Part 6 out of 6
"But why," asked one of the boys, "do not apples grow so?"
"Can any body answer that question?" asked the master.
The boy with the green satchel said that apples had a smooth, tight
skin, which kept out the wet, but he did not see how they were guarded
The master said it was by their taste. "They are hard and sour before
they are full grown, and so the taste is not pleasant, and nobody wishes
to eat them, except sometimes a few foolish boys, and these are punished
by being made sick. When the apples are full grown, they change from
sour to sweet, and become mellow--then they can be eaten. Can you tell
me of any other fruits which are preserved in this way?"
One boy answered, "Strawberries and blackberries;" and another said,
"Peaches and pears."
Another boy asked why the peach-stone was not outside the peach, so as
to keep it from being eaten; but the master said that he would explain
this another time. Then he dismissed the scholars, after asking Roger to
wait until the rest had gone, as he wished to see him alone.
Several of the articles which follow were communicated for this work by
different teachers, at the request of the author.
11. THE SERIES OF WRITING LESSONS.--Very many pupils soon become weary
of the dull and monotonous business of writing, unless some plans are
devised to give interest and variety to the exercise; and, on this
account, this branch of education, in which improvement may be most
rapid, is often the last and most tedious to be acquired.
A teacher, by adopting the following plan, succeeded in awakening a
great degree of interest on the subject, and, consequently, of promoting
rapid improvement. The plan was this: he prepared, on a large sheet of
paper, a series of lessons in coarse-hand, beginning with straight
lines, and proceeding to the elementary parts of the various letters,
and finally to the letters themselves. This paper was posted up in a
part of the room accessible to all.
The writing-books were made of three sheets of foolscap paper, folded
into a convenient size, making twenty-four pages in the book. The books
were to be ruled by the pupil, for it was thought important that each
should learn this art. Every pupil in school, then, being furnished with
one of these writing-books, was required to commence this series, and to
practice each lesson until he could write it well; then, and not till
then, he was permitted to pass to the next. A few brief directions were
given under each lesson on the large sheet. For example, under the line
of straight marks, which constituted the first lesson, was written as
_Straight, equidistant, parallel, smooth, well-terminated._
These directions were to call the attention of the pupil to the
excellences which he must aim at, and when he supposed he had secured
them, his book was to be presented to the teacher for examination. If
approved, the word _Passed_, or, afterward, simply _P_., was written
under the line, and he could then proceed to the next lesson. Other
requisites were necessary, besides the correct formation of the letters,
to enable one to pass; for example, the page must not be soiled or
blotted, no paper must be wasted, and, in no case, a leaf torn out. As
soon as _one line_ was written in the manner required, the scholar was
allowed to pass. In a majority of cases, however, not less than a page
would be practiced, and in many instances a sheet would be covered,
before one line could be produced which would be approved.
One peculiar excellency of this method was, that although the whole
school were working under a regular and systematic plan, individuals
could go on independently; that is, the progress of no scholar was
retarded by that of his companion; the one more advanced might easily
pass the earlier lessons in a few days, while the others would require
weeks of practice to acquire the same degree of skill.
During the writing-hour the scholars would practice each at the lesson
where he left off before, and at a particular time each day the books
were brought from the regular place of deposit and laid before the
teacher for examination. Without some arrangement for an examination of
all the books together, the teacher would be liable to interruption at
any time from individual questions and requests, which would consume
much time, and benefit only a few.
When a page of writing could not pass, a brief remark, calling the
attention of the pupil to the faults which prevented it, was sometimes
made in pencil at the bottom of the page. In other cases, the fault was
of such a character as to require full and minute oral directions to the
pupil. At last, to facilitate the criticism of the writing, a set of
arbitrary marks, indicative of the various faults, was devised and
applied, as occasion might require, to the writing-books, by means of
These marks, which were very simple in their character, were easily
remembered, for there was generally some connection between the sign
and the thing signified. For example, the mark denoting that letters
were too short was simply lengthening them in red ink; a faulty curve
was denoted by making a new curve over the old one, &c. The following
are the principal criticisms and directions for which marks were
Strokes rough. Too tall or too short.
Curve wrong. Stems not straight.
Bad termination Careless work.
Too slanting, and the reverse. Paper wasted.
Too broad, and the reverse. Almost well enough to pass.
Not parallel. Bring your book to the teacher.
Form of the letter bad. Former fault not corrected.
Large stroke made too fine, and the reverse.
A catalogue of these marks, with an explanation, was made out and placed
where it was accessible to all, and by means of them the books could be
very easily and rapidly, but thoroughly criticised.
After the plan had gone on for some time, and its operation was fully
understood, the teacher gave up the business of examining the books into
the hands of a committee, appointed by him from among the older and more
advanced pupils. That the committee might be unbiased in their judgment,
they were required to examine and decide upon the books without knowing
the names of the writers. Each scholar was, indeed, required to place
her name on the right hand upper corner of every page of her
writing-book, for the convenience of the distributors; but this corner
was turned down when the book was brought in, that it might not be seen
by the committee.
This committee was invested with plenary powers, and there was no appeal
from their decision. In case they exercised their authority in an
improper way, or failed on any account to give satisfaction, they were
liable to impeachment, but while they continued in office they were to
be strictly obeyed.
This plan went on successfully for three months, and with very little
diminution of interest. The whole school went regularly through the
lessons in coarse-hand, and afterward through a similar series in
fine-hand, and improvement in this branch was thought to be greater than
at any former period in the same length of time.
The same principle of arranging the several steps of an art or a study
into a series of lessons, and requiring the pupil to pass regularly from
one to the other, might easily be applied to other studies, and would
afford an agreeable variety.
12. THE CORRESPONDENCE.--A master of a district school was walking
through the room with a large rule in his hands, and as he came up
behind two small boys, he observed that they were playing with some
papers. He struck them once or twice, though not very severely, on the
head with the rule which he had in his hand. Tears started from the eyes
of one. They were called forth by a mingled feeling of grief,
mortification, and pain. The other, who was of "sterner stuff," looked
steadily into the master's face, and when his back was turned, shook his
fist at him and laughed in defiance.
Another teacher, seeing a similar case, did nothing. The boys, when they
saw him, hastily gathered up their playthings and put them away. An hour
or two after, a little boy, who sat near the master, brought them a note
addressed to them both. They opened it, and read as follows:
"To EDWARD AND JOHN,--I observed, when I passed you to-day, from your
concerned looks, and your hurried manner of putting something into your
desk, that you were doing something that you knew was wrong. When you
attempt to do any thing whatever which conscience tells you is wrong,
you only make yourself uneasy and anxious while you do it, and then you
are forced to resort to concealment and deception when you see me
coming. You would be a great deal happier if you would always be doing
your duty, and then you would never be afraid. Your affectionate
As the teacher was arranging his papers in his desk at the close of
school, he found a small piece of paper neatly folded up in the form of
a note, and addressed to him. He read as follows:
"DEAR TEACHER,--We are very much obliged to you for writing us a note.
We were making a paper box. We know it was wrong, and are determined not
to do so any more. We hope you will forgive us.
"Your pupils, EDWARD, JOHN."
Which of these teachers understood human nature best?
13. WEEKLY REPORTS.--The plan described by the following article, which
was furnished by a teacher for insertion here, was originally adopted,
so far as I know, in a school on the Kennebec. I have adopted it with
A teacher had one day been speaking to her scholars of certain cases of
slight disorder in the school, which, she remarked, had been gradually
creeping in, and which, as she thought, it devolved upon the scholars,
by systematic efforts, to repress. She enumerated instances of disorder
in the arrangement of the rooms, leaving the benches out of their
places, throwing waste papers upon the floor, having the desk in
disorder inside, spilling water upon the entry floor, irregular
deportment, such as too loud talking or laughing in recess, or in the
intermission at noon, or when coming to school, and making unnecessary
noise in going to or returning from recitations.
"I have a plan to propose," said the teacher, "which I think may be the
pleasantest way of promoting a reform in things of this kind. It is
this. Let several of your number be chosen a committee to prepare
statedly--perhaps as often as once a week--a written report of the state
of the school. The report might be read before the school at the close
of each week. The committee might consist, in the whole, of seven or
eight, or even of eleven or twelve individuals, who should take the
whole business into their hands. This committee might appoint
individuals of their number to write in turn each week. By this
arrangement, it would not be known to the school generally who are the
writers of any particular report, if the individuals wish to be
anonymous. Two individuals might be appointed at the beginning of the
week, who should feel it their business to observe particularly the
course of things from day to day with reference to the report.
Individuals not members of the committee can render assistance by any
suggestions they may present to this committee. These should, however,
generally be made in writing.
"Subjects for such a report will be found to suggest themselves very
abundantly, though you may not perhaps think so at first. The committee
may be empowered not only to state the particulars in which things are
going wrong, but the methods by which they may be made right. Let them
present us with any suggestions they please. If we do not like them, we
are not obliged to adopt them. For instance, it is generally the case,
whenever a recitation is attended in the corner yonder, that an end of
one of the benches is put against the door, so as to occasion a serious
interruption to the exercises when a person wishes to come in or go out.
It would come within the province of the committee to attend to such a
case as this, that is, to bring it up in the report. The remedy in such
a case is a very simple one. Suppose, however, that instead of the
_simple_ remedy, our committee should propose that the classes reciting
in the said corner should be dissolved and the studies abolished? We
should know the proposal was an absurd one, but then it would do no
hurt; we should have only to reject it.
"Again, besides our faults, let our committee notice the respects in
which we are doing particularly well, that we may be encouraged to go on
doing well, or even to do better. If they think, for example, that we
are deserving of credit for the neatness with which books are kept--for
their freedom from blots, or scribblings, or dog's-ears, by which
school-books are so commonly defaced, let them tell us so. And the same
of any other excellence."
