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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27

Inaugural Address

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Inaugural Address,

Ladies And Gentlemen,—The honour of occupying the position of President of the Educational Institute of Otago is one which I neither expected nor considered myself worthy to receive. The chair has already been filled in succession by three of our University Professors, and a gentleman who is considered to be no mean representative of the legal profession in Dunedin. It, therefore, behoves me, as the first of your own body, on whom you have conferred this honour, to tender you my grateful acknowledgements for your kindness and consideration, and at the same time, to express a hope that I may be able, with your indulgence, to discharge the duties of the office to your satisfaction and my own credit. But anything I have to say on the present occasion must come far short of the able addresses of my learned predecessors in office. Still my remarks, connected with the work in which we are all engaged, may contain a few truths, though trite or commonplace, not unworthy of our earnest consideration.

Before proceeding to the main subject of my address, permit me to say a word in reference to the advantages which may be derived from an association such as our Institute. These seem to me to be two-fold. First, the members are afforded opportunities for meeting together for the purpose of discussing questions in connection with their profession. Papers are read and freely commented on, in which the various experiences of teachers in the discharge of their duties are enunciated, and thereby fresh ideas are received, or old ones confirmed. In this way, effort for future work is strengthened, and the liability of falling into mistakes considerably lessened; besides, improved methods of teaching are almost certain to be the result of such procedure, if persistently and judiciously pursued. But perhaps I may be pardoned for remarking here that there are many teachers among us who seldom or never attend our meetings, to their own loss and disadvantage, which is greatly to be regretted. I am sure there is not a teacher in Otago, who has any regard for his profession, but would be the better for taking a part in these meetings. The second advantage of such associations, though it may not bulk in importance with the first, is still as necessary. For however exalted our aims may be to reach a high degree of excellence in the performance of our work, we cannot ignore the fact that what we have to do is considered simply work, and, whatever a few enthusiastic writers on the noble calling of the page 4 schoolmaster may say to the contrary, is still by many considered not very dignified work, and paid for accordingly. We are, therefore, constrained to attend to the actualities of life as well as have a desire for the idealities of our profession. An important part of what I term the actualities of a schoolmaster's life is the responsibility laid upon him to secure for himself, and it may be for others dependent on him, an honest livelihood, without being worried by unnecessary restrictions hopeless of redress. "Well, the second advantage of our association consists in this: its members can meet if they choose and discuss any grievance, momentary or otherwise, and devise means for its redress. No doubt the grievances of the schoolmaster have afforded material for capital jokes to a certain class of social or political wiseacres, and it is therefore not very surprising that Teachers' Associations should sometimes be designated Trades Unions. Allow me to say a word here in reference to the unfairness of this charge, at least so far as our Institute is concerned. In what may be termed the commendable anxiety of popular educationists to bring primary instruction to the door as it were of even the humblest member of the community, the teacher, who ought to have some consideration, is apt to be over-looked, or at least considered of hardly equal importance with the school buildings and their appliances, and is consequently the first to suffer on the slightest financial emergency. In proof of this I may remind you that, when the state of the colonial revenue lately necessitated a reduction of ten per cent, in the salaries of all Government employes, schoolmasters acquiesced in the inevitable without a murmur. Such, however, was not the case with the other members of the civil service. Their condition was so loudly bewailed, that Government was constrained to restore to them their ten per cent. But, so far as I am aware, not one voice, either in the House of Representatives or out of it, has been once raised for the restoration of the ten per cent, to the poor defenceless dominie. Perhaps the reason is, that teachers are not recognised by Government as civil servants, and never were. Now, had our Association partaken of the nature of a trades union, we would have petitioned, memorialised, agitated, struck for our just rights. But we did nothing of the sort. "We are a law-abiding body—long-suffering class. Nay, more, I believe the subject was never specially dealt with by any branches of the Institute. A glance at the Report will show that the subjects of debate at the several branch meetings were those exclusively connected with the first series of advantages already spoken of, viz., the best means of reaching a high standard in our profession.

With these preliminary observations, allow me now to proceed to the main subject of my address. The Teacher viewed in relation to his work and to society. My remarks, though specially intended for our younger brethren, may not, I trust, be page 5 found inapplicable to any of us. I shall consider the teacher of youth in a three-fold aspect. First, as a man of culture, secondly, as an educator, and thirdly, as a member of the community.

