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DEPARTMENT OF ELEMENTARY INSTRUCTION.
AMUSEMENT HALL, NASHVILLE, TENN., July 17, 1889. The Department of Elementary Instruction was called to order at 3 P.M., by J. M. Dewberry, of Alabama; the President, Joseph O'Connor, of California, being absent.
Prayer was offered by Dr. Giddons, of Nashville.
In the absence of the regular Secretary, W. A. Belk, of Mississippi, was elected Secretary pro tem.
J. L. Backman, of Sweet Water, Tennessee, delivered an address of wel
Mr. Dewberry responded, and explained the unavoidable absence of Mr. O'Connor.
Francis W. Parker, of Chicago, then addressed the Department, on “Concentration."
A paper was next read by Miss Bettie A. Dutton, of Cleveland, Ohio, on “Discipline in Elementary Schools.”
This subject was discussed by A. J. Rickoff of New York city, S. G. Williams of New York, W. A. Bell of Indiana, and Mr. Backman of Tennessee.
The Chair then appointed a Committee on Nominations, as follows: A. J. Rickoff, of New York; E. L. Spencer, of Michigan; Miss Julia Tutwiler, of Alabama; C. M. Woodward, of Missouri; and Miss Helen Morgan, of Tennessee.
The Department then adjourned, to meet at the same place on Thursday, July 18, at 3 P.M.
SECOND SESSION.- JULY 18. The Department met in the Theater Vendome; J. M. Dewberry in the chair.
The minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved.
31-N. E. A.
L. W. Day, of Ohio, and Zalmon Richards, of Washington, D. C., followed with remarks on the same subject.
A paper was then read on “The Development of Grace, Strength, and Beauty in the Child,” by Mrs. F. W. Parker, of Chicago.
Mr. Richards continued the subject.
After calling Miss Dutton to the chair, Mr. Dewberry read a paper on “The Individuality of the Teacher."
The Committee on Nomination of Officers reported as follows:
W. A. BELK, Secretary pro tem.
DISCIPLINE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.
BETTIE A. DUTTON, CLEVELAND, OHIO.
In the face of great improvement in the schools for little children, and of the more satisfactory results of recent plans and efforts for their best growth, the true teacher is yet conscious of a sense of incompleteness as if some essential element in the training and instruction, especially of the younger children, were lacking. That this dissatisfaction is the result, in part at least, of a failure to realize the true ends for which schools exist, and of an absence of that close acquaintance with the thought and life of little children which must lie at the foundation of any valuable system of education, is apparent to all earnest students of educational problems.
When we are reminded that the large majority of those enrolled in our schools leave them before the age of twelve years, this fact gives additional importance to all questions relating to their highest efficiency in the formation of right character, in the development of mental strength, and in the acquisition of useful knowledge; and too great care cannot be exercised in determining what forces shall be brought to bear in these early and formative years, or what manner of spirit shall be given their control and direction.
It has not been the purpose in the preparation of this paper to offer any new theory of education; but to gather from observation and experience a few thoughts which may be helpful to some just entering these fields of inquiry, and suggestive of profitable discussion among those who have given to these simple propositions years of closest study.
If it be true that the aim of all education is to prepare the pupil for the highest enjoyments and the most helpful ministries in life — then the value of all our school organizations and courses of study, and the success of our methods of instruction and discipline, must be tested with reference to their contribution to this result.
The school-life, brief as it is, may reasonably be asked to furnish to the Republic loyal and obedient citizens; to the business world, men with a courage and grip that will not too easily let go in the pushing affairs of trade; to social life, an ease and grace of manner, a strength of self-reliance, which shall put each in possession of his full powers for his own up-building and for the advancement of his associates; and to the home-life of the nation, men and women pure in heart, clear in conviction, strong in purpose, loving their children and loving to live with them.
Many circumstances, unknown in the history and life of every child, combine their forces to increase or to lessen these best products of school-life; indeed, the school-life itself, though covering a period of years, sometimes seeming to be but a small factor in the whole.
That the discipline of the schools should be such as to put the pupil most surely in command of himself, of his best powers of accomplishment and of service, in whatever line of work choice, or inheritance, or circumstances may decide for him, is common belief. That the careful teaching of right principles of conduct, reënforced and vitalized by the personal power and life of the conscientious teacher, and intensified by well-regulated association with his mates, is invaluable and helpful discipline for this life-work, few, if any, would question.
The habit of mind and conscience which rests on these foundations makes each step of progress sure, and success certain.
We need to keep constantly before our minds, that the aim of discipline is not to secure order alone — not to compel obedience or attention for this may be done through those external means which the strong use in their intercourse with the weak, but to produce what is aptly characterized as a "self-governing being"--one whose moral consciousness has not been blunted by the display of needless authority, or by appeal to mistaken motives in the decision for right conduct.
Those having the care of children and youth often commit the grave error of substituting themselves for the moral sense, by asking that right choice be made and wrong avoided for their sake. “Do this just to please me,” and “Do not do this, because it grieves me,” are illustrations of appeal to motives whose tendency is to cultivate a habit of regard for individuals in the field where conscience alone should be decisive; and the stronger the personal regard, the more active and glowing the affection thus appealed to, the more disastrous are the consequences.
This must not in any sense be interpreted as favoring a lack of open expression of sympathy in every struggle toward the right, and of manifest joy at well-earned victory.
Teachers should cultivate the closest possible fellowship with their children, by an ever-ready sympathy in whatever is glad and joyous in their childish experiences, entering into their small griefs as well, and taking a hearty and generous part in their studies and their sports, yet leaving them in all these interests much to their own resources.
Too constant watchfulness, too much constraint, and too unyielding a control, are unwise and enervating, and are as harmful as too little. The teacher's mission is to help; and restraint and control are but means to the readiest accomplishment of this end.
The difficulties in the way of securing habitual attention to school tasks