Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

--all these things work on the youthful mind, and produce a copy as bad as the original. On the other hand, when parents, whether of high or low condition, whether rich or poor, set their children an example of industry, of temperance, of sympathy for the wise and good, whatever may be their rank and station; such an example, as a general rule, of itself, and without further teaching, makes, or powerfully tends to make, an upright, fearless, and truly honourable character. A master of a school is said, in popular phrase, to stand in the place of a parent, and if a master of a school were what all should be, and what some few are, he would not merely be said to be, but he would be, a parent, and more than a parent. His superior information, his earnestness in the discharge of his duty, his unvarying kind treatment of those who merit his regard, and his unwearied exertions both in and out of school-hours, could not fail to strike the boys as being something even more than a parent does for his children, certainly more than what most parents are either able to do or willing to attempt to do. A man whose intellectual character is based on sound knowledge (and this is an essential element in all moral character), whose natural tastes being simple lead him to seek the society of children, whose pleasures are derived from giving pleasure to others—such a man would, by his mere example, produce effects on his pupils as beneficial as they would be lasting. The man whose manners are coarse, whose language is harsh and abusive, whose reasons lie in the strength of his arm, and whose government is that of physical force, sets an example to his boys that they will infallibly imitate; and accordingly we do find in some schools where flog,

ging prevails, where the master calls his pupils hard names, and rules by creating fear, that the same principles are followed out by the boys, whose conduct towards one another is indecent, brutal, and cruel. Such an effect, produced by the bad example of a master who governs by fear and flogging, is not an imaginary thing, but a reality.

Among the numerous causes which have rendered flogging necessary as a means of government, there is one which is of very extensive influence. Many masters, as already said, become masters by chance: they have no love for their profession; they enter upon it from necessity. They are not well acquainted with the branches of knowledge which they profess to teach, nor are they acquainted with good methods of teaching. The consequence is, that the instruction is irksome to the master; dull, monotonous, and tiresome to the pupil. Continual blunders and listlessness provoke the master; and he discharges his irritation by giving blows, a kind of relief, under the circumstances, almost necessary. It might be better for the master to allay his uneasy feelings by running round the school-ground, or taking a few jumps, or venting his irritation on a figure of a boy stuffed with straw; but the real boy, the cause of his irritation, is before him, and the blow, or the abusive word, is directed to him. It is a lamentable thing that children whose curiosity is so active, whose desire to learn is so ardent and so pure, should be made so careless, so lazy, and so provoking, merely through the ignorance of their teachers : but this flows naturally from a system in which children are taught so little that interests them, and that little, after all, in a way the least attractive, and consequently, the least effi

cient. If the different branches of knowledge were taught in that order and in that manner which are best calculated to develop the faculties, the pupil would, as a general rulę, be as willing to learn as the most zealous master could be to teach, Blows, so far from being required, would be altogether incompatible with such a system ; the master would have pleasure in teaching, the boys would have still more pleasure in learning. Even the little boys would not require to be beaten for their faults : they would be ashamed of them as soon as they were committed. Of all the defences of flogging, that which goes on the notion of getting rid of a great deal of it, of not inflicting it on the big boy, but restricting it to the faults of the little boys, is the most pitiable and irrational. The younger the boy is (provided he has not been spoiled before he comes to sehool), the more active is his curiosity, the more eager is he to learn, the more disposed is he to feel the value of kind treatment when he knows that he merits it, and the more deeply does he feel the temporary loss of his parent's or master's esteem. This feeling exists most strongly in infants; it diminishes as they grow older, for it is not a result of reason, but a sympathy, of which the teacher ought to know how to avail himself, As the child grows older, this sympathy weakens, and it is our business to see that reason occupies the vacant place.

The author of the Letter (p. 282) has some observations on the principle of pain, a word that we have just used, which seem to call for a few remarks. There is no disputing some of the positions laid down by him in the Letter (p. 282), but how they all bear on the question before us, as explained by our correspondent, we do not

comprehend; nor can we understand the connexion of the several parts of the two paragraphs in which this matter is discussed. The following by itself is intelligible—To say that corporal punishment is an appeal to personal fear, is a mere abuse of terms. In this sense all bodily pain or inconvenience is an appeal to personal fear; and a man should be ashamed to take any pains to avoid the tooth-ache or the gout. Pain is an evil; and the fear of pain, like all other natural feelings, is of a mixed character, sometimes useful and becoming, sometimes wrong and mischievous. And this— It is very true that the fear of punishment generally (for surely it makes no difference whether it be the fear of the personal pain of flogging, or of the personal inconvenience of what have been proposed as its substitutes, confinement and a reduced allowance of food) is not the highest motive of action, and therefore the course actually followed in education is most agreeable to nature and reason, that the fear of punishment should be appealed to less and less as the moral principle becomes stronger with advancing age.'

First we are told, that to call corporal punishment' an • appeal to fear' is an abuse of terms ; then we are told that in this sense—that is, if corporal punishment is an appeal to fear-the tooth-ache or the gout is also an appeal to fear. Such puerile attempts to obscure the real question hardly need exposure. The assertion would be true, if a schoolmaster could at his pleasure inflict a fit of tooth-ache, and many boys may congratulate themselves that he cannot, for assuredly tooth-aches would be more common than they are.

An appeal to fear' may be a good or a bad motive, as our correspondent states. When corporal punishment is called

an' appeal to fear' (a mode of expression which we by no means justify), it is implied, we presume, that the wrong motive is presented, the fear of the rod, instead of other motives which it is presumed would better produce the desired effect,

We are further told that it makes no difference whether a boy receives a blow from his master as a punishment for some offence, or some other kind of punishment such as is there mentioned. But here again we have the matter put into utter confusion, for it is the kind of punishment which is the very thing in question. We all admit that punishment of some kind is necessary for boys who do wrong, as well as for men ; and there is ņo great difficulty in seeing in what the differences of punishment consist, which we think unnecessary to explain at length, as anybody can find it out for himself by the following hints. The disapprobation of the master, the temporary loss of his usual kind regard, is a punishment different from confinement; and confinement is different from a blow on the hand with a cane; and a blow on the hand with a cane is different from a blow on the bare breech with a rod; and a blow on the bare breech with a rod is different from thumb-screws or any instruments of torture; and so on.

Finally, 'the fear of punishment should be appealed to less and less as the moral principle becomes stronger with advancing age.' Fear of punishment should be appealed toʻ—is not this an abuse of terms ? We were told so just now. But this is a trifle. We are here told impliedly that we must begin our education with one of the lower motives, which we now learn is the true character of the appeal to corporal punishment,' an opinion in which we entirely agree; and we must appeal to it

« AnteriorContinuar »