Ira Samuel Griffith
Dynamic Teacher, Talented Carpenter, Prolific Author, Visionary Theoretician
Ira Samuel Griffith was born in Hollon, Kansas, July 24, 1874, and dies on April 29, 1924.
In 1896 AB degree from Eureka College, in Illinois.
Studies Manual Arts under Charles Bennett
Teaches mathematics at Eureka College from 1900 to 1903
Teaches Manual Training in public schools in Illinois from 1903 to 1912
Head of Dept of Industrial Education at University of Missouri from 1913 to 1919
Member of Manual Arts Conference in 1919
Head of the Department of Industrial Education at the University of Illinois from 1920 to 1924
Head of the Department at the University of Wisconsin in 1923
Talented Senior Carpenter
An ideal model for the education field, which is hungry for teachers of quality. A rarity, Ira S. Griffith is both college graduate and a practical carpenter. Before he starts teaching manual training, Griffith had been a mathematics professor. Also he studies educational psychology, the history of education.
His father is a building contractor, and in his youth, as a carpenter, under his father's tutelage Griffith obtains experience in building -- planning and design, as well as all aspects of contracting -- cabinetmaking and building construction -- that translates easily into teaching woodworking.
Early Teaching Career
Griffith graduates from Eureka College, Eureka, IL, in 1896 with an A.B. degree.
Following graduation, he teaches in K-12, one year in Greenwood, NE, and then two years in Bloomington, IL.
From 1900 to 1903, on the faculty at Eureka College, he teaches mathematics. Because teaching mathematics is unsatisfying, after a year or two of this work, he learns about the manual training movement in the public schools of Illinois, and -- curious to find out more -- visits Bradley University, in Peoria, IL, and meets Charles A. Bennett, at that time head of the Department of Manual Arts.
Evidently, as they say today, "the karma is good", for during the interview he visualizes a new type of schooling, the scope and possibilities of which appeal to him as a direct and personal challenge.
As the result of this visit, Griffith decides to be a teacher of manual training. He is convinced that, finally, he has found a calling that satisfies his sense of both the theoretical and practical in education. While continuing to teach at Eureka, he arranges a one-day-a-week at Bradley Institute. From Charles Bennett and several other Bradley faculty and staff, Griffith receives individualized instruction in the shops and drafting rooms. Because of time constraints during the day, he completes other assignments at his home. In the summer, he enrolls full-time at Bradley.
From a practical experience with tools, machines, materials, and construction, a liberal college education, and years of experience teaching, he possesses a rare background upon which to begin teaching manual education. Indeed, for a manual training teacher, his combination of personal qualifications is almost unheard of in the early 1900's.
Says William T Bawden, himself a leading figure in the manual training movement of this same era,
"It is quite unusual even in the 1940's, for we still encounter college students who ask why they may not 'duck' freshman rhetoric, sophomore speech, junior sociology, and senior economics, since they are 'not needed' by the teacher of shopwork!"
Correlated Courses in Woodwork and Mechanical Drawing. By Ira S. Griffith,
Essentials of Woodworking. By Ira S. Griffith, A.B. The Manual Arts Press.
Projects for Beginning Woodwork and Mechanical Drawing. By Ira S. Griffith, A.B. The Manual Arts Press. 51 plates.
Advanced Projects in Woodwork. By Ira S. Griffith, A.B. The Manual Arts Press. 51 plates.
The books on woodworking which are listed above represent a very comprehensive attempt to make the shopwork in the last two years of the elementary school systematic and progressive. One of the great virtues of the foreign systems of manual training, namely the Russian system and the Sloyd system, is that these systems are worked out completely, so that the teacher of limited training knows how to proceed step by step through a series of class exercises.
With a reorganization of manual training and the injection of many demands for an industrial type of training, the regular progression of this work is lost somewhat. Even teachers who see the importance of introducing manual training into the school work have been unable to organize their good intentions and the enthusiasm of the students into anything which constitutes a regular progressive scheme.
