We will complete our work by a short explanation of the conditions that M. de La Salle requires for correction to be of benefit both to the one who inflicts it and to the one who receives it. We could have discussed this question in the treatise on The Twelve Virtues of the Good Teacher, the two topics being closely connected, but we preferred to deal with this matter here; in fact, such is the order observed by our venerable Founder.
It is true that The Conduct of the Christian Schools discusses the conditions that correction should have in order to be beneficial; but we find there prolix passages, generalizations, inversions, omissions, and a lack of clarity in the divisions and the subdivisions. Such are the drawbacks that we have thought it wise to remedy in this Postscript until a new edition of that excellent work, The Conduct of the Christian Schools, is published.
The conditions that correction should have are ten in number: the first seven are those that correction must have in order to prove useful to the one inflicting it; the last three, the conditions it must have in order to be helpful to the one receiving it.
Seven conditions that correction
must have in order to be beneficial to the one inflicting it:
1) It must be pure. No doubt we must have in view when correcting, as in all our actions in general, the glory of God and the fulfillment of his holy will. But in addition we must intend the amendment of the student we are correcting so that there may not be any intermingling of ill-humor, aversion, antipathy, caprice, revenge, or resentment in what we do.
2) It must be charitable. The child should be corrected because we love him. A teacher is like a doctor, not like an enemy. "It would seem," says Saint Augustine, "that the doctor persecutes his patient; but in reality he is only persecuting his malady. He treats the illness because he loves the sick man; and he makes the latter, whom he loves, suffer only to deliver him from the malady that makes him suffer." Thus does a teacher act with regard to the child whom he corrects; his apparent severity is a grace, and the pains he causes are remedies.
3) It must be just. All punishment necessarily presupposes a fault; we should, then, correct only for a fault that is certain; similarly, a severe punishment should not be used except to sanction a fault that is serious, either in its qualities or in the consequences that it may entail. Punishment may sometimes err on the side of leniency, but it must never be more severe; otherwise, we would violate not only justice but also reason; it would mean that we are guided by prejudice and even might make it appear that we are punishing for the pleasure of punishing or from some other evil motive.
4) It must be proper. We need to pay attention to the age, the character, the temperament, and the dispositions of the student we are about to correctand also to those of his parentsso that the punishment may be exactly proportionate to the fault, the circumstances, and the end we have in view.
5) It must be moderate, neither too harsh nor too precipitate. If it is too severe, it might embitter, incite rebellion, give rise to hatred, or discourage the child. If it is too precipitate, it may well be neither just nor proper.
6) It must be peaceable, that is, performed without trouble, impatience, excitement, or blustereven, as a rule, in silence, unless we speak in a low tone and only if this is absolutely necessary.
7) Finally, it must be prudent. This is one of the conditions to which special attention must be paid. Prudence demands that before punishing we should ascertain the dispositions of the culprit and those in which we ourselves are. We would punish in vain a student whose feelings are lacerated, who is in revolt, full of bitterness and anger; he should be prepared to receive the punishment, if he is capable of reason; and the teacher himself should be prepared to inflict it only after calm reflection.
Prudence requires that we judge both the fault and the punishment that should be imposed. As there is a difference between faults committed through malice or stubbornness and those due to inattention, weakness, and so forth, there should also be a difference between the chastisements inflicted on those who commit them.
Prudence requires that the students should not become too used to punishment; they might become unaffected by it, and the sanctions would be fruitless.
Prudence also demands that we examine the manner of punishing; the time, the circumstances, the occasionin a word, what is apt to make the correction more useful. It demands that we consider the character, the age, the temperament of the student, and whatever else pertains to him, so that we can determine the best manner of imposing the correction. For punishment should be inflicted with such perfect consideration of all the angles that far from having any ill effects, it may, on the contrary, procure only advantageous consequences for the culprits.
This is why we should not punish children who are timid and usually docile and who admit their faults in the same way as we punish those who are unruly, hardheaded, stubborn, who deny their faults, who fight back, and so forth. It is also for this reason that we should, as far as possible, especially spare the older students the shame of being chastised: their faults are not known to the others; so, too, we should keep secret the punishments given to faults against purity when these are either not known or known only to a few; the purpose is to preserve the good name of the culprits.
Three conditions that correction
must have in order to be beneficial to the one receiving it:
1) It must be voluntary. This means that it should be received without any resistance and accepted willingly. The motives we should use to bring the one we are punishing to consent to it are: to show him how serious his fault was and the need for him to make up for it, both for his own personal good and for the good example he should give to his companions.
2) It must be respectful. The student being punished should recognize that the teacher is obliged to punish him for his faults and, as a consequence, that he himself should submit to the punishment when he is guilty.
3) It must be silent. The culprit should receive it without speaking, crying out, complaining, or murmuring; otherwise, he would show that he is receiving it neither voluntarily nor with respect.