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613. Higher Primary Schools. — One of the most praise-
worthy purposes of the legislator of 1833 was the establish-
ment of higher primary instruction.

"Higher primary instruction," he said, "necessarily in-
cludes, in addition to all the branches of elementary primary
instruction, the elements of geometry, and its common appli-
cations, especially linear drawing and surveying, information
on the physical sciences and natural history, applicable to
the uses of life, singing, the elements of history and geog-
raphy, and particularly of the history and geography of
France. According to the needs and the resources of local-
ities, the instruction shall receive such developments as shall
be deemed proper."

A higher primary school was to be established in the chief
towns of the department and in all the communes which had
a population of more than six thousand souls. The law was
executed in part. In 1841, one hundred and sixty-one
schools were founded. But little by little, the indifference
of the government, and, above all, the vanity of parents who
preferred for their children worthless Latin studies to a good

1 It is at the same period, in 1832, that Ge'rando published his Cours
normal des instituteurs.


and thorough primary instruction, discouraged these first

The legislator of 1833 had good reason for thinking that a
good vest was worth more than a poor coat. His mistake
was in thinking that people would be persuaded to abandon
the coat in order to take the vest. 1 The higher schools were
almost everywhere annexed to the colleges of secondary in-
struction. To suppress their independence and their own
distinctive features was to destroy them. The final blow
was given them by the law of 1850, which abstained from
pronouncing their name, and which condemned them by its

614. Circular of Guizot. — In transmitting to teachers
the law of June 28, 1833, Guizot had it followed by a cele-
brated circular, which eloquently stated the proper office of
the teacher, his duties and his rights. Here are some pas-
sages from it :

" Do not make a mistake here, Sir. While the career of
primary instruction may be without renown, its duties inter-
est the whole of society, and it is an occupation which shares
the importance attached to public functions. . . . Universal
primary instruction is henceforth to be one of the guarantees
of order and social stability."

The circular next examines the material advantages which
the new law assured to teachers, and it continues thus : —

" However, Sir, as T well know, the foresight of the law
and the resources at the disposal of public authority, will
never succeed in rendering the humble profession of a com-
munal teacher as attractive as it is useful. Society could
not reward him who devotes himself to this service for all
that he does for it. There is no fortune to gain ; there is

1 Cournot, Dcx institutions d' instruction publique , p. 315.


scarcely any reputation to acquire in the difficult duties which
he performs. Destined to see his life spent in a monotonous
occupation, sometimes even to encounter about him the in-
justice and the ingratitude of ignorance, he would often grow
disheartened, and would perhaps succumb did he not draw
his strength and his courage from other sources than from
the prospect of an interest immediate and purely personal.
It is necessary that a profound sense of the moral importance
of his work sustain and animate him, and that the austere
pleasure of having served men and secretly contributed to the
public good, become the noble reward which his conscience
alone can give. It is his glory to aim at nothing beyond his
obscure and laborious condition, to spend himself in sacri-
fices scarcely counted by those who profit by them, and, in
a word, to work for men and to look for his reward only
from God."

615. Progress of Popular Instruction. — It would be
an interesting history to relate in detail the progress of popu-
lar education in France from the law of 1833 to our day.
The public bills of the Republic of 1848, the liberal proposi-
tions of Carnot and of Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire, the recoil
of the law of March 15, 1850, the statu quo of the first years
of the Second Empire, then towards the end the praiseworthy
efforts and tentatives of Duruy, and, finally, under the Third
Republic, the definite and triumphant organization, — all
this is sufficiently known and too recent to justify us in
dwelling on it here.

