REPORTS OF CASES.
There is, perhaps, no way by which a writer can more effectually explain his views on the subject of education than by presenting a great variety of actual cases, whether real or imaginary, and describing particularly the course of treatment which he would recommend in each. This method of communicating knowledge is very extensively resorted to in the medical profession, where writers detail particular cases, and report the symptoms and the treatment for each succeeding day, so that the reader may almost fancy himself actually a visitor at the sick-bed, and the nature and effects of the various prescriptions become fixed in the mind with almost as much distinctness and permanency as actual experience would give.
This principle has been kept in view, the reader may perhaps think, too closely in all the chapters of this volume, almost every point brought up having been illustrated by anecdotes and narratives. I propose, however, devoting one chapter now to presenting a number of miscellaneous cases, without any attempt to arrange them. Sometimes the case will be merely stated, the reader being left to draw the inference; at others, such remarks will be added as the case suggests. All will, however, be intended to answer some useful purpose, either to exhibit good or bad management and its consequences, or to bring to view some trait of human nature, as it exhibits itself in children, which it may be desirable for the teacher to know. Let it be understood, however, that these cases are not selected with reference to their being strange or extraordinary. They are rather chosen because they are common; that is, they, or cases similar, will be constantly occurring to the teacher, and reading such a chapter will be the best substitute for experience which the teacher can have. Some are descriptions of literary exercises or plans which the reader can adopt in classes or with a whole school; others are cases of discipline, good or bad management, which the teacher can imitate or avoid. The stories are from various sources, and are the results of the experience of several individuals.
1. HATS AND BONNETS.—The master of a district school was accidentally looking out of the window one day, and he saw one of the boys throwing stones at a hat, which was put up for that purpose upon the fence. He said nothing about it at the time, but made a memorandum of the occurrence, that he might bring it before the school at the proper time. When the hour set apart for attending to the general business of the school had arrived, and all were still, he said,
“I saw one of the boys throwing stones at a hat to-day: did he do right or wrong?”
There were one or two faint murmurs which sounded like “Wrong” but the boys generally made no answer.
“Perhaps it depends a little upon the question whose hat it was. Do you think it does depend upon that?”