Machiavelli for the Second Grade

I may have said this before, but the term “terrible two’s” was never meant to indicate two year olds. What it was truly a warning of, my friends, is second graders. However, I have finally come to a realization which I am sure will continue to help me in my second grade classroom management.

One word: Machiavellian.

Maybe not on all points, of course, but on the famous “is it better to be feared or loved?” question. The answer, my dear educators, is that it is always, and irrefutably better to be feared than loved. Children have minds of their own. This is good, especially for us teachers, But it must also be very carefully and inventively guided. Love is not the more effective way to do this.

To rule by love, one wipes tears, coddles tantrums, hugs out complaints, and forgives all deviants. …or something like that. Does this make kids listen when you tell them it’s quiet time? Does this make lines form neatly and quickly? Does this get assignments done and homework turned in? No. No it does not.

To rule by fear one demands attention, respect, dignity, and self improvement. These aren’t things that kids, especially of the second grade species, place much value in. But these things surround and support the truest of realities, and as such, are more valuable than all the tear wiping, coddling, hugging, and forgiving a person can do. Ruling, or teaching, by fear is more beneficially formative and helpful in the long term, than pussyfooting around could ever be.

Firmness is essential, steadiness is imperative, discipline is paramount. By today’s standards of both love and fear, in this case love loses every time. Fear is instilled; fear of error, ineptitude, ignorance. These fears, used the right way, can be an excellent catalyst for putting forth effort towards an education.

Really, though, it could be said that real way in which to rule and teach through love, is to rule and teach through fear: it is love of my students and the potential they embody is the root of my impetus to teach and direct with a heavier hand and a stricter rule.

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