Cambridge Essays on Education eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about Cambridge Essays on Education.

It would appear from what has already been said that though the necessity for vocational training exists in most, if not in all cases, the time in a boy’s life at which such training ought to begin is far from being the same for all callings.  Even where there is general agreement as to the normal age, exceptional circumstances or exceptional ability may justify the postponement of vocational instruction to a much later period than would usually be desirable.  Thus the fact that two of the most distinguished members of the medical profession graduated as Senior Wrangler and Senior Classic respectively, will not justify the average medical student in waiting until he is twenty-three before commencing his professional training.  If it be true that in some quarters “specialised education” has been demanded for young boys, it is equally true that many youths pass through school and enter the university without any clear idea of whither they are tending.  This uncertainty may be due to a belief that “something is sure to turn up,” to the magnitude of their allowances and the ease of their circumstances, occasionally, perhaps, to excessive timidity or underestimation of their powers; but, from whatever cause it springs, such an attitude of mind is deplorable in itself, and fraught with grave moral dangers.  It ought to be possible in the case of a boy of sixteen or seventeen to say with some approach to certainty, for what employments he is quite unsuitable, and to indicate the general direction, at least, in which he should seek his life-work.  The onus of choice is too often laid upon the boy himself; and the form in which the question is put—­What would you like to be?—­makes him the judge not only of his own desires and abilities, but also of the conditions of callings with which he can, at best, be but imperfectly acquainted.  There is here fine scope for the co-operation of parents and teachers not only with each other but with the various professional and business organisations.  It is generally supposed to be the duty of a head master to observe and study the boys committed to his care.  It is equally important that he should extend that study and observation to their parents—­as an act of justice to the boys, if for no other reason.  But there are other reasons.  There is knowledge to be gotten from every parent—­or at least from every father—­about his profession or business—­knowledge which, as a rule, he is quite willing to impart.  If, in addition, a head master avails himself of the opportunities of getting into touch with men of affairs, leaders of commerce, professional men of all kinds, his advice to parents as to suitable careers for their sons becomes enormously more valuable.  At the very least he may save them from some of the more flagrant forms of error; for instance, he may convince them that there are other and more valuable indications of fitness for engineering than the ability to take a bicycle to pieces, and a desire “to see the wheels go round”; and that a boy who is “good at sums” will not, of necessity, make a good accountant.  In short, he may prevent them from mistaking a hobby for a vocation.

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Cambridge Essays on Education from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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