Dunedin: Printed at the "Evening Star" Office Rond & Street.
New Zealand Manufacturers' Association
- Mr Alexander Burt.
- Mr J. Mitchell
- Mr W. Henderson
- Mr H. Driver
- Mr G.P. Farquhar
- Mr B. Hallenstein
- Mr G. Hyndman
- Mr T.W. Kempthorne
- Mr R. G. Murray
- Mr C. Moore
- Mr C. M'Queen
- Mr Mark Sinclair
- Mr R.S. Sparrow
- Mr W. Strachan
- Mr H.E. Shacklock
- Mr A.H. Shelton
- Mr A. Lee Smith
- Mr A. Thomas
- Mr A. Morrison
- Mr J. Mitchell.
- Mr D.R. Eunson
(6, Exchange Court, Princes st., Dunedin).
A lecture delivered by Professor Main-waring Brown on the 13th April, 1885; the president (Mr A. Burt) in the chair.
Professor Brown said: There is a general agreement that technical education is a very important thing, but unfortunately there is an equally general feeling of uncertainty as to what technical education is. The cause of this uncertainty is that the phrase is used to express two distinct systems—]. That of teaching handicrafts in schools, the pupils being taught the practical use of tools; and the necessity of apprenticeship being to at any rate some considerable extent done away with. 2. That of supplementing the practical knowledge gained in the workshop by instruction in the principles of drawing, chemistry, applied mechanics, and other arts and sciences, a knowledge of which is necessary to the thorough mastery of particular trades. In this paper I propose (1) to give a summary, drawn from the reports of the English Royal Commissioners on Technical Instruction, of what the most advanced nations have done in both these branches of teaching; and (2) to compare the facilities for learning trades in Dunedin with those that are offered by the leading centres of industry.
The Growth of Technical Education.
The system of teaching in classes those arts of production which formerly could be learned only in the mine or the workshop was first adopted by Germany, when, towards the end of the last century, she commenced the establishment of schools of mines. To some extent France, under the First Empire, followed this lead, but the French schools, to use the words of the report, for many years "simply vegetated." The real beginning of technical education is marked by the Exhibition of 1851. Continental nations began at that time to recognise page 4 the fact that if they were to compete with the manufacturing skill and energy of England they must train their managers, foremen, and work-people; while England on her part began to perceive that with all her advantages she was seriously behindhand in taste and in that knowledge of principles which enables manufacturers to adopt their productions to changing requirements. Continental nations—Germany again taking the lead—now proceeded to institute elaborate technical schools for managers and evening classes for artisans; while England endeavored to supply her defects by the establishment of the South Kensington Science and Art Classes, the success of the English movement was by no means inconsiderable, for in 1857 there were 12,509 students instructed in the local schools of art, and 396 in the Central Training School; while 43,212 children in elementary and other schools were being taught drawing. From this good beginning the system grew till in 1882 there were 909,206 persons receiving art instruction in connection with the department, and 68,581 students in science, in 1,403 science schools. But, South Kensington not with standing, it is plain that the foreign manufacturers gained considerably on England during several years after 1851. They enlarged the sphere of their operations, dispensed with the English foremen and managers they had previously been obliged to employ, and, though hampered by the Protection established for their own benefit, began seriously to threaten Free trade England in neutral markets. England, on the other hand, still depended on foreigners for frist-class work in designing, dyeing, and other opera operations requiring taste and high technical knowledge. Within the last few years, however, England has made a new ad- page 5 vance of a most practical character, marked by the establishment of such great technical institutions as the City ana Guilds of London Institute, Mason College (Birmingham), the Technical School (Bradford), and hosts of smaller schools, evening classes, and technical museums spread throughout the manufacturing districts. The success of recent efforts has been such as will surprise most people: it has brought England nearer to perfection in the means of technical education than any of her rivals. The Commissioners state that though societies for extending technical teaching are very numerous in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany, "their sphere of action is limited, and the facilities they offer for evening instruction in science and technology are inferior to those which are at the disposal of our own workmen. No organisation like that of the Science and Art Department, or of the City and Guilds Institute, exists in any Continental country; and the absence of such organisations his been lamented by many competent persons with whom we came in contact abroad."
