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his life a career, not a lottery; the city an opening and opportunity to him, not merely a temptation.
Men wonder sometimes at the extraordinary success of what we call self-educated men. Most of them had such a training as I have described, and if they had failed when competing with men merely book-trained, that would be more matter of their wonder than their success is.
I do not ask to have this old system back again ; but it gives us a good hint how to amend ours.
The boy who is going to college has two or three more years of education given him to fit him for his future. Why should not the city extend to the children who prefer some mechanical trade equal favors, parallel advantages ? the same amount of training for their future that the college boy has for his? The discrimination against those who prefer to work with their hands is very unjust.
Our system of education helps the literary class to an unfair extent when compared with what it affords to those who choose some mechanical pursuit. Our system stops too short; and as a justice to boys and girls, as well as to society, it should see to it, that those whose life is to be one of manual labor should be better trained for it; the system Mr. Ruggles proposes seems to me admirably adapted to this end. Its main features must be added to our Public School System, which daily becomes more unequal to the task it assumes.
The Developing School is an entirely new suggestion, and an instrument and help to education of great value.
We put a child into a hall or school, where he sees every variety of mechanical work going on He tries his hand at any he fancies. Soon his natural bent or taste shows itself. His peculiar genius chooses and clings to some one kind of work. He has found his calling — the square peg, as the phrase is, has found the square hole -- and is not obliged to stagger and stumble through life a square peg in a round hole. This natural bent once found out, we hand the child
over to that school-shop which teaches his particular trade, and thus fit him for his life.
In this school he should be broadly trained in all that pertains to his chosen calling; not be crippled by being confined to some one small item, or portion of it. He should not be crippled by being set — as we used to say when pins were made by hand — to make a pin's head or point all his life. If one portion of his chosen trade fails him, he should have some insight into all its particulars, and be thus able in almost any event or emergency to stand on his feet an independent man. Never let us lose the well-known characteristic of the Yankee race, that no shock can ever shake one off his feet, and no fate place him where he would not be worth his keep.
REV. EDWARD E. HALE, D.D.
Mr. Hale followed Mr. Phillips. He called attention to the loss which the community sustains by placing boys in occupations for which they are not fitted by their native abilities. He spoke also of the difficulty of educating boys in accordance with their native ability, even when that ability has been ascertained. He took, as an illustration, the difficulty, amounting almost to impossibility, of training a Boston boy to a sailor's life. He asked the audience if anybody remembered an instance within the last ten years when a Boston boy had been trained to a life at sea. Yet there is no question but that there is a passion for the sea in our blood. We are the descendants of the Vikings ; and some of the greatest achievements of our race have been its victories on the ocean. That is only one instance, among many, of the way in which we are neglecting the native ability of our own children, in our drift or habit of turning all our boys into tradesmen.
Now, the great duty of the State is to make the most out of every
child born in the State. These children are born with great diversity of ability, and they must be trained to every variety of calling, if the State be wise. If Jenny
Lind be born here, she must be trained to music; if John Milton be born here, he must be trained to letters; and none of the follies of Adam Smith, or of the other economists, must condemn them to heading pins or spinning cotton. But, as we live, we are fast losing the opportunities for this variety of training. We begin bravely on the broad system of the public schools. But it must be remembered that it is said that the average Boston boy leaves school forever before he is twelve years old. What is it, then, for which you have trained him? Anybody who knows the real openings for those boys will tell you that it seems as if they were fit for nothing but to be news-boys or cash-boys in the great retail shops, or sellers of lozenges at the door of the Museum.
Now, these are not good preparations for life. Nobody ever saw a grown-up cash-boy, or a grown-up lozenge-boy. My friends, the manufacturers, say that they are glad to have a few of these boys in their mills; but I have to say to them that ten hours a day at the loom or the spinning-frame is not a good education for manhood or womanhood. And I have to remind them that the prime business of a Christian State is not to make cottons, but to make men and women.
Now, the report has told you what are the causes for the difficulty in training boys to the use of their hands and heads together. We want the trained mechanic as much as we ever did. But our system, alas, no longer permits the trained man in his workshop to give a personal training to the boy who is to learn. Our system even keeps boys out of the sight of workmen, so that they really tell a story of a boy of sixteen, who had never seen any mechanic at his work, except a plumber, — and that boy chose a plumber's trade because he did not know what else to choose! What follows all this difficulty in teaching boys to use the powers God has given them? Why, there grows up a race of inefficient men, who have not learned to do anything at all. They are left in the grade of mere brute labor, because they have learned no art or handicraft in their boyhood.
Mr. Hale continued :
Here is the point of view from which I look upon this subject: For more than twenty years now, it has been my duty to study all the questions of city poverty, of pauperism, and of other misery; and I tell you what any working minister will tell you, that, after intemperance, the worst evil you have is your body of untrained laborers, and that your present social status makes no provision for the training of labor. It is to supply this central need that Mr. Ruggles proposes his plan of the Developing School, and the schools connected with it.
I am perfectly willing to admit that the best plan was the old New England plan. The fathers builded better than they knew when they sent a boy to school for three months, and then kept him at work for three months at the bench, in the fishing-boat, or on the farm. But we think we have outgrown that system. We compel the school-boy, while he is a school-boy, to keep at school all the time. We teach him to calculate how many bushels of oats can be exchanged against how many bushels of wheat, when oats are so much and wheat is so much, - and he does not, for all our teachings, know a kernel of oats nor a kernel of wheat when he sees them. Then, finding our boys good for nothing, we turn round and beg the schools to undertake their training. Just as we have made the schools teach a little music, and a little drawing, and a little sewing, we ask them to be good enough to teach a little filing, and a little planing, and a little sawing. But all this is merely overburdening the school system, which is overburdened already; and it does not provide for the separate training of each boy, according to his own personal ability.
What Mr. Ruggles's plan suggests is a school to which the boy shall come when he is of proper age to learn his trade, — where he shall first be tried, by an intelligent master, on different lines of work. The report which has been read explains to you the detail. In a few months, or perhaps weeks, we shall know whether this boy will be a good ma
chinist, or a good founder, or a good carpenter, or good watchmaker. We shall know his physical aptitudes, his moral aptitudes ; we shall know what line of work he can follow well. Then we shall be prepared to take him into the separate school, where that aptitude can be best developed.
I am told by skilful men, and I believe, that under two years of such careful training, for the new purpose of training, an intelligent boy will learn more than he would learn in seven years of the old apprenticeship, knocked about here and there, left to run errands or to take the rough work generally, - perhaps making rivets for a year, if there were need of rivets, or punching-holes for a year, if there were need of holes. If that estimate be true, our plan proposes to save five years of each young man's life, and to give it to him as his freedom present, even before he comes of age.
We wish the State to add this developing system to its system of schools, because the State can do it better than any private corporation. The State has determined, wisely, that all the larger towns shall teach Latin and Greek in the public schools, shall prepare boys and girls for college. It has determined, wisely, that they shall teach drawing in those schools, resolving to develop the hardly budding genius of art in our manufactures. Let it determine, with the same wisdom, not to be dependent on the workshops of other lands for the skilled workmen whom it must have, if its great enterprises are to prosper.
It is an interesting reflection that when Robert Stephenson had conceived, and, I may say, determined on, that great invention of the locomotive, which has revolutionized the world, he knew so well what he needed, and the world needed, that he did not so much as attempt to build his model till he had first trained the machinists who were to build it with him. The machine-shop in which the "Rocket” was built had been first the training-school of the machinists who built her; and, when the great day of trial came, the result appeared. She did not break down on experiment in the competition with her rivals. They did. She did not