Henry Ford states the extreme view of the function of vocational education in modern life when he says that schools should be the training ground for industry and, as such, should be supported by industry.
Mr. Ford's educational system is open to the same attack which has been repeatedly made against his enormous standardization of manufacture in the interests of mass production. For the establishment of a high degree of specialization in the secondary school when the child is but twelve years old is another step toward the reduction of the individual to the status of a machine. Early vocational training is going to limit the range of the individual's knowledge and confine it to a field entered upon before he had any mature conception of the direction of his tastes and talents. The result will be a worker, efficient in his province but lacking in the resources of a general education.
In the middle ages the craftsman was a specialized worker trained in the rigorous guild system to a high level of skill at his trade. He was a man whose work was essentially creative and its success was directly responsible to his own initiative and ability. At the present time however, the factory laborer has no personal interest in the job itself and looks to it solely as the source of his income. The creative element in machine work has been sacrificed for the sake of efficiency and the result is evident both in the quality of the products and the character of the employed.
With the increased efficiency in industry derived from the constant supply of skilled labor, running time in the factory will be cut down and the worker will have greater leisure at his command. Greater leisure will mean heavier demands on the individual's own resources which must be developed through general education. For, unlike the artisan in medieval days, the modern man is unable to draw any real enjoyment from his work, and consequently he must look for it in another direction. When vocational specialization is carried down into a man's early years he can not form the general background necessary for a balanced life. If industry pursues this policy it will do so to its own disadvantage, for efficiency is reduced when the worker is limited to the sphere of his machine.