Perhaps some individuals who have had some collision with their trustees or committee will ask me if I mean that a teacher ought to be entirely and immediately under the supervision and control of the trustees, just as a mechanic is when employed by another man. By no means. There are various circumstances connected with the nature of this employment, such as the impossibility of the employers fully understanding it in all its details, and the character and the standing of the teacher himself, which always will, in matter of fact, prevent this. The employers always will, in a great many respects, place more confidence in the teacher and in his views than they will in their own. But still, the ultimate power is theirs. Even if they err, if they wish to have a course pursued which is manifestly inexpedient and wrong, they still have a right to decide. It is their work; it is going on at their instance and at their expense, and the power of ultimate decision on all disputed questions must, from the very nature of the case, rest with them. The teacher may, it is true, have his option either to comply with their wishes or to seek employment in another sphere; but while he remains in the employ of any persons, whether in teaching or in any other service, he is bound to yield to the wishes of his employers when they insist upon it, and to submit good-humoredly to their direction when they shall claim their undoubted right to direct.
This is to be done, it must be remembered, when they are wrong as well as when they are right. The obligation of the teacher is not founded upon the superior wisdom of his employers in reference to the business for which they have engaged him, for they are very probably his inferiors in this respect, but upon their right as employers to determine how their own work shall be done. A gardener, we will suppose, is engaged by a gentleman to lay out his grounds. The gardener goes to work, and, after a few hours, the gentleman comes out to see how he goes on and to give directions. He proposes something which the gardener, who, to make the case stronger, we will suppose knows better than the proprietor of the grounds, considers ridiculous and absurd; nay, we will suppose it is ridiculous and absurd. Now what can the gardener do? There are obviously two courses. He can say to the proprietor, after a vain attempt to convince him he is wrong, “Well, sir, I will do just as you say. The grounds are yours: I have no interest in it or responsibility, except to accomplish your wishes.” This would be right. Or he might say, “Sir, you have a right to direct upon your own grounds, and I do not wish to interfere with your plans; but I must ask you to obtain another gardener. I have a reputation at stake, and this work, if I do it even at your direction, will be considered as a specimen of my taste and of my planning, so that I must, in justice to myself, decline remaining in your employment.” This, too, would be right, though probably, both in the business of gardening and of teaching, the case ought to be a strong one to render it expedient.