With the plan as thus presented, the scholars were very much pleased. It
was proposed by one individual that such a committee should be appointed
immediately, and a report prepared for the ensuing week. This was done.
The committee were chosen by ballot. The following may be taken as a
specimen of their reports:
"The Committee appointed to write the weekly report have noticed several
things which they think wrong. In the first place, there have been a
greater number of tardy scholars during the past week than usual. Much
of this tardiness, we suppose, is owing to the interest felt in building
the bower; but we think this business ought to be attended to only in
play-hours. If only one or two come in late when we are reading in the
morning, or after we have composed ourselves to study at the close of
the recess, every scholar must look up from her book--we do not say they
ought to do so, but only that they will do so. However, we anticipate an
improvement in this respect, as we know 'a word to the wise is
"In the two back rows we are sorry to say that we have noticed
whispering. We know that this fact will very much distress our teacher,
as she expects assistance, and not trouble, from our older scholars. It
is not our business to reprove any one's misconduct, but it is our duty
to mention it, however disagreeable it may be. We think the younger
scholars, during the past week, have much improved in this respect. Only
three cases of whispering among them have occurred to our knowledge.
"We remember some remarks made a few weeks ago by our teacher on the
practice of prompting each other in the classes. We wish she would
repeat them, for we fear that, by some, they are forgotten. In the class
in Geography, particularly in the questions on the map, we have noticed
sly whispers, which, we suppose, were the hints of some kind friend
designed to refresh the memory of her less attentive companion. We
propose that the following question be now put to vote. Shall the
practice of prompting in the classes be any longer continued?
"We would propose that we have a composition exercise _this_ week
similar to the one on Thursday last. It was very interesting, and we
think all would be willing to try their thinking powers once more. We
would propose, also, that the readers of the compositions should sit
near the centre of the room, as last week many fine sentences escaped
the ears of those seated in the remote corners.
"We were requested by a very public-spirited individual to mention once
more the want of three nails, for bonnets, in the entry. Also, to say
that the air from the broken pane of glass on the east side of the room
is very unpleasant to those who sit near.
"Proposed that the girls who exhibited so much taste and ingenuity in
the arrangement of the festoons of evergreen, and tumblers of flowers
around the teacher's desk, be now requested to remove the faded roses
and drooping violets. We have gazed on these sad emblems long enough.
"Finally, proposed that greater care be taken by those who stay at noon
to place their dinner-baskets in proper places. The contents of more
than one were partly strewed upon the entry floor this morning."
If such a measure as this is adopted, it should not be continued
uninterrupted for a very long time. Every thing of this sort should be
occasionally changed, or it sooner or later becomes only a form.
14. THE SHOPPING EXERCISE.--I have often, when going a shopping, found
difficulty and trouble in making change. I could never calculate very
readily, and in the hurry and perplexity of the moment I was always
making mistakes. I have heard others often make the same complaint, and
I resolved to try the experiment of regularly teaching children to make
change. I had a bright little class in Arithmetic, the members of which
were always ready to engage with interest in any thing new, and to them
I proposed my plan. It was to be called the Shopping Exercise. I first
requested each individual to write something upon her slate which she
would like to buy, if she was going a shopping, stating the quantity she
wished and the price of it. To make the first lesson as simple as
possible, I requested no one to go above ten, either in the quantity or
price. When all were ready, I called upon some to read what she had
written. Her next neighbor was then requested to tell us how much the
purchase would amount to. Then the first one named a bill, which she
supposed to be offered in payment, and the second showed what change was
needed. A short specimen of the exercise will probably make it clearer
than mere description.
_Mary_. Eight ounces of candy at seven cents.
_Susan_. Fifty-six cents.
_Mary_. One dollar.
_Susan_. Forty-four cents.
* * * * *
_Susan_. Nine yards of lace at eight cents.
_Anna_. Seventy-two cents.
_Susan_. Two dollars.
_Anna_. One dollar and twenty-eight cents.
* * * * *
_Anna_. Three pieces of tape at five cents.
_Jane_. Fifteen cents.
_Anna_. Three dollars.
_Jane_. Eighty-five cents.
_Several voices_. Wrong.
_Jane_. Two dollars and eighty-five cents.
* * * * *
_Jane_. Six pictures at eight cents.
_Sarah_. Forty-two cents.
_Several voices_. Wrong.
_Sarah_. Forty-eight cents.
_Jane_. One dollar.
_Sarah_. Sixty-two cents.
_Several voices_. Wrong.
_Sarah_. Fifty-two cents.
* * * * *
It will be perceived that the same individual who names the article and
the price names also the bill which she would give in payment; and the
one who sits next her, who calculated the amount, calculated also the
change to be returned. She then proposed _her_ example to the one next
in the line, with whom the same course was pursued, and thus it passed
down the class.
The exercise went on for some time in this way, till the pupils had
become so familiar with it that I thought it best to allow them to take
higher numbers. They were always interested in it, and made great
improvement in a short time, and I myself derived great advantage from
listening to them.
There is one more circumstance I will add which may contribute to the
interest of this account. While the class were confined, in what they
purchased, to the number ten, they were sometimes inclined to turn the
exercise into a frolic. The variety of articles which they could find
costing less than ten cents was so small, that, for the sake of getting
something new, they would propose examples really ludicrous, such as
these: three meeting-houses at two cents; four pianos at nine cents. But
I soon found that if I allowed this at all, their attention was diverted
from the main object, and occupied in seeking the most diverting and
15. ARTIFICES IN RECITATIONS.--The teacher of a small newly-established
school had all of his scholars classed together in some of their
studies. At recitations he usually sat in the middle of the room, while
the scholars occupied the usual places at their desks, which were
arranged around the sides. In the recitation in Rhetoric, the teacher,
after a time, observed that one or two of the class seldom answered
appropriately the questions which came to them, but yet were always
ready with some kind of answer--generally an exact quotation of the
words of the book. Upon noticing these individuals more particularly, he
was convinced that their books were open before them in some concealed
situation. Another practice not uncommon in the class was that of
_prompting_ each other, either by whispers or writing. The teacher took
no notice publicly of these practices for some time, until, at the close
of an uncommonly good recitation, he remarked, "I think we have had a
fine recitation to-day. It is one of the most agreeable things that I
ever do to hear a lesson that is learned as well as this. Do you think
it would be possible for us to have as good an exercise every day?"
"Yes, sir," answered several, faintly. "Do you think it would be
reasonable for me to expect of every member of the class that she should
always be able to recite all her lessons without ever missing a single
question?" "No, sir," answered all. "I do not expect it," said the
teacher. "All I wish is that each of you should be faithful in your
efforts to prepare your lessons. I wish you to study from a sense of
duty, and for the sake of your own improvement. You know I do not punish
you for failures. I have no going up or down, no system of marking. Your
only reward, when you have made faithful preparation for a recitation,
is the feeling of satisfaction which you will always experience; and
when you have been negligent, your only punishment is a sort of uneasy
feeling of self-reproach. I do not expect you all to be invariably
prepared with every question of your lessons. Sometimes you will be
unavoidably prevented from studying them, and at other times, when you
have studied them very carefully, you may have forgotten, or you may
fail from some misapprehension of the meaning in some cases. Do not, in
such a case, feel troubled because you may not have appeared as well as
some individual who has not been half as faithful as yourself. If you
have done your duty, that is enough. On the other hand, you ought to
feel no better satisfied with yourselves when your lesson has not been
studied well, because you may have happened to know the parts which came
to you. Have I _done_ well? should always be the question, not, Have I
managed to _appear_ well?
"I will say a word here," continued the teacher, "upon a practice which
I have known to be very common in some schools, and which I have been
sorry to notice occasionally in this. I mean that of prompting, or
helping each other along in some way at recitations. Now where a severe
punishment is the consequence of a failure, there might seem to be some
reasonableness in helping your companions out of difficulty, though even
then such tricks are departures from honorable dealing. But, especially
where there is no purpose to be served but that of appearing to know
more than you do, it certainly must be considered a very mean kind of
artifice. I think I have sometimes observed an individual to be prompted
where evidently the assistance was not desired, and even where it was
not needed. To whisper to an individual the answer to a question is
sometimes to pay her rather a poor compliment at least, for it is the
same as saying 'I am a better scholar than you are; let me help you
along a little.'
"Let us then, hereafter, have only fair, open, honest dealings with each
other; no attempts to appear to advantage by little artful manoeuvring;
no prompting; no peeping into books. Be faithful and conscientious, and
then banish anxiety for your success. Do you not think you will find
this the best course?" "Yes, sir," answered every scholar. "Are you
willing to pledge yourselves to adopt it?" "Yes, sir." "Those who are
may raise their hands," said the teacher. Every hand was raised; and the
pledge, there was evidence to believe, was honorably sustained.
16. KEEPING RESOLUTIONS.--The following are notes of a familiar lecture
on this subject, given by a teacher at some general exercise in the
school. The practice of thus reducing to writing what the teacher may
say on such subjects will be attended with excellent effects.
This is a subject upon which young persons find much difficulty. The
question is asked a thousand times, "How shall I ever learn to keep my
resolutions?" Perhaps the great cause of your failures is this. You are
not sufficiently _definite_ in forming your purposes. You will resolve
to do a thing without knowing with certainty whether it is even possible
to do it. Again, you make resolutions which are to run on indefinitely,
so that, of course, they can never be fully kept. For instance, one of
you will resolve to _rise earlier in the morning._ You fix upon no
definite hour, on any definite number of mornings, only you are going
to "_rise earlier_." Morning comes, and finds you sleepy and disinclined
to rise. You remember your resolution of rising earlier. "But then it is
_very_ early," you say. You resolved to rise earlier, but you didn't
resolve to rise just then. And this, it may be, is the last of your
resolution. Or perhaps you are, for a few mornings, a little earlier;
but then, at the end of a week or fortnight, you do not know exactly
whether your resolution has been broken or kept, for you had not decided
whether to rise earlier for ten days or for ten years.
