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Title: Practical School Discipline
       Introductory Course

Author: Ray Coppock Beery

Release Date: November 17, 2019 [EBook #60717]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by MFR, Nigel Blower and the Online Distributed
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A. B. (Columbia), M. A. (Harvard)
Copyrighted, 1916, by
Copyrighted, Great Britain, 1916


Preface v-vii
Introductory Course 9-25
Part I, The Teacher 27-88
Part II, The School 89-101
Part III, Discipline: Its Province and End 103-111
Part IV, Fundamental Principles in Discipline 113-171
Index 172, 173


From the first sting of a blackboard pointer received at the hand of a primary teacher for a slight overflow of energy, to the last serious fracture of discipline which I recall in High School, I pondered over the methods used by my teachers and talked with others, frequently, about this matter of discipline.

Very often after observing an extremely annoying day for a teacher, who seemed to think that all trouble was due to the pupils, I would feel like rising in my seat, half through sympathy and half through disgust, and shouting, “Teacher, it’s all wrong. We pupils are human. There are ways of appealing to us and getting the results you want, if only you apply the right methods.”

The solving of various problems of discipline for the purpose of helping teachers to accomplish their tremendous task, has always appealed to me very much, but it was not until my Senior year in High School that I seriously considered making the study of discipline my life-work.

It was the result of observing closely every day for four years, the different methods used by two High School instructors and, most important of all, the consistent results of those methods which convinced me that the subject of discipline could be analyzed.

viThe course, which you are starting to read, is the result of long observation, careful study and constant thought in this important field. The subject has resolved itself into a very few fundamental principles, the proper application of which will invariably get results in the right direction.

There are no cut and dried rules with which all school-room problems can be met; yet, the wise experience of hundreds of teachers has taught that there are certain principles which can be safely followed and the application of which will unfailingly increase the teacher’s success in dealing with troublesome problems.

Not only are the fundamental principles fully explained and made simple, but there are definite concrete school-room problems given, together with the safest treatment to apply. The problems are real. They have presented themselves many times and will continue to present themselves as long as schools exist.

Correct methods are given to meet the most perplexing situations as well as the petty though annoying troubles that troop through each school day. Each method presented has been tested and tried and found to get good results.

The application of the methods presented in this course will also have a lasting effect on the lives of those disciplined. This is an aim which, indeed, must underlie all true discipline.

The language and phraseology used is that which can be understood by the most humble viiteacher. In speaking of the teacher always in the masculine, I have followed the custom of the specialists. “He” will mean usually “he or she.”

In preparing this course, I have constantly kept in mind the thousands of teachers in every quarter of the land—North, South, East and West—who are laboring in one-room schools where they are moulding the characters of boys and girls who will be the men and women of tomorrow; men, who will guide the destiny of the state and women to be fit mothers of a greater race. The teachers whose labors are in the rural hamlets and the larger villages have been remembered; also those whose tasks are more manifold in the busy city where school-room problems are varied and complex.

This course is prepared to meet an almost universal demand. Teachers, like all other practical human beings, are eager for concrete information and ideas which they can apply. Any information at all which makes for better discipline is, by the worthy teacher, considered quite worth while.

R. C. B.

“In schools and colleges, in fleet and army, discipline means success, and anarchy means ruin.”

viii“One in charge of children can not
know TOO much about them.”

Introductory Course

Teaching school means infinitely more than the mere giving of lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic. It means the moulding of human lives and characters. The amount of good which a single enlightened teacher may do for humanity can hardly be over-estimated. Children of all grades look upon their teachers in a certain sense as heroes whom they admire and emulate. Great, therefore, is the teacher’s responsibility.

Conduct and Discipline

Not only is the teacher a great moral force in the school and community but certain of his traits and habits are so very closely related to discipline that the first part of the book is devoted exclusively to “The Teacher.”

The teacher should have a very definite code of morals—a code of morals that is in no sense vague or indefinite or weak. He should not be undecided even about small details relating to the moral code. Children admire strong characters. They are quick to detect weakness.

This Course presents a code of morals for the teacher which is very concrete. The teacher will consider it most sensible because every idea is grounded on sound and logical reasons. This part of the Course, in presenting reasons along with the detailed and definite code of morals should help every teacher who reads it. Even though you are now leading a strong, influential 10life, reading this part of the Course will strengthen your convictions and in that way help you to be yet stronger.

School Surroundings and Discipline

It can not be denied that every factor in the child’s surroundings has some influence upon him. It would be difficult to introduce principles of order and system into a child’s school work, if that child were surrounded by disorder in the school-room equipment. We all know that the appetizing effect of a luncheon is heightened by cleanliness, the taste with which the luncheon and the dishes are arranged, even the mode of serving the food and the general appearance of the room. Comparatively few teachers realize the relation of the school surroundings to discipline. The second part of the book is devoted to “The School.” This part of the Course discusses various factors in the surroundings which the teacher may control, and suggests many things about the room equipment which will greatly aid him in securing good work and order.

Every teacher, in dealing with pupils, should have well fixed in his mind the true province and end in discipline. The third division of this book is devoted to “The Province and End in Discipline,” which is an extremely important discussion. No idea is less understood than is discipline. In its restricted meaning and application, it means far too little. Discipline permeates 11most thoroughly every activity of humankind. Every avenue of progress owes its measure of success to the measure of discipline found therein. Could discipline come into its own province and manifest its fullest force, there evidently would be no need of penal institutions, courts of justice and other reformatory measures. Far too many teachers believe their work in the school-room well done and designate themselves as good disciplinarians if they have managed to get through the school year without any more serious difficulty than having to administer a whipping or two, or perhaps, suspend a pupil for a week or ten days. To call this discipline is indeed deplorable.

The True End in Discipline

Some teachers on being asked, “What is the end to be sought in discipline?” have answered, “Good order.” Others have answered, “Quietness such that lessons may be studied.” But these are mere conditions of successful school work and are not at all ends to be attained in discipline. The teacher who thinks of these conditions as being the ends in discipline is not only liable to use improper means, but will be satisfied with a mere semblance of success. The true end of discipline is none other than the acquirement of self-control. This includes six very definite things which are explained in Part Three.

It is the failure to understand the nature of children, which causes so much friction and 12trouble with them. By “nature,” we do not mean merely the child’s disposition, as this view is far too narrow. Let us clearly explain, in the next few paragraphs, the distinction between individual disposition and fundamental nature.

An Important Distinction

It is true, popular lecturers often bore us by speeches in which they emphasize over and over the necessity of knowing the disposition of our individual child. Of course, it is helpful to know the individual disposition; but the mistaken emphasis placed upon this detail as compared with really knowing the general and fundamental nature of children is indeed astounding.

A case was reported to us not long ago of a child-lecturer who chanced to be confronted with a practical situation. Little “George,” his son, was near a newspaper in the drawing-room. The gentleman asked George to bring the newspaper to him. George refused. The command was repeated. “George, bring me the newspaper.” George refused. He again gave more commands, in a louder tone of voice while George laughed at him. The lecturer then started over to him and George ran behind a table. The man soon managed to seize the boy’s hand and escorted him over to the newspaper, whereupon he again commanded him to pick up the paper. George refused. The gentleman took the boy’s hands and tried to force them to 13grasp the newspaper but George’s fingers were lax. At this moment, George received a keen slap on the side of the face. He was then told to pick up the paper and he did so. Why? Merely through fear? (The fallacy of this method will be discussed later on.)

The point of the above illustration is this: That man would treat all of ten thousand other children in precisely the same way as he did George if they refused to obey him. And yet this same lecturer is continually going before mothers’ clubs and admonishing them thus: “Mothers, mothers—know your individual child.” If his doctrine is so important, why does he not practice what he preaches? A man or woman, parent or teacher, who can not get a child to obey, without slapping him or threatening him, has something fundamental to learn about child training. This man not only failed to be influenced by the boy’s individual disposition but he showed by his method that he did not understand the fundamental nature of children.

To explain further the distinction between individual disposition and fundamental nature, you have in your room five pupils: Ralph, Charley, Miriam, Fay and Helen. Let us assume that these pupils are as different in disposition as it is possible for them to be. Ralph is pessimistic, secretive and has a bad temper. Charley is optimistic, frank and very amiable. Miriam and Fay have certain other opposite characteristics and Helen is in a class by herself—overbearing, 14spiteful, high tempered and hard to approach.

Now what shall we do? Must we use a fundamentally different method on each of these pupils in order to reach the same result? By no means. While these five pupils have characteristics which are distinctly their own and different from each other, yet they have precisely the same instincts underlying their actions. They have the same individual instincts, the same adaptive instincts, the same social instincts, the same regulative instincts and the same parental instincts. If we appeal to the same instinct in one child that we appeal to in another we will get a similar result. The expression will not be exactly the same, of course. One child may react more quickly than another or with more enthusiasm but nevertheless the response will be similar. For example, if I do something which Ralph sees is going to push forward his own interests: if I praise Ralph for something which he has done, he will react in the same direction as will Charley, Miriam, Fay and Helen when I appeal to the same instinct in them, such as their instinctive desire for approval.

Instead of only five pupils, we might take a hundred or a thousand pupils, each one having a disposition slightly different from all the others. Their natures are all based upon certain fundamental instincts common to the race. Therefore, it is this fundamental nature of the pupil which we must know. The disposition of 15the particular pupils is a matter of detail as compared with the deep-seated and essential nature and will not trouble us much after we have learned the fundamental principles of child supervision, because all children have the same natural instincts and, in applying principles, we appeal to these instincts. Part Four of this book is devoted exclusively to the naming and explaining of these great fundamental principles.

A teacher who thoroughly understands each of these principles is in possession of information that is really invaluable in discipline. It would be well for each teacher to read over these important principles several times during the school year. The reading can not fail to aid in getting better discipline.

The best possible way to acquire skill in discipline is to study a great variety of typical examples. In fact, the author has planned other volumes devoted exclusively to concrete cases of discipline.

By a concrete case is meant an interruption or annoyance caused by one or more pupils at a given time, which must be dealt with by the teacher in one way or another.

Very often a teacher, after observing the results of a certain method, will look back and say, “If I had that to do over again, I would treat the case differently.” Perhaps he has asked a child a question which, on account of the embarrassing circumstances, caused him to tell a falsehood; perhaps he has tried to force obedience 16instead of attaining the end in a better way. These and dozens of other cases might be suggested which often confront a teacher and unless he has correct ideas about disposing of them when they arise, he will have no small amount of trouble before the year is over. That teacher is almost sure to fail who waits for the occasion to select a method instead of preparing beforehand for different emergencies.

Treatment of Cases According to Age

The proper decision in cases of discipline is so extremely important that the cases which may arise in each grade should be treated separately. For example, all the problems which may present themselves to the first grade teacher may be recorded under the head “First Grade” and the remedy given for each case. The same is true of the second grade and so on through the High School. Special and very definite instructions should be framed for the proper discipline of pupils of various ages in the same room of the country school.

The methods must be safe methods. Some times an unenlightened teacher will use a method which not only fails to get good results but which actually aggravates the trouble. The very nature of the methods given in this Course is such that a teacher may be sure the best possible plan is being employed, viewed from the standpoint of positive good results that will surely follow.

17The teacher will find it a great source of pleasure to have the subject of discipline so well in mind and so thoroughly analyzed and thought out that when a case arises, he can not only apply a method which he thinks is right but one which he knows is right.

Oftentimes, a teacher is confronted with such a difficult situation that no matter what method is applied, good results will not be seen immediately. In such cases it is extremely assuring for a teacher to know that the particular method which he has applied is the best possible method that could be used in that situation.

In the treatment of all cases, not only are the correct methods outlined in detail, but fundamental reasons should be given showing why the method suggested is the best in each case. In the treatment of all cases, applications are to be made of the fundamental principles.

There are not a few teachers, as well as parents, who continue to use physical force in attempting to govern. It is indeed appalling how blind some people are on matters of discipline.

They will get poor results repeatedly from applying a given method and yet they fail to see that their child’s bad behavior is due to their own faulty method. Why do not parents think about changing their own method which causes the child to misbehave instead of forever blaming the child? This is a question that is not easy to answer. Business men, after finding that a 18certain form of advertising does not pay, discontinue that form of advertising and yet they are not half so reasonable in their own homes.

For instance, it is a common occurrence for a parent to flog a child for telling a falsehood. The child continues to tell falsehoods one day after another and the parent continues to use the punishing method. Seldom, if ever, does the parent think of changing his method.

Often, when interviewing parents about a child, they will offer some reason for punishing which to them seems perfectly sound but they ignore the fact that fear of punishment is one of the chief causes of falsifying and that to punish for a known falsehood today makes the child more secretive tomorrow.

Many persons likewise, base obedience upon fear of punishment. Their children know that when they hear a command, they must obey at once or receive a whipping. Here is a logical proposition: If obedience is based upon fear instead of confidence; that is, if the child obeys only through fear, then when fear is gradually removed (at fourteen or fifteen when the child begins to feel the assurance of manhood) obedience naturally becomes weaker. Many parents wonder what is wrong when they lose control of their adolescent boys and girls; yet the reason is perfectly obvious. If obedience is based upon confidence, as it should be, the changes which accompany adolescence will not remove the only 19basis of obedience, as in the case of fear, but will make the parents’ grasp even more secure.

Many parents are thoughtful enough to have at least their own reason for using a certain method, while others, unfortunately, hardly think at all. They have one method which they attempt to use as a cure for all bad traits as well as for particular misdemeanors. A situation presents itself and because of some pre-conceived notion, the same old remedy is suggested and administered.

What is true of a great many parents in this regard is also true of a great many teachers. If parents and teachers were to try some practical tests in discipline, keep a record on paper of the treatment of certain offenses followed immediately by the obvious results of those methods, and then draw reasonable conclusions at the end of a week or a month, they would have something valuable to work upon.

Most educators advise the use of corporal punishment as a last resort, yet far too many teachers in carrying out this advice really use it not only as a last resort but as a first, last and only resort. Here is the situation—in fact, a very common situation for a teacher who does not have the confidence of his pupils. A boy is told to do or not to do a certain thing. He openly disobeys. The teacher feels that he must make an example of him and humiliate him at once before the school.

“Let us conclude, then, that the day of corporal 20punishment as an important agency in school discipline has passed never to return. And let us also conclude that its passing is not yet complete and can not be complete until social customs and prejudices have been thoroughly adjusted to the new order and until effective methods of dealing with acute disciplinary difficulties have been discovered, standardized and made effective by general recognition.”[1]

In this brief Introductory Course, one can not go much into detail on any one point. In regard to punishment, however, this hint is in place. If anyone is interested enough to really find out for himself and settle in his own mind once for all, questions concerning correct discipline, let him personally interview a large number of boys. Let him get some of their views. Let him talk over the matter frankly with some other teacher’s pupils. He will thereby not only enlighten himself as to the best policy about punishing boys but the experience of talking in a confidential way with big-hearted boys (and they will all seem big-hearted if only he assumes that they are) will give him a new inspiration and a more optimistic view about his future discipline in the school-room. He will feel more capable of appealing to the child’s mind and heart and will see less necessity than ever before for having to force even the most stubborn child to do his bidding.

The author’s own view on punishment is this: the more a teacher knows about child nature and 21correct fundamental principles, the less he will need to use corporal punishment. The aim of this Course is to present the teacher with such concrete information, based upon a correct knowledge of child nature, that its application by the teacher will enable him to succeed in discipline without any corporal punishment whatsoever.

Of course, there will always be exceptions. A certain pupil may be apparently abnormal and extremely hard to govern. But even with the proverbial exception, really surprising things can be accomplished by the application of wise methods.

The aim, stated above, is not unreasonable. The author has clear evidence of this. In his own town, the superintendent of schools went so far as to allow even the pupils to know that he would not punish them with physical pain. He explained why he would not and the result was wonderful, as he expected. Instead of the pupils taking advantage of such a policy, it appealed to them. They respected this superintendent. They realized that he was there to help them and they allowed him to do so.

1.  W. C. Bagley, School Discipline, p. 194. Macmillan.

A Real Accomplishment

Out of seventy pupils who attended the school at the opening of the term, sixty-seven were in regular attendance throughout the year and two of the three pupils who did drop out had very good outside reasons. This record is astonishing 22but the discipline in that High School is also remarkable. This superintendent has carried out with wonderful results the principles explained in this Course.

The Common Sense Factor

Some people tell us that teachers are born and not made, that tact is an innate quality. Of course, there is a certain amount of truth in this. It is needless to say that not all teachers can attain the same high degree of efficiency in controlling a school. But to say that a certain teacher can never succeed, because he does not have tact, is to express ignorance of the true nature of tact. Tact can not be entirely separated from knowledge. Tact and common sense increase in direct proportion to the advance of one’s knowledge.

One employs tact when he says and does the right thing at the right time and place. Tact implies skill in dealing with immediate circumstances. Therefore, the more experience one has in dealing with a given circumstance the more proficient he should become. The mind profits by experience. A wise teacher also profits by ideas. If someone relates a case of discipline to you in which tact was used, you can use the same idea in a similar circumstance and you will also be using tact.

For example, a certain teacher on entering a new school in the fall, learns that five or six of the larger boys have been talking on the street 23about whipping him out, in case he gets “cute.” If this teacher allows his pupils to find out in any way whatever that his mind is bothered about it; if he gets up before the school and attempts to make a speech calling attention to the gossip, he will thereby show very little tact and the offending pupils will most surely cause him more trouble.

On the other hand, suppose that, sometime when he is with the boys, without any evidence of anxiety, he incidentally remarks, “I see no need of trying to correct pupils by whipping them. People have nearly always treated me justly because I have dealt fairly with them.” This is using tact. The boys will not annoy this man; they will respect him.

So with hundreds of cases. Having each instance worked out in detail, the teacher may determine the minute application of good methods. In this way he can avoid harmful schemes and employ only tactful plans.

It is the ignorant teacher who is untactful; it is the wise and well-educated teacher who is tactful. By well-educated, here, is meant educated in proper discipline. A teacher may be a good scholar and yet be poorly trained in controlling a school.

The teacher who is well trained in matters of discipline does not look upon the many so-called puzzling circumstances as problems at all, because they so readily fit into his system of knowledge 24that he knows at once how to prevent prospective difficulties.

There will never be a day in which you will not use the ideas in this Course, consciously or unconsciously, in one way or another. The ideas presented are fundamental.

There is only one more thought the author wishes to leave with you in this Introductory Course before taking up the instructions in the regular Course. That is this: a child is influenced more by those teachers whom he likes and admires than by those whom he dislikes and who antagonize him. Therefore, it is hoped that each teacher will begin the reading of this Course with a strong conviction and a firm determination to gain from it a means of getting the child’s confidence, which will enable him to be a power for good in guiding young lives aright.

No teacher has attained the greatest joy in his profession until he has received from boys and girls letters of overflowing thanks for past helpfulness. And every teacher will realize this joy who conducts his school in a rational way and who learns methods by means of which he can place discipline upon the natural basis of confidence.

When you have learned the relation of your own conduct to discipline and the relation of your school to discipline; when you have come to realize the real province and true end of discipline; when you have completely learned the 25great fundamental and universal principles of discipline which work toward this ideal end and finally when you have learned to apply these principles to the dozens of concrete, typical cases with which you will always be confronted in the school-room, then you will be in possession of knowledge that will not only cause you to be sought for by school authorities, to teach in better schools at far better remuneration, but it will enable you to do infinitely more for boys and girls, thus making life itself better for yourself and others.

“What we need more than better brain inheritance is a better and more scientific set of rules for developing the brains that we have, and such rules of procedure should be made the common property of all who are in any way related to rearing and educating children.”[2]

2.  McKeever, Psychologic Method in Teaching, p. 329.


Confidence, that basis of control which is necessary in dealing with a youth who is physically too big to whip, is the best basis for dealing with a child or adult of any age.—R. C. B.


The Teacher

Someone has truthfully said, “Without a teacher there can be no school.” It is a university when a great teacher, like Mark Hopkins, sits on a log with the lad, James A. Garfield, and pours forth his store of knowledge for the eager mind of the backwoods boy. All other elements of a school may be absent, except the teacher, who as a living fountain of knowledge interests the mind of the lad because he possesses those qualifications that are found in the true teacher. The vital factor of the school—be it the humblest one room school; the best one room school; a village school or the many roomed high school in the metropolis of the land—the vital and all-important factor is the teacher. The teacher is the inspiring force in the school-room, bringing light and hope and accomplishing more by influence over the children than by any other means.

The Teacher as a Leader

The teacher must be a leader—a true leader—a leader in social ethics, in private morals, in character-building, in religion, in fact in all that goes to make life worth while. This seems almost 28too much to demand of the teacher but it should be expected nevertheless, for it is not exaggeration to say that the teacher’s work is the greatest of all tasks. His clay is God’s chosen material. Every great work needs a controlling brain and a true heart and it is to be expected that God’s greatest work needs them in a superlative degree. If they are absent, the school is like a dead body without the vital spark. If the school is without the true and faithful teacher—even though all else be present, the best and most lasting results are impossible. The cry of the hearts of the children is that they be instructed and nourished and, finally, sent into the world fired with a zeal and purpose that will prompt them to the most heroic efforts in the world’s work.

