XIX THE TEEN AGE TEACHER
The greatest problem that faces the Sunday school and Church as it seeks to meet the needs of the boys and girls of the teen age is leadership. The organized men's and women's Bible classes may meet that need. In fact, the success and ultimate value of these classes lie in their response and ability to face and supply this growing need.
God works best through incarnation. When he wanted to tell men who he was, what he was, and how he wanted men to live, he spoke through prophets, priests, patriarchs, and kings, and the Old Testament writings came to us this way. However, men did not seem to understand the message, and for nearly four hundred years he ceased to speak. Then, "in the fullness of time," he came himself in the person of his own Son—born in the womb after the fashion of a human baby, passed through boyhood in the likeness of a boy and on into manhood as a man—to teach us who he was, what he was, and how he wanted us to live; and Jesus is just God spelling himself out in human history in the language that men understand. This is incarnation, and as he was compelled to pour himself out into man to reveal himself to men, so men and women who have seen him must literally pour themselves out—incarnate themselves—into the lives of growing boys and girls if these boys and girls of the teen age are to know him.
Leadership has always been the cry of the world and the Church, and the history of both is written in biography. The Pharaoh, the Caesar, Charlemagne, Peter the Great, William the Silent, Henry of Navarre, Queen Elizabeth, Ferdinand and Isabella, Columbus, the Pilgrim Fathers, Washington, Lincoln, and the names of the great on the world's scroll of fame tell the world's story. The Christ, Peter, John, Paul, Augustine, Savonarola, Huss, Wycliffe, Luther, Zwingli, Knox, Roger, Williams, Wesley, Finney, Moody, Booth; and "what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of 'those' of whom the world was not worthy," and whose splendid achievements fill out the glorious history of the Church—these, all of these, in their life and effort constitute the story of the Kingdom.
The story is not yet complete. Still the world writes its progress in the names of its great ones. And yet, as always, the Church must look for its progress to its Christ-kissed men and women. While teen age boys and girls escape us at the rate of one hundred thousand a year, the need for leadership is among us.
There is no boy problem. There is no girl problem. Boys and girls are the same yesterday, today and forever. The processes of their developing life are as the laws of the Medes and Persians, without change, eternal as the hills. Like the poor, they are always with us. There is neither boy nor girl problem; it is a problem of the man and a problem of the woman. Leadership is the key that unlocks the door of the teen age for the Church.
The need of the Sunday school in the teen age today is leadership. The organized classes for men and women can solve the problem of the Church among the teen age boys and girls. The number of teachers an organized adult class produces is the measure of its ultimate usefulness in the Kingdom.
The problem of the Sunday school, then, can be solved by men teachers for boys' classes. The more masculine the Sunday school becomes the deeper will be the boy's interest. A virile, active Christianity will challenge the boy; and all other things being equal, the man teacher can present such a Christianity. In some places this will not be possible because of the dearth of men due to the lack of any sense of Christian obligation on the part of the males of the community to the growing boy. Where real men are missing, we will be forced of necessity to fall back on the big-hearted women that have so long stood in the breach. It may be well, also, to add that merely being a male does not constitute a man or manhood. Some men will need to strengthen themselves to do their duty as the leaders and teachers of boys in the Sunday school.
None but the strongest teachers should be selected. A boy of high school age quickly detects weakness in a teacher. Selection of just "any one" to teach a class is sure failure. The most important element in organization is leadership. The teacher should aim to become more of a leader than teacher. Boys' classes should be taught by men, and women should teach classes of girls. It is impossible for a man to lead girls, and just as impossible for girls to be led by a man.
With the period of adolescence come problems which can be understood and solved only by those who have passed through the same experience. Manly Christian leadership will help boys to grow naturally into Christian manhood, while only the kind, sympathetic touch of the conscientious Christian woman leader can help the girl in developing normally into honored and respected Christian womanhood.
The conscientious Christian leader will keep in mind his obligation to the individual members of the class. By reading and study he will become acquainted with the characteristics of the teen age life, with a view to planning such activities, for both the Sunday and the mid-week session, as will eventually result in the development of stalwart Christian manhood.
The successful teacher of the teen age class—
(a) Always sees and plans things from the viewpoint of the pupil.
(b) Teaches the scholar and not the lesson.
