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k j would not creep along the coast, but steer
Out in mid-sea, by guidance of the stars "



COPYRIGHT, 1891 AND 1894




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I 2, b






Illustration of the Process 11

Gain in Lesson Planning 29




As an Inner Process 42

As an Outer Process 55


METHOD IN TEACHING .... ...73-275


The Two Organic Phases of the Process 75

The Two Factors in the Process 79

The Ultimate Ground of Unity 93

The Ultimate Law of Unity 97


Thinking the Individual 115

1. As Fixed or Coexistent. Description 119



(a) By Means of Attributes 120

(6) By Means of Parts 138

(c) By Means of Another Individual 143

2. As Changing, or Successive. Narration 145

(a) By Means of Attributes 147

(b) By Means of Parts 149

(c) By Means of Another Individual 151

3. Applications of the Foregoing : (a) In Geography ;
(6) in Physiology; (c) in History; (d) in Composition;

(e) in Reading 153

Thinking the General 183

1. Forming the General Notion. Exposition 185

(a) Thinking the Content of a Class 187

(1) Steps and Laws 188

(2) Educational Value 192

(b) Thinking the Extent of a Class 194

(1) Steps and Laws 195

(2) Educational Value 197

(c) The Processes Moving in Unity 198

(d) Exposition of Ideal Truth 203

2. Applying the General Notion. Argumentation 214

(a) The Processes in an Argument 220

(1) Controlled by Relation of Extent 220

(a) Deduction ...! 220

(6) Induction 225

(c) Identification 230

(2) Controlled by the Relation of Cause and Effect 231

(a) A Priori Arguments 235

(b) A Posteriori Arguments 240




The Objective Factor 247

The Subjective Factor 251

Problems Solved by the Law 260

1. Concentration 261

2. Enriching the Course of Study 261

3. Correlation of Studies 263

4. Educational Values 266

6. Morals in the Public School 267

6. Religion in the Public School 270

NOTE. As this book first appeared it contained a concluding
chapter on " School Management," which is now omitted with the
hope of giving that phase of pedagogics more adequate treatment in a
separate volume. This volume is strictly confined to the essential
nature and laws of the teaching process ; reserving for separate treat-
ment the organized means in making the teaching process effective.
This organized means the school is grounded in, and arises out
of, the nature and laws of the teaching process; hence "School
Management" is the logical sequence of the present treatment; and
should be rounded out, as the other hemisphere of the teacher's life,

from the same central point of view.

CHICAGO, ILL., May 10, 1894.


THE term " philosophy of teaching " places the accent
on the process of teaching, while the term " philosophy of
education " emphasizes the system of principles as such.
The philosophy of education will not be attempted ; the
theme being restricted to the application of philosophic
principles to the teaching process. Not that the applica-
tion of principles is a more worthy object of attention than
the system of principles themselves, but because I feel
moved to show how helpful in practice, daily and hourly,
are the universal principles which philosophy announces.

I have no sympathy with the sneer at mere theorists
those who seek principles for their own sake. What should
we do without the light they throw upon our pathway !
The practical teacher is not always conscious of, and
thankful for, the great service rendered by the speculative
philosopher. Universal truth, seems so remote from the
immediate, concrete details of school work that we do not
suspect its presence and controlling power. Hegel well
protests against the thought that philosophy deals with
another world ; asserting its subject to be the concrete
and ever present facts of life. The practical teacher must
sooner or later learn that inspiration and guidance through


the daily routine of duty must be sought in universal truth ;
that specific rules and recipes, which seem to be so helpful
because of their easy and immediate application, are really
impractical and confusing because they have no germinant
power and breadth of application ; that his bearings must
be taken from the fixed stars, and not from the shifting
scenes and lights of the lower atmosphere.

The application of universal principles to teaching pre-
supposes a philosophy of education ; and the existence of
such a philosophy is not always admitted. Even that
there is a science of education has been denied ; and for
stronger reasons may its philosophy be questioned, it
being a higher generalization of principles. A distin-
guished writer, in the Educational Review, discusses at
length the question, " Is there a science of education ? "
and concludes in these words : " To sum all up in a word,
teaching is an art. Therefore there is indeed no science
of education."

That there is not yet a fairly well organized and com-
plete system of educational principles may be readily
admitted. But the impossibility of such a science is
affirmed on the ground that teaching is an art. This
conclusion, however, taken apart from the reasoning on
which it is based, does not represent the writer fairly.
The drift of the article shows him to mean this : There is
no science whose generalizations will fit the concrete case
in every act of teaching ; that there are special conditions
and individual peculiarities that no principle can antici-
pate. But there is no science of any kind whose general-


i/ations exactly tit the concrete case. The individuals
brought into scientific system retain their individuality.
We doubt not that there is a science of vertebrates ; or
think the science of them the less perfect or the less valu-
able because each vertebrate has countless characteristics
which the generalizations must ignore. In fact, it would
not be a science without such differences. In order to
have a science, the general fact, or law, must be seen as
manifesting itself in diversity of individuals. Generaliza-
tions of science are not abstractions ; but, to be generaliza-
tions, must retain their hold on the individuals.

