The latter half of this century has seen an explosion of permissiveness on the part of parents, teachers, and other authorities which I like to call "the abdication of the adult." The roots of this doctrine like so many other errors likely to prove fatal in modern society, go back to Rousseau with his belief in the natural goodness of man. It received a strong assist from Freud's theory about the danger of the repression of natural instincts and has received a fine imprimatur from a number of child, a better word would be childish psychiatrists who asserted that any desire of a small child should receive instant satisfaction. One baby book in particular has done more to weaken and corrupt our society than any Communist could have dreamed or desired.
The age-old, wise balance of society in which the fresh dreams and aspirations of the young were tempered by the experience of the old was overthrown and we beheld gray-headed, experienced professors bowing to the demands, even seeking the advice, of callow adolescents in matters in which the young had no knowledge or experience whatever. Cries like "Old enough to fight, old enough to vote" and "Old enough to fight, old enough to drink" echoed throughout the land and servile legislators hastened to embody them in law. The first did not do too much harm since, typically, once the right to vote was theirs the young showed curiously little interest in exercising it. Friends on college faculties inform me that once admission to faculty meetings was granted them, students stayed away in very large numbers. But the second right strews our highways nightly with dead or shattered bodies; unfortunately the victims are too often innocent and conservative drivers.
Sometimes within my last two or three years at Andover we were faced with a demand that student representatives be allowed to attend faculty meetings. Now students had always been admitted to faculty meetings to present petitions and make statements of their views on questions of policy which concerned them, which I consider a reasonable privilege, but they had always been excused as soon as debate began. Their admission to entire meetings would mean the broadcasting of frequently distorted versions of the opinions expressed by an individual Master. The faculty voted down the request but John Kemper, the Headmaster, overruled us in favor of the students. This was within his rights and powers in doing, although I can recall only one other instance of such absolutism in my 37 years at the Academy. When he announced his decision I said, "These students are my equals in neither age, knowledge, nor experience and I refuse to sit on equal terms with them." From then on, whenever students walked into the faculty meeting I walked out. It is a testimony to Mr. Kemper's tolerance that he allowed me to do this unscathed.
Perhaps I can best explain and exemplify my theory and practice of discipline by giving a sketch of the manner in which I ruled my Houses, taking as a prototype Bishop Hall, where I spent the majority of my years as Housemaster. I used the same methods, of course, in other Halls where I was resident.
The word mystique is a somewhat awkward expression for an esprit de corps which grew up among the students and between them and myself during my many years as Housemaster in Bishop. It was a completely spontaneous development, springing from no conscious design of mine. Indeed, I came to full realization of its existence only many years later when John Kemper began to allude to it to me after he had conversed with old Bishopites.
The Andover campus is divided by Route 28, a busy highway between Boston and Andover and Lawrence. The Library, Commons, Administration Building and most of the classrooms are on the east side of the street. On the west lie dormitories and the Infirmary. The relatively few dormitories on the East Campus were in those days reserved for seniors, even as the Harvard Yard was in my time. Only one senior House lay on the west of the road, Bishop Hall. In the elaborate system of room assignments which was partly based on merit and partly on a lottery, boys with high grades were given a preference and since, naturally, they wished to be near the main seats of activity and the other seniors they tended to fill up the more desirable Houses on the East Campus. Boys with low grades, disciplinary problems, and last choices in the lottery landed in Bishop. And since frequently, though not by any means always, athletes tended to have lower grades, Bishop received a large share of them.
One year, I believe I had the captains of three major sports in my House. Actually I enjoyed this for I like the athletes and got on well with them, much better than I did with the "brains," whom I often found temperamental and, not infrequently, untrustworthy.
There was initially a certain latent resentment at finding themselves on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. Furthermore, a few lower classmen were occasionally placed in the Hall. Accordingly, the population which I ruled was variegated, somewhat malcontent (at first), and physical, and I soon learned that the battle was in this case to the strong. I faced what Headmasters love to describe as an interesting, challenging, or even provocative task.
