Teach Them What is Possible
To Do With Their Own Hands
September 10, 1902 — Friends’ General Conference, Asbury Park NJ
Friends, what are we going to do about it? The president of this meeting says that it is not to be a begging meeting. I do not ever beg. The Schoﬁeld school was born, built up and sustained by free will offer ings, so I do not beg, friends. See this shoe made by one of our girls. We clothe the understanding; this will clothe about half of one; I would like to clothe some of yours in your minds. It is because you do not understand, because you do not know. It is in every one of you to want to help and want to give; and that is the part I like to touch. You want to do your Part. The chairman did not say I could not tell you what I was going to do with the $500 that has not yet come in. Only $200 will be mine.
I have wanted for several years to introduce into our school, as is already introduced into many of the southern schools, the Sloyd system of workmanship for children be tween ten and thirteen. That is simply to teach them what to do with their hands. A man is free from every wrong almost when he knows the best thing to do With his hands. We want to teach our girls and boys how to use a gimlet, how to use a saw, how to use the penknife, how to make a thing which will lift up the home. This is a system that will cost ﬁve hundred dollars to introduce into the Schoﬁeld. School, and I have got it all built in my mind and I suppose somebody will build it out of their pocket. One of my teachers is now taking in Boston a two years’ course, — the gift of Dr, Agassiz to one of my teachers who is being supported by him there that he may learn this Sloyd system and take it to the Scho ﬁeld School. We have come to see that so few children go through and live to be old enough in the school to learn a trade that we have got to get down to save the boys from the streets — to save the girls; to lift up the home; we have got to come down to teach them what is possible to do with their own hands. That Sloyd I hope, and the support of it, is growing in your minds, not only for the Schoﬁeld School, but for all the schools; because I never speak for one; I always stand as the representative of the ﬁve million men and women who cannot speak for themselves.
Source: Proceedings of the Friends’ General Conference, First Day School, Philanthropic, Educational, Religious, Young Friends’ Associations, Held at Asbury Park, NJ, 1902 (Asbury Park), 1902, pp. 124-125.