Arthur B Mays

(Professor of Industrial Education, University of Illinois) New York: The Century Company, 1927

"The Training of Teachers"




    The training of special teachers of manual arts is of comparatively recent origin. Most of the institutions whose courses have been studied in the preparation of this paper have organized definite curricula within the last decade. It is therefore apparent that the pioneer days are still with us.

    The Massachusetts Normal Art School, established in 1873, was among the first schools in the United States to offer courses of this sort. However, the school early turned its attention to the art field and has not specifically trained teachers of the type we are considering. The Trenton (N. J.) Normal School offered certain technical courses as early as 1890, or a little later, but it was only the man of unusual ability who would be selected as a special teacher of manual arts. Pratt Institute developed a combination art and manual training course about the same time. However, some of these students later went to Teachers College, Columbia University, for courses in pedagogy, for which adequate provision was not made at Pratt Institute at that time. By a curious coincidence, the present Teachers College students, a generation later, may get their technical courses at Pratt Institute.

    The first definite organization of a course to prepare special teachers of manual training was made by Teachers College in 1891, when Prof. Charles A. Bennett was called from the principalship of the St. Paul (Minn.) Manual Training High School to become head of the department of manual training. He had the honor of offering the first course in the pedagogy of the manual arts ever given for an advanced degree. He also had the privilege of determining in a large measure the character of the Macy Manual Arts Building, which became the model in arrangement and equipment for many other schools. The first man to graduate from this course was William F. Vroom, who is still engaged in teaching in the New York public schools....

    Source: Albert F. Siepert, "Courses of study for the preparation of teachers of manual arts" Washington, DC: Dept. of the Interior, 1918, (United States Bureau of Education, Bulletin no. 37.) 30 pages

    Click here for a brief account of the "Experience" of Industrial Arts teachers in the 1920s. The source here is a fragment, "The Experience of Industrial Arts Teachers", which is part of a larger survey by Columbia University professor, Fred Strickler, The Training and Expereince of 480 Industrial Arts Teachers New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1927, pages 72-80.

The Problem

When industrial education was wholly a process of apprenticeship the problem of teacher training did not exist. Every master mechanic was a teacher by virtue of having taken an apprentice. It was only after the rise of the industrial school that teaching became a technical process and that the teacher became conscious of the process. Unless the industrial-school teacher is specially trained for his work, the school ceases to possess any marked ad­vantage over the haphazard leisurely, informal ap­prenticeship. The value of the school lies chiefly in the fact that instruction is carefully planned and ef­ficiently given. For such to be the case, the teacher needs very careful technical and professional training.

In training mechanics, both in full-time and in part-time schools, practice has evolved two general types of teachers, namely, the related-subjects teacher and the shop teacher. Each must be trained for his specific task. The problems presented are these:

a related-subjects teacher must know, from intimate contact with industry, the applications of his subjects and he must be professionally trained for the work of teaching;

the shop teacher must be a skilled worker, experienced in the vocation for which he is attempting to train his pupils, he must be sufficiently educated in the general subjects to command the respect of his pupils and he must, also, know how to teach.

In both cases the teacher is under the necessity of seeking, training at two entirely different sources, namely, industry and the teacher-training agency.

Difficulties Involved


-In the case of the shop teacher, there are certain characteristic difficulties which must be considered in attempting to solve the problem of his preparation for effective teaching.

He must, first of all, be an experienced mechanic.

To be such he must have spent from two to five, or more, years as a journeyman worker. This must be in addition to an apprenticeship of from three to five years; hence before lie is ready to learn how to teach lie must lie fairly well established in a totally different occupation from that of teaching.

For him, therefore, to learn to teach is to abandon an occupation in which he has been engaged for five or more years and learn a very different, new occupation which calls for a totally different point of view.

It is the exceptional mechanic who can successfully adapt himself to such wholly different conditions of work. It is often extremely difficult to get the mechanic-teacher to understand that teaching means more than mere "telling and showing" and that it is a separate and distinct vocation. Until he realizes this fact, it is almost impossible for him to become an effective instructor.

The two factors, namely, the acquisition of the point of view of the teacher and the development of instructional skill, without which teaching cannot succeed, constitute the chief difficulties in training mechanics to teach.