The Value of Technical Education.
The report shows that in the great majority of trades technical instruction should aim not at supplanting, but at supplementing the experience gained in the workshop. If a man is kept all his life performing no more than one or two operations, no amount of education will enable him to do them letter than he will do them after a reasonable amount of practice; while there are, as might be anticipated, cases in which men have been spoilt by spending over the study of principle a portion of their lives which ought to have been devoted to acquiring practice in details. "The weak point in the training of forein managers," said an engineer at Ghent, "is that they get too page 6 little practice in the shop, They go to the University or to the Polytechnic (school of applied science), and usually remain there till they are upwards of twenty. It is impossible for them at that age, and without experience in real work, to compete with practical men in the internal economy of the workshop." Another formidable objection to many of the schools is, that they do not study the art of cutting the coat according to the cloth. "There is," said a Belgian dyer, "a tendency in school teaching to aim at certain ends without considerations of economy in the means. A man may dye beautifully, but, if he cannot make the dyeing pay, his knowledge possesses no commercial value. In this respect the diploma men are often unsatisfactory." But allowing full weight to objections of this kind, which are amply set forth in the report, there is a great preponderance of opinion in favor of technical education for all classes of workers. Thus at Roubaix: "M. Delattre informed us that during the ten years that the technical weaving and dyeing school has been in operation great progress has been made in the dyeing industry. In every establishment where sons of employers, foremen, and workmen have attended the classes, good results have followed. In the dye works many of the young men can make their own preparations. There is less need of supervision; economy of production has, in many instances, followed attendance at school"; fewer mistakes have been made; and more reliable and more efficient work has been done." In Switzerland the advantages of technical knowledge seem to be still more firmly believed in. "When there was a movement in the Federal Council for lessening the grant to the chemical department of the Polytechnic, it was shown by undoubted evidence that page 7 within a few years the chemical laboratories had been the direct means of bringing capital into the country to the extent of millions of pounds sterling, and that their usefulness was crippled for want of better accommodation. The movement for lowering the grant was defeated, and a proposal was carried for the expenditure of L50,000 upon a new laboratory." The same importance is attached to elementary training, such as is given in the schools of industry, where boys are taught practically the use of tools, together with, so far as time allows, such sciences and languages as are likely to be most valuable to them. The English manager of a large engineering establishment says that several boys have come to him from the Industrial School of bis town and he has been delighted with them. "Instead of being raw, ignorant lads, unable to drive a nail or to use a file, they can begin work at once; they have been taught to use their hands, and most of them have excellent ideas about work. . . . He pointed to a youth under him now who makes sketches and drawings and calculations for him, and carries out his instructions like an experienced draughtsman; and this youth is no exception to the boys from the Industrial School." Where the experiment of technical education has been properly tried in England we find the same good results. The Oldham School of Science and Art, established by the late Mr John Platt, M. P., and other employers, was one of the earliest of such institutions; and in reply to a question about its influence on the industries of the town, Mr Taylor, engineer, said: "Very beneficial, I think. In the case of pattern-makers, for instance, they understand their work better than they did previously. It has caused the men to be more intelligent workmen, and to understand better the instructions given them, and the page 8 object had in view in the work performed, and they understand the working better. Our foremen draughtsmen are now all taken from the institution. Before the institution existed we used to get Swiss and French and Germans principally. Now there is hardly a foreigner in the town." Another employer added: "I can confirm this statement. The working mechanics are much more intelligent. Now a man can be sent out to work, and can transmit his views to the firm in writing, give sketches, and reason about matters. Formerly the man would have had to return to the works and get personal