In the autumn of 1935 the School opened late because of a polio alarm. I had spent my first year at Andover in Pemberton Cottage where a very lively group of ten Lower Middlers, i.e. sophomores, had sacrificed four of their number in the process of teaching me to be a Housemaster. (One incident involved my discovery of a lad lying on the floor with his head resting on a pillow in an empty fireplace. To my surprised inquiries he explained that this was the only posture in which he could alleviate severe headaches to which he was subject. I blush to confess that it was not until later that I discovered that this was a familiar Andover practice for avoiding the presence of cigarette smoke in a room.) I had expected to return to Pemberton when Dr. Fuess suddenly requested me to move into the South Entry of Bishop Hall because the previous Housemaster had sent word at the last moment that he was not returning. I lived in the South Entry from 1935 until 1940 when I moved into a large dormitory on the East Campus, where I lived until I entered the service in May, 1942. On my return in 1945 Dr. Fuess offered me a choice between the large House or Bishop North, from which Allen Cook had just moved upon leaving Andover. I chose Bishop because I disliked the large House which was difficult to control because of a fourth floor and was very noisy because of its construction. So I lived in Bishop once more, this time from 1945 until, in 1950, I moved into the rooms so elegantly reconstructed by Charlie Parmelee in old Bartlet Hall.
The foundation of my theory of discipline was to appeal to the most admirable inborn trait of most boys --- a very deep sense of justice. The current fashion which treats every boy as a special case runs directly counter to this sense, for boys simply do not understand when they see A punished and B excused for identical offenses. However psychologically justifiable, however compassionate the reasons for the disparate treatment of the culprits, their fellows are quick to suspect favoritism in one case and prejudice in the other.
My policy was to have a few very definite rules with equally definite penalties for their violation and to administer these rules as even-handedly as was humanly possible. At the first House meeting of each year I used to go over the rules explaining the reasons for them and the penalties appointed. I also used to make a brief explanation of my personal idiosyncracics, admitting to a hot temper and a tendency to severe language when angered. But I added that I did not bear grudges, and that although I could rebuke and punish severely, the rebuke administered and the punishment endured, the slate was wiped clean and no animus remained on my part. Two offenses only would leave rancor --- drinking (in those days the vicious curse of drugs lay in the dark future) and lying. The first was a violation of a basic rule of the School, the second destroyed the whole basis of trustful human intercourse.
Remembering the incident when my father whipped me severely for an unjustly suspected lie I never refused to believe a boy unless I had incontrovertible proof that he was lying for I had rather be deceived than inspire that gnawing sense of injustice which so long poisoned my relationship with my father.
I never sneaked, a practice boys justly detest, for I preferred to suffer the occasional deception. No one can exercise 24-hour vigilance over 23 boys in the middle and upper teens. I caught sufficient offenses without needing to descend to underhanded methods.
Tattling by one boy on another I held in contempt. On the other hand, I never subscribed to the legalism that a boy should never be asked to testify against himself nor to the cheap bargaining now so popular whereby confession purchases remission of punishment. My position was that I avoided making a demand for a confession whenever possible, but that if I did ask the direct question I expected a truthful answer. Upon the admission of guilt, the punishment was assigned and accounts squared, leaving me with enhanced respect for the boy and the boy with respect for himself as having played a man's part.
I used to tell the boys that I was not interested in the least in their psychological state or of that of any member of their family. I knew, as any adult does, of the emotional stresses and storms of adolescence, but to my mind, with the exception of a few severe cases which do not belong in a school of Andover's size, boys should be discouraged from thinking or talking about these problems which merely exacerbates them; boys best reach maturity by working them out for themselves. Our present methods are producing a nation of self-pitying semi-psychopaths. I know that this rude doctrine will arouse intense indignation in some quarters but I have a very strong impression that there were far fewer psychological maladjustments under the harsh old system than there are today when the world seems largely populated by "mixed-up kids." Certainly the number of youthful suicides appears to be directly proportional to the number of psychiatrists.
