Page images
PDF
EPUB

If the American household assumes the important rôle in the reconstruction that is promist and needed, the American homemaker must "play the game fair.” She must be intellectually honest and make her choice of activities, both within and without the household, with an eye single to conservation of the life of the family and the still larger life of the American nation.

A STATE PLAN FOR VOCATIONAL TRAINING

HOWARD G. BURDGE, SUPERVISING OFFICER OF VOCATIONAL TRAINING,

MILITARY TRAINING COMMISSION, NEW YORK, N.Y. Military authorities tell us that it requires from three to eight men to equip, place, and maintain one man on the firing line. That the work of from three to eight skilled workers behind the front-line trench has equivalent military value is today recognized by high military authority. In fact, it seems more difficult to find an industrial general to build ships than to find an admiral to command them.

H. E. Miles, chairman of the Industrial Training Section for the War Emergency Council of National Defense, says:

This war is a war of machinists and mechanics. About one-third of the army at the front must consist of skilled men for repairs and maintenance. We must take over great numbers of skilled men from the nonessential trades into war production, and we must pursue the English and French method of fitting each man to the job he is to do. Every employer of three hundred men or more in France has been required to place a training department in his plant. The English Ministry of Munitions virtually makes the same requirement in its contracts for supplies.

President Wilson, in his recent telegram to the annual convention of the American Alliance of Labor, says: “The war can be lost in America as well as on the fields of France, and ill-considered or unjustified interruptions of the essential labor of the country may make it impossible to win it."

Assemblyman Welsh, Senator Slater, and Governor Whitman, the framers of the military-training law for the boys of New York state, clearly recognized that vocational training has equivalent military value, or, as a prominent military leader in New York state puts it, “Vocational training is military training, because the skilled mechanic is as much a part of the army as is the man who carries the gun.”

A year previous to our entrance into the war the legislature of the state of New York enacted the so-called Welsh-Slater Law, providing for the establishment of a Military Training Commission to be composed of the major general commanding the state guard, a member to be appointed by the Board of Regents of the University of the state of New York, and a member to be appointed by the governor. The appointed members hold office for terms of four years. As at present constituted, the personnel of the commission is Brigadier-General Charles Sherrill, Deputy Commissioner of Education Thomas E. Finegan, and Dr. George J. Fisher, of the International Committee of the Y.M.C.A.

In order thoroly and comprehensively to prepare the boys and girls of the elementary and secondary schools for the duties and obligations of citizenship, it is the duty of the Military Training Commission to recommend to the Board of Regents the establishment, in the schools of the state, of habits, customs, and methods best adapted to develop correct physical posture and bearing, mental and physical alertness, self-control, disciplined initiative, sense of duty, and the spirit of cooperation under leadership. This feature of the law has been put into execution, and the schools of New York state now have a complete and comprehensive system of physical training reaching every pupil in the state.

The law also provides that all boys sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years of age, except boys exempted by the commission, shall be given such military training as the commission may prescribe for periods aggregating not more than three hours each week of the school or college year, and for periods not exceeding those stated above for forty-one weeks in each year in the case of boys who are not such pupils.

It is the duty of the principal or other officer exercising supervision and control over any school or college to exclude such boys from attendance upon instruction unless they are enrolled for military drill or exempted by the Military Training Commission. Boys of these ages not attending school cannot be legally employed by any person, firm, or corporation within the state unless they are enrolled for military training or are exempted by the commission.

Such requirement as to military training, herein prescribed, may in the discretion of the commission be met in part by such vocational training or vocational experience as will, in the opinion of the commission, specifically prepare boys of the ages named for service useful to the state, in the maintenance of defense, in the promotion of public safety, in the conservation and development of the state's resources, or in the construction and maintenance of public improvements.

To carry out properly the provisions of the law the commission has establisht three bureaus, for physical training, military training, and vocational training, respectively, each under the direction of a supervising officer. It is the duty of the Bureau of Vocational Training to determine which of the 250,000 boys between sixteen and nineteen years of age in the state of New York are receiving such vocational training or experience as to meet the requirements of the law.

Enough preliminary work of this character has been done by the field inspectors during the past six months to enable us to form some very definite conclusions with regard to the method of procedure.

That all boys may be given an opportunity to comply with the law, it is proposed to ask the governor to set apart a day early in September on which day all boys sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years of age shall be required to report for enrolment to the nearest public school in the territory in which they reside. Thru the state education department instructions will be issued to all the teachers of the state for the enrolment of these boys.

As you well know, too many so-called vocational and industrial schools have been establisht in the past without an adequate survey of the industrial needs of the community. It is not the function of our Bureau to establish vocational, trade, or industrial schools or to outline courses for such institutions. We do, however, expect to be able to furnish to school authorities, labor unions, and employers reliable data concerning the industrial needs of any community in the state. We also hope to awaken the citizens of the state to a realization of the fact that with few exceptions boys engaged in mechanical and industrial pursuits, altho receiving an enormous wage, do not now have any opportunity for acquiring adequate trade skill and training.

Under the Military Training Law "we have a program for the defensive training of the soldier and, on the other hand, for the effective mobilization of the resources of the nation in training boys for vocations—which training of itself exalts and identifies as patriotic service all the effective activities of our everyday life.”

