Gabriel Compayré.

The history of pedagogy online

. (page 44 of 48)
Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 44 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

is rather to scientific instruction that we may properly return
the accusation of enslaving the spirit. By their inexorable
evidence and by their very exactness, do not the sciences
sometimes smother the originality and the free flight of the
imagination ?

This defect, however, does not cut them off from a right
to a place, and to a large place, in the programme of intel-
lectual education. Let us accept with favor their alliance,
let us admit them to a certain degree of fellowship, but do
not let us tolerate their encroachments. In a word, the ob-
ject of the sciences is either pure abstractions or material
realities. He who studies mathematics and physics first ac-
quires real knowledge of high value ; and, on the other hand,
he strengthens his mind through the habits engendered by
the rigorous methods which the sciences employ. We cheer-
fully grant to Mr. Bain that the sciences are at the same time
admirable sources of useful truths and valuable instruments
of mental discipline. By cultivating them we gain not only
the positive knowledge which they teach respecting the world,
but also the power, rigor, and exactness which they impose
on their adepts.

GGO. Insufficiency of the Sciences. — But the question is
to know whether the sciences, so useful and so necessary for
enriching and disciplining the mind, are also the best agents
for training it. The educator is not in the situation of the


farmer who has only two things to do, — to plow and sow
the field which he cultivates. The work of education is vast
in another direction. It has to do with developing the apti-
tudes or latent energies, that which the philosophy of the day
hardly allows us longer to call faculties, but that which they
re-establish under another name, that of the unconscious
forces of the soul ; it has to do, not with laboring on a soil
almost entirely prepared hy nature, but in great part with
creating the soil itself. Now, the sciences are indeed the
seed which it will be proper by and by to sow on the field, but
they are not the substance which nourishes and fertilizes it.

661. Sensualistic Tendencies. — If we go to the bottom
Df Mr. Bain's thought and doctrine on the mind, we shall
find the secret of his ardent preference for the teaching of
the sciences. His errors in practical pedagogy proceed from
theoretical errors on human nature.

For him, as for Locke, there are not, properly speaking,
intellectual forces independent of the facts which succeed
one another in the consciousness. Consequently, there is
not an education of the faculties. Memory or imagination,
considered as a distinct power, as an aptitude more or less
happy, is but a word. It is nothing apart from the recollec-
tions or the images which are successively graven in the mind.
For Mr. Bain, as for Locke, the best education is that which
places items of knowledge side by side in the mind, which
accumulates facts there, but not that which seeks to enkindle
in the soul a flame of intelligence.

That which also warps the theoretical views of Mr. Bain
is that he accords no independence, no individual life, to the
mind ; and that for him, back of the facts of consciousness,
there come to view, without any intermedium, the cerebral
organs. Now the brain is developed of itself ; it acquires



fatally, with the progress of years, more weight and more
volume ; it passes from the age of concrete things to the age
of abstractions. Hence a reduction, an inevitable contrac-
tion, of the sphere of education. There is nothing more to
do than to let nature have her way, and to fill the vase which
she charges herself with constructing.

662. Utilitarian Tendencies. — Finally, to conclude this
indication of the general ideas which dominate and whic'ti
mar the pedagogy of Mr. Bain, let us observe that a positive
and practical utility, a vulgar utility, mingles too many of
its inspirations with it. The criterion of utility is some-
times applied to it with an artless extravagance. Thus, in
the languages, only those words should be learned which
occur the most often, and in the sciences, only the parts
which are of the most frequent use. Even in moral educa-
tion, as it is conceived by the English philosopher, are to be
found, as we might expect, these utilitarian and narrow

Would one believe, for example, that Mr. Bain makes
the fear of the penal code the mainspring of the teaching
of virtue? 1 Here, at least, we must acknowledge that sci-
ence is insufficient. "To pretend, for example, that physi-
ology can teach us moderation in the sexual appetite is to
attribute to it a result which no science has yet been able to
give." But must we count any more, as Mr. Bain would

1 We might dwell on Mr. Bain's observations relative to punishments.
Here is what Greard says of them : " Mr. Bain, with infinite good sense
and disciplinary tact, is much less concerned with applying the rule than
with the conditions according to which it should he applied. On this point
he enters into details full of scruples. He does not hesitate to call to his
aid the knowledge of the masters of penal jurisprudence, and his recom-
mendations, added to those of Bentham, comprise not less than thirty


have us, for example, on social influences and on personal
experience ? In this truly experimental education in virtue,
ethics would be learned just as the mother tongue is learned,
by use, by the imitation of others ; and moral instruction,
properly so called, would be a sort of grammar which is to
rectify vicious practices.

