The Little Cities Archive

Shawnee, Ohio

The N. B. M. A. as an Educator

Posted by JRW on April 11, 2011

from the

Brick and clay record,Volumes 6-7 (Google eBook)

Windsor and Kenfield [etc.] 1894-19, 1897

The Secretary: The essay on “The National Brick Manufacturers’ Association as an Educator” Is next in order.

The N. B. M. A. as an Educator.

By W. D. Richardson, Shawnee, O.

To one looking backward upon a long and active life devoted to the art of brickmaking, it seems to me there should be two considerable sources of satisfaction and gratulatlon.

First—That he has received an adequate compensation for his work, that his business has been financially successful, so that he has been able to obtain for his family the social and educational advantages of his time and place, to provide for them the comforts and some of the luxuries of life and to secure a competence for his declining years, and, perchance, for his sons a better start in business than he had himself.

Second—It must also afford him satisfaction to review the progress and advancement that has been made in the art of brickmaking in his time, the improvements in methods aud machinery, in systems of drying and burning, that have resulted In a better product with less drudgery and uncertainty; and to feel that he himself has contributed somewhat to this ‘advancement, has been a part of it, that by devotion to his art brickmaking has become to his followers a more desirable if not a more profitable occupation; one requiring more brains and less muscle, more scientific methods and less “rule of thumb.”

That there are those in this convention who do enjoy this satisfaction, we have abundant proof, and it behooves us all to consider and adopt such means as may enable us likewise in the future that is bound to come to enjoy this same satisfaction that results from aims and efforts properly and systematically directed to the profitable and successful conduct of our busness and to the advancement of the ancient and honorable art to which we have devoted the best years of our life.

In order to promote our interests In attaining these ends we have formed this National Brick Manufacturers’ Association of the United States of America. In doing this>, we have entered upon a work of education for ourselves and for those who may come under our influence. Hence, in order to bring before this convention certain matters deemed important by our Secretary and others, and, I may add, to further a movement that has my hearty approval, I have been requested to speak of the N. B. M. A. as an educator.

That our association, by means of our annual conventions, is an Important educator of brlckmakers, cannot be questioned. We come here as to a school, to listen to lectures and discussions by those who are best Informed upon the problems of our art. We have the privilege of questioning our Instructors both

in public session and In the private “button-hole” talks thin have become such an Important and popular feature of these meetings. If we do not carry away from each convention some point or wrinkle worth many times the cost of our attendance, to say nothing of the social pleasures and the inspiration for better work, then it is our own fault, a neglect to improve the opportunity afforded us.

Moreover, we who are present are not the only students of the school—a large part of the instruction here given is, by our journals, diffused among the brickmakers throughout the United States and Canada, and even into more distant lauds. Thus our association becomes an Important educational force that cannot but uplift and improve the art of brickmaking.

But to those of us who have attended these meetings regularly there has come an impression, a conviction that many of the problems which we have discussed each year are apparently no nearer solution to-day than they were first brought forward; that we review them at every meeting in almost the same language and with the same indeterminate results. Various methods being explained, different causes assigned for the same phenomena, and different remedies being suggested for the same troubleSj some solving the difficulties in one way and some In another, some basing their opinions upon quite an extensive practical experience, and others evolving theirs chiefly from their own “inner consciousness,” or perhaps incited by selfish motives of gain by securing the adoption of certain patented appliances in which they may be interested. But we feel that no man’s field of observation Is large enough in his regular occupation, in his special line of manufacture to enable him to collect sufficient reliable data from which to form generalizations of value, even if he had the time and means and ability for proper and systematic study and investigation. Moreover, the researches into most of these questions must be begun and carried on in the laboratory by a man of scientific training who is alive to the practical advantages that would come to the clay worker from a definite knowledge of cause and effect that would enable him to apply the proper remedy for his trouble and to secure positive and certain results. In fact, we feel that we have talked all around some of these questions and can go on talking so Indefinitely without ever getting to the bottom of them, or without arriving at any positive, reliable conclusions. Hence we have in recent conventions been moving to correct these defects in our knowledge, and to secure a definite settlement of some of these vexed problems. We have taken two Important steps that will, we believe, mark a new era of progress for the clayworking industries of America, and redound to the honor and glory of our association. The first step was taken In the 8th annual convention at Chicago, in accordance with a resolution of Prof. Orton, pledging our support to the establishment in any high-grade educational institution of a Course of Ceramics.

The second step was taken at the Cleveland convention by the appointment of a committee to undertake a series of investigations and experiments to determine standard tests and specifications of paving brick, and at Atlanta, encouraged by the report of this committee, by an appropriation from the funds of the association to meet the expenses incurred and for a continuation of the work, and by the expression that this would in the future be an important function of our association. We all know the results of our action at Chicago. The clayworkers of Ohio, under the leadership of Prof. Orton, by a systematic and well directed effort secured an appropriation from the legislature for the establishment and maintenance of a Ceramic Department of the Ohio State University. Prof. Edward Orton, Jr., was placed in charge of the department, a beginning was made—the course first laid out for two years has been increased to four years, thus placing the department on an equal footing with other engineering departments. The first graduates of the two years’ course are already in the field, some of them occupying important positions, and, we understand, filling them acceptably.

The result of the second step has been such a thorough investigation of the requisite qualities of paving brick as has never been made before in any country, and the report of which will form a monogram upon this subject that will be used by manufacturers and engineers everywhere for all time.

We have reason to be proud of what lias already been accomplished through the support and encouragement of our association; but we must not stop here and rest upon our laurels: the work thus so well begun must be continued. We should devote a portion of our revenue each year to the support of the elayworkers’ school at Columbus. We should give the school official recognition by the establishment of a scholarship to be maintained by our association, and likewise provide for the prosecution there of investigations into such problems of clayworklng as may be designated by us from time to time.

It has been found that it is impracticable to carry on these investigations without the aid of a scientific school or laboratory especially equipped for the purpose and under the direction of a man of scientific attainments and practical knowledge of our art. The German brickmakers have for many years through their National Association supported a technical school which has pursued a system of study and investigation that has had a marked influence in producing better and more economical results. We have such an institution at Columbus. Let us make the most of it. Let us support it to the utmost of our ability. Here is a grand opportunity for our association to do a noble work, to make good use of our surplus revenues by affording means for worthy young men to acquire a technical education in our art, and by conducting a systematic series of investigations and collecting and dispersing definite information of Ceramic problems that will be far reaching In its influence upon the advancement of the clay-working Industries of our country, and will elevate our business to that status in the industrial world which by reason of its important bearing upon the athletic and practical well-being of man it is entitled.

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