1. Mathew Arnold's conception of a man of culture is, "That he strives to humanize knowledge, to divest it of whatever is harsh, crude, and technical, and to make it a source of happiness and brightness to all." Now, I think this should be the aim of every teacher of youth, and in striving for its accomplishment, his own moral, intellectual, and physical capacities should be cultivated as far as circumstances will permit. But I am afraid that culture, that is the culture of the whole man as an immortal being, responsible to a greater than himself, is scarcely the thing demanded by some, at least, of our advanced thinkers of the present day. Utility, in their estimation, is the be all and the end all of human life; and education that is not utilitarian in its aim has to them little to recommend it. If such be the prevailing belief of any considerable number of modern scientists, we have certainly some reason to be alarmed for the consequences. Man is above, or ought to be above, feeling satisfied with enjoyments that are merely sensuous. If the happiness and brightness of life spoken of by Mr. Arnold were secured by the gratification of the senses alone, then utilitarianism might claim our supreme regard. But the moral and religious instincts of humanity are nobler in their aims than to be bartered for, or set on one side by cold sensuous utilitarianism. When a teacher of youth is not guided by a keen sense of his moral responsibility, not to man only, but to One who claims and demands the homage and righteous obedience of all men, his work, in my opinion, may be performed in a manner so heartless and perfunctory as to be worthless, or vicious, or both. There must be no dubiety in his moral perceptions. Truth with him must not only be admired for its own sake, it must also be supremely loved and scrupulously obeyed, because it is the Divine basis of all true manhood.

The aphorism that "virtue is its own reward" is only true in a certain sense, for, as Dr. Newman well puts it, "Though it brings with it the truest and highest pleasure, they who cultivate it for pleasure sake are selfish, not religious, and will never gain the pleasure, because they can never have the virtue." The teacher, then, if impressed with this high conception of the unselfishness of the true moral character, cannot fail to be successful in the best sense of the term. He works not as the mere hireling. He feels in his inmost soul that he has to a certain extent the moulding for good or for evil the plastic minds of immortal creatures; and doubtless has found that the mere love of any moral virtue for its own sake has lamentably failed to support him in the irritating and arduous struggle. No, the source of his support springs from a nobler fountain head—the solemn conviction that he is responsible to a Power neither of man, nor in man, but above man. Whatever would tend to blunt his page 6 moral perceptions of right and wrong he carefully avoids. His whole life, both on the floor of the schoolroom and when mixing in society, is consistent, transparent, and so far as in him lies, blameless. He is true to himself and fully alive to the responsibility of his office. Strengthened by the consciousness of moral rectitude, he cultivates the graces of life, and having before him the high ideal of a full, rounded, human character, exhibited in the lives of good men, rather than in the exploits of great men, he takes a delight in whatever is pure, lovely, and of good report. And conscientiously believing that no education can be complete that does not develop a pure morality, and further, that morality in its highest sense is spiritual, and can only reach its fullest development by faith in a Supreme Being. He, therefore holds that no man is competent to give that education who denies his moral responsibility to this Being.

A man may have a highly cultivated intellect, and be able in an eminent degree to impart his intellectual knowledge to others, but lacking this moral culture, he must fail as an educationist in the full meaning of that term. If such is the case, you will allow that the teacher who has a true sense of the importance of his work, must place supreme value on moral culture. The various virtues that combine to make a perfect moral character are not to him mere abstractions. Charitableness, forgiveness, gentleness, not a namby-pamby amiability, truthfulness, patience, and all the other moral virtues are to him as real as his own existence. He may come far short of a consistent exhibition of them in his own character, but, having the true ideal before him, and having been long accustomed to exercise another powerful moral virtue—self-control—he will never go far astray.

But to proceed. There is also intellectual culture. An ignorant teacher is an absurdity. For how can a man teach to others that of which he himself is ignorant? Every teacher must be a student. When he leaves the Normal School or the University, his education is not finished, it is, strictly speaking, only begun. He may have acquired a good deal of technical knowledge. But how is he to make this knowledge a source of happiness and brightness to the young? This is a question of such profound meaning and far-reaching consequences that a whole treatise would be required for its satisfactory solution. I can only throw out a few meagre hints, which I hope may not be considered wholly valueless in helping to a correct answer.

We are told that there are two sorts of people in this world, those who go through life with their eyes open, and those who perform the same journey, but have their eyes shut with regard to all that is worth seeing. The former are observant of the varied phenomena brought under their notice, and seemingly without any special effort, note whatever is worth retaining, make it their own, and lay it past to be brought forth as occasion re- page 7 quires to help them to sweeten and to brighten not only their own lives but also the lives of others. The latter see nothing, feel nothing, and therefore have nothing to communicate. The faculty of observation, when correctly and judiciously exercised, seems to me to form the basis of all true mental culture; and it can be indefinitely improved by exercise, as every one knows who has made the experiment. Indeed, I believe there is no intellectual faculty that so richly repays its possessor for its cultivation. And, besides, it has two worlds for its exercise, the world of mind and the world of matter. But I must confine my remarks to the latter world. Here we have all the physical sciences, among which I need only mention, physiology, botany, geology, and chemistry, whose remarkable and interesting phenomena meet us at every turn, so to speak, and call forth the observing faculty in a very special manner. How many points of practical interest does not even a slight knowledge of these sciences present to the observant student? No doubt it has been said that a little learning is a dangerous thing. But, perhaps, a more misleading aphorism was never coined. All human knowledge, comparatively speaking, is little. Is it not the great amount of knowledge that benefits a man, or the small amount that is dangerous to him? It is the right use he makes of his knowledge, that is really beneficial either to himself or to others. A little knowledge, however, of any subject should be complete and thorough so far as it goes. It is your pretentious smatterers in knowledge that make much of this little, and fools of themselves, who do mischief. But, even to know a little thoroughly demands continuous and systematic study. Not four or five hours' hard study for a few days, or a few weeks, or even for a few months, and then entire cessation from all mental effort. Such procedure can only be characterised as mental dissipation, and must end in failure and disgust.

