From the first sting of a blackboard pointer received at the hand of a primary teacher for a slight overflow of energy, to the last serious fracture of discipline which I recall in High School, I pondered over the methods used by my teachers and talked with others, frequently, about this matter of discipline.
Very often after observing an extremely annoying day for a teacher, who seemed to think that all trouble was due to the pupils, I would feel like rising in my seat, half through sympathy and half through disgust, and shouting, “Teacher, it’s all wrong. We pupils are human. There are ways of appealing to us and getting the results you want, if only you apply the right methods.”
The solving of various problems of discipline for the purpose of helping teachers to accomplish their tremendous task, has always appealed to me very much, but it was not until my Senior year in High School that I seriously considered making the study of discipline my life-work.
It was the result of observing closely every day for four years, the different methods used by two High School instructors and, most important of all, the consistent results of those methods which convinced me that the subject of discipline could be analyzed.
The course, which you are starting to read, is the result of long observation, careful study and constant thought in this important field. The subject has resolved itself into a very few fundamental principles, the proper application of which will invariably get results in the right direction.
There are no cut and dried rules with which all school-room problems can be met; yet, the wise experience of hundreds of teachers has taught that there are certain principles which can be safely followed and the application of which will unfailingly increase the teacher’s success in dealing with troublesome problems.
Not only are the fundamental principles fully explained and made simple, but there are definite concrete school-room problems given, together with the safest treatment to apply. The problems are real. They have presented themselves many times and will continue to present themselves as long as schools exist.
Correct methods are given to meet the most perplexing situations as well as the petty though annoying troubles that troop through each school day. Each method presented has been tested and tried and found to get good results.
The application of the methods presented in this course will also have a lasting effect on the lives of those disciplined. This is an aim which, indeed, must underlie all true discipline.
The language and phraseology used is that which can be understood by the most humble teacher. In speaking of the teacher always in the masculine, I have followed the custom of the specialists. “He” will mean usually “he or she.”
In preparing this course, I have constantly kept in mind the thousands of teachers in every quarter of the land—North, South, East and West—who are laboring in one-room schools where they are moulding the characters of boys and girls who will be the men and women of tomorrow; men, who will guide the destiny of the state and women to be fit mothers of a greater race. The teachers whose labors are in the rural hamlets and the larger villages have been remembered; also those whose tasks are more manifold in the busy city where school-room problems are varied and complex.
This course is prepared to meet an almost universal demand. Teachers, like all other practical human beings, are eager for concrete information and ideas which they can apply. Any information at all which makes for better discipline is, by the worthy teacher, considered quite worth while.
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