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and executive faculties can, as classes, receive an
independent culture. This law holds good of the
distinctive faculties that make up the human intel-
lect. It requires one mode of culture to educate
the senses and the perceptive powers, another to
strengthen tlie memory, and still others to develop
the powers of recollection, imagination, comparison,
and reason. Each intellectual power difiers from
the others in its nature, in its mode of operation,



CONDITIONING PRINCIPLES. 89

and modes of culture must adapt themselves to these
differences. He would be like a blind man leading
a blind man who should attempt to teach, ignorant
of this great law.

3. Human Beings have been created with dif-
ferent Tastes and Talents to fit them for perform-
ing different Duties or for occupying different
Spheres in Life. — That children differ in tastes and
talents every parent and every teacher is agreed.
The Bible intimates the same fact. The reason pro-
bably is that, as in nature's system each necessary
office was designed to be filled by a qualified officer,
men differ because their social duties or their spheres
in life are different. But, whatever the reason, the fact
is certain, and is of great significance to the educa-
tor. It teaches him that he must plan his system
of Teaching with reference to the peculiar tastes
and talents of children.

Doubtless, certain kinds of general knowledge and
certain kinds of mental discipline may be considered
indispensable for all ; but, in addition, every true
teacher should consider it a privilege to furnish
each one of his pupils an opportunity for the de-
velopment of his special powers. The aim of edu-
cation is not to make all men move in the same
plane — to create a social dead-level. Protestations
have been made against the prescribed, unvaried
course of instruction in institutions of learning, and
not alwa^^s without reason. Such men as Lord
Byron, Hugh Miller, and Dr. Kane were restless
while made to pursue those branches of study in
which they felt little interest, and indulged by



40 METHODS OF IN-STRUCTION".

stealtli those special talents which God had given
them. Educate together from their youth up such
men as Plato and Aristotle, Kant and Goethe, New-
ton and Biirns, La Place and Lamartine, Benjamin
Franklin and Patrick Henry, and they might be
made more alike, but would the world profit so
much by their genius ? A wise system of education
aims to render available all the mental force of the
world. The mechanic may contrive and the mer-
chant make his ventures, the farmer watch his
harvests and the statesman promulgate his laws, the
naturalist search and the philosopher speculate, the
poet kindle the fires of genius upon their intended
altars, and the prophet pluck down manna from
Heaven to feed soul-hungry mortals — the world
needs them all, and teachers must not attempt to
thwart what God seems to have designed. But in
all this it must be remembered that special talent
may result from education as well as be the gift of
nature, l^o fact is more open to the notice of an
observer of the phenomena of mind than that mental
force may be directed artificially to certain faculties
which grow strong by use, while others are dwarfed
for want of exercise.

4. The Perceptive Powers are Stronger and
MORE Active in Youth than the other intellec-
tual FACULTIES AND THUS FURNISH A BASIS FOR THE

SUPERSTRUCTURE OF KNOWLEDGE. — A child is merely
an animal until there is awakened in him the power
of self-consciousness. After this I can find no time
when all his faculties are not active in some degree ;
but his perceptive powers are the strongest and most



COXDITIO:^IN"G PRINCIPLES. 41

active during the whole period of childhood and
youth. Any one who will observe children can
scarcely doubt this fact. They like to see and hear
things. What is new or strange attracts them.
How rapidly they learn the form, color, size, and
other qualities of things ! What an immense num-
ber of facts they acquaint themselves with as they
play in garden or yard, walk through field or
meadow, or pass along street or highway !

We do not, as some have taught, derive all our
knowledge from experience ; but no psychological
truth is more obvious than that we cannot know
anything without experience. For the attainment
of certain necessary, regulative truths, experience
may furnish only the occasion; but its necessity to
the knowing process is not less real when it stands
directly as the source of our knowing than when
it stands indirectly as the occasion of it — when it
determines the limit of our knowledge than when
our knowledge transcends its limits. Experience
therefore may be said to form the basis of know-
leds^e.

