Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

however, which assumes one type of social service effort to be the ultima thule is fatal to progress. Such a condition is comparable to that type of religious thought which naïvely assumes that Almighty God has chosen one particular sect to be the repository of all truth. In the field of religion this way of thinking produces much theology. No one denies that. Whether or not it produces much religion is a matter of conjecture. There is a vast difference between religion and theology. Theology is a razor to split a hair. Religion is a knife to cut a slice of bread. So social work specialization is tending toward distinct stratification, desiring agency gratification even at the expense of community betterment. It is amazing how people become enthused on the importance of presentday happenings, failing to take account of the ephemeral nature of much of their own work. The charity organization movement took itself rather too seriously during the past two decades, and suffered partial deflation. The mothers' pension movement was, by its earnest but too zealous advocates, expected to reduce the relief problem to tractable proportions. There are signs that the latest actor on this stage of narrow-mindedness is the community chest movement. I believe in this movement, and see in it great possibilities for good. In fact, I think it has already achieved much good. I must say, however, that there are alarming tendencies within this movement which seem to me to indicate disaster if the trend is not checked. If the time comes when a small group of people in any community assume to dictate what types of social service movements should be allowed to function, thus exercising a benevolent birth control in the field of welfare agencies; if a few autocrats, consciously or unconsciously so, tend to check pioneering in the field of social work; if the community chest movement finds itself unable to avoid provincialism and to work out a program involving proper support of non-local movements, it does not require a prophet to say that the movement will die, and it does not require a leader in the field of ethics to say that it ought to die. The community chest movement ought to stand for breadth and vision. If the time comes when it is viewed as an end rather than as a means-goodbye, community chest.

Third, the social worker must believe in his job. If he does not, what right has he to be in it, and what right has he to expect to make a success of it? Cynicism is more or less a matter of temperament. That social worker, however, who, while engaged in making motions in his profession, incidentally taking a living wage for his effort, has lost faith in the possibility of approaching the objectives for which he is supposed to be striving, should go into communion with himself about the propriety of continuing therein. I submit that the social worker who clings to the emoluments of the profession, scanty though they be, with a cynical attitude toward all his associates and toward his own work is guilty of sabotage. He is destroying the products of labor and is negative in his accomplishments. If he is a man of conviction, he will be a man of enthusiasm. Again, temperament will, of course, play a large part. Some people bubble over and some do not. He will have his ups and downs in this regard, but he

will nevertheless be in his work because he likes it, and like it because he is in it-just as Russell Conwell's man in his famous lecture, "Acres of Diamonds," was contented because he was rich, and rich because he was contented. One may be justified in feeling righteous indignation against a minister of the Gospel who reviles religion, a physician who scoffs at the established rules of hygiene, and a social worker who habitually and continually sneers at the mere mention of social progress. Involved in this idea is the whole question of common honesty.

Finally, I would mention the obligation to cultivate a lively imagination and an appreciation of the aims and efforts of clients and organizations. A social worker's convictions and enthusiasm about his own job may now and then tend to isolate him. Technical training in the specialty of social work may have the same effect. Breadth of vision, however, due to intellectual background and wide experience, will make him look with generous appreciation upon the efforts of all groups striving for the common good.

I was greatly impressed by reading a few years ago in the Survey about a case worker with unmarried mothers, who had been earnestly insisting upon a certain line of social treatment when coming in contact with her girls. When, however, a young woman friend of hers was approaching motherhood before marriage, this same case worker looked upon the problem with an entirely different point of view, and found herself not only willing to modify the views which she had insisted upon toward strangers, but even willing to suggest a different course of treatment for her friend. The inference the case worker intended to leave was that she had failed in appreciation, up to this point, of the circumstances in which these girls were placed, and was not quite big enough to cooperate fully with established institutions like the home and the church. Within a few weeks I received a letter from a family welfare case worker, formerly a member of my own staff when I was secretary of such an organization, who is now married and has two children. She said to me: "I wish I could be a case worker now. I see things so differently. I would do so much of my case work on a different basis than I used to do it." Many a conventional case record reads: "Case closed. No cooperation." A social worker lacking keen imagination is constitutionally unable to cooperate. Everybody is willing to cooperate upon, but not all are ready to cooperate with. Cooperation is reciprocal or it is nothing. It is possible to give and take without surrendering worth-while convictions. Every social worker should inventory his convictions at least once a year. We believe that a man should have the courage of his convictions, but we believe also that he should have convictions worthy of his courage, and only those that are founded on reason. Dr. Van Waters pointed out last year in Denver that "professional work is chiefly an affair of the spirit." This being so, cooperation ought to be relatively easy. It is not so much a question of getting this or that done in our way as it is a question of a broad approach to the solution of the big problem. Generally lack of cooperation is due to conflict of per

sonalities. If social workers do not like each other they are not inclined to cooperate. If they do like each other, that is to say, if their personalities coalesce, problems are generally worked out on a satisfactory basis. Cooperative effort is sometimes indicated by selfish concern for the prestige and standing of an organization or department rather than by an aggressive interest in getting something done for the common welfare. If we care not who does it so long as it gets done, results will be greater. Thus it is that conviction about one's own job and enthusiasm for one's own service must be balanced by power of imagination and a breadth of vision which will stress the opportunity of the other fellow to do his job. If our profession becomes an affair of the spirit rather than an affair of detailed behavior the results are likely to be greater. Many times lack of cooperation is due to immersion in a sea of details. A big, broad view of the objectives everybody is seeking is lost sight of.

