« ElőzőTovább »
“Rule 12.-A report of the attendance, lessons, and conduct of each girl is entered in the class-book every evening at the close of school. The class-book marks are summed up four times in the year, and each girl has a card given to her, which is read aloud in the schoolroom, and on which is stated her attendance, lessons, and conduct. At Christmas, the quarterly cards are summed up, and rewards given as marks of approbation. The rewards are divided into three classes, (Nos. 1, 2, 3,) according to the merit of the girl, as stated on her quarterly cards.”
My dear children, before I give you the quarterly cards, I wish to say a few words to you about the meaning of rewards, now that the end of the year has arrived when, as you know, the rewards are to be given. You must all listen to me very attentively; for, as I do not view rewards in the light in which they are sometimes regarded, I am particularly anxious that you should understand what I mean when I give you rewards. I think the clearest and easiest way for me to explain to you what our rewards are is first to tell you what they are not. They are not a sort of paying you for being good --your goodness would be of a very poor kind indeed, if you could not be good without being paid for it. I hope you are trying to do your duty first, and above all other things, for the sake of serving God; and if this be the case, you will not fail to please those whom it is God's will you should endeavour to please-your parents and Teachers. Now, I feel assured that your parents and friends at home, as well as you yourselves, would like to know whether we believe you to be desirous of thus learning to do your duty-would like to know what we think of your improvement in your learning, and especially what we think of your conduct during the past year-whether we consider you to have been diligent in your work, attentive and obedient to your Teachers, and also whether you have been kind and gentle, forgiving and forbearing one towards another.
These cards, and the rewards belonging to them, will do this. you look at them, you will see our opinion of you, so far
as we have the means of judging. They will outwardly express what we think. They will tell whether we approve or disapprove; and in this light only we would have you to regard them—not by any means as a bribing or paying you for that which it is equally your duty to do, whether we gave you rewards or not. Still it is natural that you should wish to know, and I conceive it to be right that you should know, our opinion of you; and these cards and rewards tell you what we think in a very pleasant way. I am always glad to give you pleasure when I have the power to do so, and that is the reason why I add the reward to the card, simply because it may perhaps give you a little more pleasure than the mere card—not certainly that I could for one moment suppose
you would value the reward, instead of that which the reward expressesthat you would prize a little book, or work-bag, instead of rejoicing in the feeling that God had blessed your efforts to do well.
Try, girls, to understand what I have been saying to you, and I am sure you will feel as I do. You will value the reward, not because it is a pretty book, or work-box, or whatever else it may be, but because the book or work-box shews openly that we are satisfied with you, and
you feel that in pleasing us, you have pleased Him whom we must all seek to please above the whole world besides—God himself. I hope you all feel in this way. If I thought you were trying to have good marks for the sake of the reward, I would never give you a reward again. I would not have rewards, because I should be only teaching you to seem good, not to be so; and to seem good without being so, would render
miserable and wretched, both in this world and the next. I believe, however, that your reason for wishing to gain a reward is very different from this ; and I know that if you
did not deserve our approval, you would care absolutely nothing about the reward. Suppose I were a girl in this school, and were so unhappy as to have no reward; and suppose a strange lady came into the schoolroom while the rewards were being given, and, seeing me look very sad, should say to me, “I am very sorry you have no reward, and I see you are not one of those
hardened girls who drive away every right and good feeling from their hearts, and seem not to care when they have done what is wrong; I will give you a book, or work-box, like the others, or it shall be even a prettier book, or a larger and more expensive work-box.” Should I have the same pleasure in the present as if I had it as a reward ? No. Why? Because I should not experience the feeling of having done well.' The feeling of having done my duty would be wanting; and if that were wanting, all the books and work-hoxes in the world would fail to give me pleasure. Indeed, in the case which I have supposed, far from taking pleasure in the lady's gift, I am pretty sure I should say to her, “I am very much obliged to you for being so kind to me, but I had rather not have a book until I feel it can be given to me as a mark of my Teacher's approval.” Any of you, if you had money enough, could buy the same things that we shall give you, but if you had a thousand guineas you could not buy a reward. I mean a reward, in the sense in which I give you rewards.
