John Richard Blakiston.

The teacher; hints on school management online

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Deceived MAR* .6 1893 7 ^
Accessions No.^O XOq . Class No,



ints an Skjjcrol


Trinity Coll., Camb.,
Author of "Glimpses of the Globe."




The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved.


First edition printed January 1879
Reprinted May 1879, 1883, 1888.



THE following hints are published in the hope that tLey
may prove useful :

(1) To Teachers, as comprising instructions which they have
repeatedly to impress upon their assistants.

(2) To Managers, as aids towards forming a right estimate
of the tone, discipline, and methods of instruction which prevail
in their schools.

It is conceivable also that persons engaged in teaching
children of the upper and middle classes may learn something
by studying methods which have produced good results in
elementary schools.

No official sanction whatever attaches to any of the view?
here set forth. They are the result of a personal experience
of twenty-five years spent in educational work by one who feelh
more every year how much he has yet to learn.


The subject of religious instruction has for obvious reasons
been left untouched. Where managers have a due sense of their
grave responsibilities, they will take every care that religious
teaching receives that thought and attention which its paramount
importance deserves.

Such managers will no more throw upon the shoulders of
their teachers entire responsibility for the conduct of their
schools than would the colonel of a regiment leave everything
to its adjutant and subal terns. Without of course wishing
to interfere in details of teaching and discipline, they will
depute one of their body to inspect the school daily, if possible,
inquire into absenteeism, insure and test accuracy of registra-
tion, enforce cleanliness and tidiness, give support, advice, and
encouragement to their teachers, have an eye to their moral
and physical well-being exercise, in short, a real and thorough



INTRODUCTION .............. xi



TONE AND DISCIPLINE ............... 1


CLASS MANAGEMENT ............... 8


1. General Rules ................ 14

2. Reading .................. 15

3. Writing .......... ....... 17


4. Counting Id

5. Form and Colour 19

6. Common Objects 19

7. Natural History , 20

8. Learning by Heart 21

9. Marching and Singing 22

10. Needlework 23

11. Knitting 24



1. The long sound of "A" ...... ....... 25 lA

2. Glass. Younger Infants ............. 26

3. Glue ................... 27

4. A Letter. Elder Infants ............. 28 VL

5. The Postman. Elder Infants ............ 30

6. The Beaver. Elder Infants , 31






1. READING. 2. DICTATION. 3. WRITING ... .... 33






GEOGRAPHY . , - . 53








Writing 71

Arithmetic ... 75

Grammar 82

Geography 83

Notes of a Lesson on the Human Ear 89

Home Lessons . . 91


School Buildings and Apparatus.

WITHOUT suitable premises and appliances the best teachers
cannot achieve all that could be wished.

Each department of a large school ought to have its own yard
and playground attached. In a smaller school two may suffice, one
for boys, another for girls and infants together. A mixed school
ought to have either two playgrounds, one for boys over seven,
the other for joint use of girls and infants ; or else one playground
for all, and two distinct yards and sets of offices.

The latter ought to be so arranged as to suit children of
different ages, and to secure the utmost privacy compatible
with due supervision.

The two sets of offices and the approaches to each must be
completely separated. In country places the earth or pail
system should be used wherever the proximity of a large garden
makes it likely that the pails will have regular and constant
cleansing. Where there is no certainty of such unremitting
attention, the vaults should be carefully cemented and roofed,
kept dry by free use of ashes, and frequently emptied. Where,
as ought always to be the case, the yards are inaccessible to the


public, teachers may fairly be held responsible for seeing that
the seats, walls, and doors are kept clean and free from foul or
foolish writing.

Asphalte makes the best flooring for playgrounds, as it offers
no facilities for stone-throwing. Drains, walls, roofs, eaves,
spouts, windows, and doors must be kept clean and in good

Each sex ought to have its own porch or lobby, with conveniences
for hanging up caps, hats, shawls, &c., so as to avoid confusion and
loss of time on entering and quitting school. Where there are
many infants it is well to give them a lobby to themselves. Each
department ought to have its own washing apparatus and supply
of drinking water. In the smallest school an iron basin, water-
can, soap, nail-brushes, and towels in some convenient place
should be always available. Useful at all times, especially for
infants, when needlework is on hand, they are indispensable.

Every school and class room, more particularly those intended
for infants, should be well warmed and lighted, and present a
cheerful and comfortable appearance. If the windows be not
high enough (and they can hardly be too high) skylights should
be inserted in the roof ; as it is important that the children's
shadows should not be thrown on their books, that writing on
the Black Board should be clearly seen, and that the teacher
should be able to look into the children's eyes, and they into his,
without being dazzled by horizontal rays of light.