(c) Knows personally every member of the class—the home, school, business, play, social and religious life of every member. This is often accomplished through an invitation to dinner, a walk, a car ride, or some other plan, which will bring the scholar and teacher together naturally. With this knowledge in hand, the teacher can prepare the lesson to fit the individual needs of the pupil.
(d) Visits the parents.
(e) Is always on hand, unless unavoidably prevented, in which case the president of the class is notified.
(f) Has a capable substitute teacher to supply in the event of such absence.
(g) Realizes that the function of his office is that of friend and counselor.
(h) Follows up an absentee (1) through the other members of the class; (2) Membership Committee; (3) telephone; (4) postcard or letter; (5) personal call.
(i) Does not play favorites, nor neglect the less aggressive scholar.
(j) Has a plan and an objective, with special emphasis on the training of older boys for leadership of groups of younger boys.
(k) Always keeps in mind that the supreme task and privilege of the teacher are to win the boy to Christ for service in His church.
=The Teacher and the Home=
The Teacher can do his best work when working in conjunction with the home. It is a good plan to visit the father and mother of the boy. It is also a pretty good thing to occasionally drop in to see the father and mother personally, telling them how the boy is getting along. An invitation extended to the parents through the boy himself to attend a week-night meeting of the class will also afford a valuable means of contact with the home and parents.
The Teacher should by no means try to become a father to the boy. The responsibility and duties of parents must not for one moment devolve upon him. The following editorial from a New York evening newspaper puts this idea in a very clear manner, and it should be given careful consideration by every teacher:
"It takes time to point a boy right. The great merchant can touch a desk bell to give orders for a steamship or a draft of a million dollars. But the merchant's young son, age fourteen, cannot be touched off in that way. The lad has just begun to move out among other boys. They do a world of talking, these young chaps. The father must watch that talk, and he can, if he will take the time.
"The older man has every advantage, for he is looked up to and beloved. It is not so much the 'don'ts' as the 'do's' that constitute his power. He can inspire with high resolve. He can narrate his own victories over sore trials and fiery tests of his integrity. He can draw the sting of poisonous suggestions, moral disheartenings and malice which his child has been cherishing in his young heart. But this means time, and time may be money. Yet no money can buy this sort of instruction, nor put a price on it. The coin is struck in the soul. It is the costliest barter, the very exchange of the soul.
"Boys who go right have invariably had a world of time spent on them in this way. Boys go wrong because the father would not take the time from the market. In after years the same parent will take vastly more time to try, in tears of sorrow, to straighten out that boy."
=The Teacher and the School=
The Teacher must keep in mind that it is his business to work in cooperation with all of the forces that are trying to help the boy to live rightly in his community. The work of the public school must continue to go on without a break if the ideals of our American citizenship are to be maintained, and it is the business of the Teacher to give his support, encouragement and cooperation for the carrying out of the idea for which the school stands. The public school seeks to give the boy the necessary education toward his earning a livelihood, and the business of the Sunday school Teacher is to give him the right impulses for his moral and religious life—to inspire him to seek the best in everything. The Sunday school Teacher is in partnership with the public school teacher in the education of the boy.
Several well-defined and exceedingly clear principles of action underlie the successful handling of groups of boys:
First, there must be a clear plan well thought out, progressive in its stages with an aim for each stage. In other words, no man need try to work with a group of boys unless he knows what he wants to do, not only in outline but in detail. He must have these details in mind and so well worked out in his thought, knowing exactly what comes next and just what is to be added to that which he has already accomplished, as to be master of the situation at all times and to be the recognized leader. Not only this, but the boys must feel that he really knows what he is driving at in everything that he attempts.
Secondly, before the leader of a group of boys tries to do anything with the group, if he is to be successful, it is necessary for him to make a frankly outlined statement of his plan. That is to say, he should tell the boys what the game is and how it is to be played, getting their approval, and agreement to get in on the deal. He can explain this to all of the boys at one time or singly to each boy. There is no question but that he will succeed best if he will go over the matter first with each individual boy personally, finding out his individual impressions and opinions, and also having discussion before the group. This being done the boys know the plan, the leader knows what he is working toward, and the leader and the boys are partners in the work. Too often groups of boys are brought together and the aim is so hazy in the leader's mind that all the boys can possibly see in the scheme is a "good time."