You could not buy my good opinion, if you had this school-room full of sovereigns. It must be obtained by your own good conduct. You could not buy the blessing of a good conscience—that must be obtained by a sincere desire to please God-and whether you had rewards or not, I think you would be desirous to gain my good opinion, and, above all, I trust your first and chief desire would be to serve and please God. It is my belief that our rewards will help you to do this will, with his blessing, assist you to find the path of duty-and when you have found it, will, as it were, stretch out a helping hand to guide you onward in the narrow but pleasant way. They will encourage those who have been trying to do well, and they will help to persuade those who have failed of doing so to act differently for the future not for the sake of the reward, but for the sake of doing what is right.
Were I in your place, I should value the cards very much. You will understand now why I should value them. There is no value in the card itself, but there is value in that which the card expresses—there is value in
the feeling that you have been endeavouring, with God's help, to do your duty. The rewards will some of them wear out; but if you were to take care of the cards, they would last for a great many years. They would last if you were to live to be old women ; and I am sure you would always have pleasure in looking at them. I should store these cards amongst my greatest treasures, as things which I should always like to look upon ; just as I shall always like to keep that pretty little PrayerBook which you gave me.
I prize that book far more than if I were to buy the handsomest Prayer-Book in all England, because the book which you gave me shews me that which I could not buy-it shews me that you love me.
It is an outward token of an inward feeling, and that inward feeling is what I value-that feeling of love, which all the gold and silver in the world could not buy.
Now, I must begin to read the quarterly cards. Did the rules allow of it, I should not read them aloud today; for, as you all know, every card this quarter is not a card to be read with pleasure. I shall not say more than is absolutely necessary on the painful subject which is fresh in the recollection of all. A spirit of insubordination-a spirit of resistance to the authority of those who are set over us is an offence of no trifling natureit is at the root of all kinds of evil. It was a very serious fault, and I trust it has been seriously repented of. I have abundant reason to believe it has; and, believing this, I should be sorry indeed to add to the pain which must be renewed at this time. I think you must all see, from the explanation I have given you of rewards, how impossible it is to give a reward, which means an expression of our approval to conduct which has been entered in the class-book as “very bad.” In fact, we should not dare to write down in our class-books, and on the cards, that conduct to be good which we know to be bad. How painful soever it may be to us and to you, we must not call that sweet which God pronounces to be bitter; that is, we must not say the conduct of any one is good when God, in his word, plainly says that it is bad. If you behave really and seriously bad, we have no choice left about the matter—we cannot do otherwise than enter your conduct as bad—that is, unless we ourselves act wrongly also. We certainly could write good when we ought to write bad, but I hope we know our duty better than to imagine we are at liberty to take such a course as that. I assure you few things would have given me greater pleasure than to have discovered a way in which we could justly have given even a No. 3 reward to the girls to whom I have alluded; because, as I said before, I have great reason to be full of hope concerning them—to believe that, for the future, better things may be expected.
When we assembled yesterday at the quarterly meeting to sum up the marks, I felt, and we all felt, that if we were to act rightly, we must leave that conduct without a reward. I desire to speak with the greatest kindness and gentleness on this painful subject. I feel, and I trust you all feel with me, how sad it must be for elder girls, those who possess many right and good feelings, to be refused a reward now at the end of the year, when I should have been so glad to have said, that whatever the backwardness of some of our girls might be, as regarded their learning, that their conduct was all that we could desire it to be. It is not bad lessons—I have said this before, and I repeat it again and again, it is not bad lessons, but bad conduct, about which I am, and about which I hope I shall always continue to be so
My dear children, I think I need not tell you that I love you all. When
first knew me, you might not have been sure of this ; but now I think you know it, and I think you also know that mine is not that wrong, fuolish love that would pass over your faults unreproved. If I did not love you, it might be so. When
did what was wrong, I might let it pass unnoticed, or at least very slightly noticed, and care only about your reading, writing, and sewing: I feel that I could no more act in this way towards one amongst you than if you were my own young sisters. I do not believe that you yourselves would wish me to do so; but if you did if all the world wished it-I must still be firm, and do that