In the same way, to the casual observer, it no doubt seems that the number and kind of misfits is so great that any attempt to analyze them and classify them must meet with failure. Those, however, who have studied the problem and have met and talked with thousands of those struggling against the handicap of unloved and difficult work, find a few classes which include nearly all of them. Just as there are two fundamental reasons why men and women select wrong vocations, and a few common variations upon these two reasons, so there are just a few general ways in which people select the wrong vocations. An examination of some of these will be illuminating to the reader.
In the beginning of the life of the race all men hunted, fished, fought, danced, sang, and loafed. These were the only manly vocations. There were no clerks, no doctors, and, perhaps, no priests. In some races and under some conditions to-day, all of the men are hunters and fishers, or shepherds and stock-raisers, or all the men till the field. Some years ago, in our country, practically all the male population worked at the trade of agriculture, there being only a few preachers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, and clerks.
In the nations of Europe to-day people are born to certain professions or born to a certain narrow circle of vocations; some people are born to manual labor, and, having once performed manual labor, are thereby firmly fixed in the class of those who earn their living by their hands; others are born in a class above that, and will suffer almost any privation rather than earn their living by manual labor. In the United States this same feeling is becoming more and more prevalent. Our physical work is nearly all of it done by those who came to us from across the sea, and native-born Americans seek vocations in some other sphere.
The common school is everywhere, and education is compulsory. The high school is also to be found in all parts of the country. There are also business colleges, technical schools, academies, universities, colleges, professional schools, correspondence schools, and other educational institutions of every possible kind. These are patronized by the native-born population as well as by many of those who come to us from foreign lands. The result is that, of the first great class which we shall treat, there are comparatively few in relation to the whole population. Even though this is true, there are all too many.
The first class of misfits is composed of those who are too frail for physical labor and who are not well enough educated to take their places amongst clerical or professional workers. These unfortunates do not like hard, manual work; they cannot do it well; they are outclassed in it. They do not hold any position long; they are frequently unemployed; and they are often compelled to live by their wits.