Gabriel Compayré.

The history of pedagogy online

. (page 38 of 48)
Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 38 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


taken in the progress of pedagogy. In the history of educa-
tion, the nineteenth century will be noted for the great num-
ber of its women who were educators, some who were real
philosophers and distinguished writers, and others, zealous
and enthusiastic teachers.

563. Madame de Genlis (1746-1830). —While she does
not belong to the nineteenth century by her pedagogical
writings, Madame de Genlis has certain rights to a foremost
place in the list of the educational women of our time. She
had in the highest degree the pedagogic vocation ; only, that
vocation became a mania and was squandered on everything.
Madame de Genlis wished to know everything in order that
she might teach everything. " She was more than a woman
author," says Sainte-Beuve, wittily; "she was a woman
teacher ; she was born with the sign on her forehead."

Young girls of their own accord play mamma with their
dolls. From the age of seven, Madame de Genlis played
teacher.

" I had a taste for teaching children, and T became school-
mistress in a curious way. . . . Little boys from the village
came under the window of my parents' country-seat to play.
I amused myself in watching them, and I soon took it into
my head to give them lessons."



480 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

Twenty years later, the village teacher became the gov-
erness of the daughters of the Duchesse de Chartres, and the
governor of the sons of the Duke de Chartres (Philippe-
Egalite) .

564. Pedagogical Works. — The principal work of
Madame de Genlis, Letters on Education (1782), treats of
the education of princes and also of " that of young persons
and of men." In giving it that other title, Adele and Theo-
dore, the author indicated her intention of rivaling Kousseau,
and of educating a man and a woman more perfect than
Ernile and Sophie.

Although she had a profoundly aristocratic nature, Madame
de Genlis, after the revolution of 1789, seemed for an instant
to follow the liberal current which was sweeping minds along.
It was then that she published the Counsels on the Education
of the Dauphin, and some parts of her educational journal,
entitled Lessons of a Governess. She never ceased to preach
love of the people to sovereigns, and in justice this must be
said to her credit, that she did not write merely for courtly
people. She protests, and with spirit, "that she is the first
author who has concerned herself with the educatj A u of the
people. This glory," she adds, " is dearjto my heart." In
support of these assertions, Madame de Genlis cites the
fourth volume of her Thedtre d 'education, which is, she says,
" solely intended for the children of tradesmen and artisans ;
domestics and peasants will there see a detailed account of
their obligations and then* duties."

565. Encyclopaedic Education. — It has been said with
reason that Madame de Genlis was the personification of
encyclopaedic instruction. 1

1 Greard, Mimoire sur I'enseiynement secondaire desfilles, p. 78.



WOMEN AS EDUCATORS. 481

" Her programme of instruction had no limits. She favors
Latin, without, however, thinking the knowledge of it indis-
pensable. She gives a large place to the living languages.
At Saint Leu, her pupils garden in German, dine in English,
and sup in Italian. At the same time she invents gymnastic
apparatus, — pulleys, baskets, wooden beds, lead shoes.
Nothing takes her at unawares, her over-facile pen stops at
nothing ; she is universal. A plan for a rural school for
children in the country is wanted, and she furnishes it."

566. Imitation of Rousseau. — Madame de Genlis never
ceased to criticise Rousseau, and yet, in her educational
romances, the inspiration of Rousseau is everywhere present.
How can we fail to recognize a pupil of Rousseau in the
father of Adele and Theodore, who leaves Paris in order to
devote himself entirely to the education of his children, to
make himself " their governor and their friend, and finally,
to screen the infancy of his son and daughter from the exam-
ples of vice " ? And the methods manufactured by Rousseau,
the unforeseen lessons, the indirect means employed to in-
struct without having the appearance of doing so, — Madame
de Genii' aesires no others. Nothing is more amusing than
the description of the country-seat of the Baron d'Almane,
the father of Adele and Theodore. It is no longer a country-
seat ; it is a school-house. The walls are no longer walls;
they are charts of history and maps of geography.

" When we would have our children study history accord-
ing to a chronological order, we start from my bed-chamber,
which represents sacred history; from there we enter my
gallery, where we find ancient history; we reach the parlor,
which contains Roman history, and we end with the gallery
of Monsieur d'Alman (it is the Baroness who speaks), where
is found the history of France."



