Under the title which I have placed at the head of this chapter I intend to discuss the methods by which the teacher is to secure a moral ascendency over his pupils, so that he may lead them to do what is right, and bring them back to duty when they do what is wrong. I shall use, in what I have to say, a very plain and familiar style; and as very much depends not only on the general principles by which the teacher is actuated, but also on the tone and manner in which, in cases of discipline, he addresses his pupils, I shall describe particular cases, real and imaginary, because by this method I can better illustrate the course to be pursued. I shall also present and illustrate the various principles which I consider important, and in the order in which they occur to my mind.
1. The first duty, then, of the teacher when he enters his school is to beware of the danger of making an unfavorable impression at first upon his pupils. Many years ago, when I was a child, the teacher of the school where my early studies were performed closed his connection with the establishment, and after a short vacation another was expected. On the appointed day the boys began to collect, some from curiosity, at an early hour, and many speculations were started as to the character of the new instructor. We were standing near a table with our hats on—and our position, and the exact appearance of the group, is indelibly fixed on my memory—when a small and youthful-looking man entered the room, and walked up toward us. Supposing him to be some stranger, or, rather, not making any supposition at all, we stood looking at him as he approached, and were thunder-struck at hearing him accost us with a stern voice and sterner brow, “Take off your hats. Take off your hats and go to your seats.” The conviction immediately rushed upon our minds that this must be our new teacher. The first emotion was that of surprise, and the second was that of the ludicrous, though I believe we contrived to smother the laugh until we got out into the open air.
So long since was this little occurrence that I have entirely forgotten the name of the teacher, and have not the slightest recollection of any other act in his administration of the school. But this recollection of his first greeting of his pupils, and the expression of his countenance at the moment, will go with me to the end of life. So strong are first impressions.