E. C. (Enoch Cobb) Wines.

How shall I govern my school? online

. (page 7 of 17)
Online LibraryE. C. (Enoch Cobb) WinesHow shall I govern my school? → online text (page 7 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

morality. It is a course which will more effectually
instil the principles of moral duty into the soul, culti-
vate the feelings of the heart, and train virtue into a
habit, than all the abstract and lifeless formularies that


ever distilled from the pens of ancient and modern phi-

But after all, personal example will ever be found to
be the most effectual teacher of what is good and
honourable in moral conduct. We all know how pow-
erfully this is recommended as a source of good by our
holy religion. Jesus, our Saviour, was " given us as an
example that we should follow his steps." Unless our
own conduct is a living illustration of the excellence
of what we teach ; unless we enforce our lessons of
diligence, fidelity, patience, forbearance, gentleness,
kindness, truth, uprightness, and other moral virtues,
by our personal example, they will be utterly in vain.
They will be even worse than vain, for they will teach
hypocrisy, the worst and most detestable kind of deceit,
by system. The power of this principle has been felt
and acknowledged in every age and among all nations.
A volume might easily be filled with examples confirm-
ing its reality, and illustrating the all-pervading, all-
powerful nature of its action. Augustus was in the
habit, whenever any of his officers were guilty of a
failure in duty, of reproving them by transcribing and
sending to them appropriate passages from the lives of
eminent men. The Roman poet, Horace, gives us in
one of his Satires an interesting picture of the method
employed by his father to teach him morality, and in-


spire him with the love of virtue. That truly worthy
and judicious man, when he wished to foster any good
quality or check an evil one in the bosom of his son,
was accustomed to point him to well-known individuals,
in whom the effects of those qualities were severally
illustrated ; and by dwelling upon the respect and hap-
piness consequent in the one case, and the disgrace and
misery resulting in the other, he promoted the end he
had in view, the moral improvement of his child, far
more effectually than by the most eloquent generalities
on the charms of virtue and the deformities of vice.
To the force of maternal example in childhood may be
traced much of the subsequent wickedness which de-
veloped itself in the character of Byron, — much of that
subjection to the dominion of impulse and the mastery
of passion, which marked his intellectually brilliant
but morally dark and disastrous career.

A mother was one day sitting quietly in her chamber,
engaged in sewing. Her little boy, who had been play-
ing about the room, came up to her and said, " Ma, you
don't tell stories, do you ?" She replied, " No, my son,
you know that Ma always tells the truth, and James
must do so too." " Yes, Ma; but" — he added after a
brief pause — " if Ma tells stories, then James will tell
stories." This is always the sentiment of children,
though they may not generally be so explicit in telling


what they mean to do, and will of course become more
guarded as they grow older. They think they may
imitate, and for the most part do imitate, whatever they
observe in the conduct of others ; especially, of parents
and teachers. What carefulness, what watchfulness,
what jealousy of the heart, what rigorous government
of the passions, what constant self-control in all things,
ought the knowledge of this fact to produce in all who
have any thing to do with education of the young.

Example is always the best teacher. If parents
desire to teach their children to be industrious, to do
good, to be loving, to practise good habits, they will
accomplish their object most effectually by labouring,
by doing good, by cherishing affection towards each
other, and by practising good habits themselves. This
is equally true of teachers. The life of the teacher
should be the model of that of the pupil. To inspire
good habits, it is necessary to practise them ; in the
same manner as to acquire strength, it is necessary to
take exercise.

