Morning Exercises. (Lecture.)
It is unnecessary to say that all schools should have morning exercises. The question is: "What should be the nature of these exercises?"
Most morning exercises are made up of religious exercises, which are perfunctory and therefore almost irreligious. Unless there is sincerity in the conductation of such exercises they are injurious rather than beneficial.
I am not asking to dispense with the reading of the Bible, nor to dispense with prayer. I should have religious exercises where they are most needed. I wish you to enrich those exercises so that boys and girls will not wish to be tardy for fear they will miss the morning exercises. Music should always have a place. Then there should be reading. Select a book that all the boys and girls can understand. The morning exercises should be a tonic, a sort of hypodermic of nitroglycerine.
Books such as Little Lord Fauntleroy, short stories like "The Widow O'Callaghan's Boys," books that have a human appeal are best for this purpose. Frank Bostock's The Training of Wild Animals will interest the children. Don't read a book after you see the interest lagging; start another. Read David Starr Jordan; read good biographies, adapted to the age and interest of the boys and girls. Read to them good magazine articles.
By the right selection of magazines or books, many a boy may find himself. Hundreds of boys and girls, by this method, may be so aroused to an interest in books, and so on to an interest in life. By means of such an awakening all the studies of the school will be helped, because you can't teach boys and girls unless they are awake.
Whenever you can, get a good speaker, someone with a message, to talk to the children. Don't make the mistake of thinking that all human beings need is food, clothing and shelter, when hundreds of them are starving mentally just as much as the people of Russia or china are starving for want of food. It is your place as teachers to feed that mental hunger. Let your morning exercises offer such food, and send your boys and girls to their day's work awakened and eager for learning.