JITE v39n1 - The Functions of Industry as the Basis for Industrial Education Programs

Volume 39, Number 1
Fall 2001

The Functions of Industry as the Basis for Industrial Education Programs

Willard M. Bateson
Wayne State University

Jacob Stern
University of Illinois

It is not unusual for an editor to preface an article such as this with a comment somewhat as follows: "Some Additional Thoughts on an Old Problem" or, "A New Look at Some Old, Old Issues." The issues are, admittedly old. Few seem to lend themselves to easy, simple, "black or white" solutions. During the past fifty-or-more years, national and state conferences have frequently been devoted to their consideration. They have been discussed at the grass roots as well as at the top level, and they appear over and over again in the literature of the profession. The casual observer might conclude from all this that we seem to be devoting quite a bit of energy in attempts to formulate and establish basic tenets. He may even inquire, "Is all this concern and resulting activity really necessary?" The authors believe the time and effort the profession has devoted and continues to devote to fundamental issues is both necessary and laudable. To do otherwise would result in a stuporous state of security in which the process of atrophy would begin. Dr. Kenneth W. Brown, in a recent article stated, A philosophy comes to us by means of effort and the searching examination of our experiences. Consequently, it cannot be handed from one person to another, as would be the case of a mathematical formula or so much data gathered about something. Philosophy gives meaning to experience which in turn, feeds back into philosophy to cause a reshaping or an extension or a deepening, sometimes all three, of the premises upon which a philosophy rests. (Brown, 1962, p. 10).

The process whereby a value system, a philosophy, is evolved is often characterized by trial and error. It is both inductive and deductive in its operation. Whether related to international or national affairs, bringing up teenagers, or educational efforts, the results seem to be based more on empiricism than on relationalism.

The process is somewhat analogous to the perennial pruning of the bearing tree to insure a more plentiful and useful product. By a continuous evaluation of our beliefs, objectives and practices we can reinforce those directions, which time and experience have shown to be appropriate. Conversely, we can "prune" from our "professional tree" the twigs and branches which appear to deter sound growth and development. To assume that we can establish once and for all a set of values, which will govern our objectives and subsequent practices, regardless of how the values are determined, is folly. Neither can we delegate the major responsibility for this task to others, as has been suggested. We must continue to review and evaluate critically, discuss and re-discuss new and evidently old issues in light of newer developments. A philosophy, a value system, is an evolving matter: it is continually being reshaped, often by the very actions it initiates. A recent conference report states,

It is recommended that … (industrial education) teachers, supervisors, and teacher educators critically analyze their past performance with the aim of providing better instruction and inaugurating pilot programs that can test new ideas. (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1962, p. 64

In response to this challenge, the authors first critically review the objectives currently identified with industrial education, and then certain hypotheses with respect to the industrial matrix are formulated and presented as the basis for new program development. The manner in which this new concept may be implemented in the junior and the senior high schools is scheduled to appear at a later date.

Since the turn of the century many concepts have been enunciated and these in turn have given rise to numerous definitions, scores of objectives and varied practices. Some of these will survive the test of time while others will be found inadequate or unsound and be cast aside. Particularly vulnerable to this process are many of the objectives currently identified with industrial education.

Sound objectives are critical and imperative to a sound program. They may serve as a pivotal point for program inspection. From one perspective they reflect the underlying concepts and principles whence they originate. From another perspective they reflect the procedures and activities utilized in their achievement. When industrial education objectives are used in the above manner, they neither reflect clearly the rationale for their existence nor the experiences employed for their implementation.

A review of our objectives reveals a number of interesting matters. With no attempt toward sophistication, the following observations can be made. First, proliferous adequately describes the results of our efforts. We have been primarily concerned with numbers, the quantity rather than the quality of our objectives. Evident is the flavor of patent medicines a panacea for all ills of education. Contributing to this superfluity are such matters as (a) duplication of, or redundancy in, objectives, (b) incongruity of items, and (c) contrived objectives.

Duplication seems to be present in many of our stated objectives. As an example, the following statements often appear in the literature as entities or primary objectives (objectives of the first order), when in essence they are directly related to one primary objective i.e. vocational guidance: "self exploration," "to discover talents," "pre-vocational, "provides information regarding industry and workers," "reveals employment opportunities offered by industry," "vocational counseling," "exploration of industry," "assist in choosing a vocation."

