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possible experience and therefore cannot be derived
from experience. As soon as we understand what
parallel lines are we know that such lines can never
meet although we cannot follow them to the end.
A single act of dishonest5^ is sufficient to suggest the
principle that all dishonesty is wrong. In ordinary
inductions many concurrent facts must exist before


we are safe in inferring a principle, and tlien we are
not quite sure that the principle extends beyond the
facts investigated. Here one fact suffices to bring
up before the mind a universal and necessary prin-
ciple. If a body of such principles exist, it follows
that there must be a source in the mind out of which
they come or out of which comes the power to re-
cognize them. This source we call the Reason, and
its legitimate products, its intuitions, we call Primary
Ideas — Primary, because arising simultaneously with
experience, it is only by their means that experience
can be understood. God made the universe after
archetypal ideas in His mind, and so our Primary
Ideas give form to all we know and to all we do.

These Primary Ideas may be arranged as previ-
ously shown into three categories, the True, the
Beautiful, and the Good. A final synthesis may
unite them, but practically it is bpst to consider
them separately, marking, as they do, the triune
nature of man, and pointing, as perhaps they may,
to a higher Trinity.

For information as to the number, nature, and re-
lations of these Primary Ideas, students must search
works on Metaph^^sics. Our purpose is to charac-
terize them only so far as is necessary to make
understood what we have to say concerning the
methods of teaching the sciences of whose object-
matter they form a part.

The idea of the true gives law to the Intellect.
The Reason discovers directly only necessary truth,
truth the opposite of which cannot be conceived^
but such truth furnishes the conditions under which
all contingent truth is made to appear. The truths



of all the sciences rest ultimately in the higher
truths reached hy the insight of the Reason.

The idea of the Beautiful gives law to the Feel-
ings. An object is noticed, say a rose, and in addi-
tion to those of its qualities which immediately
effect the senses, it is found to possess something
which leads us to pronounce it beautiful. What
is that something? and whence the power that
reveals it? To the first question no answer will
be attempted here ; but to the second no hesitation
is felt in saying that the source of the idea of the
Beautiful is in the Reason. We discover Beauty as
we discover truth by means of an original power
with which God has endowed us. The beauty of a
particular object may seem to result from an anal-
ysis of objective properties, but further considera-
tion will lead to the conclusion that the idea of the
Beautiful, like the idea of the True, is not derived
from but is necessary to experience ; and that it
furnishes the forms with which all beauty corre-
lates. We are able, indeed, not only to criticise the
beauties of nature, but to create ourselves forms of
beauty and express them in a manner calculated to
awaken emotions of the Beautiful in all beholders.

The idea of the Good gives law to the Will. A
child knows but cannot be taught what is good.
Without an idea of the Good native to the mind,
the distinction of right and wrong would be as
impossible to a man as to a brute. The idea of
right and wrong cannot be a generalization of con-
sequences, because it appears full formed on the
first occasion. The Reason issues forth a voice to
all who will listen to it demanding spiritual excel-


lence — demanding love to man and love to God.
There are appetites, passions, propensities ever
tempting men to wrong-doing, ever leading them
down to degradation and ruin ; but the Spirit is at
war with these influences of the flesh, it warns men
of danger, and points out the way to life, light,
and love,

2. The Criteria. — How are we to measure what
is true, beautiful, and good? "What is truth?"
asked Pontius Pilate of Christ when brought be-
fore him, and the problem has been propounded
thousands of times before and since. So, too, the
questions, what is beauty ? and what is goodness ?
have occupied a large place in the investigations of
speculative Philosophers. It is not our intention
to consider here the different theories which have
been presented respecting the measure of truth, the
standard of taste, or the rule of right. It appears
to me, however, that these Criteria are neither
found in the Objective nor the Subjective, but in
the relation between the two. If I might venture
to suggest a common Criterion for estimating truth,
beauty, and goodness, I would do it in these words:
Conformity of Object and Idea. Expressed with
reference to each, it should be stated as follows : The
measure of truth is conformity of the Ohjective with the
Idea of the True ; the Standard of beauty is confor-
mity of the Objective with the Idea of the Beautiful ;
and the rule of right is conformity of the Objective with
the Idea of the Good. With God there must be com-
plete conformity of object and idea, but with man
this conformity can never be complete, because he


