- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 2 Apr 1909, p. 212-219
- Pyne, Hon. R.A., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The constantly changing nature of education. The effort to get a system of education that is going to be the best for that country. A look at some of the changes we have experienced in our lifetime in Canada. Hoping that the educational progress in Ontario will be on a par with the great progress seen in the industrial life in Canada. Some words from Inspector Maxwell of New York, a great educationist, about "waking up the people." The teacher as the important lever in education. A word or two on the industrial line regarding agriculture and what we are doing with a view to attracting the youth of Ontario to that great pursuit. The speaker's observations at some of the technical schools of the Old Country, which he visited last year. The need for increased expenditure. The importance of considering the great cost of technical education, and knowing the resources of our own Province and the other Provinces; looking to the Federal authorities for financial aid and help. The issue of carrying free public school education further than 14 years of age. Establishing continuation evening schools. The example of these schools in Germany and Japan. The lack of apprenticeship.
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- 2 Apr 1909
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- Full Text
- INDUSTRIAL, EDUCATION.
An address by the HON. R. A. PYNE, M.D., LL.D., Minister of Education for Ontario, before the Empire Club of Canada, on April 2nd, agog.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
I can assure you that I am delighted to have been so honoured as to have the opportunity of saying a few words here today on a branch of education that is attracting a great deal of attention all over the world-Industrial Education. You have all, I have no doubt, read the works of the celebrated Lord Lytton. When I read one of his works, " The Coming Race," I thought what a wonderful perception the author must have had when he wrote it, because it seemed to me that he was really prophetic; that he was predicting something that would take place after his time. In that book he describes a subtle substance, a fluid that is going to accomplish great results for the human family. If he were alive today he would see in the ways in which electricity is put to use a condition almost analogous to that which he describes in that book. Unless it was an inspiration, it certainly was very far-seeing. And then we have the celebrated De Quincy. He did not speak in that way, but rather from experience, and told all his fellow-men never to indulge in more than eighteen ounces of laudanum, because he did not think it was safe for anybody but himself. Educational matters of all kinds are largely dependent in every country on the changed conditions that are continually coming up.
Education is a subject that I have often said seems to have no finality, goes on ad libitum, for all time; constantly changing. And it is these constant changes that bring about the great struggle in every country today-the effort to get a system of education that is going to be the best for that country. We find ourselves in every Province of this Dominion vying one with another in trying to do something on the line of educational progress, and the great difficulties and complexities that surround- all these questions are present to nearly everyone. Every gentleman in this room has seen marvellous changes in his own short life brought about in our own city. We all remember the old horse cars, and the transformation by electricity brought away from the great cataract, Niagara Falls. These were all things in the air, and I had the experience once of hearing Mr. E. E. Sheppard, when he undertook to become chief magistrate of this city. He said that he hoped and believed he would live to see the day when electricity would be brought from Niagara Falls to run every wheel in this great city, and said he hoped to see the houses lighted and heated by electricity; and every enterprising newspaper of that day the next morning said Sheppard certainly was full of ideas, but some of them were most visionary and would never come about.
I do not know that I could point to anything in which the changes are more marked than in our own transportation problems in this Dominion and in this Province. The changed conditions I speak of are in relation to the greatest industry that we' have up to the present time in this Dominion and Province; I refer to the great agricultural industry because it is the chief one; it is the real backbone, as it were, of this Dominion. Look at the changes there. Every gentleman here knows, or has some idea of, the old pioneer way V tilling the soil, and the rude implements of fifty years ago, or twenty-five years agoyes, gentlemen, of ten or five years ago. What would anyone say today of an agriculturist who was undertaking to compete in any line of agriculture with his neighbour, using these old pioneer implements? He would be laughed at, and he could not compete. So it is in everything else. In this age of progress every industry is marching on, and I do trust that in this Province of Ontario the educational progress will be on a par with the great progress we see in the industrial life of this country. Inspector Maxwell of New York, one of the great educationists of our time, said that the chief difficulty he found in that Empire State of New York was to do something in an educational way that would wake up the people. They were living in a state of lethargy, half-asleep. You have to do something terrible to wake the people up and make them realize the conditions that surround them.
