It is now recognized that one of the elements in which the public school systems of the United States are most lacking is in the practical branches in teaching trades and industry. There is too much book learning, too little practical education. Throughout the continent of Europe there are trade and industrial schools which have accomplished much in turning out skilled workmen for the various branches of industry. Here we have one. Our deficiency in this matter was recognized by the late commissioner of education, and attention called to it in several of his reports, and a number of the State superintendents of education have also urged the establishment of manual or training schools as a part of the State systems. We have such an institution here in the Tulane Manual School. In Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago, the system has been adopted on a large scale, and made part of the high school course. Another city which has inaugurated the manual training school as a part of its public schools is Toledo, O. A rich citizen of that town, who recently died, left a large sum for the establishment of a university of arts and trades.
Instead of founding a separate university, however, the money was applied to the establishment of manual schools in connection with the public schools, for both boys and girls.
The course of girls' work given will afford some idea of what it is proposed to do. This begins with the senior grammar school grade and continues three years in high school. It includes free hand, mechanical, and architectural drawing, light carpentry, wood carving, designing for wood carving, wood turning, clay moulding, decorative designing, etc. But more practical than these things are the lessons in cooking, sewing, and household management. The course in domestic economy "is arranged with special reference to giving young women such a liberal and practical education as will inspire them with a belief in the dignity and nobleness of an earnest womanhood, and incite them to a faithful performance of the every day duties of life. It is based upon the assumption that a pleasant home is an essential element of broad culture, and one of the surest safeguards of morality and virtue." The report of the school also remarks that "the design of this course is to furnish thorough instruction in applied housekeeping, and the sciences related thereto, and students will receive practical drill in all branches of housework; in the purchase and care of family supplies, and in general household management; but will not be expected to perform more labor than is actually necessary for the desired instruction."
A special branch which will be well received is that which proposes to teach the girls how to cook. The curriculum is one that every housekeeper ought to go through.
Boiling - Practical illustrations of boiling and steaming, and treatment of vegetables, meats, fish, and cereals, soup making, etc.
Broiling - Lessons and practice in meat, chicken, fish, oysters, etc.
Bread Making - Chemical and mechanical action of materials used. Manipulations in bread making in its various departments. Yeasts and their substitutes.
Baking - Heat in its action on different materials in the process of baking. Practical experiments in baking bread, pastry, puddings, cakes, meat, fish, etc.
Frying - Chemical and mechanical principles involved and illustrated in the frying of vegetables, meats, fish, oysters, etc.
Mixing - The art of making combinations, as in soups, salads, puddings, pies, cakes, sauces, dressings, flavorings, condiments, etc.
In "marketing, economy," etc., the course comprises general teaching on the following subjects:"The selection and purchase of household supplies. General instructions in systematizing and economizing the household work and expenses. The anatomy of animals used as food, and how to choose the several parts. Lessons on the qualities of water and steam; the construction of stoves and ranges; the properties of different fuels."
Again, there is a dressmaking and millinery department, where the girls are taught how to cut and make dresses and other garments, and the economical and tasteful use of materials.
So much for the girls. The courses in the boys' schools are somewhat similar, turning, however, on the more practical instruction in trades and industries, in carpentering, wood and iron work, etc.
The Toledo experiment has been tried there but one year, and has given general satisfaction. The board of school directors has interested the public in its efforts, and advisory committees of ladies and gentlemen have been appointed to assist in managing these schools.
It is to be hoped that other and larger cities will imitate Toledo in the matter. Those philanthropists who are giving money so liberally for the establishment of institutions of higher learning might do much good in providing for manual training schools of this kind that will assure the country good housewives and skilled mechanics in the future. - Trustees' T. Jour.