" All endeavours," says that judicious and excellent
writer, Mr. Babington, " to make right impressions on
the mind of a child, will very generally be found inef-
fectual, if the character of the teacher does not corre-
spond with his instructions, and inspire his pupil with
esteem and affection. It is surprising how God honours


his own image among men. Faint as it is, even in the
best, still its proximity gives it effect, and it exercises a
portion of his own sovereign power over the hearts of
his creatures. We every day see it exemplified in the
respect and affection which good men generally acquire,
when their light has long shone before the same neigh-
bourhood. If the beauties of the Christian character
thus recommend themselves to persons of mature age,
whose evil habits are often so confirmed, and whose
tastes are so vitiated, it will not be matter of wonder
that they should have peculiar charms for the minds
of children. Let a teacher exhibit this character with
consistency and prudence, and he will seldom fail to be
loved and revered by his pupils. And when this is the
case, what authority will belong to his example ! what
weight to all his admonitions ! what ready attention will
be paid to his very wishes ! The difficulties of educa-
tion will be wonderfully smoothed. Ill-humour, distaste
to particular studies, impatience under restraints, eye-
service and deceit, and a disposition to look on the
teacher as a hard master, not to mention other evils,
will be in a great degree avoided. If it may be allow-
able to use the language of the Prophet, * Crooked
places will be made straight, and rough places plain.' "
I cannot close this section better than by introducing
to your notice, and commending to your earnest atten-


tion, the following short extract from Mrs. Child's excel-
lent little work, entitled " The Mother's Book." Speak-
ing of the " Management of Children," she says : —

"This phrase is a very broad and comprehensive
one. Under it I mean to include all that relates to
rewards and punishments, and the adaptation of educa-
tion to different characters and dispositions.

" The good old-fashioned maxim that * example is
better than precept,' is the best thing to begin with.
The great difficulty in education is that we give rules
instead of inspiring sentiments. The simple fact that
your child never saw you angry, that your voice is
always gentle, and the expression of your face always
kind, is worth a thousand times more than all the rules
you can give him about not beating his dog, pinching
his brother, &c. It is in vain to load the understanding
with rules, if the affections are not pure. In the first
place, it is not possible to make rules enough to apply
to all manner of cases ; and if it were possible, a child
would soon forget them. But if you inspire him with
right feelings, they will govern his actions. All our
thoughts and actions come from our affections ; if we
love what is good, we shall think and do what is good.
Children are not so much influenced by what we say
and do in particular reference to them, as by the general
effect of our characters and conversation. They are


in a great degree creatures of imitation. If they see a
mother fond of finery, they become fond of finery ; if
they see her selfish, it makes them selfish ; if they see
her extremely anxious for the attention of wealthy peo-
ple, they learn to think wealth is the only good ;" if
they see in her the virtues of meekness, patience, gene-
rosity, humility, gentleness, and truth, the tendency will
be to beget and foster in them the same dispositions
and habits.

" Those whose early influence is what it should be,
will find their children easy to manage, as they grow

These remarks are addressed to mothers, but no
apology is necessary for inserting them here. The
spirit and practice which they recommend, are as appli-
cable to the school-room and the intercourse of teachers
and pupils, as they are to the nursery and the relation
of parent and children.

This was the end of the section as originally written.
Since the work was prepared for the press, the excellent
and valuable Report of Professor Stowe on Prussian
Schools has fallen under my notice. There is a pas-
sage in it which illustrates in so striking a manner the
truth and value of the principles recommended in the


four preceding sections, that I cannot forbear to quote
it as supplementary to them.

" At Berlin," says the Professor, " I visited an estab-
lishment for the reformation of youthful offenders.
Here boys are placed, who have committed offences
that bring them under the supervision of the police, to
be instructed, and rescued from vice, instead of being
hardened in iniquity by living in the common prison
with old offenders. It is under the care of Dr. Kopf,
a most simple-hearted, excellent old gentleman; just
such an one as reminds us of the ancient Christians,
who lived in the times of the persecution, simplicity
and purity of the Christian church. He has been very
successful in reclaiming the young offender, and many
an one who would otherwise have been for ever lost,
has, by the influence of this institution, been saved to
himself — to his country — and to God. It is a manual
labour school ; and to a judicious intermingling of study
and labour, religious instruction, kind treatment and
necessary severity, it has owed its success. When I
was there, most of the boys were employed in cutting
screws for the rail-road which the government was then
constructing between Berlin and Leipsic ; and there
were but few who could not maintain themselves by
their labour. As I was passing with Dr. K. from room
to room, I heard some beautiful voices singing in an


