The organization of vocational training in junior high school grades presents many difficulties which cannot be solved by a more or less abstract study of educational and industrial needs. Experimentation on an extensive scale, covering a considerable period of time, is necessary before definite conclusions can be drawn as to the limitations and possibilities of such work. It is with a full appreciation of this fact that the following suggestive outline is presented.
The purpose of the general industrial course is to afford to boys who wish to enter industrial occupations the opportunity to secure knowledge and training that will be of direct or indirect value to them in industrial employment. It is not expected that by this means they can be given much practical training in hand work for any particular trade. The most the school can do for the boy at this period is to bridge over for him the gap that exists between the knowledge he obtains from books and the role which this knowledge plays in the working world. It must not be assumed that the transition can be effected merely by the introduction of shop work, even if it were possible to provide the wide variety of manual training necessary to make up a fair representation of the principal occupations into which the boys will enter when they leave school. It is doubtful whether, so far as its vocational value is concerned, shop work isolated from other subjects of the curriculum is worth any more per unit of time devoted to it than several of the so-called academic subjects. This is particularly true of the two most common types of manual training—cabinet making and forge work. Both represent dying trades. During the decade 1900-1910 the increase in the number of cabinet makers in Cleveland fell far below the general increase in population. The blacksmiths made a still poorer showing. Both trades are recruited mainly from abroad and the relative number of Americans employed in them is steadily declining.
In the opinion of the Survey Staff a general industrial course should cover instruction in at least the following five subjects: Industrial mathematics, mechanical drawing, industrial science, shop work, and the study of economic and working conditions in wage earning pursuits. These may be offered as independent electives or they may be required of all pupils who elect the industrial course. The details of organization must, of course, be worked out by trial and experiment. They will probably vary in different schools and from year to year.