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from their cradles, and who can scarcely recall the time when they did not read and write fairly, can scarcely be expected to have any but surface sympathy with a large boy who has an old face, but the slow brain and hands of a child. Besides, there was the usual multiplicity of classes: the A and B and C grades of grammar, and the three R's; and the familiar bright little folks who never fail and who have no mercy for those who do. There was much diagramming, analysis, and other processes evidently very valuable, but very unintelligible to John, who without any visible restlessness, sat out several weeks of daily endeavor and disappointment. His keen eyes had sometimes the hunted look of a wild animal, and made the teacher uncomfortable. But was not she doing all she could for him? And in the intricacies of the next examples in Partial Payments she forgot him and his mute claims.
The fine deportment did not last long. There were complaints more or less well founded, and she reprimanded him with tact. The ice was broken; gracelessness grew rapidly. Good or bad, he was so much an example to the school that appeal was made to his father. John made an ineffectual attempt to get back into the factory, but on the following Monday listened with scarlet cheeks to a reproof from the school committee and with perfect quiet took his seat again. In a week, things were bad as ever, and he was permanently removed. What more could the teacher have done? She taught according to the traditions of teaching. She disciplined by the modes for such cases made and provided. Any innoyation would have been something of a shock, and might have been criticised in the district. On the other hand, John had courage and perseverance plainly, and had not suitable attention in school. He had a passion for mental arithmetic when he had spelled out the examples painfully, and undoubtedly would have liked geology or botany if brightly taught. But he could not do with any ease or pleasure the things most in vogue and most prized in that school, and I do not think his restlessness was unnatural. It did not occur to the teacher to teach him mental instead of oral reading, and so better his very backward penmanship. If it had occurred to her, she had no time. The six hours were filled with regular work, and why should she teach over hours for no more pay than the lady across the hall, who always turned the key in her door at five minutes past four o'clock? The committee did not dream of
disapproving her course about John. They would have been apt to disapprove any other treatment. She found consolation in coffee parties at the good houses of the place, where her well born and bred pupils vied in showing her affection.
When the noon bell rang at the factory, John went home to dinner with the throng. His hands and face were apt to be unwashed-something unnecessary and unusual among the hands — his cap was on one side, and his sensible tidiness was altogether altered. At night he felt tired. Evenings were short. He lounged at the fence of Cullen's saloon and joined in the banter of such a place; looked in at the billiards or passed away the time with THE BOYS OF NEW YORK, or THE FIRESIDE COMPANION. He did nothing bad, but he was uninfluenced by anything positively good. Sometimes on Sunday afternoons, with a crowd of other young lads, he sat sunning on the station platform. The whole party, I often thought, had fatigued looks and listless airs difficult to reconcile with vicious tendencies. But John's tegument certainly grows harder and coarser. He hears all sorts of wild political theories advanced by the adult operatives around him, and his ten hours work render him too tired to think much for himself. He is easily influenced. As he nears his majority, no one thinks much about John, anyway. Cultivated people look at such careers as They forget that even John's work becomes, in the measure of his wisdom and personal vitality, a factor in the life of his time, a source of change, a cause which transmits some effect to the near future.
his with indifference.
Every year a small army of children is drawn from the public schools into factories. They go to pretty hard and uninviting lives with a background of rest in stifled, ill-smelling rooms. Bad, they will not necessarily be; but the inevitable conditions of their lives sway them towards visionariness, ignorance, and very great dependence upon any low form of mental stimulus procurable. I think it is fair to expect that the public school will hold its pupils from yielding to such conditions. In the struggle of middle life for a living and for some sort of a competence they may become greatly warped and injured by environment, but it is the mission of the schoolroom to make its traditions cling for years. Schools are most needed for the boys and girls who ramble down street on moonlit nights and stare curiously through the plate-glass panes. But these, as pupils, give trouble. Often they do not adjust them
selves to the pattern of young America from better houses, and are not the schools for the tax-payers first, and for the transitory class next?
I know a little schoolhouse overlooking a great prairie of southeast Kansas. An unpainted, hacked desk-board with bench runs down either side of the schoolroom; at the end opposite the door is a narrow platform bearing the usual cheap stand and chair for the teacher's use. The light is unobstructed by blinds or by curtains. The teacher is a dark little maiden, the most thoroughly regulated, studious, industrious person imaginable. Unfortunately, she is of the class who could pass a life in a peck measure without being aware of limitations. Born and reared within a dozen miles of her school, with very little variety in a conscientious, monotonous career, with no joys to speak of, not many sorrows, few aspirations, little culture, she is not truly fitted for that frontier schoolroom, slight as its demands may appear. She teaches the unvarying round of arithmetic, geography, and grammar from nine to twelve, and goes through similar experiences from one to four. She makes no practical application of facts, and merely teaches textbooks thoroughly. Concerning political questions, foreign news, the work of the world, she knows nothing.
