists and individualists) need some of our blood to change their character in the next generation." There is, however, another side to this question which will be touched upon later.
The rapid growth of cities has been a marked feature of recent growth and development. The city of to-day is the result of a rapid and unhealthy growth. People have been rudely drawn from a rural environment and quickly sucked into these great uneasy vortices of industry and trade. The ideals, customs and habits of the rural community have gone with them to this new environment, and still cling with great tenacity. Only in recent years have the city dwellers awakened to the fact that they are really dwelling in an environment which calls for new, non-rural rules of action and of association. The nature of the city itself has been modified. It is larger, more crowded, more dependent upon arteries, of trade and transportation, and upon the supplies furnished from the outside. The race must adapt itself to urban conditions as they exist to-day; we must learn to live and to thrive in densely populated centers. If the United States is to continue on its present course of advancement and progress, the city must be made clean, healthy, moral, and it must be well governed. The majority of the successful business and professional men of to-day were born in rural districts. In the past the country has furnished the bone and sinew of the city, and, as a necessary consequence, it has been drained of many of its best and most progressive citizens. The city can not indefinitely continue its parasitic existence. Already one third of our population are urban dwellers. A much larger percentage of our successful and progressive men and women must in the future be drawn from the city-born and city-bred population; hence, the urgent need of improved conditions in our cities.
The modern city is a mere industrial establishment; but it must be made a cluster of homes. Healthy and wholesome home surroundings can only be obtained through education as to the sanitary and esthetic requirements of urban communities; and these efforts must begin with the child. The cities have been "great sores upon the body politic," because they have experienced such a rapid development that society has been unable to modify itself rapidly and sufficiently to meet the requirements of the situation. A two-fold weakness of our educational system is revealed at this point. The curriculum and the methods of the city school have not been sufficiently modified to meet the requirements of children, living in a crowded city, with little opportunity for constructive work or healthful recreation. Some progress has been made in this direction; but there is still great need of further improvement. On the other hand, the rural school has assisted in augmenting the growth of the cities and in encouraging the drift away from the farm. Its curriculum has absolutely ignored, with a few very recent exceptions, the fact that the farm presents problems which require education and training to solve. "Every book they [the country children] study leads to the city; every ambition they receive inspires them to run away from the country; the things they read about are city things; the greatness they dream about is city greatness." The problems connected with the city, those relating to labor, and all our great industrial and social questions, are at the root questions of education.
However, after the faults of the city have been examined and laid bare, it is but just to recall that the cities have ever stood in the forefront of the educational advance and in the development of labor organizations. Our free tax-supported schools, for example, originated in the cities. A striking illustration of the position of the cities is found in the result of the referendum of 1849, which established free schools throughout the state of New York. Forty-two out of a total of fifty-nine counties favored the repeal. Of the seventeen counties which stood firm and won a victory for the tax-supported public school, four were included in, or were directly adjacent to, New York City, eight bordered the Hudson between Albany and New York, and three others contained the important cities of Buffalo, Syracuse and Schenectady. The vote revealed a sharp division of urban against rural counties; and the former stood for progress and for better educational facilities. Without entering exhaustively into an analysis of the situation, five reasons may be assigned for this phenomenon which is by no means confined to the Empire State: (a) A large percentage of our city population are industrial workers who are small or non-taxpayers. (b) In the large cities are found great masses of accumulated wealth which can be taxed. (c) Here the home first lost its industrial character and its surrounding playground, and as a result much of its educational possibilities. (d) People are crowded closely together in cities, evils and needs are more in evidence than in rural districts. Also, the opportunities for agitation and propaganda are more numerous. (e) Pauperism and juvenile crime are more prevalent and disturbing in cities than in the country.