Vocational guidance, or in other words, the process of assisting the individual to choose a vocation, can be achieved only through the realization of many of the above particulars. To expand a primary objective to the second, third, or fourth order and then to include elements from all levels in one list contributes nothing but confusion. Though no attempt will be made here to show similar duplications in regard to other objectives, they do exist.

Another observation concerns the characteristic of incongruity. Within most lists of objectives may be found legitimate objectives, and also the means to achieve them. Specifically, such matters as "skill in drawing and design," "correlation with other subjects," "household mechanics," and "sampling of a variety of industries" should not be considered as ends in themselves but means to an end. They are not objectives per se; they are the means employed to achieve objectives.

The third and most insidious factor contributing to the superfluity is the use of contrived objectives. Contrived objectives are those used to justify pseudo programs of industrial education. They are the natural consequence of obsolescence-in content, facilities, or instruction. When technological advancement, the taproot of obsolescence, renders an educational program obsolete, objectives are often formulated to justify its continuation. The investment in capital outlay, well organized, smooth running, tried and proven courses of study, and teacher inertia all foster the creation of these contrived objectives. The extent of this practice may be appreciated when we realize the magnitude of the changes in industrial technology since the turn of the century. According to Dr. Ivan Hostetler,

The first 50 years of the present century produced the most spectacular technological growth in the history of our country. Fifty-eight percent of the people industrially employed today are working at jobs that did not exist 50 years ago. Automobiles, airplanes, refrigerators, radios, television sets-just to name a few-are products of the first half of the century. While the technological changes have been phenomenal, industrial [education] which, according to Bonser, is a 'study of these changes,' has progressed at a much slower pace. (United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1962, p. 11)

The obsolescence due to technological change is understandable, but hardly a valid reason for the use of contrived objectives to justify malpractice in industrial education.

The problems of proliferation, duplication, incongruity and contrived objectives are not entirely new to the profession. They have been recognized in the past, and notable attempts have been made to correct them. The most recent on the national level was the 1960 Washington Conference. Unfortunately, although understandable, past attempts to bring order have been based largely on the results of normative surveys and compromise rather than on hard, cold logic.

Normative surveys are concerned with ascertaining the conditions that prevail-the status quo. The results should not be interpreted as indicating either desirable or undesirable conditions. To conclude that whatever prevails is therefore right is a fallacy, particularly in view of the apparent confusion in our objectives. Someone has said, "Life is a series of compromises." Without this mechanism, the individual, a community, a culture or the world itself would not be quite the same. Compromise involves concessions and sacrifices. The results must be a middle course, whether "right" or "wrong." The giraffe has been said to be the result of compromise among members of a committee. Whether compromise should be the means whereby the objectives for industrial education are determined is a moot question.

The foregoing discussion of industrial education objectives has been primarily centered on the basic causes of proliferation. These have been identified as (a) duplication of, (b) incongruity within, and (c) the use of contrived objectives. The authors believe that with these factors clearly in mind, a significant reduction in the number of objectives can be accomplished with little effort. Such action would yield, among other things, a list that could legitimately be considered as proper objectives for industrial education.

Still another observation to be made is the lack of priority assigned to proper objectives currently identified with industrial education. Among the proper objectives there are those that rightly must dominate the very nature of the educational experiences in the program. Course content, facilities and often the methods of instruction are specifically designed and structured to achieve them. Because of their pervasive, commanding character, the modifier "dominant" is most fitting when describing them. Also among the proper objectives there are those that should be considered as subordinate. Their influence on course content, facilities and methods is negligible and their attainment, more often than not, a concomitant or collateral result. As an illustration, let us assume that "Proper Use of Leisure Time," or "Avocational-Recreational Interests" be considered as a dominant objective for industrial education. As such, its influence on course content, facilities, and methods would result, in the opinion of the authors, in an instructional program not recognizable as industrial education and furthermore, one completely incongruous with the conceptual roots of industrial education. On the other hand, let us consider this objective as a subordinate rather than a dominant one. As such, it would have negligible, if any, influence on the elements of the instruction program. The contribution of industrial education to its realization would be incidental, and its achievement considered as a concomitant or collateral result.

The ranking of this objective thusly does not deny the importance of "Proper Use of Leisure" as an educational objective in our culture, nor does it preclude a contribution by industrial education to its attainment. Implicit is the declaration that other objectives are relatively more important.