Conyincing reasons may be found in what has
now been said, in favor of enlarging experience as
much as possible by taking advantage in the work
of education of the strong and active perceptive
powers of the young. Let teachers make them ac-
quainted with things, facts, phenomena, that they
may have a broad basis upon which to erect the
superstructure of 'knowledge.

^ 5. COMMENCIXG WITH THE PERCEPTIVE PoWERS,
THE VARIOUS INTELLECTUAL FACULTIES INCREASE IN
4*



42 methods of instruction".

Eelative Strength in the following order :
Memory, Recollection, Imagination, Under-
standing, Reason. — It must not be understood that
the first named of these faculties attains maturity
while the others remain in a state of inactivity.
Probably, a child in the simple act of refusing to put
its hand against a hot stove to-day because yester-
day it vras burned in doing it, makes use of all the
faculties it ever will possess. Still these faculties
are relatively stronger at some periods of life than
at others, and this fact cannot be overlooked in
teaching.

As used -here, Memory is the power of retaining
knowledge ; Recollection is the power by which we
awaken what lies dormant in the mind; Imagina-
tion is the power the mind has of holding up vividly
before itself the thoughts which it has recalled into
consciousness ; Understanding is the power by which
we judge of relations ; and Reason is the power that
gives birth to those necessary and universal princi-
ples which control all thinking. It is proper to
remark that this classification is essentially Hamil-
ton's, and the definitions are, in part, his.

It is evident that knowledge must be retained
before it can be recalled, that it must be recalled
before it can be held up for contemplation, that it
must be held up before the mind before its relations
can be judged of, and that the whole thinking pro-
cess must go on before it can be controlled or regu-
lated. Logically, therefore, the activities of the
several faculties do follow an order of succession,
but practically the whole goes on simultaneously.



CONDITIONING PRINCIPLES. 43

Still, as before stated, these activities differ relatively
in degree during the different periods of life.

l^ext to the Perceptive powers the Memory is the
most vigorous intellectual faculty possessed by the
young. It is the granary of the mind. Let it be
well filled while it can be, as from its stores all the
other faculties must take their materials.

A little later the faculties of Recollection and
Imagination are developed in full strength. Both
are engaged in lifting up the elements of knowledge
from the depths of the Memory and placing them
in vivid pictures before the mind. The forms of
the Imagination are, however, at first rude and
fanciful, being yet unchastened by the higher powers
of Judgment and Reason.

The Understanding is the working power of the
mind. It studies the relations of wholes to parts,
parts to wholes, and things to one another. It
classifies, generalizes, reasons. This power, al-
though manifesting itself in a little child, does not
attain maturity until the age of manhood.

The Reason rules the mind. As soon as a child
is conscious of the identity or difference of two
objects, he must use his Reason; nor can he take a
single step in any intellectual process w^ithout its
aid. But, while this is true. Reason can never assume
full sway until all the other intellectual faculties
perform their work. A commanding general can-
not wield the whole power of his army unless every
subordinate officer and every private does his duty.
Kone but a man intellectually full-grown can make
a right use of his Reason, and the most difficult of
all Philosophies is the Philosophy of Reason itself.



44 methods of instruction.

6. The Human Mind Possesses two Soukces of
Knowledge, the Senses and the Season, the Pro-
ducts OF WHICH Differ in Kind. — That we derive
knowledge through the senses, no one doubts. It
consists, in the first place of facts, which, however,
may be -elaborated into systems of science. Know-
ledge thus derived may be called empirical know-
ledge, because its source is experience.

That we possess knowledge which we do not
derive through the senses must be evident to all
who will consider the matter. Our idea of space,
for example, is not merely the sum of all the spaces
embraced in our experience, but it transcends all
possible experience. So of the idea of time. We
can acquaint ourselves with things that are very
great in extent — the earth, the distances of the
heavenly bodies, the profound abysses penetrated
by the telescope, but still we know that all these
are limited, finite, and we cannot help believing that
there is something more, the unlimited, the infinite.
i^o experience can show us that two straight lines
cannot enclose a space, or that two parallel lines
will never meet, and yet we know that such is the
case. We may, indeed, have no adequate concep-
tion of' the absolute or the infinite, of a creation,
of God, or of immortality ; but certainly we have
ground for thinking that there is something un-
caused, something unlimited, that the universe had
a beginning, that God is, and the human spirit is
immortal. In every direction the intuitions of the
Reason overleap the boundaries of experience, and
furnish, at least, a ground for enlightened faith.
As the Reason is the source of the kind of know-



CONDITIONING PRINCIPLES. 45

ledge now referred to, it may be called rational
knowledge.