According to Charles A. Bennett, in The Manual Arts, 1917, pages 117-188;
In the first book, Correlated Courses in Woodwork and Mechanical Drawing, Mr. Griffith gives, in detail, lessons for each of the different grades. He also offers discussions on methods of grading the work and of the different materials necessary for the successive grades. In these discussions, both normal school students and teachers learn ways to profit from the skills they develop through the course material.
Contains reliable information concerning organization of courses, subject-matter and methods of teaching. It covers classification and arrangement of tool operations, stock bills, cost of material, records, shop conduct, the lesson, maintenance, equipment and lesson outlines for grammar and high schools. The most complete and thorough treatment of the subject of teaching woodworking ever published
The second volume, Essentials of Woodworking, contains very good descriptions of the book which are needed for a manual-training course and also a discussion of how each tool is to be used. The book also contains an account of the principles of simple joinery and cabinet-work and an account of the different kinds of wood that can be employed for ordinary shopwork.
The two volumes entitled Projects for Beginning and Advanced Projects give drawings which can be used for classroom work. These drawings repeat the sketches presented in the first volume and is convenient in this form for the use of students in classes.
This series of books is certainly a very genuine contribution to the work of manual training. One of the gravest difficulties with the technical subjects in the school course is that they lack that kind of progression which is characteristic of academic courses. Because of this lack of systematic organization there is also in many cases a lack of genuine educational utility in the courses. Mr. Griffith is a teacher of experience.
He has also been in contact with the normal [ie, "teacher ed"] classes at Bradley Polytechnic Institute and has trained them in the presentation of materials. The book shows a broad view of the subject-matter of manual training adequate for advanced students as well as for immature children who begin the shopwork in the grades. The work is progressive but not formal.
[refinement in the concept of woodworking as critical tinking": Griffith progresses from the making of joints, a feature of the Russian and Sloyd systems to the "holistic", complete project approach, much more satisfying to students.]
The student is given the idea of a real project, but is at the same time guided in his work so that he will get the fundamental processes necessary to a general training in the use of tools.
In the introduction of Correlated Courses, Ira Samuel Griffith, argues that members of society may be roughly classed into four groups:
those who think without doing;
those who do without thinking;
those who neither think nor do; and
those who think and do because of their thinking.
This fourth class, Griffith claims, comprise the productive, constructive, organizing element of society.
The public schools, Griffith argues, should -- by targeting potential candidates -- produce members of this fourth class.
It must be evident to all that for the production of a thinking-and-doing individual the two forms of activity should be carried on, side-by-side:
the doing growing out of the thinking, and
the thinking made clear and definite through the doing.
For Griffith, given this human condition, and more important, to take advantage of it, to build on it, it is appropriate for the manual training education to develop an approach which sorts out an appropriate relationship between these two essential elements --the thought element and the skill element -- that will make manual training education valuable as a school subject.
Manual training suffered by having the one side – skill -- emphasized when the European systems –the Russian and the Sloyd systems -- were introduced.
With the application of pedagogy -- the Progressive or “constructivist” movement -- public education has suffered by having the other -- the thought side -- unduly magnified. Both of these elements are important.
For Griffith, experience demonstrates that, to be practicable, an education system should make the most of each of these elements. In the past, efforts in one direction often resulted in a sacrifice in the other.
When the thought side was emphasized there was a falling off in the accuracy of the results.
When skill was magnified it was attained only with a sacrifice of the thought element.
With regret among many educators, the inevitable conclusion was reached that the introduction of original thinking on the part of the pupil must meant sacrifice on the skill side.
Concerning this phase of the subject Charles Richards (as cited by Griffith) writes:
In order to develop in the highest degree independence of thought and power of initiative the pupil must be given opportunities for determining ends and working out means. Only in this way is the natural cycle of mental activities-- thinking, feeling and doing -- fully realized and made effective. The practical realization of this principle means, of course, a distinct problem of instruction. The problem is essentially one of proportion and balance between freedom of expression on the one side and skill and mastery of process on the other. Extreme emphasis on the one leads inevitably to a class of crude and ill-considered products while attention restricted to the other results in mere drill and formalism.
