Notes on Charles Richards Address

In 1904, the term, "Industrial Arts", was coined by Charles Richards in an article -- "A New Name" published in the Manual Training Magazine 6 October 1904, pages 32-33. In 1913, Richards was commissioned to write the article on Manul Training for Paul Monroe's multi-volume Cyclopedia of Education, vol 4

"The training of special teachers of manual arts is of comparatively recent origin...."

Albert F. Siepert, 1918, page 5. See Sources

Taken together, the comments that

(1) Richards himself makes about the state of the art in teaching manual training courses to university students,

(2) the lament expressed by Jane Addams (above), and

(3) the confrontation of the reality of the state of the art in woodworking machinery in 1900 -- expressed in blunt terms -- by the high school woodworking teacher, Samuel E Ritchey,

suggest that manual training, especially in the domain of woodworking, was at a critical point.

According to Ritchey, in that era, before electrification and a single motor for each machine, the scale of many of the existing woodworking machines was too great for high school students to learn to operate safely, according to Jane Addams schools did not adequately prepare students to take their place in occupations in American society, and according to Professor Richards.

Electrification, starting in the cities about 1915, in rural areas about 1930, had an impact large impact, virtually beyond calculation, and is covered in Appendix 19. A single motor driving a machine is covered in Document 17, but also note how electric motors influenced woodworking in general here

Selections From Samuel Ritchey's 1905 Textbook: High School Manual Training Course in Woodwork...

Text of Richards' Address

Below is an annotated version of the address Richards gave to the 1907 Conference organized by three groups of educators: (1) the Estern Art Teachers Association, (2) Eastern Manual Training Association, and (3) the Western Drawing and Manual Training Assciation.


In that remarkable book, "Democracy and Social Ethics," Miss Addams says:

"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 beginning, becomes not an absorbing interest in one's work and a consciousness of its value and social relations but a desire for money with which unmeaning purchases may be made and an unmeaning social standing obtained."

Source: Democracy and Social Ethics New York: Macmillan, 1905 page 180.

Later on, speaking of the worker in the industries, she says:

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."

When Miss Jane Addams spoke before the Western Drawing and Manual Training Association at Chicago two years ago she said, in effect, to us,

"It is upon you teachers of art and manual training that we must depend for help in this problem. It is you, and you only, that can develop influences that will bring to this army of wage-earners something of true social consciousness, something of joy and satisfaction in their work, something of stimulation toward a larger intellectual life."

It seems to me that in these words of Miss Addams is to be found the key to the most significant relation of art and manual training to industry. Yes, further than that, it seems to me that in these same words is to be found much of the deepest meaning of art and manual training for education in general.

During the last twenty years we have made great advances in teaching the manual arts. We have advanced from the abstract exercise where accurate manipulation and tool control was the one consideration, to the model designed to fulfill a useful purpose. We have given increasing play to individual expression in working out the problem of ways and means, and finally we have recognized the inherent demand for beauty in all created things and are bringing design into a natural relation to construction. This is indeed great progress but it is progress mainly on the side of method of teaching. When we look over our practice today, can we say that in these twenty years any similar advance has been made in the variety of experiences gained or in the scope of ideas presented?

Do we not still select our material of instruction largely upon the single consideration of what children can most easily do with their hands and what will momentarily attract them, with little regard to whether the thing done has any special industrial significance or any large social meaning? And is not the practical test that we continue to apply to our constructive work that of skill rather than that of ideas gained or outlook broadened?

We say that skill apart from the expression of motive and ideas is an unworthy educational ideal and yet can it be claimed that we have given anything like the same attention to the organization of ideas in any broad sense that we have to developing power of manipulation?

But whether we consider the future industrial worker or the boy who enters other occupations,is it not precisely in the extent and quality of ideas gained from manual training that its greatest value resides? In both of these cases, is it not in mental quickening and broadening of outlook that we must look for the highest fruits of our subject?

When we are actually engaged in teaching constructive work even in the higher grades of the elementary school, is not the conviction constantly forced upon us that this is not a period when much accuracy of manipulation or fine muscular control are natural qualities of boy and girl life? And, on the other hand, are we not constantly reminded that it is a period of great sensitiveness of feeling, of much self assertiveness, of great interest in the doings of the real world and of eagerness to participate in the achievements of this world? Can we expect to meet and satisfy this eager craving for information and achievement by anything except the broadest opening up of the real world outside of school and the reflection in the school of facts bigger with meaning than the mere handcraft result?

Skill by itself in the few lines and limited extent possible in the elementary school amounts to very little in industrial value. Even could we develop skill in any one channel to a much larger extent, the lines of modern industry are too diversified to allow of its application.

And on the other hand what is needed more than skill in the industries, the [1907] Massachusetts [Board of Education] Report tells us, is industrial intelligence:---

"the power to see beyond the task which occupies the hands for the moment to the operations which have preceded and to those which will follow it, power to take in the whole process, knowledge of materials, idea of cost, ideas of organigation, business sense, and a conscience which recognizes obligations."
On the other hand when we turn to the general problem of education is it not this same appreciation and understanding of industry that is most to be desired?