instructions in all cases of difficulty. The suggestions they make to remedy defects are more practical than before. Every man may now be equal in intelligence to what the master was before the school was established." This is all very well, but the best test of the value attached to technical education is the sacrifices that employers make to promote it and workmen to take advantage of it. Now, there are several striking instances of manufacturers who undergo considerable sacrifices for the purpose of training men, even when they cannot be sure of keeping them when their education is completed. The large sums expended on the Oldham school by the local employers are a case in point. At Bochum, in Westphalia, a school has recently been formed for the education of foremen in ironworks, and it is supported entirely by the iron manufacturers, who contribute in the ratio of the number of men they employ. In the engineering works of Messrs Hartmann and Co., at Chemnitz, in Saxony, it has long been a condition of the firm that apprentices should attend the classes of the technical school. On two evenings a week they are allowed to leave the works early that they may attend the night school, "which," the Commissioners observe, "in page 9 the light of English customs is a great concession, and an illustration of the advantages expected by this firm from the theoretical training of these operatives." In England itself, however, we have the most conclusive case of the value attached to technical teaching in at any rate one trade. Messrs Mather and Platt, engineers, Manchester, have established and bear the whole expense of a technical school for their apprentices. "Mr Mather," says the report, "stated that there were sixty-eight scholars in the school, which is designed to provide science teaching for the apprentices employed in the works. No strangers are admitted for instruction. The drawings are of work actually in progress in the works. The teacher lectures upon them, and explains and makes calculations, and the boys the next day at the works see the very thing they have heard about here. The teachers are draughtsmen in the works." These cases illustrate the interest taken in technical education by some of the most successful manufacturers. The next question is, what interest are the working classes likely to take in the subject? As a general rule, it appears that where suitable instruction is given there is no lack of learners. Many of the best institutions are overcrowded to such a point that it becomes almost as great a privilege to get admission to them as to one of the great English public schools. Throughout the report I do not remember one case in which a school once started has had to be given up owing to the apathy of those for whose benefit it was intended. There can be no doubt that there must have been such cases, but their un importance is very noticeable. The schools that are mentioned as insufficiently attended are, as a rule, either unsuited for popular requirements or beaten by the competition of other schools; the latter being frequently page 10 the case in Germany, where each small State used to start its own school, till the supply of highly-qualified men outran the demand —A fact well worth our notice, because when technical education obtains a footing in New Zealand we may expect the same results from interprovincial rivalry. The readiness with which the working classes have availed themselves of the technical schools is the more remarkable when we consider that the bulk of the students are working men, studying the principles of their craft after working hours—and hours that in many cases are half as long again as those of our own people. The hours of work on the Continent are from eleven to twelve and a-half a-day; about seventy-two hours a-week is the rule, and this allows for closing a little earlier than usual on Saturdays and Mondays. In English factories the average time is nine and a-half hours a-day. If, in the face of these long hours, European workmen avail themselves of evening classes, it is plain that the New Zealand workman may do the same if he finds it to his advantage. That he is prepared to do so is shown by the number of apprentices who at present attend our local drawing classes, and who have in the past attended the classes instituted by the Caledonian Society.
Grades of Technical Education.
The classifications of technical schools adopted in the report are so numerous as to become confusing, but for the purpose of comparing what has been done in Europe with what we might attempt in this Colony I will divide the subject into three grades:—(1) Such teaching as has been attempted in, or in connection with, primary schools. (2) Instruction calculated to fit youths for doing high-class work, or for filling the position of foreman. (3) Training such as is required by managers.
Teaching Trades in National Schools.
