In many of the trades an introductory knowledge of physics and chemistry is of considerable advantage. Boys in the junior high school cannot be expected to take formal courses in these subjects, but they should not leave school without some acquaintance with them and a knowledge of their relations to industrial processes. A fair equipment should be provided for demonstrational and illustrative purposes. The subject matter should be correlated as closely as possible with the shop work, and the principal mechanical and chemical laws explained as the shop problems furnish examples of their application.
In addition the boys should be taught the common technical terms used in trade hand books. The man who expects to advance in his trade will have to keep on learning after he leaves school. There are many avenues of information open to him, and the school can perform no more valuable service than to point the way to the sources of knowledge represented by reference books, trade journals, and other technical literature. Some of the popular magazines, such as “The Scientific American,” “The Illustrated World,” and “Popular Mechanics” can be used most effectively to bring home to the pupils the close connection existing between the class work and the outside world of science and invention.
It is difficult to determine the exact function of the manual training shop work in cabinet making and bookbinding which figures in the curriculum at present. That the work was not planned with vocational training in mind seems clear from the action of the school board in adding bookbinding to the course about the middle of the year. The bookbinding trade is one of the smallest in the city, and there is little probability that more than one boy among the total number enrolled in both junior high schools will enter it after leaving school.
Fully three-fourths of the industrial group will later be employed in occupations where most of the work is done with machines or machine tools. Even in the hand tool trades, such as carpentry, sheet metal work, cabinet making, and blacksmithing, the use of machines is constantly increasing. It would seem, therefore, that some acquaintance with different types of machines would be of considerable value to the pupils who may later enter industrial employment. The number of boys who are likely to become machinists is large enough to warrant the installation of a small machine shop. Repairing, assembling, and taking apart machines should occupy an important place in the shop course. Most boys are intensely interested in getting at the “insides” of a machine, and the processes of assembling, with their attendant problems of adjustment and co-ordination of mechanical movements, afford opportunities for the best kind of practical instruction. One of the great advantages of this type of shop work lies in the fact that it consumes little or no material and is therefore inexpensive; another is that a fairly extensive equipment can be easily obtained, as any machine, old or new, will serve the purpose and may be used over and over again.