The following is from Charles A. Bennett:
More than any of his predecessors, Sir William Petty proposed to connect handwork with the school, though he never put his plan into practice. In his suggested literary workhouse he even went so far as to suggest that industrial occupation be an integral part of the school work. He does not seem to recognize the full pedagogical significance of his proposition, yet he did grasp the idea that in learning, the object studied--the thing--should precede the symbol of the thing--the written or printed word. He saw, too, that it gave children great pleasure to make and manipulate things with their hands and with tools. He would utilize this natural impulse in the schools.And so one must wonder when we will have schools that take advantage of children's most natural inclinations rather than fighting for their attentions? It looks like here in the US, we are running about 350 years late. In Finland, where children start reading at age 8 instead of 5, they far surpass us by age 15, reading better in shorter time because their children are made ready for reading through object based learning. Here we continue to apply additional pressure for reading in Kindergarten in our ill conceived plan to catch up, as though extending the amount of time in study will override the child's natural lack developmental readiness. Are we truly a nation of idiots? The natural consequence of our current course is to teach young men and some girls that they don't like school, and aren't good at it. Their heart's desire becomes that of escaping it. In case you have wondered at our nation's epidemic of underachievement by boys, and 30 percent dropout rate and are looking for cause, this single point nails it.
He recognized the great value of drawing as a means of expression--as a language, and in some cases considered it superior to written language. Therefore he would give drawing, also, a place in the schools.
It is noticeable that Petty's chief aim in placing things and handwork in the school was to further general education and not to produce artisans.