The Project Gutenberg eBook of Practical school discipline

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Title: Practical school discipline

Applied methods, part 2

Author: Ray Coppock Beery

Release date: September 27, 2023 [eBook #71746]

Language: English

Original publication: Pleasant Hill: International Academy of Discipline, 1917

Credits: Richard Tonsing, MFR, Missing pages were produced from images generously made available by University of Victoria Libraries, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)


Transcriber’s Note:

New original cover art included with this eBook is granted to the public domain.

Applied Methods

A. B. (Columbia), M. A. (Harvard)
President of
International Academy of Discipline
Copyrighted, 1917, by
Copyrighted in Great Britain, 1917
All Rights Reserved


The present volume, the third on “Practical School Discipline” (the second on “Applied Methods”), completes the series of books designed for the I. A. D. Correspondence Course for Teachers.

Some of the members of our Teachers’ Club may be interested to know that a similar course of correspondence and study has been prepared for parents. Possibly some of your own “hard cases” can best be reached indirectly, i. e., by introducing these volumes for the parents into the home of the hard case. If you know a parent who has failed to discipline his child properly, why not mention the Correspondence Course for Parents in your next Parents’ meeting! Take along your teachers’ book to illustrate the sort of practical treatment the various “cases” receive in the parents’ books. In helping the father or the mother, you are also helping the child, the school, and yourself.

Regarding the present volume our readers will note that in accordance with the statement contained in Part I, Part II is a continuation of that book. Partly to emphasize this fact of continuity, but also to avoid repetition in the complete index in Part II, the pagination and the numbering of the cases follow in consecutive order the two similar series of numbers in Part II. The division between the two volumes is made between topics, however, so that except for the very 356close relation between the two books, each of them may be regarded as complete in itself.

Finally, permit us to express our hearty appreciation of the cordial responses which are coming from the members of the Teachers’ Club, and again to assure them that their interests are ours.



Cases Arising Out Of The Adaptive Instincts 361
Cases Arising Out Of The Expressive Instincts 577
Cases Arising Out Of The Social Instincts 671
Cases Arising Out Of The Regulative Instincts 745
Cases Arising Out Of The Sex Instincts 829
An Illustrative Contrast Between Failure and Success 859


Adaptation may serve either of two ends. It may fix the child in a life of indifference, of inefficiency, of crime, or it may fit him into a world of noble acts and lofty endeavor.



What are the adaptive instincts? By the adaptive instincts is meant the power that an individual possesses of fitting himself, more or less easily, into the situation in which he finds himself. Such power of adaptability is of the greatest possible value to the human infant, coming as he does into an extremely complex environment, physical and social, and with the further certainty before him of extremely complex activities in adult life.

Fortunately the long period of plastic infancy offers constant opportunity for readjusting one’s habits, tastes, accomplishments, etc. Three chief means for making such readjustments are found in the child’s tendencies, (1) to imitate, (2) to play, (3) to satisfy his curiosity.

“Example is usually far better than rule and imitation more effective than explanation....”

1. Imitation—of Acts; of Habits; of Social Ideals

Betts[1] defines imitation as “the instinct to respond to a suggestion from another by repeating his act.” This is simple and entirely covers the ground. He goes on to say that the instinct is one of the earliest to 362appear, being very plainly discernible before the normal child has reached the age of one year. It often reaches its height by the time the baby is two or three years old, but is never lost and sometimes persists strongly into old age. When a child imitates the same thing several times his imitation becomes a habit, and so two powerful factors unite to form a customary type of behavior.

1. The Mind and Its Education, 170.

Appealing to the Imitative Instinct

One might think that imitation, being strongest in young children, would appear almost exclusively in the lower grades of school; but in fact it plays an important part all the way through the high school. The things imitated change, but the instinct remains. In treating cases which are caused or influenced by this powerful instinct, which the great French sociologist Tarde considers the greatest factor in human conduct, there are four methods which can be used:

The expression of strong disapproval of the acts and their results.
Forceful repression—punishment.
Changing the nature of the example imitated.
The substitution of another and better example for the one imitated.

The first and second of these four methods are two degrees and modes of the general means of opposition. They are sometimes effective, and they are sometimes necessary and wise. If a very great evil is going on, for instance, it is fully justifiable to use any means to stop it, before its harmful effects cause too great suffering and injustice. If a teacher finds a bully imposing on a small child, even although he may know that a good 363example to the bully is the means for his ultimate conversion to kindness and justice, he should stop the bullying first by the best means at hand, and afterward set about the character conversion of the bully.

Moreover, with very young children, in whom habitforming is largely a matter of pleasure and pain in the reactions of their deeds, punishment that is swift, sure and wise should follow the imitation of a bad act after its evil nature has been made clear. With older children, however, who have passed this early stage, the third and fourth means are usually more effective. Common sense, supplemented by a fair knowledge of child nature and the rudiments of psychology, will dictate where one set of methods ends and the higher set, which trusts more to the child’s developing judgment, begins.

Imitation begins, as has been said, in infancy. Its forms will be found to belong to one or another of the following types:

Types of Imitation
Imitation of commonly observed acts, such as shaking hands, eating with a spoon, making faces.
Imitation of a strong personality, or of strong mannerisms in any personality, which catch attention and command admiration or disapproval.
Imitation of an imaged ideal, brought to the imitator through fiction, vivid history instruction, seeing a play, etc.
Imitation which is unconscious, usually under stress of high emotion—mob action.

364Of course the most common of these types of imitation is that of the common customs of the people who surround the young child. Otherwise it would mean little to a child to be born into a family in which gentle manners and kind deeds set a daily example fit to be followed closely. The manners of most children are those of their homes; only with a certain degree of maturity will they see the manners of other homes and elect to imitate them instead. Next in importance to this imitation of the social example, is that of some strong personality.

This imitation usually comes through admiration, although most people will also recall the disgust with which they have realized that they have unconsciously imitated some mannerism of an acquaintance, of which they heartily disapproved. This shows that it is not necessary to admire an act in order to repeat it. It is necessary only that the act make a vivid impression on one, an impression which may be received by some persons just as readily through strong repugnance as through strong liking. Twists in pronunciation are thus imitated in spite of one’s dislike of them, as an involuntary tribute to the strength of the impression made upon the hearer.

Another strong stimulus to imitation is the desire for the praise of others. John wins father’s enthusiastic praise for the thorough way in which he cleaned the motor-car, and his brother Carl cleans it the next time it is muddy, not because he likes the work but because he wants to be praised also. Winnie makes a face at the teacher and wins the praise of her schoolmates in the shape of an approving laugh, and Jennie 365imitates her at the first opportunity in the hope of winning a laugh also. That is one reason why successful people are so much imitated; in addition to what comes to them through the admiration of the crowd, there are many who hope to win similar rewards through similar efforts.

And then there are those who imitate others because they want to surpass them at their own game. This is emulation, usually classed as a distinct instinct by psychologists, and yet so closely related to imitation that the same general principles of treatment apply to both.

Faults which have been learned by imitation can rarely if ever be cured by didactic instruction. They have been learned in a far more vivid way, and their unlearning is best accomplished through the substitution of other habits, imitated from some attractive and vivid model. If the process of substitution can be made a pleasant one, the work goes faster. In general, the dramatizing of the proposed new order of things is the surest and quickest way of teaching it, with children who are young enough for this method. Merely to condemn old habits, without suggesting a new and better way, is usually pure waste of time.

(1) Mimicry. “The young child imitates mainly the simpler bodily attitudes and vocal and facial expressions of those with whom he is in vital contact. As he develops he imitates ever more complex activities of a social, political, ethical, æsthetic and industrial character. In the beginning it is the doing of an act, not the results thereof, that interests the individual; 366the reverse is usually true in maturity.”[2] Not infrequently, however, does the child fail to distinguish between the act that is suitable to imitate and that which is not. Like every other instinct, although of great value to the individual when properly directed, yet if not guided into legitimate channels, it becomes often a source of great annoyance.

2. O’Shea, Social Development and Education, p. 422. Houghton, Mifflin.


Mimicry of Speech

Miss Burch was from Massachusetts, and had an exquisitely soft voice and unimpeachable pronunciation. She came to Peoria, Illinois, to teach in the public schools, and found these two assets very much in the way. Mabel Gulliver, a little girl whose cleverness was largely the product of much running of streets, turned both to account in a series of imitations that “delighted crowded houses” whenever she chose to hold forth. As she did this frequently, poor Miss Burch soon found herself helpless and ridiculous in her own school-room.

“Authah, will you ausk the janitah to give us a little moah heat?” Mabel would flute, with inimitable saccharinity. “And I want you all to cease lawfing at once, foah this is the clauss in correct pronunciation, and if youah to be cleavah like me you’ll learn how to do it properly.” Miss Burch’s manner was the perfection of simplicity, but in Mabel’s imitation it appeared with a simpering ingenuousness both funny and untrue.

Miss Burch realized the situation and wept over it. She did not know what to do. Realizing she was the 367subject of ridicule, she became self-conscious and timid, and her discipline grew worse and worse.


Things were in this bad shape when Mr. Nearing, the superintendent, came to visit her one day. He was so kind and sympathetic that after school Miss Burch told him the whole story, and asked his advice.

“The trouble with you is,” he said, “that your most prominent characteristic is one which lends itself to ridicule here in the Middle West, where we don’t know an Italian “a” from a mud-pie. Now, don’t think of changing your pronunciation; to do so consciously would be to be affected. But make the children forget it in something more exciting. If you’d start a museum for your nature study, or get up a little play for Christmas, and make Mabel its chief factotum, she’d have an outlet for her energies, she would still lead her crowd and have their admiration, and your pronunciation would fade into the background of the Things That Are. It’s all a matter of relative emphasis.”

Miss Burch did try this plan. She had her room dramatize and then play The Birds’ Christmas Carol, and in the intense interest of this project the teacher-mocking was forgotten. When Mabel remembered it again, she and Miss Burch were such good friends that it was out of the question.


When the imitation takes place in the school-room the matter is much more under the teacher’s control, for there is no end of ways in which the child can be kept 368too busy to indulge in histrionic performances. But whatever is done, the teacher should not appear to notice that a pupil is disrespectful to her.


George Henderson was dubbed by his classmates “the clown” because he was always doing something laughable. Usually his fun was of a harmless type, but occasionally his pranks overstepped the bounds of propriety.

Mimicry of Gesture

His teacher, Miss Stanton, had unconsciously fallen into the habit of making nervous little gestures when she was explaining lessons to the pupils, and, indeed, when she was talking with the pupils outside of school. Several times during recitations she had noticed George entertaining the pupils near him by imitating, under the shelter of the desk, of course, all the little movements of her nervous, energetic hands. She resolved to overcome the habit of emphasizing her words by gesture, but the more absorbed she became in her teaching, the less could she think about her hands. If she concentrated attention upon her hands, her teaching suffered and the whole class became listless. Resolved not to sacrifice the class for the sake of one fun-loving boy, Miss Stanton next tried another plan.

“Mary, you may name all the capitals of the countries of Europe,” she said.

When Mary was about half through with her list of capitals, Miss Stanton interrupted her with,

“That is far enough, Mary; George may finish.”

Now George knew the capitals perfectly, but he had 369been busy behind the desk with a particularly successful imitation of Miss Stanton’s movements, and suddenly surprised, could not recall where Mary had left off.

Miss Stanton waited just a moment, then said, gravely, but without any indication of resentment,

“I am sorry to have you fail on anything so important as this, George. Jack may go on.”

George sat quite demurely for several minutes, for he was a little disappointed at losing a chance to recite a lesson which he had really prepared with considerable care. However, he comforted himself by thinking: “Well, she called on me once. She won’t do so again,” and after a short time he went serenely on with his dramatics.

Miss Stanton also went on apparently oblivious to what was taking place behind the desk. After a few minutes she said,

“Stephen, beginning with the northern countries, tell us what the farmers raise in each of these countries.”

Again she stopped the recital in the midst of it, with

“That will do. George, go on.”

Again George lost his chance to recite, not because he did not know the lesson, but because he had not been listening to Stephen. In his confusion his face flushed, especially when Miss Stanton said, in a low tone:

“How is this, George? Two failures in one day? I shall expect a better lesson than this tomorrow. Wilbur, will you finish the recitation?”

George sat quietly for the remainder of the recitation, thinking to himself:

370“Well, if she has called on me twice, she may get around again. Gee! I knew all that.”

Miss Stanton did not call upon him again, however, that day. On the following day George decided that it would be well to give enough attention to the recitation, at least to “keep tab” on what the others were reciting, and gradually he learned that he was likely to be called up at any time that he allowed his attention to wander far away from the work of the hour. Not a word had been said about his pranks, but they ceased to be troublesome to teacher or class.

Some children are natural actors. They mimic grown-ups in a ludicrous way. This may be done unconsciously, but sometimes pupils purposely imitate a teacher’s walk, attitude, voice or phraseology, just out of a desire to raise a laugh at the teacher’s expense.


Mimicry of Walk

George had an unusual gift of ability to mimic others. Even at the age of nine years he could easily entertain his classmates by imitating various men of the town. His teacher, Miss Giles, was a stout little woman whose arms seemed not to hang closely enough to her body, and as she walked she swung them as if they propelled her through the air. Her voice was fretful whenever she repeated a command, which was often, or whenever she expected disobedience. One day as he followed Miss Giles across the room, the impulse seized him to mimic her gait. This he did, with marked success. When he returned to his seat he began to study her mannerisms with a view to entertaining others. At recess he showed the boys how she 371held her hands and nodded her head while she talked. The next step was to imitate her voice. This he did successfully.

One day, about ten minutes before the afternoon session began, Miss Giles was sitting at her desk, grading penmanship papers, when Marie Allbaugh rushed in and said: “Miss Giles, come out here and listen to George. He’s playin’ like he was you.”

Miss Giles hardly understood what Marie wished to tell her, but she followed the child to the front yard where a crowd of children were around George. Unnoticed by most of them, she joined in the circle in time to hear George say in a very good imitation of her voice, “Children, quietly take your books,” then in a fretful tone with a frown, “I said quietly.” “Whoo-ee,” shouted one of the listeners, and all joined in a laugh when suddenly they noticed Miss Giles standing there.

“George, march right into the house,” said she in her harshest tones. “You shall not have another recess until you have apologized to me for this.”

Soon the bell sounded for the afternoon session. When the recess period came, George started to walk out with the other children.

Miss Giles saw him, and said, “George, take your seat.”

After the other children had all left the room, she went to George’s seat and said, “Are you ready to apologize?” Just then a shout came through the window from the children at play. George wanted badly to join them. He said, “I don’t know how.”

“Say, ‘Miss Giles, I’m sorry I mocked you at 372noon,’” said she. George considered. If he said he was sorry he would be telling a falsehood. He would try to be excused without that so he said:

“Mother lets me play like I was other people. She don’t care, so I thought you wouldn’t.”

“But, George, you must always show respect for your teacher.”

George meditated again. The shouts of the children at play gave him an idea. Wasn’t he sorry he did it? Wasn’t that just what was keeping him indoors while others were at play? Of course, he didn’t want to stay in, so of course he was sorry he had done the thing that kept him in. With a bright, smiling look at Miss Giles, he said: “I am sorry, Miss Giles, that I mocked you at noon.” It looked like a sincere apology and it passed for such.

“You may go,” said she. She considered the case well handled.


Miss Giles would do well to join in the laugh at her own expense. She should supervise every moment of the children’s play period. George will not then have an opportunity to use his imitative powers. He will be swept into active games and be only one of a crowd.

An apology should not be demanded of a pupil for any mark of disrespect toward the teacher. Respect can not be developed by force.

If, in spite of these precautions, you sometimes find yourself the butt of the children’s sport, quietly drop into the play school, take a seat as one of the play 373pupils and carry off your part as a naughty child. “Take off” the troublesome child so well—(not any particular one, however)—that the children will laugh with you and the whole thing will pass off as play, nothing more.


Miss Giles had a rare opportunity of showing her pupils how to take a joke. She would have gained friends and lost no more prestige than she did by trying to force an apology. A wholesome laugh with the pupils is one of the best things to help overcome disrespect on the part of the pupils. It would be better, of course, not to be obliged to laugh at one’s own expense, too often. Supervised play solves many problems like this one.

An apology unwillingly given is a lie or at best only a subterfuge. No teacher can command respect by demanding it in so many words. The teacher can compel respect only by showing her pupils that she deserves it.


Mimicry of Mannerisms

It was a rainy day at Mount Pleasant Rural School. After the noon lunches had been eaten the children were at a loss to decide what to play. Finally Alice Mitchell said, “Let’s play school. Who’ll be the teacher? Who’ll be the teacher?”

“Let me!” “Let me!” several of them almost yelled. Maud Jameson, an overgrown girl, nine years old, was accustomed to having her way. She was one of those positive children who win leadership by right 374of having good opinions tersely expressed. Her older sister even followed her lead.

Without more ado, she commanded the children to take their seats and began a mock school day.

Miss Baldwin was at first scarcely interested in the children. Soon, however, she was struck by Maud’s imitation of her own expressions. Was it conscious or unconscious? She could scarcely tell. Would Maud dare to mock her in her presence? She was not sure as to that. At any rate she decided to study the situation, realizing that after this noon time she need not again say:

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us.”

Maud passed along the seats making faultfinding comments as she went.

“Laura, turn round,” she said, with exactly the touch of impatience which Miss Baldwin herself would display.

“No indeed!” she answered to one who asked permission to speak, with exactly the amount of sarcasm Miss Baldwin herself used on similar occasions.

Maud rapped on her desk, and looked around frowning and shaking her head as a signal to be more quiet—Miss Baldwin, unmistakably. She tapped the bell for the children to stand together, and stamped her foot as she told them to sit because some lagged.

“Whoever fails to get up this time may stay in at recess,” she announced, with Miss Baldwin’s own expression of irritation.

For half an hour this went on. Maud scolded and 375sneered, stamped her foot and found fault while Miss Baldwin listened with varying feelings.

At first she decided to stop Maud and punish her. Yet she considered that her explanation of the reason for her punishment might be hard to make satisfactory. Her second thought was to study the situation in order to ascertain whether the other children considered it merely a joke on their teacher. They seemed not to do so. Her next thought was of shame as she realized the atmosphere created by her attitude toward the pupils as shown by Maud. She therefore resolved to let the matter pass without criticism, but meanwhile to profit by the picture given her of herself as teacher. This resolve she kept, and as she learned to be patient, she saw less and less need for impatience.

(2) Leaving the room. The first grade teacher should allow her pupils to leave the room whenever they ask her. In case it becomes an annoyance then is the time to study the matter carefully and apply consistent methods. The things to be gained relative to pupils leaving the school-room, are that they should leave and enter quietly and as much unnoticed as possible; that they should not remain absent from the room too long, and finally, that they do not abuse the privilege by leaving oftener than necessary. The teacher must be very judicious in withholding the privilege of leaving the room. The physical condition of the child may be such as to require him to do so often. If anywhere in school management the teacher needs to practice common sense, it is in controlling pupils who leave the school-room. Right habits should be established in the first grade. It is 376difficult to keep children from abusing the privilege, and in their anxiety to prevent abuses, teachers often use methods which arouse the antagonism of the parents. With the first grade child the best plan is to have a private talk with the child, explaining the necessity of going quietly, of going as infrequently as possible, and of returning as soon as possible. Be careful to express approval if the child heeds your admonitions and repeat them when he forgets.

In the case of older pupils, who consciously take advantage of the extended privilege, we suggest that you first attempt to gain the confidence of the offending pupil. To do this, talk to him about his own interests, show that you are interested in the very same activities, sports, etc.

It is also a good plan to give some definite errand for the pupil to do for you—something that he can easily do and will enjoy doing—and after the child does it, show your appreciation by saying something like this: “You are so kind. Thank you ever so much.” This will help you in gaining the pupil’s confidence.

After securing this basis of confidence, make it a point to talk to the pupil individually at some suitable time. Speak first about something in which the child is interested, then say, “There is another thing I wanted to speak to you about. Whenever you go out at recess, be sure to get your drink and do all other errands before the bell rings so that you will not need to leave during study hours unless absolutely necessary. Try to remember this, will you?”



Miss McLean, after a few days of exasperation over excessive requests for permission to leave the room, finally decided to correct this. She found in one day that every pupil left the room at least twice during the session of school and this was a total of fifty requests.

Frequent Absences

“This will never do!” she said, the next morning. “You must learn not to interrupt the school work this way. Now, I want you to see how well you can keep to your work this morning. We will not give any permissions to leave the room between now and recess and between recess and noon time.” In the afternoon she relaxed somewhat. The next day more permissions were granted, and finally the situation became as bad as ever.


This effort at reform needs system. Adopt the simple rule that only one person at a time will be given permission to leave the room. Ask that each request be presented by first raising the hand. If your pupils respond readily to your management you may sometimes trust them to write the name on the board near the door instead of asking permission vocally. This plan, however, is more suitable to the high school, and even then supervision of the privilege must not be relaxed.

If you do have pupils write their names on the blackboard, upon their return, require them to note after their names the number of minutes they were absent and let them make up this “lost time” at intermission.

378In case any pupil insistently leaves the room more often than you would expect, institute an inquiry as to his physical health. Ask the family physician or the mother for this information. In order to cut off the bad effects of his example before the other pupils, you can pass the word about, privately, that the doctor has asked you to give Tom or Mary several interruptions of study during the day.


It is easy to catalog the causes that lead to excessive attempts to leave the classroom, study hall, or grade room—restlessness, indolence, mischief-making, desire to play, conspiracy to meet another pupil, carelessness in habits of nature, physical ill-health.

Trouble arises over this matter by careless management on the part of teachers. Caution is necessary at two points: (1) Do not allow too many interruptions of the work; (2) Do not injure the health of pupils by refusing necessary privileges.


Simultaneous Absences

In the Normal (Ill.) public schools there were twelve rooms. Miss Haybarger had the sixth room. Soon after the opening of school in the fall, a most obnoxious situation arose because from three to twelve pupils were released continually. There were enough pupils out of the rooms to meet on the grounds and indulge in games. Miss Haybarger decided to save her pupils from this misdemeanor by insisting that only one pupil leave the room at a time and that all “time lost” should be made up. She reported that some days 379passed in which there was not a single request for permission to leave the room.

This result can be further explained by the fact that every minute of school time was filled with carefully planned and interesting work. Her general manner made work and diligence the only possible order of the day.

Epidemics of leaving the room are especially trying whenever a substitute has charge of a room. If a regular teacher has good control of his room he should send a note to the pupils, to be read to them by the substitute, in which he says something like the following:

“I am sorry not to be with you today. Be even more considerate of the substitute teacher than you have been toward me. I am expecting a fine report from him as to your behavior today.”

This message will do much to stop irregularities. In case the children are inclined to take advantage of the regular teacher, the following case will be a helpful study.


A teacher who found that one of her brightest boys was setting a bad example in this respect, dealt with it in a tactful way which proved entirely successful. She was an excellent teacher, who trusted her pupils very fully. They responded to this trust on the whole admirably, but in one particular case her usual methods did not work. She said nothing to the boy whose restlessness was causing the trouble, but assuming that his frequent absences from the room were caused by 380ill-health, she called on his mother and asked her to have Robert’s health looked after. The mother promptly sent Robert to the family physician, who made a careful examination but found nothing wrong. All this to-do over his health, together with the trustful anxiety of his mother and teacher, embarrassed Robert exceedingly. He finally went to his teacher and told her that he was “now quite well,” and that she would not be annoyed any more by his frequently leaving the room. He was better than his word, for he stopped leaving the room during the sessions altogether, and when he stopped the other boys almost ceased also. Without having said a word to any boy, without having shown them that she knew they were indulging in a foolish and childish trick, the teacher had cured the evil by dealing with the ringleader in a way that made him ashamed of the quality of his leadership.

(3) Coughing epidemics. Often pupils indulge in epidemics of coughing. One pupil begins, and by suggestion other pupils join in the annoyance. The usual method of prevention is a scolding which may arrest the outbreak but does not remove the tendency to repeat itself. The very fact that the teacher notices the coughing intensifies the suggestion.

It is to be understood that children often suffer from colds and must cough. It would be cruelty to attempt to stop them. A better way would be for the teacher to ask all the pupils to stand and take several deep breaths and make some arm movements. The windows must be opened to admit fresh air for the breathing and exercises. The teacher can do this without the 381pupils having the slightest idea that it was for the benefit of the pupil who coughed. In extreme cases of coughing the teacher can go quietly to the pupil and ask him to leave the room and take a drink. In most cases this will stop the coughing. When coughing in the school-room is unavoidable, every pupil should be taught how to cough into the handkerchief. The article serves as a muffler for the sound and as a protection of one’s neighbors against contagion.

It is quite worth while for the teacher to remember that the more attention she pays to an outbreak of this kind, the more troublesome it will prove to be, the oftener it will recur. One teacher who came into a school in the middle of the term found that the pupils used coughing outbreaks to annoy and worry their former teacher. They tried the same on her. But much to their surprise she went right on with her work and pretended that nothing unusual was going on. The youngsters carried their outbreak to the limit of their capacities, still the teacher went on unheedful of their efforts at annoying her. When noon came she dismissed a band of worn-out youngsters. She had won. They felt themselves outwitted. They did not try to annoy her again.

Sometimes a pupil hiccoughs in a way to be annoying. While at times hiccoughing can not be helped, still indiscreet teachers have scolded pupils for it and thereby caused every pupil that could hiccough to do it in a most annoying manner. Whenever a pupil hiccoughs, a teacher may quietly ask the pupil to leave the room or she can have the entire school stand and take several deep breaths. This will usually cure hiccoughing. 382At the same time the windows should be opened to admit fresh air.

(4) Giggling. Some pupils are addicted to “giggling.” In such cases the teacher will find that to notice the annoyance will tend to exaggerate it. If she can ignore it, the possibilities are that the misdemeanor will cease. However, if it is so marked that it requires her attention, the method applied must be indirect. It is quite certain that if a teacher will persist in having a pupil that “giggles” do something every time he indulges in the annoyance, he will be cured of his trivial habit after a month or two.

Laughing in a proper way will hurt no one, and is by no means a misdemeanor. It does children good to laugh and would sweeten the lives of many soured teachers if they would laugh more. Often all the pupils seem to want to laugh. The discreet teacher will let them have their laugh; he will join with them. When the fun is over, he will say, “Now let us all get busy.” If there is a tendency for the laughing to become too boisterous, he may say pleasantly, “I like to see people have fun, but if you will remember to laugh quietly when anything funny happens, I shall appreciate it very much.”


Giggling at Nothing

Miss Mayne’s room was as still as a busy school-room can be, when a little crackling giggle broke the stillness. Such a noise always stirred Miss Mayne, who prided herself upon her discipline, as a fly stirs a light sleeper. It affected her as a personal affront.

“Marian, what are you giggling about?”

383“Nothing,” says Marian in a stifled voice.

“Don’t tell me that. What were you giggling about?”

“I don’t know. The other girls were, and I giggled, too.”

“Mattie, were you giggling?”

“Yes, ma’am, I s’pose I was. But I don’t know what I was giggling about, either.”

“Well, then, I think I’d stop. I can’t see the sense in laughing about nothing. Let’s have no more of it.”

Silence for a little while. Then a perfect gale of chirping, gurgling, little-girl laughter—as cheerful a human sound as exists for the child-lover, perhaps because of its very meaninglessness, its spontaneity, its birth in healthy animal spirits. But Miss Mayne must uphold her reputation as a disciplinarian. And this time she knows who started the epidemic.

“Lulu, you began that giggling, didn’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“What is so funny?”

“I don’t know, Miss Mayne, truly I don’t. I just have the giggles.”

“I never heard of anything as senseless as this thing you call ‘the giggles.’ You may come up here and stand in the corner until you get over ‘the giggles.’”

Up to this time Lulu had been simply a lively little girl with impulses under poor control; but at this punishment she became a resentful one. At first she was inclined to turn around and make faces at the other girls, but, as they were afraid to smile in appreciation, this grew monotonous, and soon Lulu began to think of herself as badly abused. She had never been taught at 384home that giggling is a sin; she had an idea that she was very unjustly treated, and her sense of fairness was outraged.

The next day Lulu, who was a prime favorite and a leader of the girls, began systematic teasing of Miss Mayne. She persuaded the other girls to annoy the teacher with a constant irritating succession of coughs whenever she started to explain anything. Mattie was to say that the room was too close, and when the windows had been opened Muriel was to complain of the cold, and the rest were to join in a storm of coughing. This program was carried out, and with great success. Miss Mayne finally saw that she was being hectored, and took revenge by standing three girls and one boy, who had joined in the fun of his own accord, on the platform. Here they had great fun, standing with grave faces, pretending to study, until a good chance came to make a face at Miss Mayne. Lulu capped the climax by asking Miss Mayne to put a cold compress upon her throat, as she said this always relieved a cough for her. She folded a handkerchief and dipped it into cold water, and Miss Mayne, looking into her upturned pitiful face, did not know whether to forgive and pity her or to shake her. She finally decided to shake her, which made Lulu really sober for once and temporarily restored the peace.

Lulu was a good girl for several days after this, but when her high spirits demanded another good time in school, she found similar means of leading the other girls and boys into mischief. There was an intermittent feud between her and Miss Mayne, in which the teacher usually came out second best. Miss Mayne had 385to admit to herself that although her school was sometimes as good as could be desired, when Lulu wanted to she could lead the whole room into a maddening course of annoyance that spoiled the order and spirit of the day.


Natural leadership, a rare and valuable gift, is usually combined with unusual ability of some kind or other, and is always carefully to be reckoned with. When Miss Mayne found the girl who started the giggling, she might have said to her:

“Lulu, have you found out something that is too funny to keep? No? You are just giggling because you are giggling? That is too bad; suppose you step out into the hall until you are over the attack; perhaps it is too warm for you here.”

Assume that your pupil knows that people look with a certain contempt upon causeless giggling, and explain why. Make clear how important it is for people to be able to control their facial muscles, their expression, their laughter; how absolutely necessary it often becomes to be able to forego laughter. Then suggest some simple exercises for the gaining of this control; and above all, show an appreciation of the trouble a lively little girl has to control her risibilities. Give her permission, if necessary, to step out of the room when she feels an uncontrollable desire to giggle; usually being alone helps to control the spasm. If possible, interest this leader, with her wealth of spontaneity and high spirits, in some enterprise in which she may use all her surplus energy.

386Step out into the hall and ask Lulu solicitously if she has recovered from her fit of giggling; probably she will be ready to step to her seat and go on with her work quietly. If she is not, make her comfortable in the hall, and tell her to wait after school for a little talk. You are not punishing her in doing this; you are trying to cure her of a disease, to help her gain a control which she has not so far accomplished.


By treating the meaningless giggling as a disease, for which kind words and a remedy are appropriate, it becomes less desirable in the eyes of the girls; it is like a headache or a cold. With the leader removed and no irritating opposition on the part of the teacher, the giggling will soon die down.

This attitude is not a pretense on the teacher’s part. The truth is that spontaneous giggling is sometimes a sign of serious nervous trouble, and suggests the need of a specialist’s care. Oftener, however, it is simply the sign of poor nervous control, and can be overcome by a little wise and kind guidance.

An epidemic of giggling becomes as irresistible to a group of little girls, and often to big ones as well, as an epidemic of measles. They do not know how to control it, and if they think it is going to tease the teacher, they probably do not want to. The suggestion of the need of control, the friendly helpfulness in proposing means of gaining this control, and the readiness to allow legitimate laughter when it occurs, all remove the idea of wrongdoing, blame, and antagonism. There is no longer any fun in giggling to annoy the teacher; 387she is not annoyed, she becomes sympathetic, and the teaser becomes conscious that something is wrong with herself.

When the laughing first breaks out, however, and everything seems funny to the pupils for the time being, then is a good time for the teacher to say something funny too and thereby associate herself with the pleasure the children are having. The fact of having indulged them in their merriment for a moment will give her greater power to stop them when the laugh is over.

Sometimes, too, an epidemic of laughing comes merely as a reaction from a long continued period of study. It should not be treated as an offense in such a case, but rather as a symptom of fatigue.


Laughing Permitted

Unusual silence reigned in Miss Grey’s room one Friday afternoon, for she had allowed the children as a special treat for Friday to have a period of their favorite pastime, paper-weaving. With absorbed attention they had worked out their own designs and little Teddie Hendricks, in his eagerness to show his teacher what a wonderful figure he had made, could not persuade himself to wait until she could come to him; he must go to her. His older sister had carelessly left her geography on Teddie’s desk and he had been using it as a sort of framework for his design. A pile of unused strips of paper lay on one side of the geography. He picked up the geography upon which both the paper mat and the strips of paper lay and started for his teacher. When about half way across 388the floor a sudden gust of wind from the open window caught his papers and sent them flying in all directions. With a puzzled look Teddy stared first at the bare geography which he held in his hands, then at his teacher, and then burst out laughing.

“Well, Teddie, Mr. Wind is having some fun as well as you, isn’t he?” asked Miss Grey. “Never mind, we’ll pick them up.”

But the charm which held the room in silence was broken. One giggle after another was heard from time to time and presently Miss Grey said:

“Children, you have worked so beautifully this afternoon, we’ll all have a little fun together. Teddie may get the bean bags and we’ll have a little game of catch. Girls in this row! Boys in that one! Let’s see how many can catch without once dropping!”

Ten minutes of substitution of one activity for another cured the giggles and the rested children went quietly back to work with no further attacks for the remainder of the afternoon.

(5) Chewing gum. Frequently some teacher is heard to say that his pupils annoy him by chewing gum. They even go so far as to chew rubber or even paper and when told by the teacher to throw away their gum innocently remark, “I have no gum, it’s only paper.” Whenever such an annoyance exists it is largely due to the indiscretion of the teacher. The trouble with too many teachers is that they denounce the chewing of gum as an evil, making it out as a sin, when in truth, it may be beneficial to many and often such teachers use it themselves when their pupils do not see them. Is it any wonder pupils worry them 389by chewing gum during school and finish up by sticking it to the under sides of their desks?

How much better it would be for the teacher consistently to explain to pupils that there really are benefits to be derived sometimes from chewing gum, and that when at play or out-of-doors there is no harm in it, but that in company, in school or in church, it is not a neat thing to do. Such a teacher has told the truth and her pupils, large and small, will respect and appreciate her for it and they will do more; they will not annoy her by chewing gum during school sessions. The habit is largely a matter of suggestion and imitation. One pupil introduces the custom, the others follow out the suggestion. By relegating the custom to the school ground, when the pupils are busy with physical activities of other sorts, the practice will be reduced to a minimum.


Miss Smith came from the State Normal School to have charge of the two upper grades after forming some very definite ideas on how to maintain order among adolescent boys.

Gum Chewing

The second morning she was conducting an arithmetic lesson when she found that Susie Hall was enjoying her chewing gum more than she did the assignment.

“What is your name?” said Miss Smith, pointing somewhat definitely toward the offending pupil.

“I am Susie Hall.”

“Well, Susie, are you interested at all in this work in arithmetic? I could hardly believe it since I see 390your jaws going” (mocking Susie in a very exaggerated fashion).

Susie was just a little surprised to have her manners noted so keenly and commented on so quickly, and replied, “Yes’m. I guess I like arithmetic.”

“Well, we can’t have this gum chewing, and you can just step away from the blackboard and find some place to throw out your chewing gum. When that is done, come back and we will see what we can do with this arithmetic.”

Now Susie was only one of a dozen who in former days had more or less privilege in the matter of gum chewing, so that there was a sympathetic wave of resentment quickly resounding throughout the room.

Nevertheless, there was no immediate outbreak of anger from Susie or anyone else in the room.


Instead of immediately attempting to suppress the gum chewing in a child almost totally a stranger, go across the room, and, after asking Susie’s name, summon her to you, and very quietly ask her to put away her gum. After doing that, request Susie to help you in keeping good order. The chances are that a girl like her would be more or less bold and dominating among her associates, so that if a feeling of goodwill toward her teacher could be developed, it would be a valuable asset in maintaining the order of the room subsequently.


Miss Smith transgressed seriously in making so bold an attack upon the existing situation. She did not yet 391know the past habits of her pupils, so that discretion should have restrained her from being so brusque and outspoken in her attitude.


Helping to Keep Good Order

Mr. Franklin took charge of the Ellsworth grammar room and found that his predecessor had been extremely indifferent in the matter of eating sweetmeats and gum chewing during school hours. This knowledge came to him by reason of the remains that he found in the teacher’s desk from the year preceding. This disclosure led him to expect several of the pupils’ desks to show the same state of affairs; indeed, he found additional proofs that eating and chewing gum in the school-room were entirely customary among the pupils. Subsequently, the first instance which came to his notice received definite attention.

Ellison Perkins chanced to be the offending pupil. Mr. Franklin waited until recess, called Ellison to his desk, and made some inquiry based upon his suspicions as to the custom of the pupils and teacher during the past year. Ellison slowly made admissions that gave the teacher thorough knowledge of the situation.

“Now,” said Mr. Franklin, “I suppose that you and the rest of the pupils in our room do not believe that chewing gum during the school hours is the proper thing for well-trained pupils.”

“No, I suppose not,” said Ellison; “leastwise in some places they say that we shouldn’t eat in school, and now and then teacher gave us a mighty talking to, but he didn’t stop us.”

392“Well,” said Mr. Franklin, “we can’t do that way this year. I want to be sure of what you think is right about the matter, and if you are willing to help me keep this room clean, and help the pupils to see what is right about matters of this sort, I shall be very much obliged to you. We can’t stand anything that interrupts our work unnecessarily. Of course, we don’t intend to work every minute, but if we lose a few minutes now and then for such things as gum chewing, it takes too much time.”

“Yes, I know,” said Ellison, with more intelligence than eagerness, since he recalled that during the morning he had himself revived the old habit; nevertheless, Mr. Franklin aroused the conviction that he was right. His appeal to do the right thing was successful and even though in a somewhat frail fashion, he linked up Ellison in the plan of reform.

(6) Eating in school. Many a first grade child has been caught by the teacher eating some morsel of food, a bit of candy, or an apple during school hours. Such a practice can scarcely be called a misdemeanor. It is only childish nature manifesting itself. Some teachers say that no child should be punished or even reprimanded in the slightest manner for eating something in school. The first thing a teacher should do when she discovers a little child trying to satisfy his hunger, is to give him a knowing smile and a negative nod of the head. He probably will put the tempting morsel away. Should he get it again, the teacher can walk to the offender’s desk and take the food away. Should this habit become troublesome, the teacher may require all the pupils to leave their eatables at a certain 393place in the school-room. A little tact and patience will keep in check the tendency to eat things in school. It is a breach of good manners; it is a childish trait and should be treated as such. Its chief harm lies in the fact that if the act is unchecked, other children through suggestion and imitation will soon be following the example.


Eating Candy

Miss Shannon was in the middle of the forenoon’s work when she noted Alice surreptitiously munching candy. Her question, “What are you doing?” brought a useless “Nothing.” Stepping back to Alice’s desk she found a little girl with mouth crowded full of candy, hiding additional stores in her ill-concealed handkerchief.

“Where did this come from?”

“Eliza gave it to me,” was the response.

“Is it possible! Eliza, have you any more candy?”

“Yes, ma’am. I have more, but not much. I haven’t eaten any in school time.”

“Well, I want to see it. My, what a lot! I sometimes forget and take a bite of something to eat in school myself. I’ll tell you what let’s do. We all like candy. Eliza, won’t you pass the candy to all of us?”

“This won’t give a taste to us all. I’ve got so little,” was Eliza’s natural response.

“Well, let’s do it anyway. Then we’ll be through with it quickly.”

The plan was actually carried out. Pieces were passed from hand to hand and each child was supposed to break off a bit and pass on the lump. In about five 394minutes the eating was over and work was taken up again.


There seems to be a breakdown of discipline in this case where a surrender to appetite is unnecessary. Require Eliza and Alice to deposit their sweetmeats with you, on the ground that you will help them to be polite to other pupils who have no candy. After school is out in the afternoon, restore to them their property with a mild caution as to good manners. If the offense is repeated, keep the candy till the second night. Commend them for their self-control in waiting.


Miss Shannon exceeded the bounds of propriety in proposing to eat in school hours contrary to her own rule. She should by no means confess that she could not control her own appetite; such admissions induce children to yield to their own impulses.

This habit of eating in school is natural and likely to appear, but excessive severity is not necessary to overcome it.



Not many weeks later Miss Shannon had occasion to treat the same situation again. Following better judgment, she said to the offender,

“Would you please let me have your sweetmeats to keep until you need them?” There was some hesitation, but her calm assurance of good will won.

“Now you can come to me after school is out and 395I’ll give you what you leave with me. But please don’t bring your sweet things into the room. Eat them up before school begins or save them for lunch.”

She took the occasion to say to all:

“Our papas and mammas keep plenty to eat at home, so that we need not eat food during school hours. I want you to help each pupil in the room to have a profitable time. We can’t do it if someone is eating. So we won’t bring anything to eat during study time. If anybody forgets, he is to leave his eatables with me until it seems best to give them back to him.”


Eating Oranges

Georgiana Luitivieder’s parents sent her occasional express packages of fruit from Florida during the mid-winter months. She was the only child in her grade whose parents spent the winter south; hence she could not resist the temptation to take fruit to school the next day after a case of lovely oranges came fresh from the trees.

A whole dozen was scattered among the members of her grade. The first signs were the yellow adornments that bedecked a few desks; one or two fell to the floor and rolled away. At the same time Abigail was seen eating an orange on the sly. Miss Galdsworthy was much annoyed by the troublesome oranges. Here are her orders:

“Abigail, bring your orange and lay it on my desk.”... “All in this row, who have oranges, bring them to me.”... “And in this row.”... “The one who brought these oranges to school may stand.” “Very well, Georgiana, I want to see you at recess. Now, 396Henry, you may call the janitor for me.” When the janitor came he received orders to take the oranges away and not to give them back to the children. He marched off with a basket full amid groans and protesting exclamations from all over the room. (After his departure), “I should think you would know better than to bring all those oranges into the school-room. I don’t want this ever to happen again.”


Having found out who had distributed the oranges by private inquiry, call Georgiana to you and say:

“I want you to collect all these oranges and keep them for a ‘spread’; they are lovely things, but they’ll be in our way if we keep them lying around. You are going to help me keep order, aren’t you? And I’ll help you to have a good time.”

Then announce to the school:

“We’ve decided to have our oranges in a delightful ‘spread’ to come off at the recess period. So we must gather up the oranges for that occasion.”

Promise some additions to their resources and program, and make a splendid thing out of it.


Pupils are hopelessly alienated by a procedure that exceeds the bounds of propriety. Georgiana’s generous impulses were outraged by loss threatened or actual of the luscious fruit. A teacher on the ground before school opened would have found out what was about to happen, in all likelihood, and could have forestalled it entirely. But if the teacher directs these generous 397impulses, she will not only avoid school-room disturbances, but she will be taken yet more intimately into the confidence of her pupils.



“‘You used to eat once in a while in school’! I can’t believe it,” said Miss Arbuthnot, the first time she caught one fifth-grader munching a peanut. “We don’t eat in school when I teach. I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Let’s make a rule that no one shall take a bite or chew a single chew when school is in session, but instead of that we will have our girls prepare us on Friday noon a light lunch, once a month. How many of you favor that? Hands up!”

All agreed, and each child brought a small contribution from home. The luncheon was daintily served in the domestic science room and constituted a fine safety valve for several strong impulses in the hearts of thirty-five sixth-grade children.


Caramels in School

Murry Blane found three young women among his schoolmates in high school that he felt very warmly toward. Having an abundance of pocket money, he spent many dollars first and last in bringing tokens of his regard to his three friends. For the most part he managed to do this quietly, so that his devotion was not subject to discipline, but when Charles Wingate became principal, things took a slightly different turn.

Mr. Wingate knew very well that there were always pairings off of young folks in high school. He watched for these groupings of the boys and girls, and when 398he saw Emma Moore laying a row of caramels on her desk the first question that came to him was, “Who bought the candy for this girl?” He immediately went to her desk and quietly asked the question, “Emma, where did this candy come from?” Such a question had never been put to her before, although efforts had been made many times to eliminate lunching from the high school.

Her first answer was, “Why, friends of mine bought them for me. Isn’t that all right?”

Of course the neighboring pupils heard the answer and knew what the question was and consequently their interest was very deeply aroused.

“O, yes,” said Mr. Wingate, “it is all right for your friends to buy you candy, but it is unusual to see it displayed in this fashion as if it were for sale.”

“Yes, I wouldn’t offer that candy for sale. It is too precious for that.”

Following this witty speech, Mr. Wingate saw that the concern of other students was becoming too intense and gave up further remarks for the time being, but an hour later when the matter of having the candy had apparently been dismissed from his mind, he found the time to say to the girl, “We don’t want that candy display to continue, nor do we want any more of it brought into the assembly room. I want you to tell me who else shares with you this abominable habit of bringing stuff to eat to school.”

Emma hardly knew what to say, but managed to frame an answer: “Why, I don’t know who brings stuff to eat. Everyone brings what he wants, or doesn’t bring anything, just as he likes.”

399“Does Murry bring candy to the girls?”

“Maybe he does,” said Emma. “Why don’t you ask him?”

“I shall ask whom I find necessary to interview, but I am asking you whether he brought candy and gave it to you or not.”

“Well,” said Emma, “several of my friends bring candy, both boys and girls. Perhaps Murry brought some. I wouldn’t say that he didn’t.”

Evidently the interview was not going to be satisfactory, and so Mr. Wingate said, “Well, that will do for now.”


In high school it is necessary to steer a safe course between suppression of legitimate pleasures and attacks on ill-mannered customs made half-heartedly because of dread of colliding with school sentiment. Mr. Wingate should not have attempted so broad an inquiry in so public a manner. It would have been quite sufficient for the moment if he had said, “Emma, will you please conceal this candy until later? It is too attractive to be safe.”

If there were no grievous interruptions of school work, decisive action should have been deferred until profitable conversations had given Mr. Wingate an opportunity of developing definitely some sentiment upon the obnoxious habit. This could be begun the very same day on which he encountered the row of candy on Emma’s desk, but owing to the desire of high school girls very generally to make a good appearance in public, Mr. Wingate might readily attempt 400to cure the ills of his own school by a series of definite lessons on good manners.

Link this up with instruction in domestic science, so as to give it due emphasis and dignity. Make it evident that eating is to take place only at the table or under circumstances where the entire group enters without embarrassment into the pleasure of the occasion.


Mr. Wingate ventured on uncertain ground. He was in a minority when attacking the custom in so public a manner. He pulled on a projecting beam and loosened the whole framework of a social custom without knowing what his next move would be if things came tumbling down.

What was needed was a larger program of action.

The plan of working out the dilemma from the standpoint of domestic science gives permanence and dignity to the reforms proposed. A disciplinarian must never intimate that his requirements are trivial or personal or disconnected with the general good of the school. As soon as one or a hundred pupils can feel that they are out of class by holding to an old custom the reforms proposed will make rapid headway.



Mr. Pendleton was principal of the high school at Downs, Ohio.

Having been fully forewarned by past experience that high school pupils easily fall into the eating habit in school, he had provided a place in his course in 401domestic science for instruction on manners on the street and in public places with regard to eating.

But, in the first place, he discussed the matter briefly with his teachers and found that there was a satisfactory state of opinions there on this as well as on a dozen or twenty other small points which he decided to deal with early in the school year.

Miss Davis, instructor in domestic science, agreed to make this a preponderant point in her instruction. Even in class she strictly prohibited and prevented “lunching and munching,” insisting that those who received instruction must eat at the table and observe all the rules of good conduct.

With this example and instruction as a recognized fact, the girls of the high school were ready to yield very graciously to Mr. Pendleton’s request that no one bring articles of food to the high school. This request was made, by the way, only after Eloise Thomas, member of the first-year class, had walked into the room one morning with a generous sack of marshmallows in her hand. He made no allusion to her individually, but spoke as follows:

“I have been very much pleased so far this year to see that the usual customs of public assemblies have been observed on nearly every point. Sooner or later it may be that someone may be attempting to distribute sweetmeats among his friends and so occasion an interruption in our regular work. Of course such a thing could hardly be tolerated in a company of well-bred people. The standards that have been set in our domestic science department are entirely in accord with requirements of good society, so that I trust that every 402member of the school will be governed by them and cheerfully assist in maintaining the good conduct that has so far been observed during the school year.”

(7) Smoking on the school grounds. Sometimes it is impracticable to change the example except by changing the giver of the example. If a fine boy or girl can be made the leader where a weak or vicious one has been leader, wonderful changes may take place. Such a change was effected in the following instance.



The practice school of Bodeling College was so good that large numbers of boys and girls came out by streetcar from the neighboring large city to attend it. These boys and girls took the cars at a convenient station near the campus, where an enterprising business man had built a Station Store, which furnished textbooks, stationery and refreshments, and gave shelter in bad weather. This store was a great convenience, but the college authorities found it also much of a nuisance, for here a group of “smart” high school and town boys gathered, to loaf and smoke and set a bad example to the smaller boys in many ways.

The grammar grade teachers found the cigarette evil especially hard to deal with. The seventh and eighth grade boys, seeing their elders swaggering about with cigarettes, imitated them freely. There were a number of fine high school boys who did not smoke, but they rarely went home as soon as the smokers, and so the smaller boys saw most of the smoking set.

Miss Steele, the seventh grade teacher, went to Miss 403Hardy of the eighth and they had a conference. At its close, Miss Steele announced her program:

“I’m going to appeal to plain reason; I shall show them so clearly that they can’t fail to understand how cigarettes hurt them in every way, and then appeal to their sense of loyalty to themselves and their future. When they know how cigarettes rob them of health and ability, their good sense will dictate to them what to do.”

Miss Steele planned her campaign well. She was a large, plain, wholesome-looking woman, a good thinker and a notable figure in all movements for public welfare in her community. Her pupils all respected her, and her school-room management was above criticism. She planned and delivered now a series of talks on cigarettes, in which she explained clearly just why they are so especially harmful to the young and what a losing game the cigarette-smoker plays. Her pupils all listened closely, the smokers with the rest.

When she had exhausted the subject, she asked all those who were resolved never to smoke cigarettes to raise their hands; for she had had successful experience with the effectiveness of a public pledge. Every pupil in the room but one raised his hand. This one pupil was the son of a prominent attorney, a smoker and a leader among the boys. His father had instilled in him so keen a sense of honor that, because he did not intend to stop, he refused to make the promise.

But in spite of this well planned campaign the smoking in the seventh grade continued. Some of the boys, with the low ideals of honor which characterize youthful 404cigarette users, had had no intentions of stopping; others were sincere in their intentions, but yielded to example or habit when the effects of Miss Steele’s warning grew cold. As the stories of the failure of her efforts came to the teacher, she became more than ever convinced that the use of cigarettes causes unspeakable moral degradation. It did not occur to her that her method of attacking the evil could have been a mistaken one.


To combat successfully the smoking habit in the seventh and eighth grade boys, it is necessary to substitute for the sensory pleasure of smoking an equally intense or more intense stimulation of another sort.

Show the pupils that indulgence in habits of this sort will certainly rob them of keener delights of a more innocent type.

See to it that the innocent pleasures are within reach—not far distant and hazy in outline.


Miss Steele failed by placing before her class a motive so remote in time that it could not be very intense as a stimulus to self-denial. Thirteen-year-old boys have not done a vast amount of thinking about the possibilities of the distant future. For them the present and the immediate future are the all-absorbing topics.

How could the three desirable conditions—nearness in time, innocent enjoyment, and intensity of stimulation—be combined so as to supplant the undesirable 405conditions which had led to the smoking habit? This was the problem over which Miss Hardy was pondering.


Athletics versus Smoking

Meantime Miss Hardy had been studying her psychology, and between times had been talking athletics with her old pupils who had passed on into the high school. The high school teams were well coached and in football had made a good record that gave promise of being equaled in basket ball. The best man on the teams was Raymond Johnston, who was one of those marvels of all-around excellence who happen once in a while to rejoice the hearts of teachers. He was a big, handsome boy, with a bluff charm of manner which won all hearts, and ready friendliness which made him the idol of the school. He was a star student, who had made a good record in debating as well as in athletics.

Raymond Johnston belonged, moreover, to a prominent family in the nearby city, a family in which high ideals of manners and morals were so intrinsic a part of living that the children grew up healthy, unconscious exponents of all that is best in character and living. It was this fine, talented boy whom Miss Hardy chose to do for her boys what she knew, able as she was, she could not herself do effectively.

At first Raymond Johnston declined with embarrassed modesty to give a series of talks on athletics to the eighth grade pupils. But when Miss Hardy had explained to him clearly the great need, and had shown him that he alone could do the thing that must be done, 406he finally consented. The two planned a campaign as carefully as Miss Steele had done; and when the plans were complete, Miss Hardy told her pupils of the treat she had secured for them.

In the first three talks there was no mention of cigarettes at all. The speaker gave a lively account of the four great ball games, with blackboard diagrams of positions and plays, and anecdotes from his own experience which added the personal touch needed. For a boy he was a ready speaker, and his enthusiasm knew no bounds. When he had given the three talks, Miss Hardy saw with satisfaction that the first step was gained; her boys and girls understood the games very well, and discussed them with the air of conscious experts. All day they talked of nothing but forward passes, and overhand serves, and left-twist curves, and the latest “dope” on basket ball prospects. This was in the winter term, when basket ball held the front of the stage. She knew they must be talking athletics at home, awake and asleep; she knew that, vivified by his virile example, Raymond Johnston had won that room to the athletic ideal of manhood in a healthy and natural way, and that with an ideal of conduct-controlling vividness gained, the rest of the campaign could be carried out with good hopes of success.

Then Raymond gave his fourth talk on “The Making of an Athlete.” He talked about fresh air, food, sleep, clothing, training and regularity of habits. He touched on the ethics of sportsmanship, and every boy in the room resolved to be “square” and conceived a vast contempt for the “yellow streak” that the high school hero treated with such scorn. Then Raymond 407took up the cigarette question, as the next step in his outline of the athlete-making process.

“Of course a man can’t smoke if he wants to make the team,” he said. “Some of the high school fellows do smoke, but they aren’t the ones who make good at athletics or anything else. You’ll see them hanging around the Station Store afternoons, when the fellows that make the team are out training. Why don’t you eighth graders come out and watch us sometimes, by the way, instead of going right home after school? You’d get lots of pointers that would help you. You have your own teams, don’t you? If not, why not organize some? You ought to have three or four in this grade, for you’ll be in the high school next year and you ought to be in training.

“But remember, you can’t eat piles of doughnuts and you can’t smoke if you ever want to do anything in athletics. Rich food puts your digestion out of commission, and smoking goes straight to your heart—and that’s what you can’t stand when you’re playing. They make you fall behind in your lessons, too, and then you’re not allowed to play on a team. I never smoke, and the other fellows that do anything in athletics or debating don’t either. We can’t; we know better.

“Now, I hope this spring you fellows will all get out and get some good training in baseball and track, because when we’re gone we want to hear that the high school is keeping up her old record; and it’ll depend on you fellows that are coming on. You can do as well as we have or better, if you just will.”

Miss Hardy’s plan did work. It worked because she 408substituted a good ideal for imitation instead of a poor one. The poor one had been presented to her boys without her consent; she had to make an intelligent effort to get the fine one vividly before them. She did not arouse opposition by making her cause too obvious, by forcing the didactic tone; it appeared as one part of an attractive program—but it was made clear that it was an indispensable part. She followed up the talks with suggestions that fostered the organization of baseball teams in the spring, the regular coach coöperating with suggestions and occasional instruction. Her boys seemed to have forgotten that they ever thought it smart to smoke. When she left at the end of the year, the coach told her that he was certain that not one of her boys was a user of cigarettes.


Remove Temptation

Miss Hardy was succeeded the next year by a young man fresh from the training department of a great university, who was enthusiastic and keenly analytical. The non-smoking eighth grade boys had now gone into the high school, and he was met by the same problem that had defeated Miss Steele. He realized that while Miss Hardy’s plan had worked with her boys, still the evil existed in the community as a constant menace, and he resolved to reach the root of the trouble if possible.

There seemed to be several roots: the smokers in the high school, the Station Store where the boys loafed, the indifferent parents, the shops where the boys were sold, contrary to law, the materials for their cigarettes. The story of how these elements in the problems were 409reached is too long to recount here; but it was done by arousing the interest of the parents, who were stirred into action by a rather lurid talk given by the new eighth grade teacher, and who organized for the definite purpose of removing the temptations to smoke.

The efforts of Miss Hardy and Mr. Sulzer, the eighth grade teachers, were successful because they attacked the force which set the example. Imitation grows into habit rapidly, and when both imitation and habit are allowed to become cumulative, it takes more than a logical protest to change conduct. In one case, the bad example was displaced by one which was made more attractive than the old model; in the other, public conscience was aroused and used as an agency for the elimination of the bad example. The worst kind of a bad example is that of older people who connive at an evil.


The following letter from a correspondent of the I. A. D. Teachers’ Club also has a bearing upon the control of smoking on the school grounds:

Boy Is Caught Smoking

I was principal and high school teacher in a little school down South. One of my most interesting pupils was also the most difficult to manage—Herbert, a bashful, overgrown, intelligent, fourteen-year-old, the ringleader in all mischief and the idol of the playground.

One of the grade teachers caught one of her boys smoking cigarettes one day. Upon investigation three other culprits were discovered among her charges, but it seemed that Herbert was also guilty. The nature of the case and the custom in that state demanded that 410the younger boys be whipped, but I knew that Herbert was more truly responsible and my heart was heavy, for I had worked hard to gain his confidence and I was fond of the boy. A mistake on my part would make him sullen and unmanageable and the smoking would then go on in spite of me.

After school was out, I dispatched the younger boys as quickly as possible, asking Herbert to wait in another room for me. He was very sober when I came in and I was wondering how to begin the difficult task ahead of me, when a glance from him gave me a clue. It was defiant, appealing and apologetic, all at the same time. The boy and I had been somewhat like chums up to this time.

“Herbert, tell me all about it, won’t you?” I began. “I want to hear just how it happened and how much smoking there has been.”

“There hasn’t been very much,” he said, with his eyes down. “We’ve smoked dry leaves and corn shucks, but we’ve only smoked real tobacco twice.”

He was on the defensive at once, I saw, but his confidence was in a measure restored by my opening—giving him a chance to tell his side of it. I drew him out, not condemning him, but merely looking very grave, until I had a full account of just when and where the smoking had occurred. I did not insult him by doubting him and he gradually lost his defiant attitude and grew more and more shame-faced.

“Herbert,” I said, when the recital had come to an end, “what would your father say?”

“He would lick me until I couldn’t stand up.” This was literally true, for the boy’s father was a 411hard drinker and subject to violent fits of anger when his children displeased him.

“I shall not tell him, this time. But if it happens again, I think he should know about it,” I said. “Herbert, you know you can do what you please with these grade boys here in this school. They look up to you and follow your leadership. You can make them do what is right or you can lead them astray.”

He shook his head violently at this, but was too near to tears to speak.

“We may think we aren’t our brothers’ keepers, Herbert, but we are, just as the Bible tells us. It is really you who are responsible for this affair, because you are older and know better than the others the evils that come from the use of tobacco.” And I talked to him a little about the effects of tobacco upon growing boys. I thought he seemed impressed and penitent.

“I’m going to put you in charge of the whole matter. I want you to see to it that there is no more smoking after this. You can report to me once a week what sort of success you have, but we won’t say anything to the others about the arrangement.”

He protested that he couldn’t do it, but finally blurted out “I’ll try,” and I shook hands with him on the agreement.

The reports proved the success of my scheme and I found I had made a warm friend and ally of Herbert.

(8) Manners, good and bad. Nowhere, perhaps, is the influence of the imitative instinct more potent than in the shaping of one’s manners. “Manners make the man,” is a legend inscribed over the door of one of the buildings of Oxford University, and in order that 412the pupils shall go out from its doors possessed of the high claims to the respect of their fellow men which good manners affords, exquisite care is taken that those adults who are daily associated with the pupils are themselves possessed of such manners as are worthy of imitation. All unconsciously to themselves, these manners will soon be reproduced in the pupils with more or less exactness.

But if good manners are assimilated through association with those who possess them, bad manners are no less surely learned in the same way. The teacher who is confronted then with a room full of rude, noisy, untidy children, should never regard these bad manners as a personal affront to himself, but rather as a result of social “copy” unconsciously imitated by his pupils and requiring time and patience and a substitution of “copy” of the opposite sort before such manners can be eradicated.

Social Imitation

Persons outside of the school quite often show a lack of respect for those whom they meet on the public highways or on the streets. This lack of proper training is not very different from that of pupils who constantly disregard the rights of other pupils or who persist in mistreating other pupils whenever they can get a chance. Those pupils who persistently do these things are simply following “social copy.” The motive underlying each of these misdemeanors is the same, namely, selfishness, which is the basis of impoliteness. No polite child will jeer at strangers or even acquaintances or schoolmates, nor will he disregard the rights of schoolmates, expecting more for himself than for those with whom he associates. He 413will not mistreat his playmates “just for fun” or for the pleasure of tantalizing them. Much of such lack of kindness and politeness is due to neglect on the part of parents. Many parents never take the time to teach their children to be kind and thoughtful of others. When such pupils enter the first grade, their conduct can be changed greatly by the teacher who will make the effort.

It is presupposed that the teacher will himself practice every trait of politeness and kindness. He will not be guilty of any of the above misdemeanors. That means much to the pupil who disregards the rights of his associates. Still the teacher’s conduct along these lines will not wholly prevent a pupil from practicing one or all of these misdemeanors. Close supervision of all the school-room and playground activities will do much to prevent rudeness, but will not entirely abolish it. Naturally parents and patrons expect the teacher to be the mediator for better conduct on the part of some pupils.

Perhaps suggestive control will effect prevention in the first grade better than any other method. Just before school is dismissed the teacher may tell a story to all the pupils, the point of which is to teach kindness towards others. She may then suggest how fine it would be for all of the pupils to go home on this particular evening and be courteous to every one whom they meet. She can suggest the little courtesies of saying “Good evening,” etc. Her entire talk must be permeated by a spirit of kindness and she must expect that her pupils will do nothing less than she has told them. The chances are that they will obey 414her for the first evening, but on the second evening they will forget. In a few days she may need to repeat the talk. Each time she makes the suggestion she should follow it up by approving the children for good conduct while going home.

If the teacher wishes to deal with a pupil individually she can apply the same methods as for the pupil that quarrels or fights. (See treatment of quarreling and fighting.)

Often school children show impoliteness in a marked degree. It may be a result either of poor home training or because of the teacher’s bad manners. The teacher who is impolite can not expect her pupils to be polite.

Some teacher may ask, “Just what constitutes impoliteness on the part of the teacher?”

That teacher is impolite who meets her pupils outside of the school-room and does not speak to them; who does not beg pardon when she accidently bumps against a pupil; who does not say, “Thank you,” when a pupil bestows a favor; who does not greet her pupils with a cheery “Good morning” or a pleasant “Good night”; who is rude and rough; who speaks in a high-pitched tone of voice instead of a sweet, low, pleasing tone; who says gruffly, “What?” when she should say, “Repeat it again, please,” and who keeps her desk in disorder. There are other traits of impoliteness, but the above will enlighten the teacher who fails to know the marks of ill-breeding.

To prevent impoliteness on the part of pupils, the teacher needs but to practice the opposite of the above. She may give a few talks on politeness, but the best 415way to teach that subject is to be polite. The little ones are imitators. They like formal politeness and will imitate the teacher. Extremes of formality must be avoided. Overdoing the matter has a tendency to repel pupils.

Every trait of politeness can easily be taught if the teacher will watch for its occurrence, and then casually remark how she admires that particular characteristic in her pupils. A certain little boy tipped his hat to an elderly lady as she passed the school. The teacher saw it. When school convened she said, “I am proud of my pupils because I saw one lift his hat to a lady today.” She said no more, but every boy aspired thereafter to recognize women by lifting the hat. On another occasion a little girl picked up her glove. Her recognition of the act was, “Thank you, my dear.” Others heard it. Afterwards they sought to do the teacher favors. Again, she stood by the window when a farmer passed the schoolhouse with a large wagon. The wind blew off his hat. A little boy ran and picked up the hat and returned it to the farmer. When the bell rang and all were in their seats, the teacher told the pupils how proud she was of them because they were polite. She avoided singling the boy out. That would have caused envy in some of the pupils, but to be proud of all, made all feel that the act was a possession of the entire school and that which one boy could do, could be done by any pupil.


Miss Wallis, teacher of the primary at the Wendell Phillips School, was picking her way carefully through 416the crowd one Monday, when her eye fell on Walter, one of her own pupils. He, too, was moving as fast as possible and just before attempting to cross Thirty-ninth street he overtook a lame man. The crutches sprawled out somewhat helplessly and annoyed many of the passers.

Street Manners

Walter halted scarcely a second, but as he dived past the unfortunate man, he brushed hard against another pedestrian and fell toward the man with the crutches. All in a second the one crutch was knocked out of his hand and down he fell with a heavy thud to the walk.

Walter did not look back until he was across the street and then he saw no sign of the lame man.

At school Miss Wallis took a firm hand in the matter, by having Walter stand before the pupils of his room, tell his story, and let Miss Wallis rush past him and knock him down. The fall, plus the injury to his feelings, made him take a good cry on the spot. His teacher concluded the incident by saying:

“Now, I guess you will not do that again soon, will you?”


Instead of the negative instruction, i. e., telling what not to do, teach a positive lesson; let one pupil impersonate a lame man; have several pupils or all of them rushing past him; let some one or two offer to pilot him across the “street,” which may be marked off on the floor. In discussing the matter, if discussion seems needful, assume that all of the pupils really want to be courteous and kind but forget it in their haste.



The attempt to impress the lesson, by dramatic exhibition, may easily fail because the wrong theme is presented or the realistic feature is carried too far. Particularly when working with young children, the negative types of action should not be dwelt upon if it is avoidable.

Acquirement of polite manners can be attained only by gradual steps. Assisting a lame man on the street is a matter that every child in school can comprehend. For young children the lessons in politeness should bear on the obvious and most necessary points of contact between persons. Although many impulses to courteous treatment arise in a child, there is always need to teach him how to perform the acts which convention has fixed upon as necessary to good breeding. The greatest advances will be made by helping the child to take the other person’s point of view. This will be certain to elicit sympathetic responses.


Verna Gielow was a black-haired eight-year-old, who made progress in her school work none too easily. She had only brothers at home with whom she played out-of-doors nearly all of her spare time.

Dramatizing Effectively

At school came her first serious lessons in courtesy. Miss Johnson, the primary teacher, had her whole room organized as a family, father and mother, aunts and uncles and children. It was a birthday celebration for grandmother, there were songs, a “piece” to speak and a “dinner” to be eaten. Only thirty minutes were devoted to the whole thing, and no extra 418school time preparation was needed. The “dinner” was made up of dishes produced by the imagination. The necessary instructions as to good behavior were given as needed.

The event passed off with great satisfaction to pupils and teacher. All that was needed for Verna was special supervision and commendation, as she was given the place of mother, which she represented with hearty eagerness.


Picnic Manners

North Lord School celebrated the coming of summer with a picnic. Miss Bradford attended carefully to everything except the behavior of her pupils. Scarcely had the crowd gathered, before she began directing the boys and girls how to conduct themselves. Calling out from a distance, she said:

“Shame on you boys for taking the swings first. Let the girls have a good time, then you can have the swings if you want them.”

Several older girls made a dash for the bridge that led over to the other side of the railroad tracks. They were out of sight in a moment with the teacher on a hot chase. When she overtook them there was another scolding.

“You’re a pretty lot! There’ll be several girls sent home now if there is any more running off like this.”

On returning to the group of children she heard a confusion about the lunches:

“Here, let me. I’m going to get out the lunches.” “No, get out, you can’t manage this.” Meanwhile 419some one was ordering them all away from the lunch baskets.

Thus it continued to the end with noisy, and in large part, fruitless attempts on the part of Miss Bradford to keep some sort of order and decorum.


Arrange for details of conduct before the event comes off on occasions like this. As a basis for good order, organize the school into committees, assigning specific duties to each and develop a sense of dignity in each pupil, sufficient to sustain the part appointed to him. Give explicit instructions on certain urgent matters.

“If the girls gather around the swings, offer them an opportunity to use them; the chairman of the swing committee will see that this regulation is carried out.

“Paul will attend to the lunches. Any one may place a lunch in his care at any time, and receive a check for it. But no one can get his lunch out until 11:45. Paul will attend to this without fail.”

Do not attempt too many regulations; be content with a few clearly stated, necessary directions.

This method with slight modifications should be followed with children of all grades.


System and reasonably good manners have an appeal for children because of the desire they have to imitate adults. Appointment to office gives a child authority and evokes a corresponding respect from other children. 420If each child is given a task, he quickly senses the situation when required to conform to the standards of courtesy which he wants others to follow in dealing with him.

It is always needful to plant at once, perhaps many times, seeds of new acts, sometime before the fruitage is expected. A little reflection will often permit a child to adjust himself, when, if required to act instantly, he would break out in rebellion.


Superintendent Blair yielded to an urgent demand to hold a miniature barbecue in celebration of the series of victories in athletics. The Lecompton High School had not lost a game of basket ball during the season after meeting eight opposing teams.

Handling a Crowd

Miss McAuley, in charge of the sixth grade, was appointed custodian of the water supply and as head usher, with instructions to drill the boys and girls in her room to do the necessary work. She gave instructions and practiced her pupils on these two matters.