cannot comprehend the Absolute and the Infinite.
We know, indeed, that there must be a Being
having unconditioned perfections, but we cannot
by searching find Him out. The Reason is the
light of the soul — the spark of Divinity within us ;
but it is still human Reason with finite powers.

3. Axiomatic Truths. — An Axiomatic Truth is
a self-evident, necessary, and universal principle,
known to be true by intuition. Such truths under
the names of Axioms, Canons, Maxims, Rulee,
furnish the foundation upon which all the sciences
rest. The whole body of Axiomatic Truths belongs
to the Rational Sciences. It is the province of
these sciences to discover them, to test them, and
to arrange them into classes. Those which are
evolved from the idea of the True and can be
tested by the measure of truth belong to Philo-
sophy ; those which are evolved from the idea of
the Beautiful and can be tested by the standard of
beauty belong to Esthetics ; and those which are
evolved from the idea of the Good and can be
tested by the rule of right belong to Ethics. Lists
of such principles as are considered to belong to
each of these sciences respectively might be given,
but they are not essential to the purpose of a work
like this.

4. Deductions and Demonstrations. — The Deduc-
tions and Demonstrations of Philosophy are those
of Mathematics, Logic, Physics, which are, in the
sense now contemplated, branches of it.

The Deductions and Demonstrations which relate


to the laws of taste, or the cannons of criticism con-
stitute an important part of Esthetics.

The Deductions and Demonstrations which relate
to the rules which govern human conduct belong to

All Deductions and Demonstrations are essentially
the same, and, having explained their nature on a
preceding page, it is unnecessary to repeat it here.

5. Applications. — Philosophy has its applications
in the applications of all the sciences. The wise
recognize in every single truth the evidence of a
greater truth which involves it, and trace the most
general of all truths directly to their source in the
Keason. The Reason, if rightly used, carries the
thoughtful inquirer up to God, who placed it mid-
way, as it were, between earth and Heaven, where,
not too distant to preside over the affairs of men, it
could still see the glories of the Promised Land
afar off.

Esthetics has its applications in all that is beau-
tiful in nature and art. No enumeration can be
made of the beauties of nature. They are found
everywhere, above, beneath, and around us. Then
we have Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Poetry,
Music — wdiat tongue can picture the beauties which
they express ? But neither nature nor art can fur-
nish a type of beauty so perfect as that which may
be seen in a heautifid life.

Ethics has its applications in what relates to
human rights and duties. These have reference to
all the relations of life, in the family, school, state,
and church. Ethics teaches men how to live,


Religion prepares them for a state of immortality
beyond the grave.

Thus would I construct into a system the object-
matter of the Rational Sciences. In so doing, I
desire to detract nothing from the importance or the
dignity of other sciences. I am profoundly con-
vinced, however, that all the sciences point upward
toward a centre, and that that centre is the Reason ;
and I am as profoundly convinced that the Reason
points upward to a Source, and that that Source is

It needs not now that much space be taken up in
discussing the methods of teaching the sciences
which have just been characterized. A teacher who
understands them, and enters upon the work of in-
struction with a love for it, can hardly be mistaken
as to the methods to be adopted.

