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Prof. TAPPAN called attention to the fact that a knowledge of this subject was required for admission to Kenyon College.
Mr. U FFORD, of Chillicothe, asked if this system had been applied to circular measure.
Prof. TAPPAN replied that it had been, but had never come into use. He then explained the method and the difficulties attending the adoption of this system for circular measure.
Mr. STEVENSON, of Columbus :-The primary children in our schools we propose to furnish with counters, one decimetre in length, and we mean to make the pupils in the lowest grades familiar with the terms of the system.
On motion, Messrs. Mendenhall, Coy, Avery, Carnahan, and Haywood were appointed a committee to report to the General Association a series of resolutions in reference to the Metric System. Adjourned.
2 P. M. The first business set for the afternoon was the reading of a paper by Alston Ellis, of Hamilton, on Suspension of Pupils. Mr. Ellis had been present at the forenoon session, but was not well enough to appear in the afternoon. M. S. Campbell, of Portsmouth, who had been appointed to open the discussion on Mr. Ellis's paper, then presented his views in the following paper on
SUSPENSION FROM SCHOOL AS A MEANS OF DISCIPLINE. Mr. CHAIRMAN.—This question involves the whole subject of school discipline. The strength of school government, the end to be accomplished in education, the efficiency of the teachers employed, and the rights of society are all, to a greater or less extent, connected with it.
Owing to these various relative circumstances, it may not always be possible to carry out the theory which I shall advance, yet I believe that it is correct in the main.
There is a line somewhere, which separates the province of the teacher's authority from that of the parent, but unfortunately it is not well defined. Sometimes both parties extend their limits and the space between the school-house and the home becomes disputed ground; but it more frequently happens that both parties contract their limits, and the child pupil is left without proper discipline. Now it is surely a gross violation of the teacher's obligations as well as dangerous to society, to allow this :space to be filled with boys expelled from the public school. The relations existing between the teacher and the parent are very complicated. There must be the most friendly feeling and a perfect understanding to avoid difficulty. The nearer they can come together in their policy of
management the better. They can generally agree upon some form of just punishment for the offence of the child, but they can never agree that the child should be turned out upon the street. Many a parent has been as much at a loss as the teacher has to know what to do with a child that persists in wrong doing. God has protected the offending child from being driven from home by placing affection in the heart of the parent. A father can not expel bis children from the fireside even for disobedience. Such a course would destroy every prospect of home influence and moral training. Nor can a teacher always do what may seem best for the temporary convenience of his well-disposed pupils. The public school is an institution of thė State, and that policy which does not extend beyond the walls of the school-room is too inadequate to accomplish the work of training all the youth of our land for the responsibilities of citizenship. The general welfare of society is to be sought through the instrumentality of the public school; and it is difficult to see how this can be accomplished by throwing back upon community, to be educated in crime, even those who cannot be managed in school. They may be utterly incorrigible, they may be hopelessly vicious, and yet community can not be benefited by placing them beyond the reach of all reformatory measures; nor does the school get rid of their contaminating influence by expulsion. In most cases they are the companions of the other children as soon as school is dismissed.
It would be a great deal better for all the parties concerned to strengthen the arm of school government, to bring into requisition, if necessary, that of the civil authority and reduce every wilful child to wholesome obedience. This would place the teacher in his proper relation. He would stand between the gentle influences of home on the one side, where discipline too often fails from want of strength, and the severer penalties of the criminal court on the other side, where mercy is unknown. He could employ all the gentleness and kindness commonly so effective in school management, and yet command the respect and obedience of his pupils through properly-constituted authority.
It will be observed that this theory leaves little room for the application of the rod and none for suspension. Of these two means of discipline so frequently resorted to, suspension is the greater evil; and yet corporal punishment has long since been placed upon the proscription list, while suspension has in many places been quite frequent. I am not here to make a plea in favor of corporal punishment, but to find a remedy for suspension ; and I would find that remedy in a more certain application of just and natural punishment, stopping not short of solitary confinement.
There should be a reformatory department connected with every system of public instruction, and its management should be given to the most skilful disciplinarian with full power to use all the reformatory measures known to the civilized world, and suspension would be uncalled
and I think if the possibility of such a department existed within every city-district, nothing but the possibility would remain; the pupils could be managed in the other schools. Under the existing statute of Ohio on the subject under consideration, suspension can not in justice be employed as a means of discipline. By that law if a pupil commits
an offence the first day of school, for which he is suspended for the current term, the penalty may be a severe one, but if the same offence were committed the last day of school the penalty would be impossible, for in either case the pupil could return at the beginning of the next term with all his privileges unquestioned. Such a law violates the first principle of justice. It makes the severity of the penalty depend upon the time at which the offence is committed.
The number of children in our State already that do not avail themselves of the bountiful provisions made for their education has for some time been a source of anxiety; and it has caused some recent legislation. Of what avail will be this legislation if the other provision of the law is resorted to and the worst element in the school be expelled ?
While the methods of instruction in the schools of Ohio have been greatly improved, it is to be feared that the teachers have been too willing to shun the responsibility of a vigorous system of school government. If there is any mistake common to American society to-day, it is a lack of faith in the efficacy of proper discipline. It is left for the teacher to correct this mistake, not by giving up the contest at the first appearance of defeat, but by showing that proper training in acts of obedience and moral obligation will produce the same certain results upon human conduct that mentai drill will produce upon mental processes. We take a class of children and train them to become accurate and skilful in accounts; we can train the body to perform the most wonderful feats of strength and activity, and yet we are prone to discouragement in the work of discipline at the first outburst of a boy's evil propensity. We expel him sometimes without asking the parent's coöperation in his management, and sometimes when the school is the only place where he ever comes within the reach of proper influences. There are superintendents in this meeting to-day to whom suspension is almost unknown. The evils which would lead to it are anticipated and corrected, and the happiest results of intellectual and moral training are experienced, the greatest blessings of the common school are secured to society.
