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you ever had the same feeling about the bad people
in the world ? Have you wanted to do away with
the evil and leave only the good ? Well, now, sup-
pose you were allowed to separate the good from
the bad ; if this permission were given you, how
would you go at it? (i) On which side, the good or
the bad, would you place Jacob ? You remember he
deceived his aged father. (2) What would you do
with Moses ? Remember that he killed a man. How
did God regard him ? (3) On which side would you
place Mary Magdalene? What did Christ think of
her ? (4) Where would you place the Prodigal Son ?
(5) Would you regard Judas as belonging among the
wheat or the tares ? You remember he was one of
the disciples, and was trusted by them, although he
betrayed Christ later. (6) What would you do with
the brother of the Prodigal Son ? He stayed at home
and worked. (7) What would you do with your
friends and acquaintances ? Why are you confused
in these cases? Once more, Why would not the
householder allow his servants to pull up the tares ?
Answer, They were too near the wheat stalks and
too much like them to be separated from them. Does
that help you any here? How? Answer, (i) The
evil is so near the good that they are both found in


one person ; (2) The good and bad often appear so
much alike that often we are not able to tell them
apart. What conclusion, then, do you reach about
our trying to separate the good from the bad ? But
what if we went ahead and decided to attempt it
nevertheless? Wrong!! Who, then, will attend
finally to this separation ? Why are angels chosen
for it rather than men ?

4. (i) Which verse in the parable most clearly calls
for delay in separating the bad from the good ?
Look them through to see. Verse 30. " Let both
grow together until the harvest." Are you con-
vinced that this applies as much to good and bad
people as to wheat and tares ?

(2) Do you call to mind another verse that
brings to mind a similar thought ? You have heard
it often. It begins with the word judge. Mat-
thew vii. i. Judge not. Let us learn these two
verses, then, and hereafter when the parable of
the tares is called for, you may state its chief
thought for us by these two verses.

5. (i) At the close of this talk, Christ said,
"Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." Why do
you think he said that? What did he want them
to hear?

(2) Is it true that people have failed in times past
to listen to this teaching ? What examples from history
show this ? St. Bartholomew's massacre, witchcraft,
the Jews' treatment of Christ, etc.


(3) Have you ever been misjudged yourself ? How
did you feel about it ?

(4) Have you ever misjudged others ? How did
you feel about it then, when you discovered that you
had been wrong ?

(5) Have you ever really attempted to stop judg-
ing others so freely ? (" Who hath ears to hear, let
him hear.")

(6) What comforting thought do you find in this
lesson ? Answer, That we should not be too much
discouraged at seeing wickedness allowed to continue.
We are taught not to be too impatient over the mat-



IF the leading thoughts thus far presented are true,
there are certain steps in instruction that are universal.
No matter what the study be, whether Latin, mathe-
matics, science, or some other, there is a certain order
that the mind must follow in acquiring knowledge.
Through the old related experiences (first step,
preparation) new individual notions are reached (sec-
ond step, presentation) ; these are compared and their
essential characteristics abstracted (third step, com-
parison), and the resulting general truth is worded
(fourth step, generalization) ; this generalization
finally receives application (fifth step, application).
Since these steps are passed through in this order
without reference to the nature of the subject-matter
presented, they are rightly called the Formal Steps
of Instruction. They indicate the order of the move-
ments of the mind, or of the forms through which
thought must pass in reaching full maturity.

Now, law is reached the moment that a certain
order is shown to be uniform ; for a law is nothing
more than a statement of a uniform sequence, and a



law of teaching, the statement of a uniform sequence
in the process of learning. Hence, it is clear that these
natural or Formal Steps of Instruction simply embody
the laws of teaching.

I. The most prominent one, often known as the
law of induction and discussed particularly in Chap-
ter V, may be stated thus : The order of steps in the
acquisition of knowledge is : () individual notions ;
(<5) general notions. Eminent authorities on teaching
now generally agree upon this law, and it is stated
by Huxley in these words : J

"The subject-matter of biological science is differ-
ent from that of other sciences, but the methods of
all are identical.

