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Finally, you of course have heard how Queen Victoria, having read Alice in Wonderland, wrote to the author commanding him to send her his next book; to which request Dodgson responded by sending his Symbolic Logic.
Many readers to whom Miss Converse's miracle play gave pleasure will care to learn that, besides a great number of performances in many American church communities, the play was given by the International College in Smyrna, under extraordinarily picturesque conditions.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
The Best Country in the World
There are a lot of people out here in Smyrna, and in other parts of the Near East, who are very grateful to you for publishing in your March issue that beautiful little play by Florence Converse, "Thy Kingdom Come.'
Each year we hold a student conference here at Smyrna. The conference is held on the campus of the International College at Paradise. (We did not name the place. The Romans called it Paradiso long years ago. We try to make good on the name.) This year there were delegates from the Balkans, Asia Minor, Greece, Syria, and Egypt.
On one evening of the conference, just at sunset, we presented Miss Converse's 'Thy Kingdom Come. Faculty, students, and faculty children took part. Some three hundred watched the play in reverent silence. The play was given outdoors, in a little natural theatre on a hillside overlooking a valley, where the ruins of old Roman aqueducts added to the impressiveness of the hour. In the background was a hill that might have been Calvary. Natural rocks formed the tomb.
The parts had been studied for weeks, and the costumes were perfect. The speaking and the action were so natural that one forgot for the time that it was but a presentation. It thrilled with present life. Of course the conference helped create an atmosphere almost ideal, and the play was given the week following the Eastern Easter. We left out a little of the doughboy slang, which many of these students would not have understood, and we added one thing. As the angels came over the brow of the hill, to roll the stone away, a chorus of girls, hidden in a cleft of rocks below in the valley, sang,
'Christ the Lord is risen to-day,
Sons of men and angels say,
There was truly a thrill as those clear young
S. RALPH HARLOW.
Not the lost Atlantis, b tic, gives the fine tragic Here is a sequel to the grim s Column.
I was more than ordinarily int published account of the man who st the Atlantic Monthly. Here in Por I stepped to a newstand at Morriso streets, to buy a Saturday Evening ing an article by H. G. Wells, and the street, when two men came ru
"You got an Atlantic,' one of them 'No,' I replied, thinking they had a copy they supposed I had bought the counter. I got a Saturday Evening 'No, you got an Atlantic on the sta the street.'
I did not yet grasp the situation, and that I bought my Atlantic some days be 'But you were seen to take it. Yo from the stand.'
Then I understood what had happene one not myself had stolen a copy from It appears that out here the Atlantic is fundamental needs of the human race; that, lacking the price, one must steal cident you publish seems to prove t hunger for the Atlantic is not confi Pacific Coast.
Now and again brides have that they are taking the Atlantic on their honeymoon. Those compliments, of course; but her DEAR ATLANTIC,
This is not Boston- far, far fro other day, when caring for a you country girl- Texas-born and b her room and found the young n. side her half-hour-old son, happy ble-reading the last Atlantic. Our Texas sunshine seems to p. bodies and minds. ALICE Why drag in Texas sunsh
Commerce. We built a Polish church and school, two Russian churches, a Czech church, and presently we shall have a Jewish synagogue. During the war we imported camps of negroes direct from the Black Belt. All these non-natives, about 75,000 in the twenty years, came either to tend automatic machines, to supply the economic and domestic wants of the operatives, or to coöperate in a scheme of production in which the automatic tool was the decisive factor.
Of course, this growth induced the usual and to-be-expected rise in rents and land-values. We built houses as fast as we could find the money; but in spite of enormous profits to constructors and investors, we could not provide housing fast enough to satisfy the industrial leaders. In 1919-20 the corporation controlling our two largest plants built thousands of homes. As a strike ensued, the builders fell back upon the principle which had profited them in automobile manufacture, substituting for skilled labor machinery and unskilled labor.
In 1920, production on automatic machines here and elsewhere having outrun consumption, the wheels slowed down to a fraction of their former speed. Immediately our town began to lose population; thus proving that, with cities as with plants, quick growth means weak roots. Coincidentally rural districts began to gain. While we were losing 15,000 out of our 100,000, a village eighteen miles away added twenty per cent to its 1920 census of 400. Money brought these people into town, and, jobs failing, lack of money took them out again into the fields, woods, and villages. Michigan woods were full, last winter, of men who, a year ago, were tending automatic machines. What back-to-the-land propaganda failed to do in twenty years, economic necessity accomplished in six months.
Of all the states, Michigan shows the greatest percentage of urban growth from 1910 to 1920; also the greatest growth in the use of automatic tools. This is because ours is the automobile state. The automobile, as an economic want, burst into being rather than· grew. It was a new means of transportation, not the development of an older means. Its makers faced the markets with open minds and almost empty hands. They had no well-established shop-practice to consider, little or no machinery to junk. Their margins were large enough to ensure that whatever increased production would return profits. Moreover, the nature of the business required large outputs of identical parts, accurately machined, standardized and interchangeable. Hence the automobile industry is to-day the most highly automatized. Hence the reactions of automatic machinery upon human nature and the social order may be observed here in all their vigor.
Those machines which tend to replace the worker or reduce his function to a minimum are described as automatic. They are so designed that the worker need not know the vital steps which the mechanism takes in producing the desired result. The dividing line between these tools and those that merely lengthen or strengthen the arm of man is nowhere definite and precise, but examples will help to point the distinction.