“The ushers will say, ‘Dinner is now served, come this way, please.’ ‘Men’s hats may be left here.’—‘May I show you to the drinking fountain?’—‘This way out, please.’”

At first the novelty of the situation created more or less of a titter, but in a few days the pupils mastered the set phrases and practiced on their own number with a real enthusiasm.

Every other room in the school had a small part in bringing the event off in a satisfactory manner. Of course the general conduct of the school was thoroughly 421modified by this intensive method of instruction.



“John Mason! I saw you! You go to the office at once!” Miss Maile spoke partly as a form of apology to a gentleman who was brushing the dust from an expensive hat. The embarrassed teacher continued:

“I am very sorry that John treated you so rudely. I saw him rush by you, glance at your hat as it rolled away and dash on to where I stood. He’ll catch it from the principal.”

Ere long the principal began his interview. He spoke with voice of thunder: “Well, what are you in here for? I saw you here last week, didn’t I? Come, now, tell me your story.”

“I knocked a man’s hat down.”

“Yes, I know you knocked a man’s hat down. But tell me about it. What did you do it for?”

“I was sailing in the east door and struck his hat—”

“Now, just tell me why you knocked his hat down and why you went on without picking it up.”

“I just hurried and didn’t see—” John felt very little like doing anything more about excusing himself, he could not tell why.

“You may go. If I catch you again acting like that I’ll tan you right.” The boy was dismissed with a shove that showed but the faintest trace of friendliness.


Miss Maile can easily keep this matter out of the superintendent’s hands by inviting the gentleman into 422her room, appointing a committee to apologize for the room, since one of its members has committed a breach of good manners. The words can be very few.

“We are sorry to have been rude. Please excuse us.”

We would suggest also in a school where there is a strong tendency toward bad manners, that you apply the principles of suggestion and approval. Some morning when the pupils are in a good mood, say:

“I want to tell you how proud I am this morning.” (Smile at this point, allowing your pupils to wonder what you are going to say next.) Then, after waiting four or five seconds, continue: “I have been watching pupils in my classes lately, both here in the school and outside, and I have noticed many pupils who are very polite. It looks fine to see a pupil pick up something another has dropped. I remember a boy—a fine looking fellow—everyone liked him, and I used to wonder why it was that everybody spoke to him and why everybody liked him so well. I noticed that whenever he saw a chance to do a kind act for anybody he always did it. If he happened to annoy anybody, he always stopped and told the person he was sorry; whenever he walked in front of anybody he always said, ‘Excuse me,’ and he always made everyone feel happy because he was so kind. That is the kind of a person I like, and I believe that is the reason he was liked so well. I visited a school once in which all the pupils were just as polite as could be, and the teacher seemed to be proud because the pupils showed such good manners. I tell you, I am going to watch from now on to see 423how many boys and girls in my room are polite. It is certainly fine to do a kindness for someone. I like the boy or girl who does it.”

The next day, smile again and say, “I’m even prouder than I was yesterday morning. I saw several kind acts yesterday by my pupils. I tell you, I appreciate it very much.”


If acts of courtesy can be made a social affair, a powerful impetus will be exerted toward reform. So long as a boy thinks he acts exceptionally well if he is polite, and so stands in a class by himself, he will give only grudging attention to matters of etiquette. Just as largely as possible we should use the group to teach the individual.

In the case cited, the superintendent and teacher taught more ill-manners by their example than they did good manners by precept. They were brusque, rude, unsympathetic, tactless, and ineffective.

Strict conformity to rule can be as clearly required and uniformly enforced by methods that are not dictatorial and terrorizing. The latter may secure a few immediate formal results; the more cultured methods will draw out a pupil’s interest and hearty response.


Accidental Injury

Robert and Josiah Nash are thirteen-year-old twins. Their present sport is kite flying. Yesterday they were intently gazing skyward and backed up into Mrs. Scudder’s star flower-bed on the north side of her house. The quickest way out was to continue their backward 424course. They left a path of destruction as they emerged on the opposite side.

Mrs. Scudder saw them as they left the premises, and was thoroughly angered with them as she rushed to view the remains of her precious flowers.

The boys were too much concerned with their fun to attend to the damage they had done, but just before supper time, the two appeared at Mrs. Scudder’s front door. Her face fell into a troubled appearance at once, but the boys got in the first words:

“We came to settle for the damage we did this afternoon,” was their first sentence. “How much do we owe you?”

“Now, would you think it damage! I should say there is damage! I saw you boys go on and I thought that was the last I’d see of you. Come out here and I’ll show you.”

All of their courage fled for a moment at these words. But they obediently followed her, not knowing what next to expect. The three stood about the beautiful flower-bed, as Mrs. Scudder resumed.

“Now you boys have done the manly thing and I am going to meet you more than half way. Let us all quickly straighten up these poor trampled things and water them. If you’ll help me do that, I shall thank you very much, and we’ll consider everything square.”

The task was soon accomplished. On the way home the boys vowed that they did not wish to be so careless again since Mrs. Scudder had, after all, shown such a good spirit toward them.

In a system of schools organized with any approach to thoroughness the most serious problems of politeness 425have been solved long before the grades are completed. Repeated associations and the formation of friendships with persons of dignity, refinement and culture, no doubt will necessitate more adjustments as time goes by. How to acquire the manners of a new environment, and the necessity for so doing are fully worked out in the grades. But too often, something remains for the high school to do in the direction of training in good manners.


Reforming Manners

Mr. Robertson found enough trouble on his hands when he took the Allentown High School without giving any special attention to such matters as politeness and good manners, generally.

His first assistant, Miss Sibley, finally overcome with disgust, fairly demanded of him that he do something to improve conditions.

“These people are perfect boors. They have no more caution about the commonest courtesies than street Arabs.” In fact many of them did roam the streets with no home restraint.

Aroused from apathy, Mr. Robertson set his machinery into action. The next morning he gave a long talk in the assembly period, mentioning about twenty forms of courtesy which he insisted they must adopt.

“You must be careful to tip your hats, boys, when you meet ladies. Don’t talk loud on the street. Don’t shove people about when you hasten through a door,” etc.

Several whispered remarks showed how the talk was taken.

426“What’s this he’s stuffing down us?” “Something’s come over him. He’ll get better!” “We can’t take on all that gaff.” “I get all of that at home that I want; shut him up!” Finally some one turned the laugh on the affair, after getting permission to speak.

“People around here wouldn’t understand us if we tried to go through all those motions. Can’t you tell us something easier?” Mr. Robertson dropped the matter and began to watch for results thereafter. He saw none except some crude mockeries of courteous behavior.


Correct the blunders of this man, by thinking out a plan of action with some care. If it seems best to make a public speech on politeness first, point out instances where the school has shown excellent breeding. Cite cases of ill-breeding with pupils in another school as the subjects. Point out prominent persons of the community who have shown you marked courtesies. Take up but four or five points at a time, briefly, and with dignity so as to compel respect. A little raillery need not be taken seriously, as it may easily conceal genuine respect for what you propose.


Building on the ground already gained convinces pupils that the new habits recommended are not a novelty but an extension of something they already respect. Only so can unfamiliar customs of courtesy be introduced, especially if some of the children come from uncultured homes. It requires real pedagogical 427skill to convince the untaught that acts of courtesy are not necessarily hypocritical and affected.

Good manners come naturally to the adolescent, since this is the period of display of the person. When once the novelty can be forgotten there is a warm response in courteous forms of behavior. Hence, the cautious teacher does not hold up a pupil to scorn or shame, but deals gently with him on the assumption that he knows no better.

Imitation is the best agency for teaching courtesy. An administrator should watch every teacher to ascertain if he treats the pupils courteously. In bringing visitors into the school, one can select models of courtesy and immeasurably stimulate student interest in good manners.



Arthur Scudder left Vernon College with all the polish that four years in a coeducational school could furnish him. He was tall, finely proportioned, perfectly groomed, easily poised, and fitted to win the attention of any one who came to know him. Withal, he was quite unassuming and wore his good manners with a gracious innocence.

After a week at Wellington, he said to himself:

“Something is to be done here. These young bloods and lassies need a little training in good manners. I believe I’ll try to connect it up with several other matters and make no separate item of it.”

Accordingly he brought together the English teacher and the teacher of history for consultation. “I want,” said the principal, “a play that will exhibit a modern 428situation, involving Americans, in considerable numbers, on foreign soil. The plot must involve a political issue and the characters must exhibit very conspicuously faultless observance of a large number of the rules of courtesy. Can we find such a thing?”

It took a month to answer the question. Finally, “Ethel Proctor’s Peace” was found, examined and accepted. The cast required forty-one characters; no one of them was burdened with a very heavy part. It suited Mr. Scudder’s purpose entirely. The scene was at The Hague and the plot interwove fragments of the great European conflicts, diplomacy and love. It took two months to prepare it, owing to the chorus practice that was a necessary feature.

Was the principal disappointed in his scheme? By no means. He coached his pupils with rare enthusiasm and drilled them into characters they had never assumed before. He refused to fix the cast finally, until he had made several shifts; thus he put certain individuals through some very much needed practice.

The effect was marvelous. In fact the entire school was profoundly molded by the work done in preparing and giving this splendid play.

Children’s eyes follow their interests. Their attention is absorbed in that which makes the strongest sense impression. A room full of children can be managed only by teaching them self-control.


Staring at Visitors

The Mapleton primary room was in the hands of a genius for the first time in years. Miss Tenney was in her first year of teaching, but had put into it an uncommon 429amount of vim and sense. She sifted out the best things from new methods and put them through with tact.

As a consequence, early in the year, visitors began to drop in and observe her work. They were looking for her weak spot and found it: the boys and girls could not stick to their work when visitors were present. For example, Miss Tenney was reported to have said in Mrs. Wm. Van Kirk’s presence:

“Walter and Clarence, go on with your work now.” “Eleanor and Pearl, don’t look that way. Look at your book.” “You must go right on with your school work.”

It was such a delicate matter to handle that no one dared speak to her about it, so the unfortunate and unnecessary situation is prevalent to this day.


Give instructions on how to behave when visitors are present at a time when no stranger is in the room.

Lay the stress on showing some good work to the friends of the school.

Repeat some of the words of praise that have been spoken regarding “our work,” and promise a good many more visitors before long.

Name the children beavers or bees and tell them how well they have worked and what they may hope to accomplish if every child will work hard.

Apply the principles of suggestion and approval. Some morning, say tomorrow morning, when all the pupils before you are fresh and in a good mood to have suggestions lodged, rise from your chair, walk 430around in front of your desk, smiling, and say something like this: “I want to tell you how proud I am this morning.” Pause at this point, allowing your pupils to wonder what you are going to say next. Then continue: “A visitor came in to one of my classes a few days ago and I noticed a good number of my pupils kept right on with their work—their heads straight forward, instead of turning around and bending their necks out of joint trying to see the visitors, as they do in some schools. Now, a visitor always notices this. I went into a school once where everyone twisted his neck so much that I wondered if there wasn’t something wrong with all of them. Then I have visited other schools where the pupils kept right on with their work and it looked just fine. The teacher seemed to be proud because the pupils showed such good manners. I tell you I’m going to watch from now on and when I see everyone in the room continuing his work when visitors come, I’ll feel like going to my desk and raising every one of the grades a notch or two because it’s a good trait in any school.”

The next time a visitor comes, a greater number of pupils will pay attention to their work than before, so on the following morning, again approve your pupils for their good manners in the presence of yesterday’s visitor, bringing out the point that you noticed several more yesterday than you ever did before.

One of the most important points about this method is that those who stare are practically ignored. They are not approved nor even talked about. In order for them to be included in that class which is noticed, they must fall into line.

431It is important that you spend the smallest amount of time possible with the visitor when he comes. Simply show him a good seat and then go about your work as if he were not present. Many teachers are responsible for their pupils paying so much attention to the visitor because they are continually going back and talking with the visitor, explaining various things to him during a class recitation. In other words, the direction of the teacher’s attention largely determines the direction of the pupil’s attention.


Too much attention can easily be devoted to a small matter of this sort. Miss Tenney, by a little manipulation, could have placed this staring at visitors where it belonged—in a subordinate relation to the remainder of her work. Her own absorption prevented her from properly instructing her pupils when guests were absent. A small neglect of this sort may nearly undo a very fine piece of work; surely this will be the case if the children discover that they have free rein under certain circumstances.


Greeting the Visitor

Rose Holden had charge of the Pines Hill district school for the summer term. Having taught in the same district in another settlement, she was well known before her school opened. Visitors came in somewhat frequently, and provision for courteous treatment of them was necessary, but such as would not disturb the school.

432“I wish to make the following announcements about visitors,” she said one day. “When visitors knock I will meet them at the door. Since there is no space for them to sit in the back of the room, I shall bring them to the front and shall introduce them to the school. You will stand and say together: ‘We are glad to see you, Mrs. ——.’ After that you and the visitors will take seats and you are to go on with your work. This means that you are to forget that any stranger is in the room. I shall repeat these instructions now and then so that all may understand.”

Miss Holden’s pupils all happened to be small children. With an older class of pupils she would not have requested the formality of rising. With the little ones, however, the act afforded a brief rest for the pupils, satisfied their desire to share in greeting the visitors and made them more willing to return quietly to their study.


Gazing at Visitors

Miss Olney had heard that her new room in Virden was not a very good one, but she had no idea how awkward and ill-bred children could be until she saw their actions on the first day, when two mothers and one father came with new pupils to the school. Visitors were evidently a new experience for this third grade room, for the pupils stared constantly at the trio seated on the platform, where they had been placed with much politeness by Miss Olney.

“You’ll have to pardon the way those children stare at you,” she said to the visitors. “They don’t seem to be used to company. Children, let’s see every eye 433on the lessons, now. It isn’t polite to stare at company.”

The children opened their books, and gazed at them unseeingly. Miss Olney turned to Mr. Turner, whose little daughter was a new pupil, and explained to him the course she would take. “We don’t have history in this room, I’m sorry to say. Perhaps we can put it in later. Harvey, do you have your problems? Then why don’t you go to work? Our guests are not visiting you; they are visiting the room, and they want to see the room at work.”

Presently she turned to Mrs. Albright, another of the trio, and began to explain her ideas of teaching. But in the midst of her explanations she saw Mary Hill and Sara Bly watching her and her guest.

“Mary and Sara, this is time to get lessons. Dear me, Mrs. Albright, I do hope you’ll come to see us later, when we have learned to be better behaved. These children certainly do need some training, and I intend to give it to them. Look at those little Johnsons; they are fairly staring a hole through you, Mrs. Young.”

Mrs. Young laughed with her at the staring little Swedes, who quickly looked at their books in confusion at the evident discussion of them, and flushed very red. Feeling that they were interfering with the program of the school, the three visitors soon left, and then Miss Olney was freer to give her attention to her pupils.

“Now see here,” she began, “there is one thing we might as well understand first as last. When company comes, I want you to go right on with your regular work, and I’ll entertain the visitors. Above all else, 434don’t stare at them. You get your lessons, or else you’ll fail right before company, and then think how ashamed you’ll be. I know you all want to show off before company, don’t you? And instead of showing off, you all look as countrified and awkward as a lot of little geese,—just as though you never had company at home.”

Miss Olney did not have much company during the year, but when she did she went through about this program each time. Her pupils did not improve in manners; at the end of the year they were as awkward, self-conscious and ill-bred as in the beginning. She had utterly failed because she did not know that good manners are largely taught through imitation.


Usher guests quietly into the room, and place chairs, or allow pupils to place chairs for them in some part of the room where their presence will not interfere with school activities. Talk to them, if at all, so quietly that pupils will not be disturbed in their work. Go on with school work as though guests were not present; they want to see the school routine. Your own quiet acceptance of the presence of guests will help the pupils to regard the visit as less of an event. If the children stare at guests, attract their attention by some exercise or talk to them about their work, or let them do some favorite task that appeals to them strongly. Then, when the company has gone, talk to them frankly about the matter of staring, and show them how much more courteous it is not to look at people intently. Never talk about your pupils to visitors, unless you can say something pleasant of them; and even compliments 435should be paid with caution, as the sweet grace of unconsciousness is easily spoiled in little people. By your own easy, matter-of-fact politeness to guests, set the pupils a good example to imitate.


Miss Olney made several mistakes. First of all, she made her pupils very conscious of the visitors by putting them upon the platform and spending her time during lesson-hours talking to them. Company should never be put upon a platform unless they are to be looked at; for any child feels that an unusual object, placed directly before him, must be meant to be seen. Miss Olney had no business asking her pupils to do what she did not herself do; she spent her time with the visitors, neglecting her regular program, but asked her pupils to attend to their lessons. She should have known that voluntary attention is weak in early childhood, and needs every help to growth. She made Harvey, Sara, Mary and the little Johnsons very self-conscious by correcting them before guests, then reproved them for not going on with their work in complete unconsciousness of anything unusual. In short, she ignored the value of example in every way.

Dramatic exercises are a most effective means of reaching small children, since they offer the elements of vividness and repetition.


“Hey, there, teacher!” called out Johnny Scott to Miss Strong, whom he spied across the road. “Say, you didn’t lick me today, did you? Pa said you would, but I told him where he got off at.”

Loud Manners

436The men lounging before the postoffice laughed good-naturedly as Johnny yelled this greeting to his teacher. She was embarrassed, but not angry, for she knew Johnny and fine manners had never had a fair chance to become acquainted. She dreaded going to the postoffice for her letters, but as she could not have them without making the trip, she finally mustered up courage and ran the gauntlet of staring idlers. One of them, Ike Masters, spoke to her as she came out.

“Well, the first day’s done, ain’t it?” he asked with kindly interest. “An’ you ain’t sorry, now, I’ll bet. If my boy gives you any trouble just lick the stuffing out of him, an’ I’ll do it again when he gits home if I’ve hearn about it.” His friends nodded and guffawed their approval, and Miss Strong escaped with a murmur and a smile. The smile came because she realized that these mountain people were kindly disposed toward her and her work, and that their crudeness was that of ignorance and not that of viciousness.

“We are going to play a game,” she announced the next day, when regular lessons were done and the happy play-hour had come. “We’re going to play we are going along the street, and meet each other. We’ll practice the right way to greet our friends.” She told a little story of a boy who started out one morning and met various people,—a lady, whom he greeted with lifted hat; an old man, whose basket he carried; a stranger, whom he directed; and a lost baby, whom he took home to his mother. She illustrated graphically the various stages in this small paragon’s progress, and then asked who wanted to play that he was Ben Blossom (the name of the model boy). Two hands 437went up; really all wanted to play, but games were a new thing and the children were shy. So these two boys were allowed to put on their hats and play the little drama of good manners. She herself took the part of the woman, and greeted the boy who lifted his hat with sweet courtesy. She hobbled along like an old man, with her satchel for a basket, and she selected the smallest girl to be the lost baby. They were all so excited about the play that they forgot to stop at four o’clock; and Miss Strong promised that they might play it again.

When they played it the second time, Bob Everly took the part of Ben, and Dicey Snively was the lady. “Good morning, Miss Snively,” Bob called out cheerily as soon as he entered the room. “How d’ you do?”

“Aw, that ain’t the way to do it,” Bud Hawkins complained.

“’Tis too,” returned Bob, hotly. “Ain’t it, Miss Strong?”

“Let’s talk about that,” said Miss Strong. “Bob, do you think Ben Blossom shouted at the lady as soon as he saw her, or did he wait until he was near her and then spoke in a rather low voice?”

“He waited!” Bud Hawkins put in virtuously.

“I don’t know,” said Bob. “What did he do?”

“He waited until he had almost reached her, and then he lifted his hat with the hand that was on the other side of her. See if you can show Bud just how it was done.”

Bob did it beautifully. “Now,” said Miss Strong, “I want to see if you can bow and lift your hats to me, next time you pass me on the road, as nicely as 438Ben Blossom did to that lady he knew. And you’ll wait until you are near me before you begin to tell me things, won’t you? I like that so much better than calling out to me.”

“My pop don’t lift his hat,” said Bud. “He says it’s stuck-up.”

“I think it’s stuck-up not to lift your hat,” said the new teacher. “If you don’t lift your hats, I might think you didn’t like me.”

By means of such little plays Miss Strong taught her mountain boys and girls the more obvious points of good manners. Gradually they learned not to shout to her across the road, to address her by name instead of by the title “Teacher,” and to raise their caps punctiliously when she passed. A few of the fathers, as eager as their children to learn the ways of the world, also learned to salute her courteously; but most of them merely tolerated this innovation as a harmless fancy of the new teacher’s.


The use of the dramatic method in dealing with faults based on the exercise of imitative faculties has these recommendations:

It presents the new ideal for imitation vividly; it brings it before the children in action, with words and gestures.
It overcomes the physical inertia of unusedness through practice. Any one can remember cases in his own childhood in which he resolved to do a certain thing, but failed when the chance came through sheer lack of practice; the unschooled 439muscles refused to do a new, strange thing. Teachers should be careful to practice the game several times before suggesting that the action be made a part of daily life.
It gives a pleasant association to the new idea; the association of play is far more pleasant than that of didactic instruction. Games and plays can be made very interesting and little children love them.



Another example of the effectiveness of the teacher’s own influence in correcting bad habits formed through imitation, is the experience of a teacher in a primary room in Ohio. She noticed the bad posture of her little people on the first day, but was not surprised, as she had known her predecessor to be a woman of slouchy appearance and stooped shoulders, although an excellent teacher in other respects. She said nothing about posture for two weeks, although she took especial pains to stand and sit correctly herself. She hoped that her silent example would effect a change.

Silent example does sometimes effect a change, without the need of any word. This is when the imitators are either startled into attention through the spectacular nature of the model offered, or are sensitive to differences in models. In this case the children did not even notice that their new teacher stood differently from their former one, for they were not at all sensitive to the difference between good and bad postures. So Miss Sturdevant began to make her example effective by making it vivid.

440“I want you to look at me a moment,” she said one morning, as she seated herself before her pupils with her profile turned to them. “Please notice my shoulders. Do you see anything wrong with them?” She was badly round-shouldered at that moment. But the children were so completely unconscious of the problem to be dealt with that they saw nothing wrong. So Miss Sturdevant straightened her shoulders quickly.

“Do you like to see my shoulders this way, or as they were before?”

“We like you this way,” one little boy volunteered.

Miss Sturdevant again rounded her shoulders, straightened them, and showed them how much better she looked with her chest well out and her shoulders back, than when humped over. When the children had become sensitive to the difference in her appearance, she called their attention to their own round shoulders and crowded chests. There followed a great straightening up, of course. The teacher drew two pictures upon the blackboard, one showing chest and shoulders in a good position, and the other showing a boy badly humped over his desk. Under the first she wrote: “This boy will have a good figure when he grows up.” Under the second she wrote: “What kind of a figure will this boy have?” When all this had been done, the children began to notice Miss Sturdevant’s erect posture, and to straighten up when she threw her chest out or held her shoulders back suggestively.

When the first matter of correct sitting posture had been made clear by repeated example and explanation, 441good standing posture was taken up, then position when lying in bed, sitting in an ordinary chair and so forth. In every case, example was clarified by explanation and reasons were given. As Miss Sturdevant was a sweet and attractive woman and loved by her pupils, they eagerly followed her example and directions, and the bad effects of the former imitation were practically eliminated by the end of the year.

Sometimes imitation and instruction can be effectively reinforced by suggestion and approval. For example, some morning when the pupils are fresh and in a good frame of mind to accept suggestion, the teacher might say: “I want to tell you how proud I am this morning” (pausing, allowing the pupils to wonder what will come next), then continue: “A visitor came into one of my classes a few days ago and I noticed a good number of my pupils sitting up just as straight as could be, with their shoulders back like this.” (Here she should put her shoulders back decidedly.) “Now, a visitor always notices this. I have visited some schools where the pupils didn’t seem to have good postures at all, while in other schools where I have visited, the pupils were all healthy looking, robust, with big, broad shoulders kept well back. They made a fine appearance. I’m going to watch from now on and just see how many I can count who keep their shoulders back. It’s mighty fine to see everyone in the room sitting up straight. I like to see a straight physique and I am going to tell you tomorrow morning how many I count today.”

The next morning the teacher should again approve the pupils regarding how straight they sat the day 442before, bringing out the fact that she noticed several more yesterday than ever before.

The skillful use of imitation is a particularly good means of bettering conditions in schools in which there is no real badness, but in which quietness and order are absent. It is not enough that children mean well; they must also learn to work economically and efficiently, or they are not being educated truly. One reason for the noisy school-room is that quietness has not been held before American children as a universal need. There have been teachers enough who have insisted on a death-like solemnity in school-room routine, but few that have seen that training in quietness must have a bigger end in view than mere school-room order. Young people, having strong nerves and stronger motor impulses, are not naturally quiet; therefore, the advantage of quietness must be shown them conclusively, and ways of being quiet, of doing things without unnecessary noise, must be made concrete by illustration. With the desirability for quiet and the definite ways of attaining it both made clear to them, imitation of quiet ways of accomplishing their ends will follow.


Quiet Manners

After three weeks’ work following the holidays, Miss Herbert found school-room conditions in Farmerstown gradually declining. A series of annoyances was instituted; certain troubles seemed to become the fashion, then die and give place to new ones, none very serious but all disconcerting. Awaking finally to the 443situation, she decided to watch for the next outbreak and deal with it severely.

“Louis Fischer, you dropped your pencil on purpose, I just believe!” and before she was done with the sentence another and another went clattering on the floor.

Her eye fell next on Arthur Boyd. “Now, Arthur, I’ve stood this just as long as I can. You two can just as well begin behaving properly at once. Get up, both of you! Stand on your seats until I give you permission to get down.”

With open-mouthed wonder, the two mounted their seats as ordered and watched with glee the complete absorption of the other pupils in this novel sight. Some pretence of work was maintained for fifteen minutes until the two were ordered down from their seats.

The results were not satisfactory. The children felt somewhat insulted at this form of punishment, at the same time some of them wanted to star as the object of general attention.


The best remedies for noises of this sort are intense drive on interesting work, and indifference to the noise, if there is an apparent concerted movement to annoy the teacher.

In case you find it needful to speak privately to any pupil, assume that his motives are good all the way through and that he would like to lay his pencil down properly. Perhaps the following words will be appropriate:

444“I see you have some difficulty in keeping your pencil. My own desk has a slant and sometimes gives me trouble on that account. If we will lay our pencils down carefully in the groove, they will surely stay where they belong.”


For these minor noises it seems safe to recommend for children in any grade the methods just outlined. Nothing is surer to provoke disrespect for a teacher than excessive attention to small annoyances. On the other hand the best remedy for these trifling troubles is plenty of hard work.

In nearly every instance the noisy pupil is not a vicious child, but an active child. Let us recall how eagerly children produce interminable noises of all sorts when left to their own devices—banging, whistling, drumming, screeching noises. In school hours the noise-hunger takes secondary place. The pleasure of creating a sensation is the chief cause of the annoyance.



Miss Miller came into a very noisy fifth grade room, where the pupils were good-natured and docile, but unused to orderly methods and untrained in self-control. She won their liking at the outset by her courtesy and her real mastery of her teaching subjects; therefore she found herself in a good position, after the first fortnight of establishing her authority, to attack 445her great problem of reducing the school-room routine to quietness and economy of nerve-force.

“I want you to help me make an experiment,” she said one day. “Yesterday was a rainy day, and we had more than the usual amount of noise, I think. You spent the whole of your twenty minutes in studying your mental arithmetic, and yet you made eighty-two mistakes out of a total of one hundred thirty questions; I kept count carefully. That was too many by far, wasn’t it? I tried to think how we could bring up our bad record, and I decided that we make too much noise in study hour. So I thought we would experiment, and see if we can get our arithmetic better when we are quiet. I’m going to select ten pupils today, and let them go off by themselves in quiet places to study by themselves. Who wants to go? And the rest of us here will be as quiet as we can be, and we’ll see what the effect will be on our lessons.”

The children were eager for the novelty of an “experiment,” and of course it proved to them, as Miss Miller planned it should, that quietness brings better lessons and that they are learned in less time.

“I wonder if we can reduce the time spent on our arithmetic lesson to fifteen minutes, and thus have five minutes more for our music, or for the story hour?” she said. “Of course, we shall need to have the room very quiet, to do that. Who can suggest ways in which we can control the noise during study hours?”

Many suggestions came from the children. “We can remember not to move our feet around after we have placed them on the floor.” “At home, when baby 446is asleep, mother has us walk on tiptoe if we have to cross the room.” “We can have it quiet if everybody makes up his mind not to whisper once.” “I keep dropping my pencil on the floor, and I’ve thought of a way to stop that. I’m going to have a string on it and fasten it to my buttonhole, and then if it does drop it can’t reach the floor and make a clatter.”

Miss Miller suggested other ways, and they made a list of them on the blackboard, so as to keep them all in mind. Under the teacher’s sympathetic leadership, there ensued a campaign to eliminate noise from study hours. Without mentioning it, Miss Miller enlarged the scope of their efforts to include quieter ways of passing materials, walking about the room, and putting away books. Mutual imitation strengthened the movement; just as these pupils had before imitated the thoughtless, careless, noisy way of doing things, now they imitated a thoughtful, controlled method of accomplishing results. What mischievous noise there had been disappeared automatically through the force of public opinion; for when the room as a whole saw the results of a quiet regime, saw that it brought them more time for the recreational part of the school program, a prejudice against unnecessary noise developed which rendered the maker thereof unpopular.


Do not treat noise as a crime. Consider it a disease, or rather a lack of development, a failure to acquire a desirable skill. Follow this plan:

Show that quiet is really a desirable thing for the pupils themselves—too often they have an 447idea that it is merely a cranky demand of the teacher’s, with which, of course, being healthy young animals, they have little sympathy.
In a spirit of coöperation, devise and clarify means of securing quiet habits. Show the pupils how to lift their feet in walking, do not simply command them to walk quietly. If pencils fall, have them tied. Teach pupils how to handle books, pencils, tablets (in really up-to-date schools the dirty, noisy slates are no longer used) and erasers, so as to minimize the chances of their falling on the floor. If pupils fall noisily into their seats, show them how well-bred men and women sit. They will never learn anything more valuable than these lessons in good manners, even if an occasional spelling lesson has to be sacrificed for them.

Not infrequently it happens that what, on the face of it, appears to be bad manners or impatience, is really due to pathological nervousness. In such a case the teacher has a further duty than the mere teaching of good manners.

The impatient child is but a nervous child. Nervous children often spill and drop things and are easily excited. What will tend to control and quiet one condition will control and quiet the other. Firmness will be needed in either case.

Find out the cause of the pupil’s nervousness if possible and seek to remove that cause. You may need to speak to the parent. Approach him or her in a kind spirit which the parent can not possibly mistake. Suggest 448that you noticed some point about the child’s behavior at school which perhaps the parent had not as yet observed. Be very careful not to exaggerate any statement—instead be very conservative. For example, after commenting on some good point about Mary, say something like this: “I have noticed that Mary is beginning to show just a little nervousness at times and I thought you would appreciate it if I would tell you. I wondered if she might have eaten too much candy or too many rich things, or whether she might have failed to get enough sleep.”

This method will bring about the coöperation of the mother, who will do all in her power to help you with the child. You can, in the course of your conversation with the mother, incidentally remark that you have always found that a daily warm bath, plenty of rest, some exercise, and plenty of fresh air will generally make a pupil feel like himself or herself again. Avoid the suggestion that the nervousness is at all serious with this child; assume, rather, that this is just a little time in which the pupil is not feeling as well as usual.

At school, see to it that the nervous child gets plenty of exercise on the playground and plenty of fresh air in the school-room. It is also very important that you say pleasing things to the nervous child, words which have a soothing effect. Even strain a point to approve the work which the pupil does. Faultfinding will unnerve a child more quickly than almost anything else. So be very patient and encourage the pupil even more than you would an ordinary child. The impatient child tends to get through with his work 449before other children do. The teacher should always have at hand some pictures, picture books, boxes of curios, colored pencils, stencils, colored blocks, building blocks and many other things that interest children in primary grades. But whatever the grade of the nervous child, avoid so far as possible all sources of irritation; never lose a chance to commend effort; let your attitude toward him be one of sympathy.

(9) Cleanly habits and care of school-room. Every first grade teacher knows what it is to have one or more pupils who are disposed to be uncleanly. This condition can not be termed a misdemeanor. It is more. It is both annoying and unsanitary. What is still worse is that the situation is not one of the child’s own choice, but it is due to circumstances in the home; and too often, any measure that is taken to reform the child gives offense to the parents. If parents do not know what cleanliness really is, how can they teach it to their children?

Appeal to personal pride. This can be done without the pupils knowing that the teacher is making an effort in that direction. The teacher may give a talk about a clean school-room and incidentally say:

“Cleanly pupils live in cleanly school-rooms. I am proud of all my boys and girls when they keep their clothes and themselves clean.”

She can give some little talk about cleanliness each day for several weeks and in a casual manner make the application to the pupils. By thus appealing to their pride most cases of uncleanness will be remedied.

In very stubborn cases the teacher can have a private talk with the pupil. Should there be more than 450one such pupil, the teacher must not make the mistake of talking to both at one time; that would humiliate each, and hurt the pride of both.

To the little boy who is in the habit of keeping his face and hands soiled, the teacher may say:

“You have such red cheeks, Harold! What silky hair and what lovely little hands you have! I like to see hair like yours combed this way!” and then she can comb the little boy’s hair in an attractive way.

“How I do like to see red cheeks like yours, round and clean!” Then the teacher can kindly wash the child’s face and hands and comment on how fine they look. With a little straightening of the boy’s collar she may say, “Oh, Harold, how sweet you look!” If she has a small mirror she may let the boy see himself. Finally, she may propose that he do this each morning before he comes to school. To please the boy she may say:

“Now, I am going to walk home with you because you look so fine.”

On the way home she should talk about the things they see. When she comes to the home, she may bid the boy a cheery “Good night, Harold.” Should she see flowers in the yard she may say:

“Harold, when you come to school tomorrow, I wish you would bring me one of those flowers to wear on my waist.” Harold will bring the flower, and the teacher should wear it with great pride. A teacher who will do this can win any dirty little urchin to her and often induce him to make every effort to keep clean. Several such private lessons may be necessary.

As a last resort, but not wholly advisable, because it 451irritates and offends the parents often, is the method of having a talk with parents and explaining to them that they are expected to keep their children clean. One teacher who had a few stubborn cases of uncleanliness, purchased a wash basin, some soap, and several towels. Whenever the pupils that were habitually uncleanly came in she had them wash their faces and hands and comb their hair. She had little trouble, but not every teacher could do this.


Soiled Face

Miss Gebhard had been teaching in the Lowell School for a week. Every one of the five days little Hazel Jordan had been a blemish to the group of beautiful children with whom she associated. Hazel was ugly of face, ungainly in movements, dull of intellect and unaccustomed to the regular use of soap and water. This was Miss Gebhard’s first year of teaching. She had read that teachers must see to it that their pupils have clean hands and faces. During her first week she was so busy with organizing her school that she felt unable to cope with lesser problems. As she reviewed her week’s work and recalled the characteristics of her various pupils, she said to herself, “That little Jordan girl must be made cleaner next week.”

Accordingly, on Monday morning when Hazel entered with dirty hands, face and clothing, Miss Gebhard said, “Hazel Jordan, go home and wash your hands and face and come back here clean.”

Perfect stillness reigned over the school-room for a moment after this command was given, and Hazel, 452eyeing Miss Gebhard as she went, passed out of the room and ran breathlessly home.

Now, Hazel’s mother was a widow who washed so much for other people that she had neither time nor strength to care for her own children; besides, Hazel had few dresses, and on this Monday morning all of them were soiled. When the child reached home and told Mrs. Jordan what Miss Gebhard had said, her mother wept in self-pity.

“Nobody cares how hard I work,” she wailed; “all the notice I get is to be insulted. You just stay home from school and I’ll go and see Tom Ellis and ask him if a widow has got to dress her children up fine before she can send them to public school.”

As soon as the washing she was then doing was “on the line,” she went to see Mr. Ellis, a member of the school board, and told him that Hazel had been sent home from school because she wasn’t dressed up to suit the teacher.

Miss Gebhard was a little alarmed because Hazel did not return, and was agitated when she saw Mr. Ellis, the most influential member of the school board, standing in the doorway of her school-room. All of the pupils stared while Mr. Ellis catechized Miss Gebhard as to why she sent Hazel Jordan home. In vain she explained that she said nothing about her clothes. She could see that Mr. Ellis thought she had acted unwisely, as he reiterated, “Her mother’s a hard-working widow, you know, and her feelings are hurt.”

It seemed clear to Miss Gebhard that she had blundered. She called upon Mrs. Jordan, who wept at her 453own poverty and seemed unlikely to be able to distinguish between cleanliness and richness of dress.

Miss Gebhard decided that the matter of cleanliness was too difficult for her to handle and made no further recommendations on the subject during the year.


Examine the hands and faces of several other children before inspecting Hazel. If more than one needs to wash his hands, send all to the lavatory, or to the pump, and ask them to return to the school-room clean.


If children are spoken to kindly about the condition of their hands and several are sent at once to wash, they will take less offense. It will seem then a matter of school-room practice rather than a personal affront.

Drills or plays are often used to bring about habits of cleanliness.


“Sanitary Brigade”

Miss Barry organized her first grade room into a “Sanitary Brigade.” Every one’s own ten fingers were the private soldiers over which each one’s face was the captain. One child in each row, appointed by the teacher each Monday morning, was the Lieutenant General of his row, and Miss Barry was the Major General of them all.

Each captain inspected his ten soldiers and demanded that each one—right and left Thumbkin, right and left Pointer, right and left Longman, Ringman and Littleman—be perfectly clean. Then the Colonel inspected the captains and finally the General had a 454grand review of all the troops. The captains and colonels made daily inspections. If they failed to do their work well they were sent to the ranks and new officers appointed in their places. In other words, if one did not keep his own hands clean, some one else was appointed to be inspector and reporter of his hands. If any one was found with unclean hands or face, a new colonel was appointed for the row in which that child was found.

Inspection was made every morning and any reported disorder was remedied in the lavatory. When there was no further need of scrutiny as to clean hands and faces and when therefore the game had lost in interest, a similar game was instituted that required clean teeth, brushed hair, and clean shoes.


Use of Handkerchief

Miss Burr, the third grade teacher, sighed as Elma Colders passed her handkerchief to her twin sister Zelma. This was a daily, almost hourly, occurrence. The handkerchief wasn’t absolutely clean. These twins seemed to take turns having colds, and Miss Burr believed the common handkerchief was largely to blame for the transferred infection, but she dared to say nothing about it.

Near to her desk sat Asa Kramer, who sniffed momentarily for want of a handkerchief, while Fannie Black had a habit of often wiping her nose with an upward stroke that was fast causing her nose to have a decided skyward slant at the end.

One day she saw Morris Millspaugh repeat his habit of wiping his nose on his coat sleeve and the following 455quotation popped into her head, “Ye gods! Must I endure all this?” As if in answer to her question, Annie Daily, in the back row, lowered her head and used the under side of the bottom of her dress for a handkerchief.

“My query is answered,” groaned she. “Annie’s action says, ‘All this? Ay, more!’”

Miss Burr said to a teacher friend, “If I were the family doctor of these children, I’d be free to give their mothers a lecture on sanitation, but since I’m not, I must keep within my prescribed field.”


Correct these disgusting habits of your pupils. This can be done by asking each child to bring a clean handkerchief every morning. A certain teacher each morning asked all who received a grade of one hundred in spelling or arithmetic the day before to stand and walk to the front of the room. She then asked the other children who had clean handkerchiefs to give them the Chautauqua salute, and the children in front were asked to return this salute. The children enjoyed this immensely and demanded from their mothers clean handkerchiefs every morning in order that they might be allowed to take part in this exercise.


Miss Burr was wrong to conclude that it was not her business to protect the health of her pupils.

There were several beneficial results accompanying the Chautauqua salute program described above. Those who did good work were rewarded and those 456who cheered them were given drill in the hard task of praising their fellows who had succeeded where they themselves had failed.

This salute was given in the morning, so that all handkerchiefs would be clean for it.

Enlist the Mothers

Teachers can do no better than tactfully to enlist the aid of mothers in matters of cleanliness.


Miss Shaw, who taught the fourth grade in a very poor district in New York City, organized a mothers’ meeting to convene alternate Fridays after school hours. At one of these meetings she asked a trained nurse to talk about cleanliness especially.

After the nurse had clearly explained the danger of infection in the care of the nose, a mother who was a good shopper was delegated to take orders for handkerchiefs from all present who needed them for their children, to buy by the dozen and to deliver to the mothers at cost.

By teaching and helping the mothers in this way, Miss Shaw bettered conditions in her own room and established a wholesome community spirit among her patrons.


Decaying Teeth

Something was the matter with Dora Payne. Miss Hubbart, her teacher, was astonished at her stupid answers and generally inattentive attitude. Usually Dora was alert and smiling; today she was morose, even to tearfulness. Miss Hubbart finally said, “What is the matter, Dora?”

457“My tooth aches,” said Dora.

“Did it ever ache before?”

“Yes, it ached last week and mamma took me to the dentist.”

“Charlotte, you may go with Dora to the dentist to see if he can stop her toothache,” said Miss Hubbart.

The girls were gone only about half an hour, for it was but a few blocks to the office of the only dentist in the village. After they came back Dora was relieved and went on with her school work as usual.

When Miss Hubbart returned to the schoolhouse for the afternoon session that day, she was greeted by Mr. Payne, Dora’s father, who said:

“Dora says you sent her to Dr. Hammond’s office today.”

“Yes, she was suffering with toothache.”

“What I want to know is, who is going to pay the bill?”

“Surely you wouldn’t want Dora to suffer with toothache.”

“That tooth has troubled Dora before and my wife took her to Dr. Hammond and he said that she’d lose this tooth in a year or so, and we concluded not to have it worked on. When she gets her last set of teeth it will not be money thrown away to have them filled.”

“But you wouldn’t want Dora to suffer for a year, surely.”

“Maybe we know how to take care of our own child without the help of a stranger. I’ll thank you to keep on your own ground after this.” And Mr. Payne stalked away with anger showing even in his walk.



When you feel assured that, from a health standpoint, a child is unfit to do school work, send him home and as soon as possible thereafter consult with his mother as to his health, giving advice only when you see that his parents are ignorant or neglectful.

In the matter of the care of the mouth and teeth, give instruction as to the age a child should be when the several kinds of permanent teeth appear. Name the causes of decay of teeth and show children how to use their tooth brushes to the best advantage.


Rhythmic Drills

Teachers should never send children to a doctor without the consent of their parents. A teacher’s help can be rendered in instituting preventive measures better than in administering or advising curative remedies. The harm done to the teeth by allowing them to decay through the use of improper food, also the proper use of the tooth brush, and the value of a sterilizing mouth wash can easily be taught and come within the teacher’s legitimate province. In many towns she may also secure the coöperation of the school nurse.


Miss Stow, who taught the fifth grade at Deadwood, made up this motion song which the children sang occasionally, suiting the proper motions to each verse:

This is the way we brush our teeth
At morning, noon and night,
Keeping them free from food and germs,
Making them clean and white.
459This is the way we brush our hair,
Making it smooth and clean,
Keeping it free from kinks and dust
And beautiful to be seen.
This is the way we brush our shoes,
Making them fairly shine,
Then we ever shun dirt and mud
And keep them looking fine.

When they sang the first verse she let them hold lead pencils in front of their mouths for tooth brushes and had them make the up and down motion that dentists recommend.

She noticed a marked improvement in the personal habits of her children after they had learned this song, and they very much enjoyed singing it.


Scattering Paper

Merrill MacFarland was elected to a position as teacher of the fourth grade after three years of experience in the country schools. He had found the circumstances in his former situation very unsatisfactory, and resolved that since he was entering upon work in a graded school, he would have some things different. Looking over the room after he had wrestled his way through the first week, and recalling the events of the past five days, he was strongly reminded of his former school experience, since there was really a disgraceful amount of waste paper all over the floor. The janitor had been complaining about the 460matter, but MacFarland had been too busy with other matters to give attention to it.

Monday morning, after the opening exercises, he made this announcement:

“Now, I want every one of you boys and girls just the moment you have a piece of waste paper in your hand to go to the wastebasket and throw it in. Last Friday our room was a perfect disgrace. On every desk there were slips of torn-up paper and some whole sheets. We can’t get along this way. George, you just this moment dropped a piece of paper in the aisle there at your left. Pick it up at once and put it in the wastebasket as I just told you.” George noisily moved his slow frame according to the order, hardly imagining what would be the case if the teacher’s idea were literally carried out and no more waste papers were thrown upon the floor.

As soon as he had reached the basket, Mr. MacFarland discovered that there were several pieces of paper on the floor in different parts of the room, and said, “Each one look about his desk now and see if there is any rubbish on the floor that should be taken away. If so, pick it up at once and throw it into the basket as I told you. This is the thing to do at any time when you want to throw something away.”

It need hardly be said that, with a great bustle, each one made the desired search, and about nine pupils soon were on their way to the basket with something or almost nothing that needed to be thrown away.

However unsatisfactory the noisy method had proved, it did bring about the condition desired, for 461at the end of the day there was really nothing that needed to be complained of regarding the cleanliness of the room, so far as waste paper was concerned.


A wise teacher does not make so much ado about one aspect of school-room management. Mr. MacFarland could easily have foreseen that he was introducing another evil along with his reform. Reverse the process. Arrange that the wastebasket be passed around mid-way between intermissions according to a definite schedule. Let the passing of the basket be a privilege that is handed down from one pupil to another according as they are seated, beginning with the pupil who sits to the extreme right of the teacher’s desk. One pupil each day is appointed as guardian of waste. The privilege and honor will be appreciated, and with a word of caution, the service can be performed with the very slightest interruption.

The following instructions might be properly given to the children when the new system is established:

“We are going to save time as much as possible. Four times every day we shall pass the wastebasket and you may put into it whatever you have on hand to be thrown away. Nothing is to be said to the person who carries the basket. He will go quietly, promptly, passing down the aisles, doing a favor to everyone in the room by his careful attention to this matter.”


It is of the utmost importance that the necessary organization of school-room conduct be established according 462to principles and policies that are useful to the child at home and in other situations outside of school life. He must be taught how to economize his own time, and the attention of his fellows, how to do necessary things in a way that shall be both effective and unobtrusive.

While the handling of waste is a small affair for one room in a school, taken on a larger scale for home, state and nation, the problem of waste is big enough to command the attention of every citizen; therefore, to dispose of the matter properly in school is a valuable lesson in civics and economics.


Supt. Kennelworth suffered the inconvenience of moving from an old building into the new one near the middle of a school year.

Bags for Paper

In the final plans for the proper use of the new plant, it had been agreed that each pupil must bring with him a small waste-paper bag to be attached to each desk. There were no very definite rules as to its size, but the warning was given that it must not be too large for the convenience of all concerned.

The matter was brought up only once, each teacher making the announcement in his own room according to the superintendent’s instructions.

Wallace Jackson made his announcement for the fifth and sixth grades as follows: “Each one of you is to bring a small, neatly made waste-paper bag, barely large enough to hold what you think is the waste paper that gathers at your desk every day. Are there any questions about this?” A hand went up and the question 463was asked, “Who is going to empty these bags?”

“Well,” said Mr. Jackson, “you will empty them yourselves. Just before the close of school each day the wastebasket will be passed; your bags will be laid down upon your desk, and in just a very few minutes every bag will be emptied and placed in your desk. Any more questions?”

Another hand and another question, “How are we going to decide who will carry the basket?”

This was answered by the statement: “I shall appoint some pupil to this task every day. The method of selection will be announced to you later. The only matter I want now to tell you about is the making of the bags. Further details will be given to you when we actually begin our work next Thursday in the new building.” Owing to the fact that some success in keeping a neat room had been attained already in the old building, Mr. Jackson’s announcement was received without surprise or anxiety.

(10) Imitation of wrong social standard. There is an imitation of mere precedent which is a sort of social instinct, that can best be handled socially. This is because the responsibility can be fixed on no one individual, and as all the members of the group are equally guilty, all should share in the needed lesson.


Dropping Shot

George Marston went into the country as teacher in a school in which there had been much bad order. The directors were in earnest; they wanted a good school, but for the salary they offered they had not been able to secure a man who could handle the big 464boys who made the trouble. They were not especially bad boys; but the tradition of mischief in the school was so persistent that no teacher had been able to overcome it.

During the fall term there was no trouble, for then only meek little girls and small boys attended. But on the first Monday after Thanksgiving, corn-shucking being over, the older pupils came in an avalanche of good-natured noise. The room, before so sparsely populated by a few pupils, seemed to overflow with their energy. Trouble was not long in coming, and it took the shape of a shower of fine shot, which pattered down from the ceiling during the spelling lesson. George knew that the hour of trial had come, and he called out bravely:

“Who did that?”

There was no response. The little girls were peeping timidly from their books, but the big boys and girls frankly relished the coming fun.

“We may as well settle it now,” said George Marston. “We can’t have a school without good order. Of course I want to be just, and first of all I want to know who threw that shot. Will you tell me?”

No one spoke. Then the teacher went around the room, asking each one in turn if he had done it. Every one denied it. There was clearly an understanding among the pupils that gave the teacher no chance.

So Marston gave it up for the time being, and lessons were taken up again. But at four o’clock he asked four of the leading boys, those he suspected most, to stay after school. When the rest had gone, he conducted an exhaustive examination, trying to find who 465was responsible for the disturbance. The evidence was flippant, contradictory, mockingly frank; but he found out nothing. Still with his idea of locating the offense in one person, George held another trial the next night, with the same result. Then he took the matter to the board.

“One or two persons must have thrown that shot,” he said to the board members, “and if I can find the person who did it, and make an example of him, then I know I can manage the school without trouble. But so far I can’t find the offender. There doesn’t seem to be a ringleader; they all hang together so.”

“Why can’t you find the offender?” asked one member.

“Because they all lie about it—at least there’s one person who is lying. If only I could find that one person!”

“Why not lick them all, since they’re all mixed up in it?” This director was a coarsely practical man.

“Because one person did the deed, and he ought to bear the punishment,” George replied. “If I keep my eyes open and wait, in time I’ll be sure to catch the boy that threw that shot.”

So he waited and kept his eyes open, but he never discovered the shot-thrower. There was much more misbehavior during the days that followed, and the struggle to keep even a semblance of order made the term a nightmare to the harassed teacher. Little real work was accomplished. The board, anxious to have a good school, but ignorant of principles and methods, saw its desire come to nothing. Marston’s ideas of discipline seemed to be centered on “making an example” 466of some one offender, and the school took a mischievous satisfaction in shielding each offender from discovery.


The crisis came late in January. Marston had just put a full scuttle of coal on the blazing fire in the big stove, when a sharp noise and a great puff of smoke and flame burst from it. The explosion broke apart the sections of the stove, and a serious fire was averted with some difficulty. When they had made things safe and could look at each other with smoke-grimed faces, teacher and pupils knew that a reckoning was at hand.

“John Coffey, you brought in that coal. Did you put the gunpowder in it?” John was fairly cool, and the reckless boys had been cowed and sobered by the extent of the mischief that had been done.

“No, sir, I didn’t,” replied John; and his denial rang true.

“Did you, Carl?”

“No, sir.”

Marston went around the circle, as he had many times before; and all denied their guilt. Finally Marston turned to the school.

“You may all go home now. We can’t have school until this mess is cleaned up, of course. I shall see the board at once.”

The board decided, at a called meeting, that it would best get a new teacher, and Marston resigned with infinite relief. The board sent to a state normal school, explained the situation, and asked for a strong man.



The president of the normal school sent them Isidor Thomberg, a man of experience and high scholarship. He came with the understanding that the board was to support whatever he did, and he agreed to reduce the school to order. He was confident, fearless, and told no one of his plans. But he did meet the board on the night of his arrival, and heard their full account of the troubles.

The next morning school opened as usual, with the new teacher and the new stove dividing the honors of attention. Mr. Thomberg made just one reference to the situation:

“Of course you know why I’m here,” he said. “I want to say one thing. I shall never waste a moment’s time trying to find out who does anything bad. We have to make up for a great deal of lost time this winter; you’ll have to work hard from now until spring. We shall have no school but a good one. Now we’ll go to work.”

Under the stimulus of his quiet confidence, the order was excellent that first day. The school needed organization, and much time was spent in showing the pupils economical ways of doing things. While the novelty lasted there was no tendency to disorder, and when things settled down into a regular routine the lessons proved so interesting under Mr. Thomberg’s teaching that the boys forgot for a time to have fun in the old way. A fancy skating club had been organized; a new era seemed to have dawned, when one day, quite unexpectedly, the old problem popped up again.

468A row of pupils, coming quietly forward to the recitation bench, found themselves stepping on a number of match-heads which had been scattered in the aisle. At the same moment Mr. Thomberg himself, who had stepped to a window to adjust a shade, exploded two of these little trouble-makers. Every one looked up in surprise, for bad order had been almost forgotten.

The teacher went to his desk. Very quietly he sent the class back to their seats. Then he told the pupils to put away all books, and they obeyed in a dazed way, afraid of they knew not what.

“I told you when I came,” said Mr. Thomberg, “that we couldn’t have anything but a good school. The reason that we can’t afford to have bad order is that we have too much serious work to do. I had begun to like you all so much that I’m sorry some one has had to spoil our pleasant beginning. But I meant what I said. So this school is closed, now, indefinitely. You are all, without exception, suspended from school until further notice. You will pass out as you always do.”

There was a breathless silence. Such a thing as suspending a whole school had never been heard of before. Mr. Thomberg gave the usual signals, and the boys and girls passed into the hall as though they had been at a funeral. Mr. Thomberg went to the nearest house and called the directors by telephone for a conference, which was scarcely begun when parents began to inquire indignantly why their children, guiltless of dropping match-heads, had been suspended from school. Mr. Thomberg dictated the answer:

469“Tell them,” he said, “that I have no time to ferret out the doers of silly little tricks in my school. When the school gives me the assurance that there’ll be no more trouble, then we’ll go back to work. Whoever dropped those match-heads thought the school liked that sort of thing, and you must show him that he is mistaken. I am a teacher, not a policeman.”

The parents really wanted their children in school, and guided by the suggestion, skillfully made by the teacher, they took steps to secure the concerted action which Mr. Thomberg knew was the remedy for the evil. He was reading the daily paper in the living room of his boarding house that evening, when the response for which he had planned came. There were seventeen of his twenty-six pupils in the party which called on him. One of the older boys, Felix Curry, was spokesman.

“We came to ask you if you’d have us in school again,” he said. “All our fathers and mothers want us to go back, and we’ll be good if you’ll let us. The boy that threw the match-heads will tell you about it himself. He told us he would.”

“There is no need of that, although he may do so privately tomorrow if he wants to. But I should rather not know who did it, if you’ll all be responsible for its not happening again. You see, I like you all so much that I’d hate to know who did so foolish and wrong a thing. And if you will agree that it is to be a good school, in which everyone works together in the right spirit, I’ll agree to stay until the end of the year. Otherwise I pack my trunk tonight.”

The pupils gave ample promises, which were not 470broken. Mr. Thomberg stayed through that year and the next one also, and had the best school in the county.


This is an extraordinarily difficult situation. Mr. Thomberg’s success in dealing with this unusual case depended first of all on the fact that his knowledge of pedagogy enabled him to analyze the situation truly. He saw that the bad order was not caused by any one pupil, but was the result of a social tradition for which many persons, in and out of the school, were responsible. All the pupils upheld the disorder; therefore all the pupils were dealt with in a group.

In the second place he was independent, as a really first-class teacher can be. He set the standard of behavior, and required his students to come up to it or give up school altogether. Had the school declined to take the social responsibility he asked of them, he would really have packed his trunk and left. He was well prepared for his work, and was greatly in earnest about it, nor did he propose to do what he considered an undignified thing in probing for evil.

His personality was strong enough to set up a new standard for imitation, and to supplant the old one of inefficiency and mischief. The problem of order was for a time swallowed up in the greater one of securing real mental development in his pupils, and when it did show itself he treated it as a matter to be dealt with socially by the pupils. This seemed to put upon them a responsibility they had been used to having the teacher assume unaided, and they rose to the new honors imposed upon them. Mr. Thomberg utilized 471imitation in setting up a new regime, by requiring united action of his pupils. In this way he met a psychological situation with psychological weapons.

(11) Snobbishness. Snobbishness is a very hard thing to meet wisely, and a sin which is too easily learned by imitation.


Joseph Lescinszky was a tailor in a small Middle West city, who lived in five small rooms over his shop, with his wife and seven children. He had plenty of patronage, for he was a good tailor, but he was unhappy, for one of the dreams long associated with his American citizenship had failed to materialize. His eldest son, Joseph Junior, was in the high school—a homely, awkward boy with great wistful eyes and an incurable shyness. He was a good student, but suffered constantly under the heartless, matter-of-fact ridicule of his American schoolmates.

Race Prejudice

This ridicule was but the echo of the attitude of the whole community toward the Polish family. They were the only foreigners in the place, and their appearance, habits and speech afforded unlimited amusement to everyone. Men who had had their suits made by the skillful, little, Polish tailor told funny stories in which his broken English figured as the chief point, and their sons and daughters in turn laughed at the shy and awkward children whom they met at school.

No one realized how this ridicule embittered the life of the tailor until Miss Swainson came to Hovey to teach in the high school. She took her old cape to the tailor one day, thriftily planning to have it made into a coat for school wear; and over the making of the coat, 472tailor and teacher began to discuss Joseph and his school life. No teacher had ever talked to him about Joseph before, and the little Pole voiced his feelings tremblingly.

“My Joseph does not like the school,” he confided. “He goes because I command him that he shall, but he has not his heart in it.”

“He does very good work,” comforted Miss Swainson. “His lessons are always excellent.”

“Ah, the lessons he gets with no trouble. But the boys, they like him not. They all time make fun on him, and my poor Joseph is not happy. He is Polack, they say. It is not true—we are Americans now; there is the paper,” and he pointed proudly to the naturalization paper, framed upon the wall.

“We’ll see if we can’t make Joseph happy at school,” Miss Swainson promised. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Now, Miss Swainson was one of the upright, downright people who go at things directly and openly. She began a campaign for the kinder treatment of Joseph Lescinszky, Junior. She had no doubt of her success.

An opportunity for beginning her kindly efforts in Joseph’s behalf came soon. Joseph was always the butt for practical jokes, and Charlie Owen was his particular tormentor. Therefore, when Joseph was tripped, going to the dictionary, by Charlie’s projecting toes, she kept Charlie after school and had a serious talk with him.

“Don’t you see what a contemptible thing it is for you to tease this bright boy just because he is of Polish 473blood?” she inquired warmly of smiling Charlie Owen.

“Why, Miss Swainson, he don’t mind. Everybody always laughs at those Lescinszkies, and they don’t care. If they ever showed fight like Americans I guess we’d let them alone, but they don’t. They’re not like us.”

“That’s just why you should treat them better. They haven’t learned that a boy has to fight in order to be decently treated,” Miss Swainson returned with fine scorn.

“No, ma’am. If they could only learn that, they’d be all right.” Fine scorn was wasted on Charlie.

All Miss Swainson’s efforts ended in this way. Secure in their feeling that traditional American means for securing respect were the only ones, smug with the provincialism of the small town, the school children continued to express to the alien boy the contempt they had imbibed from their elders. They merely smiled at Miss Swainson’s indignant efforts to win justice and kindness for their Polish schoolmate.

Toward the end of the year the young teacher thought she detected a shade of difference in the treatment given Joseph. This was due partly to her constant shaming of the thoughtless cruelty of their conduct, and partly to the respect he himself won by his good work in the classroom. But although this small degree of success comforted her somewhat, she felt still the defeat of her efforts keenly, not realizing that a change of conduct based on imitation must come through a change of example followed.



Miss Swainson’s method did not go deep enough. Mere protest will occasionally effect a change, but not often. If she could have gotten behind Charlie Owen’s attitude, and found its roots, which were probably in the attitude of some member of his family or a powerful older friend, she might have truly converted Charlie to her way of thinking. His statement that “everybody always laughs at those Lescinszkies,” might have given her a clue, but she did not realize that she was only working on the surface.


Sallie Lou Pinkston came from Mobile, Alabama, to the small, northern town of Cade Mills, when she was ten years old. She was the only girl in an adoring family of brothers—a lovely, sunny-haired child, with the confidence in her right to rule her world which her happy family life had given her. She entered the fifth grade that fall, and scored an immediate success with the whole room, teacher included. Her southern accent was a continual source of delight; her matter-of-course assumption that everyone wanted to do the entertaining things she planned kept the whole room, with two exceptions, tied to her dainty apron-strings.

The two exceptions were Laurastine and Enameline Flack. Laurastine and Enameline belonged to the one colored family in town, and they had always attended the public school and had always been well treated by the other children. But when Sallie Lou cast her golden charm over the room, things changed. Sallie 475Lou didn’t understand why they should be there at all, and she surely didn’t intend to tolerate them as her social equals. Led by the irresistible charm of Sallie Lou, vying with each other to stand in her graces, the other children began to ignore the two little colored girls, or openly to laugh at them and pointedly to leave them out of their games.

Miss Stone, the teacher, being a northern woman and a believer in literal democracy, thought this a very bad state of things indeed. The two little girls were well behaved, wistful, little creatures, whose tears at the new turn of things went straight to Miss Stone’s big heart. She knew that the remedy must come in some way through Sallie Lou, who had caused the havoc; for there was no possible way to supplant her dominant influence, nor was such a thing desirable except for this one cause. Sallie Lou had wakened the room to a new interest in many things, and in everything except the treatment of the little “niggers” she was sweetness and docility itself.

Could Sallie Lou be converted? Miss Stone tried it, with doubt in her heart; she knew what prejudice is. She invited Sallie Lou to her house for supper one Friday night, and after supper they sat by the fire and had a long talk about it. Miss Stone presented the pathetic cases of Laurastine and Enameline as touchingly as she could, but Sallie Lou merely smiled divinely and told her, most sweetly, that of course she wanted to do what was right, but that it wasn’t right for “niggers” to mix socially with white people, and that the town should provide a separate school for them. She was firmly entrenched behind the prejudice 476of her rearing in a community which solved the problem this way.

Miss Stone reluctantly retreated from the attack, but she did not give up. She went behind the prejudice to its support, behind the example to its example. She cultivated Sallie Lou’s mother, her father, her four charming brothers. The parents, finding few cultured people in the little town, welcomed the well-read teacher and were very cordial to her. When she had won their respect and liking, Miss Stone asked for a frank talk with them about the conditions in her room, and told them just how the irresistible Sallie Lou was leading all the other children in the fifth grade to snub the two little Flacks.

At first the Pinkstons were amused, then they were indignant. They too felt that the two colored children had no business in a school for white children. But when Miss Stone had shown them that a separate school was impracticable in a town that had but one colored family, that conditions were very different from those of a southern city, and that a change in Sallie Lou’s attitude would avert a personal tragedy for two innocent little girls, the parents came finally to see the matter from her point of view. They promised to talk to Sallie Lou and to persuade her to change her tactics. Miss Stone thanked them, and changed the subject quickly and brightly to something else.

Sallie Lou, at first with formal and awkward condescension, but later with the same frank charm that won everyone to her, asked the two little outcasts back into the fold of fifth grade fun. The rest fell easily 477into their old democratic way of sharing things. Miss Stone had solved the problem of race prejudice by changing the example.

2. Play—A Second Form of the Adaptive Instincts

The child never reveals his whole nature as he does when playing. His physical, mental and moral powers are all called then into vigorous exercise. On the playground the boy begins to learn how to struggle with his fellow men in the great battle of life. His strength and his weakness both manifest themselves there, so that it pays to study him.


Much school trouble is caused by the purely sportive impulses of childhood, impulses which are in themselves entirely innocent and wholesome. One of the most valuable parts of a child’s training is the acquiring of a set of notions as to appropriateness—the knowledge of when he may, and when he may not, rightly give rein to his wish to play. Some children acquire these ideas of propriety readily, and adapt themselves seemingly without effort to the customs of their environment; but most children stumble through the period of adaptation with many backslidings, for the instinct of play is stronger than the instinct of adaptation to requirement.

But let it be remembered meanwhile that this same play instinct is one of the strongest allies of the teacher in securing such adaptation, if the instinct is properly directed. What lesson of politeness, neatness, unselfishness, protection of the weak, promptness, responsibility, care of pets, coöperation, chivalry—yes, 478even of duty and religion—may not be taught through play! Draining off the play impulses into these legitimate channels will relieve many a wearisome, perplexing day for both teacher and pupils, and at the same time speed on the child toward conscious self-control.

Perhaps the greatest single help in teaching children the voluntary limitation of their play impulses, is the knowledge that play is only postponed, not forbidden. Most children have so strong a love of approbation that they like to do things in the proper way if the sacrifice be not too great. They are willing to put off their fun, but not to put it off forever. The teacher who says, “If you’ll wait until recess, I’ll show you how to play a new game with marbles,” will secure willing obedience, when she who takes the marbles away has only sullen submission for her reward. Here the teacher utilizes the instinctive love of novelty in teaching control of play impulses. During the period, when conduct is so largely a matter of instinct, wise teachers play off one instinct against another to the child’s gain, knowing that some impulses need encouragement and others need to be inhibited.

First Grade

(1) “Just mischief.” One of the most frequent ways in which the play instinct expresses itself in the first and even in higher grades is in the little annoyances which teachers group together under the general term, mischief. An energetic child, if he is not constantly employed, naturally vents his energy either in play or in trying to satisfy his curiosity.

The principle of suggestion alone will often be sufficient to control the child. The principle of substitution will work equally well. Coöperation can be 479correlated with either of these, and expectation that the child will do what the teacher desires should be used in whatever method the teacher may adopt.

The mischievous boy will be quiet so long as he is reciting, but while others are reciting he will immediately hunt for something else to do. He will drag his shoe on the floor, reach over and touch his neighbor, pull out a pocketful of string or help himself to his neighbor’s pencil.

It is not a case for punishment, but a time to apply one or more of the fundamental principles. The teacher, without even a word or look, may reach over and draw him to her side, asking him to look on her book, or better still she may look on his book (suggesting that he attend to his lesson). She may send him on some little errand—to bring a book or a piece of crayon—and by the time she whispers, “Thank you, you did that like a little gentleman,” he will have forgotten all about his mischief (substitution and approval).

When the class is dismissed, however, the teacher must see that the mischievous boy is kept busy and his work changed once or twice within the half hour. She must not fail to show an interest in his work. The comment, “That is so good, my boy, that I want you to put it on my desk where we can look at it,” will so elate the child that he will work industriously to do his best, and doing his best will keep him busy a long time. When on the playground or in the gymnasium the teacher must see that he gets plenty of “full-of-fun” play. It will use up some of his restless energy.

The teacher must have an abundance of busy work 480ready for the next restless period that comes, sorting blocks or marbles, straws or papers, cutting or coloring pictures, putting books on the shelf, and anything that will keep him innocently busy. Stencil cards, cutting out words or letters, the distributing of materials for the class to use, games for the recess and noon periods, frequent story periods during school hours, interesting lessons, vigorous exercise, generous approval of every effort to please the teacher—all these will gradually win the mischievous boy to habits of self-control and industry. All children like stories, and during the telling of the story, if it is at all worth while, the children will be quiet and attentive. The teacher may, however, call the restless child to herself, saying to him, “I like to have somebody stand by me.” Better still, she may gather all the pupils around her and say to the mischievous boy, “Robert, I am going to tell you a story. The other boys and girls may listen.” This will captivate the child, and when she has finished she may ask him to tell the story.

By this time the reader will sigh and ask, “Must all this be done to keep one mischievous boy at work?” Yes, but it is far easier to interest him than to be worried by his pranks. Then, too, by keeping him interested, the teacher is administering to his development, while to let him loll in his mischief would only tend to create in him habits of inattention and idleness. At the close of the day the boy will go home happy and the benediction of a happy teacher will follow him. Nothing adds more to a teacher’s usefulness and happiness than the thought of work well done.

In the above procedure the teacher has practiced 481suggestive control. She has led the mischievous boy into activities that interest him, that appeal and fascinate as well as satisfy that active mind, and that will mature into right action. It is far easier to deal with a child full of life, than to deal with a dullard. Direct properly the impulse that causes this mischief, and it will become a force for real good in the child’s life. The discreet teacher will look ahead and avoid difficulties, and nowhere will she get more valuable clues to a method of control than on the playground.

Watch the child in his play at recess to see what activity interests him most. Suggest to him some point about that activity which he has overlooked and commend him on his skill. Every child has a hobby. If you can find this boy’s hobby and tell him something about it which he does not know, you will make a warm place in his heart for yourself. Then utilize the knowledge thus gained, and his increased confidence in you, in order to add to his school work just the element that will make it so interesting for the child that he will find the work more delightfully fascinating than the mischief.

The first grade teacher needs to be in her room but a few days before she will see some little child making grimaces at his neighbor and not infrequently he may make a grimace at the teacher, especially if he feels that the teacher has not dealt fairly with him. This is not a serious annoyance and should give the prudent teacher no worry. It can not be repeated too often that many of the small offenses that harass a school day are doubly intensified by the attention that is paid them. Often when a pupil does some petty misdemeanor, 482he would soon forget it were it not that the teacher notices it and pounces upon the offender with some brand of punishment and thereby the child learns that this certain offense is a thing that the teacher dislikes. In the future, whenever that child’s feelings are ruffled, he will resort to this certain offense to annoy the teacher. The discreet teacher will train her pupils in such a way that they will not settle upon any specific type of annoyance.

