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A MONTHLY PUBLICATION BY THE NATIONAL FOUNDERS' ASSOCIATION AND NATIONAL METAL TRADES ASSOCIATION IN THE INTEREST OF MEMBERS AND THEIR WORKMEN.
TRADE EDUCATION OF OUR YOUTH.
Public School System on Apex Instead of Base. Trade Education Greatest Problem of the Day. The
National Trade School at Indianapolis.
[Speech of Mr. Charles A. Bookwalter of the National Trade
Schools, Indianapolis, at Annual Convention, National
Founders' Association, Chicago, November 17, 1910.] Standing in the presence of the men whose papers you have just listened to, who make their lifework the study of educational problems, I most thoroughly appreciate my own limitations in attempting to speak, even informally, on a subject affecting the great question of the education of boys along lines of the trades. I believe that our public school system is being conducted on a wrong theory. As Professor Flather says, it is like as though it stood on its apex instead of on its base. We are taking the children in the earlier grades and proceeding with each one of them with a curriculum apparently based on the idea that each one is to be President of the United States and nobody is to work. We are not succeeding very well. It occurs to me—and it may be that my opinions are not worth much, although I should speak most intelligently on this subject, because my sarcastic friends frequently have told me that I always talk best on a subject about which I know nothing—(Laughter); as though the efforts made to create Presidents have not succeeded, because somehow or other, that plan seems to neglect the plain fundamental proposition that every boy or girl should know how to spell. Any business man knows that the curse of incompetency hangs over his office, and it is a difficult matter indeed to select assistants who come into the business grounded in the very fundamentals of an education. I do not criticise the public school system, because I believe it to be the most wisely organized of all the plans followed by any nation, but I have and still do criticise the curriculum.
Plan Don't Make Workers.
Boys come into your place of business as they come into mine, and they cannot spell "horse" without putting in a letter "a." They know no more about punctuation than does the heathen Chinee. Capitalization, that is something in the mists. How to paragraph or compose a business letter is an occult science with them. They graduate from the high schools, and they all start out to be Presidents but by the time you let go of the boy in your high school at eighteen years of age, unless his father is able to send him on into the college or university, you have made a clerker or a shirker. You have never made a worker.
Now boys pass out of the school and think that it lowers them in the social scale to take off their coats and roll up their sleeves and work. We have educated them away from it, not towards it. As an amateur educator, having got that out of my system (laughter) I will try to talk to you on the subject assigned to me. You know it is an old proposition that a dog will always go out and dig up his bone.
his bone. And this question of the school curriculum is one of my pet bones. I dig it up for the benefit of the school teacher whenever I get one or two in front of me, as I have several in front of me this morning.
A Stupendous Problem. Trades education is the greatest problem before the American people today, and it is a problem that is not going to be solved until you have educated both the employer and the member of the labor union. The trades school should not be a place to educate strike-breakers; nor is it to be a place where the labor organization is permitted to enter and attempt to dictate as to the management. The labor unions do not belong to the school. Neither does the employer. I think that problem has been presented to me almost every day in Indianapolis. I am a union man.
I know this does not strike some of you founders exactly right, but I am a mechanic and belong to my trade organization. I never use it in politics because I so firmly believe in the right and in the theory of unionism being right that it is just like the church that my wife belongs to—I would not use that in politics either. (Laughter and applause.) The question of trades education must be reckoned with, and it can only be handled by the communities recognizing that it is a part of the general plan of education and then the burden of the support of trades schools being placed where it belongs, upon the tax list.
The Winona School.
Now, I am a receiver of a school that has been very busy trying to rustle for a meal ticket; so busy that it has never had time to build monuments. (Laughter.) You put a man up against the proposition of surviving, and he is not going to spend much time in doing things for his fellowmen. The Winona Technical Institute was conceived in the mind of Dr. Dickey and his associates in the Winona Lake Assembly movement at Lake Winona, Indiana. The Government owned seventy-eight acres in Indianapolis that had been used for an arsenal. Congress
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