Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Educate Young People to Be Farmers, Not Professionals, 1917

From the editorial page, March 13, 1917, Scotland Neck Commonwealth
It is coming to be recognized that if we as a people are to again put our country on an equitable living basis we must educate more farmers. Not educate more farmer boys for professions, but educate more Boys for Farmers.
From the public school up to within the last decade the entire trend of education has been away from the farm and toward the professions. Even the manual training schools have tended to swell the ranks of the mechanical trades as the expense of the farms.
No nation can achieve permanent prosperity without a great and prosperous farming class. When the farm decays the nation deteriorates. Our farms are the very life and heart of our country.
Some, though, may ask how we are to educate more farmers.
Very simple. Make every free school in the land primarily an agricultural school, and a literary school as a secondary matter. Belles lettres are not the crowning necessity of existence. Bread and meat are. Educate the youth of the land first toward that which is most vitally necessary to our national life, and when this is accomplished, of there be leisure and means for adding the frills, let them be added.
Nine out of every 10 high school pules are emerging from that school to enter the ranks of the toilers, in some department or other. If in their education the farm has not only been made attractive to them, but they have been given a thorough and practical knowledge of its workings, then a large percent of them will [see] as a matter of course that as their occupation in life.
When war broke out between the allies and the central powers, the world stood amazed at the wonderful perfection of the German military machine.
But the cause behind it was as simple as A.B.C. Every German youth had been educated and trained as a soldier FIRST OF ALL—after that for a vocation.
But in time war will cease. The arts of peace will again demand the attention and energies of the world, and among them there is none to compare with the great art of coaxing from Mother Earth her golden harvests.
But, you may ask, if all of the boys are educated to a farmer’s life, what of the professions?
There will always be some who, by natural fitness, will gravitate to the professions, enough to keep their ranks recruited. As a matter of fact, these same professions could spare half of their present members and not suffer in the least.
Educate farmers! The farms are suffering for them, and the professions and trades are overburdened with them.

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