John Dewey argues that workers often become no more than "industrial fodder" in a society controlled by money interests. Denied access to information and accumulated wisdom, workers are disempowered and removed from the realm of decision-making. This reality holds dramatic implications for the health of a democratic society.
One such issue in the early 1900s was the proposal that industrial education be provided for children leaving school at twelve or fourteen. The need for this education was manifest in the glaring unfitness of such boys and girls for the work into which nearly all of them went. Not being able to hold their jobs, they drifted from place to place where they learned nothing and where advance became impossible. Educators, social workers, parents, employers, and organizations such as the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education had long advocated vocational education for these children; more recently some state legislatures had taken up the matter. Dewey, having long recognized the need of industrial education, was one of its strongest supporters.
Dewey aligned himself with those who favored a single, integrated system of education. He agreed that the dual system would involve costly duplication; that it would nullify much of what had been done in enriching and revitalizing traditional academic education by taking out of the traditional system those manual, industrial, and vocational activities just recently put in; and that it would tend to promote social cleavages among both children and adults.
a society in which every person shall be occupied in something which makes the lives of others worth living, and which makes the ties which bind people together more perceptible...It denotes a state of affairs in which the interest of each in his work is uncoerced and intelligent...
Another concern of Dewey was that a narrowly conceived approach to vocational education would perpetuate social divisions and in a hardened form, for both the employers and the employees would be intellectually limited. This could leave the employer class confined to issues of profit and power, and the employee class concerned only with monetary return from their labor. This would involve a limitation of intelligence to "technical and non-humane, non-liberal channels." http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/EPS/PES-Yearbook/97_docs/marshall.html
Dewey urged to adopt the integrated system already in use in some of the country's more progressive schools.
The old time general, academic education is beginning to be vitalized by the introduction of manual, industrial and social activities; it is beginning to recognize its responsibility to train all the youth for useful citizenship, including a calling in which each may render useful service to society and make an honest and decent living. (1913, p. 144). (Morgan V. Lewis 2001)
Everywhere the existing school system is beginning to be alive to the need of supplementary agencies to help it fulfill this purpose, and is taking tentative but