James Pyle Wickersham.

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not possible to account for the origin and growth of
the Arts without admitting that this inventive^ crea-
ting instinct is the foundation upon which they are
based. This power was probably stimulated into
exercise by necessity. Food, clothing, protection
from the elements and from wild beasts, were, at
least, needed by the earliest inhabitants of the earth,
and such wants must be supplied; and, doubtless,
under their pressure the first rude Arts made their
appearance. The kinds of food first used were nuts,
berries and other fruits, and sometimes roots. Flesh
did not come into use until later, and then it was
eaten raw. ^o cooking was done in these early
times. The primitive inhabitants of the earth
clothed themselves witli the leaves of trees or the
skins of animals. Caves and hollow trees were the
first houses, and clubs and stones the first imple-
ments of warfare. With these to start with, the
human race commenced that career of progress
which excites the wonder of all who contemplate it,
but which can be illustrated here by only a few-

The Greeks classed Drawing, Writing, and Paint-
ing together, as having a common basis, and applied
to them the common name y^a(pixYj, or Graphics. It
is to be presumed that men would early endeavor
to represent the strange forms which they saw about
them. The first written communications with one
another were probably of this nature. As a matter


of fact a kind of picture-writing or picture-drawing,
has been found to exist among a number of tribes
low down in the scale of civilization. These rude
drawings were sometimes colored, and thus came
the first attempts at Painting. The colors, however,
were put on with little skill, just as savages paint
their faces or children daub pictures on paper. It
was not till influenced by the fine scenery and
polished culture of Greece that this difiicult art
assumed any thing like perfection. As Drawing,
in the course of time, branched ofiiMnto Paintino^, so

' CD'

also it was the source from which "Writing was
developed. Things were first represented by pic-
tures, and as these, where frequentl}^ used, became
very familiar, their forms were very much changed
and greatly abreviated to render theni more easily
and quickly made. By and by, some of them be-
came symbolical, as a picture of a circle represented
eternity, and one of a fox, cunniug. Then the same
characters, or the same characters somewhat modi-
fied, were used to represent monosyllabic words,
and when these were compounded, syllables of these
words. At last they were made to stand for sounds,
and the Alphabet was invented. Thanks to some
old Egyptian king, whose vanity built the Pyramids
and inscribed them all over with hieroglyphics, for
these same hieroglyphics tell, in unequivocal lan-
guage, the story just related. Champollion and
others seem to have found among them pictures
representing things in every state of transition until
they became letters representing sounds ; that is,
they found the same characters to be ideographic,
verbal, syllabic, and phonetic.


Even in the most polished styles of Architecture
it is thought the influence of the primitive abodes
of men may he traced. The Egyptian style re-
sembles caves ; the Chinese, tents ; the Grrecian, huts ;
and the Gothic, hollow trees, or trees themselves, pine
or fir. Trees driven into the earth in rows to sup-
port a covering may represent columns wider in
diameter below and narrower above as trees are.
The bases of columns may have been suggested by
blocks of stone placed under wooden pillars to keep
them from dampness, and the capitals by boards
laid on the tops of such pillars to broaden the place
of support for the structure which rested upon them.
Sculpture in its beginnings had a close relation
to Architecture. Stone, without doubt, was early
quarried and cut for the purpose of building. Carv-
ings for ornament on rocks and the walls of caves,
succeeded carvings intended to preserve the memory
of real forms or interesting events. These carvings
were at first slight indentations merely presenting
the outlines of the figures, afterwards they were cut
out more fully and assumed the form of bas-relief,
and finally we may reasonably suppose whole statues
were chiseled out. Piles of stone were the first
monuments, then came plain monuments cut from
solid rocks in place, and these among the Greeks
assumed the form of highly beautified sculpture
representing gods and men.