663. Final Judgment. — But our criticisms on the gen-
eral tendencies of Mr. Bain's pedagogy subtract nothing from
our admiration of the sterling qualities of his Education as a
Science. Doubtless there would also be errors of detail te
notice, or some particular methods to discuss ; for example,
that of never doing more than one thing at a time, or the pro-
priety of first teaching to children the history of their country.
Mr. Bain forgets that mythological history and sacred his-
tory, by their legendary and fabulous character, offer a par-
ticular attraction to the childish imagination, and are better
adapted than history proper to infant minds. But, aside
from tlic portions which are debatable, how many wise obser-
vations to gather on the different processes of instruction,
on the transition from the concrete to the abstract, on the
discretion which must be employed in object-lessons, the use
of which so easily degenerates into abuse ! Even through
its absolute theories, Education as a Science will render
great services ; for, to illustrate the march of thought, noth-
ing is so valuable as opinions which are exclusive and sin-
cere. It were even desirable, if one did not fear to experi-
ment on human souls, in anima sublimi, that according to
Mr. Bain's plan, the experiment should be tried of an educa-
tion exclusively scientific.

664. American Educators. Chaining (1780-1842). —

The general fault of English pedagogy is its aristocratic
character. For Mr. Spencer and Mr. Bain, as for Locke, it


is simply a question of the education of a gentleman. It is
in America, in the writings of Channing and Horace Mann,
that we must seek the elements of a theory of democratic
education, and of popular instruction. 1

Channing, a Unitarian minister, associated religious senti-
ment and philosophic reason, and desired that in theology
itself everything should issue in the supremacy of the human
judgment. The most interesting of his writings are the pub-
lic lectures which he gave in Boston in 1838, and the object
of which is the education one gives himself, and the eleva-
tion of the working classes. We lack the space to give an
analysis of these lectures, but a few quotations will make
known the general spirit of the American reformer : —

"I am not discouraged by the objection that the laborer,
if encouraged to give time and strength to the elevation of
his mind, will starve himself and impoverish the country,
when I consider the energy, and the efficiency of Mind.

" The highest force in the universe is Mind. This created
the heavens and earth. This has changed the wilderness into
fruitf ulness, and linked distant countries in a beneficent min-
istiy to one another's wants. It is not to brute force, to
physical strength, so much as to art, to skill, to intellectual
and moral enero;v, that men owe their masterv over the world.
It is mind which has conquered matter. To fear, then, that
by calling forth a people's mind, we shall impoverish and
starve them, is to be frightened at a shadow."

" It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with
superior minds, and these invaluable means of communication
are in the reach of all. In the best books, great men talk to
us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls

1 There should he added to these the works of Swiss, Italian, and French
educators, particularly of Siciliani, and the original and eminently sugges-
tive studies of Bernard Perez.


into ours. God be thanked for books. They are the voices
of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual
life of past ages. Books are the true levellers. They give
to all, who will faithfully use them, the society, the spiritual
presence, of the best and greatest of our race. No matter
how poor I am ; no matter though the prosperous of my own
time will not enter my obscure dwelling ; if the sacred writers
will enter aud take up their abode under my roof, if Milton
will cross my threshold to sing to me of Paradise, and Shake-
speare to open to me the worlds of imagination and the
workings of the human heart, and Franklin to enrich me with
his practical wisdom, I shall not pine for want of intellectual
companionship, and I may become a cultivated man though
excluded from what is called the best society in the place
where I live."

