=Restatement.=—It needs to be repeated, therefore, that democracy is the most difficult subject which the school is called upon to teach, not only because it is difficult in itself, but also because of the attitude of many homes that profess democracy but do not practice it. To the influence of such homes one may trace the exodus of many children from the schools. The parents want things done in their way or not at all, and so withdraw their children to vindicate their own autocracy. They are willing to profit by democracy but are unwilling to help foster its growth. They not only lower the level of democracy but even compel their children to lower it still more. The teacher may yearn for the children and the children for the teacher, but the home is inexorable and sacrifices the children to a misconception of democracy.
=Cooeperation.=—Democracy does not mean fellowship, but it does mean cooeperation. It means that people in all walks of life are animated by the common purpose to make all their activities contribute to the general good of society. It means that the railroad president may shake hands with the brakeman and talk with him, man to man, encouraging him to aspire to promotion on merit. It means that this brakeman may become president of the road with no scorn for the stages through which he passed in attaining this position. It means that he may understand and sympathize with the men in his employ without fraternizing with them. It means that every boy may aspire to a place higher than his father has attained with no loss of affection for him. It does not mean either sycophancy or truculence, but freedom to every individual to make the most of himself and so help others to make the most of themselves.
=The democratic teacher.=—Democracy is learned not from books but from the democratic spirit that obtains in the school. If the teacher is surcharged with democracy, her radiating spirit sends out currents into the life of each pupil, and the spirit of democracy thus generated in them fuses them into homogeneity. Thus they become democratic by living in the atmosphere of democracy, as the boy grew into the likeness of the Great Stone Face.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. How may elementary teachers inculcate the principles of true democracy?
2. By what means may public schools assist in the transformation of illiterate foreigners into “intelligent American citizens”?
3. What are some of the weaknesses of democracy which the public school may remedy? the press? public officials? the people?
4. Are such affairs as are described in the beginning of the chapter peculiar to democracies? Why or why not?
5. How may school discipline recognize democratic principles, thereby laying the foundation of respect for law and order by our future citizens?
6. What qualities of citizens are inconsistent with a high level of democracy?