For successfully introducing anew into the laws the princi-
ples of gratuity, obligation, and secularization, as proclaimed
by the French Revolution, not less than a century was neces-
sary. And in particular, the better spirits allowed them-
selves to be convinced of the need of obligatory instruction


only by slow degrees. However, in 1833, Cousin, who re-
ported the law of Guizot to the Chamber of Peers, expressed
himself as follows : —

"A law which should make of primary instruction a legal
obligation seems to me to be no more above the powers of
the legislator than the law on the national guard, and that
which you have just made on a forced appropriation for the
public good. If reasons of public utility justify the legisla-
tor in appropriating private property, why do not reasons of
a much higher utility justify him in doing less, — in requir-
ing that children receive the instruction indispensable to every
human creature, to the end that he may not become danger-
ous to himself or to society as a whole ? "

Cousin added that the commission of which he was the
chairman would not have receded from measures wisely com-
bined to make instruction obligatory, had it not been afraid
of provoking difficulties, and, in this way, of postponing a
law that was awaited with impatience. The evident neces-
sity of instructing the people, the interests of society, the
interests of families and individuals, — all these considera-
tions have insensibly overcome the scruples or the illusions
of a false liberality, and it is no longer necessary, to-da}-, to
repeat the eloquent pleas of Carnot in his bill of 1848, of
Duruy, and of Jules Simon.

In 1873 Guizot expressed himself as follows : —

" The liberty of conscience and that of families are facts
and rights which, in this question, ought to be scrupulously re-
spected and guaranteed; but, under the condition of this
respect and of these guarantees, it may happen that the state
of society and the state of minds may render legal obligation,
in respect of primary instruction, legitimate, salutary, and nec-
essary. This is the condition of things />>-/!, t>/. The movement
in favor of obligatory instruction is sincere, serious, national.


Powerful examples authorize and encourage it. In Germany,
in Switzerland, in Denmark, in most of the American States,
primary instruction has this character, and civilization has
reaped excellent fruits from it. France and its government
have reason to welcome this principle."

616. Programmes of Primary Instruction. — At the
same time that primary instruction made progress by its ever-
growing extension, and by the participation in it of a greater
number of individuals, its programmes were also extended,
and it is interesting to compare in this respect the different
laws which have regulated the matter of instruction in our

The law of 1833 said: " Elementary primary instruction
necessarily comprises moral and religious instruction, 'reading,
writing, the elements of the French language and of compu-
tation, the legal system of weights and measures."

The bill presented, June 30, 1848, by Carnot, minister of
public instruction, expresses itself thus : —

"Primary instruction comprises: 1. reading, writing, the
elements of the French language, the elements of computa-
tion, the metric system, the measure of distances, elementary
notions of the phenomena of nature, and the principal facts
of agriculture and of industry, linear drawing, singing,
elementary notions on the history and geography of France ;
2. a knowledge of the duties and the rights of man and
citizen, the development of the sentiments of liberty, equality,
and fraternity ; 3. the elementary rules of hygiene, and use-
ful exercises in physical development."

" The religious instruction is given by the ministers of the
different communions."

According to the bill of Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire (April
10, 1849), elementary instruction for boys, necessarily com-


prised " moral, religious, and civic instruction, reading,
writing, the elements of the French language, the elements
of computation, the legal system of weights and measures,
linear drawing, elementary notions of agriculture and of
hygiene, singing and gymnastic exercises.

"According to the needs and resources of localities, ele-
mentary primary instruction shall receive the developments
which shall be thought proper, and shall comprise, in partic-
ular, notions on the history and geography of France."

Finally, the law of March 15, 1850, is worded thus : —
"Art. 23. Primary instruction comprises moral and relig-
ious instruction, reading, writing, the elements of the French
language, computation, and the legal system of weights and
measures. It may comprise in addition, arithmetic applied
to practical operations, the elements of history and geogra-
phy, notions of the plrysical sciences and of natural history
applicable to tjie ordinary purposes of life, elementary in-
struction on agriculture, trade, and hygiene, surveying, level-
ing, linear drawing, singing and gymnastics."

Progress has especially consisted, since 1850, in rendering
obligatory that which was simply optional. History, for
example, did not become a subject of instruction till 1867.