482



THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.



In her pedagogic fairyland, Madame de Genlis does not
wish the child to meet a single object which may not be
transformed into an instrument of instruction. Adele and
Theodore cannot take a hand-screen without finding a geog-
raphy lesson represented on it, and drawn out at full length.
Here are pictures worked in tapestry ; they are historical
scenes ; on the back of them care has been taken to write
an explanation of what they represent. At least, those five
or six movable partitions which are displayed in the apart-
ment on cold days have no instructive purposes ? You are
mistaken. There is painted and written on them the history
of England, of Spain, of Germany, and that of the Moors
and the Turks. Even in the dining-room, mythology encum-
bers the panels of the room, and " it usually forms the sub-
ject of conversation during the dinner." In that castle,
bewitched, so to speak, by the elf of history, there is not a
glance that is lost, not a minute without its lesson, not a
corner where one may waste his time in dreaming. History
pursues you like a ghost, like a nightmare, along the corri-
dors, on the stairs, even on the carpet on which you tread,
and on the chairs upon which you sit. The true way to
disgust a child forever with historical studies is to condemn
him to live for eight days in this house-school of Madame de
Genlis.

567. Miss Edgeworth (1767-1849). —It is with the
Scotch philosophy and the psychological theories of Reid and
Dugald Stewart, that were inspired in different degrees two
distinguished women, who honored English pedagogy at the
beginning of this century, — Miss Edgeworth and Miss Ham-
ilton.

In her book on Practical Education, published in 1798, 1

1 French translation by Pictet, 1801.



WOMEN AS EDUCATOKS. 483

Miss Edgeworth does not lose herself in theoretical disserta-
tions. Her book is a collection of facts, observations, and
precepts. The first chapter treats of toys, and the author
justifies this beginning by saying that in education there is
nothing trivial and minute. It is first by conversations, and
then by the use of the inventive, analytical, and intuitive
method, that Miss Edgeworth proposes to train her pupils ;
and her reflections on intellectual education deserve to be
considered. In moral education she agrees with Locke, and
seems to place great reliance on the sentiment of honor, and
on the love of reputation. In every case she absolutely
ignores the religious feeling. The characteristic of her sys-
tem is that it makes " a total abstraction of religious ideas."

568. Miss Hamilton (1758-1816). — Miss Hamilton is
at once more philosophical and more Christian than Miss
Edgeworth. It is from the psychologist Hartley that she
borrows her essential principle, which consists in making of
the association of ideas the basis of education. Hartley saw
in this the sovereign law- of intellectual development. But,
on the other hand, she declares "that she follows no other
guide than the precepts of the Gospel."

The principal work of Miss Hamilton, her Letters on the
Elementary Principles of Education (1801), x has a more
theoretical character than the book of Miss Edgeworth.
With her it is above all else a question of principles, which,
she says, arc more necessary than rules. We find but few
reflections on teaching proper. She borrows the very words
of Dugald Stewart to define the object of education : —

"The most essential objects of education are the follow-
ing : first, to cultivate all the various principles of our nature,
both speculative and active, in such a manner as to bring

1 French translation by Che'ron, 2 vols., Paris, 1801.



484 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

them to the greatest perfection of which they are suscepti-
ble ; and secondly, by watching over the impressions and
associations which the mind receives in early life, to secure
it against the influence of prevailing errors ; and, as far
as possible, to engage its prepossessions on the side of
truth." 1

To cultivate the intellectual and moral faculties, Miss
Hamilton places her chief dependence, as we have said, on
the principle of the association of ideas. We must break up,
or, rather, prevent from being formed, all false associations,
that is, all inaccurate judgments. Order once re-established
among ideas, the will will be upright, and the conduct well
regulated. In other terms, this was to subordinate, perhaps
too completely, the development of the moral faculties to the
culture of the intellectual faculties.

" It is evident," says Miss Hamilton, " that all our desires
are in accord with ideas of pleasure, and all our aversions
with ideas of pain."

The educator will then try to associate the idea of pleasure
with what is good and useful for the child and for the man.