It is not an easy matter to lead an experienced mechanic to acquire the teacher's point of view, that is, the point if view which causes one to regard himself as a leader, who is to aid his pupils to become thinking workers.

It seems to be very difficult for him to divest himself of the attitude of a production foreman. He easily confuses the ends and the means of his work by forgetting that his product must be a thinking mechanic and not a finished piece of mechanical work.

When the desirable point of view is acquired, the next difficulty to be met is that of the development of skill in instruction. The fact that most mechanics, who are available for teaching positions, learned their trades by the "pick-up" method makes it almost impossible for them to become conscious of learning difficulties and of learning processes.

Much patience and ingenuity are required to lead them to such a consciousness. It is not easy for them to abandon the naive assumption that whatever is easy for them should be easy for their pupils.

And, curiously enough, not infrequently the difficulty arises of the formation in the mind of the mechanic-teacher of a stubborn notion that he knows just how to teach and just what to teach, with the result that he refuses to see any other view than his own.

This seems to be particularly true in the case of the older men who are drawn into the teaching work. Such a case constitutes a problem for the teacher-training agency which is almost impossible of solution. All such difficulties, however, can be successfully met when the situation is fully understood and is dealt with by men and women who have, through thorough training and long experience, trained how to teach teachers.

The related-subjects teacher, on the other hand, presents a different sort of difficulty.

He is, usually, a well-trained, well-educated, experienced teacher when he begins to learn the new field. Hence, the problem, in his case, usually, is that of acquiring an understanding of the specific technical needs of his pupils, of divesting himself of the academic or cultural attitude of mind, and of trying to see his subject through the eyes of a mechanic, his technical problem is that.

Of making new applications of his teaching material. It involves a reexamination of the material for the purpose of selecting those items which are definitely rated and specifically applicable to the shop or mechanical operations being taught by the shop teacher. Thus the problem is essentially that of the changing of objectives from those involving appreciation or culture to those involving definite forms of utility and vocational application. For the related-subjects teacher who has had trade or industrial experience, he solving of this problem is fairly easy, but for the teacher of long experience as an instructor in general or academic schools without an industrial experience, the problem becomes a very difficult one. Another problem of like character is that of developing a willingness to coordinate as exactly as possible the related work with that of the shops. Only by a complete cooperation of the related-subjects teacher and the shop teacher, based on their mutual understanding of their respective course contents arid teaching difficulties, can this be solved. A part of the teacher-training work is that of demonstrating the necessity of such cooperation.

Theoretically, it appears that the most desirable situation in trade teaching is for the shop teacher to teach the related technical subjects incidentally, as the need for them arises. Doubtless this is the ideal procedure in training mechanics, but practice has demonstrated that the person who has spent a sufficiently long period of years in it trade to become it master of its skills, in most cases, has had to neglect the broader technical and academic training required for successful related-subjects teaching. Hence, practical considerations force the separation of the two func­tions, and they thus constitute separate problems of teacher training.

Facilities for Teacher-Training.

--Because of the fundamental requirement in all vocational education, that one who teaches a vocation must have demonstrated his ability successfully to practice the vocation taught, it is necessary to chose the candidates for industrial trade teaching positions from the trades and industries.

It is unreasonable to expect very many persons early in life to enter a trade, practice it for several years and then take a professional training all for the express purpose of becoming a trade teacher. Hence, industrial education is dependent upon the conversion of established mechanics to teachers for its source of supply. This implies some sort of intensive, short-unit, vestibule, professional training, or some kind of part-time training for the mechanics who desire to teach trades. Both procedures are practiced, but the more common of the two is that of part-time training.

