VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE Specialized training for a particular vocation is exceedingly important, to supplement this funda mental education in adaptability, but it should not begin too early. Probably it should not begin be fore sixteen. The child who has had an undiffer entiated general education, as diversified and well rounded as possible, including training of muscles and senses, as well as of reasoning powers and other faculties which we have been in the habit of refer ring to as " the brain," but without special instruc tion in the technique of any one trade or calling, may even turn out to be better equipped to earn a living after sixteen than the one who has been specializ ing for the two years in a vocation which he se lected at fourteen.
Most children could do a number of different things equally well. Most children, also, are ready to choose an occupation at a moment's notice. The younger they are, the easier it is for them to choose. But this is no excuse for narrowing their outlook, restricting their future opportunities, by asking them to choose before they have the basis for doing so wisely. You would not hold your boy to his chosen vocation of fireman or sailor or police man or baseball player or president of the United States, and direct his studies from this time forth toward that goal.
Consider how occupations in life are determined. We may have a position waiting for us in our fa ther's business from the time we are born, in view of which our education is planned from the outset. Crown princes had vocational training long before the phrase was used or the proposition made to— shall I say democratize?—the thing itself. We may have been destined for the ministry and have worked our way painfully through the requisite Latin and Greek and Hebrew, while all our interest was in mathematics and physics, and then, assert ing independence midway of the college course, have turned out eventually—an electrical engineer. Most of us in America, however, have freer rein and can take the path that allures us as soon as we recognize it, within the limitations of our circum stances. Your young man may then, let us say,
after a liberal education, a professional training of some sort, and some reasonably successful years in teaching or the ministry or the law or in business, have found his way to social work. One whom I know had the definite intention, at successive stages of his education, of being a doctor, a minister, and a journalist, and at each stage he was so fortunate as to have had the sympathy and advice of wise representatives of the profession just then at stake who encouraged him to join their ranks. He thinks now that he would not have been a success in any of the three. The probability is that he would have been moderately successful, moderately contented, in any of them.
There are many students, even in professional schools, who have not yet "found themselves," in spite of the more than average opportunity they have had to do so. The head of a large engineering school is reported, in a recent newspaper article, to have said that at least fifty per cent of the men in that school do not belong there. Sixty per cent of the graduates of a well-known law school stay in clerical positions because they have no real aptitude for the law. Medical schools say that the number of students temperamentally unqualified to become physicians is lamentably large, and seems to be increasing. Normal schools estimate that less than half of their students have any special teach ing ability; and fifteen theological schools report that seventy per cent of their enrollment have no marked qualifications for the profession they are preparing to enter. Even in the training schools for social work, although this profession has not yet begun to attract in any considerable numbers persons not naturally adapted to it, we find stu dents every once in a while whom we are not justi fied in encouraging to complete the course.