Library Collections: Document: Full Text


Creator: E.R. Johnstone (author)
Date: December 1902
Publication: Journal of Psycho-Asthenics
Source: Available at selected libraries

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*Studies in Education, Earl Barnes, -- Stanford University, 1897.


Our discipline must be based upon the law of loving kindness. Perhaps the most effective way to keep good discipline is to provide occupation. A busy child interested in his work needs no punishment.


The institution life should be full of special privileges. If this idea can be firmly grasped by the employes to the extent that everything that a child is ever called upon to do is a privilege, means of discipline are always at hand. It is only a matter of depriving the child of one of these privileges. The child who doesn't make a bed nicely is not permitted to make another. Tommy gets that privilege now and if Willie "doesn't care" he is not permitted to make any to-morrow, but sits idle while the other boys do his work. It is this idleness that hurts. I have yet to find the child who has sense enough to make a bed who doesn't want to do it, if he finds all of the others doing it and he is constantly reminded that he cannot do it. Nothing so rouses the desire to do as to be told that we cannot do. With new attendants it is often hard to make them appreciate this fact but it simply becomes a question of who will hold out the longest, the child or the employe, and I have never yet known it to fail when the attendant persists. As this idea gradually worked out I often thought I had reached its limitations, but it still expands. It is no longer a mere theory, but the most practical method of discipline I have found.


The merry-go-round, the trip to the Zoo, the ride in the donkey wagon, entertainments, parties, club meetings, skating, etc. all form excellent means of discipline.


The Superintendent who makes it a point to speak to every child who addresses him can help the discipline a great deal by saying, "I cannot say good-morning to you to-day because you have done (or neglected to do) certain things," etc. We have several groups in which children of a certain grade may live only so long as they live up to a standard of behavior. Attendance at band or various of the shops or classes is only permitted while behavior is especially good and work in other departments well done.


Sometime ago there was presented to the Iowa Board of Control a paper on paying inmates of institutions and many plans were given. At that time our system was in its infancy. Since then, however, we have found it admirable and it may be of interest to outline it here. It is not meant to be payment for services rendered, but rather as a method of discipline and we find that not only are children working cheerfully, well behaved, but also that well behaved children usually do good work. We pay a number of our children each week, amounts varying from one to five cents. Each child brings from every department in which he lives or works, a credit slip which signifies that he has worked well or behaved well for the week. No slips of discredit are given -- the lack of a slip signifies that the child has not been good, etc. He is not told that he gets no slip because he was bad, but because he was not good. There is a vast difference in the two ways of putting it.


If A. works in the Laundry and Shoe-Shop and also milks, he must bring four slips, one from each of the above, and one from his attendant. If his allowance is three cents per week and he comes with only three slips, then he gets three-fourths of three cents (two and one-fourth cents). We can use fractions of a cent because candies, nuts, etc., are sold so many for a cent.


Each Saturday night in one of the rooms a table is tastefully arranged with candies, nuts, ribbons, etc., etc., and the children come in groups to buy. This, coming as it does once each week, keeps the training idea constantly before them. The children's interest does not seem to lag. The whole thing is an excellent means of breaking up small habits and helps general discipline wonderfully.


Encouragement must he at the bottom of all lessons. Our employes must learn not to say 'don't' if they will succeed in their discipline. Down through the years, mankind lived under the rule, "Thou shalt not" until Christ preached the Gospel of encouragement when he said, "Thou shalt." The successes of a child must he noted rather than the failures. Let the blue pencil and the colored chalk mark in all lessons the Correct thing and then instead of finding their pages marked with failures, each mark dragging the discouraged little soul deeper in the mire of dissatisfaction, they will bristle with approbation and encouragement and brighter faces and happier dispositions will result. It is scarcely realized how much wrong doing on the part of the child is really caused by a headache or an attack of indigestion on the part of an employe. A quiet voice, an even temper, pretty and clean surroundings, good ventilation, encouragement, employment, everything a special privilege, these are the requisites for good discipline.


I am sorry I cannot recall the name of the author of the following lines, but if the spirit contained therein is kept in the hearts of those who have to do with feeble-minded children, they will not go astray.

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