Unfortunately, the use of the two terms dominant and subordinate to classify proper objectives implies a dichotomy and this is not intended. The terms should be considered as descriptive of the opposite ends of a continuum.

The need for assigning priority to objectives is imperative. Already there is much evidence in the field and literature to indicate that subordinate objectives are unduly influencing the true character and role of industrial education. Although the pursuit of subordinate over dominant objectives may be unintentional, the continuation of this practice will result in the ultimate demise of industrial education.

In the process of assigning priority to our objectives, several important matters must be recognized and due attention given to them. First, the position of an objective on the dominance/sub-ordinance continuum is a relative, not an absolute, matter. Its degree of dominance is a factor of several variables. Among the variables are time, place, societal needs (often expressed through educational objectives) and economic conditions. The degree of dominance of a particular objective may increase or decrease as the instructional program advances through the grade levels into the post-high school period. An elaboration of this concept, via a specific objective, may be useful at this point.

Preparation for employment (vocational education) as an objective of the junior high school program is very subordinate at this period of time in our culture. Its relative position on the continuum is extremely low. It is interesting to note that at one time in our history (time variable) this was not the case. Furthermore, this is not currently universal throughout all cultures (place variable). At the high school level, the vocational preparatory objectives tend to move toward the dominant end of the continuum, and at the post-high school level this specific objective, in general, is dominant.

Second, there are no educational objectives that are unique to, or exclusively, industrial education. Likewise, there are no educational objectives that are exclusive to any other subject area or activity. Each subject, via curriculum experiences, contributes to the achievement of most, if not all educational objectives.

Third, the contribution a subject area makes toward the achievement of educational objectives varies among objectives. Although there are many reasons for this variance, the primary reason is due to the nature of course content, facilities, or curriculum experiences inherent in the subject itself.

Fourth, the contributions made by subjects toward the achievement of a specific objective will vary among the subjects. As an example, a course in English composition will undoubtedly contribute more to the "skills in written communication" objective than a course in physics or industrial education. On the other hand, industrial education can contribute more to the development of self-concepts related to the industrial complex (vocational guidance objective) than any other school subject or experience.

What is the significance of these matters to industrial education? The authors believe the very character and role of industrial education in our culture are and will be directly affected by them.

The need for more "general" education, restricted budgets, unprecedented demands on schools to remove "frills," and to add this or that, all these and others, are forcing school administrators to take a "hard-nose" look at the curriculum. Each subject will eventually be evaluated on its contribution toward the achievement of the accepted educational objectives. To the extent that its contribution is worthwhile, its place in the program will be enhanced. Conversely, to the extent that its contribution is found lacking, a duplication of, or better done by other subject areas, its place in the curriculum will and should be questioned. Industrial education will not, cannot, escape this scrutiny. In fact, when "the voter considers industrial [education] one of the three least important services of the secondary school," (Jarvis, 1963, p. 17), the evaluation seems well underway.

The tendency to identify industrial education as "general" education is precarious indeed. This shibboleth is tantamount to being for motherhood and against sin. No discipline, subject, or course per se is "general" education. Each may contribute to, and parenthetically may detract from, the "general" education of the individual. As pointed out previously, all subjects contribute to many, if not all, educational objectives. The contribution to "general" education made by industrial education, or any other subject, is immeasurable. But this in itself is no justification for industrial education, or any other subject, to be included or continued in the curriculum.

The contribution to any one objective varies among the different subjects. This variance is due primarily to the inherent characteristics of the subject itself. Because of a number of reasons, some more obvious than others, the authors believe that industrial education can contribute to the achievement of two primary objectives much more effectively than any other subject or activity. The first of these has to do with the process of assisting the individual to choose an occupation (vocational guidance), and the second has to do with vocational preparation for industrially orientated occupations. To reiterate, no other school subject or activity-in or out of school-can contribute to these objectives as effectively as industrial education.

In passing, the reader may have noted that the authors have made a deliberate attempt not to identify certain objectives with the popular term "industrial-arts" education and others with the term industrial-vocational education. The primary and proper objectives that must be identified with industrial education and the activities designed to achieve them are so inextricably, if not integrally, related that a differentiation is not possible. Many of the concepts and collateral principles, perhaps dogmas would be a more appropriate term, that are designed to establish and encourage a cleavage between allied activities in industrial education have no basis in fact. To infer from this statement that the qualifications and preparation of instructors, physical facilities, and curriculum experiences are the same for the implementation of the vocational guidance and vocational preparation objectives is not warranted. The dominance of either one in a program will dictate the primary nature of these matters. The degree of dominance of either will vary depending on variables already identified and discussed. Furthermore, the curriculum experiences designed to achieve either one will materially contribute to the other. To do otherwise is impossible.