adjoining apartment, and on entering I found about
twenty of the boys, sitting at a long table, making
clothes for the establishment, and singing at their work.
The Dr. enjoyed my surprise, and on going out, re-
marked — " I always keep these little rogues singing at
their work, for while the children sing, the devil cannot
come among them at all ; he can only sit at our doors
there and growl ; but if they stop singing, in the devil
comes." The Bible and the singing of religious hymns,
are among the most efficient instruments which he
employs for softening the hardened heart, and bringing
the vicious and stubborn will to docility.

" A similar establishment in the neighbourhood of
Hamburg, to which I was introduced by Dr. Julius, who
is known to many of our citizens, afforded striking
examples of the happy influence of moral and religious
instruction, in reclaiming the vicious, and saving the
lost. Hamburg is the largest commercial city of Ger-
many, and its population is extremely crowded. Though
it is highly distinguished for its benevolent institutions
and for the hospitality and integrity of its citizens, yet
the very circumstances in which it is placed, produce
among the lowest class of its population, habits of de-
gradation and beastliness, of which we have but few
examples on this side of the Atlantic. The children,
therefore, received into this institution, are often of the


very worst and most hopeless character. Not only are
their minds most thoroughly depraved, but their very
senses and bodily organization seem to partake in the
viciousness and degradation of their hearts. Their
appetites are so perverted, that sometimes the most
loathsome and disgusting substances are preferred to
wholesome food. The Superintendent, Mr. Wichern,
states, that though plentifully supplied with provisions,
yet when first received, some of them will steal and eat
soap, rancid grease that has been laid aside for the pur-
pose of greasing shoes, and even catch May-bugs and
devour them ; and it is with the utmost difficulty that
these disgusting habits are broken up. An ordinary
man might suppose that the task of restoring such poor
creatures to decency and good morals was entirely
hopeless. Not so with Mr. Wichern. He took hold
with the firm hope that the moral power of the word
of God is competent even to such a task. His means
are prayer, the Bible, singing, affectionate conversation,
severe punishment when unavoidable, and constant,
steady employment, in useful labour. On one occasion,
when every other means seemed to fail, he collected the
children together, and read to them in the words of the
New Testament, the simple narrative of the sufferings
and death of Christ, with some remarks on the design
and object of his mission to this world. The effect was
11 *


wonderful. They burst into tears of contrition, and
during the whole of that term, from June till October,
the influence of this scene was visible in all their con-
duct. The idea that takes so strong a hold when the
character of Christ is exhibited to such poor creatures,
is, that they are objects of affection ; miserable, wicked,
despised as they are, yet Christ, the Son of God, loved
them, and loved them enough to suffer and to die for
them — and still loves them. The thought that they can
yet be loved, melts the heart, and gives them hope, and
is a strong incentive to reformation.

" On another occasion, when considerable progress
had been made in their moral education, the Superin-
tendent discovered that some of them had taken nails
from the premises, and applied them to their own use,
without permission. He called them together, expressed
his great disappointment and sorrow that they had pro-
fited so little by the instructions which he had given
them, and told them that till he had evidence of their
sincere repentance, he could not admit them to the
morning and evening religious exercises of his family.
With expressions of deep regret for their sin, and with
promises, entreaties and tears, they begged to have this
privilege restored to them ; but he was firm in his refu-
sal. A few evenings afterward, while walking in the
garden, he heard youthful voices among the shrubbery ;


and drawing near unperceived, he found that the boys
had formed themselves into little companies of seven or
eight each, and met morning and evening in different
retired spots in the garden, to sing, to read the Bible
and pray among themselves ; to ask God to forgive
them the sins they had committed, and to give them
strength to resist temptation in future. With such evi-
dence of repentance he soon restored to them the privi-
lege of attending morning and evening prayers with his
family. One morning soon after, on entering his study,
he found it all adorned with wreaths of the most beau-
tiful flowers, which the boys had arranged there at early
day-break, in testimony of their joy and gratitude for
his kindness. Thus rapidly had these poor creatures
advanced in moral feeling, religious sensibility, and
good taste.

