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THE LAW AS TO THE TEACHER'S MORALITY.
SEC. 1. There are many sciences which in this age
of enlightened progress are useful, but only one of them is by law made indispensable. This one science those who have the training of youth should not only understand, but they may lawfully be required to feel it, live it, and teach it. We allude, of course, to “the science of duty,” which comprehends every thing that is refined, chaste, and tender in the human character, and the principles of which prescribe what ought to take place in human conduct and actions. In legal phraseology, this may be called the science of natural jurisprudence. It treats of the relations, rights, and duties which are attached to individuals and to universal society by the law of nature, which is the supreme law of the universe, controlling alike nations and individuals. hends the whole law of morality, and the whole theory of good conduct. It is imperative and universal, and around it are grouped all the motives and maxims for human action. It is the law of conscience, the law of manhood, the law of life; and the violation of it is in
decency, vice, degradation, death. It is eternal and immutable: men may violate, but they can not alter or repeal it. It is not what is called positive law, but it is none the less imperative. Positive law is enacted by men and written in books; whereas the law of nature emanates from the Creator of men, and is preserved in their hearts and consciences. What the written law merely permits, the law of nature often commands. The former, for example, permits us to be grateful and generous, but the latter commands us to be so.
We must not, therefore, expect to find in books a full enumeration of all the duties imposed upon us by law. It has been contended that what the law does not prohibit it can not punish, or, rather, what is not prohibited by law can not be made cause for punishment. When we give to law its most comprehensive meaning, the position contended for is, doubtless, true. If we do not eat, we violate the law of nature, and are punished with the pangs of hunger. If we do not obey the law of self-defense, which is the first law of nature, we are punished with death. These punishments are even more certain than if they were inflicted by men. The lawyer may quibble over the words of the statute, and tell us what is not there prohibited may be done with impunity; but the conscience as well as the judgment of every good man tells him that there is other law more imperative even than the statutory, and that whatever the omissions of the latter may be, there is for every wrong a punishment, and for every vice a penalty. Having said this much
in reference to the law in general, we will now give our attention exclusively to the written law, and give such citations thereto, and extracts therefrom, as may be necessary for a full exposition of the positive law on the subject now under consideration. For the sake of brey. ity, however, and because we are writing for Americans, we will cite only American law as it now exists in the several States.
SEC. 2. RHODE ISLAND.-The diffusion of virtue as well as knowledge among the people is essential to the preservation of their rights and liberties. (Const. of R. I. art. 12, sec. 1.) The school committee shall not sign any certificate of qualification unless the person named in the same shall produce evidence of good moral character. (Rev. Stat. of R. I. tit. 13, ch. 67, sec. 3.) Every teacher shall aim to implant and cultivate in the minds of all children committed to his care the principles of morality and virtue. (Id. sec. 6.) In making the examinations, the committee should inquire, first, as to moral character. On this point they should be entirely satisfied before proceeding further. Some opinion can be formed from the general deportment and language of the applicant; but the safest course will be, with regard to those who are strangers to the comunittee, to insist on the written testimony of persons of the highest respectability in the towns and neighborhoods where they have resided; and especially to require the certificate of the school committee and parents where they have taught before, as to the character they have sus
tained and the influence they have exerted in the school and in society. (Rem. on S. L. 1857, p. 35.) If the teacher has a proper sense of the importance of his posi`tion, and conducts himself accordingly, he will secure to himself the affection and respect of the people of his district, by exerting his utmost powers to promote the moral and intellectual advancement, not only of his scholars, but of the community around him. The moral influence he may exert by his example and instructions can hardly be estimated. (Id. p. 53.) A teacher may be dismissed at any time for immorality, although he is abundantly competent and efficient in every other respect. (Id. p. 39.) Even in this State, where the fullest religious liberty is permitted, the people, we conclude, are not disposed to encourage any relaxation in the laws of morality. If any Rhode Island teacher does not know this and feel it, he should immediately seek some other vocation; for the school-rooms of that State are dedicated, not to learned hypocrisy and contagious vices, but to liberty, intelligence, and virtue--and the greatest of these, the most manly and the most necessary, is virtue.
SEC. 3. MAINE.—The presidents, professors, and tutors of colleges, the preceptors and teachers of academies, and all other instructors of youth, in public or private institutions, shall use their best endeavors to impress on the minds of the children and youth committed to their care and instruction the principles of morality and justice, and a sacred regard for truth; love of country, humanity, and a universal benevolence; sobriety, industry, and frugality; charity, moderation, and temperance, and all other virtues which are the ornament of human society; and to lead those under their care, as their ages and capacities admit, into a particular understanding of the tendency of such virtues to preserve and perfect a republican constitution, and secure the blessings of liberty and promote their future happiness; and the tendency of the opposite vices to slavery, degradation, and ruin. (Rev. Stat. of Me. tit. 2, ch. 2, sec. 26.) To awaken young minds to a proper sense of all these virtues is a high privilege, and those who attempt it with success are infinitely more serviceable to the state than the soldier or statesman. Even the members of the learned professions have not so wide a sphere, and can not accomplish so much good, as may easily be accomplished by the faithful, intelligent, conscientious, and zealous teacher.
SEC. 4. NEW-HAMPSHIRE.—No person in this State should receive a certificate to teach unless he possesses a good moral character, and a temper and disposition suitable for an instructor of youth. (Laws of 1858, ch. 2088, sec. 1.) This is brief but comprehensive; for it may legally be interpreted to mean all that is stated in the laws of Maine and Rhode Island.
SEC. 5. VERMONT.-The town superintendent shall require full and satisfactory evidence of the good moral character of all instructors who may be employed in the public schools in their respective towns. (School