(8.) We have one other method to describe by which a favorable moral influence may be exerted in school. The method can, however, go into full effect only where there are several pupils who have made considerable advances in mental cultivation.
It is to provide a way by which teachers and pupils may write anonymously for the school. This may be done by having a place of deposit for such articles as may be written, where any person may leave what he wishes to have read, nominating by a memorandum upon the article itself the reader. If a proper feeling on the subject of good discipline and the formation of good character prevails in school, many articles, which will have a great deal of effect upon the pupils, will find their way through such an avenue once opened. The teacher can himself often bring forward in this way his suggestions with more effect than he otherwise could do. Such a plan is, in fact, like the plan of a newspaper for an ordinary community, where sentiments and opinions stand on their own basis, and influence the community just in proportion to their intrinsic merits, unassisted by the authority of the writer’s name, and unimpeded by any prejudice which may exist against him.
The following articles, which were really offered for such a purpose in the Mount Vernon school, will serve as specimens to illustrate the actual operation of the plan. One or two of them were written by teachers. I do not know the authors of the others. I do not offer them as remarkable compositions: every teacher will see that they are not so. The design of inserting them is merely to show that the ordinary literary ability to be found in every school may be turned to useful account by simply opening a channel for it, and to furnish such teachers as may be inclined to try the experiment the means of making the plan clearly understood by their pupils.
“At the time when she should be ready to take her seat at school, she commences preparation for leaving home. To the extreme annoyance of those about her, all is now hurry, and bustle, and ill-humor. Thorough search is to be made for every book or paper for which she has occasion; some are found in one place, some in another, and others are forgotten altogether. Being finally equipped, she casts her eye at the clock, hopes to be in tolerable good season (notwithstanding that the hour for opening the school has already arrived), and sets out in the most violent hurry.
“After so much haste, she is unfitted for attending properly to the duties of the school until a considerable time after her arrival. If present at the devotional exercises, she finds it difficult to command her attention even when desirous of so doing, and her deportment at this hour is, accordingly, marked with an unbecoming listlessness and abstraction.