Of the two objectives, which have been identified as primary and proper for industrial education, vocational preparation has traveled a relatively well-lighted route. Its historical role has been closely associated with clearly defined social values. To prepare an individual to provide for the sustenance of himself and his family, which at the same time enables him to make a meaningful contribution to the commonwealth, is a deeply entrenched and virtually unassailable goal. The achievement of this goal adds inestimably to the dignity of the individual, and in the collectivity, causes the quality of social life to flourish. This is not to say that this objective has in fact been flawlessly fulfilled. Much could be done and, in fact, must be done to improve the quality of many vocational preparation programs in industrial education.

The vocational guidance objective on the other hand has had a much more uncertain journey. For thousands of years, "occupational choice" was virtually a contradiction in terms. By birth, by geographic location, and by social class, the precise nature of a man's work was rigidly determined for him. To this clay, in certain parts of the world, the range of occupations from which a selection may be made is sharply limited. It is generally characteristic of advanced industrial societies however; that the range of occupations available to individuals is considerably broadened and occupational mobility becomes increasingly commonplace. Viewed in this light, the vocational guidance objective warrants a position of vastly increased importance in the total school program. To this point, the authors wish to direct their remarks.

In scope, function and implementation, the vocational guidance objective has suffered in our schools. This has been primarily due to the retarded development of a sound conceptual framework on which the program could be based. The authors have elsewhere presented a discussion of the Gestalt Concept of vocational guidance, and some of the thoughts expressed there will be reiterated here Bateson & Stern, 1962, p. 7). The vocational guidance process, as it relates to industrial education, consists essentially of the dynamic interaction between the individual's knowledge of self and the nature of the field from which the occupational choice may be made. The former involves the acquisition of insights in regard to "his personal likes, dislikes, aptitudes, limitations and interests with respect to industrial activities" (Bateson & Stern, 1962, p. 7). The latter is concerned with ". . . experiences in which the individual gains knowledge about the structure, complexity, characteristics, relationships, opportunities and requirements of industry in its totality and the activities within the industrial complex" (Bateson & Stern, 1962, p. 7).

Out of the dynamics of these two exploratory endeavors, grows the individual's identification with, and pursuit of, a particular occupation. Industrial education can make a major contribution to the student's comprehension of this individual-industry Gestalt. Through concrete laboratory experiences, supported by a body of theoretical knowledge drawn from related disciplines, he can play the "game of hats." Trying out various industrial roles for size, he can thus attempt to match his self concept with activities which genuinely typify occupations in the industrial world. The process an individual goes through when identifying himself with a way-of-life, a vocational pursuit, is gradual and long lasting. Industrial education on the junior and senior high school levels can and should gear itself to assist the individual in this process.

If further progress is to be made in the development of an educational program, which can achieve this primary and proper objective, it is imperative to clarify the terminology being used. Central to the task of moving from the philosophical plane to the operational level, with respect to the vocational guidance objective, is the concept of industry. What, then, is industry? What are its vital parameters? How may we approximate its essence? Despite the dominant role it plays in our daily lives, modem industry, as a social institution, is not readily understood. In fact, its complexity and immensity combine to cloud our perceptions. Not unlike the blind man confronting an elephant, our sensory organs seem inadequate to the perceptual task. It is precisely on the nature of industry that the leadership of industrial education has floundered during the past several decades. Although the "understanding of industry" objective has permeated our professional literature from Bonser's time to the present, astoundingly little effort has been directed toward a clarification of the industrial complex. One would imagine that a subject area, which purports to draw its content from a particular social institution, would direct a considerable effort toward a systematic examination of that institution. Is it conceivable that teachers of English might carry on their instructional programs without seeking to validate their content by methodical investigations into the evolution of the language? Dare the teachers of the sciences ignore the fields of science in determining content for their courses, and abstain from periodic assessments in the light of new developments in their respective fields? In industrial education, curriculum choices have largely been eclectic, arbitrary and opportunistic. There have been almost no attempts to scientifically analyze the field of study. While scholars in other subjects have sought to investigate, gather data, classify, and synthesize in the area of their concern, those in industrial education have devoted themselves to other matters.

