JITE v39n1 - The 1960s

Volume 39, Number 1
Fall 2001

The 1960s

Rupert N. Evans
University of Illinois

From its inception, the Journal of Industrial Teacher Education has been mindful of those who gave structure to industrial arts and to trade and industrial education. Each of the early issues had one or more dedications to these pioneers, with almost all of them authored by G. Harold Silvius. However, there was a distinct mid-western bias, and some very interesting omissions, from the lists of leaders featured in these dedications. Why were M. Ray Karnes, William T. Warner, and Donald Maley not included? Silvius, his doctoral students, and others continued to write dedications for many years. Did the dedications cease because the profession ran out of people who deserve recognition? Of course not!

One of the continuing tensions that is reflected in the content of the Journal concerned the relationship between industrial arts (general education) and trade and industrial education (vocational education), although the phrase "Industrial Education" in the title of the journal was generally accepted as being inclusive of both of these programs. Perhaps this tension reached its peak in 1968 with Gordon McMahon's fevered rebuttal to Robert Randleman's critique of Gordon's "T&I and Industrial Arts Teacher Education Programs Should Not Be Combined."

The Journal began at a watershed time with regard to research in industrial teacher education. Before the 1960s, research in our field was confined almost exclusively to the theses and dissertations produced by graduate students. Readers who don't believe this statement should consult the printed lists of projects compiled annually by the American Vocational Association's Research Committee. Indeed, some of this emphasis spilled over into the early days of the Journal . In those days, most of our professors thought that their job was to produce well-trained students, not to conduct research. Indeed, most of them did no scholarly writing at all. Consider, for example, how little Homer J. Smith and William E. Warner wrote during their professional careers, yet there is no gainsaying their influence. In many institutions, the whole faculty was anti-research. I recall hearing an eminent professor state, during a program at an annual conference of the American Council for Industrial Arts Teacher Education, "I would much rather trust the views of Professor X [another eminent professor] than any of the conclusions of all the research [pronounced 'ree-search'] studies in the world."

More than any other factor, the Journal was responsible for making hypothesis-based, data-grounded, conclusion-oriented studies acceptable in our field. As a result of its influence, faculty members who wrote for the Journal were promoted more rapidly and gained acceptance and influence across campus. Unfortunately, one must sadly admit that much of what was published had negligible influence on practice in the field.

The prevailing theme of the Journal during the 1960s was the need for research to identify and solve problems in industrial education. A recurring feature of the early issues was a section on "Research In Progress." This began in the second issue, and briefly described studies that faculty members had under way. A related feature included in the Journal was entitled "Dissertations" or "Recently Completed Doctoral Dissertation Research." Although the descriptions were much shorter, there continued to be far more reports of dissertations than of faculty research studies. More helpful to the field was a series of articles on "What Research Has To Say For Industrial Education." This series covered improving teaching, philosophy and objectives, administration and supervision, and curricular content.

In 1968, new editor Jerome Moss, Jr. introduced a more sophisticated view of research by asking his colleague, David Bjorkquist, to design an entire issue devoted to research. This appeared as Volume 6, Number 1. This was also the first foray by an editor of the Journal into a consideration of all of vocational and practical arts education, and included the Journal's first article by a female author. In addition, it was the first issue that included published disagreements between authors.

The study of the early issues of the Journal is worthwhile for many reasons, not the least of which is the identification of areas of study that ought to be repeated or expanded. One good example is Gerald Parks' 1963 study of the factors that encouraged individuals to leave industrial employment for employment in teaching. This type of investigation has obvious implications for recruitment of qualified instructors.

The decade of the 1960s was a period of ferment in curriculum design, particularly in mathematics and science, but substantial work also was done on curriculum redesign in industrial education. Indeed, curriculum and evaluation were the most common concerns of the Journal authors during this decade. The most notable of these articles were Willard Bateson and Jacob Stern's "The Functions of Industry as the Basis for Industrial Education Programs" and Don Maley's "Basis for Organizing the Content of Industrial Arts With Emphasis on the Research and Experimentation Program." These two articles, featured in the first issue of the Journal (1963), have had a substantial and continuing effect on the design of technology education programs.

In 1968, Paul DeVore called for a study of technology in industrial arts programs, but wasn't quite ready to abandon the old name. Volume 6, Number 3 (1969) was devoted entirely to evaluation, including a report by Nelson on the evaluation of American industry, the first of the modern curriculum studies aimed at revision of industrial arts.

These three articles and the issue devoted to evaluation seem to me to reflect the best of the themes of the Journal in the 1960s. With some trepidation I chose the Bateson and Stern article as reflecting the theme of research for the decade. It not only kicked off the first Journal issue of the decade, but it sought to find a basis in theory and content that would strengthen both industrial arts and trade and industrial education.

Rupert Evans is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois.