Produced by Curtis Weyant, Sjaani
* * * * *
THE INSTRUCTION AND GOVERNMENT
A NEW AND REVISED EDITION.
BY JACOB ABBOTT.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and fifty-six, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of
This book is intended to detail, in a familiar and practical manner, a
system of arrangements for the organization and management of a school,
based on the employment, so far as is practicable, of _Moral
Influences_, as a means of effecting the objects in view. Its design is,
not to bring forward new theories or new plans, but to develop and
explain, and to carry out to their practical applications such
principles as, among all skillful and experienced teachers, are
generally admitted and acted upon. Of course it is not designed for the
skillful and experienced themselves, but it is intended to embody what
they already know, and to present it in a practical form for the use of
those who are beginning the work, and who wish to avail themselves of
the experience which others have acquired.
Although moral influences are the chief foundations on which the power
of the teacher over the minds and hearts of his pupils is, according to
this treatise, to rest, still it must not be imagined that the system
here recommended is one of persuasion. It is a system of
authority - supreme and unlimited authority - a point essential in all
plans for the supervision of the young; but it is authority secured and
maintained as far as possible by moral measures. There will be no
dispute about the propriety of making the most of this class of means.
Whatever difference of opinion there may be on the question whether
physical force is necessary at all, every one will agree that, if ever
employed, it must be only as a last resort, and that no teacher ought to
make war upon the body, unless it is proved that he can not conquer
through the medium of the mind.
In regard to the anecdotes and narratives which are very freely
introduced to illustrate principles in this work, the writer ought to
state that, though they are all substantially true - that is, all except
those which are expressly introduced as mere suppositions, he has not
hesitated to alter very freely, for obvious reasons, the unimportant
circumstances connected with them. He has endeavored thus to destroy the
personality of the narratives without injuring or altering their moral
From the very nature of our employment, and of the circumstances under
which the preparation for it must be made, it is plain that, of the many
thousands who are in the United States annually entering the work, a
very large majority must depend for all their knowledge of the art,
except what they acquire from their own observation and experience, on
what they can obtain from books. It is desirable that the class of works
from which such knowledge can be obtained should be increased. Some
excellent and highly useful specimens have already appeared, and very
many more would be eagerly read by teachers, if properly prepared. It is
essential, however, that they should be written by experienced
teachers, who have for some years been actively engaged and specially
interested in the work; that they should be written in a very practical
and familiar style, and that they should exhibit principles which are
unquestionably true, and generally admitted by good teachers, and not
the new theories peculiar to the writer himself. In a word, utility and
practical effect should be the only aim.
INTEREST IN TEACHING.
Source of enjoyment in teaching. - The boy and the steam-engine. - His
contrivance. - His pleasure, and the source of it. - Firing at the
mark. - Plan of clearing the galleries in the British House of
Commons. - Pleasure of experimenting, and exercising intellectual and
moral power. - The indifferent and inactive teacher. - His subsequent
experiments; means of awakening interest. - Offenses of pupils.
- Different ways of regarding them.
Teaching really attended with peculiar trials and difficulties. - 1.
Moral responsibility for the conduct of pupils. - 2. Multiplicity of the
objects of attention.
Objects to be aimed at in the general arrangements. - Systematizing the
teacher's work. - Necessity of having only one thing to attend to at a
1. Whispering and leaving seats. - An experiment. - Method of regulating
this. - Introduction of the new plan. - Difficulties. - Dialogue with
pupils. - Study-card. - Construction and use.
2. Mending pens. - Unnecessary trouble from this source. - Degree of
importance to be attached to good pens. - Plan for providing them.
3. Answering questions. - Evils. - Each pupil's fair proportion of
time. - Questions about lessons. - When the teacher should refuse to
answer them. - Rendering assistance. - When to be refused.
4. Hearing recitations. - Regular arrangement of
them. - Punctuality. - Plan and schedule. - General exercises. - Subjects to
be attended to at them.
General arrangements of government. - Power to be delegated to
pupils. - Gardiner Lyceum. - Its government. - The trial. - Real republican
government impracticable in schools. - Delegated power. - Experiment with
the writing-books. - Quarrel about the nail. - Offices for
pupils. - Cautions. - Danger of insubordination. - New plans to be
The three important branches. - The objects which are really most
important. - Advanced scholars. - Examination of school and scholars at
the outset. - Acting on numbers. - Extent to which it may be
carried. - Recitation and Instruction.
1. Recitation. - Its object. - Importance of a thorough examination of the
class. - Various modes. - Perfect regularity and order necessary.
- Example. - Story of the pencils. - Time wasted by too minute an
attention to individuals. - Example. - Answers given simultaneously to
save time. - Excuses. - Dangers in simultaneous recitation. - Means of
avoiding them. - Advantages of this mode. - Examples. - Written answers.
2. Instruction. - Means of exciting
interest. - Variety. - Examples. - Showing the connection between the
studies of school and the business of life. - Example from the
controversy between general and state governments. - Mode of illustrating
it. - Proper way of meeting difficulties. - Leading pupils to surmount
them. - True way to encourage the young to meet difficulties. - The boy
and the wheel-barrow. - Difficult examples in arithmetic.
Proper way of rendering assistance. - (1.) Simply analyzing intricate
subjects. - Dialogue on longitude. - (2.) Making previous truths perfectly
familiar. - Experiment with the multiplication table. - Latin Grammar
lesson. - Geometry.
3. General cautions. - Doing work _for_ the scholar. - Dullness. - Interest
in _all_ the pupils. - Making all alike. - Faults of pupils. - The
teacher's own mental habits. - False pretensions.
First impressions. - Story. - Danger of devoting too much attention to
individual instances. - The profane boy. - Case described. - Confession of
the boys. - Success. - The untidy desk. - Measures in consequence.
- Interesting the scholars in the good order of the school. - Securing a
majority. - Example. - Reports about the desks. - The new College
building. - Modes of interesting the boys. - The irregular class. - Two
ways of remedying the evil. - Boys' love of system and regularity.
- Object of securing a majority, and particular means of doing
it. - Making school pleasant. - Discipline should generally be
private. - In all cases that are brought before the school, public
opinion in the teacher's favor should be secured. - Story of the
rescue. - Feelings of displeasure against what is wrong. - The teacher
under moral obligation, and governed, himself, by law. - Description of
the _Moral Exercise_. - Prejudice. - The scholars' written remarks, and
the teacher's comments. - The spider. - List of subjects. - Anonymous
writing. - Specimens. - Marks of a bad scholar. - Consequences of being
behindhand. - New scholars. - A satirical spirit. - Variety.
Treatment of individual offenders. - Ascertaining who they are. - Studying
their characters. - Securing their personal attachment. - Asking
assistance. - The whistle. - Open, frank dealing. - Example. - Dialogue with
James. - Communications in writing.
The American mechanic at Paris. - A Congregational teacher among
Quakers. - Parents have the ultimate right to decide how their children
shall be educated.
Agreement in religious opinion in this country. - Principle which is to
guide the teacher on this subject. - Limits and restrictions to religious
influence in school. - Religious truths which are generally admitted in
this country. - The existence of God. - Human responsibility. - Immortality
of the soul. - A revelation. - Nature of piety. - Salvation by
Christ. - Teacher to do nothing on this subject but what he may do by the
common consent of his employers. - Reasons for explaining distinctly
Particular measures proposed. - Opening exercises. - Prayer. - Singing.
- Direct instruction. - Mode of giving it. - Example; arrangement of the
Epistles in the New Testament. - Dialogue. - Another example; scene in the
woods. - Cautions. - Affected simplicity of language. - Evils of
it. - Minute details. - Example; motives to study. - Dialogue. - Mingling
religious influence with the direct discipline of the school. - Fallacious
indications of piety. - Sincerity of the teacher.
MOUNT VERNON SCHOOL.
Reason for inserting the description. - Advantage of visiting schools,
and of reading descriptions of them. - Addressed to a new scholar. - Her
personal duty. - Study-card. - Rule. - But one rule. - Cases when this rule
maybe waived. - 1. At the direction of teachers. - 2. On extraordinary
emergencies. - Reasons for the rule. - Anecdote. - Punishments. - Incidents
described. - Confession.
2. Order of daily exercises. - Opening of the school. - Schedules. - Hours
of study and recess. - General exercises. - Business. - Examples. - Sections.
3. Instruction and supervision of
pupils. - Classes. - Organization. - Sections. - Duties of superintendents.
4. Officers. - Design in appointing them. - Their names and
duties. - Example of the operation of the system.
5. The court. - Its plan and design. - A trial described.
6. Religious instruction. - Principles inculcated. - Measures. - Religious
exercises in school. - Meeting on Saturday afternoon. - Concluding
Time lost upon fruitless schemes. - Proper province of ingenuity and
enterprise. - Cautions. - Case supposed. - The spelling class; an
experiment with it; its success and its consequences. - System of
literary institutions in this country. - Directions to a young teacher on
the subject of forming new plans. - New institutions; new
schoolbooks. - Ingenuity and enterprise very useful, within proper
limits. - Ways of making known new plans. - Periodicals. - Family
newspapers. - Teachers' meetings.
Rights of committees, trustees, or patrons, in the control of the
school. - Principle which ought to govern. - Case supposed. - Extent to
which the teacher is bound by the wishes of his employers.
REPORTS OF CASES.
Plan of the chapter. - Hats and bonnets. - Injury to clothes. - Mistakes which
are not censurable. - Tardiness; plan for punishing it. - Helen's
lesson. - Firmness in measures united with mildness of manner. - Insincere
confession: scene in a class. - Court. - Trial of a case. - Teacher's
personal character. - The way to elevate the character of the
employment. - Six hours only to be devoted to school. - The chestnut
burr. - Scene in the wood. - Dialogue in school. - An experiment. - Series
of lessons in writing. - The correspondence. - Two kinds of
management. - Plan of weekly reports. - The shopping exercise.
- Example. - Artifices in recitations. - Keeping resolution notes of
teacher's lecture. - Topics. - Plan and illustration of the exercise.
- Introduction of music. - Tabu. - Mental analysis. - Scene in a class.
THE TEACHER'S FIRST DAY.
Embarrassments of young teachers in first entering upon their
duties. - Preliminary information to be acquired in respect to the
school. - Visits to the parents. - Making acquaintance with the
scholars. - Opening the school. - Mode of setting the scholars at work on
the first day. - No sudden changes to be made. - Misconduct. - Mode of
disposing of the cases of it. - Conclusion.
INTEREST IN TEACHING.
A most singular contrariety of opinion prevails in the community in
regard to the _pleasantness_ of the business of teaching. Some teachers
go to their daily task merely upon compulsion; they regard it as
intolerable drudgery. Others love the work: they hover around the
school-room as long as they can, and never cease to think, and seldom to
talk, of their delightful labors.
Unfortunately, there are too many of the former class, and the first
object which, in this work, I shall attempt to accomplish, is to show my
readers, especially those who have been accustomed to look upon the
business of teaching as a weary and heartless toil, how it happens that
it is, in any case, so pleasant. The human mind is always essentially
the same. That which is tedious and joyless to one, will be so to
another, if pursued in the same way, and under the same circumstances.
And teaching, if it is pleasant, animating, and exciting to one, may be
so to all.
I am met, however, at the outset, in my effort to show why it is that
teaching is ever a pleasant work, by the want of a name for a certain
faculty or capacity of the human mind, through which most of the
enjoyment of teaching finds its avenue. Every mind is so constituted as
to take a positive pleasure in the exercise of ingenuity in adapting
means to an end, and in watching the operation of them - in accomplishing
by the intervention of instruments what we could not accomplish
without - in devising (when we see an object to be effected which is too
great for our _direct_ and _immediate_ power) and setting at work some
_instrumentality_ which may be sufficient to accomplish it.
