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ECONOMIC HORIZONS M. Monroe Kimbrel Executive Vice President First National Bank Thomson, Georgia Georgia Vocational Association June 14, 1957 Abraham Lincoln once said, "Education is not given for the purpose of earning a living, but rather for knowing what to do with the living once it is earned". Upon first examination, this quotation may seem to be ill-advised. Closer examination, however, shows it contains more truth than fiction. It is generally recognized that more emphasis should be placed on the teaching of our youth to meet the problems of home and family living and to cope successfully with the demands of modern society. As present and future buyers of products necessary for food, clothing and shelter and the many items no longer classed as luxuries, our youth should be given a clearer concept of how to choose and care for those things so vefy much a part of their existence. With the advent of industrial specialization and the corresponding increase in the dependence of the individual upon commodities made by others, it has become more important the consumer know more about the things he purchases as a part of his daily living. With the development of a mass production economy many consumer problems have arisen. The multiplicity of consumer goods and services increases the diffi culty of making intelligent choices. The matter of becoming informed about what exists and what will best serve one's purposes becomes more difficult. Admittedly, this will not come as a new suggestion, but all vocational educators, and particularly those in the agricultural area, must shortly engage in a realistic reappraisal of existing programs. the evaluation now. Actually, they should be doing Out of such an evaluation, there should oome the kinds of data that will be of assistance in the solution of those problems which are growing in importance and urgency. 2 BROADER TRAINING In this age of specialization and automation, vocational training takes on added emphasis. Business and industrial leaders are requiring more training for prospective employees. In turn, our school programs must offer this training. Employers do not want to waste the time training employees who can not be trained. The beginner in industry who has a high school diploma can show the employer from whom he wants a job that he has the training and the education upon which careers are built and employers know and appreciate that. It is idle repetition to suggest to you the urgency of encouraging boys and girls to obtain advanced education. The 1950 census showed that among men 25 to 60 years of age, the least likely to be unemployed were those who had college training. The most likely were those who had an 8th grade education or less. This census also showed high school graduates have a much better chance to get a job than do non-graduates. QUALITY - NOT NUMBERS An oft repeated question today is, nAre we enrolling too many students in our vocational classes?1. ' The answer to this perplexing question may well hinge upon the number of opportunities prospective students have for becoming success fully placed. The challenge faced today by the vocational departments is how to prevent enrollment from becoming made up largely of boys who are slow learners, or who for various reasons, find the varied activities of this course less demanding of their talents than the standards required in academic classes. Somewhere along the line, we have made the mistake of permitting the opinion to expand that mentally backward and those lacking certain superior qualities should be encouraged to enter vocationa departments. It seems significant to stop stressing total numbers enrolled in vocational departments and instead, stress quality of training. We should strive to keep pace with the change, constantly improving and broadening our programs of service - 3 - I have the feeling much of our vocational work has been done in the schools and in the communities without adequately informing ourselves about the communities in which we live and learn and work. During recent years, we have come to believe that the life of the school is and must be closely related to the life of the community. Yet, knowledge of the specific forces and experiences which touch the daily lives of our children is usually sketchy and incomplete. Obviously, means must be found by which knowledge of the community can be made reasonably complete and useable rather than haphazard and incidental. With this fund of information, a vocational program can be developed in each community which is sufficiently well-organized to enrich the school program and the living of our students. Marvelous strides have been made in recent years in the development of broader and more comprehensive vocational programs. on your laurels. You can not, however, rest During the heat of the presidential campaign last fall, one of the candidates said, "Vocational education is given to only about one-half the students below the college level who need and want it. More than 5,000 high schools serving farm children lack programs of vocational agriculture". If this is true, there is still much to be done. Prior to vocational agriculture, the schools educated boys and girls so they could leave the farm and community. Little concern was expressed for the education and development of leadership among farmers. developed for other vocations. Thus, the leaders were Today it is accepted and recognized that the farmers need and have the right to an education for the vocation. in the farm groups and organizations. Today leadership is needed In fact, a need for leadership for and by farmers is more important today than in previous years. A short time ago, I read the results of a study by some fellow in Ohio. He commented that the opportunities for entering farming today are limited. This gloomy outlook for the future may be based upon his own studies, but it is definitely one with which I do not agree. field