While no other teaching act is just like the one in
which that individual teacher instructs that individual
pupil, yet that act has essential marks and common ele-
ments with every other teaching act. It is the divine
skill of the born teacher's instinct that seizes the pecul-
iarity, which seems to annul the law ; yet the law is
there, and must also be discerned, or the peculiarity could
not be known as such. The tact and personal insight of
the teacher required in every act of teaching is not to
be guided by the immediate consciousness of general
principles ; but this does not prove that there is no
science of teaching, or that such a science is not of
supreme value, even to the divinely gifted teacher.

If, in order to be a science, generalizations must be
made which shall blot out all peculiarities of each teaching
act, so that the teacher needs to apply only monotonous
rules, which require no personal insight into the pecTil-
iarities of the immediate case, then indeed there is no


science of teaching possible ; then not even desirable. The
science of teaching must leave room for the individual
element ; as does, without question, any other science. It
must ever be remembered that the individual case is not
wholly peculiar ; that the most essential thing in it is that
which is found in every other case. The peculiarity may
be so prominent as to thrust the universal element into the
background ; but the universal element gives law to the
act of teaching. The science of education brings diversity
under law. It must enable the teacher to bring into con-
sciousness the essential elements of all teaching in every
particular act of it.

The philosophy of teaching, as distinguished from the
science, gives distinct emphasis to the universal element,
showing its controlling power in all that the teacher does.
It is the explanation of the teaching process by means of
universal law. By it the separate acts are brought, not only
into unity among themselves, which constitutes merely the
science of teaching, but they are brought into the unity of

the complete system of means of spiritual growth. Science

explains a group of phenomena by a principle, or law, oe-

extensive with the group explained. At least, emphasis is
given to such a principle. Philosophy explains a group of
phenomena by some principle, or law, which extends beyond
the group explained to all other groups. The science of
grammar brings all sentences into their own unity ; that
is, into unity among themselves ; while the philosophy of
grammar brings the unity established by science into the
unity of the universe. It is this larger unity alone which


illumines the whole pathway of the teacher, and yields
assured guidance to the goal of his labor.

Dignity of work does not depend on what one does, but
on being consciously controlled, in the doing, by universal
law. The teacher who is conscious only of the individual
process before him, is on the lowest possible plane of un-
skilled labor ; he is the slave of recipes and devices. As
by degrees he comes under the controlling power of higher
and still higher generality of law, he rises from the auto-
matic action of a mere operative to the plane of rational
insight and self-direction. The highest plane is that in
which universal law guides the hand and inspires the heart.
The whole sky of truth bends over each recitation ; and
the teacher needs but climb Sinai to receive the divine law.
All the laws of thought and being pervade the teaching
process ; all philosophy is back of it. At first, Aristotle,
Kant, Hegel, and Spencer seem remote from the immediate
work of the teacher. This remoteness must be made to
disappear ; the ends of the earth must be brought together ;
the universal laws of spiritual life must become native
atmosphere to the teacher. We harm ourselves and degrade
our work in holding philosophy to be of another world ;
that the philosophy of education is one thing, and the prac-
tice of educating another thing ; that the philosophy of
education belongs to the professional philosophize!- on great
educational problems, rather than to the day-laborer in the
vineyard. It is said that philosophy can bake no bread,
but that she can secure to us God and immortality. This
ought to be sufficient. But she can bake bread, and must


do so or miss God and immortality. To secure heaven she
must mix with the daily affairs of earth ; and while search-
ing out God and immortality, must bring counsel and com-
fort to the day-laborer in the school-room.



As a basis for discussing the higher unity of the teach-
ing process, let us bring before the mind the lower unity
of the process ; the common nature of teaching acts among
themselves considered the science of teaching recalled as
the basis for the philosophy of teaching.

General Nature. 1. Teaching is a process, because it
is a series of steps to the realization of an end ; which end
is the motive in the series the beginning of the series.
The end, as idea, moves forward to realize itself. This
requires means in producing the steps. Thus we have in
a process the end, or purpose, to be realized ; the steps
which lie between the end as idea and the end as objective
reality ; and the means by which the steps are taken.
Every teaching process has these organic elements in
common with every other process.

