Page images
PDF
EPUB

represses that of the better and higher part of one's nature, and may awaken envy, jealousy, and even hatred towards successful rivals. It is farther true, that the objects of its pursuit come to be considered as the final causes, the ends of schooleducation; a delusion akin to that which would be created by leading a young person to believe that the highest object in marriage, is to have wedding garments, and receive the transitory homage usually paid to a bride. A young friend of mine, who attended a very large and celebrated school where, at the end of each term, public examinations were held and prizes distributed, told me that on the assembling of the school, in the beginning of a term, it was soon ascertained who were likely to be successful competitors for the prizes. Thesc became very earnest students, and made very considerable acquisitions; while, as a general rule, all the rest did very little, sparing themselves as much as possible. Never having had a large school, I cannot tell whether it is possible to dispense with this stimulus of the love of approbation in its management. But I can affirm, from experience, that it is entirely unnecessary to make use of it in a small one, where a few, who are faithful to duty, will give tone to the whole school ; so that industry and fidelity will become the rule rather than the exception.

Let there be no escape from the full discharge

of school duty. For many years, I heard, out of school, every lesson imperfectly recited at the proper time. At length I adopted the custom of hiring a teacher for Saturday afternoon, when delinquents were called

upon

to

pay up the arrears of the week. It is needless to remind you that the “Saturday book,” in which every imperfect lesson is recorded, that it may be learned over on Saturday afternoon, is a “ book of record” greatly dreaded. There are always some, whose names never appear on it, some whose names are rarely seen there; and always, I am sorry to say, some whose names are, for a time at least, sure to be found there. It has been the means, however, of reclaiming completely not a few, who seemed at first, incorrigibly lazy and careless; and of bringing a large number to greatly improved habits of study. I regard it as one of my best devices.

Lastly, guard your pupils, with the strictest care, against all deceitful practices. The tendency to these is universal, simply because the human being hates work, loves ease, and is easily amused with inventions. They prevail more or less, in every school not so guarded, and in many, to a lamentable extent. After having been a teacher more than thirty years, I am still often surprised to find what a degree of watchfulness is necessary on this account, and with what ingenuity this watchfulness may be baffled. Truth is one of the pearls often cast before swine.

In the first place discourage and denounce, peremptorily, prompting, and make it a punishable offence. On the part of the prompter, it often proceeds from mere thoughtless good-nature. She must, therefore, be made to see, that it is “ temptation and a snare” to those who are led to avail themselves of it. If great care is not taken, the indolent will rely upon this, rather than upon any other means of getting on with a recitation. They must be made to see that they act a lie, by giving out another's knowledge as their own, and the others that they make themselves parties to it, as aiders and abettors.

Take care to let it be quite accidental, which one of a class shall begin a recitation. One girl who had been accustomed, before she came to me, to being in very long classes, said of her biblelessons, that she had been always in the habit of counting to see which verse would come to her, and of learning only that. Another mode of avoiding one's proper work, is by getting undue help from others. This I always expressly forbid, and yet the help, to a certain extent, will be sought and received. Here again, honesty is wanting on one side, and good-nature is at fault on the other. Direct all to come to you, and to no one else, for the assistance they need ; and let them have from you as much as you think good for them. It is a fatal habit in a scholar, so far as scholarship is

concerned, to rely upon the assistance of others, rather than upon her own efforts. It is a withering, wasting process, that takes from the mind all its stamina, just as disuse will make an arm or a leg powerless. Let the iniquity of so depending on another, be seen as another form of the acted lie.

I once had a pupil of good parts, who came to me at the age of sixteen, in great ignorance of much that a girl should know long before that period. After becoming fully acquainted with her character, as manifested both in and out of school, I said to her : “I know exactly what has been your mode of proceeding in all the schools you

have attended hitherto. You have been helped and prompted through your lessons, without really learning much of anything. Your Latin and your French have been translated for you; you have been shown how to do your sums, and often had them done for you, while prompting has supplied all other deficiencies.” Although not very true in speech any more than in conduct, she did not deny this; and the being made really to work was something so new to her, that at first it occasioned violent outbreaks of temper.

I know, by experience, how difficult it is for even a conscientious, pains-taking teacher to prevent this, and other habitual knaveries of the school-room ; but every teacher should set her face as a flint, against them. There are those who be

lieve that if they appeal habitually to a sense of honor in their pupils, and adopt no other means of securing right conduct, this will prove sufficient. If such a sense of honor exist even as a latent germ, it will be called forth and developed into very efficient action, by such confidence; but alas! it is usually found only with the minority. I know a teacher of high character, who in her inexperience adopted this theory, and brought herself into great trouble by it. Even after she found herself compelled, in the second year of her school, to adopt a much stricter discipline, the pupils who remained over, still took advantage of her weak side in this way. When, sometimes, she asked them directly, whether they had done so and so, transgressing some rule, or overlooking some prohibition, they put her at fault, and saved their consciences, as they thought, by exclaiming ; “Why, Mrs. -—!” implying in this way the greatest astonishment, that she could suspect them even, of such disobedience. They boasted of this “ dodge,” in letters which came to my knowledge accidentally.

These girls had been too little instructed as to the nature and obligations of truth—to be aware that they had incurred the guilt of lying, as much as if they had denied, explicitly the acts in question. With all my long experience as a teacher, my conviction that the cultivation of truth, in every

« PreviousContinue »