James Pyle Wickersham.

Methods of instruction .. online

. (page 25 of 31)
Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 25 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Chinese where they traffic in their shops or on their
boats, where they dress their gardens or cultivate
their tea, or where they crowd their temples or
meditate in their schools of philosophy.

The design of all this is to exhibit the spirit with
which Geography should be taught. The teacher
must of course adapt his instruction to the age of
the pupils and the circumstances of the class.

Sixth Class of Lessons. — On the Classification of
Geographical Facts. — To primary classes learning
Geography there can only be imparted with much
hope of success a knowledge of individual facts.
Such facts must be chosen as will interest them, and
their tenacious memories will not suffer them to be
forgotten. As soon, however, as pupils enter upon
the study of the minuter details of Geography, the
teacher must aid their powers of recollection by a
carefully arranged outline of classification. In the
study of the detailed Geography of a particular
country, it is not best to consider the facts to be
learned in any order in which they may chance to
present themselves, but they should be grouped
together in classes. With such an outline of classi-
fication before him, the pupil could collect his
matter and recite it, much more perfectly than it
would be possible for him to do otherwise. He
would also be likelj^ to retain it longer in his
memory. Many of our Geographical text-books are
defective in their classifications. The following dis-
tribution of the object-matter of Geography will be
found to answer the end now contemplated :

33



386 INSTRUCTION IN EMPIRICAL SCIENCES.

1. Boundaries.

2. Extent and divisions.

. 3. General character of the surface.
4. Internal waters.
6. [N'ature of the soil and climate.

6. Productions.

7. Cities and towns.

8. Facilities for internal communication.

9. The inhabitants.

10. Government, religion, sciences and art, edu-
cation.

11. Miscellaneous facts.

At recitation, each pupil should be expected to
reproduce the information he has collected respect-
ing a particular country, and arranged under these
respective classes. He need not be confined to the
text-book in making preparation.

But the preceding classification is not broad
enough to satisfy a teacher in the higher depart-
ments of Geography. The same principle should
l)e so extended as to embrace the various Geographi-
cal facts relating to all countries. Mountains, rivers,
islands, lakes, rocks, soils, climates, currents, winds,
animals, plants, and men admit of classification.
Indeed, it is impossible to study them thoroughly
without it. If studied only as they appear in par-
ticular countries, the information gained will be
comparatively of little value. Besides, the best
way for advanced pupils to study the extent of coun-
tries, the population of cities, the length of rivers,
kinds of religion, stages of civilization, and forms
of government, is by comparison and classification.



GEOGRAPHY. 387

For beginners in Geography, the particular should
always precede the general ; but for advanced pupils
the general may precede the particular, for they will
possess sufficient knowledge to appreciate principles,
and principles will guide them in further study.

It will be uiMierstood from what has been said
that teachers of Geography ought not to be satisfied
with a mere accumulation of disconnected facts, but
they should lead their pupils to combine them into
well-arranged classes and systems.

Seventh Class or Lessons. — On the General Laws
which govern G-eographical Facts.- — Having found the
facts of Geography and classed them, learners must
be set upon the search for their causes. The form
of the earth must be demonstrated, and its motions
must be explained. The causes must be investigated
that have tended to shape the continental masses,
heaved up mountains, formed islands, scooped out
valleys, graded plains, covered deserts with sand,
and varied the nature of soils ; that drive forward
the ocean currents, swell the tides, determine the
courses and cut out the beds of rivers, fill the lakes
with water and keep them fresh or make them salt;
that temper the weather, move the winds, distribute
the rain, bring hail, snow, and dew, and build up
and float away great bergs of ice ; that adapt plants
and animals to the countries in which they are
found, and even modify the races of men ; that con-
trol the employments of the people, inducing those
of some nations to engage in manufacturings some
in farming, some in mining, and others in com-
merce, fix the boundaries of states, foment wars



388 IN"STRUCTION IN EMPIRICAL SCIENCES.

and keep peace, point out the locations for the
founding of cities, the building of raih'oads, and
the construction of bridges, and exert an influence
upon government, the manners and customs of the
people, science, art, education, and religion. This
is a most inviting field ; and the thoughtful teacher
may find in it reasons so simple that a child may
understand them, and principles so complicated
that none but a mind like that of Humboldt could
evolve them.