Industrial progress has brought about the separation of the workers into distinct, well-defined classes; particularly marked is the division between the manual workers and the brain workers or the managers of the business. Professor Veblen remarks that the progress of industry has relieved one class of workers, "of the cares of business"; and they "have with increasing specialization given their attention to the mechanical processes involved in the production for the market." The remarkable increase of the indirect method of labor is a factor in the modern industrial problem. The workers no longer produce directly to satisfy their own wants; each produces for others, while all furnish something for each individual. It is a round-about process; the connection between effort and satisfaction is hidden. The direct reaction between effort and satisfaction has been superseded by a very complex social and industrial chain of actions and reactions. The worker often becomes a drudge, a drone, an unthinking piece of mechanism, partially because he does not recognize or feel that his work has any social significance, because there is little apparent causal relation between effort and wages. Industry has been "depersonalized."
Modern specialization of industry, diversification of demands, and increase in the variety of consumption have tended to divide the population into a large number of classes and interests. Progress has always resulted from class struggles, the clash of interests; but to-day the form of this contest has become complex. There are the familiar traditional classes—land-owners, manufacturers, merchants, professional men and laborers; but each one of these classes is now split into subgroups, on the one hand, while, on the other, many individuals may be classed under two or more classes or sub-classes. Nevertheless, many difficulties and obstructions now face the workman who aspires to become an employer, who struggles to rise out of his class. John Mitchell believes that the workers are, as a rule, acting on the principle that they can not rise out of that class. For the vast majority it is once a wage-earner, always a wage-earner. The amount of capital now required to set up in nearly every business is large. Even the farmer who runs in debt for his farm, finds it almost impossible to pay off the mortgage from the profits of the farm in many sections of this country. The amount of money required to enter the iron and steel business is measured by hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Consolidation of business interests reduces the numbers of managers and superintendents. The great industrial concerns and the railroads are becoming large civil-service systems. A man must enter their employ in his youth, at the bottom, remain with the company year after year, gradually working into better-paid and more responsible positions. But he always remains an employee. The young man can no longer work hard for a few years, save a few hundreds or thousands of dollars, and then set up in business as an employer of others, many of whom will follow in his footsteps within a few years. The person who now accumulates a small amount of property is obliged to turn the management of it over to others. Investments in stocks and bonds, deposits in savings-banks, insurance, and like modes of investing property, take the place of investment in landed property or in a business managed by the property owner. Management by proxy becomes the rule, not the exception. The corporate form of business requires the concentration of large amounts of property under the control of a chosen few. The savings-bank, for example, is merely a collective form of investing in which the investments are made by the banker rather than by the hundreds of small investors themselves. The discipline that comes from the care and management of property is lost on the great multitude of workers of to-day.
Also, coincident with this phenomenon is the above-mentioned change in the character of the multitudes of immigrants who are flocking to our shores. In the report of the Commissioner-General of Immigration, for 1904, an official of the bureau who has been conducting extensive investigations in Europe, writes from there as follows: "The average immigrant of to-day is sadly lacking in that courage, intelligence and initiative which characterized the European people who settled in the western states during the eighties." The personal initiative, adaptability and self-reliance of the American have ever been the pride of the nation; but the environment, business methods and opportunities which aided in the production of these characteristics are undergoing modification. Industry and commerce offer opportunity to only a few, for the development of these valuable traits; and immigration brings us a class of people who are also sadly deficient in these qualities.
"The machine process is a severe and insistent disciplinarian in point of intelligence. It requires close and unremitting thought, but it is thought which runs in standard terms of quantitative precision. Broadly, other intelligence on the part of the workman is useless, or it is even worse than useless." Unfortunately under present conditions, the above quotation states what is true in many cases of subdivided labor. Extreme subdivision of labor has reduced the unskilled worker to the level of an automatic piece of machinery. Brains, ideals, everything which go to make up the real human being and to differentiate him from the automatic machine, are at a discount. The man becomes a "hand." The internal organization is now placed on a scientific, calculated basis. Time cards and exact methods of determining the cost of labor and material are now essential to every well-regulated business. Every step from the first displacement of the raw material until the finished product is in the hands of the consumer is carefully calculated.