So far but little has been done to teach trades to children in school, and it appears doubtful whether, as a general rule, there is any economy in doing so. Boys can generally be making themselves useful in their trade while they are learning to become skilled workers, and when this is the case it is sheer Waste to teach them trades in a school. The Commissioners, however, though they do not overlook this fact, are of opinion that some technical teaching may advantageously be given in connection with primary schools. One of their recommendations is—"That proficiency in the use of tools for working in wood and iron be paid for as a 'specific subject'; arrangements being made for the work being done as far as possible out of school hours. As to the experience on which this recommendation was founded, the following cases seem to afford the best illustration 1. The School of the Rue Tournefort, Paris.—"This school is the only primary school in France, so far as the Commissioners are aware, in which rudimentary trade teaching is combined with ordinary elementary instruction. From the ages of six to ten the children have three hourly lessons per week in manual work, Boys of ten and eleven are taught drawing, modelling, Carving joiner's work, and smith's and titter's work; whilst in their twelfth year of age the instruction is specialised, some taking' as their principal study modelling and caring, others joiner's work and cabinet working, others again forging and fitting; but all nave to devote a certain portion of time each week to the other subjects comprised in the complete course of manual work. The school hours are from eight in the morning to six at night, and in the highest class eighteen hour's per week arc given to manual work." page 12 It will be observed that the working hours are very long, but when it is considered how many hours are spent in that manual work, which is healthy exercise for school children, it will be obvious that there is not necessarily any over-pressure. 2. The Ambachts School, Rotterdam.—This school is of a more advanced type than that in the Rue Tournefort, Paris. It is rather technical than a primary school, but since it admits boys as young as twelve, and devotes more than half the day to book work, it may be considered in connection with elementary teaching. The course at this school lasts three years. The hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer, and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m in winter. The mornings arc spent in the class-rooms, and the afternoons in the workshops. As soon as the boys have learnt the use of the various tools they begin to make small articles which have a marketable value, and thus realise that they arc working with a view to the commercial results of their labor. It has been found by experience that his being engaged on a bonâ fide piece of workmanship serves as a powerful stimulus to the pupil. The school has shops for carpenters, blacksmiths, metal-workers, fitters, and turners, cabinetmakers, masons, and stone carvers. At the time of the Commissioners' visit the young carpenters were carrying out a large order for the desks of a primary school; while the metal-workers were making locks, hinges, shovels, hooks, smiths' tongs, and coal scuttles. Particular attention is paid to drawing, which is made thoroughly practical. The boys begin with copying rectilinear and curved figures and simple ornament from casts. In the architectural course, as soon as they have acquired sufficient skill, they draw details of construction, and make measured drawings from actual work. In the advanced class they learn mechanical page 13 projection and simple perspective us applied to architectural details and parts of houses. The start consists of twenty-one masters and assistants, and there are 280 boys, the school costing about L2,500 a-year. It has been found that the lads on leaving school are readily employed, and generally earn more than apprentices who have been trained in the usual way. 3. Handicraft work in Manchester Board Schools.—In their first report the Commissioners recommended that exercises in the use of tools should be introduced into primary schools; and this suggestion has been already taken up in two of the Manchester schools, and is likely to be taken up by others. The teaching so far only extends to woodwork, and the system is so experimental that it is not entered in the time-table. The workshops are furnished with joiners' benches of the French type, costing L1 2s each. Two boys work at a bench, and the cost of the set of tools for each boy is Ll 2s 5d. Each school is provided with one lathe, procured from La Villette, at Paris, at a cost of Lg. The instruction is given before and during the usual school hours, and each boy works for one and a-half hours a day. There twenty-four boys engaged in one school and eighteen in the other, and it is found that they are eager to attend. The work is superintended by the School Board carpenter, who receives wages of L2 2s a week, and devotes about half his time to the instruction. The Commissioners seem satisfied that a good beginning has been made in Manchester, and declare there can be no doubt of the advantages of such a training in manual work. Probably the boys are better taught than they would be as apprentces; but whether these advantages outweigh the disadvantages of limited apparatus, the want of economy and of incentives to self-reliance inseparable from school page 14 teaching, to say nothing of the extra expense to taxpayers, will seem doubtful to outside observers. Except in cases where artisans cannot or will not instruct apprentices in the elements of their trade, it seems superfluous to teach these elements in schools. The proper function of technical education is merely to teach those things which, while necessary to make a man a good and intelligent worker, cannot be acquired in the shop. There is, however, one branch of technical education which may be introduced into all schools, and it is the most universally valued of all—drawing. In every technical school it holds a most important place. The high-class workman in almost every trade requires some knowledge of it. If properly taught, it has a high value for general educational purposes—a value that certainly should not be overlooked in these days when the tendency is to make memory count for all intellect, and the habit of observation for nothing. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that first among the Commissioners' recommendations we find: "That rudimentary drawing be incorporated with writing as a single elementary subject, and that instruction in elementary drawing be continued throughout the standard . . . that drawing from casts and models be required as part of the work, and that modelling be encouraged by grant." Before leaving this part of the subject, it may be remarked for the comfort of teachers groaning under the multitudinous requirements of the syllabus that the report suggests a reduction in the number of subjects, to make room for drawing.
