In 1913, the state of Kentucky published the Elementary Course of Study which was, according to its introduction, “... intended for the use of teachers of the common schools of the State, giving them a definitive idea of the amount of work to be done in each branch, and suggesting methods of doing it.”
The second chapter, titled “Discipline and Management,” includes many guidelines for teachers to follow in the classroom. Some sound like tips teachers would be taught today, but others seem more archaic. Ten of the most intriguing tips are listed below and offer practical advice on how to educate happy and healthy children.
1. “Few and quiet signals indicate strength in discipline. Insist upon prompt obedience.”
2. “Play has its influence upon the physical, the mental and the moral development and nature of the child. … The play instinct is natural and should receive much more attention from teachers has ever been accorded to it.”
3. “Good manners should be evident in both the teacher and the pupil. Competing with children in smartness is unworthy of a teacher.”
4. “Permit no slovenly sitting, talking, or walking.”
5. “Permit no grumbling, mumbling, impudent or disrespectful attitudes whatever.”
6. “The more the teacher is in the habit of talking, the less the pupil will think. The habit of repeating questions for inattentive pupils, of repeating or paraphrasing the pupils’ answers is vicious. … The teacher is in the class room to get work out of other people.”
7. “Pupils pass in step whenever they move in a body.”
8. “Do not permit the pupils to overstep the bounds of friendliness and become familiar. Do not fondle over pupils. Treat them with dignity. Demand the same. (Dignus – worthy of respect.)”
9. “Require them to stand and sit erect and squarely, and talk clearly and forcibly.”
10. “We sometimes hear the expression ‘a good teacher but a poor disciplinarian.’ There is no such thing. ‘Order is heaven’s first law.’ We cannot have a good school without good order and discipline.”
Today’s classrooms increasingly wrestle with disrespectful, distracted, and disorderly children. Is it possible that these problems would decline if teachers were allowed to reinstate some of the above principles in their dealings with students?
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Anna is a Minnesota Native who graduated from Benedictine College with degrees in Political Science and Philosophy. She previously taught at a Title I classical academy. In her spare time, Anna enjoys following all things political, digesting anything related to classical education, and spending time on Minnesota’s many beautiful rivers and lakes.