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must be considerably less than the average, and will decrease as automatization becomes more intense. The instruction period on automatics varies from half-a-day to a week; it is estimated that seventy per cent of the workers in an automatized plant can be brought to efficient production in three days or less. The schools can never match this record; in addition, the cost to the schools of the equipment for the effort is prohibited.
The pockets of these children are full of money at an age when their fathers earned less than a living wage as apprentices. They are economically independent of home and social control. They have the eternal belief of youth that the preceding generation is fossilized, and the buying power to act upon their belief. They are foot-loose to go wherever automatic machines are turning. They can buy their pleasures, and they do. They can afford to flout age and authority; they do. Their very active minds have no background, and feel the need of none. They have no conception of the cost of civilization; no standard of reference by which to judge social and political questions. They have not even lived long enough to learn the simple truth that common sense and wisdom spring from the same root. With far greater need for early thrift than their elders, because their effective economic life may be shorter, they spurn the homely virtue of economy. They buy pleasures, buy companions, buy glad raiment; they try — desperately — to buy happiness. And fail. Yet they are splendid raw material for citizens. Let a great cause kindle them, and they rise to it like knights and ladies—noblesse oblige. They met every war-need more than half-way; fought and fell; sacrificed and saved — during the emergency. Their faults are those of youth plus affluence.
Here is the explanation of our youth
ful delinquency. Our 'bad men' of this winter are mostly minors. 'My court,' said a Detroit judge, 'is the scene of a procession of beardless boys.' They acquire appetites — expensive appetites; pleasure leads into bad company. A prank gone wrong, an unfortunate slip, a month without a job and nothing laid by — and we have the beginning of what we call the crime wave.
Much as this situation complicates the educational problem, the schoolsystem somehow must be adapted to it. Somehow these children must be brought up to a mental and moral level approximating the economic level upon which they set foot immediately after leaving school. This is a grim task. In the public schools, certain things must be taught before the age of sixteen, which now are taught only in college, and to which many college students appear to be immune. The proposal itself would be revolutionary if it did not arise from a new set of industrial conditions, to which society is accommodating itself clumsily, but, in the main, peaceably. As such, the change, though startling, is clearly evolutionary — and inevitable.
What are the positive educational requirements of the machine age? To clear the ground, let us eliminate the non-essentials. The child who is going to tend an automatic machine does not need, in any economic sense, to read more than a shop-poster or directionsheet. If he can sign his name to a pay check, that is enough. If he is willing to trust the shop to figure out his pay, he need not know his numbers. For the time he stands beside the machine, his earning capacity is not increased by anything he knows. Knowledge may be useful in getting him away from the machine; but that escape is going to be more difficult as automatization proceeds toward its logical conclusion. Such knowledge as the operative comes by in school possesses for him only a cultural value. It does not help him in the least to earn his living; but it helps him immensely to spend his leisure.
For these children — these prosperous, precocious children — possess leisure, and the means to make the worst of it. They work, most of them at least, no more than eight hours a day. Presently it may be seven, even six. As production becomes more and more automatic, the wants of men can be supplied with less and less labor. Consumption, of course, may expand enormously; yet the demand for goods remains in stiff competition with the universal demand for leisure. 'I've got enough; let's go fishing,' was a state of mind so common in 1919 that it disturbed factory schedules, roused employers, and set tongues wagging about labor-profiteering.
Employers may fight the tendency toward the shorter working day, but theirs is a losing fight. Of late, in our town, we have gone along producing on a five-hour schedule all of our kind of automobiles which the restricted market would absorb. In so doing, we have discovered that with picked men, heightened morale, and with a closer synchronizing of all the elements involved, production per man can be greatly increased. If the present highly effective organizations are slowly enlarged, thus preserving their efficiency, it is difficult to see how the market, under normal conditions, can absorb more than eight hours' produce from day to day.
If this seems to contradict previous observations on the elimination of the personal element through machine use, please note that the improvement is due largely, if not altogether, to the work done by the engineers and executives in more efficiently routing materials to the machines. Under boom
conditions, the stream of supply was often interrupted, thus throwing the machines out of production. This has been largely corrected; also, in the meantime, the machines have been tuned up, and new ones added in some cases. The attendant of the automatic machine remains just where he was; but the machine has the chance to do more and better work. Of course, even in a highly automatized plant, there remain a good many jobs that require either no machinery or semi-automatic machines; and in such cases the recent weeding out of the ineffectives does produce beneficial results. If the market will not absorb the products of the longer working day, on the present more efficient per-man per-hour basis, then it seems apparent that, viewing the country as a whole, industry will have to adjust itself to eight hours or fewer, probably fewer. The nation's supply of automatic tools is not going to be decreased simply to lengthen the working day; on the contrary, competition continually forces more and more of such tools into operation.
