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.
During most of its existence mankind has been accustomed to little organization beyond primary groups, with direct communication as the bond of union between them. But now that mechanical means of communication to long distances have come, the scale of organization is being extended ever larger and larger. The individual is now held in a perfect mesh of interlacing institutions most of which are so large that they take their character from circumstances with which he has little acquaintance: they hold him so closely to prescribed duties that he cannot notice the neighbors whom he sees every day. This new life runs counter to much that is in human nature. Knowledge has brought this difficulty; more knowledge must bring the remedy.
A large institution is obliged to make requirements which seem, to a person who has never had experience in it, like unnecessary restrictions on individual liberty. To refuse to conform may be no mark of superior ability, but simply a disqualification for participation in any large work. There is less room in the world for that sort of person now than there was formerly. Any public school is part of a large system, and the teacher who cannot follow directions or be on time at appointments will have a sorry time of it.
Human nature shaped by a primitive life in the woods does not easily meet the conditions of technical efficiency. Night duty, monotonous toil, and sedentary work are to most of us made tolerable only by habit. Still greater is the strain of being a cog in some intricate machine. Unquestioning obedience, for instance - how revolting it is at first to an intelligent person! Team harness may be cruelly galling to such as are not quick at personal adjustment. Punctuality, schedule, method, regularity of stroke, standardized performance - these surely go against the native grain. ... - American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 22, p. 13, Ross, "The Organization of Effort."
The state superintendent, talking to the graduating class to-day about the qualities of which they will have the greatest need when they get to teaching, rated adaptability above every other. The new teacher will find a strange situation. Ready-made plans, preconceived ideas, old habits, all must yield to the demands of the time and place - or at least grow to fit them. In general, the larger the school the greater the need of adaptability in the new teacher.
One of the difficulties is that these young men who come from a normal have the impression that there is nothing more to learn. I have not yet seen a Z. student who is really willing to take advice. It takes a year for them to get over that attitude. - A county superintendent.
One thing that counts much for a teacher's success is ability to carry out directions. Teachers of state graded schools, for instance, receive from the state superintendent directions about the grading of pupils, the subjects to be taught in each grade, and the records to be kept. Yet when the inspector comes he more often than not finds that the teacher ignores some important direction and does not know where to find the superintendent's letter containing it. The teacher who comes in September to open school should be able to take the superintendent's letter and see that each prescribed piece of work is done just when it ought to be done. - A state inspector of schools.
A city superintendent makes these counts against a teacher nineteen years old in one of the grades: Is not careful to obey directions; does not report things out of order; goes out evenings with high school boys; once let school out fifteen minutes before time in order to reach a certain train.