« ZurückWeiter »
attention to a serious and lamentable defect in regard to what is unquestionably the most vital point in the whole range of inquiry on this subject, viz. apprenticeship.
In their First Report, issued at the beginning of 1882, the Commissioners wisely paid considerable attention to the apprenticeship schools established in France within the last few years, especially those at La Villette in Paris and at Havre. They give the very valuable Reports of MM. Corbon and Tolain to the Prefect of the Seine on this subject at full length in an appendix, and mention the fact that both the Government and sundry municipal authorities are establishing similar schools in various towns of France. They also refer to the establishment of an apprenticeship school by a syndicate or trades' guild—viz. that of the clockmakers in the Faubourg du Temple in Paris. They also give an important Report by a Government Commission appointed in 1881 to draw up a Programme for Handicraft Apprenticeship Schools in France. Nevertheless, when they come to offer their own conclusions, after adverting to the evident determination of the French Government and municipal authorities to spare no cost or pains in providing efficient technical and literary instruction for the people, they continue thus: “We have greater difficulty in estimating the necessity for, and the value of, apprenticeship schools as a mode of training artisans. Whilst giving due weight to some portions of the reasoning of the French reporters, we feel sure that they underrate what, in spite of the partial cessation of apprenticeship, can be and is learnt in the ordinary workshop. We are not sufficiently convinced of the advantages of apprenticeship schools for training ordinary workmen like those of La Villette and Havre, as compared with the great cost of their establishment and maintenance, to warrant us in recommending their introduction into this country until they have had a more prolonged trial abroad.'4 Now, on this we have to remark—first, that if the Commissioners had taken the trouble to consult picked workmen in the great majority of English trades before penning that paragraph, they would never have supposed that the friends of technical education in France were underrating the value of what can be learnt 'in the ordinary workshop, because of the efforts they were making to supplement the workshop by the apprenticeship school. The Commissioners would then have seen that in nine cases out of ten the chances at present are terribly against an ordinary lad's learning anything in the workshop, except dexterity in a particular groove of work, and a few hints or wrinkles' which he picks up by watching older workmen or treating 'them. And, secondly, they would not have felt any difficulty in recommending the formation of such
3 Manufacturers and employers are naturally reluctant to believe that compara. tively little •can be or is learnt in the ordinary workshop,' beyond manual dexterity.
• First Report, p. 29.
schools in this country on the ground of their cost compared with their advantages, because they would have seen, on the one hand, that Apprenticeship Schools are essential for giving thorough technical training to English workmen, that if English manufactures are to retain a place in either the home or foreign markets, the lads must, at all costs, be efficiently trained, or the men will inevitably be . duffers ; ' and, on the other, that the cost of maintaining the classes may be reduced by judicious management to an insignificant amount. As regards the latter difficulty, an efficient class for most trades may be supported as a general rule at the following rate :Salary to teacher, from 58. to 78. per night for 40 nights
£12 Rent of class-room, from 58. to 78. per week, for 40 weeks
12 Outlay for apparatus, material, cleaning, gas, and firing, from
Considering that two classes, elementary and advanced, consisting of, say, fifteen or twenty students in each, could be taught for this sum yearly, it does not seem as if the cost of saving our national manufactures and industries from premature decay need be so very alarming. Classes in chemistry, electric engineering, &c., would of course require larger outlay for material, apparatus, etc., but the great majority of artisans could be taught, as we know by experience, at the rate of little more than 308. per head per annum, supposing they are content with one lesson a week and a fair amount of home work,' while ten classes could be held on five nights in the week without any increased cost of rent, because the room would generally have to be paid for by the week, whether used every night or not. Of course it would be possible and pleasant to spend a great deal more on technical schools and classes. Probably the Commissioners have been alarmed, and their imaginations mischievously affected, by the munificent scale on which our Continental brethren have been founding and conducting their splendid establishments for apprentices. England, being such a far poorer country than France, Germany, or Switzerland, may prefer commencing in a very much inore economical or grudging fashion. But we may be allowed earnestly to hope that our central and municipal authorities alike, our manufacturers, employers, and all friends of technical education, may put aside—somewhat scornfully, perbaps—at once and for ever, the scruples of the Royal Commissioners in regard to apprenticeship schools on the score of their expense. If the schools are needed, this is hardly the time when, or the quarter of the world where, the cost of founding and maintaining them should be allowed to bar the way. Half-an-hour's conversation with any experienced honest work
5 We are glad to see that the Commissioners (p. 516, vol. i.) urge the importance of more rapid progress being made by the Charity Commissioners in reorganising ndowed schools; but we regret that they do not refer to the duty of applying funds eft for apprenticeship fees to the maintenance of Technical Apprenticeship schools. VOL. XVI.-No. 90.
