James Pyle Wickersham.

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braic Quantities «... 329

Algebraic Equations 329

Geometry 331

Geometry for young Children 332

Geometrical Demonstrations 334

III. Logic 336

1. The Utility of Logic as a Study 336

Logic is a useful study in itself 337

Logic is a useful study on account of its objective re-
lations 337

Logic is a useful study because it disciplines the Un-
derstanding 337

2. Methods of Teaching Logic 338

Its definitions 338

Its Deductions and Demonstrations 339

Its Applications , 340





The Uses of the Empirical Sciences 343

I. The Empirical Sciences in General 346

1. The Order in which the Empirical Sciences must he taught... 346

The Exhibition of Objects 346

The Pointing out of particular Facts 350

The Classification of Facts 353

The Derivation of Laws controlling Facts 354

The Bringing of new Facts under ascertained Laws... 357
The Recognition of universal and necessary Principles

on which all Empirical Laws depend 358

2. The Stages of Growth exhibited by the Empirical Sciences.... 360

The Poetic Stage 360

The Mystic Stage 361

The Observational Stage 362

The Classificatory Stage 362

The Inductive Stage 363

The Demonstrative Stage 363

The Philosophic Stage 365

The Esthetic Stage 365

The Religiovis Stage 366

II. Geography 367

1. Lessons on Objects relating to Geography which Pupils

can observe for themselves 370

2. Lessons on similar Objects which can be found only in

Localities distant from the School 372

3. Lessons on the Topography of the Neighborhood about

the School 373

4. Lessons on the Explanations of common Geographical

Terms 376

5. Lessons on Detailed Geography 379

6. Lessons on the Classification of Geographical Facts 385

7. Lessons on.the general Laws which govern Geographical

Facts 387





I. The Nature of the Rational Sciences 389

II. The Value of the Rational Sciences as Studies 394

1. The Value of the Rational Sciences in Themselves 394

2. The Value of the Rational Sciences in their Relations

to other Sciences 396

3. The Value of Rational Sciences as Means of Discipline. 397

4. The Value of the Rational Sciences in preparing the

Mind to accept Revealed Truth 398

III. The Ohject-Matter of the Rational Sciences 399

1. Primary Ideas 400

2. The Criteria 403

3. Axiomatic Truths 404

4. Deductions and Demonstrations 404

5. Applications 405

IV. The Methods of Teaching the Rational Sciences 406



I. The Facts of History 414

1. The Nature of the Facts of History 415

2. The peculiar Difficulties which are encountered in the

Study of the Facts of History 416

3. A Course of Study in the Facts of History 418

4. General Suggestions in Regard to teaching the Facts of

History 421

II. The Philosophy of History 426

1. The Materialistic Theory 428

2. The Spiritualistic Theory 434

3. The Theistic Theory 442

Method in teaching the Piiilosophy of History 447





I. Writing 451

1. Lessons designed to teach the Coricepiion of the Forms of the

Letters 452

2. Lessons designed to give Culture to the Muscles used in

WritiJig 455

General Suggestions in Regard to teaching Writing.... 456

II. Drawing 459

1. The Abstract Method 460

Classes of Exercises 461

2. The Concrete 3Ielhod 463

Classes of Exercises 464

3. Shading, Shadow, and Perspective 466

III. Vocal Music 468

Advantages of a knowledge of Vocal Music 468

1. The Training of the Vocal Organs 471

2. The Culture of the Musical Taste 477

3. Musical Execution 479

IV. The Arts in General 480

The Nature of the Arts 480

1. Insiructioti in the Empirical Arts 483

Their End 483

Their Means 486

Their Modes of Execution 488

2. Instruction in the Rational Arts 489

Their End 400

Their Means 491

Their Modes of Execution 492




Education as a science comprehends the laws of
the physical and mental constitution of man, and
its relations to those means by which he can receive
instruction and culture.

Education as an art consists in selecting and
applying the means used for imparting instruction
and culture.

