Read CHAPTER III of Creative Impulse in Industry A Proposition for Educators, free online book, by Helen Marot, on ReadCentral.com.

ADAPTING PEOPLE TO INDUSTRY THE GERMAN WAY

Statemanship in Germany covered “industrial strategy” as well as political. Its labor protection and regulations were in line with its imperial policy of domination. Within recent years labor protection from the point of view of statesmanship has been urged in England and America. The waste of life is a matter of unconcern in the United States so long as private business can replenish its labor without seriously depleting the oversupply. It becomes a matter of concern only when there are no workers waiting for employment. The German state has regulated the conditions of labor and conserved human energy because its purpose has been not the short-lived one of private business, but the long-lived one of imperial competition. It was the policy of the Prussian state to conserve human energy for the strength and the enrichment of the Empire. Whatever was good for the Empire was good, it was assumed, for the people. The humanitarians in the United States who tried to introduce labor legislation in their own country accepted this naïve philosophy of the German people, which had been so skilfully developed by Prussian statesmen, without appreciating that its result was enervating. Our prevailing political philosophy, however, that workers and capitalists understand their own interests and are more capable than the state of looking after them, stood in the way of adopting on grounds of statesmanship the German methods.

The American working man has never been convinced that he can get odds of material advantage from the state. His method is to get all he can through “pull,” good luck or his superior wits. He could find no satisfaction like his German brothers in surrendering concrete interests for some abstract idea of a state. He could find no greater pleasure in being exploited by the state than he now finds in exploitation by private business. The average American values life for what he can get out of it, or for what he can put into it. He has no sentimental value of service, nor is service anywhere with us an institutionalized ideal. We judge it on its merits, detached perhaps, but still for what it actually renders in values.

In conformity with American ideals, wage earners look to their own movements and not to the state for protection. Their movements require infinite sacrifice, but they supply them with an interest and an opportunity for initiative which their job lacks. The most important antidote for the workers to factory and business methods is not shorter hours or well calculated rest periods or even change-off from one kind of routine work to another. As important as these may be, reform in labor hours does not compensate the worker for his exclusion from the directing end of the enterprise of which he is a part and from a position where he can understand the purpose of his work The trade union interference with the business of wealth production is in part an attempt to establish a cooerdination of the worker which is destroyed in the prosecution of business and factory organization. The interference of the union is an attempt to bridge the gulf between the routine of service and the administration, and direction of the service which the worker gives.

I do not intend to imply that the labor movement is a conscious attempt at such cooerdination. It is not. The conscious purpose is the direct and simple desire to resist specific acts of domination and to increase labor’s economic returns. But any one who follows the sacrifices which organized workers make for some small and equivocal gain or who watches them in their periods of greatest activity, knows that the labor movement gets its stimulus, its high pitch of interest, not from its struggle for higher wage rates, but from the worker’s participation in the administration of affairs connected with life in the shop. The real tragedy in a lost strike is not the failure to gain the wage demand; It is the return of the defeated strikers to work, as men unequipped with the administrative power as men without will.

There could be no greater contrast of methods of two movements purporting to be the same, than the labor movement in Germany and in the United States. The German workers depended on their political representatives almost wholly to gain their economic rewards. Their organizations made their appeal to the sort of a state which Bismarck set up. They would realize democracy, happiness, they believed, when their state represented labor and enacted statutes in its behalf.

If Germany loses the war the chances are that the people may recognize what it means for the people of a nation to let the title to their lives rest with the state; they will know perhaps whether for the protection they have been given and for the regulation of their affairs and destiny they have paid more than the workers of other countries, who, less protected by law, suffered the exigencies of their assumed independence.

How much the German people depended upon the state and how much their destiny is affected by it is illustrated better by their educational system and its relation to industry than by any labor legislative protective practices or policy.