665. Horace Mann (1796-1859). — Horace Mann is not
a philosopher who discusses education, but a statesman who
reformed and developed the education of his country. Secre-
tary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, he opened
schools, founded libraries, and pronounced a great number of
discourses, the best known of which is The Necessity oj
Education in a Republican Government.

"When, then," he often said, "will men give their thought
to infancy? We watch the seed which we confide to the
earth, but we do not concern ourselves with the human soul
till the sun of youth has set. Were it in my power, I would
scatter books over all the earth as men sow wheat on the
plowed fields."

Speaking to Americans, to working people, and to trades-
men, he made apparent the positive advantages of instruc-
tion : — *

" If to-morrow some one were to tell you that a coal mine


had been discovered which would pay ten per cent, }-ou would
all rush to it ; and yet there are men whom you let grovel in
ignorance when you might realize from forty to fifty per cent
on them. You are ever giving your thought to capital and
to machines ; but the first machine is man, and the first Capi-
tal, man, aud you neglect him."

But he also interested himself in the moral effects of edu-
cation, especially in a democratic society, where each citizen
is a sovereign : —

' ' The education which has already been given a people
makes it necessary to give them more. By instructing them,
new powers have been awakened in them, and this intellectual
and moral energy must be regulated. In this case we have
not to do with mechanical forces, which, once put in action,
accomplish their purpose and then stop. No ; these are spir-
itual forces endowed with a principle of life and of progress
which nothing can quench."

666. Conclusion. — The labors of Mr. Spencer and Mr.
Bain, the works of Channing and Mann, and others still,
will contribute, we hope, to prepare the definite solutions
demanded b}' our times in the matter of education. These
solutions are important for the security and the greatness of
our country. More than ever it is necessary that education
become something else than an affair of inspiration, aban-
doned to caprice and hazard, but that it be a work of reflec-
tion. It is said that the future is uncertain, that events are
leading French societ}' no one knows where, and that our
destinies are at the mercy of the most unforeseen storms.
We do not believe this, since it is within our power that it
shall be otherwise. There is a means, in fact, of assuring
the future of peoples, ffticl this is to give them an intellectual
and moral education which purifies the soul and strengthens


character. Do not let us look for regeneration and progress
from a sudden and miraculous transformation ; do not let us
demand them even of the immediate efficiency of such or
such a political institution. Everything here below is accom-
plished according to the laws of a slow progression, by
trifling and successive modifications. Just as for the child
there is no abridgment which allows us to suppress the
slow steps of the insensible growth which each year brings
forward, so for nations there is no other process than the
action, slow but sure, of a wise and vigorous education, for
causing them to pass from vice to virtue, from abasement to

The partisans of evolution sometimes seem to announce
to us the near apparition of a race superior to our own,
called to supplant us, as we shall have supplanted the infe-
rior races. One day or another we shall be liable, it seems,
to meet "at the angle of a rock" the successor of the
human race. We count but little on such promises, and the
coming of this hypothetical race of men, suddenly evoked
by a wave of the magic wand of natural selection, leaves us
very incredulous.

Happily, we know another means, a much surer process,
for causing to appear, not a strange race, until now un-
known, but generations of more worth than our own, which
are superior to it in physical force, as in qualities of mind
or virtues of character. This means is to establish, through
reflection and reason, an education better adapted to our
destination ; an education broader and more complete, at
once more severe and more liberal, since it will at the same
time exact more toil and permit more scope ; in which the
child will learn to count more on himself ; in which his indo-
lence will no longer be encouraged by accustoming him
inopportunely to invoke supernatural aid ; in which instruc-


tion will no longer be a formulary recited as lip-service, but
an inner and profound acquisition of the soul, in which the
fear of the conscience will be substituted for the otfrer rules
of conduct, and in which thought and free reflection will no
longer be distrusted ; finally, an education more scientific
and more rational, because it will neglect nothing which can
develop a human soul and bring it into likeness with its
ideal. Now that education to which the future belongs,
notwithstanding the obstacles which the spirit of the past
will still stir up against it, — that education is not possible,
its laws cannot be established, its methods cannot be prac-
tised, except on one condition ; this is, that the psychology
of the child be written, and well written, and that reflection
draw from this psychology all the consequences which it

