Unless the teacher has desirelessness, his own desires may blind him to the aspirations and capacities of the boys in his care, and he will be frequently imposing his own wishes on them instead of helping them in their natural development. However much a teacher may be attracted towards any profession or any particular set of ideas, he must so develop desirelessness that while he creates in his pupils an enthusiasm for principles, he shall not cramp them within the limits of any particular application of the principles, or allow their generous impulses—unbalanced by experience—to grow into narrow fanaticism. Thus, he should teach the principles of citizenship, but not party politics. He should teach the value of all professions to a nation, if honourably filled, and not the superiority of one profession over another.
There are six points which are summed up by the Master as Good Conduct. These are:
1. Self-control as to the mind.
2. Self-control in action.
We will take each of these in turn.
1. Self-control as to the mind is a most important qualification for a teacher, for it is principally through the mind that he guides and influences his boys. In the first place it means, as my Master has said, “control of temper, so that you may feel no anger or impatience.” It is obvious that much harm will be done to boys if their teacher is often angry and impatient. It is true that this anger and impatience are often caused by the outer conditions of the teacher’s life, but this does not prevent their bad effect on the boys. Such feelings, due generally to very small causes, re-act upon the minds of the students, and if the teacher is generally impatient and very often angry, he is building into the character of the boys germs of impatience and anger which may in after life destroy their own happiness, and embitter the lives of their relations and friends.
We have to remember also that the boys themselves often come to school discontented and worried on account of troubles at home, and so both teachers and boys bring with them angry and impatient thoughts, which spread through the school, and make the lessons difficult and unpleasant when they should be easy and full of delight. The short religious service referred to in an early part of this little book should be attended by teachers as well as students, and should act as a kind of door to shut out such undesirable feelings. Then both teachers and students would devote their whole energies to the creation of a happy school, to which all should look forward in the morning, and which all should be sorry to leave at the end of the school day.
The lack of control of temper, it must be remembered, often leads to injustice on the part of the teacher, and therefore to sullenness and want of confidence on the boy, and no boy can make real progress, or be in any real sense happy, unless he has complete confidence in the justice of his elders. Much of the strain of modern school life is due to this lack of confidence, and much time has to be wasted in breaking down barriers which would never have been set up if the teacher had been patient.