Where Progress and Education Join Hands
How the Frontier Laborer is Taking Advantage of the Instruction Imparted in Camp Schools — The Way in Which the Crude Material Flowing to Canada is Being Transformed Into Loyal, Self-Respecting Citizens —The Process of National Assimilation and Its Requirements.
MOST people will now admit the general principles that education is for all men, not for any one privileged class, that it means the development of the whole man—his intellect, will, affections, personality—and that it is the duty of the State to educate. In the past the tendency has been to educate one class and neglect another as in the Ancient Greek State, where ignorant slaves, who, because ignorant, became brutal and vicious, did all the manual labor; while the other class, philosophers, had leisure to study, and who consequently degenerated to mere effeminate refined gossips. We have not wholly grown away from these tendencies. Men are being fitted for positions that do not exist. Thousands of young men and women are graduated from schools and colleges who are incapable of doing anything practical in the way of earning bread and butter.
A long course in college apart from contact with the world, is a one-sided kind of education, and is wholly inadequate in this busy work-a-day world. On the other hand a great army of men is forced to toil without mental or social uplift, and are mere ignorant slaves. The average boy leaves the public school from the third reader. These boys, as well as those who escape the school walls, without any education, should be followed with the advantages of an education to the woods and mines to the farthest confines of civilization.
Aftçr experimenting in lum bering, mining, fishing and railway construction camps in
Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, covering a period of eight years, I am convinced that the great majority of our frontier laborers need only the time, the place and the teacher to take advantage of an education, while earning their daily bread. I began my work by preaching to these men, but found it would require the “gift of tongues” to make oneself understood My congregations were comprised of every nation under heaven.
One of the great problems confronting Canada and the United States at the present time is assimilation : How to take the crude material constantly flowing into these countries and make loyal, selfhelping, self-respecting citizens out of them. In technical language it is how to bring homogeneity out of a heterogeneous influx of foreign immigration. The already congested populations of China, Japan, India as well as of many European countries are increasing at an alarming rate. They will soon spill over
somewhere, and recent events have showr we are doomed to at least periodic floods, if not to perpetual inundation.
The things most urgently needed for the solution of this problem are a common medium of communication, and an environment suited to their needs. These are the first steps towards assimilation, towards a correct understanding of our national life and citizenship. This common language can only be imparted by instructors. Well qualified teachers should be placed at every camp in the land. This provision, of course, implies a school building and time to learn, a reasonable day’s labor.
We and our children have this privilege partly at the expense of these very men Why should not they themselves have it? Is it necessary to confine education to towns, cities and other organized settlements?
Correspondence schools reach a small percentage of men in the mining camps and railway employes, and in some cases are doing good work. They, however, cover only a small fraction of the available ground. Owing to the illiteracy of a large percentage of men in the lumbering, mining and railway construction camps, there is a work here these schools cannot overtake. Men who can neither read nor write can only be benefited by a resident instructor. Men who have an elementary education will be more likely to add to their knowledge under the direct inspiration and incentive of a teacher. Besides the influences for good in camps of young men of right habits and ideals cannot be over estimated.
In the absence of state initiative some individual employers and corporations have made most commendable efforts to improve the condition of their workmen. They have come to realize that to help a man on to his feet is a greater work than to accumulate millions; that wealth earned at the sacrifice of every noble ambition of the men who play the manual part in its production cannot lead to happiness; and that riches earned by slaves, whether in cotton field, forest or mine, prove only to be a curse and a source of national and family dissension. Railway companies are learning that em-
ployes of good and regular habits increase public confidence, and are spending money on reading rooms, libraries and car schools. A few employers, too, in the lumbering and mining industries are taking steps to ameliorate the lot of their men.