In teaching pupils to make inductions, they must
be brought to compare the known with the unknown,
by means of explanations, illustrations, and experi-
ments. Finding out the reasons of things generally
furnishes so much pleasure to learners, that the
most the teacher will have to do is to provide a
fij: opportunity for the exercise of their reasoning
powers, and they will gladly use them — and use
them to some purpose. A text-book may state
general principles and present a sufficient number
of facts to prove them ; but the pupil should be
required to make an application of these principles
in explaining new phenomena and solving new
problems.



CHAPTER y.

INSTRUCTION IN THE RATIONAL SCIENCES.

Those who understand the sciences of which we
have thus far treated can scarcely have failed to
observe that they start out by taking something for
granted, that they make no attempt to account for
the ultimate premises upon which they base their
conclusions.

The sciences relating to Language treat of the
elements of speech and their relations ; but every
principle of these sciences may be traced back to
laws of thought, and these again rest upon certain
intuitions of the Reason.

The Formal Sciences confessedly erect their
superstructure upon a foundation of definitions and
axioms, the nature of which they do not pretend to
investigate. Mathematicians merely state the defi-
nitions and axioms which relate to Mathematics ;
Logicians often enlarge somewhat upon those which
relate to Logic, but merely as an introduction to
the subject proper. Logic treats of the laws of
thought, the treatment of the elements of thought
belongs elsewhere.

The Empirical Sciences rest also upon a basis of
definitions and axioms. ^N'ot a sins^le observation
can be made, class formed, or inference drawn with-
out the aid of principles which no Liductive Philo-

33* (389)



390 INSTRUCTION IN RATIONAL SCIENCES.

sophy can account for. By tliemselves tliey begin
in assumption and end in assumption.

By means of the Understanding we can correct
concepts, compare facts, form syllogisms, and apply
ascertained principles, and this constitutes, apart
from the collection of materials, the whole work the
mind has to do in acquainting itself with a Language,
a Formal or an Empirical Science. The products
of the Reason are, of course, used, but they are
assumed.

It is evident, therefore, that back of all the sci-
ences referred to, there must be another class of
sciences, whose province it is to treat of what is
elsewhere taken for granted. We have ideas of
space, time, cause, truth, beauty, right, &c. ; but
what is the nature of these ideas ? and whence do
they come ? We deal with axioms ; but what is an
axiom ? By what tests can axioms be distinguished ?
Upon what rests their claim to universal acceptance
as truth? The sciences that embrace this object-
matter must interpenetrate with their ideas and
regulate with their forms all other sciences, must
be the germs out of which they grow, the roots by
which they are supported and nourished, the light
in which they can be understood. The sciences
whose object-matter may be thus characterized, have
been called the Metaphysical Sciences, and, pro-
perly, since they are over or above Physics ; but a
better name, perhaps, is the Rational Sciences^ since
they are evolved directly from the Reason.

The Reason is that faculty of the mind by which
it knows itself to be the source of necessary and
universal principles. Out of such principles all the



INSTRUCTION IN RATIONAL SCIENCES. 891

sciences grow, and by them life should be guided.
By means of the Reason we rise above a servile
dependence upon material things, and, believing,
lay hold on things unseen.

In searching the whole field open to his investiga-
tion, the most diligent student can predicate nothing
in respect to what he finds that may not be arranged
in one of the three following classes: Truth,
Beauty, and Goodness.

The human mind has three great classes of
Powers, viz. : the Intellect, the Feelings, and the
Will. The activities of each class in their objective
relations are subject to a distinct body of laws.
The products of the right operation of the Intellect
may be called Truth, the products of the right ope-
ration of the Feelings may be called Beauty, and
the products of the right operation of the Will may
be called G-oodness.

