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most difficult to be attended to in a large school. It embraces punctuality in all the operations of the establishment, and such a regularity in the daily recurrence of corresponding duties, as to make the performance of them a matter of habit, and consequently of ease and of pleasure ; it embraces all the thousand little matters which are so apt to be overlooked ; but they are the pence which, if taken care of, will save pounds. Indeed, I consider a studious attention to these arrangements as essential to the prosperity of a school.”
Mr James is more full on the subject of school government. We commend his remarks on this topic to the careful consideration of teachers, who are in too many instances forced by the overwhelming pressure of public sentiment, into the use of moral suasion,” only to the neglect of all sound principles of government. We know that in many instances, and it is the natural tendency in all, that under such a system, the first of all lessons, that of obedience is never learned, and we believe that almost always the child who has not learned to obey another will find it too hard a task to control himself.
“In examining the subject of school government, I am led to the conclusion, that in a large school, (and my remarks are all intended to apply to such,) the domestic feelings and affections which prevail in a family are not, to their full extent, admissible. That, although a teacher should endeavor to engage the personal affections of his pupils, yet parental affection, and parental partiality ought not to be, and is not expected of a teacher; and that a school in which the number of pupils is great, approaches more nearly, in the relations of its different members, to a nation than to a family. A school is, in fact, a little nation or community, demanding of its members the same abridgement of personal liberty, and owing to them the same protection that constitute the spirit of national laws; and like a nation it is more dependent for its success, and the happiness and welfare of its members, upon the forın and efficiency of its gov. ernment, than upon its own internal resources.”
“ Without attempting to elevate small matters to an undue consideration, I contend that a school, and especially a large one, contains all the elements of a political community. There is the protection of right, and the punishment
of wrong; there is individual enterprise to be encouraged, and the general welfare to be promoted ; there is a public sentiment in schools, which a skilful ruler knows how to guide, and against which, as he values his popularity and influence, he dares not to offend; there is such a thing as school patriotism, which the judicious teacher can keep alive without improper rivalry; and there is such a thing as school treason, which the authorities of the institution should punish in the most decided and rigorous manner.”
"Allow me, from the many truths that are here presented to us, to offer the following, as all that the time will permit me, even briefly, to dwell upon.
1. The government of a school should be vested in a single person.
2. It should not be despotic, but should be restricted by constitutional provisions and a code of definite laws.
33. The presiding teacher should be exempt from the personal instruction of the classes.
1. The common sense of mankind has long since decided upon committing the whole executive authority of the school to the hands of the principal teacher, constituting it what may be called in political language, a monarchy. All the attempts to check the abuse of arbitrary power, by establishing several principals with equal powers, must necessarily fail; for several individuals can rarely agree in those prompt measures that school discipline frequently demands. The same may be said of the introduction of democratic government in schools ; if indeed a government properly so called has ever been instituted. I have known teachers to amuse their pupils, and, perhaps, themselves, by allowing them to elect nominal officers; but it amounted to nothing more than amusement. All the pretended attempts at establishing a republican form of government, have been nothing but a useless imitation of democracy, by committing a temporary authority to a part or the whole of the pupils ; their legislative powers not extending beyond measures of no importance; and even these being subject to the arbitrary veto of the higher authorities.
Democracy is, and ever will be, wholly inadequate to the purposes of school government; and for this very plain reason, that the students are always pre-supposed to be minors, and as such, are by nature, and are declared by law, to be incapable of self-government. The qualifications for selfgovernment are, enlightened judgment and fixed moral principles,--qualifications necessarily absent from the immature minds of boys. So long as “ foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child,” I shall never expect to see school boys legislating upon the business of the state or the school. In a word, I hold it to be evident, that minors are incapable of exercising any determinate authority ; and that one of the lessons they should early learn and be slow to forget, is, that their understandings are immature, and that they are to submit to the better judgment of their elders.
