« PreviousContinue »
school with unwashed hands and face. This will cost you nothing, and if all will do so, our school will present a bright and attractive appearance, While in the school-room, endeavor to keep your desk and the floor around it free from injury and dirt. Especially avoid the useless and filthy habit of spitting upon the floor. This you should never do at home or at school. Preserve your books with great care, and when not in use, have them nicely placed in your desk. Keep every thing in such condition that you will not be ashamed to have it examined at any time by your parents, or by any visitors. By giving strict attention to neatness and order at home and at school, you will not only please your parents and teacher, but also save them much trouble.
7. Avoid THE USE OF PROFANE AND IMPROPER LANGUAGE. The habit of using profane and vulgar language is very unbecoming and wicked. It can never result in any good, and only tends to degrade those who indulge in it. Therefore I earnestly and affectionately beseech you not only to refrain from the use of profane and improper language yourself, but do all you can to dissuade your companions from the use of it. Make it an undeviating rule never to give utterance to language which you would be ashamed to utter in presence of your teacher or parents. Remember that the eye of God is ever upon you, and his ear is open to hear all you say. He is your Creator and preserver,—your best friend,—the only being who can prolong your days and give you blessings. Will you not, then, earnestly strive to please and honor Him who says in his holy book, • Thou SHALT NOT SWEAR.
8. ALWAYS SPEAK AND ACT THE TRUTH.
“Do good; shun evil; live not thou
As if at death thy being died;
To draw thy steps from truth aside;
And trust in Him whose arm can save." The habit of telling falsehoods is a very sinful and dangerous one. I always put confidence in a boy and believe what he says until I once detect him in stating what is not correct. After this I cannot place any dependence upon him, unless the lapse of time and his general conduct shall convince me that he has sincerely repented, and resolved to sin no more. As one who wishes to do all he can for seriously urge you to do all in your power to form and preserve a character of strict integrity and truth. Never state that which is in any
you, I would
degree false. If you do wrong and manfully confess it, you will feel much better than you would to conceal or deny your
fault. Let all your language and all your actions convince those with whom you may associate, that you abhor “ lying and deceitful lips," and that you will speak and act the truth, though, for the time being, it may cause you to suffer punishment and degradation. Live the truth and for the truth and it will make you honorable and honored; but if you practice falsehood you will, sooner or later, bring disgrace and ruin upon yourself, and distress upon your parents and friends.
9. BE KIND AND PLEASANT TO YOUR COMPANIONS AND TO ALL
WITH WHOM YOU MAY HAVE INTERCOURSE.
You have, probably, noticed a great difference in the manner and conduct of different individuals. Some are kind, obliging, courteous and pleasant, while others are morose, uncivil, abrupt and even abusive. Now it is just as easy to be kind and gentle, as it is to be unkind and coarse in your manner.
Your own happiness requires you to be affectionate and obliging to others. Let it, then, be your constant aim to do good and to speak kindly and civilly to all. Never allow yourself to give expression to angry and unfriendly acts or words. Convince your parents, your teacher and your schoolmates that you are not purely selfish, but that you are always ready to render them assistance, or do them a favor. Convince them that you feel a real pleasure in doing good to others as “ you have opportunity.” 10. LET YOUR DEPORTMENT IN THE STREET AND ELSEWHERE BE
ORDERLY AND BECOMING.
Do not forget that you must form your own character. Others may advise and assist you, but with you rests the chief responsibility, and you will receive reward or suffering according to your deeds. Therefore strive to have your entire deportment correct and becoming. Treat all with due respect. When addressed, endeavor to listen respectfully and answer with civility and propriety. Respect the aged,—pity and assist the unfortunate and distressed. Never oppress, injure or trouble those whom you excel in power or influ
Ever “do unto others as you would have others do unto you ;” be correct and upright in all your actions and you will gain the respect of the good and promote your own happiness.
11. Love GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. Though this is the last direction I shall give you at this time, it is not the least in importance. Indeed if you will follow this faithfully
you will need no other. You are indebted to your Creator for life and for all life's blessings, for it is in Him you live, and move, and have your being. He asks for your love and obedience, and in return he promises you everlasting happiness. Are you not willing to grant all he asks? If you are, and strictly obey all his commandments you will certainly be happy. That you may know his will and be enabled to do it, look to Him for guidance and direction. With Him is all wisdom and he willingly imparteth to all who ask of him in sincerity. Let it be your morning and evening prayer, that God will forgive all your sins, and enlighten your mind that you may know and do his will.