In cases where a child resorts to the practice too frequently, the teacher will find it well to devise some means by which she can substitute one activity for another; that is, substitute a more interesting activity for the making of grimaces. The teacher may use the following method and conversation:

“Children, we are planning to have a little play party once a month. This is to be on the last Friday afternoon of each month. Each one of you is to bring either a cooky, an apple, an orange, or a banana, and I will bring some candy. We will play all kinds of games and just before school dismisses we will eat our dainties. Won’t that be fine? But, children, I have just thought that any one who makes grimaces or ugly faces during the month ought not to be invited. We do not want our party spoiled. What do you say?”

Of course all, or nearly all of the children will say that any one who is guilty of making faces shall not come. The teacher who has not tried anything like this will think it is absurd and impracticable, but it will greatly assist in removing grimacing and many other evils that troop through a teacher’s school experiences.

483The means of discipline need not necessarily be a party. It can be some other affair or activity that children like. If the teacher chooses a party, she must have a goodly number of games ready and keep her children intensely interested.

The luncheon is an important feature of the party and must be well managed by the teacher. All the sweetmeats must be divided into small parts and so mixed that a child does not get the dainty he contributed. A cooky can be cut into four pieces, a banana into four or five pieces, and the same with other sweetmeats. Children like little things. Then, too, the teacher may suggest that they play at having a luncheon.


Making Faces For Fun

Adams White knew a large number of systems by which to rearrange his features so as to produce laughter. When the book-agent sat at the side of the room, Adams took occasion to entertain him with the horrible figure made by drawing down his lower eyelids until a large part of the eyeball was exposed to view. The boy did this, or a similar prank, every once in a while, and his teacher, young Benjamin Danner, scarcely knew what penalty would do the boy the most good.

Unfortunately for Adams, he was caught in the act. “Go to the blackboard, Adams. Put your hands behind your back and lean forward till your head touches the wall. Did you understand me?”

“Well,” thought the agent, “this is interesting. I can hardly believe that such methods are in use today. 484But here is the proof right before my eyes.” He watched Adams move in a clumsy, resistant manner, and assume the position prescribed.


Instead of such a punishment as the one described above, we propose that Mr. Danner pay no attention to the deed until school is out for the day. Find some favor that Adams can do for you and put him at it immediately. When he has completed the task, or at least made good headway, call him to one side, look him straight in the eye, as he is seated in front of you, and say:

“Adams, you need to be careful how you look at visitors who call at our school. The gentleman was surprised at your action today. I felt sorry for him. I want to know if you can keep at your work in an orderly way on similar occasions hereafter.”

If the answer is more or less satisfactory, accept it and say:

A Firm Injunction

“I am going to depend on you for this. I want to see no more expressions of shame on the face of a visitor because of your conduct. I want every pupil to work straight on no matter who may come in.”


This boy needs no publicity as a reward for his misdemeanor; he will sooner or later take advantage of his unexpected predicament to make more trouble for his teacher. The penalty had no logical connection with the prank, and only aggravated the boy’s antipathy toward school rules. Mr. Danner advertised his 485lack of good discipline by resorting to this barbarous penalty, especially when a stranger was present.

If the conduct of Adams is to be permanently improved, this one act must be viewed in its relation to his conduct generally. As soon as Adams feels vitally his part in making the school a success, his behavior will improve. No pupil is so obstreperous that one need despair of winning him by some kind of means, at least until one has exhausted his resources.

The plan recommended above, or some adaptation of it, can be used profitably for a pupil of any grade.


Making a Man

Jim was ten years old when he was transferred from Webster Street School in the East End of the city to Central School on Main Street. This transfer was the culmination of a long series of misdemeanors on his part and many untactful methods employed by his teachers. No species of juvenile mischief remained untried by him.

He went into each room with a scarred record from his former teacher, and was not allowed to forget the fact that he always did the wrong thing. He was scolded daily, sent into the hall to stay for hours and gaze benignly upon the works of art that decorated the walls, which of course he didn’t do, not being deeply engrossed in art study. More naturally he spent the time in mischievous pranks. He was whipped, threatened, and denied the advantages of less energetic and less talented pupils.

But with the transfer came a change in the boy’s nature. When he entered Central School, Miss Burns 486grasped his hand and said, “Well, Jim, I’m glad you’re going to be in our school. I know we’re going to get along finely.” She treated him as if he intended to do the right thing, and before long he actually thought he did so intend.

She had him go on errands for her when she saw he was getting restless, or erase the blackboard for her after an exercise, which he did with great dispatch, and before the end of the first day she had completely won his respect and gratitude.

One morning on his way to school Jim heard his classmates planning Christmas presents for their teacher. Immediately he began to contrive ways and means for securing a beautiful necklace he had seen in the jeweler’s shop—a necklace of gold and pearls. This was the only gift that his active little brain could conceive of as being worth giving to Miss Burns.

Only, he hadn’t the money to buy the necklace. His parents were far-seeing in a financial way, and did not believe in bestowing unlimited amounts of coin upon their children. So it was that Jim found need to do something unusual in order to secure the coveted present. He was not long in working up a paper route. He would rise early in the morning and spend long hours delivering his papers.

In connection with this work he took orders for Christmas wreaths, then secured a large quantity of holly from a wholesale man on market; his little sister, Ruth, bought a supply of fluffy, flaming ribbon at the Ten-Cent Store. Together they made the wreaths, Jim paying Ruth for her artistic advice and time. In this way the wreaths cost less than the ready-made 487wreaths, and Jim was able to secure a better price for them. Thus Jim saved enough money to buy the necklace and also some lovely presents for those at home.

You can imagine Miss Burn’s surprise when, among other gifts, she found Jim’s necklace on her desk the morning before Christmas. Realizing the value of the gift and Jim’s true devotion to her, she won from him the story of his sacrifice. She said, “Oh, Jim, you don’t know how this makes me feel,” and Jim went home at the end of the day with a beaming face.

Jim’s sacrifice reacted upon himself, for this taste of his powers led him into many fair means of earning money, and so launched him well on what turned out to be a successful business career.

“Making faces” is essentially a little child’s offense, although sometimes it persists in upper grades or even in the high school.


“Making Faces” for Spite

In a small village there existed bad feeling between the pastor of the church and several of his leading members. Some parishioners took sides with the pastor, and in the school the children of these two church factions carried on the quarrel of their elders. The teacher kept peace on the playground through active personal supervision, but in school he encountered the face-making problem in a degree only less ridiculous than it was annoying.

There existed an active emulation in the ugliness of the facial contortions produced, and when a member of one faction had made a particularly horrid grimace, 488he looked for and received the silent applause of his sympathizers.

Charles Briggs was the teacher. He knew that the feeling of alliance in the members of the factions was the cause of the face-making epidemic, but he could not at first think of a logical way of meeting the situation. He tried, first, the use of his absolute authority. He forbade the making of faces, and punished the children when he caught them at it. Whereupon face-making became a more exciting sport than ever, since the zest of escaping notice was added to the pleasure of presenting an ugly front to the enemy.

Mr. Briggs said, “How funny you would all look if your faces should stay twisted into those grotesque shapes.” Nevertheless the children spent their recesses, when kept in, in inventing new twists and contortions; they stood in corners and drew the attention of the whole room to fresh triumphs in grotesqueness. The evil grew, because the cause was not touched. One boy even set a looking-glass up in front of his book, into which he made faces for the benefit of the girl who sat behind him, keeping his head lowered meanwhile as if using his handkerchief to wipe his tearful eyes.

Then Mr. Briggs began to think of underlying causes and intrinsic remedies. As a consequence, he made up a fairy story about a land where people’s thoughts molded their features with instant magic into the semblance of ugly animals or noble men and beautiful women. He introduced a princess of evil disposition whose face was that of a cross, snapping dog, but whom a magician changed into a being of loveliness 489and grace by his persuasions to self-sacrifice and kindness. He told this story as vividly as he could, with emphasis upon the dislike people feel for an ugly face. Then he waited a day or two for the story to take effect. He heard the children laughingly allude to it once or twice, but the evil went on.

Then he talked to his school about face-making. He explained that such contortions really do affect the faces and characters of those who make them, not of those who see them. He led his boys and girls to see that face-making made them contemptible, and that every time it was done it published the inferiority of the doer. Then, having condemned the old ideal, he tried to build up a new habit by showing that the strongest man is the one who is most self-controlled, and ended by a little skillful ridicule of the babyish method they had been taking to show a silly spite.

“Suppose,” he proposed at last, “that we put the babies who make faces over here with the primary pupils, where they’ll feel more at home? Bright people don’t like to be associated with such children. But we’ll not try it unless we have to. I shall watch you during the next few days, and I’m going to see how many can show their friends and their enemies, if they have any, that they are worth respecting, and that their souls don’t look like twisted turnips.”

No magical change came over the school, but gradually the sentiment for, and practice of, face-making died out. The children unconsciously copied the teacher’s contempt for it. By stories and references he built up an ideal of beauty and dignity in personal appearance and behavior.



Mr. Briggs did well to search for underlying causes and effective remedies, because the use of authority in such a case is a mistake, as he found. Make no attempt to suppress the practice, but proceed at once to the constructive plan of building up a good sentiment.

Whatever you do, do not assume that the pupil is disrespectful to you. If the pupils have shown such disrespect in the past, simply set about gaining their confidence.

Face-making is largely an outgrowth of the play impulse, no matter what its motive. Substitute a better form of play. Dramatizing a story that emphasizes the opposite of the undesirable characteristics, is one of the best ways of overcoming the fault. Read “The Little Knight of Kentucky” during the twenty-minute periods just before school closes. Dramatize parts of it. When the children are imbued with the chivalrous spirit of the story, suggest the incongruities of face-making and other spiteful acts, by saying to the boy whom you “catch”: “Harold, the little knights of Kentucky did not make faces at each other. Would we be as proud of them as we are, had they done so? Then, let’s not have any one who makes faces play that story today.”


When the motive is the approbation of fellow-pupils, these fellow-pupils must be made to change their attitude of admiration for muscular grotesqueness for one of appreciation of facial repose, beauty and dignity. 491It is a matter of inculcating ideals. Beautiful pictures of ideal faces, such as those of Hoffman’s Boy Christ and Raphael’s Madonna of the Chair, may be used to illustrate the ideal of fine, controlled faces that express beautiful and kind thoughts. Sometimes offhand contempt of a babyish practice helps, especially with a vain and self-conscious type of pupil.


Cure for Bad Manners

Miss Grasome stood aghast at the rude manners and selfishness of her third grade pupils. She had tried many plans for improving the situation, but with little success, for the children had the constant example before them of rude manners in their homes. As the Christmas season drew near she thought to herself, “I’ll try once more. We will dramatize ‘The Birds’ Christmas Carol.’ Perhaps that beautiful story will teach the children the lesson that I seem to have failed thus far in clinching. I’ll use the rudest and most selfish girl I have for the sick child’s part. She won’t play as well as some of the others, but if she’ll only catch the lesson I want her to get, I won’t mind the blunders.”

The proposition to have a play instead of a Christmas tree delighted the children. The story interested them so much that when, toward the latter part of their study, Miss Grasome proposed that they follow out the thought of the story and make some needy or unfortunate person the recipient of their gifts this year instead of making them to each other, the children were quite ready for the sacrifice.

Of course committees must be appointed, and much 492coöperative work done before all details could be arranged. But every child had a share in the planning, and not many weeks had passed before a gentler and more considerate spirit began to dominate the school-room. Miss Grasome smiled and said to herself: “Coöperation works better than prohibiting or forcing, even in such matters as the training of manners, it seems.”


Paper Wads

Algie B. knew all the fun there is in throwing paper wads, particularly when he could run the greatest risks of detection and yet escape discovery. Said he to himself one busy morning:

“I believe I’ll take a shot at Redtop. The teacher’s got him scared into looking at his book; he’s got to be waked up.”

A good-sized wad soon sped across space, struck Redtop plump on the side of the head, fell and rolled back toward Algie.

“Better yet, I’ll just get that wad and have it for another shot. It’s a lucky boy I am, if I can do that.”

Stooping, he made four stealthy steps forward, regained his wad and slid back into his seat. When Miss Stone looked about, the next moment Algie’s eyes fell to his book and all was quiet and peaceful as a day in spring.

This fine example of bravery and success was not lost on other restless spirits. By the next day an observing onlooker counted up ten instances in which sly wad-throwers had reproduced Algie’s feat.

On the third day over-boldness brought the climax. 493Miss Stone had been too much absorbed to note the minor noises that were provoked. But when Amy Lane, nervous, uncontrolled, uttered a yell of terror as a cold wad struck her in the back of her neck and slipped down, ten pupils broke loose in a chorus of laughter.

Miss Stone roused up and, strange to say, succeeded in getting a story of the recent happenings. She threatened the last culprit, who in self-defense said,

“Why must I suffer when all the other boys do the same thing?” and he named nearly every boy in school, ending up with Algie.

Her threats of punishment of course were vain in the presence of so many offenders. With a sharp talk she dropped the discussion.


Miss Stone has one simple task: to rouse from absorption in one duty and wisely distribute her attention to several matters.

Promises must not be taken as fulfillment; assurances of any sort must not be taken for more than they are worth. Find a safe medium between espionage and disastrous indifference.


School-room behavior will never take care of itself under any system of management. A teacher who thinks he has solved all of his disciplinary problems is resting in a deceitful security. A sweet trustfulness that keeps every pupil in his most delightful mood and never sees the wild emotions and boisterous conduct 494that arises from them is the rock of destruction for a teacher’s influence.


Painting Face

Roland was an unkempt, dirty, red-headed little fellow in the sixth grade of a small town school. He came from an unlettered, hard-working, shiftless family in the country and, like Topsy, had just growed up. He was bright enough, but his reasoning power and sense of right and wrong were undeveloped because he had never been taught rightly. He had been whipped when naughty without fully understanding that what he had done was wrong.

One day, in the new school, he daubed his nose, cheeks and chin with ink when Miss Downer, the teacher, was not looking, and convulsed with laughter everyone who looked at him.

It was almost recess time, and Miss Downer quietly bade him wash his face. When the rest were dismissed she said, “Roland, I want to speak to you a minute.”

“Going to get a licking!” whispered the boy behind him, and Roland grinned scornfully, for whippings really did not matter much to him any more, though Miss Downer was new and untried and she looked as though she might be pretty strong.

When the rest had gone Miss Downer sat down in front of Roland and spoke to him kindly, “Roland, why do you do such things in school?”

Roland shifted uneasily and said, “Dunno.”

“Have you your language lesson?” at which he shook his head.

“Didn’t you think that besides foolishly wasting 495your own time you were wasting the other children’s time by making them laugh at you?”

This was an entirely new thought to him and he looked at her in incomprehension.

“You come to school to learn, don’t you, Roland? And the more you can learn the better off you will be. Some day when you get to be a man you’ll be glad you know more than somebody else, and sorry that you don’t know as much as some other person. Why, you were just telling me yesterday that your father didn’t have a chance to go to school beyond the fourth grade! And here you are wasting this precious, precious time of yours!”

Roland looked intently at a dirty finger-nail and Miss Downer could not tell whether she had made an impression on him or not. She gave him a story from a supplementary reader, telling of Lincoln’s struggles to get an education, to read during the rest of recess.

A week later Roland became really interested in the history lesson. This teacher’s questions weren’t the kind you could answer, parrot-like, by memorizing the words of the textbook. You had to stop and think about it. He asked, “I’d like to know about this yere Civil War, anyway. Some says they fit about slavery and the book says because they seceded, and I’d like to know which is right.”

Miss Downer devoted the rest of the class period to satisfying Roland’s query, and counted the time well spent because she had laid the first stone in the foundation of Roland’s education—she had aroused intellectual curiosity, satisfied it, and given him food for more questions.

496Every time he misbehaved after that she kept him in and talked to him seriously. Not once did she threaten or scold. And at other times she tried to draw him out by being interested in him and his affairs—the baby brother at home, a new dog he had, and what “my paw” said and did.

At length Roland began to realize that this teacher was not a vindictive creature, wreaking her spite upon him for harmlessly amusing himself and other people, but one who was interested in him, Roland Smith, and really cared what he did and thought. And, though she had queer ways of looking at things, he really hated to disappoint her and she could make him feel most awfully uncomfortable and ashamed of himself.

Paper Wads

Miss Downer’s final test came when Roland was discovered throwing paper wads at a boy across the room. Miss Downer felt very much inclined to thrash him soundly, for this was a case of wanton naughtiness. But she did not.

Instead she merely talked to him as she had talked before, bringing in a little more of the personal element.

“Roland, what if your brother kicked you every time you were almost asleep at night, or joggled your elbow every time you started to take a mouthful at the table, or pulled the chair out from under you when you started to sit down? It would be funny at first, wouldn’t it, but how long do you suppose you and your brother could keep on playing together as good friends if he kept it up?”

Roland shook his head, mystified.

“That’s just what you’re doing to me. You told me 497you wanted to learn and get on in the world, and the rest of these children do, too—they don’t want to be stupid when they’re grown up. But we can’t learn very fast with some one hindering us all the time, and I was counting on your help.”

Miss Downer spoke very kindly and earnestly, and looked directly at Roland.

“I wasn’t goin’ to throw them paper wads, honest I wasn’t, Miss Downer. But before I knowed it, they was thrown,” and Roland did look truly sorry.

Miss Downer’s impulse was to punish him, not to forgive him again, but if he really were sorry and trying to do better, a whipping would spoil all the good work she had accomplished so far.

“Are you sorry, Roland?” her voice was low and serious.

There was a long pause, during which Roland fingered a scrap of paper nervously, not looking up. Then his lip began to quiver and he nodded violently, breaking into sobs.

“I—I d-didn’t mean to and I won’t do it no more, honest.” Roland, whose boast was that “nary whipping” had ever made him cry, was penitent because he had disappointed her who had been kind to him.


Laughing at Nothing

Hen. Rutgers couldn’t help having plenty of fun. If no one made it for him he took a turn and produced it himself. He could have plenty and not laugh. Then he could laugh like the falling water on a cataract when there was very little fun in sight.

Hen. laughed. He laughed out loud. Miss Gresham 498went speedily to his desk, looked him straight in the face, and said:

“Henry, why did you laugh just now?”

Hen. lifted his head slowly and just as slowly rolled his eyes over until he looked her squarely in the eyes. With their glances mutually fixed Henry said very deliberately:

“I—don’t—know,” without a smile.

“Henry, you surely know what caused you to laugh. What was it?” Then glibly but without a smile came Henry’s reply.

“O yes, I remember. I was just thinking what would happen if Mr. Finley (superintendent, weighing two hundred and fifty pounds) should back off the platform there sometime when he’s walking around so fast.”

“You should be at work, Henry,” was all that Miss Gresham could utter at the time. The chief reason for her weak response was she had drawn the attention of half the pupils and a general titter arose at Henry’s reply chiefly because of his absolute composure of countenance.

Henry did not care so much for mischief for its own sake. His chief sport was attracting the attention of other pupils and getting the teacher into a mild predicament by setting a sort of disciplinary trap for her.


Avoid asking such questions as, What made you laugh? Why did you do it? etc., except privately. Even then unless you are reasonably sure of a satisfactory answer to these questions you may complicate 499your case by so doing instead of helping it toward a solution.

Pass over details of causes which pupils most often allude to and lay hold of the prime provocation for bad order. Use your power of analysis and apply an effective remedy. Henry needs an abundance of heavy but interesting work. Bear down so deep into his interest in geology that he cannot menace your loyalty to him by trifling with you in respect to discipline. Treat him so squarely, frankly, generously that his respect for you will be an unremitting check on small misdemeanors.


Pupils may not know what to answer when asked, “Why did you do so and so?” The truth is the causes are numerous. The last cause may have been the stumbling of one pupil over another one’s foot. But another cause lies behind this—disrespect for the teacher; behind this, fondness for another teacher. Why does a pupil act in a certain fashion? He is underfed, improperly clothed, irritated from insufficient sleep—these are all proper answers to the question, “Why?” Hence, every time the query is put a teacher runs the risk of provoking a worse situation and yet of gaining nothing from the inquisition.


Superintendent Finley called Henry in after his little one-act play in the assembly room and the following interview occurred.


“I have some facts about your affairs in the study 500period, Henry, that need to be cleared up. Yesterday you are said to have denied making faces when the fact was you had been guilty.”


“Well, I’ll tell you just how it was. I was at my desk. Miss Gresham thought something was off-color and came down to see me. I told her I didn’t know and then I recalled and answered her. The pupils looked on and laughed. Miss Gresham was nettled, I suppose. She walked down the aisle, stopped at Ellen’s desk, her back to me, and said to Ellen,

“‘Look over to Henry’s desk and see what he is doing.’

“Ellen caught sight of me and must have told that I was making a face, for Miss Gresham came to me and said: ‘What were you doing just now?’ I said, ‘Nothing.’ She said, ‘You were making a face.’ I said, ‘I was not.’ Then she sent me home.”

“Why did you deny making a face?”

“Because I hadn’t done it. I scowled but that was all. I didn’t do anything that need excite Miss Gresham. She’s got it in for me.”

“Now that will do on that. You are not properly occupied some way in your periods in the study room. I credit you with having intellect enough to know how to play the gentleman. It’s a question of whether you are always going to take advantage of opportunities to make sport at the expense of pupils’ and teachers’ time, or whether you are going to help make school work a success. I know pretty well what you think on these matters, but I’d like to hear you express yourself on this point.”

Henry did discuss the matter; there were a few weak 501spots in his view of school life. His evident restlessness during long school hours was a predisposing cause of several troubles. For this and other reasons, Mr. Finley decided to revise his schedule for use of the gymnasium during school hours and to provide suitable interruptions of mental labor by physical exercise of various sorts. This new program gratified the pupils as well as relieved physical necessities.

The interview ended fortunately for both teacher and pupil and eventually brought relief to several unfavorable conditions in the school as a whole.

(2) Teasing tricks. Sometimes a pupil can cause no end of annoyance by teasing others. This fault may have been trained into the child at home.


A bright lad and into all sorts of mischief, George had gradually acquired the reputation among the teachers of being “a bad boy”; and the new superintendent was informed to this effect when he came to the school.

Snake in School-room

One day there was a great commotion in his grade; an innocent garter snake had been let loose in the school-room. George was accused, and as the disturbance had begun in his corner of the room, and as he was known to have a great fondness for all sorts of animals, insects, snakes, etc., the evidence seemed decidedly against him.

“No, sir!” he replied to the superintendent, when sent for to go to the office. “No, sir! I didn’t do it!”

“I’m afraid that you are not telling me the truth, George. You have a bad reputation. I think that I 502shall punish you by sending you into the next lower grade, until you can learn to become more of a man.”

“It’s such a disgrace, mother! No, I can’t go back. The boys will all make fun of me. Besides, I didn’t do it!”

Finally, however, his mother made him see that the manly thing would be to take his punishment, even if he wasn’t to blame. So, on the following morning, he reported himself to the teacher of the next lower grade, and told her that he was to study there.

Later in the day the superintendent made his rounds, and exclaimed surprisedly, when he saw George,

“Why, you here? I didn’t expect to ever see you again!”

Needless to say that was the last appearance of George at school, and a life that might have been helped was spoiled by an unjust punishment and a careless remark. Even superintendents may make mistakes!


Say to the mischief-loving boy, “George, we can not have these animals loose in the school-room; it disturbs our work entirely too much. But there is a way that we can have them here, some of them at least, and everybody enjoy them. How would you like to help me make a fresh water aquarium for the school?” “You would like it? Very well. We shall need one more to help us. Tell the boy who brought in the snake to come to me with you this afternoon and together we will plan how to make the aquarium. We’ll get it all ready and give the other children a surprise. I’ll help 503you until it is ready for the animals. You and he can get the specimens, and after that I would like to have you two take care of them. Meanwhile, we’ll get from the library all the books we can find about the animals you two select, and talk about them in the nature study period.” The aquarium, referred to above, need not be an expensive apparatus. In fact, most any kind of a vessel or a very large bottle would serve the purpose very well. Do not furnish this yourself but let one of the boys bring it.


The fact that George was fond of animals, insects, snakes, etc., was the clew for the teacher to work upon in gaining the good will and coöperation of the troublesome boy. Knowing one strong interest that he had, the teacher should start with that and work out from it to other and broader fields of action.

Unless the teacher had actual proof to the contrary, she should have accepted the boy’s statement that he did not bring in the snake. It is far better that a guilty boy go unpunished, than that an innocent person be punished. Take the initiative in coöperation with the troublesome pupil and the troubles will soon disappear.


The Pet Dog

Henry Gould was very fond of his collie and insisted upon having his company every day at school. His teacher, Miss Greenway, probably would have made no objection to this had it not been for a fact that the dog was inclined to snap at any child except his master and thus endanger the safety of the other children. How to forbid the presence of the dog without arousing 504the antagonism of his owner was the problem. She resolved to try approval and initiative in coöperation. So she called Henry to her at noon time and said:

“Henry, I noticed the collie snapping at one of the little girls today, and I think we shall have to ask him to stay at home after this. But he is such a bright little fellow we shall miss him. Don’t you think it would be fine for the children to take his picture before he goes? How would you like to get him into a good position when the drawing period comes and let the children use him for a model?”

Henry was proud to have his pet honored, stood by him patiently while the children drew, and made no further insistence that he should come to school.


A Live Mouse

A practical joke loses all of its point when nobody is annoyed or made ridiculous by it. A teacher who tactfully makes himself seem one of a group who is deriving benefit from an experiment, wins the respect of his students. Such a teacher was the high school instructor in science, whose attention was directed to a mischievous pupil, by a girl’s seemingly nervous fear of this fun-loving boy. Cautious investigation revealed the fact that a living mouse was in the wide-mouthed bottle which protruded from the joker’s pocket.

This principal told the boy that it would be instructive fun to let the mouse loose in the building and see what the timid little thing would do, but that such a course of action would endanger the future safety of books, lunches, etc., left in the building. He, therefore, advised that, at the coming recess, all who did not fear 505the mouse, form a large circle in the school yard and that the mouse be let loose in the center of the circle. And that all observe closely just what the little animal did.

At recess, the principal himself joined the circle, asking the boys to notice carefully whether or not the mouse would change his course to avoid a shouting student.

After the mouse was experimented upon and killed the mischief-maker began to wonder why it was that he was glad that he had not annoyed the principal with the mouse, as he had intended to do.


Teasing Rhymes
“Hey Diddle Diddle!
Parts his hair in the middle!”

This was the couplet that greeted John Fraser as he entered his eighth grade room one September noon. Above the couplet was a portrait of himself, the style of his hair indicated very clearly. He erased the decorations hastily, but said nothing about it. He was very young, however, and the thoughtless disrespect shown him hurt sadly.

A day or two passed, during which he noticed the covert amusement at his faultlessly pressed clothes, his punctilious manners, his careful grooming, all new and strange to the crude little town in the Southwest in which he taught. Then, one noon, he entered the room from the playground to find a rough cartoon on the board, labeled, “Mr. Fraser pressing his pants to make creases at 2 a.m.” The pupils were vastly entertained by it.

506“Who made this picture?” John demanded, very angry and feeling that his dignity demanded that the offender be punished. Every head turned instantly toward Cleaver Trotter, who seemed much pleased to be singled out for attention.

“Cleaver, you may remain in at recess. I want to see you.”

“Just as you say, Mr. Fraser!” sang out Cleaver, jauntily. There was a half-suppressed titter of admiration, and Mr. Fraser felt that he had come out second best.

At recess he ascertained that Cleaver had really drawn the picture, and forbade him sternly to repeat the offense. The interview took place in the otherwise empty school-room, and when Cleaver was allowed to go he joined a group of gaping admirers on the playground.

“What did he do to you?” they demanded to a man.

“Oh, he asked me why I did it, and I told him I couldn’t help it; I just knew it took him all night to press his pants that way.”

“And what did he say then?”

“Well, he smelled of the smelling-salts and said that’d be all for today, so I came on out.”

None of this account was true, but Cleaver won by it the thing his boyish vanity wanted, the admiration of his crowd. They approved the ridicule because it furnished them with fun, and Cleaver was shrewd enough to know that his leadership depended upon their approbation of his attitude. He annoyed John Fraser constantly throughout the school year, not because he disliked him or wanted to be troublesome, but because the 507teacher could not perceive that Cleaver had a mania for approbation which needed to be guided into better channels.


The pupil who does evil for approbation will do good for the same cause, if approbation for good can be secured. In this case, Mr. Fraser might have turned Cleaver’s talent for making cartoons and doggerel into less personal use, utilizing the admiration of his classmates as a spur to accomplishment. If he had asked Cleaver, for instance, to illustrate some event in current history with an original cartoon, to accompany a talk to be given in opening exercises, even Cleaver’s vanity would have been satisfied at the flattery of having his talent taken so seriously. At the same time the narrow personal nature of Cleaver’s interests would have been broadened by a knowledge of affairs outside his immediate world.


Wise teachers do not allow the rudeness, crudeness and childishness of their pupils to disturb their serenity. They know that good manners and consideration are the result of training, and with “a fine disregard of personalities” they set about giving this training. The great art in such cases is to substitute a good activity for the bad one which has heretofore gained the approbation sought.


Red Hair

Mary Costello had fiery red hair, which swirled around her freckled face in a way that would have 508delighted Titian, but which her pupils in District 27 found only surpassingly funny. She unburdened herself one night to her mother, who was just a generation more Irish than herself.

“That Thad Burrows thinks he’s so funny,” she stormed. “Today he said to me, ‘Say, Miss Costello, do you wear a hat in winter?’ and I said of course I did, and why shouldn’t I? And he said he should think it would have to be lined with asbestos. Then they all bellowed, and if he ever mentions it again I’ll lambast him for it,” and Mary’s eyes snapped with indignation.

“There now, Mary, don’t be after letting a fool kid upset ye so,” her wise old mother advised. “That Thad Burrows is a bright boy, and if it was someone else’s thatch he said it about ye’d be laughing with him altogether. I’ll bet that if you’ll win the heart of him, he’ll lick anyone that dares to think of a white horse when you’re around.”

Mary pondered this advise and took it. She showed no resentment toward Thaddeus, but rather sought ways of being especially kind to him. She discovered that he was eager to earn money, and helped him find work in town on Saturdays; she lent him books and deferred to his opinion in matters of stove-tending and mouse-catching. He came to connect his leadership with the teacher, who found so many little ways of giving him the prominence his soul craved. The red hair ceased to be a joke, and by the term’s end the prophecy of Mary’s mother had come to pass.



Raymond Smith had just taken up boxing. He was accustomed to hang around a gang of street idlers and would-be sports and when any of the number ventured to put on the gloves he was fully alive to every move they made.

Not having funds to purchase a pair of gloves he began pummelling smaller boys, getting some little skill in certain movements imitated from his larger associates. There was a great deal of bluff and bluster in his actions and not a small amount of teasing.

Shaking Fist

Ellen Moore, teacher, knew boy nature fairly well. She was strict in conduct but rarely was caught firing her guns at a mere decoy. Raymond broke over bounds in a harmless fashion in that as she was passing his desk one afternoon, he doubled up his fist and shoved it in her direction—an excellent opportunity for rigid discipline. But this is what happened:

“My, what a large, solid fist you have,” she said in a quiet voice, quickly moving on to her next duty.

The hand fell. The boy had no clear motive and yet was in a mood where belligerency would be easily aroused and deeply relished.

No reference was again made to this incident by either, although Miss Moore took occasion in a few other matters to draw the lines closely on Raymond that he might clearly sense the limitations that school life laid upon him.



Toy Mouse

(3) Practical jokes—a more serious kind of teasing. Imogene and Charles Rogers were two orphans, living with elderly relatives who wanted to bring them up wisely, but did not know how. They were full to overflowing of animal spirits, bubbling with fun, restlessly eager to fill every moment with good times. Miss Spires, their teacher, was somewhat short-sighted, and that is why, when a little mechanical mouse ran from the second row of chairs right up to her feet, she thought it a live one and jumped and screamed.

Imogene and Charles, who had bought the mouse at the ten-cent store, were delighted past all bounds, and all the children laughed. Miss Spires thought she had been insulted, and without much ceremony put the two children behind the piano. They were not at all resentful, for here they had a good chance to plan more mischief, and made a conspiracy to secure a repetition of the entertaining panic of the morning by putting two of their pet rabbits into Miss Spires’ desk at noon. This great joke worked as well as the first—even better. Miss Spires sent the “dreadful children” to the principal for correction, with a message which made the principal look at the young scapegraces gravely. But she was a wise principal. She said:

“What did Miss Spires do when you made the mouse run up to her feet?”

“She just screeched!” gurgled Imogene in reminiscent delight.

511“She jumped as high as my head!” Charles had a good imagination.

“Did she screech when you put the rabbits into her desk?”

“She hopped all around like a chicken, and asked who did that.”

“What did you say?”

“I said we did, and she didn’t think it a good joke, but she said we were bad children and sent us to you.”

“Do you think you are bad? What is it, to be bad?”


“Biffing people that ain’t as big as you are.”

“And telling lies. That’s ’specially bad.”

“Yes, that’s all true. But do you know, good things are sometimes bad, when they are put in the wrong places, and done at the wrong times.” The principal had a long talk with the children, in which she discovered that their attitude toward control was very good, but that their ideas of appropriateness were very primitive. This was because their elders had tried to repress them instead of guiding them, and being made of irrepressible stuff they had simply overrun boundaries.

“Why don’t you try to guide those play instincts that are so strong in Imogene and Charles?” she asked Miss Spires later. Miss Spires’ reply shows just why she failed as a teacher:

“It’s not my business to study their ‘instincts.’ I’m here to teach them to read and write and cipher.”



Laugh with the children at your own silliness. At their age it would have seemed as funny to you as it now does to them.

Pick up the mouse, examine it with interest, and say, “He is a funny little fellow, isn’t he! (Approval.) But he hasn’t very good manners to interrupt us so in school time. Let’s put him up here on the teacher’s desk, where he can learn to be more polite.” (Suggestion—that the act was rude.)

“Charles, you may read next. Imogene, see if he reads just right.” (Substitution.)


A teacher who is so infantile as to scream at a tiny, frightened mouse, even though it were a live one, should not blame the pupils for indulging in less marked exhibitions of arrest of development.

Teachers meet pupils sanely on the play question when they sympathize with their desire to play, but see clearly why and how these impulses must be controlled for the child’s future good. Play is a good servant but a poor master; no human being is more pitiful than the amusement drunkard. Play in its right place is a wonderful renovator of health and spirits; play in the wrong place stunts character and makes for selfishness and littleness. The ideal teacher wants his pupils to play, helps them to realize the great values that lie in play, but shows them clearly that play must be indulged in at right times and places, and rigidly excluded from work hours, except where it can be made to help on the work. In short, he leads his 513pupils as they grow older to play with reason and to plan play intelligently, rather than blindly to follow impulses.


Play in Study Hour

In a certain large high school the teachers had had much trouble with the students in the assembly room. A spirit of uncontrolled play seemed to take possession of the room a few minutes after the hour had begun. Instead of settling down to work, the boys and girls wrote notes, played little tricks on each other, whispered and made endless meaningless trips to dictionary and bookcase. They seemed to think the hour was given to them for social purposes.

Many teachers had failed to remedy this condition, before Miss Stansbury was relieved of two classes that she might take hold of the assembly room.

“Do you give me permission to do whatever I think is wise?” she asked the harassed principal.

“Go ahead,” said he. So she did.

She had been in the room about five minutes, and was busily marking papers, when a hard lemon came rolling up the aisle toward her desk. She went to it, picked it up, and saw that two boys, the only two who could have thrown it up that aisle, were looking at her under lowered lids. Very quietly, so as not to be overheard except by those hard by, she asked who had thrown the lemon, and the doer acknowledged at once—lying was not a fault in this school.

“You don’t seem to know what a study period is for. You may take your books and go home, and study your lessons there. I shall call up your mother 514on the telephone and tell her why you are coming home.”

“But I have a class this next hour, and I live clear across the city!” exclaimed the student, in dismay. “I can’t go home!”

“But you can’t stay here, since you don’t know how to use a common study hall. Please go at once, and I’ll report to your teacher why you are gone. I have work to do, and can’t spend my time policing the room.”

The puzzled boy rose slowly and left the room. Miss Stansbury went to the high school office, called up his mother, and told her that her son would be home shortly, as he had been playing in the assembly room and would therefore have to do his studying at home that day.

“But he can’t study at home. We live a mile and a half across the city. What was he doing? Was it anything dreadful?”

“Not at all. He merely rolled a lemon up the aisle, a very innocent performance at any other time—but this happened to be study hour.”

“Well, you may be very sure he won’t do it again!” and the indignant mother hung up her receiver with a snap.

When Miss Stansbury reached the assembly room again she saw a group standing around a boy near the center of the room. They were giggling and peering over his shoulder at something on the desk—which, when she reached them, Miss Stansbury discovered to be the last copy of Life.

“Don’t go to your seats yet. I want to talk to you a 515moment, and I don’t want to disturb those who are studying by talking very loud. You six people also seem not to have learned what a study hour is for. Play and fun and Life belong to other times and places. I shall write your names on slips, and send them to the teachers of your various classes, so that if you are absent or tardy they may know why. And now you six may take whatever study books you need and go home. You can not stay here unless you study, for this is a study period. I shall call up your homes and tell your parents why you are coming home.”

“Will you give us an excuse for absence from physics next hour?” one boy asked.

“Why, no. You have excuses only for necessary absences.”

“But then we’ll get a zero for the recitation!”

“Yes, I suppose so. But a high school boy is supposed to know enough to study during study hours.” Miss Stansbury was smiling and implacable.

The six passed out, grumbling and almost rebellious. Miss Stansbury went again to the telephone, and told five mothers (the sixth one being out) why their children were coming home.

“Why don’t you make him study?” said one mother.

“I am doing so,” was the reply.

When she returned to the assembly room all was quiet. Not one of the students who were left cared to play, or write notes, or roll lemons. Here was a teacher who meant business. Miss Stansbury did not reform the students altogether, for they often slid back into their old habits when the younger and weaker teachers had charge of the room. But when she was in charge, 516there was quiet and industry, and no attempt at ill-timed fun.

By the time they have reached the high school, pupils know what is expected of them during school hours in a general way; but they also know that teachers vary greatly in their standards. Some tolerate play during work time, some do not. Those who will tolerate it usually have to. Miss Stansbury simply and quietly defined her stand, which was one of absolute adherence to a work-while-you-work program. Neither did she fall into the error of a certain high school teacher who dallied around a note writer, neither asking what he was doing nor demanding that he work. She reasoned that if a study period is for study, there is no sense in having it spoiled by interpolated fun. She did not scold, she did not lecture, she did not entreat, she did not moralize; she just eliminated the disturbers, and after two examples of her method everyone understood her and did as she demanded. She assumed differentiation between working and play hours. If she had used this method with untrained, little children in the lower grades it would have been a stupid and harmful mistake, for such children have not yet learned to control their play impulses. High school students know how; they will do it if held up to a standard of action.


The sophomore class in a high school decided to do something to call public attention to the valor and general high qualities to be found in its members. As students their record was good. As to conduct no 517member had suffered any extreme penalties, although the superintendent’s son had often skirted the boundaries of the unendurable.

Buildings Disfigured

The class played the following pranks: during the night the school bell was rendered useless by removal of the rope and clapper; a donkey was taken up the steps into the assembly room and left there until morning; class emblems were painted in class colors in a score of forbidden places.

This second offense aroused the ire of the superintendent. In a few days the class was called to meet him and another member of the faculty. Mr. Webster, the superintendent, at once asked the following questions:

“I would like to know what members of this class took part in the disfigurement of the buildings and grounds.” His manner was not offensive, yet his firmness was very evident and a degree of anxiety was betrayed in his voice.

No answer was given. The superintendent then questioned each member of the class as follows: “Were you on the school grounds the night of the 14th? Did you assist in disfiguring the property? Do you know who did the work?” All but two members of the class declared they were under obligations not to give any answers that would reveal who was guilty; the two others answered these questions truthfully; but as they knew no pertinent facts about the incident, nothing was gained.

The superintendent’s next step was to say: “Do you know any reason why the members of this class, except these two, should not be suspended until the desired 518information is given?” A few protests were heard, but they all affirmed the right of a pupil to maintain silence when asked to incriminate a fellow pupil. The superintendent then announced the suspension to take effect at once.

At the end of two weeks a compromise was brought about and a majority of the class returned to school. The rebellious members had declared they would not open negotiations with the superintendent. He had declared that they must inform him who were guilty of the offenses. Both of these demands were laid aside. The superintendent was known to have changed his decision and the offenders were publicly taunted with backing down on the boast.

Some of these boys never re-entered the school; others found their places soon, in another high school. The memory of the incident is a sad one for all concerned.


Release the donkey from his “embarrassing situation,” but leave other details of the mischief for a day or two. Some inkling of who the perpetrators are will probably leak out in that time.

Meanwhile, have the damages appraised by the school board.

Next have a private talk with the president and other officers of the class, stating to them the amount of the damages, the fact that you will present the bill to the class and that you will then turn it over to them for collection; also that you will expect their hearty 519coöperation in seeing that all damages are repaired and paid for.

Finally, address the class as a whole. Say to the class, “I appreciate the funny side of your pranks the other evening, but there are some damages that some one has to pay. Two or three members of the board, in whom all of us have confidence, have appraised them at ten dollars. You have made a good record as a class. I shall expect you to live up to your reputation by doing the fair and square thing in this instance also. That means that you will authorize your president or some other member of the class to see that damages are repaired and expenses paid. You had lots of fun, but if the fun is ‘worth the candle,’ why, now, the only manly course to pursue is to ‘pay for the candle.’

“I think it will not be necessary for me to speak of this episode again. I leave the matter in your hands. I will ask your class president to report to me when the work is completed.”


The superintendent lost ground with the school in assuming a belligerent attitude, in trying to force a confession, and in punishing innocent pupils because they were unwilling to incriminate their classmates. The weakness of his position is shown in the fact that in the end he was obliged to compromise.


Carbon Bisulphide

The room was full of pupils. A representative of one of the numerous book companies was present. 520Everything was moving smoothly and in order, when suddenly the room began to fill with the disagreeable odor of carbon bisulphide. It grew worse and worse. Pupils were holding their noses to keep out the smell, and some were covering their mouths to keep in the laughter.

The situation was trying for the teacher. He was embarrassed by the presence of the visitor, under such odoriferous circumstances. What was to be done? It would be useless to hold a public inquiry. It was a time both for thought and tact. Finally the teacher evolved his plan.

Going on with the work, just as if nothing had happened, the teacher conducted the remaining recitations of the day, as usual. Meantime he kept his eyes open. The odor gradually grew less offensive and most of the pupils quietly resumed their customary work.

The vigilance of the schoolmaster was finally rewarded. One of the boys seemed to be enjoying the situation to a greater degree than the rest. He was unable to entirely conceal his enjoyment and this was the teacher’s clue. He kept his eye innocently on this boy.

Just as school was about to close for the day, the teacher said: “Frank, I’d like to see you a few moments after dismissal.”

Frank remained. His countenance paled slightly and he no longer had difficulty in suppressing his enjoyment.

“Frank,” began the principal, “where did that preparation that made such a disagreeable odor here this afternoon come from?”

521Frank looked guilty.

“I didn’t have it here in the room,” he replied.

“Yes, Frank, but that’s not answering my question,” responded the inquisitor severely.

“Well, I had some bisulphide down on the playground, but I didn’t bring it into the school-room,” Frank finally admitted.

“What did you do with it?”

“I gave it to Harry.”

“What did he do with it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Very well, you are excused for the present, till we can see Harry.”

The next night Frank and Harry were both asked to remain. The superintendent was present. Two pale boys appeared before the teachers.

“Harry, what did you do with the bottle of bisulphide you got from Frank yesterday?” inquired the superintendent.

“I kept it down on the playground awhile and then threw it here in the wastebasket,” was Harry’s candid response.

“Didn’t you know what was in the bottle?” resumed the teacher.

“No, sir, I didn’t.”

“Didn’t Frank tell you?”

“No, sir, he didn’t.”

“Is that right, Frank?”

“I guess that’s right,” said Frank seriously.

Evidently Harry was innocent for the most part. After sound admonition by the superintendent the boys were dismissed. Frank was very careful thereafter 522and Harry was always an exemplary pupil. No further disturbances of this nature occurred during the year.

A little tact and patience on the part of the teacher will often be highly rewarded in the school-room.

(4) Teaching children how to play rightly. All playgrounds, while in use, should be supervised by one or more responsible teachers.


A big snow had fallen, but the weather had soon turned warmer and the snow had softened just enough to make snowballing good.

Snowball Contest

“You may snowball all you want to as long as you keep above the row of trees,” said the superintendent to the boys.

A fierce battle was going on within the prescribed bounds. The contest increased in fury and finally one side was driven back.

“Remember the limits!” cautioned one of the pupils.

Most of the boys either forgot to stop or kept running in the excitement of the game, and rushed far beyond the limits. Then several more were crowded beyond the limits, and unfairly engaged in the contest from their new position.

“You’d better quit now or get over with the rest all of you!” shouted the head of the schools.

Charles stopped for a short time, but in a few moments threw again from outside of the limits.

“Charles, you go upstairs at once!” were the decisive words of the superintendent, hurled at the offending boy in a way not to be mistaken.

523Charles mounted the stairs without delay and entered the office. The superintendent soon appeared.

“What did you mean by throwing after I cautioned you, Charles?” asked he sternly.

“Well—I don’t know. I got lost in the game and didn’t notice what you said, I guess.”

“Well, what do you think, now?”

“I think we should obey the regulation.”

“Will it be necessary to speak to you more than once the next time?”

“No, it won’t!” said Charles decisively.

“Then you may go.”

Charles left the office, glad to get off as easily as he did. Thereafter the superintendent watched this boy, but Charles was careful to obey whatever the teacher told him if the superintendent was within reach.


Some one must attend these children when at play on the school grounds. Organize the game, mark the boundaries carefully and coach the children just as in athletics. Have a comrade to attend them when they are running bases. Call the group together before the game opens; explain the chief points in the rules. Show what comes of neglecting the rules—confusion and several other bad things. Prove that just as much pleasure can be had by following some sort of system as if one goes at play in a helter-skelter fashion.


All children must be taught how to play despite the fact that they have an insatiable appetite to engage 524in it. Scattering hints will often suffice and save not only injuries but open infractions of school regulations.

Self-control is acquired only gradually, hence the orderly play that is so delightful for pupils in the teens is preceded by a period of learning.

Most first grade children are afraid to snowball, but in the second grade boys begin to want to do brave things and in consequence can do some damage by snowballing. Snowballing should not be considered an offense. Every teacher knows how he has enjoyed the sport. It is only the carelessness that may creep into the play that may cause a window to be broken or some child to be hurt in the eyes, ears, or about the face or body. It is really necessary that a teacher should teach the pupils how to snowball, when there is snow on the ground. She should go with them and enjoy the sport.


Limitations in Play

“One, two, three,” and all the boys and girls passed out of the room, Miss O’Gorman following. “Remember now, Phil, no hard snowballs, as I told you in the school-room.” “Now wait until we get out of reach of the windows before you begin.” “Are we divided up evenly, just the same number on both sides? Let’s count and see. Yes, just fifteen on each side.” “Now, ready, everybody.”

Miss O’Gorman let her ball fly along with the others, as she was to play a few minutes on each side. She kept a keen eye for illegal conduct and spurred all of them on in the fine fun.

This had been prearranged with parents’ consent to 525occur just at the close of school so that the children could go home and dry up their clothes at once if it became necessary.

By the end of twenty minutes one side gave away and yielded the honors to the others and the game ended. On her way home Miss O’Gorman remarked:

“I like to have the snow come because then I can snowball, but children, I never make hard balls or throw at a building. I never throw at anyone’s head. It would make me feel very sad to hurt someone or break a window.”

Directing the sport of snowballing is far better and wiser than prohibiting it. The discreet teacher will not even try to suppress it, but will use every occasion to get into the snow with the boys and girls and have fun and frolic.


Quarrelsome Play

“Come on, Mr. Frank, first batter!” “Pitcher!” “Catcher!” “First base!” Soon every position was filled as the boys and the teacher of the eighth grade streamed out of the schoolhouse.

“Come on, Mr. Frank, play with us.”

“No, not today, boys. I have something else to do now, I can’t.”

This was the third and last time for the season that the boys of Mount Holly School urged this young man to enter into his privilege in play. He stood off and for a few moments closely observed the outcome. The game started after some parleying, but was soon interrupted by dissension.

“He’s out.” “You’re out.” “Throw him out.” 526“I won’t do it,” and scores of chopped-off utterances filled the air. Ten minutes were lost in hot argument out of which no one gained the least value. Big boys squeezed smaller ones out of their turn and these, lacking any opportunity for play, stood about occupied with gloomy thoughts.

“They don’t get on well together—I wonder what the matter is with these fellows,” Mr. Frank remarked.


Accept the invitation to play. As a player, take only a player’s part. No pedagogical authority need be used; but as a private person exercise a control that will give tone to the whole performance. See that something like justice is done to all and that the foolish delays are eliminated.


Boys little by little acquire a sense of order and often become deeply offended at the unruly procedure of their comrades. They welcome the presence of an older hand that steadies affairs and prevents one or two reckless boys or girls from spoiling the fun of all the rest.

An occasional participation may be all that is needed to institute a noticeable improvement. Such aid should be given heartily as it is due to the children in every school.


Boy’s Letter

How a child looks upon this matter is seen in the following extract taken from a boy’s letter:

527“We’re having a bully time at school. At recess time teacher plays with us and after school, too, sometimes.

“We play baseball, and he says we can have a match game if we practice hard. I’m second baseman. Teacher made the boys let in the little fellows if they can keep up.

“I hain’t going to miss school nary a day if I can help it. Play’s lots of fun. We don’t play much in school because we have work to do.

“Hope you’re all well.



The Cloverdale Grammar School gave much attention to athletics and especially tried to encourage the baseball team which had been organized from the seventh and eighth grades. Mr. Tilden, the principal, was sincere in his desire that his pupils should engage in the sport, but having given his verbal encouragement and assistance, it did not occur to him that his personal presence on the playground was in any degree necessary to the welfare of the school. He interpolated but on restriction into the fun: “In order to safeguard our school buildings,” he said to the boys, “I am going to make one ruling, namely, that you must not send the balls toward the school building. Any boy who does that, accidentally or otherwise, must drop out of the game.”

All went well for a few days. The less aggressive among the boys adhered to the rule strictly. But one day one of the leading boys, Reginald Coleman, happened to hit the stone foundation of the school building. 528In this particular instance the stone foundation was surmounted by brick walls up to about one-third or one-half the height of the building, then finished off for the remainder of the distance with wood.

Reginald argued with much boyish eloquence that “the foundation was not a part of the building, no possible harm would result from hitting it with the ball, hence it could not be that Mr. Tilden intended to include that in his prohibition.”

So much in earnest was Reginald in pleading his case that the other boys were soon won to his way of thinking, and he was allowed to continue in the game.

For the next few days Reginald’s modification of Mr. Tilden’s rule was the law of the playground. Then came another issue. Carl Story lost his balance slightly just as he raised his bat to strike, the result being that the ball glanced sidewise, striking the brick wall of the school building. It was now Carl’s turn to present a plea for leniency in the application of the law.

“Aw, ’tain’t fair to throw that out! It don’t do no more harm to hit the brick than it does ter hit the stone. That brick’s a part of the foundation. Didn’t you fellers say the other day that we could hit the foundation? It’s all foundation up to the top of brick.”

Now Carl happened to be playing in the same nine as Reginald, and Reginald naturally espoused his cause.

“That’s right, kids,” he joined in, “Carl didn’t hit the building; he only hit the brick foundation. Let him play on! We don’t want to lose this game. Go 529on, Carl”—and Carl finished the game notwithstanding the protests of the opposing nine.

Thus the modifications of the rules went on from day to day, always in favor of the larger and stronger and more aggressive boys and always to the disadvantage of the younger and smaller ones of the opposite side.


Be on the ground when a new game is launched. Study the possibilities for unfair playing (silently, of course), and make every effort to establish rules that will be just to all.

Do not stop at this point, however. Play with the children frequently enough to learn at first hand whether strict rules of honor are being observed or whether the leaders are taking unfair advantage wherever opportunity offers.

Say to Reginald and Carl, “If one of the boys on the other side had made that play would you have wished to count it?”

If the boys can not be converted to a desire for strictly honest play, then see to it that the ringleader gets no advantage from his trickiness. Say, “We’ll have to throw out this whole game because it wasn’t played quite fairly. Tomorrow we’ll have another game to take the place of this one.”


Boys are not unlike adults in that they are quick to make rulings favorable to themselves or their party 530and unfavorable to others. The surest way to make men honest is to make dishonesty unprofitable. A state inspector of weights and measures, remarking recently upon the fact that a certain town in Michigan had “fewer cases of short weights and measures than any other town visited,” accounted for the fact by saying, “It is an inland town with a settled population. The grocers depend year after year upon the same group of persons for customers. Under such conditions any habitual shortage would certainly be discovered and in the end would work harm to the business. Hence all the grocers are honest there. It doesn’t pay to be dishonest.”

The “paying” side of honesty may not seem a very high motive to hold before children; but with the habit of honesty once formed, the altruistic ideal will be much surer of lodgment when the children are old enough to appreciate it. On the other hand the high ideal without the habit is simply another expression for hypocrisy.

Much is said today regarding play as a means of training for the higher duties of life. It may indeed be so, but on the other hand play may be the most effective training possible for trickery, selfishness, and every anti-social instinct. The remedy is supervision of play and participation in it by leaders who know how to suppress the evil impulses which there find opportunity for expression, while stimulating the good. Such a leader will study individually the pupils under his supervision and be quick to adapt his regulations to changes, not only in place and time, but also to the personnel of his group.



Modify Rules

From scraps of conversations floating in through the open window near which Mr. Tilden was accustomed to sit correcting papers, as well as from sundry complaints coming to him from the defeated “nine,” Mr. Tilden got an inkling after a while that all was not as it should be on the ball ground.

“I’ll come down and play with you after school this afternoon,” he replied one day to a seventh grade boy, who had come in to tell him that he wanted to give up his place in the baseball nine.

“We can’t win no games, Mr. Tilden,” said he, “coz the other team ain’t square. They kid us all the time.”

Mr. Tilden, true to his word, joined hands in the game, purposely taking a place in the losing team. Next to the ball ground was a tennis court. Between the two fields was a high wire fence. Presently over the fence went a ball, sent thither by a batter of the opposing nine. Of course there was vexatious delay while one of the boys went to hunt it up and bring it back. Before the game had proceeded very far another ball flew over the high wire fence, and later another.

“Oho! I believe I can see through that game,” thought Mr. Tilden. “The boys on the other team are heckling these boys, wasting their time and strength and confusing them more or less by sending the balls over the fence in order to place these fellows at a disadvantage. That needs a bit of attention.”

The game over, he called all the boys to him. “Well, 532boys, we had a fine game and I’m glad I came in if my side did get beaten. But there’s just one rule I’d like to change a little. Some of you fellows need to practice striking so as to hit squarer than you did today. It’s a great nuisance to have the balls go over that fence. We’ll have it the rule hereafter that whoever can’t do better than send his ball over there will choose someone else to take his place while he drops out for the remainder of the game. Probably he needs to rest his arms a little. Anyhow we can’t have the fun spoiled just for a few boys who haven’t practiced enough.”

This arrangement solved the immediate problem, but Mr. Tilden found that new ones successively presented themselves as one side or the other worked out new devices for outwitting the opposite side. He did not make the mistake again, however, of leaving the boys to themselves entirely, but kept in touch with the players and readjusted the rules as occasion required.


Half-hearted Coöperation

Mr. Renaldo managed to keep on the good side of most of his pupils, but he fell from his pinnacle of power when he made the following announcement:

“Now, if any of you want to go to Delevan to attend the baseball meet I’ve nothing to say. I don’t believe our team is going to do much, but we’ll see.

“If the people outside hadn’t butted in and tried to run our sports we would have come out all right.

“I know you want to win the state championship. We came so near it last year that we should have a 533good chance for it under favorable circumstances. But we haven’t much of a team. I could have picked a winning team, I believe; but town folks wanted to run the thing, so we’ll see what comes of it.”

After this vent of pique a big buzz of criticism arose. However, when the contest came off at Delevan the superintendent made the trip and shouted as loud as anyone. Through some strange characteristic quality he was able to throw cold water one day and build up fires of enthusiasm the next.

Later in the spring came this announcement:

“We’ll not have any more baseball games with out-of-town teams this season. Our athletics are absorbing too much attention; too many people are trying to run things up here.”

Of course the crack pitcher went to the board of education and got consent of the board to continue the series of games as had previously been the custom. Later the superintendent said, “Well, now, let me see who wants to play.... All right, then, if these are your players, go ahead.”


One simple rule applies here: develop a consistent policy and cling to it. If grades are low, get behind the team in every way and you can usually swing the backward students into line on their studies, even when there is no danger of losing place because of lame lessons. Move the players around and use substitutes frequently so that no one will fasten on a given post as personal property.

A strong man can organize the town folks so that 534their support will be always helpful. In any case the appearance of a milk and water policy must be avoided.


Athletics is as difficult to manage as a church choir. A light-fingered touch is dangerous, as schoolboy passions are not sensibly controlled many times. A disciplinarian may lose his influence and position merely through carelessness at this point. The appearance of an autocratic control of games by the superintendent is highly undesirable. The whole affair should be just as democratic as possible.

Pupils know pretty well what is necessary for the good of the school and if their good judgment is appealed to by a respected and trustworthy superintendent or principal, the best policies can usually be carried out.


In the Bellevue High School a wise principal had assisted in organizing some six entertainment companies for appearance in the auditorium at stated intervals during the season. Their programs were made up of dramatic, musical or literary numbers, as the members of each company decided. The Schwartz-Ensign Concert Company made its appearance on November 10, and won the plaudits of a large house. Friends in neighboring towns, relatives of some of the performers, requested a reproduction of the entertainment. After consultation with her colleagues, Velma Schwartz gave a favorable answer to two invitations.

Meeting Half Way

535Loretta met Velma afterwards and said, “Velma, did we make a mistake in saying nothing to Miss Pringle about these out-of-town trips? What will she say?”

“Why should she say anything? Our folks at home are willing and I don’t see that we are getting in her way. It makes no difference one way or the other what she says.”

Naturally, the news finally reached Miss Pringle, high school principal and general overseer of the entertainment programs. Two currents of thought passed through her mind.

“I don’t see why, after all my care, they have taken up their out-of-town trips without saying anything to me. I’ll just nip this in the bud and tell them they can’t go.” But a different notion drove out the earlier one. “They have done no real wrong. It’s a compliment to my training for them to receive these invitations. I don’t see what harm can come from it.” But a fragment of the former line of argument would persist:

“Yes, Velma is the girl who did it. She starred the night of the program. Her friends are determined to show her off elsewhere. No doubt she wanted to add to her glory by keeping her scheme out of my fingers. I have a notion to say to her that she might better have talked the matter over with me.”

Then good sense ruled her and what she actually said was: “Why, Velma, I heard just lately that some of your friends are planning to have you out at Beecham Springs to give a program of music. What a fine thing that is! It comes Friday night, I believe; 536that makes it safe for your studies, so it’s going to turn out well. Your father and mother are going with you, I suppose? Well, then, that will be fine.”


Bluffing on Scholarship

“I just want to say in closing that there is some doubt about two of the boys getting to play on the football team next week—their grades are very low, and in fact as matters stand now they would be shut out.”—(Superintendent’s announcement in the assembly room.)

“He’s bluffing. If our team doesn’t win he’ll be cut up as bad as any of us.”—(First pupil.)

“His voice was weak when he made that speech. He won’t carry out his threat.”—(Second pupil.)

“If, after all our team has done, he pulls Tom and the Giant off the team, he’s a goner and he knows it. He might as well save all this talk.”—(Third pupil.)

“Just lie low, my boy. We’ve got him fixed. He’ll jump a hundred feet in the air, if he falls into our trap. Every man of us is out if one drops out, no more games this year. No, he doesn’t know. But it’ll get to him.”—(Member of the football team.)

“I thought I’d best tell you so you could be prepared for it. The boys have it all made up that they’ll strike and call all the games off if you keep any one or more of them from playing. They may be bluffin’ you; but I rather think not, for they don’t believe they can beat Upper Kensington unless they can have the boys they want to play on the team. Do as you think best.”—(Citizen.)

“Seems as though things are going a little crooked 537some way. I wonder where I blundered. I didn’t expect to set them going this way. Why don’t they get to their books; they might know I’m going to do the square thing by them. Probably I’ll have to ease up their minds some way.”—(Worried superintendent.)


Quit the bluff game; it’s playing with fire. Call in the boys who are behind in their work and settle up the matter of studies without any reference to playing. Talk very little about what you are going to do in checking up deficiencies. Do a few of these things and let the talk come the other way. Hold out natural inducements to good work and spare the threats for rare occasions. “Barking dogs seldom bite,” is an old saying that applies to those fearsome teachers who forecast a terrible punishment and then let the matter pass without further attention. Each occurrence of a situation such as this is a loosened spoke in your wheel of fortune. Don’t put yourself in the hands of a conspiracy by playing a loose game in discipline.


Shrewd pupils can catch a rash superintendent and trip him into a heavy fall.


Miss McCord, of the Benton High School, was very unpopular one winter because she had failed two star basketball performers, and thus kept them from remaining on the team. These players were in her advanced algebra class, with about twenty other students, 538all ardent basketball enthusiasts. One day she said to Coith Burgess, who was not one of the players, but who had been especially indignant at her firmness, “I should like to see you for a moment, Coith, after class.”

Sacrificing Scholarship

“Oh, would you?” Coith shaped the words with his mouth, but uttered no sound, and Miss McCord did not see the disrespectful response. When the class was dismissed he started to go with the rest. Miss McCord, seeing him go and thinking he had forgotten her request, said to him, “Don’t forget, Coith,” and went on with her conversation with another pupil. When she had finished it, Coith was nowhere in sight. He had gone on to the assembly room, where he was explaining to all the disaffected his reasons for not doing as “the old crank” had asked him.

Miss McCord had no mind to pass over the matter lightly. She talked at once to the principal, and the two arranged a plan of treatment. Nothing was said to Coith, but he was not asked to recite the next day, nor did Miss McCord appear to hear him when he volunteered. The next day the same thing happened; Miss McCord did not seem to hear or see him at all. That afternoon, Coith met Mr. Stacey, the principal, in the hall. “How’s this, Burgess?” he inquired, “You’re reported absent two days in succession in advanced algebra.”

“Absent? Not a bit of it. I’ve been there all right, but Miss McCord hasn’t asked me to recite. She doesn’t give a fellow a chance.”

“Were you there?... All right.” Mr. Stacey was looking gravely at Coith. “What reason could Miss 539McCord have had for not paying any attention to you?”

Coith began to flush and stammer. Finally, he told the story of his disobedience, rather sullenly but frankly.

“Why did you do it?”

“I don’t know. Just natural meanness, I guess.”

“I’ll tell you why you did it, Coith. You thought it would make a little hero of you with all the basketball crowd to be rude and insubordinate to Miss McCord, just now when they all dislike her, because she had the courage to stand by her guns in that affair. It was a case of posing, and the thing has happened to you that does happen sometimes to the poseur—she took you at your word. If you chose to put an end to your relations as teacher and student, she agreed to accept the situation. As I see it, you are out of the class and your own fault it is, too.”

Of course in the end Coith came back into the class, after making all due apologies. He had learned the lesson of coöperation; he had learned, too, to subject his love of approbation to a standard of fairness and reciprocity.

The instinct for self-gratification often takes the form of a pathological fondness for prominence and the approval of others. In Coith’s case his sense of fairness, courtesy, and submission to rightful authority had all become subordinate to promptings of his vanity and resentment. The course of Mr. Stacey and Miss McCord restored in him the proper sense of the relative importance of the admiration of his fellows and a sound working relation with his teacher.



Preparing for Picnic

Miss Jackman of the Ellensburg rural school and her pupils were having a picnic in the woods.

She said: “Who would like to carry my basket?”

“I want to.”

“I can.”

“Let me,” came the response from various pupils.

“You may carry it, Tom,” said the teacher.


After getting the pupils thoroughly interested in the project you are planning, name at once those who are to assist you. Distribute the work so that as many as possible may have a share in the responsibility.


Those who had offered their services were hurt at not being chosen. Had the teacher said: “Will you please carry my basket, Tom?” there would have been a less poignant feeling among the others that favoritism had been shown by the teacher.


Organize Carefully

Mr. Merryman was the jolliest teacher the children of the Concord rural school ever had had. No other teacher gave the children so many “outings”; no other ever placed so much responsibility upon the pupils on such vacations, and never before had responsibility seemed so delightful as since Mr. Merryman came to the school. “He’s just like his name,” declared the children.

One reason why Mr. Merryman had such success 541in organizing little excursions which to other teachers were most unwelcome bugbears, was that he announced them long enough beforehand to give himself and the children ample time to prepare for details.

“One week from today,” said Mr. Merryman one Friday afternoon, “we will all go on an excursion to get materials for our aquarium. I will appoint Joseph and Henry to look up, sometime between now and Wednesday, the best route for the school to take down to the creek. Remember, we want a dry path, for the children must not get wet feet. Lucy and Ellen, James and William may arrange for drag nets. Perhaps we shall have to make some of them. You may find out whether we can borrow them or not, and how much the material will cost if we need to make them ourselves. Henrietta and Edward may be sure that there are suitable dishes for bringing home our trophies. Find out just what we need.

“Some of the little children won’t want to go so far as the creek, where they have to be so still, so I will appoint the sixth grade girls to form an entertainment committee to find a pleasant place at some little distance from the creek where the little ones can play. You will have a stock of games ready to entertain them while some of us are busy at the creek and when we have enough things, animals, plants, etc., for our aquarium, we will all come to the same place and there we will have our lunches together. Doris, Frieda and May of the girls, and Thomas, Fayette and Wilbur of the seventh and eighth grade boys may be the refreshment committee. The different committees may get together next Monday and talk over their 542plans. Make up your minds between now and then just what you need to talk about. Have everything planned and ready before the day of our excursion. Meanwhile all of us, in the nature class, will study about the aquarium and the animals that live in it. Our first lesson will be on Monday, about ‘How to make the aquarium.’ That is all for this afternoon.”

It is needless to add that for a week the excursion and the studies and talks connected with it furnished many an hour of innocent and instructive diversion for the eager children. When the day came every detail had been thought out and prepared for so carefully that the event was entirely successful. Looking forward in expectation to the pleasure, filled the children’s minds too full to leave much room for mischief, and “discipline” in the sense of punishments sank into its legitimate place, far into the background.

Conferences with the teacher about matters which were puzzling to the children brought teacher and pupils into a close and delightful relationship which made unkindly feeling toward the teacher or insubordination almost out of the question. Once or twice earlier in the year, when planning the excursion, Mr. Merryman had been obliged to say, “But only those will be invited whose work and conduct in school have been satisfactory.” But even this precaution was now unnecessary; he simply took the precaution to place the more troublesome of the pupils on whatever committee would have to consult most frequently with himself. In this way the feeling of coöperation between himself and them grew stronger with each succeeding school “event.”

543(5) Play and truancy. There is no better preventive of truancy than just such outings as that above described, especially if the teacher is wise enough and tactful enough to utilize some part of the day’s experiences in the regular school work, nature study, geography, history, etc. This is by no means difficult to do. Such a course would have prevented entirely the unfortunate situation of the following case.


Play and Truancy

Darrow King deliberately planned the truancy of his classmates one bright May day, although he did not actually suggest it to them. He had been good a long time, nothing exciting had happened since cold weather, and he wanted to get out-of-doors and away from the stuffy school-room. There was no fun in playing truant alone, or he might have done that; he had no grudge against Miss Haynes except as she represented an irksome educational system of which he did not approve. When he grew eloquent of fishing lines and a warm sunny swimming hole out by Pike’s Mill, every boy within sound of his voice felt the primal impulse to take to the fields. So they did, leaving seventeen girls and three righteous quitters to take care of Miss Haynes and Grade Seven.

“This is Darrow King’s work,” said Miss Haynes to herself. “If I don’t conquer that boy he’ll be running the school before long. I’m fearing he’s on the downward path.” So Darrow King was called before the bar and arraigned. It was a private session after school.

“Darrow, I believe you planned that truancy, and 544I want you to tell me the truth about it. Didn’t you tell the other boys to skip school last Friday afternoon?”

“No, ma’am, I didn’t. I just said there was a good place to fish out there, and that Mr. Pike would let us swim below the dam, and all the fellows said they wanted to go. I didn’t say they should, they just wanted to.”

“Perhaps that’s true, but it was you who planned it, wasn’t it?”

“No’m, I didn’t plan it. I just remarked how nice it would be for us all to go together if it wasn’t a school day, and Bob Darcy he said let’s go anyway, and I guess they all wanted to, for they did—except the two Jones boys and the Righter kid.”

“Nevertheless it was you that started it, wasn’t it? Tell the truth, Darrow.”

“Well, yes, I s’pose I started it. I guess it was me, all right.”

“Oh, Darrow, don’t you realize what an influence you have over the other boys? There is nothing so great as the power of influence. I remember I wrote my graduating theme upon The Power of Influence, and I’ve noticed it ever since. You knew that playing truant is one of the worst things you can do, and yet you led those boys into temptation. What do you think will be the end of a boy who enters into such sin? You know that when we begin to sin we go from bad to worse, and I hate to think of your going on the downward path, Darrow.”