617. The Theorists of Education. — Along with the
progress of primary instruction, the historian of the peda-
gogy of the nineteenth century would have also to follow the
development of secondary instruction and of superior in-
struction, lie would have to write the history of the Univer-
sity, reforming the methods of its lyc6es and its colleges, ami
ever enlarging in a noble spirit of liberty the studies of its
faculties. But we should depart from the limits of our plan,
were we to undertake this order of inquiries, and were we to
enter into details which pertain to contemporary history.


That which should engage our attention is the theoretical
reflections of the different thinkers who, in our century, have
discussed the principles and the laws of education, of those
at least who have become celebrated for their novel views.

618. Jacotot (1770-1840). — Jacotot, who has maintained
scarcely any celebrity in France except for the singularity of
his paradoxes, is perhaps of all French educators of the
nineteenth century the one who has received most attention
abroad, particularly in Germany. " Jacotot," says Doctor
Dittes, " has incited a lastiug improvement in the public in-
struction of Germany. The reform which he introduced into
the teaching of reading is important. He started with an
entire sentence, which was pronounced, explained, and learned
by heart by the children, and afterward analyzed into its
constituent parts." 1 On the other hand, a French critic,
Bernard Perez, has drawn the following portrait of Jacotot : —

" He was the best and the most lovable of jnen. He had
the firmness, patience, honesty, and candor of superior minds,
an inexhaustible goodness and a universal charity which
make him close all his letters with this formula, ' I espe-
cially commend to you the poor.' This ardent philanthropy,
as well as his enthusiasm and his zeal for instruction, per-
vades even his writings, though full of inequalities and
verbal eccentricities." 2

619. Paradoxes of Jacotot. — In his principal work,
Universal Instruction, 3 Jacotot has set forth his principles,
which are so many paradoxes, " All intelligences are equal " ;
" Every man can teach, and even teach that which he him-

1 Dittes, op. cit. p. 272.

2 See Jacotot et sa methode oV Emancipation intellectiielle, by Bernard
Perez. Paris, 1883.

3 Enseignement universal. Paris, 1823.


self does not know " ; " One can instruct himself all alone " ;
" All is in all."

Doubtless at the basis of Jacotot's paradoxes there is an
element of truth ; for example, the very just idea that the
best teaching is that which encourages young minds to think
for themselves. Doubtless also he qualified the exaggera-
tion of his statement when he said that the inequality of
wills at once destroys the equality of intelligences. But the
violent and unreasonable form which he gave to his ideas
has compromised them in public opinion. That which is
true and fruitful in his system has been forgotten, and we
recall only the whimsical formulas in which he delighted.

620. All is in All. — The most famous of Jacotot's
paradoxes is the formula, " All is in all." The whole of
Latin is in a page of Latin ; the whole of music is in a piece
of music ; the whole of arithmetic, in a rule of computation.

In practice, Jacotot made his pupils learn the first six
books of the Telemachus. Upon this text, once learned,
and recited twice a week, there were constructed all sorts of
exercises, and these sufficed for the complete knowledge of
the French language. In the same way the Epitome His-
torice Sacra, put in the hands of pupils, and learned in
two months, was almost the sole instrument for the study of
Latin. In fact, and aside from evident exaggerations,
Jacotot rightly thought that it is necessary, as he said, " to
learn something well, and to connect with this all the rest."

621. The Followers of Saint Simon and of Fourier. —
There is little of practical value to be gathered from the writ-
ings of the celebrated utopists, who, at the opening of this
century, became known by their plans of social organization.
It is the chimerical which characterizes their systems. Cabet
demanded among other absurdities that all ancient books be


burned, and that no new books be written except by com-
mand of the State. Besides, he would have the school-code
established by the children themselves. 1

Victor Consederant suppressed, not books, but discipline
and authority. "The child," he said, " shall no longer be
disobedient, because he shall no longer be commanded." 2