" In the spring Mr. Wichern gives to each boy a
patch of ground in the garden, which he is to call his
own, and cultivate as he pleases. One of the boys
began to erect a little hut of sticks and earth upon his
plot, in which he might rest during the heat of the day,
and to which he might retire when he wished to be
alone. When it was all finished, it occurred to him to
dedicate it to its use by religious ceremonies. Accord-
ingly he collected the boys together. The hut was
adorned with wreaths of flowers, and a little table was


placed in the centre on which lay the open Bible, orna-
mented in the same manner. He then read with great
seriousness the 14th, 15th, and 24th verses of the 98th
Psalm :

" The Lord is my strength and my song, and is become my

" The voice of rejoicing and salvation is heard in the taberna-
cles of the righteous."

" This is the day which the Lord hath made. We will rejoice
and be glad in it.

" After this, the exercises were concluded by singing
and prayer. Another boy afterwards built him a hut,
which was to be dedicated in a similar way ; but when
the boys came together, they saw in it a piece of timber
which belonged to the establishment, and ascertaining
that it had been taken without permission, they at once
demolished the whole edifice, and restored the timber to
its place. At the time of harvest, when they first
entered the field to gather the potatoes, before com-
mencing the work, they formed into a circle, and much
to the surprise of the superintendent, broke out together
into the harvest hymn :

" Now let us all thank God."

After singing this, they fell to work with great cheer-
fulness and vigour.

" I mention these instances, from numerous others


which might be produced, to show how much may be
done in reclaiming the most hopeless youthful offenders,
by a judicious application of the right means of moral
influence. How short-sighted and destructive, then, is
the policy which would exclude such influence from our
public institutions ! The same effects have been pro-
duced by houses of reformation in our own country. I
would mention, as one instance, the institution of Mr.
Welles, in Massachusetts."



Do not confine your attention to your pupils to school-
hours ; let it embrace also, as far as practicable, their
seasons of relaxation and amusement.

The principle here laid down is closely allied in its
nature to that which forms the subject of the preceding
section, and in its application sometimes runs into, and
becomes identical with, it. Nevertheless, it is in many-
respects entirely distinct from the other, and its impor-
tance, as well as its individuality, is such as to render it
well worthy of a separate illustration. It is not too
strong language, because it lies strictly within the limits
of truth, to say that children are as much educated (not
instructed) by one another, in their amusements, con-
versation, quarrels, and various intercourse, as they are
by their teachers in the school-room. It is sometimes
the case even that their characters are more affected by
the former than by the latter class of influences. This
fact, for it is incontrovertibly such, is sufficient to show
how unspeakably important it is that a teacher should
establish and maintain an influence, as powerful as pos-


sible, over his pupils during the hours of intermission
from study, as well as while they are under his more
immediate inspection and care. This point may be
assumed as granted. It only remains, therefore, to in-
quire how the desired object can be effected.

1. To this end the first thing necessary is that you
settle it in your mind as a principle of action, by which
you will be uniformly governed, that your duties to your
scholars are by no means limited to the six hours,
during which they are engaged with you in study and
recitation. To suppose them thus limited would be to
entertain very low, narrow, and unworthy views of the
nature of your office, and would prove you to be ill-
qualified for the discharge of its various responsibilities.
There is scarcely an hour in the twenty-four, except
those allotted to sleep, in which a truly conscientious
and faithful teacher, one who is heartily interested in
the improvement of his pupils, is not engaged in one
way or another with a view to the benefit of his school.
When he is not employed in actual instruction, he is
studying, or planning, or deliberating on particular
cases, or busied about something, calculated to further
the great end he has in view. This is the true spirit of
the profession ; the feeling which you ought assiduously
to cultivate ; the habit which, above most others, will
win the confidence of your employers and command