By this time Miss Haynes had reduced herself to tears at the image she was conjuring up of Darrow 545sliding down the moral toboggan. Darrow, catching his cue from her, began to look contrite and sorrowful.

“Darrow, think of the power for good you might be, if only you’d use your influence rightly. Instead of teaching the boys to do wicked things, why not become a great uplift in their lives? Had you ever thought of that?”

“No, ma’am. But I’ll try to do better, Miss Haynes.”

This rapid conversion to righteous resolutions completely melted Miss Haynes. “I’m sure you will, Darrow. That is all—I won’t punish you this time, for I expect you to use your personal influence to bring these thoughtless and perverse boys into better ways of thinking and doing. Only think of the power for good that you have!”

Darrow left the room with a step that fairly sang of a chastened soul resolved to bring all its erring kind into the fold of holy endeavor. He kept this up until he was well away from the schoolhouse, when he broke into a mad run and was soon with the other boys in Farrell’s pasture, where they were playing ball. Here he recounted his interview with Miss Haynes, not omitting the pathetic passages, amid shouts of laughter. Needless to say, his “great influence over the boys” was not exerted in the interests of good order that year. The boys continued to do what they had done before, and Darrow led them as of old.



Talk with two or three of the leading boys, including Darrow, and ask them about the fishing trip. Show them that you understand “the call of the wild” that comes with May sunshine. But “put it up to them” if playing truant is the square thing to do, either to the school or to their parents. Why should one attend school regularly? Is it honorable to sneak off without permission? What is to be done about it? Assume that of course the boys will do something about it. Who can suggest a fair way of making this wrong right? Probably some one will suggest that the time be made up, or that the lessons missed be written out and handed in. Arrange with this small group what is to be suggested to the larger group. As to Darrow, without telling him that he is the leader, enlist him in some project that will identify him with school interests. Perhaps he can plan an outdoor gymnasium, lay out a tennis court, or superintend the putting up of bird-houses. By this means get him gradually to work with you until you and he have formed a solid friendship. Identify him with your own leadership; form a partnership with him. Truancy will disappear under such conditions, for real friendship will develop between teacher and pupils.

Some pupil leaders are useful allies, others are worthy enemies who may outgeneral the ranking officer. A wise teacher sets himself first of all to win to his loyal support the natural leaders of the pupils. This is done by first winning their admiration and respect, then by stressing some interest which the teacher and student leaders have in common, thus 547making common cause with them until sympathetic relations are established. Study your leading pupils; find out their hobbies, their friends, their ambitions.


Children instantly detect the mawkish note in a teacher’s dealings with them, and appreciate it keenly if they have any sense of humor. The most of them have. Miss Haynes was over-emotional, and made the blunder of appealing to feelings which Darrow did not possess. Never talk to a child leader about his leadership. To do so either makes him vain, or robs him of his ability through the development of self-consciousness. Miss Haynes did not appeal to a boy’s interests. A boy does not usually care to lead his companions to moral heights. He does not like “Sunday language.” He does not think he is slipping into perdition when he plays truant; and many grown people think he is right. Miss Haynes failed because she did not know enough about boy nature to make a real appeal to a boy. She had so little sympathy with the play spirit that she did not even sympathize with the boys’ response to the call of a swimming hole. Because she could not appeal to the leader, his leadership continued to be against her authority and against the best interests of the school.


Indulge the Hobby

A teacher in an orphan asylum won the friendship and support of a boy who had caused much trouble, by discovering that he was very fond of animals, and that he had a tame opossum and several trained dogs. 548The teacher could not afford to buy and give him books, but he brought him, each Monday, from the public library, a new book about animals. Through a discussion of Cy de Vry and his methods, the teacher convinced the boy that he had a real interest in dumb creatures, and after that there was no more trouble with the group who were under this boy’s influence.


Camera Club

Mr. Claud Jakeway of the Williamstown rural high school was much annoyed by the frequent absences of two or three members of the Freshman class. The excuses given him were: “Didn’t feel well enough to study,” “Had to help father,” etc. A little private investigation convinced Mr. Jakeway, however, that the real cause in each case was truancy, generally, for the purpose of either hunting or fishing. Mr. Jakeway studied over his problem for some days, then one morning made the following announcement.

“I noticed a few days ago in one of my periodicals that certain magazines devoted to country life and its interests are advertising for original photographs of wild animals taken in their native habitat. I am greatly interested in this myself, for I am exceedingly fond of wild life, and immensely enjoy a day in the woods now and then. I wonder if some of you older boys wouldn’t like to join with me to form a Camera Club. We’ll go out on Saturdays and take our lunches. Only a few can associate together effectively in work which must be done so quietly, so I shall limit the membership to four besides myself. Hunting wild animals with a camera is sport enough for anybody, but we’ll 549take our fish poles along in case we don’t happen to strike ‘game.’ By the end of the month the birds will be here and the hibernating animals will be out of their winter’s sleep. Please think this matter over and see how many of you would like to spend your Saturdays in the way I have indicated. Beside the limitation in numbers, I shall place only one restriction upon the membership of the club, that is, that we can accept in it only those whose attendance in school has been regular. I realize of course that those who have lost time in school will need their Saturdays in order to make up back work, so please keep that also in mind between this and the end of the month. Then we will decide who is eligible for membership.”

Mr. Jakeway’s plan was effective. Initiative in coöperation and substitution accomplished the needed reform.

3. Curiosity, Legitimate, and Otherwise

Curiosity is the beginning of all knowledge.

Curiosity is the intellectualized form of the adaptive instinct. Children who lack it are subnormal; and yet some teachers seem to think that curiosity is a sin and should be inhibited. Like all other instincts, it must be controlled; and part of every child’s education is the acquiring of ability to control his curiosity, to know when to give it free rein and when to curb it. It must not be indulged at the expense of the right of others to quiet, or to the undisturbed possession of their 550property, or to the opportunity of doing their work; in short, the legitimate satisfaction of curiosity stops where the rights of other people begin.

Curiosity is not, then, a vice to be conquered, but a fundamentally healthful, natural, and progress-bringing instinct. The greater part of the curiosity of children is about matters which they need to know, and it can be utilized in motivating work; a fact which, once understood, changes an annoyance into an asset.

But sometimes children are inquisitive about things which should not concern them; their curiosity conflicts with good taste and a true sense of propriety, or with the rights of others. Moreover, unrestrained curiosity often interferes with the fulfillment of duty, or it develops unwholesome appetites and precocious sophistication. Children are also often curious about many things which can not properly be explained to them until a fuller knowledge gives them an interpretative basis; and for this curiosity the wisest treatment is postponed satisfaction, with a clear explanation for the reason. Such an answer to questions which can not well be answered at once is far better than the evasive or lying replies with which too many parents and some teachers put off children. Boys and girls will usually accept a postponement of the answer, if they are convinced that if given they could not understand it, and they will set themselves to the mastery of the prerequisites. But they easily and soon discover lies in the answers given them (usually these lies are too clumsy to deceive a bright child very long), and then, knowing they can not depend upon the lawful and natural source of information, they set about finding 551answers by whatever means offers. Questions of religion and sex especially, should be answered with a definite promise of satisfaction when the time comes, rather than with a misleading or evasive reply.

Teachers should analyze the nature of the curiosity of their pupils. They will find that it will fit one of these four cases:

Legitimate curiosity, which should be satisfied at once, and in such a way as to stimulate further interest in the things concerned.
Legitimate curiosity, which can not wisely be satisfied at once, but which should be put off with a frank statement that when the child is older and can understand the knowledge sought for, it will be given.
Curiosity which is pathological or idle, or the satisfaction of which interferes with the rights of others.
Curiosity not harmful in itself, but which interferes with the child’s own wholesome development.

(1) Curiosity stimulated by novelty or by spirit of investigation. This is the form of curiosity which Plato so much admired, yet most parents and teachers dub it just plain “meddling.” Perhaps they have not realized the possibilities for growth in it that Plato saw.



Louis Gannin came into his first year of school life with a surplus of interest in whatever struck his senses. His movements were very rapid, his attention was 552fluctuating and his hand deft in opening boxes and other receptacles for articles of any sort.

“Louis, is that you?” said his teacher one morning. He was visible only as a mass of child’s garments, for he stood doubled up over a pile of rubbish in a hall closet.

And so it was on many occasions, until Miss Vanderlip broke down in despair:

“Louis, I think you must have looked at everything there is in this whole school building by this time. I have told you not to get into things and still you do it. What shall I do with you, anyway?”

Louis looked down at his shoes in undisturbed innocence.

“I know what I’ll do with you. I’ll just tie your hands together for a long time, so as to teach you not to get into things. How’ll you like that? Then you’ll be like a prisoner with handcuffs.”

Louis did not know very much about handcuffs or prisoners, nor could he help but wonder how it would feel to have his hands tied together. He meekly let the matter rest because teacher was apparently not in a very good mood.


We advise Miss Vanderlip to substitute permissible investigations for forbidden ones; provide something every day which will absorb attention and if possible exhaust the inquiring impulses of this boy. Give him privileges, not punishment. Get an old clock, bring flowers, an old book, a skeleton of a small animal or bird. Bring out one at a time. Watch his reactions, 553after receiving them; note what appeals to him most. Connect these extras with his lessons as far as possible so that he may see no dividing line between work and play. Avoid scolding but drive hard on the search for facts. Saturate him with discoveries, so that he will not have time to pry into forbidden things.


Louis had no more need of punishment than a fledgling when first he tries to fly. Boys’ hands were made to open up things, not to be handcuffed. He has an appetite; the way to satisfy it is to feed, not disappoint it.

He is subject to direction. If let alone he will go far wrong; if coerced he will go wrong the sooner; if helped he may become a famous scholar.


Busy Work

Miss Frederick never let her wits fail when it came to providing interesting material for children. Stories—she could tell them by the hour and make her children laugh or cry as she would. Something to do, delightful little tasks that were play, not work, an unlimited assortment of these she had always at hand.

For some of the most eager ones she kept on hand a supply of busy work which was brought out as a special reward for diligence.

For Janie and Rhoda, the two irrepressibles, she had a small collection of Chinese paper dolls, no two alike, or some needle-work, or a specimen from the woods. At times she sent Janie out to bring natural objects.

“See how many different things you can bring in 554to me from that maple tree, and Rhoda, bring as many different kinds of parts from the rose-bush as you can find. They must be tiny and no two alike.”

At another time she called for different kinds of soil, stone, cloth, pictures, and when the list seemed exhausted, she repeated items on it without any loss of interest because some new characteristic concerning them was brought to the attention of the curious, wondering, little investigators.

The child that pays too much attention to what other pupils are doing needs only to be interested in his own work. He should not be punished. The teacher should discover what in his schoolmate’s work interests him and then give him the same kind of work. Such a pupil should cause a teacher no trouble. It is a matter of keeping him interested and busy, and that is not a difficult task for the skillful teacher.


Listening to Other Recitations

Mildred Trott spent all her time listening to the recitations of other classes, which caused her to fail in her own. Her teacher, Miss Ware, had often talked to her about this, and Mildred had often resolved to do better; but when the fascinating recitations began in front of her, she listened to them in spite of good resolutions.

Finally, one day, Miss Ware saw her watching the class at the front of the room, while her own small geography lay closed on her desk.

She smiled, stood up, and said in a clear voice:

“Mildred Trott, Mildred Trott,
Hears that which concerns her not!”

555The other children laughed a little, Mildred opened her book hastily, and the incident passed. But at recess Miss Ware heard Mildred’s playmates repeat the bit of doggerel, and Mildred did not seem to like it. The next day Mildred held her book open, but she still slyly listened to the recitation instead of studying. Miss Ware again stood up, and repeated clearly—

“Open book availeth not;
You must study, Mildred Trott.”

This time the children laughed more, and two or three put down the couplet before they forgot it, in the flyleaves of their books. Again they teased Mildred at recess, and Mildred began to see that she must overcome her curiosity or endure continual teasing. The next day and the next she studied assiduously, and had good lessons. On the next day, feeling very sure of herself, she fell from grace. When Miss Ware saw her leaning forward eagerly to hear the advanced spelling lesson, she stopped long enough to chant—

“Mildred’s class is not in session;
Mildred, work upon your lesson!”

This was the last bit of doggerel that was needed.


The illustration given above was sent to the president of the International Academy of Discipline with the following comment, which was intended to justify the method employed:

The correction came in a friendly way, but its form enlisted the whole school (for children love rhymes 556and will repeat them in and out of season) in the corrective process. The need for well-prepared lessons had not been an incentive strong enough to induce Mildred to overcome her instinctive curiosity, but the ridicule of her schoolmates gave enough additional incentive to stir her will to action.

In spite of the fact that the method is supposed to have been effective in dealing with “Mildred Trott,” we can not believe that the method is good enough to recommend. On the contrary, we believe that, in most instances, any such attempt on the part of the teacher to bring ridicule to bear on one pupil is sure to rouse resentment. Hostility between pupil and teacher is likely to cause more trouble to the teacher and be more harmful to the pupil than the habit of listening to others recite.

If the teacher finds it necessary to speak to the child at all about the habit of listening to others recite, after she has already made the attempt to interest the child in his own work, she should take the matter up with the child, individually. An effective way to apply the principle of initiative in coöperation is to approach the child with a smile on your face, when he is alone, and in the same breath that you speak of his habit of listening to others, mention the fact that you used to have trouble, too, keeping your mind concentrated. Do not say this unless it is true. But it is true of most of us, and to tell this to the child gets results in most cases. Suggest that he try to concentrate daily. Approve him now and then upon his progress.

In dealing with curiosity, the general truth that ideals clearly defined help immensely in gaining control 557of natural tendencies, holds. Fine and high ideals of the rights of others, of what is appropriate and just, must constantly be kept before young people to help them in directing and mastering their instincts.


“Trying on” Clothing

The children in Valley Grove School had an insatiable curiosity concerning unfamiliar things, which annoyed Miss Freeman, their teacher, exceedingly. She was a city woman, with no idea of the restricted lives her pupils lived. They were crudely inquisitive, coming from homes which were morally wholesome, but uncultured or even boorish in manners. Miss Freeman was anxious to help them, but was very young and not well prepared. She went home every week-end, and every day the carrier left a letter for her at the schoolhouse.

She wore pretty clothes, which the little girls admired greatly. One day Maggie Linton touched the silken sweater which they all liked so much, and then Erna wondered how it felt to wear such a garment; and the result was that Ollie Bain put on sweater, hat and gloves, and was turning around in a small circle of admiring femininity when Miss Freeman came into the hall.

“Why, you naughty girls!” she exclaimed. “You mustn’t touch other people’s things. Take them off, Ollie. You may look at them, but you mustn’t handle them; hasn’t your mother taught you that? Look how dirty your hands are, Ollie. I’ll have to have my gloves cleaned.”

She was not angry, for she liked the children and 558had a good disposition. But she failed to use the girls’ curiosity, and she failed to generalize the principles that teach children when curiosity may be satisfied and when it must be controlled.

“Teacher, why do you get a letter every day, and who writes it?”

Carl Voegling asked the question one rainy recess, while all the other children stood at ecstatic attention to hear what the answer would be.

“Carl, that’s not any of your business, and you are not to ask me personal questions,” Miss Freeman answered. The children saw her cheeks grow pink, and, having been brought up to think it legitimate fun to tease people, they continued slyly to refer to the letters throughout the year.

Watching Mail

One day, the teacher came into the hall to find George Funk examining the envelope of the letter that had come that morning. She was very angry this time, and told George, a boy of twelve, to stay in at recess for a week. She thought she had come just in time to prevent his opening and reading the letter, and told him that after this she would keep her mail in the desk, since she could not trust her pupils out of her sight. George had not really meant to read the letter, and feeling that her remarks were unjust, became very sullen.

When the week was almost up, Miss Freeman herself had an impulse of curiosity. “Why did you want to read my letter, George?” she asked.

“I didn’t want to read your letter,” he answered. “I just wanted to see the postmark.”

“But what good would that do you?”

559“Well, I wanted to know where it was from.”

“But why? You know I like you, George,” in a sudden rush of compunction at the hurt, sullen look on George’s face; “do tell me, why did you want to know where it was from?”

George hesitated a moment, then his story came out in a rush. “Well, at home they all were talking about your letters, and my brother Curt said that he bet they were from that fellow in Carlinville that he saw you with one day. And he dared me to look at the envelope and see what the postmark was. He said he’d let me drive the bay colt if I would.”

“Well, you tell your brother Curt that he ought to be ashamed of himself to set you at such tricks. You needn’t stay in this afternoon, George. But next time, remember, keep your hands off what doesn’t belong to you.”


Let each manifestation of curiosity be the means of leading pupils to a broader life. When she found Ollie garbed in the sweater, Miss Freeman might have said: “Would you like me to tell you where this sweater came from, and what I saw when I wore it last summer in Estes Park? There are so many stories connected with it—just as there are about Ollie’s silk hair-ribbon. Let us hang it over this chair while we’re talking about it; I’m always very careful never to handle it unless my hands are clean, and always to keep it on a hanger lest it lose its shape.”

In this way the children’s healthy curiosity about strange and pretty things is satisfied, their knowledge 560increased, and some ideas on the proper care of clothing inculcated. The lesson about silk-worms and spinning and weaving processes is twice as vivid, therefore twice as well learned, when it bears on the pretty silk sweater before them, as it would be when read in the course from a book.

The curiosity about the letter was of a kind which needs to be inhibited, but Miss Freeman should have inquired into his motives before, not after punishing George. Even then, perhaps, he deserved a punishment of some sort, but it would have been given with the knowledge that the fault was really his brother’s. The incident gave the teacher a splendid chance to teach a lesson in the ethics of property-treatment.


In this case the elder brother’s curiosity was the outgrowth of a healthy love of life and romance which his too narrow life was starving into a desire to feed upon the personal affairs of the teacher. Village gossip grows from just this condition—natural interest in the picturesque elements of life, which the too restricted life of a small community bound by many prejudices and traditions forces into unwholesome channels. Miss Freeman’s pupils shared the interest of their elders in the attractive teacher’s clothes, movements, and half-revealed romance, besides having their own healthy curiosity in one whose life was so much broader and richer than their own. This curiosity gave the teacher a thousand chances to teach manners, facts, and self-control to her boys and girls, but she did not know how to utilize them.



When Miss Murray came to the third grade she found bad conditions as to attention. A street car line went by the school and every time a car passed the children all looked up from their books until it had gone out of sight.

Watching Street cars

Miss Murray at once put up sash-curtains, thick enough effectively to shut out the sight of the street cars. She found the upper sashes nailed shut, as the former teacher had opened the lower sashes only. She had these unnailed, and the shades hung at the window sill instead of from the top of the window. This enabled her to shut out the sight and sound of the street cars pretty effectively. After several months, the children forgot to look out of the window even when they could see the cars; the habit of attention to work had been fixed through the elimination of the lures to curiosity.


Visiting Exhibit

Mr. Babbitt, the leading citizen of Hoopeston, had just returned from a long trip to the Orient. As he was wealthy, he had brought back a great many curios and art treasures; and as he was public-spirited, he arranged to exhibit these in the large assembly room of the high school building, and to lecture about them to any who cared to come. While the exhibits were being arranged, the high school students did not use the assembly hall, as Mr. Babbitt, aided by several assistants, was busy unpacking and putting things into place. However, the students came to Mr. Tower, the 562principal, to ask that they be allowed to go into the assembly room at noon to look at things.

“I hardly know what to do about this,” said Mr. Tower, in chapel, “but I feel that young people of your age and training should be able to go to see these things, enjoy them, and not injure or even handle them at all. Therefore, I asked Mr. Babbitt if you might go in at noon, after giving a pledge that you would not touch or handle anything. He said he would trust you if I could, and so we have decided that you may go into the room at noon, by giving a signed promise to this effect to the servant whom Mr. Babbitt leaves there at the door.”

This plan worked excellently. Practically the whole school spent the greater part of their noon hours for several days looking at the quaint and lovely things Mr. Babbitt had brought. Not one thing was hurt or even touched, although a small vase was broken by accident when some boys, examining the contents of a temporary shelf, fell over each other in their eagerness. But the boys volunteered to pay for this loss, and Mr. Babbitt was entirely satisfied.

Mr. Tower could not have trusted his students so fully had not he and many other teachers and parents taught ideals of self-control and honor for a long time preceding this test. The principal’s talk and the written pledge were means of bringing and keeping before the students’ minds the ideal of controlled curiosity, of a desire to touch inhibited by the will.

This ideal of a fine sense of honor controlling the instinct to touch, take apart, roll, toss or otherwise experiment with anything that arouses interest, should 563be taught very early in school life. Little children want to handle everything, including work material, playthings, ornaments, books, curios, pictures; older ones want to handle instruments and apparatus used in their laboratories. “Mine and thine” must early be differentiated, and the satisfaction of curiosity by handling limited to one’s own possessions. If this be taught in the home and the primary grades, older children will be found as reliable as Mr. Tower’s students when a serious test comes.

(2) Curiosity stimulated by destructive-constructive impulses. Even very young children take pleasure in pulling things to pieces—not so much because of a wish to destroy as because of the pleasure of producing effects. Destroying is easier than constructing, so naturally destructiveness develops before constructiveness. But the latter characteristic becomes relatively stronger as ability to do difficult things increases. With boys from twelve to fifteen years of age the instinct sometimes becomes almost a mania. Then is the time that the wise parent or teacher will find a means for harmless ways of indulging an inclination that may develop later into genius, and in any case will bring much first-hand information.


Dismembering Piano

Bert Slocum came from a miner’s home where the comforts of life were so few as to mar sadly the development of growing children. Bert said to himself one day:

“I know how I can have a good time. Some Saturday night I’m going to borrow a dark lantern, take 564along some lunch and I’ll go to the schoolhouse and stay all night. I’ll take enough to eat to last me over Sunday. I’ll stay up there all day Sunday and take the piano to pieces and put it together again. I can do it.”

The program was actually carried out. What a glorious time he had. No one came to interrupt, no one called him to dinner and nothing marred the luxury of those sweet hours.

His parents knew nothing of his whereabouts, but that did not disturb him, for every so often he was absent anyway and no one was much concerned.

Unfortunately he had to finish his work in the nightfall, as his supply of oil was exhausted the night preceding. He had taken out nearly every bolt and screw until he came to the sounding board and its strings. When darkness furnished a shelter from inquisitive eyes he emerged from the building, called on a friend, and finally reached home without giving an alarm.

On Monday the janitor found traces of Bert’s adventure. For one thing the piano was not all put back together, for the pedals lay in a heap at one side.

The teachers were notified and inquiry began. The superintendent decided it was not a little boy and looked to the eighth grade to furnish the culprit.

After a great deal of noisy inquiry, Bert held up his hand and said to the teacher: “I know something about that piano.”

“What do you know, Bert?” said his teacher.

“I’ll tell, but I want to know what you all will do with the kid, after I talk about him.”

565“We can’t say about that. Bert, if you know, it’s time for you to speak out and have it over.”

“I don’t want to, now; I’ll tell some time,” was Bert’s final remark. Later he went to the superintendent and said:

“Mr. Knowles, is your pianner hurt some? I hear some un’s been tinkering with it.”

“I don’t know that it’s hurt much. But somebody has been doing a trick we simply can’t stand. Just think of it. You can see the whole thing has been in pieces. I’ll have to suspend the boy that did this thing, if I find him. I simply can’t stand it.”

Nothing came immediately of this interview, but Bert went home, turned the matter over carefully in his mind, and in the morning came to school with a grim determination to act, and perish if need be. On the way he said to himself:

“I’d eat fire, before I’d hurt the pianner. If I have hurt it, as they think, I’ll just take my medicine like a man.” And he did. He said very briefly:

“I tore up your pianner, Mr. Knowles.”

The superintendent replied very shortly: “I’m sorry, Bert, I’ll have to suspend you for a month for that, so as to keep other boys from doing the same thing, or something worse.”


Give Bert an opportunity to talk out all of his thought about the piano. Wait until he has told all, and you have planned a substitute for piano-wrecking before informing him of the gravity of his misconduct. Possibly that item can be passed over lightly.

566Get answers to these questions: “Are you particularly interested in pianos or do you take an interest in all kinds of mechanisms? What are you planning to do for a living? What would you do if I found you a place in a piano store, or in a machine shop, for spare time work? Would you stiffen up your studies? Would your parents be willing for me to make an arrangement of this sort? How will you pay for having a piano man go over our instrument and see that everything is in order?”


This boy has broken out of the usual beat of pupil activities. The great question is, will his teachers be equal to their opportunity? Curiosity is hunger for experience; it lives at the basis of all knowledge. It is a capital stock for educators; it can not be wasted without impoverishing both the pupil and society.

In dealing with Bert, motive counts for nearly everything. He must not be made to suffer for his mistake of judgment in such a way as to imperil his future interest in school or in his favorite inquiries.


Lavia Smiley came into the eighth grade with a consuming passion for color sensations. She had made collection after collection of colors in all sorts of substances—cloth, paper, stone, soil, metals of various sorts. She could give the names of all of them and could imitate them in pigment mixtures with remarkable exactness, for a girl of her age and very limited experience.

Breaking Necklace

567One day, in the nature study class, Lavia’s teacher, Miss Westfeldt, had given a lesson on shells, and among other interesting things had shown the class a necklace of iridescent shells which her missionary brother had sent her from Micronesia. The lovely bluish-whitish-greenish-pinkish shimmer of the shells riveted Lavia’s attention like a magnet.

“O, please, Miss Westfeldt, let me take them,” said Lavia.

“No, Lavia,” answered Miss Westfeldt, “they are too delicate to handle, but I’ll hold them here in the sunlight where you can see them well. Aren’t they beautiful!”

“O, I never saw any thing so pretty!” was the reply.

The lesson ended, the necklace was laid back in the cotton in which it had taken its long journey over sea and land. Miss Westfeldt placed the box on the desk, intending to take it home with her when she went to lunch, but just as the morning session was closing, a telegram was handed her requiring an immediate answer. In her haste to attend to this intrusive matter, and yet not forfeit her lunch, the box with its precious necklace was forgotten.

The first bell was ringing when Miss Westfeldt returned.

She made haste to be in her place, as the children entered the room, and not until they were seated did she think of the shell-necklace. She opened the box. Ten were broken.

“O, what has happened to my beautiful shells!” she cried out, in dismay. “How were they broken?”

No one answered, but Lavia was crying. Miss Westfeldt 568immediately suspected that she was the guilty party, but she only said:

“I am very, very sorry that this has happened, but never mind about it just now. I am sure the one who broke them will come and tell me about it.”

Lavia continued to weep and after the other children were busy with their study Miss Westfeldt stepped quietly up to her and, bending over her and speaking in a tone so low the other children could not hear, said:

“Lavia, dear, what is the matter?”

“O, Miss Westfeldt, I broke your shells,” whispered Lavia, and then burst into another freshet of tears.

“I am so sorry,” was the low reply. “After school tonight come and tell me all about it.”

School closed. Lavia remained; and when all the other children had gone, Miss Westfeldt sat down beside her, put her arm around the child, her hand resting lightly on Lavia’s shoulder, and said, still in a low tone:

“Now, Lavia, tell me how it all happened.”

“O, Miss Westfeldt,” began Lavia; “I wanted so bad to see if I could paint the shells. I just ate a little bit of lunch and hurried back quick before the children got here, and made this little painting of the shells. Then I started to put them back in the box carefully; and I heard somebody open the entry door as if they were coming in, and I jumped and dropped the shells, and when I picked them up they were all broken. I am awfully sorry, Miss Westfeldt. I’ll give you my painting,” and the lips quivered again.

Miss Westfeldt looked at the painting. It confirmed Lavia’s story. The different colors were crude, but 569remarkably good for a thirteen-year-old girl. They indicated artistic promise. The teacher sat for a moment with an absorbed expression on her face, then said:

“Lavia, you have grieved me very much today by breaking these shells; now, will you do something to make me happy again? I did not know this morning why you wanted to take the shells. If I place the box on your desk where you can study the color effects and try to paint them, will you promise me that you will try never again to meddle with things that you have no right to touch?”

“O, yes, Miss Westfeldt, I will, indeed I will! And can I really have them on my desk?”

“Yes, Lavia, and I will keep your painting as a pledge of your promise. If you will ask me, after your lessons are learned, I have some other beautiful things also, that you may paint. I am pleased that you told me all the truth.”

Lavia kept her promise. The spirit of initiative in coöperation won.


Dissecting Typewriter

Carl Lampey and George Coffman were two sixth grade boys who found an old typewriter in a small store-room opening off the principal’s office. They went to their teacher to ask her if they might have this old machine.

“Whose is it?” she asked.

“We don’t know. Mr. Shorey (the janitor) said he thought it used to belong to Mr. Taney. Mr. 570Taney’s been gone three years, and never has sent for it. We want to take it apart to see how it’s made.”

“That’s a good idea,” Miss Moore replied. “But I can’t give you permission to do it until we find that Mr. Taney really doesn’t want it.”

“But, Miss Moore, if he did want it, don’t you suppose he’d have sent for it by this time? It’s too old to be of any use, or he’d have sold it second-hand. And we want to see how a typewriter’s constructed. Please, Miss Moore.”

“The fact remains that it is not our property, and we have no right to take it. I’ll tell you what to do, though. Write to Mr. Taney and ask him. If he says he’s done with it, take it with my blessing.”

“But we don’t know Mr. Taney’s address.”

“Then hunt it up; you can. I think he knew the Wallaces very well, and doubtless they have it.”

So Carl and George went to the Wallace home, secured Mr. Taney’s address, and wrote to him. Mr. Taney was a busy principal in a large town, who laid the letter aside and forgot to answer it for weeks. Carl and George teased Miss Moore to let them take the old machine, saying that Mr. Taney’s silence gave consent. Miss Moore told them they must wait until the owner gave up his property definitely. Finally, a letter came from Mr. Taney, saying he had forgotten all about the machine and that they were welcome to it; and two happy boys, who had learned a valuable lesson in self-restraint and honor, began to satisfy their healthy curiosity as to the construction of a typewriter.

571(3) Curiosity stimulated by fear of not “passing.” Curiosity may be stimulated by almost any interest that seizes a child’s mind. The disciplinarian is often so offended with the expression of curiosity that the underlying interest is lost sight of.


Examining Record Book

The morning after the report cards were given out in the Bridgewater High School, Miss Penfield held a series of conferences concerning marks; among them one proved tragic.

“I don’t understand why I got only 65 in English this month, Miss Penfield.”

“That is what your daily recitations and test work averaged.”

“You gave Harriet 82 and she admits that she didn’t recite as many times as I did, and you gave Elizabeth 75, and she never studies. I don’t see why I got such a low mark when Elizabeth had as many zeros as I did.”

“How do you know how many zeros you had?”

“I looked at your record book when you were out of the room.”

“Rhoda Kilborne! Do you mean to say you would do such a thing as that? That notebook is my personal property. I wonder how many more pupils have had access to it. Well! we shall see!”

At the beginning of the recitation period, Miss Penfield asked: “How many persons in this room have ever looked at my record book?” There was no response to her question. Every one sat motionless, wondering what was going to happen next.

572“Well, Rhoda, I guess you are the only culprit this time.

“I want you all to know that looking at a teacher’s record book is no less than opening her pocket-book and taking some money.

“You may report to me at the close of school, Rhoda.”


Open your record book so that the pupil can see how her average was obtained. Say to her, “Suppose you put the marks for your daily recitations on the board and find out the average. Now average this with your test work.

“Don’t you see, now why your mark was—?”

At the beginning of the recitation period, pass your book around the class, saying: “There may be some who would like to know on what basis their average was obtained. I work on the scale of —. Let us figure out a few of the marks. Then, taking a good mark as an example, show the pupils exactly how it was obtained.

Occasionally ask members of the class to exchange papers and mark each other’s papers. Go over them again yourself, giving your own mark. Ask those who marked tests to compare their marks with yours.

A teacher’s record book should not be regarded as her private property. Play so fair with your pupils that they will not want to look in your book without permission. Have an understanding with them that they are always privileged to ask to look at their 573marks. There is little doubt, then they will show no undue curiosity.


Miss Penfield made a mistake in punishing Rhoda for curiosity which was incited by her own method of dealing with the children.


Enlisting Coöperation

Mr. Middleton, instructor in physics in the Rensselaer Academy, had the freest, man-to-man attitude toward his pupils of any teacher in the school.

“How do you do it, Middleton?” one instructor asked.

“I don’t do it. They do it.”

Here is the explanation. When Mr. Middleton entered the laboratory one morning he found that the little steam engine which he had taken such pains to fix up had been taken entirely to pieces.

“Well, the fellow who couldn’t see how that engine worked without pulling it to pieces was pretty dumb. I worked a good long time in getting the materials collected for it, and I expect to see it together when I enter the room tomorrow morning.” This remark was made in the presence of a number of his pupils. He made no further allusion to the subject, depending on the morale of his department to work out the desired result. He was not disappointed.


A Rush to Windows

When the fire engines rushed by the Shields High School, as by common consent the pupils rose in their 574seats and rushed to the east windows, Frederick Hersey, keeper of the study hour, gasped in amazement relieved only by the fact that he noticed that some of his pupils seemed a little hesitant to take advantage of the excitement.

As soon as the interest waned he said, “You may now take your seats.” Further than this no comment was made.

At the first opportunity, he asked Laura Blank how it came about that the pupils of the school rushed to the windows without permission. After fencing a short time, she said:

“Last year our teachers let us watch the engines and big auto trucks go by and so we just ran to the windows.”

Utilize Class Officers

In order to handle the matter speedily and effectively, after being informed of the facts, the principal summoned the four class presidents, and gave them an opportunity to coöperate with him about breaking up school work out of foolish curiosity.

“The school acted like four-year-old children. If for no other reason than for the sake of discipline in case of accident, we must try some way to correct this custom. I want to ask you class presidents if you will mention the matter at your next meeting and get the pupils to agree that we shall have no such breaking away from good order for any reason.”

After some parleying back and forth the idea was adopted by the classes and later put into effect. No public mention was ever made of the principal’s decision and attitude on the matter, nor was there need of any such announcement.



All good things perverted to evil purposes are worse than those which are naturally bad.—Dickens.



Deeply ingrained is the impulse to exchange ideas with other persons. So strong is it that even when not removed from human associations we often personify animals and inanimate objects and address the artificial persons in words expressive of ideas.

The expressive instinct has produced a large number of meaningful human attitudes, actions and sounds—silence, gesture, signalling, facial expression, singing, whistling, handclapping and other noises made by hands and feet. All of these facts have direct bearing on school discipline. If thoroughly understood they can be so dealt with as to relieve a teacher of much anxiety. Otherwise the torments of pandemonium await the teacher and failure marks attempts at school work proper.

The most comprehensive desire that lies behind actions of this sort is to gain recognition from other persons. We shall study the evidence for this conclusion through a number of instances.

1. Oral Expression

Whisper not in the company of others.
George Washington.
In General

(1) Whispering. A few students of the subject of school management may need to be reminded that a 578child who whispers is attempting to conform to a good school policy and at the same time to satisfy a powerful instinct. He foregoes the use of the ordinary conversational tone in deference to the custom or rule that outlaws the unrestricted use of the same for pupils in the school-room.

It is a powerful instinct that impels one to communicate with his fellows. No one has failed to experience the impulsion to talk, or in some way, express himself to another person.

The child ordinarily speaks freely and in a normal tone of voice when addressing another individual. Whispering is an unusual and emergency measure, adopted when circumstances render the customary mode of communication inappropriate, imprudent or impossible. The interchange of ideas brings a pleasant glow of good fellowship.

Whispering, also, is a relief from the weariness of work. If there is any daring in a pupil he will try out the teacher on whispering. There are always enough reasons why occasional communication is necessary, to afford an excuse for asking permission to whisper, and next, to whisper without permission.

No teacher ever attempts to secure absolute silence. Minor infractions of a whispering rule are always tolerated. Such must ever be the case. These concessions to human necessity lodge the idea that more whispering may pass unnoticed. In a word the conditions that favor whispering are numerous and very stimulating.

The impulse to whispering can never be eradicated from a pupil. It may be suppressed or directed. A 579wise teacher has no wish to remold human nature to the extent that a person ceases to care for the opportunity of talking to another person.

We are confronted with the problem of how to control an impulse that we desire to preserve without injury and yet without waste of time and effort.

Whispering has always been a menace to the best school order. Everywhere and in all grades it threatens to retard or make impossible the highest type of school work. Not only is the noise of whispering a nuisance in itself, but it stimulates unnecessary noise from other sources. When whispering ceases many other sounds of doors, rustling leaves, etc., will be either markedly subdued or entirely eliminated.

Furthermore, whispering is a well recognized cause of inattention to the subject in hand. The pupil who whispers, and the one to whom he whispers, both have their attention withdrawn from the work of the moment.

Whispering is not a wrong in itself, like dishonesty or theft. Again, while all agree that better order can be maintained without whispering, few have a tested method to suggest for reducing it to a minimum.

The most useful principle of discipline for the control of whispering seems to be that of substitution. Given a room full of children with no work to do, whispering will spring up instantly. Given a room where every pupil has urgent work on hand, the amount of whispering will be greatly reduced.

If work can be substituted for communication, as an object of interest and effort, a large gain will have been made.

580Careful attention must be given to the age of the offender. In younger pupils the joys of talking with one’s fellows are still very enchanting. Usually offenders are not vicious in intention, rather they are quite without self-control.

To require that whispering shall be reduced to a minimum can not be looked upon as an injustice; at most it is only an inconvenience. At church and theater and in the parlor or dining-room, whispering is tabooed. The teacher, then, is merely requiring what good manners prescribe in this respect for other assemblages of people.

The whispering problem can never be allowed to solve itself. The offenders will wax worse and worse until intolerable conditions will compel a reform. On the other hand a method of suppressing whispering, that only interrupts school work the more, is not to be adopted.

The most favored procedure is to adopt, first of all, a general policy regarding quiet, one that is patiently urged and unceasingly enforced. Sudden, explosive, distracting attempts at suppression are to be avoided.

Every teacher, from the first grade to the last year in the high school, will admit that whispering is one of the most general annoyances. Some teachers succeed in holding it in check while others aggravate the difficulty until it becomes a misdemeanor.

There are educators who recommend that as long as whispering is carried on about lessons and school work, it should not be prohibited. There are others who say it should be prohibited, but fail to give prohibitive measures. The former fail to note that whispering 581about lessons and school tasks is really a temptation to whisper about almost anything that comes into the child’s mind.

First Grade

In the first grade, whispering about lessons and school work is unusual. Their interests are play interests and their activities are the activities of child life; about these they talk. It is only natural that they should do so. While it does not seem fair to the child to transplant him from his outside world of freedom to the school-room where the privilege of free expression is denied, still the first grade teacher must bear in mind that if she allows whispering to become a habit in the first grade, it will become very annoying in the higher grades. There is no argument in favor of whispering, and, therefore, the first grade teacher should train her pupils not to whisper during the school sessions.

In rural schools the matter of preventing whispering is more difficult than in the city school, for what is busy work for one grade cannot be used in another. What will interest one grade will not interest another, hence study periods and periods of busy work must be most carefully planned, especially in the first three grades. Too much time must not be given to study, for that means opportunity for play and mischief and, of course, for whispering.

Even with the best planning, an occasional child will whisper. Such a child should not be reproved in a faultfinding way. The teacher may preface her request to refrain from whispering by approval of something that has been well done, then say, “My dear, we do not whisper here at all.” Following her request, 582the teacher may do some kindness for the child that will gain his love and affection and make him willing to try to obey the teacher.

If the child repeats the offense the teacher must use the same methods again. Say, “Oh, no. Do not do that, we must not whisper.” The teacher should use an even, smooth tone of voice, devoid of the least inflection that might indicate impatience or unkindness. She should follow this second command by expectancy. She should feel that the child will not do otherwise than obey her. The child may repeat the offense, but the teacher must use the same method again and again, until the child responds and does not whisper. Second and third offenses usually make teachers impatient, and, instead of kindness and indulgence toward the child, they manifest impatience. By all means such a course should be avoided, even though the offenses be many.

Teachers are often heard to complain that pupils recite before called upon, or talk without permission. Such teachers confess to faulty methods on their own part. Early in the year they failed to curb such tendencies, thereby allowing them to become habits. In the very first lesson require each pupil to wait for his turn in the recitation, to secure permission to speak when he has something to say. If the teacher will closely supervise her class work in this manner for the first month, she will have no further trouble on this point. To begin right is half the battle in school-room discipline. Those petty offenses that a teacher dislikes must be prevented the first day, the second, and so on, until they no longer recur.

583In the first and second years it is highly important that the pupils form correct school-room habits in all respects. Whispering is easier to control here than in any subsequent grade.


Whispering Habit

Carrie, a little girl six years old, was nervous and talkative. She had a habit of turning her face half around toward Mabel, who sat just behind her, and, half covering her mouth with her hand, she would whisper to Mabel almost constantly.

While the teacher, Miss Bond, was giving general instructions she was constantly reiterating, “Carrie, stop talking!” Carrie had a semblance of obedience in this direction simply because her speeches were never long.

Evidently Miss Bond had no other expectation than that the offense would be repeated. The work of both Carrie and Mabel was below par.


Change Carrie’s seat in order to give her new surroundings. Give her and her classmates something that is easy to do, and expect them to do it.

Use the principle of substitution by changing the work often. If Carrie whispers in her new location, talk to her privately about it. Show her your friendship for her in many ways. Never give up the idea that she will soon stop whispering. Instead of calling out to her so that all hear you, go to her privately and without faultfinding ask her to stop whispering. Whenever you observe that she is diligent and has refrained 584from talking for a little while, commend her warmly. As soon as she realizes that you are her friend, and that you really expect her to stop whispering she will do so.


Habit breaking is possible only when a new habit is being formed in place of the old one. A child will say, “I just can’t keep from whispering,” telling thus both a truth and a falsehood. The truth is that when the external conditions and the inner set of the mind are both favorable, the habitual act is certain to occur. The falsehood is that the child “cannot control the habit.”

Whispers need oftentimes a decisive shock in order to shake them loose from an ingrained habit. This shaking up may be largely self-administered if a tactful teacher knows how to make a pupil measure himself and pass judgment on his own behavior.

Changing the seat breaks up the complex circumstances in which whispering has hitherto been practiced. The removal to a new location creates a mental shock, yet offers no insult to one’s personal feelings.

There is valuable aid in hurrying the mind of a pupil on from one point to another while establishing a new set of ideas in the mind. Keeping a pupil busy following your program by the presentation of new tasks, duties, recreations, helps to save him from falling back into the moods that have been the fruitful source of improper conduct.

When dealing with a disciplinary case, a wise administrator attempts, just as far as possible, to keep a 585sharp eye on the train of events that transpires in that pupil’s life. Any serious interruption of the sequence of ideas and moods that are favorable to the reform, necessarily postpones the fixation of the new trait, habit or resolution.

Pupils will quickly learn that a firm disciplinary policy, a helpful watchfulness, can be maintained without carrying with them an aggravating scrutiny of conduct. Friendship and good fellowship can be revealed through teamwork in the building of a character as well as in the coaching of a football team.

Some of the best chums are those who occupy the relation of player and coach. When on the athletic field the coach exercises rigid mandatory control. The onlooker may suppose that he is something of a tyrant, but the boys on the team know better; they sense his genuine good fellowship underneath the harsh exterior. By common consent the future victory is willingly bought with the price of undergoing these strenuous activities under an apparently despotic supervision.

In like manner the school teacher must learn to exercise a positive control over the activities of a pupil, which shall not abolish, but covertly disclose, rather, a fine sense of the comradeship that binds a good teacher to a responsive pupil.

Sometimes out of a spirit of helpfulness a child is led to whisper when, in reality, the one to whom he whispers is most at fault, as in the following instance taken from an experience in the Fourth Grade.



“Helping” by Whispering

Lawrence seemed given to constant whispering. The most trying thing about it was that he seemed to whisper more constantly while class instruction was going on than at other times. Miss Blair was the more puzzled over this because Lawrence was an exceptionally bright pupil, and very courteous. This matter of whispering was the only case in which he failed to obey Miss Blair.

When she spoke to him about it he listened respectfully with flushed face and downcast eyes. He certainly did not seem indifferent to her wishes, yet the very next time she began to pronounce words in spelling he seemed to divide his attention between writing the words and whispering to Freddie, who sat just behind him.

When she stood near Lawrence, he did not whisper; furthermore he always seemed to whisper to Freddie only.

She consulted Freddie about changing his seat, but found him anxious to retain his place behind Lawrence. She decided that the best plan was to punish Lawrence as well as others for whispering. So she announced that five minutes would be deducted from the recess period of a pupil for every time he whispered.

She was surprised to find that this seemed to place no restraint upon Lawrence. He whispered as much as ever and lost every recess like a little soldier.

When this had been going on for two weeks, one day Sarah, who sat just behind Freddie, hung around Miss Blair’s desk plainly trying to get up courage to say 587something. Finally, Miss Blair said, “What is it, Sarah?” Sarah replied, “Freddie makes Lawrence whisper.” Miss Blair said in astonishment, “How can that be?”

“Why,” said Sarah, “Freddie can’t tell just what you want, or he can’t spell the words and he punches Lawrence in the back and Lawrence tells him what to do or how to spell the words.”

Here, then, was the key to the situation, which Freddie had been too selfish and Lawrence too manly to disclose.

Freddie was given a seat near Miss Blair’s desk where she could help him, and Lawrence ceased to whisper. The sadness which had shown in his face at every recess was replaced by happy relaxation.


Find out by tactful questioning, changing seats during one period, etc., just why a certain child persists in whispering. Ascertain whether the one to whom he whispers gets or gives information and arrange for the dependent one to get direct help from you, or from some fellow pupil, after instructions have been given.

Never keep a child in at recess time for any other reason than that he has already had recreation.

Test Freddie’s hearing. It may be that some defect in that respect has made it impossible for him to catch some of the explanations given by the teacher.

If hearing is found to be normal, test his vision. Possibly he can not see all the lessons that are placed on the board. Perhaps, also, the light may shine on the board in such a way that he can not see the writing.



The Bavaria system has revealed the great need of individual instruction. This question of getting help on the difficult parts of a lesson is not, in itself, wrong. The evil comes from the confusion of haphazard whispering. The whispered help which one pupil gives another, without the teacher’s consent, is attended by more than one evil. The attention of two pupils is shifted from the central interest. The teacher is deceived as to the real knowledge which the helped one has of the subject and he can not therefore correctly estimate his work.

Yet the physical well-being of a child demands that he have his recess period of relaxation. The teacher who does her duty in the matter of supervised play will abandon “keeping children in” as a punishment for misdemeanors.


Rewarding with Stars

Miss Green tried the following method in her room. She wrote the pupils’ names on the blackboard in a conspicuous place. She told the children that whenever she saw a child whisper during the week just beginning she would erase his name.

At the beginning of the second week a star was placed after each name remaining on the board. Those who had whispered the week before were given another chance by again writing their names on the blackboard. Each succeeding week a new star was given to those who had not yet whispered and each week those who failed were given a new trial. When any one had received six stars they were given a book.

589Little was said about those who failed, but every week a story was told, when the stars were given, showing the value of self-control, or the disaster which followed lack of self-control. This plan practically eliminated whispering.


Outdoing the Teacher

Miss Peterson taught the fifth and sixth grades in a central Illinois town. She had a loud, scolding voice. The children whispered almost incessantly, apparently to drown her harsh tones. They nearly always succeeded in part, but occasionally when the noise of whispering seemed worse, Miss Peterson’s voice actually arose above the din and in threatening tones she said to them, “Stop whispering!”

Her evident reason for this was to get only a temporary, partial silence, for this was all she accomplished. Her outbreak against noise occurred two or three times daily. The children even blew whistles very softly at times and actually disliked Miss Peterson the more because she seemed to believe them when they told her the sound was made by the wind whistling through the cracks around the ill-fitted windows.

One day when the noise seemed worse than usual, she announced that whoever whispered next would have to “stand on the floor.” There was a moment’s silence and then one of the girls whispered a comment upon her remark. Instantly Miss Peterson called her to stand up in the front of the room. The girl to whom she whispered immediately talked for the obvious purpose of joining her friend in disgrace. When Miss Peterson asked the second girl to join the first, a smile 590was exchanged between them. This was seen by others who decided to join in the fun. One after another, almost as fast as named, joyfully joined the group of those standing, and what is more, whispered to each other on the floor. When almost half of the pupils had been called out, poor Miss Peterson gave them a very angry lecture, and threatened them with the loss of recess. A partial silence ensued after the lecture, but that session of the school was worse than lost.


Take time to see yourself at work in the school-room. Test out your own influence as a noise maker by adopting some very quiet methods of doing your own work; see if the children do not imitate you also in maintaining better order.

Abandon the haphazard method of curbing whispering. Think the whole situation over; measure each pupil in respect to the whispering nuisance; classify the room as a whole in respect to the matter. Probably you will adopt two or three methods simultaneously for different types of pupils.

Apply these methods unobtrusively. By working with individuals have the rumor pass around that you are becoming stern about whispering. This can be done without provoking enmity.

Use a number of stories on self-control, neighborliness, etc., but do not connect them with your campaign against whispering. If some story makes a great hit, allude to its leading character when dealing with certain individual offenders.



A harsh voice or a loud tone tends very strongly to provoke school-room noise. It sets an example; it shows the teacher’s disregard of the customary rule relative to quiet in the room; it provokes a similar noisiness for the sake of self-defense.

The well modulated voice not only pleases sensitive ears and gentle spirits, but it suggests strongly to the pupils what their own voices may be like. Such a voice says not only, “Do this,” but also “Do it quietly.”

The voices of most persons are untrained. Teachers usually give little professional attention to their voices, yet no aspect of their personality needs greater attention.

The voice is usually a good indicator of character. Miss Peterson doubtless is no exception. We doubt if any person enjoys her friendship as much as if she used a sweeter, gentler, lower-pitched voice.

The adoption of some method of voice culture will react on the character.

Either singing or dramatics will soften the voice and warm up the heart. If nothing else is available, the reading of well selected poetry with an attempt at faithful expression has a lasting effect if maintained for a considerable period.

Public announcement of a mode of punishment for a certain offense often leads a group to try together the experiment of breaking the rule laid down. A public talk about a general misdemeanor must be well thought out and given at an opportune time, with no hint of anger on the part of the teacher. The pupils 592will not reason that an angry person’s judgment is warped, but they will nevertheless, resent a lecture given in any other than a seriously helpful attitude of mind.

The novice and the failing teacher use direct methods hoping to secure immediate and adequate results. One teacher says, “I want to use a method that will bring whispering to a stop at once.”

Human nature rarely consents to such radical methods. Indirect methods and a little lapse of time are usually necessary to give the human nervous organism opportunity for readjustment. Such a reorganization of habits is not closely under the control of the will; rather the lower nerve centers must actually effect the desired reforms. Intelligent choice merely supplies the inner stimulus which directs the course of the rebuilding of habit that is so earnestly longed for.

“The perpetual ill-behavior of many children is itself the consequence of that chronic irritation in which they are kept by bad management.... That harsh treatment which children of the same family inflict on each other is often, in great measure, reflex of the harsh treatment they receive from adults.” (Spencer, Education.)


Mrs. Steward taught a room of pupils in the fifth and sixth grades. Near the end of the second week she felt that she had the confidence of her pupils and could count upon their coöperation.

Taking a Vote

On Friday morning just before recess she said, 593“How many of you would like to try to have no whispering at all between now and recess time? It is only ten minutes.” A majority of the children voted that the trial be made. The silence was really restful. Just before dismissing for recess she asked how many liked the silence. Again a majority of them held up their hands. About twenty minutes before noon she again allowed them to vote as to whether or not all should refrain from whispering until noon. This time more even than before voted for silence. Half an hour before school closed they again decided against whispering for the rest of the day.

On Monday one or two sessions were voted upon with success. Before the end of the third week the children from choice had voted whispering out of the school for the rest of the term because they liked complete silence better.

They followed the teacher who used the method of leading suggestion.

Thereafter when someone forgot and whispered, they were reminded, kindly, that they were not following the wish of their fellow-pupils. On this subject of majority rule, stories were told of its value in human history.

Many teachers make use of the honor system in determining deportment grades, especially asking for self-reporting on whispering and similar offenses.


Mr. Boling taught in a rural school in Central Illinois. He used the following system as a check upon whispering.

When All Whisper

594Every evening just before school closed he called the roll. Those who had not whispered during the day were to answer “ten.” If they had whispered once “nine.” For every time they whispered during the day they were to deduct one from their daily grade in deportment.

With some children this acted as an effective check. One little girl, Jennie, had truthfully answered “ten” every day since the introduction of the system. She sat with her sister in a double seat. One day a friend asked permission to “speak” and came to the sister’s desk to borrow a book. Jennie not being able to find the book said to her sister, “Look on your side!” Then she slapped her hand on her mouth and her little heart sank. She had broken her record. She had whispered without permission! Many notes passed between the sisters as to whether or not Jennie had really whispered without permission. It was grimly decided that she had. They reasoned that whereas the friend’s permission to “speak” allowed each of them to speak to her, still that gave the sisters no right to speak to each other. Jennie suffered all the rest of that day. How like a real culprit she felt when she answered “nine” at roll call. The memory of the disgrace lingers with her through the years.

But Mr. Boling had other pupils of far different home training and natural disposition from Jennie.

Katie Mender and Annie Kuhn were examples of this class. They whispered almost incessantly. Jennie knew it and she believed Mr. Boling himself knew it and yet they answered “eight,” “nine” or “ten” every evening.

595A few there were who not only whispered incessantly but who shamelessly answered “zero” every evening.

Clifton with a good-natured grin answered “zero” daily and looked around the room with a complacency that seemed to say, “What a smart boy am I!”

And even Jennie often wondered if his care-free life was not enviable. Nothing was ever said or done by Mr. Boling to show that Jennie was more to be commended than Clifton.


Commend Jennie for her conscientious reports. Talk privately to Katie and Annie about their false statements. Make them see the value of truth in business and social life.

This may be done publicly at roll call by some such statement as this: “Every day that Jennie makes a true report of perfect control of her desire to whisper, she has grown stronger in character as surely as the oak is stronger after battling with a wind storm.”

A reference to the growth of flowers would please Jennie but would not impress the boys. Give them some such instruction as this: “Notice carefully every thing you say during one play period. Stop to think what would have happened if you had been untruthful every time you spoke. When you have thought of a good reason why people should speak the truth come and tell me what your reason is.”

Have a further check upon Clifton, one that he will respect. His is a case of ignoring wholly the rights of others. You may say, “Clifton, what would you do 596if a new boy should come to school and wish to play ball. Then when playing he wouldn’t heed a single rule of the game. Suppose he insisted upon striking as long as he pleased, tripped those on his side when they ran, and never helped to get his opponents out. If the boys were sure he knew just what to do, how would they proceed?” Clifton will tell you that they wouldn’t let him play. “Would they like him?” “Why?”

Take another case. Say, “Suppose a twelve-year-old boy came to school who talked out loud continually and so spoiled the game of studying and reciting lessons. What ought I to do?” He will doubtless suggest a course to stop the boy’s talking. “Now supposing a boy whispers all the time and so hinders others as well as himself from scoring a point in their favor in arithmetic or spelling, what should be done?” “But in all these cases it would be better to hold on to the boy, don’t you think?”

Lead him thus to see the case in its true light. If Clifton does not weigh matters when you talk them over with him, separate him from the mass of the pupils. This can be done without inflicting an intentional penalty. See this method as developed in the illustration just below.


If Jennie is not commended, she will have no reason to believe that her honesty and restraint are really valued.

It is a shameful neglect on the part of a teacher to allow children to lie habitually and do nothing to make 597them truthful. Mr. Boling, to lessen a minor wrong, tolerated a gross misdeed.

Clifton was daily learning anarchy, and demonstrating to the school that lawlessness is regarded as “smart” by some. This idea should be speedily corrected.

In place of the honor system which invariably has the three classes of dispositions above described to deal with, a better plan is isolation.


Seats Near the Front

Miss Taylor of Allenton used this method to reduce the amount of whispering. She arranged a seat on each side of the room near the front for the use of those who needed special help in the matter of self-control necessary to prevent whispering. Since every desk was occupied she placed a sewing table against the wall on either side in front for desks, and used camp chairs for seats. At these tables she allowed children to sit who needed an environmental help in securing self-control. She made it very clear that this was not punishment; it was simply help to enable the child to do what he himself wanted to accomplish. Her whole attitude was that of solicitude for the best welfare of the two who had the additional help of isolation to teach them self-control. Those who occupied these seats were aided by giving them helpful surroundings in place of those fraught with temptation.

When pupils have reached the high school age, if former training has failed to give them enough self-control to make them refrain from whispering at least 598they will be able to see the reasonableness of silence in both the study and recitation rooms.

Here special honors and privileges may well be granted to those who are silent if only the teacher makes it clear that a reward for the exercise of self-control is just as legitimate as a diploma for courses in study completed. Indeed a badge of honor won through self-imposed restriction in this matter is an index of real merit, and the tactful teacher can easily show the pupil that this is the case.

Much of the trouble about whispering here, as in the grades, arises from pure thoughtlessness, selfishness or self-esteem.

(2) Talking aloud; talking too much; talking without permission.


Displaying Wit

In the Elkton High School many factors contributed to make Charles Drover a favorite. He was an athletic star, he was from a popular family, but above all he was a wit of considerable merit. His witticisms always secured a hearing. His temptation to whisper was very great. Remarks of general import, no matter how serious, usually ended by giving those around Charles much to do to refrain from laughing aloud.

Mr. Hodge, the high school Principal, was annoyed past endurance. One morning after a brief talk on a coming lecture, Laura, a neighbor to Charles, smiled broadly. Mr. Hodge said, “Laura, pass into my office.” She went at once. After the classes had passed, Mr. Hodge went to his office and frowningly explained to Laura how much her constant levity 599annoyed him and demanded that she bring in extra school work as punishment, and further said that if she still persisted in treating all remarks made from the platform with so much unconcern he would see to it that no position of trust be given her in high school affairs.

The week passed and the day of the lecture arrived. Laura was to be one of the ushers that night. Mr. Hodge was giving some final directions concerning the arrangements for the evening when Laura giggled. Instantly Mr. Hodge announced that some one else must be appointed in Laura’s place as usher and that she bring in the translation of twenty extra lines of Caesar the following day. This was the beginning of a strong opposition to Mr. Hodge which culminated in his being asked to resign at the end of the year.


Deal with the cause of the disturbance. Suppression of either the laughter of the girl or the humorous trait in the boy is entirely out of the question. Pass over the girl’s misdemeanor until the boy has been disposed of.

Cultivate the humor in Charles. The primary task will be to teach him how to make good use of his talent. Wide reading under your direction will acquaint him with many types of humor and enable him to choose with discrimination. Show him the appropriate uses of humor, the occasions when humor can best be indulged in, the injuries wrought by unregulated fun. Have him take charge of the humorous column in the 600high school weekly. If he has a gift in drawing, develop humor and art together.

You may learn a great deal from Charles; if you do, let him know the fact and so link him to you the closer. Hold many private chats with him informally about his work and enter into it with genuine interest.


Nine times out of ten the one who laughs in school is not the real culprit. A person scarcely ever regards himself as “funny” or ridiculous. A pupil laughs at another’s error, blunder or joke.

If the sense of humor is enkindled, laughter is the only natural outcome; the control of one’s impulse to laugh must of course be taught, yet for school-room purposes it is far more important to be master of the conditions that provoke laughter.

The treatment recommended for Charles will help to make a man of him, and other pupils will respect the teacher all the more if he prizes a talent which wins the applause of all the school.

A teacher who is unable to laugh or to share in that which is positively humorous is an unlovely person.

“’Twas the saying of an ancient sage that humor was the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor. For a subject that would not bear raillery was suspicious; and a jest which would not bear a serious examination was certainly false wit.”


The best teachers occasionally have a whole room of pupils roaring in peal after peal of laughter. They 601lose nothing by the experience; rather they gain immensely, for laughing together makes hearts warm up towards each other.

The weak teacher dares not risk himself to laugh when the class or room is seized by a fit of fun. For the pupils it is highly interesting to watch the struggles of the teacher to avoid doing that which they know he likely wants to do. In refusing to participate in their mood he repels them. He puts himself out of their group; he takes a position as a critic and as an alien.

If one leads pupils to make proper use of their talents, he fulfills his truest function as an educator. Developing, restraining from excesses, guiding in the profitable use of the natural endowments of the child—these are the necessary duties of every high-minded instructor.

We must learn that the impartation of school facts is but one means of equipping a child for taking his place as a prepared member of society.

Whatever natural gifts a child has must be dealt with in school life. Those that are dormant must be drawn out; those that are already functioning must be directed.

When a boy or girl fully realizes that the teacher’s primary thought is helpfulness, many difficulties will disappear.


Jennie Leavitt was a high-strung, irrepressible, well-meaning girl far on in her teens. It was her custom to announce firm adherence to good moral standards 602when such matters were up for discussion. Her motives, moreover, were seldom open to question.

Isolating Whisperers

She entered class at the opening of the term with an established whispering habit. Her classmates, one by one, were moved from her vicinity so that, finally, only one was left with whom she could chat. Her breaches of good order were so innocent that any suggestion of coercion seemed inappropriate; the removal of her companions reduced the problem to small dimensions.

The teacher had but one short step to take: to give her remaining companion another seat in some unobtrusive way and to make enough assignments of written work to afford a means of expression for the active mind of the school girl. This could easily be done because of the excellent mutual understanding between the whisperer and her teacher.

A school should offer conditions and surroundings that are as conducive as possible to study, to concentration of the pupil’s effort. Too many teachers put plenty of emphasis on the physical factors in their pupils’ surroundings—ventilation, posture, light, etc.—but allow their rooms to degenerate into a perfect hubbub of noisy confusion in which study is impossible.


Joseph Levy and Sadie Higgins, two pupils in the fourth grade of the Pittsburgh Avenue School, Minneapolis, were talking without permission, when Miss Bowen, who was conducting an arithmetic lesson on the other side of the room, saw them.

Talking Without Permission

“Joseph and Sadie! Did anyone give you permission 603to talk?” she inquired. “I want you all to know (she rose from her seat and addressed the whole room) that hereafter there is to be no talking without permission. If it is absolutely necessary that you speak to someone, hold up your hand.”

The next day Sadie “forgot.” Miss Bowen was busy helping another pupil. She waited until she had finished. In the meantime, several minutes had passed. Sadie had found out what she wanted and was working on her arithmetic lesson, when Miss Bowen went over to Sadie’s desk, pulled her out of the seat by her arm, and said so the whole room could hear, “Sadie Higgins, I’m not going to tell you more than once that you have to ask permission when you want to speak. Do you hear me?... Well, sit down and see that the next time you wish to speak, you ask my consent before doing so.”


Discuss matters of conduct with offenders, not with non-offenders. Because Sadie had spoken without permission, it is not therefore necessary to tell Joseph that he may not speak without permission. Address yourself to the one who needs the prohibition. Treat each case by itself. Wait until you have finished your immediate work, whether it is holding a recitation or writing on the blackboard. When the period is ended, quietly speak to Sadie in private, telling her she must ask permission when she wants to speak as you may be able to answer her question without bothering another pupil.

“Just hold up your hand and if I think it is necessary, 604I shall nod my head, meaning ‘Yes’; this will not disturb the rest of the room.”


Miss Bowen disturbed the whole room much more than any talking between Sadie and Joseph did when she called the attention of the other pupils to the fact that Joseph and Sadie were talking without permission.

Every teacher should remember that children need constantly to be reminded of what they should do until the act becomes a habit. Miss Bowen did Sadie an injustice, since the child had not been accustomed to ask permission when she wished to speak.

It was very well for Miss Bowen to wait until she had finished the work at hand before speaking to Sadie, but she should have remembered that the child had had time to forget that she had spoken. To pull her out of her seat and publicly scold her was entirely out of place.


Breaking An Old Habit

When Miss Lucas took charge of the fifth grade room in the Henry Clay Grammar School, Lexington, Kentucky, she was informed on the first day that the children were accustomed to speak to one another without permission. As this was often annoying, especially when three or four spoke at once, she decided that this must not be.

When, the following morning, she saw Lola Mossman, a girl of exquisite manner, walk over to the desk of Bernice Bryant, evidently to ask her about a lesson, 605Miss Lucas waited until the close of the period, when she spoke to Lola in private.

“Is it the custom in this school, Lola, for the pupils to speak to one another during a study period without permission?”

“Yes, Miss Lucas.”

“I am sure the whole room will be less disturbed if we form the habit of asking permission before we speak.

“If you need to find out something about a lesson, you should have permission to speak. I will willingly grant it; but do not ask to speak when you see someone else talking. It is disturbing to the other pupils to have two persons speaking at a time.”

Through Lola Mossman and one or two other pupils as a medium, the children soon discovered that Miss Lucas expected them to ask permission before speaking.


Monopolizing Time

Mamie Eggleston was a devoted pupil in the fifth grade of a school in Paterson, New Jersey. She never missed an opportunity to talk with Miss Olmstead, her teacher, before or after school.

“May I come in?” Mamie would say if she saw Miss Olmstead seated at her desk before school began.

“Yes, indeed.”

Then for fifteen minutes Mamie would talk just for the sake of saying something to someone who would listen.

“I like Miss Forsyth’s new waist, don’t you?”

“Are those little black bands on your wrists tied or fastened on? That waist is awfully becoming to you. 606I have a pink waist. My mother made it for me. But she won’t let me wear it to school,” etc., etc.

“There’s the bell,” Miss Olmstead would say as she thought, “Well, there’s another fifteen minutes lost and I intended to put the arithmetic problems on the board before school began.”


Do not over-indulge a talkative child. In a kind but firm way tell her that you have some important work to do or that you must see Miss Belmont before school begins. If she persists in talking with you after school, answer her questions politely but hurriedly, while you put on your wraps and say as you go out of the room, “I have to leave now. Are you ready to go home?”


Miss Olmstead did an injustice to both the child and herself. Valuable time was wasted by allowing the child to talk on at length, without any motive other than the pleasure of talking.

It is not necessary to cut off entirely a child’s talking with you outside of school hours. Such pleasant associations between teacher and pupil are to be encouraged. We are concerned in this case with the child who likes to talk just to keep herself in the foreground.

By heeding only those questions which have weight, by listening to the child’s talk only long enough to be polite, you will help her to control a desire which, unrestrained, will, in the future, make her presence unbearable.



Reforming Habits

When Miss Carleton first came to teach in the sixth grade in East Orange, New Jersey, she was warned that certain little girls in her room had the habit of talking to the teacher whenever they could get an opportunity. They enjoyed loitering around the teacher whose place Miss Carleton had taken, because they thought it was her duty to listen to everything they had to say. As a consequence, they literally ruled the room.

“Miss Kimball says ...” and “Miss Kimball says ...” they would remark as if they were the appointed interpreters of Miss Kimball.

Miss Carleton made an immediate decision that she would show the children by her actions that she did not intend to waste valuable time listening to their empty talk.

As usually happens with a new teacher, she was surrounded by a group of girl leaders at the close of the first session.

“Do you bring your lunch, Miss Carleton?”

“Did you know our room is going to give a set of books to the library this year?”

“That will be lovely,” Miss Carleton politely replied to the last question, as the first one had been immediately superseded by the second.

She then stood to arrange her desk in a businesslike manner, implying that the present moment offered no opportunity for further discussion.

Immediately she went to her wardrobe, saying as she did so, “I take it for granted you all brought your 608lunches. I hope you will enjoy them. You might move the waste basket a little nearer your desks so that it will be convenient for your papers and fruit skins.

“When I come back from lunch I shall expect to see each one of you out in the school yard. It is a beautiful day for a game of Hop Scotch.


So Miss Carleton tactfully mastered the situation of the first day.


Miss Atkinson was an intelligent, quick, good-natured little woman whom the children really liked. She never got angry, and her discipline was good so far as the big misdemeanors were concerned.

The A division was reciting its arithmetic lesson while the B division studied. Miss Atkinson sent half of her class to the board and started to give out an example.

Talking During Recitation

“May I find out the lesson from Tom?” A boy who had been absent the day before was speaking, without pausing to raise his hand for permission.

Miss Atkinson nodded and read the example over again.

“We had that example yesterday,” came from one of the pupils in the class.

“No, we didn’t. It was something like it but it wasn’t the same,” replied another.

Before the dispute was settled and the children at work, five minutes of the recitation period had been wasted. Ten minutes later, Alice, of the B division, 609asked if she might open a window. Then Grace wanted to borrow a pencil. While Miss Atkinson was showing Joe how to point off, Henry called out, “How many places must we carry it out?” By the time the various queries were answered, Joe’s attention had wandered and in order to make his difficulty clear to him, the teacher had to go back over the ground already covered.

Thus every class period was frittered away. Questions were continually being fired at the teacher like shots out of a gun. One bold pupil was constantly making remarks intended to be funny or to delay the progress of lessons. Miss Atkinson could not see the harm in answering the seemingly legitimate inquiries, and her efforts to curb the general habit of talking aloud were altogether too mild.

Fully one-half of both the children’s and the teacher’s time was wasted by such interruptions. Serious, concentrated effort was impossible and the duller pupils were confused and distracted by this endless breaking into their train of thought.