These considerations bring forward the question of the content or subject matter of the manual arts as a distinct problem. As a matter of fact we have been very slow to admit that our field possesses any subject matter at all and the argument is sometimes made that manual training is a form of expression, a phase of child life, and that the subject matter, if it has any, is to be sought in the natural activities of children. This point of view would seem to be a very accurate statement of just half of the problem and to confuse end and means. It ignores the fact that while the nature of the child gives the clue to method of teaching, the subject matter of education is of necessity found in the demands of social life by which the pupil is surrounded and in which he is taking an increasing part. To know how to present our material it is indeed necessary to study the capacities and native instincts of children. In no other way can education be made a live process, but the selection of subject matter must needs be found in the world outside of the child in the understanding and control of which he is constantly enlarging.

Another point of view regards manual training as an opportunity to bring out a better understanding of the other subjects in the curriculum, such as history, geography, and science. It is indeed true that there are generous opportunities in this direction and surely we have the right to feel that art and manual training have done much during the last ten years to enrich and vitalize the methods of teaching in the elementary school.

But is it enough that art and manual training should serve merely to visualize and enliven the other elements in the course of study? Is it enough to accept these other studies as our subject matter and to regard art and manual training as but methods of instruction-as but a study of form and not of content-as indeed but a handmaid in the service of instruction?

Is it not a serious question whether work that means so much of difficulty and expense will long be tolerated by the tax payer unless it serves in itself to present a content rich in ideas-ideas that in themselves will make possible a better understanding of and more effective participation in our social order? And why, in this age, when industrial problems constitute the gravest problems in our social life and when the dominant forces forming and reforming our society are the industrial, have we the right to hesitate before this question?

Starting with the simplest means of obtaining food, clothing, and shelter, the industrial arts have gradually reared the fabric of modern civilization. Is it not at once our opportunity and responsibility to identify ourselves as the representatives in the school of this great field of human activity and to take for our task as teachers the interpretation of the arts and industries of modern life?

This proposition should not be construed in any sense as an argument towards isolation of our subjects from the rest of the school work. On the contrary, the more truly and broadly we connect with real life the more broadly and effectively we should be able to connect with all the other work of the school that is making for an understanding of real life. Nor is such a program ultilitarian in its essence. The arts are social in their significance. They make for human progress and betterment. The practice of the arts means social relations and social relations are moral relations. And no study of the arts, when they are approached in their social setting, can be void of the moral element.

To work out such a program, many years would be needed. We should meet many failures and many half successes and our ideal would lie always beyond us, but in the long run should we not develop an educational instrument of tremendous significance to the day and generation; an instrument that would tend to bring greater meaning, broader outlook, and increased social consciousness into the lives not only of those who enter the industries but of those who go forward into other activities?

To move toward such an end as this, the manual training instructor must become more than a teacher of tool processes. Yes, he must become even more than a craft teacher. As the interpreter for the school of the arts and industries, he would work not only thru the making of constructive projects, but thru the presentation in other ways of many relations and aspects that cannot be embodied in school productions. He would make liberal use of discussion, of drawing, and illustrative material, and would not fail to develop some notion of the organization of modern industry, with the significance of its machinery and division of labor and the economic principles involved.

All of this would, of course, have to be done in proper balance. I am far from suggesting that this study of the industries should be largely a matter of talking or of book study. There should always be a just relation between impression and expression. The constructive instinct would always be the key to the situation, and the ideas presented should always focus and find typical expression in constructive forms.

We have of late years come to rely almost wholly in our school practice in manual training upon the motive of possession, or as it is put, making something for a useful purpose. We all know that this is a powerful incentive, but is it not a great mistake to conclude that individual possession is the only motive that leads children naturally to constructive effort?

As Dr. Dewey has pointed out, the real principle of interest

lies in the recognized identity of the fact or proposed line of action with the self. That it lies in the direction of the agent's own growth, and is therefore imperiously demanded if the agent is to be himself.

With boys and girls in the upper grades of the elementary school this interest may be appealed to by projects of far larger suggestiveness than the individual useful model. If the achievement is felt to mean something of progress toward the understanding and control of things in the real world that are recognized as worth while, there will be no question of interest, and individual or co-operative projects that represent the study and working out of industrial types in a purely illustrative way be made to arouse fully as much enthusiasm and spontaneous effort as the model intended for use in the home.

All those who have worked with children at such projects where the problems were well adjusted and where liberal opportunities were given for initiative and expression have, I venture to say, been struck by the wide range of suggestion, the interest in discussion and the rather surprising store of information displayed. Again and again have students been impressed with the intellectual activity and spontaneity and self-direction displayed by a class working upon the varied details of an industrial project-an activity often far greater than that displayed upon an individual useful model where the demand for mental activity is sometimes limited to the control of a few familiar tool processes.

But many of you will say,

What is the use of attempting all this when so little can be accomplished?

The same question has been asked concerning every innovation in the work of the elementary school. It was asked concerning the introduction of nature study, of drawing, of history, and of literature.

