페이지 이미지

can be convinced that they are not fair, and so should be withdrawn. If it seemed clear that the order issued by the street superintendent was unfair, and that it ought to be rescinded, could not the principal have led the school to view the thing in a reasonably calm way, taking due account of the commissioner's side of the case as well as their own? Could she not then have helped her pupils to see that a good plan might be to draw up a petition to be sent to the authorities, urging a reconsideration of the order? Meanwhile the pupils should obey the command, awaiting the outcome of their petition; this would seem reasonable to every one. If any individual pupil failed to comply, then in fair play he should be made to suffer for lack of conformity to the rule, which was agreed to by the school as a whole, because it was reasonable and necessary. If any group of pupils should be the cause of getting one of their number into trouble, then in fair play again, that group should bear the penalty of the misdeed, rather than the particular individual who was made the instrument of their disobedience.

But some teachers will ask, “How can the guilty group be detected, and their misdeed located upon them?” In any school where there is a reasonably wholesome sentiment, boys will insist upon fair play in such situations as the one in question. This is a factor in discipline that can be counted on always. The instinct of the young from the eighth or ninth year forward is for square dealing, in a sort of crude way it is true; but nevertheless, they will demand fair play in the simple life on the playground. Even groups of boys who have transgressed the conventions and laws of the community in which they live, and have been sent to reform schools and other institutions—even such groups retain the elemental sense of fair play among themselves.

One can find in the city and rural schools in every part of the country principals and teachers who Pupils should not be know how to appeal to their challenged to a con- pupils, especially in the test of wits in discipline higher grades, so that the general spirit of square dealing can be made to predominate in their group life. Of course, the views of boys and girls regarding fair play in subtle situations is not so keen as it is among adults ordinarily, but it is sufficient in order to avoid most of the difficulties which occur on playgrounds, when the attempt is made to control the relations of boys altogether from the outside. When the principal makes the pupils in a school conscious that they are being watched, and if they are detected in error they will be punished, he is liable to develop in them the


tendency to match their wits against his. If they can get the start of him, they regard it as perfectly justifiable. One who has opportunity to listen to the spontaneous talk of pupils, especially of boys when they are away from school, can not escape being convinced that much of our discipline is of the nature of a challenge to pupils to get the better of us if they can.

The writer knows schools in which the sentiment of fair play has become so strong in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades that no group of rough fellows could get an innocent boy into trouble, and lie about their conduct, without drawing upon themselves the condemnation of their fellows. The pupils as a whole know what is going on. They can tell what individuals or groups are likely to create a disturbance, even if the teacher can not detect them. And when an appeal is made to this sense of fair play, without any moralizing, but simply in a hearty, vigorous way, a principal or teacher can avoid such a playground tragedy as was described at the beginning of this chapter. If the boy in question had really been the victim of a group, that group would have acknowledged their guilt. If they had offended but had claimed innocence, the school as a whole could ordinarily have been trusted to act effectively in regard to the matter.

Before taking final leave of this special topic, we should notice a very important trait of childhood, Group which is often the cause of much trouble in loyalty the school-room. And to illustrate with a concrete instance: a ten-year-old boy, upon returning home from school recently, complained bitterly of his teacher because she had kept him after hours as a punishment for not giving her some facts he possessed regarding the misconduct of one of his playmates. He stubbornly refused to tell on his companion, and the teacher as stubbornly insisted that he would have to stay every night after school for a half-hour, until he became docile and obeyed her commands. He felt it would “queer” him with the boys if he should "tattle” on one of the group, and she thought he was wilfully disobedient, because he did not help her to find the offender against the law and order of the school. This is a typical case of discipline arising in many schools, and it is often a source of serious discomfiture alike to the teacher and to the pupils.

Any one who knows the by-laws of boy life understands that “tattling” is regarded as about the worst possible offense in a member of a school or a gang. One of the first lessons which groups of boys, and often girls as well, teach a new-comer is that he must stand by the crowd, and not "tell” on any one. He must keep its secrets against all inquisitors, whether teacher, minister, or policeman. To be loyal to the members of your set is a fundamental law of any group, and this has proven of tremendous service in the development of society. However, this thing is doubtless carried too far often, by boys especially, who keep secrets which they ought to make public for the good of their crowd, as well as for effective discipline in the school and on the street.

But it does not seem to be a wise course for a teacher to go after an individual boy, and try to overcome his impulse to shield an offender who happens to be a member of his "crowd". It would probably prove much more satisfactory to all concerned if the teacher would deal with the group as a whole, and endeavor to develop therein a keen sense of fair play in the relations of the pupils to herself, so that any individual would not feel he would lose caste with his set if he should give publicity to offenses against reasonable rules of order, but rather he would gain with the crowd. It surely is possible for a school group to be made to appreciate that necessary rules must be insisted upon, and it will be better for every one if these are observed without any failure. If, then, one member of the group will not conform to the rules, but under

« 이전계속 »