It has been said that much study is a weariness to the flesh; but the culture of which I am speaking can be obtained at a less painful sacrifice. It is within the reach of any one to a greater or less extent who is willing to continuously and systematically employ the spare hours of his life. Spare hours did I say? Great things have been accomplished by the systematic employment of the spare minutes of even an active life. The pages of biography are full of examples confirmatory of the statement, and if we study them aright we shall strive to do likewise. I have just said that it is the pretentious smatterers in knowledge, or, as they might be termed, the skim milk philosophers of our day, who do mischief. The thorough student is not pretentious. He is no mere retailer of other men's literary wares. He knows that intellectual culture depends more on the quality of a man's mental attainments than on the amount of book learning with which his memory is charged. And herein, it seems to me, lies the difference between intellectual culture page 8 and mere knowledge of books. Some men have so saturated' their minds with the opinion of others, that they hare none of their own. They are continually quoting some authority or another in confirmation of their own literary or scientific attainments, and would fain pass for men of culture. But how can they be such, if their minds are only receptacles of other people's knowledge, which they have never assimilated or used as a means for sharpening their own perceptive faculties, or developing their own intellectual powers? Such men might make fair teachers, but poor educators of the young. Something more, therefore, is needed than a knowledge of books by any one who deserves the name of a man of culture. It should never be forgotten that books are but means to be used for the accomplishment of a purpose. It is not sufficient that we know of the existence of certain facts, we ought also to try and find out how they exist, and how they can be made subservient to human welfare. Our reading will be barren of results if it does not leave firm impressions on the memory for the exercise of our reason and judgment.

If all writers of books produced only what they gathered from other books there could be no intellectual progress. The teacher of youth, to be a man of fair culture, must, in the language of the prayer book, "read, learn, and inwardly digest;" and exercise a wise discrimination between the really useful books, and those, however entertaining, that are frivolous. He must also be a careful student of that book, one or two pages of which I have just named—the book of nature, the glorious panorama of vegetable and animal existence, created not only for man's special use and benefit, but also for his pleasure. The man of culture sees a beauty and adaptation in all nature's works, from the humblest to the most exalted; and in the contemplation of them, sensations of the purest enjoyment fill his soul; and he feels himself ennobled, lifted up, as it were, to a higher state of existence, and blesses the Creator of all, that He has endowed him with the capacity for such enjoyment. In short, wherever harmony exists, be it in colour, in symmetrical form, in musical sounds, or in the beautiful consistency of a noble life, each and all when brought under his observation, he can appreciate and admire.

Intellectual culture when rightly directed has thus both a refining and an ennobling tendency; and the greater interest a teacher takes in such culture, the better must he be fitted for his work. His mind expands, but it is not with the knowledge of facts only but with a sympathy for, and an appreciation of the beautiful and the good in whatever God has created.

But there are other books which the schoolmaster has, the living books that are before him in the schoolroom; and they afford him objects of study more wonderful, more diversified, and more entertaining, if he will only study them aright, than all the books that ever were written. In one word then, it appears to me, page 9 that the intellectual culture which the teacher requires can behest secured by an earnest use of the perceptive faculties, tempered with reason and judgment, and by the possession of an innate consciousness of the divine fitness of all things for the purpose of finding the best and the most beautiful in these things; and we, as teachers, having found this, will feel a real pleasure in the endeavour to enkindle and foster all noble desires in the minds of our pupils.

But there is physical culture. The health of the body must not be sacrificed for either moral or intellectual culture. Indeed, it is only when all the bodily functions are in a healthy and vigorous condition that moral and intellectual culture can be safely and satisfactorily prosecuted. The laws of health, therefore, are of primary importance to all, but more especially to those who are engaged in sedentary pursuits; not as laws in the abstract, but as laws that must be intelligently obeyed, or violated at our peril. Nature is patient and long-suffering; but if we persistently ignore its legitimate demands, we must sooner or later pay the penalty. A schoolmaster whose physical frame is feeble from over-study, or from an indolent regard for the ordinary laws of health, is very unfit for the tear and wear of the schoolroom. "The sound mind in the healthy body" is of all things to be devoutly wished for, and sedulously sought after by every teacher who would perform his duties with that manly vigour which robust health alone can command.