With the power wool-clipper, as with the sheep-shears, the mind of the operator must work with his muscle, to extract from use the increased efficiency of the tool. But with an automatic tool, the attendant is required only to feed the machine and relieve it of its produce from time to time. There are a good many semi-automatic machines; but the tendency is toward their complete automatization. Each year sees semi-automatic machines develop to
ward automatic perfection; each month sees the scope for skill in industry lessened, particularly in those basic industries which concentrate large numbers of workers in given centres, and so exercise a determining influence upon social relations.
Skill, of course, is still vital; but the need for skill has passed upward. Machine-design, shop-organization, routing of materials, and distribution of produce these require a concentration of skill and technical knowledge far beyond the similar requirements of non-automatic industry. The rank and file need use only a fraction of their native intelligence and manual dexterity, while the skill-requirement, which formerly spread more or less over the whole shop, is distilled into a relatively small group of engineers and executives.
This shift of vital function from the man to the machine is the key to many problems. It affects all departments of life. We have seen how it broke down the barrier of apprenticeship which had sealed factories more or less against rural labor and brought raw farm-boys into town, leveling farm and factory wages, lifting food prices. We have seen the power of the Iron Man to pull the negro north and the peasants of Europe west. And we have seen something, but not all as yet, of his influence in shifting women from the home to the mill. The clear, unmistakable tendency of automatic machinery is to level labor, as to both supply and wage.
Certain collateral effects are equally impressive. Many automatic machines can be operated as well by a child of twelve as by his parents. In fact, the tender of automatic machines reaches his or her highest economic power early in life, when nerves are steadiest. The strain involved in nursing automatic machinery is a repetition-strain, complicated by clatter. The operative does the same thing over and over, amid
rhythmic sounds, in an atmosphere frequently stale with oil or dust. Youth stands this better than age, because youth reacts more quickly. Whereas, in the old days, a man used to come more slowly into earning power, reach his highest pay at thirty-odd, and continue fully competent until age began to slow him down at sixty-odd, his son leaps into high pay as a hobbledehoy, reaches his economic apogee short of twentyfive, and from thirty-five to forty-five slides swiftly downhill. He is a better earner at twenty than his father was; but the chances are that he will be a poorer provider at fifty.
I prefer not to be too dogmatic on this point. Automatic machinery is so new, having been in common use about twenty years and still being in its infancy, that present deductions on economic life-expectancy are founded upon too few instances to be altogether conclusive. Moreover, the swift decline of earning power in middle life may be partly due to causes only indirectly related to industry-poor housing, youthful excesses, and the like. However, present indications point to the correctness of the cycle outlined above.
Now the difficulties of the problem presented to educators by automatic machinery begin to emerge. The majority of youths, male and female, no longer need to be taught how to earn their living. Three days after the law that sets limits on child-labor leaves them free to work at the machines, they will be earning big money — practically as much as they ever will earn. There is little to learn; the mills can teach that better and cheaper than the schools. The labor turn-over cost per man ranges from $25 to $100; this includes the pay of the novice and his instructor, investment, depreciation, and overhead. Since it includes the non-automatic and semi-automatic processes, the cost of training men to serve the automatics
must be considerably less than the average, and will decrease as automatization becomes more intense. The instruction period on automatics varies from half-a-day to a week; it is estimated that seventy per cent of the workers in an automatized plant can be brought to efficient production in three days or less. The schools can never match this record; in addition, the cost to the schools of the equipment for the effort is prohibited.
The pockets of these children are full of money at an age when their fathers earned less than a living wage as apprentices. They are economically independent of home and social control. They have the eternal belief of youth that the preceding generation is fossilized, and the buying power to act upon their belief. They are foot-loose to go wherever automatic machines are turning. They can buy their pleasures, and they do. They can afford to flout age and authority; they do. Their very active minds have no background, and feel the need of none. They have no conception of the cost of civilization; no standard of reference by which to judge social and political questions. They have not even lived long enough to learn the simple truth that common sense and wisdom spring from the same root. With far greater need for early thrift than their elders, because their effective economic life may be shorter, they spurn the homely virtue of economy. They buy pleasures, buy companions, buy glad raiment; they try-desperately to buy happiness. And fail. Yet they are splendid raw material for citizens. Let a great cause kindle them, and they rise to it like knights and ladies-noblesse oblige. They met every war-need more than half-way; fought and fell; sacrificed and saved during the emergency. Their faults are those of youth plus affluence.
ful delinquency. Our 'bad men' of this winter are mostly minors. 'My court,' said a Detroit judge, 'is the scene of a procession of beardless boys.' They acquire appetites - expensive appetites; pleasure leads into bad company. A prank gone wrong, an unfortunate slip, a month without a job and nothing laid by and we have the beginning of what we call the crime wave.
Much as this situation complicates the educational problem, the schoolsystem somehow must be adapted to it. Somehow these children must be brought up to a mental and moral level approximating the economic level upon which they set foot immediately after leaving school. This is a grim task. In the public schools, certain things must be taught before the age of sixteen, which now are taught only in college, and to which many college students appear to be immune. The proposal itself would be revolutionary if it did not arise from a new set of industrial conditions, to which society is accommodating itself clumsily, but, in the main, peaceably. As such, the change, though startling, is clearly evolutionary and inevitable.
What are the positive educational requirements of the machine age? To clear the ground, let us eliminate the non-essentials. The child who is going to tend an automatic machine does not need, in any economic sense, to read more than a shop-poster or directionsheet. If he can sign his name to a pay check, that is enough. If he is willing to trust the shop to figure out his pay, he need not know his numbers. For the time he stands beside the machine, his earning capacity is not increased by anything he knows. Knowledge may be useful in getting him away from the
Here is the explanation of our youth- machine; but that escape is going to be