[Illustration: Steam Engine]
It is said that when the steam-engine was first put into operation,
such was the imperfection of the machinery, that a boy was necessarily
stationed at it to open and shut alternately the cock by which the steam
was now admitted and now shut out from the cylinder. One such boy, after
patiently doing his work for many days, contrived to connect this
stop-cock with some of the moving parts of the engine by a wire, in such
a manner that the engine itself did the work which had been intrusted to
him; and after seeing that the whole business would go regularly
forward, he left the wire in charge, and went away to play.
Such is the story. Now if it is true, how much pleasure the boy must
have experienced in devising and witnessing the successful operation of
his scheme. I do not mean the pleasure of relieving himself from a dull
and wearisome duty; I do not mean the pleasure of anticipated play; but
I mean the strong interest he must have taken in _contriving and
executing his plan_. When, wearied out with his dull, monotonous work,
he first noticed those movements of the machinery which he thought
adapted to his purpose, and the plan flashed into his mind, how must his
eye have brightened, and how quick must the weary listlessness of his
employment have vanished. While he was maturing his plan and carrying it
into execution - while adjusting his wires, fitting them to the exact
length and to the exact position - and especially when, at last, he began
to watch the first successful operation of his contrivance, he must have
enjoyed a pleasure which very few even of the joyous sports of childhood
could have supplied.
It is not, however, exactly the pleasure of exercising _ingenuity in
contrivance_ that I refer to here; for the teacher has not, after all, a
great deal of absolute _contriving_ to do, or, rather, his _principal
business_ is not contriving. The greatest and most permanent source of
pleasure to the boy, in such a case as I have described, is his feeling
that he is accomplishing a great effect by a slight effort of his own;
the feeling of _power_; acting through the _intervention of
instrumentality_, so as to multiply his power. So great would be this
satisfaction, that he would almost wish to have some other similar work
assigned him, that he might have another opportunity to contrive some
plan for its easy accomplishment.
Looking at an object to be accomplished, or an evil to be remedied, then
studying its nature and extent, and devising and executing some means
for effecting the purpose desired, is, in all cases, a source of
pleasure; especially when, by the process, we bring to view or into
operation new powers, or powers heretofore hidden, whether they are our
own powers, or those of objects upon which we act. Experimenting has a
sort of magical fascination for all. Some do not like the trouble of
making preparations, but all are eager to see the results. Contrive a
new machine, and every body will be interested to witness or to hear of
its operation. Develop any heretofore unknown properties of matter, or
secure some new useful effect from laws which men have not hitherto
employed for their purposes, and the interest of all around you will be
excited to observe your results; and, especially, you will yourself take
a deep and permanent pleasure in guiding and controlling the power you
have thus obtained.
This is peculiarly the case with experiments upon mind, or experiments
for producing effects through the medium of voluntary acts of others,
making it necessary that the contriver should take into consideration
the laws of mind in forming his plans. To illustrate this by rather a
childish case: I once knew a boy who was employed by his father to
remove all the loose small stones, which, from the peculiar nature of
the ground, had accumulated in the road before the house. The boy was
set at work by his father to take them up, and throw them over into the
pasture across the way. He soon got tired of picking up the stones one
by one, and so he sat down upon the bank to try to devise some better
means of accomplishing his work. He at length conceived and adopted the
following plan: He set up in the pasture a narrow board for a target,
or, as boys would call it, a mark, and then, collecting all the boys of
the neighborhood, he proposed to them an amusement which boys are always
ready for - firing at a mark. The stones in the road furnished the
ammunition, and, of course, in a very short time the road was cleared;
the boys working for the accomplishment of their leader's task, when
they supposed they were only finding amusement for themselves.
Here, now, is experimenting upon the mind - the production of useful
effect with rapidity and ease by the intervention of proper
instrumentality - the conversion, by means of a little knowledge of human
nature, of that which would have otherwise been dull and fatiguing labor
into a most animating sport, giving pleasure to twenty instead of
tedious labor to one. Now the contrivance and execution of such plans is
a source of positive pleasure. It is always pleasant to bring even the
properties and powers of matter into requisition to promote our designs;
but there is a far higher pleasure in controlling, and guiding, and
moulding to our purpose the movements of mind.