The walls ought to be frequently washed with some cheerful
and clean-looking tint, as pale-blue, sage, or apple green in a town,
salmon in the country. They must be hung with good maps, of
sizes suited to the dimensions of the room, and a few well-selected
pictures of animals, tools, utensils, trees, flowers, &c. ; with, if


possible, some of the coloured prints issued with the illustrated
weekly newspapers. A very small outlay on the latter will add
greatly to the brightness of any school and to the pleasure of
the inmates. No school, however small, should lack maps of
(1) the World, in two hemispheres; (2) the British Isles;
(3) Europe; (4) its own County. For an Infant department
the World alone is wanted. From one-third to half of the width
of the room should be kept free from desks and benches. This
space or passage ought to be on that side on which are the doors,
the fireplaces or stoves, and the book cupboards. In a central
position in this space should stand the Head Teacher's table or
desk, with locked drawers for Registers, Log Book, and private
stationery. In spaces between the cupboards along the wall
should be easels for maps, pictures, and Black Boards, 7f" squares
and pointers of various lengths. There should be one Black Board
or large slate to every thirty children one side of each of these
should be ruled. In the cupboards will be at least two reading
books for every child on the rolls, 1 an ample supply of slates (with
one side ruled}, pencils, pens, papers, inkwells, dictation and exer-
cise books, chalk, and dusters. Reading books, slates, pens, pencils,
dictation and exercise books, paper, and ink ought always to be
supplied by managers, and their cost covered by a small addition
to the school fees. Teachers will then be able to reduce to a mini-
mum the wear and tear of books and waste of other materials
which, as school property, are in their keeping. Poverty cannot
then be pleaded as an excuse for broken slates, short pencils,
bad pens, torn books, tattered copies, or the lack of any.

The remaining two-thirds or half of the room will be occupied
by rows of parallel desks of various sizes carefully adapted to

1 Variety of reading books may be secured by three or more neighbouring
schools purchasing each two different sets and interchanging them every


the frames of the children who are to use them. They should be
arranged in groups, if possible not more than three deep, with
gangways about a yard wide between each group, and should allow
room for a teacher to pass easily along each desk. By this arrange-
ment of desks all the children face one way. On the wall facing
the teacher should hang a well-regulated clock ; on the opposite
wall the Time Table, Seventh Section of the Elementary
Education Act, a small Black Board or Slate on which to record
number present at each meeting, and a large reprint of the ad-
mirable definition of tone and discipline to be found in Article
19 (A) of the New Code. The doors leading into the class rooms
should be supplied with panes of glass so placed that the Head
Teacher may look in without leaving the main room, but not
so that the children can see from one room into the other. The
room in which needlework is taught should be hung with de-
monstration sheets of various stitches, and should contain a
Demonstration Frame and a Black Board having one side
chequered with inch squares. There should be a large work-table
for cutting out and measuring, with drawers for work and
materials, &c. Managers should supply materials for needle-
work and let the children buy back at cost price the underclothing
they make for themselves out of it.

An Infant school should be wider than one for older children
to allow space for marching and Kinder Garten exercises. In-
stead of a huge unsightly gallery at one end, there should be
two or more smaller galleries at convenient intervals, and a few
flat desks which can be placed together in two's to form tables.
The structure of an infants' gallery and their arrangement on
it are matters that deserve more attention than they sometimes
receive. Most galleries are too high. No child should look
down on its teacher. The usual construction forces children to


mount or descend seven or even nine inches at a step (which if
not dangerous is at least ungraceful), allows them to drum with
their heels, and to soil with their feet the clothes of the children
seated in front. No gallery should consist of more than four
steps three are better from four to five inches high, and
twenty-seven inches deep. The front bench should stand on
the floor. The seats should be ten inches wide, with a backward
slope, so that if the front edge be from eight to nine inches from
the floor, the hinder edge will be from six to seven and a
half inches. The backs should be eleven inches high, and have
a slope of three inches from the perpendicular. The length of
the benches should not exceed twelve feet ten is better ; and
there should be an eighteeD inch gangway at each side of the
gallery never in the middle. If the gallery have a fourth step,
and consequently a fifth bench (say ten and a half inches high in
front) the seats of the highest will be only from twenty-five to
thirty inches above the floor level, and the teacher, standing four
feet from the centre of the front row, will have before her a
compact array of faces, directed upwards to her eye, which she
can watch without turning her head.

Besides the apparatus already named, there ought to be sets of
carefully chosen reading sheets mounted for use, boxes containing
counters, letters, cardboard or wooden lines and curves to form
letters, cubes, coloured wools, and some common objects suitable
for gallery lessons, primers and first reading books, coloured
prints, various and good, and as many Kinder Garten Gifts as
the mistress knows how to use.