" And these methods are :

" i. Observation of facts including under this head
that artificial observation which is called experiment.

" 2. That process of tying up similar facts into
bundles ticketed and ready for use, which is called
comparison and classification, the results of the pro-
cess, the ticketed bundles, being named general propo-

" 3. Deduction, which takes us from the general
proposition to facts gained teaches us, if I may so
say, to anticipate from the ticket what is inside the
bundle. And finally,

" 4. Verification, which is the process of ascertaining
whether in point of fact our anticipation is a correct


1 Lay Sermons, p. 83.


" Such are the methods of all science whatsoever."

Considering 3 and 4 as belonging to step 5, the
essential aggreement of the preceding statements
with this quotation is evident. It is well to ask what
other method there is that could better be followed
than this.

II. Another law discussed especially in the first
part of Chapter VI is commonly known as the law
of apperception, and may be stated in these words :
New thoughts can be comprehended only by the help
of old thoughts ; also, new emotions (and volitions)
are dependent both in quality and in strength upon
old emotions (and volitions). The same general
thought is expressed by Dr. W. T. Harris as fol-
lows : \

" Inasmuch as instruction is the leading of the
ignorant into knowledge by translating the unknown
into the known, there are two factors involved : (#)the
unknown subject ; () the stock of knowledge already
possessed by the pupil. The knowledge already
possessed is the means by which the unknown can
be grasped and retained. All learning is a trans-
lating of an unknown into a known, just as the
learning of a foreign language proceeds by trans-
lating the unfamiliar words into familiar words, and
thereby changing the strange into the familiar. This
being so, unless co'nstant reference is had by the
teacher to the stock of familiar ideas belonging to

1 Rosenkranz, " Philosophy of Education," p. 99.


the pupil, there is imminent danger to instruction.
It may pass off into the process of exchanging, un-
known words for unknown words a movement
entirely within the realm of the unfamiliar. Such
a process is not instruction, whatever else it may be."

III. The law of aim, discussed in Chapter VI, is
one practically agreed upon in daily life, but until
recently it has not been dignified by teachers as a
law affecting their instruction. Nevertheless, they
are coming rapidly to agree that a definite and at-
tractive aim is a condition of the most effective
work of any kind, and hence that a clear aim should
be daily fixed in each recitation as elsewhere. Upon
this point Dr. Wilhelm Rein says : 1

"The pupil should know beforehand what is com-
ing if he is to bring all his powers to bear upon the
work of learning ; and it is easier to call out all his
effort if he knows beforehand what is to be gained.
To conduct a child along an unknown road, toward
an unknown object by means of questions and hints,
the purpose of which he does not see, to lead him on
imperceptibly to an unknown goal, has the disadvan-
tage that it develops neither a spontaneous mental
activity nor a clear insight into the subject. Having
reached the end of such a line of thought, the pupil
looks about himself bewildered. He cannot survey the
road which he has just gone over, he does not com-

1 " Theorie und Praxis des Volksschulunterrichts. Das erste Schul-
jahr," p. 103.


prehend what has happened to him. He stands at
the goal but does not see the relation that the result
bears to the labor performed. He does not rise to
that satisfactory mental activity and favorable disposi-
tion of mind which are stimulated by the pursuit of
a clearly set purpose."

IV. The law of self-activity has been insisted upon
by all great educators in modern times, particularly,
however, by Froebel. It may be briefly stated thus :
proper development is possible only through a high
degree of self-activity. The law was discussed espe-
cially in reference to the development method of teach-
ing in the latter part of Chapter VI. Herbert
Spencer's opinion is shown in the following quota-
tion 1

" In education the process of self-development
should be encouraged to the fullest extent. Children
should be led to make their own investigations and to
draw their own inferences. They should be told as
little as possible, and induced to discover as much as
possible. Humanity has progressed solely by self-
instruction, and that to achieve the best results each
mind must progress somewhat after the same fashion,
is continually proved by the marked success of self-
made men."

