Many there are who enter upon the high employment of teach
ing a common school as a secondary object. Perhaps they are stu
dents themselves in some higher institution, and resort to this as a
temporary expedient for paying their board, while their chief object
is, to pursue their own studies and thus keep pace with their classes.
Some make it a stepping-stone to something beyond, and, in their
estimation, higher in the scale of respectability,—treating the employ
ment, while in it, as irksome in the extreme, and never manifesting
so much delight as when the hour arrived for the dismissal of their
schools. Such have not the true spirit of the teacher and if their
labors are not entirely unprofitable, it only proves that children are
sometimes submitted to imminent danger but are still unaccountably
preserved by the hand of Providence.
The teacher should go to his duty full of his work. He should
be impressed with its overwhelming importance. He should feel
that his mistakes, though they may not speedily ruin him, may per
manently injure his pupils. Nor is it enough that he shall say, "I
did it ignorantly". He has assumed to fill a place where ignorance
itself is sin and where indifference to the well-being of others is
equivalent to willful homicide. He might as innocently assume to
be the physician, and, without knowing its effects, prescribe arsenic
for the colic. Ignorance is not in such cases a valid excuse, because
the assumption of the place implies a pretension to the requisite skill.
Let the teacher, then, well consider what manner of spirit he is of.
Let him come to this work only when he has carefully pondered its
nature and its responsibilities, and after he has devoted his best po
wers to a thorough preparation of himself for its high duties. Above
all, let him be sure that his motives on entering the school-room are
such as will be acceptable in the sight of God, when viewed by the
light beaming out from his throne.
"Oh! let not then unskillful hands attempt
To play the harp, whose tones, whose living
Are left forever in the strings. Better far
That heaven's lightnings blast his very
And sink it back to Chaos' lowest depths,
Than knowingly, by word or deed, he send,
A blight upon the trusting mind of youth."
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