Laborers and porters 4
Retail dealers 4
Draymen, teamsters, etc. 4
Commercial travelers 2
This simple list at once calls into question all the standard assumptions about the extension of industrial education depending on greatly increasing the number of carpenter shops and machine shops in the public schools. The figures show that among each 100 American born men in Cleveland only seven are machinists and only three are carpenters. Clearly we should not be justified in training all the boys in our public schools to enter the machinist’s trade or the carpenter’s trade when nine out of each 10 will in all probability engage in entirely different sorts of future work. The more the figures of the little table given above are studied, the clearer it appears that our conventional ideas about industrial education need critical scrutiny and careful challenge. These 10 leading occupations include only 41 out of each 100 American born men. Moreover, more than half of these 41 are engaged in mental work rather than in manual work.
From these considerations one definite conclusion inevitably emerges. It is that the safest guide for thinking and planning for industrial education is to be found in a study of the occupational distribution of the present adults. From the very outset such a study indicates that the most difficult and important problems which must be met and coped with are not those relating to methods of instruction but rather those of organization and administration. The future carpenters and machinists cannot be taught until we can get them together in fair sized classes. They represent the most numerous of the industrial groups and yet their numbers are relatively so few that the average Cleveland school sends out into the world each year only two or three future machinists and perhaps one future carpenter.
The trouble with present thinking about this matter has been that we have noted the very large numbers of machinists and carpenters in the population and have failed to realize that while these groups are numerous in the aggregate they are after all quite small when relatively considered and compared with the total number of workers.
Another important fact that has been almost invariably overlooked is that many of the present carpenters and machinists are foreigners by birth and that there is every prospect that this same condition will maintain in the future. Hence these trades and most other industrial occupations are not recruited from our public schools to anything like the degree that has been assumed.