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Page 9 of Mountain Life & Work vol. 17 no. 3 Fall, 1941

Part of Mountain Life and Work

Fall, 1941 MOUNTAIN LIFE AND WORK Page 9 how much information these youngsters had about the training needed, the turnover, or the possibilities for employment in their specific occupational choices; whether temperament and aptitudes had been considered; nor do we know the bases on which they made their choices. We are quite sure that little counseling, if any, was provided. There is little or no information available on which the youngsters can base a judgment about the possibilities for practicing these vocations within the limits of the Appalachian region. For all of this they must trust to good fortune. It will be noted that 13 of the 14 jobs to which the group of high school students aspired require advanced training; 10 require two years or more of college. It is interesting to compare their aspirations with the vocational offerings of the average college in this region, primarily concerned as our colleges arc with teacher training. In the light of youth's needs, of unemployment, (which has temporarily abated through the defense boom), and the inevitable trend toward adding one or two years of school to the high school period, here is a whole new field of usefulness which ought to be examined. We must somehow ascertain how we may provide terminal vocational training based on an adequate guidance program. With very few exceptions, there does not seem to be any indication that the problem of vocational training, guidance and migration has been recognized by rural public schools. Some private schools claim that they train their students "to go back to the mountains," but because no distinction is made between rural and urban localities the claim is misleading. Especially is this true since many private schools evade the question of migration. It would seem highly desirable to have a comprehensive factual picture of this problem. Such a survey picture would be all the more appropriate in the light of statements in the Report to the President on the Social and Economic Conditions in the South that there is a heavy migration of rural folk, including the more talented and well trained.l Such a survey would afford better guidance and curriculum planning. As commendable as it may be to train mountain boys and girls to return to their communities, it would seem that the personality of the boy or girl who attempts to seek his I p. 17 fortune elsewhere because of overpopulation in his home community should receive the same care and consideration as the one who is to return to his home. It is obvious that the conditions under which the migrant youth must seek his fortune will not be the same as those "up the hollow" from which he came, and that his program should be different. But neither public nor private schools pay much attention to this distinction. By contrast now we turn from the group of students who finish high school, to the larger group of youngsters who do not complete high school. Here is another aspect of the youth problem in the mountains, one still serious and challenging in some rural regions. The group which completes high school is a select group. Because of many adverse conditions, including an uninteresting and sterile curriculum and inadequately trained teachers, the process of selectivity (which works with deadly certainty in rural areas especially) has left behind anywhere from 3 to 9 children for each of our 16 high school graduates. They will go to make up the approximate 80 percent of the total population who must work at routine, unskilled tasks both in and out of the mountains. Yet it is a rare program which takes the majority group into account. Establishment of free public education alone is not the answer. If the world had stood still for the past two decades that might suffice. But we live now in a mechanized, highly specialized, mobile society. There is evidence that we have more problems to cope with now than we did twenty years ago. Regardless of the disagreement among educators as to how much and where vocational training and guidance should begin, common sense dictates that the present standardized academic program is not enough. With increased leisure time and the raising of the age for employment, much is needed to supplement the existing school program. This brings us again to the problem of migration. In one highly industrialized mountain county, one out of every two young people (or nearly that proportion) must leave in search of work elsewhere. In an adjacent rural county this figure is much higher. In the first county, with a youth population of 28,737, there are jobs for only 140 girls a year and these consist mostly of holiday season work. The migration figure increases in proportion to the increase in the birth rate and

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