George Kerschensteiner, the director of the Munich schools, in his book on “The Idea of the Industrial School,” tells us that the Purposes and Duties_ of the schools are to realize the ideal ethical community, and that this realization is possible in so far as the educational provisions are made from the standpoint of the ethical concept of each state. In America we do not think of the state as the embodiment of our ethical concepts. The state, as we know it, is one of the several instruments for realizing ends, ethical as well as material. The state is supposed to serve the common ends of all people. A state may be used, we are all aware, as an instrument, either by Prussian junkers or American business men; either may capture a state to serve their ends. But as a state serves special individuals it belies its professed reason for existence, and in America is in danger of falling from grace, so far, that is, as the common people are concerned. But when a state stands in the minds of a people as the embodiment of their ideals as it has in Germany, it must for its own purpose spend time and substance in purchasing the people’s confidence. In assuming the place of guardian it must of necessity minister to the physical needs of the people. If it retains the people’s confidence in its guardianship, it is incumbent on it to pursue this policy. It is incumbent on such a state to mould the people’s ideas of what their needs are. The schools obviously offer the most hopeful media for the accomplishment of that result, and they have been used in Germany more effectively in this way than the schools of any other country. The German school system follows hard and fast preconceptions of aims and ends, and because of this it was possible for Germany to put over its own particular sort of efficiency.

As a first requisite of efficiency, Germany classifies its people, gives them a place in the scheme of things, and holds them there. By circumscribing within definite limitations the experience of individuals it produces specialists at the sacrifice of a larger human development. The classification of the people and the training of them naturally for the German purpose falls to the schools. The sorting out of individuals begins at the early age of ten in the elementary schools, when each child’s social and economic position is practically determined. It is decided then whether he shall be one of the great army of wage workers or whether he shall fall into some one of the several social classes and vocations which stand apart from the common mass of wage earners. The children in the German schools, who are selected at the age of ten for a more promising future than the trades hold out, have more leeway in the making of their decision. But even these children from the American point of view are summarily disposed of and fatally consigned.

The telling off of children at the age of ten and assigning them to a place in the social scheme for life is not American in spirit, nor does it conform to our habits and institutions. But, it is complained, the American habit of taking chances is not efficient. The habit of letting children escape into life with their place unsettled creates confusion and makes calculations in serious things like industry difficult. Therefore, unfaithful to the development of our own concepts of life we are expected to emulate Germany and to determine the destiny of the child. Germany undertakes to eliminate the chances of the individual and the taking of chances by the state, while the American ideal is to leave its people free to make the most of each new exigency that life turns up.

At the age of fourteen it is decided in Germany what industry or trade the children shall enter, that is, the children who at ten are told off to industry. After they enter their trade, their special education for their job is looked after in the continuation schools as well as in the shop. Their attendance at the continuation schools is compulsory. This compulsory attendance does not only insure supplementary training for a particular job, but holds the children to the industry which was chosen for them. That is, a boy is compelled, if he works in the dining-room of a hotel, to attend the continuation school for waiters, until he is eighteen. He may not go to a continuation school for butchers if he decided at the end of a year or so in his first job that he would rather be a butcher, or that he would rather do anything than wait.

The continuation schools protect German manufacture and the national industrial efficiency against indulgence in such vagaries. A butcher would prefer to engage lads who have had experience in butcher shops and butcher continuation classes. Avenues of escape from jobs just because they are uncongenial are thus quite effectively closed together with, the chance to experiment with life the chance which Americans take for granted. But it is just this element of waywardness and the opportunity America leaves open for its indulgence among working people that makes labor from the standpoint of American manufacture so inefficient. For want of opportunity to put individuality to some account we frequently fall back on waywardness in an awkward and futile protest against domination.

While the German scheme of placing its workers is efficient in its own way, so also is the training for each particular trade. A child is trained first to be skillful and second, to quote Mr. Kerchensteiner, “to be willing to carry out some function in the state ... so that he may directly or indirectly further the aim of the state.” “Having accomplished this,” he says “the next duty of the schools is to accustom the individual to look at his vocation as a duty which he must carry out not merely in the interest of his own material and moral welfare but also in the interest of the state.” From this, he says, follows the next and “greatest educational duty of the public school. The school must develop in its pupils the desire and strength ... through their vocation, to contribute their share so that the development of the state to which they belong, may progress in the direction of the ideal of the community.”