today. There are still challenging opportunities in the Indeed, I would not be so blind as to suggest there are not weak spots, -4 but there have been weak spots for years before. I have faith you are equal to the occasion and with the knowledge and leadership we have today, ourvocational departments will provide even brighter horizons ahead. It is my opinion that those of you engaged in agricultural education should concern yourselves far more about the people who live in agricultural areas. You should be eager to help these find and take advantage of the opportunities to better their condition. You should concern yourselves more with the appropriate types of agricultural education for effectively providing forthe adults who will probably spend the rest of their lives in that particular location. We should encourage other types of vocational education in these schools which will help in developing industries and businesses best suited to the area. VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE It is apparent that young people can not be expected by random strokes of chance to gravitate unerringly into a school program first and an occupation later, that will be for each sound, challenging and productive. The increasing population as well as the rising standard of living makes huge demands upon our natural resources. The recent World War and the Korean Conflict have further increased the depletion of our nation's forests, minerals and soil. If we are to conserve our natural resources and use them with maximum effectiveness and minimum waste, then it seems highly important that we educate the oncoming generation of youth to assume the responsibilities of conservation through the proper choice, use and care of the things they will need as tomorrow's citizens. The development of commerce, transportation, industry and the salesmanship attendant to this growth has made necessary a more practical education of the future homemakers of America. In no other phase of the school curriculum is there such a variety of subject matter or the facilities and the chance to satisfy the individual needs of our youth. Home Economics is making notable progress in this direction. 5 WOMAN OF TOMORROW This change in the American economy has created a demand for the increasing participation, knowledge and interest of women in all matters. The security and preservation of our country requires not only the willingness of women to serve in positions of responsibility and skill, but their training as well. Schools have a marvelous opportunity and the urgent responsibility of pro viding an education that will enable girls today to adjust as well as possible to the eventualities of the future; thereby, serving not only the individual, but the nation and the world. These expanded homemaking programs have the occasion to teach girls things concerning the industrial world which will make of them more useful and valuable citizens regardless of their status in life. It is also important that the girls today have an opportunity to learn at least a working knowledge of agricultural and industrial arts. Recently, I learned of an exchange between shop and homemaking classes which proved to be most satisfactory. It gave the boys an introduction to basic cooking as well as permitting girls to learn the use of the common hand working tools and simple construction. Prior to going into the shop, the girls with the assistance of the home making teacher did the preparation for projects which consisted of pan dividers and shelves for the homeraaking kitchen. The boys were oriented to the exchange by discussing in shop prior to moving into the homemaking room the need for boys to know the simple principles of cooking and kitchen management. All the boys were most enthusiastic when told they would actually prepare food which they would then be permitted to eat. PROPERLY PLANNED PROJECT Leaders in vocational education can easily become so engrossed in seeing the completion of one project, that they fail to anticipate the next. It is not unusual to see situations where young people have learned to complete a project, to make money from it, and then not realize how the money should be invested, or just what step should follow. 6 The interest should be stimulated in how to invest in a better foundation herd, the acquiring of better seed, the use of better machinery and in what order it would necessarily follow. Once the student has determined the method of making money, there hardly seems a fair answer that will fit in all cases, but the obli gation still remains to plan the second step well in advance of the completion of the first. A student's supervised program is a business undertaking planned for profit. It should ultimately lead toward establishment in farming or some other business. It is a business venture and must be planned on a sound financial basis. Many students often develop a false sense of values about costs of production because the parents provide them with livestock, feed, crops and use of equipment and machinery without expense. Vocational agriculture boys should be made to realize that each project is a business venture and it should be carried on in a business like manner with the student paying the expenses and receiving all the profit or losses from the project. The student, parent and teacher should carefully study the cost of any program so there is no misunderstanding. If the program can not be financed, cooperation should be solicited in obtaining financial help from other sources. Care should be taken to see that any money borrowed will be for a worthy invest ment and that the pupil will have a good opportunity to realize a profit from his efforts. This first project should bring him a profit lest the pupil becomes discouraged in his future plans. OPPORTUNITY TO MOLD CHARACTER Teachers of vocational education often have opportunities for molding character far outweighing that of the average teacher. They do not necessarily have to lecture them