I have gone much into detail in this chapter, proposing definite measures by which the principles I have recommended may be carried into effect. I wish, however, that it may be distinctly understood that all I contend for is the principles themselves, no matter what the particular measures are by which they are secured. Every good school must be systematic, but all need not be on precisely the same system. As this work is intended almost exclusively for beginners, much detail has been admitted, and many of the specific measures here proposed may perhaps be safely adopted where no others are established. There may also, perhaps, be cases where teachers, whose schools are already in successful operation, may ingraft upon their own plans some things which are here proposed. If they should attempt it, it must be done cautiously and gradually. There is no other way by which they can be safely introduced, or even introduced at all. This is a point of so much importance, that I must devote a paragraph to it before closing the chapter.
Let a teacher propose to his pupils, formally, from his desk, the plan of writing propositions, for example, as explained above, and procure his wrapper, and put it in its place, and what would be the result? Why, not a single paper, probably, could he get, from one end of the week to the other. But let him, on the other hand, when a boy comes to him to ask some question, the answer to which many in the school would equally wish to hear, say to the inquirer,
“Will you be so good as to write that question, and put it on my desk, and then, at the regular time, I will answer it to all the school.”
When he reads it, let him state that it was written at his request, and give the other boys permission to leave their proposals or questions on his desk in the same way. In a few days he will have another, and thus the plan may be gently and gradually introduced.
So with officers. They should be appointed among the scholars only as fast as they are actually needed, and the plan should thus be cautiously carried only so far as it proves good on trial. Be always cautious about innovations and changes. Make no rash experiments on a large scale, but always test your principle in the small way, and then, if it proves good, gradually extend its operation as circumstances seem to require.
By thus cautiously and slowly introducing plans, founded on the systematic principles here brought to view, a very considerable degree of quiet, and order, and regularity may be introduced into the largest and most miscellaneous schools. And this order and quiet are absolutely necessary to enable the teacher to find that interest and enjoyment in his work which were exhibited in the last chapter; the pleasure of directing and controlling mind, and doing it, not by useless and anxious complaints, or stern threats and painful punishments, but by regarding the scene