Instruction for Apprentices and Young Workmen.
Instruction of this class required lor young men who have some practical acquaintance with their trade is given either page 15 in technical schools fully equipped with workshop apparatus, or in night schools, which supplement the knowledge gained in the shop or mill by teaching the scientific or artistic principles on which the trade is based. Technical colleges, it need hardly be said, are very expensive, and seeing that their training cannot be so practical as that of the manufactory, while the student has to be supported by others instead of earning his living, it would appear that they are only suitable for those who expect to take positions in which scientific and artistic knowledge will be of chief importance. This, however, is not the whole of the truth. There are cases in which the manufactory does not supply the requisite practical knowledge, and this is proved by the fact that many apprentices' schools have been established, not by doctrinaires dispensing other people's money, but by practical manufactures at their own expense. A good instance of this is the Royal Trade School, Iserlohn. Iserlohn, in Westphalia, is the centre of an iron and coal district. The school, which has only been established four years, was started to supply the want felt by the manufacturers of better preparatory instruction for the lads who enter their works. The pupils go through a three years' course, and are trained as designers, modellers, wood-carvers, moulders, founders, turners, and pressers, chasers, engravers, gilders, and etchers. The instruction is partly theoretical and partly practical. The theoretical teaching includes drawing of all sorts, modelling in wax and clay, the elements of chemical and physical science, mathematics, German language, history of art metal work, and technology. The practical instruction includes lessons in the different departments of work which the pupil is likely to follow, each pupil being page 16 required to state on entry what particular trade he wishes to be trained for. The school is well fitted with workshops having the necessary appliances, including a six-horse power gas engine, hydraulic press, a planing machine, a shaping machine from Chemnitz, as well as elaborate lathes for wood-tuning and metal-turning, made in Vienna, England, Scotland, and America. No particulars are given as to what the school cost, or how many students it contains, but the annual expenses are stated to be L850. A school at Remscheid, we are informed, cost L10,000, and there were eighteen students in it at the time of visitation. As, however, it had only been open ten days, we may assume that its classes were not filled up: otherwise the production of artisans in that neighborhood will prove an expensive process. The Antwerp Industrial School, which accommodates 150 pupils, costs L900 per annum, and is shortly to have new and presumably expensive premises. In fact all through the report there is a constant reappearance of expensive premises either recently erected or shortly to be erected; the costliness of bricks and moi tar being however counterbalanced by the extreme cheapness of teaching power. On the whole, the system is very costly, and since in a great many cases it only teaches what might be learnt in the course of ordinary work, while it keeps boys from, as a rule, fourteen to seventeen as a burden to their parents—some, though not all, the schools charging fees averaging L4 or L5 a-year—it seems questionable whether it is worth what is paid for it. In fact, in many cases I think English manufacturers would say it was worth nothing at all. In particular cases, it is true, there can be no doubt of the value of technical schools; but some of the most striking instances are found in industries page 17 carried on on a small scale and in backward districts. For instance, one remote district is mentioned which depended upon the lace manufacture. The fashion in lace changed, but the poor people went on making their unsaleable lace until reduced to the direst poverty. A Government school of lace-making was then established, and in a short time the industry was again in a satisfactory condition. Another curious instance of what may be effected by the judicious establishment of such technical schools may be found in the case of the olive turning industry of Arco, in the Tyrol. It was discovered by Dr Exner, the Government inspector of woodwork schools, that the uncultured inhabitants of this place were actually using valuable olive wood for fuel. At his instance a school of woodwork was established, equipped with five lathes, and provided with an instructor, by whom the children were taught drawing and modelling as well as practical work. The result of the school was that two factories were erected, all the workmen in which had been trained in the school, and the place is now the seat of a small but flourishing trade.
Technical Night Schools.
