Through Obstinacy to Persistence
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
EVERY teacher of Beginners is well acquainted with the child who will not march, who objects to parting with his pennies, who refuses to play and who is silent during the songs. "Obstinate little thing !" she comments, unless she is a discerning person. Then she observes the particular child who appears obstinate, and asks herself some questions.
"May it not be shyness?" she queries, and tries to win his confidence. "Or is it unaccustomedness?" and she encourages him to attempt small beginnings in self-expression.
If she comes to the conclusion that the child is actually obstinate, she has a vision of his future, of how he will be disliked and avoided, and sets herself the task of reducing obstinacy to persistence.
Her first step is to arouse a desire to act, so that he will associate joy with action. Her second step is to show that she expects and will insist upon action.
1. Stories. There are two stories which make giving attractive, and may assist in making an obstinate child wish to take part in the offering march, and give up his pennies. These are "Thanking God by Giving" and "Gifts for God's House."
2. Bible Verse. "Be ready" can be used as a crisp command, which a child will want to obey.
3. Pictures. The lure of a picture placed face down on the table or floor will induce many an obstinate child to pick it up. To point out story pictures, or animals God feeds, or children God cares for, is a pleasant thing to do.
4. Drawing. It may be a colored crayon that arouses a desire to act in an obstinate child. Other children's delight in making orange pumpkins and red apples make him wish to try his hand at drawing.
5. Play. Possibly play has the best chance of infusing joy into activity. It must be a very contrary child who does not want to hang a toy on an imaginary Christmas tree, or dig potatoes in a play field, or assist in making and baking cookies for a child-grandmother's visit.
When a certain amount of joy in activities has been awakened, it is time for the second step — insistence that the obstinate child shall comply with requests. At the same time the desirability of persistence should be made apparent.
1. Stories. "The Story of Jonah" illustrates how God regards disobedience. "Two Tiny Builders" and "Four Friends Helping a Sick Man" illustrate persistent effort.
2. Teacher's Attitude. Walter refuses point blank to show in pantomime how he helps at home, and says he doesn't want to point out pictures of helpers. The teacher says that as he isn't willing to do anything, he must sit in her high chair. This he does shamefacedly, and the public opinion of the class is plainly against him. When he has been ignored for some time she suggests that everybody shall close their eyes while Walter touches the story picture, and when he goes she will take her seat. He does this eagerly, and regains his own chair with satisfaction.
In such ways a teacher can make the desired act easy, and yet be firm in seeing that her requests are attended to. She will wait for the reluctant child. She will praise him when the act is accomplished. She will recognize the value of persistence, and turn this in right directions. The obstinate child, when once he wants to do anything, will not be pushed aside. If he does not succeed in drawing the first apple, he will try another. If the first imitation of an animal's cry is poor, he will attempt it a second time. It is encouragement in persistence which will save for a child what is good in obstinacy.