This part-time training begins after one has been employed as a teacher and has begun to try to teach. It may be carried on as evening-school work; it may be obtained, in part at least, through correspondence courses; it may be had in Saturday and after-hours college residence classes; or it may be secured in classes conducted by itinerant teacher trainers sent out by a college or a state supervisory agency. Since the inauguration of the program fostered by the Federal Board for Vocational Education, the itinerant teacher-training scheme has cone to be the typical practice. The usual procedure is for a local school to select a skilled mechanic who seems to have personal qualities which indicate that he will become a good teacher, and after giving him a few suggestions with reference to teaching methods and course making, I is placed in charge of a class or a division of the shy, sections. As soon as possible after he begins work. he is given opportunity to join a teacher-training class for shop teachers conducted by an itinerant teacher trainer sent out by a college or university having :i department of industrial teacher training. He is thus "trained in service" for his new vocation. Except for the fact that there is much blundering at first an ,l often much that has to be undone in such a teacher'- work, the plan is highly effective. But, whether the most effective means or not, it appears to be the m-: practicable scheme under the present conditions airy ing industrial education.

The procedures described are, of course, not the only ones to be found. Some of the states have developed certification requirements for trade teachers which make necessary a certain amount of professional training before one may be employed to teach.

In some cases a graded series of certificates, or ratings, is used to encourage continuous study of professional subjects. One state, through a scholarship scheme, has made it possible for it small group of picked young mechanics to leave their employment and attend one of the state colleges for a prolonged course in teacher training. The plan, however, which appears to be the most practicable for general use is that of a well developed and closely supervised certification scheme, whereby teachers are required to secure a state certificate to teach a trade. Under such a scheme it is possible for the teacher-training agency to build up through itinerant teacher-training means, it reserve of highly skilled mechanics who have had it profes­sional training. These men are protected, by their certificates, from competition with untrained men, and there is some inducement, therefore, to enter teacher-training classes and to secure certificates. Such a scheme, supplemented by the offering of a series of' advanced certificates which make the holders eligible to better pay and professional rank, and which can he obtained by further attendance on teacher-training-classes after beginning to teach, seems most nearly to meet adequately the present need.

The related-subjects teacher requires a somewhat different training and the schools are able to draw on other sources of supply for these teachers, than those described in the foregoing paragraph. It is necessary for such teachers to be more broadly educated than (he shop teachers must be, and it therefore seems desirable to draw on the teacher-training institutions of college rank for them. It is highly desirable that these teachers be specifically chosen on a basis of their trade or industrial contacts, and that they he definitely trained for their work. As industrial education programs become better developed and estab­lished, it is reasonable to expect that this may become the usual practice. Until now, however, a very different procedure has obtained. The usual practice is to assign to some teacher of mathematics, physics, chemistry or other subjects, which cover the desired related field, the work of teaching the related phases of his subject to the trade students. In the case of a resourceful teacher, the plan works fairly well, for he immediately makes contact with the proper shot) teacher, examines his courses, vnsnts the shop classes and studies their needs carefully. He also spends much time visiting industrial plants to determine the needed material for his courses. He tries also to correlate closely his work with the shop work in the matter of sequence of topics. In such cases the teacher-training need is chiefly that of aiding the related-subjects teacher to acquire the point of view which will enable him to understand working boys who are not looking forward to college entrance.

Unfortunately, however, most related-subjects teachers, who acquire their positions in the manner described, do not readily adjust themselves to the new needs, and the teacher-training task is much more difficult than that suggested in the preceding paragraph. It involves not only the effort to guide the teacher to it proper point of view but requires a considerable amount of training in the analysis of subject matter, the selection of the related material, the arrangement of the selected materials for purposes of instruction and of correlation with the shop courses, and much drill in methods of teaching related technical subjects to trades students. It is necessary, also, to provide for the instruction of such teachers in shop problems in order that they may be able definitely to relate their teaching to the needs of their students. This can be accomplished by spending much time in the strops with these teachers and, if possible, by giving them a brief course of work in the shop processes. It is helpful also to call in shop teachers frequently to give demonstrations, present problems and answer questions.

The careful training of the related-subjects teacher is a much neglected phase of industrial education. The most effective results cannot be obtained in the train­ing of mechanics till this defect in the administration of industrial courses is remedied. The prevalent facilities for the training of these teachers, at the present time, are limited chiefly to extra-mural courses offered by itinerant teacher trainers sent out by the colleges and universities. Summer schools offer opportunities, for special training, and city and state supervisory agencies, through group conferences, also give oppor­tunity for training. however, much remains to be done to bring this phase of the teacher-training work of industrial education to a high level of efficiency.

The industrial arts teacher.