The system of instruction for young men most generally adopted, and from which most is to be expected, is that of the night school. The apprentice or artisan, under this system, depends on the workshop for practical experience, and comes to the school to learn the theory of his trade and to generally increase his intelligence and power of dealing with those new processes which will from time to time crop up. The first objection made to the system will probably be that it will put too much pressure on the student. As I have, however, already pointed out, this objection loses much of its weight when we consider the numbers of page 18 men working longer hours than ours who find themselves able to go through such a course. It is plain that even on men working long hours the school does not put injurious pressure, for nowhere in the report is such a thing hinted at; and we may be sure that, supposing the men were overworked, if they did not give in themselves, their employers would see that their energies were failing, and would discourage evening study. If, then. Continental and English workmen profit by these night-schools, we may be confident that our workmen will profit more by them; and if they afford the best technical teaching in Europe, there can be no doubt that they will be incomparably the best for New Zealand. Commencing our survey of such schools with them as they exist in France, the Commissioners remark: "The system of evening instruction is one of the most striking features of the present condition of educational effort in France. The walls of the public buildings of Paris, as well as those of every French town which the Commissioners visited, were largely placarded with the announcements of evening lectures and classes, both for men and women. The subjects of instruction are of the most varied character, including modern languages, social science, physical science, biology, mathematics, applied science, astronomy, etc." From the facts which follow it appears that lectures are, at least in Paris, much more common than classes. At the Conservatoire, Paris, one of the principal schools, the instruction is entirely confined to free popular lectures. At the time of the Commissioners' visit, M. de Luynes, the Professor of Technical Chemistry, was lecturing on glass manufacture, pottery, and dyeing. "In his lectures he made use, as much as possible, of practical illustrations. He ex- page 19 hibited the potters wheel at work, and had glass-blowers from various works to illustrate the mode of blowing glass; for the lectures in dyeing, several firms lent workmen to show the practical processes. In the previous year a course of lectures had been given on "Wine." Beginning with the growth of the grape, treating the diseases to which it is subject (a matter now naturally attracting much interest in France), the modes of combating the spread of phylloxera, the methods of winemaking, the chemistry of fermentation, the processes involved in the preparation of various kinds of wine, the modes of testing wine, and, in short, the whole of its chemical history." The audiences at these lectures were very large, and chiefly of the working classes. M. de Luynes informed the Commissioners that in his opinion "the value of these Conservatoire lectures was considerable as interesting the masses of the people in scientific subjects." M. De Luynes probably spoke no more than the truth; but "interesting" people is not exactly the same thing as educating them. Lectures, even when rendered attractive by explosions, blue lights, or the visible growth of glass bottles, are no substitute for work in the laboratory. The French system of evening teaching does not, however, stop short at lectures. There arc in Paris alone no less than 65 Workmen's Art Schools, attended by 3,334 students, of whom 2,488 take ornamental and 846 geometrical drawing. Modelling is taught in almost all the classes, and in five of them the pupils study drawing from the life, anatomy, and artistic composition. The schools arc open on weekday evenings from seven to nine, and on Sunday mornings from nine to twelve. It is to be noticed, however, that though the system was especially devised for the instruction of workmen, and though the classes page 20 are attended by "stonemasons, mechanics, joiners, smiths, watchmakers," and, in fact, by members of all the mechanical trades of Paris, yet the course of instruction is not practical, but purely artistic. All the teachers of drawing, even those engaged in the schools supported by special trades, agree that it is not advisable to give specialised art instruction. The report does not explain what reasons the teachers have for their views, and the impression left on the reader's mind is that these views are the result of some natural repugnance to teaching anything useful. The truth probably is that men cannot design, etc., till they know how to draw, and that they do not learn enough in these schools to fit them to apply their skill to practical work. One of the dangers in the way of technical teaching is sure to be that young men will expect to learn how to apply arts without learning the arts themselves. It is, indeed, not improbable that the Parisian teachers aim at teaching more than the pupils have time to learn, and sacrifice usefulness to an unattainable ideal. At any rate it is certain that in Belgium, wherein the main