It is the dream of every child to worship some hero, to be held spell-bound by some great life—a life that possesses some traits that appeal to him. The teacher must be the hero; the teacher must embody these traits. The child upon finding such a teacher will do his bidding gladly, will start on any mission at his request, and will be proud to serve the dictates of a master-will—a will influenced by the Divine will. How many men and women will admit that all the good that is in them and the usefulness they manifest, they owe to the example and teaching, or to the memory of some sainted teacher—a teacher who consecrated himself to God, thereby finding his 29place and wielding his influence over child life for good.

Though the teacher’s task seems to be the most difficult, after all its importance makes it the greatest and best, and what better or higher work is there than to help children and young men and women to a clearer vision of truth, to a nobler sense of duty, to encourage and inspire to higher ideals and motives of life, that are bounded only by eternity? It is the teacher, who at his best, stands between the child and the various experiences that await him. The teacher, from his larger store of knowledge, directs the child towards, and introduces him to, those forms of experience which are especially adapted to bring out and develop the element of perfect control.

Two teachers may use the same mechanism of methods—the one may fail and the other succeed. They may be using the same system of marking and grading, rewarding, and reporting to parents, still the one fails while the other succeeds. Their environments, too, may be the same. The failure of the one is to be sought in the teacher, so too, is the success of the other. The vital need is the proper qualification of the teacher.

“The responsibility of the schoolmaster does not end when the boy leaves school any more than the responsibility of the ship-builder ends on the day of the launch. Each is commissioned to construct a seaworthy vessel, competent to sail either in calm or in stormy seas, and each neglects 30his duty if he is content merely to build up a fairly handsome structure which will glide gracefully off the ways and keep afloat until the crowd has dispersed.”[3]

3.  Welton and Blandford, Principles and Methods of Moral Training, p. 173. Warwick and York.

Purpose of Teaching

Perhaps, no more important question should the teacher ask himself than this, “Why am I teaching?” Is it because a brother or sister or parent or friend has taught or is teaching, or because he must earn a livelihood to support himself or family, or because he thinks he loves children, or enjoys instructing, or glories in power, or believes he has ability as a disciplinarian, or considers the work of teaching easy, dignified and above reproach, or the day short, giving time for other pursuits; or is it because he considers teaching a stepping stone to some other life profession, or, as is the case with too many women, employment to tide over the period between graduation from the high school and matrimony; or that he feels he is capable of no other work and is teaching because he believes himself small and fitted for doing a small work; or, does he believe that there is in teaching an opportunity to accomplish great good and to be of valuable service to mankind? There may be some other motive or motives that induce the teacher to undertake his work, but his should be the most worthy purpose. No teacher can 31expect to do his fullest measure of service and gain that contentment and happiness, that come to the good teacher, if his motive or motives for teaching are not the noblest and best. If any teacher takes up the profession of teaching—the art of arts—his must be a true aim to be of service to mankind. No teacher can successfully control those under his care and teaching, unless he believes that his work is the most vital. His heart and interest must be in his work; otherwise, it is his duty to leave the teaching profession.


A requisite of the teacher that can not be overlooked is the ability to teach. It is an unmistakable preface to teaching to have the proper desire to teach. It is to be hoped that the day is not far distant, when all teachers must have a normal training of not less than one year, and that every Normal School be required to cultivate the natural qualities most essential to teachers. Every student entering a Normal School should satisfy his instructors that he possesses superior ability in his chosen profession. The Normal School should be required to recommend, without exception, to other fields of activity, all those who after a sufficient time in the school do not promise to qualify as teachers of ability. One does himself great injustice to enter a profession for which he is not by nature and by training qualified; and a far greater injury is done those who 32come under his instruction if he is not a natural and trained teacher.


Without a doubt, a most important requisite of the teacher is good scholarship—a thorough knowledge of the subjects to be taught. His knowledge must be not only thorough, but fresh. He, too, must be a broader student of the subjects he teaches than one who merely knows the text he is using. It is evident that a teacher can not teach more than he knows, and often the keen mind of a pupil leaves the realm of the text-book and legitimately inquires into the depths of knowledge. He may embarrass the unprepared teacher, or the teacher whose knowledge of the subject is no broader than the text. The teacher’s preparation must not be superficial, it must be like a fountain—ever fresh and flowing, connecting that which has been passed over and that which is to come. This is an essential element of successful instruction, but many can not see why it should influence discipline.

The teacher who is a deep and inexhaustible fountain of knowledge wins the confidence of his pupils, and whatever increases confidence decreases the necessity of imposed discipline and control, and it is true that whatever decreases the confidence of the pupils in the teacher increases the necessity for outer control. Confidence in the ability and preparation of the 33teacher is the basis of ready obedience. It is the element that begets a prompt and cheerful yielding of the pupil’s will to the will of the teacher.

The teacher should never cease to be a student. Though he thinks himself thoroughly educated, he should always go over the material which he intends to teach; to this, he should add a wide range of reading outside of the lesson proper, but bearing upon the lesson. In this way he will be able to give to his pupils more than is found in the lesson. The teacher who unceasingly pursues such tactics in the preparation of his work will arouse interest in his classes and interest will secure attention which in turn will produce diligence in study. It is a self-evident principle, that interest on the part of the teacher will produce interest on the part of the pupil and interest will promote application and progress. Many a teacher who has been otherwise weak in the ability to discipline properly, has easily controlled large classes by the interest he has manifested in his work, because he was accurate and full in his instruction.

As a Student of Nature

Aside from the teacher’s thorough preparation and knowledge of the subjects he teaches, he must be well versed in other matters. No teacher can fulfill the measure of his calling, unless he is a lover and student of Nature. This may be difficult for the teacher within the confines of a 34large city. However, no city is so large, that all phenomena of Nature are shut out and whatever means are at hand, should be used and thoroughly understood. Some tiny park, or well kept front yard, even a stray bird, a sparrow, the rain, the clouds, and the snow flakes are Nature’s property, and where is the teacher who should be unlearned in any of these subjects? For the teacher whose happy lot it is to teach in the rural districts or villages, it would be a shame indeed, if he did not know the every pulse beat of Nature. Could there really be a teacher who could not control a large band of boys and girls, if he were always ready to expound the secrets of the forest, of the seasons, of the air, and put life and breath into all the vast out-of-doors and her varied phenomena?

It is almost a necessity that every teacher should have studied psychology in his preparation for teaching; still the author has been in states where there are no laws concerning this requirement for teachers; there are scores of teachers who have not even read one text in psychology.

Many have been the definitions given of psychology, but in the end they do not differ seriously. Since psychology is the interpretation of human nature, the admission must be made that every teacher should have a clear knowledge of the subject. Psychology will not produce a teacher, it is true, but teachers are compelled to study and to know human nature and the laws 35governing it, so that common sense methods may be developed. The study of psychology is usually involved in all discussion of methods. The teaching process involves the mind of the child and it is reasonable to demand that the teacher should know the main outlines of modern psychology.

Without further argument, it is apparent that a clear and comprehensive knowledge of psychology is necessary for the teacher. Not alone should the teacher have an understanding knowledge of psychology, but he should read some good texts on psychology and its allied branches every year.

Child Study

No teacher, then, should consider himself educated or prepared to teach who has not given himself some preparation through child study, this greatest of all school subjects, which is simply genetic psychology practically applied. This subject is new, and at best, the teacher who has carefully studied it will know too little. Still there is no excuse for the teacher who does not know something about the following phases of the psychology of children: the child’s soul or mind, acting as memory, imagination and reason; the chief facts concerning the child’s affections, ambitions, motives and ideals; adolescence—physical, mental and moral phases; relations to other children and elders; his sense of humor and responsibility; his moral obligations; his views 36concerning himself, society, and the local community; his views of Nature; the principles of child growth; the normal height and weight of children; the common defects of children as weak eyes, defective hearing, adenoids, spinal curvature and other ailments that attack childhood; the child’s likes and dislikes and all the activities that most interest him.

No sensible teacher will undertake to teach the child a new subject until he understands just what the child can do. Then it is an evident conclusion that the process of teaching can be elevated above the plane of a haphazard undertaking to that of a systematic science by the teacher who has studied the child in his manifold complexities. It follows then that a teacher’s preparation at its best is not complete until he has a workable knowledge of child psychology.


The teacher’s preparation is not complete without the reading of good books. Every true teacher is a student, and to make it possible to remain a student he can not neglect reading good books. Reading the best books in every field of the teacher’s work, and even in many other fields for the purpose of gaining new knowledge is a requirement of the teacher that should not be overlooked. In reading for pleasure and recreation, care must be exercised in choosing reading material. Only the best should be selected by 37the teacher and that which will give the most aid to his work.

The teacher must be a careful reader; he should not hasten through a book, just to be reading. Important passages should be marked. Whatever is of use to the teacher should be correlated to his work to add more to the subject taught. The author in all his reading, even in fiction, has made use of this method—marking all important passages and quotations as he read; then, in the back of the book, he constructed a list of pages where each passage or quotation was to be found. Following the number of the page in his index, he put a brief note, or sometimes only a word to explain the nature of the passage. To illustrate: quotations or passages of general interest were marked (general); a passage bearing upon history, marked (history), etc. When he sought some thought or passage upon a certain subject, it was easy to look to the “homemade” index of the books read and hastily locate such information.

Reading for a Purpose

To the teacher books are companions. He should go to them in time of need. They will give assistance. For recreation they will afford rest, and for information they will prove a never-ending source. Every book the teacher reads, should be read for a purpose. It is a good plan to discuss a book read with a friend or one who 38has read it and is interested in the line of thought treated. Fiction usually portrays some strong character types, as well as weak character types; these make excellent themes for talks on moods and kindred issues. The wise teacher is always ready to cite some good character study or tell some interesting tale or anecdote bearing upon the subject being studied and taught. When interest lags on a dreary day, or when the entire school seems to have the “blues”—and every teacher knows that there are such times—he can save the situation and avoid embarrassment by narrating some interesting story. Fiction abounds in character portrayals, anecdotes and stories. These can be marked and indexed as to kind as explained above.

The question as to what kind of books a teacher should read may arise. There can be no harm in reading every type of book—books that bear upon every phase of life. However meager a teacher’s income may be or uncertain the place of his abode, he should have a library. The word library does not mean that he must have a hundred or more books. How many great men have had only a Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress, and perhaps a book or two of poems, and yet owned a library far more valuable than is often possessed by the indiscriminate booklover! A few books well read are better than many unread.

It may be well to add this precaution. There are scores of good books bearing upon method, pedagogy and various phases of the teacher’s 39work. Books written for the teacher are intended to inform, and not to give exact directions for every activity of the teacher. There can be no such book as the latter. It is true, every school bears the same aspects, and fundamental principles underlie the teaching process, but “cut and dried” rules and formulæ can work only for artificial ends. A good book seeks to suggest, and the wise teacher improves every suggestion.

Papers and Magazines

In addition to the reading of good books the teacher should read several good papers and magazines. Here the greatest caution is necessary. This is an age of every kind of journalism, much of it really dangerous, and frequently the most appealing paper or magazine may prove to be the most harmful. It is a safe rule to read those papers and magazines that have been proven worthy by time and use. One good daily is sufficient; in its pages the teacher can scan the activities of the world. This need not take much time. A few minutes each day will be ample. A teacher should avoid sensational murder “writeups,” robberies and articles designed to create curiosity rather than to give facts and information. However, the tried and conservative daily avoids glaring headlines, announcing atrocities of every kind.

What the teacher should know, is what the world is doing in commerce, industry, science, 40invention, legislation, discovery, religion, arts, manufacturing and those great events which shape history. The teacher who reads papers and magazines for the above purpose will be abreast of the times. He should read one good teacher’s paper. There should be no trouble experienced in finding one as there are numerous excellent magazines published. Yet, care must be exercised, for many teacher’s papers and magazines are nothing less than trash. The editors, like so many business men, hope to reap a harvest of money instead of following the motive of service to their fellow men. A good magazine can not be omitted from the teacher’s reading. While it is true, that much which appears is written only for the remuneration; that is, each issue must be filled and almost anything will do, and many of the stories appeal only to a class of people who will read only the very poorest of literature; still, the teacher need not despair in his choice. He must read that journal the reputation of which has been established and the pages of which are edited by live men and women who are discussing live issues.

In concluding the discussion on the teacher’s preparation, it is obvious from what has been said, that the teacher must always remain a student. He must read to learn; he must investigate to know; he must delve into Nature to learn, and it is not at all absurd for him to study again those books which he faithfully studied during his Normal School training.


The Teacher’s Morals

It seems almost unnecessary to say that a teacher should be moral. It is an important requisite. Although the teacher’s choice of his profession, his ability to teach and his preparation have been discussed first, the reader may consider the teacher’s morality the first requisite. The author can not conceive of a successful teacher, who would possess every essential quality except the quality of being moral. It is a foregone conclusion that a teacher is supposed to be a moral person. While this is true, sad to say there yet remain many teachers whose notions of a moral code are crude. They violate some of the smallest details of the moral code and thereby undermine their success, to say nothing about lessening the service they are attempting to render to mankind. It is not too radical to say that a teacher, above all other professional people must be moral. His idea of a moral code must not be vague; it must not contain conflicting ideas. He, above all, must have definite notions concerning morals. It is true that the term is too generally misused. Many teachers attempt to teach morals in such a way that the pupils have altogether a wrong idea of ethics and consequently, in their daily lives are doing many things that are immoral, still believing that they are shunning that which is not right.

It is the purpose of the following discussion to 42set the teacher right on what the term “moral” in its strictest sense includes; and what constitutes a breach of morality will be clearly set forth. For many years educators have been examining the moral requisites in a teacher, and there can be no doubt as to the correctness of these ideas. No attempt will be made to generalize, but specific and concrete ideas will be presented. In other words, what is immoral will be discussed in such plain terms that the teacher can easily frame for himself a workable moral code.

Meaning of Moral

At the outset, it will be well to explain the term, moral. Specifically, to be moral is to act in accordance with the laws of right. At once, the conflicting question arises: May not what one considers right another consider wrong? But, this is not a difficult question. It is not what one person or another may think about it; it is what the results will be. The past points unmistakably to the results of all that has been done. In the dictionary of the past can be found the record of the results of every action. Have the results been beneficial and serviceable to mankind, then the action was moral; if the opposite, then the action was immoral. Without further explanation, those actions that injure the individual or society will be regarded as immoral.

It is granted that a teacher should not become intoxicated, or fight, gamble, visit places of 43doubtful character, associate with persons whose characters are questionable, violate the law in any way, break the Sabbath, swear, or blaspheme, cheat, lie or be guilty of lewd conduct. These are immoral acts. There is no question as to their nature. They are wrong. Still the author has met teachers who committed some of the above wrongs. At a certain board meeting a young man was asked to present his resignation, because he was proven guilty of a grossly immoral act. It is hard to understand why any teacher should even be guilty of minor wrongs, much less, any of the larger offenses against the moral code. It is to be hoped that this book will seldom fall into the hands of any teacher who is so base as to be guilty of a wilful wrong.

It is true that many questionable actions in which men and women indulge themselves, are by them, not always considered wrong. While this may be the case, it becomes necessary to inquire what influence such actions may have or what the results may be. If evil alone can be traced back to such actions, or results that are damaging, then such actions must be conceded to be wrong, and therefore immoral by anyone, however ardent an advocate of the questioned actions he may be.

Now, the application of the above principle to some concrete actions, that are much disputed as to whether they are wrong or not, must tend to satisfy the most doubting mind. If injury can be shown as the result of any action, that action must 44then be wrong. All must agree to this. Then, the discussion must lead to the results of these disputed actions. The first of these under consideration will be smoking. Every teacher can recall an instance where some boy worshipped a certain man because he found in him all those attributes that make a true man, except that the man smoked. But the boy held him as a hero, and because the man smoked, he believed there could be no harm in it. The influence of the man induced the boy to smoke. The moulding of a human life is the most important work in the world, and if this book can say something that will cause a teacher to feel a keener responsibility in his work and life than ever before, in the fulfilling of his most important position, then it will not have been written in vain.

Consider Weakness of Others

The teacher may argue that no harm came to him from smoking because he smoked moderately, and no harm can come to the boy if he will be moderate. But, the teacher cannot insure this influence of his action. Every sensible teacher must admit that there are not a few instances where positive harm has come to smokers. At this point it is well to say that the pipe, the cigar, chewing tobacco, and the exceptional snuffing of tobacco, are all related closely to the cigarette, which gets most of the blame for the harm done by tobacco. They are all evil and their use is 45immoral. That no teacher may be in doubt as to whether smoking a cigarette, a cigar or a pipe, or chewing and snuffing tobacco have evil results, it may be advisable to call attention to actual records of many concrete cases; and cases in which much harm has been suffered are not isolated, but are generally distributed. The records of any city superintendent of schools will reveal scores of cases of boys whose minds have been weakened, whose muscular organisms are shattered, whose nervous systems are irresponsive and beyond the boy’s control, in fact, whose entire lives are wrecks, because they indulged in the use of tobacco. Every user of tobacco, at first, is a moderate user, but the evil habit leads to demoralization and excessiveness. Any juvenile judge can cite many instances of boys who were brought into the juvenile court, because their minds were depraved and their passions all out of restraint, because the use of tobacco had had its evil effect upon the boys’ minds. If the reader will concede that some evil comes from the use of tobacco, then the argument is complete; for any action that necessarily has evil results is wrong, therefore, immoral and the teacher has no right to perform that act.


No one questions the fact that gossiping and its attendant indulgences, loafing, are evils. Nevertheless, teachers are too prone to indulge themselves, 46thereby profoundly influencing their school associates in no good way. It should be above every teacher to gossip about anyone. When the time comes to report an insubordinate or bad pupil to the superintendent or to the board of education, the facts should be told and no more. The teacher—man or woman—has no right to report the evil of one pupil to another pupil or to patrons or parents, even to members of his or her immediate family. A safe rule to follow, is this: “If one can say nothing good about anyone, say nothing at all.” This brings up the question, can a teacher, with propriety, gossip about other teachers, neighbors, patrons and parents? No. It is degrading. Avoid it. The city club, the social gathering, the proverbial “husking bee,” the quilting, or “gathering” of any kind is too often the hotbed where gossip thrives. A teacher cannot afford to share in it. Better than take part, keep silent. It is bad enough to listen.

Association with Loafers

Many a man teacher has thought in order to be a good mixer, he must be friendly, or social and linger with the drug store crowd, or stop at the street corner—where usually the loafers congregate—to take part in the conversation. Not always, but generally the topic of conversation is idle gossip, or worse than that, “smutty” stories are being told. To listen is immoral; to indulge 47is worse. But, should the teacher pass by without even so much as noticing the crowd? By no means. He should cultivate the good will of all, even of the street corner gangs. Then what must he do? He can give a friendly greeting and make a pleasant remark, turning the tide of conversation toward right channels.

The story is told of Ulysses S. Grant, that when he was a boy, he came one evening into one of the grocery stores of his home town, Galesburg, Ill., and soon after entering, heard one of the loafers say, he would tell a certain story if there were no women in the store. The idler craned his neck and asked if there were any women near. At this point, the youthful Grant said, “No, but there is a gentleman present.” The story was not told. The writer recalls a superintendent of schools, who attended a Men’s Church Banquet and told such offensive stories that even men, who before thought little about telling an objectionable story, were disgusted. The influence of this superintendent was so extensive that he led many others to tell evil stories. The boys of the entire school, as a consequence, were addicted to this vicious habit. Many of them admitted to the writer the evil habit, and pointed to the superintendent as the one who had influenced them to do what they considered evil and immoral.

Further admission from the boys revealed that many of the girls told shockingly offensive stories and that some of the boys followed the evil 48stories by the evil actions suggested. All because one man did not have the moral stamina required of a decent teacher and superintendent. To conclude, no teacher—man or woman—can afford to gossip, to talk about anything, except that which the most refined and exacting mind may hear without criticism.

There can be no question as to the impropriety of idle gossip and bad stories, but there may be included the so-called “yarn,” and attempts at humor designed to create laughter at the expense of a friend on account of unavoidable defects, affected speech, “smart” expressions, and the like. To the average child the above deviations from the correct usage of language are repulsive. There are teachers who have the happy characteristics of being humorous and can employ that trait to good advantage but it should not be attempted, if it causes an auditor pain. The teacher should use only good English; that is, pure English which will serve the teacher who is inclined to indulge in trivialities of speech.

Slang Expressions

It is needless to say that a teacher should not swear or use blasphemy. But how disgusting it is to enter a school-room where the mistakes of the pupils are corrected by “gracious,” “my land,” “gee,” and scores of other useless words that are classed as slang. It is not unreasonable to say that such words are nearly as bad in the 49school-room as the vilest blasphemy is outside of the school-room. Pure English, with not an unnecessary word, is beautiful. It excludes slang and blasphemy. Again, the teacher should use only pure English in the school-room, and more than that, outside of the school-room, in his every-day conversation.


It is a well established fact that everyone should be truthful, but to the teacher this is all-important. This does not imply merely that the teacher must tell no falsehood but he must, also, act no falsehood. There are teachers who never tell a lie, but their actions often convey untruth; such a teacher cannot expect his pupils to be truthful in word or deed. Closely allied to this is the common fault of deception. No teacher can afford to deceive his pupils. If he has promised his pupils something, he should see that they get it. If some unavoidable occurrence prevents this, it becomes necessary that the teacher should explain the situation. Truthfulness and frankness on the part of the teacher will beget the same on the part of the pupil.