His assumption in defining the “greatest duty” is that the members of the state are free to evolve and will evolve a progressive ethical community. But after a child has passed through the hands of a competent teaching force which fits him successfully into a ready-made place, after he has accepted this ready-made place on the authority of modern technology and business, on the authority of the state and religion, that the place given him is his to fill; to fill in accordance with the standards determined by the schools and by industry after all this, it is difficult to imagine what else a child could do but conform. He could do no more, thus trained, than go forward in the direction he is pushed and in the direction determined before he was born. This is not our idea of a progressive life.

It has been understood generally in America that Germany’s preparation and classification of her future workers and their placement in industry, was more responsible than any other policy for Germany’s place in the world market. British and American manufacturers before the war urged the emulation of German methods of education and a reorganization of school systems more in conformity with the German. The demand of the manufacturers for reorganization came at a time when intelligent educators in America were recognizing that some reorganization was necessary to bring the school experience of children into relation with their environment and with the actualities of life. The industrial education movement in this country was based on the German, and the German idea was the dominating one. The movement here has shown little-imagination as it adopted a system foreign to America, instead of initiating schemes which represented the aspirations of a free people.

Herman Schneider, of the University of Cincinnati, has made one of the most intelligent contributions in the adaptation of the German scheme of education. He divides trades into two classes, which he calls energizing and enervating. In those which are energizing there is an element of individual expression and opportunity for self-direction. The enervating trades are wholly automatic, and induce a lethargic state of mind and body. His comment on the situation is: “We are rapidly dividing mankind into a staff of mental workers and an army of purely physical workers. The physical workers are becoming more and more lethargic. The work itself is not character building; on the contrary, it is repressive and when self-expression comes, it is hardly energizing mentally. The real menace lies in the fact that in a self-governing industrial community the minds of the majority are in danger of becoming less capable of sound and serious thought because of lack of continuous constructive exercise in earning a livelihood.”

Professor Schneider undertakes to enrich this barren soil by alternating the time of pupils between the shop or store and the school, thus cooerdinating the worker’s experience, with the assistance of schoolmasters who go into the shops and follow the processes the pupils are engaged in and who see that the experience of the week in the shop is amplified and supplemented in the school. The arrangement also provides that the pupils shall be taken through the various shop processes in the course of apprenticeship. The experience while it lasts may have educational value for the pupil. But in spite of what it may or may not hold, for the general run of pupils it leads up a blind alley because the apprenticeship does not fulfill the promise which apprenticeship supposedly holds out. That is, the pupil, when he becomes a worker, will be thrown back into some factory groove where his experience as an apprentice cannot be used, where he is closed off from the chance to develop and use the knowledge or training he received. If, as Dean Schneider asserts, “we are rapidly dividing mankind into a staff of mental workers and an army of purely physical workers,” and if “we cannot reverse our present economic order of things,” then any apprenticeship, even this brave effort of his, is a pseudo-apprenticeship and even in the most energizing of the trades leads the pupil nowhere in particular. Even the skilled trade of locomotive engineering, which Dean Schneider classes as the most highly energized of trades, does not escape. As a spokesman for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers observes: “The big electrical engines which are being introduced in the railroad system are rapidly eliminating the factors of judgment on the part of the engineer and transforming that highly skilled trade into an automatic exercise.”

The one-time value of a trade apprenticeship to a youth was that it furnished the background for mastery of machine processes; but apprenticeship under modern factory methods can do no more than make a youth a good servant to machines. The Schneider system fills, as well as can be filled, a scheme of apprenticeship in conformity with the prevailing shop organization and requirements, but it is not a fulfillment for youth; it is not educational. There is no progression from apprenticeship to industrial control; no chance to use the knowledge gained where opportunity for participation in administration and reorganization of industry is cut off. The best of trades is a blind alley, educationally speaking.

However abortive such an effort as Dean Schneider’s might be in giving workers opportunity to enrich their experience for their own reconstructing purposes, it offered the pupils more content and better training than the ordinary school drill in its colorless and vapid subject matter. This fact is necessary to bear in mind, but it should not obscure the even more significant fact that the blighting character of industry is due to its motivation, which is wealth exploitation and not wealth creation. All of the industrial educational experiments have succumbed to the fatalism involved in the adaptation of their experiments to that fact.