A notable exception to this unfortunate condition is the work of Warner and Olson, whose analyses of industries reveals a sensitivity to the problems outlined above. Utilizing basic data collected by the U. S. Department of Commerce for its Census of Manufactures, they developed a list of major industry groups. From these data the concept of the "Laboratory of Industry" emerged. Here at least is an attempt to validate the content that is appropriate to the field of industrial education. The Census of Manufactures, despite significant exclusions from its survey, is a methodical and thorough inventory of manufacturing in the United States. Laudable as the Warner and Olson attempt is, the approach suffers on two accounts. First, it utilizes, as its basic source of data, The Census of Manufactures, the central purpose of which is the collection of economic data rather than curriculum development in industrial education. Second, no attempt is made to synthesize the analytical data into a format which lends itself to the fulfillment of educational objectives.

The appropriateness of the Census of Manufactures as a source of data for curriculum development for industrial education is certainly questionable. It was initiated by an act of Congress in 1902 to provide statistically reliable information relative to economic trends and developments in the emerging factory system. Products, materials, skilled manpower, and capital investment are some of the areas in which information is furnished. Although it represents a broad sector of American industry, it is by no means an unbiased sample. Important industrial activities such as the following are excluded from the survey:

  1. Fabrication operations performed by contractors on construction sites.
  2. Custom work made to individual order (e.g. custom tailoring or woodworking).
  3. Repair and service activities.
  4. Establishments devoted primarily to engineering, design, and experimental work.

Recognizing this deficiency, Olson has made a number of important adjustments in his curriculum proposal. For example, the service industries and the research industries are in the curriculum design along with the basic industries identified by the Census. These adjustments, however, are not validated against any empirical data, and their inclusion implies the inadequacy of the basic source in the identification of content for industrial education.

The second and more vital criticism of this approach concerns the programmatic implementation from the list of basic industries. No attempt is made by the advocates of this approach to formulate a set of generalizations concerning industrial activities. It seems evident to the present authors that as the complexity, scope, and diversity of a field of inquiry increases, the possibility of devising an educational program based on its discrete parts diminishes sharply. In other words, Warner and Olson have omitted a vital phase in deriving content from their analyses of industry.

It is necessary to peruse the analytical data, and to discern those overarching generalizations, which, through their universal applicability, bind the discrete parts together. When these universal characteristics have been identified they may serve as the foundations of the industrial education curriculum. Armed with an understanding of these generalized functions, the student will be able to comprehend the modus operandi of any specific industry to which he may subsequently be exposed. On the other hand, his studies in specific industries (whether materials oriented or product oriented) limit his understanding to that particular industrial species. It is primarily with this latter criticism in mind that the "Functions Approach" to industrial education was conceived.

Industry, broadly speaking, is the social institution whose role it is to produce and service the products which man requires for satisfying his material needs. To understand how this role is fulfilled, it is necessary to examine the evolution of its products on the one hand, and the procedures by which they are serviced on the other. In tracing the evolution of an industrial product from its initial conception to its distribution to the consumer, we see a common thread which repeats itself faithfully regardless of the complexity of the product, or the time or place of its production. The "functions" of the goods producing branch of industry constitute the strands of this thread.

Gerald Piel, in his "Consumers of Abundance," has stated that the pillars of our economy are based on two concepts. These are property and work (Piel, 1961, p. 3). In a similar fashion, the entire structure of modem industry (all industry, for that matter) rests on two fundamental factors. These consist of accumulated capital and trained manpower. Without these fundamental elements, industrial activity is severely retarded. Accumulated capital is needed to finance the activities of a particular enterprise and to procure the necessary tools, materials, power, facilities, and manpower. Appropriately trained manpower must be provided to carry out the diverse tasks which are involved in the industrial activity. Manpower is the sine qua non, from the dream to its realization. It performs the rudimentary tasks of tending the specialized productive devices as well as the basic decision-making at all levels of the enterprise. With these essential ingredients, accumulated capital and trained manpower, industry may fulfill the following "functions," which are generalizations extracted from its goods-producing activities:

  1. Research
  2. Product Development
  3. Planning for Production
  4. Manufacturing
    1. Custom, or unit manufacturing
    2. Mass production, or continuous manufacturing


