The mere fact that a chapter on libraries is included in this comprehensive
yearbook on vocational education is substantial evidence
that the vocational-school library is making its influence felt. The
long-held concept that the vocational school which teaches manual
skills holds little room for book learning, and therefore for libraries,
is slowly, but no less positively, going by the board. The advent of
professional librarians in vocational schools, the recruiting of better-educated
shop teachers, and the influence of the academic subjects
have been responsible in part for this change in concept.
The success of any educational program is predicated on the available
number of properly qualified and effectively trained teachers.
This concept is especially applicable to the field of vocational education
where skill and technical knowledge are required in addition
to professional education. No school can rise above the level of ability
and professional outlook of the teaching staff and the type of leadership
provided by the principal, supervisor, or director. The task of
vocational teacher training has many ramifications, and, furthermore,
is not limited to the offering of courses on a university campus or of
extension courses under college supervision to all applicants who solicit
The first task to be faced in financing an educational project is to
determine the nature of that educational project. This seems like a
truism, but it is the most neglected phase of financing education. That
our educational programs go along haltingly, inadequately financed,
is too often a result of our failure to divest ourselves of more or less
unconscious assumptions as to the limitations under which we must
The program of vocational education in America, under public school auspices, has been based upon and made possible by the official commitments of public legislative bodies-local, state, and national. Some of the original legislative enactments have been interpreted or modified by administrative or judicial decisions or by later legislative enactments.
The necessity for the United States to take steps to safeguard itself
from the growing strength and victories of the Axis countries
became evident during the early part of 1940. To take these steps,
it became essential to increase production of war industries far beyond
that of any previous time. A considerable dearth of skilled labor necessary
to produce the enormous output planned in war industries was evident
even though there had been a general expansion of vocational
training in recent years.
The major occupation of rural society is agriculture. In fact,
agriculture is one of America's basic industries, since it is the source
of supply of the primary needs (food and clothing) of mankind. According
to the 1940 census, there are 6,096,799 farmers in the United
Business education is an educational stepchild in the family of
secondary-school departments, without affectionate nurturing by either
parent-general education or vocational training. It is not acceptable
for college entrance, except when it slips into the fold of creditable
subjects through the back door of "free electives." It is not directly
subsidizable under the many vocational-education acts except the
most recent one (George-Deen), and under that one only in the field
of training for distributive occupations which, until this act became
operative, was practically nonexistent.
As the name implies, the service occupations have to do with
producing comfort and protection. This protection is of life and
property, as in police and fire service. The comfort service represents
a much wider range of activities—assistance in the home, in personal
grooming, food service, and service received through institutions.
Only a few
years ago a distinguished commission of employers, labor leaders, and
educators conducted and published at a reputed expense to the government
of a couple of hundred thousand dollars a report with recommendations
upon the relationship of the federal government to state
and local school systems. One would hasten to agree with many of
the findings of so eminent a group.
Never was there a more important time to ask ourselves what
kind of a world we want. Even in the midst of disaster, both the immediate
and the future needs of young people must be considered
for they are the future. Upon them depends the preservation or the
loss of those values we hold most dear. Today's youth and children
deserve and must have the best preparation they can be given for
living in the future world. When we do something to make a better,
happier home life possible, we are reaching out and touching the future
A considerable proportion of the vocational training needed for
many kinds of jobs is obtained on the job, as incidental learning.
Persons with suitable backgrounds are put on the payroll and are
given a breaking-in period to acquaint them with the specific duties
of the work. Some productive work is performed almost immediately
by the new worker, and his effectiveness increases with experience.
Vocational Education of less than college grade in America has been
very largely for highly selected students. Only during recent years has
proper and adequate attention been given to the many types of maladjusted
pupils, including both mentally and physically handicapped
groups. There are some outstanding examples of suitable educational
programs, both academic and practical, for these handicapped and bewildered
youth, but such types of education are by no means extensive.
A description of vocational education per se in the correctional
institution would differ from that of the ordinary vocational school.
In some correctional institutions may be found all of the elements
which one may believe to be required in good vocational teaching:
purposeful objectives, effective methods, excellent equipment, skillful
teachers. In others the program of instruction is as poor as one could
imagine, while in many there is likely to be no instruction at all. In
any correctional institution there is always the advantage of being
able to use real jobs in institutional maintenance and construction for
The facilities for vocational education under public control are
being expanded at a tremendous rate throughout America. Moreover,
the sphere of public support and supervision of occupational training
is an ever-widening one.
With the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act, those interested in industrial
education received the first substantial opportunity to develop
a program for the individual self-improvement of a group which had
long been neglected, yet upon whose efforts we were dependent for the
maintenance of the "American way of life."
The number of secondary schools which have influenced our industrial
progress during the last quarter of a century is well over three
thousand, and they are scattered throughout the land from coast to
coast and from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. No adequate
description of these thousands of successful schools can be presented
in a brief chapter. To describe a few in any case is to leave out
the large number of other schools which are equally as successful and
important as the limited number that are described in this chapter.
The American junior college is today emerging as one of the most
potent influences in public education. Although a relatively young
institution, it is already playing an important part in determining the
place of vocational education in the schools of the nation. Its beginnings
were not auspicious. At the outset it was little more than an attic
built upon the high school or a basement entrance to the university.
The traditional function of the liberal-arts college has been to conserve
and pass on the cultural heritage and "to promote the development
of the student's intellectual powers." As defined by an outstanding
college, Williams, the curriculum "consists of two well-defined
parts: (1) the general and introductory courses of the first two years
and (2) the advanced and more specialized courses of the last two
Preparation for a job is one of the major purposes of American colleges
of all types today. It is difficult to designate any single group of
them as vocational colleges, for the extent to which an institution is
devoted to occupational preparation is a matter of degree.
From their very origin to the present time, the universities have
been concerned with preparing their students for vocations. The medieval
university provided the training requisite for following the "traditional
trinity" of professions-theology, law, and medicine. The
American universities which grew out of the earliest colonial colleges
were founded to furnish the new land with a learned ministry. Our universities
today offer preparation for a wide variety of occupations, and,
as new needs arise, expand their curriculums to include new vocational
courses to meet them.
Patently, vocational education is a function, a resultant of technical,
economic, and social forces. Throughout the book these forces
have been described or implied. While they do not justify prophecies,
they do indicate trends. They serve to point up the answers to the foregoing
basic questions. They are the stuff out of which vocational education
draws its substance.
Education for vocational efficiency is one of the fundamental opportunities which every free nation must provide for its people if it hopes to maintain individual freedom.
The role of occupational experiences in general education is still an unknown one, but scattered throughout the country are educational institutions above the high-school level actively engaged in attempts to make occupational experience a vital part of the total educational program of the school.
Elementary education had
been provided on a more or less universal basis for a few hundred years
in some of the more advanced cultures. Beginning about a generation
ago, our own society began seriously to consider secondary education
for the whole population. We had the margin of economic energy to
provide it, and our machine technology was becoming so efficient that
it was no longer necessary to make even adolescents work in fields or