INTEREST IN TEACHING.
A most singular contrariety of opinion prevails in the community in regard to the pleasantness of the business of teaching. Some teachers go to their daily task merely upon compulsion; they regard it as intolerable drudgery. Others love the work: they hover around the school-room as long as they can, and never cease to think, and seldom to talk, of their delightful labors.
Unfortunately, there are too many of the former class, and the first object which, in this work, I shall attempt to accomplish, is to show my readers, especially those who have been accustomed to look upon the business of teaching as a weary and heartless toil, how it happens that it is, in any case, so pleasant. The human mind is always essentially the same. That which is tedious and joyless to one, will be so to another, if pursued in the same way, and under the same circumstances. And teaching, if it is pleasant, animating, and exciting to one, may be so to all.
I am met, however, at the outset, in my effort to show why it is that teaching is ever a pleasant work, by the want of a name for a certain faculty or capacity of the human mind, through which most of the enjoyment of teaching finds its avenue. Every mind is so constituted as to take a positive pleasure in the exercise of ingenuity in adapting means to an end, and in watching the operation of them—in accomplishing by the intervention of instruments what we could not accomplish without—in devising (when we see an object to be effected which is too great for our direct and immediate power) and setting at work some instrumentality which may be sufficient to accomplish it.
[Illustration: Steam Engine]
It is said that when the steam-engine was first put into operation, such was the imperfection of the machinery, that a boy was necessarily stationed at it to open and shut alternately the cock by which the steam was now admitted and now shut out from the cylinder. One such boy, after patiently doing his work for many days, contrived to connect this stop-cock with some of the moving parts of the engine by a wire, in such a manner that the engine itself did the work which had been intrusted to him; and after seeing that the whole business would go regularly forward, he left the wire in charge, and went away to play.
Such is the story. Now if it is true, how much pleasure the boy must have experienced in devising and witnessing the successful operation of his scheme. I do not mean the pleasure of relieving himself from a dull and wearisome duty; I do not mean the pleasure of anticipated play; but I mean the strong interest he must have taken in contriving and executing his plan. When, wearied out with his dull, monotonous work, he first noticed those movements of the machinery which he thought adapted to his purpose,