A TWO-YEAR TRADE COURSE
It is the opinion of the Survey Staff that a separate school in which direct training for the industrial trades is emphasized would result in more profitable use of the pupils’ time and probably induce many of them to remain in school up to the apprentice entering age. Such a school, with a curriculum embracing vocational training for all the principal trades, would easily command an enrollment sufficient to justify the installation of a good shop equipment and the employment of a corps of teachers qualified by special training and experience for this kind of work. Even if only one-half the number who enter the skilled trades each year attended the school, the enrollment would reach at least 800 boys.
A trade school of this kind would relieve the first and second year classes of many pupils that the technical high schools do not want and cannot adequately provide for. The minimum entering age should be not less than 14, and no requirement other than age should be imposed. This would draw part of the over-age pupils from the grades and take from the junior high school a certain number of boys who could profit by the greater amount of time given to shop work in the trade school.
A good many will stay only one year, and every effort should be made at the time of entrance to learn the intentions of the pupil. If it seems fairly certain that he will not remain longer than a year he may well omit such studies as have no direct bearing on the trade he wishes to learn. The courses should follow the lines laid down in the general industrial course recommended for the junior high school, but with a greater proportion of the time devoted to practical shopwork. As the number of pupils for each trade class would be relatively large, a closer correlation could be effected between the academic subjects and the work in the shops than is possible in the junior high school.
Both general and special courses should be provided. Many of the pupils will wish to specialize on a particular trade. Others who have not yet reached a decision need a general course that will give them a wide range of experience with materials and processes. The organization of classes should be planned so as to permit transfers, whenever desirable, from the general to the special courses, or vice-versa.
By the time the pupil has reached the second year he usually will settle down to steady work on the trade he selects, although here again the organization should be sufficiently elastic to allow transfers when there seems to be good reason for making them. It is to be expected, however, that nearly all the pupils will devote their time during the second year to practice and study limited to single trades. The success of the school in holding boys to the age of 16 or 17 will depend on its ability to convince them that the extra time in school is a paying investment, and this cannot be done unless they stick to one line of work.