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School Management

I used to visit the schools to get ideas on this subject, but now I visit factories and big stores to get my pedagogy management; schools of this country are entirely isolated from the real world in which business men live. You can't afford to frown on the industrial world. Gene Mitchell said he learned his pedagogy from a planing mill.

There are many kinds of management. We frequently hear the term business management, and speak of a financial failure as mismanagement. Almost every firm and every institution that fails, fails because it has the wrong kind of manager. We have to understand the term management, if we are going to apply that term to our schools. The functions of school education so far as the individual is concerned are development, growth and training. I am not here to give little devices and short cuts. When people ask me, "what do you do about whispering, paper wads, walking noisily?" I can't do anything for them. If you have a workshop, you won't have these things to contend with. Of course, you will occasionally have a rebel.

In discussing school management there are certain things I am going to assume: a teacher, a building properly situated, proper equipment, proper conditions of heating, lighting and sanitation, water system. Without these essentials you cannot have an efficient school. Then we have a program- twofold- a study program. The average boy or girl doesn't know how to study. So far no book has been written which tells how. To be able to handle a group of students in a supervised study period requires a vastly greater amount of power than to conduct a recitation.

I believe in intensive work. I believe that if in our high school we would supervise more closely, we could save a year of time.

It's an insult to educational democracy to ask how much time you spend on the work, but rather how much of the work can you do?

Correlate all the work of your school to the work of the community in which you live. Work is the panacea for all manhood and womanhood. We have an idea that school is a sort of convenience instead of a preparation for life.

In the Ferris Institute, tardiness is an insult- if a boy worked in a bank he couldn't be tardy. It's an insult to a school to allow cheating, just as much as it would be to a bank to allow embezzlement.

It's an insult to the honest student to allow the one who sits next to him to get a higher mark through dishonesty. The morals you teach in the school will be the morals of your community in the future.

Do I believe in punishment? Certainly, I do, if it's necessary. If there's insubordination or insurrection in the school, it must be punished the same as it would be in the community.

Lastly, if you are going to be a success in the school, you must know human nature. You won't learn it through psychology alone; you acquire it through contact with human beings. In the study of the individual lies the teacher's power. Get a larger vision and your school management problems will be solved.


Source: Newton, Roy, editor. Life and Works of Woodbridge N. Ferris. (Big Rapids, Michigan: n.p., 1960), 172-174.


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