The extent and variety of shop equipment will depend largely on the resources of the school system. The more the better, so long as the money is expended on the principle of the greatest good to the greatest number, which means that the kinds of tools and equipment used in the large trades should be preferred to those used only in the smaller trades.
In order that the time devoted to shop work may yield its greatest results, it is necessary that every lesson center around knowledge and ability that will be of real subsequent use to the pupils. It must not run to “art” and it must not be mere tinkering. Its principal value as vocational training, in the last analysis, lies in its use as an objective medium for the teaching of industrial mathematics and science.
During the second and third years all the boys who elect the industrial course or who expect to leave school at the end of the compulsory attendance period should be required to devote some time each week to the study of economic and working conditions in wage earning industrial and commercial occupations. A clear understanding of the comparative advantages of different kinds of employment is of the highest importance at this period of the boy’s life. It seems to be generally assumed that an adequate basis of knowledge for the selection of an industrial vocation is an acquaintance with materials and processes. Such knowledge is valuable, but making a living is mainly an economic problem. What an occupation means in terms of income is more significant than what it means in terms of materials. The most important facts about the cabinet making trade, for example, are that it offers very few opportunities for employment to public school boys, and that it is one of the lowest paid skilled trades. The primary considerations in the intelligent selection of a vocation relate to wages, steadiness of employment, health risks, opportunities for advancement, apprenticeship conditions, union regulations, and the number of chances there are for getting into it. These things are fundamental, and any one of them may well take precedence over the matter of whether the tastes of the future wage-earner run to wood, brick, stone, or steel.
TRADE TRAINING DURING THE LAST YEARS IN SCHOOL
Between the end of the compulsory attendance period and the entering age in most of the trades there exists a gap of from one to two years which is not adequately covered by any of the present educational agencies of the school system.
Two years ago the Ohio State legislature extended the compulsory attendance period from 14 to 15 for boys and from 14 to 16 for girls. The result has been to force into the first years of the high school course a considerable number of pupils who have no intention of taking the complete four year course, and who will leave as soon as they reach the end of the compulsory period. That these pupils are probably not getting all that they might out of the time they attend high school is no argument against the present compulsory attendance age limit, which should be raised rather than lowered.