-The training of the industrial arts teacher presents a very different problem from that of the trade teacher. It is always desirable that the industrial arts teacher have trade experience, but it is not essential as in the ease of the trade teacher. It is essential that he have a thorough technical education, a wide acquaintance with industries and industrial methods, together with a thorough training in shop work. This shop training may be acquired in well-equipped school shops supplemented by vacation or part-time work in industry or the trades. In addition to these types of training, the industrial arts teacher must be broadly educated and professionally trained. He has to fit into the organization of the general education phase of the school rather than the vocational education phase, hence must pos­sess the desirable qualifications of a high grade teacher of general education. His proper preparation is particularly comprehensive in scope and difficult to acquire. Modern practice requires a bachelor's de­gree for such teachers and there is a strong tendency to demand the master's degree. During the period of preparation it is necessary to acquire four distinct types of training, namely, general or cultural education, technical education, mechanical training and pro­fessional training. Obviously, no college can turn out a finished product thoroughly trained in these four different fields of knowledge and activity, but broad foundations can be laid in all of them. Much better re­sults are obtained when the candidate for such training is a graduate of a four-year technical high school, and his training is further greatly facilitated when he spends his summer vacations working in industry or in some appropriate mechanical trade. Graduation from a technical high school not only gives a most de­sirable mechanical and technical foundation upon which to build the college work, but it offers an excellent basis for the professional training, since such a student is familiar with shop-teaching processes in high-school grade. When this preparatory training i, not possessed, the teacher-training institution is under the necessity to provide an especially large amour.:, of mechanical training in addition to the practice teaching and general, technical and professional training usually required for the bachelor's degree in it: industrial education.

The facilities for the training of industrial arts teachers have been steadily increasing in number and improving in quality for many years, and one enter­ing this phase of industrial education now may receive as thorough preparatory training as may the teacher of any other subject. There are yet many unsolved problems in this department of teacher training but the conditions thereof are well understood, and rapid progress is being made in lifting this work to a very high level of proficiency. The problem of training industrial arts teachers is chiefly a college problem and it lacks many of the complicating factors of the trade-teacher problem. As the high schools raise their standards for shop and mechanical drawing teachers, the colleges doubtless will be able to meet the demands.

Trends in teacher training.

-In harmony with the general tendency to require more skill, more efficiency and greater intelligence of all who serve the public in whatever capacity, there is a marked tendency to require better preparation and more skillful performance of industrial teachers of all types. This tendency is usually expressed, in the case of teachers, in terms of certificates or of years of school preparation. Even in the case of trade teachers of shop subjects there is a strong tendency to require some college training. This demand is based not only upon traditional academic notions but also upon the practical consideration of the teacher's ability to command the respect of students who, in increasing numbers, are coming from the high school. A mechanic-teacher, however skillful a, a mechanic, who obviously has had only an eighth grade general education, finds it difficult to command the respect of an apprentice who has had from two to four years of high-school work. Industry itself is constantly requiring more skill and technical knowledge of its skilled workers, and the teachers of these workers must, of necessity, keep a step in advance of such requirements.

Not only is it true that trade teachers are having to meet increasing standards of trade skill and general education but they are having to meet higher standards of skill in instruction. People generally are coming to see that the old idea that "Any one who knows can teach" is false, and that successful teach­ing usually involves the careful professional training of the teacher. The rapidity with which this idea has spread during the past decade is remarkable, and it has resulted in a very widespread demand for the professional training of all sorts of teachers. Hence, it is safe to assert that shop teachers, whether in plant schools or public schools, will have to meet a rapidly increasing demand for more special training for their work. The same tendency is also manifest in the case of related-subjects teachers and industrial arts teachers. Another tendency which, on the whole, has hen beneficial is that of an increasing standardization of method in course planning and in the basic teaching process. The nature of industrial education, necessitates a different procedure in selecting and organizing teaching material from that ordinarily employed in the general or cultural subjects. It is necessary to analyze the work of the mechanic and to bas all courses upon the specific vocational practices of trade to be taught. Out of this necessity have grown certain generally accepted methods of trade and job analysis and of the organization of the materials acquired from the analysis. The methods used are rapidly coming to be standardized, and since they essentially scientific in character, the results are highly satisfactory. This situation follows a long i) rind of experimentation and a more or less chaotic condition of course planning. The scientific character of the methods which have been developed by students in the industrial education field has added greatly to the prestige of industrial education and doubtless is responsible, in large measure, for the rapid progress of the whole field during recent years. It is of incidental interest to note that the methods thus developed in curriculum construction are rapidly coming to be standard practice in other fields of education, also. Methods of shop teaching are also becoming uniform throughout the United States in so far as the use of certain teaching devices, such as job instruction sheets, are concerned. This tendency, so I: as it is confined to general procedures and t s r!.' is devices, is wholesome and desirable, and is largely such responsible for another tendency, namely, the standardization of the methods of testing results of instruction.