the respect of your pupils. Your whole time, except
so much as may be necessary for recruiting your ener-
gies, belongs of right to those who are placed under your
care ; and God, whose will is the source of this as of all
other obligations, will exact its fulfilment at your hands.
2. Be as much with your pupils as possible out of
school hours. It is an old proverb that " familiarity
breeds contempt ;" and for fear of this, many teachers
stand aloof from their scholars, and instead of courting
intimacy, repel it. There is no doubt that the proverb
sometimes finds its fulfilment ; but if so, it is because
those who experience it do not know how to be familiar,
without laying aside their dignity. My own observation
leads me decidedly to the conclusion that those teachers
who, without forgetting their relation to their pupils, en-
courage and practise the freest intercourse with them,
usually gain an ascendency over them, rarely acquired
by those who, from false notions of self-respect and
relative propriety, hold them always at arms' length.
Certainly this was the fact in reference to the gentlemen
employed in my own school at Edgehill. The best in-
structors and the most successful disciplinarians were
those who mingled most with the scholars, even to en-
gaging in many of their games and amusements, on the
play-grounds. #

* See also, in illustration of this, the last two paragraphs of
Section VII. of this work, p. 89.


This practice is attended with many advantages. It
will serve to convince your pupils that you feel a real
interest and love for them ; a conviction which is not
always wrought in their minds by your best exertions
in the school-room, unaccompanied by other demonstra-
tions, because all you do there may spring from a re-
gard to self-interest. But when they see you habitually
going beyond what you were employed to do, and evi-
dently for the sake of promoting their pleasure and im-
provement, it is a devotion to their good which will tell
irresistibly upon their hearts. The habit of mingling
with your pupils in their hours of relaxation, with such
a union of dignity and freedom in your intercourse as
will repel all undue familiarity, and yet remove all feel-
ing of disagreeable restraint on their part, will afford
you opportunities of studying their characters, of getting
an insight into the current of their thoughts and senti-
ments and the deepest springs of action within them,
which you could enjoy in no other way. Some tender
and latent germ of good may thus be discovered and
fostered, which would otherwise have passed unob-
served, and withered for want of appropriate nurture ;
while, on the other hand, many a noxious weed of error
or of sin may be nipped in its first sprouting, and rooted
out of the soil, by means so gentle and insinuating as
entirely to escape the knowledge of those upon whom


they are employed. These are advantages of inesti-
mable worth, and sufficient of themselves to commend
this practice not only to the approbation, but to the
adoption, of every teacher. Every hour which a judi-
cious instructor spends with his pupils " has balm on its

3. Exercise an easy and as far as possible unper-
ceived supervision over the amusements of your pupils,
and with gentle dexterity check, guide, and regulate
them, as the good of the school may require. Amuse-
ment of some kind is an indispensable want of child-
hood and youth.* And the Creator, who knows what
is in man, as full of benevolence as he is of wisdom
and power, has provided for the gratification of that
propensity in which the want originates, with an abun-
dance, variety, and adaptation to our constitution and
circumstances, well fitted to excite both gratitude and
wonder. But man, who has " sought out many inven-
tions," not satisfied with the innocent recreations which
Providence has granted us, has set his ingenuity at
work in this matter also, and a world of evil has been
the result. A multitude of amusements have been in-
vented, destructive alike of present and future peace

* On the subject of Amusements the author freely acknow-
ledges his indebtedness to the admirable little work of Mr. Babing-
ton, entitled "A Practical View of Christian Education."


and virtue in those who indulge in them. A selection

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryE. C. (Enoch Cobb) WinesHow shall I govern my school? → online text (page 7 of 17)