2. But arbitrary power needs some check; and I object to the terms, absolute monarchy, unlimited monarchy, &c., as applied to the rule of a teacher, although used and advocated by the most popular writers on the subject. I object to them, because they do not really define the kind of government existing in our best schools, even where all the school authority is nominally vested in the presiding teacher ; for it must be remembered, that such authority is, at best, but a limited prerogative, being checked and balanced by various circumstances, as charter provisions, oversight of visiting committees, terms of contract, public sentiment; and farther, because the expressions, absolute, unlimited, and the like, are at variance with the acknowledged imperfections of human judgment, and limits of human power. I do not deny that an unlimited sway has sometimes been assumed. The school, in such instances, exhibits many of the features of a petty despotism ; the appropriation of the time and even the property of the pupils, as I have known to be done, bearing a good analogy to the disregard of right which the Pacha of Egypt exbibits towards his subjects; and the ferule being a good representation of the cruelties of the bastinado. But in our better class of schools, these things are unheard of, and the checks, to which I have already alluded, constitute what, in a practical sense at least, may be called a constitution, and the term constitutional or limited monarchy is far more applicable to school government.
Even the proprietor of a private seminary, who of all teachers is, perhaps, the most unlimited, is unwise if he does not put some check upon his own powers ; for I consider the exercise of uncontrolled school authority, even in the qualified sense in which a teacher may possess it, as a
most difficult, troublesome and undesirable task. If a teacher attempts to make his single word a law, he will find it exceedingly difficult to make his decisions bear the stamp of equity. For he will not only do actual injustice in some cases by the difficulty of equitable adjudication, in cases presented in a school ; but he will find himself always associated with the punishments it may become expedient to award. And though he may labor to convince his pupils of the righteousness of his decisions, yet the association remains, and the offender knows that the teacher's will, instead of statute, has condemned him. The disposition to resist the infliction of punishments is so natural, that he who wields despotic authority will find himself brought into continual collision with the personal feelings of his pupils ; a circumstance most unfavorable to the cultivation of those affections, in the exercise of which the teacher finds his greatest influence and his greatest reward.
Farther, despotic authority in a school is not only resisted by its immediate subjects, but is always unpopular with the public, on account of the sympathy which parents naturally and properly feel with their children ; and because the overbearing and tyrannical measures into which it leads men, even of good judgment, presents the incumbents of such stations before the public, in a most unamiable aspect. Were we to analyze the odium that frequently attaches to the business of teaching, it would probably be found, that contempt of the petty tyranny and despotic caprice to which parents are so frequently compelled to submit their children, constitutes a principal ingredient in its composition.
I hold then, that every school should possess, in some form or other, a constitutional security of rights and a code of laws, with specific penalties for the breach of them. The advantages of such an arrangement are as great to the principal himself as to the pupils. It delivers him from the odium of an arbitrary tyrant. It enables him to administer justice without associating himself with the circumstances so generally unpleasant to the scholar. He can secure to himself a greater degree of firmness in his awards of justice, and resist those appeals to his personal feelings, which, or I mistake human nature, every teacher is called upon to resist. He shields himself from personal responsibility. He has done all he could. He has, by the publication of deter
minate laws, shown what are the conditions on which the students receive the privileges and advantages of the school. These conditions are before them, and opportunity is afforded to every one, to point out whatever he may think unjust. If, therefore, the student should incur the forfeiture of his privileges, or the disapprobation of his superiors, the teacher may shield himself from all responsibility; and while as the executive of the laws he administers punishments for offences, he can sympathise with the offender, and thus gain his heart and his conscience, while he convinces his understanding and coerces his will. This will accomplish, better than any arbitrary system, the objects of punishment. I need not undertake to teach this audience, that human punishments, to have the desired effect on the offender, must affect the heart, and not merely be a retaliation of offences. And yet the latter would seem to be the views of a vast number of teachers, if we may judge them by their practice. They seem to think that punishments must be given like notes of hand-for value received. But I need not spend time in urging upon you, gentlemen, that the end of all human punishments, so far as the offender himself is concerned, is to amend the life by ainending the heart. The principal of a school has a much greater opportunity of doing this, when he stands in the position of an unwilling executive of laws established before the offence was committed, than when he appears as the arbitrary legislator and judge of a recently committed fault. I am entirely persuaded of the respect and obedience that scholars will pay to law, which they have in their calm and unoffending hours been permitted to examine, and criticise and approve. Who does not perceive the greater probability of justice on the one hand, and submission on the other, when the demands and limits of each have been settled before the event occurred, and when it could be examined and adjudged with disinterestedness and impartiality?
The principal, and perhaps, the only objection that can be urged against a code of definite laws, binding upon all parties, is this; that the offences are so numerous and so various, that a code to meet all the exigencies of an ordinary school would have to be too extensive, and would meet with the same difficulty of execution that is found in administering the laws of the land. But I reply, that although chil