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In school or college no discipline is effective which does not emphasize work, the duty of boy or man to do whatever is before him, and by doing it to get interested in it. “We have no serious difficulty in the conduct of our boys,” said the master of a new school ; “we have found them courteous, obedient, well disposed; but it has taken us weeks to make them understand that the first thing to do is their work.” This same master has devised a seal for the school, a shield adorned with a hammer and an anvil ; and round about the shield are the words, “Veritas, Fides, Labor.” The difficulty that he finds we find in college - and in a higher degree — because in college the students are less closely supervised, and need not recite every day in everything they are supposed to study.
What I have said is by no means inconsistent with the advocacy of an elective system, since every study, if it is to have more than a mere cultivating value, demands solid work. Not long ago the Administrative Board of Harvard College sent away eight or ten Freshmen for loafing. Every one of these Freshmen was quite capable of doing his work; every one, I believe, had come from what we must call a good school ; many of them were unusually attractive boys, and by no means bad boys; not one of them would heed the warnings of the college authorities; and, with great tribulation, they left us. Every one left us with the understanding that, though the door was shut, he might by good work outside, and by certain examinations which are offered every year,open it again. It is true of most of these Freshmen that nothing in their college life became them like the leaving it. No one could talk with them and not feel an intense personal interest in them as misguided boys, blind boys, whose eyes could be opened by nothing but adversity. “If,” said the late Professor Dunbar, "a
dean regards himself as something more than a prosecuting officer, it is interesting to see how you can help some of these fellows through;” and he would have been slow to deny the helpfulness of temporary adversity. Let me say once more that the root of all discipline,whether discipline for efficiency in life or discipline for the development of character, for the resistance of temptation, is in steady, whole-hearted work, whether the subject of the work is at first sight alluring or forbidding
I do not believe in crowding children with study. The hours of work may be_short; and for many children they should be short. I find myself strangely at variance with the men who lead the educational thought of to-day; though I believe more strongly than they in prescribing work for boys, I do not believe that American boys should go to college much earlier than they go now. Many writers on education overlook, I think, the time lost in the mere sicknesses of childhood. I should rather, for instance, have my boy go to college a year later than force him to injure his eyes by hard work after measles. Again, whatever may be true of European children, the American child lives in an atmosphere peculiarly stimulating, peculiarly dangerous to the nervous system. The over-stimulating of ambitious children during the time of rapid bodily growth, especially during the marked physical changes which lead from youth to manhood or womanhood, may damage the children and the race. Not long ago I heard a professor, himself a German, say with pride that in the summer he gave his boy of fifteen a quarter of a dollar for every morning that he got up at four to study, and that the boy used his first dollar in buying an alarm clock. I doubt whether our American children will ever be physically and intellectually mature so early as the German children or the
French; but while they work, they should understand that work is to be done energetically and thoroughly.
One thing more: we cannot discipline boys or young men by trying to tell them all the things they should not do. The number of definite prohibitions should, I believe, be small. Nobody can cover the ground. In a college which used to make some small attempt at covering it, I have heard a gambler defended by a clergyman on the ground that gambling was not prohibited by the rules.
To me the conclusion of the whole matter is this: The best discipline, whether of school or of college, is that which relies on the understanding between pupil and teacher that the objects of pupil and teacher are one and the same; a discipline based on sympathy with all the healthy interests of youth — not on weak .compassion for the unhealthy temptations, though there may be a sort of bracing compassion, even