The Reason reigns over the mind. All the
mental powers operate subject to its control. Each
looks to the Reason for an end to aim at, and a light
to guide its efibrt. The Intellect knows nothing of
truth ; the Feelings of Beauty ; the Will of good-
ness, unless the Reason furnishes criteria by which
to judge them. These criteria are evolved from the
Primitive Ideas of the True, the Beautiful, and
the Good; and based upon these ideas and out-
working from them, we have the Rational Sciences,
called respectively Philosophy, Esthetics, and
Ethics. The idea of God — an idea which unites
all perfection in one Being, gives us Theology, but
no discussion of this science will be indulged in
here. Leibnitz, followed by others, has arranged



892 INSTRUCTION IN RATIONAL SCIENCES.

the Eational Sciences into three classes, viz. ; Ra-
tional Physics, or the science which treats of the
"World ; Rational Psychology, or the science which
treats of the Soul ; and Rational Theology, or the
science which treats of God. This classification is
exhaustive, but not so well suited to the present
purpose as that above named.

Among the ideas relating to the True are those
of space, time, substance, cause, infinity, &c. ; among
those relating to the Beautiful are order, proportion,
harmony, grace, perfection, &c. ; and among those
relating to the Good are right, duty, liberty, virtue,
holiness, &c.

A few remarks are in place here as to the ori-
gin and nature of these ideas. It has already been
shown that they cannot be derived from experience,
but they are always formed upon the occasion of some
experience. We notice something that is true,
beautiful, or good, and immediately there uprises
in the mind that ideal standard by which all that
is true, beautiful, and good may be measured. Let
experience be extended, be made as extensive as
possible, still the ideal will outspan it. If in thought
we can transcend all possible experience, can we in
thought know the Absolute and the Infinite? To
me it seems clear that our knowledge of the Abso-
lute and Infinite must be confined to the fact that
they exist ; but of this fact we can be as certain as
of any other. We cannot resist the conviction that
there is nobjer truth, richer beauty, greater good
than any we can possibly conceive of; and rising
in degrees it is impossible not to think that some-
where there must be the absolutely and infinitely



INSTRUCTION IN RATIONAL SCIENCES. 893

Perfect. Besides, as there is the Relative there must
be the Absolute ; as there is the Finite there must
be the Infinite ; as earthly truth, beauty, and good-
ness centre in the human Reason — in man, so the
True, the Beautiful, and the Good, unconditioned
in their perfection, centre in the Divine Reason —
in God. The right conception of the human Reason
leads necessarily to a conception of the Divine Rea-
son, and to a Divine Personality in which it is
enthroned.

"We are just as sure of the existence of the Infi-
nite as of the Finite; of the Absolute as of the
Relative ; of the True, the Beautiful, and the Good,
as of truth, beauty, and goodness ; of God as of
man. What if into the pure regions where angels
dwell the human mind is only permitted to look —
that look reveals plainly enough the thing looked
for, is a firm ground of faith, and furnishes a suffi-
cient foretaste of the ineffable delight with which
in the Better Land we shall behold its glories face
to face.

Some great thinkers have denied that the human
mind can attain to any knowledge of the Uncon-
ditioned, but at the same time have admitted that
w^e believe in the existence of the Absolute and the
Infinite, or of a Being absolute and infinite. That
we may believe in the existence of a thing of which
we have no adequate conception is clear for we do
it constantly ; but it seems to me that w^e never
believe a thing without having some ground for the
belief — an idea out of which it springs. With Dr.
McCosh I hold " That when there is no positive
conception, then faith ought to cease, and must



894 INSTKUCTIOIS' IN RATIONAL SCIENCES.

cease." But God has not left mankind without a
witness of Himself, without a light to guide those
who will heed it, to Heaven. Through the spiritual
eye, the Reason sanctified, the heart made pure,
man can see enough of Heavenly things to make
positive the evidence upon which he rests his faith
in God and immortality.

Since the Rational Sciences are so far removed
from what business men call practical, and since in
this country there is so much prejudice against
Metaphysical studies, it seems necessary to set forth
the value which may be derived from the pursuit
of such studies.