All the education a child can receive in the direc-
tion of the Rational Sciences, is to increase his
experience. He should be allowed every oppor-
tunity of seeing what is true, beautiful, and good ;
and his own heart should be kept pure that his
sight may be free from distortion. A child can
perceive truth, beauty, and goodness, and enjoy
their contemplation long before he can analyze the
powers or the process by which he does it, just as
he can see long before he can understand the philo-
sophy of vision, ^o department of education can
be nobler than that which opens up to the young
these sources of the purest enjoyment earth can
furnish, and from which their minds and hearts can


be filled with images of perfection that will ever
tend to elevate and ennoble them ; but this kind of
education is rather a training than a teaching pro-
cess ; and, in its details, a. discussion of it belongs
more appropriately to " Methods of Culture" than
to "Methods of Instruction."

Primary Ideas must be practically operative in the
mind before their existence or potency can be recog-
nized. A child cannot begin to think without their
agency being involved in the process. A child
knows that his mother's face to-day is the same face
that bent over him yesterday; that another face
differing from his mother's!* is not hers ; that if the
stove is hot it cannot be cold; and that if his hand
is burned against the stove, something burned it;
and, in these simple acts, may be recognized the
great Fundamental Laws of Thought as stated by
Logicians — laws according to which all thinking is
done. But these laws have their ground in the
Reason — in the idea of the True. So, too, a child
is pleased with what is beautiful, and can determine
what is good at a very early age ; thus showing that
the ideas of the Beautiful and the Good, as well as
of the TiTie, have a potential existence in his mind.

But while these ideas are operative in the mind
of a child, and thus become an important element
to be considered by the educator, no formal instruc-
tion can be given in respect to them before the
mind is well matured. When old enough to notice
what passes in his own mind, and to philosophize
concerning it, the student may be taught to distin-
guish Primary Ideas, to investigate their nature and
relations, and to arrange them into classes. These


ideas are tilings to be observed and discriminated
by the powers of internal perception. The mode
of investigating them does not differ, as I suppose,
from that followed in the investigation of the objects
of sense ; but the mind has great difficulty in study-
ing its own products, and especially those which are
as deeply hidden and as much beyond the power of
analysis as those now under consideration. 'No
forms of words, no analogical illustrations will con-
vey to the pupil's mind clear instruction concerning
such principles. He must use his own insight to
detect them, his own powers of observation to in-
dividualize and characterize them. All he can learn
of them must be realized in his own experience, or
his knowledge will consist only of skeleton forms
with nothing to fill them. It requires long, careful,
tiresome labor to reach down into the mind's deepest
self and study the secret foundations of knowledge;
but all who possess the ability and the patience to
accomplish the work will be well repaid.

The most a teacher can do for a pupil in these
abstruse regions of thought is to lead him from the
concrete to the abstract, from the- limited to the
unlimited, from the conditioned to the uncondi-
tioned. For example, take the idea of space. The
pupil knows what constitutes a particular space, he
can gradually add body to body until his idea of
space is vastly expanded, and then, perhaps, he may
rise to the comprehension of that space which con-
tains the universal whole of things. The idea of
perfection may be communicated by leading the
pupil from one object to another, each more perfect


than the preceding. These examples will serve for
all cases as all are alike.

It ought to be remarked that our Primary Ideas,
as a whole, have not been carefully studied by Phi-
losophers. A master-mind is needed to present
them in an order suitable for study.

Little agreement exists among writers as to the
Criteria by which we determine what is true, beau-
tiful, or good. Practically, however, there is less
diversity of opinion, and men will coincide in pro-
nouncing a thing true, beautiful, or good, who will
differ as to the principles which guide their judg-
ments. Here, as elsewhere, we can see more clearly
with our eyes of sense than with our eyes of Reason.
In teaching, therefore, it seems best, as has been
already intimated, to acquaint pupils with things
that are true, beautiful, and good — to widen their
experience, as much as possible, in respect to nature,
art, and life, before directing their attention to the
abstract, ideal standards of perfection which the
Reason furnishes. It is, indeed, only after such
experience that any one can duly appreciate the
noblest power God has given to men — the power
of discriminating truth from error, beauty from
deformity, right from wrong.