As indicated in connection with the discussion of the
text-book method, there is abundant room for improve-
ment in the application of this law.

1 Herbert Spencer, Chapter II, in " Education."*


V. The law of absorption and reflection was briefly
discussed in the latter part of Chapter VI. Accord-
ing to it, absorption in details and reflection in regard
to them, regularly alternate in effective thinking.
Herbart's own words are as follows : J

" Absorption and reflection, like a mental breathing,
should continually alternate with each other. Absorp-
tion takes place when ideas are brought to conscious-
ness one after another with proper clearness and
accuracy; reflection takes place when they are col-
lected and combined. The more fully and carefully
these operations are provided for, the more effective
proves the instruction."

Any good instructor unconsciously applies this
law when he stops to summarize and take a bird's-eye
view of ground covered, ranking the facts according
to their relative worth.

VI. In Chapter VI the importance of physical
action, or motor activity, was urged, and it was prac-
tically declared to be a law that ideas must find
expression, must be realized in action, before they can
be conceived with the greatest clearness and accuracy.
The kindergarten, especially, has always stood for
this thought ; in its plan of study more time each day
is devoted to carrying out ideas into action than to
the presentation of the ideas themselves a practice
that has been by no means characteristic of instruction
above the kindergarten. But in recent years several

1 Herbart, " Paedagogische Schriften," t, p. 417.


distinguished psychologists and educators have de-
clared themselves in favor of accepting this statement
as a law, and its marked influence on education in the
near future seems certain.

VII-VIII. Other possible laws have been occasion-
ally referred to in the preceding pages, but they are
not here enumerated, either because of some doubt
as to their universality, or because they are commonly
thought of as affecting rather the selection and arrange-
ment of subject-matter in studies than its method of
presentation in the class room. Two of these are
known as the laws of interest and of correlation. Ac-
cording to the former a deep interest must be aroused
in thoughts before they can exert the strongest in-
fluence upon mental life and character ; according to
the latter, the ultimate value of facts depends as well
upon the number and closeness of relations into which
they enter as upon the clearness and accuracy with
which they are conceived.

The law of interest expresses one great condition
of effective instruction ; it makes a demand that the
teaching accomplish a certain end, but does not itself
give any hint as to how this end can be attained. It
affects first of all the selection of subject-matter, but
furnishes a daily test of method as well, by requiring
that there be a healthy stimulation of the emotions as
well as of the intellect in all instruction. The law of
correlation was involved in the insistence (in Chapter
VI) upon a close sequence in the facts of a lesson, in


the demand that they be arranged in a series or net-
work, and that even the teacher's questions reveal a
close connection.

Both of these laws, therefore, have a direct influence
upon method, although not limited to that field.

Undoubtedly there are other laws of teaching be-
sides the eight that are here mentioned, but these are
at least some of the broadest and most important.
The law of apperception alone includes and interprets
most of the so-called principles of teaching that have
often been mentioned in times past; for example,
from the near to the remote ; from the simple to the
complex ; from the easy to the difficult ; from the
whole to the parts. These sayings are sometimes
true, sometimes not. The law of apperception is
deeper than they and shows where they are appli-

These eight laws should be guides to the teacher in
the fullest sense. It would scarcely be possible to
conduct a single thirty-minute recitation without ap-
plying all of them several times, with the possible
exception of the law of induction.

Thus we see a most intimate connection between
theory and practice when skilful instruction is im-
parted. The fact that these are general laws and not
specific devices prevents them from cramping the
teacher's freedom and individuality, for a general law
is always capable of infinite variety in application.

