Classroom Discipline for Catholic Teachers by Fr. Tierney (part 4)


Those souls only are trained which are allowed to live a normal life. Then it is that teachers can see the defects which are to be uprooted and the virtues which need straightening.

The easy family circle is more apt to uncover selfishness and petulancy quicker than the drawing-room, ruled by rigid conventionalities.

The authoritative reasoning of a father is more potent for good than a sharp rebuke from a master of ceremonies who watches every movement with a critical eye.

Rational supervision is better than officious espionage

Indeed, the latter is not only ineffective, it is disgusting and contemptible, and there is nothing more pitiable than a system which fosters it, or even tolerates it.

The boy who is tagged and nagged continually is a superior being, indeed, if he escapes ruin.

He is almost sure to become a cunning, dishonest fellow, who glances out the side of the eye, and slinks round corners like a thief.

Espionage is a confession of failure. It argues more plainly than words that the system which spawned it is incapable of touching the soul, and must rely on a miserable makeshift to perpetuate its life, which were better annihilated, for that it is a lie.

Training? It gives none. The dog which bays the robber from
the booty does not convert the thief.

The horse whose training for the hunt consists in forced avoidance of posts in a paddock, is fit not for the chase, but for lions’ food.

The pedagogue who is an officious spy does scant courtesy to his own character and to his profession. Whatever his verbal profession may be, his conduct is measured and directed by the gratuitous and perverse doctrine of total depravity.

He were better on the benches striving for higher ideals.

Of course there should be supervision.

But supervision and espionage are worlds apart.

There is nothing offensive or inordinate about the former. It is reasonable and necessary. Its method is directive rather than coercive.

Though at times it issues in penalties, yet is never arbitrary. Modus in rebus is its motto.

The spirit which prompts it is too reasonable to tempt rational objections.
For its purpose is not so much the observance of a rule, as the acquisition of that for which the rule was instituted.

It knows how to overlook trifles, pretends not to see each and every fault, does not judge the great and small equal.

Moreover when it has to punish, it is solicitous, not for the penalty, but for the good which is to be derived from it.

Hence it has a care to bring the boy both to a realization of his fault and to a willingness to accept the penalty.

But this, of course, will never be if the penalty is harsh or excessive, or stupid, as is the imposition of the transcription of long, unintelligible passages from Greek authors, a monstrous process eventuating in hatred for a noble study and in a ruined chirography.

Young teachers are notorious culprits in regard to punishments.

Their wits seem to desert them in an emergency, and they strike blindly and wrathfully.

Could they but learn to sleep on their wrath they would escape many a blunder. Impulse and anger always lead to excess, poise and calmness counsel moderation.

Punishments should be meted out dispassionately a little at a time to individuals, not angrily and heavily, to many at once.

Nothing brings a boy to his senses quicker than the realization that the punishment is to be proportioned, not so much to the gravity of the offence, though that should be taken into consideration, too, as to his unwillingness to admit the wrong and his slowness in correcting it.

Boys who are defiant on the first and second day of punishment give way on the third if they feel that by so doing their faults are forgiven and
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