We have not done a great deal in this Province, but I have had the satisfaction of seeing the rural parts of this Province very much awake and alive. You remember two years ago when we brought in that bill fixing a minimum salary. The farmer at once got his club out, and you remember how farmers were stirred all over this Province. I believe we are reaping the benefit of .that policy today, because salaries have increased, and there is some tendency to make the teaching profession permanent, and not a stepping-stone as it was in the past. Inspector Maxwell was quite right in that if you once get the people awake and alive they are prepared to help themselves in the great progress that everyone looks forward to. You may have the finest buildings, the finest equipment, but if you have not got a first-class teacher in your school or in your establishment, it all goes for nothing. The teacher is the important lever in education; in fact, it is around him that the whole matter centres, and, if you have not got a thoroughly trained and up-to-date teacher, nothing in the way of buildings or equipment can compensate for that.
I might say a word or two here on the industrial line regarding agriculture and what we are doing with a view of attracting the youth of this Province to that great pursuit. A short time ago we started out by establishing in eleven High Schools throughout the Province an agricultural department, manned by a graduate of the Agricultural College of Guelph, and of literary and scientific training as well, and we look forward to the time when in every county of this Province we will have an agricultural department attached to some High School where it will become, as it were, a centre. These teachers, as well as attending to their class work, are expected to give lectures here and there through the county, of interest to the farmers, and to bring subjects before them in a scientific way that will give them ideas-improved ideas-and I think, in the end, add very much to their income and the production of the Province.
When I was away last year I took the opportunity of spending my holiday in some of the technical schools of the Old Country, of Glasgow, Scotland; of Belfast, Ireland; as well as schools in England. I was very much struck, too, by the condition of agriculture in France. It was really wonderful. For many years in France they have had attached to their rural schools what they call a garden plot, where elementary agriculture, botany, and I suppose agricultural chemistry, are taught, and they see the practical demonstration of it; and I am told that as a result of these schools, the products of the field and garden in France have almost trebled in the last ten years, and the French people themselves hardly realize the reason why their agricultural products have so increased; it is no doubt due to that system. I am told that there are in France over 20,000 of these school-garden plots, and I regret to say, in this great agricultural Province of Ontario, up to the present time, we have only about a dozen schoolgarden plots in the whole Province. There is certainly a great opportunity here to advance that important industry of agriculture.
Of course, as I said, when you go about, and see the practical workings of technical education in other countries, you are very much struck by the amount of money that is involved and being expended, and I may say here that everyone knows, and must admit, that if you improve any condition in life, you have to do it by an increased expenditure. I do not see any other way. We may reach a great many artisans and mechanics through our travelling libraries or through the libraries of this Province by seeing that there is a class of literature that will help these people in any direction or line of industry in which they may be engaged. You can do a great deal in that way, but if we are to have great technical colleges and technical schools such as we see in Glasgow and Belfast, we must spend the money. In Belfast I saw the linen industry treated from beginning to end in, a practical, scientific way; from the growing of the flax to the manufacture of the article; bleaching, dyeing, printing-all this sort of thing done in one establishment. In Manchester I saw the great cotton industry treated in the same way with the exception of the growing of the cotton, which, of course, has to be imported. Every feature of the process of manufacture is put within the reach of the mechanic or the artisan interested in it, so that he can improve himself. These were wonderful establishments -the one in Belfast costing, I think, half a million (one hundred thousand) pounds and a large sum, too, for maintenance. In London I saw some establishments that were perfectly marvellous to me, and revelations. In industrial lines I saw children thirteen years of age able to make almost complete boots and shoes. It was really wonderful, and those children are getting a training which is going to be of great advantage to themselves and the country they live in.
It is important when we consider the great cost of technical education, and knowing the resources of our own Province and the other Provinces, that for technical education we ought to look to the Federal authorities for financial aid and help. I believe that is the correct thing, for the simple reason that the Federal authorities, the Federal Government, the Federal Parliament, are the people that build around the country the great tariff wall, and they make you and me pay a duty on every yard of cloth that we use, and on nearly every article of wearing apparel. I am a protectionist to the hilt, but I say it behooves the people that put up that tariff wall to take some of that indirect taxation and give it back to the people in technical education, so that behind that wall they may have the artisan and the mechanic capable and trained and able to work up the raw product which Providence has given each Province. In making a statement of this- kind in Brantford during the campaign, a gentleman said, " That is impossible," and he threw the British North America Act at me, that all things educational come under Provincial control, and that the Federal Parliament had nothing whatever to do with education, and I said to him: " I don't want them to have anything to do with education, because the educational side of it should be worked out by the Provincial authorities who know the conditions, who know the natural products and the environment of their own Province. Let them work out the great scheme of technical education, so that as in Belfast and Manchester, where cotton and linens and iron receive direct and specific attention, so in this Province, or Quebec, or any other, the industry which might be called an indigenous industry, will be the one that will receive particular attention from the Dominion's financial aid to Provincial systems of technical instruction."