A staff of investigators, who made a year’s survey of the industries of Cleveland with a view of determining what measures should be adopted by the school system of the city to prepare young people for wage earning occupation and to provide supplementary trade training for those already employed, concluded that the choice of occupations should be governed primarily by economic considerations; that even from the point of view of the school, educational factors could not take precedence over economic. They said: “The primary considerations in the intelligent selection of a vocation relate to wages, steadiness of employment, health risks, opportunity for advancement, apprenticeship conditions, union regulations and the number of chances there are for getting into it. These things are fundamental, and any one of them may well take precedence over the matter of whether the tastes of the future wage earner run to wood, brick, stone or steel.”

This conclusion is fatalistic, but it is a brave one. It does not fall back on weak substitutes for reality; it does not throw the glamor of history and the aesthetics of industry around trades with the poor hope that they make up for the content which is not there; it does not foster the assumption that training in technique of industry or physical science can enrich, under the circumstances, the worker’s experience to any important extent. It accepts the bald truth that all the material classed as cultural will count for nothing of value in a factory worker’s life in comparison with the highest possible wage in the most enervating of industries. It stresses this highly important factor, as it should, but merely as a physical necessity. There is vital education in the consciousness of self-support, in the consciousness that one is earning the living one gets. But under present conditions the educational experience of wage recompense is not so significant as it might be if it measured the value of the labor performed; if it paid the worker according to his needs, and if he gave in return for the wage according to his ability.

The Gary school system is a notable effort in public school education to fulfill children’s desire for productive experience. It is in striking contrast to the German scheme as it is based on processes which have educational force and significance. In saying this I differentiate between training for industry and participation in the industrial activity which is an organic part of the life of the children and of the community. The children are an actual part of the repair and construction working force on Gary school buildings and on the equipment. As the children are involved in the upkeep of a school it becomes their school. They experience the responsibility of maintaining the school plant, not by some artificial scheme of participation, but by the actual application of trade standards and acquired technique to operations which have for them and those with whom they live important significance. They gain in their work a first hand knowledge of industrial processes and activity. In conjunction with skilled mechanics they work on the carpentry, the plumbing, the masonry, the installation of electricity used in the school building. They do the school printing and accounting.

The children’s life in these schools is an experience in industry where there is nothing to hide, no trade secrets to keep back. The children have the full opportunity of seeing their work through to its completion and understanding its purpose and recognising its value and use. It provides more than any other school system a liberal field for productive endeavor. But the Gary schools are not industry; they are a world apart; they represent, as all schools are supposed to, moments sacred to education and growth. They are not subjected to the test of cooerdination in the world of industry. They give the children a respect for productive enterprise that should be invaluable later in effecting their resistance to the prostitution of their creative power. They do not give them experience in the administrative side of industry for which the children of high school age are ready and in need. But in an admirable way they subordinate training in technique to purpose and give the children the experience of exercising control over their own industrial activity. As an industrial experience for children of grammar school age, it is richer than any other school system which has been developed.

The industrial education of Germany which was recommended for our adoption and which we have emulated to an alarming degree in our industrial towns, imposes prevailing methods of industry and technique of factory processes as final and determined. As industrial history and technique are taught in the schools, in effect they bind the children to the current industrial practice and to the current conditions. They stifle imagination and discourage the concept that industry is an evolving process. The effect of technical training in the German continuation schools (and the tendency is the same in our own industrial education courses) is to teach the children that the methods and processes as they are carried forward in the shop are right. No question of their validity is raised in the school. They are accepted by the children in the spirit of authority which the school carries, as they would not be so finally accepted by them in the shop. The impress of a developed curriculum, connected with an active trade experience, that is, a trade in which the children are at work, like the curriculum of a continuation school, is greater than the curriculum which has been evolved for its abstract cultural values. As the curriculum cooerdinates shop and school activities and as it fails at the same time to stimulate inquiry on the part of the pupil into industrial or special trade processes as they are practiced in the shop, it becomes a positive, inhibiting factor in the intellectual life of the children. The perfection of an industrial school room equipment with its trade samples, its charts and maps, its literature, relating to the extension, of trade and of commerce, has the tendency like the curriculum to impose on the children the weight of accomplishment, if this equipment is not used to stimulate inquiry and experiment in industry as the ever fresh field for adventure that it is. But the intention of these industrial schools is to train the children in the acceptance of processes and methods which are established. Nowhere, in no country, has this intention been so successfully realized, because nowhere has it been so successfully organized as in Germany through its continuation school system. And nowhere as in Germany are the people so successfully subjected to an institutionalized life as it has been worked out in the light of modern technology and business.