1. The Value of the Rational Sciences in Themselves. —
To the unthinking, the value of the Rational sciences
in themselves does not seem great. They can easily
understand that Grammar is useful as it aids in
speaking and writing, that Mathematics is useful
in keeping accounts, that Chemistry may be useful
in analyzing soils and selecting good fertilizers to
enrich them ; but the utility of truth so abstract
as that of the- Rational Sciences is not likely to be
appreciated by those whose blind judgment esti-
mates the worth of knowledge by the amount of
money it will make. The age is intensely practical.
Men are measured by the amount of work they
can do. He who makes a great speech, wins a
great battle, or heads a successful expedition receives
the honors which he merits ; but he who nobly
devotes himself to the study of truth for its own
sake is called a dreamer, a theorist, a transcenden-



INSTRUCTION IN RATIONAL SCIENCES. 395

talist, and is rather pitied tliaa applauded. This
condition of things may be excused on the ground
that our country is new, and that in consequence
great iictivity is manifested in all that relates to the
external life ; but the application of a test that
would determine the true worth of knowledge
might decide in opposition to the popular verdict.
"With a broader view even of the interests of our
earthly life, it might appear that the most potent
influence among men is exerted by the thinker —
the thinker who studies at the root of things, and
ever and anon announces principles that control
church and state, and guide the affairs of men.

The value of a knowledge of the Rational Sciences
appears in the nature of their object-matter. These
sciences coirtain all that body of truth which is ne-
cessary, fixed, and fundamental — all else is contin-
gent, fleeting, and dependent ; and surely it is as
important to understand the thought that furnishes
the foundation and conditions the superstructure of
knowledge as it is the work done by the laborers
who simply adjust the materials. Besides, the
Rational Sciences are the products of the Reason —
the noblest of our mental faculties and the only one
that distinguishes man as a being differing in kind
from the lower animals.

The value of a knowledge of the Rational Sciences
appears further in the fact that herein are found
properly discriminated and expressed, all our Pri-
mary ideas without which all truth would be con-
tingent, all beauty passing, all goodness relative —
without which there would be no ground for a
belief in a future life or in the existence of God.



396 INSTKUCTION IN KATIONAL SCIENCES.

It might be added, too, that their value appears in
their relation to the Fine Arts. TheFine Arts are the
efforts the Reason makes to realize its ideal forms.
They impart their full meaning to him alone who
can read the pure sentiment pictured on the canvas,
enshrined in the marble, or uttered forth in poetry
and music.

2. The Value of the Rational Sciences in their Relations
to other Sciences. — The study of the Empirical Sciences
exclusively is apt to exert an evil influence upon the
mind. Accustomed to seek a cause for every effect,
the student of these sciences is easily led to doubt
the freedom of the will or the existence of a great
First Cause. He cannot be made to understand
how there can be an Unconditioned Being; and if
he adopt any views at all concerning religion it will
most likely be those of the Pantheist or the Fatalist.

No one by walking in the treadmill of the Formal
Sciences can ever do more than demonstrate the
particular truths that lie embodied in the general
truths which he accepts without inquiry as to their
source or nature. The stream of demonstration can
never rise higher than its fountain.

The Rational Sciences constitute the bases of all
other sciences. Unless grounded upon such bases,
these sciences would be like floating vessels with no
anchors. Unsubstantial as they may seem to the
unthinking, all our knowledge rests upon the
intuitions of the Reason. Take these from under
the Empirical or Formal Sciences and beautiful
parts might still remain, but there could be no
scientific systems. Like the crumbling ruins of an



INSTRUCTION IN RATIONAL SCIENCES. 397

ancient temple, they would lie scattered in dispro-
portioned and disordered fragments. There must
be conditioning principles for all perceptions, for
all judgments, for all reasonings ; and of such is the
object-matter of the Rational Sciences composed.
The intuitions of the Reason must work down to
meet the intuitions of the Senses working up. Take
away the Rational Sciences and you take away the
heart of the other sciences — take away that which
makes them sciences, that by which their facts
and reasonings can only receive an intelligent
interpretation.

3. The Value of the Rational Sciences as Means of
Discipline. — An end of study is discipline, what is
the disciplinary value of the Rational Sciences ?

These sciences concern the highest form of truth.
They require the deepest insight, the clearest per-
ception, the most exact definition, and the most
careful reasoning of which the human mind is
capable. They alone have furnished the great
problems the solution of which has called out the
full mental strength of such Philosophers as Plato,
Kant, Cousin, and Hamilton.

