As a teacher of young children for over forty years, Isabella Alden knew the power and influence teachers had over the hearts and minds of their students.
Here’s a story Isabella told about that very topic, in a column she wrote for The Christian Endeavor World magazine in 1901:
There is a teacher of my acquaintance, a cultivated young woman, who would be shocked and offended if she knew that I did not like to invite her familiarly to my home lest my little daughter should learn objectionable speech from her.
In the schoolroom, I am told, she guards her speech with care, and is thoroughly alive to the indiscretions of her pupils. But she frequents a home where two of her scholars live, being the intimate friend of their grown-up sister. Here she indulges in “Goodness!” and “My gracious!” on occasion, speaks of her pupils as “the kids,” and talks about “swell” neighborhoods and people, or mentions certain persons whose peculiarities of speech or manner make her “tired,” and in various other ways offends against good taste and true refinement.
And the young people in that home, who admire their pretty and vivacious teacher, are steadily copying not her school-room elegance, but her offhand vulgarities. Is that too strong a word?
Keeping in mind the fact that words like “swell” and “kids” were considered ill-bred slang in Isabella’s time, how would you answer her question?
Do you think the young teacher should not have used vulgar words?
Do you think Isabella was being too critical of the young teacher for using such words in front of her impressionable students?
Do you think, in general, teachers should be careful of their conduct inside as well as outside the classroom?
2 thoughts on “For Day-School Teachers”
I’ve used those same horrible words myself while teaching young kids, or excuse me, I should have said “children.”
I can’t imagine what Isabella would think about everyday language we use today. Thanks for posting such a swell—I mean, interesting—comment, Clay! —Jenny