May a young man or woman who is teaching, associate frequently with the opposite sex? No one will attempt to deny that he or she may to a limited extent. Evil results will follow when the association becomes too frequent or too conspicuous, 50even though it is what the average young American calls “just for a good time.” If these young teachers are teaching in a high school, they will sow the seeds of free-for-all courtship in their classes. Wise high school teachers, and very often the upper grammar grade teachers, know that this will surely harm the better interests of work and progress, that it will also breed the abominable habit among the pupils of keeping late hours and being on the streets too much. Association with the opposite sexes among high school pupils is often romantic and beautiful and cannot be condemned. It is not our purpose to object unqualifiedly to this practice but safety and common sense must be practiced, and at no time can a teacher afford to act with more discretion than in his associations. The married teacher is relieved of this caution, but even his associations and relations with his lady teachers, mothers and often older pupils must be carefully guarded and made only business-like.

This introduces the question of the kind of associates of the same sex a teacher should allow in his company. The maxim, “The kind of companions one has will reveal one’s character” answers the question. A teacher must ignore no one, but only those people whose characters are above reproach should become his companions. It is true, a teacher will, very often have questionable pupils in his classes. Here the attitude 51should be plainly missionary. Every effort should be made to improve the pupils’ conduct and thereby reform their lives. Sometimes, it is wise to have very objectional pupils removed permanently from the school. Their influence on the other pupils may overbalance the good done in saving them.


The effect of example upon the pupils is remarkable, for no one can doubt but that example strongly influences standards of morality. In like manner the effect of the teacher’s life in establishing higher or lower standards of morality is influenced by the associates which he selects from the masses. A teacher should select such associations and companions that his pupils will be influenced for the highest possible good. A teacher should make it a positive rule never to associate with any one whose companionship would cause an unwholesome influence upon any of his pupils. The opportunities of the teacher are large in the selection of his society. He is in line to choose the best; it is open to him. He should choose to be a part of the highest and best society and then should make it his province, his duty and privilege to help mould and shape the social standards, and do all he can to uplift and better the lives of those with whom he comes in contact.

Speaking of the child, Arthur Holmes says: 52“Imitation is his most universal instinct. What he sees others do he will do naturally and unthinkingly. It is as futile to teach honesty and to act dishonestly before a child as it is to heap water in a sieve. The nervous mechanism of the child is as hopeless and as helpless as a wireless receiver to the influence of Hertzian waves.”[4]

The teacher should not neglect those who are worthy, but poor. Among them he may find his best associates and friends. He should not seek to escape the responsibilities that will accompany his dealings with the less desirable elements of society; he should look down upon and ignore none; he should touch elbows with those who are his intellectual superiors and surpass him in strength of character; he should not lower himself by stooping to that which is below the moral standard, but in association with the masses he must elevate them, and lead them forward, ever remembering, that as he points to a standard moral code as a sign board, he himself must lead the way.

4.  Principles of Character Making, p. 297. Lippincott.


“Idleness leads to vice,” is a truth that the teacher should ponder who spends his Saturdays and Sundays, and his summer vacations in idleness, spending what he has earned during the winter. Work is honorable. It is commendable for a teacher to labor during the summer vacation. He may go to the Summer School, but if 53he does not do so, he should find other work. The so-called rest at summer resorts and the seaside may mean only idleness and evil. The teacher whose life is worth while will have no time to waste on Saturdays.

Three of the most disputed social activities are dancing, card playing and pool, including billiards. Much has been said as to the rightness and wrongness of these actions and still doubt exists. The very fact that doubt exists should satisfy the teacher that he cannot indulge in them, and still do the greatest amount of good in his community. It may not be that dancing in itself is wrong, but the past unmistakably gives evidence of the fact that evil attends the dance. The modern dance is disgusting to say nothing about its evil influence. The author is a promoter of æsthetic dancing. Such recreation properly supervised possesses great value. Dancing as a part of physical education, under a competent director, is quite another thing from the social or public dance to which hundreds of young people go, not for physical education, to be sure, but for worse than idle pastime. The teacher must carefully discriminate here. He should shun the social and public dance.

Perhaps less dispute attends card playing as an evil. It is conceded as such by all right thinking persons. Every one knows how easily gambling results from card playing. There are numbers of cases on record of lives wasted and crimes committed over the card table as well as 54in pool and billiard rooms. Cards, pool and billiards are tools of indolence; they are evil and spread ruin in their wake. No teacher who cares for the boys and girls under his instruction and guidance will dance, play cards, pool or billiards. He, too, will not play to excess checkers, chess, dice, or kindred games. There are too many good books to read from which the teacher can gain inspiration and knowledge to waste time playing either of the above or any similar games. A word must be added relative to gambling or betting. Both are evils and have a bad influence upon the lives of the young. The wise teacher will refrain from them.


Reference has been made to intoxication which is intemperance, but intemperance is a much broader term and implies much more than getting drunk. It is well not to think of intemperance as belonging only to the use of intoxicating beverages. Every pleasurable activity is liable to be carried to excess. Teachers often need relaxation from the wearisome routine of school-room duty. When seeking rest and relief in legitimate recreation care must be taken to avoid excess.

Even in matters of food and drink, dress and social pleasures this caution is needed. The teacher with common sense knows where to draw the line. One can be intemperate in many things, 55always to his own harm. In passing, the definition of intemperance will indicate just where the thoughtful teacher must stop not to become intemperate. Intemperance is a want of moderation or self-restraint; indulging of any appetite or passion to excess.


Honesty is commonly thought of as trustworthiness in the conduct of business dealings, as opposed to fraud and cheating. It is all that and much more. It implies sincerity, uprightness, truth, honor, integrity, justice, chastity, decency, propriety, virtue and frankness. The word honesty implies much, and there is too great danger that the teacher practice it in its common meaning only, forgetting that its application is broad. It is very essential that he should not overlook any of its implications. A teacher cannot be said to be honest when he merely returns a dollar’s worth of service for a dollar. That does not exactly constitute honesty, though it may seem to do so. The teacher who shirks a duty, which he should do, because he finds it is not in his province is like the man who did not pay his street car fare because the conductor forgot to call upon him for his ticket. He argued that it was the conductor’s duty to call for it but honesty demands that he should have paid it.

A teacher should be sincere; he should do nothing for effect. All his actions should be 56genuine, arising from true motives. The term upright is indeed vague. In its usual meaning it signifies an adherence to moral principles. It can be easily understood and applied, if the teacher will remember to admonish his pupils not to do anything which he would not do himself. If the teacher undertakes to teach a moral principle, he must first live it himself and then he will have weight in his arguments for righteousness.

Honor is that trait of character which holds one to the practice of all the laws of the strictest moral code. The teacher whose integrity cannot be questioned is the teacher who has fulfilled, in his life, all those demands that are set forth in the laws of the Master Teacher. He has lived up to the Golden Rule. Justice demands that all shall be given their rights. The teacher can do no better than to be just to all. When one has decided notions of right and wrong upon the basis of results in the lives of his fellows, he has reached the exact idea of propriety. Virtue is a broad term, but a word that is significant. That life is virtuous whose every deed promotes the common good.

A teacher should not practice Sunday honesty—that kind of honesty which works under certain conditions and lapses at intervals. Everyone, no doubt, is inclined to reach high water marks of absolute truthfulness, and must beware of lapses into error, even falling below the ordinary standards of every day life. The honesty that is 57commendable is clean, out-in-the-open honesty that is always active, not simply when great issues are at stake. No other profession demands honesty more than that of the teacher. His attitude here must be real, not affected. If there is pretence or sham, the first to become aware of it will be the pupil; and the effect upon him is that he loses confidence in the teacher who should be his model.


The question of temper should not be omitted from a full discussion of a teacher’s moral code. How often has a teacher boasted to a friend or fellow-teacher that he indulged himself in a frenzy of temper before his school, thereby “scaring the wits out of the pupils” and remarked further that the pupils feared him thereafter for a week. Such an action on the part of a teacher is almost criminal. A teacher cannot afford to lower his dignity by such methods. While no attempt is being made to discuss methods at this point, for they will be discussed in following chapters, yet it is the aim to point out those immoral actions from which a teacher should be free. It is foolish for anyone to allow his temper to get away from his control. A teacher should cultivate an amiable disposition. It is never necessary to permit one’s temper to override his common sense.

“When I taught school, there were many times when the indifference, stupidity, flippancy, 58or silliness of the class brought me to such a pitch of rage, that I dared not trust myself to speak. I would clutch the arms of my chair, and swallow foam until I felt complete self-command; then I would speak with quiet gravity. The boys all saw what was the matter with me, and learned something not in the book.” (Phelps.)[5]

5.  Bagley, op. cit. p. 42.


In passing, it might be well to mention the not uncommon fault of meddling. The teacher’s province is the school and all its attendant activities. It will not make him more efficient to know the common affairs of every family of his school. He will be no better off if he knows all the happenings of the neighborhood, the village or city-block. Many times it is necessary for the teacher to repress a pupil who is prone to be a news monger. Frequently, teachers plunge themselves into serious difficulties by meddling in affairs that do not concern their school. Such difficulties are unfortunate and always weaken the teacher’s ability to govern his school.

Questionable Acts

It has been assumed that all those actions from which evil only may result, are contrary to the standards of the moral code. Consequently, some deeds which the teacher commonly does not consider 59as questionable activities will be discussed. No lengthy treatment will be given them since common sense—the safe standard for the teacher—will help decide the correctness of the ideas set forth. No teacher can afford, in school or out, to make unkind remarks about the poor, the aged, the weak-minded, the crippled, the peculiar, the poorly dressed, the tramp, the gypsy, the prisoner, or that unfortunate whose appetite is beyond his control and causes him to become drunken. The teacher is an agent who is expected to help, to lift to higher planes of life. Frequently, thoughtless teachers have joined pupils in jeering at a beggar and thereby created a habit in some child of making sport of the unfortunate. The author calls to mind the elevating influence of a little woman who, when the boys pelted a hungry tramp with snow-balls, took him into the warm room and shared with him her luncheon and sent him on his way happier in heart because he had met a kind-hearted woman. Who knows but that this act of kindness may have helped to turn the tramp from his vagrant life to a life of usefulness? A teacher cannot lower his standards of life by helping the aged, the poor, the weak, the fallen. A good deed is never lost.

Neatness and Cleanliness

What is the influence of the teacher—man or woman—whose clothing is untidy, hair and scalp unclean, finger nails untrimmed and filled 60with dirt? There need be no discussion; the prudent teacher knows the answer. The teacher who is attempting to follow a standard of morals will not allow his body to be unclean and unkempt. His attire, though it may not be in the latest style, will be neat and clean; his teeth will be clean, his finger nails well kept, and his shoes clean and polished and every detail will evidence his careful attention. Such a teacher will take active daily exercise, will not forget a daily walk, that will lead out to some haunt of Nature where a new lesson is in store for the observing teacher. Nature has a lesson for him every day of the year.

It is safe to assume that the teacher who guards carefully his actions in the school, out of school, in his every day life, and above all when hundreds of miles away from home, is a safe teacher. He need not give stated lectures on morals. His life and deeds will be monitors to the youth under his tutelage. Moral education is not knowledge, it is life. Therefore, a teacher cannot educate pupils by stated and set lessons in morals, if he has none himself, but on the other hand, his life can be a standard of morals in itself and thus furnish a living model for action to those about him. A teacher has no right to teach good conduct and morals, or any attributes of a moral nature, if he is guilty of repeated immoral acts, open or hidden. It must be remembered that morality is not inherent, but developed. From this it can be clearly deduced 61that this moral development receives direction from the moral life of the teacher.

The young teacher, who on his first day enters the school-room and is face to face, for the first time with the responsibility of his profession, casts about for a model teacher. He will find many successful teachers whose lives are above reproach, even some of his own colleagues may be those who will influence him for great good. He may be compelled to look back to a teacher who has been a vital factor in his development. However, he is young, and is surrounded by a world of temptation, and his searching mind need not go far until it can single out a teacher whose life is very questionable, but who is popular, receives a good salary, and possibly secures the best school positions. These are poor standards by which to measure real life and success, but the young teacher wants popularity, money, and a good position. Real success is stable and lasting. The teacher with a questionable reputation, will doubtless before the end of his career find his proper level. To measure a man by his apparent success is not always safe. It is his character that counts in the end. Time may be necessary in which to estimate moral worth correctly, but the effort to truly weigh a person’s character is well spent.

The Teacher’s Religion

The inquiring teacher by this time may have asked, “What about a teacher’s religion?” A 62teacher should know his Bible, be a regular communicant of some church, and a Sunday School worker. Fanaticism must be avoided. But the sane and mellowing influence of religion has a great effect upon character. No teacher should make it a practice to inject his religious ideas into his school work. His every day life should indicate his obedience to the Master Teacher. He must not attack any religious denomination as that is not his province. Some child may be offended or over influenced by his views. The tenets of every child’s church are sacred to him and the teacher should not attack them. Often it is argued that a teacher should not teach a Sunday School class. If the teacher does not find it too great an addition to his already heavy work, there can be no good reason why he may not teach in the Sunday School.

It is well to discriminate carefully between a moral person and an apparently religious person. Too often it is assumed that a pious person is of necessity a safe moral guide. Sometimes unfortunately the teacher who appears religious is not morally sound.

True religion includes an approved morality. But, it must be understood that teaching religion does not necessarily indicate that good morals are being taught. The author does not mean to criticise the Sunday School, or even the Church—they are great and effective institutions—but they are failing to teach morals as they should. The school teacher has a great work to do at this 63point. The final admonition to the teacher is, have a standard moral code, live it, and in pointing others to it as a signboard of life, be sure to heed it always yourself.

Aesthetic Appreciation

A requisite of the teacher that cannot be overlooked is that he must have a love for all that is good and beautiful: an æsthetic appreciation. The teacher must appreciate and actually participate in the noblest, best and most beautiful which the world possesses in song and story, in conversation and poem, in landscape and sky, in art and music. The sky with floating clouds, or when clear or starbedecked, a silver moon hanging low over a dark-rimmed horizon, a towering cathedral against a sunset sky, a brook stealing its way across a meadow, a mountain torrent, a rainbow, the shadow and sheen in the depths of the forest, a placid river on its way to the sea, a bird song, a meadow, a field of ripening grain, a flower-hedged roadway, a path through the valley and into the depths of a wood where it winds at will among the mossy trunks of trees, over tufts of moss, beside quiet pools, through rustling leaves—all these and many more objects in nature hold in store inspiring and uplifting lessons of life. No teacher can contemplate these beauties and not possess a nobler soul. Contact with Nature’s most beautiful and best will strengthen his love for the beautiful and will help him to keep the hearts of his pupils attuned to the helpful 64sights and sounds that go to make up their surroundings.

The teacher who delights in the beautiful will find himself easily winning the interests and attention of his pupils. Children are born admirers of the beautiful.

“Constitutionally, he functions æsthetically just as really as he does socially, although not to the same extent. Very early in his history he manifests delight in beauty. The nature of these reactions will be explained as we proceed with the chapter. Because of them, education calls for the development of this aspect of the child’s nature, and ethical culture demands its moralization. Morality is especially concerned with æsthetic development, since there is an intimate relation existing between the beautiful and the good.”[6]

No teacher can have an appreciative love for all that is beautiful and good and not love children. The most beautiful thing in all the world is the unfolding life of a child. Who has not stopped by the side of the cradle and pushed aside a curl to look upon the face of a sleeping baby, whose long eyelashes are sweeping over cheeks aglow with beauty, the whole face portraying childhood’s charm. The first tottering steps of a child are deeply interesting. His gleeful prattle, his silver laughter are cheering to the most benighted. Could ever a human being 65think of becoming a teacher who does not love children above all else?

Every teacher should love and appreciate good literature and good music, and all that is beautiful in the arts. Whatever is cultural is æsthetic. The beautiful, the true, the good are all æsthetic and therefore profitable. Each day the teacher should renew and reinspire his soul and life by contact with all that surrounds him that is æsthetic. He must abhor wrong and love right. His character will then be strong and his life filled with success, joy and peace.

6.  Sneath and Hodges, Moral Training in the School and Home, p. 167. Macmillan.

Willingness to Learn

A requisite absolutely essential to the teacher is open-mindedness. He should, of course, be stable; he should not be influenced by every theory and idea that comes to his attention in his associations and reading, but he must be ready and willing to learn. The teacher will grow by experience who can say, “I want to learn more,” but he will just as surely fossilize, if he thinks, “I know it all.” No mind can grow if it draws its conclusions only to be in harmony with those already framed. Sometimes, a pupil will suggest a thought, or even a truth, that has never come to the teacher’s attention. How much better it is to welcome the idea or truth, and so inform the pupil, than to ignore it even though it is of value just because it came from one who is inferior. The barefoot urchin may know secrets the teacher has never learned.



The happy quality of mind that shuns worry is well worth a teacher’s cultivation. Worry makes inroads into a teacher’s health. Sometimes, the unthoughtful teacher concludes that work is impairing health when in truth it is worry. It is true, many situations need careful consideration, but never worry. Worry never yet solved a difficulty. Cultivate a happy mood, resolve that where there is a will there is a way, and all the school problems will seem less difficult after that resolution.

Attitude Toward Criticism

Closely akin to worry is over-sensitiveness to criticism. The following anonymous article appeared in a college paper some time ago. It is apt and contains much truth. “‘Say nothing, do nothing, be nothing, then you will escape criticism’, goes an old saying. Could anything ring truer? The most maligned men and women are those who are doing the most and doing it in a conscientious manner. Analyze the person who boasts of never being criticised and you will find nothing. Some persons, to escape criticism take a middle course; first catering toward this side, then leaning toward the other. They call it tact; it is really moral cowardice. Others allow the shafts of criticism to break down their self-respect, their confidence in their own ability. This, too, is the wrong attitude. Criticism is a recognition 67that you are of sufficient importance to stimulate remarks from someone and besides, the right kind of criticism is always constructive. The other kind, oh, it comes mostly from the class who escape criticism.”

While the above is true it needs careful thought. It should not be forgotten that criticism is often justly given, and means that the ability of some one is not up to the standard or that they are failing to do their best. The teacher, however, who does his duty as he knows it best, need never allow criticism to give him any trouble or worry. It may mean only that he is doing something worth talking about.


Some teachers possess all those elements that contribute to successful teaching, except self-confidence. Yet too much of that quality is more dangerous than helpful. Self-confidence in one’s work when the elements of preparation are lacking is foolhardy. When a teacher has given himself that preparation that he knows is necessary and has done his best to possess the qualities that should dominate a teacher, he has a right to have self-confidence. Not alone is it necessary that he should be self-confident, but it is highly essential that he should show it. He knows what he can do and he should expect good results; if he does this he can not miss success. Success crowns his work who has self-confidence in possessed ability.


Common Sense

Too often the teacher is admonished to practice common sense. This is an indefinite term and to many young and inexperienced teachers it means nothing. Should they wish to practice common sense they would not be able to do so, because they can not place a correct construction upon the term. The teacher who observed that one of the boys sat still in his seat and looked into space more than at his book, and then reprimanded the boy because he failed to learn his lesson, did not use common sense. Another teacher in the same high school observed the same boy, went to him privately and inquired in a friendly way, if there could be any wrong from which the boy was suffering. He was told by the boy that he was worrying because he believed he had tuberculosis and furthermore that his father mistreated him. This teacher used common sense, and also the much recommended “tact,” another indefinite thing. This teacher sympathized with the boy and sought to remove the obstacles. Success crowned the teacher’s efforts.

Another illustration may serve to explain the term, “common sense.” The teacher who scolded the boys for smoking cigarettes, and thereby won their ill will and intensified the habit, did not use common sense. Another teacher who won the confidence and good will of the boys and then confidentially explained to them the evil results of smoking, used common sense 69and tact. Did he succeed in getting all the boys to stop smoking? No. Nor is there any tactful teacher who will succeed with all, but he persuaded a great many of the boys to stop smoking. At this point so many teachers fail just because the first effort, or even continued effort does not save every boy. They condemn their methods and become discouraged. An evil as great as smoking can not be abolished in one year. Probably, it can not ever be entirely eradicated, but patience and faithful service will finally reach results almost incredible. These illustrations should serve to explain one concrete use of common sense and tact. The observant and thoughtful teacher finds instances every day where common sense and tact are used to advantage. It is the object of this Course, in the presentation of many tactful methods, to increase the teacher’s store of “Common Sense” plans of discipline.

Entering the Child’s Activities

It is, indeed, the discreet teacher who can place himself upon the level of the child. There is no teacher who can expect to render to the child the service due him, if he does not enter into his life. With propriety can the teacher be one among the children. A boy with the boys or a girl with the girls. It is imperative to enter into their interests. The suggestion to enter into the lives of the pupils, has furnished many a teacher with the means whereby he saved the 70wayward boy or girl. The teacher who places himself above the children, either in the grades or in the high school, by word and action, loses his influence for good and useful service. Such a teacher cannot be a true teacher. Many of the uplifting truths of his own life, if he may possess such, fail to impress his pupils. Children of every school age love the teacher who tactfully enters their activities and games—enters them in such a way as to forget that he is a teacher, and his pupils subordinates, but as if all are children having a good time. The Chinese sage, Mencius, said, “The great man is he who does not lose his child’s heart.” Big boys and girls always love and admire the teacher who can enter into their sports, games and athletic activities. It pays men teachers to have some knowledge of athletic sports.