There was no democratic nonsense in my administration, no going, hat-in-hand, to seek the advice or approval of the boys. Accordingly they never had the slightest doubt that I had definite values and that I believed in these and in myself. Kipling's Law of the Jungle was my creed:
"But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is: 'Obey!"
As I have said I gave explanations of the reasons for the rules for I felt that the boys deserved to know those reasons. For example, during study hours between 8 and 10pm, boys might visit one another quietly for purposes of joint study; after 10 they had to stay in their own rooms or come to my apartment for a social hour of relaxation before bed. This rule was always resented at first, but as the boys came to understand its purpose, to provide quiet after 10 for those who wished to work or to sleep, they grew to appreciate its protection. Indeed, one year when a House had been outstandingly good in its conduct I offered to suspend the rule for the spring term only to have the students say that they would prefer that I did not do so.
Boys are great sea-lawyers; a Master who descends to argument with them is lost. He is an adult and it is his responsibility to bear the burden of authority and to exercise it in the way which his long experience and superior wisdom show to be in the best interest of the greatest number. Juvenal's authoritarian line should be his maxim:
"Hoc vole, sic iubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas."
"Such my wish, so I command, Let will in place of reason stand."
An incident reported to me not long ago will show how great is the difference between the old and the new breed of Housemaster at Andover. A friend of mine entered a dormitory one day to find a lively water fight going on in the hallway. He went into the Housemaster's apartment and found the gentleman pacing the floor, engaged in a great inner debate as to whether he had the right to go out and stop the fracas. Such a dilemma is utterly inconceivable to me and would have been to any of my "Old Boys" colleagues.
The most severe test of my theories was provided by the Class of 1946. As I have said, on my return from the service in 1945 I moved into what had been Allen Cook's side of Bishop.
Allen had become lax in his later years because of his alcoholism and so a group of the hardier spirits had decided to band together and settle in his entry in anticipation of a carefree senior year. I had returned from the War with ideas of discipline stricter than ever. Their initial shock was succeeded by consternation, then by deep resentment. I used to lie abed at night and fancy that I sensed the waves of hatred toward me rising from my charges. Yet I remained firm in my purpose and very gradually the resentment turned to respect for justice, to understanding that my sternness was in their interest and, in the end, to something like affection. As the year closed a group of them went to the Dean of Students and told him that they realized that they would not have been still in Andover and assured of their college admissions had it not been for my Roman discipline. And when the 25th Reunion of the Class took place I was the one whom they invited to be the faculty speaker at their dinner.
I shall give one illustration of my calculated brutality which will send shudders up the spine of some of today's fashionably "understanding" Housemasters. My bedroom lay directly beneath that of John who preferred to have his desk in his bedroom and had an unbreakable habit of sliding his chair back and forth as he studied, an activity which he seldom got down to before 10 or finished before 12. After a week or so of sleep interrupted by his scrapings on the floor above my head I ordered him to move his desk into his study, explaining my reasons. He protested that he could not study except in his bedroom. I intimated that he would have to learn to do so. He looked at me with tragic eyes and cried in tones of anguish, "But sir, do you realize that you may be costing me my diploma?" "Better," I said, "That you lose your diploma than that I lose my sleep." This is the John of whom I have written earlier as having been saved by finding fulfillment as treasurer of a fraternity and going on to success at Yale and in the business world. Incidentally he was one of the group who went to the Dean to testify to the debt which they owed me.