It is somewhat remarkable that so many students who ought to know, and who generally do know something of the marvellous structure of the human body, should so recklessly disregard its necessary claims. There are, I think, few things more deeply to be deplored than the conduct of the sickly and laborious student who year after year sacrifices his health at the shrine of learning. He may, after long toil, have just finished his collegiate course, and carried off the highest honours; but he has also carried with him the passport for another world. And what renders his case all the more regretful is, to use the language of the poet—

"He nursed the pinion that impelled the steel,"

and sinks into an early grave; while all his varied and brilliant acquirements are lost to the world for ever. There are few, if any, seats of learning but have their yearly victims. Able, bright, intellectual fellows, foolishly throwing away their lives, whereas, with a little prudential care they might live to a good old age, and materially promote the advancement of sound learning. Let every young ambitious student be advised in time. To such I would say—Your health is of the first importance; for what avails the highest intellectual culture if the body is a wreck?

The great cry of modern educationists is that elementary science should find an important place in our schools. Well, it seems to me, that before all the sciences that can be taught page 10 there, a knowledge of the law of health should claim the first consideration. How can you expect a teacher, weighed down by lassitude from having to teach in a badly ventilated schoolroom, to throw into his work that liveliness of illustration which is so necessary to arrest and secure the attention of his pupils? I fear that children are often accused of indolence and inattention when the abnormal condition of their health, the result of having to breath impure air, is the primary cause. But, besides pure air, physical culture demands pure water, plain but wholesome food, and bodily exercise; all which are necessary to give elasticity to the muscles, and energy to the brain. But the whole subject is one of such vital importance that it certainly demands more than a passing notice; and I just hope it will be taken up during the ensuing session by some of our promising young teachers whose studies may lie in that direction. Meantime, I would advise every teacher to be as careful of his physical frame as he is of his mental powers; for the satisfactory culture of the latter depends in no small degree on the health and vigour of the former.

2. I now proceed to offer a few remarks on the teacher as an educator. "We all know the difference between teaching and educating. But it should not be forgotten that though we may teach without educating, we cannot educate without teaching. Pacts must first be imparted to the pupils; but the teacher must possess a thorough knowledge of the facts. And herein I think lies the advantage which the cultured schoolmaster possesses over any other. His perfect knowledge of his subject enables him to present it to the minds of his pupils in a way most suited to their respective capacities. He has long since learned that no man can with any degree of success teach all he knows to children; and he, therefore, has always a reserve fund far in advance of what his pupils require at their age to know, or even can learn. It is a great mistake to imagine that we can get on swimmingly at our work if we can manage just to keep ahead of our pupils. A teacher who is not master of his subject is hesitating and hazy in his explanations; and his pupils soon lose confidence in him as a teacher and respect for him as a man. But further, the teacher who educates does not rest satisfied with even a lucid explanation of facts. He makes his facts, so to speak, the foundation on which to build up and strengthen the gradually developing intelligence of his pupils. He makes them feel dissatisfied until they can perceive the why and the wherefore of things; in other words, he compels them to think, and whenever a teacher succeeds in making his pupils think, from that moment he is more than a teacher, he becomes an educator.

There is one point in which we teachers often err, and err grievously, and that is in not making sufficient allowance for the difference between our own minds and the immature minds of our pupils. We may have a clear understanding of a subject, page 11 and be remarkably lucid, as we think, in our explanation of it, and yet our pupils fail to comprehend us. Now the reason is simply this, we have failed to put ourselves in the position of young learners, and consequently have been leading them beyond their depth. The teacher, therefore, who would develop the thinking powers of his pupils, must feed them with food convenient for them; and to do this, he must first bring his own mind in complete sympathy with theirs. But this demands some knowledge at least of the functions and growth of the human mind. If such is the case, then, every teacher who desires to rise to the dignity of an educator, must possess some knowledge of mental science. I do not mean theoretical knowledge merely, which of course is of the first importance, but only as a means to an end, I mean experimental knowledge. A man may be fairly acquainted with logic and metaphysics as expounded in text books and taught in colleges, yet, "if he has not in a natural way acquired the general habit of thinking and reasoning" his acquaintance with the technicalities of these sciences "will fail to make him a great thinker" or a successful educator.

But the public school teacher's work now-a-days has become such a terrible race for results, and so deep is the rut in which he is compelled to run, that his mind has no elbow room. There is no time for thought. Such at least is the general complaint; and I am persuaded that any man of ordinary intelligence who examines the syllabus will say that the complaint is just. Even our school inspectors are raising their voice against the folly of attempting to teach such a multiplicity of subjects to young children. In last year's report Mr. Petrie speaks out with considerable emphasis regarding the barren results of the education in our public schools, blaming, perhaps unwittingly, the teachers more than the system under which they have to work. The minds of the pupils are not acted on; the teaching is too mechanical; the memory has to do all the work. In short, the education in our schools is degenerating "into a worthless process of cram." Now, I make bold to say that all this is only the natural outcome of the system. No better could be expected from it. No sane man will sow tares and expect to reap wheat. And if those who frame codes for elementary schools expect to obtain results completely at variance with what these codes indicate, they betray lamentable ignorance of the human mind.

