This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
The quality with respect to which it is easiest to have a scale of marking is duration: some states of mind may be classed as temporary and others as permanent, with every grade of variation from the one to the other. A person enters a schoolroom quietly from the rear. The pupils near by hear and turn their heads to look; this attracts the attention of others, and they turn to look, until nearly all in the room have had their look - perhaps ten times as many as heard the original disturbance. Anyone in position to view a room full of people or a crowd outdoors can see wave after wave of movement start and spread, some to die out soon and others to extend to the uttermost limits. This is what the teacher watching the children on the playground is able to see. But the interesting thing is not the mere movements, as of the colors in a kaleidoscope; it is the mental processes which the movements reveal - the plans, hopes, fears, attractions, repulsions, the triumphs and the disappointments, the trickery and the loyalty. It is as interesting as a drama, only it is real life and not mere play.
Then - to take something lasting a little longer - there is the attitude of a class during a recitation. Some incident at the beginning gives a character to the work of the entire period. The incident may be a trivial one.
The first question was put to Josephine. In answering she unintentionally made a pun on her own name. This gave us all the giggles and we did not settle down to serious work during that recitation.
After recess (during which the teacher kept in a boy for breaking the line in the march out when he was wanted in a game of baseball between two grades) nothing went right. The pupils all whispered incessantly about how mean the teacher had been to Johnnie. Nobody recited well, and the teacher was so cross that when four o'clock came the pupils almost ran out of the room to get away. - O'shea, Social Development and Education, p. 509.
For each day, also, the social mind of a school has a certain cast. A circus in town, a theater party the night before, an impending election of officers in some society, some freak of the weather, a talk by a visitor at morning exercises, an inspiring song: these are examples of the things that give character to the day. It is not necessary that the determining circumstance, say the freak of the weather, shall affect all the members of the school. If it affects a few, these will influence others, and these still others, until all are practically compelled to adjust themselves in some way to the passing mood. This may come about, too, without anyone knowing the cause, or even being aware that anything unusual is happening.
A large undertaking, like preparing an exhibition, giving a play, or holding a contest with another school, fills the minds of all for days in succession, even of those who have no part in it, thus interfering seriously with scheduled work, but at the same time establishing a fellowship, a sympathy between the members of the school, teachers as well as pupils, which may be useful in later work. In other words, such an event develops the social mind. The time it takes may be well spent, like the time the football team spends in practicing signals.