Let us also note, in passing, the solicitude of Miss Hamil-
ton for the education of the people : —

" From most of the writers on education it would appear
that it is only to people of rank and fortune that education
is a matter of any importance. . . . My plan has for its
object the cultivation of the faculties that are common to the
whole human race." 2

On this point her thought was the same as that of Miss
Edgeworth, whose father, in 1799, in the Irish Parliament,
had caused the adoption of the first law on primary instruc-
tion.

1 Stewart, Elements, p. 11.

2 Letters, Vol. I. p. 11.



WOMEN AS EDUCATORS. 485

569 . Madame C ampan (1752-1822). — Twenty-five years'
experience, either at the court of Louis XV., or in the school
at Saint-Germain, which she founded under the Revolution,
or finally in the institution at Ecoueu, the direction of which
was entrusted to her by Napoleon I., in 1807, — such are the
claims which at once assure to Madame Campan some author-
ity on pedagogical questions. 1 Let us add that good sense,
a methodical and prudent mind, — in a word, qualities which
were reasonable rather than brilliant, — directed that long
personal experience.

"First I saw," she said, " then I reflected, and finally I
wrote."

570. Eulogy on Home Education. — From a teacher,
from the directress of a school, we would expect prejudices
in favor of public education in boarding-schools. That which
secures our ready confidence, is that Madame Campan, on
the contrary, appreciates better than any one else the advan-
tages of maternal education : —

" To create mothers," she said, " this is the whole educa-
tion of women." Nothing seems to her superior to a mother
governess " who does not keep late hours, who rises betimes,"
who, finally, devotes herself resolutely to the important duty
with which she is charged.

" There is no boarding-school, however well it may be con-
ducted, there is no convent, however pious its government
may be, which can give an education comparable to that
which a young girl receives from a mother who is edu-
cated, and who funis her sweetest occupation and her true
glory in the education of her daughter."

Madame Campan, moreover, reminds mothers who would

1 See the two volumes published in 1824 by Barriers, on the Education,
par Madame Campan, followed by the Conseilsauxjt unesfilles.



486 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

be the teachers of their own daughters, of all the obligations
which are involved in such a charge. Too often the mother
who jealously keeps her daughter near her, is not capable of
educating her. In this case there is only the appearance of
home education, and as Madame Campan wittily says, " this
is no longer maternal education; it is but education at
home."

571. Progress in Instruction. — Fsmelon was Madame
Campan's favorite author. On the other hand, there was
some resemblance between the rules of the school at Ecouen
and those of Saint Cyr. The spirit of the seventeenth cen-
tury lives again in the educational institutions of the nine-
teenth, and Madame Campan continues the work of Madame
de Maintenon.

However, there is progress in more than one respect, and
the instruction is more solid and more complete.

"The purpose of education," wrote Madame Campan to
the Emperor, " ought to be directed : 1. towards the domes-
tic virtues ; 2. towards instruction, to such a degree of per-
fection in the knowledge of language, computation, history,
writing, and geography, that all pupils shall be assured of
the happiness of being able to instruct their own daughters."

Madame Campan desired, moreover, to extend her work.
She demanded of the Emperor the creation of several public
establishments " for educating the daughters of certain classes
of the servants of the State." She desired that the govern-
ment should take under its supervision private institutions,
and contemplated for women as for men a sort of university
" which might replace the convents and the colleges." But
Napoleon was not the man to enter into these schemes. The
schools of " women-logicians " were scarcely to his taste,
and the teaching congregations, which he restored to their
privileges, the better served his purpose.



WOMEN AS EDUCATORS. 487

572. Interest in Popular Education. — One might be-
lieve that Madame Campau, who had begun by being the
teacher of the three daughters of Louis XV., and who asso-
ciated with scarcely any save the wealthy or the titled, had
never had the taste or the leisure to think of popular instruc-
tion. It is nothing of the sort, as is proved by her Counsels
to Young Girls, a work intended for Elementary Schools.

" There is no ground for fearing that the daughters of the
rich will ever be in want of books to instruct them or of
governesses to direct them. It is not at all so with the chil-
dren who belong to the less fortunate classes. ... I have
seen with my own eyes how incomplete and neglected is the
education of the daughters of country people. ... It is for
them that I have penned this little work."

