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.
Nowhere has this change been greater or more productive of results than in the school. The pupil's interest has replaced a great part of the old "discipline." Instead of the rod we now have the gymnasium.
The effect of organization was seen in the difference between fall and spring. In the fall there was little organization. The boys gathered in groups trying to see what mischief they could do, and a great deal they found too. In the spring a baseball team was organized. Every night after school and many times in the evening after supper the boys met for practice. They had a legitimate place to use their energies and no more mischief was done.
In higher educational institutions there was formerly much hilarious rowdyism. Upper classmen would haze the freshmen. Students of all grades would play pranks on the school officers, the janitors, the townspeople. It was great sport to clip the tail of the president's horse, place the skeleton in a professor's chair, and transpose the signs of merchants. But now, with debating leagues, oratorical contests, student publications, musical clubs, dramatic clubs, and athletics of many kinds, the students have other use for their time and energy. Some teachers doubtless deliberately foster such "outside" work because it helps in preserving discipline, a few because they find it an interesting diversion, but to most of us it has become simply a conventionality. In a broad sense such activities are not "outside" at all; the football game and the intercollegiate debate are as much a part of the institution as an examination. When the curriculum was narrow, only a minority of all the children even started on it, and few of these went far in it. Now the varied program holds the greater part of all the children for six or eight years, while the proportion who continue for twelve or sixteen years is many times as great as formerly. Of course the appeal to the child's interests is not the only thing that has caused this increase in the school population, but it makes one shudder to think how much compulsion would be necessary to keep the present attendance with the old curriculum, and how much flogging would be necessary to keep the school in order.
The maxims are, first, that the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. Advice, instruction, persuasion, and avoidance by other people, if thought necessary by them for their own good, are the only measures by which society can justifiably express its dislike or disapprobation of his conduct. Secondly, that for such actions, as are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is accountable, and may be subjected either to social or to legal punishments, if society is of opinion that the one or the other is requisite for its protection.
. . . No person ought to be punished simply for being drunk; but a soldier or a policeman should be punished for being drunk on duty. . . . - Mill, On Liberty, pp. 166, 167, 145.
Sunday evening, the head of the school with whose team the Bloom-ington team had played, called me on the' phone and said that Saturday night some persons had painted B. H. S. on some parts of his building and that it would seem to be the work of students from the Bloomington High.
Early Monday morning I sent workmen over to Normal to remove the painted letters from the building.
Only a few persons in our school knew the painting had been done, so that all were expecting the usual celebrating in the assembly room before regular school work Monday morning.
... I called three or four of the team and one or two others to come into the corridor a moment before I entered the assembly room to talk to the school. I told these few how the school had been disgraced and that we could not have heart for any rejoicing. Then we went into the assembly, where more than five hundred pupils were tensely waiting for the celebrating to begin.
... I stood before them and in as kindly a manner as I could, told them how, just at the time when we had hoped to rejoice over a great game, some persons had trailed Bloomington High's banner in the dirt so that we stood as a school disgraced; that I knew our school did not stand for such work and that I hoped as a school they would express themselves against it; that it was an offense for which there could be no excuse, the defacing of public buildings erected for educating boys and girls. . . . Yet while I strongly condemned the deed I said no unkind thing of the doers. When I ceased speaking the school cheered heartily in favor of what I had said.
I had scarcely finished speaking when one of the leading athletes rose to his feet and made a strong speech against the painting, calling upon the school to stand against it. Another boy moved that the school express itself against all such acts of vandalism by a rising vote. Another seconded the motion. One of the boys acted as chairman and put the motion. The school almost unanimously voted in favor of the motion.
One after another of the boys was called upon by the pupils to speak and almost every one condemned the painting. . . .
The next speaker called upon came to the front and in a manly way said: "I'm sorry for what was done Saturday night, and I'm sorry I helped to do it. I did not put paint on the building but I carried a paint bucket and brush and helped paint B. H. S. on some of the sidewalks. I did not realize what I was doing and I'm sorry that I did it." Then he quietly sat down.
This confession captured the school, and they cheered him and cheered him.
Without lessening in any way the feeling against the painting, I thanked him for his frank statement.
The assembly was then dismissed and the work of the day moved on as though nothing had happened.
I called the boy who had so openly confessed his part into my office and again thanked him for the stand he had taken. I then said that I wished to talk with him, but that I did not wish him to tell me the names of any others who had taken part in the painting, but to ask him to say to them I hoped they would confess.
He said, "Mr. Stableton, I think they will every one come in and confess." And every one did.
. . . After talking the whole affair over with them in a pleasant manner, with no disturbed feeling on the boys' part or mine, I said that they must pay the bill for cleaning off the paint. . . .
The decision met their approval and the approval of the school and so the affair passed from notice with perfect good will prevailing. They paid the bill. - School and Home Education, Vol. 34, pp. 50-61, J. K. Stableton.