Poetry and Music, closely related as they are,
probably had a cotemporary origin. 'No tribe of
savasres has ever been found who had not forms of
measured words and who did not indulge in singing
them. The Poetry is often barbarous, and the Music.


a succession of discordant sounds ; but they are the
first rude beginnings of arts that have done much
to elevate mankind. The first musical instruments
were probably made of metals, as the Chinese gongs;
of the skins of animals, whence our drums ; of reeds
or the bark of small trees, whence our pipes and
flutes ; and of strings, whence lyres and harps, pianos
and organs.

Agriculture must have been practiced very early,
but the implements used for loosening the soil were
at first sharpen-ed sticks, next came implements of
stone, and after long ages those of iron. Some trade
was probably carried on by all uncivilized nations,
but it consisted merely in exchanges of articles used
for food, clothing, or protection. Rivers were at
first navigated on logs, which afterwards were hol-
lowed out into canoes. A few of the properties of
vegetables seem to have been discovered at an early
day, and certain of them used for medicines among
all primitive people.

Sufiicient has now been said concerning the
Genesis of our Knowledge to warrant a few general-
izations which have an important educational sig-
nificance :

First, Knowledge as a ivliole seems to have been de-
veloped from the commoji observations of men stimulated
by animal or sjnritual ivants. — In the early history of
the race, the pressure of animal wants seems to have
done most to promote science and art; but in all
times, and especially in highly civilized nations,
men have been moved to the attainment of know-
ledge by the wants of their spiritual nature. This


is the case whenever knowledge is sought for its
own sake or with the end in view of making more
perfect him who seeks it.

In addition to what has already been said in sup-
port of the main proposition, the opinion of the
learned Philologist, Max MuUer, may be quoted.
He says, '' However humiliating it may sound, every
one of our sciences, however grand their titles, can
be traced back to the most humble and homely
occupations of half-savage tribes. It was not the
true, the good, and the beautiful, which spurred the
early philosophers to deep researches and bold dis-
coveries. The foundation-stone of the most glorious
structures of human ingenuity in ages to come, was
supplied by the pressing wants of a patriarchal and
semi-barbarous society."

I know indeed that it is argued by some, that
Adam and his immediate descendents must have
received knowledge as a gift from the Divine hand,
inasmuch as no savage nation has ever been known
to civilize itself. But this theory does not account
for the fact that new discoveries and new inventions
have been made, and surely all that is known con-
cerning the evolution of the sciences and arts is
against it. The correct theory probably is that God
endowed the first naen with the power of gaining
knowledge^ that he has continued so to endow man,
and that all progress in learning and skill is owing
to the operation of this power moved by causes
in the condition and circumstances of men, and
prompted at times, doubtiess, by the direct agency
of the spirit of God. It seems clear to me that the
problem of human civilization is impossible of solu-


tion without, an acknowledgment of the direct inter-
position of Deity in the affairs of men.

Second. A Course of Instruction should commence
with the General Elements of Knowledge. — Children
evince their knowledge-acquiring power by noticing
objects, and learning their qualities and phenomena.
They evince their art-producing power by changing
the places of objects, and forming them into new
combinations ; by piling up blocks, building play-
houses, cutting figures from paper, and imitating
the words and actions of those about them. What
has been said concerning the Genesis of our 'Know-
ledge goes to show that, as children acquire know-
ledge now, so men acquired it in the infancy of the
race. It is, therefore, clear that instruction must
begin with the elements of knowledge.

These elements should be made to comprehend
as much as possible — should not be confined to a
few particular branches, but be general. It is a
great mistake to push children into the higher parts
of any one study until they have learned the ele-
ments of many studies. For example, the principles
of Grammar and Arithmetic are studied by many
who ought to be studying the elements of the !N^atu-
ral Sciences, or other branches adapted to their
mental condition. Thousands of children are thus
mentally surfeited every year, and the result is a
mental dyspepsia in early youth that entails, during
their whole life-time, sad consequences upon its
poor victims.