Insist that the work in hand shall not be interrupted. If for one day the teacher will persistently refuse to recognize questions spoken aloud without permission, a long step will have been taken in the direction of correcting the bad habit.

Allow two or three minutes between classes, if necessary, for answering the questions of the division which has been studying.

Henry should be led to raise his hand if he needs 610help, and his difficulty should be settled in turn—after Joe’s has been explained. The bold pupil would lose some of his smartness if he were fully occupied with work. Keeping the pupils constantly busy in the arithmetic class, by dictating rapidly and putting a premium upon getting through quickly, prevents discussions upon unessential parts of the work, such as whether or not the same example had been given out before; the children do not have time to consider the matter.


It is not difficult to make children see that the rights of others are infringed by interruptions such as speaking aloud without permission. Once this is understood, the teacher must stick to her refusal to recognize such interruptions. When the children understand that they are expected to keep silent, they form the habit of waiting for permission before asking questions. Unless the teacher shows respect for the lesson in hand—not allowing her attention to be distracted from it—she can not expect the pupils to do so.

Some teachers are afraid to refuse to answer questions at the time they arise in the child’s mind, fearing to bring the child to a standstill in his work and that he will be idle unless his difficulty is settled. It is a part of a child’s education to learn to be independent, to solve his own difficulties. Too much dependence on “Teacher” unfits the pupil for progress in his lessons or in anything else.



The habit of talking aloud is easily cured.

Miss Ellis was called upon to substitute in the place of a teacher who had been lax in her discipline. The pupils talked aloud almost as freely as if they had been in their own homes. Miss Ellis knew her position as substitute would be a hard one, and made up her mind that she would spend the first day, if necessary, doing nothing but enforcing order.

Making Up Time

The first time a child talked out loud without permission, she said, quietly, “Now, John, you know we can’t get very far with this lesson if we are to be interrupted. And we don’t want to have to take it over again tomorrow. Suppose you try to settle the matter yourself, or wait until after this class to ask me.” And she did not answer John’s question.

It was only a few minutes until Isabel remarked that she couldn’t see what was written on the blackboard from where she sat. Miss Ellis told Isabel that by standing up she could read what was written there very plainly, and that it was unfair to the rest of the school for her to take up their time by speaking aloud.

At the third interruption Miss Ellis said, again very quietly, “At this rate we shall all have to stay after school today to finish our work. I will not answer any more questions until this class is over. Then I will give you three minutes to do all the speaking, borrowing, and so forth that is necessary for the rest of the morning. And any talking aloud will put us just five minutes behind with our work, so we’ll have to make up that five minutes after school.”

612No one went home that afternoon until an hour and a half after the regular time for dismissal, but the talking aloud habit was broken, once and for all, during Miss Ellis’ regime.

One big element in a teacher’s control of a school is a phase of stick-to-it-iveness, namely, her ability not only to prescribe a given line of action but to stick to it herself and hold her pupils to it day after day. Too many teachers are spasmodic in their control. They are very strict for a few days, then grow negligently lax in their discipline, only to pull their pupils up to the previous standard again with a jerk. It is just as easy to form good habits as bad ones, but a teacher can never hope to train a school in good habits if she punishes today what she leaves unnoticed tomorrow, as Miss Rand, a seventh grade teacher, did.


Useless Talking

It was Friday afternoon and both teacher and pupils were weary of the school-room and of work; all were a little cross and nervous, and impatient for the dismissal bell to ring.

“Make John quit tying my hair-ribbon to the inkwell,” spoke up a girl from the back of the room.

Before John’s case was quite settled, “May I erase the boards after school?” “Does our geography lesson begin on page 268 or 267?” “Do we have to write our compositions in ink?” and so forth—an endless string of useless questions, confusing to those who were trying to study and nerve-racking to the teacher. And besides the talking aloud there was a constant and needless passing to and fro.

613“Now see here, children, this has got to stop. Monday morning we’re going to turn over a new leaf and put a stop to this talking aloud. Remember that! The first one who talks or leaves his seat without permission will be punished.”

Monday morning, true to her word, Miss Rand punished every child who talked aloud without permission. Tuesday and Wednesday the school was a model of quiet and order. But Thursday Miss Rand had a headache and did not feel quite equal to having it out with Theodore when he asked, without permission, “Is this the 22nd of the month?” for it was a perfectly legitimate inquiry, inspired by the exercise in letter-writing which was his language lesson.

A half hour later Margaret called Miss Rand’s attention to the fact that the clock had stopped, then looked scared as she realized she had broken the rule. Miss Rand argued to herself that the child meant well, so she let the talking aloud pass uncommented upon.

And so it went, the children falling rapidly back into their old habit of talking whenever they pleased. By the middle of the next week pandemonium was again the order of the day and Miss Rand again “cleaned house,” saying, “Tomorrow morning I’m going to begin making everyone of you who talks aloud stay in at recess. There is no reason why you can’t do your work quietly, and tend to your business without asking so many questions,” and for a few days she was most energetic in enforcing quiet and order.

But in two weeks the school-room was again a place of noisy confusion. And so it went.



Instead of announcing, each time, that there would be a change in her way of running the school, Miss Rand should have said, “Don’t talk aloud without permission, Theodore,” the first time and then, without saying any more about it, she should have quietly signified by a gesture or a look that speaking aloud was forbidden, refusing to answer queries put in this fashion. If she had done this every time a pupil spoke aloud and had never let a single opportunity to correct this bad habit go by, the school would always have run as smoothly and as well as it did for the few days after one of her periodic upheavals of enforcing order.

Have backbone enough to stick to the course of action which you know to be the best, in spite of the fact that you are tired and that four o’clock is almost at hand. All you need to do is to raise your hand in a gesture enforcing silence, but do it every time talking aloud occurs.

The effect of quiet insistence upon the no-talking rule is much better than a hundred spells of violent housecleaning, with periods of laxness in between.


A school can not run smoothly and be governed well if the authority of the teacher has to be constantly brought into view. It is the unseen authority which counts for the most.

A teacher who is consistent, and who makes her pupils understand that she means what she says always—not just temporarily—gains their respect and confidence. She can govern them then without the prop 615of punishment or rewards, because they feel her strength and continuity of purpose—her ability to govern.


Work Steadily

A certain young man who owned a fine colt undertook to break him himself, although he had had no experience in training horses. The colt was high-spirited and difficult to control, the young man impatient and nervous. When the colt did not do as he was expected to immediately, the young man was apt to lose his temper and use the lash pretty roughly.

One day an experienced horseman watched such a performance from across the street. The young man gave the colt several beatings in succession, the horse becoming more and more difficult to handle all the while. After the horseman had watched a long time in silence, he called to the colt’s owner, “Put up your whip, young man, and hold the lines tight and steady and you will find that your colt will act differently.” The young man acted upon the suggestion and found that he could claim immediate success.


Too Great Absorption

Miss Bersley was a teacher in the fourth grade of a school in Brockton, Maine. She was an enthusiastic young woman, but there was one great drawback to her teaching. She became so interested in what she was saying, that she gave the backward pupils in her room no chance to recite. They were too slow. She was always sure of a quick reply from such children 616as Spencer Thorpe. He was ever ready to speak on every subject, even though he was not always informed. Miss Bersley would not have openly admitted this to be the situation, but her recitations disclosed her attitude.

“Name the principal manufacturing towns in New England.”

Up went Spencer’s hand.

Miss Bersley hesitated.

Spencer flung his arm around until she said, “All right! Spencer, since you are so anxious to recite, you may tell us.”

Once on his feet, he named one town after another, as fast as they came into his mind, regardless of whether they were manufacturing towns or whether they were located in New England.

“What natural advantages does New England have for manufacturing?”

As usual, Spencer raised his hand.

“Very well, Spencer.”

So, through over thirty minutes recitation, out of a class of thirty-five, Spencer Thorpe was called upon five times, while many less forward pupils were given no opportunity for self-expression.


At the beginning of the geography recitation say, “I am going to try a new plan in the lesson today. Let us see if I can tell who knows his lessons by the way he looks instead of by the raising of his hand.”

Be sure to give as many of the children an opportunity to recite as you can—all if possible.

617At the beginning of the next recitation say, “The plan we tried yesterday worked so well, I believe we will try it for the whole day.”


By calling on all or nearly all of the pupils, you will accustom the boy who wants to speak all the time, to the idea that he must take his turn with the others.

By substituting an intelligent interest in the recitation for the raising of hands and the mere pleasure of being the central figure in the class, you will raise the class standard to a higher level. By assuming an attitude of attention, the pupils will unconsciously become interested in each other’s recitations.

The teacher may not hope entirely to do away in a day with the excessive raising of hands, or of speaking without waiting to be called upon, but the fact that she has secured her point during one recitation makes it easier the next time to suppress the excessive desire, on the part of one or two pupils, to monopolize the time and attention of the class to the exclusion and detriment of others.


At the beginning of the class in United States history in the Deerfield rural school, Miss Deaton decided she was going to do away with the privilege which four of the pupils seemed to claim of talking all the time.

Refuse Answers

“We have so many points to cover in the recitation today, we shall have no time to stop for the raising of hands. I shall call on you individually without 618waiting for that. Every one be ready to answer promptly.”

Miss Deaton smiled. Her attitude was one of complete confidence. The class responded accordingly.

Just once during the recitation did George Mills, the class “speaker,” forget. Miss Deaton had only to raise her eyebrows to remind him that this was not the form to be followed that day.

Laxness on the part of the teacher, even in a seemingly trifling matter, sometimes destroys the order in a school-room for all time. To get the best results and to make the most progress in school work, there must be no leaks in the efficiency tank. The experience of a certain eighth grade teacher proves this to be true.


Miss James was a strict teacher who kept her word and was both feared and respected by her pupils. Technically she was a good teacher, too; that is, she knew how to present a subject to the child mind, to organize and emphasize the vital points in a lesson. There was apparently no reason why the children of the eighth grade room should not accomplish as much as the individual ability of each child would permit.

Interrupting the Studious

But they were not doing it. Mildred, who had gotten averages of 90 in most subjects throughout the seventh grade, was hovering just above the passing mark. The same was true to a lesser degree of others, and there was a continuous effort on the part of Miss James, the teacher, to suppress small naughtinesses in children who had good records for previous years.

619The children never finished tasks in the time assigned and the work done was mediocre in quality. Miss James did not realize how badly things were going until Mildred’s mother presented the case to her.

It was just after the monthly issue of report cards. Mildred’s card showed some unusually low marks—one that was far below passing grade. Mildred was a conscientious girl and could not herself understand why she failed to do as good work as she had done the year before. She knew she worked hard but she never seemed to accomplish results. Things always managed to happen just so that she had to skip over the last few paragraphs of her history lesson in a hurry, and look up all her reading words at recess because she had no other time to spend on them.

When she showed her card to her mother, bitter tears of hurt pride were in her eyes, for in the past there had never been anything but commendation at home when she brought home her month’s record. Her mother, being a wise woman, drew her little daughter to her and asked:

“What’s the matter, dear? Father and I know you don’t waste your time at school. There must be a reason for these low marks. Is it that Miss James is unfair? Doesn’t she give you what you deserve to get?”

“No,” sobbed Mildred. “It isn’t that. She marks higher than Miss Johnson did last year. I really don’t deserve to get any more than this. I do well enough on tests when I can study up, but I don’t do good work every day.”

620And Mildred cried out her trouble in her mother’s arms. That lady resolved to visit Miss James the next day and have a serious talk with her.

Miss James had seen that the eighth grade was doing uncommonly poor work and had cast about in her mind for the reason. She had shortened lessons until she was in danger of not complying with the schedule, and she had watched with an eagle eye for inattention and laziness. When Mildred’s mother pointed out the contrast between this year’s and last year’s work she was forced to admit that Mildred was always busy and was by no means a dull pupil.

What was the trouble?

She decided to watch more closely than before the events in her school-room.

The next morning after opening exercises were over, her glance over the room showed her every head bent over a book. The room was so quiet that Robert Woods’ wheezy breathing (he had a very bad cold) was distinctly audible.

Then the stillness was broken by John. He saw Miss James looking at him and asked a question about the lesson. Most of the children looked up from their work, shifted their positions, or gave some other evidence of having noticed the break. In a few minutes someone else asked permission to leave the room. And so on through the period.

Not until she had watched for several periods did Miss James realize the stir each one of these speeches aloud made, and how frequent they were. Then she saw that the speaking aloud disease had reached an advanced stage in her school-room and that it, and it 621alone, was responsible for the seemingly causeless deterioration in her pupils’ work.


Do not sit still in the front of the room during a study period and let children ask questions whenever they please. Require them to raise their hands and then go to them and settle the difficulty quietly without disturbing the rest of the school.

Develop the social consciousness in the child as early as possible. Make him realize that, for the general welfare of the whole school, it is worth his while to forego satisfying his need immediately.


In this case the teacher was a good one and a good disciplinarian, but one minor weakness in her fabric of control had undermined all the rest of her good work.

Work, no matter how earnest it may be, can not be constantly interrupted without suffering the consequences. The inspiration is gone and interest flags.

The fullest and best work of which children are capable can never be finished on time if it is accomplished under the stress of interruptions and distracted attention. A steady noise, even a clatter or roar, does not disturb a worker after he becomes accustomed to it. It is the occasional outburst, the sudden breaking in upon a silence, that confuses the mind.



Exhausted Nerves

A young engineer who was accustomed to working in a downtown office in a big city was transferred to a branch office in a small town. In the city he had been surrounded by the continuous clatter of typewriters and adding-machines, the noise of the traffic in the street below and the boom of elevated trains just outside the window. Because these sounds were steady and relatively constant, the man did not notice them. He paid no heed, though his work required intense concentration and uninterrupted thought.

In the small town branch office he was the sole occupant of a little room looking out upon an uncleared field. Shortly after the engineer’s arrival the owner of the adjacent land began to clear it. He used dynamite to blast out the stumps. The explosions of the blasts would have been lost in the din to which this man had been accustomed in the city, but breaking in upon a dead silence as they did, they annoyed the engineer so much that he lost much time trying to pick up the broken threads of his work every day.

Then, these noisy explosions began to get on his nerves, for he was a high-strung man. At the end of two weeks he had a nervous breakdown which was caused by nothing but these periodic disturbances that set his nerves on edge and shattered his self-control. Fortunately, by the time he had recovered from his illness, the blasting was finished and he went on with his work undisturbed.



When Miss Barton had charge of the high school assembly room in Geneva, Illinois, it was always a time for unlimited privilege on the part of the pupils.

“Miss Barton, may I speak to Elsie?” Susan Emmons asked, without raising her hand.

Two blonde heads were soon together talking over what they were going to wear to Jeannette’s party.

Two minutes later: “Please, may I speak?” This was from a demure-looking girl who was never known to ask this privilege from any other teacher.

Several minutes passed without a reply from Miss Barton. She was enjoying some peace in reading her home newspaper when again, “Miss Barton, may I speak to Susan?”

“Yes” (said without thinking).

Then, when Elsie was on her way to speak to Susan, she recalled, “Didn’t I just give you permission?”

“No, you gave Susan permission to speak to me.”

Too Frequent Speaking

“All right.” Miss Barton sighed as she turned her attention to another part of the room, where two boys were amusing themselves looking out of the window.


Refuse, without discussion, a request to speak, when you know it is not necessary.

It is often wise to ask, when such a request is made, “Is it necessary?” Look into the child’s eyes as you say this, letting him see by your attitude that you do not intend to give the permission unless it is necessary.

One cautious teacher asks, “Is it something about your lessons?”

624Refuse all requests that have nothing to do with the pupil’s work. Limit the time for speaking. Do not allow more than one person to speak at a time.

Much speaking can be avoided frequently by quietly stepping forward to the person who asks the permission and saying, “Can I help you? We won’t disturb Susan if we can help it.” The implied suggestion is itself a reminder to be more careful about asking such favors.

If you make it clear when you first take charge of a study room that you expect little or no whispering, the pupils will soon find out that such “speaking” is quite unnecessary.


In the case of Miss Barton, the pupils misused a privilege which should have been reserved for special circumstances only.

The study period is not a time for idleness or recreation on the part of the teacher. If she makes it so, she can not blame the pupils for following her example.


Miss Herrick had charge of the study hall in the Pittsfield High School the last period of every day. Her presence meant “Study.” There was no time for foolishness when she came into the room. She treated requests to speak in such a chary manner that a pupil would think twice before asking the privilege.

“May I speak?”

Learn the Reason

Miss Herrick would not say a word, but would beckon the pupil to her desk.

625“What would you like to learn, Jessie?”

“I wanted to ask Mary how to do an algebra problem.”

“Bring your book up to the desk; perhaps I can help you.”

So time after time a request to speak to a fellow pupil was turned aside for something more helpful.

(3) Studying aloud. Probably few teachers realize the difficulty a child meets in learning to suppress tone and muscular movement of mouth and lips while reading. Indeed, the adult can assure himself that in silent reading, even he does not suppress all movement of tongue and vocal cords.


When Miss Smedley took charge of the third grade in the Russell Sage School, she had to meet several new situations, one of which was most annoying. Almon Metcalf insisted on studying aloud. Most of the pupils in the room were accustomed to this, as he had been in the same room with them for years.

Studying Aloud

Miss Smedley was conducting a class in arithmetic in the upper division, when she heard a monotonous mumbling on the other side of the room. Almon Metcalf was studying his reading lesson.

“Almon, I wish you would study silently. Don’t you know you are interrupting our arithmetic lesson?”

All the children then turned around to look at Almon.

Again she started to take up the lesson, but the children’s attention was all on Almon. Miss Smedley’s patience was taxed to the utmost. It was hard enough 626to pound two times two into the minds of children when they were interested, but to have their attention distracted by a boy who insisted upon studying out loud—this was too much.

“Almon Metcalf, come here!”

The scared little boy hesitantly walked up to the front of the room.

“Aren’t you ashamed to take up my time this way?” Miss Smedley shook him while the rest of the room looked on the scene with greatest interest.


Give the boy an isolated seat for the time being. When with him alone apply a test whereby you can find out the cause of his studying out loud. Take a second grade reader and pick out a simple paragraph:

“Almon, read this paragraph to yourself.”

If you discover he can not tell you what he has read when he has finished the paragraph, teach him how to read silently. This matter of teaching silent reading is a point neglected by a great number of teachers.

Take one short sentence from the second reader. Read it to yourself, first, so that he can watch you. Then ask him to read the sentence the same way.

“What did you read?”

If he answers correctly, say, “That’s right. Now read two sentences.” If he can not tell you what he has read, give him a simpler sentence. Do not give up the test until he is able to read something, no matter how easy the sentence may have to be.

On the following day give the whole class the same test. Select a somewhat more difficult sentence. Let 627the one who can first give the words orally, raise his hand. Make a game of silent reading and its difficulties will soon disappear.

With third grade children, the teacher should show her class how to study each lesson. It is not enough to give an assignment. The method of study should be outlined.

For the preparation of the reading lesson, for instance (for that is the subject in which a child is more likely to study aloud), put a list of the most difficult words on the board and mark them for pronunciation. Ask the class to examine the words. Then say, “Are there any words you can not pronounce?” Give special attention to the boy who studies aloud, asking him to pronounce the words which you have written on the board.

For the fourth and upper grades, place a list of the more difficult words on the board, the meaning of which the children should be asked to look up in their small dictionaries; and do not forget that children have to be taught how to use the dictionary. Have play drills in this as in all other difficulties of a mechanical sort.


Miss Smedley did not stop to figure out why Almon Metcalf studied aloud. If she had, she would have taken into consideration the fact that he had been two years in school without being taught how to study. She would have realized that calling the attention of the whole room to his deficiency would not help him to break the habit.

628The boy was not the only one who was to blame for distracting the attention of the class in arithmetic. Miss Smedley’s own remarks were instrumental here.

Almon Metcalf needed Miss Smedley’s special guidance in learning how to study.


When Rosa Bentley entered the fifth grade of the Lowell school, Miss Sieger recognized her at once as an inveterate talker. This was especially manifest in the study periods where Rosa had formed the habit of studying aloud.

Teach Silent Study

“Well, there must be some cause for the child’s doing this,” thought Miss Sieger. “She is another one of those untrained pupils.” Miss Sieger was aware of the deficiencies in our school system.

“I’m going to teach Rosa how to study.”

That afternoon she worked alone with the child for fifteen minutes, patiently helping her, sentence by sentence, to comprehend what she was reading without pronouncing the words aloud. This was only the beginning of a series of special lessons in how to study.

When Rosa had gained some headway, Miss Sieger held her up as an example to an occasional delinquent.

“Rosa has learned how to study, now can’t you?”


In Miss Algernon’s seventh grade room there were three pupils who insisted on studying aloud.

Studying Aloud

“I should think that by the time you reached the seventh grade, John Leavitt, you would know how to study. Only babies in the second and third grades 629have to study aloud. I don’t know what our schools are coming to when they allow pupils to be promoted to the seventh grade who have never learned how to study. I can not see that there is much use of your being here.

“Suppose you go down into Miss Kreisler’s room this morning and learn how to study. Her little third grade pupils know more about studying than you do.”

At the same time, Miss Kreisler was telling her children, “Miss Algernon is going to send three of her seventh grade pupils down here this morning, because they have been disturbing her whole room by studying aloud. I want you to show them that you can study silently.”

She had no more than finished her statement, when three children, John, and Farry Lawrence and Ellery Comstock, came into the room with all the assurance that such a conspicuous position could give them.

“You may take those three vacant seats,” said Miss Kreisler, as she mustered all the self-control she had to keep from laughing. The situation was so incongruous.

The little children caught the spirit and a general giggle rose in the room.

It did not take Miss Kreisler many minutes to see the futility of such a corrective measure. She sent word to Miss Algernon: “The plan didn’t work. You’ll have to try something better.”


Give a sample lesson of the situation as it would be if everyone in the room studied aloud.

630“Let’s try it. Take your geographies. Don’t be afraid. Read aloud, everyone.

“That will do.

“How did it seem? Do you think we can afford to study that way? We couldn’t get much done, could we?

“All right; let us remember to have consideration for others in the room when we are studying.

“I think that list of questions on the board will help you in preparing your geography lesson for today. You will find the answers on pages fourteen to seventeen.”


It did not help the children who had never learned how to study, to be held up in ridicule before a third grade room, nor to be cited as the product of a poor school system. Miss Algernon gave the children the impression they were the ones at fault and, what was even less excusable, that there was little hope for them in school. This would hardly inspire them with courage for greater effort.


Miss Griffin, a teacher in the eighth grade of the Waller Avenue School, decided to cure two boys in her room who had the idea they could not study in school unless they spoke aloud.

During a study period in which she was at leisure she went quietly to each boy’s desk and privately asked:

631“Are you a Chinese boy, Leonard?” The boy laughed and shook his head.

Chinese Method

“I thought not. Well, do you know, Leonard, that Chinese boys study out loud? A Chinese boy learns his lessons by shouting aloud until he has committed the passage to memory. Then he hands his book to the teacher, turns his back and recites the lesson as fast as he can.

“Now, you are not a Chinese, Leonard, neither are we advertising the old Chinese method of education. Let me see you study like an American boy hereafter.”

(4) Tattling. The tale-bearer usually acts to satisfy some secret desire either for fame or for revenge. Tale-bearing grows directly out of the taproot of selfishness.

Fortunately, public opinion, both in school and out is sufficient to suppress the majority of pupils in their leanings in this direction.

Nevertheless, a few individuals now and then taste the sweets of tale-bearing. These are apt to be in the lower grades, where the force of community ideas has less weight.

For the sake of both teacher and pupil it is necessary to mark a clear distinction between the legitimate report of a misdeed that is a menace to good order and the petty, selfish carrying of stories of other pupils’ misdemeanors.

The difference is marked by the character of the motive and the frequency of the reporting.

Some supervisors and administrators take the unwarranted position that all reporting of misbehavior by pupils is wrong. They do not expect nor desire information 632of misbehavior to come to them from pupil sources. They highly commend all pupils who refuse to answer questions on the misconduct of their schoolmates. They deny that the best of motives can warrant a revelation of student wrongs to the school authorities.

This position is extreme. It seems due to an attempt to adopt a pupil’s point of view. It positively contradicts the duty laid down by public sentiment and the fundamental law of the land, to the effect that all good citizens must aid in the discovery and repression of crime.

A pupil stands in a double position. He owes good will both to his comrades as individuals and to the school as an institution. His duty to neither must be overlooked. The rule of right in the case seems to be somewhat as follows: to his schoolmates he owes a generous silence when their misdeeds are not a serious menace to the school and a kindly sympathy when he must report their wrong actions. To the school he owes a loyalty that requires only a reporting of that which if left untold will be a serious injury to both the wrong-doer and to the school.

These broad statements need careful application in particular instances. For example, to answer the questions of an administrator should never be construed as tattling. To relate daily that Charley has been dropping hints of his intention to give Robert a sound thrashing should not be approved under the head of school loyalty; it stands on the level of gossip.

Teachers will do well to weigh carefully the attitudes of the conscientious and the over-conscientious pupils 633of their schools. The sense of duty to their schoolmates and to their teachers sometimes leads them into embarrassing dilemmas. A rough and ready rudeness with them will mark the dull and hardened teacher, who may foster a strained abhorrence of tale-bearing.

In the daily experience of the school-room it will be found that tattling usually arises from a distinctly selfish impulse. Perhaps jealousy is the most usual inciting cause. At times there is a standing antagonism between two pupils; the hope of revenge is here the leading impulse to tale-bearing. In other instances mere acquaintance, with neither friendship or antipathy, is to be observed; the eagerness for a sensation such as seeing a boy or girl whipped may lead to reporting minor or major wrongs.

First Grade

The little child who comes to school and tells the teacher and his playmates all the happenings of the home is as annoying as the pupil that is constantly coming to the teacher to tell that a certain pupil did this or that, or, in common school language, tattles. While a few teachers cultivate this practice in pupils, it is right to brand it as one of the most ignoble of habits. Teacher and pupils can be no better off for knowing all that goes on in a certain home. The teacher should tactfully talk of something else—something so interesting as to divert him from his talk about home matters.

The habit of tattling or “telling on” other pupils is more annoying and usually gets the pupil who indulges in the habit into ill-repute with the other pupils. It must be admitted that the teacher sometimes needs information from a pupil or pupils to ferret out some 634misdemeanor. But this should be given only when the teacher asks for it. In the first grade it is almost an exception if the teacher needs to ask pupils to give information to explain some misdemeanor. If the teacher pays no attention to tattling, it will soon stop. The spirit of tattling can be effectively cured, if, when the child tells on a certain pupil, the teacher will turn to the child and ask him if he does not admire some particular trait in the other child.

Often the motive for tattling is envy. By asking something about the other child’s good traits, envy will be eradicated, and it will be the exception if the offense is repeated.


Daisy was a talkative child. Her eyes went everywhere and her ears picked up all the news that passed her way.

“Telling on” the Pupils

“Teacher, Tommy’s whispering”—“Jennie lost her book”—“Philip said some bad words”—“Annie’s papa’s dead, and she says she don’t care.” After a few interruptions of this sort, her teacher broke out with:

“If you don’t shut up, I shall go crazy. Why don’t you go to work and leave other people’s affairs alone?”

Such a rebuke closed up the torrent of tattling for only a very few minutes.

The next string of remarks was cut off with, “Not another word from you this morning. You’re a regular little tattle-tale.” When another remark began it was blocked by:

“I can’t hear any more tales from you today.”



Substitute some suitable form of expression for this excessive tale-bearing. Even an eager interruption of the child, when you discern the trend of her remarks, is entirely in order. In particular try to find food for her mental hunger in the novel and sensational matters of her daily school life. Make immediate offers of help in her school work, in place of patient attention to tales. Polite ignoring of the child’s chatter will ultimately induce her to cease; especially if you suggest your disapproval of her unkind remarks by saying: “I like to hear good things about people,” or “Haven’t you something pleasant to tell me today?”


No doubt the little tale-bearer often conveys useful information. If the teacher discloses any satisfaction with these tales, she may aggravate the very ill she should endeavor to cure. Any gains from tattling, should be used with great caution.

The general attitude of indifference and unconcern is the best antidote for tattling. When a story-teller loses his audience, all the impulses to talk are quieted; he necessarily runs down. A dignified reserve and a continuous distraction from the disagreeable habit will be a certain remedy.


Ignore Remarks

Miss Moffit, recently at the Endwood rural school, had the art of drawing out her pupils’ confidence on a variety of topics. They discussed school work, flower 636gardens, dress-making, electrical devices, corn contests, and a wide range of topics. This freedom of intercourse spurred the tattlers also into action. Hilliard came up at frequent intervals with numerous, personal incidents, until he learned how to control his tongue.

“Some of the boys are taking home chalk in their pockets.” At another time, “Sallie’s eating in school time,” or “Minnie didn’t get her problems.”

Miss Moffit sensed the drift of Hilliard’s mind. She decided to become absolutely impervious to Hilliard’s tales. She took the lead in conversations when he approached; she switched from one topic to another so rapidly that he had no opportunity to make much of his fund of anecdotes. She gratified his impulse to talk, by asking him questions on themes in which he was interested.

Tattling to the teacher lost its charm for Miss Moffit’s pupils.


Marvel Green was one of the innumerable throng of schoolboy caricaturists. With periodic certainty he spread his drawings before pupil eyes for his own glory.

“Who Drew the Picture?”

Miss Hatfield knew Earl Moss, another mischief-maker, so well that she turned to him when she discovered a new “Green” on the blackboard and in an official manner, asked:

“Did you draw that picture of me over there?”

“No I did not,” was Earl’s quick reply.

“Who did it then; I’m sure you know.”

“I won’t tell, Miss Hatfield.”

637“You must tell me now. I’ll punish you if you don’t.”

Good sense came to her rescue and she postponed action until there was time for reflection.

In the evening the boy’s father called and said:

“I understand that you are going to punish my boy if he does not tell who drew the picture. Now I came to say that I can’t agree to that. I don’t want my boy to do wrong, but I can’t allow him to be punished for refusing to be a tattler. You must find some other way out of it.”

“Well,” thought Miss Hatfield, “he has a strange idea. I don’t want to make a tattler out of his boy. He’s a queer one.”

She didn’t whip the boy, and she never learned who drew the picture.


Silently erase the picture, or better still, pay no attention to it, if it is not a serious disturbance to school work. At all events make no public attempt to find out the artist. Many teachers would refuse to question one who did a given wrong, as it is almost certain to lead to complications. If your hold on the school is strong, laugh off the matter and say:

“I know where to find a good salary for a competent cartoonist. If any of you are interested, let me know.”


General opinion is divided on the matter of tattling on a schoolmate. Blue law moralists demand that 638every child and every adult freely tell all they know against a fellow pupil.

The majority of persons may be trusted to oppose breaking down clan loyalty among pupils to the degree that any pupil shall be expected to tell of another’s fault when requested to do so by a teacher.

The wise teacher manages to avoid raising this issue as he nearly always loses in the contest. It is proper, of course, to ask a class to accept responsibility for a known prank.


Superintendent Alexander was loaded with the responsibility of bringing an end to a series of petty thefts in a fifth grade room. The teacher laid the matter before him, in a manner which showed her extreme annoyance. He calmed her by saying:

“Leave it to me. I have long said there are no ‘bad boys’ and I believe it yet.” Mr. Alexander continues his story:

“Who Stole?”

“The boys knew before this that I would play fair with them. The first time I met two or three of the fifth grade boys individually, I let them know that I was aware something was wrong in their room, but made no charges nor inquiries. There was good reason to believe that several boys were involved in the pranks. By falling in with the boys they began giving me bits of stories about what had been stolen and when. In a few days I was able to piece up accounts of three serious robberies. I called together four boys who, I was morally certain, were guilty. I said:

639“‘I want you fellows to straighten up some little matters that need your attention.’

“‘What matters?’ one of the boys inquired.

“‘You know as well as I,’ said I.

“I paused a moment and told the three stories quickly. I did not insist on anything further but promptly dismissed them. Within three days full confessions were made to me individually and restitution was accomplished in two cases.”

Personal influence is a powerful and a dangerous force. Sometimes children indulge in character-warping conduct in the hope of winning the personal favor of a beloved teacher.


Desiring Approval

Sigrid Holderson was a pale, timid, anæmic child, who never joined the other children in their play, and one whom the other children seemed instinctively to dislike. When she was in the fifth grade she conceived a blind adoration for her teacher, Miss Field. She brought her votive offerings of wilted flowers and specked apples, all her limited resources afforded; and she watched for chances to prove her devotion by running errands and cleaning erasers.

One noon she came in with flushed cheeks and handed Miss Field a crumpled piece of paper containing a list of names.

“All those kids was sliding on the bank where you told them not to,” she announced. “I took down every kid’s name that went down.”

Miss Field had the usual horror of “tattling.”

“Why, you little tattler, you!” she said. “Go 640right to your seat, Sigrid, and don’t ever do such a thing again! You must never tattle unless it is necessary.”

Sigrid’s humiliation was complete. Her adored teacher had rejected her choicest offering, the paper whose writing had been done with stiff, cold fingers to an accompaniment of jibes from the lawless sliders. Her little mind could not quite fathom why Miss Field did not approve her deed, but seemed instead to take sides with the disobedient pupils.

This rebuff cured Sigrid of tattling, but the cure was worse than the disease. When Miss Field deserted her, Sigrid felt she had lost her last friend. Her classmates heaped scorn upon her as a “tattle-cat”; she withdrew more and more into herself, and became more and more abnormally sensitive.


When a child tells on his classmates, he is usually either over-conscientious or out of sympathy with them. Miss Field might quietly have accepted the paper, and thus have avoided increasing the estrangement between Sigrid and her classmates. She should then have set about finding the cause of Sigrid’s isolation, and devised ways of making her one of the group. She should have known that Sigrid’s pitiful paper was a bid for the approbation and love which her isolation denied her; it was the blind feeling for common ground with another human being, which Sigrid missed because her relations with the other children were not healthful.



It is usually the out-of-the-set child who tattles; when his relations with the set are normal, he will not practice tale-bearing. Tattling which grows out of pure love of mischief or pure malevolence is very rare.


Visiting Poolroom

Several boys from the London eighth grade were reported to be frequenting the poolroom. The question was who planned and led the fellows in breaking the school rules and the State laws.

The teacher easily ascertained that three particular boys were in the company, but there were others and the chief offender was not yet named.

Superintendent McMadsen took hold of the situation. He met the three boys and said:

“Now we are not planning any sort of punishment, even though the law permits it. We want everybody to speak frankly and talk the matter over freely. You boys are old enough to be summoned as witnesses and made to tell who was with you in the poolroom. But that isn’t the best way.

“The proper thing to do is for you and me to come to an agreement as to what we should do about this matter in the future. Then I want you to tell the other boys also to come to me and talk the matter out.”

The matter lay for a week before the last boy appeared. The talks were brief, but the moral victory of individual action on the issue was worth the patient delay.



Portia Armstrong attended the moving picture show one evening and said to her teacher next day:

Proposes Joy Rides

“Ben Sawyer and some of the boys sat just behind us girls and said, ‘Say, girls, let’s steal out and take a joy ride like that some night.’”

“O, Portio, what did you let him talk to you for? Never repeat anything such a boy says. I think it’s ridiculous the way girls and boys talk nowadays. I simply don’t want to hear of any such foolish going-on.”

Portia took her teacher at her word. She told her nothing of what the boys said to the girls after that.


In your abhorrence of tattling, do not permit yourself to lose an opportunity to safeguard an inexperienced girl. Say to Portia, “How did the girls answer the question? Were any of them tempted to do such an unwise thing?” Lead Portia on in the conversation until you discover her own attitude toward the right or wrong of indulging herself in such forbidden pleasures. Leave her finally with a strong suggestion in favor of right conduct firmly lodged in her mind. You may say in closing, “You will do all you can do, won’t you, to prevent any of the girls from thoughtlessly entering into engagements which they may regret all their lives? Can’t you girls plan some way to make the boys understand that you have too much self-respect even to be amused at such proposals? It will be a good 643lesson for the boys as well. Apparently they have not a very high opinion of the girls.”


Miss Anthony, by her own shortsightedness, robbed Portia of a teacher’s wisdom and counsel, and herself of a chance to gain insight into the social dangers of her pupils. Even if Portia does not specially need counsel at the present moment, she is liable at any time to have her scruples overruled by the stronger combined influence of the social group of which she is a member. Besides, Portia’s good influence with the group may be greater than your own. She reaches them directly, you only indirectly.


Miss Henderson in the same school made better use of her opportunities.

Vile Notes

Mary Macknet, who was in first year high school, told Miss Henderson of a scandalous note that had been dropped on the desk of a loud, forward girl by a daring boy.

Miss Henderson said, “I’m too disturbed by what you say to go on with my work. Let’s sit down and talk about it. How shocking that such an insult should happen to a girl! I’m glad that you told me about it because now we can plan how to act in regard to it.

“You say you have hardly ever spoken to the girl? Well, make no change in your treatment of her. Some foolish girls will encourage her through ignorance and sympathy. Do not follow their example. 644Refuse to discuss the note episode with any of the girls. If any of them begin to talk to you about it, say, ‘It’s too disgraceful even to talk about. Is the next algebra lesson hard?’”


Broken Show-case

Two boys in a wild chase dashed in at the front door, turned to the left and crashed into a show-case belonging to a historical exhibit.

The ward school principal went to the seventh grade room and made inquiries.

“Who smashed that show-case?” No one answered. Then roll call was ordered and each pupil questioned, “Did you break the show-case?” This brought no further light on the matter, so the principal tried a broadside:

“Does anybody here know who broke the show-case?” Nellie Arbaugh’s hand went up.

“What do you know?”

“All about it.”

“Tell me who it was.”

“I don’t want to get anyone into trouble,” was Nellie’s stammering reply.

Refusal to “Tell”

“You’ll have to tell if I get hold of you,” was the menacing rejoinder.

“I don’t see how I can,” replied the perplexed girl.

The child related her experience at home in order to lighten the load of her troubles.

“I didn’t tell because I didn’t want to be mean to the other pupils.”

“Would you report a murderer if you saw him when committing a crime?”

645“Yes; but school is different. No boy or girl in school would tell unless he wanted to be mean. The boys and girls who are naughty want to be let alone. They’ll settle with the teacher their own way. If the teachers want to ask some questions I suppose it’s all right. But they shouldn’t compel answers. What shall I do, mother?”

“Don’t lie, child. If you don’t see that you ought to tell on another pupil don’t do it. Prove your goodwill, but turn aside these troublesome questions.”


Instead of this farce the principal of this ward school could make this announcement:

“It is customary in this school for pupils to make good the damage done in a case like this. If the cost of repairs is too large for them they may come to the office anyway and we will hit upon some plan of getting around the difficulty.

“Now I know that seventh graders are responsible for this accident. I have traced that down to a certainty. But I don’t want to know who actually smashed the case. Please order Mr. Selfredge, the hardware man, to make the repairs, and then you settle for the expense and that will end the matter according to the standards of gentlemen.”


A teacher has no right to put a child into the predicament of choosing between two conflicting moral codes without explaining the situation and giving due thought to the pupil’s viewpoint. Parents will rightly 646affirm that a teacher is tactless and incompetent who runs his pupils up into a corner on the matter of tattling.

On the other hand, how strong is the appreciation of the teacher or principal who gives opportunity for a dignified moral choice! The appeal to manhood or womanhood never fails to draw forth a response. In some pupils the response is insufficient, but when a wise disciplinarian makes such an appeal he almost invariably gets the desired results.


A drawing teacher appeared in a seventh grade room twice a week. It came her turn to suffer from a school prank—pepper scattered on the floor produced an uncontrollable epidemic of sneezing.

There was not the least clue to the offender, but the teacher was too proud to thrust the matter into other hands, so she made this announcement:

“You can see very well that this sort of thing is intolerable. We must see that no one reports this. I want to ask the seventh grade to hold a special class meeting and dispose of the trouble the best they know how.”

The superintendent was notified of the plan, consented to it, and in fact waited with interest to see who was made chairman of the meeting. To his dismay the neatest scamp of the forty pupils was made chairman. After the superintendent retired, the chairman with great dignity shut and locked the door, and put the key in his pocket just in time to prevent the departure of two timid souls.

647For an hour and a half the conference continued with almost unflagging interest. At the end the door opened and the valiant chairman met the superintendent just emerging from a nearby position and reported:

“That’s all been fixed up. It ain’t goin’ to happen again.”


Property Destroyed

The celebration of the decision of the school board to erect a new building caused the Culpeper High School principal no little anxiety. The bonfire was built on the schoolgrounds, it was started without permission and some property belonging to the neighbors was destroyed—three serious offenses. Mr. Peters called in the senior class and said to each member privately.

“Did you witness the bonfire? Did you help build it?” There was no previous agreement, yet each pupil kept totally silent as to the information desired. Their only reply was:

“Our class did it but I can’t say who.” As a consequence, hours of time were wasted and strained relations existed between pupils and teachers. Saddest of all there was no positive lesson in good discipline.


A better method is to let the matter rest so far as the class as a whole is concerned. In a casual way, say to the class president:

“The bonfire built by the senior class involved some 648little expense for material. I have an itemized list of the articles destroyed and what seems to be a just estimate of value. I’ll turn it over to you for adjustment.

“I want to ask you to present this question to the class at your regular meeting next Friday: ‘Shall we secure permission hereafter when we want to have a bonfire?’ The answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I want the answer, if you please, at the close of your meeting. I say this because the board of education insists that I bring word to them of your action.”


The stories of student escapades of by-gone days have left a reputation that later pupils must live down. In fact, the pranks of today are, on the whole, not so serious as those of the past, although teachers many times are over-anxious about student conduct.

It is safe to assume that there is no criminality in the ordinary public school pupil. By treating the breach of decorum of school rules as, in a way, accidental, the actual restraint of pupils from serious excesses is much more certain.

The opportunity of passing upon the nature of a misdeed in school is a most valuable one, in view of the larger need of private judgment of community activities which is required of every citizen. Teachers are in the wrong when they demand that every prominent act of disobedience shall be referred to them for final action. The natural right of private judgment is defended by the usual horror of tattling. Consequently, a teacher who sees all these facts will 649guard against infringement of pupils’ rights at this point.


Life in the Pemberton High School seemed stale to Charles Rembrandt. He secured two faithful aids and planned an event that would add some “pep” to life.

High School Tricks

Si Jones milked at 4:30 a.m. and was off to work by 5:30. The three boys procured two pairs of old pants and an old blanket and stealthily slipped into Si’s barn after Si’s disappearance and before daylight. In twenty minutes’ time the cow was “dressed.” The rope seemed to be securely tied, so the boys quickly departed one by one, not leaving any clue to their identity.

Old Blossom labored with her togs with some moderation for an hour or two, but when they began to come to pieces her desperation rose to excitement and violence.

When the children were gathering for school, the climax was reached, for Blossom tore away from her stall, broke out of the barn and yard and went dashing down toward town. Her flight was a triumph of sensation, as you may well believe.

Si Jones returned late in the afternoon, hunted up his cow and kept silence. The next morning he met one of the high school teachers.

“Did you know what the boys did to my cow yesterday?”

“Yes, and they are going to get a good hard penalty of some sort, just as soon as we find out who they are.”

650“Just see here,” said Jones in a confidential way. “I want you to leave that matter in my hands.”

As Si was working on his fence, Tom Scanlan edged up toward him and remarked:

“What tore your fence down, Mr. Jones?”

“Why, my Jersey broke out yesterday; didn’t you see her? Nearly everybody else did. And she’s nearly ruined.”

Tom looked off a moment and said: “I told Charley not to do it.”

During the conversation several hints cropped out and Si knew enough to start his campaign.

Several of the boys came around in groups, but Jones kept his own counsel, gathering items all the while.

Days later he met Charles alone.

“I have been waiting for you to talk to me, Charles, about my Jersey cow.”

“We didn’t mean to have your cow get away, Mr. Jones.”

“Well, I’m spending ten dollars on repairs. I’ve decided to tear this old fence down and build a better one. I’ve got to do it out of working hours. You say there were two others with you. If you fellows will give me a lift on this job, I’ll be mighty glad to have it. If you’ll do that, we’ll call it square.”

“We’ll do it, Mr. Jones. I’ll get the boys this afternoon and we’ll be there when you come home.”

This saved the boys and protected Si Jones for years to come, and the school teacher learned a lesson from a laboring man on how to avoid raising the tattling issue.

First Grade

651(5) Swearing and vile language. Swearing or the use of offensive and vulgar language can be very troublesome among even small children. One boy who swears or uses bad language can teach an entire school to do the same. In homes where such language is employed, the children will use it away from home, and unfortunately, in unguarded moments, will use it on the school grounds or in play and other activities. At the outset the teacher must learn that in such instances she cannot effect a cure. All she can do is to prevent it on the school grounds and in school. There is but one way to do that, namely, to supervise all activities at the school.

On the other hand, a child that comes from a home where the use of offensive language is prohibited, is easily controlled. Close supervision will usually eliminate the practice at school. If the teacher’s attitude coincides with that of the home, the difficulty is easily overcome.

She can not hope to cure all children who indulge in swearing, but many will heed her admonitions, and if she uses all her influence against swearing and vulgar language and supervises her pupils in all their activities, she has done her duty.

(6) Obstructed expression—Stammering and stuttering. Stuttering is not a misdemeanor, neither are such characteristics of a child as awkwardness, slowness, or some slight deformity. However, the other pupils often are thoughtless and make fun of the child that stutters or who in some other way is unlike his playmates, until he can do no work satisfactorily and perhaps, finally, stops school. Thus, whatever is 652done to help the child will lessen the necessity of disciplining other pupils.

First Grade

Although stuttering is not an immoral act, it is a very trying difficulty when it presents itself to the teacher in the first grade. It is known that stuttering is due to an improper control of certain muscles, and that anything which excites or draws attention to the afflicted child will cause him to stutter more than usual. It is in the first grade that the habit becomes exaggerated; that is, a child that stutters very little when he enters school may have the difficulty intensified during his first year in school. This is due to the large amount of attention given to the child by the other pupils and by the teacher.

The very first caution for the teacher is positively to pay no apparent attention at all to a child’s stuttering. If a teacher can do this, it will have a marked effect upon the other pupils in making them pay less heed to it and in due time they will become accustomed to the peculiarity and not notice it at all. If other children are inclined to laugh or tease, the teacher should remain serious and the attention of the children should immediately be directed to another pupil whom she will call upon to recite.

A stuttering child must have plenty of exercise and fresh air. He should not be required to sit too long in school. In the middle of the sessions, the teacher, may ask him to get her something from out-of-doors or have an arrangement with him that he may leave the room at a certain time each day and return in so many minutes. The latter is not so good a plan, and if used, must be used carefully.

653The second requirement for a child that stutters is a good physical condition: that means, he must have good food and clothing. This the teacher cannot provide, but she can be the means by which the child may secure the same. No parents surely are so thoughtless regarding the welfare of their children that they will not join a teacher in effecting a cure for stuttering. The teacher can explain the methods she intends to use and then ask the parents to see that the child has good food and clothing and is kept in a good physical condition. If a teacher can cure the stuttering of a first grade child, she is accomplishing a good for his entire life; one that will win life-long gratitude.

The teacher must guard the child against exciting situations, especially those in which he must say something. Under such conditions he would certainly stutter. He can be allowed to enter into exciting games providing he will not need to talk. The teacher as much as possible should cut short the conversation which is likely to cause stuttering.

It is quite necessary that the teacher should watch very closely to see that the child gets no chance to indulge in lengthy conversations. Whenever the teacher talks with him,—and the teacher should talk often with a stuttering child,—she should conduct her part of the conversation in such a way that it will require only short responses from the child. Even then, if he should begin to stutter, the teacher should repeat the response with him to the close of the sentence, and then drop the conversation. A child that stutters will often succeed in speaking a 654sentence if someone else repeats the sentence with him. The teacher can do much effective work with the child by thus repeating with him the replies he wishes to make.

For the sake of the teacher who may be confronted with a child that stutters, definite directions are given regarding specific subjects,—so definite that if carried out, the child will be materially aided and in most cases cured.

The teacher must have the very best methods at hand and understand their application in order to help a child that stutters. She must remember that every method she uses will be of no avail if the child knows that she is “using a method.” Therefore, in whatever she does there should be no ostentation.

In the first grade there is little work that requires oral recitations other than the first crude attempts at reading, numbers and language. In busy work, drawing and writing, the child need say nothing.

Learning to Read

In the reading, the teacher must be careful not to have the child read too long sentences by himself. The teacher should read with him; by so doing she helps him along without the irritation of stuttering. She must read in a firm, even tone of voice. A teacher who has a harsh voice will often do more harm than good, if she doesn’t control her voice. One of the very best things to do, during the first week of school, is to have all the pupils memorize several easy songs and poems. When the teacher first calls up the class, she may say, “Now, children, we will all say our poem together.” The teacher must speak it with the pupils for the first week or two. The stuttering child 655must be watched to be sure that he repeats the poem with the others. Speaking it with the others carries the child along and he can say in concert what he could not utter alone without stuttering. Then the teacher may say to some other pupils, “Mary you and I will speak the poem together.” The teacher should choose the pupil who has memorized the poem best and who has a good voice. Next she may repeat it with Mary and the stuttering child and finally alone with the stuttering child. By this plan the afflicted child will not once suspect that an effort is being made to help him personally. Such a drill can be given at the beginning of every lesson and will materially help the stutterer. The lesson following the drill should always be simple. Care should be taken that any sentence he is asked to read or repeat is not too long and that it is clearly understood.

Nothing is better for speech drill than number work. In counting, have the child count slowly and plainly. Never require him to count farther than he knows. If he can count to ten, have him count to ten, then say, “Now, you and I will count together to twelve.” Then count with him to and including twelve. Repeat the counting; then say to the child, “Now you count to twelve by yourself.” As soon as he shows the least tendency to stutter, count with him. The counting can be prolonged little by little. Counting in concert will also be helpful.

In language work the greatest care must be exercised. It is difficult for the best of pupils in the first grade to tell a story, much more so for the stuttering 656child. Even though he may know the story, it would not be helping him to have him tell it, for just as soon as he becomes confused in thought, he will begin to stutter, and since the teacher does not know just what the child wishes to say next, she can not help him. The situation differs in this case from that of number work and reading; for the teacher can repeat what the child wants to say in those subjects knowing what comes next. However, the child must be taught something in language; he dare not be neglected. He is too young to write the story; hence it is necessary to give him special work. Special work has its drawback because the child notices that he does not do what the other children are doing and begins to feel that he is being singled out for particular work, and that is especially to be avoided; hence the teacher must use such work as can be employed for the other pupils.

The following plan has been used in the very best of primary schools, and is, perhaps, one of the most effective methods for first grade language work: a method that will secure correct and exact expression, just the thing that should be emphasized in oral English.


The teacher selects story pictures; not gaudy or highly colored ones, but such as are simple and full of real life—“Can’t You Talk?” “Kiss Me,” “Village Blacksmith,” “Feeding the Hens,” “Friends or Foes,” “Lessons in Boat Building,” “Oversleeping,” “No Thoroughfare,” “Which Do You Like,” “Family Cares,” “Saved,” and a well chosen Madonna or two. These pictures can be obtained from the Perry 657Pictures Collection at one cent each; they come in soft grays and browns. The teacher can ask, “What do you see?” Have each child hold up his hand when he sees something. Instruct the children to begin their statements with “I see, etc.” Call first upon one of the best pupils. He will no doubt say, “I see a little girl.” Then if the stuttering child has his hand up, call upon him. He will say, “I see a dog.” He will utter this easily because he has had time to think what he wishes to say. Then the teacher may ask what the pupils think the little girl is saying. Give each pupil plenty of time to think. As the hands go up, call upon the best pupil first. Have the child begin the statement, “I think the little girl is saying....” Allow each child to express himself, including the child that stutters. Never call upon the stuttering child first. At this point the teacher may tell the class to be seated while she relates the story of the picture.

The teacher should avoid such pictures as “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” “The Landing of the Pilgrims,” “The Signing of the Declaration of Independence,” etc. They are full of action, to be sure, but too difficult for the children to understand.

Whatever the subject taught, the general rule is this: When calling on the child who stutters, let the teacher ask some question which can be easily and quickly answered. As for instance in a geography lesson: “Does Ohio lie east or west of Virginia?” Upon receiving the answer let her approve if the right answer is given, and in either case, immediately center attention upon some other pupil. You will find 658that elation over your approval will help the stutterer to get into the habit of reciting when you call upon him, especially if attention is immediately centered upon some other pupil, so that he may lose self-consciousness over his speech defect in reciting before the class.

It is asking much from a teacher to work so patiently each day of a school year to cure a stuttering child. It is infringing upon the other pupils’ time; but teacher and pupils should all be glad to sacrifice enough to help one child for life over a defect that will make or mar his success and happiness.

A few general rules must be remembered by the teacher who attempts to remedy the defect of stuttering.

First, never call upon the child to recite suddenly. That tends to excite him and will cause him to stutter.

Secondly, a pupil can not express what he does not fully have in mind. Another child may be able to think while speaking, but the stutterer can not. To try to think while he speaks will make him stutter. Always give plenty of time to get into mind what is to be said, and then call upon him to say it. The chances are that he will express himself without stuttering. Even when the child holds up his hand, wait a few seconds so he will be sure to know what he wants to say.

Thirdly, the stuttering child will learn slowly. He should not be hurried. What he learns should all be so learned that he will have no indefinite ideas. He can not express what he does not fully understand.

Lastly, a teacher must not lose patience with a child 659that stutters. If he does not know the lesson, have him reproduce something from a past lesson, something he knows well. Approve his effort and say nothing about the lesson he did not know.

It may be added also that there is no better school exercise for a stuttering child than singing. He can sing without stuttering what he cannot express otherwise.

2. Written Expression

First Grade

(1) Scribbling and drawing on books, sidewalks, etc. As soon as children can write so as to express the simplest ideas in writing, and drawing, they begin to write and draw promiscuously in their books, on their desks, on the pavement, on fences, on buildings and anywhere they discover a surface upon which they can write. They frequently steal crayon in order to satisfy their desire to write and draw. Their names appear at odd places; in fact they have a mania for writing their names upon all their school property. The tendency is not bad in itself, but it often leads to bad results. Every pupil should know that his name is his own appellation and he should regard it as sacred. It is brazen and disrespectful to have one’s name promiscuously scattered about in writing. But there are worse phases of this habit of writing and drawing on anything within reach. A teacher may have been embarrassed to pass over the pavement, along a building or by the fence and to see her name in connection with that of some man whom the pupils believe to be her sweetheart; she may even find the same in the pupils’ books. Still another type and the worst one, 660is the writing of immoral phrases and the drawing of obscene pictures. Often little children do not know the full import of what they are doing.

It cannot be unpedagogical or a violation of any principle to teach pupils not to write their names about carelessly, not to write others’ names and bad phrases or silly statements in their books, not to draw any kind of picture in improper places, and not to deface their desks. It has been stated so many times that direct teaching of good habits can and must be done in all sincerity on the teacher’s part. There need not be one harsh or unkind word said. The talk to pupils on these matters must be given in a friendly and helpful spirit.

All parents desire that their children take good care of their school books and accessories. Still many first grade pupils fall into the habit of taking the poorest care of school property. Should there be pupils who show a tendency to misuse their books by writing in them, the teacher may tell the pupils that she is going to put the names of every pupil on the board and then for each week that a pupil takes good care of his books, she will put a star after that child’s name. When he gets a certain number of stars, perhaps four, she may allow some special privilege or it may not be amiss to give a pencil or a picture as a reward. Little folk will exert great effort to secure a small favor.

Examples of the abuse of written expression have been used so copiously in the elaboration of other cases that the subject is treated very meagerly here. The following is, however, a typical case.



Marking Books

Something was wrong in the McLain High School; even Orpha Barbour, one of the most decorous girls in school, was ineffectually trying to keep from giggling. Mr. Coleman endeavored to locate the cause of the disturbance and saw that a book was being surreptitiously passed about and that whoever received it was vastly amused.

He demanded that the book be given to him. On the fly leaf he saw what was named “Our museum.” Under this title were caricatures of some of the students as follows: under the drawing of tall, slender Clayton Lynd was written “Spider—C. L.” Heavy-jawed Barney McCormack was designated “Bulldog—B. McC.” Then followed the monkey; the crawfish, a girl who was always ready to recant; the queen bee, the leader among the girls; the mule, a stubborn fellow; and the grasshopper, Mr. Coleman, who had made a great leap to reach an unruly boy a day or two before.

“Who did this drawing?” asked Mr. Coleman, flushed with anger.

Nobody seemed to know.

Mr. Coleman turned to the front of the book—an algebra—and found it belonged to Victor Tucker.

“Victor Tucker, did you draw these disgraceful pictures?”

“No, sir.”

“Do you know who did it?”

“I’d rather not answer,” said Victor.

“You are suspended, sir, until you do answer,” 662said Mr. Coleman. Then turning to address all of the students, he said, “I shall keep a close watch for marked-up books hereafter, and shall punish every pupil who puts extraneous markings of any kind in any of his textbooks.”


Mr. Coleman should have laughed at the caricatures and said, “These are well done—now let us take up something else.” Do not lay down a law or make a rule covering “all future cases.” He should utilize these artistic gifts in the school routine and so make them educative instead of obstructive to good school order.


Rules are often a dare to pupils. The bold ones take pleasure in seeing if they cannot break the rules without being caught, or sometimes even openly disobey to see if the prescribed penalty will be administered. Approval of good conduct is more efficacious than condemnation of bad behavior.

An up-to-date teacher quickly discovers all of his pupils who have an aptitude for drawing, whether it be crude or well trained. In every subject in school there is not only opportunity but also urgent need for the use of diagrams, sketches and detailed drawings to make clear many obscure points in these subjects. If the teacher will direct into approved channels these tendencies to decorate books and public places, great relief will be gained and immense profit will accrue to the pupils.



Approve the Clean Book

Prof. Pierce of Lakeville High School has the habit of picking up books from pupils’ desks and glancing through them occasionally while recitations are going on. When he finds an exceptionally clean, well kept book he says, “I like to see a neat book like this. It is a good index to the kind of boy that owns it.” He has no trouble regarding marked up textbooks.

Lower Grade

(2) Learning to write neatly. It is not an easy task to take the early steps in writing which are so highly interesting for the first grade child. Still less easy is the training in carefulness, neatness and accuracy. Much of the difficulty is due, however, to the fact that the teacher attempts too much at one time, is not sufficiently explicit in giving directions, forgets that little children learn quickest through imitation, and lastly that they constantly need the stimulus of approval for effort, and coöperation in the mastery of new and difficult tasks.

As an initial step toward overcoming any neglect in these directions we would suggest that whenever any task is assigned, you first tell the child very definitely how you want the work done. Assume that the child does not know as well as you just what you mean by the word “careful.” Show concretely just what you do mean. Take a blank piece of paper and write before him on his desk. Assign some simple, concrete thing for him to write and say, “Now, this is the way to do it.” Or, “Here is something I want you to write for me. Now I have found that a good way to do it is like this:” (then show the child your plan on paper).

Take time enough at the child’s desk to say, “Do 664you see what I mean?” “Do you understand how I want it done?” No matter what the child says, repeat your plan briefly, so that he will be sure to remember. Leave his desk smiling and say, “I’ll come back to your desk after you have finished and see how well you did it.”

Do not give the pupil a hard task. In fact, make it very easy and simple. Then go back to the pupil’s desk in ten or fifteen minutes, and make up your mind before you go back that you will not say anything at all to the pupil except to approve those parts of his work that are at all good. For example, say, “There’s a very good letter ‘O’; I am not sure that I could beat that myself, and there’s another good letter—and there’s another. Well, I should say! That’s all right. I am going to give you some more work like that tomorrow. I did not know you could do so good work.” Leave the desk while the child is feeling elated over what you have said.

Repeat the same procedure the next day. Vary the introduction somewhat, like this: “I want you to do this just as you did yesterday, except that I want this margin over here on the right side to be on a straight line. Wait till I take this ruler and show you.” Lay the ruler lengthwise of the sheet you want the pupil to write on, so that you can take your lead pencil and make a line about an inch from the right side of the page. “Now, when you have written out to this line here, then stop and begin on the next line like this:” (show the child how you write a sentence and begin on the next line). It would be well if the sentence which you use as an example were to be one 665that would express some familiar thought about the child’s immediate interests, such as his favorite sport. Leave the child’s desk as you were advised to leave it the day before and also return as before and approve that which the pupil does well, either saying absolutely nothing about the careless parts or suggest incidently that the pupil could help such and such a part by doing this or that thing to it. Be sure to end your remarks by some such expression as, “That’s good,” or “That’s fine.”

Lower Grades

(3) Learning to Draw. Not infrequently it happens that a pupil comes into school who has never learned to draw and who, feeling his inability to accomplish the task set for him in the drawing lesson, refuses to make any attempt to do so. Especially is this true if the picture is to be drawn from imagination. In such a case it is best to begin with copying. When this art is learned, drawing from imagination will be a comparatively easy step.

For example, choose a very simple picture for the child to reproduce on another piece of paper. It is a good plan for a teacher to have at least a dozen or more pictures in one drawer of his desk all the time, because many pupils like to draw and copy pictures and it is an excellent way to get them interested in other work. Present the picture of some ordinary scene. Tell the pupil before he begins that you are going to make a collection of pictures which your pupils draw. The picture need not have much life in it to start with, but right here we make use of the child’s imagination to wonderful advantage. Suppose the picture, which you have in hand, shows a tree or two, a house, a 666couple of bushes or any kind of natural objects whatsoever. Talk to the pupil in this fashion, pointing to different parts of the picture with your pencil and have your face near the picture, indicating interest and enthusiasm as you talk: “Now, right behind this tree here, I want you to draw a boy, sticking his head out from behind the tree. And right over here, where I make this little cross mark, I want you to draw a little girl hiding behind this bush. We will suppose they are playing ‘Hide and Seek.’ Right over here, between this tree and the house, draw a boy’s hat. Maybe he has lost it while he was running to hide. You know how to make a hat. Just like this:” (draw a very simple hat, merely making a straight line and a semi-circle connecting two points in it.) “Maybe you can draw a better one than that. I’ll come back to your desk pretty soon and see what kind of a hat you drew and also that little boy sticking his head out from behind the tree. Is your pencil sharp enough?”

The child will say that his pencil is all right. Then leave him at once and in ten or fifteen minutes return. Go back with this one thought in mind, that you will say nothing at all except that which is complimentary. For example, say, “Well, I should say you can draw. I believe you made a better hat than I did. Now this afternoon, I am going to give you something else to draw. Maybe a pony with a boy on his back and a girl riding in the pony cart. You are going to be good at drawing things for me, I know. I want to keep all of your drawings after you have finished them for me.”

In case the child should interrupt and ask to draw 667the pony right away instead of waiting until afternoon, answer by saying, “I will have the picture ready for you after dinner and then I will bring it to you.”

Of course, it is not necessary to use the exact words we have suggested, or to use the same pictures or even to use pictures at all. The important point is to offer something that is at once interesting in order to get the pupil started in drawing. Do not insist much upon regular lessons during the first day or two in which your chief problem is to get the pupil’s confidence.

After the child has learned to like to do the things which you suggest present more difficult, or even purely imaginative, subjects for drawing.

Use the same method in getting the child to take an interest in other subjects than drawing—that is, give him very small tasks, then approve and compliment him on his ability. This will bring good results with any pupil who is normal.

As a transition step between mere copying and drawing wholly from the imagination, and also to give the timid child confidence enough to come to the blackboard to draw in the presence of other children, the following might be tried.

Having the confidence of the little pupil, go to his desk just before school closes in the evening and say, “I would like for you to stay just a moment after school. I want to tell you something.”

After most of the pupils have marched out, return to his desk, begin to talk enthusiastically about a picture which you have. Tell him to follow you and you will try to draw it. Then after reaching the blackboard 668and picking up a piece of crayon, say, “Now, I am going to draw this man’s face and I want you to draw his eyes.” Let it take you about a minute to draw the outline of the man’s face, talking all the time about how well you like to draw pictures, then say, “Now let’s see if you can draw his eyes. Make a mark right there” (point to a spot). “Good! Now draw his other eye. Good! Now his ear. Make a mark right here” (point to a spot). “My, that’s fine. See, what a fine man you drew.” Start to leave the blackboard and say, “I’m going to have you draw for me again.”

Repeat this process every day until you feel sure that the child will go to the blackboard and work in the presence of yourself and the class.



Only through the gateway of personal experience does the child enter into the larger understanding of the thought and achievement of humanity.



1. The Unsocial Child

Every teacher knows of a first grade child that came moping when all the other pupils were in high glee, that stood by himself when others were enjoying a game, that preferred to come to school alone and to saunter home alone, that took no part in any of the activities that always interest other youngsters, that even seemed indifferent to the friendly approaches of playmates and teacher. There may be no particular harm in having such a child in school, but should he carry such traits into adult life, they would prove a serious handicap; so it is important that the teacher should attempt to help him to throw off his peculiarities. This can be accomplished very easily. In attempting a cure she should not make the child feel that she thinks him different from other pupils.

The best place to begin helping the child is on the playground. Talk to him about the interesting features of the games. Though he may not at first show interest, the teacher should keep this up for several days, until he has learned to know the teacher as a friend. Then she can invite him to join in the games. It is only an abnormal child that will not enter into the sport after repeated invitations.

After the child has taken an active part in the games, the teacher may begin to pay special attention to him 672in the school-room. To cause the child to eliminate his peculiarities is entirely a matter of arousing his devotion to those things which interest other children. The teacher should appeal to his interests until she has won his complete confidence. Then she should introduce him to a new activity. Little by little she will displace the child’s peculiarities with abiding concern in all those things that interest the other children.

The individual who reaches mature life still possessed of characteristics that make him an exceptional person is likely to lead a more or less isolated life unless his peculiarities are such as to make him acceptable as a leader. Under ordinary conditions, “society tends to penalize those who do not conform to its customs, its standards, its attitudes.” This is true even of the unsocial, or non-social individual; still more does it hold in respect to the anti-social member of the group.

2. Anti-Social Tendencies—Selfishness, Jealousy, Cliques and Snobbishness

(1) Selfishness. Selfishness is a trait of character that has always elicited severe criticism from society. Its manifestations are so conspicuous that they provoke men to despise and avoid the confirmed egoist. It is an anti-social trait, hence deserving of the opprobrium placed upon it, yet it is the basis of all the social virtues, hence the place which is here given to it in the division on “Social Instincts.”

We may well believe that selfishness was a universal trait of the race in its infancy. By this is meant 673that every individual instinctively seeks to care for his own interests above those of anyone else. All during the earlier months, and perhaps years, of one’s childhood, he measures the world in terms of its service to his own comfort and pleasure. As one who merges into later childhood and into adult life, he normally narrows the play of this trait of character, and inhibits those impulses which, if followed out, would make him a selfish person. Adults who are justly accused of being selfish are persons who have never fully profited from their contact with their fellows, nor have they learned how to suppress adequately their own personal desires and demands.

Selfishness is a relative term. This is due to the fact that individuals differ from each other widely in the matter of natural endowments. The standard of measure used in judging selfishness in people is both individual and social. Most frequently the charge of selfishness is lodged because an individual is not as unselfish as the group in which he most often appears, but in fairness he must also be judged with an eye to the intensity of his native egoistic impulses. From this point of view, what may be selfish in one person is not selfish in another.

The misunderstanding of children in interpreting their apparent selfishness is very easy. The traditions of the home may have accentuated the natural propensity to care for their own interests beyond that which would have been the case had they had other surroundings.

Furthermore, the known variation in natural endowments, and in the responses to social influences, require 674one to be lenient in passing judgment upon selfish people.

Its Nature

As commonly understood, the selfish individual is one who exhibits an excessive concern for his own welfare, who tends to regard himself as a little god, watching every opportunity to satisfy his desires, tastes, impulses and pleasures. He measures every passing circumstance in terms of its value to him. Even the occasional acts of kindness which he renders to another are planned so as to bring him the largest returns financially or socially.

We must not forget that selfishness is an indestructible instinct of human nature. On this instinct is deeply engraved the law of self-preservation. Experience in associating with ones’ fellows shows to an ordinary person how far he must take precautions in order to maintain his own welfare, but in the case of a few, as we believe, results of experience have not given the wisdom which renders them unselfish.

We are never to forget that the will to live underlies and overtops all other interests and desires in the life of the individual. No sane method will attempt to suppress this impulse, for out of it spring all the impulses that induce the individual to seek his fortune and win success in life.


For the better understanding of selfishness in children, it is well to survey some of the general causes that operate in prolonging selfishness into later childhood and adult life.

First of all, we mention misconception of one’s actual need. By this we mean that a child overestimates his need for some object that interests him. 675He “wants” it very much, as we say. He is unable, by reason of his immaturity, to estimate accurately his own necessities in the case. Another specific cause of selfishness is a wrong estimate of the value which belongs to the object of his eager desire. For these reasons he is willing to pay too high a price to satisfy himself with that which, if he were better informed, he could forego with little discomfort.

Again, the attainment of success after long and victorious effort may beget in one a spirit of selfishness. Not infrequently a student who has solved a difficult problem after painstaking toil, hesitates to pass on the fruits of his labor to a classmate. He reasons that the expenditure of energy which he has suffered is worth too much to be lightly transferred to another person. Particularly will this be the case if the sharing of his gain will reduce the lustre of his own glory.