In the same vague and general manner, a person will resolve to be _more
studious_ or more diligent. In the case of an individual of a mature and
well-disciplined mind, of acquired firmness of character, such a
resolution might have effect. The individual will really devote more
time and attention to his pursuits. But for one of you to make such a
resolution would do no sort of good. It would only be a source of
trouble and disquiet. You perceive there is nothing definite--nothing
fixed about it. You have not decided what amount of additional time or
attention to give to your studies, or when you will begin, or when you
will end. There is no one time when you will feel that you are breaking
your resolution, because there were no particular times when you were to
study more. You waste one opportunity and another, and then, with a
feeling of discouragement and self-reproach, conclude to abandon your
resolution. "Oh! It does no good to make resolutions," you say; "I never
shall keep them."
Now, if you would have the business of making resolutions a pleasant and
interesting instead of a discouraging, disquieting one, you must proceed
in a different manner. Be definite and distinct in your plan; decide
exactly what you will do, and how you will do it--when you will begin,
and when you will end. Instead of resolving to "rise earlier," resolve
to rise at the ringing of the sunrise bells, or at some other definite
time. Resolve to try this, as an experiment, for one morning, or for one
week, or fortnight. Decide positively, if you decide at all, and then
rise when the time comes, sleepy or not sleepy. Do not stop to repent of
your resolution, or to consider the wisdom or folly of it, when the time
for acting under it has once arrived.
In all cases, little and great, make this a principle--to consider well
before you begin to act, but after you have begun to act, never stop to
consider. Resolve as deliberately as you please, but be sure to keep
your resolution, whether a wise one or an unwise one, after it is once
made. Never allow yourself to reconsider the question of getting up,
after the morning has come, except it be for some unforeseen
circumstance. Get up for that time, and be more careful how you make
17. TOPICS.--The plan of the Topic Exercise, as we called it, is this.
Six or seven topics are given out, information upon which is to be
obtained from any source, and communicated verbally before the whole
school, or sometimes before a class formed for this purpose the next
day. The subjects are proposed both by teacher and scholars, and if
approved, adopted. The exercise is intended to be voluntary, but ought
to be managed in a way sufficiently interesting to induce all to join.
At the commencement of the exercise the teacher calls upon all who have
any information in regard to the topic assigned--suppose, for example,
it is _Alabaster_--to rise. Perhaps twenty individuals out of forty
rise. The teacher may perhaps say to those in their seats,
"Do you not know any thing of this subject? Have you neither seen nor
heard of alabaster, and had no means of ascertaining any thing in regard
to it? If you have, you ought to rise. It is not necessary that you
should state a fact altogether new and unheard-of, but if you tell me
its color, or some of the uses to which it is applied, you will be
complying with my request."
After these remarks, perhaps a few more rise, and possibly the whole
school. Individuals are then called upon at random, each to state only
one particular in regard to the topic in question. This arrangement is
made so as to give all an opportunity to speak. If any scholar, after
having mentioned one fact, has something still farther to communicate,
she remains standing till called upon again. As soon as an individual
has exhausted her stock of information, or if the facts that she
intended to mention are stated by another, she takes her seat.
The topics at first most usually selected are the common objects by
which we are surrounded--for example, glass, iron, mahogany, and the
like. The list will gradually extend itself, until it will embrace a
large number of subjects.
The object of this exercise is to induce pupils to seek for general
information in an easy and pleasant manner, as by the perusal of books,
newspapers, periodicals, and conversation with friends. It induces care
and attention in reading, and discrimination in selecting the most
useful and important facts from the mass of information. As individuals
are called upon, also, to express their ideas _verbally_, they soon
acquire by practice the power of expressing them with clearness and
force, and communicating with ease and confidence the knowledge they
18. Music.--The girls of our school often amused themselves in recess by
collecting into little groups for singing. As there seemed to be a
sufficient power of voice, and a respectable number who were willing to
join in the performance, it was proposed one day that singing should be
introduced as a part of the devotional exercises of the school.
The first attempt nearly resulted in a failure; only a few trembling
voices succeeded in singing Old Hundred to the words "Be thou," etc. On
the second day Peterborough was sung with much greater confidence on the
part of the increased number of singers. The experiment was tried with
greater and greater success for several days, when the teacher proposed
that a systematic plan should be formed, by which there might be singing
regularly at the close of school. It was then proposed that a number of
singing-books be obtained, and one of the scholars, who was well
acquainted with common tunes, be appointed as chorister. Her duty should
be to decide what particular tune may be sung each day, inform the
teacher of the metre of the hymn, and take the lead in the exercise.
This plan, being approved of by the scholars, was adopted, and put into
immediate execution. Several brought copies of the Sabbath School
Hymn-Book, which they had in their possession, and the plan succeeded
beyond all expectation. The greatest difficulty in the way was to get
some one to lead. The chorister, however, was somewhat relieved from the
embarrassment which she would naturally feel in making a beginning by
the appointment of one or two individuals with herself, who were to act
as her assistants. These constituted the _leading_ committee, or, as it
was afterward termed, _Singing Committee_.
Singing now became a regular and interesting exercise of the school, and
the committee succeeded in managing the business themselves.
19. TABU.--An article was one day read in a school relating to the
"Tabu" of the Sandwich Islanders. Tabu is a term with them which
signifies consecrated--not to be touched--to be let alone--not to be
violated. Thus, according to their religious observances, a certain day
will be proclaimed _Tabu_; that is, one upon which there is to be no
work or no going out.
A few days after this article was read, the scholars observed one
morning a flower stuck up in a conspicuous place against the wall, with
the word TABU in large characters above it. This excited considerable
curiosity. The teacher informed them, in explanation, that the flower
was a very rare and beautiful specimen, brought by one of the scholars,
which he wished all to examine. "You would naturally feel a disposition
to examine it by the touch," said he, "but you will all see that, by the
time it was touched by sixty individuals, it would be likely to be
injured, if not destroyed. So I concluded to label it _Tabu_. And it has
occurred to me that this will be a convenient mode of apprising you
generally that any article must not be handled. You know we sometimes
have some apparatus exposed, which would be liable to injury from
disturbance, where there are so many persons to touch it. I shall, in
such a case, just mention that an article is Tabu, and you will
understand that it is not only not to be _injured_, but not even
A little delicate management of this sort will often have more influence
over young persons than the most vehement scolding, or the most watchful
and jealous precautions. The Tabu was always most scrupulously regarded,
after this, whenever employed.
20. MENTAL ANALYSIS.--Scene, a class in Arithmetic at recitation. The
teacher gives them an example in addition, requesting them, when they
have performed it, to rise. Some finish it very soon, others are very
slow in accomplishing the work.
"I should like to ascertain," says the teacher, "how great is the
difference of rapidity with which different members of the class work in
addition. I will give you another example, and then notice by my watch
the shortest and longest time required to do it."
The result of the experiment was that some members of the class were two
or three times as long in doing it as others.
"Perhaps you think," said the teacher, "that this difference is
altogether owing to difference of skill; but it is not. It is mainly
owing to the different methods adopted by various individuals. I am
going to describe some of these, and, as I describe them, I wish you
would notice them carefully, and tell me which you practice."
There are, then, three modes of adding up a column of figures, which I
1. I shall call the first _counting_. You take the first figure, and
then add the next to it by counting up regularly. There are three
distinct ways of doing this.
(a.) "Counting by your fingers." ("Yes, sir.") "You take the first
figure--suppose it is seven--and the one above it, eight. Now you
recollect that to add eight, you must count all the fingers of one
hand, and all but two again. So you say 'seven--eight, nine, ten,
eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen.'"
"Yes, sir, yes, sir," said the scholars.
(b.) The next mode of counting is to do it mentally, without using your
fingers at all; but, as it is necessary for you to have some plan to
secure your adding the right number, you divide the units into sets of
two each. Thus you remember that eight consists of four twos, and you
accordingly say, when adding eight to seven, 'Seven; eight, nine; ten,
eleven; twelve, thirteen,' &c.
(c.) "The third mode is to add by threes in the same way. You recollect
that eight consists of two threes and a two; so you say, 'Seven; eight,
nine, ten; eleven, twelve, thirteen; fourteen, fifteen.'"
The teacher here stops to ascertain how many of the class are accustomed
to add in either of these modes. It is a majority.
2. The next general method is _calculating_; that is, you do not unite
one number to another by the dull and tedious method of applying the
units, one by one, as in the ways described under the preceding head,
but you come to a result more rapidly by some mode of calculating. These
modes are several.
(a.) "Doubling a number, and then adding or subtracting, as the case may
require. For instance, in the example already specified, in order to add
seven and eight, you say, 'Twice seven are fourteen, and one are
fifteen'" ("Yes, sir, yes, sir"); "or, 'Twice eight are sixteen, and
taking one off leaves fifteen." ("Yes, sir.")
(b.) Another way of calculating is to skip about the column, adding
those numbers which you can combine most easily, and then bringing in
the rest as you best can. Thus, if you see three eights in one column,
you say, 'Three times eight are twenty-four,' and then you try to bring
in the other numbers. Often, in such cases, you forget what you have
added and what you have not, and get confused ("Yes, sir"), or you omit
something in your work, and consequently it is incorrect.
(c.) If nines occur, you sometimes add ten, and then take off one, for
it is very easy to add ten.
(d.) Another method of calculating, which is, however, not very common,
is this: to take our old case, adding eight to seven, you take as much
from the eight to add to the seven as will be sufficient to make ten,
and then it will be easy to add the rest. Thus you think in a minute
that three from the eight will make the seven a ten, and then there will
be five more to add, which will make fifteen. If the next number was
seven, you would say five of it will make twenty, and then there will be
two left, which will make twenty-two.' This mode, though it may seem
more intricate than any of the others, is, in fact, more rapid than any
of them, when one is a little accustomed to it.