about the principles of living a good life, morals, pleasant associations with their fellow man, manners and selecting and buying food. But I am convinced that they have many opportunities to demonstrate these fine qualities in the process of studying dairy judging, construction of poultry houses, and modern homemaking. These represent to me experiences and qualities that are 7 intangible and intrinsic values with a lasting reward. Some positive approach to our delinquency of juveniles is an oft suggested theme today. Vocation training offers so many broad opportunities at varying levels of abilities, it is often sought. It makes a popular phase of training for boys, especially those who have enjoyed little success previously. of activities in the asadjusting of delinquent behavior. It makes a top choice A boy who has had little success in life finds comfort in being able to snap a switch which starts a machine that will cut iron and shape it to his desire. The fact that he has control, no matter how limited, over machines and tools, wood and metal gives him a feeling of power. He is master of something. This may be an outlet for releasing tension stored up in his system that has impaired his progress and caused unfavorable behavior. It is not unreasonable to believe the individual may develop interests and aptitudes that will lead him to more specific trade or vocational training and redirect his efforts into profitable and useful service. Maybe I am a little old-fashioned, but I have a feeling the effectiveness of vocational instruction today is related to your understanding of the youngster. These young boys and girls who come into your schools every year look so fresh and green and wholesome. And at once, they begin to grow up. But then I wonder if any of us ever really grow up. These young boys and girls enter your schools in the giggles stage and with harem-searem ideas. Presently, we begin to notice them growing up. A few of the boys start noticing the girls, but we are mainly impressed with their "cinemascope" out-look on life. Eventually in the department of homemaking, we realize the girls are taking more interest in what would really make a happy home. Then one of the boys starts calculating that he could buy a pair of rabbits for a dollar and three litters a year and this all means $500 profit. It!s a dream age and dreams come and go and the interest of these boys and girls are apt to change before the class period is over and they hate to sit still. We are helping them to grow up, if you please, only we never quite finish the job. 8 The sophomore becomes a little more settled and a little more dependable. Success or failure in a project has taught them a sense of responsibility. Life's great principle is beginning to take root and we see them growing up. Then, maybe comes the car stage. In our day, no one thought of owning a car before he was old enough to have a steady job. Now, most of our high school set have their own cars, not only cars but part-time jobs that somehow arranges to pay the monthly installments on the fender flaps, foxtails, do-dads and dual mufflers. Up and down the street, no where in particular, roaring like all hell- fire, probably thinking, "Did I give that cop a slip". Back in the classroom, though, that very same individual probably reasons that, "Nest year, I'll have four acres of corn and four litters of pigs and then I'll trade the profitfor a later model custom job. I'm running around with can't take her eyes off me". Then that blonde All this may sound a little far-fetched and souped up, but it's another m o d e m version of an old malady - growing up. Some do better, some do worse, but to boys and girls at this age, the most important guy is the one they see in the mirror. It's hard to see a sane, sound and solid citizen evolving from such a mess. But it does happen and is happening. Just look around us - what influence these young people are having on our own homes today. How the girls are influencing mother to change her methods to more m o d e m appearances. How these young fellows are influencing Dad to be progressive in his farming. As I attend these Father and Son banquets, I am constantly awed at the calm manner in which these fellows handle the meetings. These same fellows who are learning to operate the whole farm, rise at 5 o'clock in the morning and milk the cows before breakfast. Many of your have heard me express my utter amazement at the accomplishments of these young ladies in the homemaking department. I have attended several of their annual FHA banquets here in Atlanta and other Georgia cities. The dignity and smoothness with which these young ladies preside before audiences of 600 to 700 9 people puts us all to shame* As public speakers, they surpass all of us. At that age, all of us would have been frightened to death. Somehow years later, we see these young people still growing up. souped up hotrods, of course, but a new pickup truck is more in order. No more Interest has shifted to allotments, Bangs disease, pasture improvement, mortgages, interest home beautification, food preservation, these things are more important to them now. In the midst of all this teenage jabber, I frequently hear from my own two offsprings a statement, nWhen I grow u p ..... " and the statements that follow always seem to be that they want the future to be finer. They want schools to be better, they want the opportunities to be broader, they want to live better and more comfortably and happier with their fellowman. Well, it's a little of that vigor that's bound to rub off on us as we observe these youngsters. fun. But, so what? Growing up is mostly all there is to living. It's awkward at times, but fun. It's Remember, we never cease growing up and if we should ever reach that plateau, the race is run and we make room for another. Man seeks to accumulate knowledge and things and when he has most of these, he is ready for his last milage count. The answer is simple, never stop growing up.