The public is more or less familiar with the history of our experiments to ascertain practicable methods of educating the shanty-man, miner, fisherman and navvy. It may suffice here to say that we have endeavored by actual experiment to find out how best to pro-
vide an atmosphere that would at once furnish educational facilities for the men, and be an incentive to higher things. OUÏ method is to procure a building or tent at the camps, man it with an instructor, and ask him to make it serve the purpose of night school library, club, reading room and undenominational church. These instructors are nearly all university men who join the camps as actual laborers, use the axe, pick and shovel, teaching by example during the day, and by both example and precept during the evenings. They rub shoulders with the men, come down to their level, and be-
come the incarnation to them of the life or purity, goodness, and self-sacrifice This summer twenty-two teachers wen at work in railway construction and mining camps. In the winter season the work is carried on in mining and lumbering camps. Approximately during the eight years of our experiments ten thousand men have had the privileges of a night school, many foreigners have learned the English language, and twenty thousand men have had a chance through access to good literature to live in decency and keep in touch with the outside world.
These reading camps thus afford not only a measure of refinement and culture for manual laborers, but also manual training of the most practical kind for teachers.
The cost per capita has not been out of all proportion with that of public school education. One child in an Ontario school costs $14.26; in a Manitoba school $35.08, and one man in a camp school $3.50. This year $10,000 are needed to meet the obligations of the work. It may be asked are the results adequate to the outlay and would it be wise for
the state to undertake this work on a
large scale? We unhesitatingly answer yes. It would be a capital investment for the state and only the state can accomplish it.
The principal objections to the education of their men on the part of some employers are (i) That the men are shiftless, that they have hereditary taints, that their troubles are largely biological in origin and therefore incurable, and that they have no desire to rise above their own level or acquire an education ; (2) That the nature of their work is not conducive to study, that they have little time to learn, and that when their axes are ground and horses groomed and fed it is time to go to bed. In answer to these objections it may be said : a good ancestry is unquestionably very important. Mr. Galton, of London, in his book, “Hereditary Genius,” shows from many examples that as a rule the sons and daughters of the good and great are themselves good and great while the descendants of the vicious are degenerate and profligate. This is no doubt true, but a good environment in the former and a bad one in the latter case, was largely the cause of their respective conditions, In fact, science has fairly well demonstrated that environment, like “simple faith, is more than Norman blood.” In fact, Mr. Lester F. Ward in his latest
book, “Applied Sociology,” clearly proves
that genius is as common in the laboring class as in the so-called higher orders.
It is quite true the men have too little leisure for a proper application of their faculties to study. The greatest of all hindrances, greater than the indifference
of some employers, greater even than “defects of will and taints of blood,” is long hours of labor ; a ten-hour day often supplemented by over-time. This can only be overcome by state control. Nothing but legislation can regulate the length of day during which men shall toil and nothing but public opinion will effect legislation. Have we not the sad spectacle of men working 15 hours a day even on public works operated by the Government? It matters not whether this is by the will of the foremen and superintendents or by that of the men
themselves; the remedy is the same. The voice of the people must force legislation and public inspection. An eight-hour day at hard, manual labor is long enough. This has been granted in some occupations but had to be wrenched from the employer by the force of organized labor. Why compel these men to organize and fight for so obviously a wise and humane concession? To give contractors and employers generally a free hand in determining the length of day and conditions in which their men must toil, without providing intellectual food for the mind, is to curse our fellow men by selling them to slavery.