THE INFLUENCE OF WAR CONDITIONS ON VOCATIONAL

EDUCATION FOR GIRLS

MRS. MARY SCHENCK WOOLMAN, SPECIALIST IN VOCATIONAL EDUCATION,

BOSTON, MASS. The rapidity with which women have entered war industries, even those of a mechanical character, since the war began has been one of the surprises of this tremendous conflict. At the last census in the United States 8,000,000 women were in paid occupations, but now 3,000,000 more have joined this vast army, of which it is said that 1,500,000 have entered war industries.

Munitions factories find them successful; the deadly T.N.T. has no fears for them, while their delicate touch is highly commended. Aëroplanes, gas masks, rubber boots, and tents are constructed by them. Uniforms, underwear, and shirts are made almost exclusively by them. Agricultural pursuits and business are calling them in large numbers. They are running trolley cars, motor trucks, and ambulances.

In the first year of the war in England the stoppage of commerce and industry, due to panic on account of the unexpected conditions, caused almost universal unemployment among women. The lack of work was so serious that organized efforts to relieve the suffering were begun. Workrooms and training centers were speedily opened to enable women to make some wage, or to prepare them for new war trades that were in need of workers.

The second year of the war found these unemployed women returning to work, frequently in mechanical trades in which they had seldom been found before the war. The demand was largely in munitions work and in various forms of army equipment.

On account of the need for greater skill in the munitions worker the English government opened classes to train women to handle the tools which they would need to use. The munitions plants also opened training classes of their own. The retail trade, clerical occupations, and agriculture also called for women workers, and training courses were begun in these occupations. The spirit of the English women was spoken of with enthusiasm, and Conan Doyle is quoted as starting the slogan, "Hats off to the women of England!”

It was realized that continuous unskilled and semi-skilled work is depressing to the worker, even if the spirit is good, and committees of citizens were appointed to consider the labor and hygiene problems involved, the physical influence of such heavy tasks and long hours on women, the kind of training needed, and how to organize it. Adequate courses for instruction for all the war occupations into which the women were going were opened, and now, after almost four years of war, English women are found in all the better-paid branches of industry which require skill and ability. They have risen to supervising and professional positions of great responsibility. The definite enlistment of women for all forms of war service except fighting has followed.

In the United States conditions are rapidly repeating those of England in the early days of the war. There is less scarcity of men here, consequently the extreme pressure on women to enter the mechanical trades is not yet felt. Nevertheless our women are at work in all the occupations in which their English sisters have been substituted for men. Their hands easily become skilful in unwonted trades, and their spirit of willing service has made them welcome in spite of their lack of training. They are in munition factories, they are making aëroplanes, gas masks, and parts of torpedoes; they are making uniforms, knapsacks, underwear, rubber boots, shoes, tents, and innumerable other army supplies. The railroads, business, and transportation are beginning to depend upon them.

As yet the women wage-earners in war industries have had little organized training. Some instruction for farm workers, over-sea telephone girls, and other occupations has been begun, but in general the women wageearners are taught only the processes they are to carry on, and no concerted effort has been made to help them that compares with what the federal government is doing to train the men for radio work, for the shipyards, and for the construction of motor cars, gas engines, and aëroplanes. Committees in Washington and elsewhere are studying the conditions of their labor in hours, wages, and housing. The Women's Division of the Industrial Service Section of the Ordnance Department has a section on training for women. The Bureau of Labor and also state and local surveys are at work on the various questions relating to training, to conditions of labor, to shopwork, or to the effect of the mechanical occupations on the physique.

The trade and vocational schools for girls are endeavoring to help to the best of their ability, but there are not enough of them. The Boston Trade School is training women to adjust and repair the electric power machines and is offering older women instruction in uniform-making by power machines. The Manhattan Trade School, in New York City, is placing many of the girls trained on the electric machine in uniform, gasmask, and knapsack factories. The Girls' Vocational High School in Minneapolis has completed government contracts of one thousand olivedrab shirts. Other schools are doing similar war service while training girls for wage-earning.

The effect of the war on the regular schools has been distinctly vocational. Food conservation, war cookery, canning, drying, meat substitutes, and the reducing of expenses are all considered in a practical way. Vast quantities of pajamas, convalescent robes, hospital supplies, refugee garments, and other Red Cross work are being turned out. Every available piece of material is being used. Renovation, repair, and the making of strong, simple garments is helping families to conserve.

The professional training of women for war occupations has been advancing with great rapidity. The colleges are offering new courses to train women for executive positions in connection with war needs. The Division of Women's War Work of the Committee of Public Information is sending out almost daily information on new openings for trained executive women. They are bacteriologists in cantonment hospitals, industrial secretaries in munitions factories, ship draftsmen, and teachers of physical occupational therapy. Summer courses are being offered to train them for employment management, the work centering in Cleveland, Ohio. The National Service School, of Chautauqua, is training them for motor mechanics, intensive reconstruction, telephone operating, telegraphy, agriculture, and other fields. Mount Holyoke is training health officers, and many of the colleges are giving training for nurses for the front.

Magnificent results are following the effort to train the professional woman, but the wage-earners must speedily he helpt, for their own sakes, to take them out of deadening pursuits and to help them to rise, and for the sake of the country's industries, as skilled workers are needed to take the place of the men. It is unpreparedness not to help these girls who, with devotion, are endeavoring to take the place of the boys over there.

« PreviousContinue »