It is this which gives interest to the plans and operation of human
governments. Governments can, in fact, do little by actual force. Nearly
all the power that is held, even by the most despotic executive, must be
based on an adroit management of the principles of human nature, so as
to lead men voluntarily to co-operate with the leader in his plans. Even
an army could not be got into battle, in many cases, without a most
ingenious arrangement, by means of which half a dozen men can drive,
literally drive, as many thousands into the very face of danger and
death. The difficulty of leading men to battle must have been, for a
long time, a very perplexing one to generals. It was at last removed by
the very simple expedient of creating a greater danger behind than there
is before. Without ingenuity of contrivance like this, turning one
principle of human nature against another, and making it for the
momentary interest of men to act in a given way, no government could
I know of nothing which illustrates more perfectly the way by which a
knowledge of human nature is to be turned to account in managing human
minds than a plan which was adopted for clearing the galleries of the
British House of Commons many years ago, before the present Houses of
Parliament were built. There was then, as now, a gallery appropriated to
spectators, and it was customary to require these visitors to retire
when a vote was to be taken or private business was to be transacted.
When the officer in attendance was ordered to clear the gallery, it was
sometimes found to be a very troublesome and slow operation; for those
who first went out remained obstinately as close to the doors as
possible, so as to secure the opportunity to come in again first when
the doors should be re-opened. The consequence was, there was so great
an accumulation around the doors outside, that it was almost impossible
for the crowd to get out. The whole difficulty arose from the eager
desire of every one to remain as near as possible to the door, _through
which they were to come back again_. Notwithstanding the utmost efforts
of the officers, fifteen minutes were sometimes consumed in effecting
the object, when the order was given that the spectators should retire.
The whole difficulty was removed by a very simple plan. One door only
was opened when the crowd was to retire, and they were then admitted,
when the gallery was opened again, through _the other_. The consequence
was, that as soon as the order was given to clear the galleries, every
one fled as fast as possible through the open door around to the one
which was closed, so as to be ready to enter first, when that, in its
turn, should be opened. This was usually in a few minutes, as the
purpose for which the spectators were ordered to retire was in most
cases simply to allow time for taking a vote. Here it will be seen
that, by the operation of a very simple plan, the very eagerness of the
crowd to get back as soon as possible, which had been the _sole cause of
the difficulty_, was turned to account most effectually to the removal
of it. Before, the first that went out were so eager to return, that
they crowded around the door of egress in such a manner as to prevent
others going out; but by this simple plan of ejecting them by one door
and admitting them by another, that very eagerness made them clear the
passage at once, and caused every one to hurry away into the lobby the
moment the command was given.
The planner of this scheme must have taken great pleasure in witnessing
its successful operation; though the officer who should go steadily on,
endeavoring to remove the reluctant throng by dint of mere driving,
might well have found his task unpleasant. But the exercise of ingenuity
in studying the nature of the difficulty with which a man has to
contend, and bringing in some antagonist principle of human nature to
remove it, or, if not an antagonist principle, a similar principle,
operating, by a peculiar arrangement of circumstances, in an antagonist
manner, is always pleasant. From this source a large share of the
enjoyment which men find in the active pursuits of life has its origin.
The teacher has the whole field which this subject opens fully before
him. He has human nature to deal with most directly. His whole work is
one of experimenting upon mind; and the mind which is before him to be
the subject of his operation is exactly in the state to be most easily
and pleasantly operated upon. The reason now why some teachers find
their work delightful, and some find it wearisomeness and tedium itself,
is that some do and some do not take this view of the nature of it. One
instructor is like the engine-boy, turning, without cessation or change,
his everlasting stop-cock, in the same ceaseless, mechanical, and
monotonous routine. Another is like the little workman in his brighter
moments, arranging his invention, and watching with delight the