"These are the four principal modes of calculating which occur to me.
Pupils do not generally practice any of them exclusively, but
occasionally resort to each, according to the circumstances of the
The teacher here stopped to inquire how many of the class were
accustomed to add by calculating in either of these ways or in any
3. "There is one more mode which I shall describe: it is by _memory_.
Before I explain this mode, I wish to ask you some questions, which I
should like to have you answer as quick as you can.
"How much is four times five? Four _and_ five?
"How much is seven times nine? Seven _and_ nine?
"Eight times six? Eight _and_ six?
"Nine times seven? Nine _and_ seven?"
After asking a few questions of this kind, it was perceived that the
pupils could tell much more readily what was the result when the
numbers were to be multiplied than when they were to be added.
"The reason is," said the teacher, "because you committed the
multiplication table to memory, and have not committed the addition
table. Now many persons have committed the addition table, so that it is
perfectly familiar to them, and when they see any two numbers, the
amount which is produced when they are added together comes to mind in
an instant. Adding in this way is the last of the three modes I was to
"Now of these three methods the last is undoubtedly the best. If you
once commit the addition table thoroughly, you have it fixed for life;
whereas if you do not, you have to make the calculation over again every
time, and thus lose a vast amount of labor. I have no doubt that there
are some in this class who are in the habit of _counting_, who have
ascertained that seven and eight, for instance, make fifteen, by
counting up from seven to fifteen _hundreds of times_. Now how much
better it would be to spend a little time in fixing the fact in the mind
once for all, and then, when you come to the case, seven and eight
are--say at once 'Fifteen,' instead of mumbling over and over again,
hundreds of times, 'Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen,
"The reason, then, that some of the class add so slowly, is not,
probably, because they want skill and rapidity of execution, but because
they work to a great disadvantage by working in the wrong way. I have
often been surprised at the dexterity and speed with which some scholars
can count with their fingers when adding, and yet they could not get
through the sum very quick--at least they would have done it in half the
time if the same effort had been made in traveling on a shorter road. We
will therefore study the addition table now, in the class, before we go
21. TARDINESS.--When only a few scholars in a school are tardy, it may
be their fault; but if a great many are so, it is the fault of the
teacher or of the school. If a school is prosperous, and the children
are going on well and happily in their studies, they will like their
work in it; but we all come reluctantly to work which we are conscious
we are not successfully performing.
There may be two boys in a school, both good boys; one, may be going on
well in his classes, while the other, from the concurrence of some
accidental train of circumstances, may be behindhand in his work, or
wrongly classed, or so situated in other respects that his school duties
perplex and harass him day by day. Now how different will be the
feelings of these two boys in respect to coming to school. The one will
be eager and prompt to reach his place and commence his duties, while
the other will love much better to loiter in idleness and liberty in the
open air. Nor is he, under the circumstances of the case, to blame for
this preference. There is no one, old or young, who likes or can like to
do what he himself and all around him think that he does not do well. It
is true the teacher can not rely wholly on the interest which his
scholars take in their studies to make them punctual at school; but if
he finds among them any very general disposition to be tardy, he ought
to seek for the fault mainly in himself and not in them.
The foregoing narratives and examples, it is hoped, may induce some of
the readers of this book to keep journals of their own experiments, and
of the incidents which may, from time to time, come under their notice,
illustrating the principles of education, or simply the characteristics
and tendencies of the youthful mind. The business of teaching will
excite interest and afford pleasure just in proportion to the degree in
which it is conducted by operations of mind upon mind, and the means of
making it most fully so are careful practice, based upon and regulated
by the results of careful observation. Every teacher, then, should make
observations and experiments upon mind a part of his daily duty, and
nothing will more facilitate this than keeping a record of results.
There can be no opportunity for studying human nature more favorable
than the teacher enjoys. The materials are all before him; his very
business, from day to day, brings him to act directly upon them; and the
study of the powers and tendencies of the human mind is not only the
most interesting and the noblest that can engage human attention, but
every step of progress he makes in it imparts an interest and charm to
what would otherwise be a weary toil. It at once relieves his labors,
while it doubles their efficiency and success.
THE TEACHER'S FIRST DAY.
The teacher enters upon the duties of his office by a much more sudden
transition than is common in the other avocations and employments of
life. In ordinary cases, business comes at first by slow degrees, and
the beginner is introduced to the labors and responsibilities of his
employment in a very gradual manner. The young teacher, however, enters
by a single step into the very midst of his labors. Having, perhaps,
never even heard a class recite before, he takes a short walk some
winter morning, and suddenly finds himself instated at the desk, his
fifty scholars around him, all looking him in the face, and waiting to
be employed. Every thing comes upon him at once. He can do nothing until
the day and the hour for opening the school arrives--then he has every
thing to do.
Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that the young teacher
should look forward with unusual solicitude to his first day in school,
and he desires, ordinarily, special instructions in respect to this
occasion. Some such special instructions we propose to give in this
chapter. The experienced teacher may think some of them too minute and
trivial. But he must remember that they are intended for the youngest
beginner in the humblest school; and if he recalls to mind his own
feverish solicitude on the morning when he went to take his first
command in the district school, he will pardon the seeming minuteness of
1. It will be well for the young teacher to take opportunity, between
the time of his engaging his school and that of his commencing it, to
acquire as much information in respect to it beforehand as possible, so
as to be somewhat acquainted with the scene of his labors before
entering upon it. Ascertain the names and the characters of the
principal families in the district, their ideas and wishes in respect to
the government of the school, the kind of management adopted by one or
two of the last teachers, the difficulties they fell into, the nature of
the complaints made against them, if any, and the families with whom
difficulty has usually arisen. This information must, of course, be
obtained in private conversation; a good deal of it must be, from its
very nature, highly confidential; but it is very important that the
teacher should be possessed of it. He will necessarily become possessed
of it by degrees in the course of his administration, when, however, it
may be too late to be of any service to him. But, by judicious and
proper efforts to acquire it beforehand, he will enter upon the
discharge of his duties with great advantage. It is like a navigator's
becoming acquainted beforehand with the nature and the dangers of the
sea over which he is about to sail.
Such inquiries as these will, in ordinary cases, bring to the teacher's
knowledge, in most districts in our country, some cases of peculiarly
troublesome scholars, or unreasonable and complaining parents; and
stories of their unjustifiable conduct on former occasions will come to
him exaggerated by the jealousy of rival neighbors. There is danger that
his resentment may be roused a little, and that his mind will assume a
hostile attitude at once toward such individuals, so that he will enter
upon his work rather with a desire to seek a collision with them, or, at
least, with secret feelings of defiance toward them--feelings which will
lead to that kind of unbending perpendicularity in his demeanor toward
them which will almost inevitably lead to a collision. Now this is
wrong. There is, indeed, a point where firm resistance to unreasonable
demands becomes a duty; but, as a general principle, it is most
unquestionably true that it is the teacher's duty _to accommodate
himself to the character and expectations of his employers_, not to face
and brave them. Those italicized words _may be_ understood to mean
something which would be entirely wrong; but in the sense in which I
mean to use them there can be no question that they indicate the proper
path for one employed by others to do work _for them_ in all cases to
pursue. If, therefore, the teacher finds by his inquiries into the state
of his district that there are some peculiar difficulties and dangers
there, let him not cherish a disposition to face and resist them, but to
avoid them. Let him go with an intention to soothe rather than to
irritate feelings which have been wounded before, to comply with the
wishes of all so far as he can, even if they are not entirely
reasonable, and, while he endeavors to elevate the standard and correct
the opinions prevailing among his employers by any means in his power,
to aim at doing it gently, and in a tone and manner suitable to the
relation he sustains--in a word, let him skillfully _avoid_ the dangers
of his navigation, not obstinately run his ship against a rock on
purpose on the ground that the rock has no business to be there.
This is the spirit, then, with which these preliminary inquiries in
regard to the patrons of the school ought to be made. We come now to a
2. It will assist the young teacher very much in his first day's labors
if he takes measures for seeing and conversing with some of the older or
more intelligent scholars on the day or evening before he begins his
school, with a view of obtaining from them some acquaintance with the
internal arrangements and customs of the school. The object of this is
to obtain the same kind of information with respect to the interior of
the school that was recommended in respect to the district under the
former head. He may call upon a few families, especially those which
furnish a large number of scholars for the school, and make as many
minute inquiries of them as he can respecting all the interior
arrangements to which they have been accustomed, what reading-books and
other text-books have been used, what are the principal classes in all
the several departments of instruction, and what is the system of
discipline, and of rewards and punishments, to which the school has been
If, in such conversations, the teacher should find a few intelligent and
communicative scholars, he might learn a great deal about the past
habits and condition of the school, which would be of great service to
him. Not, by any means, that he will adopt and continue these methods as
a matter of course, but only that a knowledge of them will render him
very important aid in marking out his own course. The more minute and
full the information of this sort is which he thus obtains, the better.
If practicable, it would be well to make out a catalogue of all the
principal classes, with the names of those individuals belonging to them
who will probably attend the new school, and the order in which they
were usually called upon to read or recite. The conversation which would
be necessary to accomplish this would of itself be of great service. It
would bring the teacher into an acquaintance with several important
families and groups of children under the most favorable circumstances.
The parents would see and be pleased with the kind of interest they
would see the teacher taking in his new duties. The children would be
pleased to be able to render their new instructor some service, and
would go to the school-room on the next morning with a feeling of
acquaintance with him, and a predisposition to be pleased. And if by
chance any family should be thus called upon that had heretofore been
captious or complaining, or disposed to be jealous of the higher
importance or influence of other families, that spirit would be entirely
softened and subdued by such an interview with their new instructor at
their own fireside on the evening preceding the commencement of his
labors. The great object, however, which the teacher would have in view
in such inquiries should be the value of the information itself. As to
the use which he will make of it, we shall speak hereafter.