Like other sciences, education can be studied;
and, as in other arts, acquired skill as well as native
talent is essential to success. To attain a knowledofe
of the science and proficiency in the art of educa-
tion, it seems evident at a glance that special prepa-
ration is necessary ; but as this position has been
questioned, it is considered advisable to introduce
the following work by some considerations in its

Until within a few years, the common schools of
this country were taught almost exclusively by
persons who had never studied professionally, who,
indeed, were generally ignorant that any preparation
could be made or was needed to enable them to dis-

3 (25)


charge their duty in the work of teaching. Acade-
mies and colleges were not. much better off in this
respect; for, though those who taught in them
possessed a higher degree of scholarship than the
teachers of common schools, they could justly claim
little more professional knowledge. The public
seem to have been satisfied with this kind of guess-
work teaching. Instructors of youth were allowed
to enter upon their business without having served
even that period of apprenticeship deemed necessary
for those who make hats or coats, build houses, or
shoe horses. They were everywhere employed with
little regard to their literary, and less to their pro-
fessional, qualifications. These strictures are not so
applicable to the present condition of our educational
affairs as to their condition a few years ago ; but
notwithstanding schools for the traiiiing of teachers
exist in most of the Free States, and other means
of obtaining knowledge appertaining to teaching
are readily accessible, the great body of American
schools are still taught by persons who have neither
attended ISTormal Schools nor availed themselves of
any other means of professional improvement.

That special preparation is necessary for teachers
will appear from the considerations which follow :

1. The Teacher must understand the true object
OF Education. — The lowest idea of the object of an
education embraces only its advantages in acquiring
that knowledge which may be used in obtaining
food, clothing, shelter, protection, or in carrying on
some kind of business. An idea of the object of
education to this extent may be obtained, perhaps,


without any special preparation, it may result from
the pressure of circumstances ; but education has an
object far higher — an object that is not limited by
the mere necessities of life. The great end of edu-
cation is to perfect man, physically, mentally,
morally, religiooisly. To do this truth must be
sought and loved for its own sake, discipline must
be valued for the permanent strength it imparts to
the soul, longings for the high and 'the holy must be
made to spring up in the heart, and all his powers
must be so directed as to attain true manhood for
man. To realize all this even in thought is diffi-
cult, to realize it in life is the great problem which
it is our mission on earth to solve. 'No teacher can
work effectively without a well-defined object, and no
teacher can fully conceive the highest object of edu-
cation without long and careful thought. To do so,
he must study with profound attention the nature
of man physically and mentally, and his relations to
the world in which he lives, to his fellow-men, and
to God.

2. The Teacher must understand that upon
WHICH he operates. — No man can operate skilfully
upon a thing the nature of w^hich he does not under-
stand. The farmer must understand the nature of
the soil he cultivates ; the blacksmith, the iron he
fashions ; the potter, the clay he moulds, before either
can produce the most advantageous results. The
human mind is certainly not less easy to compre-
hend than are soils, iron, or clay, that the teacher
can be safely relieved from the special professional
labor and study required of farmers, blacksmiths,


and potters. True, like them, he may work like a
machine, or work by imitating others, but such blind
methods of procedure, unworthy of a man in any
avocation of life, become almost criminal when
applied to the education of human beings whose
success in this world and happiness in the world
to come he may jeopardize.

