The boy looked up in his master’s face, and said, with great earnestness,
“Mr T. I will do better. I will not trouble you any more.”
I have detailed this case thus particularly because it exhibits clearly what I mean by going directly and frankly to the individual, and coming at once to a full understanding. In nine cases out of ten this course will be effectual. For four years, with a very large school, I found this sufficient in every case of discipline which occurred, except in three or four instances, where something more was required. To make it successful, however, the work must be done properly. Several things are necessary. It must be deliberate; generally better after a little delay. It must be indulgent, so far as the view which the teacher takes of the guilt of the pupil is concerned; every palliating consideration must be felt. It must be firm and decided in regard to the necessity of a change, and the determination of the teacher to effect it. It must also be open and frank; no insinuations, no hints, no surmises, but plain, honest, open dealing.
In many cases the communication may be made most delicately and most successfully in writing. The more delicately you touch the feelings of your pupils, the more tender these feelings will become. Many a teacher hardens and stupefies the moral sense of his pupils by the harsh and rough exposures to which he drags out the private feelings of the heart. A man may easily produce such a state of feeling in his schoolroom, that to address even the gentlest reproof to any individual, in the hearing of the next, would be a most severe punishment; and, on the other hand, he may so destroy that sensitiveness that his vociferated reproaches will be as unheeded as the idle wind.
If, now, the teacher has taken the course recommended in this chapter—if he has, by his general influence in the school, done all in his power to bring the majority of his pupils to the side of order and discipline—if he has then studied, attentively and impartially, the characters of those who can not thus be led—if he has endeavored to make them his friends, and to acquire, by every means, a personal influence over them—if, finally, when they do wrong, he goes plainly, but in a gentle and delicate manner, to them, and lays before them the whole case—if he has done all this, he has gone as far as moral influence will carry him. My opinion is, that this course, faithfully and judiciously pursued, will, in almost all instances, succeed; but it will not in all; and where it fails, there must be other, and more vigorous and decided measures. What these measures of restraint or punishment shall be must depend upon the circumstances of the case; but in resorting to them, the teacher must be decided and unbending.