The Importance of Order in Teaching


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Order is to the life of a school what food is to the life of the body. We take food not for its own sake, but that it may enable the body to perform its functions; and we strive to get and to keep order not for its own sake, but that it may enable the school to perform its functions. It is a common antecedent to all good work.

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The Importance of Order in Teaching

  1. 1. The Importance of Order in Teaching Brought to you by http://www.oldfashionedhomemaking.comAdapted from "The Art of Teaching," copyright 1900, by David Salmon Original Artwork by Cheryl Seslar Designs
  2. 2. Order is to the life of a school what food is to the life of the body. We take foodnot for its own sake, but that it may enable the body to perform its functions;and we strive to get and to keep order not for its own sake, but that it mayenable the school to perform its functions. It is a common antecedent to allgood work.The teacher, however educated or skillful, who has not the power of commandis but as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Fortunately, that is a powerwhich every person of intelligence who is willing to pay the price may obtain.The price is diligent cultivation of the teachers own character, and untiringattention to details.Order Depends on the TeacherThe first, second, third, and final cause of order is the teacher, and his successas a disciplinarian will depend largely on his success in cultivating certainmoral qualities in himself.Essential Qualities in the Teacher1. Love of ChildrenThe person who does not feel deep and abiding love for children as children,who does not watch with interest the unfolding of their minds, who is notready to share in their games as well as their tasks, who does not sympathizewith the most troublesome, who does not recognize the infinite possibilities oftheir natures, has no right to be a teacher.An unloving teacher is a burden to himself and a trial to his students. Therelation between them is, at best, an armed neutrality; his attitude is a threat,
  3. 3. their passive resistance. The obedience rendered to him (if he has the abilityto command any) is unwilling and secured with a needless expenditure ofenergy. There may be in the class of the most loving teacher a few childrenwho do not delight to please him; but in the class of the unloving teacher therewill be only a few who do not delight to annoy him. He creates his owndifficulties.2. HopeHope furnishes the motive for continued exertion. The mistakes and faultswhich were corrected yesterday recur today, and will recur again tomorrow.Faithful labor seems to result in nothing but fatigue and disappointment; sothe teacher is sometimes disposed to give p the unavailing struggle, till thethought that, where he sows in sorrow others may reap in joy, gives him freshcourage, and nerves him for renewed efforts.3. PatiencePatience is as necessary for the teacher as love and hope, and his professiongives him ample opportunity for the practice of it. Some children are difficult,careless, inattentive, or slow to learn. But, in spite of every excuse forirritability and anger, he must resolutely determine to keep an even temper. Ifhe cannot rule himself, he certainly will not be able to rule others. When hisstudents discover that they can ruffle him, his influence is lost forever.4. DecisionAnother essential quality is decision. The will-power is weak in children; if itis strong in the teacher, he can easily control them. making up his mindclearly what he wants goes a long way towards getting it. If he has definitepurpose, his commands will be definite; and definite commands are muchharder to disobey than the vague requests.
  4. 4. Decision produces firmness, consistency, and promptitude. When it is absent,weakness, vacillation, and hesitation, each fatal to discipline, take its place.Before resolving on a general course of conduct due care and thought must beexercised, but in the daily routine of school work there will be many situationscalling for instant action. The experienced teacher seems to do the right thingby instinct, but his instant apprehension of the right thing is really the productof a trained decision of character applying broad principles to a particularcase.5. DignityAnother essential quality is dignity, consistently maintained in school and out.Teachers who are sloppy in their dress; who slouch at their desks; who at onemoment joke with a child as if he were their equal, and the next minute resenthis treating them on the same footing; who shout, stamp, and fly into angryoutbursts; who exhibit petty vanity and petty spite, who frequent unsuitableplaces and associate with unsuitable companions cannot win the respect oftheir students. And when there is no respect there is no willing obedience.On the other hand, where there is true dignity in a superior, inferiors do nottake, do not think of taking, a liberty. Dignity does not mean stiffness oraffectation, and it can afford to unbend. The teacher who has it can be familiarwith children without tempting them to be familiar with him; can joke withouttempting them to joke back; and it will be all the better for him if he can seethe humorous side of things.6. TactTact is another quality to be cultivated. If difficulties lie in the path of duty wemust face them boldly and overcome them, but by a little management we canavoid many a difficulty without losing our own respect, or that of others. Tactis to life what oil is to machinery - it destroys friction.
  5. 5. For example, a student comes in the classroom obviously in a bad mood.Something may have happened at home or on the way to school. One teachersees it and says, "So, Tom, you better get rid of the attitude or Ill get rid of itfor you." Then, in an imperious tone, the teacher gives him a command. Thiscommand is either disobeyed or obeyed with evident reluctance. A needlessconflict ensues, weakening the teachers hold over the whole class even if hewins the battle, and doubling weakening it if he fails.A tactful teacher equally sees the bad mood, but graciously decides to ignoreit. He carefully refrains from singling the boy out, and gives his temper time tocool. In so doing, the second teacher allows the electricity to dissipateharmlessly which the first teacher brings down in lightning on his own head.7. Study of the Childs NatureTact in the treatment of children presupposes a study of their nature. To sitstill doing nothing, which is easy to adults, is nearly impossible to them. If,therefore, the teacher leaves any minute of their time not filled with usefulactivity, they will fill it with disorder or with mischief.Again, it is annoying to children to do on thing for a long time, and the wiseteacher will anticipate restlessness by having a variety of activities andchanging them often.The nature of every individual child should be studied as well as the nature ofchildren in general. In a classroom, what is "sauce for the goose is not saucefor the gander." In other words, with one child a look of mild surprise iseffective in correcting behavior. Another may require a more sharp reproof.One may be led but not driven, another may need a certain amount of driving.One is excited to diligence by a desire to get to the top of the class; anothermerely by a desire to get to the end of the lesson or the end of the day.
  6. 6. In short, the teacher who wishes to make his job easy on himself and effectivefor his students will learn their common characteristics and their personalqualities, and adapt his methods accordingly.