The center of the "mystique" was, I suppose, the evening "bull sessions" in my room after 10pm. At the beginning of their year with me the boys would be stiff and self-conscious, acutely aware of my presence, but gradually they became more and more natural in their conversation with one another and with me. Some came nightly, some occasionally, some rarely, some not at all. In general, conversation was random, but occasionally we listened to a prize fight or to election returns on the radio --- those were the days before television cast its malignant spell --- and the boys were forbidden radios in their own rooms. Stories were told, some very "blue" indeed. They learned that I was unshockable and, more important, that I treated what I heard as privileged and did not report it. Even so, most boys were discreet about repeating School gossip but I can recall one, now the commander of a nuclear submarine, whom the others would try to hush as he detailed some particularly juicy undergraduate escapade, only to have him brush aside their cautions with the words, "Oh, he won't tell." Nor did I. Luckily I never faced the dilemma of being forced to betray these confidences because of any real threat to life or limb of others. Rarely, because such things can easily be overdone, I would read them a story, a tale by Boccaccio or Blackwood's "The Wendigo." With the latter I robbed a very rough group of footballers of their sleep one night.
These evenings welded the House together in a sense of comradeship which may seem improbable in view of my discipline. But along with that legacy from my father I inherited also his belief that there are times to relax the reins and devote ourselves fully to the joy of the moment. "Dulce est desipere in loco," as Horace put it long ago. The boys learned that I had a reliable sense of humor and played an occasional practical joke on me. One of the most delightful occurred when I heard from the ground floor a terrible crash on the third. I tore up the stairs only to have George click a stopwatch as I reached the top and comment, "Pretty good time, sir." On another occasion they decided to surprise me on my return from an evening in town, i.e., Boston. Just within my door to face me when I entered, they constructed on a chair an elaborate dummy composed of a jack-o-lantern mask, a football jersey filled out with shoulder pads, football pants, and hockey shinguards. Eager to hear my cry of surprise, but fearful that the sound sleep of young athletes would cheat them of the pleasure, they arranged that Hank was to stay awake and that when he heard my car draw up he was to pull a string which was connected by a series of strings to coke bottles on the window ledges of the others' rooms. The fall of these bottles was supposed to awaken them. Unfortunately Hank, too, fell asleep and my arrival went unperceived. As for me, I simply laughed upon seeing the scarecrow and had the joke on them the next day.
They kept a careful watch on my car and on my comings and goings. Usually I left it in front of the dormitory but when stormy weather threatened I would put it in a faculty garage for the night. One evening I had gone out to do this and the House unwisely assumed that I had left for Boston for the evening. Charley was on Room Pro, a restriction to his room during study hours, either for a minor offense or for poor effort in his studies. Taking advantage of my presumed absence he had wandered across the hall on his favorite pastime of visiting. As I came in the door I heard his roommate say, "Charley, you'd better get back in the room; Chase may come back."
"Oh, F--k Chase," was Charley's rejoinder to this sage counsel. I rushed up the stairs and entered the room before Charley was aware that I had returned. I have seldom seen anyone more embarrassed. His ordinarily pink cheeks were bright scarlet. I looked at him and said quietly, "I heard what you said, Charley, and I don't believe that Dr. Fuess would approve of your choice of words. Now, get back in you room and stay there."
Charley was the unintentional cause of disaster to another boy. Again, I had gone upstairs to find him visiting while on Room Pro. There were several boys in the room but I had eyes only for the errant Charles. "What are you doing in here?" I barked. 'Smoking, sir," answered another boy whom I had not even noticed, but who was smoking by the fireplace. One of my parents' many proverbs occurred to me, "The guilty flee when no man pursueth." There was nothing for it but to report the self-accused for smoking, entailing a penalty of several weeks of probation. I do no believe that he ever lived down the incident. Charley, by the way, has been for many years the legal counsel for the Boston Bruins Hockey Team.