Her constituency represents a paralyzing medley of views. The village is a colony from a secluded corner of a Middle state. The religious activity of the people, however, is the remnant of the spiritual force which inspired their ancestors. Some of the elders cannot perceive that power which has thus been used cannot be embodied again in the old form. One family of this ilk sends several children to the schoolhouse. The head of the home is patriarchal looking, and presides at all kinds of neighborhood meetings with dignity. He went West through some discrepancies in accounts, but he is a deacon of the church, the leader of the choir, and a business-like Christian by no means peculiar to lands west of the Mississippi. His wife has a bent form, a patient mouth, and a north star conscience. Neither is liberal in religious matters. The neat, demure children are at prayer meeting always, are prim if not devotional, and are reared in a narrow, hard spirit, so far as heresy and the discussion of heresy are concerned.
Another of her patrons lives in a poverty incredible to those who love ease, and sends his yellow-headed boys from a low studded, unhealthy hut, where, however, various clever books of agnos
tic squint jostle his bag of cheap tobacco. Mr. Walcher and his wife are one in their thought and work. They know slightly many things, but nothing to the depths; have passed out of the church in consequence; and are sinking to a life of less strenuous effort at self direction. They read a great deal and are easily captivated by glib theories which do not mean much. They are very warmhearted and kind; they are more truthful and just than many people in the church; and they have valuable mental qualities. They possess a restless hunger for some new system of belief. Above all things, Mr. and Mrs. Walcher enjoy discussion, and their own bairns and the neighbors' children drink in many a queer doctrine on the doorsteps of their primitive house. When "chores" are over, the wildest views of the life that is, and of the one to come are exchanged by the sympathetic, eager Walchers and the fringe of hard and ignorent men who ride in from their farms for the mail. Rough, remote pioneers of this type are the dangerous class of any new country. They are hostile to christianity, as a usual thing, and have a scorn for the past as a teacher. A little science interests them, but they are so visionary as to have a contempt for facts; they do not think it important to study results. They value no applications of learning that do not have a direct commercial value. They really think that there is no real standard of conduct, only a conventional one; and they possess fierce energy and persistence enough to render the impression they are making a study. They are usually very impatient of higher forms of education. It is no uncommon thing to hear the orators of the "Reform Party" of the moment advise a gauge of teachers' salaries by the wages paid farm help. They display a kind of rage against all interests but their own.
The lowest class is teaching ideas of the dawn over again, in the hearing of the children. On what can we of the other side depend except the six hours in the schoolroom? In the Western instance, neither teacher nor taught can be called literate. The teacher has absolutely no resources beyond "the English branches," and the man on the steam mower who has financial views with the Anarchists and who looks forward to America's future as a vague heaven for laborers, attended just that kind of school in his day. How pathetic it is that the children are always crowding eagerly around their elders with Miranda's exclamation: "O brave new world, that has such people in it!" and that many a teacher is too
careless or too inarticulate, or too limited intellectually to feel the pathos of the royal old magician's comment ""Tis new to thee!" When a little, withered, velvet clad figure was perched at a writing table one hundred and fifty years ago and penned,
"A little learning is a dangerous thing,"
he intended a mere hit over the pales of Twickenham. Brains now dust perceived how true the line was, and lips long since mute passed it on. Our generation like its forerunners illustrates it by examples. For instance, by the colorless character of some school keeping. The word of mouth traditions of the old Dame school make me prefer it to present schools in many secluded spaceways of our counties. That far away and old-fashioned type of school with its well-mannered, ill-informed woman-teacher sitting with the children and teaching them crudely, but with some "mothering" is not considered to have possessed any importance; but there are intermediate departments where teachers preside who know as little about modern methods, and who do not do the children so much good as did the Dames. The ladies are now separated from the pupils by platforms and can put them away more completely than used to be possible. Technique has not improved with this comfortable reserve. Many a woman of fifty teaches precisely as she was taught at ten, varying the round of exercises by occasional public afternoons filled with cheap elocutionary efforts.
Parental responsibility about the quality of child-life is very lightly felt. The objection may be made to the first case cited in this paper, that it is a fact of a by-gone period and of different conditions, and would not now occur. It is my daily observation that the same indifference has survived in the present generation of parents. Many people see that the children know lessons before they are sent out in the morning. But many do not look into those matters at all, and are inclined to blame a public sentiment which expects them to share their lives with their children and stimulate them at the dawn of the intellectual life. One unexpressed reason of neglect is that many parents suffer a cold disappointment when their children prove unlike themselves. They do not exactly dislike their own flesh and blood; but they feel apathy, and regard their little folks much as Mrs. Tulliver did Maggie.
The New England teacher who failed with John possessed a