Another particular cause of selfishness, both in adults and in children, is the transition from poverty to plenty, from obscurity to prominence, from disesteem to fame. If the father or mother has recently emerged from some retired station in life, the contrast in the situation is very sure to be reflected in the life of the younger members of the family. If the change is from poverty to wealth, the parents are disposed to be miserly in the expenditure of their money. This attitude of mind reappears in the child in a refusal to share his pleasures and privileges with his schoolmates. He carries with him a caution to see that no one trespasses upon his newly achieved rights. In our western civilization such extreme transitions are not 676infrequent, owing to the freedom of opportunity for all.

Many times people who are not widely acquainted with the world are selfish because they do not believe in the good will of others. This state of mind is very often found in young children who have not yet advanced beyond a sort of savagery in which they regard every man as a possible enemy. They refuse to give up to their associates because they do not believe any return will come to them. They fear that all of their possessions will be ravaged and appropriated, and so exercise excessive caution in lending them or in making presents to their friends.

It is not unusual that certain interests of some society, class, or club, are so vividly conceived as to modify the attitude of the entire group.

A fraternity or literary society or a senior class in a high school may hold inflated ideas of their importance, and think necessarily that school interests should rotate around their welfare. Individuals who belong to the club or society become intoxicated with this notion, and exhibit an almost barbaric class-selfishness.

With these and other incentives to selfishness, the situation facing a conscientious teacher is by no means simple. Since selfishness is a very intimate trait of character, the question might be raised why a teacher could take interest in curing children of selfishness. The fault has been generated very largely in the home, and the cure should, naturally, be largely a matter of home concern.


Nevertheless the public school teacher has a large 677responsibility. He must attempt to improve the character of the child in every way possible. Obviously, the cure of selfishness can be had only by associating with other people. It depends upon the teacher to manipulate these associations in school so as to aid in reforming character at this point.

Just as clearly, the more startling instances of selfishness necessitate care that the rights of other pupils be preserved. This happens so frequently as to demand no elaborate argument.

The teacher’s concern for the general improvement of the moral life of the school requires that striking instances of selfishness should be adequately dealt with.

Lastly, selfishness is a prolific source of other wrongs. If an administrator can cure a selfish child, he has nipped in the bud a whole harvest of undesirable actions and immoral deeds.

First Grade

No teacher would ever think of punishing a first grade child in any way whatever for being selfish. The selfish child is usually an only child or has been made selfish in his desires, by home training. The teacher can do much to overcome selfishness. When a pupil enters the first grade, for the first time, he comes in contact with other children and into surroundings that are new. This is the teacher’s opportunity. The chances are that the child will often display selfish tendencies. It is necessary that the teacher have the child’s confidence, but by this time it is assumed that the teacher has many avenues already mapped out by which to get this needed confidence. Then the thing to do is to teach the child unselfishness each time he 678displays selfish tendencies. It will take but a few weeks to effect some change in the selfish child.

In extreme cases it may be well for the teacher to give the child something for the express purpose of asking him to share it with his playmates—candy, pictures or any little, inexpensive article that a child enjoys.

For example, if the teacher has given candy, she may say, “Now, break it in two pieces and give one piece to Mary.” When the child has done so the teacher should approve the act. It will incline the child away from selfishness for the teacher to say, “You are kind to give Mary some of your candy.” “I like the way you divide with others,” or, “You like to give things to others, don’t you?” This last statement of approval will require the child to reply, “Yes.” This is a necessary positive reaction of the child and a few trials like this may overcome his selfishness.

The trait of selfishness, while not very annoying in the first grade, must be suppressed, for if left to develop, it becomes very annoying in the upper grades. Nothing seems worse than a selfish pupil in the grammar or high school. And no one needs an introduction to the avaricious man of the world who got his first lessons in greed through selfishness in childhood. For the sake of emphasis, then, may it be said again that there is no more opportune time to overcome these undesirable traits in a child, than when he first enters a new world of acquaintances and experiences in the first school year.



The spoiled child has two dominating characteristics—an intense selfishness and an insatiable appetite for attention. The teacher’s problem is therefore two-fold, first, to reduce his self-consciousness by increasing his interest in the world about him, and, secondly, to enlist his sympathies for others so as to increase his altruism and supplant his selfishness with a wholesome socialization.

Spoiled Child

Karen Gompers was a very bright little girl whom adoring parents, aunts, grandparents and enlisted friends had quite spoiled. She expected her teacher to give her the constant attention she enjoyed at home, and resented the fact that Miss Nelson seemed to think each of forty other children as important as she was.

“I want to sit by you,” she announced as her class seated itself in the circle of little chairs. “I like to be here.”

“You can’t sit by me today, Karen. It is Wilson’s and Eunice’s turn. You may sit in that empty chair over there.”

“But I don’t want to! I want to sit here!” and she stood stoutly by the coveted chair. All the other children were watching her, and she was enjoying her prominence in the scene she was creating. Miss Nelson hated a scene above all things, and prided herself on the perfect mechanics of her teaching.

“Well, Wilson, suppose you let Karen sit here today—that’s a good boy.”

“But you promised me I could!” There were sudden tears in Wilson’s eyes.

“I’ll let you sit here another day, Wilson. Be a 680little gentleman, and remember that gentlemen give up their chairs to girls.”

So Karen had her way because she had learned the despotism of the selfish, who secure their ends by sheer insistence. Wilson lost his faith in his teacher’s word, which did not tend to make him a gentleman, and Miss Nelson proved herself a coward in consenting to sacrifice Karen’s good to her own dislike of a conflict.


There are occasions when a definite issue for the mastery occurs in the school-room, and this was one of them. Miss Nelson had no right to break her promise to a docile and obedient child, and reinforce the habitual selfishness of a spoiled one. She should have insisted that Karen take her turn with the rest, and if Karen had stormed it would have given her a good opportunity to show her that her usual methods would not work in school. The angry storming of a spoiled child is usually done with an alert eye to the effect produced on the audience; therefore, if Karen had wept and wailed, she should have been carried out into the hall, where she might have been left in lonely state to recover her good temper. Usually one or two such trials convince a spoiled child that he has met his match, and if such children are followed by tactful guidance, and especially if attention can be diverted away from themselves, the worst-spoiled children can in time be thoroughly socialized.


In every case, the object of the teacher’s treatment is to show the child that he must conform to the conditions 681of the social group he belongs to, instead of fixing conditions to suit himself. She should remember, however, that real unselfishness has not been attained until the child voluntarily surrenders some fancied good. Coercion may sometimes be a stepping stone in leading a child toward the goal, but it is only a stepping stone. True unselfishness requires that the child himself deliberately make the choice that crowns another with the happiness that he desired for himself.


Substitute Altruistic Ideal

Elmer Bronson, an only child, had a difficult task in adjusting himself to his social environment when, at the age of four, he entered the public school kindergarten in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At home all playthings had been his, with none to molest or take away. Moreover, as the grown-ups in his home were very indulgent, practically all objects that he desired to have were placed at his disposal.

But at school a new order seemed to prevail. Elmer not only was not allowed to appropriate many interesting looking objects that lay about on desks and tables, but at times he was not even permitted unrestricted handling of his own things. The situation was perplexing. He couldn’t make it out.

Miss Melbourne, Elmer’s teacher, comprehended the conditions of the problem better than he did. She perceived that Elmer, as yet, had no understanding of the meaning of ownership, nor had he received any training whatever in the recognition of the rights of others. She must begin at the foundation.

682To that end she utilized all sorts of games, stories and dramatic plays as a means for teaching these two lessons, but that part of the program which seemed to captivate Elmer more than any other was the singing of “The Soldier Boy.”

The delightful part of it was that as the song was sung the children marched about the room wearing paper caps of red, white and blue, and each, as he marched, was presented by his teacher with a flag to be proudly borne over the right shoulder. Who could fail to be patriotic and generous under such stimulating conditions!

One day Elmer spied a toy boat on the desk of one of his classmates, Freddie Buzzell. Elmer immediately appropriated it.

“Don’t take my boat,” said Freddie.

“’Tain’t yours. It’s mine,” was the reply.

Naturally, Freddie sprang to the defense of his property rights. Elmer insisted upon the principle of possession as proof of ownership. Thus the battle was raging when Miss Melborne entered the room. Knowing Elmer’s individualistic tendencies, she was not long in getting at the cause of the quarrel.

“Come here, Elmer,” she called from the desk. Elmer came reluctantly, still holding the toy boat. Miss Melborne picked up one of the red, white, and blue caps on the table.

“Who are the boys these caps were made for, Elmer?”

“Sojer boys.”

“And what sort of boys are they?”

“Those ‘whose hearts are brave and twue.’”

683“Now, Elmer, soldiers who are ‘brave and true’ have to fight sometimes but do they fight in order to get something they want themselves, or do they fight to take care of other people?” This was a pretty hard question for Elmer to think out fully. He looked thoughtful but did not answer. Miss Melborne tried a more concrete form of question.

“We would not like to have any one march with the ‘soldier boys’ this afternoon who takes things away from other children, would we?”

Elmer looked very sober, but he shook his head. Miss Melborne followed up the advantage she had gained by adding, “What would a soldier boy ‘whose heart is brave and true’ do, if he had in his hands something that belonged to another boy?”

Elmer looked hard at the toy boat for a full minute, then slowly walked over to Freddie’s desk and carefully placed the boat on it.

“That’s my brave soldier boy!” said Miss Melborne, enthusiastically. “That’s the kind of boy to wear the soldier cap!” and she placed it on his head, adding, as she did so, “You may wear it, dear, till the school bell rings.”

The idea of protection of the rights of others had been substituted for that of selfish possession. Approval had crystallized the experience into an attitude of mind. Many reminders of the soldier boy, “whose heart was brave and true” and who lived for others instead of self, were necessary before the most selfish child in the class became one of the most unselfish, but each application on the teacher’s part of the principles of substitution and approval made the meaning of the 684words more explicit to Elmer and the habit of self-sacrifice more firmly fixed.


Not infrequently it happens that the selfish child has a continual example of selfishness before him in his own parents.

Parental Example

Not far from the rural school house in District Number 10 was the fine residence of Mr. Allen, one of the directors of the school. His rearing of thoroughbred stock had made his name known throughout the state and had added thousands to his bank account. When his little son, Homer, started to school for the first time, he was oversupplied with pencils, erasers, tablets of all varieties, penholders, stencils, paints, colored crayons and every known aid to first grade work.

Attending the same school was a large family of very poor children named Perkins. The Perkins’ children were poorly, but cleanly, clad in the cheapest of clothing. They had only a few of the necessary textbooks and half of a lead pencil was made to serve two of the family, the parents reasoning that two of them wouldn’t surely need lead pencils at the same time. Joseph and Clarence Perkins were in the first and second grades, respectively. They had the third of a lead pencil to be used in common and a piece of a broken slate (with a two-inch pencil) to be used instead of a tablet.

Miss Shuttlesworth, a young teacher, felt truly sorry for these two bright, little boys because they were thus handicapped in their work, and she allowed 685them to borrow from other children during periods when both should be writing at once.

She even fell into the habit of saying, “Joseph, borrow a pencil from Homer and put your problems on this piece of paper.” Generous and kindly herself it did not occur to her that Homer was reluctant to loan one of his many pencils.

One day Laura Manning, a sixteen-year-old pupil who came past the Allen farm on her way to school, said to Miss Shuttlesworth, “Mrs. Allen said to tell you she would like to have you come and see her soon.” Miss Shuttlesworth foresaw from Laura’s manner of delivering the message that the errand would not be a pleasant one. She had evidently offended Mrs. Allen in some way, but how she could not conceive. She had never been in the Allen home nor had she ever seen Mrs. Allen.

As soon as school closed she made her way to the Allen residence and was not surprised to have Mrs. Allen greet her coldly and haughtily, boldly glaring at her and beginning a speech something like this: “I want you to understand that Homer is not to lend anything of his to the Perkins’ children. We are able to buy anything he needs but we don’t intend to buy for the whole school.” Having more than exhausted this subject Mrs. Allen went on to state that Homer’s seat must be changed because his desk was defective in some way. Miss Shuttlesworth had not noticed that Homer’s desk was different from the others.

She was a young teacher and so was quite overawed by Mrs. Allen’s angry, commanding tones. She changed Homer’s seat and supplied the Perkins’ boys 686with working material herself. She made no effort to change Homer’s attitude of superiority toward the Perkins’ boys. His selfishness only increased under his mother’s management.


When children are not supplied with the necessary equipment for their work and are too poor to buy for themselves make an appeal to the board of education asking them to purchase the material needed, which material should be considered the property of the school and left there from year to year. Most states require that the school furnish books and equipment for all who are unable to buy them.

Show by your own example that poor people are just as desirable for companions as rich ones, other things being equal. See to it that the children of poor parents be made to forget, while at school, that they are different from others. See to it that democracy reigns on the playground.

Supervise all play.

Do not foster the borrowing habit.


If children are unable to buy books, allowing them to borrow daily is a source of annoyance to both borrower and lender. Besides it daily emphasizes the contrast in the financial condition between the richer and the poorer. This is wrong. It fosters haughtiness in the one and undue humiliation in the other. While you are supervising play you can easily manage to have 687the neglected children drawn into play and even chosen for the enviable parts in the games. It largely depends upon the teacher’s influence whether the public school is a leveler of false barriers or a hotbed where selfishness is cultivated.

The borrowing habit, if fostered even among children of equal rank, teaches a disregard for the property rights of others. Americans are especially lax in their thought and behavior relative to property rights, and the public schools can do the nation a great service by giving its children correct notions concerning appropriation without ownership, and in selfishness as contrasted with altruism, in both rich and poor. The rich often enjoy display and the poor retaliate by vandalism. Both wrongs are the outgrowth of selfishness.


Invoking Fairies

Margaret Blake lived not far from the Lone Star rural school. Her father had bought much land years before which had so increased in value that he was very rich. Many people in the Lone Star district were tenants on his farms. Margaret’s mother taught her that she was better than other children and must not “mix” with them more than absolutely necessary. As soon as she was old enough she was to go to a “select” school of her own “class” of people.

Miss Coleman saw the situation the first day of school. Margaret’s selfishness was manifested by her selection of the best seat, the display on her desk of numerous and costly aids for her work, her haughty demeanor and her frequent references to what her mother said she need not do. Whenever she spoke of 688her mother’s wishes she emphasized the “I” in a way to show her difference from others.

Miss Coleman knew that the happiness of Margaret as well as of her other pupils depended upon eradication of the rich child’s selfishness. She made a special study of the effect of various attempts to accomplish this end. She told a story of an unselfish child. This did not seem to appeal to Margaret. She tried another story on the advantages of wealth in terms of ability to serve others. This was nearer the mark. After thus finding the correct avenue of approach Miss Coleman often said something like this to Margaret: “How fortunate you are in having some things which these other children cannot afford to have. How would you like to play you are a fairy and get a new First Reader for little Wilbur Tomlinson, who has no book, and just leave it on his desk with his name in it, and not tell him who gave it to him. I’ll help you pay for it, for I want to get fun out of it too.”

Or, again, “Let’s think what we might plan to do secretly for any child in the room who really needs something we can give. We’ll be good fairies again.”

Margaret took a new interest in other children. She soon began to like to go to school. She enjoyed playing with the other pupils and loved and honored Miss Coleman.


Displaying Fruit

Florence Crane attended school in Michigan. She lived on a fine fruit farm where during the fall one variety of peaches, grapes or pears followed another and when these had all been sold choice apples followed 689in season. So it happened that choice fruit was always a part of Florence’s lunch. This fruit was displayed on her desk and tempted many a child’s eyes away from school tasks. Miss Bush, the teacher, requested all of the children to keep their lunches concealed and away from their desks. Still at recess time Florence had a little group of children around her watching her eat her luscious fruit. Miss Bush could scarcely endure the sight of the hungry eyes devouring every bite with Florence.

One day she was especially tired and without forethought said, “Florence, you shall not bring another piece of fruit to school unless you bring enough for all of the girls.” Imagine Florence’s indignation which was not much greater than that of her associates.

When the girls discussed this together on the playground a little later Florence said, “I’ve a right to bring whatever I please t’ eat.”

Ethel Green, spokesman for the rest, declared, “Teacher’s crazy. We don’t want anybody to bring us lunches. If we hain’t got enought to eat we won’t ask her to give us anything.”

The girls had talked about the matter until the atmosphere of the school-room was that of slumbering rebellion.

That night when Florence told her parents what Miss Bush said there was much indignation and a long discussion which ended in a decision to have Mrs. Crane visit Miss Bush at the schoolhouse next day. On her way there Mrs. Crane stopped to discuss the situation with Mrs. Green, whom Ethel had informed of the previous day’s talk. Mrs. Green was very angry 690and offered to go with Mrs. Crane to the schoolhouse.

The situation was very awkward for Miss Bush. She was reluctant to say in the presence of Mrs. Green that the other girls were always hanging around Florence watching her eat her fruit and yet she had to justify herself in some way. The mothers took advantage of Miss Bush’s embarrassment, assuming that it showed guilt and even accusing her of giving the command to Florence on the previous day in order that she herself might be given fruit. The conference ended with the remark from Mrs. Green, “If you’re hungry yourself, say so, but don’t beg vittles for my children.”

Miss Bush’s joy in her work in that school was ended. The girls might have forgotten the incident but the mothers whenever they met revived the feeling of anger against Miss Bush.


Miss Bush was too superficial in her original treatment of this case. She had had ample time to think out a workable plan that would have caused no friction.

After having all food removed from the desks she might have asked the pupils to find appropriate seats in which to eat their lunches. After lunch time she should have led the way to the playground where all else than play would be easily forgotten.

From time to time short talks on manners should be given to the whole school.



It is inexcusable for a teacher to give angry or even unpremeditated treatment to a case that has been developing for some time. Miss Bush touched upon a very serious question when she gave commands concerning what the children had to eat in their lunches. In her talks on manners the teacher can easily place special emphasis upon such phases of the subject as are most nearly related to the habits of her pupils. These general remarks can hurt the feelings of no one, since they are given to the entire school.

The part that unselfishness plays in what is usually termed good manners can thus be clearly brought out. Some teachers ask their pupils to learn the following couplet in this connection:

“Politeness is to do and say
The kindest thing in the kindest way.”


Eating Candy

Tommy Holbroke’s father kept a small candy store in Brighton and Tommy often carried candy to school with him. This he ate with a great show of enjoyment in the presence of a group of onlookers. Miss Dean, his teacher, noted the conditions and appreciated its inevitably baneful effect upon Tommy’s disposition. Accordingly she visited his mother and first told her of Tommy’s sunny temper and studious habits. Then she tactfully led the subject to the boy’s health and food. In talking of the candy she said, “Of course we must guard Tommy’s health and his disposition too.” Then she explained that she greatly feared that his bringing 692candy to school would make him selfish because of course it enabled him to have and not share what he knew others wanted. She suggested that Tommy be given his candy directly after his meals and at no other time. The double appeal in behalf of the child’s health as well as his character caused the mother to follow Miss Dean’s advice. Occasionally, however, on “special days” or when the children had a “birthday party,” Tommy’s mother gave him a bag of candy to take to his teacher with the words, “Tell Miss Dean to please give it to all the children.” So Tommy learned, in time, the joy of sharing with others.


Selfish Play

The grade schools in the suburbs of one of our largest cities give special attention to outdoor play. They even require that the children stay on the school grounds at least fifteen minutes after the school proper is closed, and play games there. They encourage the playing of ball by the girls and are anxious to have them interested in the game.

In one of these schools the principal, Mr. Warren, went to the eighth grade rooms and gave the girls a talk on baseball. He advocated that the girls in each eighth grade room elect by ballot a baseball team and that these teams practice ball with the earnest expectation of being able eventually to conquer any other eighth grade team in the suburb. After school a ballot was taken and those receiving the highest number of votes were considered elected on the team.

Those who failed to be elected felt, of course, various degrees of disappointment and envy. Some proposed 693forming a scrub team of the left-overs. Others were afraid that this would show the “team” that they were jealous of them; whereas, they had been putting on a brave front by saying to their classmates that they would not have accepted a position on the team even if they had been elected.

The entire school grounds occupied about half a city block. This space had to be shared with the boys and girls in all the other grades. It naturally followed that there was little space to be used by each room.

Miss Darnell’s eighth grade ball team girls were anxious to bring fame to themselves as champion players. Mr. Warren’s thrilling speech still rang in their ears. His slogan, “We’ll beat ’em!” was passed from lip to lip. As a result of this enthusiasm, this special team wished to play ball at every intermission and before and after school. When they played, the rest of the girls in Miss Darnell’s room were obliged to keep off the ground allotted to that room. The girls who rebelled against being nothing but “fans” were called “disloyal to their own team” or “green with jealousy.” The play periods were no longer enjoyed by all, but distinct factions arose, consisting of team and “fans,” and as the team grew more and more determined to use the grounds at every available minute the “fans” became less and less enthusiastic in their support.


Mr. Warren did wrong to deprive any pupil of a right use of the playground or gymnasium.

When teams are formed, limit the time they may use 694the field and apparatus so as to accommodate those who are not on the teams at some time during the day.


Mr. Warren’s prime motive in asking to have ball teams elected was to have the girls take delight in vigorous, outdoor sport. In that respect his plan was ideal, but he failed to take into account in any way whatsoever those children who were not on the team. Children are quick to feel an injustice. Their usual mode of reaction is either to resent the teacher’s action or to be jealous of the favored ones. No plan should be advocated or even tolerated that does not give reasonable consideration to the rights and welfare of all the pupils.


Sharing Dances

A new gymnasium had just been erected at Horton and the principal, Mr. Bergen, was anxious to have all get the benefit of it. The eighth grade girls under Miss Vance were especially pleased with this fine play room. One of their number, Stella Day, had been taking lessons in dancing and promised to teach her special friends the new steps. It so turned out that Miss Vance herself was interested in these new dances and enjoyed watching the lessons. But the majority of the girls in her room cared nothing about dancing and indeed if they had cared the “lessons” were not at all open to them, since only eight of the twenty-one girls were invited to take any part in this exercise.

Mr. Bergen had carefully arranged the gymnasium program so that each room might use it every day. 695The first time he watched Miss Vance’s pupils at “gym” work he was surprised to find so few taking the exercises and furthermore to see that the onlookers were not even enjoying the watching of the dancers. This led him to surmise that they did not take turns in their exercises, otherwise the dejected look would not have been seen on the faces of the observers.

Mr. Bergen made a mental note of those who were dancing and returned the next day to see if the same girls were occupying the whole of the teacher’s attention. Finding that such was the case he explained to Miss Vance that all of her pupils must be really interested in watching or actually engaged in every game during the exercise period. Following his advice, Miss Vance changed the exercise to games in which all could take part, thus making a legitimate use of the gymnasium period.


Taking the Best

Elizabeth Dyer seemed to be naturally selfish. When the classes were sent to do blackboard work she invariably chose the place where the light was the best. When the crayons were passed she took the unused one. One of the new erasers was always in her hand. When the class was called she always took the recitation bench nearest the teacher, etc., etc.

Little Susan Dillman said to a group of girls on the way home from school one evening,

“Girls, I’m going to tell Bess Dyer what I think of her.”

“Oh, no, you don’t dare,” said the other girls.

“You’ll see,” said Susan.

696That night Susan thought out her plan. She invited three of her closest friends to her home the next evening and disclosed her plan. She had composed this bit of rhyme:

“Just guess if you can
What girl in our class
Appropriates always the best,
Be it crayon or book,
By hook or by crook
She’ll beat to it all of the rest.”

“Now girls, here in the library is Sam’s typewriter. Let’s each write a part of this so we can all say we didn’t write it and lay it on Elizabeth’s desk tomorrow.” All were agreed, so one after another took a turn at writing. After many copies were spoiled they finally wrote one that pleased them. Each took a turn at addressing the envelope. When it was sealed they said, “E-ne me-ne mi-ne mo,” etc., to find out who was to place this on Elizabeth’s desk. The lot fell to Lulu Miller, but she would do it only on condition that Sue go with her and help her place it. The next morning the girls went to school as soon as the doors were opened. They found nobody in the assembly room, so they opened Elizabeth’s geometry text at that day’s lesson. Each took hold of one corner of the envelope and placed it in the book. Then they returned the book to the desk and went into the history room where they diligently studied the maps until school opened.

After opening exercises the four guilty girls watched from a corner of their eyes to see Elizabeth get her missive. Susan saw her take out the letter, open it and 697blush scarlet, while she wiped away tears of vexation. Soon Elizabeth with letter in hand walked up to Mr. Davidson’s desk and talked to him a few minutes. When she came away again she didn’t have the letter.

The girls had not counted upon this turn of affairs.

Before school closed Mr. Davidson asked who put the note in Elizabeth’s geometry. Nobody answered. He then questioned everybody one at a time and each answered “No” to the question. “Did you put it there?” Susan and Lulu tried to think they told the truth because they neither of them did it alone.

Mr. Davidson said, “All right, we’ll stay right here till we find out the guilty party.” Some laughed, others pouted and a few who drove to school from the country looked worried. Mr. Davidson said, “Somebody in this room knows who did that. I’m sorry to think anybody is mean enough to keep all of his schoolmates in because he will not tell the truth.”

Still nobody confessed. Mr. Davidson waited and scolded by turns until dusk, all to no purpose. The girls’ fear of exposure, to say nothing of confession, grew greater with every speech he made. He finally dismissed the school, after saying that he would find the culprit and suspend him.

Daily Mr. Davidson referred publicly to the note and made threats as to what he would do with the guilty one. These frequent references to the affair helped Elizabeth to remember her fault and practically cured her of it. But the guilty ones were never found out and Mr. Davidson had four pupils whose joy and efficiency in school work were greatly diminished.



When you see that a pupil is truly selfish begin at once to treat him. First find out, if possible, how this trait was developed and then begin to correct the false notions. Say to the selfish one, “I want you to study the pupils of this room this week, and tell me of all the unselfish deeds done that you can make note of, and why you think them unselfish.” Of course, other pupils will be given similar topics and the reports, as well as the original requests, will be made in public. These character studies may be connected with literature in place of the fictitious personalities which are often studied.

When wishing to find the writer of a note go to work at it privately. Having once made a threat do not lightly disregard it. Do not give over to your pupils matters of discipline which you should attend to yourself.


Mr. Davidson doubtless knew that Elizabeth was selfish, but took no measures to correct the fault. Some teachers say they are not employed as character builders but only as instructors in secular matters. The truth is, however, that they cannot escape instructing in morals. Elizabeth was growing more selfish. The question as to whether character grows during school life is settled. Pupils do change in character. The teacher has no choice. He either confirms or breaks up bad habits. The principle of substitution enables the selfish pupil to grow less selfish by the study and admiration of unselfish pupils and adults. It is in 699order to call forth this admiration that the student is asked to tell why he names certain acts unselfish.

Teachers make mistakes often by publicly announcing a misdemeanor about which there would otherwise be little known. Cases where immediate danger does not threaten should not be made public. Private inquiry is always much more fruitful of good results. Public confession is especially hard. Furthermore, the sidetracking of legitimate school interests by much discussion of misdemeanors can be minimized by letting as few persons as possible know about the wrong deed.

Threats that are not carried out weaken the teacher’s control.

Patient study and planning will show the teacher a way to cure selfishness. By judicious observation a teacher can discover attitudes taken toward a pupil by his schoolmates and these will be of great value to him in any attempt at corrective measures.

It is doubtless true that the schoolmates often develop a wise and effective cure for some wrong trait or attitude. In such cases they may be permitted to carry out their program, without the connivance of the teacher. But a close examination of the conditions is needful, so that neglect of unformed characters may not be appropriately charged against a teacher.


Earl Foley was fifteen years old when he entered high school and came under the control of its principal, Mr. Mullendore.

700Earl was large, with a round face, thick lips, a big mouth and a too ready smile. He was very active and learned easily, but was unmannerly and above all, selfish. He invariably selected the best for himself, stood between others and the teacher, gave his views unsought, and in many little ways annoyed his teachers and companions.

Selfish Manners

Mr. Mullendore discovered that the boy simply needed teaching, so he decided that in his private talks with Earl he would use illustrations easily understood. He asked Earl one day what famous person he admired above all others. Finding the man to be Lincoln, Mr. Mullendore talked of Lincoln’s unselfishness and humility and even asked Earl what kind of pencil he thought Lincoln would have taken if passed a box containing one good pencil, and the others second grade, Lincoln knowing, meanwhile, that all would be used by his classmates. Mr. Mullendore talked of Earl’s work on the farm and asked him to recall the practice of pigs, cattle and fowls in getting their share of food. He asked Earl to study out the cause for the development of unselfishness in the human race.

All this was said without a single reference to Earl’s own traits. It seemed a part of the study of Lincoln. Earl was not slow to apply the suggestions of the lesson, however, and before many months had passed he was one of the most unselfish pupils in the high school.

(2) Jealousy. Some one has truly said, “In jealousy there is more self-love than love.” It is an attitude which develops early, however. Even very 701young children will sometimes destroy an object rather than have it fall into the hands of another. As a rule the smaller the number of individuals in competition and the narrower the range of their interests the more intense will be the jealousy between them.

The teacher’s problems are complicated by jealousies in two ways: (1) by a spirit of unkindly rivalry among patrons of the school, a feeling which is sure to be reflected in the attitudes of the pupils toward each other, and (2) by a spirit of jealousy arising among and limited to the pupils themselves.

The first type has been treated incidentally in other parts of Practical School Discipline and need not be further dealt with here. The second type, fortunately, is not a very common cause of trouble in the well ordered school-room, but it is a fault so harmful to the child himself and in adult life, so harmful to all who come within its blighting influence, that it can not be too carefully watched and checked in its early development.

During adolescence and afterwards, jealous attitudes arise mainly out of sports and out of competition for sex recognition and appreciation. Jealousy breeds an angry resentment toward a person who holds or seems likely to acquire one’s property or personal privilege. It embraces a feeling of fear and a sense of helplessness in the face of the aggressor. It develops an enlarged appreciation of the treasures involved and a disposition to care for them by violence, or if defence is useless, to destroy them.

Jealousy, envy, rivalry and covetousness are only 702varying forms of the same anti-social attitude of selfishness. Tact and patience on the part of parent and teacher and the judicious application of the Five Fundamental Principles will uproot them all in time.


Julia Jenkins was a beautiful child with a sunny disposition and an inclination toward sociability. Her voice was well modulated for a child, and her manners were charming. She loved everybody. Her dresses were fashionable, dainty and immaculate, her curls always becomingly arranged. Altogether she was such a child as one delights to see, one who brought a smile to the faces of almost all whom she met, strangers as well as friends. As she entered the third grade school-room for the first time, Miss Elliot, the teacher, exclaimed, “What a darling!”

Among other pupils in the room was Caroline Hillis, a timid little girl with a solemn, little old-looking face. Her language was crude, her manner unpolished and her dresses ill-fitting, coarse and faded. She was the eldest of four children and long before she reached the third grade was considered by her mother too big to be kissed and petted.

Jealous of Playmate

How Caroline watched Julia! at first with admiration only. But as the days went by her attitude gradually changed to jealousy. Julia always knew her lessons. Julia’s language was always correct. Julia never slammed doors or walked noisily, and oh, most enviable privilege of all, Julia often stood near Miss Elliot as she sat at her desk and put her arm around the teacher’s neck. At such times Miss Elliot smiled 703at Julia in an intimate way. How much Caroline would give to be able to stand there thus and show her love for Miss Elliot in the same way but she simply could not. Little did Miss Elliot think that Caroline had planned to do just that very thing. As Caroline lay in bed before she went to sleep she thought, “Now, tomorrow I’ll ask Miss Elliot how to work a problem and I’ll stand by her and put my arm around her neck, just as Julia does and Miss Elliot will look at me just as she does at Julia.”

But alas! just as Caroline tremblingly approached Miss Elliot, thinking to carry out her plan, the teacher arose to discover the location of a mild disturbance in the back of the room and Caroline in confusion told her errand and went back to her seat where she shyly brushed aside a few stray tears. With heroic courage she decided to try it again and this time she found Miss Elliot seated, but before Caroline reached her she said hurriedly, “What is it, Caroline?” with no smile and in such a matter-of-fact voice that Caroline stammered her question before she really reached Miss Elliot’s side. It was of no use. She didn’t believe Miss Elliot liked her as well as she did Julia. Whereas Miss Elliot soliloquized, “What an awkward, timid, unlovable child Caroline is today, she seemed afraid of me. I know the rest of the children like me. I can’t pet her in order to win her confidence. I’ve got to treat them all alike.” Because Caroline regarded her teacher with such sad eyes, the idea grew in Miss Elliot’s mind that Caroline disliked her.

In Caroline’s mind the thought persisted that Julia was favored by everybody. She began to think of 704Julia’s faults. As she sought them earnestly she found them: Julia always talked too much, she liked too well to speak of her brother Eugene who was in college, she talked of Miss Elliot as if she owned her.

One day a little girl spoke of her doll, another of a doll’s party and soon Julia said, “Oh, girls, let’s all bring a doll tomorrow and have a dolls’ party at recess! Wouldn’t that be fun?” All agreed but Caroline, who was on the edge of the group. Her downcast face was unnoticed. The truth is that Caroline’s only doll was badly soiled and somewhat dismembered.

Julia easily gained the encouragement of Miss Elliot in her plan for the next day. Some of the girls went early with their dolls. Julia’s was a cunning little character doll. Caroline brought none. She imagined that she could hear Miss Elliot say, “How cunning!” as she looked at Julia’s doll, and then Julia and the teacher would exchange that intimate smile; Caroline would be the only one who had no doll. She never could have Miss Elliot’s approval.

While Caroline was feeling rather than thinking all this Julia said, “Let’s lay all our dolls on Miss Elliot’s desk and then when she comes have her guess which one belongs to which girl.”

“That will be fun,” said the others, so it was quickly done. Caroline stood at a little distance feeling left out of the fun.

“Let’s go and meet Miss Elliot,” said Julia, “and tell her about it. Soon all the girls but Caroline were out of the room and starting down the street.

Caroline presently said to herself, “I’ll hide her doll and then I guess Miss Elliot can’t brag about it.”

705She cast her eyes about the room for a hiding place. There stood the piano! Mrs. Fitzhugh had said yesterday that she kept her ring in the piano. Hastily grabbing up Julia’s doll Caroline stood upon the piano bench and lifting the lid of the upright piano, laid the doll inside upon the hammers, closed the lid and jumped down to the floor just in time to gain a place by the window before the girls and Miss Elliot came in.

They led Miss Elliot to her desk, having already told her what they wanted her to do. Almost immediately they noticed that Julia’s doll was gone. Caroline, now remorseful and silent, was questioned. She said she knew nothing about it. The girls sought everywhere for the doll until school time, Caroline helping them look into desks and on closet shelves.

Caroline, growing more and more remorseful as one girl after another pitied Julia, resolved to return to the room at noon time, when everybody was out of the room, and put the doll on Julia’s desk.

Imagine Caroline’s dismay when the piano was found out of order by Miss Elliot as soon as she started to play the opening song.

Miss Elliot opened the piano lid and gave a little start. There was the lost doll! Julia rushed for it and cuddled it. Molly said aloud, “How did it get there?” Caroline hung her head and Miss Elliot looked very grave.

“Caroline, come here,” she said. “Why did you put Julia’s doll into the piano?”

“I don’t know,” said Caroline, with a degree of truth.

706“It is a marvel that it isn’t broken. I’ll have to whip you for that.”

Taking a strap kept for the purpose Miss Elliot explained to Caroline that she had lied as well as concealed the doll with a probable hope of stealing it later. She then gave the child a severe whipping. Caroline dumbly felt that she was misjudged and yet could not explain why, even to herself.


Miss Elliot should have satisfied herself fully as to the motive underlying Caroline’s action before punishing her. Always delay a punishment until you have found the real cause of the misdemeanor.

When a child shows a tendency to withdraw from group activities take special pains to draw him into the play circle. Take the timid child by the hand rather than the one who rushes to you. Say to the child who shrinks back into her corner, “We need one more little girl here.” Hold out your hand toward her as you speak. The gesture will reinforce the words, and be to the child a suggestion of welcome into the group.


There is no more faulty method of discipline than that of severely punishing a child for some outbreak against moral or school law before a hearing has been given him; not merely giving a chance to confess his wrong, but going to the bottom of the matter and finding, if possible, the underlying motive or instinct 707which led up to the outbreak. Skillful questioning ought to bring this out.

Very often the slow and timid child is longing for your friendship but does not know how to show his desire. Whether or not he is conscious of needing your aid, he, nevertheless, does need it.


June Dacey was a frail city girl whose health was such that her parents feared to send her to the public schools in New York. One September morning June’s father said to her: “June, how would you like to spend a year in the country and attend school with your cousins?”

June thought it would be, “Just fine!” and Mr. Dacey was not long in arranging with his brother in Massachusetts to receive June into his home and to see her well started in the country school.

All went well until June’s cousin Carrie Dacey began to show signs of jealousy toward June. The two girls were just of an age, but Carrie was an unusually vigorous, strong, healthy girl with double the amount of endurance possessed by June. As a consequence the two girls received very different treatment by their elders and even in a half unconscious way by the other children who were, indeed, somewhat overawed by June’s pretty clothes and refined manners.

“O, yes! of course June can have everything and I can’t have anything,” said Carrie one day in a fit of petulance. “She has all the nice clothes and I have to wear this old thing. She can ride to the picnic while I have to walk. The teacher is always doing things for 708her and nobody ever does anything for me. At home it’s just the same way, June gets all the attention.”

Miss Scott, the teacher, happened to overhear the remark, although it was not intended for her, and was thereby made conscious of the ill-will that was springing up between the two girls. She had had no desire to show partiality in any way toward June but only to protect the frail girl from too fatiguing sport. Now she said to herself, “This won’t do! We shall have a tragedy here soon! I must think out some plan to overcome this feeling between the two cousins.”

It so happened that the children had for their reading lesson “The Story of the Twins.” The story was full of activity and fun and mischief and the children liked it. Miss Scott had promised the class that when they could read it very well they might dramatize it some day.

“You two girls who are just of an age must be our twins,” said Miss Scott, “the other children may take the other parts. Mary and Jane, come help me make this crepe paper into costumes for ‘the twins.’ They must dress just alike.”

The children caught the idea, and, just as Miss Scott intended they should do, immediately nicknamed the two girls “The Twins.” Miss Scott strengthened the tendency still further by saying occasionally, in a playful way, “Will the twins pass the paint boxes for us?” “Will the twins collect the pencils?”

Carrie was soon quite cured of her jealous complainings. Through suggestion, the feeling of coöperation and comradeship had been substituted for the selfish emotion of jealousy, and in thus being linked together 709in school duties and sports, in a way, too, that emphasized the relation of equality, the two children soon became firm friends.


Wendell Smith was a son of Dr. Smith, one of the most influential men in the village. He was handsome, well-dressed, well-mannered and very intelligent. He had delightful books, mechanical and constructive toys, a bicycle, a watch, and now a few days after he entered the fourth grade his father gave him a pony and carriage for a birthday present.

Jealous of “Rich Boy”

Mark Hazard was in the same grade at school. Their teacher was Miss Hosiner. Mark was a wide-awake boy who was often in mischief. He was coarse in his speech and manners. He criticized adversely every one of Wendell’s possessions and was always glad when for any reason Wendell failed to recite well. When the boys played, Mark would say: “Don’t ask Wendell to come, he might get his clothes dirty.” When Wendell missed the word “giraffe” Mark whispered sibilantly, “He can spell ‘pony’; that’s all the animal he knows.”

Miss Hosiner knew that Mark disliked Wendell and felt sure that jealousy was at the bottom of his sneers and coarse remarks, but she didn’t know how to bring about a change.

There was a pool of muddy water near the back door after every rain. This was spanned by a plank over which the children walked to the playground.

One day Mark and Wendell were both on the plank when Mark deftly tripped Wendell, who fell splash into 710the muddy water. Had Mark used common courtesy Wendell would doubtless have laughed at his own plight, but when he looked up to see Mark’s sneer as he said sarcastically, “Now you’re some dolled up ain’t you?” he said, “Mark Hazard, you’ve got to smart for this.”

Miss Hosiner had seen it all from the window and understood the situation perfectly. She went to the door and said, “Wendell, you may go home and change your clothes; Mark, you may go in and take your seat and you may have all of your intermissions alone for a week. As soon as you come in the morning, and at noon, you may take your seat at once. I will allow you a separate time for your recess from that of pupils who know how to behave toward each other. Since you can’t act decently toward other boys, you may play by yourself.”

As the group separated Mark shook his fist at Miss Hosiner’s retreating back and openly made an ugly face at Wendell.

Not only during the week of his punishment but throughout the year he showed insolence toward Miss Hosiner and distinct dislike for Wendell.


Go privately to the boy of whom one or more of the pupils are jealous and tell him how to treat the jealous ones. In the above instance say to Wendell as soon as you first observe that Mark is jealous of him, “I have observed that Mark is not friendly with you. I know you would be much happier to have his friendship. He is not sure that you want to be friends and since 711you have more to give him by becoming friends than he can give you I can’t blame him much for wanting you to make the start.

“If one man had $1,000 to put into business and another $10,000, you couldn’t expect the man with the $1,000 to have audacity enough to ask the $10,000 man to go into partnership with him, but how glad he’d be if the richer man should invite him to become a partner in his business.

“Now, that’s just the way it is with you and Mark. You’ll have to make him see that you really want to be friends before he can believe that it is so. I heard one of the boys say that you are going to give them all a ride in turn in your new pony carriage. If I were you I would ask Mark to be the first one. I’d ask him first to share all of my good things, because he suffers most for the things that you have. That’s what makes him feel out of sorts because he can’t have them.

“It takes more skill to be a gracious receiver than to be a gracious giver, so don’t feel offended if Mark doesn’t know how to act at first. Keep on trying to show him that you like him until you succeed.”


The question of inequality so pitifully and constantly understood by many sensitive children is often the cause of jealousy that grows until it becomes a menace to peace in a school. This feeling should be checked as soon as it appears. Punishing the one who is jealous only makes him entertain a feeling of resentment toward both the teacher and the one who is 712envied by him. The right interchange of feeling can be secured only by assisting the more favored pupil to show genuine friendship for the one who is jealous.


Emeline Carlisle was a little girl who talked about the maid, the cook and the nurse at their house, of the company they had, the vacations they spent and the clerks in “father’s store.”

Jessie Dodge was a child of a poor but refined widow who, with extreme difficulty, was able to provide sufficient clothing and food for her.

Jealous of “Rich Girl”

Miss Dunlap, the teacher in the fourth grade, saw that Jessie was destined to become jealous of Emeline. So she pointed out to Emeline from time to time the superior gifts and traits of Jessie. She would say:

“Jessie Dodge is such a refined girl. She knows how to reply whenever she is spoken to. I think the girls who are her special friends are fortunate.”

She appointed these two girls to do tasks together, saying, “Jessie and Emeline may work together on the fifth problem, Emeline writes well and Jesse thinks well. They will make good companions for this work.”

By such handling of the situation, Emeline and Jessie became good friends.


A western college gave a high school tournament every spring. Surrounding high schools were invited to assemble with their competing candidates for athletic contests in the afternoon, followed by reading 713and oratorical contests that night. Prizes were given to the winners either by the college or individuals in the college town.

Jealousy Between Schools

This tournament was one of the big events of the year for the high schools. They trained for it from September till May. The victors were lionized in the typically enthusiastic high school manner, while the citizens of the towns in which the schools were located talked of the event for weeks and knew and honored not only the schools but the individuals who had won the prizes.

For two years Eastman pupils had won in athletics, and now (1915) they were reputed to have an excellent reader who was going up to the oratorical contest. The slogan in more than one school had been “Beat Eastman.”

The meet occurred on Friday. On Thursday evening Principal MacKenzie of Dwight said to his contestants, “I believe we’ll win tomorrow. I believe we have the kind of muscles and brains that will ‘Beat Eastman.’”

“Hurra-a-a!” sang out the boys—all but one, John Nealy.

An inscrutable look had come into his eyes when Mr. MacKenzie uttered the words, “Beat Eastman,” and he had been too intently following up some idea to join in the shout.

On the way to the college town the next morning he said to his colleagues, “Boys, I’ve thought of a way to beat Eastman.”

“How?” they said, eagerly.

“We’ll take the boys to a ‘feed’ at noon. We’ll 714order everything eatable for their runner and jumper and we’ll get them so filled up that they can’t make good.”

“But will they go with us?”

“Sure, they’ll go. Their runner, Fernald, is a good friend of mine.”

“We won’t dare overeat.”

“Can’t we just pretend we’re eating everything?”

The details were arranged.

Now, Harmon Walsh, one of the Dwight boys, had a fine, upright character and he could not be party to this foolish scheme of John’s. He finally decided to tell Mr. MacKenzie about it.

The latter, astonished, took the Dwight boys under his special care, forbade their inviting anybody to lunch with them, and never left them until they were on the athletic field.

That year Eastman came out second and Dwight third.

When they returned to Dwight, Mr. MacKenzie called John into his office and inquired why he had proposed his “lunch scheme” on the way to the meet.

“I’m sick and tired of hearing Eastman’s praises,” said John. “I’d do anything to beat them.”

Thereupon Prof. MacKenzie talked so harshly to John on the subject of jealousy that he quit school, as he had begged to do before. So he missed getting his high school education because his teacher was not able to cultivate in him a spirit of competition without jealousy and unfortunately was unable to handle properly a case of jealousy when it appeared.



In dealing with inter-high school competitive programs talk much about the good qualities of your school’s opponents. Secure personal favorable items of interest concerning opposing debaters and ball team members. After a game or debate, talk of the good qualities or traits of character exhibited by the opponents. Talk on such themes as, “I’d rather be right than be president.”


The dividing line between legitimate ambition to win for one’s school and jealousy of a winning opponent is hard to fix ofttimes. High school students should be drilled against personal antagonism and mean advantage by the principal, who should always laud the clean, fair, open game.


The big, final basket ball game between Danvers and Winfield high schools would determine which was the best team in the state. Prof. Beatty of Danvers wrote to Prof. Ryland of Winfield and said, among other things:

Appreciating Opponents

“Kindly write me a few words about each boy on your team to read to our boys. Are they country or town boys? What is the favorite study of each? What does each expect to do when he gets out of high school? What do you consider the finest trait of each?

When the answer to this letter came, the Danvers boys read it eagerly and later met the Winfield boys 716as friends. Not a hint of jealousy was shown by Danvers when Winfield won.


Occasionally, a student overworks in the effort to secure the highest place in the teacher’s appreciation. In a certain high school the history teacher had two boys in her class in modern history who were rivals for first place.

Jealous of Scholarship

One belonged to a wealthy family and had every help and encouragement; the other was away from home and working his way through school. It was the latter boy who worried his teacher. He was up early in the morning and late at night attending to furnaces in winter, gardening and cleaning in the spring; and after these exertions he read carefully all the references given, lest Charles Schofield should do better work than he. Of course this soon told on his health, but he kept doggedly at his heavy tasks. When he grew so listless that he had to rouse himself with a visible effort to recite, Miss Van Leer kept him one day after class for a talk.

“You mustn’t think of trying to keep up with Charles Schofield,” she said firmly. “Why, he has nothing to do but eat and sleep and take a little exercise and study.”

“I know that. But you said last term that he did the best work in the class, and I resolved that he shouldn’t do the best this term, just because he has a big library at home and all the time in the world. You know I want to show you what I can do, Miss Van Leer.”

717“I want you now, Ben, to show me how much common sense you have. You are simply allowing a foolish pride to run away with your good judgment. Promise me you’ll merely read through the text assignment for a fortnight.”

“And hear him rattle off reams from Adams and all the rest of them? Not I! You would think me a piker, for all you say.”

“Will you do it for me—as a personal favor?” Miss Van Leer was forced finally to put her wish on a personal basis. This succeeded where all appeal to self-interest had failed.

(3) Cliques and snobbishness. One phase of this subject, that of the ringleader, will be treated under the heading “Regulative Instincts.” At the present time the gregarious aspect, or the tendency of young people to join together in little bands, will be noticed chiefly. Such a tendency is, of course, only indirectly harmful. It is both social and anti-social—social because of the impulse toward companionship, anti-social because of the selfishness that excludes from the social group all except a few chosen favorites.


In the town of Fairfield Center, there was a little group of girls, four in number, who considered themselves superior to the other girls in school. Miss Baldwin was repeatedly annoyed by their aloofness, but the other children in her room felt it most.

Aping the High School

At recess time, when a game of “I spy” was suggested, this little clique would withdraw from the crowd and walk, instead. This habit became so influential 718that many of the other girls stopped playing at recess. Unwholesome gossip was the result. It remained for Miss Sayre, who took charge of the room the next year, to break down the barriers. She, too, failed, but for another reason.

Miss Sayre called these four girls to her one day after school, when they were in a hurry to go home, and gave them some good advice.

“You girls seem to run off by yourselves and not to play with the others. I want to know why.”

“O, we don’t like their games. They always play such silly games. The girls in high school don’t do things like that.”

“But you aren’t high school girls—you are just little girls of the sixth grade. Drop that nonsense. I want you to break up this cliquing and moping around and act like girls. Now, do you understand?”

“Yes,” in a chorus. But nothing came of it.


Instead of a direct attack, draw these girls into activities that require them to act in close coöperation with other girls. Try committee work.

“Gladys is sick with pneumonia. She can’t come to school for two weeks yet. I want to appoint a committee of two to call on her and take her some flowers. I’m going to appoint Eva and Annette for this work.”

Be sure to make combinations that promise enough congeniality to provide at least a temporary friendship. Repeat the process very frequently, yet avoid disclosing a purpose to disrupt the friendship of 719chums, for that will excite antagonism and so spoil the whole plan.

Children are very jealous of their friendship, and delicate handling is needed in order that no real injustice may be done them. Close friendship is usually of great value and the growth of attachments between children of the same sex is to be fostered.

The danger is in settling into grooves of thought that cramp the mind and improverish it for lack of wide association. It is very clear that the more human beings a person knows, the broader will be his personality and the richer his information. Hence, teachers are everywhere duty bound to democratize the life of their charges.


Misses Phelps and Bender took a wise course in curing the fifth and sixth graders under their charge, of snobbishness. They combined forces and went into flower gardening on a small scale. A plot of ground was procured and the children grouped by pairs according to an inflexible rule adopted at the very start. There were several motives behind this project, but we need consider only this one point.

Gardening in Pairs

To insure a genuinely democratic spirit, two pairs were assigned each day for work in the flower garden. Boys were paired with boys and girls with girls; there were usually four children at the garden, each day, rain or shine, if not to work, at least to note conditions and report to their teachers.

Some of the girls resented slightly the comrades 720selected for them, but no real insult was perpetrated by the assignments made.

The teachers took turns in sharing the responsibility for management, except when wishing advice on cutting and giving flowers, then all the pupils went to Miss Phelps.

Fifty pupils took part in the venture. It solved several social school problems and created a fine spirit of fraternalism among children of varied social standings.

When young people reach the high school age, the period in which all the changes of adolescence are most actively going on, they sometimes develop a tendency to form clubs and secret societies which is often disastrous to school discipline. When the clique evil is fully developed, snobbishness and false standards run rife.

There must be democracy in the school if the best results are to be obtained, and the clique spirit may work great havoc, especially in a small high school where a well-defined group or clique is necessarily very conspicuous.



A high school of about 150 pupils in a prosperous little western town became afflicted with the clique disease. Margaret Hancock, the daughter of one of the town’s most prominent citizens and rather a spoiled child at home, returned from a winter spent in a southern city, where she had gone to a large high school and had been admitted to one of the numerous sororities there. She came back thoroughly imbued with the ideals of the southern high school, which was in 721the wealthy, aristocratic part of the city and attended by girls who expected to become debutantes in a few years and make “society” their career. This southern high school was a large one and the clique spirit was not so harmful because there were several such groups to offset each other and the pupils were, on the whole, of the same social class.

Back in her home town again, Margaret succeeded in organizing a sorority before the first month of the school year had passed. She included in her secret society the girls whom she thought the “nicest” in the school. These girls were the ones who most nearly approached the prospective belles of the southern high school in type—the girls with the most money and the prettiest clothes, the ones whose parents were frequent visitors in Margaret’s home. This clique or sorority included about twenty pupils in its membership and, needless to say, in a school of that size was quite out of place.

It was not long before the boys followed the example set by the girls and formed a secret club of limited membership, and then how the two organizations did lord it over the rest of the school!

Boys who had come in from the country and worked for their board in order to get a high school education were looked down upon and made to feel ashamed of their rural origin and their manner of life. Girls whose clothes were not so fine or so numerous as those of Margaret’s friends were hurt to the quick by the sneers of their classmates and by being left out when invitations to little dances and home parties were being given out.

722The two clubs soon managed things so that all the class officers were from among their members and all school functions were under their management. The school became not a democracy, but an aristocracy of the narrowest variety.

There were so many club functions and good times that school work suffered and these affairs had to be talked over so extensively, by those who had and had not been present alike, that there was more trouble than ever before about whispering and note-writing.

Several of the pupils who had been neglected and left entirely out of the social whirl lost interest in school altogether and dropped out.

It was thus that the clique spirit upset the morale of the whole school and lowered the quality of the work many degrees.


The wise teacher will emphasize the school spirit, or even class spirit, in dealing with situations involving the clique evil. Try to make the snobbish ones forget their exclusiveness in their interest in athletics or other contests in which the best man or team wins and in which the whole school is the party to gain or lose by the outcome.

As a last resort, the parents of the ringleaders in the cliques should be appealed to, to make their offspring see the folly and the falseness of the standards they are setting up, for snobbish children have generally been more or less encouraged in their snobbish tendencies at home.



Children of all grades do their best work when they have interest and enthusiasm for the work and the school. School spirit can be carried to extremes, but in moderation it should be encouraged. The clique evil needs careful, tactful treatment, for the suppression of school societies sometimes leads to the formation of secret organizations imbued with all the mystery and solemnity of the adults’ lodge, which are much harder to eradicate than the open, above-board kind, and seem to be many times more attractive to the adolescent mind.

Adolescence is the sensitive age, the age when small slights cut deepest and pride is most easily wounded, as well as the period when secrets and mystery are most alluring. It is positively cruel for the young people of a school to make their classmates suffer as they have the power to do, by organizing good times and meetings from which the majority of the school are excluded.

The clique evil is much more likely to develop into serious proportions in a small school of a few hundred than in a large one of a thousand or more.

Children, as well as adults, choose for friends persons of the same or similar tastes, but in a small school the grouping of these kindred spirits into an exclusive organization is particularly bad, because there are usually not enough other pupils with the spirit and initiative to form rival organizations; there is usually one clique only, which excludes the majority of the school from its ranks, instead of several which offset each other.



The clique spirit is met with in many other places besides the school-room.

Stocking Factory

The manager of a stocking factory found one group of girls among his operatives making the days and nights miserable for the others in his employ. They made loud and unpleasant remarks about other girls in the dressing-room, were rude at all times to those not of their group, and, by intimidation, forced the foreman to give them the advantage when there was one to be given.

Things finally came to such a pass that no girl whom the clique disliked could be induced to work in the factory, so unpleasant did the clique make it for her.

The manager studied the situation long and earnestly when he realized how serious it was, and finally hit upon the scheme of providing a gymnasium for his women operatives. He hired a trained social worker, who was also a gymnasium teacher. She developed team work and the spirit of good sportsmanship in the course of a year’s work in gymnastic classes and athletics, but it was largely the influence of her own personality and the soundness of her teaching and example that worked the change.

The clique spirit vanished as the result of her efforts. The manager of the factory had realized the loss he was suffering in the lessened efficiency of his workers; this loss was remedied only after the company had expended much money.



School Clubs

Miss Reynolds, teacher of the senior year high school, had long foreseen the trend of the social impulse in the Lewiston School. Such notices on the blackboard of the assembly room as “Meeting of the Adelphian Society this afternoon,” and “L. A. C. business meeting tonight,” stood as evidence that the club idea was growing into prominence.

When the subject was brought up at faculty meeting, Miss Reynolds voiced her opinion as follows:

“This club idea is only a natural one with children. They get their incentives from the social organization at home. Mother belongs to the Mothers’ club or literary society; Father belongs to the Manufacturers’ Association or Industrial League. It seems to me the only solution is to provide as many opportunities as possible for outlets for this social instinct. It is our place to encourage the formation of societies along literary, social and athletic lines.”

Heated discussion followed. A vote was taken on the motion: “We will encourage the formation of literary, social and athletic clubs,” with the result that it was carried.

But it was soon markedly noticeable that the clubs drew finer social distinctions until the whole atmosphere of the school was undermined by a spirit of snobbishness, ill-feelings and entire lack of coöperation between pupil and teacher.


Allow no organizations to be formed without the approval of the faculty. When officially recognized, 726see that the society elects an advisory board which shall consist of two teachers, two or more pupils, who shall be the officers of the society, and the principal of the school, who shall act as honorary member. This board is to act as a “court of appeal” in the decision of questions which concern the activities of the organization. It is in no sense to be a dictatorial power.


Miss Reynolds had the right idea when she encouraged the formation of school organizations, but she failed to realize that the activities of such societies should be tactfully supervised by teacher and principal, under the direction of leaders who have the interests of the society at heart and who will lend their good judgment to its best development; such an organization may be depended upon as a standard of conduct on all questions which affect the name of the school. Unguided organizations are the source of many of the evil tendencies in school life.


Athletic Associations

When Mr. McDaniels, the physical director of the Edgeville High School, advised the boys that their games would be better organized and they would be more certain of help from the faculty if they formed an athletic association, they decided immediately to organize. Accordingly, a meeting was called for the afternoon, of all the boys who were interested in athletics. As might be imagined, there were very few absent. Mr. McDaniels offered to help them conduct the 727meeting. After the boys had elected president, vicepresident, secretary and treasurer, inasmuch as Mr. Chadwick (the principal) was much interested in the formation of athletic organizations, Mr. McDaniels proposed that he be chosen as honorary member of the association. The boys rose to the occasion and elected Mr. Chadwick to this position.

“Now it has been my experience that questions come up for decision which call for mature judgment. I suggest that you elect an advisory board to be made up of your officers, two members of the faculty and Mr. Chadwick.”

Knowing that Mr. McDaniels had their interests in mind, the boys immediately responded to his suggestion.

The result was that a coöperative body of pupils and teachers was organized to the great advantage of all interests concerned.

3. Altruism

A man may be thoroughly acquainted with the highest moral laws and yet have a very weak character.—Hughes.

If the above statement is true, and we believe it to be so, then the futility of trying to make people good merely by teaching them principles of goodness, is immediately apparent. Some more effective means of training must be found and those means undoubtedly should be experience and habit. Especially is this true of little children. To them principles and laws are mere words; experience is everything. With 728adults the precept is more effective, not because they are so different from children, but because they already have had experiences by means of which they are able to interpret and apply the principle, or proverb, or law. Principles, proverbs, laws, are only deductions from experiences.

If real morality is the outgrowth of experience, it follows of necessity, that the best and surest and indeed the only way to teach anything more than the outward form, is to give to pupils opportunities for performing moral acts. There must be self-guidance, there must be a yielding of one’s own desires to the rights of others, there must be coöperation, teamwork.

The kindergarten, better than any other branch of our school system, has realized the necessity for this type of social training. There the aim is to have children learn, through give-and-take relations with associates, what sort of conduct will best promote the happiness of all. Instead of exhortations about the obligations of children to parents, the little ones dramatize those relations, thus gaining just those experiences which enable them to comprehend the obligations. So with the industries, the wild animals, the busy bees, the birds, even the flowers and trees. One by one, the life of each is “tried on,” so to speak, in play, and inner relations of man to man and of man to his environment are thus discovered.

It goes without saying that these inner relations, upon an understanding of which all true morality is based, cannot be discovered all at once. Years of “trying on” of racial experiences and relations are necessary, and even then the comprehension of obligation 729will be just as narrow as experience has been. Meanwhile the inexperience of the child must be supplemented by the larger knowledge of the adult. The right outward form of action must be stimulated by approval, expectation, suggestion, substitution of better forms for the child’s crude, impulsive act, and coöperation on the teacher’s part in such activities as will lead toward higher forms of altruistic action than the child is able yet to fully comprehend. The teacher must never lose sight of the fact that moral insight depends upon a process of growth; nor must he be discouraged if the moral horizon of his pupils is extremely limited. It is as wide as experience has been. The remedy for narrowness is to supply the experience that will furnish the wider outlook.

Appealing to Reason

(1) Infancy and early childhood. Many parents and teachers make the sad mistake of beginning the rational training of their children before the period of rational thought has arrived. An amusing example of common sense and the lack of it occurred one day in a family which consisted of a mother, who had imbibed some ill-digested, sentimental ideas of rational training, her eight-year-old son, and her three-year-old daughter.

CASE 135

The child was playing with a cat upon the rug, and finding great delight in its piteous meows when she pulled its tail. The mother remonstrated at each outcry in about this fashion:

“Margy, dear, don’t pull poor kitty’s tail like that! Don’t you know it hurts poor kitty? How would you 730like to have mamma pull your hair? I wouldn’t do it now. Try to make kitty happy.”

“Why don’t you pull her hair, and show her what it’s like?” inquired Donald, who was reading in the window-seat.

“I want her to learn to think such things out for herself,” the mother replied with a wise air. “I want her to put herself in kitty’s place.”

“Huh—she’ll never do it unless you make her. Let me show her, will you?”

“No, indeed, Donald. I’m afraid your method wouldn’t be very gentle.”

“Well, I bet the cat doesn’t think she’s very gentle, either,” and Donald went back to his story.

“Margy must learn to do her own thinking, of course. I remember when you were a baby, Donald—Margy, child! Mercy, what a howl. Pussy! Margy, can’t you see you hurt poor pussy? Hurt it, dear—just hear it cry! Makes it feel all badly, as Margy does when she’s ill. Just hear poor kitty cry!”

Margy was “hearing poor kitty cry” with new delight at each piteous meow, which she took to be dear kitty’s means of entertaining her—having never been taught to associate the sound with pain of any kind. Just then the door bell rang, and the mother had to leave.

“Donald, dear, you look after Margy while I’m gone,” she said, as she closed the door.


Before allowing a three-year-old child to handle a cat at all, give explicit lessons on how to handle it 731properly. Teach the child the meaning of the words “Don’t hurt” by inhibiting the movement of her hands before she has done the mischief. (See lesson on “Don’t Touch” in “Easy Lessons for Teaching Obedience in the Home,” Book I, p. 46—Beery.)

Give an imitative lesson. Holding the cat yourself, gently stroke its fur, showing Margy the proper way of handling the cat. Then take Margy’s hand and gently pass it over the fur in the same way.

See to it that the child does not have the cat at all except when some older person is there to control her action, until such time as she has learned the meaning of the command, “Don’t hurt,” and will obey it. In other words, do not allow the wrong habit to become established before the right way is comprehended.


Margy’s mother was assuming an understanding in matters concerning which there had been no adequate experience on Margy’s part. Protected continually from pain herself, how could she understand the meaning of the word! To her the cat was just another musical instrument. Best of all, it was one upon which she could play. Donald’s method, though not recommended here for general acceptance, was at least effective.


Donald Takes a Hand

Donald was an obedient child, and closed his book promptly. He also, with some satisfaction in the duty assigned him, sat himself down on the rug near his 732baby sister, and his attitude of watchful waiting might have struck an observer as purposeful and determined.

Margy held pussy firmly by the loose fur at the back of the neck. She stroked her until she was fairly quiet again, then quickly gave the long tail another hard pull.

Quick as thought, Donald reached over and pulled his sister’s hair vigorously. She howled lustily, and the cat ran away. Donald let her cry for a little while, then gave her back the recaptured cat and sat again near her. Before long the pulling occurred again, and again Donald pulled as lustily at Margy’s curls.

“Do you see what it’s like? Do you like to have your hair pulled? Are you going to quit it?” he inquired. Margy adored Donald, and it did not occur to her to resent his means of enforcing his lesson.

“Want the cat back? You can have her if you won’t pull her tail. Will you let her tail alone?” he asked again. Margy said she would, and Donald again captured the cat and put it into her arms. This time Margy did not pull its tail. She stroked it, still holding it tightly by the fur; but she had learned that pulling a cat’s tail had sad consequences when Donald was near. She never repeated the act when her brother was within reach, although she did it when alone or with her mother.

Pulling hair is not a good form of punishment, but Donald’s method was based on sound principles, of which of course he was utterly unconscious. A baby should not be asked to make judgments, but he should be taught that pleasant consequences follow some acts and painful ones follow others. This is nature’s 733method of teaching human beings, and no one can improve on it as a method of last resort for the young human animal.


“Look what I’ve found,” Harry Jennings cried to his friend, Captain Stanhope. The captain was sitting on a park bench reading his morning paper, and Harry had been running races with Gyp up and down the gravel walk. He came up to the bench, now, with a handful of souvenir post cards in his hands.

Applying “Golden Rule”

“Some one has been addressing them here in the park, and then went off and left them on the bench,” he continued. “See, they’re addressed to people all over the country, and not a stamp on one of them!”

“I have seven cents in change,” said the captain, pulling out his worn little purse. “That will send seven of them, but there are a dozen.”

Harry brought out a dime from his trousers pocket, and looked at it thoughtfully. It would just pay his admission to the community ball game that afternoon, and if he used half of it to send off a stranger’s postcards, he must stay at home, for this was the last of his week’s allowance. Still, there was the captain, the knight of a dozen campaigns, looking at him. Harry knew that he allowed himself but one cigar a week, for his pension was subject to heavy drains; and yet he contributed his seven cents without hesitation. Surely, to share the doing of a good turn with the captain would be worth staying home from the ball game.

“Here’s a dime, and I’ll send the rest,” he told the captain. “Shall I take them to the postoffice?”

734The captain used the most subtly effective of all appeals to a child to do right—he assumed a willingness to be generous on Harry’s part, and offered him a comrade’s share in the deed. Not for worlds would Harry have appeared stingy and selfish and little, before the captain. And having set for himself a certain standard of generosity, it will not be hard for Harry to be generous when his next opportunity comes, even if there be no Captain Stanhope near to stimulate him.


Faithful Work

“Here, you little rascal, finish up in that corner!” called out old John Smith, the janitor, to Oldham, who was helping him sweep the basement. Old John had rheumatism, and the school board allowed him to employ a boy at twenty-five cents a night, to help him with the sweeping. Oldham had secured the job, and hoped to earn a new suit before spring.

“I am finishing up in this corner,” he answered, indignantly. “I’m not done yet, but I’m getting it clean.”

“See that you do, then,” and old John turned painfully to his own work. His eyes were growing dim, and because he could not see he thought he might insure thorough work by severity. Soon Oldham came to him for more directions.

“Go into the furnace-room and sweep up in there,” old John told him.

Oldham saw that the furnace-room was very dark, indeed. “He’ll never know whether I’ve done the corners in here or not,” he told himself. And still 735smarting a little with resentment at old John’s undeserved gruffness, he slighted his work and finished in short order.


Pursue a plan exactly the opposite of John Smith’s. First, approve the boy’s willingness to coöperate with you. Expect the best work Oldham is capable of doing, and show your appreciation of his assistance. Tell him how glad you are to have the help of his young eyes and willing hands.


This and the following incident show the play of social reaction upon conduct. For the approbation of a friendly, trusting man, who showed that he believed Oldham to be a boy of honor, Oldham cheerfully did his task honestly and well; to old John, distrustful and discourteous, Oldham responded with the trickery he invited. Oldham should have been more deeply grounded in principles of honesty, of course; he should have been indifferent to a childish, ill, old man’s acidity. But Oldham was very human in the personality of his attitude; the world abounds in people like him.


As Oldham went through the outer room to put away his broom and dustpan, Mr. Miller, the principal, entered.

A Better Method

“Hello!” he called out, cheerily. “So you’re the 736boy who’s helping out in a pinch, are you? I know John Smith appreciates that, and so do I. This floor looks as though you might have swept it—not a speck to be seen. Did you?”

“Yes, sir.” Oldham’s checks flushed with pleasure.

“Good, sincere work. Every corner clean. Well, I must go on up. I came down to see how John here was getting on, but since you’re helping him I needn’t stay longer. Aren’t you about through, yourself?”

“In a few minutes, Mr. Miller,” Oldham replied. “I have to do the furnace-room yet.” And he turned back to do a bad job over.

(2) Adolescence. In learning the great lesson of altruistic living it is not strange if young persons sometimes fail to see their acts in clear perspective. Only time and more experience can furnish that perspective. The following incident illustrates an exaggerated ideal of altruistic service on the part of a high school boy who sacrificed his scholarship for athletics.


Overdoing Altruism

Oscar Colegrove was the most popular boy in the Vernon High School. His kindness and courtesy won the girls, his unusual size and strength were admired by the younger boys, and his manliness won the love and respect of the older boys, but he was not studious enough to gain the approval of his teachers. He was an especial trial to Mr. Watkins, teacher of Caesar. He had never understood English grammar—the Latin forms meant nothing to him. When he recited, everybody was glad when he got through.

But Oscar was a famous basketball player. Mr. 737Watkins had decided to make him carry his Latin or drop out of athletics. He had revolved in his mind the best method of making this fact known, but had come to no definite conclusion, when fate seemed to take things in hand.

One morning Oscar was unusually stupid in Caesar. Mr. Watkins kept him on his feet asking him question after question and growing more and more angry with every wrong answer. He even asked him to translate the beginning chapter about “All Gaul,” so well known to every student of Latin. Oscar ludicrously stumbled over the easiest parts. Mr. Watkins was the angrier because he had thought to cause Oscar to be ridiculed by his classmates, who only seemed to suffer with the tortured boy. Finally, in disgust, Mr. Watkins banged the textbook down on the table and said, in angry tones, “Oscar Colegrove, you shall not play another game of basketball until you can make a decent recitation in Latin.”