The chief motive for subdivision of labor is given by the opportunity to hire unskilled, low-standard-of-living workers, at an extremely low wage. "Thus division of labor is, in the last analysis, nothing but one of those processes of adaptation that play so great a part in the evolutionary history of the whole inhabited world: adaptation of the tasks of labor to the variety of human powers, adaptation of individuals to the tasks to be performed, continued differentiation of the one and of the other." But, if this differentiation is carried so far as to tie the individuals down to such a narrow routine as to prevent their rising in the scale of life, it is a bar to human progress. The immigrant is one of the causes of subdivision of labor. Where labor unions are strong enough to establish a minimum wage, some modifications may be looked for; but the question which society must face is: Can society afford to allow certain of its members to be reduced to the condition of human automatons? If it is held that certain classes in the community can not be improved or raised to a higher level, then indeed the caste form of society is treading close upon the heels of the American people.
Division of labor, perhaps even minute subdivision of labor, may be considered to be a permanent factor in industry. Modern industry is more productive, many times more productive, per worker, than the older, more simple forms; and as a result a shorter working day is allowed the worker. This grinding, unvarying, monotonous, joyless sort of working period should be balanced by broader social life, by better, more elevating use of leisure time. In short, as one's work becomes exact and narrowing, one's leisure time should bring variety and breadth of experience. The suffrage has been extended to practically all the male population over twenty-one years of age; but in order to exercise the franchise intelligently, as was recognized in the days of Plato and Aristotle, the citizen must have leisure time to study and discuss the social and political problems of the day. If this leisure time is not properly or wisely utilized; the "boss" and the "machine" flourish. The great multiplicity of clashing interests also offers opportunity for the shrewd and unscrupulous politician to play interest against interest, and to win political control and personal gain through careful manipulation. In any industrial democracy, the problem of the utilization of leisure becomes one of the important and vital problems.
Looking at education from a purely economic point of view, aside from ethical considerations, the aim should be to develop not only more efficient producers, but also more efficient consumers. All men must be considered from the side of consumption as well as of production. The end and aim of normal economic activity is consumption of economic goods. Other things being equal, consumption should be directed toward those articles which the country is best adapted to produce; it should also be directed away from the excessive demand for the raw and crude economic goods, toward a greater variety in quantity and quality of demands. As Clark has shown, the tendency of dynamic economics, as seen from the purely economic point of view, is toward variety in consumption and specialization in production. But after a certain point is past specialization in production tends to prevent greater variety in consumption. These economic considerations, as well as those of an ethical or social nature, set bounds beyond which specialization ought not to pass. This limit is not fixed and invariable. For example, the man who has an avocation, who utilizes his leisure in such a way as to broaden his view of life, so as to exercise many different sets of muscles and brain cells, may specialize his work much more minutely without individual detriment or economic and social loss, than the man who talks shop, or does nothing to diversify his tastes or to open up new lines of thought and action, during his leisure hours. In the terms employed by the economist, the ideal point of equilibrium is where the descending curve of the social value of the products due to additional subdivision is met by the ascending curve of disutility due to long-continued and narrow specialization on the part of the individual members of society. Other things remaining the same, the additional products which come into being through increasing subdivision, gradually diminish in value as increment after increment is added, according to the well-known law of diminishing returns; and on the contrary the detriment to society as a whole increases as individuals are forced into narrower and narrower rounds of duty.
Ethical considerations lead directly and unequivocally to the conviction that men must not be treated as machines, that the true end and aim of industry is the production of men, not the multiplication of profits. True long-run economic aims coincide with ethical ideals. As Walt Whitman has taught us: "Produce great men, the rest follows." Primitive industry was always a means to an end which was plainly seen; it was never an end in itself. It has remained for modern times to heap up complexity, confusion, and cross-purposes until the fundamentals have been hidden from view. When the methods of modern complex industry come into collision with the true economic and ethical demands of society, the former must be modified. It is one of the functions of education to harmonize the demands of these two apparently conflicting and opposing forces. It should so train the members of society as to allow the greatest possible advantage to be taken of efficient productive methods consistent with the welfare and best development of the individual members of society of all classes and conditions.