A shorter working day manifestly means greater leisure for the masses. Now it is everlastingly true that the bulk of human mischief is done in spare time. There is precious little chance for original sin, or any other kind of sin, to work itself out under the strict regimen of a modern factory. While human beings are at work, they are, perforce, reasonably decent: the employer sees to it that the time he buys is not wasted; but no one exercises an equal degree of control and supervision over a man's unbought time, — his leisure, — unless it is the man himself.
In a town dominated by automatic machinery, therefore, the educational problem is to train youth for the right use of leisure. Why waste time teaching city children how to work, when their chief need is to know how to live?
Precisely here is the point of my argument. Education for leisure, under the conditions of automatic production, is education for life. The attendant of automatic tools does not live while he is on the job; he exists, against the time when he can begin to live, which is when he leaves the shop. His task does not call for a fraction of his full powers as a sentient being, or monopolize his interest. If he could buy the same amount of well-financed leisure as easily in any other way, he would shift jobs to-morrow. It is impossible for him to grow mentally through his work. So he comes to his post as a slave to the galley, and leaves it with the gladness of a convict escaping prison. Psychologists say that a large part of industrial arrest is due to the inhibition which automatic tools place upon the expression of personality through labor. Be that as it may, the fact is that the hours given to tending automatic machines are given to buy leisure; and in that leisure the operative lives. He lives in his sports, at the movies, at the prize-fights, at the blind pig, as well as at the theatre, the lecture, the library, the park, and on the front porch of his inamorata.
In general, it has ever been true that leisure is the cream of life. We have tried desperately to build up an immunity to leisure, with our dull gospel of work for work's sake. There is a glory in creative work; but even that becomes pain and weariness if we are kept too long at it. All labor produces, sooner or later, weariness and pain, nature's signal to quit and go a-playing. When does that most stolid of men, the peasant, live most fully — when he plods the endless furrow, or when, at evening, he sings his songs, dances, prays, and courts his maiden? When did the skilled mechanic of another day feel his manhood soar highest above clod and worm — when he was chasing a screw with a cold chisel, or when he
was taking the air in his garden, or, perchance, hobnobbing with his mates in the corner saloon? Is the tireless business man better company when he is chasing a golf-ball, or when he is chasing a profit? Is the banker best satisfied with himself when he is figuring interest, or when he is hip-deep in the stream, figuring trout? I think that the men of the best sort reach their farthest north in life, not in the hours they pay for life, but in the hours they spend in living. Certain am I that none but an imbecile could find delight in sharing the daily toil of the urban masses, so mechanized has it become. Consequently, education for leisure is precisely education for life. And education for life comes squarely down to education for culture. To apply the early Victorian ideal of education to a machine age, to call upon Matthew Arnold to prescribe for a flurried and worried democracy, may seem absurd. But that is what the situation needs; and the necessary is never absurd. That cultural ideal was to fit for leisure those who had leisure — a small minority. With certain reservations in the interests of truth, it may be said to have produced a few first-rate minds and a very considerable number of gentlemen and gentlewomen. Now, because leisure has broadened out to include the majority, we must cultivate gentlemen and gentlewomen en masse. What was once a privilege for an arrogant aristocracy has become a necessity for an arrogant democracy. Unless our American gentlemen and gentlewomen appear in due time and in sufficient numbers, civilization will be wrecked by machine-made barbarians, unable — though their machines compass the globe — to replace what they have destroyed.
What is the first requirement for the right use of leisure? Self-restraint. Leisure is liberty from an exacting, definite control — that of the boss. In leisure a man is subject only to the state. When the worker leaves the shop, he passes from a positive control to a negative control. Inside, he is required to do certain things; failure to do them results in sure discovery. Outside, he is required not to do certain things, although, if he does them, no penalty may follow. Thus we see that it is immensely more , difficult to train human beings for life and leisure than for toil, and that, in America, only odd and unusual persons get very much out of leisure. About all that a retired business man feels equal to is golf and musical comedy. The workers offer more encouragement — Brashear and Henry George showed what laboring men could do in spare time.