Third. The second great step in a Course of Instruc-


tion should he to acquaint pupils with Particular Branches
of Knowledge. — A cliild learns facts and phenomena
as they present themselves. He may, in a single
day, learn such as belong technically to twenty
different sciences and arts.

At its base all science is united, has only one
trunk ; but it soon begins to divide and subdivide
into numerous branches. The homogeneous be-
comes the heterogeneous by a wonderful process of
differentiation. The undefined elements of general
science become the well-defined elements of par-
ticular sciences. And as is the o:rowth of the sci-
ences so must they be studied.

Branching from the same trunk, the sciences
never lose their reciprocal relationship, and always
shed mutual light upon one another, yet they are
sufficiently distinct to admit of independent study.
Beyond the elements, therefore, the several branches
of science maybe pursued, each by itself, all together,
or a few at a time.

Educational institutions almost universally have
what is called a Course of Study. Each pupil
studies a few branches at a time, and when he is
thought to have completed these to the extent
desired, he commences others, and thus goes on
until he has mastered the prescribed course. "What
u^e has thus sanctioned will generally be found the
best policy.

If a pupil enjoy an opportunity of pursuing a
course of study wisely arranged according to this
plan, it will be well for him to follow it through
Common School, High School, and College, and,
afterward, if the desire exist, and the way open, he


may apply himself to some particular science or
department of science. Considerable general know-
ledge must be possessed, and a good degree of mental
discipline be attained, before fresh investigators can
push their inquiries beyond the present limits of
some existing science, or make discoveries worthy
the name of a new one ; and a life-time is too short
to accomplish much in a wider, unexplored Held of
research than a single science affords. In fewer
words, the plan proposed is this : teach, first, the
elements of the sciences in general ; next, teach in
detail the most important principles of the several
sciences composing a carefully arranged course of
study ; and last, let those who can, make themselves
masters of some special branch of science, and push
their inquiries beyond what is known respecting it.
This is essentially the plan adopted in countries
where learning has made the greatest progress ;
and it is the only f)lan which can secure to the stu-
dent general scholarship under the greatest advan-
tages, and, at the same time, afford him opportunity,
with the fairest prospects of success, of fathoming
the depths of some special science, and adding, in
that direction, something to the sum of human

Fourth, A Course of Instruction should End hy
Teaching the Relatioyiship and Harmony of all Knoiu-
ledge. — It would be a difficult thing to determine the
lines which separate one science or one art from
another. Knowledge is not composed of indepen-
dent facts and principles, all its parts belong to one
whole ; and the Philosopher is always distinguished


from the mere Scholar by his broad, comprehensive
generalizations which mark the unity of created
things and from which may be inferred the iinit}^ of
the creating Mind.

1^0 course of study can be considered complete
until the logical relations of all its parts have been
exhibited. Pupils pursuing different studies, treated
of in different works by different authors, and some-
times taught by different teachers, are apt to over-
look their relationship and harmony. Each branch
becomes isolated, and pupils are required to study
the details of particular sciences when they ought
to be engaged in learning the principles of general
science. It is hardly possible in school, for example,
to teach, in full detail, any one of the Natural
Sciences, but it is possible to teach the great, leading
principles of all of them. The specific study of the
sciences should, therefore, be followed by the general
study of science. A course of study should not end
in a number of points but in a centre. The skill of
an architect cannot be fully appreciated while his
work lies scattered in disjointed fragments, so the
value of science is much lessened and its beauty
much obscured to him whose study ends in contem-
plating disconnected facts, broken sj-stems, and
inharmonious expressions. Comte says : " The
present exclusive speciality of our pursuits, and the
consequent isolation of the sciences, spoil our teach-
ing. If any student desires to form an idea of ]N'a-
tural Philosophy, as a whole, he is compelled to go
through each department as it is now taught, as if
he were to be only an Astronomer, or only a Chemist ;
so that, be his intellect what it may, his training