To summarize, ethics is the science of behavior as good or bad, judged by its effect on others. Social work is dedicated to that vague thing called social progress, which must at least be viewed as approachable, whether or not it is realized to any great degree. This, of course, strikes at individual and communal behavior viewed in terms of its good and bad effects. Social work involves contact with the most baffling problems of the day, namely, those dealing with human behavior. Only those can rightly be called social workers who are broadly indoctrinated. Social workers must be people of breadth of vision, able to look beyond the limitations of their own back yard. They must be sincere in their work, with convictions of its importance and with enthusiasm for its accomplishment. They must be willing to sacrifice even the ambitions of their own organizations, and surrender some of their less important habits of behavior in the interests of a demonstrably sound program. In short, they must have heart and brains.

H. P. Hammond, Associate Director of Investigation, Society for the
Promotion of Engineering Education, New York

There is probably no field of higher education in which the results are more susceptible of objective measurement or critical appraisal than in engineering education. It is quite natural that this should be true. For the most part the engineer's work results in concrete things. Scarcely an incident of modern life is uninfluenced by those things. His work is subjected constantly to the severest tests of safety, convenience, and economy. His failures cannot remain undetected, and may have the most far-reaching consequences.

Engineering education, which prepares men for these exacting duties, is nearly, if not, indeed, quite, as readily judged by its results. For one thing, engineers themselves who look to the colleges for the recruitment of their ranks are

a most critically and analytically minded group, accustomed as they are to deal in realities and always to seek the underlying truth of every situation. Not unnaturally, then, engineering education might have been expected to receive its full share of attention in the well-defined movement of the past twenty years or so to scrutinize closely the methods and results of higher education in this country. This, indeed, has proved to be the case.

This critical attitude toward the results of education is a very wholesome one. It has been manifested in many ways; in none, perhaps, more clearly than in the number and variety of educational investigations which have been undertaken in the past few years. While these studies and their results are quite generally known, it may not be inappropriate to mention the Flexner investigation of medical education and the virtually revolutionary change which has followed it as an example of what they may accomplish.

In the field of engineering education there have been two of these surveys. The first was undertaken by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching at the request of a group representing the four major professional engineering societies. It is generally spoken of as the Mann investigation, since the report upon it was written by Dr. Charles R. Mann, formerly of the Department of Physics of the University of Chicago. The Mann report was published in 1918, at a time when the engineering colleges were struggling through the period of the Student Army Training Corps. They were in no position to act upon the recommendations which the report presented. About four years ago, feeling that constructive action was needed, the engineering teachers themselves, through their organization, the society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, petitioned the Carnegie corporation for funds to continue the study of engineering education. The second of the two studies then followed. In presenting the request and in planning the work a principle new at that time in such undertakings was proposed. Briefly, it was recommended that the study be carried out by the engineering teachers and the engineering colleges themselves as a cooperative undertaking; that it should be a sympathetic study of engineering education by those most directly concerned. It was planned to conduct the work primarily through the agency of committees of the faculties in all of the colleges, and to coordinate the work through a central committee known as the board of investigation and coordination. It was also proposed that the work be in direct charge of a director and a staff. These proposals were accepted and the sum of $108,000 was appropriated for the work, the money to be furnished over a period of three years, during which it was assumed that the major portion of the study would be completed. The work has now been in progress for about two and one-half years. During that period it has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt that it is entirely possible to conduct a study of a branch of professional education by the method of cooperation of the colleges themselves and to demonstrate that the work can be of a sufficiently detached and critical character. It has been possible to make a thorough analysis of engineering edu

[merged small][ocr errors]

cation in all of its important phases, to study its relationship with the profession and with industry, and to begin the formulation of plans for constructive betterments. In fact, the enlistment of the aid of the colleges and other agencies, including the national engineering societies, has made it possible to accomplish a volume of results which would not have been possible by any other method in a similar period, if, indeed, some of the information and results would have been obtained at all.

This aspect of the investigation of engineering education deserves careful consideration by anybody considering a similar project; in fact, it has been adopted in other studies and is working successfully in them. It has its limitations as well as its advantages. One of its great advantages is that the work is done by those who will be affected by the results, and the way is thus paved for the adoption of the plans which grow out of the enterprise. Furthermore, the colleges look upon it as their own undertaking. They are vitally interested in its outcome, and our experience is that they will do almost any amount of work to insure its success. When the plan was first proposed it might well have been feared that the colleges could not look upon their problems from a sufficiently detached point of view; that, as someone expressed it, there might be a strong tendency "to rationalize the status quo." It might also have been feared that there would be a tendency on the part of individual colleges to magnify their merits and conceal their defects. As far as the engineering colleges and the engineering teachers are concerned, it may be affirmed quite definitely that such fears are groundless. Throughout the entire undertaking it has been manifest that all cooperating parties desire only to look the situation squarely in the face, to know the worst as well as the best, and to bring about results of lasting and substantial benefit to the colleges and those they serve. One disadvantage of the cooperative method, but one which can be surmounted by careful planning, is that it imposes a rather cumbersome organization. There are 154 institutions in the United States and 10 in Canada which offer engineering courses leading to degrees. There is also a considerable number of institutions offering preengineering courses or other courses related to engineering. Of the 164 institutions mentioned, there are now 136 which are officially affiliated with the undertaking. This, incidentally, is one measure of the widespread cooperation and support which the project has had. In all of these institutions there are either special committees of the faculty or one or more individuals designated as cooperators. To deal with all of these cooperators has required very careful planning and a considerable amount of systematic organization.

Such, then, has been the origin and the general plan of the investigation. Since it is undoubtedly the most salient development in the movement to elevate educational standards in the field of engineering, and since it is being conducted on a plan which is somewhat different from that followed in similar studies of education for the professions, it may be advisable to give a rather explicit statement of the methods of organizing and administering the work.

« AnteriorContinuar »