3. It is desirable that the young teacher should meet his scholars first
in an unofficial capacity. For this purpose, repair to the school-room
on the first day at an early hour, so as to see and become acquainted
with the scholars as they come in one by one. The intercourse between
teacher and pupil should be like that between parents and children,
where the utmost freedom is united with the most perfect respect. The
father who is most firm and decisive in his family government can mingle
most freely in the conversation and sports of his children without any
derogation of his authority, or diminution of the respect they owe.
Young teachers, however, are prone to forget this, and to imagine that
they must assume an appearance of stern authority always, when in the
presence of their scholars, if they wish to be respected or obeyed. This
they call keeping up their dignity. Accordingly, they wait, on the
morning of their induction into office, until their new subjects are all
assembled, and then walk in with an air of the highest dignity, and with
the step of a king; and sometimes a formidable instrument of discipline
is carried in the hand to heighten the impression. Now there is no
question that it is of great importance that scholars should have a high
idea of the teacher's firmness and inflexible decision in maintaining
his authority and repressing all disorder of every kind, but this
impression should be created by their seeing how he _acts_ in the
various emergencies which will spontaneously occur, and not by assuming
airs of importance or dignity, feigned for effect. In other words, their
respect for him should be based on _real traits_ of character as they
see them brought out into natural action, and not on appearances assumed
for the occasion.
It seems to me, therefore, that it is best for the teacher first to meet
his scholars with the air and tone of free and familiar intercourse, and
he will find his opportunity more favorable for doing this if he goes
early on the first morning of his labors, and converses freely with
those whom he finds there, and with others as they come in. He may take
an interest with them in all the little arrangements connected with the
opening of the school--the building of the fire, the paths through the
snow, the arrangements of seats; calling upon them for information or
aid, asking their names, and, in a word, entering fully and freely into
conversation with them, just as a parent, under similar circumstances,
would do with his children. All the children thus addressed will be
pleased with the gentleness and affability of the teacher. Even a rough
and ill-natured boy, who has perhaps come to the school with the express
determination of attempting to make mischief, will be completely
disarmed by being asked politely to help the teacher arrange the fire,
or alter the position of his desk. Thus, by means of the half hour
during which the scholars are coming together, and of the visits made in
the preceding evening, as described under the last head, the teacher
will find, when he calls upon the children to take their seats, that he
has made a very large number of them his personal friends. Many of these
will have communicated their first impressions to the others, so that he
will find himself possessed, at the outset, of that which is of vital
consequence in the opening of any administration--a strong party in his
4. The time for calling the school to order and commencing exercises of
some sort will at length arrive, though if the work of making personal
acquaintances is going on prosperously, it may perhaps be delayed a
little beyond the usual hour. When, however, the time arrives, we would
strongly recommend that the first service by which the regular duties of
the school are commenced should be an act of religious worship. There
are many reasons why the exercises of the school should every day be
thus commenced, and there are special reasons for it on the first day.
There are very few districts where parents would have any objection to
this. They might, indeed, in some cases, if the subject were to be
brought up formally before them as a matter of doubt, anticipate some
difficulties, or create imaginary ones, growing out of the supposed
sensitiveness of contending sects; but if the teacher were, of his own
accord, to commence the plain, faithful, and honest discharge of this
duty as a matter of course, very few would think of making any objection
to it, and almost all would be satisfied and pleased with its actual
operation. If, however, the teacher should, in any case, have reason to
believe that such a practice would be contrary to the wishes of his
employers, it would, according to views we have presented in another
chapter, be wrong for him to attempt to introduce it. He might, if he
should see fit, make such an objection a reason for declining to take
the school; but he ought not, if he takes it, to act counter to the
known wishes of his employers in so important a point. But if, on the
other hand, no such objections are made known to him, he need not raise
the question himself at all, but take it for granted that in a Christian
land there will be no objection to imploring the Divine protection and
blessing at the opening of a daily school.
If this practice is adopted, it will have a most powerful influence upon
the moral condition of the school. It must be so. Though many will be
inattentive, and many utterly unconcerned, yet it is not possible to
bring children, even in form, into the presence of God every day, and
to utter in their hearing the petitions which they ought to present,
without bringing a powerful element of moral influence to bear upon
their hearts. The good will be made better; the conscientious more
conscientious still; and the rude and savage will be subdued and
softened by the daily attempt to lead them to the throne of their
Creator. To secure this effect, the devotional service must be an honest
one. There must be nothing feigned or hypocritical; no hackneyed phrases
used without meaning, or intonations of assumed solemnity. It must be
honest, heartfelt, simple prayer; the plain and direct expression of
such sentiments as children ought to feel, and of such petitions as they
ought to offer. We shall speak presently of the mode of avoiding some
abuses to which this exercise is liable; but if these sources of abuse
are avoided, and the duty is performed in that plain, simple, direct,
and honest manner in which it certainly will be if it springs from the
heart, it must have a great influence on the moral progress of the
children, and, in fact, in all respects on the prosperity of the school.
But, then, independently of the _advantages_ which may be expected to
result from the practice of daily prayer in school, it would seem to be
the imperious _duty_ of the teacher to adopt it. So many human minds
committed thus to the guidance of one, at a period when the character
receives so easily and so permanently its shape and direction, and in a
world of probation like this, is an occasion which seems to demand the
open recognition of the hand of God on the part of any individual to
whom such a trust is committed. The duty springs so directly out of the
attitude in which the teacher and pupil stand in respect to each other,
and the relation they together bear to the Supreme, that it would seem
impossible for any one to hesitate to admit the duty, without denying
altogether the existence of a God.
How vast the responsibility _of giving form and character to the human
soul!_ How mighty the influence of which the unformed minds of a group
of children are susceptible! How much their daily teacher must
inevitably exert upon them! If we admit the existence of God at all, and
that he exerts any agency whatever in the moral world which he has
produced, here seems to be one of the strongest cases in which his
intervention should be sought. And then, when we reflect upon the
influence which would be exerted upon the future religious character of
this nation by having the millions of children training up in the
schools accustomed, through all the years of early life, to being
brought daily into the presence of the Supreme, with thanksgiving,
confession, and prayer, it can hardly seem possible that the teacher who
wishes to be faithful in his duties should hesitate in regard to this.
Some teacher may perhaps say that he can not perform it because he is
not a religious man--he makes no pretensions to piety. But this can
surely be no reason. He _ought to be_ a religious man, and his first
prayer offered in school may be the first act by which he becomes so.
Entering the service of Jehovah is a work which requires no preliminary
steps. It is to be done at once by sincere confession, and an honest
prayer for forgiveness for the past, and strength for time to come. A
daily religious service in school may be, therefore, the outward act by
which he, who has long lived without God, may return to his duty.
If, from such considerations, the teacher purposes to have a daily
religious service in his school, he should by all means begin on the
first day, and when he first calls his school to order. He should
mention to his pupils the great and obvious duty of imploring God's
guidance and blessing in all their ways, and then read a short portion
of Scripture, with an occasional word or two of simple explanation, and
offer, himself, a short and simple prayer. In some cases, teachers are
disposed to postpone this duty a day or two, from timidity or other
causes, hoping that, after becoming acquainted a little with the
school, and having completed their more important arrangements, they
shall find it easier to begin. But this is a great mistake. The longer
the duty is postponed, the more difficult and trying it will be. And
then the moral impressions will be altogether more strong and salutary
if an act of solemn religious worship is made the first opening act of
Where the teacher has not sufficient confidence that the general sense
of propriety among his pupils will preserve good order and decorum
during the exercise, it may be better for him to _read_ a prayer
selected from books of devotion, or prepared by himself expressly for
the occasion. By this plan his school will be, during the exercise,
under his own observation, as at other times. It may, in some schools
where the number is small, or the prevailing habits of seriousness and
order are good, be well to allow the older scholars to read the prayer
in rotation, taking especial care that it does not degenerate into a
mere reading exercise, but that it is understood, both by readers and
hearers, to be a solemn act of religious worship. In a word, if the
teacher is really honest and sincere in his wish to lead his pupils to
the worship of God, he will find no serious difficulty in preventing the
abuses and avoiding the dangers which some might fear, and in
accomplishing vast good, both in promoting the prosperity of the school,
and in the formation of the highest and best traits of individual
We have dwelt, perhaps, longer on this subject than we ought to have
done in this place; but its importance, when viewed in its bearings on
the thousands of children daily assembling in our district schools must
be our apology. The embarrassments and difficulties arising from the
extreme sensitiveness which exists among the various denominations of
Christians in our land, threaten to interfere very seriously with giving
a proper degree of religious instruction to the mass of the youthful
population. But we must not, because we have no national _church_,
cease to have a national _religion_. All our institutions ought to be so
administered as openly to recognize the hand of God, and to seek his
protection and blessing; and in regard to none is it more imperiously
necessary than in respect to our common schools.
5. After the school is thus opened, the teacher will find himself
brought to the great difficulty which embarrasses the beginning of his
labors, namely, that of finding immediate employment at once for the
thirty or forty children who all look up to him waiting for their
orders. I say thirty or forty, for the young teachers first school will
usually be a small one. His object should be, in all ordinary cases, for
the first few days, twofold: first, to revive and restore, in the main,
the general routine of classes and exercises pursued by his predecessor
in the same school; and, secondly, while doing this, to become as fully
acquainted with his scholars as possible.