Further, in The Manual Training Teacher, Charles L. Binns, an Englishman just returned from a trip through the United States, writes of manual training in the grades:
The German educator, Georg Kerschensteiner, after a tour of American manual training programs, observed that he failed to understand why American manual training students are not encouraged to make big pieces of furniture before they can square up a piece of wood properly or make a single joint of the type that must be multiplied many times in the piece of furniture, if it is properly constructed. For Kerschensteiner, the first requisite in training for skill is to cultivate joy in work.criticized it by saying:
Thus, concludes Griffith, it is desirable to organize our manual training and mechanical drawing that allows for both thought and skill.
It was generally conceded that manual training -- as exemplified by the Russian system of joint making and the Swedish system of model making -- fails to empower to the fullest the child's talents.
The educational theory of the time argued that interest by the student is an indispensable component of education, a situation that thus condemns the Russian system, so far as its application in non-technical schools is concerned, while Swedish Sloyd, unmodified, is weak in that it fails to take into account the reflective phase of interest, namely, the power of self-initiative.
In other words, "educational manual training's" weakness was its undue emphasis upon the thought element resulting in too great sacrifice of that other equally important element, skill or accuracy.
The manual training movement is to be congratulated in that all signs now seem to point to its speedy delivery from the hands of these latter extremists. Is it too much to hope that out of our past experiences with the joint making Russian system with its admitted disciplinary value, the Swedish model making with its effort to utilize the energy of the worker toward useful products, and the self expression of the pedagogical movement with its attendant elements of interest and initiative there may come a manual training practice that shall be marked by a combination of the best of these elements with a consequent elimination of the weaknesses of each?
The outline of study suggested in the Illinois State Course of Study proved helpful to Griffith for organizing the outline of his syllabus, i.e., create a set-up to present woodworking as subject matter to his students.
The introduction is as follows:
Courses in woodworking for the eighth and ninth grades of public school work should meet the following requirements:
1.It should arouse and hold the interest of the pupils.
2. Correct methods of handling tools should be taught so that good technique may be acquired by the pupils.
3.Tool work should be accompanied by a study of materials and tools used in their relations to industry. Special attention should be given to the study of trees—their growth, classification, characteristics and use.
4.Drawing should be studied in its relation to the work done.
5.The principles of construction in wood should be taught thru observation, illustration and experience.
6.At least a few problems should be given which involve invention or design or both, thereby stimulating individual initiative on the part of the pupils.
Griffith organized Correlated Courses to meet the conditions specified below. Griffith tested and refined this approach himself by following it in his own classes.
The course is arranged in groups, each group representing a type of work. These groups are given in the order of procedure. The teacher is expected to provide problems of the greatest value educationally. This means that the things to be made should be worth making and that the process of making them should be interesting to the student.
From this it follows that the things to be made must come to the pupil in an order which gives reasonable consideration to the difficulties to be encountered in making them.
This pedagogical approach follows a “group plan”, because the advantages of the group system are distinct.
Importantly, -- to minimize the amount of demonstrating and to prevent needless repetitive talking that the instructor must do -- it emphasizes class instruction.
A number of projects having similar tool operations are grouped together. it permits a boy to satisfy his individual needs without interfering with the orderly presentation of the subject matter. It provides work for the fast worker of an interesting and profitable nature until the slow worker completes the minimum requirement.
It provides for the "repeater," who often has to repeat, not because of poor work in manual training but because of poor work in academic studies, by giving him choice of different models upon which to work. In general, the group plan possesses the manifest advantages of class instruction at the same time making allowance for the individuality of the worker.
A firm believer in the educational possibilities of manual training, Griffith -- an accomplished teacher -- developed work that attracted nationwide attention.
He assumed "that grammar-grade woodworking has a subject matter" of its own.He believed that in the grammar grades of public schools, "for economic reasons," "classes of considerable size must be cared for."
He believed in class instruction and in organizing subject matter so as to make class instruction as effective as possible.The Value of a Textbook for Both Teaching and Learning
In teaching mathematics, he had learned the value of a textbook.With no satisfactory textbook available he wrote Essentials of Woodworking. The use of a text, he said, removes the necessity of constant repetition of oral instruction. Griffith believed in holding "the thought element and the element of skill" in proper balance --
"the doing growing out of the thinking and the thinking made clear and definite through doing."