Thirdly, the best way to have boys accomplish things is to allow them to do the things. Many a leader of boys thinks out a plan, gives it to a group of boys and then thinks that the boys are themselves doing it, whereas he is only trying to use the boys as his instrument. The most effectual way of getting boys to do things themselves is to let them do as much as they can and will do under adequate supervision. Lead by suggestion, so that unconsciously the boys follow your advice and dictation, giving them the benefit of their decisions and impulses. Pure self-government in which the boys are entirely the dictators of their policies and activities cannot be thought of, because such a course is so generally fatal to successful development. But self-government fostered and dealt with through suggestion by the adult mind is just what is needed, and should always be encouraged.
Fourth, in letting the boys run their own affairs in this way the Teacher must become a real leader. A real leader never stalks in front, nor gives orders openly. The generals of today fight their battles and win them twenty-five miles in the rear of the firing line. So it is with the Teacher. He must be the power behind the throne, rather than the throne itself. He must be as a conscience—to hold the boys back just a little when they go too fast and to push just a little when they are going too slow. The Teacher must recognize himself to be the impetus, not the goal. The solution of each problem that comes before the class should not only be considered by the whole group, but should be solved by the boys. The important thing for the Teacher to remember in these matters is that the method of practical American citizenship is the majority rule. But this boy majority rule should, of course, be tempered by governing leadership. Thus the Teacher will not do anything that the boy can do himself, and he will be continually placing responsibility on the lad. Responsibility is the great maker of men.
Fifth, there will be of course noticeable differences among the boys of any class. The most serious differences arise even among men. The boys will "scrap" at times, and there will sometimes be a tension and rigidity about their discussions that will approach the breaking point. Through it all it will be difficult for the Teacher to keep himself patiently aloof and allow the thing to work out its own way. Sometimes an appeal will be made to him to settle the dispute, and he will be tempted to do so, but often such action will imperil the object for which he is working. It is best to allow the boys to discuss, and try out all of their logic before he begins to make suggestions and, if he can get the boys to settle the matter themselves, it is to his interest to do so. If a deadlock threatens to exist, then by wise counsel and judicious suggestions he may be able to lead the boys out of a quandary in such a way that it will look as if the boys had gotten out of the difficulty themselves. This will certainly add strength to their organization, and they will settle their own quarrels with peace and dignity. Sometimes the break between the boys will be so bitter as to cause the formation of intensely hostile factions, and then the best thing the Teacher can do is not to try any new patching or drawing together of the opposing forces. There is no use trying to make boys who are bitterly antagonistic agreeable to each other. Let them make new alignments if necessary and in combinations of their own choosing, even if the result should be the formation of new classes.
Sixth, the boys should make their own rules for their own government, and they should also deal as a group with the infringement of their rules. This will solve the discipline problem of the Teacher. Responsibility should be the keynote of government, and the awakening of such a feeling in the boys should be the goal.
=The Adolescent Change=
Until about the age of twelve the boy is distinctly individualistic and selfish. At about twelve years of age his whole nature begins to change because of the change in his bodily functions. This change occurs anywhere from the twelfth to the sixteenth year and is really determined by his physical development rather than by his chronological age. The change of bodily functions gives him a new outlook upon life. He begins to see and understand that he is a part of the community in which he is living and begins to understand that the community life is made possible by a disposition on the part of his neighbors to help each other. He also begins to understand the institutional life about him and the family and sex tie on which it is based. He sees also the need of the school, the church and other public institutions. He also begins to appreciate the wider range of things. Nature has greater appeal to him now than ever. The woods and streams and outdoor life get a new significance, and the question of livelihood, whether rural and agricultural, or in the line of the various industries, takes a firm hold upon his imagination, and gives him a life-compelling purpose. He begins to feel the mating call and at its first impression is attracted to the other sex, with the result that by and by he also becomes a husband and father and a full-fledged citizen among his fellows. Up to the age of adolescence, however, none of these emotions stir the boy.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ADOLESCENT AGE
