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.
In education, as well as in business and politics, congenial association must ever hold a large place. If the merchant will buy of a traveling salesman what he would never order by mail from a catalogue, much more is the sensitive mind of the child dependent on direct communication for what is learned. The teacher is more of a necessity to education than the salesman to business. Books, periodicals, and correspondence schools can never do as much of the teaching as catalogues and mail-order houses do of the selling. Often we hear a pupil say, "I cannot understand this when I study it by myself, but I can when it is explained in class."Moral and aesthetic truths especially are learned through the sympathetic touch of personality; they must be seen actually at work in the life of another person; the learner may perchance then discover them at work in his own life. The things of durable value must be floated up to the threshold of attention by the agreeable trifles of congenial association.
Herein lies the reason for one of the qualifications which is almost indispensable for success in educational work. Especially superintendents, inspectors, and supervisors must be adepts at developing congenial association apart from definite groups. They need to be able to get into sympathetic relations with all kinds of people. Unless they can mix enough good fellowship with their suggestions and directions to make interviews with them agreeable, they are liable to become taskmasters, or perhaps only detectives. The same is true of classroom or grade teachers, only they have a definite group of children to meet and therefore more time to develop a working adjustment with each child; but that also means time for the novelty to wear off and for antipathies to develop. The supervising officer with a subordinate whom he cannot bring into sympathy with himself is usually able to avoid personal interviews. But the teacher has no such escape: an adjustment must be made with every pupil in the room, and the presence of one pupil between whom and the teacher there is a fixed antipathy may make congenial association between teacher and pupils in that room an impossibility, and so reduce the work for all to mechanical grind.
This subject of small groups and the reactions which occur between persons who meet face to face is deserving of investigation. Students who are looking for thesis subjects in sociology or social psychology are invited to take notice. It makes a universal appeal, it is fundamental to all social organization, and its professional importance extends to other occupations besides that of teaching." Girls' congenial groups are especially suitable for first-hand study because there is practically nothing in print about them.