“You don’t mean that I can’t play tonight. (That night a game was to be played at Vernon with a famous out-of-town team.)

“O, I know you want to show off tonight! You’re afraid somebody else will get the honors due to you, if you drop out. You’re too selfish to want to give up being a hero. This is your last game until this Latin is learned.”

That night Oscar played on the team and the next day he was absent from school.

When Mr. Watkins went to the recitation room to meet his class in Caesar, he found not a student there. On his desk was an envelope addressed to him; opening 738it mechanically, he found this note within, signed by all but three of the class.

“The Caesar class will be adjourned until the most unselfish of its members, Oscar Colegrove, is allowed to play basketball as well as to go on with his studies.”

Mr. Watkins called a meeting of the school board that night and admitted that he had not handled the case of the delinquent pupil wisely.

“I contemplated dropping him from the team and I wanted to show the class that I was justified by letting them see how little he knew,” Mr. Watkins said in self-defense.

In the private conference the next day, Oscar promised to study his Latin more faithfully and the entire class reassembled. Oscar’s lessons were better learned thereafter and Mr. Watkins seemed to have gained his point, but he knew too well that he would not be able that year to fulfill his earlier prophecies of being an ideal leader of his students.


Mr. Watkins should have delayed passing sentence until he had calmly decided upon the best method of communicating his decision to Oscar. He should have said to Oscar privately: “I know all of the pupils want you to stay on the team and I do myself. I know also that you and I are agreed that you must keep up your studies. For a week I will assign you certain topics for review and hear you recite them here in the office or at my home, whichever suits you better. With this extra effort and a reasonable amount of time put on your daily lessons, you will be able to please everyone 739including yourself, by both carrying your work and playing for the school.”


A really selfish boy is never a general favorite. Athletic boys are often heroes of the entire school and are considered self-sacrificing by all whom they represent. The question of athletics and grades should be handled privately by the principal of the school.


Keeping Balance

M. Zigler said in confidence to Carl Worley, one of his athletic boys who was “falling down” in grades. “It takes a self-sacrificing boy to work valiantly for the good of his school. I know you will get good mental and moral as well as physical training on the ball team, because, of course, you play a clean game. But there is a school ruling that forbids a boy who has fallen below grade in his studies to keep a place on an athletic team. This rule was made for the good of the boys as you can easily see. I am sure we agree with the people who made it. Now, we can’t make the days longer for the team; I wish we could. The only thing to do is to make the time we have count for the most possible.

“I propose that you and I make a daily program for your use outside of school hours. Many college men find this a great help in getting much done in a day. In it we will provide ample time for school studies. This will do away with trouble for you and me as well as for the team, for if you follow it you can make good grades and stay on the team, too.” 740Together Mr. Zigler and Carl made a program which included practice with the team as well as study periods and plenty of time for meals and sleep. A careful following of this program showed that with the time properly used, there was no need of cutting short either study or recreation.


“And I like Philip Lampey,” said Jeannette. “I don’t know him very well, but he always has such excellent manners and he does get his lessons. Don’t you think he’s awfully fine?”

Helping a Comrade

Miss Parsons and Jeannette White were discussing the high school seniors in a very friendly and personal way. When Philip Lampey was mentioned the teacher’s brow clouded.

“I’m beginning to be worried about Philip, Jeannette,” she said. “He’s being taken up by that fast set, and he seems to like it. He’s losing his frank way, and beginning to swagger just a little, and to be oily instead of just courteous. I don’t think he’s very far gone. Now, he likes you; can’t you help us out, and save Philip from going over to that cigarette-smoking, idle crowd?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll talk it over with mother,” Jeannette promised. “I don’t think I have very much influence, however.”

A few days later Jeannette called to Philip as they were passing to geometry, “Oh, Philip, mother is giving me a birthday party on the 22nd and I want you to go over the senior class with me and help me make out the guest-list, and perhaps you have some ideas about 741things to do too. Can we do it after physics this afternoon?”

“We sure can,” Philip assented, much delighted to find himself social arbiter. “I’ll be at your desk at 4:05.”

So Philip came to Jeannette’s desk, and they began on the list.

“There’s Sam Blennerman, he’s a good fellow. You’ll want him,” he suggested, as they came to one of his new chums.

“That stuffy little snob? I should say not!” Jeannette lifted her nose in great scorn. “The other day I heard him making fun of Earl Stubbs because he stayed out to go to church in Lent. I think he’s insufferable!”

“Do you? Oh, he’s not so bad when you know him, though. Well, how about Vernon East?”

“He smells like a tobacco shop. I never saw him without one of those nasty little rolls of his in evidence. Father would want to know what I was coming to.”

“Sylvia Fanslow, Mark Gorham, Francis Hingham—I suppose they all go on?” Philip held a tentative pencil in air.

“Yes. And Emil Irwin. Leave out Leonard James, of course.”

“But why? His family’s awfully good, and he’s no end of fun. Keeps things in a roar, you know.”

“Yes, I know. I know his kind of a roar—he thinks he’s such a man of the world. But isn’t he the boy Mr. Burcher almost expelled for swearing on the campus?”

742“Well, yes, he is. But you wouldn’t expect him to swear at your party you know.”

“Naturally not. But I haven’t any use for a boy who has one set of words for girls and another for boys. That’s a double standard and mother says double standards of any kind are bad.”

Philip was suffering a revision of his ideals at the hands of this girl. In the evenings he spent at her house, planning the party, he came to revise them further still as a result of the tactful suggestion of Jeannette’s mother. When the party was over, he found his taste for the “fast crowd” had disappeared. To keep Jeannette’s good opinion he would have pretended to believe anything, but so pliable is youth before habit has fixed one’s attitudes, that he had really come to believe in the same high standards that Jeannette held.



The aim of the teacher should be to obtain reverence for law; the law of the game, the law of competition, the law of the school, the law of the state, and ultimately the law of his own life development, and the law of God.



1. Differing Ideals Lead to Conflict in the Regulation of Conduct

By regulative instinct is meant the tendency on the part of every normal human being to conform to custom, reason, principles, law. It includes voluntary obedience to authority imposed upon the individual from without, but it is more than that; it is an inward recognition that such obedience is fitting and obligatory. It impels even further. It leads the individual to impose upon himself laws and standards of action even in the absence of outward authority. It is thus a tacit recognition of moral law and of religious obligation.

Not much reflection on the teacher’s part will be needed to convince him that if the outward authority to which the child has been subjected at home has been arbitrary, vacillating, tyrannical, or fitful, the child’s ideals as to what is right and what is wrong will have become sadly jumbled long before he enters school, where the teacher has the difficult task of straightening out the tangles. Or again, if the standards of action, which the child more or less unconsciously imposes upon himself, happen to conflict with the teacher’s ideals of what right conduct on the 746pupil’s part should be, then, also, is there likelihood of a clash between teacher and pupil.

Too often when this occurs the teacher is satisfied to secure outward conformity to regulation without, at the same time, attempting to change the inward ideal. In such a case there is the anomalous condition of apparent obedience to a rule in which the child does not believe. The body yields to coercion but the mind rebels. Half the child obeys, the other half inwardly disobeys.

How disintegrating to the real moral life of a child such a double-faced procedure must be, can best be realized by the teacher if he imagines himself placed in a similar position where he is compelled by principal or school board to carry on a course of action which is either highly repugnant to himself or which he believes to be absolutely wrong. Only half-hearted responses at best will result from such coercion in the case of either pupil or teacher. The question, then, of how to secure the obedience of the whole child, not merely the physical half, becomes one of great seriousness. Obviously it can never be accomplished by methods which systematically arouse antagonism toward the person who commands. The true method of control must seek to substitute a better ideal for the crude one held by the child. Coercion may sometimes be necessary, but the teacher should not feel that the act of obedience is completed until the mind of the child has been swayed to voluntary submission.

In the treatment of the regulative instincts which follows, the chapter on Obedience, strictly speaking, should be included; because of the great importance 747of the subject of obedience it has been given a Division, by itself (Part I). While, however, the more abstract phases of the subject are dealt with in that chapter the present treatment aims to be more concrete. Furthermore, what immediately follows has reference mainly to the lower grades, because there the child’s school habits are formed, but the teacher who is on the alert for principles that are fundamental will be quick to perceive that whatever laws are basal in the control and discipline of children in primary grades, are equally so for older pupils because they are laws that apply to all humanity.

With these preliminary remarks, we pass, then, to the consideration of methods of regulation of conduct in the primary grades and especially in the first.

2. Importance of the First Year in Regulation of Conduct

It is safe to say that the most important school year of the child’s life is the first year. The good taught then may blossom into noble manhood and womanhood. The wrong taught then may influence a young life in such a way as to make it a burden to society later on.

Each of the higher grades has a share in molding and shaping the child, but the foundation will be laid in his first school year. It then becomes the duty of upper grade teachers to build wisely upon that foundation. The first grade teacher may have done her work in the best possible way only to have 748the results torn down in a very few weeks in the second grade.

Nowhere in the child’s twelve school years is a more proficient teacher needed. She need not be deeply versed in the sciences generally, in mathematics, or in history, but she must have other knowledge greater than any of the sciences. The unfolding soul of a child is God’s greatest mystery; the science that deals with developing life is the science that the primary teacher must know. The little minds of her pupils are like strangers in a strange land. The teacher is the guide. Her responsibility is of the greatest.

(1) The first day. Important as is the first year, the first day of school is equally so. Not merely the first day of the first year, but the first day of every school year. That “first day” impression that the teacher makes, often has a far-reaching influence. Very frequently it is a day of confusion for both pupil and teacher, neither knowing just exactly what is to be done. There is no surer way to complexities than to open school without detailed plans.

(2) Detailed plans. The simpler the plans the better, but every detail of the daily program, lesson, assignments, seating, etc., should be worked out carefully beforehand.

The teacher should meet the pupils with a friendly greeting and without any hesitancy assign them to their seats, adding such other instructions as are necessary. However, not too many instructions should be given; better none than too many.

If parents accompany the pupils, they should be 749treated with consistent courtesy and their questions answered firmly. It is always best to say as little as possible to parents, never forgetting, however, to be polite. As soon as school is begun, the teacher may tell a story that will attract the children to her and leave a good impression. Following the story, lesson assignments should be made. All assignments and instructions should be simple and plain. If it is necessary to do some school work, the tasks should be short and so simple as to be entirely within the ability of the children. Take great care to leave with them at the close of their first day the feeling of power to do what will be required of them. In closing the session mention some delightful bit of work, that “we will do tomorrow.”

In rural schools the first day is even more perplexing than in village or city schools, because, in the rural school, one teacher has all the grades. Plans for study, recitations and recesses should all be made so that any question asked about any phase of the school work can readily be answered. As in the city school, older pupils should be promptly assigned to their seats; to allow them to select their own is poor policy and almost always results in trouble later in the year. If the teacher knows the names of the pupils, it is a good plan to have the names on cards placed on the seats in which the teacher wishes to have the pupils seated. The smaller pupils should also be shown to their seats and assistance given them in getting their books into the desk in an orderly manner. After school is called to order the work for the day should begin at once. The teacher may give an opening talk if he 750thinks that is best. However, it is advisable not to do that. At this stage of the work it is very prudent for the teacher to avoid making set rules or even feigning authority. Be unassuming. As in the city school, work on the first day should be simple. The pupils have had no preparation and cannot respond in recitations. Sometimes teachers ask the pupils to prepare the lessons first, but they are in new surroundings and not used to study; it is better to make assignments and explanations, then fill the remainder of the day with “busy work,” songs and stories. But whatever the teacher does must be so done that the pupils will feel that he is in earnest. Try to send the children home that night with the impression that this term’s work is going to be a very interesting and happy one.

In the first grade, children tire easily and consequently lose interest. Therefore, they should have frequent changes from one activity to another. The lessons should be short, followed by “busy work,” then a play period, or simply gymnastics. If gymnastics are used the exercises should be varied. There is such a wide range of possible exercises that it is easy for any teacher to have plenty of gymnastic drills or simple games, allowing much activity, which will interest pupils for many months. None of the exercises of the first grade should be carried so far as to tire the pupils.

From the foregoing, it is apparent that a well devised daily schedule is important. It must be workable. There must be no gaps in it wherein the teacher gives the children idle moments. Material for use 751during the day should always be arranged before school opens in the morning.

3. Regulating the Movements of the Pupils

One of the most necessary duties of the teacher at the beginning of the year is to train the children to habits of regulated and quiet movements when passing in and out of the school-room, going to the blackboard, coming forward to the recitation seats, passing material for busy work, or during any other concerted action. The first day is a particularly opportune time for drill in quiet movement, not only because no lessons have been made ready and, therefore, the teacher is entirely free to take as much time as is desirable without feeling that he is encroaching upon other lessons, but also because such exercises impress upon the children the necessity for quiet movement at a time when their minds are not prepossessed with other subjects. The suggestion is likely to lodge firmly in mind at this time, partly because of the prominence given to the thought and partly because of the absence of conflicting interests on this first day. Furthermore, in drilling the children from the start to recognize the signals and to obey them, the teacher is taking a long step toward securing control of his room. Of course, he must not expect the children to learn the whole lesson in one day. Even adults require “drill” before they can respond perfectly to regulated movements. To first grade children the signals and directions are absolutely meaningless until the meaning is taught. Nevertheless, even first grade children 752can be taught easily to be quiet and orderly, and if the drills are given as little games, competitive or otherwise, they will look upon the whole thing as play and hence will respond heartily.

Suppose, for example, that the inexperienced teacher who enters the school-room saying to herself, “What in the world can I do to keep all these wriggling children in order for a whole day!” should have some of the following drills (abridged from Hillyer’s “Child Training”[3]) at command to use whenever the children begin to be disorderly or seem not to comprehend directions.

3. Hillyer, V. M.—Child Training, pp. 14–28.—New York. The Century Co.

(1) Simple directions. Say to the children, “I want to see if you can do what I tell you, just when I tell you, and just the way I tell you.” Then give the order: “Stand up.”

Some may obey promptly, some may obey more slowly, some may hesitate, look around to see what the others are going to do, and finally, but tardily, rise. Some may pay no attention to the order at all, but look blankly around or at something else, exactly as if they had been excepted from the command.

If there is much irregularity in obeying correctly and at once, it may be necessary to say, “All children stand up,” or, “All of you stand up,” and this may have to be supplemented by the explanation, “When I say, ‘Stand up,’ I mean you, John and Mary, as well as the others.” Then give the order: “Sit down.”

Repeat these orders, “Stand up,” “Sit down,” half a dozen or more times, until all the children understand 753what is wanted and obey promptly, quietly, and without hesitating or lagging.

Have them first imitate you, while you execute the order, as directed. This is training by imitation. Then have them carry out the order from the command alone. Give the order, but do not execute it yourself, or better still, tell the children to close their eyes and keep them closed while you give the order and they obey. This is to prevent imitation of others in the class. They are not trained until they can obey promptly without seeing either the teacher or another child whom they can imitate.

Further directions may be: “Look up, down.” “Face right side, left side.” “Place your hands on top of your head, under your chair, behind your back.”

Afterwards, practice them individually, giving more attention to those who are unfamiliar with the terms used or are slow to carry them out.

(2) Simple orders. Give the first direction to a child and wait his precise fulfilment, asking the class if the child has followed the direction in every particular, or if he has failed and in what respect he has failed.

Each time an order is executed the children should be called upon to suggest where an improvement is needed, as, for example: “John banged the door.” “He didn’t shut it quietly.” “He made too much noise in going to the door.” “He asked which door,” or “He hesitated,” “Took too long,” and so on.

(3) Simple deferred orders. Prepare a list of orders as in the preceding drill and tell the children 754you will give each one an order, but is it not to be executed until you give the word. Then read the list of orders, putting the name of a child before each order, and when you have finished, say, “Now, do what I have told you.”

(4) Negative orders. The burden of much of the instructions to teachers and parents is “Don’t say don’t.” Nevertheless, for purposes of discipline, practice in obeying negative commands is highly important, as most laws and rules from the Decalogue down, are prohibitions: “Thou shalt not.”

Face the children away from you and tell them you are going to practice them in obeying the order, “Don’t look.” Tell them that when you have given the order, they are not to look around, under any circumstances, no matter even if a contradictory order is given, until you call “Time.” Then give the order and behind their backs try different devices to entice them into looking. Tell a story and pretend to illustrate it, saying, for instance, “Jack and Jill went up a hill, like this” (stamp about or make noisy gestures), “to fetch a pail of water, like this” (make chalk marks on the blackboard, as if drawing) “and broke his crown, like this” (drop a book or something heavy), and so on. Suddenly speak into the ear of one, saying, “Look here,” tap another on the shoulder excitedly, and so on.

(5) Double orders. Make a list as in drill 3, but with two orders for each child, thus: “John, hand me that book, and put this on the table.” Use in the same way as in drill 2.

755(6) Prohibitions. Tell the children you are going to practice them still further in obeying “Don’ts.” Then, give the order: “Don’t make any sound until I call ‘Time.’”

Allow them to move their heads, arms, feet; even to move about, though this privilege should be forfeited by any one failing in the slightest degree to observe the command. Watch and listen for the faintest sound and have them do the same, but only the teacher must call attention to any voluntary or involuntary breaking of silence. At the end of five minutes call “Time.” Discuss with the children what they could do to observe the command better or more easily and repeat the exercise.

Then tell them to get into a comfortable position, one that they can maintain indefinitely, as they are to remain not only silent but motionless. Ask them to pretend that they are to have their pictures taken, that the slightest motion, shifting of position or twitching—breathing and blinking of the eyes excepted—will spoil the picture, and say, “Now, don’t move till I call ‘Time.’”

Call “Time” at the end of two minutes, as this is a very severe ordeal. Further practice, however, should make them able to hold this position for five minutes longer.

Tell the children you are going to command, “Don’t talk,” and then are going to try to surprise them into talking or asking a question, but they must say nothing under any circumstances. Tell them they are supposed to be mutes, without the power of speech—as dumb as the animals.

756Then give the command, “Don’t talk,” but continue to talk yourself, telling either a story or something about which children would ordinarily ask questions, and if this does not succeed, abruptly ask one of the children a question, trying to take him off his guard or to startle him into a reply.

Any wide-awake teacher will readily perceive how these drills can be gradually extended to include the concerted movements of the whole school, furnishing both relief from more fatiguing school work and pleasure in the performing, while, at the same time reducing the chaotic movements of untrained children to quiet, restful, intelligent, coöperative school-room procedure.

The following case illustrates the difficulties of attempting to secure the more complex forms of regulated conduct without having first given sufficient drill on obedience to directions.


Dismissing Classes

It was the custom in the Rockford school for the children in the first four grades to put on their wraps when the first bell rang for dismissal and then to return. A second bell was rung as a signal for passing.

At this time, Miss Walker, the fourth grade teacher, had the habit of going out into the hall. Her pupils then fairly flew out of the room and down the stairs leading outside.

“Don’t crowd so, children. Why don’t you march in an orderly fashion? There, Jimmie Blaine, you almost knocked Hilda down. Now do be more careful the next time.”

757But Jimmie was too far down the steps to hear these last words.


Two bells should be rung for dismissal. Let the first be a signal for the children to pass to the dressing-room for their wraps. Let them pass in single file, second row following the first, and so on. Let the second bell be a signal for leaving the room. Here again, the seating should determine the places in line. Stand at the door leading out into the hall. Then give the signal for passing. “First row, second, third,” and so on. See that no child violates this rule.

When the children are once thoroughly familiar with the order and with the meaning of the signals, the first pupil in each row may be entrusted with the leadership of that row and the signals may thus be dispensed with.

Fire drills should be held at least once a month. Make the occurrence as unexpected as possible. The regular method of formation of the lines should be rigidly followed.

When the gong rings, each teacher should immediately drop the work at hand and say,

“Attention! One, two, three!”

The word “Attention!” signifies a definite attitude of body and mind. The work at hand should be immediately dropped, the head raised and the hands at rest, while waiting for the next command. Do not give the second command until you have the undivided attention of every child in the room.

758“One” signifies to turn in the seat; “two” to rise; and “three” to pass.

In case it is your week for corridor duty, take your stand immediately at the head of the stairs.

The lines of the four upper grades should be already formed on the second floor and stairs leading to the floor below, ready to follow the lines of the first floor, or signal from the teacher on duty there.

It should take no longer than five minutes to vacate a building holding fourteen hundred pupils.


Miss Walker could not expect order in the line when she had taught no definite procedure. The only thought in the minds of the children in her room was to get out of the room as quickly as possible; the manner of doing it was a matter of no consideration to them.

Children are naturally un-orderly; it is the teacher’s duty to train them. In this case, she should draw up an order of marching that the children could follow habitually and without confusion.


Dismissing School

The bell rang for dismissal in the Bronx Park Grammar School. Miss Forbes, the seventh grade teacher, took her place at the door of her room leading out into the hall.


“Pass! First row, second, third!” etc.

One row after another filed out of the room in perfect order. She stood where she could see the line 759march down the stairs out-of-doors. At the same time she watched the line formation in the room. Before the last row had passed out of the room, she had taken a second stand at the head of the stairs leading out of the building. Looking back she saw the last child in the last row close the door of her room.

After her children, came those of the eighth grade, while on the other side of the staircase the third grade followed the second and the second followed the first.

Then the four upper grades came down the stairs, from the second floor, the boys on one side, the girls on the other.

Just two minutes had passed from the time the bell rang for dismissal until the last child left the building.

The foregoing method of line formation may be used on every occasion. By keeping a rigid form of discipline in moving lines up or downstairs, the children may be depended upon to march quickly and in good order in case of fire. This matter of perfect handling of the orders of march cannot be too strongly emphasized. Any lack of firmness in such regime will be sure to bring disastrous results in a fire.


Passing to Classroom

It was just eleven o’clock—time for Miss Finch’s sixth grade class to pass from her room to one further down the hall where they were to have their music lesson.

“You may pass, children.”

“Albert, I’ll help you with your problem now if you will come up to my desk.”

760The children literally fell over one another to get out of the room.

Miss Finch was interrupted in her work with Albert by a great confusion of laughing and talking in the hall.

She hurried to the door and saw the boys pushing each other out of line, bumping into the girls, and, in a word, doing everything but what they should have done, namely, march quietly and in an orderly way down the hall to the room in which they were to have their music lesson.


Every time your class has occasion to pass from the room, take the same stand by the door, leading into the hall. Then say, “First row, please pass! Second, third!” etc. When the last line has left the room, take another permanent stand in the hall, where you watch the children to see that they keep in a straight line and march in an orderly fashion from room to room.

If one or two should “forget” to be quiet, speak to them while in line. “John, remember the rule for marching in absolute order.”


Every teacher must remember that her presence should mean order. If the children are accustomed to see Miss Finch in the same place every time they pass from the room, they will consciously or unconsciously realize what she expects from them—perfect order.

Miss Finch could not expect a room full of healthy, 761wide-awake children to pass from one room to another without noise, when her own attitude conveyed anything but a suggestion of quietness. She put the others entirely out of her mind when she told Albert she would help him with his problem.

It is not necessary to take the stand of a policeman, but your attitude should be one of expectancy that all will pass quietly and in order. It should not, however, be necessary to speak of the matter before the whole class, unless in commendation of the fine reputation which “our school bears for its quiet good order.”


Passing to Classroom

The bell rang in the East Aurora High School for the beginning of the first period. Miss Wilcox took her accustomed stand by the door of her section room. Thirty-five young men and women filed out on their way to the first class of the day.

They passed the next classroom door, where Miss Michael, the mathematics teacher, stood. Her attitude was pleasant but firm. She was expecting order.

After turning the corner of the building, they were met by Miss Aldrich, the science teacher, into whose room they marched, still in single file.

To one boy, who had been especially troublesome in line at the beginning of the year, she said, “Splendid, Joseph, you are getting so that you can turn as square a corner as a cadet.”

The next case is a good illustration of what a teacher should not do in attempting to secure regulated conduct. The story is its own sufficient comment.



Keeping in Line

“Here, come back here, you fellows,” called Mr. Girdlestone, the teacher, to two lads going up the steps ahead of the lines. “What’s the matter with you?”

The boys came back down the stairs, but as Mr. Girdlestone turned around the older boy again started up the steps.

“Didn’t I tell you to come back here till your line formed, John?” cried the teacher, angrily, as he grabbed the pupil by the collar.

“I guess you won’t shake me,” responded the boy angrily as he caught the teacher’s arm.

A scene of confusion followed, but the youth got his shaking and went sullenly about his work.

At the close of the day the pupil was called to the office.

“I fear I must punish you more severely for your conduct in resisting my correction, John,” began the teacher, firmly. “Come down stairs with me and we will try to settle this affair.”

“I guess you will have to ketch me first,” returned John, with triumph in his voice, as he ran down the other stairs.

Mr. Girdlestone was able to block his way of going home, but unable to lay hands on the pupil.

“You may take your punishment or not get a chance to go home tonight,” insisted the teacher.

“Well, you fire me, then,” suggested John quickly.

“I don’t intend to suspend you,” replied the teacher. “I don’t want to.”

“Go ahead and fire me. I’m just lookin’ for a 763chance to quit school, anyway,” returned the boy, sullenly.

“John,” said the head of the school, firmly but kindly, “come on with me and let’s talk this affair over. Maybe we can settle it in that way.”

After considering for a few moments, during which he eyed his teacher narrowly, John finally came along.

“Now,” said Mr. Girdlestone, as they reached the office again, “I guess we were both just a little to blame in this matter. I guess we both lost our heads and were too hasty in our conduct. I am willing to assume my share of the blame and apologize to you for my hastiness.”

“All right,” replied the pupil, in a subdued tone, “I know I didn’t do what I ought to in this scrape. I got mad when you took hold of me, but I’m ready to straighten the thing up now.”

“Very well,” responded the teacher, kindly. “Let’s shake hands on this affair and try to do better in the future.”

“All right,” said John, smiling, “I guess it will be a lesson to me.”

John continued his school work with more interest in the future and a few years later graduated from the high school.

4. Some Things That Complicate Regulation of the School

(1) Tardiness. Tardiness in the first grade cannot be intentional on the child’s part, nor should it give the teacher any annoyance. It cannot be the pupil’s 764fault. Whenever a first grade pupil comes tardy the teacher should ask in a kindly manner for the reason. As a rule it will be some excusable cause, one which the parents have imposed. The teacher should then consult the parents. If they will start the children to school soon enough, they will not often be tardy. Not every case of tardiness can be prevented, however; even teachers sometimes find themselves late on account of some unavoidable incident.

(2) Absences. Sometimes first grade pupils choose to be absent from school for a day and often for several days. When the teacher goes to find out the cause, she learns that the pupil is afraid of the teacher, does not like to study, or there is some similar reason, and he has begged to remain at home. The parents have consented to the request. It is then the teacher’s duty to assure the parents that she will do all she can to win the child to the school. Her visit often stops the truancy if the teacher shows that kindly and courteous disposition that all teachers should possess. Often when the parents tell a child that the teacher is kind and good it has a tendency to overcome his reluctance.

There are very few first year pupils who will absent themselves from school without their parents’ consent.

With respect to older pupils, however, as long as there are schools, so long there will be truancy. When the teacher has made his school and school work interesting and tried to be kind and courteous, he has done very much toward abolishment of the truant. There are many cases of truancy that teachers have succeeded in stopping, but an investigation of the school revealed 765the fact that the teacher was alive to his work; every pupil knew that absentees would be missed; further, that the teacher would ask for a reason for absence. They knew that every detail of the school was interesting and that they missed something when away from it. In other words, it was far more fun to be in school than out of it.

If ever our readers feel that coercion is necessary to get regular attendance, don’t punish, but try this plan instead: talk to the class about some trip you want to take with your pupils, perhaps to a woods. Play upon their imagination as to what they would like to do on that trip, what you will take along, etc., and ask everybody to stand who is in favor of taking the trip. Then say, “All right, be seated. There is another thing to be said about this trip. Only those who work well will be permitted to go with us. We are going to have a great time and I hope everyone will get the chance to go, but only those who have been regular in attendance will receive an invitation.”

(3) Careless work. The first few weeks in the first grade are trying times for the teacher. All habits that she wishes the little ones to acquire, she must carefully teach. Much patient explanation is necessary. Often the work of the pupils will seem careless, simply because the children do not know how to do better. Then, too, what seems careless to the teacher may seem very good to the child. The teacher must not judge too hastily. If some children do get through their tasks before the others do, because of careless work, do not find fault but in subsequent lessons see that the most interesting work is given to those children, 766then act upon the principle of suggestion, by saying how fine it would be to do the work in a certain way. The child will at least make an attempt. Whatever is done should be approved by the teacher. The teacher who sympathizes with the pupils, helps them, and directs their crude efforts, following each attempt on their part with approval and a spirit of expectancy, always encouraging, never discouraging, will soon have no careless work among her pupils.

(4) Mischief. Another point that the first year teacher must learn is that all mischief committed in primary grades is not premeditated. Healthy children are full of energy. This energy seeks an outlet, and in consequence, mischief may result. To leave childhood’s energies undirected and undeveloped is a sure source of trouble. In correcting mischief in primary grades, harsh language should not be used. The kindest explanation of the mischief and its results is the correct way of dealing with childish misdeeds. The child has never pondered over mischief and has not thought ahead what the results may be. Therefore, it is not malicious until wrong methods of control make it so. By making prominent in his mind the right activities you will just so far keep in the background the wrong activities and his surplus vigor will thus be stimulated in the proper direction.

(5) Dislike for study. Fondness for study and good habits in studying on the part of pupils will greatly simplify the teacher’s control of the school.

There often develops a tendency in pupils to dislike certain branches. Especially is this true in the upper grades. Such a dislike may often be traced back to 767the primary grades, where the study habits and likes or dislikes for school work are first instilled into the child. It is vitally essential that the teacher foster in her pupils that attitude toward school work that will send the child to the second grade liking his work and well trained in the habit of study. It would seem impossible that a dislike for subjects that are not taught in the primary grades could be traced back, even indirectly, to wrong teaching in those grades. But the chances are that somewhere in the child’s progress towards the upper grades or the high school were sown the seeds that developed into dislike of certain branches. If so, the first grade teacher should take her share of the blame. She must guard against any methods of teaching that will cause any child to dislike to study. It is quite certain that if first grade pupils finish their year’s work liking the teacher and the school and if they have acquired the habit of study and like it, that teacher has done her full duty.

It is a first requisite of the teacher to exhibit a cheerful and optimistic disposition in the school-room. She must teach the little ones reading and numbers, language and story telling, writing and drawing, with such an ardor and love for her work that the children can only think that their teacher likes these subjects better than anything else. She must expect every child to love his work. If the second grade teacher and the others in the higher grades will teach in the same manner there will be no pupils in the upper grades or the high school who have a distaste for even one branch, much less have a dislike for study in general. 768A true teacher will never make her pupils feel that she has a dislike for school work or any part of it.

(6) Dull children. Many a teacher has had her difficulties and perplexities with the dull child. In large cities special teachers are employed to teach dull and abnormal children. Books have been written dealing with them. Still the problem remains unsolved. Much has been done for them, but by no means has all been said about what can and should be done for such children under these conditions. The rural and village teacher cannot expect to send the perplexing pupils to a special teacher and as a rule such children are found in every school.

One thing, however, she must make sure of—that is, whether the dull child is such because he is subnormal, or because of some physical defect, or because of poor health. Poor food may cause a child to be dull. Bad ventilation is often the cause of dullness in the school-room. The teacher is responsible for keeping his room well ventilated. If the dullness is due to ill-health, the coöperation of the parents must be sought. If the child is dull because he is subnormal, the teacher must do the best he can, and that is very little indeed. One thing he must not do—he must not worry. It is not his fault. The situation will be made easier if the teacher will secure the superintendent’s or a director’s permission to let the dull child drop some of the school work. The teacher should give the child the same attention he gives the others; then his full duty has been done. Never should a teacher intimate to any one of the pupils or to the child himself, that he thinks him dull.

769Many times such a pupil can be very mischievous. Whenever that is the case the teacher should apply the devices and methods used upon other children for particular annoyances. But just here is where the greatest difficulty presents itself, for the fundamental element in all methods is interest, and the dull child can not be interested. Many times he can be interested in manual work of some kind when he can not be made to care for the more abstract work which other children do with ease.

No attempt will be made to discuss further the abnormal child. The author feels that it is only protecting the other children and the teacher both to have abnormal children, as well as children dull because of ill-health and mental defect, removed from the school and placed in institutions established for such pupils. Such a course may cause parents to become indignant, but better that than to worry the teacher overmuch and make him less efficient for the other pupils, when he can not help the child in any way. Nor has he been schooled to teach such children. They should be handed over to specialists who are free to adopt such methods as are best for the individual child, but not necessarily so for the whole school.

(7) Retarded pupils. In many states where there are no compulsory school attendance laws, pupils often come into the first grade at eight to ten years of age. This also may happen where the child has been ill. Sometimes thoughtless teachers make retarded pupils feel odd and out of place, even unwelcome. The teacher must remember that the school is a public institution and every child has a full right to all of 770its benefits. Not much more can be said to the teacher than to add: treat the retarded and overgrown pupils just like the others. If they do well in their work, recognize their skill; if they are mischievous or cause trouble, meet it as in the case of any other pupil. The retarded or overgrown pupil must not be made to feel either that he should be advanced, or on the other hand that he has neglected his work, and for that reason is out of place in the first grade when he should be in the third or fourth. He must not be slighted or treated differently from other pupils because he is larger or older, unless it be to place some little responsibility upon him like caring for the window plants or assisting the teacher to pass materials for school work—duties which may be regarded somewhat in the light of special privileges.

(8) The “smart” pupil. What constitutes the “smart” pupil is hard to define, but every teacher knows him when he appears. The pupil that is of this type is not hard to control. To notice every little exhibition of smartness tends to make it worse. As a rule, the pupil is not so bad or so mean as to cause any particular disturbance—he is only annoying. To ignore him is the best cure and one that will in a very short time cure the worst case in the first grade. When such a pupil has said something that does not become a good pupil, the teacher should begin to converse about something entirely different and more interesting.

(9) Wrong influence of parents. In this age of poor parent control, there are more children in the public schools whose misdemeanors are the direct result 771of home influences than of all other factors combined.

The prudent teacher of the first year needs often to solicit the aid of parents in righting a spoiled child, and often she must convince them that they are wrong in their methods of rearing their children. If the teacher cannot enlist the aid of parents, then she must fight her battle single-handed. But there is no need for discouragement. The child will love one who loves him. A lovable and wise teacher often succeeds where a parent fails. Parents are often alarmingly short-sighted when it comes to training their children. It is not an imaginary condition but one all too real, that in many homes the children are, in actuality, the controlling forces. It is distressing to see how helpless parents can be, and what American parents are enduring from their children. From such poorly regulated homes come the “spoiled” children to the first grade teacher, and in many instances all the meanness such children can perpetrate is considered “cute” by the over-indulgent parents.

In dealing with the badly trained child, the teacher must avoid any use of force. That would only antagonize him. The teacher should be firm, but kind, treating him just as he treats the others; if he does good work, commending him for it. She need not even notice many of his outbreaks—he will soon discontinue them. Often he is spoiled because the parents have paid too much attention to his every whim and fancy. When he learns that he can not worry the teacher, and that she will not contend with him in his trivial desires, he will cease to annoy her. Last of all, the 772teacher can fill in the gaps of idleness in the child’s time by keeping him interested and busy.

If the child is saucy, the teacher must avoid telling the pupil that he “must not be saucy”; such a method will make the pupil aware of the fact that being saucy is distasteful to the teacher, and he will resort to that method whenever his spirits are ruffled. The better thing to do is to ignore him altogether, and proceed with the work at hand, as though nothing had occurred. The teacher should not display the least emotion by look or expression, for the child usually watches the teacher to note the effect of his sarcasm or imprudent statement. When he finds out that he is ignored, he will resort less to his annoying habit. If the child tries to tease her, she can casually and without any use of force, draw him away into some interesting game or activity. Or the teacher may call the pupil by name and say, “Come here a moment, I have something for you to do.” She may have a new game ready and have this pupil be the leader. This will draw his attention from teasing. In other words, substitute some other and more interesting activity. A few weeks of such control will remedy the annoyance.

It is a good plan with such a pupil to send him on an errand every now and then, when he is in a good mood, making the request in a confidential tone, and saying to him on his return, “You are so kind for doing that. Thank you ever so much.” This will tend to get him in the habit of doing favors for you and will increase his friendliness toward you. Another way to establish more firmly his willingness to be friendly is to make it a point to talk to him before 773school or at recess about something in which you know he will be very much interested—about his favorite pastime or sport.

There is no boy or girl who does not have some hobby, and after you have made an earnest attempt to find out what that interest is and have begun to make use of it in getting the pupil’s confidence, you will have put into practice a great principle in discipline. Any new idea which you can present regarding the hobby will greatly help you to gain the confidence of the pupil. By a confidential tone and by showing you are in sympathy with his interests, you can gradually win his confidence. Whatever you do, do not appear to notice when a pupil is disrespectful to you. If he has shown disrespect in the past, simply set about at once to gain his confidence. If he ever mimics any gesture you have made, do not take it seriously because, nine times out of ten, you would get poor results. Either appear not to notice it at all or, if you do notice it, assume that it did not bother you in the least.

To punish a child for anything whatsoever, suggests to him precisely the thing which we do not want to suggest. Whatever we want a child to be, we must put the suggestion into his mind, that he already is that very thing and approve him for whatever he does in that direction.

The principle of initiative in coöperation should be used from the first in case of a pupil that is extremely disobedient because of home or outside influence. Many a teacher has invited such a pupil into his home for a dinner or supper, and has entertained him with the best the home afforded. In doing so he made the 774pupil understand that he was interested in him. Often a walk or a drive which gives occasion for a confidential talk will establish friendly relations between pupil and teacher. A teacher must not cease to try to win the unfriendly pupil. One such in a school can work great harm. The teacher must strive to make friends of all his pupils.

Approve the child’s lessons and efforts. Whether it be numbers, or reading, busy work, or drawing, the teacher must notice the effort and progress, and by a pleased countenance and well chosen words encourage the pupil. Whenever the teacher has a favor to bestow, she should see that the unfriendly pupil gets his share of the favor. If she is having a little play or song or game, she may appoint him as the main character. She should frequently walk with him part or all of the way home. Such treatment will win the child in a very short time, and what is better, it will usually win the parents.

In case a disaffected child is unusually stubborn and absolutely refuses to obey you, avoid the use of any commands to him until after you have entirely gained his confidence. You may continue to command and request other pupils around the stubborn child, but simply refrain from asking that one to do anything. Make up your mind that you are going to cater to this stubborn pupil for two or three days in order to win his absolute confidence and thus lay a foundation for more satisfactory conduct in the future.

By cater, we do not mean to allow the pupil to get ahead of you—not at all. But it may be necessary to be a little forbearing. Present absolutely nothing to 775him in a personal way except what you know will be intensely interesting. As we said before, find out what the pupil likes to do at home, on the playground, what he likes best to talk about, and then make it a point to converse about those things frequently when alone with him. Show great enthusiasm in talking along the line of his interests. If he refuses to recite, get his confidence and then ask questions, beginning with such as you are sure he can answer in just a word or two.

(10) Neighborhood conditions. Sometimes a teacher’s work is greatly hampered because of an unkindly spirit existing between the parents of her pupils. Mothers often “get even” with their neighbors by influencing their children against a neighbor’s son or daughter who happens to be in school. Or a teacher may have used some unwise methods on a child, or punished in a manner not satisfactory to the parents. The parents retaliate by influencing their children against the teacher.

Both situations will respond to the same treatment. By no means must the teacher appear to resent this opposition. It is every teacher’s duty to treat such pupils just as kindly as circumstances permit. If the teacher is determined to win such parents he will succeed, and in time they will become the best of friends. In all cases where such a difficulty continues to exist and is annoying, it is the teacher’s fault. To gain the mother’s love, is to gain the child’s love also.

Sometimes gossip or misunderstanding causes parents to oppose the teacher very bitterly. In such a 776case it is expedient that the teacher go to see the parents and have matters understood, assuring them she will use every means to do what is right and that the parents’ assistance will be of great value.

5. Submission to the Ringleader

(1) Lower grades. Even in the kindergarten certain children in every class stand out as leaders. In classes above the kindergarten this characteristic of leadership appears more and more strongly. If the leader throws his influence alongside that of the teacher, well and good. The teacher has thus a strong ally. If the leader arrays himself against the teacher, then the teacher’s own influence is weakened and in many cases seriously crippled. In the lower grades such an antagonistic attitude on the part of a single pupil may not be a very serious matter, but in the higher grades, and especially in high school, where the clan spirit dominates, a single pupil may turn an otherwise successful term into a failure. It is highly important then for the teacher to understand how best to overcome an unwholesome leadership on the part of the pupil.

There is but one basis upon which the teacher can operate such principles of control as will secure the hearty coöperation of the pupils. That basis is the possession of their confidence. The teacher must have the confidence of her pupils. It must be a confidence that is deep and sympathetic. It cannot be superficial. The pupil is a keen judge and will detect a superficial attitude of the teacher. But the teacher who feels in 777her heart a love for every boy and girl, a love that desires to do the best for them, to build and strengthen their characters, can not be superficial. It has been said elsewhere, that whatever increases the confidence of pupils in the teacher lessens the necessity of outer control, and whatever lessens the confidence increases the necessity of outer control. This is an important fact and the teacher cannot too thoroughly study it. It is the teacher who loses patience with the boy, when he shows the first signs of waywardness, who fails to attain the ideal in school-room control, who consequently loses the boy’s confidence, thereby increasing the difficulty of control. Such a boy, if he is a natural leader, will form a clique of his own and place himself at its head. He and his clan will see to it that mischief does not languish in that school. The teacher wonders why the boy regards her good admonitions so lightly. He would regard and heed them, if she had not lost his confidence. What, then, shall the teacher do to regain and keep the faith and loyalty of every pupil?

No better plan can be given for the primary grades than to tell the actual experience of one teacher of forty-five boys and girls. Among these were bad boys, who quarreled, fought, used bad language and did other things that could not be tolerated in a wellordered school. One was an only child; she controlled her parents and insisted on similar privileges in the school-room. By no means were the pupils well behaved. The teacher studied her problem. In the first week of school, she bore many annoyances, but she found out who were leaders and just how annoying 778the pupils could be, and also what they were capable of doing. She knew the actual condition of the room and had laid her plans to win. On the second morning she entered her room bright and cheery. Before the bell rang she copied a pleasing and easy little song on the blackboard. As soon as the bell rang and her pupils were in their seats she told them a very interesting story, standing as she did so. Her manner was pleasing and she held the attention of her pupils throughout the story. When it was finished she turned to the song and said, “Children, let us read over this song together.” At once she started to read. Many of the children did not read, but that did not deter her, she read on. When through, she asked them to read it again with her. This time more read. At the conclusion, she faced the school and said, “How fine that was! Do read it again for me!” This time every pupil read because she had approved their reading and showed pleasure and interest in what they did. Then she asked them to help her sing. None sang with her, but that did not daunt her. A second time she sang. A few of the pupils sang with her, and when through, she exclaimed, “I really did not know you could sing so well! Why, we must sing often!” She had won every boy and girl. In fact, they did not know themselves that they could sing so well. Again they sang. This time every voice helped. True there were a dozen discords. But what did this teacher care for discords. They were not evils. It was confidence she was planting and nurturing. From the song she turned to the work of the day, but casually she dropped this remark: “I know this will be a pleasant 779day. You all look just as though you would do your best.”

Through the day the teacher kept up that spirit of cheerfulness. She approved and complimented the crude efforts of each one. There was noise. There were annoyances, but she overlooked them as best she could. She was working for a larger end. Later, when she found her plans did not win all of her pupils, she took up each case of the few remaining wayward ones and disposed of it by individual treatment.

This teacher planned an autumn outing for her pupils. One bright afternoon, when the sun silvered the country side, and softened the red, yellow and golden tints in the forest, she took her flock to the woods. There were nuts to gather, wild grapes to pick, asters and goldenrod to gather and garlands of autumn tinted leaves to weave. Toward evening, she assembled the children about her in a pretty spot in the woods, and all ate together.

Often she allowed the children to have little play parties at which she was the leader. She knew no end of “full-of-fun” games; her pupils never failed to have a good time. She took them out skating. They had snowballing bouts. Even when she wanted her room cleaned and redecorated, she invited her pupils to join her in the task and as they worked away, she wisely directed their efforts.

The teacher who is tactful can think of a hundred and one things to do to please and win her pupils.

All such affairs must be given to the pupils as expressions of the teacher’s good will. There must be that attitude toward the pupils that indicates to them 780the teacher’s love for them and her interest and consideration for them. Among such fortunate pupils there will be no hostile ringleaders. All will readily accede to the teacher’s wishes, because she lives with them and for them. Such a teacher keeps her pupils busy with those things that they enjoy doing; they have no time to think of other things, than what the teacher plans for them.

The teacher who follows this course will be the “ringleader.” She, too, will be the one whom the pupils unconsciously will imitate and follow.


Creating a Ringleader

Georgie Bently had just been presented with a beautiful green top as a birthday present. The length of time it would spin when he wound it and gave it just the right fling was something quite wonderful. It was the dearest of all Georgie’s possessions. He took it to school and every few minutes would take it out of his pocket, feel of it caressingly and look at it admiringly. At last he ventured to wind it with the long string in his pocket, so it would “be ready” when the recess period came.

At this point in the proceedings, Miss Harriman, his teacher, caught sight of what was going on.

“Georgie Bently!” she called out, in a voice so startling that Georgie involuntarily jumped. “Haven’t I told you boys that you mustn’t play with toys and marbles in school time? Bring it right here to me, now.”

“There!” she added, as she gave it a careless toss 781into the drawer of her desk. “You can’t have it again until Friday night.”

Humiliated Georgie crept back to his seat and buried his face in his arms folded on the desk before him, in order to hide a briny tear or two. Then he amused the children near him by making faces at his teacher; but this was rather monotonous fun. He finally decided that the appropriate thing to do under the circumstances was to draw pictures of Miss Harriman, and relieve his feeling by jabbing his pencil through the eyes, mouth, etc., of the drawing. The other children saw the point and expressed their sympathy by doing likewise with similar drawings of their own production, giggling all the while as they did so, and occasionally breaking out in mirth which again called forth Miss Harriman’s expressions of disapproval.

“My children have acted like little demons today!” said the tired teacher that night, as she flung herself into the rocking chair upon reaching home. “Sometimes I wish I never had to go back again into that school-room!”


Go quietly to Georgie’s desk and say, “What a pretty top! Does it spin well? I’d like to see you spin it after school is done, but you know we all have to put our playthings away in school time. Can you take good care of it until the bell rings, or would you rather I would keep it for you?”

If Georgie is like most boys he will put it safely away when given a choice in conduct, and in so doing will have had an excellent lesson in self-control.



Miss Harriman repelled George by her apparent lack of appreciation of something that to him was precious. Her control of the situation was purely external, coercive. She did nothing to rouse the boy’s power of self-control. By using the principles of approval and initiative in coöperation she would have accomplished her purpose just as effectively, and at the same time would have strengthened the boy’s self-respect and self-reliance.

By reproving George in a way that roused his antagonism she turned him into a ringleader, for the time being, the effect of which was to increase the disorder, rather than cure it.


Teacher Becomes Ringleader

Miss Moss went from a small town to a two-room school in a mining settlement, to teach the first four grades. The school consisted of forty-two miners’ children, and one very pretty, well-dressed girl of ten, Florence Adamson, who was the daughter of the company store-keeper. This little girl’s mother was a clever dressmaker, who kept her daughter in the smartest of frocks and the perkiest of big hair-ribbon bows. The child was bright, learned her lessons easily and had always been a leader of the other children, who regarded her as a very wonderful being indeed.

Although Florence made trouble among the miners’ children occasionally, she was always forgiven this when she “made up,” a process accomplished by the aid of a winning manner and generous bribes of allday 783suckers and gum. The children followed her wishes slavishly, adored every silly thing she did, and regarded her childish naughtiness in school as the acme of brilliance. They tried to stand in her good graces by outdoing her in whatever she did; if she whispered, they talked in undertones, and if she threw paper wads, they threw bits of coal.

Miss Moss had analyzed the situation by the end of the first week. She saw that Florence had exercised more influence than the teacher, through her ability to provide amusement for the pleasure-starved little people. Her entertainment usually took the form of covert ridicule directed toward the teacher, and she always organized and managed the playground games, in so far as there were any. Miss Moss saw that she must substitute her own wholesome leadership for the leadership of this spoiled child. She saw that she must introduce a wholesome democracy for the boss management of a skillful and unscrupulous little tyrant.

She brought back with her from her first week-end at home, several pretty waists and frocks which she had not intended to wear to school; for she saw that one element in her leadership must be the satisfaction of the starved sense of beauty which lived in these miners’ children. She brought back also some dotted Swiss sash-curtains for the windows; but these she did not put up at once. She announced on Monday morning that she had a surprise, and that she intended to let three pupils know about it that afternoon after school. She was so very mysterious about her secret that the children spent the day in speculation about 784it. Florence found her efforts at entertainment, for once, quite ignored.

Of course Florence expected to be one of the three who were to share the secret after school, but at four o’clock Miss Moss chose Edward Hare, a great, overgrown boy who should have been in the seventh grade, and Mollie Sluss, a thin, shy, little thing who always bent over a book that she could never master, and Dicey Savage, who was Florence’s most enthusiastic follower. Miss Moss did not intend that the charge should miss fire. Florence headed a crowd which gathered at the windows to peep in at the uncovering of the great secret, but Miss Moss merely directed the favored ones to put on their things and go to her boarding-house.

Here each one was given a package to carry, and the quartet returned to the schoolhouse. The first package proved to be sash-curtains; the second contained the brass fixtures; but the third was put upon the desk, with the promise that is should be opened when the curtains were up.

“Clean hands first!” said Miss Moss, and there ensued a scrubbing bee. Then the curtains were put up, with much awkward help from the children, who were unused to such tasks. When all hung in snowy beauty, then Miss Moss gathered her helpers about her, and told them fairy stories while they ate the candy that was in the box. It was really a little party, and a party is a rare thing in the life of a miner’s child.

That was Miss Moss’ beginning; three children in that school now regarded her as a source of happiness 785and entertainment, and pretty things. Florence had a rival; and in the days to come the children slowly grew to feel that Miss Moss could make them have better times than Florence could, and that pleasing Miss Moss paid better than pleasing Florence. Miss Moss had no scruples of conscience in pursuing this course, for she knew that human beings have to be won to right courses of action long before they can be made to understand abstract reasons for doing right. She knew she could not win those children by preaching to them; she knew they would listen to a sermon only after they had grown to love and trust her.

There were many steps to the process of readjusting the warped relations in that school. Florence gradually, and not at all gracefully, accepted her new position of plain lay member of the school, a person with no special privileges, and with no abnormal influence. The climax came at Christmas, when Miss Moss trained her little band to present a short cantata in which an angel told the news of the birth of the Babe to representatives of all the nations of the earth. The leading character was the angel, and here Miss Moss encountered a common difficulty; Florence was really the only child in school who could take the character well. The others were all too shy or too phlegmatic.

Miss Moss had to choose between a pretty, successful performance, one which would bring her praise and admiration, one which the company store-keeper would report in glowing terms to the company itself, and the final success of her scheme of normal adjustment. She made the shy little Mollie Sluss the angel. Mollie stepped on the end of the sheet in which she 786was draped, she forgot her part twice and could never be heard at the back of the room; she lost one of her wings at an inopportune moment, and she failed most lamentably to look like an angel. She looked more like a lost soul which is too frightened even to ask the way back to its habitat. Mollie was not a shining success as an angel, but as a means to an end she did very well.

For Mollie’s father and mother sat in the audience, and their usually heavy faces wore a look of pride as their pale little daughter blundered through her leading part. Mollie had her first taste of leadership that day; Mollie knew that Florence no longer fell heir to all the good things just because she was Florence. Florence, meekly sitting in the background among the heathen nations, accepted this new order of things at last as inevitable, and submitted to taking her fair turn with the others. Her bribes had ceased to produce results; she had been outbid by one who could offer her very place as leader, as a prize for merit.

Miss Moss showed her mastery of the situation by raising other children to prominence among the pupils and thereby calling attention and admiration away from Florence who had heretofore monopolized the applause of the children.

In doing this she gave no commands. She merely brought about naturally a transference of admiration from Florence to others.

On the day when Miss Moss selected three pupils to help her prepare her “surprise,” she acted wisely in naming those whom she wanted. Had she asked, “Who would like to help me?” many pupils would have 787offered their services and the selection of three would have caused much antagonism, since the others who offered their services would be sure she knew they wanted to help.

(2) Higher grades. In the higher grades a ringleader who arrays himself against the teacher’s authority is much more exasperating than is a similar pupil in the lower grades, not only because of his greater influence upon other pupils, but also because it is much more difficult for the teacher to make excuses for him. “They know better!” is the thought that will intrude itself into the teacher’s consciousness to make difficult any feeling of leniency toward offending pupils. What, then, shall be done? Must the teacher watch the pupil closely and whenever he discovers evil beginnings, punish the offender? No; that is the method which in the past has driven thousands out of the school, only to become permanent burdens to society and in many instances paupers and criminals.

It will be necessary for the teacher to get the confidence of such a pupil. Enlist his abilities in leadership. He will thus become a valuable assistant to the teacher in “regulating” his clique of pupils. The teacher should interest the ringleader in his work, and approve of his efforts and work whenever possible. When there is some particular task to be performed, have the ringleader do it. When a game is to be organized, make him captain or leader, and so on. There are scores of places where he can be pressed into service in such a way as to gain his good will and confidence, and at the same time in such a way as to make him an aid to his schoolmates rather than a detriment. 788When once his confidence is won he will obey every command and wish.

Stating it briefly—if the ringleader feels you are on his side and are sympathetic with him, then, just as surely as water runs down hill he will come over to your side.

If you treat a boy as though he were on the same level with yourself, you are taking the first and most important step in winning his confidence. And he will immediately see that you get fair play, especially if he is a ringleader.

Our experience with human nature tells us that a sure way to get the confidence of another person is to coöperate with that person along the line of his own interests.

If the above statements hold true of the grades, still more do they apply to the high school.

(3) High School. Disciplinary problems in the high school should be solved on the largest basis possible. The increased scope of vision enables a pupil to view a situation in the larger connections. In the grades each act tends to stand by itself. The child is taking one step at a time into a larger area. The youth begins to make leaps over larger stretches and is impatient with the pettiness of a narrow method.

Consequently a wise teacher will omit all annoying puerilities in managing high school pupils. He will expect numerous childish follies to be retained even in the high school period. In some cases a method used with a child in the grades will work effectively in the case of a high school pupil. But discrimination must be very painstaking. A childish method, unwisely 789used, dampens a pupil’s esteem for his teacher because personal pride in the pupil has been injured.

On the other hand, by using a solution that puts the issue on a broad, high level, one appeals to the maturing intelligence and sense of personal dignity. Moreover, such procedure discloses to a pupil the connections that bind a particular act to other factors.

The boys who tied a schoolmate to the railroad track first saw their deed in its isolation; under judicious leadership the place of such a deed in the life of a school community may be vividly conceived, and when so viewed may be heartily repudiated. Such a type of revulsion against an unsocial act is most healthful; a mere decision not to repeat a proscribed prank has little moral worth.

The whole machinery of a well planned school system is concerned in getting a response from pupils. Any study which proves its worthlessness by winning no general response when well handled, is to be abandoned.

So much for the essential feature of school duty, that is, winning an acceptance and reaction for the lessons taught. But all the more this holds good in respect to the personal relation between teacher and pupil. If a teacher makes no effort to secure a personal response toward himself he can not hope to educate his pupils; he may feed an awakened intellect; this alone can not suffice—coöperation must appear in the teacher’s plans for the pupil’s good.



Failure to Utilise Leadership

When Carl Lindstrom went to Bentley township to teach for a year and so earn money with which to pursue his law course, he had no fear of meeting resistance, for this community was one of culture and good tradition, in which the children expected to do well in school and later to go to college. Carl himself was always popular at college, and he had no idea of being anything else in any community that he might grace with his presence.

Before the first week was up, he had lost this happy confidence. Charles Moxler was the cause of the new distrust of himself which Carl felt; and Charles was regarded as a model of boyhood in the whole countryside. He was fifteen years old, large and handsome, with charming manners and marked ability. He learned his lessons seemingly without much effort, and was a good violinist and a daring horseman. His attitude toward Carl irritated the teacher from the first, for he was not used to the easy, condescending tolerance with which Charles regarded him. Charles never refused to comply with any direct request; he obeyed the letter of the law without quibble. Nevertheless, Carl disliked him.

Charles seemed to have more influence with the students than the teacher had, and this influence seemed to the sensitive teacher to be exerted in a way to belittle his own authority. He resolved that when a chance came he would show everyone who was master in that school. The easy air of superiority of Charles nettled him so that one day he made an issue, resolved to reduce the insolent boy to his proper place. Charles, 791who had a loud and resonant voice, was telling a group of pupils of a football game he had seen the Saturday before.

“Charles,” said Carl Lindstrom, “do try to talk more quietly. You can be heard clear to the corner.”

“All right, sir!” sang out Charles, with easy good-nature. The other pupils, especially the girls, with whom he was a great hero, giggled, and Charles continued his story in a low monotone. But it was an exciting story, and soon he was talking as loudly as before, while the rest joined in his hearty laughter at the incident he was relating. Carl, sitting outside the circle of fun and fellowship, felt his authority seriously threatened, as indeed it was.

“Charles Moxler, take your seat!” he called out, suddenly, surprised himself at the irritation in his voice. “If once asking isn’t enough, I shall have to take other means. There is no sense in your talking so loud, and when I ask you to do a thing, I mean it! The rest of you may either take your seats or go out-of-doors.”

The pupils scattered, rather sullenly. School began a few moments later, and Charles studied with unusual application. When the algebra class was called, he came forward with the rest to recite. When his turn came to demonstrate at the board, he stepped forward, placed his problem on the board, and then began to explain in a voice so low that no one could hear without straining.

Carl had a mind to correct him, but, remembering his pupil’s popularity and having some caution in his make up, he refrained. Charles continued during that 792day, and throughout the week, to address his teacher in softly modified tones, so patently artificial that they aroused the amusement of all the young people who heard them. His manner was punctiliously respectful; Carl could find no point of attack. He felt helpless and imposed upon, and he was very conscious of the amused smiles of his pupils and of their scarcely concealed pity and contempt for him. Had he been able to laugh it off as a good joke, all would have been well, but Carl’s sense of humor did not extend to his own affairs.

This condition of things lasted for some time. At last, Charles, either repenting his revenge or tiring of the effort involved, resumed his natural voice and manner, and acted in a more manly way toward his teacher. But Carl’s year had been badly spoiled. He knew he had made a mistake, but knew not just where to look for it. How could one deal with a pupil who seemed to have more leadership than one’s self? How could he have avoided that humiliation and helplessness? What had he failed to do? Whose fault was it?


The next year he returned to college and Parker Ames, a classmate, fell heir to the school in Bentley Township. When Parker came back to college for commencement, Carl, in cap and gown, hurried to him to ask him about his year.

Coöperation with Leader

“Greatest place ever, isn’t it?” said Parker Ames. “I surely did enjoy those people, and I hope the youngsters know a little more for my being there. Great School!”

793“Did you have Charles Moxler?” asked Carl, thinking to hear a tale of woe similar to his own.

“I should say I did!” Parker’s enthusiasm expanded visibly. “He was the best one there, wasn’t he? He was my right-hand man in everything I did. I wanted to get up a festival to raise money for the Belgian sufferers, and Charles simply wore himself out working the thing up. We became mighty good friends, I tell you; he was as good as a grown up any day. He had such a hold on everybody’s heart, you know, that all one had to do was to get him interested in a thing, and the whole country simply followed right along.”

“He had an awfully loud voice,” said Carl.

“Big as his heart and smooth as his manners!” assented Parker.

Carl is still thinking about it.


Ringleaders at Their Worst

Instances of the operation of mob psychology in schools are comparatively rare, but they occasionally occur in industrial communities, where the walk-out method of gaining ends is kept prominently before pupils. Such an occurrence took place in the oil district of a Middle West state, where the social conditions are poor and the schools are not yet well organized. Mr. Frank, a new principal, found that his predecessor had gained and kept a certain degree of popularity by making concessions to his pupils and patrons which had greatly lowered the scholastic and other standards of the school.

794Mr. Frank resolved to sacrifice personal popularity if necessary to the efficiency of his school, and among the reforms adopted was that of doing away with a Friday afternoon holiday which had been allowed to all pupils who had had perfect attendance and punctuality all week. This weekly half-holiday, which reduced the working hours of the school one-tenth, Mr. Frank considered a bad thing. He said nothing about his plans to his pupils, but his rather rigid views on other matters led them to suspect that he might return to the old plan of five full days’ work; hence, they came to him frequently during the first week to ask if the Friday half-holiday would be continued.

“Wait and see,” he would reply; “I’ve not decided yet.”

“You’d better,” replied one group of high school boys. “We’ve had it for three years, and if you want us to work for you and like you, just keep it up.”

This attitude of the boys settled the matter for Mr. Frank, who called the board together and announced his position. They agreed that the giving of the holiday so frequently was a bad thing, and told him that they would “stand back of him if he could make it go,” which meant that they themselves were waiting to see what he would do with a bad situation. The board members were tradesmen who were afraid of offending the families of the school pupils by initiating such a reform themselves, but were willing to stand by someone else who would do so.

The grade teachers sympathized with his desire to bring up the standard of the school, and promised to do as he directed. There was no trouble in the grades 795when the discontinuance was announced. In the high school, anticipating a general epidemic of truancy if he announced his revolutionary policy before the noon recess, Mr. Frank told his fifty-five pupils to come back at one o’clock, as he had a matter of general interest to explain to them.

Thinking that some new scheme not effectively different from the old one might be forthcoming the fifty-five gathered as they were told. Mr. Frank noted, as the bell rang, that they had left on their coats and carried their caps in their hands.

He told them first, as soon as they were quiet in their seats, that there would be no Friday afternoon half-holiday. He said that perfect attendance was expected unless illness prevented it, and that no reward would be given for it. After a full explanation of his reasons he said that afternoon classes would begin in five minutes.

The effect was electrical. Sam Poultney, a bully of nineteen, who led the high school boys, sprang to his feet. He was a boy not without ability, a boy of undisciplined will and great physical courage. He faced Mr. Frank now, fearlessly, perhaps sincerely feeling that he defended a real right.

“No, they won’t!” he exclaimed. “You made us come to school this afternoon by a dirty trick, and we’re not going to stay. You can’t take our holiday away from us that we earned by being here all week and not tardy once. Come on, all of you!” and he started for the door.

Mr. Frank saw a quick and vivid example of the working of mob impulse. As the great, confident 796leader of the high school boys made for the door, the whole school rose and followed him, until a stream of angry pupils surged toward him as he stood staunchly before the only exit. Just as Sam reached the platform near which he stood, Mr. Frank’s quick wit saved the day. He knew that the action of a mob is largely unconscious and wholly emotional and instinctive, and he appealed to instinct skillfully—the instinct of self-preservation.

“Stop! Oh, stop!” he called, his white face set sternly. “Don’t you see what you’re doing?” He looked with wild eyes to the back of the room, as though he saw a fearful spectre there. The crowd of excited pupils, wholly under the control of whatever leader might show himself strongest, followed his eyes, turned around, and looked where he looked. Sam turned with the rest, and in the second of his hesitating inquiry, Mr. Frank gained the upper hand. His voice was raised in authority; his anger—for he was righteously angry—gave a threat to his words that the pupils felt and heeded.

“Turn around and go to your seats this instant!” he commanded. “Sam, walk to your seat! Turn around, all of you. If I hear one word—”

He stood like an avenging angel, a slight man, facing a mob of angry pupils, and the dignity and confidence of his attitude won the day. Sam started to mutter threats and objections, but stopped when Mr. Frank took one step toward him. Two or three girls began to cry; then first one pupil and then another took his books out slowly. The assistant, a girl fresh from college, stood at one side of the room, bravely stifling 797a temptation to indulge in hysterics. When he could trust his voice, Mr. Frank said:

“The senior English class may pass.” The class passed very meekly into their recitation room, and Miss Spangler closed the door after her as she went in with them. It was a sullen group of boys and girls, however, that stayed with her that afternoon.


In making so great a change in school policy as that proposed by Mr. Frank, first secure the undoubted backing of the school board. Make no announcement until your course of action is fully arranged with them and finally decided upon. If this can not be done early in the week, follow the custom of the former principal for the first week in giving the half holiday. This last arrangement has two advantages. (1) It gives the teacher a longer time to secure the confidence of his pupils and (2) it gives the chance of making the announcement before Friday afternoon comes, so that it loses somewhat its element of shock, thereby lessening the danger of a crisis.

Have a thoroughly worked out plan in mind of some pleasure which you can offer as a substitute for the one you are taking away. Propose this just before you make the announcement regarding Friday afternoon. If the pupils’ minds are full of the thought of some pleasure ahead, there is less room for the feeling of rebellion to creep in.

About Wednesday of the second week, ask the pupils to put away books five or ten minutes before the usual time, as you have an important announcement to 798make. When all are in a position of attention, say, with the air of one who has a pleasant surprise to offer, “I’ve been wondering if we couldn’t think up some jolly fun for Saturdays, for those whose attendance has been perfect through the week. I understand there are some very interesting remains of Indian settlements about fifteen miles north of here. We’ve just been studying about the inhabitants of the country in the period when the colonists came. It would be a good time to visit those remains of their old homes. Most of you have autos, or have friends who would lend you theirs. Suppose we get up a high school party tomorrow. If we do, we’ll just make a day of it—take our lunches along, roast our potatoes and make our coffee down on the lake shore, and some of you might like to take your fish poles along, or rifles, if you have them. Possibly we could bag a few prairie chickens for tomorrow’s dinner. The school board met last Wednesday evening and decided that we were to have school on Friday afternoons after this, but I believe this trip would be more fun than having Friday afternoon free. It leaves the girls out for this week, but next week we’ll think up something that they will enjoy. Sam, I’ll appoint you, and if you need any help you may choose one other boy, to see if we can get autos enough. Each of us will bring lunch for one and we’ll serve it all together.”

Get the minds of your pupils to working on the new plan immediately and thus drain off into harmless constructive action the emotions that otherwise would vent themselves in mischief or rebellion.

799The particular form of pleasure here outlined is suggested by the location of the incident narrated above, namely in the Middle West. But each teacher would, of course, choose the plan best suited to his own location and the likings and circumstances of his own school. Some teachers, for example, might prefer to have movie entertainments for Friday evening, correlating the pictures exhibited with the school subjects studied. Or a social gathering on Friday evening might be more appealing in some schools—something good to eat, a little music, a few games and a good time all round. The papers the children have prepared during the week might be exhibited on a long table for parents to examine. The girls would take great pride in helping to serve refreshments.


Such situations as faced Mr. Frank in the oil town are growing less common as time passes; in frontier towns they occurred frequently. Sometimes they occur still; and blessed is that school whose teacher, in such a crisis, possesses quick wits, a knowledge of psychology, and dauntless courage.

Mr. Frank did well to check the pupils as he did, when once the school had reached the state of insubordination indicated in the story above, but he was very seriously at fault in allowing the school to reach that stage. His arbitrary handling of the situation undoubtedly was a victory, but it was the kind of victory which assuredly would breed contempt and resentment and plotting to “get even” with the man who had tricked the pupils into an extra half day of study.

800In depriving the pupils of what they regarded as a great privilege he should have had a substitute plan which would have eased somewhat the disappointment of the pupils. In this plan he should have retained his rightful place as leader and thus by coöperating heartily in the pleasure of the pupils, should have fully demonstrated to them that he desired only their welfare.

So regulating a school as to prevent a crisis is a higher type of administrative ability than allowing crises to come, and then meeting them with drastic measures, even though they seemed successful.

Occasionally it happens, even in good schools, that a student commits an act so serious as to justify his being turned over to the juvenile or other court. In such a case the principal may sometimes find it to his advantage to coöperate with the court in trying to reclaim an unusually bad and daring boy.


Extreme Cases

Paul Thompson and Stephen Longman lived in a rapidly growing frontier town in the West. They had the name of being reckless boys, and all through their school days had caused more or less trouble to their teachers and classmates. The boys especially disliked Mr. Black, the teacher who had charge of the assembly study room. He was strict in his requirements and very severe in reprimands, and these boys had frequent occasions to feel the force of both. One evening when Mr. Black was scheduled to give a lecture to the school, Stephen said to Paul, “Let’s stiffen up Blackie’s backbone a bit, he’s too limp.”

801“What d’yer mean?” questioned Paul.

“When he gets well to going tonight, you go to one door of the assembly room and yell ‘Fire!’ at the top of your voice and I’ll go to the other and do the same. Let’s see how long he’ll keep his dignity.”

The program was carried out to the letter. Suddenly, in the midst of the lecture, rang out the cry, “Fire! Fire!”