To the extent that laws of instruction are developed


and brought into a system, there is a science of
method ; consequently these eight laws being as
deep and broad as they are, and being intimately re-
lated to one another, furnish a fair basis for the asser-
tion that there is a scientific method of teaching.



THE relation of the Formal Steps to text-books is
important, for our text-books are a fair index of our
methods of class-room work, and the standard set up
and generally recognized as attainable is that of the
better class of such books. So indispensable are
they in our prevailing methods of instruction that any
plan which ignores them will be regarded as vision-
ary. It is, therefore, quite important to see clearly
the relation of the formal steps to the use of text-

First let us see the chief < utility of these books, value of text-
They indicate what knowledge is regarded of most books '
value to children, in what order and connection it
should be studied, and in a broad, yet definite way
the method by which it shall be acquired. The value
of text-books lies in their helpfulness to teachers and
pupils Containing, as they often do, the results of
ripest experience in able teachers, they embody such
a selection and arrangement of leading topics, such a
correct statement of truths as every teacher needs.
They give to both instructor and pupil that syste-
matic body of thought which forms the framework of



each study. As the text-books, like arithmetic, are
worked out by different teachers, gradually a con-
sensus of opinion settles upon a definite body of
knowledge, which becomes the recognized standard
in that subject.

The advantage of such well-established, authorita-
tive text-books is seen, by contrast, in the absence of
such standards. When the teacher has no such text-
book, and no well-arranged body of knowledge of
his own to take the place of it, he has no coherent
method of procedure, and the work is a failure.

Moreover, text-books are regarded not only as an
indispensable help and guide for teachers, but also
as the chief instrument by which pupils can be
brought to their tasks, to the mastery of their own
difficulties. For seat-work and for home-study the
text-books are indispensable. In the life of most
pupils the text-books play an important role. In the
schools as they are, it is largely the business of
teachers to assign lessons and to hear them recited,
and of pupils to learn lessons and reproduce them.
So universal is this dependence upon text-books that
most of our teachers would be at a loss to know what
to do without them. A very important fact to be
remembered is that most of our teachers have had
no special preparation for teaching.

The text-books are essentially deductive and dog-
matic in presenting truth ; the five formal steps are
expressly inductive. The distinction between these


two methods is not absolute, but relative, for text-
books commonly have a sprinkling of inductive pro-
cesses, while the formal steps at one point (the fifth
step) lay great stress upon deductive thinking.

Moreover, the inductive method of acquiring knowl-
edge is one that cannot be reduced easily to text-
book form. We have, indeed, text-books in Latin,
history, and language, which assume to follow an
inductive process, yet it is a method which, while it
can be illustrated, cannot be fully carried out in a
text-book. Such a method worked out in full would
make our text-books as big as dictionaries, and so the
teacher, in most topics, must be left largely to his
own resources in working it out. The Socratic Dia-
logues of Plato, with their elaborate inductions, are
examples of the detail with which a single truth is
worked out. But the inductive method requires
relatively few such elaborately treated subjects. It
assumes that the teacher has originality and thinking
power, and is not simply an instructor by rote or by

It is, therefore, in the first, second, and third steps
that the inductive treatment of topics is clearly
distinguished from the usual dogmatic form of our
text-books. In detail 'these characteristics of the in-
ductive method may be briefly stated as follows :

i. It sifts out, brings together, and focusses upon
the new topic those familiar experiences of the chil-
dren which have significant relations to that topic.


2. It lays greater stress upon the clear and even
graphic presentation of the concrete facts. It not
only enlarges the descriptive detail upon any given
object, but it multiplies examples of the same truth
before leaping forward to general conclusions. The
teacher needs a much larger accumulation of con-
crete data than the book supplies, and a definite skill
in handling it.

3. The pupils are called upon to do more think-
ing, to trace out and explain causal relations, to raise
questions themselves and interpret facts by their rela-
tions, as this larger material accumulates.

