It may be said that he (the civilized boy) is in real danger of the penitentiary until he learns a profession or a trade. "Of four hundred and eighty-seven convicts consigned to the State Prison for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1879, five-sixths had attended public schools, and the same number were without trades." It is noticeable also that during the same period "not five were received who were what are called mechanics." In the State of Illinois four out of five of the convicts have no handicraft. The fact that the skilled workman is far more likely than the common laborer to keep out of the penitentiary is a powerful argument in favor of joining manual training to the mental exercises of our common schools.Many of the early advocates of hands-on learning made this point... that education of the hands was a means to lift the moral fiber and integrity of the common man. But they were careful to also point to its value in the lives of all children, even those of the upper classes. Unfortunately educators only got part of the message. And now we have CEOs in America who make 340 times the salaries of their common employees and feel that they have acquired such unreasonable amounts in some way other than the moral equivalent of theft.
Today Congress is hearing testimony from the Securities and Exchange Commission employee who attempted several times to alert the SEC to the Ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff. Unfortunately his warnings fell on deaf ears for 10 years. No doubt the members of the SEC were too busy raking in their own loot. You may remember that they prosecuted Martha Stewart, spending millions to put her in jail. Regardless of the merits of that case it was an important diversion, creating a false sense of regulatory oversight while the real crooks were raking in the big bucks.
So don't be diverted when people propose that craft training is only for the lower classes. The values inherent in craftsmanship and the expression of hands-on learning and skill can be important to ALL children.