To be educated, in days gone by, meant simply to have one's mind stored with information gleaned from books. To be taught how to make a practical application of knowledge was not considered necessary. Modern thought concerning education is very different from the thought of earlier years. Men have come to realize that to be symmetrically educated one must have mind, body and soul trained and developed.
Among the factors that illustrate the tendency of modern education, the trade school stands out prominently. It endeavors to combine the training of mind with that of hand and so to develop a symmetrically rounded character. At the meeting of the National Education Association held at Asbury Park early in July, Frank A. Vanderlip, vice-president of the National City Bank of New York, gave some excellent thoughts on the importance of trade schools, from which we present the following:
In the group of industrial nations there has come forward in recent years one that has taken a place in the very front rank among industrial competitors. It has reached a pre-eminent position in many special fields of industry, wresting from others the vantage they had long held in serene security. That nation is Germany. By the aid of rapidly developed skill and constantly improved methods, Germany has closed its own markets to the products of the manufactures of other countries. But Germany has done much more than that - it has developed an ability successfully to compete in the neutral markets of the world, until today it shows the greatest capacity in this field of international industrial competition that is displayed by any of the great nations.
In accomplishing this remarkable industrial success Germany has had little aid from nature to make the task an easy one. There has been no wealth of raw materials such as we Americans have had to aid us. There has been no vast homogeneous domestic market such as has been of vital importance in building up our manufactures. Her people have lacked the peculiar inventive ingenuity which in many fields of industry has been the sole basis of our achievements. Her artisans have possessed almost none of the delicate artistic sense which makes French handiwork superior to the obstruction of all tariff walls. Our industries were forced to grapple with English competitors entrenched behind a control and domination of the international markets which for generations have been successfully maintained. But amid this poverty of natural resources, and from among a people not signally gifted either with inventive ability or artistic temperament, there has in a generation emerged an industrial nation which stands forth, if we take into account the disadvantages against which it had to struggle, as a marvel of economic development.
I have had a somewhat unusual opportunity to study the underlying causes of the economic success of Germany, and I am firmly convinced that the explanation of that progress can be encompassed in one single word - the schoolmaster. He is the great cornerstone of Germany's remarkable commercial and industrial success. From the economic point of view the school system of Germany stands unparalleled. The fundamental principle of the German educational system is, in large measure, to train youths to be efficient economic units. In that respect the German system is markedly at variance with the present devolpment of our own educational system. In the German schools the most important aid in the work of successfully training youths into efficient industrial units has come from an auxiliary to the regular school system. It has come from that division of instruction known as the trade schools. The German trade schools have been so designed that they supplement the cultural training of the common school system. They are devised to give instruction which will be practically valuable in every trade - in commercial and industrial calling. They are so arranged that their work supplements both the cultural training of the academic system and the technical routine of the daily task. These schools are the direct auxiliaries of the shops and offices. They have been the most powerful influence in Germany in training to high efficiency the rank and file of the industrial army. The students in these trade schools, you understand, are youths who have completed the regular compulsory educational course and have gone out into the ranks of active industrial and commercial workers. The hours of instruction are so arranged that they fall outside of the regular hours of labor in shop or office. The curriculum is broadly practical. It includes the science of each particular trade - its mathematics or chemistry, for instance - and its technology. But it does not stop there. Principles of wise business management are taught. The aim is to prepare a student for the practical conduct of a business. He gains knowledge of the production and consumption of mar kets, and of the causes of price fluctuations. He is put into a position to acquire an insight into concrete business relations and into trade practices and conditions. Are not these aims worthy of our schools ? What truer democracy can there be than to have a school system that will point the way to every worker, no matter how humble, by which he may reach a clearer comprehension of the industry in which he is engaged, and with the aid of this knowledge may rise to a position of importance in that industry?
Such an auxiliary system of trade schools will be available for the youth after he has left the direct influence of our present school system. There are in the United States ten million of population between the ages of fifteen and twenty years. Three-quarters of that number are not in attendance at any school. Here is a group of youths, seven and one-half millions in number, from which the students of such trade schools would be drawn.
The present generation of American youth, entering industrial or commercial life, is to encounter a new and in some respects a harder condition of affairs. The industrial life of this country has in a decade under, gone changes more significant than has been encompassed before in a period of two generations. No one whose life has been largely in the classroom is likely to have comprehended fully the true significance of the development of the forces of combination - combination in the field of labor as manifested in the growing power of unionism, combination in the demand of capital as manifested in the trusts, concentration in the control of industries, in the subdivision of labor and the aggregate of wealth. The display of the forces of combination, equally significant in the fields of labor and of capital, has brought changed conditions in the problem of human industrial endeavor. The welfare of the people and the position which our country is to maintain among nations, both depend on no single thing more than on the recognition of these changed conditions by our educators. You must provide the educational requisites which these changed conditions make imperative.
The forces of combination - the labor unions and the trusts - are united and working in harmony to accomplish at least one thing. They are united in a tendency to make of a great percentage of our population commercial or industrial automatons. They both tend to sub-divide labor, and thereby limit the opportunity to acquire a comprehension of broad principles. They both tend to circumscribe the field of the apprentice, narrowing his opportunities, forcing him into petty specialization and restricting his free and intelligent development. All this is placing us in grave danger of evolving an industrial race of automatic workers, without diversity of skill, without an understanding of principles, and without a breadth of capacity. There is but one power that can counteract that tendency -that power is the schoolmaster.
These youths, who can gain from their daily work only that narrow routine technical experience which in the main is all that the conditions of modern industry offer, have a right to demand something more. They have a right to demand the opportunity for a practical education. As modern conditions narrow their technical training, those same conditions broaden the opportunity for the man who does acquire knowledge which will give him a grasp of more than a single detail of his business. I believe it is your duty to provide schools which will supplement the routine of the day's work, schools which will give to these youths a comprehension of the relation of the narrow daily task to the broad industry, schools that will sup plement such cultural training as our present system has provided with practical knowledge of immediate and valuable application, schools that will counteract the discouragement and monotony of the daily round of toil and create in their stead some enthusiasm for work, build up a love of labor by showing an intellec-tual side to what was before blank mechanical routine.