• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

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Lexington, Va., 15 May 1867.

Prof. S. Maupin1

University of Virginia

Albermale Co., Va.

My Dear Sir:

I have been informed by the Corg Secty. of the Educational Association of Va. that you, Genl. Smith and myself were appointed at their last meeting the Committee on “School Discipline”. In the uncertainty of what was desired, upon consultation with Genl. Smith, the accompanying paper has been prepared, which is submitted to you for such suggestions, alterations or substitutions as you may think best; and I beg that you will exercise the fullest latitude of judgment in the matter. Genl. Smith is now absent, and I have thought it prudent to attach my signature to the report, even in its unfinished state. When prepared for presentation, the signatures of the whole committee can be affixed.

With my kindest regards to yourself and all your Faculty,

I am most truly and respectfully,

Your obdt. Svt.

(sgd) R. E. Lee

 

The Committee appointed by the Educational association of Virginia on “School discipline”, beg leave to report that in their opinion it is impracticable to establish fixed rules for the government of schools. Public sentiment is so divided on the subject, and the methods of family training are so various, that no uniform system can be well adapted to meet the general requirement.

If the subject of education could ever be of more importance at one period of our history than at another, that period is the present; and that it may be advanced to the highest state of proficiency, it is important that general cooperation should be entitled in its support.

It is therefore considered more advantageous to recommend for attention some general principles, and leave their application to the judgment and discretion of teachers.

The selection of proper persons for the office of teacher is a matter of the first importance, and as its duties require long and comprehensive preparation, it should be regarded as among the most honorable and important professions, and be committed to those whose beneficial influence and instruction shall embrace morals and religion as well as the intellect. The teacher should be the example to the pupil. He should aim at the highest attainable proficiency, and not at a pleasing mediocrity. Unless he can teach those committed to his care to think and work, and can impart to them vigour with learning, there can be no real advance. He must study the character and disposition of his pupils and adapt his course of discipline to their peculiarities. Above all, he must be uniform, consistent, firm, and kind in his conduct, teach more by acts than words, and shew the children under his charge that he has their true interests at heart. He should look upon them not only as the parents of a new generation, but also as heirs of immortality; and while preparing them for usefulness in the this life, instil into their impressible minds principles of piety and religion; for it is true, as taught by history, that greatness depends upon virtue, it is equally true that religion is the foundation and support of virtue.

Should the daily business of the school be conducted on such principles, and the pupils be trained in the habits of obedience, reverence and truthfulness; and be convinced that they are noble and lovely in themselves, and their practice manly and honorable, the main object of education will have been attained.

In addition to these moral influences, a teacher should be clothed with all the authority of the parent in the discharge of his duties, and be sustained by him so long as he may intrust his child to his care. That he may be kept constantly informed of the conduct of his child, weekly, quarterly and yearly reports of his progress should be sent him by the teacher, in which should be stated his demerit marks, for absence, late attendance and misbehaviour. Certificates of advancement should likewise be given to those who excel in studies and conduct. The system of punishments ought to be as simple and mild as they can be made effective, and when coercion has to be resorted to, it should be left to the parent. Should admonition, restriction of recreation &c fail to produce the desired effect, and the pupil obstinately resist the patient expostulation of the teacher; or should his amount of demerit within a fixed period exceed the established limit, there will be no other reason than to return him to his parents as one unworthy a place in the school.

In connection with this subject and as an additional incentive for the faithful and conscientious discharge of parental duty, the committee refer to a statement which the present Lord Shaftsbury is said to have made at a recent public meeting in London; that he had ascertained by personal observation that of adult male criminals of that city, nearly all had begun a course of crime between the ages of eight and sixteen; and that if a young man should pursue a virtuous life till he was twenty years old, there were forty nine chances in favor, and only one against, his continuing an honest life there after. How great is the importance then of every parent’s exercising the necessary control over his child until sixteen! By proper management this would not be difficult and might be the means of saving him from crime misery and remorse.

Respectfully Submitted

(sgd) R. E. Lee

 

 

Source: Photocopy of letterbook copy, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 738, pp.41-43, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 June 12

 

1.  Socrates Maupin (1808-1871) was Professor of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Virginia from 1853 until his death in a carriage accident in 1871. Maupin was elected Chairman of the Faculty in 1854 and continued the position until 1868, during which time he helped navigate the university through the years of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Notably, he successfully advocated for rations and retirement pay to be given disabled Confederate soldier students to help them afford their continued education at the University.

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