Great pains must be taken to insure thorough ventilation of
every room. As long as architects knew no better modes of
ventilation than such as poured cold draughts from above on the


heads and necks of the inmates, there was something to be
said for teachers' suicidal practice of closing all ventilators in
cold weather, but a simple and inexpensive way of admitting
fresh air without down draughts has now become generally
known, and bids fair to be universally adopted. 1

1 It is effected by placing against the walls, at equal intervals, pilaster-
like shafts, made of wood, zinc, or galvanized iron, about forty inches high,
and two or three by ten or more inches wide at the inner opening, and about
six by ten at the lower opening in the outer wall below the floor level.
One such shaft in every ten feet on one side or in every twenty feet on
both sides of an average sized schoolroom will be found self-acting in cold
weather, causing no draughts, but keeping the air pure during school hours.
It is also a good plan to place firebrick-lined stoves not on stone slabs, but
on iron gratings, by which fresh air, entering from without, is warmed
before being diffused through a room. A high strong fender of sheet iron
round the stove not only protects children from being burnt if they fall, but
forces the fresh air, entering from without, to push the heated air upwards.
There can be no temptation for the most bilious to stop a mode of ventilation
which introduces no cold down draughts. The combination of these two
systems will keep any schoolroom in a healthy state. Similarly, sitting or
bed rooms furnished with sash windows may be ventilated without draught
by inserting a four-inch block or plank of wood between the lower sash and
the sill, so as to let an upward current of fresh air enter between the two





To ensure success in school work a teacher must be able :
First, To keep good order ;
Secondly,' To teach well.

As good teaching is not seldom thrown away for lack of good
discipline, it may be well to begin with a few remarks on the art
of keeping order ; and to note here and there, as opportunity
occurs, such practices as tend to bring about a healthy tone.
After this, we will review the means by which the various sub-
jects taught in elementary schools may be most successfully

Unless a teacher learn before everything to maintain good
order, much valuable time will be lost ; there will be constant
waste of breath and energy, and the teacher's health and temper
will be worn out in a fruitless struggle.

Fair, if not even good, discipline can be secured by approved
methods, which it is therefore the duty and interest of every
teacher to learn and habitually practise.

A school, in which the children behave well so long as the



toacher's eye is upon them, may seem to an inexperienced visitor
in perfect order ; but if they begin to misbehave as soon as
relieved of their teacher's presence, there is something amiss in
the tone.

When a healthy tone pervades a school, it is chiefly due to
a teacher's sterling worth making itself felt more or less by
every one with whom he has to do. An earnest, unselfish, high-
minded man cannot fail to exert at all times an influence for
good an influence that will grow and deepen with the growth
of his goodness. But attention to sundry hints hereafter given
may enable a teacher of less moral weight to do something
towards imparting a good tone to his school.

Some teachers seem born disciplinarians ; but every one,
however naturally ill-suited for command, who will carefully
study and practise the methods adopted by his more skilful and
experienced colleagues cannot fail to achieve moderate proficiency.
Again, others seem born teachers ; but even these will more
quickly and easily attain excellence by carefully observing the
methods of those whose practice has been crowned with successful
results ; while others again, less highly gifted by nature, may,
in time, by assiduous study of good methods, themselves become
good teachers.

The least gifted may take heart when he bethinks him that
success in school management depends mainly on watchful and
unremitting attention to little details, and on conscientiously
grappling with every difficulty as it arises. "The race is not
always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." If a teacher
at all times keep a high aim steadily before him, and struggle
incessantly to attain it in spite of repeated failures, his very mis-
takes, carefully noted and thoughtfully corrected, will lead to
gradual improvement and ultimate excellence. For

"men may rise from stepping stones
Of their dead selves to higher things."

He should be ever on the look-out for better methods, ^ apter
illustrations, more vivid ways of putting things, however homely
and familiar to himself. A lifetime is not too long to attain
perfection in his art.


As children are keen to observe, quick to imitate, it is
important that every teacher should set an example of clean-
liness and neatness in his own person. With what grace can
a sloven or a slattern insist on strict personal cleanliness on the
part of assistants and scholars, or superintend that inspection
of faces and hands which should take place at every meeting of
the school 1 l A. teacher's dress should be neat and in good
taste, neither foppish, tawdry, nor untidy. The wearing of
ringlets and trinkets by girls should be discountenanced. Finery
and false jewellery may be kept out of schools by a judicious use
of gentle ridicule.

A teacher who realizes the importance of bringing up children
in habits of punctuality will be careful to set a good example in
his daily work. He will be always in school before the appointed
time to see that the room is clean, the fire properly lighted, the
floor swept, and to set everything ready that will be wanted for
the morning's work. School work should not merely "go on
like clock work," but be regulated by the clock. It is essential
that the school clock should be kept in good order, and show
correct time every day. However strongly tempted on any
occasion to deviate from the Time-table, a teacher should reso-
lutely resist the temptation. Let him reserve for another lesson
the apt illustration he was on the point of giving at the close of
the appointed time. Yielding to such temptations tends to make
teaching discursive and unmethodical. If lessons be planned
beforehand they may be easily kept within bounds. A margin
allowed for expansion or condensation will enable the inexpe-
rienced to do full justice to every lesson in its allotted time.