There are other and special reasons why the best of industrial education experiments in America have not met with greater hospitality. The average American parent still believes that a boy “rises” in the industrial world, not as they once thought through his ability as a workman. The men of their acquaintance who have been successful, have attained wealth and position, not as a rule through their mastery of technique or their skill in a trade; they have not come by their promotion merely on account of good workmanship, but through influence. It might be that they had had their “chance” through a relative or successful business man, or it might be that they “got next” to a politician, who required no other qualification than “smartness.” A boy in a telegraph or a lawyer’s office has a better opportunity to reach influence than a boy in a workshop. The scholastic requirement for such advancement as these vocations contemplate, is provided for in the established school program of the lower grades. A certain display of a few historical and literary facts beside a facility in reading, writing, and arithmetic are the qualifications which average parents believe are the necessary ones for their children’s advancement. And, taking the situation in general as it is, they are right, and will be as long as the whole social system discounts productive effort and rewards exploitation of productive enterprise.

Obviously false from an educational point of view as these school standards are, they are true to the facts, to the actual situation which the parents have to face. The wave of popular opposition to a reorganization of the schools for a preparation of the children for factory life expresses the original conception of popular education among sovereign people. The common school system exists, it is still assumed, to fit the children to rule their own lives; to give them an equipment which will protect them from a servitude to others. Its ability to do this had not been questioned a generation ago and, theoretical as its original intention is to-day, its traditional purpose to develop the power of each child to govern his destiny, holds over. If training children to read, write and count, training them in facts relating to history and language, did not, as it had been hoped, lay the world at the feet of the children, training them in factory processes, parents felt competent to declare, laid the children at the feet of exploiters. That is where in any case, in the light of common experience, they might expect them to land. To reorganize the schools with that possibility in mind was for the parents a surrender of their gambling chance.

The promoters of industrial education, with some success, have made it clear to the community generally that parents were giving heavy odds in their gamble, but these promoters would have made this more obvious to parents if they could have shown that the assets accruing from the new school curriculum increased more materially than has the wage earning capacity of their children. The results for individual children are not sufficiently striking to advertise the departure, and if they were, the departure would not warrant the endorsement of the community on the ground of the higher wage, as wages are fixed by competition. They are advanced by a general increase in productivity. But the increase that occurs through more efficient methods in productive enterprise is not a real increase; it does not relatively affect the social or economic position of the wage earner.

In the last analysis, the wage return is not an educator’s criterion, in spite of the pragmatic recommendation of the Cleveland Survey. The Survey’s recommendation for a reorganization of the school system is based on the belief that the school is, or should be, an integral expression or reflection of the life of the community; that to function vitally it must be contemporaneous with that life, as are all serviceable institutions. As a school reflects the life of a community it enriches the experience of the children and endows them with the knowledge and power to deal with environment. When a school system disregards, as our established system does, the entire reorganization of the industrial world, it stultifies growth and cultivates at the same time an artificial concept of life, a false sense of values. The German system of industrial education has recognized the reorganization of the industrial world, but this recognition has meant the sacrifice of individual life and development; it has come to mean in short the prostitution of a people and the creation of a Frankenstein.

None of our industrial educational systems or vocational guidance experiments disclose the full content of the industrial life nor do they give the children the knowledge or power to deal with it. The general dissatisfaction with these school movements is that they neither prostitute the schools in the interest of the employers nor endow the children with power to meet their own problems. The training in technique which they supply has a bearing on the every day life around them which stories of Longfellow’s life have not. But that technique, divorced as it is from its purpose, its use or final disposition, is as valueless as a crutch for a man without arms. An elaboration of technology through instruction in the general principles of physical science, industrial and political history and the aesthetics of industry only emphasizes the absence of the really significant factors. The conspicuously absent factors in all industrial educational schemes are those which give men the ability to control industry. No work in subject matter is educational which does not in intention or in fact give the person involved the ability to participate in the administration of industry, or the ability to judge the extent of his mastery over the subject. Industrial educational schemes, even the best of them, leave the pupils helpless before their subject. As they furnish them with a certain dexterity and acquaintance with processes and a supply of subject matter necessarily more or less isolated, the pupils gain a sense of the power of the subject to control them, rather than an experience in their power to master the subject. The industrial school emphasizes the fact that the administration and disposition of wealth production is no concern of those versed in the technique of fabrication.