One of the curious aspects of this mystique was a pride in my reputation for severity. One spring a House joined with me in a conspiracy to stage a small drama in proof of my tyrannical tendencies. At the time of the prom certain Houses were emptied of their normal occupants in order to make room for the girls who came for the dance. These displaced persons were distributed among other dormitories in the rooms of boys who had chosen to go away on a long weekend rather than savor the delights of the prom. The morning after the dance I began my inspection of the rooms, carrying a heavy cane in my hand. I entered a room next to that in which a somewhat naïve visitor was lodged and at once cried in stentorian tones, "What, your bed's not made! Here, take that for your laziness!" and I banged the cane against the wall. "Oh, please, sir!" cried the supposed culprit. "Please don't hit me again!" I stalked from the room brandishing the cane and caught sight of the visitor peering from a crack in his door, wide-eyed with terrified amazement.
Another House which had my best interests at heart decided that they would see to it that I had a good group the following year. When the time came for room applications they began a campaign of positive and negative publicity which would have done credit to Madison Avenue. When the natural enquiries came about the nature and idiosyncrasies of the various Housemasters any boy whom they judged undesirable (and they had a pretty shrewd idea of my preferences by that time, hard though I tried not to let these become plain) was told Gothic tales of my severity and the prisonlike nature of my House. On the other hand, boys whom they judged likely to be a pleasure to have with me they regaled with accounts of my fairness, good fellowship, and the happiness they had found. I must say that their efforts bore fruit in one of the best Houses I ever had.
It was during the evening sessions that I gained my deepest knowledge of the boys' characters, their relationships with one another, and their attitude toward their families. I always found it a sign of a happy and healthy home life when a boy talked naturally and fondly of his parents. Some of the ingenuous revelations I received would have astonished the latter. On the other hand a failure to talk about home was usually an ominous symptom.
I was by no means alone in holding such soirées but they were, I think, a feature of a rather limited period in the School's history since the sharply diminishing number of bachelor Housemasters means that all the fewer have time to spare from the care of their own families. Many wives resent attention given the boys though a gallant few second their husbands' devotion to this aspect of a boarding school Master's life. The older generation of bachelors held themselves aloof from the boys with the honorable exceptions of Zeus Benner and Ray Shepard. One alumnus, who had lived in Archie Freeman's entry, reported that he had never once entered Mr. Freeman's rooms.
What success I had rested upon the following principles, in addition to the exercise of absolute authority:
I kept the administration of discipline within the House as far as possible, appealing only as a last resort for aid from Dean or Headmaster. This, I believe, was of supreme importance in developing an esprit de corps within the group. (Once in my first year I complained to Dr. Fuess about a boy in my House named Deems. The good Doctor who was slightly deaf, promptly summoned a boy named Eames and gave him a dressing down. The boy listened patiently and when the lecture was ended said plaintively, "But, sir, I don't even know Dr. Chase.")
Ted Harrison in the spring of 1938
Sometime in 1938 one of my boys had been joining a boy from Allen Cook's entry in drinking bouts in the small hours of the night, when all round them slept. He was eventually detected returning from a Day Excuse, drunk, and in his interview before departure he told Dr. Fuess that there was much drinking going on in my entry. Dr. Fuess, instead of calling me in summoned Hank Williams, one of the House leaders and examined him with regard to the allegations. After denying them Hank made a beeline from the Headmaster's Office to my classroom and asked permission for him and Ted Harrison, the great baseball and hockey player, to call a House meeting without my presence. I agreed and their threats of physical discipline settled the drinking problem for the rest of the year. This is a form of student government much to be preferred to the popular system of devoting the Student Council's energies to extracting ever more privileges from the faculty. Faculties should never lose sight of the fact that no concession ever satisfies for long as each special privilege soon becomes an established right.
2. I tried my utmost to be absolutely fair. Fortunately I seldom disliked a boy though, being human, I found some more sympathetic than others. In the case of the few whom I positively disliked I leaned over backwards to make sure that any punishment I inflicted was truly deserved and not the result of personal animus. Conversely I tended to bear down harder on those students whom I particularly liked. Once, when I told Dave Williams this he cheekily remarked, "Sometimes I wish you did not like me so much." 3 I was always deeply concerned with the boys' real welfare. Each fall I used to tell myself that I would not become emotionally involved with their success but by June I was "sweating out" their diplomas and college admissions as much as they and their parents. They sensed this and it made them tolerant of my quick temper and sometimes harsh language. Because they knew exactly what to expect, because they felt me to be both fair and concerned, they had a sense of security, that all-important factor in bringing up the young. Few from my House were ever expelled and the great majority made the college of their choice.