man would suffice to convince most unprejudiced persons of the truth of the foregoing statements, and of the corroborative evidence given in the papers above mentioned. We do not know that the facts of the case could be brought out more convincingly than by the following circumstance. There is little doubt that, on the whole, the apprenticeship system survives more thoroughly in mechanical engineering workshops than in any other trade. There is more need for instructing apprentices carefully, and seeing that they do their work properly there, than in most other establishments. The writer being aware of this fact, and having to read a paper, about a year ago, before the London Foremen Engineers and Draughtsmen's Association, on Apprenticeship, asked the secretary of the association previously (he having gone through the whole routine himself as a pattern maker) whose business it was to teach the apprentices and see that they did their work efficiently. He replied, “The foremen, certainly.' The writer then asked the chairman (foreman in a large Government engineering workshop) if he endorsed that statement. “Yes,' replied the chairman, “if you let me alter the word “business' to “ duty.” It is our duty, but we cannot make it our business. We haven't the time. The pressure upon us is too great to do it properly; besides, with all the noise and hurry going on round us, it is very difficult either to explain things to the lads, or for them to understand. There I was, trying the other day ever so long to make an apprentice and a young journeyman understand how to cut a wormwheel, and had to give it up at last. If that is the state of things in engineering workshops, we may guess what are the lads' chances of getting a thorough technical knowledge of their trade in other establishments! A large employer, conversing some little time ago with one of the hon. secretaries of the City and Guilds’ Institute, was complaining bitterly of the want of good workmen in his trade. A little later, on something being said about boys' or 'apprentices,' he happened to observe, Oh, as for boys they are a great nuisance. So troublesome; we never allow any of them now in our establishment.' Our friend, the hon. secretary, naturally replied, “ But if no pains are taken to teach the lads, how can you expect to have good workmen?' No doubt the lads are often very troublesome, insubordinate, and more plague than profit, under existing circumstances, but surely that points to the truth of all that has now been urged, and to the need of reviving a genuine system of apprenticeship with regular indentures, attendance at technical classes, bonâ fide supervision (outside as well as inside the shop or factory), and a stringent examination at the end of the term.
Before leaving the subject of French schools for apprentices, we may observe that the Commissioners in their First Report, p. 36 et seq., state that the French Commissioners of Inspection report strongly in favour of a four years' course in some of these schools, not as sup
plementing early workshop training, but as a substitute for it. Their arguments, no doubt, are forcible, but only, we think, as regards the children of a higher social rank than ordinary artisans. Few parents in the latter class could afford to keep their children so long without earning anything. But the plan might be most beneficial in inducing parents with sufficient means to bring up their boys to a trade, instead of making them clerks, or putting them into a profession for which they may be quite unsuited. For it would enable lads to learn a trade without having to pass several years amid the somewhat uncertain conditions of an ordinary workshop, where they may be exposed to various coarse or contaminating influences, and at the best will probably undergo a deal of useless drudgery and lose much valuable time. On this and other cognate questions, such as whether pupils in apprentice schools should execute only models or manufacture articles for sale, &c., our Commissioners afford us no opinion.