I have already written you a long letter and will not weary you by adding more. As one who feels a deep interest in your welfare, I could not well write less. Will you not gratify me by considering what I have written, and if I have given you good advice, will you not oblige me and benefit yourself by following it? If such shall be your determination, the days that we shall spend together will be days of pleasantness and profit. So live, my dear pupil, that you may do good and be prepared to die. You know we must all die. When we shall be called hence we know not. It becomes us, then, to do whatever our hands find to do while lise lasts. Improve each day as you ought, if it were your last, for such it may be. Do your duty, your whole duty, and be prepared to meet your Heavenly Father whenever he shall call for you.
With sincere affection,
SCHOOL MOTIVES AND SCHOOL VICES. A large portion of Mr. Mann's last (Ninth) Annual Report as Secretary of the Board of Education for Massachusetts, is devoted to a consideration of the Motives, on which schools are conducted, and the means for avoiding and extirpating School Vices. We enrich our pages with the following extracts.
DOUBTFUL POLICY OF A SCHOOL CODE. Immediately on opening a school, an important question arises as to the expediency or inexpediency of promulgating a code of laws for its government. It is the practice of some teachers to announce orally, during the first day or half day, the rules whose observance they shall require, and whose infraction ihey shall punish. Others prepare written statutes, sanctioned by specific penalties, which they post up in some conspicuous place in the schoolroom, so as to give a warning to transgressors, and to provide themselres with a ready answer, should the plea of ignorance be urged by any offender. Other teachers anticipate the conmission of no offence, but wait until one occurs, before they expound its demerits or prescribe its consequences.
It seems to me that very serious objections lie against the promulgation of a code of laws, either oral or written, in advance, or at the commencement of the school. If this be done, the scholars instantly adopi the well-known principle of legal construction, that what is not included, is excluded ; and hence that every thing is per. mitted which is not prohibited. But, as he is a bad citizen who has nu higher rule of action than the law of the land, so is he a bad scholar who has no other restraint against wrong-doing than the prohibitions of the teacher. No code ever framed by the ingenuity of man, however voluminous or detailed it may have been, ever enumerated a tithe of the acts which an enlightened conscience will condemn; and no language was ever so exact and perspicuous, as to be proof against sophistry and tergiversation. The jurisdiction of the conscience is infinitely more comprehensive than that of the statute book. Is it right and not Is it written, is the question to be propounded in the forum of conscience. Each scholar brings a conscience to school. If it has not been previously enlightened, on any given point of duty, then there is no punishable blame in the breach of that duty; if it has been previously enlightened, then the tribunal is already open before which the culprit should be arraigned.
Besides, as most of our schools consist of scholars differing very much from each other in regard to age and intelligence, the rules applicable to one portion of them, may be very unsuitable to another; and yet, if relaxed or suspended, in one case, the idea of their permanency and immutability will be destroyed, and with that all their moral efficacy ceases. So there may be cases where peculiar circumstances will take an action out of the spirit of a rule, while they leave it within the Icuer. Suppose, for instance, in consideration of the many mischiefs which follow in the train of whispering and other modes of communication between scholars, they are peremptorily and altogether forbidden; and suppose that, the next day, a child exhibits symptoms of exireme di tress, or of fainting, or is exposed to some danger which requires instant warning, shall the general rule be observed at the expense of any consequences; or, if violated, shall it be punished ?