It is best, then, _ordinarily_, for the teacher to begin the school as
his predecessor closed it, and make the transition to his own perhaps
more improved method a gradual one. In some cases a different course is
wise undoubtedly, as, for example, where a teacher is commencing a
private school, on a previously well-digested plan of his own, or where
one who has had experience, and has confidence in his power to bring his
new pupils promptly and at once into the system of classification and
instruction which he prefers. It is difficult, however, to do this, and
requires a good deal of address and decision. It is far easier and
safer, and in almost all cases better, in every respect, for a young
teacher to revive and restore the former arrangements in the main, and
take his departure from them. He may afterward make changes, as he may
find them necessary or desirable, and even bring the school soon into a
very different state from that in which he finds it; but it will
generally be more pleasant for himself, and better for the school, to
avoid the shock of a sudden and entire revolution.
The first thing, then, when the scholars are ready to be employed, is
to set them at work in classes or upon lessons, as they would have been
employed had the former teacher continued in charge of the school. To
illustrate clearly how this may be done, we may give the following
_Teacher_. Can any one of the boys inform me what was the first lesson
that the former master used to hear in the morning?
The boys are silent, looking to one another.
_Teacher_. Did he hear _any_ recitation immediately after school began?
_Boys_ (faintly, and with hesitation). No, sir.
_Teacher_. How long was it before he began to hear lessons?
Several boys simultaneously. "About half an hour." "A little while."
"Quarter of an hour."
"What did he do at this time?"
"Set copies," "Looked over sums," and various other answers are perhaps
The teacher makes a memorandum of this, and then inquires,
"And what lesson came after this?"
"All the boys in this school who studied Geography may rise."
A considerable number rise.
"Did you all recite together?"
"There are two classes, then?"
"Yes. sir." "Yes, sir." "More than two."
"All who belong to the class that recites first in the morning may
remain standing; the rest may sit."
The boys obey, and eight or ten of them remain standing. The teacher
calls upon one of them to produce his book, and assigns them a lesson in
regular course. He then requests some one of the number to write out, in
the course of the day, a list of the class, and to bring it with him to
the recitation the next morning.
"Are there any other scholars in the school who think it would be well
for them to join this class?"
In answer to this question probably some new scholars might rise, or
some hitherto belonging to other classes, who might be of suitable age
and qualifications to be transferred. If these individuals should appear
to be of the proper standing and character, they might at once be joined
to the class in question, and directed to take the same lesson.
In the same manner, the other classes would pass in review before the
teacher, and he would obtain a memorandum of the usual order of
exercises, and in a short time set all his pupils at work preparing for
the lessons of the next day. He would be much aided in this by the
previous knowledge which he would have obtained by private conversation,
as recommended under a former head. Some individual cases would require
a little special attention, such as new scholars, small children, and
others; but he would be able, before a great while, to look around him
and see his whole school busy with the work he had assigned them, and
his own time, for the rest of the morning, in a great degree at his own
I ought to say, however, that it is not probable that he would long
continue these arrangements unaltered. In hearing the different classes
recite, he would watch for opportunities for combining them, or
discontinuing those where the number was small; he would alter the times
of recitation, and group individual scholars into classes, so as to
bring the school, in a very short time, into a condition corresponding
more nearly with his own views. All this can be done very easily and
pleasantly when the wheels are once in motion; for a school is like a
ship in one respect--most easily steered in the right direction when
By this plan, also, the teacher obtains what is almost absolutely
necessary at the commencement of his labors, time for _observation_. It
is of the first importance that he should become acquainted, as early as
possible, with the characters of the boys, especially to learn who those
are which are most likely to be troublesome. There always will be a few
who will require special watch and care, and generally there will be
only a few. A great deal depends on finding these individuals out in
good season, and bringing the pressure of a proper authority to bear
upon them soon. By the plan I have recommended of not attempting to
remodel the school wholly at once, the teacher obtains time for noticing
the pupils, and learning something about their individual characters. In
fact, so important is this, that it is the plan of some teachers,
whenever they commence a new school, to let the boys have their own way,
almost entirely, for a few days, in order to find out fully who the idle
and mischievous are. This is, perhaps, going a little too far; but it is
certainly desirable to enjoy as many opportunities for observation as
can be secured on the first few days of the school.
6. Make it, then, a special object of attention, during the first day or
two, to discover who the idle and mischievous individuals are. They will
have generally seated themselves together in little knots; for, as they
are aware that the new teacher does not know them, they will imagine
that, though perhaps separated before, they can now slip together again
without any trouble. It is best to avoid, if possible, an open collision
with any of them at once, in order that they may be the better observed.
Whenever, therefore, you see idleness or play, endeavor to remedy the
evil for the time by giving the individual something special to do, or
by some other measure, without, however, seeming to notice the
misconduct. Continue thus adroitly to stop every thing disorderly,
while, at the same time, you notice and remember where the tendencies to
By this means, the individuals who would cause most of the trouble and
difficulty in the discipline of the school will soon betray themselves,
and those whose fidelity and good behavior can be relied upon will also
be known. The names of the former should be among the first that the
teacher learns, and their characters should be among the first which he
studies. The most prominent among them--those apparently most likely to
make trouble--he should note particularly, and make inquiries out of
school respecting them, their characters, and their education at home,
so as to become acquainted with them as early and as fully as possible,
for he must have this full acquaintance with them before he is prepared
to commence any decided course of discipline with them. The teacher
often does irreparable injury by rash action at the outset. He sees, for
instance, a boy secretly eating an apple which he has concealed in his
hand, and which he bites with his book before his mouth, or his head
under the lid of his desk. It is perhaps the first day of the school,
and the teacher thinks he had better make an example at the outset, and
calls the boy out, knowing nothing about his general character, and
inflicts some painful or degrading punishment before all the school. A
little afterward, as he becomes gradually acquainted with the boy, he
finds that he is of mild, gentle disposition, generally obedient and
harmless, and that his offense was only an act of momentary
thoughtlessness, arising from some circumstances of peculiar temptation
at the time; a boy in the next seat, perhaps, had just before given him
the apple. The teacher regrets, when too late, the hasty punishment. He
perceives that instead of having the influence of salutary example upon
the other boys, it must have shocked their sense of justice, and excited
dislike toward a teacher so quick and severe, rather than of fear of
doing wrong themselves. It would be safer to postpone such decided
measures a little--to avoid all open collisions, if possible, for a few
days. In such a case as the above, the boy might be kindly spoken to in
an under tone, in such a way as to show both the teacher's sense of the
impropriety of disorder, and also his desire to avoid giving pain to
the boy. If it then turns out that the individual is ordinarily a
well-disposed boy, all is right, and if he proves to be habitually
disobedient and troublesome, the lenity and forbearance exercised at
first will facilitate the effect aimed at by subsequent measures. Avoid,
then, for the few first days, all open collision with any of your
pupils, that you may have opportunity for minute and thorough
And here the young teacher ought to be cautioned against a fault which
beginners are very prone to fall into, that of forming unfavorable
opinions of some of their pupils from their air and manner before they
see any thing in their conduct which ought to be disapproved. A boy or
girl comes to the desk to ask a question or make a request, and the
teacher sees in the cast of countenance, or in the bearing or tone of
the individual, something indicating a proud, or a sullen, or an
ill-humored disposition, and conceives a prejudice, often entirely
without foundation, which weeks perhaps do not wear away. Every
experienced teacher can recollect numerous cases of this sort, and he
learns, after a time, to suspend his judgment. Be cautious, therefore,
on this point, and in the survey of your pupils which you make during
the first few days of your school, trust to nothing but the most sure
and unequivocal evidences of character, for many of your most docile and
faithful pupils will be found among those whose appearance at first
prepossessed you strongly against them.
One other caution ought also to be given. Do not judge too severely in
respect to the ordinary cases of misconduct in school. The young teacher
almost invariably does judge too severely. While engaged himself in
hearing a recitation, or looking over a "sum," he hears a stifled laugh,
and, looking up, sees the little offender struggling with the muscles of
his countenance to restore their gravity. The teacher is vexed at the
interruption, and severely rebukes or punishes the boy, when, after
all, the offense, in a moral point of view, was an exceedingly light
one--at least it might very probably have been so. In fact, a large
proportion of the offenses against order committed in school are the
mere momentary action of the natural buoyancy and life of childhood.
This is no reason why they should be indulged, or why the order and
regularity of the school should be sacrificed, but it should prevent
their exciting feelings of anger or impatience, or very severe
reprehension. While the teacher should take effectual measures for
restraining all such irregularities, he should do it with the tone and
manner which will show that he understands their true moral character,
and deals with them, not as heinous sins, which deserve severe
punishment, but as serious inconveniences, which he is compelled to
There are often cases of real moral turpitude in school, such as where
there is intentional, willful mischief, or disturbance, or habitual
disobedience, and there may even be, in some cases, open rebellion. Now
the teacher should show that he distinguishes these cases from such
momentary acts of thoughtlessness as we have described, and a broad
distinction ought to be made in the treatment of them. In a word, then,
what we have been recommending under this head is, that the teacher
should make it his special study, for his first few days in school, to
acquire a knowledge of the characters of his pupils, to learn who are
the thoughtless ones, who the mischievous, and who the disobedient and
rebellious, and to do this with candid, moral discrimination, and with
as little open collision with individuals as possible.
7. Another point to which the teacher ought to give his early attention
is to separate the bad boys as soon as he can from one another. The
idleness and irregularity of children in school often depends more on
accidental circumstances than on character. Two boys may be individually
harmless and well-disposed, and yet they may be of so mercurial a
temperament that, together, the temptation to continual play will be
irresistible. Another case that more often happens is where one is
actively and even intentionally bad, and is seated next to an innocent,
but perhaps thoughtless boy, and contrives to keep him always in
difficulty. Now remove the former away, where there are no very frail
materials for him to act upon, and place the latter where he is exposed
to no special temptation, and all would be well.