3. The Teacher must understand that with
WHICH he operates. — The subject-matter of know-
ledge comprehends the world of matter and the
world of mind. The teacher has all created things
from which to select means to be used in the work
of education. 'Eo man can make a judicious selec-
tion of these means, and be prepared to present
them in their proper order and proportion without
long and careful study. The physician spends
much time and thought in selecting and compound-
ing his medicines for the body ; it is not more easy
to prepare those which are designed to be adminis-
tered to the mind. Indeed, the selection of the best
course of study for a child is a problem as difficult
as any with which the human mind ever tried to

4. The Teacher must understand how to con-
duct the operation. — A man may understand the
nature of the thing upon which he intends to ope-
rate, he may understand the means with which the
operation is to be performed, and still want a know-
ledge of the method of performing the operation.
It is the teacher's duty to train and instruct children,
and he can have no intelligent method of doing this


without making special preparation. He can no
more dispense with a knowledge of the method of
operating than can the man who navigates a ship or
builds a railroad. If methods of teaching were
merely mechanical, founded upon no fixed princi-
ples (and this is not the case), they could not be suc-
cessfully imitated without special preparation; for
such is the law with this whole class of operations.
Besides, facts show that the possession of knowledge
does not imply ability to impart it. It is self-evi-
dent that one person* cannot impart to another what
he does not know himself, but it is maintained here
that good scholars do not always succeed in becom-
ing good teachers. Persons who have been well
taught must have learned something concerning the
methods by which they were taught, but they can-
not intelligently follow these methods in their own
practice unless they have carefully studied all their
details, and the principles upon which they are
founded. Like passengers on board of a rail-car or
steamship, pupils may make swift speed toward
their journey's end without noticing the way along
which they travel. Methods of teaching cannot be
well studied incidentally; they have a philosophy
of their own, and should be made a definite object
of study. Skill in teaching, it is true, may be
acquired by school-room experience without special
instruction beforehand ; but this is always done at
much risk to the teacher, and with much loss to the
pupils. 1^0 man has more need to profit by the
experience of others than the teacher, for no man's
mistakes are less easily remedied. Teaching talent
may seem in some inborn, but this is true also in


respect to particular individuals in all professions,
and cannot be fairly adduced as an argument against
special preparation for those not so highly favored
by nature.

5. The Teacher must know how to Manage and
Govern a School. — Discipline gives power. One
hundred well-drilled soldiers are worth more on a
battle-field than several hundred raw recruits. The
captain of a vessel, the superintendent of a factory,
the commander of an army, mu^t acquire professional
skill by discipline ; knowledge of the principles of
school-management and school-government, and
skill in applying them, must be acquired in the same
way. Progress can be hoped for in teaching only
as teachers make use of the experience of their
predecessors as a starting-post for their own inves-
tigations. "Where wise and good men tell us how
to avoid falling into errors, it is great folly to shut
our ears to their advice. ISTor can natural aptitude
for managing and governing a school be relied upon,
any more than natural aptitude for practicing medi-
cine or law can be relied upon in those professions.

Some additional reasons will be given in favor of
special preparation for teachers. They belong to a
different class from the preceding, but are scarcely
less convincing:

1. Special Preparation on the part of Teachers
IS necessary to constitute Teaching a Profession. — •
If scholarship is the only requisite for the teacher,
then all scholars are teachers, or may properly
become such whenever the prospects of success in

Teachers require special preparation. 31

more desirable fields of efi:brt become discouraging.
Teaching would thus be a kind of common ground
open to all, and admitting the limitation of no pro-
fessional lines. As a consequence, teachers would
attach little importance to, and have little interest
in, their work ; there would be little unity of efibrt
among them, and a general w^ant of that class feel-
ing, or esprit du corps, which is always essential to
the building up of any profession, and without
which teaching can neither attain the rank among
the professions hoped for by teachers, nor meet in
the value of its results the reasonable expectations
of the public.