It has been stated that the common Criterion for
determining truth, beauty, and goodness is Con-
formity of Object and Idea. This Idea is a direct
product of the Reason ; and in its abstract form is
perfect and alike in all individuals. The Reason
admits no culture ; it sees, like the eye, at once and
correctly ; it is never inconsistent with itself. But
the faculties that take cognizance of the Object are



liable to err. It is scarcely possible for an Object to
be so presented or represented to the mind as to
stand out clear in its essential properties and rela-
tions. Hence men differ in regard to what is true,
beautiful, and good, because their knowledge is im-
perfect. Practically, there never can be a complete
conformity of object and idea; and, practically, each
man has his own standard of perfection. His is
the most perfect standard who possesses the highest
culture. A child or a savage must have a low
standard. It is the business of education, as applied
here, to make observation more exact, the memory
more tenacious, the imagination more faithful, the
judgment more true, to set things in their proper
light, to free thinking from all imperfections, to
prepare the way for the Reason ; and then will
appear truth, beauty, and goodness in all the per-
fection which a human mind can appreciate.

Evolved out of Primitive Ideas and tested by the
Criteria of the Reason, are Axiomatic Truths. These
principles are operative in the mind from the first
dawning of intelligence. No experience is possible
without them, and yet it is only by means of expe-
rience that we become conscious of their existence,
or can give them articulate expression. They have
been called "generalized intuitions," and, perhaps,
this name designates their genesis with sufUcient
clearness, as it certainly points out the mode of
teaching them. With ordinary experience. Axiom-
atic Truths are recognized at once as self-evident
and necessary; but they cannot be so recognized
without a certain degree of experience. It ought
to be added, however, that Axiomatic Truths are


generalizations of an entirely different kind from
those of the Empirical Sciences — the latter simply
embrace what has been experienced, while the
former transcend all possible experience.

Dr. M'Cosh, in discussing the nature of the truths
now under consideration, uses the following language
not less valuable to the Philosopher than suggestive
to tlffe Teacher. "The principle" (an Axiomatic
Truth) '^ thus discovered and enunciated is properly
a metaphysical one ; it is a truth above sense, a
truth of mind, a truth of reason. It is different in
its origin and authority from the general rules
reached by experience, such as the law of gravita-
tion, or the law of chemical affinity, or the law of
the distribution of animals over the earth's surface.
These latter are the mere generalizations of experi-
ence necessarily limited ; they hold good merely in
the measure of our experience, and as experience
can never reach all possible cases, so the rule can
never be absolute ; we can never say there may not
be exceptions. Laws of the former kind are of a
higher or deeper nature, they are the generalizations
of convictions carrying necessity with them, and a
consequent universality in their very nature. They
are entitled to be regarded as in an especial sense
philosophic principles, being the ground to which
we come when we follow any system of truth suf-
ficiently far down, and competent to act as a basis
on which to erect a superstructure of science. They
are ti*uths of our original constitution, having the
sanction of Him who hath given us our constitution,
and graven them there with His own finger."

" It is ever to be borne in mind, however, that the


detection and exact expression of these intuitive
principles is always a delicate and is often a most
difficult operation. Did they fall immediately under
the eye of consciousness, the work would be a com-
paratively easy one ; we should only have to look
within in order to see them. But all that conscious-
ness can notice are their individual exercises mixed
up with one another and with all other actings of
the mind. It requires a microscopic eye and much
analytic skill, to detect the various fibres in the com-
plex structure, and to follow each through its various
windings and entanglements to its source."

Reaching the stage of Deductions and Demonstra-
tions, the Eational Sciences become virtually as to
methods, Formal Sciences, the methods of teaching
which have already been treated of.

ISTeither need much be said in this connection
concerning the methods of teaching the Applications
of the Rational Sciences, because wherever principles
are applied to facts the process is the same.

