Perhaps very few of us know anything about the person that had the idea that creative and intelligent men should also be taught to work with their hands. This idea was opposed as "undignified and unnecessary, and involving too much money."
Born in Oxford County in 1846 Newton Wolverton was sent to school in Cleveland Ohio. In 1861 Newton enlisted in the American Civil War where he demonstrated his skills as a horseman and marksman. He was placed under General Grant in a special forces brigade. At age 16, Newton's leadership qualities led him to be chosen to meet with President Abraham Lincoln to discuss the role of Canadian solders in the battle against slavery.
At the end of the war, Newton returned to Canada where he worked as a carpenter. He continued to display his marksman ship skills in many rifle competitions including a trip to Wimbleton, England.
At age 24 with only two years of formal education, barely able to read and write, Newton decided to return to school to study theology at Woodstock College. An outstanding student he excelled in mathematics, developed friendships and shared many discussions with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, before they became famous.
In 1877 Newton graduated from the University of Toronto with highest honours in mathematics and five languages. He was later ordained a Baptist Minister. As a professor of mathematics at Woodstock College Newton started many new courses in astronomy, astronomical mathematics and meteorology, as well as designed and constructed an Observatory. Such successes earned him the title of Dr. Newton Wolverton in 1903 at McMaster University.
After becoming the principal of Woodstock College in 1881 he fought hard for the establishment of a Manual Training department. "He accomplished this against strong opposition as the idea was revolutionary for the times. He was convinced of the practical worth of teaching young men to work with their hands... raising some $10,000 by his own solicitation for erection and equipping a "manual training building." He believed that, "with his own background of practical experience in carpentry he was well equipped to demonstrate by personal example."
In 1886 a three year course was put in place, consisting of woodworking, black smithing/forging and machine shop. The courses were taken by students who were interested in them. There was no attempt to teach a trade.
In summary, Dr. Newton Wolverton, our father of manual training in Ontario, surpassed most Canadians in his time and our time. He was an educated minister, farmer, veterinarian, soldier, public relations ambassador, explorer, land planner, cartographer, businessman, astronomer, and carpenter. He was an outstanding Canadian pioneer with whom we can associate with. Although he is a little-remembered hero of the 19th century, he symbolizes the qualities that we hope our students aspire to when they leave their formal education.
In 1888, James Hughes presented a public school Inspector's Report to the Toronto Board If education which stressed both social and educational merits to teaching manual training. We learn by doing was a famous statement made at that time.Seven Guiding Principles were suggested at that time when introducing a manual training course which might still be considered with some relevance today:
In order to keep abreast of educational and industrial development manual training broadened in scope. As well as working with wood new opportunities for metal., sheet metal plastics etc. to be uses for educational problem-solving were available. New machinery was also introduced for students to learn both the capabilities and limitations of these "labor saving" devices. In 1928, "Industrial Arts and Crafts" and the "Ontario Association for Teachers of Arts and Crafts" were created as two separate sections of industrial arts, general shop, and art. This name was used even until the early 1970's.
Movement for the establishment of the General Shop gained momentum in the late 1930's. In 1935 approval was given in the Toronto Board for the gradual development of manual training along the lines of general shop. Each of 12 schools was given $40,00 to purchase necessary tools.
By 1937 a course for General Shop for grades 9 to 12 was established. In 1950 the Department reorganized the course of manual training into Industrial Arts and Crafts, with subject guidelines established in 1962. In 1988 the subject became known as "Design and Technology". At this time our new Subject Guidelines have yet to be released in final form.
Since 1950, teacher qualifications in IA/D&T have been achieved through full time and summer courseroutes at various Colleges of Education. Emphasis in teacher education has shifted from Manual Training to Design and Technology: a skills-competence base to one of design and problem solving, based on the development of communication skills, related technical skills, and problem-solving competencies.
In 1911 a shortage of qualified teachers led to a report by John Seath Superintendent of Education, stated:
"Competent teachers for our schools we must have at any cost, and their training must be provided for in this province. We need a new breed, with a new outlook, and with new ambitions. To attempt to organize a system without first providing for the training of such teachers would be most unwise."
Credit for both the development and the recognition of our subject area lies in the hands of those teachers who have so ably guided out professional growth through their untiring effort. To promote strong media relations, exhibitions of student work, and spoke to school boards and local boards of trade.
In 1940-41 our first convention was held in Toronto with 110 teachers present, having paid an annual membership fee of $1.00. Dr. Goldring spoke on the topic "Desirable Shop Objectives". Our Teacher's Association over the years has formally engaged in activities similar to those of early years. Some programs in jeopardy across the province have been saved through intervention. Fair representation by elected executive from teachers across the province as well as a strong bond to through the Bulletin Magazine provide for a cohesive membership. Our continued tradition in providing both provincial conferences and as international publication of professional caliber has been the envy of other professional associations in education!