The nature of the labor in which these men are engaged does not in any way raise a barrier to study. In fact, in moderation it is the greatest possible aid to it. Happily the exploitation of our great industries, especially lumbering necessitates manual labor of a high order. It affords the kind of exercise one of our greatest statesmen and scholars, the late Hon. W. E. Gladstone, chose as his pastime. It brings every muscle into play and that, too, in a pure outdoor atmos phere, and not in the vitiated air of a
workshop or gymnasium. It is absolutely what is needed in the absence of adequate manual training on the part of these young men during their childhood and school days. All boys and girls should be taught to work with their hands. The lack of this training is the great defect in the education of most of the children of the wealthy. It is a fruitful cause of poverty, because many well-to-do people suddenly suffer a reverse of fortune and not knowing how to work with their hands are helpless in the struggle for existence, and become the objects of charity. There is no doubt but that a fair amount of manual labor is good for us all. The labor of the world is unequally divided. Professional men would be clearer headed and stronger physically and morally if they did at least a few hours’ manual labor every day. Tolstoi is the most conspicuous example of a thinker who advocated this theory: The honor and success of his life is ample proof of the practicability of his theory. It is by combining the physical, intellectual and spiritual that men grow into perfection. The development of the physical only may result for a time in
great brute force, but it is short lived because the man is developed on one side only. He becomes immoral and this soon saps his mere physical strength. The opposite is equally true. The man who is a mere book-worm, whose mind only is developed, likewise degenerates.
The idea of consolidated schools is divine ‘‘God setteth the solitary in families.” It brings the advantages of graded first-class schools to the children of the isolated settlers. It is socialistic in its scope and tendency, but sc is the public school. Socialism, whose re-
forms are of that type, is a god-send to humanity. Sir W. C. Macdonald, Professor Robertson, and the exponents o' the principle of consolidated schools generally, saw that ihe education of children scattered far and wide in remote districts was difficult and expensive, and that segregation was necessary. Where segregation or consolidation is accomplished as in towns and villages, education is easily practicable, but in sparsely settled country districts it can only be effected at considerable expense. It is, of course, worth the expense. But in the case of
our frontier camps, consolidation is already effected without expense to the state. The nature of the work in which these men are engaged necessitates their living together in groups. This affords the opportunity for the education and regeneration of a class of men from whose ranks have come a large percentage of the drunkards, thieves, tramps, and criminals of our land. Their education surrounding them with a suitable atmosphere of positive prevention, of good influences and opportunities, would convert thousands of drunkards, of low-
lived non-taxpayers into clean living taxpaying citizens, and would create a most valuable asset for the state. Tens of thousands of these men would not only improve their minds by the reading of good literature, and by study, but they would save their money and would marry.
There could not be a better opportunity for men to study than in camp, away from all the counter attractions of the town, city or village. The neglect of this opportunity on the part of our governments to surround these men with home-like influences, with the tools with
which to mould and fashion their characters, is to leave them open, unfenced to every evil influence. It is one of th greatest crimes of all the ages. It is tc allow their minds to be full of thought* that sap their manhood, that make them effeminate and think only of the saloon and its attendant evil, the red light house It is this very absence of occupation that degenerates mind and body and damns the soul. It begets the spirit of Herod, the spirit that massacred the innocents It unfits men for the duties of home, for the love of home and fatherhood. It makes them reckless of the responsibilities of home and long only for evanescent pleasures without the sanctity, joys and sorrows that make home worth while-. Their minds become the charnel houses of thoughts that eat out the vitals of their better selves and leave them dead to higher things. They see visions and dream dreams, but not the visions and dreams outlined and suggested by a perusal of the works of our great authors, Isaiah, Paul, Carlyle, Shakespeare, Emerson, etc., but dreams and visions that no one can see and hear without being less a man. This criminal neglect on the part of the state breaks down the fences and bulwarks of young men’s characters built by the prayers, tears and hearts’ sacrifice of fathers and mothers in the home and exposes them to every enemy of man.
The advocates of manual training and consolidated schools are unquestionably on the right track. They saw that the school children were effeminate and dwarfed physically and aimed at saving them by developing both sides of their natures simultaneously. What Sir W. C. Macdonald and President Robertson have initiated and shown to be so eminently practicable the state should adopt and carry into universal effect. The state should not the less provide the great army of camp dwellers with well qualified instructors, well equipped school buildings—with an adequate and suitable intellectual environment.