Empirical knowledge includes all that concerns
the qualities and quantities of things, the relations
of substances and attributes, and causes and effects,
and systems of inductive science. Rational know-
ledge includes the universal and necessary princi-
ples which condition the whole of the mind's opera-
tions, which form the foundation of all Philosophy,
properly so called, and upon which must rest all
firm faith in ''things unseen."

The value of what has just been said will be
appreciated by the man}^ thinking teachers who
lament the materialistic tendencies of some of our
modern systems of education. All the knowledge
that can be gained through the senses may be, but
why should we close up that other fountain of the
soul from which comes knowledge richer and
purer? It will do us good to remember that "Man
cannot live by bread alone."

7. In ACQUIRING Knowledge the mind first dis-
tinguishes ITS objects in kind, then in quantity,
AND afterwards IN THEIR RELATIONS. — Perhaps the
distinguishing of an object in kind involves some-
what of the processes of distinguishing it in quan-
tity, and in its relations ; but the arrangement as
expressed is as correct as any serial arrangement
of mental phenomena can be, and will be found to
have much practical value in the work of education.

A child first noticing objects, retains only that
general impression of them which enables him to
recognize them among other objects. Long after-



46 METHODS OF INSTRUCTION".

wards, it may be, he attends to them more closely,
makes accurate measurements of the qualities he
observes, or determines their quantities. Still later
he learns to inquire into causes,' to look for ends, to
estimate uses.

Our investigations concerning what is new to us
follow the same order. Take a crystal : we first dis-
tinguish it from other things; then count its faces,
measure its angles, test its structure ; and afterwards
search for the causes which may have been opera-
tive in its formation. Take heat : we bring it under
observation as a distinct object; we invent thermom-
eters to measure it, and then busy ourselves in find-
ing a theory that will account for its facts.

The genesis of science is in accordance with the
same principle. Astronomy, in its beginnings, con-
sisted of the loose observations ignorant men could
make with the unaided vision. In course of time
observations became more numerous and more
exact until measurements were attempted ; and
finally the speculations of Copernicus and Galileo,
and the great discoveries of Kepler and Newton
made the study of the stars, a science. Some facts,
belonging to the science of chemistry, must have
been possessed by the most ignorant savages ; these
greatly multiplied would naturally attract the atten-
tion of men in more highly civilized communities,
who would set about determining their nature, their
quantity ; and, by-and-by, laws would be discovered
and a science begin to emerge from the confused
mass of materials. The other sciences have grown
up in the same way.

8. The Katiocinative Faculty in ELABOKATiNa



CONDITIONING PRINCIPLES. 47

Systems of Science proceeds inductively or deduc-
tively, AJ^ALYTICALLY OR SYNTHETICALLY. — I USe the

expression ratiocinative faculty to designate a specific
application of the faculty of the Understanding;

Starting out with the products of the Senses and
the Reason, two modes of dealing with them are
possible. We can commence with particular phe-
nomena, and proceed to find the general laws which
comprehend them. This is Induction. It is a
process of involution.

We can commence with general or universal
truths, and proceed to find the particular truths
which are embodied in them. This is Deduction.
It is a process of evolution.

All reasoning must be either inductive or deduc-
tive. We can take wholes and unfold their parts,
or we can take parts and unite them into wholes,
but all thinking in judgments must assume one or
the other of these forms. Logicians use but two
kinds of syllogism, the inductive and the deductive.