Doubtless too, it has happened and not very unfrequently, that the idea of the offense was originally suggested by the prohibition, and thus the law has led to its own infraction, as, with ignorant and superstitious persons, predictions often procure their own fulfilnient. *
FIRST IMPRESSION MADE BY A TEACHER SHOULD BE FAVORABLE.. A vast deal of the success of a school depends upon the first impression made by the teacher upon it. And by a well-conducted conversation with the scholars, at its commencement, and before any prejudices against its requirements have sprung up, or any templations to disobedience been presented, the good will of many, to say the least, may be propitiated. There are some points, indeed, absolutely essential to the prosperity of a school, respecting which ihe teacher is in the hands of the 'scholars--wholly dependent upon their cooperation, such as the punctuality and regularity of their attendance, and, not unfrequently, their being provided with text books and other instruments of learning. And in regard to other points falling more directly within the teacher's control, his only hope of reaching the highest success depends upon sccuring their assistance. A few hours, therefore, at the begin. ning of a school, and an occasional one afterwards, as the age and capacities of the scholars may require, may be most beneficially spent in a fumiliar exposition of the great purposes for which the school has been opened, and of the means and observances by which alone its highest prosperity can be secured. A teacher can hardly enter a school of children, collected from various families, and subjected to various home influences, without finding some, at least, who have an essen:ially false view of the object for which they have attended. He must throw light forward to show them the true nature of that object. Among the topics introduced by him, in his first friendly discourse to the youthful group collected around him, may be the duty of cultivating the spirit of honor and kindness to each other; a desire for each other's improvement as well as for their own; and a determination generously to assist their companions in improving the advantages of the school. Let him deprecate the meanness that would try to put off blame upon another, for the sake of shielding one's self; that would even risk the concealment of a fault, for which another might be unjustly blamed or suspected; that would triumph in any success, which would give pain io the innocent; and let him fill their bosoms with a noble scorn of deception and falsehood. Let him make his company of hearers perceive, that knowledge should only be trusted to those who will use it conscientiously ;-and this he can do by a graphical description of some immoral great man, who has used power and knowledge for selfish and wicked purposes. Let him convince them, that he intends to bring into the schoolroom none butthe highest motives, and that it is alike their duty and interest to bring into the schoolroom, none but the highest motives. Let more or less of these topics be introduced again,-particularly on the accession of new members to the school, and before time has been allowed for practising or inventing any adroit measures of defiance or deception. If, when new children come into a school, they find its tone a high one, and its habits generous and manly, they will, almost invariably, be assimilated to the prevalent sentiment. Extraordinary cases of perversity may, indeed, occur; but if the new pupils see that the denizens of the school make it a matter of honor to govern themselves, instead of being governed by a set of arbitrary rules; if they see such confidence existing between teacher and pupils that each is ready to trust the other, and that the interests of both sides are the same, instead of clashing like those of enemies, they will be ashamed to stand out as exceptions--as ugly, mis-shapen creatures, in a company where all others are beautiful.
* The story of the Catholic priest and the ostler is not inapposite. When an osiler had finithed making confession of his sins, the priest enquired of him if he had ever greased the teeth of his customers borses to prevent them from eating their oats. The ostler not only replied in the negative, but said he had never heard of such a thing. The next time he went to the con. fessional, the first offense which he had to acknowledge was, that he had been greasing the teeth of his customers' horses.
THE GOOD WILL OF PUPILS MCST BE SECURED. If we take a survey of any department of nature or of art, illustrations and analogies will crowd upon the mind in confirmation of the universal truth, that, if we would exert an infinence upon any ohject, we must first bring it into a condition receptive of that influence. Does noi the farmer break up the soil and open it to the sun, before he commits the seed to its bosom in expectation of a harvest ? Have not celebrated artists owed their fame as much to the careful preparation of their materials, as to the skill with which they asierwards combined them? By softening agencies of fire or steam, the mechanic overcomes the rigidity or inflcxibleness of his materials, before he attempts to mould or to bend them to his purpose; yet the chemical changes effected by heat, through the innermost particles of the bar of iron which the smith wishes to fashion anew upon his anvil, are not deeper or more transmuting, than the spiritual changes wrought upon the inmost emotions of a child's soul, by a demeanor of dignity and by looks and tones of affection, on the part of the teacher. When the All-bountiful Giver of the seasons wills io overspread our hemisphere willi vegetable beauty and luxuriance, He does not scatter abroad His treasures of snow and of hail, nor bind the rivers in the death-like embraces of frost; but He causes the sun to draw near and the genial rain to descend; He scatters the infinite drops of dew over the earth and summons the warming winds from the chambers of the south. Whatever is to be done, whether in the works of nature or of art, the material, which is to be wrought upon, must first be adapted to the work.
All teachers look upon books and apparatus as indispensable to the highest progress of a school; and hence the sending of a child to school with a demand that he should be taught, but without the common instrumentalities for teaching him, they justly regard as a Pharaoh like requisition. Yet how much more indispensable are a desire and a purpose to learn, in the breast of a child, than a book in bis hand! A spelling book, a geography, and so forth, are very desirable; but a disposition o use them, is indispensable. Parents must supply ihe books; but teachers, -with the help of the parents where they can have it, and, as far as possible, without that help where they cannot have it,-must supply the disposition. Let this be done, and we may safely affirm that the laws of nature are not more certain than that the child will learn, for it is a law of nature that he will.
DISMISSAL OF REFRACTORY SCHOLARS FROM SCHOOL.
If a teacher stands in the place of the parent, why should be dismiss any scholar from his school, (unless temporarily,) any more than a parent should expel a child from his household? There is no Botany Bay, to which such a child can be banished. Instead of crossing the ocean to another hemisphere, he remains at home.