Need for self-restraint increases in direct proportion to affluence. I am sure that eight dollars a day at eighteen — and some of our lads earn much more than that — would have corrupted me beyond repair. The wonder is, not that some of these highly paid striplings go wrong, but that all do not do so, considering the opportunity offered them by their cynical and predacious predecessors. More even than wild oats, I am sure that eight dollars a day at eighteen would have insulated me against right relationship with the world of ideas and ideals, past, present, and future, by blasting nascent inquiry and speculation. The establishing of this relationship in youth is, I take it, the end of all true and worth-while education, involving, as it does, the subjugating of the assertive, unbaked Ego to the social well-being, as manifested in the legal, moral, and ethical codes prevalent in one's environment and enforced, more or less, by the power with which common consent invests political institutions. Respect for authority, even that qualified assent involved in the prag
matic view of established institutions, has extreme difficulty in getting a roothold in a generation whose youth is economically self-sufficient.
It follows that knowledge, as the chief restraining influence in the youthful mind, is the substitute that education must establish in place of the set of controls which formerly resulted from the young man's poverty or fear of poverty. Remembering that the rising generation reaches its highest economic utility early in life, and that it soon, relatively speaking, reaches the. economic status of old age, I think we must agree that, unless youth is taught thrift, pauperism will lengthen and strengthen from this point in time. A grievous outlook, to be forestalled at any cost.
There is need, therefore, to drill thrift into children; let the experts busy themselves on methods. The whole field of economics must be opened earlier and charted more simply. Is it not odd, in a nation that bows down to economic fact, to find the teaching of that economic theory almost wholly a college monopoly? It ought to be possible to begin the teaching of economics in the kindergarten, and to bring the pupil along so that, before he becomes a part of the economic machine which supplies human wants, he may understand at least its delicate nature. Suppose a child of five were set moving a given number of blocks from this space to that by hand — an hour's work. Then suppose the child were given a basket to ease the job — time, ten minutes. Then suppose, further, that an intelligent teacher explained that the basket was capital, the result of previous thrift, of labor in past time. That lesson would stick. Somehow to get this, and other fundamentals, into the mind when it is plastic, is the supreme educational task of the future.
So with the idea of law. My children know, among other surprising things, the chief products of every state in the Union; but they have no conception of the legal system which enforces equity and fair play in the exchange of those products. It seems the simplest thing in the world to teach them that laws exist to protect the weak from the strong, the just from the unjust, the person of good intent from the swindler. Once they had mastered that idea, they might see the policeman as a friend rather than as an enemy, and our economic-juridical system as something to be protected instead of destroyed. A generation so reared might insist upon the law doing its primal duty; but it would be evolutionary, not revolutionary, in its demands.
But self-restraint is not, of course, all that a man needs in order to make something out of leisure. A man may be ever so self-restrained, and yet be desperately bored at the prospect of spending an hour in his own company. Self-restraint is merely the brake upon the ego-motor; it will keep the individual from running amok in society, but it will not start anything. Its virtue is negative. What the ego-motor needs in leisure is fuel, something upon which it can travel, progress, journey into new realms of thought. The best fuel for the purpose is compounded of interest in the present, understanding of the past, and sympathy with the future. History, literature, science, art, music — all these give to life meaning, and to leisure, inspiration; a reasonable concern in all that man has done, is doing, or is about to do upon this planet; with such equipment any fool could use leisure aright. To sow that seed is the first duty of educators, now as always, now more than ever.
So much for the background. But backgrounds are always hazy; let us concentrate. Since work is coming to be no longer a primary interest for the child of the masses in civilized lands, it
is incumbent upon us to provide, in so far as they can be provided, other primary interests through which the individual can justify his existence; interests which, rising out of and sustained by his background, shall flourish like the green bay tree all the days of his life. Every man, whether he works a turret-lathe or a comptometer, needs a hobby to busy himself with in this age of growing leisure. We hear less of vocational training than we did — for good reason, since its utility is passing. Presently we shall hear more of a vocational training, which shall give every youth destined for the mill or office a hobby for the centre of his garden of leisure.
In a machine age the applied sciences are paramount. Let them remain so. There are important posts on the peaks of industry which must be filled. Let us see to it that every mind fit to join the directorate of industry gets its educational opportunity. Machinery is undeniably one of the prime intellectual interests of the American masses; in leisure an informed generation would continue inventing, perhaps invent faster than ever. Therefore let us give youth all it can stomach of the sciences, deepened and broadened to the uttermost But by no means should we submit to the specialist's obsession, that, with the key to universal knowledge in his hand, he travels down a walled alley, shut off from the humanities, from philosophy, from religion, from life.
I am not competent to provide the synthesis for this analysis, to describe the educational reforms which are necessary, and which I am sure are on the way. That is a task for many and mature minds. But certain key-points emerge out of the haze. We must I think insist upon ten years' schooling for every child, as an irreducible minimum, before plunging into the whirl of automatic production. There should be four school-terms instead of two, with a