These sciences employ all the powers of the mind.
In its pure form, truth is apprehended only by the
Reason, but in its applied form all the mental facul-
ties may be engaged in dealing with it. But if the
discipline to be derived from the study of the Ra-
tional Sciences, appertains to the Reason alone, no
object in education can be higher than the develop-
ment of that facult}^ By it there is revealed to man
a world of truth, beauty, and goodness ; by it he is

34



898 INSTRUCTION" IN RATIONAL SCIENCES.

distinguished from the brutes that perish, by it he
reigns sovereign of this world, and by it he claims
heirship to a higher one.

The mental discipline resulting from the study of
Language comes in good part from the relations of
Language to the Rational Sciences. This is more
emphatically true of the Formal Sciences ; and the
hardest questions that may be asked in connection
with the Empirical Sciences relate to ideas and not
to facts.

4. The Value of the Rational Sciences in preparing
the Mind to accept Revealed Truth. — Empirical Science
finds facts, classifies and generalizes them, but here
its work ends, as it can neither account for its facts
nor make its generalizations universal. To it nature
is but an endless chain of links. It can find neither
a beginning nor an end. In the view of the Induc-
tive Philosophy, if the human, mind is anything
different from matter, all its energizing is still sub-
ject to the inexorable law of cause and eff*ect.
According to it, there can be no free will, and, of
course no right and wrong, — no God, and, of course,
no inspiration, no revealed truth, no prophecy, no
miracles. Empirical Science is well worthy of study
in its own sphere, but it is incomplete by itself and
needs Rational Science as a complement.

The Formal Sciences accept necessary and uni-
versal truths as facts, but make no inquiry as to
what they are or whence they come. They carefully
evolve from them particular principles relating to
space, and time, and the laws of thought, but neither
Mathematics nor Logic can solve the highest prob-



1

i



INSTEUCTIOX IN RATIONAL SCIENCES. 399

lems of life. They are means, not ends. They
reveal truths, not truth. They treat of the Formal
above nature but the soul asks for the Real above
nature.

On the contrary, if we find a ground in the Reason
for faith in the doctrines of human responsibility,
the immortality of the soul, the existence of God,
the way is open for an intelligent acknowledgment
of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Truth
does come into the mind without reasoning, whence?
May not God inspire it ? Or, may He not so sanc-
tify the Reason that He can use it to utter forth
His counsel to a sinful world ? May not prophets
foretell future events, since from a certain standpoint
all truths are universal as to time ? And does not
the power of free origination render miracles not
only possible but necessary ?

A God in nature if such a conception can be
entertained, ma}^ be governed by the laws of nature ;
but a God both in and above nature, from whom
nature came, must rule and regulate His vrorks and
can in no wise be subject to the laws that govern
them. All skepticism has its root in an erroneous
or incomplete philosophy. The highest office of
the Reason is to believe without reasoning — to have
faith in things unseen — to look up like Stephen
through the opening Heavens and see revealed the
mysteries of God.

Before we can treat intelligently of methods of
teaching the.Rational Sciences, we must characterize
their object-matter more definitely. This object-
matter consists, first, in Frimary Fcleas, or ideas of



400 I^TSTRUCTION IN KATIONAL SCIENCES.

tlie True, the Beautiful, and the Good ; second, in
Criteria, or standards hy which may be determined
what is true, beautiful, and good ; third, in Axiomatic
Truths, or that body of principles from which deduc-
tions and demonstrations are made ; fourth, in De-
ductions and Demonstrations, or the processes of
evolving less general principles from those more
general, and of bringing new truths under principles
already established; fifth, in Applications, or the
adapting of abstract principles to concrete facts. It
is not pretended that the matter belonging to these
several classes is entirely distinct, but the classifica-
tion will be found convenient. Strictly considered,
the Eational Sciences embrace only the matter indi-
cated by the first three classes.

1. Primary Ideas. — I do not think there are any
principles in the mind that are strictly innate. There
are doubtless innate forces and laws governing these
forces, but we never become conscious of them as
principles except upon the occasions of some experi-
ence. An idea is the result of two factors — a sub-
ject thinking and an object thought. But while
this is true as to the origin of intuitive principles,
we are constantly making use of these principles in
ways which show that they necessarily transcend all



Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 25 of 31)