I should like to give two "case histories" to illustrate the effect of my theories upon two difficult boys.
Only once in my career did I ask not to have a boy placed in my House. Doug was a big, red-headed Scot, a fine athlete, but blessed with a violent temper which had kept him in constant trouble during his lower years in the School. Knowing my own quick temper and foreseeing storms I specifically asked the Dean not to place him in my House and the Dean agreed that that would be the best for both parties. Yet, when I received my House list of the next year, Doug's name was second or third upon it. I went to Dean Benedict and asked the reasons. He laughed and said, "Doug asked to be with you. I called him in and suggested that you two were sure to clash but he replied that he needed a strict Housemaster if he were to gain admission to Yale as he desired."
So Doug came in. Needy and sometime rebellious, he was friendly one day and cool the next and I responded to his needs in kind. He accumulated numerous demerits, the last being for mistaking me for a friend and bouncing a football off me in the hallway. I merely said, "That will be Number Six" and went on up the stairs.
Sometime late in the year I had ejected a boy from Commons for some misconduct. Later that day, at the snackbar where the boys gathered he was commenting unfavorably upon me, my birth, and my parents, in Doug's presence. Doug banged his fist upon the table and said, "Chase has given me six demerits and I have deserved every one of them."
Some years later he arrived at my apartment in a naval officer's uniform, doing his NROTC service after graduation from Yale. We went out to dinner and talked until two in the morning. At one point I said, "You never realized how I leaned over backward not to let you know that I liked you." He grinned and replied: "If you had I'd have taken every advantage I could of it."
He has thrice visited me here at the farm for more long talks. Today he has his doctorate and is teaching either government or economics at Ohio State University.
Nick was a strikingly handsome boy whose good looks were spoiled by the sullen expression which he wore most of the time. He had earned an unhappy reputation for laziness and a generally uncooperative attitude, and one June, the faculty voted that he was advised not to return, but that if he did so, he must return on probation. In September he appeared in my dormitory which was then Bartlet Hall. I had trouble with him at once on the matter of making his bed. He was one of those people for whom awaking in the morning is a daily torment and he used to rise at the last possible moment and rush off, leaving his bed unmade. After several reprimands I gave him a demerit each time he did so until he finally was driven to comply with the School rule that beds be made by 9am. I explained to him that I understood and sympathized with his problem, not because I had one similar, but because I was a morning person who had a low point late in the afternoon. He listened but was not much consoled. Not long after I was in the hall of the Administration Building when I saw a woman talking to our supremely affable receptionist, Miss Thires. The latter, ever eager to be helpful, said to the stranger, "Mrs. D----, there is Dr. Chase, Nick's Housemaster."
Her suggestion was coldly rejected, "I do not care to talk with him," said Mrs. D----, "He does not understand my boy."
Now I had a rule in my House that gramophones might be played outside of study hours provided that doors to the rooms were kept closed. Violation of the rule entailed confiscation of the machine for a period of two weeks or longer, depending upon whether it was a first or a repeated offense. One afternoon I came into Bartlet to find Nick's door open and his phonograph playing fortissimo. Entering the room I found no Nick but two of his friends enjoying themselves thoroughly. So I confiscated the machine. A few hours later Nick appeared at my door, obviously furiously angry. "I understand that you confiscated my phonograph," he said.
"Yes," I replied. "It was playing while the door of the room was wide open."
"But I wasn't even there," he said. "I don't think that's fair."
"You are responsible for your room," I explained, "Whether you are there or not you are supposed to tell your friends the rules of the House. As a matter of fact," I added, "I took away their phonograph last week." And I pointed to the room next to mine which was occupied by three very prominent student leaders.