Griffith argued that both the Russian and Swedish systems overemphasized
(1) the value of learning the skill -- for example, gaining command of a creating a single joint -- and that
(2) some psychology of the day placed too much emphasis on the value of thought element to the neglect of the value of skill.
"Methods and Arrangements of Subject Matter in Grammar School Woodworking" Manual Training Magazine 10 1908, pages 148-60.
[post 2d copy online]
About this pivotal article, the Columbia University doctoral candidate, Ray Stombaugh, writes that although Griffith acknowledged that the Progressive Education movement's press for greater "exaltation" of the individual, with its resulting emphasis on "self-expression","originality," and "inventiveness," was a needed reforming influence in American education for the day, i.e., the beginning of the 20th century, Griffith had the conviction that this movement had gone to an extreme, in the sense that it stressed too greatly "the thought side of the manual arts". For Griffith, both the thought and the skill sides of manual arts were equally important. Both the thought and skill sides of the manual arts should go hand-in-hand, rather than one side being emphasized over the other.
Instead, as he wrote in this 1908 article, he saw evolving out of the Russian and the Sloyd systems and the "psychological movement," a new practice in manual arts that promised to integate the best elements of each of three.
According to Stombaugh, with such thought,
"We have here an influence toward transition from the 'manual arts' to the 'industrial arts'." [needs more explanation]
Most notable are Griffith's series of text books, perhaps the most memorable being "Essentials of Woodwork
The following records show online versions of Ira Samuel Griffith's books:
Wood-working for Amateur Craftsmen. by Ira Samuel Griffith (Popular mechanics press, 1911)google books, but no availability of digitized text
Woodworking for amateur craftsman at wwu
Advanced projects in woodwork by Ira Samuel Griffith (The Manual arts press, 1912)
google book search (digitized) online version
Projects for beginning woodwork and mechanical drawing by Ira Samuel Griffith (The Manual arts press, 1912)
google book search online version (digitized): Projects for beginning woodwork and mechanical drawing
1912Correlated Courses in Woodwork and Mechanical Drawing by Ira Samuel Griffith Peoria: The Manual arts press, 1912, re-issued in new edition in 1924.
Originally published in 1912, this manual features Arts and Crafts projec designs -- very rectilinear, i.e., straight-lined, and thus ideal for beginning woodworkers, typical of high school IA courses of that era. However, this book was re-issued in 1924, when impatience for the limits of Arts and Crafts straight-lines was driving instructors to recommend Colonial Revival designs as alternative choices for projects; click here to read more.)
Wood-working for Amateur Craftsmen. by Ira Samuel Griffith (Popular mechanics press, 1911)google books, but no availability of digitized text google book search online version
Woodworking for amateur craftsman at wwu
Woodwork for beginners by Ira Samuel Griffith The Manual arts press, 1916
Woodwork for secondary schools: a text-book for high schools and colleges, prevocational elementary industrial schools Manual Arts Press, 1916
A book providing in text form the essentials of woodwork as taught in the best secondary schools. Among the distinctly new features in this text are chapters on the use of wood-working machines, carving and inlaying, and furniture construction. It also contains chapters on woods, tools and processes, joinery, turning, wood finishing and pattern-making.
google book search digitized version
Carpentry (Manual Arts Press, 1916: 2d ed 1935)
google book search digitized version
This is really the complete story of the building of a modern house, from surveying and staking out to hanging the windows and doors. There are more than 150 illustrations. It is a book for apprentices, trade school students, and anybody who wants to know how houses are built. Our postpaid price, $1.10.
The second of these books, Carpentry, was unique in two particulars:
(1) included among the profuse illustrations was a series of 40 or more photographs taken at various stages during the construction of the house which Professor Griffith designed and built for his home in Columbia, Mo., during the period of his connection with the University of Missouri; and
(2) he advocated the use of trigonometric solutions of plane right triangles in developing the generalized principles of roof framing. Here he obviously drew upon his years of experience as a teacher of mathematics before he became a teacher of industrial arts, as well as upon his years of practical experience as a carpenter and builder.