French examples are followed, it is found practicable in at least one school to set apart special divisions "for constructive drawing for trade purposes. Thus architects, builders, stonemasons, carpenters, joiners, etc., have special teaching suitable to their respective trades, and draw from examples likely to be of service to them in their everyday work." The most extensive system of science classes on the Continent is that of Lyons, conducted by a local Society formed in 1864. The classes were opened in that year with an attendance of 1,359 students; by 1881 there were 131 classes, and the number of students had risen to 7,640. The whole expense of educating this army of learners was only L3,075, page 21 or less than 10s each. How the work is done on such an outlay does not appear. The subjects taught are—Reading and writing, grammar, arithmetic ana elementary mechanics, applied mathematics, applied geometry, ornamental design, figure drawing, linear drawing, machine drawing, drawing applied to carpentry, industrial chemistry, elementary mechanics, general hysics, applied physics, economic Botany, theory of weaving, stone-cutting, book-keeping, commercial law, English, German, Italian, Spanish, history, and geography, hygiene, and gymnastics. The lectures take place from eight to ten in the evening on week days, and on Sunday mornings, and there are two or three lessons upon each subject per week. The winter session lasts from October to April. Each course consists of from fifty to seventy-five lessons, varying from one to two hours in length. If the students desire it, a certain number of these classes are continued during the summer. The Society prints each year a programme of the courses, giving a full analysis of the subjects taught, of which the following syllabus of the course of instruction on fuel and the steam engine may serve as an example:—Special properties of the different fuels—wood, charcoal, turf, lignite, coal, coke, anthracite coal; volume of air necessary for combustion, heat absorbed by smoke, construction of flues, furnaces of ordinary construction, smoke-consuming furnaces, gas furnaces, factory chimneys, production and properties of steam, comparison of the various forms of boilers, boiler trials, comparisons of arrangements for ensuring safety of 1 boilers, incrustation, expansion, testing boilers; theory of the steam engine; high-pressure and low-pressure condensing and non-condensing engines, calculations of the dimensions of an engine; theory of the parts of an engine, page 22 piston, cylinder, valves, etc.; different kinds of valves, experiments with brake and indicator; gas engines. We have now considered, so far as time allows, the practical points in the report bearing upon the technical teaching of schoolboys and of apprentices. Into the question of technical education of the highest class I do not propose to enter. I would only remark that we have at the University high-class instruction in physics, in chemistry, and in mining, and that we shall shortly have a class in applied mechanics.
Technical Training in Dunedin.
Comparing the opportunities our lads have of learning trades thoroughly with those which are provided in the most advanced countries, we take first the primary schools. These schools do not attempt the teaching of handicrafts, but they are expected, or rather allowed, to teach the rudiments of drawing. Very little time, however, seems to be devoted to this subject; the work done is not inspected by any trained examiner, and the overcrowded state of the syllabus apparently prevents the possibility of amendment. But now that the Minister of Education has turned his attention to the subject, we may hope for a reform. In the way of providing technical instruction in evening classes for apprentices, the Caledonian Society has done excellent work, and we may be satisfied if some of its old classes can be revived. For the teaching of drawing we have an excellent school and a most energetic and highly-qualified teacher. But teaching outside the workshop is only subsidiary to the teaching the young workman receives inside it. The question is very serious: Are our young workmen taught their trades? In some instances I am afraid they are not. They serve their time, and learn next to page 23 nothing. Now a most serious responsibility rests upon managers and foremen in this matter. If they do not turn out thorough workmen they are injuring not only the lads themselves, but the whole community, the country is poor in proportion as its members are ignorant and clumsy. Therefore public opinion ought to be directed most strongly against any employer who fails in this part of his duty. I am persuaded, however, that the practices I have referred to are exceptions; the rule is that lads have a better chance of learning their trade in New Zealand than they have anywhere else. Our mills and workshops are so well found as to attract the admiration of strangers; they are mostly under the direction of the men whose energy originally founded them, their foremen have been most carefully selected, and the variety of work which they all undertake affords such varied experience that we may heartily endorse the exclamation of a Scotch manufacturer who visited one of our workshops; "My lads, you don't know what grand chances you have."
The lecturer was warmly applauded at the conclusion of his address.