Both the internal and external organization of industry now tend to remove variety, irregularity, risk, chance and speculation. The business of the future calls for the manager and the administrator rather than the speculator or the promoter, for the steady, routinized, narrowly specialized worker rather than all-round men so familiar in the early industrial history of the United States. The traits of the pioneer, the backwoodsman and the hunter, those traits due to varied and changing experiences of the early settler, continue, however, and are transmitted from generation to generation long after the stimuli which produced them have ceased to act and have been overwhelmed by the rising tide of civilization. If modern life offers inadequate opportunity in the ordinary course of daily life for the expression of these inherited impulses, if they are inhibited from all beneficial or desirable expression, they will find expression in abnormal or undesirable ways. Gambling, sport of all kinds, drinking, carousing, are some of the many forms in which these inhibited traits find a vent. The assimilation of the recent immigration will dilute and diminish the strength of these characteristics; but they should not be smothered and cast aside, they should be utilized and turned into new and modern channels of activity.
Mr. John A. Hobson in a recent article touches upon this point. "The factory employee, the shop assistant, the office clerk, the most typical members of modern industrial society, find an oppressive burden of uninteresting order, of mechanism, in their working day. Their work affords no considerable scope for spontaneity, self-expression and the interest, achievement and surprise which are ordinary human qualities. It is easily admitted that an absolutely ordered (however well ordered) human life would be vacant of interest and intolerable; in other words it is a prime condition of humanity that the unexpected in the form of happening and achievement should be represented in every life. Art in its widest sense, as interested effort of production, and play as interested but unproductive effort, are essential." If modern industrial and commercial life is being placed upon a stable, sure, scientific, calculable basis, if chance and luck are being replaced by skill and efficiency, if routine and dead uniformity are replacing all-round effort and variety, if the home environment is becoming more monotonous and artificial; other social institutions must furnish pleasurable change and variety. If elevating institutions as the school or the church do not cope satisfactorily with the situation; other much less desirable ones will, and the spirit of gambling, of riotous living, of carousal, of living for the sake of sport, will enter society and take a firm hold. Old instincts are not easily eradicated; education must never overlook them. The recent additions and contemplated additions to our educational system are the concrete results of some of the attempts which have been made to cope with the question in a more or less intelligent manner.
The entrance of the United States and other important industrial nations upon a policy of commercial expansion, the growth of imperialism and the prevalence of the desire to exploit the less industrially progressive nations, mark the beginning of a new epoch in our national life. Specialization of industry and subdivision of labor now assume new aspects. Capital becomes international; while labor still remains upon a national basis. Mr. Hobson and others have pointed out that the backward nations will now assume the place hitherto occupied by the great mass of the unskilled in the home country. Humanitarian and democratic tendencies are in danger of receiving a check. Capital in a new, rapidly developing country finds opportunity for investments in improvements; but in a more highly developed, but still progressive country, it is obliged, unless there are opportunities for investments in foreign countries, to seek investment in directly productive enterprises which produce articles for the consumption of the great mass of the people. If there is no opportunity for foreign investment of capital, industrial progress will necessitate an improvement in the consumptive power of the masses. Economic and ethical aims begin to draw into closer relationship. The possibility of enormous investments of capital in South America and Asia is something which threatens to affect the industrial, social and educational welfare of the American people. "Once encompass China with a network of railroads and steamer services, the size of the labor market to be tapped is so stupendous that it might well absorb in its development all the spare capital and business energy the advanced European nations and the United States can supply for generations." China and the Chinese workers are a danger because of the low standards of living which prevail in the Asiatic nation, and the consequent ease with which the Chinese people may be exploited. If increased manufacturing and commercial activity in China is not accompanied by a corresponding increase in the standard of living, the American farmer and the American workman are doubtless imperilled by the situation. The educational movement of the last two or three decades is essentially a working class movement; and its future is bound up in the welfare of the industrial and agricultural classes.
- See article by the writer in Education, October, 1903.
- Arena, March, 1905.
- Veblen, "Theory of Business Enterprise," p. 308.
- Bücher, "Industrial Evolution," p. 299.
- International Journal of Ethics, January, 1905.
- Hobson, "Imperialism," p. 334.