4. Definite comparisons are set up and the points
of resemblance and difference, upon which laws and
classifications are based, are clearly made out. The
outcome of such comparisons is an index finger point-
ing toward a general truth. The text-books are
chiefly blank on these pages. They, with overween-
ing kindness, sum up the whole matter (often before
there is much to be summed up in the minds of the
children) and give the final result, but do not point
out the long route travelled over to attain the result.

5. The stimulus which keeps the children alert in
this self-active thought movement is the aim set up,
the question, whose answer is eagerly sought by the
children. Every lesson should work toward the
solution of some definite problem, and the concrete
data are collected and examined for the purpose of
finding this solution.


The entire inductive process, with its pursuit of
clear aims and movement toward general truths, sug-
gests the notion of large lesson units, which are
important enough to deserve a liberal treatment
through all the essential steps of instruction. Here
we are compelled to register a second strong contrast
of the formal steps, as a method of instruction, to the
method of the usual text-books.

The subject-matter of each study, viewed from the
standpoint of the formal steps, should consist of large
lesson tm{ts or groupings of facts, in each of which
groups some single idea dominates. This idea or
central truth (embodied at first in some particular or
concrete form) is to be worked out in a lesson unity
to completeness and seen in sufficient variety of cases
to warrant a general statement. In the discussion of
types, we found striking illustrations of the collection
of facts and of the centring of thought around a few
of these important truths. In the text-books the
general truths involved in these lesson unities are pres-
ent, but their superior worth and rank are obscured
in several ways. Side by side with them stand a
multitude of other facts or truths of far less real
value, but apparently of equal rank. These im-
portant truths of the subject stand disguised as
common soldiers when they ought to be uniformed
as officers and moving at the head of whole bat-
talions. In other words, the text-books distribute
their force nearly equally over a very large area of


facts and truths without much regard to perspective
or relative value of the facts presented, not centring
sufficiently upon the more important ideas.

The formal steps call for the exhaustive inductive
treatment of a few important truths in any study.
This inductive process of the five steps is far too
elaborate a piece of method machinery with which to
attack the multitude of truths, little and big, with
which our text-books are crowded. If our wheat-
fields were fenced off into a multitude of quarter-acre
lots, it would hardly pay to apply the elaborate
machinery of a reaper and self-binder to each one.
The fields should be large enough to make the use of
that kind of machinery most efficient ; and so in the

Having observed these points of contrast the prac-
tical question is this : Can text-book 'methods of in-
struction be improved by modifying them in conformity
to the principles of the formal steps? The answer is
that they can be so improved. In reviewing the
situation as stated above, we find that the primary
difficulty, for which no single teacher is responsible,
is the fact that the subject-matter is not arranged into
suitable lesson unities. The number of topics is too
great to admit of proper treatment. But for the
thoughtful teacher there is a remedy for these faults
which still admits of a liberal use of the text-books.
The teacher needs to survey the text-book material
judiciously, cull out the more important truths that


deserve full treatment, and bring the secondary and
minor facts into relation to these central points. If
necessary, omit some of the less important topics and
thus gain time to collect, from other sources, the con-
crete examples needed for developing the leading
general truths. One of the most important conclu-
sions from our entire discussion is that any topic to be
worked over by the formal steps must be important and
typical enough to receive a full treatment leading up
to the unfolding and application of a general truth.

In any case a clear grasp of the simple principles
of the formal steps cannot fail to show the teacher
how to put new life into text-book material. Any
teacher who constantly draws from the children's
home experience, from his own reading and larger
observation, who sets up clear aims in the class room,
and encourages children to the thoughtful working
out of their own problems, is working both induc-
tively and deductively.

It is evident from the entire discussion that any
sudden revolution of our methods of teaching by in-
troducing systematically the principles of the induc-
tive-deductive process is not looked for. It is a labor

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Online LibraryCharles Alexander McMurryThe method of the recitation → online text (page 18 of 21)