Little progress has been made in the development of standardized methods of testing results of teaching in industrial education, but an increasing interest in the problem is manifest. Like other discernible tendencies H the field, this is in line with general tendencies both ill industry and the schools. One of the greatest ob­stacles to the development of industrial education throughout its history has been the lack of uniformity in content, teaching method and means of testing results. As progress is made in these directions, therefore, the field will doubtless make more rapid growth. There is still much need for careful research but the :round work has been laid out and the immediate future promises rapid development.

A fourth important, discernible tendency is that of a growing professionalism and feeling of solidarity among industrial education teachers. This expresses itself through the numerous, thriving organizations in the field, in the increasing degree of recognition given ~o worthy leadership by the great body of teachers and in the remarkable increase of professional literature. heretofore industrial education teachers have been characterized by a sort of individualism which iris made for scattered, unorganized efforts of such extremely local or sectional character as greatly to retard the growth of it genuine, national movement, commanding influence. The rapid development in recent years, however, of it type of leadership which respected by the leaders in other fields of education, and in industry, has greatly changed the status of industrial education, giving it a place in the educational program more in harmony with its intrinsic economic and social significance. Following this recognition o the national importance of the industrial education program there has developed a growing professional spirit among its teachers. The fostering of this tend ency is an important function of all teacher-training agencies working in the field of industrial education.


Since a basic condition of all vocational education is that the teacher shall have been a success fill practitioner of the vocation taught, industrial education must choose its shop teachers from successful mechanics. The professional training of these men pre stints certain problems among which the difficulty o leading men, accustomed to the point of view of production, to understand the ends and means of teach ing is one of the greatest. The problems which are particularly involved in the training of the shot teacher are not those involved in training of the related-subjects teacher. Here the conditions are almost completely reversed, since the source of supply of such teachers is the trained teaching personnel of the schools. The problem is to lead these experience( teachers to an understanding of the attitudes am needs of the mechanic pupil. The device usually cm ployed for the training of both types of teachers is the extra-mural or extension class conducted by an itinerant instructor sent out from a teacher-training institution. This procedure has all of the advantages of effective part-time teaching and seems to be the most efficient method of industrial teacher training under the conditions which have to be met.

The training of the industrial arts teacher is essentially a problem of college professional education and call successfully be accomplished by established college methods. The demand for higher standards of preparation for both the trade teacher and the industrial arts teacher constitutes the most fortunate of all trends in industrial education because the future of this field of education depends chiefly upon the character and ability of its teachers. The tendency toward standardization of methods of curriculum construction and teaching methods, together with a growing professional spirit encouraged by an increasingly strong leadership, is rapidly bringing industrial education to the position in the national scheme of education which its importance warrants.

Selected References

Federal Board for Vocational Education. Washington, U. C. Bulletin #17. Trade and Industrial Education Series, r1, Part V. Keller, Franklin .I., Day Schools for Young Workers. New York: The Century Co. 1924. Chapter XIII. Payne, Arthur F. Methods of Teaching Industrial Subjects. New York: McGraw-Hill Co. 1926. Prosser, Charles A., and Allen, Charles R., Vocational Education in a Democracy. New York: The Century Co., 1925. Chapter XVII. Snedden, David, Vocational Education. New York: The Macmillan Company. 1921. Chapter SI. Vaughn, Samuel J.. and Mays, Arthur B. Content and Methods of the Industrial Arts New York: The Century Co. 1921. Chapter XVl.