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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 50

The origin and Purpose of the School

page 32

The origin and Purpose of the School.

The Manual Training School is not an asylum for dull or lazy boys. It clearly recognizes the pre-eminent value and necessity of intellectual development and discipline. In presenting some novel features in its course of instruction, the managers do not assume that in other schools there is too much intellectual and moral training, but that there is too little manual training for ordinary American boys. The school exacts close and thoughtful study with books as well as with tools. It proposes, by lengthening the usual school-day a full hour, and by abridging somewhat the number of daily recitations, to find time for drawing and tool-work, and thus to secure a liberal intellectual and physical development—a more symmetrical education.

It is believed that, to all students, without regard to plans for the future, the value of the training which can be got in shop-work, spending only eight or ten hours per week, is abundantly sufficient to justify the expense of materials, tools, and teachers.

The Development of Natural Aptitudes.

It occasionally happens that students who have special aptitudes in certain directions find great difficulty in mastering subjects in other directions. In such cases it is often the best course to yield to natural tastes, and to assist the student in finding his proper sphere of work page 33 and study. A decided aptitude for handicraft is not unfrequently coupled with a strong aversion to and unfitness for abstract and theoretical investigations. There can be no doubt that, in such cases, more time should be spent in the shop, and less in the lecture and recitation-room. On the other hand, great facility in the acquisition and use of language is often accompanied by a great lack of either mechanical interest or power. When such a bias is discovered, the lad should unquestionably be sent to his grammar and dictionary rather than to the laboratory or draughting-room. It is confidently believed that the developments of this school will prevent those serious errors in The Choice of a Vocation which often prove so fatal to the fondest hopes.

One great object of the school is to foster a higher appreciation of the value and dignity of intelligent labor, and the worth and respectability of laboring men. A boy who sees nothing in manual labor but mere brute force, despises both the labor and the laborer. With the acquisition of skill in himself, conies the ability and willingness to recognize skill in his fellows. When once he appreciciates skill in handicraft, he regards the skillful workman with sympathy and respect.

It is not assumed that every boy who enters this school is to be a mechanic. Some will find that they have no taste for manual arts, and will turn into other paths—law, medicine, or literature. Some who develop both natural skill and strong intellectual powers will push on through the Polytechnic School into the realms of professional life as engineers and scientists. Others will find their greatest usefulness as well as highest happiness page 34 in some branch of mechanical work into which they will readily step when they leave school. All will gain intellectually by their experience in contact with things. The grand result will be an increasing interest in manufacturing pursuits, more intelligent mechanics, more successful manufacturers, better lawyers, more skilful physicians, and more useful citizens.

[Report of Director, June 1883.]

"We would fit them to choose their occupations wisely and to follow them with success. I have no doubt, nor have you that a larger per cent than usual of these boys will adopt fields of labor in which their manual training will be called into play. This is to be expected, and it is most desirable. St. Louis needs men intellectually and manually strong, to lead in her workshops and factories, and Missouri and the Great West needs them on her farms.

Hitherto, men who have cultivated their minds have neglected their hands; and those who have labored with their hands have found no opportunity to cultivate their brains. The crying demand to-day is for intellectual combined with manual training. It is this want that we aim to supply. Our motto is, and every medal given today bears it in plain letters:

"The cultured mind,
The skillful hand."