2. Teaching is a mental process ; not a mechanical one.
This ought to -go without saying ; but there is a general
feeling that teaching is the manipulation of mechanical
means. This feeling is manifested in the current phrases
used in speaking of method ; as, the topical method, the
outline method, the diagram method, the laboratory


method, the library method, the lecture method, etc.
Teaching is not the manipulation of external means ; as,
tapping the bell, calling the roll, making records and
reports, correcting the wayward, applying forms of drill
to put knowledge into the mind and fasten it there, and
the like. Every teaching act, and school work in general,
has its mechanical phase ; but this is not its essential, its
vital, one. It is easy to become lost in the formal pro-
cess ; for it is ever present, and is the obtrusive element.
The first view of school work is that of a formal external
process ; and it requires reflection to penetrate through
the letter which "killeth" to the spirit which "maketh

The consciousness of manipulating machinery instead of
conducting a spiritual process, an experience of growth on
the part of the learner, is the main root of all school
errors, and has its origin in the belief that knowing itself
is a mechanical process, a belief that the min'd is a
receptacle, called memory, to hold what is put into it ; and
that learning is receiving and retaining something foreign
to the self. The mind being a receptacle, the teacher is,
by means of contrivance of lever, wheel, and rope, to trans-
fer some ponderable, external stuff into it. The machinery
by which this is done becomes the important factor, and
the manipulation of it the chief process involved; for
knowing, as usually conceived, is not a process, and the
mind is something other than that which it knows.

lW.i s a l n g step toward freedom when the teacher
awakens to the fact that teaching is a spiritual process


below the form ; that it is the vital touch of the teacher's
mind with the mind in which the knowledge is born, and
not that of external relation of transferring something to
it manufactured elsewhere than in the mind learning.
The wind may bear the fecundating pollen to the stigma ;
but the process of flowering and fruiting is another matter.
Some phase of the bondage to the formal and mechanical
has been the object of attack of all educational reformers ;
and must continue to receive their attention, for each
generation falls into the bondage anew. Every teacher,
in learning his art, must strive earnestly from the first to
live in consciousness of the spiritual movement below the
form ; and to hold the form as the mere varying surface
play of that movement.

3. It has been said that teaching is a mental process,
in which the mind of the teacher comes in vital touch with
the mind of the learner. The mind of the teacher moves
forward in the same line of thought, feeling, and volition
with the mind of the one taught. The teacher cannot
produce in the learner a given experience without having
first produced in himself that experience. If the teacher
is to cause the pupil to think the position, form, size, cause,
and effects of the Gulf Stream, the teacher himself must
think each of these relations while stimulating the pupil
to think each of them. If patriotism is to be aroused by
teaching " Barbara Frietchie," the teacher himself must be
stirred by that feeling while causing the pupil to experi-
ence it. Thus the two minds are always one in the mental
steps required to learn an object ; and, also, in the emotion


to be cultivated and the resolution to be strengthened.
The teacher passes into some act or state of experience,
and the pupil rises, at the touch of the teacher, into the
same experience.

An important inference from the foregoing should be
noted. It is an old saying that as the teacher so the
school. The best meaning for this is, that the pupil's
mind, in the act of learning, becomes like the teacher's
mind ; it takes on the tone and coloring of the teacher's
thought. The teacher builds his own thought structure
into the mind of the pupil ; begets in him his own
urity, strength, and sweep of emotional life ; breathes
:ito him the breath of his own ethical nature. The
teacher may resolve to train to accurate, thorough, and
methodical habits of thought ; but unless these are habits
of his own mind his efforts will be unavailing. The stream
cannot rise higher than its source. If the teacher thinks
loosely and slovenly he cannot hope to realize anything
better in the pupil, so far as the teaching goes. The
narrow pedant and dogmatist can never secure scholarly
habits and liberal culture. The teacher who has not a
rich and full range of emotional life can expect nothing
but a withered soul born of his teaching. The man who
has not strength and purity of character cannot strengthen
and purify character. The teacher builds his life into
that of his pupil ; and it is absolutely essential that
his life be all that he expects his pupil to become. The
quality of a teacher's life is a part of his professional


Particular Nature. 1. While the teacher's mind and
that of the pupil take the same steps in the process of
teaching and of learning, there must be the essential
difference which makes the one teaching and the other
learning. The difference lies here : while the pupil thinks
the object under consideration, the teacher thinks the
pupil's process of thinking the object. For example, there
are a certain number of fixed mental steps necessary on
the part of the pupil to gain the idea adjective : (1) he
perceives, (2) imagines, (3) compares and contrasts, (4)
reasons, and (5) generalizes. The pupil must move
through these forms of activity, but he is not conscious
of the movement. His whole conscious effort is expended
on the object studied. He says, I find this and this and
this in the object ; not that now I am perceiving, imagin-
ing, etc. The teacher must be conscious of the process of
the pupil in knowing the object in the act of producing
that process ; for how else could he rationally produce it ?
The difference is between thinking the object and think-
ing the process of thinking the object. The pupil, in the
study of geography, is thinking the earth ; but in teach-
ing geography the teacher must think the pupil's thinking
of the earth. It follows that the steps of the teacher,
which are identical with those of the pupil, as before
explained, must be represented steps ; the knowledge
must be old knowledge. The teacher has before taken
the steps in knowing the adjective ; so that in teaching he
is relieved from any conscious effort in learning it, and
may put his Avhole attention to the pupil's process of


learning it. This suggests the necessity for the teacher's
familiarity with the subject-matter of instruction.