The interests of the adolescent boy are general and not specialized between the twelfth and eighteenth years. The boy gets his impressions of the community objectively, in addition to increasing his knowledge of the external world through his acquaintanceship with its phenomena. The Universe and the Community are extensive and many sided. The step also between twelve and eighteen years is short. The boy's contact with these, then, must be rapid and general.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EARLY ADOLESCENT AGE
The early adolescent age from twelve to fifteen years is characterized by a rapid and uneven growth during which vitality and energy alternate with languorousness, and the boy is awkward and lazy, with bones greatly outgrowing muscle. The boy also begins to take a new interest in sex and sex relations, his features and voice change, and the inherited tendencies begin to assert themselves. His health is usually at its best, and during his active moments he is boisterous and vigorously energetic. He is selfish, but shows signs of altruism; his regard for law increases; the spirit of gang leadership begins to show itself; his longing for friendship is noticeable; his sense of secretiveness is apparent; and his self-assertiveness first begins to be manifested. He is creative in imagination, shows marvelous powers of inference, becomes strongly intellectual, begins to manifest analytic reasoning, imitates the ideal, is uncertain in making decisions, is influenced by suggestion, and possesses generally a strong but not a logical memory. He develops natural religious notions, has strong impulses to do big things, has definite convictions as to his belief in God and Heaven and the understanding of traditional religious terms, shows a noticeable lack of interest in the forms of worship, but a keen appreciation of the spiritual, and is passing through a period when great resolves are most often made.
CHARACTERISTICS OF LATER ADOLESCENCE
During the period of later adolescence from fifteen to eighteen years of age, the body nearly attains its maximum growth, the mind begins to show its dominance over the body, and all the bodily impulses grow stronger and more vigorous. Altruism steadily increases; the consciousness of society grows; an appreciation of individual worth and thought develops; the call of sex and the love emotion grows in strength; sentiment is inclined to become strong; boundless enthusiasm manifests itself; and organization and cooperation begin to appeal and be appreciated more and more. There is a growth in logic, independent thought, alertness in thinking, and quickness of receptive powers. The boy at this age is in the period of highest resolves and greatest endeavor, is apt to show religious skepticism, and reason often takes the place of his faith.
=Classes of Boys or Boy Types=
In talking about boys either in the aggregate or as individuals it is best to consider them as representative of certain definite types. Boy life can be more easily considered in this way by making special study of particular boy types. In the first place there are the psychological types—the choleric, the sanguine, the phlegmatic, and the hybrid. There are also the types of real life with which we are most familiar—the masterful, the weak, the mischievous, the backward, the shy, the bully, the joker, the "smartie," the echo or shadow, the quiet or reticent, the girl-struck, the self-conscious, the unconscious, and the forgetful. Lastly, we should also consider the different types of the unfortunate boys, including the deficient, the delinquent, the criminal, the dependent, the neglected, the foreign born, the wage-earner, the poverty-stricken, boys of very wealthy parents, overambitious boys who have overambitious parents, and street boys who are either loafers or engaged in street trades, or are compelled to use the street as a playground.
THE CHOLERIC BOY
The choleric fellow who is always off at "half-cock," running his head into danger whenever he can, and who is extremely hectic in his make-up, is always a problem. He needs a strong hand. Sometimes he will need even physical repression, but he always demands great care and patience. The Teacher should deal with each class of boys largely by suggestion, but in the case of the choleric fellow he will often need to use orders and demonstrate that he himself is in the saddle.
THE SANGUINE BOY
The sanguine fellow is the normal boy who, having a good digestion, a good home and no cause for worry, sees things as they are and is apt to take them as they come. He will be the easiest kind of a boy to get along with, and the only thing that the Teacher will have to do may be to provide for stimulation of his interest and ambition.
THE PHLEGMATIC TYPE
The phlegmatic chap requires patience more than anything else; generally slow of body, he is usually slow of speech and thought. If the Teacher is not careful he will be apt to call him "dense," and speak to him sharply and at times rather crossly. He cannot do this if he expects to win the fellow. Temperamentally, nature has made him what he is, and the Teacher will have to work harder, make things more concrete that he wants to teach, and hold his impatience in check. Phlegmatic though he is, he will prove solid in everything he does, and he will be either a rock of strength or of weakness to the Teacher. If he likes the Teacher nothing will shake his love, but if he has a dislike for him, then the Teacher is at the end of his endeavor as far as he is concerned.