Then I conclude this paper, having no statistics at my command, with this brief statement. Suspension, if employed at all as a means of discipline, should be resorted to in the last extremity. It should bear the same relation to the school that banishment does to civilized nations; and it should take place only after the combined efforts of the parent and the teacher have failed to control the pupil.
Mr. Coy, of Cincinnati :-One of the most difficult problems is what to do with the idle, the lawless, and the disorderly, in schools. Suspension should be the last resort. There are cases where it seems to be absolutely necessary. It seems to me that when the injury done more than counterbalances the good which he receives, he should leave the school, whatever may become of that pupil.
I think we study our pupils too little, and the methods by which we may control and guide them into what is right. We are too apt to send them out of school to get rid of them. We have pupils that are simply idle. They will not study. They would like to be suspended. What shall we do with them? We have a second class that is idle and careless. It is a question what to do with them. Again a third class that is idle, careless, and disorderly. This class I think we should send out of school.
In the lower grades I would not suspend a pupil; not until he had reached the eighth or ninth year of his school life. There is a better prospect that he may be controlled by retaining him in school.
Mr. Pratt, of Bridgeport :—We have regulations in all our schools to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. Moral contagion is worse than physical.
With our Boards of Education I think there is too much delicacy in regard to suspension. They are satisfied if they can let the matter go on quietly and not disturb the peace of parents. The children have rights which the minority are bound to respect. Pupils, if they cannot respect these rights, should after an admonition and in case of younger pupils corporal punishment, be suspended.
Mr. HANCOCK, of Dayton :-There is a false notion in the community in regard to the responsibility of teachers for the conduct of pupils while in attendance. Parents should be made to feel that part of the responsibility belongs to them, and should teach their pupils to respect the rules of school. The greatest objection to public schools is from those parents who try to bring up their children courteously and correctly. Those parents object to having their children placed with those that are the leaders in these things. This objection is especially true in regard to girls. We need special schools that shall be reformatory in all our larger cities and towns. I believe it is essential to the performance of the principles of our free government, thạt that class should be properly educated.
Mr. LUKENS believed that the teacher should consult with the parents before the suspension of a pupil took place. He had always found this plan successful. He had found suspension as a means of discipline a failure.
Mr. Stuntz, of Cincinnati, said that with the physician there was a point at which the knife must be used; so in regard to suspension there are cases in which it should be used. In his judgment a pupil should not be suspended until three steps had been taken. If the pupil had taken the first step he should be informed of it; if the second the parents should be consulted; if the third, then he should be suspended. He had seen this tried with success.
Mr. UFFORD, of Chillicothe :- What would you do if a pupil should take all three steps at once ?
Mr. Stustz:-Pupils do not become bad all at once. I believe that ninety-nine out of every hundred pupils come to school with a purpose för honest and earnest work.
Mr. HANCOCK:-I know of instances of the grossest kind of conduct in the highest grade. I do not know of any three steps for such a pupil. He should be severed at once from the school.
Mr. Pratt :-I agref with Mr. Hancock.
from school as a means of discipline. Now, sir, I apprehend that there is no gentleman in this room who will doubt that there are times when it becomes a question of moral health, and the child is cut off, not as a means of discipline at all, but simply to separate a corrupting sore from the school, such as has been alluded to. But I apprehend that we are in danger of mistake in determining really what is for the good of the school, and the good of the child as affected by the school. The world is not at all smooth sailing for any of us. It is not expected that we shall always be surrounded with things only conducive to our good. We shall be met by persons whose objections to us, whose absolute interference in crossing our pathway, will train us, and fit us to bear the ills of life, as well as discharge its duties and enjoy its privileges ; and the school that is failing to do that is failing in a very essential part of its organization. I do not believe that it is claimed that our public schools are reformatory, but I do believe it is claimed that they are formative. I do not believe certain abuses follow the training in schools of high grades. It is not the comfort of the teacher; it is not the beauty of the room ; not the harmony of the day's work; it is not simply mastering all the studies that is to be aimed at; it is the character of the boys and girls that are there; it is what they are to be as men and women. (Applause.)
Now, sir, I believe firmly that the moral health of the public school, the average public school, is as good as the best private schools on the face of the earth. (Applause.)
I believe, further, that vice is most dangerous when it comes most insidiously. I believe the vulgar out-cropping of vice as in these cases alluded to, is infinitely less dangerous than when it comes from the higher ranks. I would rather my child would meet vice, if it must meet it, when it comes in this way than in more polished society, when I think it is ten times more dangerous.
Now, sir, I believe I was right, in reference to the public-school system of Ohio, when for the last three years, with all the strength that was in me, I tried to teach young ladies receiving instruction, from me that a pupil should never be suspended from school as a means of discipline. Nine cases out of ten, of suspension, are for the benefit and for the comfort of the teacher. The boy will annoy and perplex the teacher, and he is anxious to know what to do with him, and the easiest way is to get rid of him. Now, coupled as this matter is with my high ideal of responsibility, I would say that that boy cut off from that school can, and will, cause you more trouble in the alleys and by-ways of the city, as your scholars approach school and leave it, ten to one, than he will when under your control.
I say, then, if the injury done to the suspended member, and by him, be so great, suspension should not take place. But, as I understand, the principle of the school system of this country is not merely that the children should learn to be able to read and write and cast accounts though these are all valuable—but in the necessary training, the necessary discipline to which they are subject while learning these things, they should be learning habits of obedience to legally-constituted authority, and to subject their wills to that of another. We are met by the question