The High-School Boy's Morals

Franklin W. Johnson
1912 The School Review  
To one who has had experience with boys in American secondary schools, the most striking and significant thing observed in a visit to the famous Rugby School is the absence of lockers in the cricket clubhouse. Arranged on long benches or tables are open bags containing the clothing and other paraphernalia of the game and on each bag are the initials of the owner. It is evident that the knowledge that an article belongs to another boy is sufficient guaranty that it will be unmolested. The claim
more » ... olested. The claim that the public schools of England are attended only by the sons of gentlemen seems justified. The term gentleman as thus applied stands for more than membership in an aristocracy either of birth or of wealth; it includes an accepted standard of honesty and sportsmanship higher than we have as yet attained, higher almost than we have dared to hope for among the boys of our public and private secondary schools. Contrast with this typical situation in an English public school -which, it should be observed, is not a public but essentially a private school according to our meaning of the term-the condition in our own schools. Not only is the American high-school boy often without the moral standard which prevents the appropriation of articles not his own which are within his easy reach, but steelmaker and locksmith have not yet devised a locker which is strong enough to withstand his strength or ingenuity. Nothing that is not nailed down is absolutely safe. Not all boys in all schools are thieves, but there is often current, even among those whose moral standards are fairly high in other respects, a fine distinction between "swiping" and stealing which defies definition but which is appealed to in defense of delinquencies of this sort. One sometimes meets an attempt to explain the situation on the ground that our democratic social order throws together in the same school boys from 8i This content downloaded from 141.218.
doi:10.1086/435879 fatcat:fzjwfjg63bdqlawm5o3uahuqoq