2. Special Preparation on the part of Teachers
IS necessary to make Teaching a Permanent Busi-
ness. — At present no other kind of business is sub-
ject to so many changes as teaching. It is certain
that of those who have charge of our Common
Schools one year, not more than two-thirds, in
some places not more than one-half, remain to take
charge of them the succeeding year. Such fre-
quent changes do not take place in any other pur-
suit, and they are partly, at least, accounted for in
the teachers' profession by the opinion which is
held by many that "anybody" can teach. The*
consequence of this opinion is that thousands are
still found occupying the position of teacher who
never intend to become permanent teachers, but
who teach merely to replenish their exhausted
funds, to enjoy opportunities for self-improvement,
to put in time while waiting to engage in some
other kind of business, and are restless under the


irksome necessity that confines them to the school-
room. A well-taoght school by any of these classes
of persons must be an exception to the rule. They
have made no special ^preparation to become
teachers, and they do not intend that either their
livelihood or their reputation shall depend upon
their success as such; and actuated by none of the
usual motives that prompt to earnest effort, they
cannot be expected to evince much interest or
exhibit great skill in teaching. In proportion as
men expend time, labor, and money in fitting them-
selves for a particular kind of business w^ill be their
indisposition to abandon it, and never until the
public recognize the truth that teachers require
special preparation, will communities be freed from
the evils consequent upon the frequent change of
teachers, and the profession of teaching relieved of
the horde of intruders who now disgrace it and
reduce to a very low amount the remuneration it

3. Efforts for the Special Preparation of
Teachers have been attended with satisfactory
RESULTS. — Prussia has tried the experiment of train-
ing teachers upon a large scale, and both government
-and people think it has been successful. Austria,
France, and England have their schools for teachers,
and find them essential to the well-working of their
systems of education. Such men as Dinter, Cousin
and Brougham have advocated the establishment
of I^ormal Schools. These schools have also been
established in many of our American States ; and
though they have encountered much opposition,


they have everywhere met with signal success. The
public have seen teachers who have made special
preparation at l!Tormal Schools work by the side of
those who have not made such preparation ; with
the shrewdness characteristic of our people a com-
parison of their respective merits has been made,
and the conclusion is best expressed in the liberal
patronage which such schools receive and the hun-
dreds of thousands of dollars which are annually
expended for their support.

The reasons just stated are sufficient to show that
teachers require special preparation, and their state-
ment seems appropriately to introduce a work on
Teaching which aims to aid in that preparation. If
any teacher, or any one who designs to become a
teacher feels the want of the preparation which it
has been shown teachers need, he is invited to study
the subject as presented in the following pages;
and it is hoped he will not only find that which will
increase his ability to discharge the duties incum-
bent upon the teacher, but that which will elevate
his idea of the importance and dignity of the
teachers' profession.


Human perfection is the grand aim of all well
directed education. The teacher has ever present
with him his ideal man whose perfections he would
realize in the children committed to his care, as the
sculptor would realize the pure forms of his imagina-
tion in the rough marhle that lies unchiseled hefore
him. Embraced in this great end of education there
are several subordinate ends, that of gaining know-
ledge, that of attaining discipline, that of lifting up
the mind to the contemplation of pure beauty, truth,
and excellence, and that of fitting ourselves to per-
form in the best manner possible all our duties to
man and to God.

Granted, that this is a true conception of the end
of all education, and the object-matter which must
form the foundation for a system of teaching, will
comprehend : 1st. The nature of the thing to be
operated upon, or educational capabilities ; 2d. The
nature of the instrumentalities which may be used
in operating upon it, or educational means ; 3d. The
manner of performing the operation, or educational
methods. A system of agriculture is likewise divis-
ible into three parts ; that which treats of the soil,
that which treats of the m^ans of fertilizing or work-
ing it, and that which treats of the methods of
applying the means to the desired end. A system



of Medicine, too, consists essentially of the sciences
of Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacy, and the
Practice of Medicine.

In a system of teaching, the thing to he operated
upon is man ; the means wherewith to operate are
found in everything that can be made to bear an ob-
jective relation to man ; and the methods according
to which the operation must be performed can have a
basis nowhere but in the relations the mind and body
sustain to each other and to the great universe.

The whole subject admits treatment from two
stand-points : 1st. The nature of man and the methods
of edueating him according to the laws of that nature ;
2d. The nature of the several hraiiches of knowledge
and the methods of teaching them according to the laivs
of that nature.