THE HYBRID BOY IS A PROBLEM
The hybrid boy always furnishes a guessing contest—impulsive today, he has to be repressed; phlegmatic tomorrow, he has to be stimulated; and he may be sanguine the next day. There never was a pleasanter boy to work with, but like the chameleon you are never sure of his color.
"Breath of balm and snow,
Just because he is so changeable the Teacher should show him his best thought and work. It is just such fellows who are inclined to be shiftless and who are generally crowded out in the fight for life. Somewhere in the boy's nature, if the Teacher is patient, he will find the rock bottom upon which to build manhood and citizenship. Such achievement, however, comes only by great patience and hard work.
THE MASTERFUL BOY AND THE WEAK BOY
The masterful and weak boys represent the antipodes of boyhood. The masterful boy will see things quickly, will be the leader of his gang, will instinctively dominate and run the class unless the Teacher is on his job. The weak boy will follow anywhere, be the cause good or bad, and become either a devil or a saint. The masterful boy may be handled by appealing to his sense of leadership. Responsibility should be placed upon him. The Teacher should make him feel that he is leaning heavily on him. The weak boy on the other hand should be tied up to some steady phlegmatic fellow, the phlegmatic fellow being given the vision of how he can be an older brother to the boy not as strong as himself. The result will be that the weak boy will catch some of the spirit of the phlegmatic chap, and gradually get some depth for himself.
THE MISCHIEVOUS BOY
Of all the boy types, the mischievous boy furnishes the real pleasure for the worker with boys. The fellow whose eyes can twinkle and who will play a practical trick on the friend he most respects is always a delight. It is he that keeps the crowd in good humor, who is generally deepest and most abiding in his affection, and who at the drop of the hat would fight to the last ditch for his friend. To handle him rightly does not require a six-foot rod, or a half-inch rule. But the Teacher must keep him so busy doing the things that he likes that he will have no dull moments in which to vent his inborn sense of humor.
THE BACKWARD BOY
The backward boy will need to be led out of himself. Give him things to do which will make him forget himself and, by careful utilization of his time, gradually he will develop into a normal boy.
THE SHY BOY
The shy boy has merely become shy because of lack of association. Usually he has been brought up with his mother and sisters and merely lacks the touch of a man and a man's viewpoint. After he comes in contact with other boys, this will wear away. The problem of the Teacher is to get the other boys in his class to pilot the boy into the deeper waters.
"SMARTIE" AND JOKER TYPES
The "smartie" and the joker types are thorns in the flesh. Just as thorns when pressed in too deeply require a surgical operation to remove them, so it may be necessary for the Teacher to "sit on" both the "smartie" and the joker. If the other boys of the class make up their minds to unite in the task, both the "smartie" and joker will become normal boys in less than one season's activities, and the Teacher will show his generalship to be of the real sort by enlisting the other boys to do the job.
THE ECHO OR SHADOW TYPE
The echo or shadow type is a serious problem. He it is who generally hinders the good things in life and helps the bad. He can swear by the ward boss in party politics, or he can prove himself an obstacle in the way of civic and national righteousness. The Teacher's task in his case is to somehow or other strike the cord of independence, teach him to do things by himself, think for himself and stand on his own feet. Along the coasts of the North Sea, they teach boys to swim by throwing them out beyond their depth. It may be necessary to awaken manhood and independence in the echo by swamping him when he is alone.
The bully will be the worst type for the Teacher until the right boy comes along; there is no use in the Teacher worrying himself until he does, because of the bully's bluster and bluff. Usually the normal boy will accept him at his face value, and it is only when a lad with self-assertion comes along that the sparks will fly. Then the bully will have to back down or take his medicine. A fight between boys is usually not a good thing, but when it comes to putting the bully in his place it is one of the greatest institutions that the savage man has invented. Once a bully has lost his place, he may bluster, but his bluff is over.
THE QUIET OR RETICENT BOY
The quiet or reticent fellow is like the mighty sweeping river. He has depths which have been unsounded, and his life has promise of great possibilities. Just the opposite of the bully, he never blusters but thinks out everything as it comes to him. Every impression is stored away and out of the countless impressions which are made upon him there emerges a man of real and wide interests. The task of the Teacher in his case will be to discover his interests and help him to discover himself.