Even a woman can do much in promoting athletic sports. The benefit is two-fold; first, the health of the teacher demands the exercise which athletics affords; secondly, the pupils can be much more easily controlled by the teacher who enters their sports and activities. There is a world of knowledge to be gained by entering into the child’s life. Needless should be the caution that the teacher should not allow himself to grow old in spirit. The teacher whose years may have reached the half century mark can still have “that youthful spirit” and that sprightly manner that will fire youth to its fullest activity. Such a teacher will never grow really old. Of 71him it may well be said, that he grows younger with the years until he reaches eternal youth.


It is often said that childhood is life’s happiest period. Where then is the teacher who comes in contact with child life daily, who cannot be happy, youthful and ever ready to bestow the cheerfulness, of a helpful life? The happy-minded teacher will never pass his pupils anywhere without leaving with them a sense of his kindly interest. He knows when to enter the child’s world to share his joys—and his are real joys—when to sympathize with him in sorrow. The teacher whose life has become bitter, and who no longer can be happy-minded and cheerful, should leave the profession. Everywhere is needed cheer; no place can be made better by gloom, but especially should a companion of children be optimistic.


Responsibility is an essential requirement of the teacher. He must be absolutely trustworthy. The teacher who shoulders his responsibility, will not neglect the least part of his work because he believes he is underpaid. Should he know that the welfare of a child demands his attention, outside of school hours, he should not fail to aid the child, though it be really no part of his school duties. The rights of the pupils 72will be guarded as sacred by the responsible teacher. He, too, will care for the property of the school as though it were his, and even more so, for he is entrusted with its care. The greatest safety for any school is a conscientious teacher under whom parents can place their children for moral, physical and spiritual instructions.


To be fearless in the performance of one’s duty is no easy matter. Least of all for the teacher. Often in a community, the school is the only active institution, during the school year. Its influence reaches every home in the community through the children. Its every activity is discussed by the well-meaning, as well as by the unthoughtful and unscrupulous, the latter often criticising without the slightest assurance that they are correct in their views. The teacher must stand by with a fearless attitude. It is assumed that he has done what he believes to be right—his own life being simple and his moral standards at least no lower than those of his patrons. The teacher must possess all the requisites of the true teacher to be able to stand against every view that may become current. He must even decide to his hurt in order to maintain the right when criticism and censure become slander and falsehood. A teacher must be himself, not an imitator. His decisions must be firm, yet kind. He must constantly hold in view 73the final end in every action, which end is best for the welfare of the child. A teacher who is fickle, doubts his ability, hesitates between opinions, is swayed by every criticism that comes his way, seeks advice from those who are not capable of giving it and finally deviates from the right, will not succeed. He cannot be fearless.

Sensible Dressing

It seems almost useless to say that a strong element in the teacher’s qualifications is his ability to discriminate carefully about his attire. A certain grade teacher, who, as far as her principal could judge, possessed every attribute that would constitute a successful teacher, was wholly uncultivated in her tastes regarding dress. So peculiar and often ridiculous was her attire that she became the laughing stock of the community and finally her pupils, though they respected her, made remarks about her appearance. She found her ability to control her pupils weakened. Aside from a sensible choice of dress, it is not to be overlooked that a teacher sets an example for neatness and cleanliness when he attends to the careful selection of his attire and then sees that his person and clothing are always neat, clean and well kept. A teacher cannot afford to dress so as to draw special attention to his clothes. He should follow the dictates of fashion as long as that is in keeping with good common sense. To women teachers, this is an 74important point. It is to be feared should a woman teacher follow every whim of fashion, she would have little time left for her actual duties. Plain, sensible clothing that allows freedom and ease becomes a teacher—man or woman.

The Teacher’s Home

It is well to say something about the teacher’s home, or if the teacher is boarding, something about his room. His immediate surroundings often reflect his personal tastes as clearly as does his attire. All eyes are on the teacher and his domestic policy cannot escape criticism. Not long ago in one of the foremost school communities of Ohio lived a principal of a high school whose home was little better than a hovel. A stranger called there one day and found the front yard very untidy, several calves were running loose there, while rubbish, such as barrels, broken dishes, tin cans and a profusion of coal ashes were in evidence. He was greeted by several children who, even to this lover of children, proved almost repulsive. Each child was dressed in filthy clothing, with face and hands unwashed and the hair matted with dirt. The father came next—a principal of a small high school—whose appearance was no better than that of the children. Instead of neat and cleanly attire, his clothing was ragged and soiled, not even put on properly. As the stranger spoke to 75the worthy principal he could look into a kind of shed room near the house, in which a woman, no doubt the mother of the children, was washing. She too, was unkempt and unclean. Her surroundings were so disorderly and unclean that health was in danger.

The stranger’s curiosity was aroused and by a clever investigation he learned that this particular high school was notorious, far and near, for its rude boys and girls. He learned that just about six weeks before his visit, thirteen of the high school boys had been before the Juvenile Court for various offenses, and that many more should have been summoned. This was an enormous percentage out of a possible enrollment of one hundred and twenty pupils. Could this principal’s untidy home and surroundings have played any part in this condition? Most certainly. Any teacher who will allow himself to live in such a home cannot without great injustice be retained as a teacher. Just as he allowed his surroundings to become so wretched he would allow those with whom he daily came in contact to become morally wrong. This man who cared nothing for the beauty of his home and its environment lacked those finer senses that make for useful lives. His influence was demoralizing. A teacher’s home surroundings and tastes are sure indices to his state of culture and refinement.



No teacher whose labors are to be crowned with success and happiness, the results that count, must be afraid of work. Work is the secret of success. Its example tells. The teacher who can work willingly and cheerfully and who shows that he is happy when he has something to do needs never to complain that the pupils do not work. It is good for a teacher to give the impression that he does home work, studies gladly, is interested in every lesson that he hears, and knows his subject thoroughly. Such a teacher will have pupils who study with zest, who utilize their spare moments and above all, pupils who really are interested in their work.

A teacher must not approach any task in a half-hearted way, but with all the strength and energy he is able to command. Happiness and success and a helpful optimism come from active participation in life’s battles. The individual who likes work, likes play, likes to read, loves Nature, and thereby finds diversity and recreation in the activities of life will not find the work of the teacher too taxing. After a hard lesson in mathematics, a real, live novel—written by a modern novelist—will often rest the mind.

A walk after a hard day in school is restful.

The writer recalls a splendid, little, effective teacher who after a hard and successful day in 77the school-room would go with her pupils to hunt flowers, to row or ride, would often work in the garden, sometimes play baseball, and could indulge in a snowballing that sent everyone home with a feeling of good fellowship. She had some silver threads in her hair and her years numbered more than a half century, still her cheeks were ruddy and her eyes keen. She was young in spirit and the children loved her. Her efficiency as a teacher was never questioned. Many are the men and women who are making the world better because she trained them when they were boys and girls. Work interspersed with the proper exercise and recreation will not injure any teacher’s health. Worry as a rule is the undermining force at work. The teacher who attempts to get along without exercise will sometime in his career, though not always at first, become a miserable failure. Exercise is necessary. It should be taken daily in the open air. Exercise and open air are two elixirs of youth. The teacher needs them.

The Teacher’s Health

There can be no question about a teacher’s health being of the greatest importance to effective and cheerful work. No fear as to health need be experienced by the teacher who takes plenty of exercise and gets out into God’s great out-of-doors for fresh air. There is no excuse for the teacher who is cross and mistreats the 78pupils and scowls at their every mistake or mischievous prank, and then justifies her attitude by saying, “I do not feel well.” It should be an infallible rule with every teacher to make no attempt to teach while ill. It is far better for a child to miss a day or two of school than to be subjected to the rule of a cross, peevish, fretful teacher. Only the teacher buoyant with good health should be allowed in the school-room. Little needs to be said about the many chronic diseases which are contagious, such as tuberculosis, and are easily transmitted to the pupils by infected teachers. It is a teacher’s plain duty to keep himself in good health.


The ability to have order and system in school work will go a great way toward making the work easier and more effective. Method and order are great time savers. A teacher is an architect. For every task there must be a plan. Each lesson must have its place. Each step its reason. A teacher who formulates and plans his work will accomplish much more than the teacher who relies upon circumstances to point out to him his method of procedure. To be careless, haphazard and aimless means to fail.

A teacher can learn a valuable lesson from studying any great factory where labor and time saving devices are employed. In addition to these, every means of system and order are used 79to secure the greatest effectiveness of energy put forth. Many an individual has acquired an education in spare moments, by putting system into his work, and thus saved time and energy which could be expended in securing an education. Unsystematic school work is a waste of energy. The teacher should have a time for everything, as well as a place for everything. Begin school on time, close on time. Regularity will bring good results. The slogan of many advertisers is, “Do it now.” Time lost can rarely ever be regained.

The prudent teacher will use studied methods—methods that apply to the lesson and class at hand. He who uses correct methods in the school-room will doubtless use right methods in his study, and further will practice regular habits in his life outside of the school-room. The regular habits of a teacher in all of his activities will always be reproduced in the work of his pupils.

It is true, that there are scores of “method books” claiming to give needed “directions” for every detail of school work. It is foolish for a teacher to rely upon such advice. Every so-called method is needful and helpful, but a teacher must study his class and his lessons and apply just such methods as his experience teaches him will secure the best and most lasting results. How often can one visit certain schools and note the effect of the weekly or monthly advent of the teacher’s paper. Such teachers have no tried 80methods of their own but each week or month they try out methods only to find many of them unsuited to their needs. Such procedures prevent continuous progress. They are like a ship without a rudder; they will finally run upon the rocks of failure.

It is easy for a teacher to develop a narrowness in his tastes that forbids him to seek proper variation in his work. The more devoted a teacher is the more he needs diversions quite disconnected from his professional duties. The freshness of mind gained by digressions from school routine is as necessary as the preparation of lesson material itself.


The ability to discriminate carefully is one of the teacher’s most valuable qualities. The discriminating and analytic mind is most indispensable to good teaching. To see things in their proper light, to place a fair estimate upon anything or any situation, to give due credit where it belongs and reserve an opinion as long as doubt remains, are needful qualities of the discriminating mind. Such a mind is broad and liberal. The small details of life will not over influence such a mind. It is able to discern between the trivial, the common-place, and the useful and valuable in every action. Deliberation is a fundamental antecedent of discrimination. The hasty mind jumping at conclusions, before every 81detail has been examined and weighed, often plunges itself into confusion. The discriminating teacher is able to rid himself of the bondage of annoyances and petty grievances and rise above difficulties, thereby gaining that magnanimity of spirit that leads to achievement and success.


The ability to form a quick and impartial judgment and to act upon that judgment is even more important than to discriminate without bias. Perhaps, it is only another way of saying that one should be discriminating. Still, there is this distinction: a quick and clear judgment can only be reached by a discriminating mind. To lose sight of one’s own interests or one’s self is a basis for rare judgment. It is necessary to lay aside all prejudice to be able to discriminate so as to reach a clear and unbiased judgment.


Concentration of mind and purpose go hand in hand with discrimination and judgment. The teacher must be able to concentrate his mind upon his work so as to get from it its fullest meaning and thereby make no mistake in the presentation of any subject. To concentrate the mind in every instance means a successful completion of every task undertaken. It goes without question that such qualities in the teacher will make pupils take a delight in the thorough preparation of their work.



Patience, unfaltering patience, has won the victory for many a teacher. How often has a teacher labored hard to present a lesson, only to return and find no good results from the effort. The teacher may not always be at fault. Some child may have grasped every detail, another under the same instruction, not even the larger facts; but we all know that not all children are equal in the ability to comprehend. The conditions that enable one to learn may not have been so advantageous for another. It is not wise to become disheartened and scowl over the apparent failure of a child. The teacher would fail if the same conditions hindered him. If the teacher, after being sympathetic and taking into consideration the environment of the child, then discovers indifference to studies, the time may have come for firmer methods, but even then patience will go a long way in obtaining results.

The Teacher’s Social Life

Another perplexing matter, hardly avoidable by the teacher, but a factor that usually has a marked effect upon his work, is his social life. Just how far is it safe to enter into the social life of the community? Should a teacher share in the social life of his patrons? Yes. Carefully discriminate how far this social activity may extend without harming a teacher’s influence. A teacher must take interest in the social life of a 83community, so as to harm no one, not even himself, and improve the community life about him. Into some homes he can not go, but he must not ignore or look down upon such homes. He must show preference to none. Otherwise his visits to certain homes will involve him in endless gossip. Then, above all, it is a safe rule, whenever and wherever he enters social life, to say nothing about his pupils, his school work, or his patrons. Some unthinking person may repeat what he has said, and not intentionally misconstrue his statements, thus causing him trouble and weakening his influence. It is safer and far better to make no remark at all about any individual if one can not say something good.

Treating All Alike

A teacher must be friendly to all, even though some are far beneath him socially and others may spurn his friendship. His greetings should be the same to all. Often a teacher discriminates against the outcast and thus earns for himself the reputation of being proud. To be friendly to all does not mean that one must be an associate of the outcast. It is a matter of expediency to treat all alike so that one’s influence may work for good and the uplift of the masses.

A True Leader

It is evident from the foregoing requisites of the teacher that if he can acquire all the qualities 84set forth, he is a teacher who has himself under control and can, first of all, discipline himself—a condition that is necessary if the teacher expects to control and discipline those under his tutelage.

“The well-trained man is the man whose mind is stored with a fund of varied knowledge which he can promptly command when the necessity for it arises; he is the man who can keep his attention upon the problem in hand as long as necessary, and in the face of distraction; he is, moreover, the man who, having paused long enough to see the situation correctly and to bring to bear upon it all the relevant knowledge he possesses, acts thereon promptly and forcefully.”[7]

Can he square up to every qualification? If so, he will be a true leader and teacher. It may seem discouraging to be required to measure up to so many requisites, but after all they will insure true contentment and happiness—those qualities that come only to the really prepared—and lasting success will most certainly crown the efforts of such a teacher.

While it is true and right that every teacher should demand his wages, still, it is almost a crime for a teacher to measure his services by the amount of his remuneration. The true teacher’s services are rewarded by the good he has done, by the useful lives that have grown 85under his beneficent teaching, by the services rendered, by men and women, who as boys and girls, have felt the influence of his life. Such a reward is never ending. The good sown in one life will transplant itself into another and another long after the teacher has received his final reward. The teacher’s recompense is not measured by dollars and cents, but by the good done to humanity.

7.  Angell, Psychology, p. 438. Holt.


1. The teacher’s is the noblest of all professions.

2. The teacher’s service is a service to mankind, moulding the child life, thereby shaping the destinies of coming generations.

3. The teacher must have the right motive for teaching. His motive must be true service to mankind. Should he not have such a motive, he should leave the profession.

4. The teacher must be thoroughly prepared—his knowledge must be fresh and ready for use. This will enable him to win the confidence of his pupils and lessen the necessity for discipline. In other words:

(a) He must be educated and trained in a Normal School, having at least one year of such training. A college education, while not absolutely necessary, is a very great asset.

(b) He must be a lover of Nature. That is, he should have a profound interest in all the phenomena of Nature.

86(c) He must be a student of psychology since it is a needful adjunct to the teacher’s education. It is an interpretation of human nature; consequently, it has value in understanding child life. A teacher should read good texts in psychology every year.

(d) He must be a student. He should always work over his lessons and read in subjects related to the work in hand.

(e) He must be a reader of good books bearing upon the many phases of learning. Fiction and poetry are real aids to a teacher’s preparation.

(f) He must not be superficial. If he follows slavishly books on method, he is shallow. Such books are intended to suggest only. The discreet teacher improves by every suggestion.

(g) He must be a reader of the daily paper, the magazine, and the teacher’s paper. They are a part of his educational equipment. Only the best should be read, and they not to the exclusion of other literature.

5. A teacher must possess the ability to teach. Ability includes a natural fitness as well as scholastic preparation.

6. The first and greatest requisite of the teacher is morality. Its simplest definition shows that it deals with the rightness or wrongness of any action. Those actions are immoral that are followed by evil or demoralizing results. A partial list of these follow and should be labeled, “Don’ts for the Teacher.”

87(a) Intoxication, fighting, gambling, visiting places of doubtful character, associating with persons whose characters are suspected, violating the laws, breaking the Sabbath, swearing, blaspheming, cheating, falsifying and lewd conduct are immoral acts about which there can be no question.

(b) The use of tobacco in any form is immoral. This is true, because only evil results follow in many cases.

(c) Gossiping and loafing are evils for anyone. The teacher should avoid them.

(d) The street-corner gang or the low-minded crowd are not fit for the teacher’s company. He should avoid them.

(e) The so-called social gatherings are often hotbeds for gossip. When they are such, men and women teachers do well to avoid them.

(f) “Smutty” stories, vicious “yarns” and senseless stories as well as slang are objectionable. The teacher should avoid them.

(g) Attempts at humor at the expense of an auditor should be avoided.

(h) Tell no falsehood; act no falsehood.

(i) Associate only with those whose influence is for good. Unmarried teachers can not be too thoughtful as to the extent of their associations, with even the best of the opposite sex. It often weakens influence and breeds unrestrained “courting” in the upper grades and the high school.

88(j) A teacher should avoid idleness. Duties outside of school hours will be recreative.

(k) The modern dance, public or private, must be avoided by the conscientious teacher.

(l) Card playing, pool and billiards are immoral. They lead to gambling. A teacher’s influence may cause someone else to gamble. Checkers, chess, dice, and other “time killers” should be practically avoided by the teacher. Use leisure time in reading good books, or in out-of-door exercise. Richer returns will accrue.

(m) Intemperance includes much. The teacher should investigate its province and refrain from all intemperance.

(n) The teacher must be honest in the strictest sense. Honesty implies trustworthiness in dealings, trustworthiness in business, trustworthiness in all other conduct, sincerity, truth, uprightness, honor, integrity, justice, chastity, decency, propriety, virtue and frankness. Each is so patent that it needs no discussion.

(o) A teacher must always hold his temper in restraint.

(p) A teacher can not afford to meddle in the affairs of others.

(q) A teacher should not make fun of the poor, the needy, the weak-minded, the crippled, the aged, the peculiar, the poorly dressed, the tramp, the gypsy, the prisoner, or even the intoxicated.

(r) Often a teacher’s moral attitude is revealed 89by his attire. Neat and cleanly attire is required of a teacher.

(s) A teacher cannot afford to dress foppishly.

(t) A teacher’s conduct away from home should always be as good as when at home.

7. No teacher can rightfully teach a moral code if he is repeatedly guilty of any immoral act, open or hidden.

8. Often an immoral teacher seems successful; but his work is unstable and cannot last. No young teacher should let such show of success influence him in the least.

9. Morals and religion should not be confused. Morality is a condition of religion. It does not follow that one who claims to be religious practices good morals.

10. An important qualification of the teacher is that he must love all that is good and beautiful. He must have an æsthetic appreciation. That includes a love for all in Nature as well as the arts of man.

11. A teacher must love children. They are the most significant of all God’s creations.

12. No teacher should worry. To do so undermines health.

13. Do not cease to do good because of criticism; very often it means that the act criticised is worth while.

14. Common sense, often called tact, is a teacher’s much needed qualification.

15. Every teacher who wishes to accomplish 90the greatest good, will enter into the child’s life. Live on a level with the child. That means taking part in the child’s joys and sorrows, his work and play.

16. Athletic education is necessary for every teacher. It has a two-fold value. It is a health promoter. It aids in discipline.

17. A teacher needs to be happy-minded, young in spirit and gentle in manners.

18. Responsibility should be felt by the teacher.

19. In every activity—in every crisis—the teacher must be fearless. He must not be dependent upon some one else’s decisions but use his own judgment and make his own decisions.

20. The teacher must possess the ability to discriminate, and to form clear and quick judgments.

21. A teacher’s room at his boarding house or his home should be neat and well kept.

22. The gospel of work is safe for the teacher whose efforts are to be crowned with success.

23. It is necessary for health’s sake to take daily exercise out-of-doors.

24. A teacher must keep in good health. An unhealthy teacher has no business in the school-room.

25. System and order are qualifications of the teacher that make for success.

26. A prudent teacher will use studied methods and plans, and not let the occasion suggest 91the procedure. Avoid teaching according to method books and teachers’ papers only.

27. Concentration of mind and purpose are essential to the successful teacher.

28. Patience is a requisite for every teacher’s work.

29. A teacher should be religious. Refrain from talking religion in the school-room. Attack no pupil’s religion. Sunday School can be attended, with profit, by the teacher. He should judge for himself whether or not he should teach a Sunday School class.

30. The teacher must exercise care as to the extent of his social activities. He should not exclude himself from social gatherings, but should use great caution about what he says of others.

31. Finally, the teacher must be a true leader. His reward must not be measured in dollars and cents, but by results from service rendered.


