The first condition for successful industrial training is the concentration of a large number of pupils old enough to benefit by such training in a single school plant. Only in this way is it possible to bring the cost of teaching, equipment, and material within reasonable limits and provide facilities for differentiating the work on the basis of the vocational needs of the pupils. The fact that this condition cannot be met in elementary schools is one of the strongest arguments in favor of conducting the seventh and eighth grade work under the junior high school form of organization.
WHAT THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS CAN DO
The most important contribution to vocational education the elementary school can make consists in getting the children through the lower grades fast enough so that they will reach the junior high school by the time they are 13 years old, in order that before the end of the compulsory attendance period they may spend at least two years in a school where some kind of industrial training is possible. That this is not being done at the present time the data presented in Chapter IV amply demonstrate. In recent years there has been a tendency to regard vocational training as a remedy for retardation. The fact is that the cure of retardation is not a subsequent but a preliminary condition to successful training for wage-earning. Vocational training is not a means for the prevention of retardation, but retardation is a most effective means for the prevention of vocational training.
THE JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
In 1915 the Board of Education authorized the establishment of a system of junior high schools in the city, and at the beginning of the school year of 1915-16 the new plan was inaugurated in two schools. The Empire Junior High School, situated in the eastern part of the city, had an enrollment of about 700 children made up of seventh and eighth grade pupils formerly accommodated in the elementary schools of that section. The Detroit Junior High School on the west side had an enrollment of about 400 pupils. No decision has yet been reached as to whether the course shall include only two years’ work, or three years, as in other cities of the country where the junior high school plan has been adopted.
A comparison of the course with that for corresponding grades of the elementary schools shows some marked differences. Less time is devoted to English in the junior high school and considerably more to arithmetic, geography, and history. Mechanical drawing, not taught in the elementary schools except incidentally in the manual training classes, is given an hour each week. All boys receive one hour of manual training a week against slightly less than one and one-half hours in the seventh and eighth elementary grades, but they may elect an additional two and one-half hours a week in this subject, together with applied arithmetic during the first year, or with bookkeeping during the second. Girls may elect an additional two and one-half hours a week of domestic science, with bookkeeping. The manual training for boys comprises woodwork and bookbinding.