THE GIRL-STRUCK BOY
The girl-struck fellow somewhat discourages the worker with boys, and yet it is natural that the boy should look with favorable eyes upon the girl, just as the robin hears and answers to the call of his mate. Let no Teacher or any worker with boys of any organization that has ever been founded dream for one moment that either he or his institutions can ever block out the lure of the girl. The girl-struck boy will have numerous cases of puppy love, and it will be the task of the Teacher to lead the boy into the kind of social relations that will enable him to be a real value to those of the opposite sex whom he may meet. The boy will prove a much better husband and father because of his experience.
THE SELF-CONSCIOUS AND THE UNCONSCIOUS BOY
The self-conscious and the unconscious boys are merely victims of their surroundings. The self-conscious fellow has no confidence in himself. He is continuously measuring himself by others and is possibly the victim of parental teaching. The constant injunction to act like "Little Willie" next door may have gotten on the boy's nerves, and if the lad has a chance without undue embarrassment he will soon reach the normal stage, and be always a little more courteous and respectful and thoughtful than the fellow without this experience. The unconscious fellow on the other hand will plug along doing all sorts of absurd things, because of his lack of knowledge of the fitness of things. He is generally the boy who grows up without any sense of consistency, and who has had very much his own way of doing things. He will need to be helped to adjust himself to his environment and to the way that other fellows live. He also will develop as a good man if the Teacher is a good worker.
THE FORGETFUL BOY
The same may be said about the forgetful boy and, in fact, about all boys. The forgetful boy has merely not been interested enough to give his attention to the things that the Teacher wants him to do. Once a boy has his interest aroused, the Teacher will have no need of complaint of forgetfulness or of any lack of interest in the boy.
THE UNFORTUNATE BOYS
The types which have been discussed will generally work out all right and find their places in the various social strata in the community in which they live. The unfortunate boys, however, are handicapped tremendously by their environment and surroundings, and it will often become a part of the Teacher's work to help secure a change in these environments. Boys of very wealthy parents and boys from homes of poverty are usually sinned against by their parents. The parents of both are either so busy making money and spending it in the social whirl, or so pushed by the pangs of hunger and the fight for life, that the children who are brought into the world are left either very much to themselves or to underlings who have very little interest in the boy's welfare. It is these neglected boys that oftenest produce our great criminals. All boys of this type somehow or other are tied together. The neglected boy generally becomes the delinquent and the delinquent boy the criminal, so that what might be said about one might also be said about all. This class constitutes our national deficit when we come to consider our assets in manhood, and the Teacher can do a tremendous thing here by helping to form the undeveloped wills of these unfortunate fellows.
THE DEFICIENT AND THE DEPENDENT
The deficient boy and the dependent are really out of the scope of the Teacher. The dependent class will have to be taken care of by the charitable institutions of the State, and the deficient boy because of his lack of mental development will always be a ward of the community.
THE WAGE-EARNER AND THE OVERAMBITIOUS BOYS
The wage-earning boys and the boys of overambitious parents or those who are overambitious themselves need all the help and sympathy that they can get from a Teacher. The father who is pushing his boy because of his own ambition will very often need to be talked to by the Teacher or his friends, and given an understanding of the crime he is committing against his own child. The overambitious fellow who is pushing everything aside for a definite thing in life will often have to be talked to in the plainest language by the Teacher to get him to see his other responsibilities and duties in life. The wage-earning boy who works from early in the morning until late at night to keep bread in his mouth and breath in his body will compel the Teacher, if he is really thoughtful, to give up some of the things which he has already held dearest and possibly lead his wage-earning boy into outdoor activities, even on the half holidays which he would naturally spend in the circle of his own family.
THE STREET, FOREIGN-BORN AND NEGRO BOYS
The street, foreign-born and negro boys will furnish very much the same kind of problem; because of a general rule, they may be all grouped under the wage-earning class. Some may be more shiftless than others and may need more attention, while others may be merely awaiting the touch of sympathy and the helping hand to make strong men out of them. A goodly percentage of our greatest Americans have been foreign-born boys, and, if there is any class that the Teacher should be more patient with than others, it is the immigrant and the son of the immigrant.
