1. It will be well for the young teacher to take opportunity, between the time of his engaging his school and that of his commencing it, to acquire as much information in respect to it beforehand as possible, so as to be somewhat acquainted with the scene of his labors before entering upon it. Ascertain the names and the characters of the principal families in the district, their ideas and wishes in respect to the government of the school, the kind of management adopted by one or two of the last teachers, the difficulties they fell into, the nature of the complaints made against them, if any, and the families with whom difficulty has usually arisen. This information must, of course, be obtained in private conversation; a good deal of it must be, from its very nature, highly confidential; but it is very important that the teacher should be possessed of it. He will necessarily become possessed of it by degrees in the course of his administration, when, however, it may be too late to be of any service to him. But, by judicious and proper efforts to acquire it beforehand, he will enter upon the discharge of his duties with great advantage. It is like a navigator’s becoming acquainted beforehand with the nature and the dangers of the sea over which he is about to sail.
Such inquiries as these will, in ordinary cases, bring to the teacher’s knowledge, in most districts in our country, some cases of peculiarly troublesome scholars, or unreasonable and complaining parents; and stories of their unjustifiable conduct on former occasions will come to him exaggerated by the jealousy of rival neighbors. There is danger that his resentment may be roused a little, and that his mind will assume a hostile attitude at once toward such individuals, so that he will enter upon his work rather with a desire to seek a collision with them, or, at least, with secret feelings of defiance toward them—feelings which will lead to that kind of unbending perpendicularity in his demeanor toward them which will almost inevitably lead to a collision. Now this is wrong. There is, indeed, a point where firm resistance to unreasonable demands becomes a duty; but, as a general principle, it is most unquestionably true that it is the teacher’s duty to accommodate himself to the character and expectations of his employers, not to face and brave them. Those italicized words may be understood to mean something which would be entirely wrong; but in the sense in which I mean to use them there can be no question that they indicate the proper path for one employed by others to do work for them in all cases to pursue. If, therefore, the teacher finds by his inquiries into the state of his district that there are some peculiar difficulties and dangers there, let him not cherish a disposition to face and resist them, but to avoid them. Let him go with an intention to soothe rather than to irritate feelings which have been wounded before, to comply with the wishes of all so far as