[667. Comment on Mr. Spencer's Education. — Mon-
sieur Compayre might have emphasized his cautions. Read
with caution, and with a purpose to weigh the truth, Mr.
Spencer's Education is inspiring and wholesome ; but it may
be doubted whether there has been written, since the Emile,
a book on education which is so well fitted to deceive
an unwary reader by its rhetoric and philosophic plausi-
bility. The air of breadth and candor with which the writer
sets out is eminently prepossessing, and the reader is almost
obliged to assume that he is being led to foregone conclu-
sions. The first chapter, in particular, is a piece of literary
art, in which there is such a cleft handling of sentiment and
pathos as to unfit the susceptible reader for exercising his
own critical judgment.

In this place I can only indicate in the briefest manner
what seem to be the fundamental errors contained in the
book : —


1. Mr. Spencer does not distinguish between the immedi-
ate and the mediate practical value of knowledges. AVe may
admit with him that science is of inestimable value to the
human race ; but it does not follow by any means that every
person must be versed in science. As we need not own
everything that is essential to our comfort, so we need not
have as a personal possession till the knowledge that we
need for guidance.

2. It is a very low conception of education that would
limit its function to adapting a man merely to that state in
life into which he chances to be born. The Bushman, the
Red Indian, and the accountant, are unfortunate illustra-
tions of the province of education. Often the highest func-
tion of education is to lift a man out of his ancestral state.

3. That the value of a subject for guidance is the same
as its value for discipline, is true under only one assump-
tion, — that the Bushman is always to remain a Bushman,
and the Red Indian always a Red Indian, as by the new
philosophy of course they should. Practical teachers very
well know that, as a rule, the studies that are the most
valuable for practical use are the least valuable for disci-
pline. Mr. Spencer quotes no better proof of his assump-
tion than " the beautiful ccononry of Nature."

4. Mr. Spencer's proposed education is sordid in its utili-
tarianism. He is preoccupied with man as an instrument
rather than with a human being aspiring towards the highest
type of his kind. A liberal education should be preoccu-
pied first with the training of the man, then with the train-
ing of the instrument.

5. Mr. Spencer's restatement of Condillac's and Comte's
doctrine, that individual education should be :i repetition of
civilization in petto, is at best but a specious generalization.
The doctrine cannot be applied to practice, in any considera-



ble degree, if we would, and should not be, if we could, for
it ignores one essential factor in progress, — inheritance.

6. The part assigned to " Nature" in the work of educa-
tion is so overstrained as to be unnatural and absurd.
Physical science has long since discarded this myth of
Nature personified. It is only in educational science that
this fiction is still employed to eke out an argument.

7. The doctrine of consequences which underlies Mr.
Spencer's system of moral education is applicable to but a
limited number of cases, or, if applied with thoroughness,
is inhuman. Not even all the fit would survive if they were
not shielded from the consequences of their acts by human
sympathy and oversight.]

y* W&.

— »<■


Suggestions to Teachers of the History of Pedagogy.

The two aims to be kept in view in the teaching of this
subject are culture and guidance. The purpose should be to
extend the intellectual horizon of the teacher, or, to use
Plato's phrase, to make him i4 the spectator of all time and
all existence " ; and, in the second place, to furnish the
teacher with a clew which will safely conduct him through
the mazes of systems, methods, and doctrines. There is no
other profession that has derived so little profit from capital-
ized experiences; and there is no profession in which cul-
ture and breadth are more necessary.