The Teacher will find it greatly to his advantage to group his boys according to some standard. Unfortunately, all standards, so far, are more or less artificial, but approximate success may be secured by using the experience of boy"On Sunday a bunch of the younger boys came to Mr. Ball, and said, 'We have no teacher; will you get one for us?' Mr. Ball looked at them, and said, 'Who do you want, fellows?' They looked at each other—this was something new. 'Who do we want?' and the leader turned around and said to the fellows, 'Say, fellows, who do we want?' A hurried consultation revealed the fact that they wanted, of course, one of the prominent men of the church. Mr. Ball said, 'All right; get hold of my coat-tail'; and the crew got hold, and formed a snake line, and out of the school they went, upstairs to one of the class-rooms, in search of Mr. B. They found that he had left for home, and the boys looked at Mr. Ball and said, 'Now, what shall we do?' Mr. Ball said, 'Well, fellows, you know where he lives. I can't go with you, but you fellows go to his home and camp there until he says yes.' Off they started. Several men were telling me this story, and one is a neighbor of Mr. B's. He said that when he got home from Sunday school last Sunday—a bitter cold day—he went out into his back yard, and, glancing over the fences, he saw a bunch of twelve boys lined up on Mr. B's back porch, stamping their feet. He called across to them, 'Say, fellows, what's the matter?' 'We're looking for a Sunday school teacher,' they yelled back. He said he thought he'd drop.
"The next morning Mr. Ball met Mr. B. in the street car, and he grinned across at him and said, 'Did a group of boys call on you yesterday, Mr. B.?' 'They certainly did,' he replied, with a broad grin. 'Well, did they get you?' 'Did they get me? Yes, they sure got me, and from now on I'm going to teach their class; there was nothing else for me to do.'"
The story of another teacher acquired in this way reads as follows:
"Before the boys got to his house the man was getting ready for bed. He had fixed the furnace, and had his bath robe on when the door-bell rang. He had just said to his wife that he did not think any one would call that night, and it was then about nine-thirty. When the bell rang his wife snickered,' as he put it. He went down stairs, turned the gas on low, and opened the door. Three older fellows stood on the porch. He looked at them and they at him and then he asked them in. They filed in—fellows 17 and 18 years of age. He led the way into the library, like a monk in flowing robes, and the three fellows followed. Seating themselves solemnly they stated the cause of their visit, and he started to remonstrate, etc. They settled themselves comfortably in their chairs, and said they had come to camp there until he 'saw it.' This is the man's own story. He said that when he saw they were in earnest he told them he would like to teach a class of fellows such as they, and that he would take the class if they would get on the job."
=The Teen Age Older Boy as Teacher=
Increasing attention is being given in some places to the training of older boys for the teaching of younger groups in the Sunday school. On "Decision Day" volunteers are being asked to enter a Training Class, and choice Christian boys are in this way being interested in the teaching work of the school. In other places older boys are being put in charge of younger boys' classes, and are meeting, either on Sunday or on a week-night, for training. This latter plan affords real laboratory work, without which teacher-training courses are pure theory. We learn by doing.
The teen age boy as teacher will ultimately solve the problem of the teen age teaching force. As Japan, Corea, India and China must eventually be Christianized by native Christian forces, so the teen age in the Sunday school will, of necessity, in principle and practice, be led by the teen age. The duty of the missionary in non-christian lands is to train the native forces for the task of Christianizing these lands; likewise, the men of this Sunday school generation must lead and train the older adolescent in the Secondary Division of the school for the leading of the teen age into the service of the church.
PREPARATION FOR TEACHING
The really great task of the Christian adult and older boy in the Sunday school is a real training for service. Stopping the leak from the teen age in the Sunday school will never be accomplished until workers are willing to prepare and equip themselves to a point where their wisdom, ability and consecration will attract the active minds of the teen boys. Every teacher should be an International Standard Teacher Training graduate. Information concerning this course can be obtained from any Sunday School Association.
PATIENCE NECESSARY IN THE TEACHER
Things cannot happen in a day. Christianity itself is a growing, developing thing. "First the seed, then the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." Have patience! Maybe you will have to win the boys yourself first, before you can win them for Him. Read this letter from a man who has the vision, the plan and a lot of common-sense patience, and think it over:
"Very recently I came across your card, and it brought to mind the promise I made to report progress with my class of boys.