The general experience both in the Home country and in the colonies, regarding codes and syllabuses as hitherto constructed, has been that they are detrimental to education. Sir John Lubbock, speaking of the Home system, says, "Our present methods rely too much on memory and too little on thought; make too much of books and too little of things; sacrifice education to instruction, and confuse book learning with real knowledge." It is well known that our educational syllabus is based on the Home system, or rather what was the Home system, for the old codes page 12 so dear to the heart of the first codemaker, Mr. Lowe, are being swept away by Mr. Mundella. It is to be sincerely wished that when this new codemaker has brought his scheme into full operation, it will not sacrifice education to mere book knowledge. Codes have their advantages, and he who shall be successful in codifying elementary instruction on the basis of reason and common sense, may well be considered a public benefactor, and deserve the lasting gratitude of both teacher and taught.

It is to be regretted that such a liberal system of education as ours should be so ineffective from the unworkable nature of its details. But, defective as these details certainly are, still I do think that better results should be obtained from them. The temptation, however, to secure a high percentage of passes seems to have been too strong for all to resist; and, since the syllabus demands the facts and all but ignores thought and intelligence on the part of the pupils, teachers, to save themselves, have stuck to the syllabus; and last year's report proclaims to syllabus makers, and all concerned, the lamentable result.

The true educator would doubtless be satisfied with a lower per centage of passes than the public demands, provided he could secure greater intelligence in his pupils. But here is the difficulty. The public judges of the quality of a school only by the large number of children that can obtain a pass; and some committees have been foolish enough to publish in the local papers the high percentage of passes made in their schools, and commend their teachers accordingly. But neither the public nor committees have hitherto proved themselves to be infallible judges in these matters; and it is only such reports of the weak points in the system, as that given by our Inspectors, that will let them see the error of their ways, and lead them, we hope, to demand from those whom they have entrusted with the framing; of laws for the education of our children, a system based on reason and common sense. In the meantime, however, we have our syllabus, and till we get a better are bound to make the best of it. I would, therefore, strongly recommend that while we strive to secure as high a percentage of passes as possible, never to neglect our higher functions, that of educators.

It is generally allowed that the most difficult part of a teacher's duty is to get his pupils to give a reason for what they say or do, or in other words, to make them think. Some writers on education strongly object to teachers putting questions to pupils that can be answered by Yes or No, as not being educative. Of course, such answers are worthless if the examiner stops there. But if he, as the lawyers would say, cross question them, he may find that instead of being non-educative they will lead to very important results. For example, a teacher asks a pupil any simple question, such as, Does the sun rise in the east? Of course he will answer, "Yes, sir." But if the teacher im- page 13 mediately adds, How do you know? His pupil, though he may have answered without more thought than that the teacher expected "Yes," will be arrested, so to speak, and compelled to think or look very foolish; and rather than do the latter, he will strive to give a reason for his answer. Or again, when a teacher gets a wrong answer, I think he makes a mistake when he says, "No, that is wrong." The better way, in my opinion, would be to take the answer, and by cross questioning compel his pupil to contradict himself, who would then hardly fail to perceive his mistake. This, as you perhaps all know, is termed the Socratic method; and I am convinced it can be made very effective in the hands of a patient and careful teacher in gettting his pupils to think. But I know that the great objection to this method is the want of time. Of course, the number of subjects we have to teach will not allow us sufficient time to do it justice. Still, I think we ought to lose no opportunity that presents itself in using it, for if we manage even in a slight degree to make our pupils think, it will smooth the way wonderfully for mere memory work. It is but reasonable to suppose that a child will commit to memory what he understands easier than what he does not understand. The mechanician spends a great deal of time in sharpening his tools, but when once sharp, he can with greater ease produce more and better work than if he had toiled away with them blunt and out of order. So it is with the teacher. If he can once manage to sharpen the intelligence of his pupils, he will get more satisfactory work from them than any amount of mere cramming could accomplish.

I have already referred to the influence that every teacher has or should have in forming the character of his pupils. It has been well said that "we teach not only by what we say and do, but very largely by what we are." This influence, therefore, will depend in a great measure on the uniformity and consistency of our demeanour in school. All know that moral education can be better promoted by example than by precept. No teacher of experience needs to be told that children are keenly observant. To excite youthful curiosity, then, in proper objects, and to direct and guide it in the right way, is the responsible but difficult duty of every schoolmaster. But if he has any peculiarity, either in manner or dress, he may rest assured that such peculiarity will only weaken his influence, by lessening the force of his wise precepts and faultless examples. Moreover, the teacher who would successfully inculcate sound moral principles in his pupils (and he cannot thoroughly educate without doing this) must not only be impressed with his own moral responsibility—he must also believe that there is a something in every human soul when rightly directed, that inclines to righteousness.