One phase of a teacher's professional knowledge of a
subject is obvious from the foregoing. An academic
knowledge of grammar enables the student to think the
subject of grammar ; while the teacher's knowledge of
that subject enables him to think grammar into the pro-
cesses of the learning mind. As a basis for this the
teacher must know the subject of grammar and the mind
learning it ; but the professional aspect of the work
appears when the teacher resolves grammar into the
mental processes of the pupil; or, brings the pupil's
processes into the form of grammar. All professional
treatment of subject-matter resolves it into the mental
experience of the learner.

2. While the pupil and the teacher take the steps
necessary in learning the object, the series of steps taken
by the teacher bear the relation of cause to those taken by
the pupil ; and without external means the teacher cannot
reproduce his experience in the pupil. There must be
questions, directions, illustrations, etc., to stimulate the
pupil's mind to take the step designed by the teacher. If
the pupil is to infer the cause of the climate in a given
locality, the means must be adjusted to that mental act.
The teacher first thinks the steps to be taken in the pupil's
thought, and then he adjusts the external means to each
step. Skill in giving directions and in asking questions
arises out of the readiness with which the teacher, by
insight and sympathy, finds his way into the mind of the


pupil in his effort to learn. Books on questioning avail
little ; it is the quick and true insight of the teacher into
the essential movement of the learner's mind that enables
him to hit on the right turn of question or neat adjustment
of device. Now, the pupil does not hold the relation of
this external means to his internal experience ; but this
the teacher must do. While thinking one of the pupil's
steps he must think, also, the means by which he may
cause the pupil to take that step.

3. Thus far, teaching appears to be the conscious act of
producing mental experience in the pupil ; and that there
is in the process two conscious elements, making the act
complex : consciousness of the experience in the act of
producing it, and consciousness of the means by which to
produce it. The third, and last, factor of which the teacher
is conscious is that of the effect of the experience produced
on the character of the pupil. In fact, the experience is
produced because a certain end in life is to be reached.
The rational teacher says to himself that the pupil's
spiritual growth requires a given course of experience, and
then he proceeds to adjust means to secure that experience.
It is impossible to conceive how one can conduct a process
without being conscious of the aim in the process. All the
steps must be brought into the unity of the aim. If to-day
the teacher is to cause the pupil to think Westminster
Abbey and to arouse certain emotions by that object, he
should be able to state how the knowledge, and how sucli
thinking and feeling, helps the child to realize the aim of
life. In planning a lesson it is not enough to say


purpose is to give a knowledge of the object under considera-
tion and to cultivate certain faculties ; but it must be made
clear how such knowledge, with the activities involved, is
for the ultimate spiritual good of the pupil. The teacher's
question always is, How can I wield this subject-matter to
make it educative ? or better, What subject-matter will
administer unto the child's spiritual necessities, and how
can it be wielded to make it bear its full effect in the mind
taught? Every lesson requires the teacher to hold in
mind the entire compass of the pupil's life ; and seeing
what must be the outcome of the whole, he brings the
bit of experience into unity with the life movement as a

If the doctrine be true that man's highest happiness
comes from consciousness of realizing ideals, it is obvious
that the teacher can find no true pleasure in his work
without the consciousness of realizing some end set up in
the life of the pupil. That teacher is happiest who feels
that, in the process of teaching, the highest good in life is
being realized by the one taught. The teacher who seeks
true pleasure in his work, and hopes to find the reward of
his labor in the thing done, and who expects to thrill the
pupil with the joy of spiritual activity and growth, must
find the secret in the consciousness of realizing the highest
good of life ; in ministering unto the deepest cravings of
the soul for truth, beauty, and virtue.

It thus appears that teaching is a conscious process
having Ihree organic elements : (1) consciousness of the

cperience in the act of producing it, (2) of the


means of stimulating the experience in the pupil, and (3)
of the value, or purpose, of the experience in the unfolding
life of the pupil. Put in the form of a definition : Teach-
ing is the conscious process of producing mental experience
for the purpose of life development ; or, to rid this of its
tautology, Teaching is the process by which one mind, from
set purpose, produces the life-unfolding process in another.

The subjective process above described is not teaching
till its counterpart is realized in the objective process of

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Online LibraryArnold TompkinsThe philosophy of teaching → online text (page 1 of 19)