"You see so many people in the course of a week, to say nothing of a couple of months, that it may be well to remind you that I am the chap who came to your room in ——, and afterward stuck to you all the way to —— when you were leaving town.
"When I saw you I was having an average attendance of three, if one is allowed to stretch a fraction of a boy into a whole one, and a membership in the class of four. These boys had lost all interest in the Sunday school, and it was only that 'Dad said you must' that any of them came at all to the service.
"Today I have done as well as the faithful servants, and behold my four talents have gained other four. There is no longer a membership and average attendance, for they all come when they are not sick or out of town; and one thing which is a wonder to me is that a good many of the boys from other schools come to us whenever there is no service in their own churches.
"I have not said 'now boys' to this class once, but we have gone hunting caves and are going again next Thursday, and we are all going camping if we can arrange a time during the summer.
"These boys, who used to come to the church with a lurching walk and underlip stuck out, now come in like men. They have covered the class room walls with pictures from magazines, have brought rocking chairs from home and use their room as the place to plan the fun for the following week. They have, after some pretty violent pushing from the teacher, petitioned the powers to give the basement of the church over to them and the other classes of intermediate grade for the purpose of having a social evening once each week. The petition has been granted and we will probably open up about May 16th.
"None of my class show any violent signs of getting converted yet, but when one considers that this is a class who could not keep a teacher over three or four Sundays; who used to start a rough-house on all proper and improper occasions, and who had been known to throw books or any other handy article when they got sick of hearing any more Bible, I think I can report progress.
"The most of my boys were arrested a couple of months ago for breaking into summer camps and looking around. Today three of them came to my office with one of their friends who had cut his foot and told me all about their trouble, owning up to the whole business and ending by saying that if I would take their Boy Scout society they would cut all that kind of business out. I wish to God I had the time to take up this Boy Scout job, but I have not; but I will do the next best thing by taking them hiking on Thursday, which is my day of rest.
"One can't teach boys like these the beauties of religion any more than he can teach Greek to a puppy. They are not up to this kind of thing, so I am trying to teach them to be men, and when we get that lesson we will try the higher one. Of course, I give them the moral side of every lesson and point out how God has worked through some mighty mean material.
"We still have a fight once in a while during class hours, and I call time when they get too near the stove, but this is to be expected in a class which is entirely self-governing. I never have said one word about anything they have done in the class, except to impress upon them that they should be men and the lesson is working slowly.
"Now, my good sir, don't try to reply to this letter. I know you get a good many just like it, and I am writing just to give you my experience in the hope that it may help some one else; also because I promised to let you know what progress the class was making.
"If you will drop into —— in a year from now I hope to be able to point to a much larger class than the first six months has shown and to show you the majority in the church.
"Thanking you for reading this far and
=The Boy the Main Issue=
The idea that must continually be kept in mind is the boy's good and the boy. A lot of our teachers in the public schools are trying to teach the subject-matter of the book when they ought to be teaching the boy. They employ static methods. You can get up a goal for attainment and the boy will reach the goal. Generally, however, he will go no higher than you point. Your teaching should be dynamic rather than static.
Aim to secure balanced, symmetrical activities for your class. Remember your boy is four-sided, that he is physical, mental, social and religious in his nature. Do not neglect any one side of him, but get the proper agencies to cooperate with you for these ends. Let the boys do whatever they can. Merely insist on adequate adult supervision. Above all be patient, practical and business-like and remember that old heads never grow on young shoulders. The Sunday school Teacher should take his place in the community by the side of the teacher of secular instruction. He is an educator, and is dealing with the most plastic and most valuable asset in the community—boyhood. Let him take his task seriously, look upon his privilege with a desire to accomplish great things, and always remember that the good of the boy is his ultimate aim.
BIBLIOGRAPHY ON THE TEEN AGE TEACHER
Brumbaugh.—The Making of a Teacher ([USD]1.00).
Foster.—Starting to Teach (.40).
James.—Talks to Teachers ([USD]1.50).
Kirkpatrick.—Individual in the Making ([USD]1.25).
McElfresh.—Training of Sunday-school Teachers (in preparation).
Schauffler.—Lamoreaux-Brumbaugh-Lawrance. Training the Teacher ([USD]1.00).