must remain very imperfect. And yet his object
requires that he should obtain general positive con-
ceptions of all the classes of natural phenomena.
It is such an aggregate of conceptions of all classes,
whether on a great or on a small scale, v^hich must
henceforth be the permanent basis of all human
combinations. It will constitute the mind of future
generations. In order to this regeneration of our
intellectual system, it is necesssary that the sciences,
considered as branches from one trunk, should yield
us, as a whole, their chief methods and their most
important results. The specialities of science can
be pursued by those whose vocation lies in that
direction. They are indispensable, and they are
not likely to be neglected, but they can never of
themselves renovate our system of Education."

in. The Order of Study.

It was previously stated that the sciences do not
admit of a serial arrangement. In their primary
elements, all of them are equally simple, and in their
ultimate principles all of them are equally difficult.
They can be cultivated simultaneously, or they can
be cultivated as they grew up, first, in the form
of general elements ; second, in the form of special
sciences ; and, last, in the form of the philosophy of
science. Upon these points, however, sufficient has
already been said.

In the discussion which is to follow, concernine:

methods of teaching the several branches of study,

much care will be taken to point out the order in

which the several parts of each branch should be



taught, and this will render unnecessary an investi-
gation of the same subject in this place. It is de-
signed here to show what different studies or parts
of different studies can be profitably pursued simul-
taneously. Our aim will not be to name these
studies so much with reference to their logical rela-
tions among themselves as with respect to their
adaptation to the mental condition of pupils when
they engage in their study. Constant reference will
be had to the Classification of Knowledge already

Our education should never end, but that portion
of our days which we appropriately devote almost
exclusively to obtaining an education, may be called
the school-time of life. Our school-time of life may
be divided into four periods ; the first embracing
the time from birth to the age of five years ; the
second, from the age of five to ten ; the third, from
ten to sixteen ; and the fourth, from sixteen to
twenty-one. The first of these periods may be
called Infancy; the second, CMldJwod; the third,
Youth; iindtheionrth,3Ianhood. This classification
will be of much practical value, but from the nature
of the case it is a very loose one. The task we
undertake is to name the branches of learning or
the kind of study suitable for each period. A
general statement is all that is practicable, and each
teacher must work out the details for himself with
the aid furnished him in subsequent chapters.

First Period. — Lifaney. — The first care of a
mother is to preserve her infant's health. The


large number of deaths which occur during infancy
proves such care to be necessary.

'Not less important than the preservation of their
health is the formation of the character of young
children. Those traits of character which distin-
guish a child at five years of age are most likely to
distinguish him through life. Much influence may
be allowed to the laws of hereditary descent, their
due weight may be given to the circumstances of
the school and of general society, and it will still be
true that whether an individual possess the virtues of
industry, perseverance, honesty, manliness, bravery,
kindness, piety, and the like, or otherwise, will de-
pend mainly upon the home instruction, or rather
hoine-impressions, which children receive during the
first five years of life. But w^e are at present con-
cerned only with the intellectual acquisitions which
a child can make during the period of Infancy.
These intellectual acquisitions have been expressed
by the terms Elements of Knowledge, and are con-
sidered to form the bases of all we know. Such
knowledge comes from an experience with objects,
and is best learned, as will be shown hereafter, in
series of lessons given without much regard to the
scientific arrangement of their subject-matter. All
classes of knowledge may be profitably embraced
in a single lesson. Here, however, it may be best
to point out what a child may learn during the
period of Infancy concerning the elementary facts,
phenomena, and forms of the great classes into
which it has been deemed expedient to divide our

An infant learns to speak. It is a wonderful pro-


cess, and requires the guiding care of parents. The
speaking instinct must be encouraged to manifest
itself with the utmost freedom. The sounds of the
language must be correctly uttered and proper forms
of expression must be furnished, and the child's
faltering tongue be taught to imitate them. If a
child listen to good language, he will know no
other. All bad habits of speech should be carefully

E"umber is an idea which we obtain very early.
Before the age of live, a child may be taught to
count objects, and to add and subtract small num-
bers by their means. He must be able to conceive
forms in order to tell one object from another. He
reasons, too, and should have his opportunities 'of so
doing multiplied.