The work itself has not perhaps the tone that could be de-
sired, nor all the simplicity that the author would have wished
to give it ; but we must thank Madame Campan for her in-
tentions, and we count among her highest claims to the
esteem of posterity the effort which she made in her old age
to become, at least in her writings, a simple school-mistress
and a village teacher.

573. Madame de Remusat (1780-1821). —Madame de
R^musat has written only for women of the world. Herself
a woman of the world, lady of the palace of the Empress
Josephine, she had no personal experience in the way of
teaching. She had nothing to do with the practice of educa-
tion save in supervising the studies of her two sous, one of
whom became a philosopher and an illustrious statesman,
Charles de Remusat. The noble book of Madame de Rcmiu-
sat, her Essay on the Education of Women, does not commend
itself by reason of its detailed precepts and scholastic meth-
ods, but by its lofty reflections and general principles. 1

1 The work of Madame de Re"musa1 was published in 1824, after the au-
thor's death, under the direction of Charles de Remusat.



488 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

574. Sketch of Feminine Psychology. — Let us first
notice different passages in which the author sketches by a
few touches the psychology of woman, and determines her
sphere in life : —

''Woman is the companion of man upon the earth, but
yet she exists on her own account ; she is inferior, but not
subordinate."

The expression here betrays Madame de Remusat, and it
would be more accurate to say that woman is not inferior to
man, that she is his equal, but that in existing civil and so-
cial conditions she necessarily remains subordinate to him.

But with what perfect justness the amiable writer charac-
terizes the peculiar qualities of woman !

"We lack continuity and depth when we would appby
ourselves to general questions. Endowed with a quick in-
telligence, we hear promptly, we even divine and see just as
well as men ; but too easiby moved to remain impartial, too
mobile to be profound, perceiving is easier for us than observ-
ing. Prolonged attention wearies us ; we are, in short, more
mild than patient. More sensitive and more devoted than
men, women are ignorant of that sort of selfishness which
an independent being exhibits outwardly as a consciousness
of his own power. To obtain from them any activity what-
ever, it is almost always necessary to interest them in the
hastiness of another. Their very faults are the outgrowths
of their condition. The same cause will excite in man
emotions of pride, and in woman only those of vanity."

575. The Serious in Education. — Madame de Remusat,
still more than Madame Campan, belongs to the modern
school. " She desires for woman an education serious and
grave.

" I see no reason for treating women less seriously than



WOMEN AS EDUCATORS. 489

men, for misrepresenting truth to them under the form of a
prejudice, duty under the appearance of a superstition, in
order that they may accept both the duty and the truth."

She does not in the least incline to the opinion of the over-
courteous moralist Joubert, who, with more gallantry than real
respect for women, said: " Nothing too earthly or too mate-
rial ought to employ young ladies ; only delicate material should
bus} 7 their hands. . . . They resemble the imagination, and
like it they should touch only the surface of things." *

Madame de Remusat enters into the spirit of her time, and
her admiration for the age of Louis XIV. does not make her
forget what she owes to the new society, transformed by
great political reforms.

"We are drawing near the time when every Frenchman
shall be a citizen. In her turn, the destiny of woman is
comprised in these two terms: wife and mother of a citizen.
There is much morality, and a very severe and touching
morality, in the idea which ought to be attached to that word
citizen. After religion, I do not know a more powerful mo-
tive than the patriotic spirit for directing the young towards
the good."

It is no longer a question, then, of training the woman and
the man for themselves, for their individual destiny. They
must be educated for the public good, for their duties in
society. Madame de Remusat is not one of those timid
and frightened women who feel a homesickness for the past,
whom the present terrifies. Liberal and courageous, she
manfully accepts the new regime ; she proclaims its advan-
tages, and, if she writes like a woman of the seventeenth
century, almost with the perfection of Madame de Sevigne,
her chosen model, she at least thinks like a daughter of the
Revolution.

1 Joubert, Pense'es.



490 THE HISTORY OF PEDAGOGY.

576. Philosophical Spirit. — That which is not less re-
markable is the philosophical character of her reflections.
She believes in liberty and in conscience. It is conscience
which she purposes to substitute, as a moral rule, " for
despotic and superficial caprices." It is no longer b}* the
imperative term, you must, but by the obligatory term, you
ought, that the mother should lead and govern her daughter.

