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Profound Silence in School.

CONFESSIONS OF A SCHOOLMASTER. No, IX.

DISCIPLINE AND PUNISHMENT. So well satisfied were the proprietors of the school, which I had lately taught, that, notwithstanding the complaint to the grand jurors, (see page 86,) and the opposition I made to the meeting of the schools, (see vol. VII. page 125,) I was, the next fall, unanimously invited to take charge of their pupils again. But I was so circumstanced, as to be unable to teach school that winter, at all.

The following year, another invitation came. This I was at liberty to accept. Accordingly I repaired, once more, to the scene of my former labors ; and by most of the pupils, was received with a hearty welcome. I taught here, not only this, but the next following winter.

All went on these two winters—with few exceptions-very smoothly. I heard no complaint about severity ; because I 'whipped' nobody. I believe it was my boast, and the boast too of some of my pupils, that we had no whip in the school room during the whole of one of the winters. And yet it was commonly reported, that such silence was preserved in the school, that you might, at almost any time, have heard a pin drop.

I believe these reports were substantially, nearly correct; and yet I can assure the reader I have very many doubts whether I governed the school as well, either of these winters, as I did the first one. I will present the reasons for this belief.

In the first place, I think such unnatural silence, in a school of thirty pupils, is wholly unreasonable ; being procured at too great a sacrifice. There is not that freedom of action among the pupils, which I deem indispensable to progress. I like to have a still school ; but I prefer a little of the hum of business, to that stillness which is procured at the expense of business.

In the second place, the pupils did not appear to regard me as a parent, so much as formerly. There was more of distance and reserve ; and less openness of conduct. The reasons of this will be seen presently.

Although, thirdly, I succeeded without the rod, it cost an ef. fort—and of the kind too, which might have been very happily exchanged, even for the rod. I mean by this, that in scrupulously avoiding what is called whipping, I reduced myself to the supposed necessity of using other modes of corporeal punishment, which are far more injurious.

There is no error of my life-as a schoolmaster-upon which I look back with more pain, than the one to which I am about General Abuse of the Rod.

155

to advert. Sometimes the reflections are attended with so much pain, that I can hardly compose myself. Would to heaven it were possible to erase--as pencil marks from paper-some of the worst of our past errors. But no: they are impressed with ink which is indelible. They are not merely printed in the common way, they are stereotyped.

What a sad mistake do parents and teachers make, who avoid the rod, as with a kind of superstitious awe, and yet do not scruple to box the ears, strike the heads, shake violently, or beat or kick their children! And yet nothing hardly is more common, than to shake a child with violence, or box his ears.

Such parents or teachers may rely upon it, that these blows upon little children, are attended with far more danger than the blows usually inflicted by a rod of moderate size. It is not improbable that the intellectual faculties of children are sometimes seriously injured in this way, and that some have been made idiots by it. Yet you cannot find one instance in a thousand, of even a severe use of the rod, where any permanent injury is done.

Should these pages meet the eye of any parent or teacher, who is accustomed to make it his boast that he is not so vulgar or old-fashioned as to use the rod; and yet does not hesitate to box the ears, and otherwise beat or strike the tender brain-pan of his child or servant, let him pause, ponder, and in the fear of God, and of a judgment to come, beware.

I am not for encouraging the indiscriminate use of the rod.Nay, more; I verily believe, that in fortynine cases in fifty of its use, it does more harm than good. But there are cases, occasionally, which in my own view, demand its use. They are cases, too, in which a judicious application of this instrument would be likely to accomplish the end in view, better than any thing else.

Let me say again, I am not for encouraging the indiscriminate use of the rod, either at home or at school. I go farther. If parents and teachers were truly wise, always, from the very first, I have many doubts whether there would be a necessity for using it at all. Children would, undoubtedly, do wrong, but not maliciously or obstinately; and it is only in cases of malice or obstinacy, as I understand the matter, that corporal punishment is required. A moderate share of sound common sense, if parents and teachers would take time, would, in my view, prevent what it is often difficult to any person-but particularly so to those who are so unwise as not to take time for prevention to cure or eradicate.

But neither parents nor teachers will take time to discipline 156

How the Rod should be Used.

their children in a proper manner. How often have I been pained, even in public discussions in learned halls,' to hear teachers of age and experience, and much supposed wisdom, gravely object to hearing, even the details of those plans for managing children, which were designed to prevent the necessity of future punishment, solely on the ground that they would take up too much time. For what purpose is time made, if not to form and mould the character of those whom God has given us, and whom we profess to love !

But we live in a day, when parents have too much to do, to take time for bringing up their children. There are so many artificial wants of the body to be attended to, that the poor mind must shift for itself; or rather must be left to starve. And as to manners and morals, these must be neglected and unheeded, till vice is deep rooted, and requires to be plucked up with violence.' And lest the teacher should have any time to act upon the preventive plan, he is overburdened with pupils. The consequence is, that nothing, or almost nothing is done in the way of prevention; and the only alternative is correction or exposure to future suffering.