The School

After so thoroughly discussing the requisites of the teacher—those elements that will make success possible—it is expedient that a short discussion should follow on the school, the child’s home during his school career. The influence of a well kept building and premises is far reaching. Some years ago a stranger stopped in a western town, where he was very favorably impressed with the neatness of the homes and their surroundings. Upon investigation he found a small school building, but to his surprise, the humble, little three-room school was beautiful in its setting, and ivy clung to its brick walls making them look cheerful. There were flower beds in the yards and neatly kept gravel walks. Over the gate were vines. The windows had neat blinds and snowy-white curtains. The stranger asked to be admitted into the school building. On the inside he saw the same careful attention to neatness. The floors were clean, the walls tinted and adorned with excellent pictures and mottoes. The furniture showed no marks of defacement. With this little school as an example, the stranger could understand why the little town presented such a neat appearance. He further learned that the people, including the boys and 93girls, were a quiet peace-loving people whose culture was far above the average. The little, well kept school may not have been the only influence, but it played a great part in shaping the ideas of the town folk. It must not be overlooked, however, that no matter in what condition the building and its surroundings may be, the success of the teacher will depend largely upon his preparation, ability and those other essentials and qualities that make the true teacher. Still it cannot be denied that the surroundings of the child are important factors in his development.

Clean Surroundings

It follows that a teacher who is trying to meet every requirement of the true teacher will not allow his school-room or the premises to be unkept, unclean and unsanitary. The room and premises will be in keeping with the teacher. The question is this: if a teacher possesses every element of a good teacher, but allows the school-room and premises to be unkept and disorderly, will it affect the character of the work? It will to an extent. As was stated in the introduction to this book, every factor in the child’s surroundings has some influence. We simply can not expect to encourage order and system in a child’s school work if that child is in the atmosphere of disorderly surroundings. Just as a well-cooked meal would lose much of its appetizing effect, and possibly even be rejected, if it were served in an unclean place, so a teacher’s good 94influence may be lost to a considerable extent through carelessness about details and lack of proper attention to the general appearance of the room.

“The master of a school who found that the boys misused the halls, scribbling on the walls, throwing things around carelessly, breaking the glass globes of the gas jets, and playing rough games, changed the situation, not by making new rules or devising new punishments, but by improving the halls. He reformed the manners of the boys by repainting the dingy corridors, hanging them with attractive pictures, and improving the general order. For order invites order, and the perception that the school authorities care for the comfort and the pleasure of the children calls out a quick response.”[8]

In the school-room, the spirit of work will be enhanced by pleasant and orderly surroundings. Orderliness in the arrangement of school equipment, including definiteness of instruction given, will beget order in the pupil’s work and habits. It will go further; it will transplant itself to the child’s home, where order will be established, because the child’s life is being moulded in the school-room. Whatever influence is at work to better the homes in any way, is a most worthy influence.

However small the school-room may be, it is the duty of every teacher to see first of all that the room is clean, the seats and other furniture 95dusted and a few well-chosen pictures on the wall. No teacher is so poor that he cannot afford a few simple pictures for his school-room. Then a vase of flowers on the desk and one in a window will add charm. Much better would it be to have several potted plants in the school-room. They add freshness to the looks of the surroundings. It has been suggested that pupils can bring pictures from their homes, thereby saving that expense for the teacher. The author believes it is a poor teacher, indeed, financially and in spirit, who can not afford several pictures for his school-room. His pride would be at a low ebb, and no doubt, it would be well for him to read articles on the value of pictures. In this connection it is worth while to consider the custom of relegating that which does not appeal to one. The children will bring from their home such pictures as the home does not prize. Will such pictures have an æsthetic value?

8.  Sneath and Hodges, op. cit., p. 190.

Relegated Pictures

Neither should the teacher adorn the walls of his school-room with pictures relegated from his own home. Pictures in a school-room are a necessity. Their presence means much. Where the surroundings are not luxurious, the pictures need not be expensive, but they should have meaning. Where the school-room is modern and the walls are well painted or papered, better and more expensive pictures can be used. Large showy frames should be avoided. Great care 96should be exercised in the selection of pictures. By no means, allow the common advertising pictures or calendars to be hung in the room. They are gaudy and have no place in a study of art. A room in which the walls are decorated with various advertising pictures and calendars, indicates a teacher of poor taste. It would be better to use no pictures at all than to use advertisements.

Effects of a Good Picture

The author has often taken keen delight in watching a pupil, who had been busily engaged in study for half an hour, look up, and finally let his eyes fasten upon some simple picture on the school-room wall, and then go into a reflective mood. Who can tell the worth of some fancy being indulged, or some air-castle being built, and besides the pupil was getting a rest by change of occupation. No great achievement has ever been attained, but that it was first a day-dream or an air-castle.

Good Mottoes

How many men recall how they were inspired to much greater ambition when as boys in the school-room they looked upon the simple mottoes, “Do Right,” “Never Give Up,” “He Succeeds Who Tries,” etc.? The benign face of Abraham Lincoln, of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, of Francis E. Willard or some other celebrity has carried many a pupil’s ambition to higher levels. Pictures of the Christ Child, of 97Madonnas, of Nature scenes, and other standard subjects are very appropriate for the school-room. They will have their influence. Little did the mother of three sons, who all became sailors, think that a certain impressive picture of the sea in her home would create love for the sea in the bosoms of her offspring. It did. So will many other beautiful pictures create a love for the real which the picture idealizes.

It must be borne in mind that while the surroundings of the child are vital factors in his educational progress, still the best teacher can, to a certain degree, do good work in bad surroundings. But the work will be far better in clean, sanitary and orderly buildings and premises. The opposite, likewise is true; the best kept house and premises will not enable a poor teacher to do good work. Good surroundings will have a good effect and make the work easier. A good teacher in poor surroundings can not be conceived of as being satisfied.

The Seating of Pupils

A few other details of the school should be mentioned. It is important that the seating of pupils be the best. Pupils should not be required to sit in seats, either too small or too large for them. Often teachers attempt to have pupils sit by grades, frequently putting a large pupil into a seat much too small, or the opposite, just as bad, a small pupil into a seat much too large. Teachers should not do this. To endanger 98a child’s health in order to have him sitting with his grade is a crime. Put the pupil in a seat that will suit him, irrespective of grade. If no such seat is in the room, see to it at once that one is provided. That may mean a visit to the Board of Education. The teacher is the guardian of the children and it is his duty to ask the Board for proper seats for pupils, if such have not been provided. Pupils should not be compelled to sit so as to face a window or any opening admitting light. The best lighting for a school-room is from the left and back, but if this is impossible, it should at least not be from the front. Should any school-room be so constructed as to have light from the front, shades should be wisely used. Bright sunlight should never be allowed to shine upon the pupils’ desks. It is extremely hard on the eyes to study from a page lighted by the direct rays of the sun.

Color Schemes

Perhaps, no more thoughtless injury is done the eyes of pupils than that caused by the choosing of unwise color schemes for papering and painting the wall of school-rooms. In short, to make a school-room look cheerful, pink, yellow, and often red are chosen as the colors that will produce the desired effect. The motive is all right, but the cheerfulness is far outweighed by actual harm done the eyes of the pupils. Aside from the bad effect of bright colors on the eyes, there is a tendency to increase restlessness on the 99part of the pupils by their use. Many nervous pupils are irritated by striking surroundings. A school-room in which colors and furnishings are harmoniously blended so as to obtain soft contrasts, always produces quiet and will have a restful effect upon all pupils. No color is better than a very soft green, with ceiling just tinged with green. Nature for the greatest part of the year has green in her color arrangement. It is restful to the eyes. Again, taking a suggestion from Nature, her grays are soft and free from sharp contrasts. In papering or painting walls gray, care must be exercised, not to select a gray that is too dark; it will have a tendency to make the school-room appear dreary. Another good color is tan. Great care must be exercised in using tan, since, in most cases it is too bright. Blue is one of Nature’s colors, but as a rule blue in any shade is not suitable for school-room walls. The author is aware of the fact that thousands of schools have white walls. This should not be. Ten cents worth of green coloring matter in the hands of a decorator will give a suitable tint to a school-room interior.


The matter of school-room ventilation is important. In every school-room, even during the coldest weather, some opening or openings should admit fresh air. Children should not sit where a direct draught blows upon them. Small openings at the tops of the windows furnish a 100safe inlet for fresh air. It is a good plan to open all the windows and doors of the school-room, for at least half an hour, after school is dismissed each day if no general ventilation system is installed. This will avoid having impure air shut in the school during the night, thereby permeating every nook and crevice of the school-room and even becoming offensive. Fresh air admitted after dismissal will keep the school-room pure and fresh and afford a place where the pupils will feel invigorated upon entering the next morning. Often, pupils come in from the fresh air only to breathe the stifling air of the school-room. Little wonder then that the teacher must complain of dull pupils before the clock points to ten. No foul air is likely to be found in a school-room at the hour of opening if fresh air is admitted each day after dismissal.

The Basement

Another very common source of foul odors in the school-room is the basement. Though many school-rooms do not have a basement, yet so many have a problem at this point that it is necessary to speak about the matter. The author has visited many schools with basements, and recalls one only that was actually sanitary. Most basements of schools are the receptacles for the garbage and refuse of the school. In it are kept broken seats, old brooms, things forgotten and left at school by pupils, waste paper, paint cans, flower pots, and a hundred other things. To 101make matters worse, the basement windows, if there are any, are never opened. A disease producer is beneath the children; contagion gets through the cracks of the floor and is a constant source of contamination of the air in the room above. Many basements are even abodes of rats and mice, thereby exposing the pupils to different diseases. Damp and rainy days increase the offensiveness of an unsanitary basement. Unscrupulous teachers often use the ill-ventilated basement for a play room during bad weather. Such a practice is abominable. No teacher should be guilty of such an offense. Better not let the pupils play at all, for exercise in offensive air is dangerous and far worse than none. If any place in the entire school should be sanitary, it should be the basement.

After all has been said about the equipment of the school-room, the greatest asset is its sanitary condition and cleanliness. This must be at its best to secure good results. The unclean school-room—especially the unventilated one, usually a condition indicating a lazy, careless teacher—is dangerous. Disease may lurk in such a place and the mental activities of the pupils be stupefied.

The Janitor

Closely related to the teacher’s care of the school-room is the work of the janitor. True, many schools do not have any problem respecting the janitor, yet a word about his relations 102with the teacher or supervisor is necessary. The supervisor should see to it that the janitor is thoroughly educated in the proper care of the school and premises. If the janitor knows little about such matters, as is usually the case, he should be instructed in every detail. Here caution is very needful. A teacher should never appear to be authoritative to a janitor; he is the school’s most necessary adjunct and should be treated with every respect. When giving orders always talk the matter over with him, asking his opinion; when he gives his ideas, request him to carry them out for the benefit of the school. Never fail to inspect the work of the janitor; that is, his regular work as well as that which was specially assigned to him. If it does not meet your approval, kindly suggest wherein it may be improved. If the work is satisfactory, never fail to tell the janitor, not in a formal manner, but make him feel your sincerity and appreciation of his efforts. To show him the good results that will arise from his painstaking labors, will heighten his desire to do his best.

Often, although it is extremely poor policy, the janitor is asked to aid actively in discipline; this is not his province, as he is not appointed to take charge of such matters. It is the teacher’s duty to discipline his own pupils. The janitor can often become a factor in discipline. Many teachers treat him with such a domineering spirit that they incur his ill will. When ill-treated the janitor will gossip and sometimes he may say something detrimental about the teacher to the 103pupils. This has a tendency to weaken the teacher’s influence and ability to control. A janitor should be required to keep his clothing neat and clean. He should not use offensive language, nor should he smoke or use tobacco in any form or become intoxicated. In fact, his morals should be excellent. Allow the janitor and his family to attend all school functions, free of charge. Often the janitor desires a day of half day off; do not deny him this privilege. Whenever, unfortunately, an inefficient janitor has been employed, he, as well as an unqualified teacher, should be discharged.


1. It is important that any discussions of the requisites of the teacher should be followed by a discussion of the proper care of the school-room and premises.

2. The condition of the school-room and the premises will have an influence upon the teacher as well as upon the work done by the pupils.

3. A good teacher, filling every requisite, will see that the condition of the school-room and premises has proper attention.

4. A good teacher’s work will be made better by good surroundings, and far more difficult by bad surroundings.

5. A poor teacher’s work will be improved by good surroundings, and poor surroundings will make good work practically impossible.

6. The condition of the school-room and 104premises will have an influence on the condition of the homes of the pupils.

7. Every school-room should have good mottoes and pictures on the walls. Some potted plants should be in the room. Never put advertising pictures and calendars on the walls.

8. Waste paper, ash heaps and other rubbish should not adorn the school premises. The latter should be kept clean and orderly.

9. Proper seating of pupils is necessary.

10. Light should be from the left and back, never from the front. Direct sunlight should never fall on pupils’ desks or books.

11. The walls of the school-room should not be tinted or papered with bright colors. Soft green, gray and tan are suitable colors.

12. School-room ventilation is very important.

13. The basement of a school should be as sanitary as any part of the building.

14. The teacher or supervisor should exercise wise control over the janitor.


Discipline: Its Province and End

What is discipline? It is the habit of obedience. It is submissiveness to order and control. It is subjection to rule. It is a training to act in accordance with established rules. Discipline obviously must be control. Definition after definition may be sought, all ultimately designating discipline as control. Though it is known that discipline is control or submissiveness to order and system, still there remains much to be said to clear up the idea of discipline. In examining the province of discipline, many questions arise. Does discipline guarantee that a teacher is able to punish all offenses with the correct punishment, and by so doing insure against the recurrence of offense; or does it mean any given code of rules that will prevent misdemeanors; or does it mean the assigning of punishment for offenses so as to display vengeance against the wrong doer, suppressing him for the time being, but instigating him to further wrong when the opportunity offers itself? It means far more than can be fully explained in any brief answer.

The Province of Discipline

Discipline is that vital control of an individual 106that molds character. All those agencies that are employed to perfect and round out character are disciplinary devices.

“The daily discipline of a good school is a constant instruction in morals. The idea of order that is suggested in the appearance of the school is here perceived in action. There is a regulated system into which the individual must enter. He must subordinate his own desires and impulses to the general social welfare. Thus he learns the elementary virtue of obedience. He takes orders and obeys them. He becomes accustomed to an authority which he must respect.”[9]

Were every product of the school-room a perfectly disciplined product, the pupil would be self-controlling and the prophecy that perfect discipline would annihilate prisons, reforms and courts of justice would become a fact. A human being self-controlled after experience under a sound system of discipline would offer little difficulty as a subject of school management. Since discipline is a training in self-control and self-direction, which are prime elements in character, discipline is indispensable in character building.

Training in self-mastery is impossible without a prearranged determination of conduct. Some one must analyze the possible types of activity and wisely direct the immature person in choosing his standards of conduct.

9.  Sneath and Hodges, op. cit., pp. 194-5.


The End in Discipline

Assuming that the teacher understands the great importance of discipline, it becomes necessary, before discussing its underlying principles, to consider some other phases of the subject. First of all it is most important to understand the end to be achieved in discipline. It is true that all aimless discipline is poor discipline whatever may be the teacher’s zeal. A clear knowledge of the end to be attained is not only important as a guide to methods of discipline, but will fully predetermine the results. The question now arises: “Just what is the end to be sought in discipline?” Some one may say, “The end to be sought in discipline is good order;” some one else may say, “application.” It is neither chiefly. These are mere conditions of successful school work, and are not at all ultimate ends to be attained through discipline. The teacher who regards these as the ends of discipline is not only likely to use improper means, but will be satisfied with a mere semblance of success. The true end of discipline is none other than the achievement of self-control. This includes an efficient moral training by: (1) the awakening of proper sentiments, (2) quickening of the conscience, (3) enlightening of moral judgment, (4) training the will to act habitually from high and worthy motives, (5) thoughtfulness as to the rights of others and (6) a practical religious training.

Bagley discovers three chief functions of discipline: 108(1) the creation and preservation of conditions that are essential to orderly progress of the work for which the school exists; (2) “The preparation of the pupils for effective participation in an organized adult society;” (3) “The gradual impression of the fundamental lessons of self-control.”

“Discipline is, therefore, the last directive factor of the educative process. It is to the soul what logic or geometry is to the mind, or gymnastics to the body: it aims at bracing the will. But it has been seen that self-direction grows out of external direction; self-discipline out of the discipline of the home and the school. External discipline is good only when it does lead to the development of self-control.”[10]

10.  Welton and Blandford, op. cit., pp. 156-7.

The Teacher as a Concrete Ideal

A clear vision of the end to be attained in discipline presupposes that the teacher embody every ideal of self-control that is needed to build up the perfectly rounded-out character. The teacher is the soul of his measures. The child is a pilgrim, needing to be led; a growing entity, needing to be nourished. Then it follows that the teacher becomes the ideal—a living, growing, real ideal for the pupil. This is not true in a general and abstract way only, for in every phase of his work, the teacher must by the very nature of the process adapt himself—his thought, his action, his feeling, his life—to what the pupil is and should next become. Here it 109becomes apparent that the teacher is not a remote or unattainable ideal, but a very near and present help for every succeeding activity of the pupil—a help-meet for good. The remote end of discipline, self-control, is realized by a constant presentation of the ideal embodied in the teacher, by a vitalizing association with the child. In this way the ideals of the teacher dominate the life of the child.

There is a story extant that an eagle was hatched with a brood of goslings. Unconscious of its eagle nature, it kept to the earth with its unnatural mates, until one day an eagle soaring along, swooped down near it and touched it with the spirit of the freedom of the upper air. It took wing into the realms of its natural abode. The child, beautiful in his simple life, needs but the touch of that ideal embodied in a spirit that will bring him into his rightful sphere. Many years ago a venerable pastor, whose life was a fountain of constant inspiration for good, returned to the scenes of his boyhood and called upon the aged pedagogue who had taught him in his youth. He reported the good work he believed he had accomplished. He told the teacher that he was regarded as a bad boy in his school days, but that the pedagogue had turned him into paths of right, where-upon the old man asked, “What was it I said?” The worthy pastor replied, “Ah, it was not what you said; it was your life.”

The teacher’s life, his ideals, his habits will be lived over again in those whom he teaches. Thus it can be seen that it is not sufficient for the 110teacher to set up imaginary ends and theories for realizing them in pupils; he himself must be the realized end. It is scarcely worth while for a teacher to set up as an end in the pupils the formation of correct habits and forms of thought without realizing them in himself. It need not be said that a teacher who can not think with scientific patience and precision can not train others to such patience and precision. Honesty can be cultivated only by him who is honest. Truth can be cultivated only by him who is truth-loving. The love of work can be taught only by him who works. Noble thinking can be stimulated only by him who is imbued with nobleness of thought. The idealized spirit of faith and hope can shine forth only from the soul that hopes and has the faith that radiated from the spirit of the Teacher of Galilee. “In another aspect discipline is a relation between the child and the teacher, and here the contribution of the teacher is his personality and the force of his will, to which the child responds with trust, obedience and the will to please.”[11]

11.  Welton and Blandford, op. cit., p. 169.

Both Good and Bad Traits Are Copied

This introduces the distinction between conscious and unconscious instruction. The teacher by planned and immediate efforts, by definite and formal instruction, draws the pupil into his own more perfect thought and life; but much of the influence exerted by the teacher is unconscious and without forethought; effort and purpose 111would diminish it. Pupils are so susceptible to the silent influence of the teacher that they are supposed to make some permanent change each time they come into the presence of the teacher. There is a reason for this belief. Experience and observation have taught that personal contact works marvellously on the young who are continually in the presence of those whom they admire. Pupils instinctively copy the teacher, even in the case of mannerisms. Thrice fortunate is the teacher who possesses a strong personality, if his life incarnates all that is ideal and beautiful. Pupils assimilate both the evil and the good. How expedient it is then that they find only beautiful traits and a wholesome spirit which, like a fragrance filling the air, surrounds the noble-minded and warm-hearted teacher. Not so much by the daily task imposed and the instruction meted out as by the silent worship of the heart, does the child flower into beautiful life, and ripen into worthy manhood or womanhood.

Every teacher should be to the child a worthy model. Thus, by admiration and worship directed toward a superior, would the pupil realize the worth and beauty of all the good in the true teacher’s life. Using the wisest and most precise method of instruction does not fill the measure of the teacher’s responsibility. After all the pupil is circumscribed and continues to walk on earth among common things, unless quickened by a touch from the hovering spirit in the higher life of a teacher.

112In a former chapter it has been pointed out that the school, as a home for the child during his school career, definitely molds character. Also, the teacher’s intellectual qualifications have been fully set forth. But meeting these requirements alone cannot insure success for the teacher. In this chapter the moral influence of the teacher has been clearly explained as an agency in the character building of the child. Discipline has been interpreted as a training in self-control, and self-control as a prime element in character. Then it must be evident that discipline is the teacher’s one great function. When the teacher has directed his every effort and energy toward discipline, he is doing his utmost to build permanent, worthy character, providing that he possesses every attribute of the true teacher and uses those underlying principles of discipline, that alone can make true discipline possible.

“In childhood the trainer makes the child; during adolescence the youth makes himself. In childhood habits are forged by the unreasoned processes of reiteration; during youth they are made by voluntary acceptance of an inner ideal and the conscious nurture of that ideal. For the child habit-making should be as unconscious as breathing; for the youth it should be his deliberate and high-born duty. A wise teacher will never talk habits to children; before they know it, he will have them chained—no, that is a hateful and vicious figure—he will have them 113free as the wings of a bird in the unconscious and happy regulations of their lives.”[12]

12.  Arthur Holmes, op. cit., p. 216.


1. Discipline is defined as a training to act in accordance with established moral principles.

2. If true discipline could obtain, most school-room problems would cease to exist and there would be no need of courts of justice and penal institutions.

