Educational methods

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In this piece, Jane Addams argues that education should be fundamentally concerned with nourishing people’s interests, social relationships and civic worth. Our focus should be on the cultivation of democratic life. She bemoans the emphasis within schooling on preparation for the world of work and calls for fundamental change in which all participate and recognize their worth.

Reproduced from Addams, J, (1902). Democracy and Social Ethics. New York: The Macmillan Company. [Digitized 1998 – Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg] [Chapter 6].

Picture: Jane Addams greets visitors at Hull House, 1935 – Creative Commons CC0 public domain declaration.

Download the full text of Jane Addam’s Democracy and Social Ethics from Project Gutenberg.


As democracy modifies our conception of life, it constantly raises the value and function of each member of the community, however humble he may be. We have come to believe that the most “brutish man” has a value in our common life, a function to perform which can be fulfilled by no one else. We are gradually requiring of the educator that he shall free the powers of each man and connect him with the rest of life. We ask this not merely because it is the man’s right to be thus connected, but because we have become convinced that the social order cannot afford to get along without his special contribution. Just as we have come to resent all hindrances which keep us from untrammelled comradeship with our fellows, and as we throw down unnatural divisions, not in the spirit of the eighteenth-century reformers, but in the spirit of those to whom social equality has become a necessity for further social development, so we are impatient to use the dynamic power residing in the mass of men, and demand that the educator free that power. We believe that man’s moral idealism is the constructive force of progress, as it has always been; but because every human being is a creative agent and a possible generator of fine enthusiasm, we are sceptical of the moral idealism of the few and demand the education of the many, that there may be greater freedom, strength, and subtilty of intercourse and hence an increase of dynamic power. We are not content to include all men in our hopes, but have become conscious that all men are hoping and are part of the same movement of which we are a part.

Many people impelled by these ideas have become impatient with the slow recognition on the part of the educators of their manifest obligation to prepare and nourish the child and the citizen for social relations. The educators should certainly conserve the learning and training necessary for the successful individual and family life, but should add to that a preparation for the enlarged social efforts which our increasing democracy requires. The democratic ideal demands of the school that it shall give the child’s own experience a social value; that it shall teach him to direct his own activities and adjust them to those of other people. We are not willing that thousands of industrial workers shall put all of their activity and toil into services from which the community as a whole reaps the benefit, while their mental conceptions and code of morals are narrow and untouched by any uplift which the consciousness of social value might give them.

We are impatient with the schools which lay all stress on reading and writing, suspecting them to rest upon the assumption that the ordinary experience of life is worth little, and that all knowledge and interest must be brought to the children through the medium of books. Such an assumption fails to give the child any clew to the life about him, or any power to usefully or intelligently connect himself with it. This may be illustrated by observations made in a large Italian colony situated in Chicago, the children from which are, for the most part, sent to the public schools.

The members of the Italian colony are largely from South Italy,—Calabrian and Sicilian peasants, or Neapolitans from the workingmen’s quarters of that city. They have come to America with the distinct aim of earning money, and finding more room for the energies of themselves and their children. In almost all cases they mean to go back again, simply because their imaginations cannot picture a continuous life away from the old surroundings. Their experiences in Italy have been those of simple outdoor activity, and their ideas have come directly to them from their struggle with Nature,—such a hand-to-hand struggle as takes place when each man gets his living largely through his own cultivation of the soil, or with tools simply fashioned by his own hands. The women, as in all primitive life, have had more diversified activities than the men. They have cooked, spun, and knitted, in addition to their almost equal work in the fields. Very few of the peasant men or women can either read or write. They are devoted to their children, strong in their family feeling, even to remote relationships, and clannish in their community life.

The entire family has been upheaved, and is striving to adjust itself to its new surroundings. The men, for the most part, work on railroad extensions through the summer, under the direction of a padrone, who finds the work for them, regulates the amount of their wages, and supplies them with food. The first effect of immigration upon the women is that of idleness. They no longer work in the fields, nor milk the goats, nor pick up faggots. The mother of the family buys all the clothing, not only already spun and woven but made up into garments, of a cut and fashion beyond her powers. It is, indeed, the most economical thing for her to do. Her house-cleaning and cooking are of the simplest; the bread is usually baked outside of the house, and the macaroni bought prepared for boiling. All of those outdoor and domestic activities, which she would naturally have handed on to her daughters, have slipped away from her. The domestic arts are gone, with their absorbing interests for the children, their educational value, and incentive to activity. A household in a tenement receives almost no raw material. For the hundreds of children who have never seen wheat grow, there are dozens who have never seen bread baked. The occasional washings and scrubbings are associated only with discomfort. The child of such a family receives constant stimulus of most exciting sort from his city street life, but he has little or no opportunity to use his energies in domestic manufacture, or, indeed, constructively in any direction. No activity is supplied to take the place of that which, in Italy, he would naturally have found in his own surroundings, and no new union with wholesome life is made for him.