The vital function of research has received increased recognition in recent years as vast sums of money and large numbers of highly trained workers have been dedicated to its pursuit. Many of the larger industrial corporations have developed extensive research centers which operate quasi-independently of the manufacturing activities. In these concentrations of scientific brainpower equipped with the most up-to-date laboratories, new materials, processes and products are being investigated. Similar research activities are being carried on by establishments that are not organizationally affiliated with a manufacturing enterprise. Independent research laboratories, operating on a contract or retainer basis, have also established themselves in the industrial milieu. These mushrooming research facilities pour forth the nascent clay of the world of tomorrow. Scientists, engineers, and technicians working with the most sophisticated laboratory apparatus are formulating new and exotic materials to meet the demands of our advancing technologies. As these new materials become realities, process research renders them producible and economically feasible. The vigor and fertility of the research function of modern industry is an outstanding achievement in recent economic history.

Product Development

The fruits of the research laboratory do not often lend themselves directly to manufacturing implementation. "Product development" has to do with creating and refining desirable attributes in the product, after a satisfactory initial product plan has been made (Davis, 1957, p. 936). It often involves the development of laboratory models or prototypes, which show the aesthetic, as well as the functional characteristics of the product. Renderings, product assembly, and detailed drawings are also prepared during the development phase. Changes are made in the product design to improve its appearance, structural and mechanical properties, and to simplify tooling and manufacturing. Frequently the prototype undergoes extensive testing to determine its reliability, efficiency, and life expectancy. The product development function, therefore, takes the basic idea from the product research stage, refines it, and modifies it until it is acceptable in terms of satisfying a consumer want, and as a profitable venture for the enterprise.

Planning for Production

After the product design has been finalized through the product development function, the stage of planning for production is initiated. This function plays a critical role in the evolution of the product. Process engineers develop a step-by-step analysis of the operations, which must be performed on each detail. Standard parts required in the assembly are identified and provision is made for their procurement. Special tools, gauges, jigs, fixtures, and special machines are designed in accordance with the requirements of the process sheet. A layout of the productive facilities is developed on which the tools of production are located so that the flow of work progresses systematically and synchronously toward final assembly. Material handling devices such as conveyors are designed and planned as parts of the integrated manufacturing cycle. Waste disposal facilities such as chip conveyors and exhaust systems are incorporated into the total design for production. This planning function has become increasingly important as products have become more complex and as production volume has mounted.


The preceding functions-research, development, and planning-lead up to, and pave the way for, production. In this stage men and materials are brought together according to a carefully conceived plan to manufacture a product that has been thoroughly researched and developed with a view toward satisfying some human need or desire. Either custom manufacturing or continuous manufacturing procedures are utilized, depending on the nature and purpose of the product.

Custom manufactured products are generally unique in design and are produced on a "to-order" basis. Custom built homes, clothing, and cabinetwork are examples of this branch of industry. Jobshops producing jigs, fixtures and special gauges for a continuous manufacturing enterprise constitute another form of custom manufacturing. The activities of such establishments are characterized by diversity of product, process, material and, in some instances, location. The actual work may be performed in the custom manufacturing establishment, at a construction site, or in the home or place of business of the consumer. Despite the tremendous economic and social impact of continuous manufacturing, custom manufacturing remains a vital part of the industrial complex.

Continuous manufacturing, or mass production, is that branch of industry characterized by high volume and extensive rationalization of production. Such productive enterprises are geared to satisfy a mass market for which thousands and in some cases millions of units are required. Both "consumer goods" and "industrial goods" are produced in this manner. Consumer goods are "those that are destined for use by the ultimate consumer and which are in such form that they can be used by him without further processing" (Alexander, 1950, p. 18). Industrial goods consist of "those used in making other goods, in rendering services, or in conducting an enterprise" (Alexander, 1950, p. 18). Because of the minute process analysis used in designing a highly specialized productive facility of this type, continuous manufacturing tends to be considerably less flexible than custom manufacturing. Once established, the chain of related productive devices and procedures must continue in operation for a more or less extended period of time. It should be pointed out, in passing, that there is a marked difference between the custom manufacturing and the continuous manufacturing branches of industry, not only in their technology but also in regard to the socio-psychological environment, which they engender.

