We had about as ornery and triflin' a crop of kids in Calaveras county, thirty years ago, as you could gather in with a fine-tooth comb and a brass band in fourteen States. For ways that was kittensome they were moderately active and abnormally protuberant. That was the prevailing style of Calaveras kid, when Mr. George W. Mulqueen come there and wanted to engage the school at the old camp, where I hung up in the days when the country was new and the murmur of the six-shooter was heard in the land.
"George W. Mulqueen was a slender young party from the effete East, with conscientious scruples and a hectic flush. Both of these was agin him for a promoter of school discipline and square root. He had a heap of information and big sorrowful eyes.
"So fur as I was concerned, I didn't feel like swearing around George or using any language that would sound irrelevant in a ladies' boodore; but as for the kids of the school, they didn't care a blamed cent. They just hollered and whooped like a passle of Sioux.
"They didn't seem to respect literary attainments or expensive knowledge. They just simply seemed to respect the genius that come to that country to win their young love with a long-handled shovel and a blood-shot tone of voice. That's what seemed to catch the Calaveras kids in the early days.
"George had weak lungs, and they kept to work at him till they drove him into a mountain fever, and finally into a metallic sarcophagus.
"Along about the holidays the sun went down on George W. Mulqueen's life, just as the eternal sunlight lit up the dewy eyes. You will pardon my manner, Nye, but it seemed to me just as if George had climbed up to the top of Mount Cavalry, or wherever it was, with that whole school on his back, and had to give up at last.
"It seemed kind of tough to me, and I couldn't help blamin' it onto the school some, for there was a half a dozen big snoozers that didn't go to school to learn, but just to raise Ned and turn up Jack.
"Well, they killed him, anyhow, and that settled it."
"The school run kind of wild till Feboowary, and then a husky young tenderfoot, with a fist like a mule's foot in full bloom, made an application for the place, and allowed he thought he could maintain discipline if they'd give him a chance. Well, they ast him when he wanted to take his place as tutor, and he reckoned he could begin to tute about Monday follering.
"Sunday afternoon he went up to the school-house to look over the ground, and to arrange a plan for an active Injin campaign agin the hostile hoodlums of Calaveras.
"Monday he sailed in about 9 A.M. with his grip-sack, and begun the discharge of his juties.
"He brought in a bunch of mountain-willers, and, after driving a big railroad-spike into the door-casing, over the latch, he said the senate and house would sit with closed doors during the morning session. Several large, white-eyed holy terrors gazed at him in a kind of dumb, inquiring tone of voice, but he didn't say much. He seemed considerably reserved as to the plan of the campaign. The new teacher then unlocked his alligator-skin grip, and took out a Bible and a new self-cocking weepon that had an automatic dingus for throwing out the empty shells. It was one of the bull-dog variety, and had the laugh of a joyous child.
"He read a short passage from the Scriptures, and then pulled off his coat and hung it on a nail. Then he made a few extemporaneous remarks, after which he salivated the palm of his right hand, took the self-cocking songster in his left, and proceeded to wear out the gads over the varied protuberances of his pupils.
"People passing by thought they must be beating carpets in the school-house. He pointed the gun at his charge with his left and manipulated the gad with his right duke. One large, overgrown Missourian tried to crawl out of the winder, but, after he had looked down the barrel of the shooter a moment, he changed his mind. He seemed to realize that it would be a violation of the rules of the school, so he came back and sat down.
"After he wore out the foliage, Bill, he pulled the spike out of that door, put on his coat and went away. He never was seen there again. He didn't ask for any salary, but just walked off quietly, and that summer we accidently heard that he was George W. Mulqueen's brother."
What brought this to mind was a 3'rd grader in the class my Better Half is assisting with, who's been in 3 other schools already this school year and who attacked another child the first day he arrived.
All Things Considered had a story about Crescent Leadership Academy in New Orleans, one of the places where the students who got expelled elsewhere wind up. "Students that came to us had serious criminal backgrounds. Fights, gangs. This is our third year and I think 14 of our students have been killed," she says. That number, she says, shows "just what our students are dealing with outside of school." Dealing with or doing? The metric a number of the people in the story were using was the number of expulsions--the lower the better. I'm not sure that's the best way to measure education.
Dickens took out the Yorkshire private schools (and I'm not trying to defend them), but I wonder what sort of environment their harsh discipline grew out of.