Many educators appreciate the lack of content provided by industrial school systems as, with weak emphasis, they undertake to embroider the system with history and aesthetics of textiles or other raw material which the workers handle, or introduce the story of past processes. As this furbishing of impoverished industry fails dismally to add content, it succeeds in emphasizing the actual poverty that exists.

Dr. Stanley Hall makes the suggestion that books on the leading trades should be written to stimulate the interest and intelligence of the young who are engaged in industry or preparing to become the wage earners of the trades. In speaking of “the urgent necessity now of books on the leading trades addressed to the young,” he says; “The leather industry, particularly boot and shoe manufacture, is perhaps the most highly specialised of all in the sense that an operator may work a lifetime in any one of the between three and four score processes through which a shoe passes and know little of all the rest. Now the Shoe Book should describe hides and leathers, tanning, old and new methods, with a little of the natural history of the animals, describe the process of taking them, of curing and shipping, each stage in the factory, designating those processes that require skill and those that do not, and so on to packing, labeling and shipping, with descriptions showing the principles of the chief machines and labor-saving devices, at any rate so far as they are not trade secrets; it should include a glance at markets, prices, effects of business advance, depression and strikes, perhaps something about the hygiene of the foot, about bootblacks and what is done for them, history of the festivals and organizations from St. Crispin and the guilds down, tariffs, syndicates, societies, statistics, social conditions in shoe towns, nationality of operatives, all these could be concisely set forth to show the dimensions, the centers of interest, the social and commercial relations of the business, etc. What is not yet realized is that all these things could and should be put down in print and picture, almost as if it were to be issued as a text-book or a series of them; all of this could be done to bring out the very high degree of culture value now latent in the subject. Just this is what pedagogues do not and will not see, and what even shoe men fail to realize; viz., that the story of their craft rightly told, would tend to give it some degree of professional and humanistic interest and dignity which the most unskilled and transient employee would feel. It would foster an esprit de corps, pride in membership and above all an intelligent view of the whole field that would make labor more valuable and more loyal. This material, once gathered, should be used in some form in all industrial schools and courses in towns where this industry dominates. It would bring a wholesome sense of corporeity, historic and economic unity, would give a touch of the old guild spirit and more power to see both sides on the part of both employers and workmen. Nothing is so truly educational in the deepest psychological sense of that word as useful information vitalized by individual and vocational interest.”

Dr. Hall’s idea of a Book of Industry might have emanated from the heart of Mr. Carnegie. With the same benign detachment he seems to have mused at his desk about the shoe industry and the people engaged in it. It would not take more than a passing acquaintance with the girls and men in shoe manufacturing towns to know that if there was established a village library equipped with the history of shoes, the aesthetics of shoes, shoe economics, shoe technology, and shoe hygiene, not one of the girls or men who worked in the shoe factories would darken its doors to read about shoes. They would not for this simple reason; the workers’ “individual and vocational interest” does not exist. They would say that they already knew more than they cared to about shoes. No literature could add culture or dignity to the job of stitching vamps for all the working hours and days of a wage earner’s year, while there is no experience of cultural value in the occupation, divided as the making of a shoe is into some ninety operations, and distributed among ninety workers. Dr. Hall’s suggestion that a Shoe Book be written is a good suggestion but he must supply a better basis for a reader’s interest than industry has given him, that is, industry as it is now administered. He cannot impose culture or dignity through books on a trade which is prostituted by business for profiteering. If the purpose of the Shoe Book was to create the glamor that was intended around the present day arrangement of making shoes, it would be a false contribution in schoolroom equipment; it would be as pernicious as other literature that introduced an artificial note into a real and living experience like industry.