Although the foregoing sequence concludes the evolution of the product, and provides an outline of the functions of the goods-producing branch of industry, the process of distributing the product to the consumer remains to be fulfilled. The sector of economic life, which carries out the marketing and distributive function, is massive and complex. It has intermediary between the producing industries and the consumer. An analysis of the distributive establishments, their organizations, methods, procedures, and media may reveal distinctive common elements which may permit the development of an educational synthesis such as that which is here presented for the manufacturing industries. It may also be discovered (as the authors suspect) that a gray zone exists in some particular industries, such as the public utilities, where a sharp distinction between manufacturing and distribution would be artificial. In any case, a well-established subject area, distributive education, already exists in the school program, and the primary responsibility for this field of inquiry properly belongs in its hands. Industrial education will do well to focus primarily on the manufacturing and service industries, while at the same time making a concomitant contribution in the areas of finance and distribution.

Servicing of Industrial Products

As in the case of the manufacturing industries, the service industries also rest on the twin pillars of capital and trained manpower. These are united in the servicing enterprise to fulfill an essential human need, namely, the maintenance and repair of the materials goods of society. Many of the industrial products upon which we have all come to depend are prone to periodic malfunction. Whether trivial in nature, or central to some vital human activity, these products may require occasional repair and service. An analysis of the procedures used in maintaining or servicing a large variety of industrial products has led the authors to conclude that there are sufficient common elements to suggest that a synthesis is possible in this branch of industry also.

Industrial products may be essentially mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, or any combination of these, or other means of conversion, transmission, or utilization of energy. They may be relatively simple, or quite complex. Their service life may extend over a long or short period of time. Nevertheless, in the servicing of industrial products, the following functions must be carried out:

  1. Diagnosis
  2. Correction
    1. Adjustment
    2. Replacement
    3. Repair
  3. Testing

Diagnosis involves the use of knowledge, techniques, and instruments to determine the probable cause of the malfunction. On the basis of the diagnosis, the probable causes are investigated and the proper corrective procedures initiated. The correction function may be carried out in various ways. It may entail a simple adjustment, as in the case of a carburetor, or it may involve the complete disassembly of an engine. In some instances, a component is placed; in others a part is repaired. Finally, in order to determine whether the initial malfunction has in fact been corrected, the product must be tested in an empirical and/or scientific manner. Sometimes the results of this test will indicate that the correction has not been effected, in which case a re-diagnosis is necessary, and an alternative correction procedure is initiated until the product is functioning properly.


In the first phase of this paper, the matter of educational objectives was examined. An attempt was made to identify and clarify those objectives which are proper and dominant for industrial education. This was followed by the presentation of a concept that synthesizes the field of inquiry, i.e., the industrial complex. The "functions approach" to industrial education is based on the existence of common elements in each of the two major branches of industry: goods producing and goods servicing. The authors hope that the discussion of objectives for industrial education will serve as a springboard for individuals and groups within the profession who are concerned with this critical aspect of our program. The functions approach is offered as a conceptual framework around which the appropriate forms-courses of study, facilities, equipment, and methodology-may be developed to achieve the vocational guidance objective. It is felt that the rubric itself is of limited importance, and that programs may be devised, bearing various titles, which are nevertheless in harmony with the basic concept. Those to whom this synthesis of industry represents a challenge will no doubt wish to project their thoughts ahead toward the possibilities for implementing this approach in programs of industrial education. The authors have given extended consideration to this question and have developed a number of ideas along these lines. It will be recognized, however, that the ramifications of implementing these concepts (patently a sharp departure from existing orientations) are indeed manifold. It is anticipated that a subsequent article, concerning itself exclusively with the question of implementation throughout the grade levels of the educational structure, will be forthcoming in a future issue of this journal. Meanwhile, the quality of a profession may be gauged by the kinds of questions with which it concerns itself. What better questions may we dedicate ourselves to than those regarding our own raison d'etre?


Alexander, R. (1950). Marketing by Manufacturers. Richard D. Irwin, Inc.

Bateson, W. M., & Stern, J. (1962). Functions of industry: Bases for vocational guidance. School Shop.

Brown, K. W. (1962). Establishment of a philosophy: A key to excellence. The Industrial Arts Teacher.

Davis, R. C. (1957). Industrial Organization and Management. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Jarvis, J. A. (1963). The place and purpose of industrial arts. School Shop.

Piel, G. (1961). Consumers of abundance. Santa Barbara, CA: Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (1962). Improving industrial arts teaching: Conference Report: June, 1960. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

This manuscript first appeared in Fall, 1963 issue of the Journal (Vol. 1, No. 1).
Tracy Gilmore