Chapter 1 1900 and Before - Education Programs that Support the Growth of Amateur Woodworking

Chapter 1:8:-- Part A The Manual Labor Movement

Principle of Elementary Education for Everybody

From Colonial times onward, the principle of elementary education for everybody and free public schooling for the poor was well established. [ Rush Welter, Popular Education and Democratic Thought in America New York: Columbia University Press, 1962.will document this later -- 3-7-09]

Educational problems that remained – secondary, professional, and industrial education – became the purview of voluntary groups, that is, as well as individuals, collective philanthropic and association initiatives.

It was the notion of public schooling for the poor that contributed to creating a simpler evolution of the tradition process of industrial education

THE manual labor movement in the United States began about 1830 -- although some authorities say it began around 1825 -- and lasted until about 1845. (From the earliest days in the colonies -- for the most part performed by the home -- instances of successful attempts in combining manual labor of one kind or another with instruction exist.) The movement for the organization of manual labor schools in the United States began about 1825, and drew its inspiration chiefly from the work of Fellenberg. Between 1830 and 1845, the manual labor movement was distinctively a secondary and higher school movement, and the first attempt toward applying manual labor instruction in the United States. The movement became popular widely about 1830, but ceased to exist almost as suddenly a decade or so later.

Why did it fail?

Its failure was due to many causes, chiefly because:

first, a lack of social demand for manual labor instruction;

second, conflict between the notions of the values of manual labor versus "literacy" instruction were in error; and

third, lack of a financial success of the labor performed by students.

Like many another educational movement, the chief inspiration establishing the manual labor movement came to the United States from Europe. The movement originated about 1805, with the De Fellenberg schools established in Switzerland.

The Manual Labor Movement Concepts Originated in Europe

Joseph Neef (1770-1854), an assistant to the famous Swiss educator, John Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) and William MacClure (1763-1840), a wealthy retired merchant for Philadelphia, brought these ideas from Europe, ideas used in the schools conducted in Germany and Switzerland by another noted educator, Phillip Emanuel von Fellenberg. (Follow this narrative in Chapter 4 and 6 of Charles A Bennett, History of Manual and Industrial Education 1870 to 1917. )

Founded by denominational and philanthropic societies, Fellenberg's Manual Institutes were, basically, nonprofit/charitable institutions where -- by doing manual work -- orphaned and low-income boys could earn their education. At the time, however, little effort existed to formalize this instruction.

Essentially those of Pestalozzi, Fellenberg added emphasis on the educational value of activities.

(We return to Pestalozzi below, in the discussion on the emergence of "Instruction Sheets", associated with implementing the Russian System in hte late 1870s.)

The Pestalozzi-Fellenberg principles fall into eight points

1 all the faculties of the mind should be developed harmoniously;

2 when a new pupil is to be received for instruction, a teacher should secure an accurate knowledge of his individual character, including all its resources and defects;

3 the child is not to be a mere receptacle of ill-digested knowledge, and the teacher must "endeavor to cultivate conscience, the understanding and the judgment";

4 "a great variety of exercises of the body and senses" should be "employed to prepare the pupils for the fulfillment of their destination. All the various relations of space should be presented to the eye."Instruction in design and the cultivation of the ear by means of vocal and instrumental music" should be provided [and] Opportunity for systematic observation of natural objects should be provided;

5 "the social life of the pupils should be made to contribute to the formation of moral character;"

6 "their religious education should be kept in mind in every branch of study";

7 "We occupy the pupils' attention according to their individual necessities and capacities, with philology, the ancient and modern languages, the mathematics and their various modes of application, and a course of historical studies comprising geography statistics, and political economy."

8 Fellenberg " was not in favor of artificial incentives or emulation and the fear of punishment." [The quotations are from William DeFellenberg, American Journal of Education 3 1857, page 591.]

Manual Labor Schools Established in America

With the the De Fellenberg operation as a model, schools were organized in Connecticut in 1819, in Maine in 1821, in Massachusetts in 1824, in New York in 1827, and in New Jersey in 1830.

The intent: to unite training in agricultural and mechanical pursuits with the ordinary school studies.

The Oneida Manual Labor Institute, Whitesboro, NY, an Example of the Manual Labor Movement

The Oneida Manual Labor Institute operated from 1827 to 1834. Daily activity was devoted to work in shops and fields, and the rest of the day to classroom work in mainstream education.

The arguments in favor of manual labor schools, as opposed to purely literary institutions, were thus stated by the Insitute:
(1) they provide a system of education that is natural;
(2) they interest the mind;
(3) they have good moral effects;
(4) they train in habits of industry, independence of character, and originality;
(5) they render prominent all the manlier features of character;
(6) they give power for acquiring a knowledge of human nature;
(7) they greatly diminish the cost of education;
(8) they increase the wealth of the country; and
(9) they tend to do away with absurd distinctions in society.

Published in 1831, the Institute's "first annual report" was its the last. A similar fate prevailed at other locations where attempts organize schools like the one at Oneida. Why? Evidently both lack of interest in the movement and the opposition from existing education institutions.

The decline of the manual labor movement meant that Manual Training was deferred for a half century.

Sources: Will S.Monroe, "Manual Labor Institutions and the Manual Labor Society", Paul Monroe, ed., Cyclopedia of Education v 4, ny: Macmillan, 1911, pp 156-161.Herbert Galen Lull, " The Manual Labor Movement in the United States", Bulletin of the University of Washington, University Studies No. 8 July 1914, Seattle, Washington, pages 375-376; pages 182 and following; Charles A. Bennett, History of Manual and Industrial Education up to 1870pages 102-207.