Italian parents count upon the fact that their children learn the English language and American customs before they do themselves, and the children act not only as interpreters of the language, but as buffers between them and Chicago, resulting in a certain almost pathetic dependence of the family upon the child. When a child of the family, therefore, first goes to school, the event is fraught with much significance to all the others. The family has no social life in any structural form and can supply none to the child. He ought to get it in the school and give it to his family, the school thus becoming the connector with the organized society about them. It is the children aged six, eight, and ten, who go to school, entering, of course, the primary grades. If a boy is twelve or thirteen on his arrival in America, his parents see in him a wage-earning factor, and the girl of the same age is already looking toward her marriage.

Let us take one of these boys, who has learned in his six or eight years to speak his native language, and to feel himself strongly identified with the fortunes of his family. Whatever interest has come to the minds of his ancestors has come through the use of their hands in the open air; and open air and activity of body have been the inevitable accompaniments of all their experiences. Yet the first thing that the boy must do when he reaches school is to sit still, at least part of the time, and he must learn to listen to what is said to him, with all the perplexity of listening to a foreign tongue. He does not find this very stimulating, and is slow to respond to the more subtle incentives of the schoolroom. The peasant child is perfectly indifferent to showing off and making a good recitation. He leaves all that to his schoolfellows, who are more sophisticated and equipped with better English. His parents are not deeply interested in keeping him in school, and will not hold him there against his inclination. Their experience does not point to the good American tradition that it is the educated man who finally succeeds. The richest man in the Italian colony can neither read nor write—even Italian. His cunning and acquisitiveness, combined with the credulity and ignorance of his countrymen, have slowly brought about his large fortune. The child himself may feel the stirring of a vague ambition to go on until he is as the other children are; but he is not popular with his schoolfellows, and he sadly feels the lack of dramatic interest. Even the pictures and objects presented to him, as well as the language, are strange.

If we admit that in education it is necessary to begin with the experiences which the child already has and to use his spontaneous and social activity, then the city streets begin this education for him in a more natural way than does the school. The South Italian peasant comes from a life of picking olives and oranges, and he easily sends his children out to pick up coal from railroad tracks, or wood from buildings which have been burned down. Unfortunately, this process leads by easy transition to petty thieving. It is easy to go from the coal on the railroad track to the coal and wood which stand before a dealer’s shop; from the potatoes which have rolled from a rumbling wagon to the vegetables displayed by the grocer. This is apt to be the record of the boy who responds constantly to the stimulus and temptations of the street, although in the beginning his search for bits of food and fuel was prompted by the best of motives.

The school has to compete with a great deal from the outside in addition to the distractions of the neighborhood. Nothing is more fascinating than that mysterious “down town,” whither the boy longs to go to sell papers and black boots, to attend theatres, and, if possible, to stay all night on the pretence of waiting for the early edition of the great dailies. If a boy is once thoroughly caught in these excitements, nothing can save him from over-stimulation and consequent debility and worthlessness; he arrives at maturity with no habits of regular work and with a distaste for its dulness.