3. The end of discipline is self-control on the part of the child.

4. Discipline is necessary for the production of worthy character.

5. A clear understanding of the end to be attained in discipline will decide the nature of the methods to be employed.

6. The teacher is the agent who must embody the ideal of self-control and thereby make perfect discipline possible.

7. It is impossible to secure any results in discipline unless its ideal is first embodied in the teacher’s life.

8. The teacher’s ideal must be lived out in his own life unconsciously. There can be no successful attempt on the part of the teacher to live in accordance with an artificial ideal.

9. The teacher’s influence over the child helps or hinders the growth of good character.

10. Pupils instinctively copy the teacher’s ideal.

11. Discipline is the teacher’s greatest function.


Fundamental Principles in Discipline

Before entering into the discussion of the fundamental principles underlying discipline, it will be well to explode the erroneous notion that too many teachers hold: namely, that general principles of discipline are not broadly applicable. To illustrate, recently a certain magazine made the announcement that a notable educator was writing a course in child training. To this, one of those all-wise pessimists replied that the educator would have to write just as many courses as there were children, assuming that each child is a totally different entity and what can be used in the training of one child cannot possibly be employed in the education of another. Such an assumption is unsound, unfounded and absurd. In the following pages the writer proposes to prove the fallacy of such a notion.

Various Dispositions

Again and again it may be heard that should a school have twenty-five pupils, there would be twenty-five different dispositions to handle and that what might be used in disciplining one child could not be used in disciplining another. No one wishes to gainsay that there are as many different 116dispositions as there are individuals, but these different dispositions will all undoubtedly respond to the great fundamental laws underlying discipline. To attempt to deny the operation and general effectiveness of fundamental principles in discipline would be an attempt to overthrow a bulwark of accumulated evidence of the past. Principles that are fundamental, not alone in discipline, but in every activity, have operated in unmistakable surety since the dawn of history. To deny this would only tend to weaken one’s faith in principles that when properly applied have always overcome the most stubborn problems in discipline.

Small minds often find it impossible to collect useful knowledge into general statements. They prefer to settle each difficulty by reference to a similar former experience. On the other hand one who profits largely from his experience is able finally to draw broad conclusions which he can use in widely different situations.

This power of generalization makes easy the comparison of experiences of teachers and so skill in disciplinary matters multiplies itself at every opportunity for the exchange of ideas.

A number of careful observations made in the school-room will sustain the assertion that any fundamental principle will certainly become applicable to the mass of individuals. It is a universal law that a fundamental principle of psychological import works toward the same end in every normal individual. Several years ago a principal in a large high school made 117the following observations. One of his teachers was keenly sensitive to all the little faults of the pupils. Seven of the boys and five of the girls had been reported by her to the principal for various offenses. Each of the twelve pupils portrayed entirely different characteristics. Their offenses too were entirely different as well as their motives. Here was a plain case of twelve different dispositions, which no one would attempt to ignore, but quite naturally, the teacher did not use twelve different methods of procedure; she had a feeling of distrust toward all of these pupils. She did not openly show it, but before the school closed there was an open rupture between those pupils and the teacher—they hated her—why? They could hardly tell. It was due to her attitude of distrust. This evil was not openly at work (except to a keen observer) but silently, it operated upon twelve different dispositions in the same way—all to one end.

In the same school and at the same time, labored another teacher who reported the same boys and girls, but her reports were followed up by a deep love toward and helpful trust in those boys and girls. She did not tell them that she trusted and loved them. The principle accomplished its mission silently—as is always the case. These boys and girls, without knowing why, came to love, respect and obey this teacher. She did not use different methods on the different dispositions, but in silence a fundamental principle at work, won for her the admiration of all her pupils. She was a successful disciplinarian. 118She skillfully applied fundamental principles, and it is needless to add that no serious outbreaks against discipline ever occurred under her management. It is all too true that the failure to understand fundamental principles in discipline is the certain cause of perplexing problems that will suggest “so-called” different methods for different dispositions.

Broad underlying principles in discipline are safe and the teacher who would seek skill in school management will ground himself in these broad underlying principles—principles that have been effective through countless decades of successful school management. It is an axiom that the teacher who fails to use the fundamental principles of confidence will have many examples of distrust. The teacher who persists in fault finding will always have sufficient material upon which to exercise his fault finding impulse. The teacher who is constantly expecting trouble will soon be rewarded; while on the other hand, the teacher who has an abiding faith in his pupils and himself does not expect real antagonism—true to the universal law, never meets an insoluble problem in school-room discipline. The teacher who displays a deep interest in his work and an interest in the work and welfare of his pupils, will have an industrious school; he will not need to lecture to his pupils about the necessity of diligence; they will show their zeal by doing the work assigned. It is “catching” from the teacher who has an interest and works upon the principle that it is necessary for a teacher, 119first, to enjoy doing school work well before the pupils can be expected to do likewise. No one denies that trust will beget trust, confidence will beget confidence, good-will will beget good-will and affection will beget affection. The opposite is likewise true, hate will beget hate, distrust will beget distrust, suspicion will beget suspicion, and fault finding will beget dissatisfaction. From the foregoing, it may be assumed that the most skeptical must be convinced concerning the broad and effective application of general principles. In this connection, it is well to remember, that fundamental principles can not apply themselves, the teacher is the agent that must apply the principles and adjust the laws to every given case.

The Principle of Suggestion

The principle of suggestion will be given the first consideration, not because it is more important than any of the fundamental principle in discipline, but because it is so obviously and vitally correlated with all others. At the very outset it is a truth that cannot be overlooked that the teacher’s very life is a silent suggestive stimulus. In fact all the other principles would lose their effectiveness to a great extent were not the principle of suggestion interwoven in their operations. For example, the teacher has occasion to use the principle of approval. In it the principle of suggestion is involved. The teacher approves of a pupil’s behavior, immediately there is suggested to the pupil the idea of future good 120behavior for the sake of approval, and furthermore because it means better class-standing. The operation of the principle can even effect other than direct results. A pupil or a number of pupils, who were indifferent regarding this special point of good behavior, indeed, who may have been misbehaving at the time the other pupil was conducting himself so as to elicit approval from his teacher, will be affected by the approval. The principle of suggestion leads them to infer that they too can gain approbation for good behavior. Thus, the principle operates in channels where the teacher may not have directly applied the principle.

The principle of suggestion can be defined or explained as the process by which associated ideas follow one another into consciousness. Sometimes it is explained simply as the association of ideas. It can be termed an intrusion into the mind of an idea; met with more or less opposition by the person; accepted uncritically at last; and realized unreflectively, almost automatically. Suggestion is always a stimulus to action. The proposed action may be external or internal, a movement or an attitude. A suggestion can never refer to a mere idea. If a mere notion is aroused in the mind it is not suggestion; it becomes such if an impulse to act is aroused. This impulse may be suppressed or it may ripen into action. One idea in the mind or consciousness recalls another and so on, a chain of ideas may pass through consciousness, one suggesting the other. Quite often the last 121idea is very unlike the first in content, and yet if the suggestion is strong action results. “A supply of ideas of the various movements that are possible, left in the memory by experiences of their involuntary performance, is thus the first prerequisite of the voluntary life.”[13]

Henry R. Pattengill, the great Michigan educator and editor, recalls that when a small boy in his log-cabin forest home, his father brought an ax into the house one cold winter morning. As the father laid the ax on the floor beside the fireplace, he said to the children, “Don’t touch that ax or your fingers will stick fast.” Then he left the room. He had unconsciously applied the principle of suggestion. No sooner was the door closed than Henry revolved this question in his mind, “Why will my fingers stick to the ax?” This suggested that he try for himself and see. The trial was made and the results were as the father had intimated, but the boy did not learn the true reason until years afterward.

Another illustration is in point. One of the best rural schools in a Western State had employed a new teacher. He was one of that class of teachers who believe that rules were necessary to cover every known misdemeanor that might happen during the school-year. After opening his school on the first day, he read his list of rules. The pupils had always been well-behaved and well-governed, but not unlike other children were buoyant with abundant life. Among his many rules was one that forbade any pupil 122to climb upon the woodhouse roof. The punishment for disobeying the rule was a whipping. He skillfully, but in the wrong place, applied the principle of suggestion. Many of the pupils had attended the school for six years and had never thought of climbing upon the woodhouse roof. The new teacher had given the suggestion. Great was his surprise when he walked into the back yard at recess and found every boy and several of the bolder girls on the woodshed roof. They had acted in accordance with the principle of suggestion and it was “up to him” to make good. His predestined punishment was next in order to meet this result of a never-failing operation of a fundamental principle. The most lamentable part of the affair was that the whipping was an impossibility with so large a number of pupils. The teacher was compelled to break one of his rules, which true to a fundamental principle was a suggestion to his pupils that he would break the others as well. It is needless to say that his discipline was of the poorest kind. He failed.

13.  Tracy, Psychology of Childhood, p. 95. Heath.


How many young teachers feel that it is very necessary to have a code of rules! They make themselves believe that it will display authority to begin their first school by reading a list of rules. No worse mistake could be made. By reading a list of rules they are showing a distrust in the boys and girls and thereby laying a foundation for future trouble. It is better to say 123nothing about order on the first day of school than to parade authority by setting forth rules. Authority and firmness can be far better indicated by beginning earnest work at once on the first day without any reference to rules. “Authority may compel because of its might, and often it must compel because of its responsibility; but the type of order that is most effective is that in which the fact of coercion is least in evidence. In the city and state, as in the school, the condition that is sought is a “fashion” of obeying the law and respecting the rights of others; and while the forces that can coerce must be made plainly evident to those who can be appealed to in no other way, the wise executive keeps them from constantly and irritatingly impinging upon public attention.”[14]

Do not emphasize the idea of authority in the pupils’ minds and your authority will not be forever put to the test. It is a wrong use of the principle of suggestion to exercise authority in a way that is still far too common among teachers. The average boy with good red blood in his veins tends to take the attitude of authority on the part of a teacher as a kind of challenge. The teacher who is constantly flaunting his authority will most assuredly have occasion to use it. The less authority shown the less need for it, is a safe rule to follow. It is bad policy to make rules for the government of a school, and then attach punishments of various kinds and degrees for the infringement of the rules. In governing 124a school, it is time enough to deal with a misdemeanor after it is committed. Often a certain rule against a certain misdemeanor encourages that act, thus operating in accordance with the principle of suggestion. To apply unvarying rules to varying conditions is a prolific source of error and confusion. No rule can be made to fit a case before it arises.

Suggestion is certainly nothing abnormal and exceptional. It does not lead us away from our ordinary life. Child life is a rich field into which suggestion may enter in a hundred different forms. The life of the family, education, law, business, politics, art, public life and religion are all dependent upon suggestion. Everywhere, at all times individuals are stimulated to actions by outside suggestion, that they would not perform, if they were to act upon their own impulses or reasons. Experience shows that different individuals have different degrees of suggestive power. Attendant circumstances have a great influence upon the power of suggestion. Individual characteristics differ widely as to the effect of suggestion.

In no field of activity is the principle of suggestion so powerful and useful as in the teachers profession. It will be well to deviate from the subject of suggestion to note that imitation plays a vital part in suggestion in the school-room. It must be remembered that imitation follows suggestion; it is a resultant of suggestion. The teacher who embodies every qualification that makes a true teacher will suggest the traits 125of his character to his pupils. They will as a natural sequence imitate them. Every trait of a noble character is important and deserves to be emulated by the child; the characteristics that make successful men and women in every activity of life are worthy of imitation. The greatest trait of character is morality, and it is the most vital of the teacher’s requisites. To the average pupil this trait in the teacher’s character will appeal. If the pupil’s moral life is near perfection, the teacher’s life will only aid in helping the pupil to maintain his standard. This may be termed an unconscious co-operation of the teacher with his pupil. Building a strong character is not an easy matter for the average pupil. He sees in his teacher those requisites which he wishes to incorporate in his own life; he must overcome his own weakness; when he does so, he is allowing the teacher’s worthy characteristics to suggest to his the possibility of incarnating them into his own life. This is neither co-operation or imitation merely, but suggestion. It is also true of the law of suggestion that if the teacher exhibits unworthy traits of character, these too will act as suggestions to the pupils. It need not be argued further that the teacher’s life is a powerful incentive to imitation through suggestion.

Suggestion as an agency for effective volition does not stop with those elements that build character. It reaches into the child’s life at every opening. His habits of work, of study, of play, and every physical, mental and spiritual 126process are largely influenced by the principle of suggestion. In fact, his first notions always come from some suggestion. His first ideas of play, of work, and of study come as ideas from some one else or from some outside source. The notion in itself, at first, is abstract, but becomes concrete and a part of the child when he allows the suggestion of the notion to cause him to act so as to make the notion a reality and a part of his life.

One of the most powerful agencies for suggestion is the school community itself. The principal of a school had the pleasure of transferring his pupils to a new building, erected at a cost of more than sixty thousand dollars. He resolutely set his mind to the task of preserving the property from defacement.

In the old building a succession of teachers and pupils had allowed to grow up the custom of grossly injuring both the structure proper and the equipment as well. Both in public and in private he judiciously drew the picture of the contrast between the appearances of the two buildings. At the proper moment on each occasion he asked the individual or the school as a whole, as the case might be, if the preservation of the new building in its perfect condition was desirable: “Do you want to keep the new school house fresh and in perfect order as long as possible?”

The pupils in a large majority, of course, declared that that was their desire. The public sentiment soon became so strong that it entirely 127suppressed the few who otherwise would have continued the policy of defacing school property. There arose a community will among the pupils that made itself felt and held in easy control the unruly members of the school.

The teacher who fails to make use of this agency for suggesting courses of action to his pupils is neglecting a powerful force in the management of his school. Suggestions are rapidly transferred from pupil to pupil; a proper choice of the occasion is necessary; a careful balancing of diverse elements in the school group must be achieved; a variety of appeals to meet differences in dispositions is required; a knowledge of these guiding facts can not but make the plan of community suggestion a feasible and in fact a necessary instrument in school management.

“The best disciplined school that the writer has ever seen was under the charge of a principal who had worked for six years to make the collective will of the pupil-body give its sanctions to good order, courteous behavior, and aggressive effort. Interest in school work and co-operation with the teachers had become distinct fashions. So powerful was the force thus generated and directed that the superintendent not infrequently transferred to this school pupils who had got beyond control in other schools of the city.”[15]

Since suggestion is by nature a stimulus to action it may be well to urge that all attempts 128to use suggestion as a disciplinary measure should be moulded by some specific plan of action for the pupil.

If the teacher attempts to direct merely the attitudes or feelings of the pupil he will often fail in the use of suggestion. Every person whether child or adult has far more interest in activity than in inaction. Even rest is always considered a preparation for further activity.

Activity may be of two kinds: work and play. Suggestion may be used in both. Madame Montessori says: “The first dawning of real discipline comes through work.”[16] The fascination of a piece of work even in the kindergarten will fix attention, inspire persistence and in countless ways actually direct the impulses of the child. Discipline through work is the most ready and appropriate agency for the moral training of all, both young and old.

The teacher who understands the disciplinary resources of the school tasks is a competent teacher and disciplinarian. The more completely the discipline of the school is fused with the established school program of activity the better will be the results reached.

Play is a part of the recognized outline of school functions. It is second only to work as an educative instrument. All that may be said of the wise use of suggestion in work may be repeated with slight modifications in respect to play. The teacher must give as much wise 129thought to the suggestive features of play as to any other element in school life.

14.  Bagley, op. cit., p. 132.

15.  Bagley, op. cit. p. 5.

16.  The Montessori Method, p. 350. Stokes.

The Principle of Leading Suggestion

Some years ago a young country teacher called upon one of his city friends late one winter afternoon. Just as the teacher was leaving his friend’s home, the conversation turned to a topic that was very interesting to both, but the teacher had three miles to walk into the country and knew that he could not tarry to finish the conversation. However, he asked his friend to walk with him from the house to the first telephone post so that they might carry on their conversation. The friend knew that supper would be ready in a few minutes but the suggestion to walk so small a distance from his home in order to carry on an interesting conversation was appealing and he yielded to the teacher’s wish. Upon reaching the telephone post the conversation had grown more interesting instead of reaching an end, so the teacher suggested that his friend walk two blocks further with him to a certain school building. The friend acted upon the suggestion, but upon reaching the school building the conversation had reached a greater point of interest and was in no way near completion. Both were deeply interested. The teacher made the suggestion that his friend walk to a certain bridge with him. Again the friend acted upon the suggestion. So, on they journeyed until the friend discovered that he had walked half of the way from his home to the teacher’s home, besides 130forgetting all about his supper. No one will doubt that had the teacher asked his friend to walk half way to his home with him just as they left the house, he would not have succeeded in inducing him to do so, even by the use of most persistent persuasion. But he succeeded in taking his friend with him by suggesting a little part of the journey at a time. He had used a principle that for the want of a better name will be called the Principle of Leading Suggestion.

However, it is not a matter of the name of the principle, but the principle itself and its application that interests the teacher. How many teachers have failed to lead pupils to do what they have asked them to do, all because the imposed task appeared to be too hard. This same task could have been readily accomplished had the teacher divided it into inviting portions and requested the pupil to do just one part at a time. In this case the whole task should not be discussed at first. At no time in the journey described above did the friend think but that the small distance suggested would be the last part of the journey and at the end of it he would turn homeward.

The teacher discovers among his pupils a boy who dislikes to read. The teacher knows the boy’s likes and dislikes and is sure that certain books would interest him, but to ask the boy to read an entire book would only mean to further discourage him as to the reading habit. Hence, the teacher asks the boy to read the first chapter 131on a certain day for a specific purpose which he frankly makes known to the boy. A few days may elapse before the teacher asks the boy to read the second chapter with some other aim in view, perhaps. Thus the teacher labors until the boy has read the book. In most cases the boy will announce that he read on ahead of the teacher’s assignment and will ask for another book “just like this one.” He has broken the ice and by a wise choice of books on the part of the teacher, he may become an enthusiastic reader.

The teacher with a keen insight will see no limit to the number of results that may be obtained by the use of leading suggestion. In the primary grades it can be made a very effective tool for advancing the child’s interests. The stubborn and willful child will respond readily to this principle and may thus be cured of his habit of obstinacy. This principle can be applied to advance the interests of children as well as to cure traits of disposition that are not desirable. The teacher who wishes to accomplish results along these lines will carefully study the dispositions of pupils; and further, watch for every advantage whereby he may tactfully apply the principle of leading suggestion for the furtherance of effective work.


Reference has been made to imitation as being closely connected with suggestion. Its further discussion is in place here. Aristotle said, “Man 132is the most imitative of animals, and makes his first steps in learning by the aid of imitation.” The thought has a broader application. The first steps in all of the child’s activities are made because of imitation. The first phase in the gaining of power and facility in action is imitation of the action of another. It is highly important for the teacher to remember, in attempting to direct boys and girls, that all are imitators of those whom they admire. Men have been described as the composite of all those who have directly or indirectly made some impress upon their lives. Too great care cannot be exercised as to the kind of associations and friendships pupils make, as each contact will leave its effect upon them for good or for evil. The teacher is the most important associate and friend of many, many pupils; consequently, it is of the utmost importance that his life conform to the best standards of character. Imitation is an inborn disposition which is not learned but precedes learning. In fact, it is a means employed in learning. By using both imitation and suggestion properly, the teacher will have a device that will go a great way toward his success in discipline.

In another volume entitled “Applied Methods,” a book which gives the practical applications of our fundamental principles—the principle of suggestion will be applied to various school-room difficulties. The application will be made in such a manner that the teacher can easily understand its use to best advantage in his 133own problems of discipline. All other fundamental principles discussed will be shown in their practical applications. This will leave no doubt in the teacher’s mind as to the use of fundamental principles in school-room problems.

The Principle of Approval

The next principle under consideration is the principle of approval. The desire for approval appears early in childhood, and continues through life. It acts both as a restraint and as an impulse, and is often an active principle in human conduct. No true child is insensible to the good opinions of his classmates or to the commendation of his teacher. It has been wisely said, “A young man is not far from ruin when he can say with honesty, ‘I don’t care what others think about me.’” He has lost a needed check against evil and a beneficent impulse toward right action.

Just how far the application of the principle of approval may justly extend in school-room discipline, does not occur to the average teacher. It is very safe to assume that the principle of approval rightly used would be an effective preventative of three-fourths of the perplexities that harass the teacher in the school-room. The usual process of dealing with a fault, is to aggravate it by constant reference to it. This is wrong. But the teacher replies, “How can a fault be removed except the child be constantly reminded of its existence, and also reminded of the corrective?” The teacher, too, may add 134that reminding the pupil of his fault is not disapproval, unless it be done in a fault finding manner. That may all be very true. But the principle of approval can affect the cure. The following incident well illustrates the point.

