페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

ever more emphatically that behavior is in any particular case the outcome of an exceedingly intricate complex of impulses and motives; and the more one investigates the springs of conduct in childhood, the less confidence he feels in his ability to give offhand instructions regarding the course to be followed in any special instance of wrong-doing. He feels the intelligent physician's dread of tampering with an organism which is but ill-understood, and he suspects that the thing is ordinarily too complicated to be dealt with in the simple and heroic way which alone will satisfy “common-sense” people. Whipping or 'scolding affords a cheap and convenient method of procedure for all transgressions of the moral law, and it eases the feelings of those guardians of youth who think reform in one's nature comes about per saltum, as a consequence of violent experiences. But unprejudiced students of such methods of punishment as a means of correcting juvenile offenses are agreed that in the majority of cases they are a failure. At best, as employed in youth, their influence is usually temporary, and they touch only the externalities of conduct, not the springs thereof. The state has discovered that the prison and the whipping-post do not reform young criminals; nothing can accomplish this but a long period of training that begins at the very bottom, and literally builds up a new moral structure. The method is slow, and it lacks in spectacular features ; but human nature can not be transformed at the drop of the hat.

Students of child-development are coming to lay chief emphasis upon prophylactic rather than upon therapeutic measures in the training of the young. They realize that by the eighth or ninth year a child has acquired his bent in respect to much if not most of his conduct. Indeed, he probably has the foundation of the whole ethical structure laid as early as the third year; for by this time he has discovered whether he is to obey the laws of society as expressed through his parents, or whether he will follow laws of his own making. The time to establish in the child respect for authority, and a disposition to yield to it readily and contentedly, is just when his expectations and habits are getting set, for then the task presents comparatively few difficulties. But an extremely wasteful and ineffective method of training consists in giving way to the boy until he gets out into the world, where his actions have public significance, and then beginning to whip him for deeds which heretofore have been permitted.

Our discussion of discipline thus far has proceeded almost wholly from the standpoint of the adult, who is responsible for leading the pupil to

a

From the pupil's adapt himself to the social order standpoint

in which he finds himself. But let us look at some of these questions for a little while from the point of view of the child who is being coerced into conformity to the rules and regulations made by grown people. Here is a typical concrete instance. A principal of a grammar school was recently heard scolding the pupils in the third and fourth grades. Upon inquiry it was learned that during the recess they had played in the street. There had been a heavy shower during the morning, so that some mud had formed in the street at the time of the intermission. Of course, the pupils found all the mud there was, and transported a good part of it into the school-room. The teachers and principal were angry, and they showed it in voice and manner. As a penalty, the pupils were deprived of their forenoon recess for one week. Needless to say, this command was vigorously resisted by the pupils, but to no avail. Its enforcement, however, led to a good deal of conflict throughout the duration of the penalty, and it resulted in making both teachers and pupils unhappy.

The pupils said in explanation of their conduct that they had no other place in which to play; that they did not "mean to litter up the school-room”; that they were sorry for what they had done, and so on. The teachers, on the other hand, said there was no real reason why they should play anyway. They had time enough to play after school. While they were at school they ought to "behave themselves”. Now, right at this point comes the tragedy. The teachers do not want to play. They would rather keep quiet, and either rest or visit with one another. They can not understand why the children should not be willing to do the same. These particular teachers feel that the chief reason the pupils do not keep quiet is because they are heedless and mischievous. If they were well-disposed, they could control themselves, and keep from getting in the mud.

Probably the majority of grown people do not appreciate the absolute necessity of a child expressing himself in a manner quite different from that of the adult. Adults are usually pleased to visit with one another, because they have interests that can be shared by mere talking. But nature has not prepared a third- or fourth-grade child so that he can enjoy his social relations in the way in which an adult does. Nature says to him: Play; don't simply talk to your comrades, but run with them, compete with them in fleetness of foot, and in other ways.” In a certain sense, a child has little power to control himself when nature is insistent. He must follow the lead of his impulses to a great extent. Temporarily, of course, he may restrain an impulse; but it is extremely difficult to get a school of five hundred pupils to restrain their play tendencies during an intermission of fifteen minutes.

What should have been done in this situation? Should the pupils have been punished for lack of Positive methods thoughtfulness ? Should the teacher in discipline have anticipated what was likely to happen, and have suggested activities which would have prevented this catastrophe? It certainly seems that the blame must be laid upon the shoulders of the teachers. Perhaps it was justifiable to inflict this penalty in order to develop in the child a sense of responsibility; but how much better it would have been all 'round if the occasion for it had been avoided. It can be said unqualifiedly that the control of a large body of pupils can never be successful by the employment of negative methods principally. If there is no opportunity for the use of positive means in providing for legitimate activities, then it would seem to be wiser to ignore some sorts of conduct, which under other conditions would not be tolerated. At any rate, to enforce discipline from the point of view of the adult alone is a serious mistake. The supreme concern of the teacher must be to get the child's point of view, and to work out his discipline accordingly, though not of necessity

« 이전계속 »