The salvation of these men is largely a matter of education and is therefore the work of the state. This work will never be a success, never be undertaken
generally, until backed up and carried on by the state. The Reading Camp Association, nor any other corporation, not even the church, is able to cope with the task. The church is divided and therefore doomed to failure should it attempl it. The work needs the wealth and authority of the state. So long as it is carried on by any other institution it is subject to the whims and veto of every illiterate foreman, walking boss, or superintendent who wishes to show his authority. Were it not that the state champions the cause of public school educa tion, how many sparsely settled farm, ing communities or even villages would have well regulated schools?
Ontario should be the first to under take this task. It has started in the right direction by contributing a small amount to the Reading Camp Association, by employing two splendidly qualified teachers in the mining camps, and by establishing and operating a system of traveling libraries. It can well afford to do all that is necessary to be done. Over a third of its total revenue comes from woods and forests alone. Its revenue from mining is increasing by leaps and bounds. It has the best forests, the richest silver, nickel and copper deposits of the world and when their mining and manufacture are being fully carried on it will have proportionately the greatest number of miners, woodsmen and navvies.
Our Provincial Government spends a large proportion of this revenue in endowing public schools, colleges and libraries in the older parts of the province while it largely neglects the frontie1
laborer. Money is being spent on portable schools for the floating, largely foreign, population of Toronto. This ;s most commendable; but why not provide portable buildings and teachers for the men who chiefly contribute to making these portable schools for Toronto possible? A great deal is being spent on students’ residences in Queen’s Park; but why should the state build a fence around the characters of the boys who attend Toronto University only? Why should old Ontario receive charity from New Ontario? Is it any wonder separation is advocated by some influential citizens? Should not a fair proportion of the public revenue be set apart for educational purposes in these frontier districts? This is pre-eminently a matter of public concern, a matter for immediate action on the part of the state. No part of the world is safe so long as any other part of it is vile. The danger is greater when at our doors. Plague, choU
era, smallpox, fever and other contagious and infectious diseases come to us in the steerage of passenger steamers, in clothing, in the wind, from the foul slums of large cities, from filthy homes on farms, in towns and villages, and from mining, lumbering, fishing and railway construction camps, in not a few of which the ordinary sanitary regulations are not observed. But these are not the greatest dangers that arise from idle men housed together in cramped and filthy quarters. Men whose spare time is occupied in gambling, drinking, listening to or taking part in the low jest, song, and story, soon become depraved. Their moral diseases, which, alas, are also all infectious and contagious, and which are the result of this lack of social and religious restraint, are of a much more serious character. It goes without saying that the men themselves who reap the immediate benefit of this accommodation the employers who thereby secure a better class of men and better quality of labor, should contribute to this work, but it is above all the duty of the state, as the free institutions under which has grown up an enlightened and well-to-do citizenship have been largely endowed by
the toil of these lonely denizens of forest and mine. The men who have filled these advance posts of civilization have hitherto been asked to make brick without straw in that which is most vital to the development of their characters They have borne the burden and heat of the day in the exploitation of our greatest industries. They have largely contributed to make possible our free public schools, colleges and libraries by their toil, while as yet, between themselves and the social and moral influences of civilization there is a great gulf fixed. Shame. The trifling expense of making provision of this or a similar kind at every camp in the land is nothing compared with the benefits to be derived by ourselves and those whose wretched condition we try to improve. It will cost the country less to provide bath-rooms, laundries and reading camps than the revenue that would be derived from the additional number of good citizens. An enlightened and healthy citizenship is a better asset than ignorant and filthy slaves. Camp schools are incomparably cheaper than soldiers, paupers, drunkards and criminals.
Give us, O give us the man who sings at his work! Be his occupation what it may, he is equal to any of those who follow the same pursuit in silent sullenness. He will do more in the same time—he will do it better—he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible of fatigue whilst he marches t° music. The very stars are said to make harmony as they revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of [cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its power of endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful, must be uniformly joyous—a spirit all sunshine—graceful from very gladness—beautiful because bright.—Thomas Carlyle.