For the head of such a school, it would be desirable to secure a man or woman of more than usual ability and discernment who, above all else, could sense the business and routine of each contributing store from the standpoint of the employee and of store organization. It would be the business of this person to become familiar with the available sources of knowledge in the different stores and then arrange for the presentation of this knowledge to the various classes. By cooeperation with the floor men, heads of sections and departments, as well as with the employees themselves, he should come into close contact with the requirements of the workers and should gather from the different stores those who, because of their common need, can be made into a “school unit.” It would also be necessary to employ assistants of practical experience who would attend to the details of routine teaching, and act as interpreters for those experts who have the knowledge but not the ability to impart it even to a small class.
It is realized that a scheme of this kind would involve the overcoming of many objections and difficulties of adjustment before it could be put into actual operation. It would necessitate mutual concessions and forbearance on the part of everybody concerned, but the results would unquestionably justify the labor.
A third method, already in operation in Boston, New York, and Buffalo, calls for the cooeperation of the stores and the schools. This partnership, it is claimed, makes certain that the needs of the pupil are considered before the demands of the business. It insures equal opportunity for all employees so far as instruction is concerned and it divides the expense of maintenance between the industry and the school. It is to be regretted that this scheme frequently results in the employment of teachers who, although certificated for regular school work, have no other qualifications, instead of persons of practical experience. The employment of such teachers too often leads to the following of ordinary school practices and academic traditions rather than the methods and practice of business.
In some quarters it is maintained that this instruction should be entirely taken over by the public schools, thus relieving the store of any responsibility in the matter. It is probably not now advisable for the school to assume full responsibility for such training. The heavy expense involved and the physical limitations of the schools would make it difficult, without the cooeperation of the store, to reproduce the trade atmosphere necessary for real vocational training. As a result, the instruction would become abstract and theoretical, with the major portion of the effort limited to a continuation of elementary school subjects taught with reference to their application to department store work.