On the other hand, there are hundreds of boys of various nationalities who conscientiously remain in school and fulfil all the requirements of the early grades, and at the age of fourteen are found in factories, painstakingly performing their work year after year. These later are the men who form the mass of the population in every industrial neighborhood of every large city; but they carry on the industrial processes year after year without in the least knowing what it is all about. The one fixed habit which the boy carries away with him from the school to the factory is the feeling that his work is merely provisional. In school the next grade was continually held before him as an object of attainment, and it resulted in the conviction that the sole object of present effort is to get ready for something else. This tentative attitude takes the last bit of social stimulus out of his factory work; he pursues it merely as a necessity, and his very mental attitude destroys his chance for a realization of its social value. As the boy in school contracted the habit of doing his work in certain hours and taking his pleasure in certain other hours, so in the factory he earns his money by ten hours of dull work and spends it in three hours of lurid and unprofitable pleasure in the evening. Both in the school and in the factory, in proportion as his work grows dull and monotonous, his recreation must become more exciting and stimulating. The hopelessness of adding evening classes and social entertainments as a mere frill to a day filled with monotonous and deadening drudgery constantly becomes more apparent to those who are endeavoring to bring a fuller life to the industrial members of the community, and who are looking forward to a time when work shall cease to be senseless drudgery with no self-expression on the part of the worker. It sometimes seems that the public schools should contribute much more than they do to the consummation of this time. If the army of school children who enter the factories every year possessed thoroughly vitalized faculties, they might do much to lighten this incubus of dull factory work which presses so heavily upon so large a number of our fellow-citizens. Has our commercialism been so strong that our schools have become insensibly commercialized, whereas we supposed that our industrial life was receiving the broadening and illuminating effects of the schools? The training of these children, so far as it has been vocational at all, has been in the direction of clerical work. It is possible that the business men, whom we in America so tremendously admire, have really been dictating the curriculum of our public schools, in spite of the conventions of educators and the suggestions of university professors. The business man, of course, has not said, “I will have the public schools train office boys and clerks so that I may have them easily and cheaply,” but he has sometimes said, “Teach the children to write legibly and to figure accurately and quickly; to acquire habits of punctuality and order; to be prompt to obey; and you will fit them to make their way in the world as I have made mine.” Has the workingman been silent as to what he desires for his children, and allowed the business man to decide for him there, as he has allowed the politician to manage his municipal affairs, or has the workingman so far shared our universal optimism that he has really believed that his children would never need to go into industrial life at all, but that all of his sons would become bankers and merchants?

Certain it is that no sufficient study has been made of the child who enters into industrial life early and stays there permanently, to give him some offset to its monotony and dulness, some historic significance of the part he is taking in the life of the community.

It is at last on behalf of the average workingmen that our increasing democracy impels us to make a new demand upon the educator. As the political expression of democracy has claimed for the workingman the free right of citizenship, so a code of social ethics is now insisting that he shall be a conscious member of society, having some notion of his social and industrial value.

The early ideal of a city that it was a market-place in which to exchange produce, and a mere trading-post for merchants, apparently still survives in our minds and is constantly reflected in our schools. We have either failed to realize that cities have become great centres of production and manufacture in which a huge population is engaged, or we have lacked sufficient presence of mind to adjust ourselves to the change. We admire much more the men who accumulate riches, and who gather to themselves the results of industry, than the men who actually carry forward industrial processes; and, as has been pointed out, our schools still prepare children almost exclusively for commercial and professional life.

Quite as the country boy dreams of leaving the farm for life in town and begins early to imitate the travelling salesman in dress and manner, so the school boy within the town hopes to be an office boy, and later a clerk or salesman, and looks upon work in the factory as the occupation of ignorant and unsuccessful men. The schools do so little really to interest the child in the life of production, or to excite his ambition in the line of industrial occupation, that the ideal of life, almost from the very beginning, becomes not an absorbing interest in one’s work and a consciousness of its value and social relation, but a desire for money with which unmeaning purchases may be made and an unmeaning social standing obtained.

The son of a workingman who is successful in commercial life, impresses his family and neighbors quite as does the prominent city man when he comes back to dazzle his native town. The children of the working people learn many useful things in the public schools, but the commercial arithmetic, and many other studies, are founded on the tacit assumption that a boy rises in life by getting away from manual labor,—that every promising boy goes into business or a profession. The children destined for factory life are furnished with what would be most useful under other conditions, quite as the prosperous farmer’s wife buys a folding-bed for her huge four-cornered “spare room,” because her sister, who has married a city man, is obliged to have a folding-bed in the cramped limits of her flat Partly because so little is done for him educationally, and partly because he must live narrowly and dress meanly, the life of the average laborer tends to become flat and monotonous, with nothing in his work to feed his mind or hold his interest. Theoretically, we would all admit that the man at the bottom, who performs the meanest and humblest work, so long as the work is necessary, performs a useful function; but we do not live up to our theories, and in addition to his hard and uninteresting work he is covered with a sort of contempt, and unless he falls into illness or trouble, he receives little sympathy or attention. Certainly no serious effort is made to give him a participation in the social and industrial life with which he comes in contact, nor any insight and inspiration regarding it.