The frightened students rose in a body and rushed for the door. In vain Mr. Black tried to control their movements. His voice was drowned in the uproar. In the desperate scramble for the doors that followed, many were injured, one or two so seriously as to require hospital treatment. Several others fainted. All were shocked and, of course, the meeting was broken up. It was soon discovered that the whole thing was a joke, but the harm was done. It could not be undone.

“There is only one thing more I can do for you, boys,” said the principal, as he talked with them in his office the next day. “Your offense is so serious that it is necessary to turn you over to the courts. I am going to make one more effort to help you, however, in the hope that it may save you from a term in the Reformatory. I have asked the judge to pronounce your sentence, then place you on probation, thus allowing you to finish your school course. Your only alternative is to be given over unreservedly to the courts. Which do you prefer?”

“We prefer to stay here. We never meant that all those people should get hurt, Mr. Wells,” said Stephen. “We just thought we’d scare them a little.”

802“We will go now over to the court house. I have already arranged with Judge Sinclair to meet you there.”

Judge Sinclair listened to the boys’ story with great seriousness, and after pointing out to them the legal aspects of their misdemeanor, said, “As a special favor to your principal, with whom I have already conferred, I shall give you one more chance. I have appointed Professor Black your probation officer, with absolute authority over you.

“The court decides that you shall discipline yourself by submitting implicity to the commands of others, and it is only through this severe discipline that you will become men. The probation I shall order is not going to be for your pleasure. You will submit to rough fare and to all the privation and discipline of prison without going to prison. You will be punished with hard work and regular living until you grow to like it.”

The probation was to be considered broken if the boys:

Used liquors or tobacco in any form.
Entered a poolroom or saloon.
Disobeyed the probation officer.
Attended a movie, or went out nights without the probation officer’s consent.

The officer was enjoined to see that the boys worked hard in school and made all their grades. They must stay at home evenings and conduct themselves quietly at all times. They were recommended to go to church twice every Sunday.

803The probation period was to continue until the court issued further orders.

The serious consequences of their rash sport, the severity of the judge, and the narrow escape from the reformatory, sobered the boys. They kept their probation and graduated two years later, having won back at last the forfeited respect of their teachers and classmates.

6. Submitting to Conventionalities

Probably a good many persons older than the two boys named below would be puzzled to explain many of the conventions which they, nevertheless, implicity obey. It is one of the curious manifestations of the regulative instinct that we yield such humble submission to what are oftentimes meaningless customs. On the other hand, this imitative sort of regulation of one’s habits may often lay a foundation for desirable conduct where a rational method applied in the beginning would have failed utterly. The danger is that when the questioning period arrives there may be only superficial answering of the oft-repeated question, “Why?”


Why Remove Hats?

Leonard and Karl Rosenbush were two sturdy little rationalists of ten and twelve years. They despised poetry, utterly rejected fairy stories, and took a strictly scientific view of life generally. They belonged to a family of culture and refined tradition, and their 804attitude amused their father greatly, while it reduced their mother to despair. She was often unable to give them the reasons they demanded for what she had always accepted without a question.

Miss Forbes, their teacher, was one day giving her room a lesson in good manners. They were discussing modes of salutation when Karl raised a vigorous protest to taking off his hat to women.

“Well, now, why do we have to take off our hats to women any more than to men?” he asked. “I don’t see why they’re so terribly good they have to be treated like a church.”

“Why, Karl, I never heard of such ideas. Doesn’t your father take off his hat to women?”

“Yes, and he can’t give any more reason than you can. All he did when I asked him was to laugh and say I mustn’t be a barbarian. I’d rather be a barbarian than to do such a senseless thing, anyway. Women aren’t any better than men.”

“Karl, I want you to take off your hat to women now, and when you’re a man you’ll know the reason why.”

“That’s it, put me off with ‘when I’m a man!’ Father said that, too. But if there is any reason, why can’t you tell me now? It’s just like Santa Claus—there isn’t any, and only little kids and girls believe it.”

Leonard nodded a vigorous amen to his brother’s heterodoxy, and Miss Forbes let the matter drop because she did not know how to meet Karl’s arguments, although she was sure he was wrong. The two boys took a mischievous delight in passing her and other 805teachers on the street without lifting their caps or even touching them.


The child of a rationalistic temperament must be met with reasons; if a thing is right there are always good reasons for it, and these may be fully or partially explained to any child who is old enough to inquire for them. In Karl’s case, both parents and teacher should have given him the true reasons for the chivalrous regard for women which is symbolized and expressed in the raising of hats. An intelligent boy of ten should begin to rationalize the good manners which in earlier childhood are pure habit.

Miss Forbes might pleasantly have answered Karl, that the ceremony to which he objected is a conventionalized expression of the regard men have for women. “You love your mother, don’t you? She does more for you that you can repay, doesn’t she? Now, all other right-minded boys and men feel the same way about their mothers. And so they all agreed, a long time ago, that they would pay this mark of respect to women.”

This explanation would serve very well for the school, but it would be wise to have a private talk with Karl and explain to him more fully the considerations that underlie all chivalrous customs. Put upon a basis of rationalized justice, the custom of hat-raising will win hearty support from Karl, but as a mere matter of unexplained tradition it makes no appeal whatever to him.



We have here a case where the love of approbation, strong enough in the average child to be used in fixing a good habit, does not function. Karl does not care enough for the approbation of parents, teacher or friends to make him do a thing not approved by his reason. The incident is inserted here because it is exceptional and illustrates the occasional case in which the love of approbation can not be used as an incentive. As a rule, the love of approval, of being considered “a gentleman” or “a little lady,” is strong enough to give all the motivation necessary for teaching good manners.


Miss Hendrickson taught in the town of Ridgeway, where the leading industries were carried on in factories of various kinds. Nearly all the parents worked in some one of these. Naturally, with their long hours of work, these parents had little time for such secondary matters as polishing their children’s manners. Most of them were thankful if they could feed the hungry youngsters and provide a place where they could sleep.

Miss Hendrickson soon became aware that the matter of teaching good manners devolved upon her exclusively. She also felt that a direct attack upon the rude customs of her pupils would be less effective than indirect procedure, since refined manners in this particular community usually resulted in having the scornful epithet, “Stuck-up!” attached to the possessor of said manners.

Interest in Manners

807After careful deliberation, Miss Hendrickson decided to take advantage of the story period in laying the foundation for more explicit teaching of manners later. Accordingly, she began the story of the feudal system and the institution of chivalry that sprang from it, a story always appealing to seventh and eighth grade pupils. She told how the feudal lord had to build strong castles for the safety of his family in those days of warfare. She vividly portrayed life in the castle, and showed how women also often had to do brave, daring acts in defending the castle when the husband was away. She explained how little boy pages were trained to wait on the ladies of the castle and to be polite to them, and how, when these same boys were older and became knights their highest duty was to protect these women who had few neighbors and who were shut up much of the time in the castles because it was unsafe to go abroad, and how the women returned this care by making the homecoming a very happy time for the lords and husbands whenever they came back from war. As the story progressed from day to day, Miss Hendrickson developed the thought that this sort of life in the castle gradually changed in many ways the ideals and habits of the people. Poetry and music, for other than religious purposes, began to be written and sung, and the rude people who had formerly laughed at refinement in manners as something effeminate and unsuited to a warrior, began to realize after a while that a man could be brave and strong, yet at the same time be gentle and polite toward women and toward all who were weaker or more dependent than himself. So, in 808time, the lords began to vie with each other to see who could be most polite or who could render the greatest service to his lady.

Chivalry sprang up, and, indeed, died out, many hundreds of years ago, yet it still has an influence over us, for we still use the term lady, not meaning now, exclusively, the wife of a lord, but any woman who is worthy of our respect. And a chivalrous man is still a man who is polite to women, and who always springs to their defense whenever they need protection. Gentlemen in those days meant a lord or someone of high birth. But such men had more refined manners than had the other people, or serfs, as they were called, having been trained in chivalry; and today we use the term in this country to mean any man who has fine manners.

Of course Miss Hendrickson told the story very much more in detail than has been done here. She dwelt upon phases which she knew would strongly appeal to the children and illustrated them with many pictures borrowed from the library. She had the children bring in baskets of stones from the river bank and asked two of the boys who had the most offensive manners to build a miniature castle on the sand table. She read a few of the poems sung by the minnesingers and troubadours, and the oath which the squires must take before they could be dubbed knights.

All this time Miss Hendrickson had said very little about the personal manners of her pupils, but she had substituted a new ideal regarding the desirability of good manners for the crude one generally held by her pupils. She had made such manners seem attractive, 809and thereafter when a child was about to do some act which she could not approve, she would often say, “What would a knight do, James, in such a case?” and many times the suggestion was sufficient to induce the desired conduct.

7. Submitting to State Control


The Longfellow School was situated in one of the most congested foreign settlements of one of our largest and most cosmopolitan cities. Very few of the parents of the pupils could speak any but the most broken English. Many made no attempt to converse in the difficult language of the strange new world to which they had come.

Saluting Flag

The board of education was particularly anxious that the children of these foreign parents should be trained in appreciation of American institutions and in reverence for the American Flag, with all it stands for. They requested that all the national holidays should be made the occasion of special programs to which parents should be invited and that each afternoon when the schools were dismissed each pupil should salute the flag both verbally and with the hand.

Most of the children entered into the custom without demur, but one boy of fifteen, Hans Neuhaus, refused to give the salute.

“Hans, everyone is expected to give the salute,” said his teacher, William Hoover. “Once more, now.” Still Hans remained silent.

810“Hans, I wish you to give the salute with the others.”

“I don’t believe in saluting the flag,” said Hans. “It isn’t my flag, anyhow. I’m not going to salute that flag.”

“Hans, you must salute it,” said the now exasperated teacher. “The board requires it, and if you do not obey we can not have you in this school.”

“All right, then. I’ll go,” and Hans cooly took his books from his desk and walked out.

Three days later, as Hans did not reappear at the school, he was arrested for truancy and taken before the juvenile court. Under the coercion of the court he was made to return to the school and to give the daily salutes.


Try a roundabout way of getting at Hans’ difficulty. For a little while, at least, appear not to notice that he is not joining with others. Meanwhile, in the story period, or in the history class study, in a simple and interesting way, tell the history of the flag and the principles for which it stands. Imagine yourself in Hans’ place—that is, that you are a foreigner in a strange land, and that it is the flag of another country that you are asked to salute. What considerations would make you willing to do it? When this question is answered in your own mind, then set out to win the allegiance of Hans.

Keep watch on the playground to see if some of Hans’ hostility has not been caused by unkind teasing on the part of other children.



Only the outward form of loyalty can be brought about by force. Mr. Hoover forgot that only an intelligent understanding and appreciation can be the basis of true loyalty, and these require time in which to develop. He should be more concerned, then, in the conditions favorable to a steady growth of these attitudes than about mere compliance to outward, conventional form. Saluting the flag and honoring the flag may be two quite different acts.


Honoring the Flag

Miss Beardsley, of the Lincoln School in Newport, taught her class, by many little talks and allusions to venerate the ideals of the national flag rather than the flag itself. “Only noble-hearted persons have a right to stand under that flag,” she often said. Then, when some especially praiseworthy act had been performed by any child during the day, she would call that one forward to stand under the flag that was gracefully draped in the corner of her school-room, while the others gave the salute just before going home at the close of the day’s session. The children soon began to vie with each other, in helping a younger child, in being polite, keeping desks tidy—anything that would especially entitle them to stand under the flag—the greatest honor the teacher could confer. Thus the pupils learned to associate true patriotism, so far as a young child could understand it, with the symbol of state control.

8128. Self-Regulation

(1) Wise choices in human relationships. Sooner or later in the life of every normal child, the more or less arbitrary control of parent and teacher must give way to self-regulation of conduct. Happy is that boy or girl who has been unconsciously practiced in self-control and wise choosing before that day comes when he no longer has a wise counselor at hand in life’s startling emergencies.


“Well, you’re going to the gayest place on the coast, and when you come back in the fall I shall expect you to bring us some startling ideas for our winter fun, Constance. Do see if you can’t pick up something really new. We’ve done the same old thing so long, you know! Well, goodbye. Have a good time!”

Choosing Companions

Miss Osgood stood on the platform and waved her handkerchief to the Yule children and their delicate little mother, who were off for Greenwood Beach for the month of August. The Yule young people were much flattered by Miss Osgood’s attention, for she was a young matron in a very fashionable private “finishing school” for young ladies. She was also quite a favorite in the society outside of the school, as well as the organizer of all the social functions within it. Constance, especially (who at eighteen had just finished high school and would be “coming out” next winter), thought she was a lucky girl to have Miss Osgood notice her in such a way as to indicate that it would be possible for her to suggest valuable ideas to 813Miss Osgood’s fertile mind. Inwardly she resolved that if any startling ideas were floating around at Greenwood Beach, she would bring them back and lay them at Miss Osgood’s feet. Her brother Clarence, a sophomore at college; Helen, who was a high school sophomore, and Kenyon, just finishing grammar school, were as eager as Constance for good times; but Constance was the leader, and as her mother was not strong enough thoroughly to oversee her children’s lives, Constance led the others in whatever they did.

“Oh, you dear—it’s so lucky you came tonight!” one of her friends gushed, as they entered the hotel which was to be their temporary home, late Saturday afternoon. “We’re planning a coaching party for all day tomorrow, and need two more to make up the party. Won’t you and your brother go?”

Constance reflected. She knew her mother, who was at the desk arranging for rooms, would want them to go to church the next day, and to rest after the long trip. Still, going to church and resting gave one no startling ideas, and it was certainly not having “a good time.” So she consented, and later cajoled her reluctant mother into a grudging consent.

Having started out with the idea of social gayety rather than of rest and recreation, Constance soon became a leader in the gayest life at the hotel. She even planned the champagne supper at the old sailors’ tavern, which was written up in the New York papers. Her old friends, the wholesome girls with whom she had tramped and gone swimming in previous summers, soon found that she had no time for them, and 814began to avoid her. The month resolved itself, for her and Clarence and Helen, into a feverish rush of engagements. Constance came home in September tired and sophisticated, but full of those sensational ideas that Miss Osgood had said she wanted. She met Miss Osgood at a tea before long, and hoping to gain her notice and become her companion, she regaled the ladies present with a lively account of her summer’s gayety.

After she had gone, there was a little silence. Then Miss Osgood said to the other women:

“Isn’t it a pity the Greenwood Beach should have spoiled Constance so? She was such a sweet girl last summer, and now she seems like a jaded old society belle, and a belle not too particular as to her companions at that. I suppose she’ll be the rage this winter, but I shall rather steer clear of her.”


Constance’s case calls for the application of the principles of suggestion and of initiative in coöperation. See to it that no young person who has been under your influence for a period of months or years goes to a new and different world without trying to indicate to that person how he or she may get the best rather than the worst out of the novel experience. A little conversation as to the purpose of the trip, a few suggestions as to the interesting places that may be visited, a little reading together of the historical or other literature connected with the new field, a helpful word as to how the trip may be made beneficial to the friends who are not fortunate enought to enjoy such 815pleasures, may give direction to ambitions which otherwise will expend themselves upon unworthy ends.


Girls and boys in the adolescent period are possessed of so many conflicting ideals that they may be turned in any one of half a dozen directions at a psychological moment. Just at the time when Constance was feeling very grown up, and was looking forward to a very vivid experience of some kind, Miss Osgood thoughtlessly dropped the suggestion which colored all of Constance’s thoughts and acts during her vacation. Instead of trying to gain Miss Osgood’s approbation she should have spent her month in growing strong and brown in the open air, in helping to make the life at the hotel simple and wholesome and health-building; but Miss Osgood’s influence all went the other way.

It is important that even chance acquaintances watch their casual injunctions to young people, not only because they may have so much more influence than they dream, but also because they may speak at a time when the mind of the hearer is peculiarly sensitive to suggestion.


A Wise Choice

Dodge Monroe was changing from the East High School to the Sidney Lanier, because his parents were moving farther out in the suburbs. A few nights before they left for their new home, the Claytons gave the Monroes a farewell dinner, and Dodge, much to his delight, was included in the invitation. It 816was his first dinner party, and in his new Tuxedo he felt very grown up and manly.

Over the salad Mr. Clayton turned to Dodge, who was beginning to feel a bit left out of the grown people’s conversation.

“And you change now to the Sidney Lanier High School?” he inquired.

“Yes, sir. I start there next Monday.”

“I know they’re sorry to lose you in the East, but you’ll make an equally good record in Sidney Lanier. And it must be an inspiration to any boy to attend a school named after such a man. He could hardly be unworthy, having such an example of manhood always before him.”

Dodge knew nothing about Sidney Lanier, but this aroused his curiosity, and on Sunday afternoon he went to the branch library and read up on Sidney Lanier. As the details of that brave and beautiful life became real to him, he found himself measuring his own character by the standard of Lanier’s. He took out Lanier’s “Boy’s Froissart” to read.

That week he met dozens of new boys. Being frank and strong, he was liked at once, and many acquaintances offered. Some of the boys seemed all that boys should be; others, he knew, his mother would not approve as his friends. This thought came to him:

“Back at East I’d just grown up with the fellows, and knew everybody. Here there’s a bigger school, and I can’t know them all. I’ll have to choose. If I’m trying to make myself like Sidney Lanier, why not try some such test in regard to the fellows?”

This is what Dodge did, more or less consciously. 817Mr. Clayton’s admiration for a fine man, expressed in the most casual way, had a determining effect upon Dodge’s character.

(2) Religious attitudes. If regulation of conduct between man and man must become eventually a matter of individual choosing, in a still higher degree must religious attitudes become an issue for self-regulation. The teacher’s problem, then, is to throw about the pupil a social environment which shall stimulate the pupil’s highest ideals, but yet without encroaching upon his individual liberty and responsibility.


Mr. Grey was distressed at the lack of church-going in the little town to which he had come as principal. A very religious man himself, he never missed a service and never failed to find satisfaction and help in one, no matter how unprofitable it might seem to others. When, therefore, he observed that few of his high school pupils attended the village church, he resolved to talk to them about it.

Going to Church

“I want to talk to you about a matter which is far more important to you than your education,” he began “Education will fit you to do your part well in this world, but religion teaches you about the world to come, and is, therefore, more valuable to you, since eternity so far transcends time. I am here to train your minds, but unless you go to church your souls, which are far more important than your minds, have no training at all. ‘What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?’ Right now, while you’re young, you ought to be forming 818church-going habits, even if you don’t care for church. You’ll get used to it, and even come to like it in time, if you don’t at first.”

There was more of the same sort of appeal, to all of which Mr. Grey’s pupils listened politely, for they respected him highly, but none of which seemed to swell the church attendance on Sunday. Although he succeeded in other respects, in this one matter Mr. Grey had to acknowledge that his efforts led nowhere.


Let the appeal for church attendance, like many others, be based on interest. All young people like company, action, color and music; therefore, most little children like Sunday School, but when they reach an age at which the church does not offer them these inducements, they are likely to stop unless kept in by family influence. Make your appeal according to the age of your pupils and their tastes.


Mr. Grey talked to his pupils of things they knew little or nothing about. This world is very real to the young; the next world is very shadowy and hypothetical. The only persons whom Mr. Grey’s appeal would reach would be those pupils who had been brought up with religious training—i. e., the children who would not need it. In separating education and religion, time and eternity, mind and soul, he used outworn and abandoned conceptions of things, foreign alike to modern thoughts and to pupils’ knowledge. In assuming that they would not like it at first, he 819frightened them away from the duty urged upon them.


Mr. Tate, teaching also in one of the small towns in which church-going was out of fashion, said to his boys and girls:

Correlate Church and School

“Mr. Corithers told me that he was going to preach about Phœnician ships next Sunday. I wondered how he could make a sermon out of that subject, but he wouldn’t tell me. As we’ve just been studying about this matter, I suggest that we all hear this sermon Sunday, and then we’ll discuss it Monday.”

He and Mr. Corithers had talked over ways and means, and had together planned a series of sermons that should correlate with some of the school work being done. They planned to have simple and dignified music, and talk little about eternity until the young people had been led far enough in the spiritual life to know they had souls. The services, concrete and beautiful, and the sermons, which were planned to reach their hearers, were attended and enjoyed by Mr. Tate’s pupils.

Mr. Tate did not urge his pupils to go to church without a conviction that they should do so, and a knowledge that they would hear something they could understand. He and the minister planned earnestly and well to get results, and won.


“Well, what do you think of the girls by this time?” The kindly old president looked hard at Miss Swallow, 820who had just finished her second month as a teacher in a girls’ private school.

“I think they are lovely girls, and I like to work with them,” she replied. “With one exception, they could hardly be better.”

“With one exception? And what is that?”

Time for Bible

“The matter of piety. This is a church school, and yet I feel a real lack of a spirit of devotion among the girls. When I visit their rooms, I see all sorts of books in evidence except the Bible. When I attend the Y. W. C. A. meetings, it seems to me that most of the girls give evidence of a very superficial sort of religious experience.”

“What you say is true. I have often thought of it myself. But what can we do? I urge the girls not to neglect their spiritual interests, in chapel. And every Lent we have special meetings.”

“I’ll study the situation a little and tell you what I think about it, Dr. Dayton.”

“Do, please. I am anxious to better things if I can.”

In a few days Miss Swallow was back in the president’s office.

“I think I’ve found the reason for the trouble,” she said, “and the remedy is simple. We expect our girls to grow strong here, and so provide them a gymnasium and a tennis court, and give them time for exercise. We expect them to eat, and provide a meal time; we expect them to sleep, and make them put out their lights and go to bed. But we expect them to cultivate the spiritual life without providing any special time for it. There is not even a five-minute period for devotions and quiet during the day.”

821“But girls say their prayers and read their Bibles at night, don’t they?”

“Yes, if they do it at all. They do it when they are tired with the long day’s work and play, and their attention is not particularly drawn to it by any stipulated time set aside for devotions. I think we should emphasize our idea of the importance of devotions by giving it time during the day.” She outlined a plan, and they agreed to try it in the winter term.

They provided a fifteen-minute “quiet time” just before breakfast, which every girl was expected to use in meditation and prayer. After a time they changed it to fifteen minutes after breakfast, before classes began; this worked much better. Girls who had never given any time to devotions now found a time provided, and a lack of distractions which suggested a compliance with the expectation. Girls who had always wanted to, but could never find time, now began systematically to study the New Testament or the “Imitation.” There was no compulsion about it, but the suggestion of the definite provision for the cultivation of the inner life bore abundant fruit in lives made gracious by its growth.


Religious Perplexities

Mr. Horne had won the respect and devotion of the high school boys by his efficient and conscientious coaching of the athletic teams. Therefore, it was not strange that one of the boys, Donald Hope, came to him one day after school, and, after much hesitation, plunged into a discussion of religious faith.

“Now, our minister says we ought to believe,” he 822said, “and I don’t see how we’re to believe a thing that we never saw or felt or heard, but that people just tell us is so. It isn’t scientific. I don’t want to be wicked, you know—he says you’re condemned if you don’t believe; but how’s a person to believe when he doesn’t?”

Mr. Home was greatly puzzled by this question, and much troubled as well. He hardly knew whether to attempt to answer it or not; finally, he decided he would better not.

“You ask Mr. Curtis about it, Donald,” he said. (Mr. Curtis was the minister whose teaching Donald had reported.) “You see, I’m a public school teacher, and we are not allowed by law to teach religion. Besides, I’ve never thought much about such matters, and I might tell you wrong.”

Donald went away with a heavy heart. Mr. Home was the one person in whom he had faith enough to take to him this big and serious question, and he had failed him. He did not think for a moment of going to Mr. Curtis, who was elderly and inclined to be dogmatic. He resolved to wait until chance might bring him an explanation of his difficulties.


“Never fail to help where help is needed.” Even if giving help involves research into new fields, this is a good ideal for teachers to live up to.

Mr. Horne, finding himself unable to help Donald, should have promised him at least to think about the matter, and the two might have discussed it freely 823and in sympathetic sharing of a difficulty which most people have faced at some time or other.


There is nothing unlawful or wrong in helping students with their personal difficulties, religious or otherwise, if this is done outside the classroom and outside of school hours. On the other hand, it is a very serious thing indeed to fail to help a human being who needs help.

The rationalizing of faith is not so insuperable a difficulty as it appears to be when one first faces it. There are a number of books dealing with the question, and these Mr. Horne might have found and read, both for his own sake and for Donald’s. The whole structure of civilization is built on faith, and religious faith is but a higher form of that which children have in their parents or pupils in teachers.


Saintly Recluse

She was an anemic-looking girl of fifteen, her pretty brown hair pulled tightly back and braided with Puritanic neatness, her thin little body clad in the most severe of gingham frocks. Miss Corliss noticed her the first day, noted her letter-perfect recitation in English and her aloofness from the other students, and wondered what her story was.

In a few days the Juniors came to Miss Corliss for advice and help in planning their fall frolic. When they came to the business of assigning committees, she made a special plea that Susan should be given 824some work to do, as she wanted to see her on friendlier terms with her classmates.

“Susan White? Oh, she’ll never have anything to do with the parties. She thinks they’re wicked. She stays at home and reads the Bible all the time, Miss Corliss.”

“But if you ask her, won’t she help with the work and come to the party?”

“No, Miss Corliss, we’ve tried it. We used to invite her but she always turned us down, and now we don’t bother. Her mother is kind of crazy about religion, I guess, and Susan is growing to be just like her.”

Miss Corliss talked to Susan and found her sweetly frank about her views. She was in no sense “crazy,” but she had been led to a piety unusual in one so young, through the influence of her widowed mother, who had found consolation for bereavement in extreme devotion. Susan, feeling it her duty to devote herself to her mother, had gladly denied herself the usual pleasures of youth and found real joy in her asceticism.

“What can you do for her?” the principal, Mr. Waiting, asked.

“Do for her? I shall not do anything for her—she doesn’t need anything done for her. She is not abnormal; she is only unusual. She is one of the happiest girls in school, but she is one of the occasional people, very occasional nowadays, who find their whole happiness in a very personal, mystic type of religious service. To try to make her over to be like the other girls would be a great mistake.”

“But this isn’t the age of the religious recluse, you know.”

825“Yes, I know. That’s why one mustn’t interfere with them. If she were living in the time of Saint Francis or of Jonathan Edwards, I should suspect that her saintliness was copied from a model too often urged upon her. As it is, she keeps to her mysticism and asceticism in spite of every suggestion to the contrary here at school. I shall watch her for signs of unhealthfulness, but as yet I don’t see any. She has as much right, you know, to develop her talent for religious devotion as Stanley Brand has to develop his for mechanics.”

“I never thought of it in that light. Well, probably you’re right, only, as you say, be on the lookout for signs of a pathological development.”


Miss Corliss is to be commended for her attempt to interest Susan’s classmates in her behalf. It is unfortunate, however, that she dropped the matter upon learning that Susan herself preferred to be left out of their sport. There is no incompatibility between innocent fun and a devoted religious life. To sacrifice entirely the one is to make the other onesided in its development. Sunshine as well as shadow is necessary for healthy growth in any of the higher types of life.

Susan’s habit of isolating herself from her associates might easily become so fixed as greatly to injure her future prospects in life. Coöperation, rather than isolation, is to be the watchword of the future and ability to coöperate with one’s fellows can be learned only through actual experience—an experience that Susan was failing to get.

826Finally, Susan’s own physical health required a more vigorous and varied type of life. It is highly significant that the account, as it comes to us, describes Susan as anemic. This pathological condition of the body was undoubtedly, in part at least, both cause and effect of Susan’s mental attitude—one by no means to be encouraged to the exclusion of all recreative activities. If not strong enough to indulge in the more vigorous sports of her classmates, Susan should at least be led to feel it incumbent upon herself to share in such activities as did not tax her strength too severely.



He’s armed without that’s innocent within.


The issues that gather around sex interests of children and young people are numerous, vexatious and unceasingly important.

A sane teacher does not disclose a morbid concern in sex affairs, neither does he avoid dealing with insistent problems. In fact, he proceeds much as does a sympathetic father with his son or daughter.

Naturally any effective disciplinary measures must be supported by accurate information as to the nature of sex life and sex actions of children. The administrator must know a great deal more than he tells; he is never to be surprised by disclosures of sexual misconduct.

1. Objectionable Games—Unconscious Sex Attraction


“Three Deep”

Prof. Walsh, principal of Burrell High School, observed his pupils playing a game called “Three Deep.” This game, played by the boys and girls together and calling for choices of confederates to be made, seemed to him to lead to romance and he therefore talked against it. He finally demanded that the pupils quit playing this game altogether.

830Attaching more importance to the game than it really merited, the pupils played it all the more after school hours.


Mr. Walsh should have led the pupils to enjoy another game and should have said nothing about the one he disliked. Having decided upon what to substitute for this one he should say: “I know of a game I believe you will all enjoy. I will show you how it is played.” To insure enthusiasm in the new play he should speak to two or three of the leaders among the pupils, a day or two before the game is introduced, saying, “I know of a fine game that I think we ought to play here; as soon as I find time I will teach it to you. You are quick to see into a new proposition, so I want you to help me get it started as soon as you understand how it is played.”


By the enlistment of the interest of several pupils you are more likely to make a success of your new game. If pupils have plenty of chance to play together in wholesome activities they will be much more likely to take a matter-of-fact view of association with opposite sexes than if their attention is called to the harmful qualities of a game and they are then asked to stop playing it. The forbidden is alluring to high school pupils and to young children alike. Therefore, without reference to the often-played game, the teacher should substitute a better one in its place.



Prize Athletics

In the gymnasium of the Bradley High School the students introduced social dancing during intermissions. Mr. Burgess, the principal, understood well the favorable attitude of some of his patrons toward dancing. He, therefore, as a counter attraction, organized two athletic clubs in the school, one for girls and one for boys.

He offered small prizes to the best shot-putter, runner, walker, vaulter, etc., the prizes to be given in the following May on a field day, the gate receipts of which would pay for the prizes. The girls were offered prizes in archery, tennis and croquet and were asked to train two opposing baseball teams selected from their numbers.

Field day was a grand success. The health of the pupils had been conserved and nobody but Mr. Burgess himself knew the real reason why the clubs had been organized.


Kissing Games

The small high school at Lexington had fallen into the deplorable habit of playing kissing games during intermissions. Mr. Poe, the principal, decided to turn the attention of the students into a less dangerous and disgusting channel. He decided upon asking the pupils to help beautify the school grounds and buildings.

He appointed two seniors to choose sides, so that every pupil in the high school would be on one side or the other. He then assigned the north half of the buildings and grounds to one side. On fine days they 832raked, mowed, planted flowers and vines, placed shrubs, etc., on stormy days they planned interior decorations. At the close of the school year a committee from the town not only decided which side had done best work, but declared that the pupils had gained much practical knowledge and that the schoolhouse and grounds had never looked so well before.

2. Sex Consciousness

It is toward the end of the second year that boys often begin to show tendencies toward evil habits. This tendency does not appear because the boys of themselves grow bad at this time; it is a matter of imitation. In the country school the younger pupils come in contact with older boys who lead them into evil, and the same is true in villages and cities. It might be that could the growing boy never come into association with evil it would not become the teacher’s necessity to use the fundamental principles in such a way as to hold the boy’s confidence. It cannot be denied that if he has the confidence of the boys he can control them. No problem, however, requires greater wisdom in the handling.


Sex Hygiene

Miss Marlowe, the second grade teacher at High Falls, had noticed by Charlie Moncrief’s nervousness, his sometimes vacant stare, and his frequent misuse of his hands, that he needed to be taught on the subject of sex hygiene, but she did not know how best to 833bring about such instruction. So she kept up a continual corrective set of admonitions like the following:

“Charlie, be quiet and listen to this story.”

“Study your spelling, Charlie.”

“Charlie, come up here and stand by my desk.”

And so throughout the year, Miss Marlowe ignored the facts that ought to have led to a reformation of this little boy’s habits.


When a child shows he has not been given careful teaching relative to sex hygiene, go to his mother and advise her to take the child to a physician. Explain the physical as well as the moral and mental help it may be to the child to have one of two very slight operations performed, after which, with proper diet and bathing, the boy may easily forget his wrong habits.


Children can best be taught at home on matters of sex hygiene. This is especially true of children in the lower grades. Mothers, as a rule, gladly respond to a teacher’s or physician’s suggestions for improving the health of their children.


School Nurse Instructs

Miss Morris, a fourth grade teacher, called together the mothers of her pupils and asked a trained nurse who lived in the village to address them on sex hygiene. After the talk, Miss Morris said: “The subject just 834discussed is a most important one. I shall be very glad, indeed, to make reports to any mothers whose children, in my judgment, need attention relative to this subject, if it is the wish of the mothers here present for me to do so.”

A vote was taken and the mothers thus expressed their desire to have such help as the teacher could render. Thereafter she felt perfectly free to go to them whenever it seemed necessary to discuss this great subject, so pertinent to a child’s welfare.


Miss Vane saw a note fall upon Mary Pratt’s desk. She said,

“Mary, bring that note to me.”

The child, she knew had not yet read the note. Greatly embarrassed, Mary looked questioningly at Clyde Mitchel before starting toward Miss Vane.

Improper Notes

Contrary to the courtesy which teachers admonish pupils to show, Miss Vane stood up, opened the note and perused it in the presence of the school. While she was looking at the note, Clyde Mitchel buried his scarlet face in his book.

“You wrote this note, didn’t you, Clyde?” asked Miss Vane.

Clyde only nodded “Yes,” and burrowed even deeper into his book.

“This is a shameful note,” said Miss Vane. “It contains words that no child should ever write or speak. You may stay after school, Clyde.”

The boys waited at the second corner from the school house for Clyde after school.

835In about ten minutes Clyde came running toward them.

“What did she do, Clyde?” they asked.

“Aw, nothing; she just preached a little and gave me a few licks that wouldn’t hurt a baby.”

“What was in the note, anyway?”

He told them exactly what was in the note, and a loud “Hurray!” went up from the group of listeners. The subject of conversation among these boys as they went on down the street was as full of unclean words and suggestions as the worst boys in the group could think up.


If you can not deal with sex subjects privately, with pupils in the lower grades, do not deal with them at all. Miss Vane made a mistake in reading or referring to the note in the presence of others. In her efforts to suppress such foul communications she occasioned a talk upon the unnamable topics by all of her own room and many in other rooms as well.


Public punishment of culprits who offend by talking or writing on sex subjects only occasions more such talk. It is like trying to quench fire by brandishing a fire-brand which emits live sparks in every direction, each one of which starts a conflagration.


Avoid Spreading Harm

When Sadie Moore picked up a note from the floor and handed it to Miss Dietz, who taught the third 836grade, the teacher allowed no one to see her when she read the note. She said privately to Sadie: “I desire that you say nothing to any one about that note. That is the best way to help me in this matter.” She studied the handwriting and note paper and fixed the blame to a certainty upon Conrad James. She resolved at once to keep sharp eyes on that boy, unknown to him, and to see that he had no chance to have unrestricted conservation with other pupils for a while. She supervised all play periods and thereby assured herself that no harm should come to any one of her pupils through association with him.


Morbid Sex-consciousness

Pearl Goodwin’s mother was a widow of ill-repute in the village. The eighth grade girls slighted Pearl hourly. They avoided sitting with her whenever possible; they gave her too wide a space at the blackboard while the rest of them stood so close together as to crowd their work; she went sadly to and from school, walking alone, for none of the others would walk with her.

The teacher, Miss Terman, herself a native of the village, understood, and made no effort to change the situation.

One day Pearl brought a shameful note to Miss Terman, saying that she found it on her desk. Miss Terman was shocked and made public inquiry as to where the note came from. Some of the girls felt sorry for Pearl and showed it by their attitude toward her. The writer was not discovered. Every day, thereafter, for a week, Pearl showed a similar note to Miss 837Terman, and the mystery grew and with it sympathy for Pearl. Daily Miss Terman made a speech about the notes and asked help in finding out the writer.

Finally, in despair, she consulted the superintendent of the school. When he heard the history of the case he said:

“I believe that Pearl herself is the writer of those notes. Her mind has been poisoned on the sex subject by taunts. I believe she is the only one in your room who would write such notes.”

With this thought in mind, Miss Terman sought evidence of Pearl’s guilt. She was not long in finding the half leaves in Pearl’s tablet from which the paper for the notes had been torn. She even found Pearl writing a note, and got her pitiful confession of taking this way to call attention and sympathy to herself.

Miss Terman sentenced Pearl to isolation for the remainder of the school year (about two months). She was compelled to take her seat as soon as she arrived at school in the morning and at noon, to have a separate recess from the others, and remain in her seat after school closed until the other children had time to reach their homes.


Miss Terman should have drawn Pearl into the games of the other girls early in the year. She should have said to the leader among the girls, in private. “You have it in your hands to make a classmate happy or miserable. You, yourself, will enjoy school better if no girl is made sad and lonely. I know that the other girls will follow your lead and, therefore, I 838desire that you invite Pearl Goodwin into your school games and give her an opportunity to know and like good company.”


Miss Terman, by allowing the note-writing to be publicly known, caused an epidemic of undesirable talk in her school. She kept this in mind daily by her isolation program for Pearl. It is only when all are concerned in a question of this kind that a public talk should be made on questions of sex.


Hygienic Toilet Rooms

Enoch Fites found the disgraceful condition of the toilet rooms belonging to his school to be a source of great temptation and danger to his pupils. He first solved the general problem of winning his pupils’ confidence. He was a master in quietly introducing improvements in the school. For example, he secured funds for a splendid clock, which was connected with the Western Union Telegraph wires and was corrected every hour. He established a manual training department and set every boy in high school and in the eighth grade at a bench.

He opened up a domestic science department. He organized tennis teams and put through a large number of important measures.

When the appropriate time came, he found no difficulty in putting the toilet rooms for boys in a sanitary condition and keeping them so. He remarked to a visitor,

839“I have not inspected those rooms for two months, but I know just how they are kept.”

“How in the world do you manage it?”

“I put it up to my boys. I made the toilet rooms entirely adequate for their needs and then put it up to my boys to keep them clean. They have never disappointed me.”

3. Meeting the Boy and Girl Question


When Mr. Harley went to take up his work as superintendent of the Jamesville High School, he said to a teacher who had served there the year before: “I believe in preparedness—what was your greatest disciplinary problem last year?”

High School Parties

“Parties, without a doubt,” she replied. “The last party or the coming party occupied the minds of the students to the exclusion of their studies. They were out late at night and consequently did mediocre work, even the brightest of them.”

“Was nothing done to stop party going?”

“Well, you see, many of the parents upheld the pupils in what they called their social education, so Mr. Turner (the former superintendent) didn’t try to prohibit parties.”

“I’m glad to have this information,” replied Mr. Harley.

Later, when the pupils were known to be planning a hallowe’en party, Mr. Harley announced that he would suspend every pupil who attended any party 840at any time during the school year, without first securing his permission, and that such permission would be given only very rarely.

A storm of protest from the pupils was seconded by several mothers, who called upon Mr. Harley to discuss the social aspect of education.

When, after a nerve-racking day, he told Mrs. Hines, the leading society woman of the village, that he must carry out his own plans unaided by the parents, he unwisely aroused the opposition of so many of his patrons that his work in Jamesville was very seriously handicapped and he resigned at the end of his first year there.


A Parent-Teachers’ Club should be organized in every school. Early in the year a meeting of the club should be devoted to the discussion of out-of-school-hour entertainments. The superintendent should have the pros and cons presented before the club by both parents and teachers. The teacher who upholds parties should advise mothers to talk often with their children upon the subject of desirable companions; to forego all teasing of the sons and daughters about “girls” and “beaux”; and to see to it that the young people have wise chaperons.


Much of the mischief that arises from parties is due to parents. Realizing this to be the case, teachers should find a way to talk to mothers about how to win and hold the confidence of their children during the 841trying high school period. The girls should also be admonished by their teachers to talk to their mothers freely about their social affairs.


Miss Fanson was a high school teacher who was justly admired by the girls under her care. She had talked to the girls about the deference and homage which they should show to their parents in social matters. Alice Grant believed that Miss Fanson was exactly right, hence was willing to act upon her teacher’s advice.

Since she had entered high school, boys had suddenly become very interesting to Alice. She blushed one afternoon as she plucked up her courage to reveal certain developments to her mother.

“Mother, the Freshmen are going to give a party, and a boy in my German class has asked me to go. May I?” Her voice affected indifference.

Retaining Control

But Mrs. Grant knew her young daughter and saw through that coolness. Her Alice was excited and flushed and happy over a boy! And she stared blankly for a moment as the realization forced its way. Then a tempestuous refusal from a heart that resented her little girl’s growing up sprang swiftly to her lips, but she kept back the words. It did, indeed, hurt to have Alice begin to be a young lady, but could even she, the most adoring of mothers, restrain time and the youth that was blossoming in her child?

“I’ll have to think it over, Alice. I’ll tell you in the morning.”

And Alice went to her studying, confident that, 842whatever her mother decided, she would be just and allow only big reasons to weigh with her.

Mrs. Grant thought it over and that night talked it over with her husband.

“She’s absurdly young—only fifteen,” he objected.

“Yes, but absurdly natural, too, and strong in her desires. I fear, if I refuse, it may only surround boys with a mysterious glamour for her, and she might then be tempted to associate with them in spite of me, and any secrecy or deceit just now is dangerous. And you know our Alice is growing pretty.”

Mr. Grant regretted and bemoaned the loss of his little girl, but agreed. “But who is this boy?” he demanded. “Do you know him?”

“No. But I’m going to know all her friends from now on.”

And next morning, when Alice, pink-cheeked and eager-eyed, sought her mother’s decision, she welcomed the “Yes” with a little squeal of delight.

“But I’ve been thinking, Alice,” her mother added, “that I’d like to know the boys and girls you’re going with. Wouldn’t you like to ask some of them over here some evening before the party?”

“Would I? Well, rather! Mother, you’re a dear.”

“And what about a dress. I suppose you’d like a new one?” Further question was stifled by an enthusiastic hug.

So they talked of the party and the dress, and then it was not far to “the boys” and Alice’s new feeling for them. And Mrs. Grant felt that the sweet intimacy she was entering with this new daughter more 843than compensated for the loss of the little girl, who had suddenly become a young woman.

When Alice returned from the party her mother showed interest in each detail that her daughter related. She remarked: “You must have had loads of fun—what did you have to eat? What did you especially like in the conduct of your classmates?” It is while such concrete subjects are being discussed that much guidance can be given the daughter in her formation of opinions as to what is proper or improper conduct. A teacher who brings about such intimacy as this incident illustrates has done much for both mother and daughter.


Miss Canfield took hold of her work with genuine interest as science teacher in the James Fisk High School. Her knowledge of girl nature was sufficient to save her from many blunders. Mary Turner was her problem. A giddy set was overturning nearly all of the constructive work done for her by her teachers.

Miss Canfield decided to go over matters with Mrs. Turner, Mary’s mother. In the conversation, Mrs. Turner saw where she must take a hand in Mary’s affairs.

Overcoming Undesirable Influences

There was no doubt but what Cecily Gregg, a classmate, was having a bad influence on Mary. Mrs. Turner rocked fitfully between stitches and remembered how sweet and natural Mary had been before she got so intimate with Cecily. But now she was catching some of that young lady’s affected ways, and, Mrs. Turner feared, some of her lack of modesty with 844boy companions. Cecily was seventeen, and Mary, a year younger, respected her opinions greatly, and gloated over her popularity with certain overdressed and rather sporty youths who took her about to picture shows and ice cream parlors. Cecily was slowly convincing Mary that theirs was the type to admire.

And Mrs. Turner had unwittingly let Mary drift so far from her influence of late, that she felt helpless. She dared say nothing openly against Cecily. Mary would only flare up in defense and stand more staunchly for her friend. If she laid down rules, Mary might secretly break them, and if she tried to make subtle suggestions, the girl was certain to pounce on her meaning and resent it.

Mary came home from school that day full of plans for her birthday party.

“Cecily says I must get some new dance records for the victrola. Ours are all passé. And I’m going to make little crepe paper favors, by a cute pattern that Cecily knows. And she wants me to ask Cousin Ralph. Do you think he’d think us too young for him, since he’s finished college? I’m crazy to have him meet Cecily! He’ll be ‘dippy’ about her.”

While Mary chattered, a thought lodged by Miss Canfield came to Mrs. Turner. If she couldn’t influence her daughter herself, unaided, she must reach her through others.

She answered: “Why, I think it would be lovely to ask him, and I’m sure he’d like to come.”

And so Mary wrote a cordial invitation to Cousin Ralph and her mother quietly added a postscript that night—a postscript that grew into an epistle as she 845told her nephew, a clean-souled and manly young fellow, of her problem about Mary.

“Can you help me?” she wrote. “A word from you would weigh much with her. You’re her ideal of young manhood. Let her see that you are not fascinated by Cecily; she believes her irresistible. Say no more than you can judge by seeing her at the party, though. That will be enough.”

His answer to Mary, his “sweet little cousin,” was frank and warm. His answer to Mrs. Turner was earnest and sympathetic. He would try.

The great evening came, and with it a gay and brightly dressed bevy of Mary’s friends. Some were rollicking; some were bashful; but Mrs. Turner fancied she saw the Cecily stamp on all of them. On all except Evelyn Lewis, a simple, attractive girl with fine manners. If Mary would only prefer her to Cecily!

Cousin Ralph arrived late and created a sensation, for he was tall and good-looking and possessed of polish and charm. He led all the fun after that and Mrs. Turner saw Mary’s eyes sparkling with pride in him.

At a late hour the guests took their leave. But Ralph, lingering after the others had left, talked over the party with Mary and her mother, for the former was too excited to want the evening to end.

“How did you like the girls?” Mary inquired, eagerly. And just then Mrs. Turner found an excuse to leave the room.

“Very much, little cousin. They’re a jolly lot of youngsters. And I’m quite struck with one of them.”

846“Oh, I knew you would be. Cecily, of course!”

“Cecily! O, no!” His emphasis was expressive.

“Not Cecily?” Mary was bewildered.

“That would-be chorus girl with come-hither eyes?” he demanded, and then, seeing her stricken face, added hurriedly, “But maybe she’s a special friend of yours.”

“Oh, no,—that is,—not so very. But she’s awfully popular.”

“With only one kind of boys, then, and that’s not the sort I’d like to see you running round with, cousin mine. The girl that took my eye was—her name was—Evelyn. She’s a peach. Ask me over some time again when she’s here, will you?”

Mary nodded a little uncertainly, and then promised.

“Mother,” she said, wonderingly, as Mrs. Turner entered the room, “Ralph likes Evelyn. And she certainly did look pretty tonight. I’m—crazy about her myself!”

And as Mrs. Turner squeezed her nephew’s hand, she felt somehow that a new name was about to be substituted for “Cecily” in Mary’s vocabulary.

Miss Canfield listened attentively to the mother’s report of the party and of Mary’s drift into better companionship and naturally lent aid to the scheme in a dozen little ways—assignments of team work, comments to Mary on certain lovely qualities in Evelyn and her type of girl, recommendation of books and magazine articles, etc.

Mother and teacher accomplished an important piece of work by this campaign in which they substituted, 847in the unformed mind of a school girl, a correct model of young womanhood in place of a degraded type.

4. Falling in Love with the Teacher

When pupils fall in love with their teachers, the problem is not nearly so serious as the same event would be out of school, for the reason that every normal tradition of school relations is against such a state of affairs. The teacher stands, as is said so often, in loco parentis; and if teachers are fit to bear this relation to their pupils, they can, and will, easily handle any tendencies toward too intimate relations with their pupils. The treatment for a pupil who develops too ardent an admiration for a teacher is based upon the process of de-personalizing the relations between them; for almost always it will be found that when pupils have fallen in love with their teachers, it is because, purposely or unconsciously, the relations have been too personal.

There are two typical cases—that of young girls who fall in love with an attractive young man teacher, whom usually they hope to captivate and marry; and that of boys, relatively less mature, who rarely reach the ridiculousness of such plans, but shower such attentions as they may upon the object of their affections, and go to any length to please her. Most young women teachers have the tact and good sense to manage such cases wisely, keeping the boys within the bounds of a normal and fairly platonic regard, and often 848using their power to bring about the development of a fine idealism and many manly virtues in their admirers. But the vain young woman who likes this kind of popularity is not unknown in schools; she is a nuisance, doing more harm by her vanity than a dozen sensible colleagues can undo through every means known to good pedagogy.

The teacher is to blame, as a rule, when either of these conditions develops. Being older and more experienced, he has the upper hand and can cure the malady, if he will, especially as he has every sane tradition on his side. The elimination of the dangerous personal attitude, of opportunities for the expression of regard, of the personal appeal, and of subtle suggestions of a sentimental nature, are all in the power of the teacher. It is just a question of whether he cares to exercise his will and his ingenuity in the interest of a healthy relation, or whether he chooses rather to have his vanity flattered by attentions and popularity.


Appeals to Vanity

Annabel Kingsley was an English teacher in a small, prosperous town. She was a tiny, sharp-faced girl of about twenty-five, keenly intelligent, clever and selfseeking. She dressed well; she sought social opportunities; she made the most of her friends. Before she had been teaching a month she had won the devoted admiration of all the boys and most of the girls in her classes and by Thanksgiving the other women teachers would hardly speak to her, regarding her with that silent scorn which intelligent women 849have for their sisters who will not play fair. The superintendent was divided between amusement and contempt.

Miss Sperry, the mathematics teacher, went to Miss Bulwer, who had had the Latin and German for years, and had a talk with her. “My boys and girls come day after day with their algebra only half learned,” she complained. “They say they don’t have time for it, and they are losing all their interest, too. But they write great long compositions for Miss Kingsley that must take hours to do, and now she talks of getting up a play to be given at Christmas. She seems to have captured them completely. How does she do it?”

“When you’ve seen as much of teachers as I have you’ll know,” Miss Bulwer replied, grimly. “I haven’t heard her talk to them, but I can tell you just how she goes about it. She makes every one of them think he’s the budding genius of the century. She has Verne Gibbs reading Ibsen and planning to write a tragedy. I’ll be bound! She has persuaded Morris Talbot that he can write short stories. Warren Hughes thinks he’s very remarkable because she told him he could appreciate Francis Thompson. Maybe he can, but he can also appreciate Cicero when he’s given half a chance. Every one of those youngsters thinks that at last he has found a teacher who really sees what is in him, the great promise to which the rest of us are blind. Then he proceeds to fall in love with Miss Kingsley to show her that her interest is not lost. She appeals to the adolescent vanity that they all have so much of, and she’s making them so insufferably self-conscious 850and sentimental and onesided that you and I can’t do anything with them.”

Miss Sperry watched Miss Kingsley. She saw that the boys who could use their father’s automobiles vied with each other for the honor of taking her home on Friday nights—she lived in a neighboring town; that they hung over her desk before and after sessions, engaged in interminable discussions of the value of poetry or the madness of Hamlet. On her birthday her desk was banked with roses; Miss Sperry wondered how they found out when her birthday came. Miss Kingsley’s work went very well, but she robbed every other teacher of the time and energy that fairly belonged to the other subjects taught. The result was that the poor work caused by her selfish policy showed in the classes of other teachers. In her own there was a constant and lively interest, fanned continuously by the numberless “conferences” with which she kept her hold on her students. The school was badly demoralized by Christmas, and yet the real cause of all the trouble appeared to be the one brilliantly successful teacher on the force.


The principal of a school should see to it that each teacher and each subject has a fair share of the attention of the students. In this case, the principal should say to Miss Kingsley, “I notice that a number of our boys are falling behind with their mathematics, and Miss Bulwer tells me that Howard Grimes failed in Latin last month—something never heard of before. I have been looking for the cause, and I find that 851most of those who are failing are spending more time on their English than is fair. You are stimulating them by a personal appeal to put time on English which really belongs to other studies. So I am asking you to discontinue your private conferences for the present; and, moreover, it is not dignified for you to accept attentions from the boys as though they were your own age; it will lead to criticism which will hurt your work and your influence.”

Private talks to the boys and girls about their work, following this restriction of the English teacher’s demands, may help to bring results. The other teachers should be encouraged to make their work as appealing as possible, and to show a personal interest in the bringing up of grades in the neglected studies. Most important of all, wholesome social conditions may be stimulated by a series of parties among the high school students, in which normal relations amongst themselves are encouraged. Such regulations for study as are needed to keep the boys from too much contact with Miss Kingsley are to be adopted, without making their object obvious to the pupils.


The amative impulses of youth are not vicious, but need direction and control. Self-control, above all else, is to be taught, and the teaching must often be reinforced by wise, friendly restraint. Frank friendships are to be encouraged; sickly, silly sentimentality laughed out of court. If a teacher, instead of standing ready to give this help and guidance when it is needed, encourages a sentimental devotion, as Miss 852Kingsley did, the most fundamental safeguard of youth is sacrificed—the ideal of controlled emotion, of a conscious saving of a sacred experience for the future. A large range of interests, a healthy balance of activities, and a wholesome unconsciousness of self, tend to keep young people simple and child-like in their emotional lives. Above all, no teacher has any business to give the impression that he alone appreciates youth and its promise, or to make his relations with impressionable boys and girls unduly personal.


“A Wet Blanket” for Infatuation

Clarence Miller was an exceedingly handsome young teacher in a small village high school. In his second year of service, Carolyn Brush, daughter of the great man of the town, decided that she would not return to the fashionable boarding school which she had been attending, but would go to the village school and subjugate Clarence Miller, whom she met during the Christmas vacation. She was very pretty and very clever, and her stay in a girl’s boarding school had not made her less romantic than other girls are.

The lessons were easy for her, and during the first few days she recited brilliantly, hoping to win special attention from the young principal. He accepted her most studied efforts with the same pleasant courtesy he gave to all, and then Carolyn tried another plan. She failed to recite altogether, looking at Mr. Miller with a pitiful, hurt look whenever he called upon her, and shaking her pretty head sadly. The village boys and girls, somewhat awed at best by Carolyn’s pretty clothes and polished manners, and keenly conscious 853of everything she did, observed all this with much interest. Carolyn became more and more enamored of Mr. Miller the more she saw of him.

One morning she stepped to the desk when there were no other pupils near. “Mr. Miller,” she said, “I wonder if I may speak to you—alone—some time? Tonight, after school, perhaps? Just for a moment. I am in such trouble.”

“Of course you may, Miss Carolyn,” said Mr. Miller, heartily. “I’ll be glad to help you if I can.”

But Carolyn was not at school that afternoon. She called up the school by telephone at five after four, however, said that her mother had required her help that afternoon, and added that they all wanted Mr. Miller to come up for supper. “And I hope you will, for I do feel that you can help me. We can talk after supper.”

“Sorry, but I have some work that is going to take my whole evening, Miss Carolyn. You can tell me about that matter at recess tomorrow. Please thank your mother for the invitation, and tell her how sorry I am I can’t come.”

At recess the next morning, Carolyn said, when she was sure no prying boy lingered near:

“Oh, Mr. Miller, I have been so worried lately I just couldn’t study. I have a dear friend at school, whom I’ve trusted and loved for two years more than anyone else. And now I find that she has deceived me, and it almost breaks my heart. It seems as if everything has just stopped, you know; life isn’t the same. What can one do? If one can’t trust one’s friends, what is there one can count upon?” She looked up 854at him with tears in her eyes, the lovely picture of disillusioned youth in its most appealing form. “I just had to talk to some one about it, and you’re the only person here who is—you know—like myself—who would understand.”

Mr. Miller neither fell into this fair trap nor shied at it. He said, “Now, I’ll tell you just what I would do if I were you. You talk to your father. He knows all about people, and he’ll give you more good advice in a minute than I could in a year. If it were I, and a girl had treated me like that, I’d find a better chum and let her go, and not weep over it either. Just stop worrying about her. You can’t afford to lose out on your lessons for a snip of a girl who doesn’t know a good friend when she has one. Oh—you’ll excuse me, won’t you? I promised the boys to show them a new curve, and here they are for me.” And the cautious, sensible principal vanished out-of-doors.

Carolyn, being really infatuated, made one more attempt. “I know you don’t like me,” she told the principal one day. “But why is it? What have I done, that you should hate me so? I have tried to get my lessons, and tried to be good in school; but you seem to hate the very sight of me.”

“Now, that’s all nonsense,” Mr. Miller averred. “I like you just as well as anyone else in the room, and, so far as I know and intend, I treat you just as I do the others.”

To be treated just as the others were treated, was exactly what Carolyn did not want. She suddenly discovered that the principal was not handsome, and that she did not care for him. She told her father that 855the school was so much poorer than Grey Gables that she wanted to go back there, and at the Easter vacation she left the high school. So Carolyn came and went, and not one of the other pupils knew of the little comedy of sentiment and sense that had taken place there that winter.

The quickly-veering emotion of youth is easily stimulated or inhibited by suggestion. Mr. Miller saw through the schemes of his pupil, and, instead of falling in with them, as he might have done had he wanted excitement or adulation or romantic adventure, he cut them off in a friendly, but matter-of-fact way that nipped expectation in the bud. A flirtation with his pretty pupil might have been a great deal of fun, but it would have marred his influence with the people of the village and with his pupils; and he was wise enough to deny himself that fun for the sake of his professional duty. He might have stimulated an adventure in half a dozen ways; he steadily declined even to suggest the thought of such a thing until Carolyn was cured of her fancy. Without humiliating her in any way, before the other students, he kept his relations with her impersonal and free of romantic elements, and so gradually overcame her infatuation by giving it nothing to feed upon.



Who breaks his faith no faith is held with him.
Always act in such a way as to secure the love of your neighbor.


Mr. Bradley was principal for two years of the Newcastle school. He revealed his characteristics as a teacher so fully that we find in him an example of the type not to be recommended and yet one that is very instructive for students of school discipline.

In stature he was slightly below medium height. He came from rural ancestry and was fairly well equipped as to physique. He had black hair and eyes, somewhat mobile features and a wandering gaze. His movements could hardly be called quick, but they were prompt and without distinct mannerisms.

He had a most gracious manner when meeting people on the street or in their homes. He spoke kindly to everyone and had the reputation among the townspeople of being a royal, good fellow. Even his pupils could not deny that he treated them very courteously and jovially outside of school hours.

Despite all this he used essentially the method of the hen-pecking incompetent when handling disciplinary matters in school. The moment he entered the school precincts he was a different man. His countenance then betrayed the sternness of the schoolmaster who dwelt within and apart from the polite gentleman 860he seemed to be when outside the school-room. His eyebrows gathered and his muscles reverberated with the sense of authority that flooded his whole nature.

His eye was on the lookout for misdemeanors and if a pupil made a misstep in the realm where Mr. Bradley thought he had jurisdiction, that harsh, strident voice, with but the slightest trace of fellow-feeling, spoke the word of correction or announced an impending penalty.

In the school-room it was his delight to slip up behind an offender and pluck him by the ear as a reminder of duty. Being the only instructor who indulged in this practice it soon came to be one of the most odious signals of his presence in the room. When absorbed in his subject he made instruction interesting; his pupils could not fail to learn if they did not venture to vary the program by misconduct. However, their recollection of his general attitude toward them, the ease with which they could upset his plans by introducing a few school pranks, the certainty that he would lose his temper on slight provocation, always hung as a barrage screen between them and undivided concentration on the subject-matter of their lessons.

Mr. Bradley made it a practice to watch for accumulating offenses. He felt incompetent to handle minor evils, but attempted to squelch a wayward pupil by reciting a list of grievances and applying penalties for the same. He had a good memory for facts of this sort. He could shake his finger in the face of a boy or girl and say, “Didn’t you pull Esther’s hair yesterday ... trip up Jimmie on the way to class in geometry and purposely spill the crayons when you were 861at the board? Now, I have had enough of this. I want to know what you are going to do about it.”

This gentleman could not catch the drift of things. Early in his first year Mr. Bradley’s attention rested upon Ted. Ted was a short, heavy-set chap of some fourteen years, incapable of any revolutionary propensities, but able to interest himself with a variety of aggravating tricks. His pranks were individually almost too small to command severe penalties, but they were too annoying to escape the principal’s eye.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bradley hit upon the lash as a cure for Ted. Selecting a more pronounced misdemeanor as an opportunity for settling accounts with the troublesome pupil, he gave him a sound whipping.

There was some ground for the general protest that arose from the high school. Ted was a favorite with every one. The crude principal had struck one but he had wounded all. His untactfulness had made him abhorrent to all, even to those who had not hitherto drawn upon themselves his specific disapproval and useless punishments. Mr. Bradley, perhaps, never knew that he had undermined his own usefulness as much by this treatment of a school favorite as by any single deed that transpired during his whole stay in Newcastle.

He had his own method of handling the problem of whispering. He made it a rule that every pupil in high school must answer at roll call at the end of the day on the matter of whispering. If a pupil had whispered he must answer “Present,” and specify the number of times during the day he had whispered. If he had a clear record on whispering he was privileged 862to answer “Perfect.” Now, in fact, the pupils formed cliques and agreements to such an extent that they made almost a complete farce of this attempt at discipline. They lied with the greatest liberty and seemed to feel no restraint from their principal. He appeared not to know that they were guilty of deception and insubordination, and of course he became the butt of ridicule because of these and many other unwise acts.

The girls would be found by him crying over the low grades they received. Through their hands they joyously watched him as he marched back to his desk and silently changed the numerals. Occasionally he returned and reported, “After thinking over your work further I have decided to give you a better grade.” He was more than paid for his trouble as the smiles drove back the tears and the eyes of the poor, grieved ones hung for a moment on his.

He suffered from note-writing. Jim was a source of anxiety on this score. The unvarying procedure was the following:

“Where is the paper you had a moment ago?”

“It’s in my desk.”

“Is there any writing on it?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Hand it to me.”

Silence on Jim’s part.

“Jim, aren’t you going to give me that note?”

“No, sir.”

“Jim, you go at once to Mr. Evans’ room,” or, “Take your books and go home.”

Not once, nor twice, but scores and scores of times 863this same routine was followed. Jim never handed him a note in the whole two years. Mr. Bradley never discovered the intense satisfaction that Jim had in drawing attention to himself, in defeating the principal and in thus creating a general sensation.

Mr. Bradley’s temper was easily aroused. At first his face would turn white; the pupils quickly noted his pallor and laughed at him; his anger then drove him to a few tears, which one by one trickled down his careworn cheeks.

In these moments of ill-temper he was more helpless than ever. He did not attempt to do much teaching for a short period, but marked time until he could recollect himself and get his pedagogical machine back on track again.

In the frequent, extreme cases of refractory pupils that he had to dispose of, his main resort was to send or accompany pupils to Mr. Evans, the superintendent of schools. In reporting the misdemeanor or in remarking on the items of a report of misconduct by the pupil himself he adopted the very poor method of exaggerating the circumstances insufferably. Often he interrupted a pupil’s account with single words or phrases that exaggerated the offense and so attempted to justify himself in referring the case to higher authority. These unfair methods enraged even a guilty pupil to an extent that all hope of his returning to the high school room with any little good will toward the principal was lost.

You at once inquire, How was it possible for a man of this sort to keep his position for two years? The answer is two-fold: his treatment of pupils and citizens 864generally outside of school hours was such as, in a way, to discredit the impressions reported by dissatisfied pupils; the superintendent was capable enough himself to neutralize, in part, the ill effects of the principal’s poor disciplinary methods and thus to enable him to retain a well informed instructor.

You want to know more about this remarkable superintendent, Mr. Evans? His personal presence was somewhat in his favor. He was a man of good height, but very slender. The look of his eye was direct and lingering. His hand-grasp was warm, kindly and reassuring. He was never in a hurry, but disposed of mountains of work. He always took time to hear all that pupils had to say—one of his strongest assets.

It was a valuable lesson in school discipline just to observe him in an interview with an offending pupil.

“Well, Jim, what is it this morning?”

“I suppose I’ve got to tell you about a little affair that occurred in the Latin class yesterday.”

“Come and have this chair over here by the desk. Excuse me until I pull down the shade a bit. Well, now, go on. What is it all about?”

But these cold words do not convey to the reader the impression that they made on Jim. There was a yearning in the voice that fairly drew Jim out of himself. He had just come from a fresh combat with Mr. Bradley and was in a mood to do battle; in fact, strange to say, this thought crossed his mind, “All right, I’ll go in to see Evans. If he has it in for me, I’ll show them both a new deal; I’ll give them the time of their lives in this town!”

How easy it would have been to set fire to this piece 865of tow and so produce an uncontrollable conflagration. But there was Mr. Evans’ voice, so suave and appealing. He assumed that Jim had something interesting to tell; that he had suffered some accident; that he was in search of a friend. Mr. Evans was that friend. He said, “You know, of course, that I’ll want to hear the other side of the story, but you go ahead and tell me everything just exactly as it is.”

Jim told his story. The superintendent nodded assent to the several statements, indicating that he had taken in their full significance and was laying the ground for a just disposition of the matter. About the time Jim finished, Mr. Bradley stepped in. He soon began his account of the affair. Mr. Evans listened with a judicial air, by no means disclosing any antagonism toward his principal, but very cautious not to give Jim any notion that the principal had the inside track in the mind and sympathy of his superior. There were no comments, no nodding of the head, no knowing smiles that meant, “We’ll fix this fellow, all right.”

Since Mr. Evans had previously frankly said that he would hear the principal’s story, in the first part of the interview, Jim was not surprised that it was given unremitting attention. But he was highly pleased to see that favoritism for the principal was not going to play any part in the final settlement of the matter.

In fact, every pupil expected to see Mr. Evans go the second mile in any case where he came intimately into contact with a pupil, either in the ordinary affairs of the school, or when disciplinary problems must be adjudicated. It was, in a way, a painful experience 866to meet Mr. Evans under circumstances such as these; he made one feel grieved to impose on him by wrenching his heart with disappointment. There was no fear of consequences, but an anguish over injuring the feelings of the superintendent.

When the facts were all before him, this friend of boys and girls would say:

“I don’t believe it would be right in this case to ...” and he would mention penalties that were severe, though perhaps often employed by other teachers, perhaps were even not condemned by the community. He would finally come to the conclusion of the matter by saying:

“I think we can fix this up in this way ...” a method that was almost without exception such as to strengthen the discipline of the school, to rescue the pupil from provoking circumstances and probably to serve as a deterrent to future misconduct.

At the conclusion of every case of discipline, Mr. Evans left the situation in a better status than before. The boy or girl who had to settle accounts with the superintendent, when all was said and done, knew that the issue was disposed of according to the principles of right and for the good of both the pupil and the school. Wisdom, sympathetic understanding, willingness to make concessions, positive devotion to the pupil’s comfort and welfare, were written all over the man’s actions so plainly as to disarm criticism and to bind every pupil to him as a life-long friend.

Throughout this Course for teachers, we have steadily laid emphasis on the need in the pupil for the cultivation of self-control as a basis for any satisfactory 867building of character. Scarcely less have we insisted that the same trait of character is essential in a successful teacher. Our survey of the blunders of disciplinarians leads to the conclusion that by far the larger part committed by school teachers can be traced back to an inexcusable lack of this central virtue of self-control.

The passionate, selfish teacher can not see the pupil’s point of view. The measureless transformations of the adolescent period throw a vast majority of people out of sympathy with the adolescent and still more with those of younger years.

The system of school discipline advocated in this Course for teachers, frankly rests on coöperation with the pupil, initiative being taken by the teacher in working out disciplinary problems in frank, wholehearted adjustment to pupil needs and characteristics. No teacher can adopt the policy represented by this principle without attaining, in a measure, and further developing his own self-control. Our experience and observation, our fresh survey of all the facts while compiling the data presented in these volumes, have deepened immeasurably the conviction that the teacher who seeks the level of the life of the children whom he wishes to govern, assisting them, aiding them, guiding them according to the dictates of their natures rather than contrariwise, will cure himself of one of his own worst vices, namely, anarchy in mood, temper and judgment; and will develop in its place the basic element of a noble character, self-control.

By presenting, as a final word, the contrast between these two teachers, we hope to heighten the impressions 868that have repeatedly been made as the reader has followed the narratives and discussions contained in the preceding pages. Remember that the two men here described worked under the same circumstances, during the same two years, with the same pupils, in the same building; that each had the benefit of consultation with the other, that both were well received in public and had many friends among the business men and in the homes of the city. The advantage in physical organization lay with him who failed. The essential difference between the two is found in the inner, basic attitude of each toward his pupils.

The one ruled by personality and broad, humane principles; the other was an apostle of force, fitfully administered, as, in fact, it must of necessity be administered. The one was conscious of his authority; the other forgot it and worked man to man with his pupils. The one exhausted his force and failed; the other scarcely ever drew upon his reserve and never lost a pupil friend. The one ground his teeth in rage at the perversity and rebellion of his pupils, the other enjoyed their friendship and reveled in the memories of sympathetic appreciation of his labors. In short, one was beloved by all, the other despised.

Of all the words from tongue or pen that explain the more desirable of the two methods described, none is better than the word Coöperation. This is the capstone of our five fundamental principles—Suggestion, Substitution, Expectation, Approval, Coöperation. Approval of good effort, in fact, turns out to be one mode of coöperation with the pupil. It ministers 869to his self-love and elicits further effort. A teacher can not exemplify this one principle of coöperation without hitting upon or consciously employing all the others we have named and illustrated. “I work with my pupils,” is the highest self-praise a teacher can utter. It is a simple, modest, unassuming statement; if true in its deepest sense, he who thus speaks of himself is a perfect teacher and disciplinarian.

We commend this gospel to coöperative school-room discipline to every aspiring teacher who reads these volumes; we can only hope that every one may be converted heart and soul to this mode of action and with religious devotion set about remoulding his treatment and management of school children so that he truly may be a Friend to Man.




  1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in spelling.
  2. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
  3. Re-indexed footnotes using numbers.