In one sense the result from any study taken up in the elementary school is necessarily very meager viewed from the standpoint of the full development of the subject. We can teach very little mathematics in the elementary school, and yet we are very far from giving up the task. We realize that this instruction is all that over nine- tenths of the boys and girls in the country will ever have the chance to obtain, and furthermore that it is quite possible in this amount of time to give enough appreciation of the subject to meet their practical needs in life. And so it is with this matter of the industries. We cannot expect to approach the subject from the standpoint of the engineer, or the expert, or to develop a mathematical and scientific appreciation of industrial methods, but may we not do a great deal to illuminate and expand the point of view of the boy and girl and give them a vastly greater appreciation of this industrial fabric with which we are surrounded?

Let us consider for a moment the concrete case of a mill town where the boys and girls who stop their education with the elementary school go to a very large extent into the mills as operatives.

These become the typical factory workers to whom Miss Addams refers.

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.

Let us suppose that during the elementary school experiences of these boys and girls that they were brought into contact with different textile materials and allowed to find out something of their character; were shown from actual experiment the different steps necessary to make cloth from the raw material in the simplest possible way; were required to study the problem of improving the first crude methods to the stage of the developed hand spinning wheel and hand loom, and were afterwards taught the meaning of the more important developments in the power machinery of the present day; suppose that they practiced the different fundamental weaves and analyzed the different ways in which the different kinds of cloth are made; that they learned the sources of the world's supply of raw material, the names and positions of the great manufacturing centers and the prices of raw material and of finished product; that they made simple designs for the pieces which they wove and were shown various methods of applying designs to cloth and examples of beautiful fabrics. Would not these children carry into their future work some appreciation of the meaning of their single tasks that would do something to lift them above the dull routine of their labor, and give them more of the feeling of connection and unity with the world about them? And futhermore, would not such an experience lead to a mental quickening sure to bear fruit here and there in improvements and inventions among these workers?

Does this sound visionary and chimerical? Yet a leading textile manufacturer of New England has said that he believed such training would accomplish more than any other influence that can be brought to bear in broadening the outlook and stimulating the ambition of young mill workers.

Again, many of you will say that this broad program is impracticable under the conditions of the public schools, that while certain things can be accomplished with small classes under favorable conditions, large classes and limitations of space and resources would prevent much of anything being done under ordinary conditions.

There are two points of reply that I would make to these objections.

First, that the history of the manual training movement shows nothing more clearly than that what is impracticable today is accomplished tomorrow.


second, that this question of interpreting the industries in the school means more a change of attitude in our teaching than the addition of large projects or expensive materials.

Furthermore, much is being accomplished today in this very direction. Highly developed work in the study of textiles, in pottery, in printing, in book-making, and in the study of simple industrial-types is already being carried on in typical public schools in several large cities.

The problem is very largely one of selection and organization of material. It is evident that not a great amount in a quantitative sense can be covered in the small time available and that only a study of those industries most fundamental to the existence of society, such as pertain to food, clothing, shelter and those representative of transportation and communication, fall within the possibilities. But it is precisely these industries which represent the material foundations of modern civilization and which are typical in their character of the entire industrial situation of today.

There is another point of view from which this question has a very important bearing upon industrial education and upon education in general. The report of the Massachusetts [Board of Education] Report brought to the attention of the educational world more forcibly than any other utterance of recent years the tremendous proportion of children who leave the elementary school before graduation. And, it also brought out the comparatively unappreciated fact that the years spent by such children in industrial work before the age of sixteen are for the most part wasted as far as developing future opportunity is concerned. The report also developed the point that the greater proportion of these children, at least in Massachusetts, leave school not because of pecuniary need, but because the work of the school is not sufficiently attractive to hold them, and because they are ambitious to engage in the activities of the real world. To hold these children in school is consequently a grave problem of industrial as well as of general education.

Among all the agencies that can be called upon to make school life more an epitome of real life and to make it a place where this adolescent craving for real achievement will be satisfied is there anything comparable to the opportunities presented by a constructive study of the industries? Is it not pretty nearly true that in the chance of making our constructive work more a reflection of the actual industrial world lies the sole hope of increasing the holding power of the school in these upper grades? Such a result is not likely to be accomplished by mere increase of the usual manual training work. It is rather upon a change of spirit and character that we must build to make this instruction more significant in its practical bearings and more powerful in its appeal to boys and girls of fourteen. Is it not, in short, instruction that is based primarily upon the stimulating power of ideas rather than upon the development of skill that we must rely?

This country today is waking far and wide to the importance of industrial education and is evidencing a tremendous interest in the problems of ways and means. It is without question that many plans and institutions for vocational training will be brought into being in the next few years and yet whatever comes to pus in this direction, it will still be true that the primary and fundamental influences in industrial education, whether it be a question of developing sympathy for industrial careers, of stimulating industrial intelligence or of broadening the social outlook, rest in the hands of us who are concerned with the art and manual training of the public schools.

And if we read our opportunities aright and can make these subjects a reflection of what is of truest and of largest meaning in industrial life, shall we not contribute a real share towards the realization -- to again use the words of Miss Addams --

of "the democratic ideal (that) 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 his fellows."

Source: Democracy and Social Ethics New York: Macmillan, 1905 page 180.