Analysis and synthesis are the servants of induc-
tion and deduction. Analysis is the separation of a
whole into the elements which compose it. Syn-
thesis is the composition of a whole from the parts
which belong to it. An observer noticing a phe-
nomenon which he wishes to understand, simplifies
it by division, and then infers the law that controls
it. Thus his power of induction is aided by analysis.
Or he may have discovered a number of difierent
laws relating to phenomena and desire to combine
them all into a system of science, and this can be
done only by the process of multiplication. Thus
Ms power of induction is aided by synthesis. The



48 METHODS OF INSTRUCTION.

general or universal principles with which deduction
begins imply in their very names the existence of
special or conditioned principles, from which they
can be discriminated only by a process of analysis.
Thus analysis aids deduction. A deductive science
like Geometry is made up of a system of truths de-
pending upon axioms^ definitions, and preceding
demonstrations, and is a work of synthesis. Thus
synthesis aids deduction.

Systems of science, therefore, must be elaborated
by the methods of induction and deduction aided
by those of analysis and synthesis, and the methods
used in constructing systems of science must also be
used in teaching them.

9. The Acquisitive Powers of the Mind in get-
ting Knowledge operate according to certain
Laws of Suggestion. — The laws of suggestion are
operative in the search for original knowledge. We
begin to make observations upon a particular object,
directly it ^Dresents itself in another point of view,
and then in still another ; and thus we are led for-
ward in a series of successive steps. Or from one
object, we may pass to another, and then to others,
neglecting many but selecting some, which upon an
examination of the train will be found to follow
one another according to some principle of sugges-
tion. Series of experiments, too, are mostly carried
on in the same way, the first suggesting the second,
and the second the third, and so to the end. That
the mind thus proceeds in getting knowledge by
means of observation and experiment there can be
no doubt. Suggestion of a different kind may lead



CONDITIONING PRINCIPLES. 49

it on from one set of reasonings to anotlier, but still
this higher work of the mind may be considered as
proceeding according to the same law.

The laws of suggestion are operative in the study
of acquired knowledge. It is associated facts that
most attract children and most engage their atten-
tion. Present them as isolated statements and they
will be forgotten, weave them into a narrative or
story, and they impress themselves on the memory
forever. The advance in study is most rapid where
the facts to be learned are systematically arranged,
when all the parts of the sciences under considera-
tion follow one another in a logical order.

It follows from what has been said that teachers
should understand the laws of suggestion, and take
advantage of them in imparting knowledge.

10. The Eeproductive Powers of the Mind by
MEANS OF Laws of Association enable it to recall
ITS Knowledge and to hold it up in vivid Pictures
before it. — Every one is aware that his thoughts
are not isolated, but that each is a link in a chain.
It is proper to speak of a train of thought. Some cir-
cumstance suggests a thought, that suggests another,
and so on in a ceaseless flow. Or we can hold up
before the mind one conception or element of
thought, and immediately other conceptions or
elements of thought crowd about it and appear in
connected or related clusters.

Sir William Hamilton says that '' thoughts are
associated, or able to excite each other; 1st, if co-
existent, or immediately successive in time ; 2d, if
their objects are conterminous, or adjoining in space ;

5



50 METHODS OF INSTEUCTION.

3d, if they hold the dependence to each other of
cause and effect, or of mean and end, or of whole
and part ; 4th, if they stand in a relation either of
contrast or of similarity ; 5th, if they are the opera-
tions of the same power, or of different powers con-
versant about the same object; 6th, if their objects
are the sign and the thing signified ; or 7th, even
if their objects are accidentally denoted by the same
sound. These laws may be reduced in number, but
they seem more easily applied as stated. They must
condition the whole work of imparting knowledge.
Questions cannot be asked by a teacher, nor can
answers be given by pupils skilfully without ob-
serving them. They determine the order of arrange-
ment in both science and art.

11. The Productive Powers of the Mind enable

it to make neay discoveries and new inventions.

Pacts disprove the doctrine of those w^ho maintain
that there is nothing new, that what seems new is
but the revival of the old which had been forgotten.
Ideas may not be innate, but we have innate powers
of mental production. There can be originality in
this sense, that one man may think something that
no other man ever thought. Apparent chance may
present a fact, or occasion a circumstance, which a
thousand men will pass by unheeding, but at last
one comes that way to whom its language is intelli-
gible, and the world is blessed with a new discovery,
or a new invention — a law of gravitation or a steam-
engine. The mind has productive powers. It is
not like a mirror reflecting back only what is pre-
sented before it. It is an active principle, capable



CONDITIOXI^'G PRINCIPLES. 51

of guiding its own exertions, capable of making
plans, capable of searching for truth and of apply-
ing it to new uses, and expressing it in new forms.
Such powers ought not to rust away in inactivity.