Unpunctuality is one of the chief disadvantages in elementary,
as compared with secondary schools, and is one that can never be
checked by unpunctual teachers. In the best managed schools the
doors are finally closed at least two hours and ten minutes before
dismissal, and later comers are not admitted. Truancy is checked

1 A lobby fitted with washing apparatus should be provided in every school,
and dirty faces and hands washed as soon as espied. In extreme cases it may
be desirable for Head Teachers after due inquiry to send home children
habitually sent to school dirty. But such cases demand great tact and
consideration of home circumstances.

B 2


by parents being at once informed of any child's absence. 1 The
hours fixed for the meeting of the school should be such as are
generally convenient to parents, 2 and punctual attendance should
be no less rigidly enforced in elementary than it is in higher schools.

Presuming on the advantages derived from their office and
training, teachers occasionally assume airs of superiority over
children and their parents, and behave as though they were of
a higher social grade. Such a bearing is not conducive to good
tone in a school, as it checks the growth of that kindly feeling
which ought to exist between teachers and taught. LThe poor are
keen to distinguish between gentle breeding and its counterfeit,
and quick to resent with scorn any unfounded assumption of

Courteous and attentive to all, a teacher should show the
utmost tenderness and encouragement to the timid, the dull, the
weakly, the afflicted, and all to whom home circumstances (such
as vicious parents, or unavoidable destitution) make sympathy
and consideration especially needful and welcome. He should
seek, as far as possible, to cultivate and maintain friendly,
not patronizing, intercourse with parents of all classes, that he
may enlist their good-will and co-operation for their children's
welfare. Let him, however, beware of turning to a child's
disadvantage in school anything that he may have learnt at a
private visit to his home.

Apart from the advantage of enlisting the support of their
parents, a teacher's knowledge of children's peculiarities of tem-
perament and character will be much enlarged if he visit their
homes. He will thus be able to apply special treatment to
special cases, instead of treating all exactly alike.

On receiving offensive messages sent by parents through children,
or having to listen to disparaging remarks from any of their
friends, a teacher will do well to endeavour not to allow any
symptom of annoyance to appear in his demeanour. He should

1 Short printed forms of inquiry for this purpose will be found useful.

2 E.g. 9 is the hour commonly fixed for opening school ; but few children
come before 9.15, and many not till 9.30. It would seem better to fix 9.25
as the hour ; punish children late without written excuse, and admit none
after 9.55.


carefully refrain from retorting or sending a verbal answer back
by the child. A soft answer, if any, is generally the wisest and
most dignified. Many a teacher ruins his usefulness, especially
in country villages and small towns, by resenting impertinent
messages sent by ignorant or unreasonable parents. In serious
cases he should consult his managers ; in less serious cases it may
be better to visit the parents in person and speak to them calmly
and kindly. Such forbearance will often make a friend where
a less conciliatory mode of treatment might have made an enemy.
In any case, a teacher should be always willing to waive his
strict rights and dignity for the good of the children. Their
time at school is short. That teacher best consults his own
interest and comfort who, by the conscientious discharge of his
duty, shows that he has the true welfare of his scholars at heart,
and that his every action is prompted by a wish to influence them
for good.

When children ask their teacher for information on subjects
with which he has little or no acquaintance, he should not be
ashamed of frankly owning his ignorance ; certainly he should
never attempt to hide it by asserting that of which he is not
quite certain. If, however, he will take the first opportunity of
acquiring the needed information, his scholars will teach him
as well as he them. Teachers have been known to boast that
they never allow their scholars to believe them ignorant on any
subject. How can such teachers discharge one of their highest
duties, namely that of striving by daily practice and personal
example, as well as by precept, to implant in children's minds,
an earnest longing for self-improvement and culture, and, what is
of yet higher importance, a heartfelt respect for truth, thorough-
ness, and honesty in every detail of work ?

When a child is detected in the act of copying, or getting
assistance unfairly, he should be shown the twofold harm he is
doing himself

First, by falling into untruthful habits ;

Secondly, by leading his teacher to believe that he knows
what he does not, thus losing the chance of receiving further
instruction till he has mastered his task.

Such a habit, moreover, if not promptly, vigorously, and


habitually checked, will inevitably bring disappointment and

failure on the day of examination. It is the practice, therefore,
of prudent and experienced teachers, while endeavouring to instil,
yet never to reckon on, a high code of honour among children,
but to adopt such methods as will make copying impossible.
A teacher should blame himself whenever he detects such acts

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Online LibraryJohn Richard BlakistonThe teacher; hints on school management → online text (page 1 of 16)