Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Boston compromise... In 1893, Swedish Sloyd and the Russian System of manual training came head to head in a competition watched closely by the Boston Superintendent of Schools, Edwin P. Seaver. He said,

"The intention of the school committee... is understood to be to continue the experiment for perhaps two years longer, in expectation that there may be a clear demonstration from experience of the best means by which the wants of boys in city grammar schools may be supplied, whether by the Russian shopwork or by the Swedish sloyd, or by some combination and outgrowth of the two, larger and better than either."

By 1901 it was decided that by accepting some of the principles of Sloyd, but adopting the general practices of the Russian system, the best of both worlds could be attained, resulting in a school model that was widely adopted throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, many of the important principles of sloyd were either overlooked or misunderstood. One of the most important principles neglected in the Boston plan was the usefulness of woodworking in general rather than merely vocational education.

For an interesting insight into the history of manual training I suggest Charles A. Bennett's book History of Manual And Industrial Education 1870-1917

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