But if the Commissioners were thus unsatisfactory in their treatment of the subject of apprenticeship schools in their First Report, might we not hope that the experience they gained during the succeeding two years, with all the evidence offered them on this point, would suffice to give them clearer light on the subject, and to lead them to grapple with it in a resolute and decisive way? This we fully expected, and turned with confident hope to the Second Report, just issued, only to be more grievously disappointed than ever.
The nearest approach to any deliverance on the matter is in a paragraph on p. 5396 where the Commissioners recommend · by way of suggestions for the consideration of those in whose power it is to comply with them :-1. That it be made a condition by employers of young persons and by the trade organisations in the case of industries for which an acquaintance with science or art is desirable, that such young persons requiring it receive instruction therein either in schools attached to works or groups of works, or in such classes as may be available; the employers and trade organisations, in the latter case, contributing to the maintenance of such classes.' Observe, this condition' is mentioned not as a binding obligation on the part of parents, guardians, and employers, to supply the great and grievous wants arising from the breakdown of the old apprenticeship system, nor yet as a duty devolving on the Government or local authorities to see that the condition’ is made and kept, and the schools supplied, but merely as a supplementary suggestion thrown out for consideration, while it is delicately hinted that employers and trades unions may contribute to the expenses of maintaining these classes. Why should 'trade organisations' be asked more than non-unionists to contribute, or employers more than the public at large? It is as much a matter of supreme national importance that lads should receive a good technical education as that children should
6 Second Report, vol. i.
receive primary education ; and clearly the whole nation should do its duty in the one case as well as in the other. Are we to be shamed in the presence of all Europe by continuing to shirk the duty which Continental nations are so zealously discharging ?
The absence of a clear and stringent deliverance on this matter by the Commissioners is the more startling, because in their Report on Artisans' and Apprenticeship Schools in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy, they give most interesting accounts of such establishments, and of their beneficent effect in those countries. Look, for instance, at the account of Apprenticeship Schools in Germany,'? where among other points we find it stated that theoretical instruction is constantly varied by practical work, and that in consequence the pupil' is able to apply himself to school work without fatigue for a greater number of hours than is possible where the instruction is theoretical only. Note again the important fact that in Bavaria 'some four years ago there was no workshop teaching in any of the schools of that country. It was then considered that it was no business of the school to trench
upon vince of the workshop.' But Mr. Fenton, formerly Secretary of the Legation at Munich, now at the Hague, who gave the Commissioners the above information, added that he believed the views of many German educationists were becoming somewhat modified on this question, and that they were finding that the workshop could help the school, just as the school could help the workshop. Just in the same way as the (the italics are our own) laboratory illustrated the principles of chemistry, so the actual machine or mechanical operation (making models, e.g.) often illustrates the principles of mechanics, and in each case the student without practical illustrations would less rapidly acquire the knowledge which he seeks.' 8
Strange that our splendid Science and Art Department should never have arrived at the same conclusion during all these years! Their workmen students could have enlightened them long ago. Let us hope that the Committee of Privy Council, the Council of the City and Guilds Institute, and all other excellent persons who will doubtless study this Report, may especially lay to heart the weighty remarks by which M. Diefenbach of Würtemberg, summed up his valuable conversation with the Commissioners at the opening of the Exhibition at Nuremburg ; not omitting his observations on the Würtemberg trade societies, with regard to which, however, we sadly want a little more information, and are even left in uncertainty whether they are formed chiefly by the employers or workmen. But, above all, why is it, we repeat, that among all the other able and, indeed, often admirable conclusions' they come to and recommendations they make, we search in vain for any approach to a satisfactory treatment of the apprenticeship question, or any pleading for the only system that can efficiently supplement the workshop, viz. those Vol. i. pp. 50 et 89.. • Vol. i. pp. 66–7.
• Pp. 68-9.