Mr G. M. Thomson said that some seven or eight years ago he had, in accordance with a suggestion from Mr Hislop and Mr Fitzgerald, established a chemistry class in connection with the Caledonian Society's evening classes, and given a course of lectures to his pupils. There were over twenty attending the classes, and three prizes, which took the shape of free certificates to attend Professor Black's class at the University, were offered. One of the winners of these prizes subsequently became a mining engineer. He thought that technical education could not be taught in primary or secondary schools, on account of want of time and the neces- page 24 sary funds; but that such instruction could be imparted in connection with the Manufacturers' Association and Universities after pupils had left school. Different trades could scarcely be taught, but a great want in the shape of the proper teaching of drawing could be supplied. Much good could be done by grafting on to the Caledonian classes some for teaching elementary science, and he might state that he had drawn up a course of lectures which might be delivered at such a class this winter. The lectures would be illustrated by experiments, and the cost of the whole, including apparatus, would not exceed from L50 to L100.
Mr G. M. Barr considered that children should be trained to the use of tools from the earliest age, so that their muscles might get regular training. He thought that technical education would not be carried out in the State schools, but in night schools or similarly isolated institutions, which might be subsidised by the (Government.
Mr G. P. Farquhar said that years ago a tradesman was taught his trade thoroughly; but now machinery was so much in use that the workman was taught only one special branch of the machine work.
Professor Macgregor agreed that the great tendency in these times was to specialise all kinds of industry, and a workman was compelled to concentrate his attention on a very limited area. It became, then, a question how much there was that they could teach in common applicable to the varied arts, and he held that there was nothing in common except what they were taught by mathematics, chemistry, and the other general sciences—all the rest being practical manipulation in the workshop. The cry for technical education was simply a cry for an easier way of learning than their forefathers had, but there was really page 25 no easier way—though in this Colony they had some advantages. The University classes were held at night, in order to supply the demand for technical education; yet the people would not attend them, and the same thing prevailed to a great extent with the Caledonian classes. The Manufacturers' Association should seek means to supplement from the present condition of trade what used to be secured under the apprentice system, for the fact must be faced that the organisation of industry was becoming so complex that anyone who was not master of scientific principles would become simply a hewer of wood or drawer of water.
Mr Shacklock did not approve of young children being taught mechanical work, as it tended to deform their bodies or limbs—pattern-makers, for instance, if taught too young, became bent over and unable to straighten themselves. For his part he would prefer to see boys at football and other healthy exercises.
Mr W. S. Fitzgerald, as one who had taken some part in technical education, thought that if the schools carried out their functions and developed the mental powers of the pupils manufacturers would find them fully fitted to learn trades. He considered that if the Manufacturers' Association would combine with the Caledonian Society, and ask the Government to arrange for the supply of apparatus, they might make a fair start at imparting technical education. The Caledonian classes had not hitherto been supported as they deserved.
Mr Mark Sinclair thought that advantage would result from the establishment of means for imparting technical education, inasmuch as boys would then have an opportunity of judging the business most suited to their taste and ability. If some means were provided by which a boy could page 26 find out the natural bent of his mind he would be a far more successful man than those they so frequently saw idle about their streets. Drawing schools were very necessary, for his experience was that if a man could draw anything he could make it.
Mr Farquhar moved a vote of thanks to the lecturer, and expressed regret at the small attendance; still the address would at all events give rise to earnest discussion generally, and thereby do great good.
The vote was carried unanimously.
Professor Brown, in responding, said that he had previously communicated with the Caledonian Society, and fully expected that Mr Robin or some of its members would have been present. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Still, they had had a most valuable discussion during the evening, and he was glad that his efforts had met with that success.
New Zealand Manufacturers' Association.
|1.||Encouraging the development of the natural resources of New Zealand, and diffusing information thereon.|
|2.||Fostering New Zealand Manufactures, and developing Industries, so as to afford increased and steadier employment of labour.|
|3.||Obtaining the removal of revenue duties from raw material, and also from goods which cannot be profitably made in this Colony, and placing moderate duties upon all articles which can be so made, that are now admitted free.|
|4.||Discouraging the suicidal policy of purchasing out of the Colony, whether by Government or by Municipal or by other bodies, goods which can be advantageously produced in New Zealand.|
|5.||Keeping before Government the advantage of giving their work to Firms provided with suitable plant, instead of expending revenue in adding to the Government Workshops and machinery, thereby needlessly increasing the present heavy burdens of the taxpayers, and hindering the due development of trade, a course which tends to the continuance of the present commercial depression.|