The most romantic account of shoe making will do nothing to bridge the gulf between capital and labor as Dr. Hall seems so confidently to believe it should. The problem is not so simple or so easily disposed of. As Dr. Hall himself says: “As long as workmen are regarded as parts of the machinery to be dumped on the scrap heap as soon as younger and stronger hands can be found, the very point of view needful for the correct solution of vocational education, is wanting." Dr. Hall recognizes some evils which are inherent in the present scheme of industry and which are antagonistic to growth, but neither he nor any of the advocates of the German methods of industrial education make provisions in their educational schemes for eliminating the aspect which contemplates the dumping of workers on scrap heaps. None of the advocates view the equipment of workers for industry in terms radically different from the terms in which they are viewed by business men; they offer them technique and matter of insignificance and indirection; they make no suggestion or move to open up the adventure of industry for the worker’s actual participation in it; they accept the organization of industry which excludes their participation as an unalterable fact; even unalterable as an experience in the prevocational schemes of education.

National, state and local campaigns have been carried on in America during the last fifteen years for the protection of childhood and youth. They have been on the whole successful in their purpose to get children out of factories and stores and into schools. It was an embarrassment to the pioneers in the campaign to find that the children were against them; that they preferred factory or commercial life to the schools. The evidence of this preference was their wholesale exodus from schools when they reached an age where they were acceptable to employers or where they were not prevented by law. Back of the exodus, universal as it is, there is an urge of elemental force. A common accounting for it, the nearest at hand, is that parents of working class children are penurious; or that they are too ignorant to understand the deteriorating effect of factory life on children; or that they are too hard pressed in their physical needs to consider the best interest of the children. This reason given for the failure of the schools to supply children with matter of interest or significance to them, explained only why children did not want to stay in school; it did not explain their eagerness to enter industry. None of the reasons accounted for the zest of the children for wage earning occupation.

The failure of the schools to hold the children gave educators who recognized the artificial character of school curricula, their best reason for introducing matter relating to industrial life. The children’s preference was indeed a valuable indication where reality or real subject matter would be found. The change off from old school subject matter to instruction in methods of industry was a logical experiment. But the movement for industrial education was not inspired by a watchful sympathetic observation of children’s needs; it was in line with the general theory, more or less accepted, that schools should be a reflection of the children’s environment; it was in line with the demand of employers for efficient workers either equipped for specific processes or adaptable to factory methods.

If the promoters of industrial education had been observers of children from twelve to fourteen and sixteen years, they would have found that as they left school they were eager not for skill in technical processes, not for wages, not for greater freedom of association in adult life, not for any of these alone, but for all of these as they were a part of the adventure of the adult world in which they lived. “We have neglected to study the most vital thing in the situation, namely the zests of the young ... we have not taken account of the nature of the great upheaval at the dawn of the teens, which marks the pubescent ferment and which requires distinct change in the matter and method of education. This instinct is far stronger and has more very ostensive outcrops than in any other age and land, and it is less controlled by the authority of school or the home. It is a period of very rapid, if not fulminating psychic expansion. It is the natal hour of new curiosities, when adult life first begins to exert its potent charm. It is an age of exploration, of great susceptibility, plasticity, eagerness, pervaded by the instinct to try and plan in many different directions."

Children of this adolescent time would respond more readily to school instruction, related to the adult activities which held their interest and connected in some way with their own conception of their functioning in the adult world. Courses of study in processes of industry and practice in the technique of those processes would have actual bearing on the environment of which they were eager to be a part.

But instruction in mechanical processes and practice in technique of manufacture are the husks of industry when divorced from the planning, the management, the examination of problems, the determination of the value of goods in their use and in their place in the market, the division of labor throughout an enterprise, the relation of all persons involved to each other and to the product. The schools with their industrial education courses do not undertake to supply their young people with an opportunity to plan; they are true reflections of factory existence as they eliminate all the adventure of industry, the opportunity for experiment and discovery; they do not satisfy the high impulse of young people to be of use, to be a part of the world of work. The spirit of the schools is preparation for something to come; the spirit of the children is in the present, and the present pressing impulse of adolescence is to share adult responsibilities.