Some years ago there lived in one of the coast towns of Maine, a big-hearted seaman, who was considerably worried about his only son’s stoop shoulders. In the kindliest manner possible, he had reminded his son almost daily, that he should throw back his shoulders. The son understood his father’s kindness and interest in the matter and at no time felt that his father was finding fault with him. However, the boy continued to be stoop shouldered. An uncle happened into the house one day for a visit of several weeks. The uncle was soon annoyed by the constancy and utter uselessness of the father’s corrective for his son’s stoop shoulders. The uncle called the father aside and asked him if he would not allow him to make an attempt at correcting the boy’s stoop shoulders. The father gladly agreed and also consented to have nothing whatever to do with the affair. He felt that he had done all he could and was unable to guess what method the uncle would pursue. The uncle very shrewdly saw a condition of the lad that he might approve and thereby he would be able to correct the stoop shoulders. The lad knew nothing of his uncle’s plan and for that reason responded the more readily, all unconscious of the process at work. On the following morning the father was amused to see the uncle 135give his son a jovial slap on the chest, and hear him remark, “Say, Tom, that is some chest.” No more was observed by the father for that day. But the day following, the uncle again slapped the boy on the chest, remarking, “I believe you will have a broader and fuller chest than I have;” at the same time displaying his chest well filled out. Casual remarks of this kind were dropped at opportune times. Tom’s chest expanded until the stoop shoulders disappeared. The cure was effective. The boy did not realize that a double effect would follow his breathing properly. Approval won where disapproval failed.

Many a teacher has ruined the best of his pupils by constantly finding fault with, or disapproving of their small faults and inabilities; while on the other hand many a prudent teacher has made a good pupil out of one who promised to be but a dullard by commending those small things which he could do, and entirely overlooking the things that he was unable to do. If attention was called to what he could not do well, it was only to offer some friendly assistance. It is a fact that must not be forgotten that any activity is made easier by its constant repetition. Thus, if the small things that the pupil can do are approved he naturally will work the harder and thereby gain strength, until he has become a master of himself accomplishing the most difficult tasks.

This principle is broadly applicable to all school-work. There is no child that cannot do 136something in every phase of school-work. This “something” the teacher should approve. It will without fail stimulate the child to the fullest use of his ability. The teacher should not ignore that which the child fails to accomplish; the task is often too difficult. Only such work should be assigned as can be done, and the necessary assistance should be given; by no means should disapproval be meted out. This plan followed conscientiously will improve the most backward child. The question may be asked, “What about the pupil who is indifferent or neglects to complete his work?” It is well to approve that which he does. If the teacher is sure the pupil is indifferent or negligent, the child should be told the truth about his work and have his attention called to his ability to do better work. To approve wisely and effectively does not mean to deceive.

In the matter of school-room discipline, the principle of approval is even more valuable than in school-room instruction. Everyone believes that no boy or girl is so depraved that some good traits can not be found. At some time they will manifest their kindlier natures and do those things which should elicit approval. Whenever such pupils do anything worth while it gives the teacher opportunity to use the word or look of approval. This will encourage them to repeat whatever elicits approval. It will increase the frequency of such acts and create a desire to do other things that are worth while. It is a time-honored saying that if all one’s time is taken up 137in doing good deeds, there will be no time left for evil deeds. This is no vague notion as to the child’s life. Whatever increases the time spent in doing things worth while will decrease the time left for worthlessness and idleness.

But what shall be done with those actions of the pupils that are annoying? They cannot be approved. Should they be disapproved? Yes. But with caution. Should the teacher find fault with the pupil on account of his misdemeanors? No, decidedly no. It is the province of the teacher to assist the children under his tuition. Their faults and misdemeanors should not be tools in the teacher’s hands to be used against them. Such a procedure would be a crime. Then how shall their faults and misdemeanors be treated?

The teacher who will succeed, will call the pupil who has annoyed him aside and in a business-like manner discuss the misdemeanor with the pupil. The teacher must not accuse the pupil but ask him for information; if the teacher has met his pupil in a kindly way, he will get the desired information; the teacher should admit anything in which he may have been at fault and then ask the pupil to admit his own fault. At this point the teacher should never express his opinion about the misdemeanor, before he has asked the pupil to give his own opinion about the action in controversy. With few exceptions the pupil will express himself correctly about the misdemeanor. The shrewd teacher will then agree with his pupil, and in an offhand way add 138any variance of opinion or give suggestions. If this method is followed by a teacher in a kindly but firm mood, the difficulty will have been dealt with in the correct manner. The fault will doubtless not be repeated by the pupil. And without fail the teacher will have another firm and true friend in this child.

While much importance is attached to the teacher’s correct use of the principle of approval, still more is demanded of him. The value of approval clearly depends upon its source—on the character of him who approves. The approval of the wicked or unscrupulous teacher is a snare. The approval of the wise and good teacher can never be valued too highly. A teacher must watch lest his pupils put approval before honor and duty. The motive which the teacher must seek to cultivate, is not a craving for unmerited praise and flattery, but a desire to merit approval; and, this involves no surrender of conscience or honor. This is a worthy motive, but it must be remembered that it can easily be submerged under pride and vanity.

The degree of satisfaction to the child resulting from approval depends upon his esteem for those who bestow it. The satisfaction that comes from approval of one’s equals, as classmates, is less than that which comes from one’s superiors, as parents or teachers. What has been said is sufficient to show that the teacher needs to be very careful in the use of approval as a disciplinary device. The one thing to be avoided is false praise or flattery. No weakness in the pupil 139is more easily aroused, or with more difficulty suppressed than vanity. The desire for praise, and especially public praise, grows on its own gratification; the more the child gets the more he wants. It is a good rule to speak ten words of commendation to one of censure; but the commendation should be sincere and honest and the censure kind and just. Finally, it may be concluded that whatever of good may come from the use of the principle of approval in discipline, depends in a large measure upon the teacher.


Broadly speaking, encouragement is involved in the principle of approval. Some years ago a young man (Mr. X) of marked ability but of such a temperament that he was easily discouraged, was prevented from teaching school by some crafty scheme of the county superintendent and others who were opposed to the young man. Mr. X was thoroughly prepared to teach and far worthier in character than the county superintendent and his accomplices. A friend of the applicant, chancing to be with him one evening in August just at sunset, took occasion in view of the beautiful sunset to tell the young man how much beauty there is in life. He explained that adversities, such as he had just experienced are only stepping stones to nobler efforts. He told him not to heed the discouragement, but go right on in his chosen work and success would crown his efforts; and that after all, life was so full of beauty that it would overshadow all difficulties. 140The young man and his friend parted. The friend had forgotten Mr. X and did not know of his whereabouts until one day a letter came to him from the young fellow. The following extract from the letter will explain how encouraging was the talk of a few years before. “I now have a good position in this city (the city was Akron, Ohio) and can also teach if I care to. I have often been discouraged, but remembered your talk and resolved upon this sentiment for myself: ‘There are two ways in life and if young men and women would consider these ways soberly and earnestly before moving onward they would choose the one which truth and reason tell them will lead to honor, success and happiness.’ You and I know the other way too well to need description. Life is not mean; it is grand. If it is mean to anyone he makes it so himself. God made it glorious. How much life means to every individual, words cannot explain. I have often been discouraged but I looked upon the bright side and went on.” There could be no more eloquent appeal for encouragement as a device in the hands of the serious teacher. Many are the times and opportunities when a teacher can speak an encouraging word and thereby send a life into a fuller realization of its worth.

Sometimes the best pupil in the school meets with adversities (and they will come to every individual ofttimes in life); they would overwhelm him were it not for an encouraging word from a thoughtful teacher. Every teacher 141should keenly realize that it is a part of his work, his actual duty to lend encouragement to his pupils. If the lessons are hard, the teacher must encourage; if the pupil has fallen into one or more of the petty temptations that beset children on every side, the teacher must forgive and forget, and point out corrective measures, thereby reassuring him and if the pupil has failed the teacher must comfort him. It was Lowell who said, “Not failure, but low aim, is crime.” Every teacher can be a source of great good if he will wisely help and encourage where encouragement is needed. Such a teacher’s work will live long after he is gone, and he will be kindly remembered by many who are treading life’s pathways.

A few years ago a young man sought to enter Columbia University for his last year of college work, and discovered that he was quite deficient in language requirements. Just as he was about to leave the college and give up the fond hope of completing his education, he was accosted by a fraternity man, who was a stranger, but who soon made himself a friend and so encouraged and inspired the young student that he took double work and succeeded in finishing his college education. That young student is now a man occupying a useful and worthy place of trust in a large institution. The teacher who can encourage a pupil as the fraternity man reassured the young student, will have no trouble in discipline with that pupil. The pupil who has been saved from despair always has a 142warmth of feeling for the one who thus inspired him.

The Principle of Initiative in Co-operation

Speaking of the child, Arthur Holmes[17] says, “He is organic, living, developing. He cannot be kneaded like dough, nor hammered like iron, nor carved like marble, but he can be guided like a vine upon a trelis.”

This work of directing the life of a child is specially represented by some act which brings satisfaction to the pupil and so begins an interplay of personal forces that leads the pupil to have confidence in the teacher.

To mark off this kind of action we choose to name the principle involved in it, the Principle of Initiative in Co-operation.

Experience shows that no person can have the desired educative influence over a child unless it be by doing deeds that draw forth the child’s appreciation. The turn of affairs in the school depends on the teacher. He must choose and choose wisely if his control over the pupils is adequate. He must take the initiative in establishing good relations and in maintaining them.

In the discussion following, the term co-operation is used, but it is to be understood that the teacher thoughtfully takes the first step in all acts of co-operation, anticipating, of course, the pupils’ reactions to all of his acts of service.

There is no greater principle in discipline 143than that of co-operation. No other one is more potent among the teacher’s devices. But it is a fact, much to be regretted, that no principle is used less in the school-room. The fact is that a majority of teachers do not realize what disciplinary co-operation means. Its skillfull use as an instrument of government is unknown to them.

The inquiring teacher asks for an explanation of the principle of co-operation. It means a gratifying or yielding to a child’s wishes or desires. Or, it is a forbearance from restraint or control. It may be gratitude for a favor granted; no doubt some teachers need to “Learn the luxury of doing good.”

Leniency and tolerance are forms of co-operation. The term certainly denotes companionship in performing every school duty.

Co-operation requires mutual understanding and sympathy. Clearly demonstrated by Pestalozzi, this fundamental method of child management has found recent advocates in the founders of the Gary and Fairhope systems of instruction.

The question comes up at once, “Will not deviation from a uniform firmness which is implied in co-operation weaken discipline?” Upon close examination the opposite will be found to be true. It has been explained that the real end of discipline is self-control on the part of the child and further that self-control is the basal element in character.

Co-operation demands that we understand the nature of the child and enjoy giving him freedom, 144at the same time working with him, not over him.

The home or the school which manages children by the use of authority chiefly is not working toward the true object of discipline, but away from it. The child who is constantly governed, who has all his decisions formed by some one else, has all his motives influenced by a parent or teacher, in fact, his every activity controlled by another mind, will be weak in self-mastery. How can he learn to control himself if he is always under the will of another? Similar questions that will help the reader to understand might be asked. For example: how can a boy learn to swim if he is not allowed in the water? How can a girl learn to sew if she is not given sewing materials? Then is it not just as logical to ask: how can a child learn to control himself if he is not given the opportunity to learn? It is to be feared that too many teachers have had the wrong idea of discipline; namely, that it means to have a child constantly under restraint. That is erroneous. Neither discipline nor authority requires that. True discipline is that which directs the child to become a self-governing individual, so that when he leaves the school, he can go into the world and lead an efficient life. Happy is such a child, but unfortunate is the child who has been so much subjected to another that when he must face the realities of life he still needs a guiding hand.

The following incident is very much to the point. It is the story of two mothers. Each had 145a son who had reached his majority and was ready to step onto the threshold of the world. Said the one mother to the other, “I am so fearful for my boy when he gets into the world. I have controlled him so carefully, that when he can not have my oversight, I am sure he will go into wrong paths.” The other mother replied, “I am not at all concerned about my boy. I have kept close to the life of my son, helping him yet training him for independent action. I am confident that with his ability to control himself he need have no fears that the conflicts of life will overwhelm him. I am assured that he will succeed.” The latter mother had a true conception of discipline. The notion of discipline that the former mother had, is too prevalent among teachers. It is well worth repeating, that true discipline is the kind which trains the child to be self-governing.

Remember that any deviation from the routine of school discipline, any pleasure that may be granted, any offense that may be forgiven, any aid in performing a task that may be difficult, in short any service that shows your devotion to the child’s welfare may be considered co-operation.

The principle of co-operation when properly applied will very materially strengthen discipline. The boy or girl whose every activity is controlled is being robbed of the greatest gift that the school can give—self-control. “All seeming suppression of impulses will be found to be based upon expression of other impulses, 146not upon sheer brute repression.”[18] Boys and girls must be compelled to make decisions for themselves. But some one will say, “In making their own decisions they may blunder and decide in the wrong way.” No permanent harm need result. Experience is the wisest of teachers. Children can not be taught in the school of every-day life until they enter into its experiences; and fortunate are they, when they enter, if they have been taught carefully the lessons of self-control by some prudent parent or teacher. It will make them stronger if they must help themselves over their own difficulties. This does not mean that the teacher must not have taught the principles of self-control. The real test of good teaching will come when the boys and girls are compelled to hold their own in the world.

Those who have read Myrtle Reed’s “The Master’s Violin,” will recall how Mrs. Irving never allowed her son, Lynn, to solve any of his own difficulties. Instead of co-operating with him she dominated him. She was his mind and bore his trials as well as all his joys and sorrows. He was often eager to dive into the world with all its temptations and perplexities, but she could not permit him to get away from her authority. She was not an unkind mother, but she was not a wise mother. When he desired to mingle with the street lads she would not indulge him lest he become contaminated. She restrained him from everything which to her seemed to forecast any danger. She could not tolerate that he should 147have boyhood fancies and passions. Instead of guiding him wisely through his boyhood problems, she laid the hand of restraint upon him. Her authority was firm though not unkind. The day finally came when she could no longer solve or mitigate her son’s problems. Life brought to him what it may bring to all, dark troubles, hidden within the soul. He was untutored and unprepared to meet his trials; his mother could not meet them for him; she had only greatly weakened her boy, she had not prepared him by sensible discipline to meet his troubles. Had she allowed him to experience some of the problems that must confront every child, he would have been prepared to meet his later trials. He could not escape, so in the bitterest agony he was compelled to fight his own battles at a grievous loss.

A certain fifth grade teacher—in the fifth grade are often found some of the most troublesome boys—discovered that by gaining their friendship she could control and discipline her room perfectly. Frequently, all the pupils were allowed to spend an hour or two in some nearby forest, if in the country, or a park if in the city, because they had behaved well. Sometimes school was suspended for a short time and every pupil was allowed to tell a story. This same teacher often checked an unruly boy who seemed on the verge of some impending mischief, by asking him a question about that which was of the most interest to him. This might be about his pets, his gun, the striking novelties in some recent lesson, or even about some imaginary trip.

148It is not unusual that healthy pupils even though well reared should be mischievous; this is due to surplus energy. The teacher, who could make himself believe that such children are his enemies, is in the wrong profession. It is, indeed, a pleasure to work with pupils exuberant with energy. This energy directed into the proper channels will insure growth of character in boys and girls. A certain superintendent in a small school in Western Ohio found himself in a high school were the pupils never tired of playing tricks. They cut down the bell rope, turned mice loose in school, imitated a cat in another room and did all kinds of tricks for fun. The superintendent was new in the school, but it did not take him long to learn that it was all due to a surplus of energy in healthful boys and girls. His solution was to use this energy. To this end he set about at once securing funds to build a gymnasium. The Board of Education could not finance the undertaking, so he enlisted the corps of teachers and together they secured funds by private subscription to build the gymnasium. After the gymnasium was finished, the superintendent taught the classes in calisthenics and physical culture. More than once, without discussing it with the boys and girls, he directed the entire high school twice a day, for fifteen to thirty minutes longer than the usual recess period; the time was used for physical education: work in folk dances, games and gymnastics. When the pupils returned to the school-room, their surplus energy was worked off, their blood 149was filled with oxygen and they were very studious. He even arranged that those who were excellent in deportment might attend a night class, where interesting games were played. He had boys’ basketball teams, girls’ basketball teams, volley ball clubs, roller skating clubs, track work, Saturday afternoon clubs, and other activities which delighted the pupils. Because of this mischievous pranks disappeared entirely and the efficiency of the pupils was increased nearly fifty per cent. The high school enrolled seventy pupils on the first day. During the year only three dropped out, making the per cent of attendance ninety-five, which is a very good record.

Initiative in co-operation, as it is here discussed, must not be confused with the common practice of parents who buy their children’s good behavior. It is all too common and one of the worst faults of parents, to tell their children that they will give them a penny, or some candy or other articles pleasing to the children if they will behave while company is in the home. This may be called a form of compact, but it is simply a wrong use of co-operation. Many teachers resort to just such a system of purchasing good behavior or good lessons. This is wrong. The proper use of reciprocity has a worthier motive in it. The teacher who rules by prudent companionship is kindhearted and sympathetic, has a broad outlook on child life, and a spirit that can forgive and forget, and take back into his love and sympathy the erring pupil.

150There are many ways of giving freedom to a pupil which will work to his advancement and advantage. It is true, as it is in all school work, that caution is necessary, that the true end sought by the device should not be defeated. Every teacher knows how kindly a pupil will feel toward him, if he is allowed to share in some of the duties to which great honor is attached. This privilege can be given for good lessons, good behavior, punctuality or any kind of effort in school work. Some pupils like to draw, others to do favors for the teacher, even some will feel that the teacher appreciates them, if they can work problems on the black-board, go to the manual training or domestic science room. It is indeed a splendid and effective indulgence to allow any pupil, whether he is the best or the most indifferent one, to run an errand for the teacher. To let a boy, who feels that everybody distrusts him, run down town, or if it is in the country, to town after dismissals and make a trivial purchase for the teacher, will make him gain, first, confidence in himself, and then in his teacher, because of the fact that his teacher has confidence in him. Should a pupil abuse the privileges extended to him as indulgences, then the teacher, without any explanation can withhold the privileges for a few days. He will soon find his pupil asking for, or that which is better, deserving the privilege. It can be granted, and it is safe to assume that the pupil will take care not to forfeit his privileges again.

In the primary grades, the little ones like the 151sand-pile, the colored blocks, the privilege of leading the procession, of drawing on the black-board with colored crayons, of putting the teacher’s desk in order, of watering the flowers in the school-room windows, of running errands, and a score of similar activities. They will work hard for hours, or act with great self-restraint, in order to enjoy one of the above accessories of the regular school work. They feel that they are co-operating with the teacher when they work for her. In the grammar grades pupils often beg the privilege of holding a spelling-match. It may often be well to indulge them. They will appreciate it and have a deeper respect for the teacher.

It is too important a matter of school-room discipline, and means far too much in the future of many a boy’s or girl’s life, to overlook the fact that if pupils are met with authority only they will challenge that authority. No teacher will deny that if he allows his pupils many pleasurable privileges, they will be obedient to his wishes because he is obedient to their wishes. One does not have to go far to find a teacher who has kept many a boy from smoking, chewing tobacco, gambling or resorting to evil practices, all because that teacher gave the boy his friendship, and filled his life with innocent pleasure. The boy’s own words—and they are often heard—bear testimony to the fact. Who has not heard a boy say, “That teacher wanted us to have a good time, I liked him because he liked the boys, I minded him because he knew what was good 152for us.” What teacher could not feel proud of such an encomium? It is a reward far more lasting than any stipend for the teacher’s work.

It is not the purpose of this Course to enter into the discussion of why pupils indulge in many evil practices, but the teacher should know that often privileges that lead to no harm are denied pupils; this causes them to seek to break away from restraint. As a rule pupils do not admire or like a teacher who denies them the privileges they seek. Because of this dislike they are prone to antagonize the teacher as much as possible, thus making discipline a more difficult problem for him. Besides, they will do many things unknown to the teacher that will lead to evil. Every one can recall a school where every pupil seemed bent on getting into mischief, where the girls were out late at night, the boys frequented pool-rooms and often saloons, smoked, attended questionable dances and were vicious generally. On the other hand, schools can be recalled where all the pupils seemed well-behaved. In the former instance the teacher was a cold, formal individual who did not indulge his pupils in those many pleasures that amuse and please and keep them out of mischief. In the latter instance the teacher was a big-hearted, sympathetic individual, who loved the boys and girls. He made room for their youthful sports and even entered into the games himself. Thus he could lead his pupils into nobler lives because he acted as one of their number.

A teacher who wishes to render efficient service 153in his work and make himself more successful in discipline, will use the principle of co-operation. It would be worth while to spend a week or two observing all the exercises and activities of the school and to keep a memorandum of every phase of the work which could be improved by working more intimately with the pupils. The teacher who discretely employs the principle of co-operation in discipline will improve his ability to govern fifty per cent. But the good to the pupils that will result will be gratifying and lasting. For discipline is a failure if the results do not appear in the child’s entire life.

17.  Principles of Character Making, p. 1. Lippincott.

18.  Angell, op. cit., p. 436.


While good results can be obtained by the use of co-operation, yet it can be made effective only by practicing consistency. In the application of the principle of co-operation in discipline, the teacher needs to be consistent. The entire school should be treated as a unit. Particular pupils should not be singled out as recipients of the teacher’s companionship. Such a procedure would defeat the effectiveness of the principle. Many pupils are so amiable that they are more closely associated with the teacher than more diffident and bashful pupils. Such pupils will naturally secure for themselves a goodly share of the privileges given by the teacher—not because they are selfish, but because they are more forward. Thus it will happen that the diffident pupil will get few or no privileges from the teacher. This will work great evil in a school. 154Soon some one will accuse the teacher of being partial when in reality the teacher is not at fault, since the forward pupil really causes the teacher to seem partial. Teachers must guard against this condition, for often parents misunderstand the situation and likewise accuse the teacher of being partial. When this happens his influence is undermined. A careful teacher will explain to his pupils that the confident pupil gets more from the teacher than the diffident and bashful pupil. It is his duty to insist that the diffident pupil help himself to all privileges. The teacher needs often to aid bashful pupils to get privileges; he should in many instances seek to reassure such pupils. This will lead them to love and cherish him. No teacher has not had pupils who invited him into their homes, desired to walk with him, took him riding, or brought him various little favors. The sociable teacher will accept with good grace all these kindnesses that pupils extend to him. But here it happens that many pupils will not offer their teachers such favors. This would be well if other pupils did not infer that the teacher is partial. He should make it plain that he loves his pupils all alike, though some treat him with more consideration than others.