12. The Human Intellect Grows only by its
OWN Inherent Energies. — All true education is a
growth. The mind is not a mere capacity to be
filled like a granary, it is a power to be developed.
It is no tabula rasa — no blank sheet of paper to be
written upon, but it has innate activities which
prompt it towards its end, and cause it to modify all
with which it comes in contact. The horticulturist
puts his seed in good soil, surrounds the plants with
circumstances most favorable to their growth (a
j)roper degree of heat, light, and moisture), protects
them from injuries, and expects his crop. He knows
that the life-principle which God placed in the seed
needs but opportunity to grow. The mind must re-
ceive a like culture. When the human body needs
food the healthy appetite craves it, and if taken
into the stomach without such craving, it is apt to
clog the system rather than to nourish it. IS'either
can the mind be forced to digest its food. Even an
unprofessional diagnosis reveals the fact that there
are many cases of mental dyspepsia in our schools.
A desire to know is the mental appetite, and the
gratification of this desire must be a primary condi-
tion for all normal growth of the intellect.

13. The Acts of Men do not derive their Moral
Quality from the Intellect. — The best fruit of the
intellect is science, and the principles of science



52 METHODS OF INSTEUCTION.

cannot be said to be rigbt or wrong — they are simply
truths. The intellect, indeed, enables us to com-
prehend moral as well as other truths, but, in the
mere comprehension of a moral truth, I can detect
no moral element.

It must not be inferred, however, that intellectual
culture has no relation to moral and religious cul-
ture. It is intellectual culture that renders moral
and religious culture possible. The intellect is the
eye of the soul, and all our seeing earthward and
heavenward is done by it. It is the intellect that
reveals God in His works, in His Word, and in the
human soul. A man may be pious and know little
of the principles of science, but he must have sources
of light Avithin himself.

The culture of the intellect must precede all other
culture. We must acquaint ourselves with acts
before we can judge whether they are right or
wrong. We must know that God is, before we can
love him. A knowledge of the important Psycho-
logical fact, that the intellectual capacity of the
mind acts of itself in the presence of its objects,
and that the emotive and executive capacities await
the action of the intellect, would have enabled mis-
sionaries to understand, long before they found it
out by costly experience, that schools must precede
churches in heathen countries in order to make their
labors most effectual. The principle is applicable
everywhere.

14. The Intellect of Man has Limits which no
Extent of Education can enable it to pass. — In
all human reasoning something has to be taken for



CONDITIONING PEINCIPLES. 53

granted. The most profound logic can neither take
us back to a beginning nor lead us forward to an
end. Looking backward, successions in nature seem
like an endless chain of effects and causes, and,
looking forward, they seem like an endless chain of
causes and effects. We can think successive periods
in time or points in space uiitil the imagination
grows weary with the vast summation, but still there
is more beyond. We can mount the great ladder
of successive causes until our heads grow dizzy, and
yet we fail to form an adequate conception of the
absolute. Finite ourselves we cannot measure the
infinite.

All that is said in the preceding paragraph is
true, and yet it does not express the exact limita-
tions of human thought. We cannot measure the
infinite, but toe can think in all directio7is beyond the
finite. Our idea of space is not filled by the sum
of all experienced spaces, nor our idea of time by
the sum of all experienced times. We feel thiit
there are more links in the chain of causation than
can be counted. We cannot indeed by searching-
find out God, but we can know that He exists. "A
Deity understood" says Sir William Hamilton,
"would be no Deity at all." The highest effort of
reason is to furnish a ground for faith. We have a
clear view up to the boundaries of the finite and the
relative, and then we are permitted — glorious privi-
lege ! — to know that the infinite and the absolute,
the unconditioned — lie beyond. The conviction
that we have power in thought to overleap the con-



Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 3 of 31)