This is all very obvious, and known familiarly to all teachers who have
had any experience. But beginners are not generally so aware of it at
the outset as to make any direct and systematic efforts to examine the
school with reference to its condition in this respect. It is usual to
go on, leaving the boys to remain seated as chance or their own
inclinations grouped them, and to endeavor to keep the peace among the
various neighborhoods by close supervision, rebukes, and punishment. Now
these difficulties may be very much diminished by looking a little into
the arrangement of the boys at the outset, and so modifying it as to
diminish the amount of temptation to which the individuals are exposed.
This should be done, however, cautiously, deliberately, and with
good-nature, keeping the object of it a good deal out of view. It must
be done cautiously and deliberately, for the first appearances are
exceedingly fallacious in respect to the characters of the different
children. You see, perhaps, some indications of play between two boys
upon the same seat, and hastily conclude that they are disorderly boys,
and must be separated. Something in the air and manner of one or both of
them confirms this impression, and you take the necessary measures at
once. You then find, when you become more fully acquainted with them,
that the appearances which you observed were only momentary and
accidental, and that they would have been as safe together as any two
boys in the school. And perhaps you will even find that, by their new
position, you have brought one or the other into circumstances of
peculiar temptation. Wait, therefore, before you make such changes,
till you have ascertained _actual character_, doing this, however,
without any unnecessary delay.
In such removals, too, it is well, in many cases, to keep the motive and
design of them as much as possible out of view; for by expressing
suspicion of a boy, you injure his character in his own opinion and in
that of others, and tend to make him reckless. Besides, if you remove a
boy from a companion whom he likes, avowedly to prevent his playing, you
offer him an inducement, if he is a bad boy, to continue to play in his
new position for the purpose of thwarting you, or from the influence of
resentment. It would be wrong, indeed, to use any subterfuge or
duplicity of any kind to conceal your object, but you are not bound to
explain it; and in the many changes which you will be compelled to make
in the course of the first week for various purposes, you may include
many of these without explaining particularly the design or intention of
any of them.
In some instances, however, you may frankly state the whole case without
danger, provided it is done in such a manner as not to make the boy feel
that his character is seriously injured in your estimation. It must
depend upon the tact and judgment of the teacher to determine upon the
particular course to be pursued in the several cases, though he ought to
keep these general principles in view in all.
In one instance, for example, he will see two boys together, James and
Joseph we will call them, exhibiting a tendency to play, and after
inquiring into their characters, he will find that they are
good-natured, pleasant boys, and that he had better be frank with them
on the subject. He calls one of them to his desk, and perhaps the
following dialogue ensues:
"James, I am making some changes in the seats, and thought of removing
you to another place. Have you any particular preference for that seat?"
The question is unexpected, and James hesitates. He wishes to sit next
to Joseph, but doubts whether it is quite prudent to avow it; so he
says, slowly and with hesitation,
"No, sir, I do not know that I have."
"If you have any reason, I wish you would tell me frankly, for I want
you to have such a seat as will be pleasant to you."
James does not know what to say. Encouraged, however, by the
good-humored tone and look which the master assumes, he says, timidly,
"Joseph and I thought we should like to sit together, if you are
"Oh! you and Joseph are particular friends, then, I suppose?"
"Why, yes, sir."
"I am not surprised, then, that you want to sit together, though, to
tell the truth, that is rather a reason why I should separate you."
"Because I have observed that when two great friends are seated
together, they are always more apt to whisper and play. Have you not
"Why, yes, sir."
"You may go and ask Joseph to come here."
When the two boys make their appearance again, the teacher continues:
"Joseph, James tells me that you and he would like to sit together, and
says you are particular friends; but I tell him," he adds, smiling,
"that that is rather a reason for separating you. Now if I should put
you both into different parts of the school, next to boys that you are
not acquainted with, it would be a great deal easier for you to be still
and studious than it is now. Do you not think so yourselves?"
The boys look at one another and smile.
"However, there is one way you can do. You can guard against the extra
temptation by extra care; and, on the whole, as I believe you are pretty
good boys, I will let you have your choice. You may stay as you are,
and make extra exertion to be perfectly regular and studious, or I will
find seats for you where it will be a great deal easier for you to be
so. Which do you think you should rather do?"
The boys hesitate, look at one another, and presently say that they had
rather sit together.
"Well," said the teacher, "it is immaterial to me whether you sit
together or apart, if you are only good boys, so you may take your seats
and try it a little while. If you find it too hard work to be studious
and orderly together, I can make a change hereafter. I shall soon see."
Such a conversation will have many good effects. It will make the boys
expect to be watched, without causing them to feel that their characters
have suffered. It will stimulate them to greater exertion to avoid all
misconduct, and it will prepare the way for separating them afterward
without awakening feelings of resentment, if the experiment of their
sitting together should fail.
Another case would be managed, perhaps, in a little different way, where
the tendency to play was more decided. After speaking to the individuals
mildly two or three times, you see them again at play. You ask them to
wait that day after school and come to your desk.
They have, then, the rest of the day to think occasionally of the
difficulty they have brought themselves into, and the anxiety and
suspense which they will naturally feel will give you every advantage
for speaking to them with effect; and if you should be engaged a few
minutes with some other business after school, so that they should have
to stand a little while in silent expectation, waiting for their turn,
it would contribute to the permanence of the effect.
"Well, boys," at length you say, with a serious but frank tone of voice,
"I saw you playing in a disorderly manner to-day, and, in the first
place, I wish you to tell me honestly all about it. I am not going to
punish you, but I wish you to be open and honest about it. What were you
The boys hesitate.
"George, what did you have in your hand?"
"A piece of paper."
"And what were you doing with it?"
_George_. William was trying to take it away from me.
"Was there any thing on it?"
George looks down, a little confused.
_William_. George had been drawing some pictures on it.
"I see each of you is ready to tell of the other's fault, but it would
be much more honorable if each was open in acknowledging his own. Have I
ever had to speak to you before for playing together in school?"
"Yes, sir, I believe you have," says one, looking down.
"More than once?"
"More than twice?"
"I do not recollect exactly; I believe you have."
"Well, now, what do you think I ought to do next?"
The boys have nothing to say.
"Do you prefer sitting together, or are you willing to have me separate
"We should rather sit together, sir, if you are willing," says George.
"I have no objection to your sitting together, if you could only resist
the temptation to play. I want all the boys in the school to have
There is a pause, the teacher hesitating what to do.
"Suppose, now, I were to make one more experiment, and let you try to be
good boys in your present seat, would you really try?"
"Yes, sir," "Yes, sir, we will," are the replies.
"And if I should find that you still continue to play, and should have
to separate you, will you move into your new seats pleasantly, and with
good-humor, feeling that I have done right about if?"
"Yes, sir, we will."
Thus it will be seen that there may be cases where the teacher may make
arrangements for separating his scholars, on an open and distinct
understanding with them in respect to the cause of it. We have given
these cases, not that exactly such ones will be very likely to occur, or
that, when they do, the teacher is to manage them in exactly the way
here described, but to exhibit more clearly to the reader than could be
done by any general description, the spirit and tone which a teacher
ought to assume toward his pupils. We wished to exhibit this in contrast
with the harsh and impatient manner which teachers too often assume in
such a case, as follows:
"John Williams and Samuel Smith, come here to me!" exclaims the master,
in a harsh, impatient tone, in the midst of the exercises of the
The scholars all look up from their work. The culprits slowly rise from
their seats, and with a sullen air come down to the floor.
"You are playing, boys, all the time, and I will not have it. John, do
you take your books, and go and sit out there by the window; and,
Samuel, you come and sit here on this front seat; and if I catch you
playing again, I shall certainly punish you severely."
The boys make the move with as much rattling and distention to make a
noise; and when they get their new seats, and the teacher is again
engaged upon his work, they exchange winks and nods, and in ten minutes
are slyly cannonading each other with paper balls.
In regard to all the directions that have been given under this head, I
ought to say again, before concluding it, that they are mainly
applicable to the case of beginners and of small schools. The general
principles are, it is true, of universal application, but it is only
where a school is of moderate size that the details of position, in
respect to individual scholars, can be minutely studied. More summary
processes are necessary, I am aware, when the school is very large, and
the time of the teacher is incessantly engaged.
8. In some districts in New England the young teacher will find one or
more boys, generally among the larger ones, who will come to the school
with the express determination to make a difficulty if they can. The
best way is generally to face these individuals at once in the most
direct and open manner, and, at the same time, with perfect good-humor
and kindness of feeling and deportment toward them personally. An
example or two will best illustrate what I mean.
A teacher heard a rapping noise repeatedly one day, just after he had
commenced his labors, under such circumstances as to lead him to suppose
it was designed. He did not appear to notice it, but remained after
school until the scholars had all gone, and then made a thorough
examination. He found, at length, a broken place in the plastering,
where a _lath_ was loose, and a string was tied to the end of it, and
thence carried along the wall, under the benches, to the seat of a
mischievous boy, and fastened to a nail. By pulling the string he could
spring the lath, and then let it snap back to its place. He left every
thing as it was, and the next day, while engaged in a lesson, he heard
the noise again.
He rose from his seat.
The scholars all looked up from their books.
"Did you hear that noise?" said he.
"Do you know what it is?"
"Very well; I only wished to call your attention to it. I may perhaps
speak of it again by-and-by."
He then resumed his exercise as if nothing had happened. The guilty boy
was agitated and confused, and was utterly at a loss to know what to do.
What could the teacher mean? Had he discovered the trick? and, if so,
what was he going to do?
He grew more and more uneasy, and resolved that, at all events, it was
best for him to retreat. Accordingly, at the next recess, as the teacher
had anticipated, he went slyly to the lath, cut the string, then
returned to his seat, and drew the line in, rolled it up, and put it in
his pocket. The teacher, who was secretly watching him, observed the
At the close of the school, when the books were laid aside, and all was
silence, he treated the affair thus:
"Do you remember the noise to which I called your attention early this
"I will explain it to you now. One of the boys tied a string to a loose
lath in the side of the room, and then, having the end of it at his
seat, he was pulling it to make a noise to disturb us."