A common fault with teachers who indulge their pupils is that sometimes they meet with adversity in the form of an irate parent or some incompatible person and because of their ruffled spirits they spend a day in the school-room without showing even friendship to the pupils. The 155next day their feelings are placated and, somehow, in trying to make up lost time they make unwise use of indulgence. Such a lack of day by day consistency will surely destroy the effectiveness of companionship.

A principal of a well-known high school had accustomed himself to be very friendly and amiable outside of the school, but when he was in the school-room his manner was antagonistic. He seemed unfriendly and not at all courteous to his pupils. This contrast of mannerism or temperament had become so marked that many of the pupils wondered why he did not conduct himself in the school-room as he did on the street. Most of his pupils disliked him but admitted that they could admire him, were he to conduct himself as amiably in the school-room as he did outside. This principal failed to practice a consistency in his life which is so necessary to make and hold friends.

The Principle of Substitution

The law is, “Resist not evil,” for in resisting it it is only aggravated, “but overcome evil with good.” When in darkness, fight it not, but strike a light. When dealing with vice, excite it not, but awaken a positive virtue. If a child has a fault, ignore the fact as much as possible, and develop his better nature. Encourage a virtue and a vice may disappear.

This law is universal in its application. The teaching profession has yet to learn its significance. It can be termed the Principle of Substitution. 156It means that when one thing is taken out of a life, something else must be put in to fill up the void. When parents and teachers come fully to appreciate this principle and magnify virtue, honor and character in the child—ignoring his evil tendencies—then, and only then, will it be possible to develop every child into noble manhood or womanhood.

Positive virtues make vice impossible. Aggressive goodness leaves no room for evil. Pronounced righteousness once developed in a child, the problem of his government is settled. It is prudent to ignore his tendency not to study when inculcating the habit of study in the pupil. The habits of idleness, inattentiveness, irregularity and others detrimental to a pupil’s welfare can only be eliminated from his life by inciting opposite habits. Great as may the principles of suggestion, approval and co-operation, no greater principle can be discussed than that of substitution. It is a principle widely useful in many diverse activities. Just as it is practical in other fields, so it is feasible and useful in school-room discipline.

The street gamins of New York and other large cities are addicted to many bad habits. They lie, steal, swear, gamble and practice many other vices. They learn these vices by observing them in others and since there are no other activities to engage their attention, they live from day to day in habitual vice until they become criminals. The settlement workers and such institutions as the George Junior Republic, work upon 157the principle of substitution when they take these boys into their reformatory institutions. In them, the boy is not asked to quit his vices; on the contrary, nothing is said or even suggested about his former evil habits. Instead, his day of twenty-four hours is filled with other employment, so that he has no time left to indulge himself in any of his former evil habits. This practice is kept up until the boy has acquired as habits the activities of the settlement. When he has reached this stage, he can enter the world. It is true that some of the most worthy men of this day are products of boy settlements.

A typical day at a boy’s settlement will include a morning bath and toilet which will send the boy freshened and cleanly to his breakfast which is preceded by a short prayer and Bible reading or some other form of devotional exercise. After breakfast the boys take up their school work, or occupation and continue until noon, when they get their noon-day meal and an hour or two of rest. Care is taken that the rest is rather a change of occupation than idleness. The boys play games or read. In the afternoon some school work and occupational duties are done. Part of the afternoon is spent in some recreation which the boys enjoy. Similarly their time is occupied until supper. Following supper, games, reading and any other forms of recreation that will interest the boys are provided. At a reasonable hour the boys retire. After such an active day, they are usually tired and sleep well until morning when the same routine is followed 158for another day. When it is feared the boys may tire of their work, enough of a change is made to keep them satisfied. The work is all conducted in such a way that interest is paramount. From the above it can readily be seen that boys in such circumstances have little time for evil deeds.

There is no question but that the same principle can be used in the school-room to great advantage. The following are truthful maxims: “Idleness breeds vice” and “The devil finds some mischief for idle hands to do.” The school-room in which everybody is busy is a quiet school-room. There will not be the proverbial “pin-drop” quietness, but the little noise that can be heard will be a noise of busy pupils. Very often, teachers in planning their daily programs, fail to have the work so arranged as to utilize every minute; then in the interval when the pupils have a lull from their work, they find time to perpetrate mischief.

Another prolific source of mischief is the recess period. The greater majority of teachers believe the pupils will take care of themselves during the recess periods and the noon intermission. It is true that some of the pupils do use the time profitably, but too often, it is a lounging period and the real aim of the intermissions is not carried out, but rather that which is least desirable results. It will be a great step in the direction of advancement when there will be no longer a free-for-all recess or noon intermission, but instead supervised play periods in which 159every pupil must take part. It is just as reasonable to compel a pupil to take regular recreation as it is to demand that he learn his arithmetic or history lesson. It is more important. He must have a strong healthy body and it can only be made and kept so by regular recreation. The arrangement for getting pupils to the play ground and from it to the school building again, should be carefully planned. Opportunities for mischief should be eliminated. As soon as pupils are seated, work and study should begin. Habits of ease and quietness are easily cultivated in pupils. Whatever of useful employment and recreation takes up the time of the pupils, leaves no time for idleness and mischief.

It is worth mentioning that many children are opposed to supervised play. There are parents too who oppose it. There are several reasons for this opposition. First, the opposition is due to the lack of knowledge of child life on the part of the teacher or those who supervise the play of children. Children very naturally follow a leader and if the teacher is a lover of children and their sports, he will be their leader. It is not uncommon on the play grounds to see the boys and girls flock to an adult who is a real lover of sports. This shows that they really like older folks in their games. So whenever such an objection arises it is very necessary that the teacher or supervisor examine himself for the cause of the opposition and then speedily remedy the defect. Another reason is this, however much we regret it—nevertheless, it is true—there 160are many children especially in grammar grades and high school who like to use slang or suggestive language and often indulge in practices that are little less than immodest. Such children could not be friendly to a supervisor. But it is essential that such children should have a supervisor for their own good. Boys and girls who conduct themselves in this fashion will not unaided make virtuous men and women. It is hard to conceive of parents who would object to supervised play, but in face of the fact that many parents are strong agents in the weakening of their children’s characters, it becomes the more necessary for the teacher to be fearless and supervise the play. A good teacher must many times do that which parents will not approve, but it is his duty to act always according to his best judgment.

The following story was told by an old man. He said that when he was young he was quite wicked; among the evils in which he indulged was evil thinking and vulgar and blasphemous language. He had become so offensive that many people shunned him. He was aware of his condition but was unable to change himself. One day a friend advised him to memorize a number of good poems and sacred songs. Whenever his mind should revert to evil thoughts or he had a desire to use vile language, he was to repeat the poems, or if he was where he could sing, he was to sing some of the sacred songs. He did as he was advised. Persistently he followed his friend’s counsel, and in less than six 161month’s time, he had cured himself of his evil-mindedness and the use of vile and blasphemous language.

The same principle of substitution that the old man used when he was a youth is very applicable to many problems that arise in the school-room. Of course, it must be borne in mind that the teacher does not have the child for the entire day, and that the home may offset much that the teacher does. If such is the case, the teacher’s only chance of success is to solicit the aid of the home. While he may not be able to do this in every instance, it is fair to assume he will get the home aid necessary in almost every case. All voluntary acts of the child are founded upon some motive. The teacher’s attack against any bad habit of a pupil must not be a direct attack against the habit itself. Another type of action should be substituted for it. It is a very homely illustration but nevertheless true, that a cesspool can not be removed by removing the refuse. It will fill up again. But if the pool is filled with good solid earth, the pool will not return again. So it is with an evil in any child’s or adult’s life. If the evil is removed, put a positive good habit or activity in its place or the evil habit will return. It is often the case that the evil habit crowds out the good habit after it has been admitted into the child’s life. This cannot happen under the watchful care of a good teacher.

The principle of substitution may be likened to the planting of a lily garden where once flourished a bed of thistles. The teacher must 162ever be on the look out for a place where he can plant a positive virtue. When planted it must be nurtured and cared for until it reaches perfection. It will then crowd out at least one vice. Discouragement should not thwart the teacher in his attempts to eliminate evil from a child’s life. His duty is clear and he should summon every aid to his assistance in order to accomplish his purpose.

The Principle of Expectancy

“Seek and ye shall find,” “Knock and it shall be opened,” are Biblical injunctions that embody more truth than appears on the surface. Just as true is it to say, “Expect and ye shall receive what ye expect.” The following true incident is very much to the point and worth repeating.

During the first few years of the nineteenth century a French lad was learning to be a drummer for the French Army. Among the various selections of army music which he was required to learn was a retreat. When it came time to learning the army retreat, he refused, telling his teacher that he never expected to beat a retreat. “But,” said the teacher, “no army can be so victorious but that sometime in its career it must retreat.” Again the boy replied, “I never expect to beat a retreat.” It was but a year later when he became a drummer boy in Napoleon’s army. In one of the hardest fought battles of Napoleon’s military career, it became apparent to Napoleon that his army would be defeated and practically all captured. To save this situation 163the great general ordered a retreat. The drummer boy did not beat a retreat. Napoleon angered, rode up to the boy and in harsh tones ordered the lad to beat a retreat. The lad looked up and replied, “I can not beat a retreat.” The now enraged general shouted, “Beat a retreat!” Again came the firm, resolute reply, “I can not beat a retreat.” There was in the lad’s expression a look of firm expectation that he would not need to beat a retreat. The general was furious, he whirled his horse about and derisively shouted back, “Then beat a charge.” At once that firm determination which made the boy self-confident and expectant, fired his spirit and he began to beat a charge. All the years of resolution and expectancy that were pent up in his soul now echoed and re-echoed in those drum beats. The soldiers caught the spirit of firmness and, thrilled with an ardor that they had never felt before, they followed the drummer boy to victory.

The above story illustrates the Principle of Expectancy—a principle that is fundamental in discipline. It goes much further than merely to expect a thing to be done when it is commanded. It becomes a part of the individual, if that individual has a firm grip upon the principle of expectancy. It is a principle that will inspire the teacher with self-confidence. Everyone can recall some teachers who had so firm a belief in their ability to do things and secure results as to have no fear that assigned tasks would not be well done. When the teacher has the principle 164of expectancy so well fused into himself as to have confidence that he will get whatever he justly seeks, then, and only then, will he be an accomplished disciplinarian.

The writer once visited the gymnasium of a public school just when the high school pupils were taking their regular daily exercises. The exercises were being directed by the principal. At the close of the gymnastic period, the principal in a whining tone of voice with these words commanded the pupils to leave the gymnasium: “I want you to leave the gymnasium now—right away now.” This teacher did not expect the pupils to leave the gymnasium promptly. He implied that much in his command. He got what he expected. Many of the pupils continued to loiter about the gymnasium striking at each other and making other useless movements. It took several more whining commands before he succeeded in getting the gymnasium cleared of pupils. In fact, some left it so reluctantly as to show that they had been antagonized by the principal. This all came about by an improper attitude of the principal in his lack of expecting his command to be obeyed. Had he said to the pupils in a firm tone of voice at the close of the gymnastic period, “This is all,” and then stepped to the door and opening it, standing aside and expecting nothing else, except that every pupil would promptly leave the building, the result would have been different. Every pupil would have left the gymnasium promptly and the spirit of antagonism would not have appeared.

165In actual school work, no principle can do more good in its application than the principle of expectancy. One teacher can assign a lesson to a class without any admonishing or even the slightest suggestion that they should study the lesson. The class will return on the following day and recite a good lesson. Another teacher may assign to this same class a lesson, also without a suggestion as to the class preparing the lesson. However, in the next recitation the class will not have the lesson. Upon careful investigation it will be found that the one teacher has in his make-up that something which makes pupils feel and know that he expects nothing else than that his pupils will learn the lessons he assigns them. He does not inform his pupils in so many words that he expects them to study the lesson he assigns. He assumes as much; then, with a confidence in his pupils that is compelling he expects them to do his every bidding. The other teacher, not in words either, but in his very manner, is vacillating. He lacks confidence in himself and in his pupils. He is suspicious. He is not sure his pupils will study if he tells them to. He can not assign a lesson with a safe feeling that the pupils can do nothing else but learn it. He waits until the class comes before him, and then begins the recitation in a half-hearted way as though he knew they did not know the lesson. It is a safe assumption. He is not disappointed. The class has not prepared the lesson. There are many teachers who think themselves “smart” and wise, when they can say 166to a class before they have even begun the recitation, “You look as though you did not have your lesson. I can tell it by your eyes.” Such a teacher is a liar. No teacher can tell beforehand whether a class has a lesson or not. It is little wonder that so many teachers fail. They are the rocks of destruction to their own pupils.

On the other hand, in the actual discipline of the pupils, the principle of expectancy is of vital importance. Who can not recall a teacher going to the back of the school-room to correct a pupil and then walking away casting side-wise glances, and sometimes making quick turns about, as much as to tell the pupil, “I am suspicious of you.” But the information is far broader than that. That teacher by his suspicious attitude tells his pupil that he is expecting the pupil to perpetrate more mischief. If he did not think the pupil would repeat his pranks, he would not need to watch him. Thoughtful teachers can afford to reflect upon this. Nothing is more liable to breed mischief and contempt among pupils than to treat them as though they can never be trusted. A teacher practicing such an attitude of suspicion can never succeed in school-room discipline. To reprimand a pupil and then have enough confidence to expect the pupil not to repeat the offense will without fail reach the better self of the pupil. He will not repeat the offense. Teachers should always expect the best result to follow their efforts. They should make expectancy the keynote of their lives. Not to be expectant is to be suspicious. The question can 167very appropriately be asked: “What pupil likes to be suspected always by his teacher?” And with emphasis: “What teacher would like to be suspected?” Then it is high time that teachers expect more from their pupils. They will get more. Expect them to know their lessons, and they will prepare them. Expect them to be obedient, and they will be obedient. Expect them to be kind and courteous, and they will be kind and courteous. To live in expectancy is to live in hope. To the teacher who expects the good and hopes for the better, there can never be a dull and dreary school. The principle of expectancy is the teacher’s beacon light; he should never take his eye from it.

Again, the principle of expectancy is correlated with the other fundamental principles of discipline. A teacher who by word, a look, a story or a deed, suggests something, would indeed be foolish if he did not expect his suggestion to ripen into action. A teacher should approve the well learned lessons of a pupil, his punctuality, his efforts, not only that the child may have a reward in the form of the teacher’s approval, but also that he may learn that any activity worth while will meet with due appreciation. Such recognition by the teacher stimulates the pupil to continue in his good efforts long after being lauded. Teachers confer benefits upon pupils, thus rewarding them for their activities, expecting the pupils to continue in well-doing after having withdrawn from them these special privileges. The same 168can be said of the principle of substitution. It is very closely correlated with the principle of expectancy. It is apparent that a teacher would not attempt to substitute in a child’s life some good habit, if he did not expect it to crowd out an evil habit. A broad statement, but not too broad or general can be made about the principle of expectancy. It is this: just to the degree that the teacher practices and is permeated with the principle of expectancy, just so successful will he be in the use of other fundamental principles of discipline.


Something has been said about firmness. It is implied in the principle of expectancy. The teacher who failed to get his class out of the gymnasium promptly, lacked firmness. He was weak and vacillating. A weak and vacillating character is in no sense a moral force in any community, and much less in the school-room. Pupils are quick to detect the lack of firmness in a teacher and are ever ready to make a play-thing of him. A safe rule in the school-room, and all its activities, is to decide a right course of action and then firmly follow it. Firmness with a proper determination and force on the part of the teacher adds charm to his manner and personality, that easily elicits from pupils and parents both respect and obedience.

In the preceding discussion emphasis has been placed upon five great fundamental principles in discipline. The principles discussed are: (1) 169The principle of Suggestion, (2) The principle of Approval, (3) The principle of Initiative in Co-operation, (4) The principle of Substitution, and (5) The principle of Expectancy. It has been clearly explained how they are applied to the school-room work. Very concrete and real illustrations have been given to show just exactly the province of each principle.

Reference has been made to these fundamental principles as devices. They are devices, or they may be designated as means to an end. It has been pointed out that the end of discipline, that is, the goal sought, is self-control. The fundamental principles when properly applied are roads, devices or means—that lead to results, which results reach the one goal, self-control. It is entirely unnecessary to indulge in a lengthy discussion of results but, suffice it to say, the teacher by this time is aware of many good results that will accrue from the discreet use of the fundamental principles in discipline. There will result the six basal elements in character—namely, the establishment of sound sentiments, a quickening of the conscience, an enlightening or moral judgment, a training of the will to act habitually from high and worthy motives, a thoughtfulness of the rights of others, and last but not least a practical religious training. “Character is the total customary reaction of an individual to his environment.”[19] The child who leaves the school well trained in these six basal elements of character, has received at the 170hands of the school as much, and even more, as some may suppose, than that institution owes to childhood.

19.  Arthur Holmes, op. cit., p. 28.


1. The idea, that fundamental principles in discipline are not broadly applicable in the school-room, is false and unpedagogical.

2. Fundamental principles operate toward definite ends.

3. The failure to use fundamental principles in discipline gives rise to difficulties in school-management.

4. Like begets like. The same spirit that the teacher manifests in the school-room is the spirit that will take root and grow in the lives of his pupils.

5. The principle of suggestion drops a stimulus into the child’s mind which starts an action.

6. Suggestion for character building comes from the character of the teacher—his every-day life.

7. All of the activities of the teacher are suggestive of good or bad to the pupil.

8. Negative suggestions often incite the very actions they are supposed to prevent.

9. Codes of rules against numerous offenses, usually suggest those offenses to pupils. They are reminded to do that which they would never have thought of, had it not been suggested.

10. Many of the activities of life depend upon the law of suggestion.

11. Suggestion is a potent agency in volition.

17112. Leading suggestion is a name applied to a principle which says, “Suggest only a small part of a duty at a time, then a little more and so on until all the duty has been done.” Very often, to suggest a long series of acts to the child does not appeal to him effectively.

13. Imitation is closely related to suggestion. Pupils especially imitate and make use of suggestions from those whom they like.

14. The principle of approval in discipline is valuable in that it appeals to the child by showing one’s satisfaction and pleasure in the good work he has done.

15. The opposite of approval is fault finding. It is not too radical to say that a teacher should never be guilty of fault finding.

16. Many faults in children can be eradicated by a judicious use of the principle of approval.

17. It is an easy matter to discourage and ruin the best pupils by constant fault finding.

18. By approving what little of good there is in a bad child, the child may be improved, and helped to become a good child.

19. The teacher who does not embody in his life worthy traits of character, can not effectively approve them in other lives. The source of approval is important.

20. Encouragement is a form of approval.

21. Sometimes the best pupils have met grievous obstacles and need positive encouragement.

22. The fundamental principle of Initiative in Co-operation may be applied to advantage in discipline in several ways. A word, a look, a 172deed, a material object, a privilege—all may be instruments of initiative in co-operation.

23. Doing a favor must not be confused with the practice of buying good behavior or work, because the effect is entirely different.

24. Pupils cannot be taught to govern themselves if they are always governed by some stronger will. Children must be allowed to form judgments of their own so that later they can make their own good decisions.

25. Often even prudent concessions are denied to pupils; the result is that they gratify themselves and as a rule fall into hurtful excesses.

26. Consistency on the part of the teacher is necessary if initiative in co-operation is to be prudently applied.

27. A teacher cannot be consistent when he is liberal in kindnesses one day and on another day makes no concessions at all.

28. Care must be exercised in using the principle of initiative in co-operation, so that all pupils are benefited as nearly alike as their merits will allow. Unless teachers are careful, they will be accused of being partial.

29. The principle of substitution assumes that a positive virtue must be cultivated in a child, when we desire to remove a vice.

30. The institutions for reforming bad boys from the large cities are conducted on the principle of substitution. The boy’s life is filled with useful work and recreation which replaces his idle habits.

31. In the school-room it is highly essential 173that the day be filled with useful work and play; if there is idle time, pupils will use it in mischief-making.

32. Free-for-all recesses and noon intermissions are breeding spots in the school day for mischief and evil.

33. Supervised play is the only solution for the wise use of the play period and the crowding out of occasion for evil at school.

34. The teacher should pay no attention to the objections to supervised play. The objections come from those who misunderstand or those who have low motives.

35. The principle of expectancy is closely correlated with the other great principles underlying discipline.

36. Just to the extent that the teacher is able to use the fundamental principle of expectancy, and only so far will he be successful in the use of the other fundamental principles of discipline.

37. It is necessary to use firmness and determination with the principle of expectancy.

38. The fundamental principles of discipline are the teacher’s devices, or means, which he must use to obtain the end of discipline—self-control.



Transcriber’s Note

A few minor typographical errors have been silently corrected.

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