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This study of the needs and possibilities of the industrial training of girls and women by the city of Worcester, Mass., was made in the spring and summer of 1911. Three cities, Worcester, Cambridge, and Somerville, through their respective school committees, expressed a willingness to establish trade schools for girls and asked the State board of education through its agents to aid them in the task of setting up the kind of school which would best meet the vocational needs of the female wage earners and receive the approval of the State board of education for State aid under the Massachusetts statutes.
The board having no force available for carrying on such an investigation, the service of the research department of the Women's Educational and Industrial Union was secured, and a thorough study of the conditions to be met and the kind of schools that needed to be adopted in order to meet them was carried on by this department under the direction of Dr. Susan M. Kingsbury, ably assisted by Miss May Allinson and a corps of young women who, through fellowships awarded by the union, were fitting themselves for social research.' The reports resulted in the establishment of trade schools for girls which are now in successful operation in the three cities.
The conditions at Worcester were somewhat more favorable for the research work, and the report upon that city was fuller and perhaps, on the whole, more thoroughgoing. It is presented herewith.
The publication of this material is timely. Communities which are about to engage in vocational education would do well to remember David Crockett's maxim, “Be sure you're right; then go ahead.” The task of training young people to meet the varied and complex demands of trade, and of fitting them at the same time for good citizenship, is not a simple one; it is most difficult. We know very little about the industrial conditions under which young people work, and probably less about the things that they need to know in order to be successful in their work. The Worcester report indicates the many problems that need to be taken into consideration in setting up a course of study and a scheme of training for any group of female
Miss Mary Rock, Miss Lorinda Perry, and Miss Elizabeth Rledell held the fellowships for the year 1910-11.
wage earners. Every city in the country, at least of any size, needs to some extent at least just the kind of investigation that Worcester made before entering actively upon the task of establishing vocational schools of any kind.
In addition the report is valuable and timely in pointing out (1) the relationship of the public schools to the problem of industrial efficiency; (2) the responsibility which the regular schools must assume for the vocational welfare of the retarded child who leaves the schools at or about the age of 14, below grade, undirected, and unprepared for life work; (3) the different questions, topics, or problems connected with the employment of girls, particularly those who are engaged temporarily in low grade, skilled, and unskilled industries which need to be investigated; (4) the method which should be employed in order to secure facts through the public school system, through the officer who issues working certificates, and through the factories in which the girls are employed; (5) the way in which an investigator familiar with the problems of industrial education draws conclusions from the data which have been gathered and shapes them into recommendations as to the kind of school and the course of study which the situation requires.
Like all studies which have to do with young wage earners, this report adds, and adds in an effective way, to the information which has been so rapidly accumulated within the past two or three years concerning (1) the great army of young girls who go out to employment as soon as they have passed beyond the reach of the compulsory law; (2) the number of girls and women who are employed in undesirable industries; (3) the lack of opportunity for advancement and better wage earning which confronts the average female wage worker; (4) the low intellectual status and ideals of the typical factory girl; (5) the kinds of industries which retarded and backward girl pupils enter; (6) the instability of female as well as male workers in many industries; (7) the fluctuating character of their employment, and (8) the low wage which most of them are able to earn. Worcester is a typical manufacturing city. If there is any difference, its conditions are better than those usually encountered in the industrial centers of this country. The situation which this report uncovers there may be regarded
be regarded as being on the whole no worse, certainly, than that to be found anywhere in industrial America.
One of the most helpful things which this report does is to call attention to the fact that the character of the trade school established for girls in any city must be entirely dependent upon the conditions which it must face. There has been danger that, carried away by the splendid success of the Manhattan Trade School for Girls in New York and the Boston Trade School for Girls, places of less size and with far different problems might blindly duplicate the organization
and the courses of study of these two institutions. The proximity of the three cities, particularly Cambridge and Somerville, to the city of Boston, and the intimate knowledge which Dr. Kingsbury and her associates had of the shops and factories in Boston and of the history and service of the Boston Trade School for Girls, made it possible for them constantly to point out the differences between Boston and the three cities which were investigated, and the differences between what Boston must do through its trade school for girls and what should be done by Worcester, or Cambridge, or Somerville.
We need more reports like this, but to be effective they must be made by those who have had some contact with vocations and with vocational education. The demand for this kind of work is growing. Unhappily, there are few indeed who can combine with the investigator's skill the knowledge of what to investigate, how to investigate it, and how to interpret the facts gathered. The rapid development of vocational education and vocational guidance is opening a new field of social research. The harvest is ripe, but the laborers few.
C. A. PROSSER,
Promotion of Industrial Education.