The impulse of youth to take its place in adult life is exploited by industry and repressed or perverted by a system of education which fits the children into a system of industry without giving them the insight and power to effect adjustments. The actual job in a trade has satisfying features which the school lacks. It pays wages. That fact for eager children is estimated beyond its purchasing power. For them it is an acknowledgment, a very real one, that they have been admitted, are wanted in the big world where they are impelled by their psychic needs, to enter. It places them more nearly on an equality with the older members of their family and entitles them to consideration which was not given them as dependent children. They learn shortly of how little account they are to the boss employer but they are establishing all the time a new basis of contact and a new place in their personal relations; they are establishing it because they have economic value in the world outside of home as well as in it.

The industrial schools and the old type of schools are both adult schemes of getting children ready for adult life, not by experiencing it, but by doing certain things well so that they can be entrusted to do later on, what adults in their wisdom have decided that they are to do. But they fail to prepare children for the future as they fail to supply the children’s present urgent needs. They use the period for ulterior purposes; purposes ulterior to the period of growth with which they are dealing. As they use this period for another time than its own, in effect they exploit it. Without consciousness of the fact so far as the children are concerned, the schools exploit this period of growth as effectively as the employers reap the profits of child labor. Employers as beneficiaries have more reason than the schools for diverting youth from its own purposes, as they are under the necessity of a price system which is competitive. The schools as well as industry use up the placticity of youth; they kill off the eagerness of children to explore and plan, and cast it aside for more consequential ends.

The consequential ends in America, we have seen, have been less clearly defined than in Germany. Within a year, the United States has become conscious as a nation of place and power, conscious that it is to play a part with the other states of the world. In playing this part, will it retain its rôle of servant of the people, or will it assume with its new world dignity the rôle, if not of master, then of leadership? If still servant, will it serve more efficiently than it has our dominant institution, industry? If the silent partnership between business and the state is strengthened, will not the promoters of industry be in a better position than before to appeal through the state, through the patriotism intensified by our newly acquired world position, for a more universal and a systematized adaptation of workers in industry? The schools in their disinterested capacity, disinterested, that is, in the profits of production, it would seem could be used most effectively toward this end. German manufacture made that clear to American manufacture before the war. It also must be remembered that it was Prussian pride for imperial position that inspired the complete and efficient surrender of the German schools to the needs of the German manufacturers.

America is, of course, “different.” All peoples are. But so is our position in the world different from what it was. Our position is not now, nor could it be, the German position. Our past is different, and that will continuously have its effect on our future. But we are facing a great period of change, and the strongest forces in the country are the industrial, and the strongest leaders are the financiers. What the financiers and industrial managers most want is efficient, docile labor. The German system of education, in spite of the fact that we are different, might conceivably have that effect on the youth of this country. Under the pressure of industrial rivalry after the war, under the pressure of an imperial industrial policy, it may be that the people of the country will yield to the introduction of a scheme of education which it has been proved elsewhere can fit children better than any other known scheme into a system of mass production.

It is clear that industry could set up models of behavior more successfully in the name of education than in its own, and to the extent American children come up to these models the more employable they would be from the standpoint of business. If the pressure is sufficiently strong the people may yield to the introduction of a system of compulsory continuation schools similar to those of Germany. If they do, I believe they will eventually fail. But there is danger through loss of energy and loss of purpose in their introduction. Is it impossible for us to hold to our native experimental habits of life and attain standards of workmanship? Is it possible to realize the full strength of associated effort and at the same time advance wealth production?

Germany’s industrial supremacy was due, as Professor Veblen shows, to the fact that machine industry was imposed ready-made on a people whose psychology was feudal. The schools of Germany, an essential part of her industrial enterprise, were organized on the servility of the people. We now know what building as Germany has built her educational and industrial system on the weakness of a people means. We are in the process of discovering whether in sacrificing the expansion of her people she can secure a permanent expansion of her Empire. It would seem the better part of statesmanship in America after the war to build industrially on the strength of our people and not on the weakness of another. It is the business of educators to point out the danger and to discover whether efficiency may not be gained in the country by giving children in their adolescent period the impulse for production and high standards of work, not for the sake of the state, but for themselves, for the sake of the community, out of love of work and for the value of its service.