Now it is precisely in this case, that the question of corporal punishment comes in. Here is a parent whose own errors have produced a necessity of correcting his child, in some painful manner. Shall the child go on to certain ruin, or shall the parent correct him ?-You will say, it is the parent that most deserves the correction ; and I say so too. But, will it answer the intended purpose, to inflict the pain on himself? If so, every feeling parent, I think, would greatly prefer it. But it will not answer. The child must suffer, in part, at least; although it be for the fault of the parent.

The parent has erred. The teacher has erred. The child is beginning to suffer from the consequences. These consequences are likely to run through life, perhaps beyond it, unless the wrong or error, which in the child produces them, is associated in his mind with suffering, or the fear of it.

Now I maintain that the kind of suffering which shall be thus associated with the wrong or error in the child, is not in itself of very much importance. Humanity would indeed dictate that it should be the least in annount which will answer the purpose ; but mere sympathy for the sufferer, unregulated by reason, might sometimes lead us to prefer a mode which, though more easily endured at the present time, permits a continuance of part of the evil, and thus, in the aggregate, causes the child more pain than some other mode which is, for a very short time, more severe.

A Cruel Mode of Punishment.

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I do not defend the use of the rod, because the word rod happens to be found in the Bible ; for I believe it is there used as a general name for all modes of the exercise of parental authority and power. But I defend its use by parents and teachers who are reduced to the dreadful alternative of inflicting pain, or seeing the child go on to ruin. And I know of no method of inflicting pain so excellent.

When you strike a child's head, even with the flat hand, you not only produce a concussion of the whole mass of the brain, but you endanger the hearing. When a child is pushed violently, or thrown down, or kicked, there is always a greater or less degree of exposure of the vital organs of the body; to say nothing of the danger to the eyes, from these random blows and pushes. Besides, you are very likely to stupefy him, and thus produce insensibility to the smaller degree of pain you would otherwise inflict.

But when you take a rod of suitable size, and flagellate the skin, even with some degree of severity, you may not only avoid all danger of injury to any vital organ whatever, but you run no risk of stupefying him. Indeed, his sensibility increases, rather than diminishes, as long as you continue to inflict the blows.

The marks sometimes left on an obstinate boy, even for several days, do not necessarily indicate a degree of violence that borders at all upon inhumanity. A child has sometimes required a flagellation of this kind ; and would have been injured by any thing short of it. But how different is the common opinion !• Such a little boy,' I once heard a person gravely say to another, should be whipped little and often.' Ah, it is these frequent small whippings that ruin the young by thousands! As a general rule, if we use the rod at all-remember I do not say a club, but a rod-it should be used with a good degree of severity: so that the smart may not only be considerable, but long continued.

But it was far from being my original intention, to enter so deeply into this subject. I should not have done it, but with a view to expose that shameful and soul destroying fastidiousness about the rod, which prevails with people who will not hesitate to box the ears, and beat the head, and bruise the body; yes, and I might say, produce more mental pain and suffering, than they save the body.

'To return to my own story. In avoiding the rod, I fell into the cruel and abominable practice of boxing the ears. In one instance, I recollect, that partly for an offence of some degree of magnitude, and partly as a warning to the rest, I said to a boy, Now sir, as a punishment, I am determined to knock you 158

Model School at St. Petersburg.

down.' So, boxing his ears with a good deal of force, and at the same time placing my foot in his way, so that he could not step'aside to preserve his centre of gravity, he fell over it. This boy, now a young man of almost thirty, always reminds me, when I meet him, of the circumstance; and says he thought and still thinks it a very unjustifiable sort of punishment. And I think so t00.-He used to say that if he lived to be strong enough, he would flog me, in return; but he has never yet done it. . I have been subjected, however, to a flogging much more severe

that of conscience.

I do not now recollect an individual whose hearing, or whose faculties, any of them, were known to be injured by my blows upon his head, and yet I do not know that it was not so. I may have injured a dozen pupils in this way; and the true source of their trouble may never have been traced out.—As I have already intimated, though my fame was spread far and near, as a schoolmaster, this period of my career is one upon which I look back with more pain, than upon almost any other; and could wish,—were it not in vain—that it were blotted from the book of my memory.

EDUCATION IN RUSSIA.

From the Report of Professor Stowe to the Assembly of Ohio, on the state of Elementary Instruction in Europe, we gather the following facts respecting the state of things in Russia. Nothing that we have seen from Europe, is more interesting or encouraging.

The whole empire is divided into provinces, each of which has a University ; these provinces into academic districts, which are provided with their gymnasia for classical learning, and academies for the higher branches of a business education; and these academic districts are again subdivided into school districts, each with its elementary school. As the heart of the whole system, there is at St. Petersburg, a model school for the education of teachers of every grade, for all parts of the empire.-Of the Universities, six had already gone into operation in 1835, namely: one at St. Petersburg, one at Moscow, one at Dorpat, in Livonia, one at Charkow, east of the river Dnieper, one at Kasan, on the Wolga, and one at Kiew. At other points, Lyceums are established, with courses of study more limited than that of the Universities; and there is an institution at Moscow, especially for the education of the nobility.

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