" On every occasion let these words, I ought, re-appear in
the conversation of the mother."

This is saying that the child ought to be treated as a free
being. The end, and at the same time the most efficient
means, of education, is the wise employment of liberty.
While keeping the oversight of the child, he must be left to
take care of himself, and on many occasions to follow the
course that he will. By this means his will will be developed,
and his character strengthened ; and this is an essential point
according to Madame de R^musat.

"If under Louis XIV.," she says, "the education of
woman's mind was grave and often substantial, that of her
character remained imperfect."

577. Madame Guizot (1773-1827). — Madame Guizot
first became known under her maiden name, Pauline de
Meulan. In the closing years of the eighteenth century she
had written several romances, and had contributed to the re-
view of Suard, the PvbUciste. In 1812 she married Guizot,
the future author of the law of 1833, who had just founded
the Annals of Education. 1 From this period, all her ideas
and all her writings were directed almost exclusively



1 The Annates de V education appeared from 1811 to 1814. It is an inter-
esting collection to consult. In it Guizot published among other pedagog-
ical works, his studies on the ideas of Rabelais and Montaigne, afterwards
reprinted in the volume, Etudes Morales.



WOMEN AS EDUCATOES. 491

towards ethics and education. She published in succession,
Children (1812), Raonl and Victor (1821), and, finally, her
masterpiece, the Family Letters on Education (182G).

578. The Letters on Education. — To give at once an
idea of the merit of this book, 1 we shall quote the opinion of
Sainte-Beuve : —

"The work of Madame Guizot will survive the Emile,
marking in this line the progress of the sound, temperate,
and refined reason of our times, over the venturesome genius
of Rousseau, just as in politics the Democratic of De Tocque-
ville is an advance over the Contrat Social. Essential to
meditate upon, as advice, in all education which would pre-
pare strong men for the difficulties of our modern society,
this book also contains, in the way of exposition, the noblest
moral pages, the most sincere and the most convincing,
which, with a few pages from Jouffroy, have been suggested
to the philosophy of our age by the doctrines of a spiritual-
istic rationalism."

579. Psychological Optimism. — The philosophical spirit
is not lacking in the Letters on Education. The whole of
Letter XII. is a plea in behalf of the relative innocence of
the child. That which is bad in the disorderly inclination,
says the author, is not the inclination, but the disorder : —

" The inclinations of a sentient being are in themselves
what they ought to be. It has been said that a man could
not be virtuous if he did not conquer his inclinations ; hence,
his inclinations are evil. This is an error. No' more could
the tree produce good fruit, if, in pruning it, the disorderly
flow of the sap were not arrested. Does this prove that the
sap is harmful to the tree?"



1 Education domestique on Lettres de famille sur V education. 2 vols.
Paris, 1826.



492 THE HISTOEY OF PEDAGOGY.

It follows from these principles that discipline ought not
to be severe.

" Do you not think it strange," exclaims Madame Guizot,
" that for centuries education has been, so to speak, a sys-
tematic hostility against human nature ; that to correct and
to punish have been synonymous ; and that we have heard
only of dispositions to break, and natures to overcome, just
as though it were a question of taking away from children
the nature which God has given them in order to give them
another such as teachers would have it?"

580. Nature of the Child. — That which gives a great
va^e to the work of Madame Guizot is, that besides the
general considerations and the philosophical reflections, we
there find a great number of circumstantial experiences and
detailed observations which are admissible in a sound trea-
tise on pedagogy. Like the psychology of the child, peda-
gogy itself, at least in its first chapters, ought to be conceived
and written near a cradle. Madame Guizot forcibly indi
cates the importance of the first years, where the future des-
tiny of the child is determined : "In those imperfect organs,
in that incomplete intelligence, are contained, from the first
moment of existence, the germs of that which is -ever more
to proceed from them either for better or for worse. The
man will never have, in the whole course of his life, an im-
pulse which does not belong to that nature, all the features
of which are already foreshadowed in the infant. The infant



Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 38 of 48)