No doubt we have all heard often enough of the depravity of the human heart, but I fear you will never make either child or man good, wise, or lovable, by continually dinning into his page 14 ears that he is wicked and depraved. Be this as it may, however, it is a grand thing that the teacher has to do with the young before the artificialities of life have destroyed their ingenuousness. He must, therefore, have faith in their capacity to learn the right, though the temptation to do the wrong may be often too powerful for them to resist, and sorely trying for him to successfully restrain. A faithful and persistent exhibition of moral rectitude on his part, however, will materially help to develop the better part of their natures. Whenever a teacher can implant the conviction in the minds of youth that he detests meanness, cowardice, and deceit; and that magnanimity, moral courage, and truth are the guiding principles of all his actions, from that moment he obtains a power over them for good which will only be limited by the time they are under his instruction, and perhaps not then.

I daresay we all know well enough that a teacher's influence over his pupils is considerably strengthened by the consistency of his own conduct towards them. Writers on education are strong on this point. But though it may not require many gifts and graces to put together finely-turned sentences embodying the noblest sentiments regarding teachers' duties in the abstract, no one knows so well as the teacher himself how terribly difficult it is to put them into practice. We are told to be kind but firm—a notable advice, and worthy of all consideration. But alas for the best intentions of frail human temperaments, the advice is often forgotten in the worry of our daily work. Still, if it is next to impossible for a teacher never to get angry without showing it, he should nevertheless strive against fickleness of temper—one of the weakest points in any teacher's character. To be severe against offences one day, and almost apologetically gentle with similar offences on another, betrays a mind wholly unfit to educate children. No, however difficult it is to maintain equanimity of temper on all occasions, he must seek after it, and the very efforts he makes are in themselves educative; and, moreover, while he is using his best efforts to discipline his own mind, he is acquiring additional fitness to bring into subjection the erring natures of his pupils.

Every teacher requires moral power. It is a mightier influence with children than the fear of punishment; and this moral power is always strongest in the man who has no obliquity in his own moral character. When a teacher stands before a class to teach a lesson which he himself has thoroughly studied, he has not only acquired the knowledge to teach it properly, he has also acquired the moral right to demand from his pupils careful and honest preparation of it. I fear that many teachers are not sufficiently alive to the influence which a thorough knowledge of their subject gives them over their pupils. Let any man try to teach a subject which, by previous thought and study, he has made his own, so to speak, and afterwards attempt to give one which he only thinks he page 15 knows, but is not sure of it, and he will be struck with the difference, not only in himself, but also in the general aspect of his class. While giving the former, he can hardly fail to arouse intelligent attention, while the result of the latter will be irritation and dissatisfaction on his part, and indifference and stupidity on the part of his pupils. Now, it seems to me that the natural inference from this is, that though a teacher has a legal right to be dissatisfied with imperfectly prepared lessons on the part of his pupils, he has no moral right, unless he knows them thoroughly himself. If the teacher, therefore, is well equipped, morally, intellectually, and physically, he will enter the schoolroom to do battle with the difficulties that confront him there in such a manner that ignorance, stupidity, and waywardness must speedily disappear.

3. Permit me now to offer a few remarks on the teacher as a member of the community. I approach this part of my subject with considerable hesitation. I feel less at home in speaking of the teacher out of the schoolroom than I do in speaking of him in it, so I hope that those who know better than I do what the responsibilities of the schoolmaster are to society and what society owes to him, will pardon me if I under-estimate the former or over-estimate the latter.

As a citizen the teacher is neither above nor below his fellow citizens. Whatever opinion he or his pupils may entertain of his own importance in the schoolroom, to the larger world outside of it he is just an ordinary man. When mixing in society he must conduct himself according to the ordinary usages of society, or take the consequences of any deviation from them. I need not remind you that it is not so much what any man thinks of himself that determines his true position in the community, as what his general behaviour induces others to feel what he is. The battle for position, I suppose, goes on wherever a number of civilized human beings have to live and act together; but, perhaps, in colonial society this battle is waged more openly, and with less consideration for the feelings of others, than is the case in older-settled communities. Still, here as elsewhere, "worth makes the man." The schoolmaster and the humblest handicraftsman may both elbow their way and command respect, not in consequence of, but in spite of their avocations.