"You took away their machine?" said Nick, his eyes wide with surprise.
"Certainly," I answered, "There is one rule for everyone in this House."
From that day on Nick was a changed boy. His grades went up and people commented that he spoke and smiled when he met them on the campus. He confided to me that he had felt himself to be a pariah whom the faculty had hoped to discourage from returning by putting him on probation. That one experience with me had somehow convinced him that we were not "out to get him" and had altered his whole attitude toward the School. When it came time for recommendations to college admission offices the Dean agreed to my suggestion that I write a special letter to the college of Nick's choice outlining his story. That, along with his improved grades, helped to win him the admission he wanted. When his parents came to see him graduate no one could have been sweeter to Dr. Chase than Nick's mother. There were no remarks about my failure to understand her boy.
At my last knowledge, Nick was a member of the Connecticut legislature. I had a delightful reunion with him at the home of a mutual friend. Still, he could not resist saying that he thought I had been over-rigid in enforcing the bed-making rule.
Each of us carries within himself an image of what he hopes he is, modeled as closely as possible upon his ideal. I used to tell my boys that the most cruel thing one human being could do to another was to destroy that image. Now I am sure that the above picture of myself is to some degree a wishful one, for I am aware that I was heartily disliked by many boys who knew me neither as teacher nor as Housemaster. I detested disciplining and I had a deep subconscious fear that I might someday be defied. Indeed, for many years I had a recurrent nightmare of losing control of a class or House. This combination of fear and dislike emerged in a harsh and abrasive manner of speech which aroused a natural resentment in many boys. But at least, so far as I knew, I was never accused of being unfair.
I have a profound belief that discipline should fulfill two functions, one moral and one paideutic. The old Andover gave boys a greater degree of freedom than many schools of the time, but it subjected boys to the consequences of abuse of that freedom. My old idols, Plato and Kant and the Christian theologians saw that the only possible moral order in the universe rested in man's freedom of choice and his liability to suffer the consequences of that choice, be they good or bad. In the last book of Plato's Republic when the souls about to be reborn are pictured as about to make their choice among all types of lives, Lachesis, one of the three Fates, proclaims to them, "The responsibility is the chooser's." Modern education too often gives the freedom but then protects from the consequences. This, to me, is profoundly immoral. I have always delighted in the tart statement of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews as couched in the sturdy old English of the King James version:
"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
In the second place, discipline, like grades, should provide a hardening process to prepare children for the hurts which they will inevitably encounter later in life. One has only to attend a few School reunions to see the sad marks left by life upon countenances once smooth, fair and radiant with youth. I do not mean that one should purposely hurt the young, only that they should be allowed to meet with the disappointments and injuries which come naturally in any competitive society. I spoke earlier of the surgeon's remark that men from progressive schools were the least able to stand up to the awful realities of battle. It would be nice to be able to believe with the sentimentalists that education should be a pure job. Unhappily, Aeschylus was wiser in the ways of man when he proclaimed his: "Pathei mathes" --- "By suffering comes knowledge."
I once heard a famous Rector of a Church School quoted as saying that none of his Old Boys ever made a crucial decision later in life without consulting him. To me this was a pathetic confession of failure on the Rector's part, for if he had done his job properly his boys would have gone out into life able to stand upon their own feet and make their own decisions. Such ties as boys have with their former teachers should be those of respect, always; of affection, sometimes; of dependence, never.
So far as my knowledge goes my Houses have produced one artist and one director of documentary films; no famous writer, no actor, no politician, but some officers in the Navy, many doctors, lawyers, businessmen and teachers, the backbone of the nation and, I proudly add, the Establishment. I know of few divorces and few "nervous breakdowns" among them.
So I am content that they lived in a healthy atmosphere one not febrile with self-pity or petulance.
Bishop, like Odysseus' Ithaca, was "a rough land, but a goodly nurse of men."