For securing the ends here proposed, it is recommended
that a plan somewhat like the following be pursued in the
use of this volume, : —

1. If there are three recitations a week, assign one
chapter for each of the first two recitations, to be carefully
and thoughtfully read, and require each pupil to select, one
special topic to present and discuss when he is called upon
iu the recitation ; and for the third recitation in each week,
require each pupil to select a topic from any part of the
book which lias thus far been studied. The purpose of this
plan is to bring before the class, in sharp outline, the salient
points of the subject; and. at the same time, to create a
sense of the organic unity of the theme as a comprehensive



whole. When there are more than three recitations a week,
only a part of a chapter need be assigned for an advance

2. When the first survey of the subject has been made
in the way just suggested, a review may be conducted as
follows : —

(1.) Biographical. Following a chronological order, di-
vide the whole treatise into as many sections as there are
recitations to be devoted to this purpose, and require each
pupil to make a careful study of some educator, as Socrates,
Montaigne, or Pestalozzi, and to present this theme when
called upon in recitation. When there is opportunity, en-
courage pupils to amplify their themes with information de-
rived from other sources.

(2.) Topical. Require each pupil to select some doctrine,
system, or method, and to show, in a systematic wa}-, its
origin, progress, and termination. In this review, encourage
the critical spirit, and make the recitation to consist, in part,
of a free discussion of principles and doctrines. The value
of this subject for guidance will appear in this part of the

(3.) By Chapters. Require each pupil to prepare a sum-
mary of some chapter in the book, emphasizing the more
important truths that are taught in it, and showing the ten-
dency or drift of educational thought. The culture value of
the subject will appear in this part of the study. By this
mode of treatment, the subject can be compassed, with good
results, in twenty weeks.

3. Where no more than twelve or fourteen weeks can be
given to this subject, it is recommended that the following
chapters be selected: I., II., III., IV., V., VI., VII., X.,

For use in Teachei's' 3Ieetings held by supex-intendents, the


following chapters are suggested: II., III., V., VI., VII.,

For use iu Teachers' Beading Circles, either of the above
selections will serve a good purpose.


A Select List of Works Supplementary to " Compayre's
History of Pedagogy."

1. The Cyclopaedia of Education. New York.

2. Buisson. Dictionnaire de Pedagogie. Parts 1-156. Paris.

3. Lindner. Handbuch der Erziehungskunde. Wien and Leip-


4. K. Schmidt. Die Geschichte der Padagogik. Cothen.

5. G. Compayre. Historie Critique des Doctrines de l'Education

en France. Paris.

6. Barnard. German Teachers and Educational Reformers.

7. Barnard. French Teachers, Schools, and Pedagogy.

8. Barnard. English Teachers, Educators, and Promoters of


9. Barnard. American Teachers, Educators, and Benefactors of


10. Barnard. Pestalozzi and Swiss Pedagogy.

11. Biber. Pestalozzi and his Plan of Education. London.

12. Donaldson. Lectures on the History of Education. Edin-


13. Kriisi. Pestalozzi : his Life, Work, and Influence. Cin-


14. Lorenz. Life of Alcuin. London.

15. Mrs. Mann. Life of Horace Mann. Boston.

16. Meiklejohn. Dr. Andrew Bell. London.

17. Morley, J. Rousseau. London.

18. Mullinger. The Schools of Charles the Great. London.

19. Quick. Essays on Educational Reformers. Cincinnati.


20. Shuttlewurth. Four Periods of Public Education. London.

21. Arnold. Higher Schools and Universities of Germany.


22. Hart. German Universities. New York.

23. De Guimps. Histoire de Pestalozzi. Lausanne.

24. De Guimps. La Philosophie et la Pratique de l'Education.


25. Meunier. Lutte du Principe Clerical et de Principe Laique

dans FEnseignement. Paris.

26. Gaufres. Claude Baduel et la Reforme des Etudes au XVI 8

Siecle. Paris.

27. Bentham. Chrestomathia. London.

28. Drane. Christian Schools and Scholars. London.

29. Ascham. The Scholemaster. Notes by Mayor. London.

30. Locke. Thoughts concerning Education. Notes by Quick.


31. Laurie. John Amos Comenius. Boston.

32. Lancelot. Narrative of a Tour to La Grande Chartreuse.


33. Schimmelpenninck. Narrative of the Demolition of Port Royal.

34 Hamilton, Elizabeth. Letters on the Elementary Principles

Online LibraryGabriel CompayréThe history of pedagogy → online text (page 44 of 48)