All are recommended to magnify their office, whatever it may be; an advice, however, not unfrequently reversed: the office has to magnify the man. But whenever this is the case, you may be sure the man is beneath his office, and is sure to be considered a nincompoop if he feels above it. It is a common saying that the man is like his work. I daresay the most of us have observed the influence that certain kinds of work have over those who have been long engaged in it. A sort of congruity seems to grow up between them and it, so that when you see the work you are reminded of the worker, or you no sooner see the worker than you page 16 think of the work. This law of assimilation, if I may so term it, is remarkably powerful in the case of the schoolmaster. A very important part of his work is to rule. He is an autocrat in the schoolroom, and if not particularly on his guard, he is liable to exhibit a slight tendency in this direction out of it. But though his word may be law to his pupils, he should remember that it is only the expression of an opinion among his friends. And as there is nothing so offensive in conversation as assertiveness on "the part of an equal, the person who indulges this habit is sure, however unwittingly, to make himself disagreeable, and be either secretly despised or openly disliked. If the teacher, then, who spends so large a portion of his time among his pupils, does not take precautionary measures to counteract this tendency to assertiveness, it will certainly gain the mastery over him. But of all the duties he has to perform in his intercourse with others, perhaps the most difficult is to keep in check this very tendency. He has two distinct natures, as it were, to maintain; the one demands and must secure implicit faith in, and unquestioning obedience to him as a superior person; the other requires of him suavity to equals and a just consideration for their opinions. Now, if the schoolmaster does not go out and mix in society for the interchange of ideas on other topics than those connected with the schoolroom, he will certainly deny himself the principal means for counteracting this disagreeable failing—a consequential assertiveness.

But the schoolmaster is not the only one who is liable to acquire this habit. It is the natural outcome of the manner of life of all mere specialists as a rule. Take them out of their rut, so to speak, and they are of little account; their conversation is either connected with their speciality, or what they can do or might do were it not for some hindrance or another that we, of course, can neither appreciate nor understand. In short, the pedagogue and the specialist who keep themselves to themselves are the greatest bores in creation, and are only matched by the female specialist, popularly called a blue stocking. The chance entrance of any of these three characters into a mixed company is like throwing a wet blanket over it. An eminent professor in one of the Scotch universities, writing on the same subject, says,—"The merely professional man is always a narrow man; worse than that, he is in a sense an artificial man, a creature of technicalities and specialities, removed equally from the broad truth of nature and from the healthy influence of human converse. In society the most accomplished man of mere professional skill is often a nullity; he has sunk his humanity in his dexterity; he is a leather-dealer, and can talk only about leather; a student, and smells fustily of books, as an inveterate smoker does of tobacco. So far from rushing hastily into mere professional studies, a young man should rather be anxious to avoid the engrossing influence of what is popularly called Shop. He page 17 will soon learn enough to know the cramping influence of purely professional occupation." No doubt any man who has his work at heart has a strong predilection to talk about it to others. The conversation might possibly be interesting if those with whom he conversed were in any way concerned in it, but when they only listen from the dictates of ordinary politeness, it is not at all surprising if they consider him a bore, and take the first opportunity to get rid of him.

There is another failing that we schoolmasters are sometimes accused of, and that is being somewhat pretentious of our little Latin, or Greek, or mathematics. O, how it offends one's sense of propriety to hear your would-be learned dominie quoting Latin in general company, or using big unpronounceable words to explain simple subjects in the hope, I suppose, of being thought educated. Such conduct must lower him in the estimation of every sensible person, weaken his influence as a teacher, and make ordinary people think that though he may pretend to much learning, he has little common sense. Pedantry in any man, however highly he may think himself educated, betrays a weak point somewhere in his character; and in the newly-fledged dominie, particularly if he is a young man, it is simply contemptible. That manliness and uprightness of character which command respect everywhere are really little affected by mere technical knowledge. But if teachers generally have little social intercourse with any outside their profession, this and other peculiarities are sure to cling to them and lay them open to be made the butts of every small wit in the community. The schoolmaster of superior education will soon let the fact be felt by those with whom he associates, without unnecessary pedantic displays of it. He is a good listener rather than a big talker; but when he is called on for an opinion, he is not afraid to give it, but never ostentatiously. I think that the best proof a schoolmaster can give of the benefit he has derived from education is never, either by word or deed, to let even the humblest of his acquaintances feel that he is in presence of the dominie, and must therefore be on his guard.

Whether it has been the peculiar nature of his calling or the usages of society that have hitherto prevented the schoolmaster from taking an active part in social or political questions, I need not stay to determine. That he does not take any such part is well known. Now, one would naturally suppose that the opinion of any man on a subject with which he was well acquainted, whether he happened to be a schoolmaster or a ploughman, if he had a good education and possessed average ability, would be of more value than the opinion of another man who lacked the education, though he might possess the ability. But there is what is called official etiquette; and I suppose that no opinion, however valuable in itself, can be publicly offered by any teacher, even as a citizen, to his official superiors in the face of page 18 this mighty power. Well, I believe, that the repressive force of this officialism has hitherto been more powerful in restricting the social and political usefulness of the schoolmaster than either the usuages of society or the narrowing influences of the schoolroom. Of course, the teacher must obey, and rightly so, the constituted authority of his official superiors in all matters relating to his duties as a teacher. But he has other duties to perform—the duties of a citizen; and these duties are supposed to confer privileges. It, therefore, seems to me that you push official etiquette too far when you deny the schoolmaster the right to take a part in all that concerns his citizenship. The one species of duties and privileges are, or should be, distinct from the other. Is there any social or political reason consistent with the liberty of the subject why the schoolmaster should not have the same right as the grocer or the publican, or any other man, to take his part either actively or passively in all that concerns the wellbeing of the community of which he is a member? Of course, there must always be this provise—his school duties must on no account suffer thereby. Would it not seem a strange thing in a democratic country if a man had to renounce his most valuable social privileges the moment he became a teacher in a public school?