There is another matter that struck me, and which I think could be done in this Province with a view to aiding the great mass of young people. Take the boys and girls who leave the public schools at fourteen years of age owing to the compulsory school law and Truancy Act, and who go to the shop or factory to earn their living. Their school days are over then at the age of fourteen, and I think that the State should make some provision to puce within their reach the advantage of free public school education carried farther than the end of their course at fourteen years of age; and I think we could establish what might be called a continuation evening school, because you see these young people, the great masses of them in factories, leave their places of business at a time of the day when the door of the public school has swung shut and there is nothing more they can get in the way of free public school instruction. So I think these continuation evening schools might be established, at any rate in every city and in every accumulation of people, for these young people; and let me tell you I am sure as I live that the boy at fourteen and fifteen begins to realize that he was not particular enough in the days that he spent in the public school, and would like to have some school to go to in the evening where he could improve himself along industrial lines. I believe such schools would be popular, and meet something that is very much needed where that side, the cultural side of life, could be continued, fitting them much better for the industries of life.
It is said that in Germany they have these continuation schools. I am also told that they have them in Japan. These countries, we all know, have made wonderful strides and have come very near, at any rate, to industrial supremacy amongst the nations of the world, and I believe it is due to this increased facility for education that they bring before their people. There is another matter about which I might say a word or two, and that is the position we are in today in industrial life regarding that most important thing that really took the place of education some years ago-that is apprenticeship. There is no apprenticeship today. It is impossible, owing to the changed conditions of industrial life. There is no chance for a boy, as in the years gone by, to become an apprentice and learn his trade. What happens now in the great industrial establishment? When he goes in the foreman takes hold of him and says
" Here's a machine I want you to learn." The boy gets familiar with that, and that is about all he gets, if he is there twenty years. He becomes expert and understands the machine and is able to work it in such a way that it is more productive, and there he is kept.
With the apprenticeship of long ago the boy was put alongside a journeyman, and the journeyman taught him all he knew, and another taught him all he knew, until he knew every side and every branch in the whole process of the industry connected with the factory he was in. That has all passed away. The boy has not a chance now, although I am told that in the Baldwin Locomotive Works they have a foreman of apprentices, whose business it is to watch every boy in the whole establishment, and see to it that he is transferred from this machine to that, and that he goes from one department to another department until he gets an opportunity to understand the whole trade from end to end. Now great changes are about to take place, and the corporations that control some of these industries are beginning to look ahead, because they find great difficulty when some old employee passes away. Who are they going to get, with his peculiar knowledge in that factory, having gone from the bottom to the top, to take his place? I am told there are instances in this city, in some of the large industrial concerns, where the whole thing depends and the whole responsibility rests on the shoulders of two or three men who have been trained in a particular branch. We have not a foreman in any branch of the 500 industries who is a Canadian. These places of responsibility and skill and technical knowledge are nearly all filled by foreigners imported into our country. It is very hard on our own people that they do not get an opportunity to learn industrial occupations.
I do not know, Mr. President, that I ought to detain you longer with this mixed-up haphazard address I am making, more than to say that we all, I think, look forward to this Province of Ontario being a great industrial, as well as agricultural Province. In this whole Confederation a kind Providence, by putting waterfalls and streams all over it, has made it admirably suited for that purpose, and that being the case, I think it behooves us that have the responsibility of education on our minds and on our hands, to ask the people of this Province to join in every way in strengthening the hands of the authorities in our technical schools and on our school boards, to try and carry out something in the interests of the masses of our people. I hope to see this the great industrial hub of this whole Dominion, and that this Province will largely do the manufacturing for the great West and North-west, that now are coming into such prominence.