Before a child can speak, objects may be given to
him, and he will learn many of their properties in play-
ing with them. Well-selected toys may be made to
furnish valuable information. Th^ more he is allowed
to hear and see, the sharper will be his senses and
the more he will remember. It can hardly be said
with sufficient emphasis that the kind of instruction
most suitable for Infancy is that wdiich is addressed
to the senses and the powers of perception — that
w^hich can be best imparted by the direct presenta-
tion of objects and their phenomena or vivid pic-
tures of them. The intense curiosity of children
prompts them to seek what is new, but they notice
things as individuals, not in their connections, and
nature on the surface so presents them. The Em-
pirical sciences are based upon the facts of expe-
rience, and, if allowed fit opportunity, a little child


will become acquaiuted with mnltitucles of these

During the period now referred to, the principles
of the Eational sciences cannot be made the direct
object of instruction ; but it is very evident that they
are operative in the minds of children. They recog-
nize the truth of such axioms as " A whole is greater
than any of its parts" in relation to particular things,
although they do not generalize them or understand
their verbal expression. They also can be trained
in a degree to discriminate between truth and false-
hood, beauty and deformity, and right and wrong.
No part of elementary education can be of greater
importance than that of teaching the young to make
these recognitions and discriminations, but there is
no part of it more neglected.

Nothing delights a child more than stories, narra-
tives, and personal incidents, if related or read in
language which he can understand. Good fruit
could be produced by instruction of this kind.

Children can learn to sing almost as soon as they
can learn to talk. At the age of three or four, they
wdll draw figures on a slate or blackboartl, cut paper,
mould clay, build play-houses, and imitate many
simple, mechanical contrivances. Such educators
as Pestalozzi and De Fellenberg understood this
want of children and provided for it.

Secoxd Period. — Childhood. — If during the period
of his life between the ages of five and ten years,
a child does not learn to speak well, it is scarcely
likely that he will ever do so. Pure models should
be furnished him ; and he may be taught to speak


foreign languages as well as his mother-tongue.
Exercises in Pronouncing, Spelling, Reading and
Composing, may be commenced and prosecuted
during this period. The meaning of a great number
of words may be learned if properly illustrated and
explained. Lessons on classes of words may be
given, but Grammar proper is a study too difficult
for children under the age of ten.

During this period children can be readily taught
to read and write numbers, and to perform the
Mathematical operations of Addition, Subtraction,
Multiplication, and Division, both of Integers and
Fractions. These operations should be performed
at first with objects, and both the mental and written
forms of solution ought to be practiced. They may
engage with great profit in the solution of simple
problems involving these fundamental rules, but
they cannot make much progress in reasoning about
the relations of numbers. Pupils of this age, too,
may be made acquainted with Geometrical figures
and their properties so far as they can be exhibited
to the eye by diagrams or blocks. Any except the
simplest attempts at demonstration would be out of
place. 'No generalization of the reasoning process
can be understood by a child of ten years of age,
and, therefore, theoretical Logic is beyond his reach.
He can reason, however, and should be encouraged
to use his powers in this respect. His questions
should be answered, and he should be led to seek
for the causes of things.

From five to ten years of age, the powers of the
mind which are predominantly active are the senses,
the perceptive faculties, the memory, and the fancy ;


and these fit the mind for making observations and
storing away facts. It cannot be doubted, therefore,
that much time during this period should be spent
in the study of the elements of the Empirical sciences.
A child may be made familiar with thousands of in-
terestins: facts, and learn the names of thousands of
interesting objects. He may thus be made acquainted

Online LibraryJames Pyle WickershamMethods of instruction .. → online text (page 7 of 31)