Young men of ability are asked to enter the profession. Why? Because it is an honourable profession, and demands the highest talents in those who would successfully follow it. But what young man possessing the instincts of a free man would be willing, think you, to become a public school teacher if he had to surrender any of his rights as a member of the community? We hear a great deal of talk about the status of the schoolmaster; in certain important points he could have no status, if shut out by official or any other kind of etiquette from taking his rightful position among his fellow citizens.

In the old days of Provincial Governments when the Education Board was a political body, that is the Ministry for the time being, one of our schoolmasters advertised a lecture on a certain historical subject which he wished to deliver with the object of raising funds for school purposes. The then Provincial Secretary, whose name I need not rescue from oblivion, having seen the advertisement, thought, so far as I could learn, that the title of the lecture had a dubious ring about it, and sent a peremptory order to the offending dominie to withdraw the advertisement, and stop the lecture. I mention this circumstance to show how far a small-minded man can go when dressed in a little brief authority. I am not aware whether he consulted his colleagues or not, but this I do know, the teacher had to succumb, swallow the affront as he best could, and make no public complaint. Of course those days have gone by; and the schoolmaster, it is hoped, has a little more liberty of speech and action now. Still, I fear, the old influences yet cling to the skirt of what Carlyle calls officialdom; and until they are page 19 swept away, and the schoolmaster have elbow room, he will be looked upon by the public generally as a poor creature in all matters demanding energy, force of character, or business capacity.

Now I cannot see how any man should be expected to teach better by being restricted in the judicious exercise of his privileges. But perhaps public opinion is against me in this. I must, however, maintain that, in my opinion, this cramping of his energies has a deleterious effect on him both as a citizen and as a teacher of the young. I would say—give him free scope for the exercise of all his privileges, and if he is a fool and abuses his privileges, the profession and his official superiors will soon get rid of him; but if a wise man, this liberty of action will enlarge his views of things in general, draw out his social sympathies, and, in a word, make him more manly, and consequently better fitted not only to be an educator of youth, but also an able coadjutor with his fellow colonists in all that concerns the best interests of society.

In conclusion, as a man's actions determine his worth, let the schoolmaster show by his actions that he is able not only to teach children well, but also to lend a helping hand, when opportunity offers, in every good work that calls for help. There is in all communities work to be done apart from the ordinary avocations of its members. Is the schoolmaster to be shut out with his books and his pupils and leave others to do that which it is both his right and his privilege to do? People who look on the schoolmaster as fit only to teach children, and restrict him to this, commit a mistake, for they deprive society of what might be his valuable co-operation. He is supposed to be fairly educated and to have some knowledge of human nature; why then exclude him from taking his fair share in objects that demand these very qualifications for their attainment? In country districts, perhaps more so than in towns, the schoolmaster has opportunities for the exercise of such qualifications, that is if he possesses them. There he ought to be not only a kind of attractive centre to which every young enquiring mind might gravitate, but also the helper and adviser of all his less informed neighbours, and the able coadjutor with those who may even be considered his superiors in social standing. In one word, I would say to all teachers now hearing me, that the effectual way to magnify our office and secure an honourable position in society is to perform our school duties faithfully and well, and to exhibit in all our intercourse with others, whether social or official, suavity of manners, and respectfulness of demeanour, combined with true manliness of character, and leave the results to the decision of public opinion.

Before sitting down, I beg to remark that my address was written before the late unfortunate rupture between the Education Board and one of the teachers culminated; or before I had seen or read the letter or letters that caused it. But, page 20 if called upon to express my opinion on the subject, I would say,—If I write a letter to the newspapers as a teacher in one of the public schools, and sign it as such, calling in question the action of my official superiors I must decidedly offend against official etiquette, and perhaps, lay myself open to the charge of insubordination. But if I, being a teacher, write a similar letter as a citizen or a member of the community and sign it as such, officialism has nothing to do with me for writing it. If you say officialism has to do with me, then all that I say is, I am not a free man; I have bartered my liberty for my office, and as long as I hold it, I must be a cipher in the community, so far at least as the expression of my opinion on such matters is concerned. And, if the public or the school committees which are the exponents of public opinion in the management of our educational system are satisfied that I should be gagged, I must submit, or leave the service; but if they are dissatisfied with such highhanded officialism, they have a remedy in their own hands—they elect the members of the Board.—(Loud applause.)

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