Every Girl or Boy Wants Something to Do

Stankiewicz, M. A. (2001). Roots of art education practice. Art education in practice series. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications.

Knoll, M. (June 06, 1997). The Project Method: Its Vocational Education Origin and International Development. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 34, 3, 59-80.

The idea of incorporating manual training in visual arts education is crucial for student development and growth. Not only do students gain better eye-hand coordination, students who have access to this type of training are better able to access and utilize the creative parts of their brain as well as experience a sense of freedom in their work and skill building.

Unfortunately, due to gender biases and lack of equality for women, Manual Training, when implemented into the school system in 1880, was catered toward the male student. It is frustrating that even today women still struggle for the same type of artistic recognition. Manual Training is beneficial for all artists who want to develop craftsmanship and confidence in their art making practices.

Finally in 1897, Manual Training, including carpentry and ironwork, was also taught to interested female students. It was during this same time period that Manual Training became implemented into elementary school curriculum. Manual Training was founded by the Russian display at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia and served as college level work. It was John D. Runkle and Calvin M. Woodward who proposed introducing this type of training to those in secondary school. (Knoll, 1997)

Stankiewicz states that because of manual training, children were able to pull themselves from the bowels of the slums and develop “positive values” and “develop mental power”. (Knoll, 1997)The bottom line is that manual training gave all students, boys and girls, poor and rich, the opportunity to develop craftsmanship and confidence in handwork.

Developmentally, this type of learning through doing, or hands-on instruction techniques improves fine motor skills, work habits and sense of perception. To lose this type of training in today’s school system because of budget cuts would be a disappointment. By teaching step-by-step processes in tool training and allowing students to see projects through to completion or from “instruction” to “construction” (Knoll, 1997) students learn about functionality in art, gain a deeper level of understanding in art-making practices and develop a sense of self accomplishment.

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