Proceeding from the first of these stand-points,
we commence with the study of man, learn his
educational necessities and capabilities, and conclude
with an exposition of the methods by which he can
best be educated. Proceeding from tbe second
stand-point, we commence by an examination of the
means which may be made use of in the work of
education, the several branches of knowledge ; in-
quire into their relations and conditions, and close
the investigation by presenting the methods by
which knowledge can be best imparted. The whole
subject of teaching may therefore be divided into
two great parts, appropriately called Methods of
Culture and Methods of Instruction. If the two
classes of methods thus arrived at are found to har-
monize, no further verification of their truthfulness
is needed.


The subject of Methods of Culture may be treated
of hereafter, but, in the present volume, it is my
intention to consider only Methods of Instruction.
Care will be taken, however, to verify conclusions
in all open ways before announcing them.

The methods adopted in the work of teaching
may be right or they may be wrong. Just so the hor-
ticulturist can stimulate his plants to a more active
growth or he may destroy them, the lawyer may
gain or lose his cause, the physician may cure or
kill his patient ; and even the mechanic may operate
upon his wood, or clay, or iron by skilful or unskil-
ful processes. Immortal minds are committed to
the teacher's charge. If he adopt right methods of
teaching he can make those minds bear an image
worthy of their heavenly origin and destiny and of
Him who created them ; but if he pursue wrong
methods they may be marred and debased until
they become the most lamentable of all spectacles,
wrecked and ruined human souls.

Starting with the obvious fact that there may be
right and wrong methods of teaching, I proceed to
take the first step in the search for those that are
right by stating some of the principles which all
such methods must observe, and which have been
denominated Conditioning Principles.

Methods of intellectual education must be condi-
tioned on the one hand by the nature of mind, and '
on the other by the iTature of knowledge ; the sub-
ject, therefore, will be considered in two sections.
The first will embrace a statement of principles that
belong rather to Methods of Culture, but whose
guiding light cannot well be dispensed with in the


department of education now under consideration.
Upon an examination of these principles, it will be
seen that the two sources from which they are
drawn yield the same fruit — one set of principles
corresponding w^ith the other — and a basis for the
science of teaching is found either in mind or in
nature, is both Psychological and Cosmological. In
order that the student may better appreciate the
beautiful correlation existing between the two sets
of principles, the corresponding propositions will be
numbered alike.

This classification of principles, it ought to be
remarked, is intended to embrace only the most
important of those which appertain to intellectual
education — it is not exhaustive.

I. Principles Inferable from the Nature of

The nature of a thing acted upon always gov-
erns in some measure the methods of acting upon
it. If soils were differently constituted, farmers
would be under the necessity of changing their
modes of cultivation ; if the diseased human body
was unlike it now is, a corresponding modification
would be necessary in systems of medical practice.
The same process that will put in motion particles
^of air or water will not separate those of quartz or
granite. "Wood and iron cannot be w^orked in the
same manner nor with the same tool^. ^lence
educational principles are inferable from the iiature
of mind, and among them are those w^hich follow : —

1. The Intellectual Faculties can receive Cpl-



TURE ONLY BY JuDicious ExERCiSE. — No means are
known whereby the faculties of the mind can be
developed but by exercising them. By the potent
spell of the magic word Exercise, is evoked all
human power.

The proof of this proposition is found in multi-
tudes of facts. The senses grow more acute by
using them. The memory is improved by remem-
bering, the reason by reasoning, the imagination by
imagining. All these powers, too, become weak
if not used. These facts may be learned from each
person's own experience, or from observation upon
others. The law inferred from them is fixed and

Exercise, however, in order to strengthen must
be judicious. Too much or improper exercise will
weaken the mind's powers instead of giving them

2. The Human Intellect eimbraces a number of
Distinct Faculties each of which requires a dif-
ferent KIND OF Culture. — It is acknowledged that
the body may be made strong without giving
strength to the mind, that our intellectual, emotional,

Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 2 of 31)