Saint Simon, in 1816, communicated to the Society for
Elementary Instruction, a brief essay which gave proof of his
interest in education. For him and his disciples, education
is " the aggregate of efforts to be employed in order to adapt
each new generation to the social order to which it is called
by the march of humanity." This was to mark the contrast
between modern tendencies which aspire above all else to an
earthly and a social end, with ancient tendencies which were
subservient to supernatural ideas. ^Esthetic sentiments,
scientific methods, industrial activity, — such is the triple
development which special and professional education should
consider. But above this the Saint-Simonians place moral
education, too much neglected, as they think, which should
consist particularly in developing in the young the sympa-
thetic and affectionate faculties. The Saint-Simonians placed
but little dependence on science and abstract principles for
assuring among men the reign of morality. Sentiment, in
their view, is the true moral principle, and education, conse-
quently, ought to be essentially the education of the heart.

622. Fourier (1772-1837). —Fourier, like Saint Simon,
had educational pretensions. There is nothing more curious
than his treatise on Natural Education. In it there is only
here and there a flash of good sense mingled with a multi-
tude of grotesque fancies.

1 Cabet, Voyage en Iearie. Paris, 1842.

2 Consederant, The'orie d' education rationnelle et attrayante du dix-
neuvieme Steele. Paris, 1844.


Fourier renews the Utopias of Plato, and confides infants
to public nurses. He is more reasonable when, in spite of
his declamations on the excellence of nature, he is really
willing to recognize in children a diversity of chai'acters, and
divides "the nurslings and the babies" into three classes, —
" the benign, the malign, and the devilkins."

We must also commend Fourier for his efforts to encour-
age industrial activity. There is perhaps a valuable hint in
those walks which he recommends children to take through
manufactories and shops, so that at the sight of such or such
a tool, their particular vocation may be suggested to them !

The instincts of the child are sacred in the eyes of Fourier,
even the worst, their inclination to destroy, for example, or
their contempt for the rights of property. Far from oppos-
ing them, he turns them to account and utilizes them, by
employing destructive and slovenly children in occupations
in accord with their tastes ; for example, in the pursuit of
reptiles, and in the cleansing of sewers.

But it is useless to enter into longer details. The education
of the Fourierites is neither a discipline nor a rule of life ; it is
simply a system of complaisant adherence, and even of ardent
provocation, to the instincts which the child inherits from
nature. It is no longer a question either of directing or of
training ; it is simply necessary to emancipate and to excite.

G23. Auguste Comte (1798-1857) and the Positivists. —
The positivist school, and its illustrious founder, Auguste
Comte, could not omit, in their encyclopaedic works, a ques-
tion so important as that of education. The author of the
Course in Positive Philosophy had even announced a special
treatise on pedagogy, " a great subject," he said, " which
has not yet been undertaken in a manner sufficiently system-
atic." ' The promise was not kept, but from different pas-

1 Cours de philosophic positive, second edition, 18G4. Vol. VI. p. 771.


sages in the writings of Auguste Comte it is possible to re-
construct, in its principal features, the education which would
be derived from his system.

Comte took for his guide the natural and specific evolution
of humanity.

' ' Individual education can be adequately estimated only
according to its necessary conformity with collective evo-

As positivism represents, in the view of Comte, the su-
preme degree of the evolution of humanity, the new education
ought to be positive.

i ' Right-minded men universally recognize the necessity of
replacing our European education, a S3^stem essentially theo-
logical, metaphysical, and literary, by a positive education,
conformed to the spirit of our epoch, and adapted to the
needs of modern civilization."

The teaching of science, then, shall be the basis of educa-
tion ; but this teaching will bear its fruits only on one con-
dition, and this is, that at last we renounce "the exclusive
specialty, the too pronounced isolation, which still charac-
terizes our manner of conceiving and cultivating the sciences."
The precise purpose of the Course in Positive Philosophy was
to remedy the deleterious influence of a too great specializa-
tion of research, by establishing the relations and the hie-
rarchy of the sciences. Comte made of mathematics the
point of departure in scientific instruction. This was the
very reverse of the modern tendency, which consists in begin-
ning with the concrete and physical studies.

