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Difficulties to be met,-in children,-in parents.
laws. Some have been so rigorously debarred from cvery innocent amusement and indulgence, that they have opened for themselves a way to gratification, through artifice and treachery and falsehood. Others, from vicious parental example, and the corrupting influences of vile associates, have been trained to bad habits and contaminated with vicious principles, ever since they were born ;-some being taught that honor consists in whipping a boy larger than themselves ; others that the chief end of man is to own a box that cannot be opened, and to get money enough to fill it ; and others again have been taught, upon their father's knees, to shape their young lips to the utterance of oaths and blasphemy. Now all these dispositions, which do not conflict with right more than they do with each other, as soon as they cross the threshold of the schoolroom, from the different worlds, as it were, of homes, must be made to obey the same general regulations, to pursue the same studies, and to aim at the same results. In addition to these artificial varieties, there are natural differences of temperament and disposition.
“Again; there are about three thousand public schools in the state, in which are employed, in the course of the year, about five thousand different persons, as teachers, including both males and females. Excepting a very few cases, these five thousand persons have had no special preparation or training for their employment, and many of them are young and without experience. These five thousand teachers, then, so many
A dilemma.-Neither horn to be chosen.
of whom are unprepared, are to be placed in authority over the one hundred and ninety-two thousand children, so many of whom have been perverted. Without passing through any transition state for improvement, these parties meet each other in the schoolroom, where mutiny and insubordination and disobedience are to be repressed, order maintained, knowledge acquired. He, therefore, who denies the necessity of resorting to punishment, in our schools,--and to corporal punishment, too,—virtually affirms two things :first, that this great number of children, scooped up from all places, taken at all ages and in all conditions, can be deterred from the wrong and attracted to the right without punishment; and secondly, he asserts chat :he five thousand persons whom the towns and districts employ to keep their respective schools, are now, and in the present condition of things, able to accomplish so glorious a work. Neither of these propositions am I at present prepared to admit. If there are extraordinary individuals-and we know there are such-so- singularly gifted with talent and resources, and with the divine quality of love, that they can win the affection, and, by controlling the heart, can control the conduct of children, who, for years, have been addicted to lie, to cheat, to swear, to steal, to fight, still I do not believe there are now five thousand such individuals in the state, whose leavenly services can be obtained for this transforming work. And it is useless, or worse than useless to say, that such 9. such a thing can be done, and done immediately, without pointing
A miracle.- Divisions in district.-East end.-W'est end.
out the agents by whom it can be done. One who affirms that a thing can be done, without any reference 10 the persons who can do it, must be thinking of miracles. If the position were, that children may be so educated from their birth, and teachers may be so trained for their calling, as to supersede the necessity of corporal punishment, except in cases decidedly monstrous, then I should have no doubt of its truth; but such a position must have reference to some future period, which we should strive to hasten, but ought not to anticipate.”
Aside from the causes demanding punishment, so ably portrayed in the passage just quoted, there is still another, growing out of divisions and quarrels in the district. It is by no means uncommon, in our districts, owing to some local matter, or to some disunion in politics or religion, for the people to be arrayed, the one part against the other. The inhabitants of the upper road are jealous of the dweilers on the lower road; the hill portion of the district is aggrieved by the influence of the valley portion ; the “east end” complains of the selfishness of the “west end,” and so of the north and south. Whenever a school-house is to be built these different interests are aroused, and a protracted and baleful quarrel is the result. One party
carries the day” by the force of numbers, but the prosperity of the school is impaired for years. At every district meeting there will be the same strife for the mastery. If one division gains the power, the other bends its energies to cripple the school, and to annoy
“We will see.”—Disobedience encouraged.-The teacher's course.
the teacher who may be employed by the dominant party, however excellent or deserving he may be. “We will see,” say those who find themselves in the minority, “we will see whether this man can keep our school as well as it was done last year by our master.”
This is uttered in presence of their children—perhaps their half-grown sons, who will be very ready to meet their new teacher with prejudice and to act out the mis givings of their parents as to his success. When the teacher first enters the school, he is met by oppo sition, even before he has time to make an impression for good ; opposition, which he can scarcely hope to surmount as long as it is thus encouraged at home. Now what shall he do? Shall he yield the point, abandon the idea of authority, and endeavor to live along from day to day, in the hope of a more comforta ble state of things by-and-by? He may be sure that matters will daily grow worse.
Shall he give up in despair, and leave the school to some successor ? This will only strengthen the opposition and make it more violent when the successor shall be appointed. It is but putting the difficulty one step farther off. Besides, if the teacher does thus give up, and leave the school, he loses his own reputation as a man of energy, and, in the eyes of the world, who perhaps may not know-or care to know-all the circumstances, he is held ever after as incompetent for the office.
Now it would be very gratifying if the teacher un der any or all of these difficulties, could possess than moral power to quell them all by a look or by the exer
Shall he yield ? No, no.--Establish authority.
cise of his ingenuity in interesting his pupils in their studies. Undoubtedly there are some men who could do it, and do it most triumphantly, so as to make their most zealous enemies in a few days their warmest friends. But there are not many who can work thus at disadvantage. What then shall be done ? Shall the school be injured by being disbanded, and the teacher be stigmatized for a failure, when he has been employed in good faith? I say no. He has the right to establish authority by corporal infliction; and thus to save the school and also save himself. And more than this ;—if there is reasonable ground to believe that by such infliction he can establish order, and thus make nimself useful, and save the time and the character of the school, he not only has the right, but he is bound by duty to use it. The lovers of order in the district have a right to expect him to use it, unless by express stipulation beforehand, they have exempted him from it. I repeat, then, that it is the teacher's duty to establish authority ; "peaceably, indeed, if he may,—forcibly if he must."
I ought in fairness here to add, as I have before hinted, that not unfrequently the necessity for corporal infliction exists in the teacher himself. This is often proved by a transfer of teachers. One man takes a school, and can only survive his term by the exercise of whipping. He is followed by another who secures good order and the love of the school without any resort to the rod. The first declared that whipping was necessary in his case to secure good order, and truly; but