As he explained in the Preface:
"There is absolutely nothing in the use of natural trigonometric functions to prevent their introduction early in the mathematical experience of a boy, except academic tradition. The author has made use of this mathematical tool with upper grammar grade boys with less effort on their part in mastering the principles than Was expended in mastering square root.
"The ease with which roof-framing problems lend themselves to solution by the use of natural trigonometric functions, and the readiness with which problems may be generalized thereby, has emboldened the author to make use of it in a text as elementary as this. No previous knowledge of trigonometry is presupposed."
As one of the features of the book on carpentry, I mentioned the series of photographs taken during the construction of the home which Griffith designed and built during his stay at the University of Missouri. In an earlier paragraph, I referred to my visit to the home which he planned and built in Oak Park. To make this part of the record complete I should report that Griffith, with the aid of his father, built the first home for his family in Eureka, Ill., during the year 1900-01. And finally, in 1923-24, he completed a set of plans for a fourth home, and purchased a beautiful lot in the College Hills district, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, but death came before building operations were begun.
2. Griffith, Ira Samuel, 1874-1924, Carpentry Peoria, Ill., The Manual arts press, 1935 [click on link to go to list in Lethbridge Public Library.
Teaching Manual and Industrial Arts by Ira Samuel Griffith (Manual Arts Press, 1900) fulltext online of 1920 edition google book search
The course given in this volume directs attention to the problems of methods oí teaching and daily lesson plans. with only such organization and administration problems as relate to the successful presentation of the lesson. The purpose is to assist in the making of necessary connections between the more (¡encrai courses in educational psychology and theory of teaching and the special work of practice teaching in manual and industrial arts.
Source: Bulletin of the Bureau of Education, Washington, DC: U.S. G.P.O., nos. 19-26, 1920, page 25
... [B]ased upon sound psychology and pedagogy, it is a valuable text book for normal schools and colleges, [because] ... admirably it bridges the gap between theory and practice. [In the field], it is no longer enough either to know the theory of what we do, or to be able to do what we undertake without knowing the theory. Theory and practice must go hand in hand, in the manual arts as well as in all learning and all teaching. Thus the mind is satisfied and the material world comes to its own. We commend this book, without reserve, to teachers and students of the industrial arts.
Source: Education 42 1922, page 646.
Source: School Arts 16 1916, page 356
Essentials of woodworking by Ira Samuel Griffith (The Manual arts press, 1931)
google books search digitized version
Brief review in The Craftsman:
"ESSENTIALS of Woodworking," by Ira Samuel Griffith, A. B., takes up the study of woodworking in a thorough and yet simple fashion. It contains, besides directions for treating wood and for making simple articles, a chapter on tools and the method of their use, and an interesting chapter on the growth of the woods most used in construction and cabinetmaking. The book is illustrated with working drawings, pictures of tools and sketches illustrating the positions of the hand3 when using them. It is a very valuable book for school use.
("Essentials of Woodworking." By Ira Samuel Griffith. 182 pages. Price $1.25. Published by The Manual Arts Press, Peoria, Illinois.)
Radford's Manual Training, Volumes I and II.
Ira S. Griffith contributed 020 pages, liadford Architectural Company, Chicago, 111. Illustrated. Cloth Bound. $3.00 per set.
These two volumes contain the best of the articles written by Mr. Griffith and published in the "American Carpenter and Builder," under the heading of "Manual Training" and more recently, "The Home Workshop." They are in response to a persistent demand for th'e material in permanent book form.
For manual training teachers, pupils and instructors, and to the ever growing class of home shop enthusiasts, it furnishes a wealth of material in shape to be used. .More than 145 designs of sturdy furniture are given together with working drawings and itemized mill bill of material.
Volume I contains the list of equipment for the home shop, models for home shop construction. Volume, II contains the directions for finishing the woodwork, and descriptions of other handicrafts such as stenciling, tooled leather, hammered metal, etc.@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ ray stombaugh industrial arts education 1.odt cr_6.htm manulas_1901-1910.htm woolleey_woodworking_projects_1926 early leadership series: @@@@@@@@@@@@@@
According to Bennett,
His constant aim was to give instruction that would balance these two elements. (Methods and Arrangement of Subject Matter in Grammar School Woodworking", Manual Training Magzine X, 148-160) For problems, Griffith selected well-designed small pieces of furniture in harmony with the ideals of that time which means Arts and Crafts .
