The foregoing narratives and examples, it is hoped, may induce some of the readers of this book to keep journals of their own experiments, and of the incidents which may, from time to time, come under their notice, illustrating the principles of education, or simply the characteristics and tendencies of the youthful mind. The business of teaching will excite interest and afford pleasure just in proportion to the degree in which it is conducted by operations of mind upon mind, and the means of making it most fully so are careful practice, based upon and regulated by the results of careful observation. Every teacher, then, should make observations and experiments upon mind a part of his daily duty, and nothing will more facilitate this than keeping a record of results. There can be no opportunity for studying human nature more favorable than the teacher enjoys. The materials are all before him; his very business, from day to day, brings him to act directly upon them; and the study of the powers and tendencies of the human mind is not only the most interesting and the noblest that can engage human attention, but every step of progress he makes in it imparts an interest and charm to what would otherwise be a weary toil. It at once relieves his labors, while it doubles their efficiency and success.
THE TEACHER’S FIRST DAY.
The teacher enters upon the duties of his office by a much more sudden transition than is common in the other avocations and employments of life. In ordinary cases, business comes at first by slow degrees, and the beginner is introduced to the labors and responsibilities of his employment in a very gradual manner. The young teacher, however, enters by a single step into the very midst of his labors. Having, perhaps, never even heard a class recite before, he takes a short walk some winter morning, and suddenly finds himself instated at the desk, his fifty scholars around him, all looking him in the face, and waiting to be employed. Every thing comes upon him at once. He can do nothing until the day and the hour for opening the school arrives—then he has every thing to do.
Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that the young teacher should look forward with unusual solicitude to his first day in school, and he desires, ordinarily, special instructions in respect to this occasion. Some such special instructions we propose to give in this chapter. The experienced teacher may think some of them too minute and trivial. But he must remember that they are intended for the youngest beginner in the humblest school; and if he recalls to mind his own feverish solicitude on the morning when he went to take his first command in the district school, he will pardon the seeming minuteness of detail.