Apparently we have not yet recovered manual labor from the deep distrust which centuries of slavery and the feudal system have cast upon it. To get away from menial work, to do obviously little with one’s hands, is still the desirable status. This may readily be seen all along the line. A workingman’s family will make every effort and sacrifice that the brightest daughter be sent to the high school and through the normal school, quite as much because a teacher in the family raises the general social standing and sense of family consequence, as that the returns are superior to factory or even office work. “Teacher” in the vocabulary of many children is a synonym for women-folk gentry, and the name is indiscriminately applied to women of certain dress and manner. The same desire for social advancement is expressed by the purchasing of a piano, or the fact that the son is an office boy, and not a factory hand. The overcrowding of the professions by poorly equipped men arises from much the same source, and from the conviction that “an education” is wasted if a boy goes into a factory or shop.

A Chicago manufacturer tells a story of twin boys, whom he befriended and meant to give a start in life. He sent them both to the Athenæum for several winters as a preparatory business training, and then took them into his office, where they speedily became known as the bright one and the stupid one. The stupid one was finally dismissed after repeated trials, when to the surprise of the entire establishment, he quickly betook himself into the shops, where he became a wide-awake and valuable workman. His chagrined benefactor, in telling the story, admits that he himself had fallen a victim to his own business training and his early notion of rising in life. In reality he had merely followed the lead of most benevolent people who help poor boys. They test the success of their efforts by the number whom they have taken out of factory work into some other and “higher occupation.”

Quite in line with this commercial ideal are the night schools and institutions of learning most accessible to working people. First among them is the business college which teaches largely the mechanism of type-writing and book-keeping, and lays all stress upon commerce and methods of distribution. Commodities are treated as exports and imports, or solely in regard to their commercial value, and not, of course, in relation to their historic development or the manufacturing processes to which they have been subjected. These schools do not in the least minister to the needs of the actual factory employee, who is in the shop and not in the office. We assume that all men are searching for “puddings and power,” to use Carlyle’s phrase, and furnish only the schools which help them to those ends.

The business college man, or even the man who goes through an academic course in order to prepare for a profession, comes to look on learning too much as an investment from which he will later reap the benefits in earning money. He does not connect learning with industrial pursuits, nor does he in the least lighten or illuminate those pursuits for those of his friends who have not risen in life. “It is as though nets were laid at the entrance to education, in which those who by some means or other escape from the masses bowed down by labor, are inevitably caught and held from substantial service to their fellows.” The academic teaching which is accessible to workingmen through University Extension lectures and classes at settlements, is usually bookish and remote, and concerning subjects completely divorced from their actual experiences. The men come to think of learning as something to be added to the end of a hard day’s work, and to be gained at the cost of toilsome mental exertion. There are, of course, exceptions, but many men who persist in attending classes and lectures year after year find themselves possessed of a mass of inert knowledge which nothing in their experience fuses into availability or realization.

Among the many disappointments which the settlement experiment has brought to its promoters, perhaps none is keener than the fact that they have as yet failed to work out methods of education, specialized and adapted to the needs of adult working people in contra-distinction to those employed in schools and colleges, or those used in teaching children. There are many excellent reasons and explanations for this failure. In the first place, the residents themselves are for the most part imbued with academic methods and ideals, which it is most difficult to modify. To quote from a late settlement report, “The most vaunted educational work in settlements amounts often to the stimulation mentally of a select few who are, in a sense, of the academic type of mind, and who easily and quickly respond to the academic methods employed.” These classes may be valuable, but they leave quite untouched the great mass of the factory population, the ordinary workingman of the ordinary workingman’s street, whose attitude is best described as that of “acquiescence,” who lives through the aimless passage of the years without incentive “to imagine, to design, or to aspire.” These men are totally untouched by all the educational and philanthropic machinery which is designed for the young and the helpless who live on the same streets with them. They do not often drink to excess, they regularly give all their wages to their wives, they have a vague pride in their superior children; but they grow prematurely old and stiff in all their muscles, and become more and more taciturn, their entire energies consumed in “holding a job.”

Various attempts have been made to break through the inadequate educational facilities supplied by commercialism and scholarship, both of which have followed their own ideals and have failed to look at the situation as it actually presents itself. The most noteworthy attempt has been the movement toward industrial education, the agitation for which has been ably seconded by manufacturers of a practical type, who have from time to time founded and endowed technical schools, designed for workingmen’s sons. The early schools of this type inevitably reflected the ideal of the self-made man. They succeeded in transferring a few skilled workers into the upper class of trained engineers, and a few less skilled workers into the class of trained mechanics, but did not aim to educate the many who are doomed to the unskilled work which the permanent specialization of the division of labor demands.