The scholars all looked astonished, and then began to turn round toward
one another to see who the offender could be. The culprit began to
"He did it several times yesterday, and would have gone on doing it had
I not spoken about it to-day. Do you think this was wrong or not?"
"Yes, sir;" "Wrong;" "Wrong," are the replies.
"What harm does it do?"
"It interrupts the school."
"Yes. Is there any other harm?"
The boys hesitate.
"It gives me trouble and pain. Should you not suppose it would?"
"Have I ever treated any boy or girl in this school unjustly or
"No, sir;" "No, sir."
"Then why should any boy or girl wish to give me trouble or pain?"
There was a pause. The guilty individual expected that the next thing
would be to call him out for punishment.
"Now what do you think I ought to do with such a boy?"
"Perhaps I ought to punish him, but I am very unwilling to do that. I
concluded to try another plan--to treat him with kindness and
forbearance. So I called your attention to it this afternoon, to let him
know that I was observing it, and to give him an opportunity to remove
the string. And he did. He went, in the recess, and cut off the string.
I shall not tell you his name, for I do not wish to injure his
character. All I want is to have him a good boy."
"I think I shall try this plan, for he must have some feelings of honor
and gratitude, and if he has, he certainly will not try to give me pain
or trouble again after this. And now I shall say no more about it, nor
think any more about it; only, to prove that it is all as I say, if you
look there under that window after school, you will see the lath with
the end of the string round it, and, by pulling it, you can make it
Another case, a little more serious in its character, is the following:
A teacher, having had some trouble with a rude and savage-looking boy,
made some inquiry respecting him out of school, and incidentally learned
that he had once or twice before openly rebelled against the authority
of the school, and that he was now, in the recesses, actually preparing
a club, with which he was threatening to defend himself if the teacher
should attempt to punish him.
The next day, soon after the boys had gone out, he took his hat and
followed them, and, turning round a corner of the school-house, found
the boys standing around the young rebel, who was sitting upon a log,
shaving the handle of the club smooth with his pocket-knife. He was
startled at the unexpected appearance of the teacher, and the first
impulse was to hide his club behind him; but it was too late, and,
supposing that the teacher was ignorant of his designs, he went on
sullenly with his work, feeling, however, greatly embarrassed.
"Pleasant day, boys," said the teacher. "This is a fine sunny nook for
you to talk in.
"Seems to me, however, you ought to have a better seat than this old
log," continued he, taking his seat at the same time by the side of the
"Not so bad a seat, however, after all. What are you making, Joseph?"
Joseph mumbled out something inarticulate by way of reply. "I have got a
sharper knife," said he, drawing his penknife out of his pocket. And
then, "Let me try it," he continued, gently taking the club out of
The boys looked surprised, some exchanged nods and winks, others turned
away to conceal a laugh; but the teacher engaged in conversation with
them, and soon put them all at their ease except poor Joseph, who could
not tell how this strange interview was likely to end.
In the mean time, the teacher went on shaving the handle smooth and
rounding the ends. "You want," said he, "a rasp or coarse file for the
ends, and then you could finish it finely. But what are you making this
formidable club for?"
Joseph was completely at a loss what to say. He began to show evident
marks of embarrassment and confusion.
"I know what it is for; it is to defend yourself against me with. Is it
not, boys?" said he, appealing to the others.
A faint "Yes, sir" or two was the reply.
"Well, now, Joseph, it will be a great deal better for us both to be
friends than to be enemies. You had better throw this club away, and
save yourself from punishment by being a good boy. Come, now," said he,
handing him back his club, "throw it over into the field as far as you
can, and we will all forget that you ever made it."
Joseph sat the picture of shame and confusion. Better feelings were
struggling for admission, and the case was decided by a broad-faced,
good-natured-looking boy, who stood by his side, saying almost
"Better throw it, Joe."
The club flew, end over end, into the field. Joseph returned to his
allegiance, and never attempted to rise in rebellion again.
The ways by which boys engage in open, intentional disobedience are, of
course, greatly varied, and the exact treatment will depend upon the
features of the individual case; but the frankness, the openness, the
plain dealing, and the kind and friendly tone which it is the object of
the foregoing illustrations to exhibit, should characterize all.
9. We have already alluded to the importance of a delicate regard for
the _characters_ of the boys in all the measures of discipline adopted
at the commencement of a school. This is, in fact, of the highest
importance at all times, and is peculiarly so at the outset. A wound to
the feelings is sometimes inflicted by a single transaction which
produces a lasting injury to the character. Children are very sensitive
to ridicule or disgrace, and some are most acutely so. A cutting reproof
administered in public, or a punishment which exposes the individual to
the gaze of others, will often burn far more deeply into the heart than
the teacher imagines.
And it is often the cause of great and lasting injury, too. By
destroying the character of a pupil, you make him feel that he has
nothing more to lose or gain, and destroy that kind of interest in his
own moral condition which alone will allure him to virtuous conduct. To
expose children to public ridicule or contempt tends either to make them
sullen and despondent, or else to arouse their resentment and to make
them reckless and desperate. Most persons remember through life some
instances in their early childhood in which they were disgraced or
ridiculed at school, and the permanence of the recollection is a test of
the violence of the effect.
Be very careful, then, to avoid, especially at the commencement of the
school, publicly exposing those who do wrong. Sometimes you may make the
offense public, as in the case of the snapping of the lath, described
under a former head, while you kindly conceal the name of the offender.
Even if the school generally understand who he is, the injury of public
exposure is almost altogether avoided, for the sense of disgrace does
not come nearly so vividly home to the mind of a child from hearing
occasional allusions to his offense by individuals among his playmates,
as when he feels himself, at a particular time, the object of universal
attention and dishonor. And then, besides, if the pupil perceives that
the teacher is tender of his reputation, he will, by a feeling somewhere
between imitation and sympathy, begin to feel a little tender of it too.
Every exertion should be made, therefore, to lead children to value
their character, and to help them to preserve it, and especially to
avoid, at the beginning, every unnecessary sacrifice of it.
And yet there are cases where shame is the very best possible remedy for
juvenile faults. If a boy, for example, is self-conceited, bold, and
mischievous, with feelings somewhat callous, and an influence extensive
and bad, an opportunity will sometimes occur to hold up his conduct to
the just reprobation of the school with great advantage. By this means,
if it is done in such a way as to _secure_ the influence of the school
on the right side, many good effects are sometimes attained. His pride
and self-conceit are humbled, his bad influence receives a very decided
check, and he is forced to draw back at once from the prominent stand he
Richard Jones, for example, is a rude, coarse, self-conceited boy, often
doing wrong both in school and out, and yet possessed of that peculiar
influence which a bad boy often contrives to exert in school. The
teacher, after watching some time for an opportunity to humble him, one
day overhears a difficulty among the boys, and, looking out of the
window, observes that he is taking away a sled from one of the little
boys to slide down hill upon, having none of his own. The little boy
resists as well as he can, and complains bitterly, but it is of no
At the close of the school that day, the teacher commences conversation
on the subject as follows:
"Boys, do you know what the difference is between stealing and robbery?"
The boys hesitate, and look at one another.
"Suppose a thief were to go into a man's store in the daytime, and take
away something secretly, would it be stealing or robbery?"
"Suppose he should meet him in the road, and take it away by force?"
"Then it would be robbery."
"Yes; when that which belongs to another is taken secretly, it is called
stealing; when it is taken openly or with violence, it is called
robbery. Which, now, do you think is the worst?"
"Yes, for it is more barefaced and determined--then it gives a great
deal more pain to the one who is injured. To-day I saw one of the boys
in this school taking away another boy's sled, openly and with
The boys all look round toward Richard.
"Was that of the nature of stealing or robbery?
"Robbery," say the boys.
"Was it real robbery?"
"If any of you think of any reason why it was not real robbery, you may
"He gave the sled back to him," says one of the boys.
"Yes; and therefore, to describe the action correctly, we should not say
Richard robbed a boy of his sled, but that he robbed him of his sled
_for a time_, or he robbed him of the _use_ of his sled. Still, in
respect to the nature and the guilt of it, it was robbery.
"There is another thing which ought to be observed about it. Whose sled
was it that Richard took away?"
"James, you may stand up.
"Notice his size, boys. I should like to have Richard Jones stand up
too, so that you might compare them; but I presume he feels very much
ashamed of what he has done, and it would be very unpleasant for him to
stand up. You will remember, however, how large he is. Now when I was a
boy, it used to be considered dishonorable and cowardly for a large,
strong boy to abuse a little one who can not defend himself. Is it
considered so now?"
"It ought to be, certainly; though, were it not for such a case as this,
we should not have thought of considering Richard Jones a coward. It
seems he did not dare to try to take away a sled from a boy who was as
big as himself, but attacked little James, for he knew he was not strong
enough to defend himself."
Now, in some such cases as this, great good may be done, both in
respect to the individual and to the state of public sentiment in
school, by openly exposing a boy's misconduct. The teacher must always
take care, however, that the state of mind and character in the guilty
individual is such that public exposure is adapted to work well as a
remedy, and also that, in managing it, he carries the sympathies of the
other boys with him. To secure this, he must avoid all harsh and
exaggerated expressions or direct reproaches, and while he is mild, and
gentle, and forbearing himself, lead the boys to understand and feel the
nature of the sin which he exposes. The opportunities for doing this to
advantage will, however, be rare. Generally it will be best to manage
cases of discipline more privately, so as to protect the characters of
those that offend.
The teacher should thus, in accordance with the directions we have
given, commence his labors with careful circumspection, patience,
frankness, and honest good-will toward every individual of his charge.
He will find less difficulty at the outset than he would have expected,
and soon have the satisfaction of perceiving that a mild but most
efficient government is quietly and firmly established in the little
kingdom over which he is called to reign.