Monday, July 09, 2007

Dr. Felix Adler (1851-1933) was a graduate of Columbia University and the founder of the Workingman's School at the corner of 45th and Broadway. The Workingman's School was one of the first in the U.S. to use manual training as an important part of elementary education. It was established in association with one of the nations first kindergartens.

The Workingman's School was established to serve as "a model of instruction which can and should be given to the children of the people--to enable them, when grown up to be men and women, to help themselves, and at the same time to give the dignity of intellectuality to labor and to workingmen as a class."

Dr. Adler stated in 1880:

I believe that work education can be given to the youngest children, in the lowest classes of the school. and here is perhaps the main point, in which the importance of what we consider to be our new departure in education becomes apparent. For industrial education has long been given in many countries of the world to older children--boys of fifteen or sixteen years of age; but industrial education has never, to our knowledge, been introduced in the lower classes of schools; has never been combined organically with the whole scheme of education, and been made to support and coalesce with all the other studies of the child. And there are other ways, assuredly, which must occur to everybody, in which industrial education will tend to elevated the workman. It will develop his aesthetic sense, giving him something of the artist's pleasure in his work, giving him also greater skill, and thus enabling him to command higher wages and more of the comforts of life. But it is with industrial education as a means of fostering the dignity and independence of the workman that we are mainly concerned. For, upon the possession of these qualities, it will depend whether the social inequalities that exist between the working people and other classes of society will be gradually ameliorated, or so long as they must exist, will be endured in the right spirit.

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