Auguste Comte, in his project for social reform, demanded
universal instruction, and he bitterly complains of the indif-
ference of the ruling classes for the instruction of the poor.

"Nothing is more profoundly characteristic of the exist-
ing anarclry than the shameful indifference with which the


higher classes of to-day habitually regard the total absence
of popular education, the exaggerated prolongation of which,
however, threatens to exert on their approaching destiny a
frightful reaction."

Cornte does not go so far, however, as to dream of an
identical education for all men, an integral education, as it
has been called. He admits degrees in instruction, " which,"
he says, " will allow varieties of extension in a system con-
stantly similar and identical."

624. Dupanlotjp (1803-1878). — Of all the ecclesiastical
writers of our century, he who has the most ardently studied
the problems of education is certainly Bishop Dupanloup.
Important works give proof of the educational zeal of the
eloquent prelate. But the}* were composed with more spirit
than wisdom, and they betray the zeal of the Christian
apologist more than the inspiration of an impartial love for
the truth. Extravagances of language and exaggerations
of thought too often prevent the reader from feeling, as he
ought, the moral and religious inspiration out of which pro-
ceeded those books of ardent and profound faith, but of faith
more than of charity. Notwithstanding their length and
their vast proportions, these books are pamphlets, works of
combat. One should be on his guard against taking them
for scientific treatises. Serenity is lacking in them, and from
the very first, we feel ourselves enveloped in an atmosphere
of trouble and storm.

625. Analysis of the Treatise on Education. — How-
ever, the three volumes of the Education will be read with
profit. The first volume treats of education in general, and
contains three books. In the first book the author determines
the character of education, which has for its purpose to culti-
vate the faculties, to exercise them, to develop them, to


strengthen them, and, finally, to polish them. In the following
books the author studies the nature of the child, of whom he
sometimes speaks with a touching tenderness ; and examines
the means of education, which are ,l religion, instruction,
discipline, and physical culture." Discipline consists in sup-
porting, preventing, and repressing. Discipline is to educa-
tion " that which the bark is to the tree which it surrounds.
It is the bark which holds the sap, and forces it to ascend to
the heart of the tree."

The general title of the second volume is, On Authority
and Respect in Education. Authority and respect, in the
eyes of the author, are the two fundamental things. From
this point of view, he studies what he calls the personnel of
education ; that is, God, the parents, the teacher, the child,
and the schoolmate.

The third volume, entitled Educational Men, treats of the
qualities befitting the head master of an educational estab-
lishment, and of his different colleagues. 1

626. Errors and Prejudices. — Although he wrote a
beautiful chapter entitled, Of the Respect due the Dignity of
the Child and the Liberty of his Nature, Dupanloup is still
more struck with the faults than with the virtues of child-
hood. He shudders in thinking of his thoughtlessness, of
his curiosity, of his sensuality, and especially of his pride.
So he distrusts commendation and rewards.

" In praising your pupils," he says to the teacher, " do you
not fear to excite their pride ? The pride of scholars is a
terrible evil ; it begins in the ' third,' develops in the ' sec-
ond,' blossoms in ' rhetoric,' and becomes established in
' philosophy.' " 2

1 The principal educational works of Dupanloup are Education, 1851,
three volumes; De la haute education intellectuelle, 1855, three volumes;
Lettrcs sur V education des filles, 1879, oue volume.

2 See note to page 131.


To this mistrust of human nature is joined a singular
pessimism with respect to the functions of the teacher.

"There is found," he says, "in this service, grave
troubles. Sometimes, if we are worthy of this service, if we
sacrifice ourselves to it, we can find consolations in it, but
pleasure, never ! "

The verdict is severe and absolute, but it recoils in part on
him who pronounces it. How not mistrust an educator who
declares that there is no sweetness mingled with the fatigues
of teaching, and who condemns the teachers of youth to a
life of complete sacrifice and bitterness ?

The greatest fault in the educational spirit of Dupanloup
is that he does not cross the narrow limits of an education in
small seminaries. Dupanloup wrote only for the middle

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 41 of 48)