The Peter Coopers and other good men honestly believed that if intelligence could be added to industry, each workingman who faithfully attended these schools could walk into increased skill and wages, and in time even become an employer himself. Such schools are useful beyond doubt; but so far as educating workingmen is concerned or in any measure satisfying the democratic ideal, they plainly beg the question.

Almost every large city has two or three polytechnic institutions founded by rich men, anxious to help “poor boys.” These have been captured by conventional educators for the purpose of fitting young men for the colleges and universities. They have compromised by merely adding to the usual academic course manual work, applied mathematics, mechanical drawing and engineering. Two schools in Chicago, plainly founded for the sons of workingmen, afford an illustration of this tendency and result. On the other hand, so far as schools of this type have been captured by commercialism, they turn out trained engineers, professional chemists, and electricians. They are polytechnics of a high order, but do not even pretend to admit the workingman with his meagre intellectual equipment. They graduate machine builders, but not educated machine tenders. Even the textile schools are largely seized by young men who expect to be superintendents of factories, designers, or manufacturers themselves, and the textile worker who actually “holds the thread” is seldom seen in them; indeed, in one of the largest schools women are not allowed, in spite of the fact that spinning and weaving have traditionally been woman’s work, and that thousands of women are at present employed in the textile mills.

It is much easier to go over the old paths of education with “manual training” thrown in, as it were; it is much simpler to appeal to the old ambitions of “getting on in life,” or of “preparing for a profession,” or “for a commercial career,” than to work out new methods on democratic lines. These schools gradually drop back into the conventional courses, modified in some slight degree, while the adaptation to workingmen’s needs is never made, nor, indeed, vigorously attempted. In the meantime, the manufacturers continually protest that engineers, especially trained for devising machines, are not satisfactory. Three generations of workers have invented, but we are told that invention no longer goes on in the workshop, even when it is artificially stimulated by the offer of prizes, and that the inventions of the last quarter of the nineteenth century have by no means fulfilled the promise of the earlier three-quarters.

Every foreman in a large factory has had experience with two classes of men: first with those who become rigid and tolerate no change in their work, partly because they make more money “working by the piece,” when they stick to that work which they have learned to do rapidly, and partly because the entire muscular and nervous system has become by daily use adapted to particular motions and resents change. Secondly, there are the men who float in and out of the factory, in a constantly changing stream. They “quit work” for the slightest reason or none at all, and never become skilled at anything. Some of them are men of low intelligence, but many of them are merely too nervous and restless, too impatient, too easily “driven to drink,” to be of any use in a modern factory. They are the men for whom the demanded adaptation is impossible.

The individual from whom the industrial order demands ever larger drafts of time and energy, should be nourished and enriched from social sources, in proportion as he is drained. He, more than other men, needs the conception of historic continuity in order to reveal to him the purpose and utility of his work, and he can only be stimulated and dignified as he obtains a conception of his proper relation to society. Scholarship is evidently unable to do this for him; for, unfortunately, the same tendency to division of labor has also produced over-specialization in scholarship, with the sad result that when the scholar attempts to minister to a worker, he gives him the result of more specialization rather than an offset from it. He cannot bring healing and solace because he himself is suffering from the same disease. There is indeed a deplorable lack of perception and adaptation on the part of educators all along the line.

It will certainly be embarrassing to have our age written down triumphant in the matter of inventions, in that our factories were filled with intricate machines, the result of advancing mathematical and mechanical knowledge in relation to manufacturing processes, but defeated in that it lost its head over the achievement and forgot the men. The accusation would stand, that the age failed to perform a like service in the extension of history and art to the factory employees who ran the machines; that the machine tenders, heavy and almost dehumanized by monotonous toil, walked about in the same streets with us, and sat in the same cars; but that we were absolutely indifferent and made no genuine effort to supply to them the artist’s perception or student’s insight, which alone could fuse them into social consciousness. It would further stand that the scholars among us continued with yet more research, that the educators were concerned only with the young and the promising, and the philanthropists with the criminals and helpless.

There is a pitiful failure to recognize the situation in which the majority of working people are placed, a tendency to ignore their real experiences and needs, and, most stupid of all, we leave quite untouched affections and memories which would afford a tremendous dynamic if they were utilized.

