Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dr. Belfield, Chicago Manual Training School, 1884

From Dr. Henry H. Belfield's 1884 address to the Chicago Manual Training School Association:
The fact should never be lost sight of for an instant that the product of the school should be, not the polished article of furniture, not the perfect piece of machinery, but the polished, perfect boy. The acquisition of industrial skill should be the means of promoting the general education of the pupil; the education of the hand should be the means of more completely and more efficaciously educating the brain.
This following resolution was passed at the National Education Association (NEA) meeting at Saratoga Springs, NY, 1885... "
Resolved, that we trust the time is near at hand when the true principles of the kindergarten will guide all elementary training, and when public sentiment and legislative enactment will incorporate the kindergarten into our public-school system."
Unfortunately they tabled the following at the same meeting in their failure to grasp the linkage between kindergarten and manual training:
"Resolved, That we recognize the education value of training the hand to skill in the use of tools, and recommend that provision be made, as far as practicable, for such training in public schools."


M said...

The Chicago Manual Training School eventually became the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where I was a student from 1966-1978 (K-12.) One of the greatest influences the school had on me were the great woodshops - the middle school shop in Belfield Hall and the high school shop in Blaine Hall. When I was in 4th grade I turned my first bowl on a lathe. In 6th grade I built an acoustic guitar. Many of the lessons I learned at this early age are still with me to this day. (I am a furniture designer and woodworker living in Minneapolis, Minn.) Sadly, the Lab School shops no longer exist, replaced many years ago by computer labs. I am disappointed that kids these days won't get the same amazing experience that I had. In fact, I often wonder if they know how to do much of anything at all that is practical, honest, or useful.

Doug Stowe said...

"I often wonder if they know how to do much of anything at all that is practical, honest, or useful." For some, we know the answer is no. And yet, if they had the opportunity to fulfill natural inclinations to make beautiful and useful objects, they would be far more likely to succeed in school and in life.