The work of teaching must commence with Ap-
plications. All a child does he is impelled to do by
some principle operative upon him. When he first
learns to recognize truth, beauty, or goodness, he
does it by applying principles active in his mind but
of which he is unconscious. In the field of Philoso-
phy, let the teacher present to him truth as it exists
in the sciences, at first simple, afterwards, more
complex. In the field of Esthetics, let the teacher
show him objects beautiful, grand, sublime, and
teach him to love them. In the field of Ethics, let
the teacher make constant appeals to his conscience,


quickening it by exercise in cletermining riglit and

Thus growing in his know^ledge of w^hat is true,
beautiful, and good, there will come a time wdien
turning his mind in upon itself, the student can be-
hold those great, universal, and necessary principles
which condition all truth, all beauty, and all good-
ness ; and, armed with these, he can then go forth,
not as a child using intellectual instincts simply, but
as a man applying the Divine gift of Reason, to
interpret the world of matter, of mind, of life.




History describes tlie past condition and actions
of men, and investigates the causes which have
operated to produce them. History may be thus
either a Narrative of Facts or a System of Philo-
sophy, and methods of teaching it must be chosen
adapted to the different kinds of object-matter to
which they are applied. We will therefore speak,
first, of Methods of Teaching the Facts of History ;
and, afterwards, of Methods of Teaching the Philo-
sophy of History,

I. Methods of Teaching the Facts of History.

The Facts of History comprise the sum of the
events that man has brought about in all the teem-
ing centuries since first he inhabited the earth. The
number is beyond the power of the imagination to
conceive, and Historians do not attempt to enumer-
ate them. They describe some of the grandest and
most interesting features of a nation's life, and
leave the rest to be inferred or forgotten.

The great Masters of History relate how and by
whom nations were settled ; how they were pro-
tected in infancy, and what strength and prosperity
they attained in manhood ; and if fallen they have,
how they fell. They tell the ^iory of their civil



and political affairs, their comnaerce, mannfactures,
agriculture, arts, sciences, and domestic life — their
provisions for education, systems of religion, codes
of laws, and forms of government. They describe
the results of their wars at home and abroad, the
revolutions through which they have passed, their
manly resistance to tyranny on the one hand or
their tame submission to slavery on the other, and
those great throes which every healthy nation makes
to cast off the evil influences that, cancer-like,
threaten to eat away its life or those spasmodic
death-struggles which mark a decaying nation's

Such are the Facts of History, and we will con-
sider : 1. The nature of these Facts. 2. The pecu-
liar difficulties which are encountered in their study.
8. A proper course of study in respect to them.
4. General suggestions in regard to teaching them.

1 . The ]S"ature of the Facts of History. — Suf-
ficient has been said elsewhere in regard to the
method of imparting to a child a knowledge of
ordinary facts ; but Historical facts generally differ
from other facts in several important particulars.

Historical facts as taught in our schools must
nearly always be furnished by testimony. A large
number of the facts which constitute the natural
sciences can either be observed directly or verified
by experiment. The pupil is not compelled to rely
upon what others say ; he can examine for himself.
In history, however, the case is different ; his senses
are of little use ; he must rely upon authority.

Historical facts are connected by synchronal or


chronological relations, and not hy relations of kind
or quality. The reverse of this is the case with the
natural sciences, and it must constitute a difference
between these sciences and History.

Historical facts are the acts of Free Agents. All
else is controlled by inexorable laws — moves only
as it is moved by forces acting from without ; but
man is a law unto himself, and acts of his own will.
These differences cannot be safely overlooked in
teaching History.

2. The Peculiar Difficulties which are En-
countered IN THE Study of the Facts of History.
— Owing to the nature of the events recorded in
History and the circumstances controlling their nar-
ration, peculiar difficulties are encountered by the
student in obtaining a correct knowledge of them.
These events occurred in the Past — many of them
in the distant Past, and this alone is calculated to
cast doubt upon their authenticity ; but, in addition
to this, when we consider the proneness of mankind
to misrepresent their own actions, the prejudices

Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 26 of 31)