We constantly hear it said in educational circles, that a child learns only by “doing,” and that education must proceed “through the eyes and hands to the brain”; and yet for the vast number of people all around us who do not need to have activities artificially provided, and who use their hands and eyes all the time, we do not seem able to reverse the process. We quote the dictum, “What is learned in the schoolroom must be applied in the workshop,” and yet the skill and handicraft constantly used in the workshop have no relevance or meaning given to them by the school; and when we do try to help the workingman in an educational way, we completely ignore his everyday occupation. Yet the task is merely one of adaptation. It is to take actual conditions and to make them the basis for a large and generous method of education, to perform a difficult idealization doubtless, but not an impossible one.

We apparently believe that the workingman has no chance to realize life through his vocation. We easily recognize the historic association in regard to ancient buildings. We say that “generation after generation have stamped their mark upon them, have recorded their thoughts in them, until they have become the property of all.” And yet this is even more true of the instruments of labor, which have constantly been held in human hands. A machine really represents the “seasoned life of man” preserved and treasured up within itself, quite as much as an ancient building does. At present, workmen are brought in contact with the machinery with which they work as abruptly as if the present set of industrial implements had been newly created. They handle the machinery day by day, without any notion of its gradual evolution and growth. Few of the men who perform the mechanical work in the great factories have any comprehension of the fact that the inventions upon which the factory depends, the instruments which they use, have been slowly worked out, each generation using the gifts of the last and transmitting the inheritance until it has become a social possession. This can only be understood by a man who has obtained some idea of social progress. We are still childishly pleased when we see the further subdivision of labor going on, because the quantity of the output is increased thereby, and we apparently are unable to take our attention away from the product long enough to really focus it upon the producer. Theoretically, “the division of labor” makes men more interdependent and human by drawing them together into a unity of purpose. “If a number of people decide to build a road, and one digs, and one brings stones, and another breaks them, they are quite inevitably united by their interest in the road. But this naturally presupposes that they know where the road is going to, that they have some curiosity and interest about it, and perhaps a chance to travel upon it.” If the division of labor robs them of interest in any part of it, the mere mechanical fact of interdependence amounts to nothing.

The man in the factory, as well as the man with the hoe, has a grievance beyond being overworked and disinherited, in that he does not know what it is all about. We may well regret the passing of the time when the variety of work performed in the unspecialized workshop naturally stimulated the intelligence of the workingmen and brought them into contact both with the raw material and the finished product. But the problem of education, as any advanced educator will tell us, is to supply the essentials of experience by a short cut, as it were. If the shop constantly tends to make the workman a specialist, then the problem of the educator in regard to him is quite clear: it is to give him what may be an offset from the over-specialization of his daily work, to supply him with general information and to insist that he shall be a cultivated member of society with a consciousness of his industrial and social value.

As sad a sight as an old hand-loom worker in a factory attempting to make his clumsy machine compete with the flying shuttles about him, is a workingman equipped with knowledge so meagre that he can get no meaning into his life nor sequence between his acts and the far-off results.

Manufacturers, as a whole, however, when they attempt educational institutions in connection with their factories, are prone to follow conventional lines, and to exhibit the weakness of imitation. We find, indeed, that the middle-class educator constantly makes the mistakes of the middle-class moralist when he attempts to aid working people. The latter has constantly and traditionally urged upon the workingman the specialized virtues of thrift, industry, and sobriety—all virtues pertaining to the individual. When each man had his own shop, it was perhaps wise to lay almost exclusive stress upon the industrial virtues of diligence and thrift; but as industry has become more highly organized, life becomes incredibly complex and interdependent. If a workingman is to have a conception of his value at all, he must see industry in its unity and entirety; he must have a conception that will include not only himself and his immediate family and community, but the industrial organization as a whole. It is doubtless true that dexterity of hand becomes less and less imperative as the invention of machinery and subdivision of labor proceeds; but it becomes all the more necessary, if the workman is to save his life at all, that he should get a sense of his individual relation to the system. Feeding a machine with a material of which he has no knowledge, producing a product, totally unrelated to the rest of his life, without in the least knowing what becomes of it, or its connection with the community, is, of course, unquestionably deadening to his intellectual and moral life. To make the moral connection it would be necessary to give him a social consciousness of the value of his work, and at least a sense of participation and a certain joy in its ultimate use; to make the intellectual connection it would be essential to create in him some historic conception of the development of industry and the relation of his individual work to it.