Figs. 129 and 130. FIG. 129. GRAMMAR-GRADE PROBLEMS DESIGNED OR ADAPTED BY IRA S. GRIFFITH, 1912, in Bennett, v 2, page 444
Griffith organized his course of instruction by arranging problems in groups. It included the making of working drawings and the study of and reporting on definite related information assignments.
After experimenting, Griffith concluded that the best results in the year's work come from having the pupils devote the first twelve weeks entirely to making drawings which they would use during the remainder of the year. (25-34)
Care was taken by him to have the pupils work on well-designed objects and to gain a little experience themselves in designing what they made.
This included especially the study of proportion and the designing of contours and of surface decoration. (Correlated Courses-41-51) Fig. 131.
He convinced many educators that manual training could be correlated with other school studies and could have educational value equal to the best of the others.
While the work in Oak Park is an outstanding example of the type of grammar-grade manual training of 1908 to 1914, it is by no means an isolated one.
Many other teachers with similar ideals are successfully answering criticisms and demonstrating the educational value of manual training.
A notable example is at Oak Park, Illinois, where the superintendent, W. H. Hatch, has a clear conception of what manual training does for the boys of his seventh and eighth grades and where the teacher, Ira S. Griffith, is a literary college graduate as well as a practical carpenter. Before teaching manual training, Mr. Griffith is a professor of mathematics and continues with graduate work in educational psychology, history of education, and methods of manual instruction. He is an enthusiastic believer in the educational possibilities of manual training, and an understandingly successful teacher of boys. In a very few years, he developed work that attracted nationwide attention.
He assumed "that grammar-grade woodworking has a subject matter" of its own. He believed that in the grammar grades of public schools, "for economic reasons," "classes of considerable size must be cared for." He believed in class instruction and in organizing subject matter so as to make class instruction as effective as possible. In teaching mathematics, he had learned the value of a textbook. He asked for a textbook. As there was no satisfactory one available at that time, he wrote one, Essentials of Woodworking. The use of a text, he said, removes the necessity of constant repetition of oral instruction. He believed in holding "the thought element and the element of skill" in proper balance—"the doing growing out of the thinking and the thinking made clear and definite through doing."
He considered that both the Russian and Swedish systems had overemphasized the value of skill and that certain psychologists had placed too much emphasis on the value of thought element to the neglect of the value of skill.
His constant aim is to give instruction that would balance these two elements. (21. Manual Training Magazine, The Manual Arts Press, Peoria, Illinois. X, 148-160) For problems, he selected well-designed small pieces of furniture in harmony with the ideals of that time. Figs. 129 and 130.
He organizes his course of instruction by arranging problems in groups. It includes the making of working drawings and the study of and reporting on definite related information assignments. After experimenting, he concludes that he can secure the best results in the year's work by having the pupils devote the first twelve weeks entirely to making drawings which they would use during the remainder of the year. (25. Griffith, Ira S. Correlated Courses in Woodwork and Mechanical Drawing" name="" target="_self">Correlated Courses in Woodwork and Mechanical Drawing. The Manual Arts Press. 1912, page 34.) Care is taken by him to have the pupils work on well-designed objects and to gain a little experience themselves in designing what they made. This includes especially the study of proportion and the designing of contours and of surface decoration. (25. Griffith, Ira S. Correlated Courses in Woodwork and Mechanical Drawing. The Manual Arts Press. 1912, pages 41-51, Fig. 131). He convinces many schoolmen that manual training could be correlated with other school studies and definitely have educational value equal to the best of the others.
While the work in Oak Park is an outstanding example of the type of grammar-grade manual training of 1908 to 1914, it is by no means an isolated one. Many other teachers with similar ideals are successfully answering criticisms and demonstrating the educational value of manual training.
Sources:Griffith, Ira S. Correlated Courses in Woodwork and Mechanical Drawing The Manual Arts Press 1912;also Charles Bennett, History of Manual and Industrial Education, 1870-1917, pp 441- 445 William T. Bawden, Leaders in Industrial Education Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1950, pages 48-68..