But it would not be right for him, after his employer should have gone away, to say to himself, with a feeling of resentment at the imaginary interference, “I shall not follow any such directions; I understand my own trade, and shall receive no instructions in it from him,” and then, disobeying all directions, go on and do the work contrary to the orders of his employer, who alone has a right to decide.
And yet a great many teachers take a course as absurd and unjustifiable as this would be. Whenever the parents, or the committee, or the trustees express, however mildly and properly, their wishes in regard to the manner in which they desire to have their own work performed, their pride is at once aroused. They seem to feel it an indignity to act in any other way than just in accordance with their own will and pleasure; and they absolutely refuse to comply, resenting the interference as an insult; or else, if they apparently yield, it is with mere cold civility, and entirely without any honest desire to carry the wishes thus expressed into actual effect.
Parents may, indeed, often misjudge. A good teacher will, however, soon secure their confidence, and they may acquiesce in his opinion. But they ought to be watchful, and the teacher ought to feel and acknowledge their authority on all questions connected with the education of their children. They have originally entire power in regard to the course which is to be pursued with them. Providence has made the parents responsible, and wholly responsible, for the manner in which their children are prepared for the duties of this life, and it is interesting to observe how very cautious the laws of society are about interfering with the parent’s wishes in regard to the education of the child. There are many cases in which enlightened governments might make arrangements which would be better than those made by the parents if they are left to themselves. But they will not do it; they ought not to do it. God has placed the responsibility in the hands of the father and mother, and unless the manner in which it is exercised is calculated to endanger or to injure the community, there can rightfully be no interference except that of argument and persuasion.
It ought also to be considered that upon the parents will come the consequences of the good or bad education of their children, and not upon the teacher, and consequently it is right that they should direct. The teacher remains, perhaps, a few months with his charge, and then goes to other places, and perhaps hears of them no more. He has thus very little at stake. The parent has every thing at stake; and it is manifestly unjust to give one man the power of deciding, while he escapes all the consequences of his mistakes, if he makes any, and to take away all the power from those upon whose heads all the suffering which will follow an abuse of the power must descend.