Workingmen themselves have made attempts in both directions, which it would be well for moralists and educators to study. It is a striking fact that when workingmen formulate their own moral code, and try to inspire and encourage each other, it is always a large and general doctrine which they preach. They were the first class of men to organize an international association, and the constant talk at a modern labor meeting is of solidarity and of the identity of the interests of workingmen the world over. It is difficult to secure a successful organization of men into the simplest trades organization without an appeal to the most abstract principles of justice and brotherhood. As they have formulated their own morals by laying the greatest stress upon the largest morality, so if they could found their own schools, it is doubtful whether they would be of the mechanic institute type. Courses of study arranged by a group of workingmen are most naïve in their breadth and generality. They will select the history of the world in preference to that of any period or nation. The “wonders of science” or “the story of evolution” will attract workingmen to a lecture when zoölogy or chemistry will drive them away. The “outlines of literature” or “the best in literature” will draw an audience when a lecturer in English poetry will be solitary. This results partly from a wholesome desire to have general knowledge before special knowledge, and is partly a rebound from the specialization of labor to which the workingman is subjected. When he is free from work and can direct his own mind, he tends to roam, to dwell upon large themes. Much the same tendency is found in programmes of study arranged by Woman’s Clubs in country places. The untrained mind, wearied with meaningless detail, when it gets an opportunity to make its demand heard, asks for general philosophy and background.

In a certain sense commercialism itself, at least in its larger aspect, tends to educate the workingman better than organized education does. Its interests are certainly world-wide and democratic, while it is absolutely undiscriminating as to country and creed, coming into contact with all climes and races. If this aspect of commercialism were utilized, it would in a measure counterbalance the tendency which results from the subdivision of labor.

The most noteworthy attempt to utilize this democracy of commerce in relation to manufacturing is found at Dayton, Ohio, in the yearly gatherings held in a large factory there. Once a year the entire force is gathered together to hear the returns of the business, not so much in respect to the profits, as in regard to its extension. At these meetings, the travelling salesmen from various parts of the world—from Constantinople, from Berlin, from Rome, from Hong Kong—report upon the sales they have made, and the methods of advertisement and promotion adapted to the various countries.

Stereopticon lectures are given upon each new country as soon as it has been successfully invaded by the product of the factory. The foremen in the various departments of the factory give accounts of the increased efficiency and the larger output over former years. Any man who has made an invention in connection with the machinery of the factory, at this time publicly receives a prize, and suggestions are approved that tend to increase the comfort and social facilities of the employees. At least for the moment there is a complete esprit de corps, and the youngest and least skilled employee sees himself in connection with the interests of the firm, and the spread of an invention. It is a crude example of what might be done in the way of giving a large framework of meaning to factory labor, and of putting it into a sentient background, at least on the commercial side.

It is easy to indict the educator, to say that he has gotten entangled in his own material, and has fallen a victim to his own methods; but granting this, what has the artist done about it—he who is supposed to have a more intimate insight into the needs of his contemporaries, and to minister to them as none other can?

It is quite true that a few writers are insisting that the growing desire for labor, on the part of many people of leisure, has its counterpart in the increasing desire for general knowledge on the part of many laborers. They point to the fact that the same duality of conscience which seems to stifle the noblest effort in the individual because his intellectual conception and his achievement are so difficult to bring together, is found on a large scale in society itself, when we have the separation of the people who think from those who work. And yet, since Ruskin ceased, no one has really formulated this in a convincing form. And even Ruskin’s famous dictum, that labor without art brutalizes, has always been interpreted as if art could only be a sense of beauty or joy in one’s own work, and not a sense of companionship with all other workers. The situation demands the consciousness of participation and well-being which comes to the individual when he is able to see himself “in connection and cooperation with the whole”; it needs the solace of collective art inherent in collective labor.

As the poet bathes the outer world for us in the hues of human feeling, so the workman needs some one to bathe his surroundings with a human significance—some one who shall teach him to find that which will give a potency to his life. His education, however simple, should tend to make him widely at home in the world, and to give him a sense of simplicity and peace in the midst of the triviality and noise to which he is constantly subjected. He, like other men, can learn to be content to see but a part, although it must be a part of something.

It is because of a lack of democracy that we do not really incorporate him in the hopes and advantages of society, and give him the place which is his by simple right. We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or any one class; but we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all men and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having. In spite of many attempts we do not really act upon either statement.