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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Teachers' Rights

Teachers' Rights.

Anxiety is equally uncalled for as to the stress that would be thrown upon teachers under a system which would regard them as trained and responsible guardians of those entrusted to their care. When the watchword of education comes to be "Give space and time and rest," the teachers will be benefited not less than the pupils. The present feverish system, with its every changing views and ever-increasing demands, is breaking down the teachers almost as much as it is breaking down the pupils. It is wrong on all grounds to expect from schoolmasters long hours of sustained indoor work without proper breaks and opportunities for spending a reasonable time in the open air and sunlight. Looked at from the mental point of view, no pursuit makes larger demands on the brain (and, secondarily, on the organism generally) than real live teaching. To be capable of giving himself hour after hour (maintaining discipline and sustaining unflagging interest), the teacher needs to be in the best and fittest physical form and health. Of course, there are many teachers under the present mechanical system to whom it never occurs to give themselves. They are content to merely give someone else, in the form of a book or formula; but one cannot regard such as teachers in the higher sense. After all, nothing is so infectious in a schoolroom, or renders work so easy of accomplishment by the pupils, as a good reserve power, spirit, and enthusiasm on the part of a teacher who has his-heart in the work, and keeps an interesting aspect of his subject always on tap. We shall never get a high, all-round level of spontaneous enthusiastic teaching until the ordinary stock literary description of a teacher, "the pale, weary schoolmistress" or "schoolmaster," ceases to be generally applicable. If the profession of teaching were placed on a higher plane, and due recognition were accorded to its transcendent importance, the work would become infinitely more interesting, and there would be no dearth of suitable candidates. Capable people cannot be expected to enter a profession which promises so poor an out-let for talent and initiative, and where the pecuniary possibilities are so much inferior to those offered to the competent in other walks of life.