Joseph Kinmont Hart.

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going on in the mind of the pupil, and what actual changes
are taking place in his experience ? " Of course the answers


to these and all similar problems are to be found not in
idealistic speculations, but in the long and patient inquiries
into the fields of psychology, inquiries which have marked
the succeeding century. The tragedy of educational history
of the nineteenth century is this : In the universal recon-
struction that the revolutions forced upon the world at the
beginning of the century the educational problem became
recognized as one of the most fundamental social problems ;
and in the intellectual reconstruction that was actually be-
gun by Kant the educational problem became recognized as,
in large measure, a problem in psychological analysis. Yet
in the face of these two tremendous facts few social, politi-
cal, or even psychological leaders have been interested in
the deeper problems of education, and most teachers have
been utterly innocent of any understanding of the develop-
ments in psychology or the tremendous importance of
psychology in the understanding of the problem.

The world has been passing through a series of profound
revolutions since the days when Rousseau wrote his
"Emile." These revolutions have affected our whole po-
litical structure, and our whole industrial organization is in
the process of reconstruction. Religious life has not felt
the effects of this revolutionary influence in any marked
degree, save in the direction of. certain disintegrating ten-
dencies; for the religious revolution failed to realize its
early aims, and the religious world settled back into a sort of
futile contentment. The actual organization of democratic
nations has come about ; but the logic of democracy has not
yet found its place in the control of education. The revo-
lution has not yet penetrated to our educational procedure.
The implications of the social and intellectual revolutions of
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries have been
wearing upon our educational traditions for a generation;
but those traditions die hard. We shall see hereafter how


the traditions of the prepsychological ages find much sub-
stantial support in certain belated groups, or parties, whose
members have received the benefits of many wonderful de-
velopments in certain fields of modern knowledge, but who
are, none the less, pitifully ignorant of the no less wonderful
developments in these more central aspects of human ex-
perience. We may even see how scientists may come to be
peculiarly obstinate obstacles to the developments of psy-
chology, and, therefore, to a more effectual education.
Especially shall we see that in practically all educational
practice the child is still treated as being a passive recipient
of the world of nature and culture. Kant 's wonderful con-
ception that the mind shall be central in the active task of
world building, that creative activity should be the true
mark of experience-development, is lost to view. It is the
Socratic doctrine returned to earth. But was not Socrates
put to death ; and did not his doctrines die with him ? We
shall see !



SINCE Kant there have been two fundamental tendencies
in the field of educational discussion, aside from the com-
mon run of traditional practice which has gone on and still
goes on, but is little affected by theoretical discussions. On
the one hand, of course, such discussion has been constantly
determined and controlled by the growing insight which
the study of psychology has given ; that is to say, one of the
two tendencies has had as its chief guide the growing sci-
ence of psychology, and it has attempted to become con-
sciously psychological. This tendency has gradually be-
come more and more aware of its problem or problems, and
has gradually worked for a more complete elaboration of its
analysis and its tools, until now it seems to be entering upon
a stage wherein it will be almost as sure of its functions as
any of the applied sciences, though, of course, it is by no
means as certain of its methods, or even of its data, as are
these other less personal but more objective lines of con-
structive effort. On the other hand, however, there is still
a large measure of educational discussion that goes on prac-
tically oblivious to the fact that psychology exists. It
works over old materials and concepts, or new ones, in good
seventeenth century fashion; it sticks to the old traditions
and methods, as if Kant 's ' ' Copernican revolution in think-
ing" had never been suggested. Such unintelligent discus-
sion muddles things immeasurably. It is ignorant of its
own ignorance, being intelligent only in some department



of knowledge, science, language, or application of knowl-
edge, and caring nothing for the theory of its own practices
or the intelligent criticism of those practices which psychol-
ogy could offer. Among representatives of this tendency
psychology is sometimes accepted as profitable material of
education stuff to be learned. But it has no bearing on
the processes of learning ! Theory, the one means by which
thinking has been liberated from the control of old fables in
the fields of physics and chemistry and the sciences gener-
ally, is looked upon with suspicion as a means of liberating
men's practices in those fields where liberation is most neces-
sary, that is, in the field of education. And this tendency
is frequently found among leading thinkers, scientists who
in their own special lines have become wonderfully liber-
ated. One of the greatest obstacles to educational progress
to-day is found in the failure of many leading educators to
recognize the fact that psychology bears something of the
same relationship to education that physics bears to engi-

We must first follow out briefly the preliminary course
of this new psychological movement in education, in order
that we may catch some glimpse of the problems that are
still to be solved. Three great names appear in close rela-
tionship Pestalozzi, Herbart, and Froebel.

Pestalozzi. Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827)
was the first notable representative of this new tendency
to consider educational problems from within the pupil's
experience. He was more than a teacher in the schools. He
was a public educational reformer, a social leader in the
revolutionary reconstructions of the eighteenth and nine-
teenth centuries, and a Swiss patriot all in one, if this
seems not too incredible. He first thought of becoming a
religious leader, but he failed in his efforts to conduct the
conventional religious services. He tried law, but he broke


down in health. Having some acquaintance with Rousseau,
he decided to return to nature. At the age of twenty-one
he burned all his books and turned farmer! He married
at twenty-three. His little son, Jacobli, became his text-
book, his laboratory, and his experimental school. Taking
Rousseau's root ideas as his starting point, he worked away
in the obscurity of his farm at the task of thinking through
some of the problems that Rousseau had merely sighted.
Then the children of the poor in his district attracted him,
and he sought means of helping them to some contact with
knowledge. Later, becoming poorer than the poor whom he
was trying to help, he wrote the great book which is his
finest contribution "Leonard and Gertrude," a story of
rural life in which he sets forth his views on social and edu-
cational reforms. Still later he became the keeper of a
poorhouse for a time, hoping to find a chance to carry out
his experiments with the children of the poor. But this
lasted a very short while. Then he became a teacher in a
school at Burgdorf, on suspicion. Here for five years he
worked with little children from five to eight years old, and
achieved success and fame. Here he wrote and published
"How Gertrude Teaches Her Children," which sets forth
most fully the fundamental conceptions upon which his
work was based. After 1805 he went to Yverdun, where for
a number of years he continued his brilliant work. Then
came many years of private and public misunderstandings,
and at last the breakdown of a brilliant career.

Pestalozzi's Educational Aims. Pestalozzi was not, as
we have said, merely a teacher in the schools. He was edu-
cator, reformer, and patriot, and he sought to deal with
education as a great social function. He would extend the
provisions for education to all the people. The lower classes,
he insists, have "precisely the same right to enjoy the light
of the sun" as have the upper classes. Not only that alone.


The only way society can be saved from its poverty, its mis-
ery, and its moral degradation is by extending education
to every individual child. But this great social ideal would
be the most formal and barren of useless dreams unless the
educational institutions and methods were made over in
conformity with the finer ideals of the times. Hence Pes-
talozzi undertakes the appalling task of psychologizing edu-
cation. He has the "natural ' ' spirit of Rousseau ; and with
it he has something of the psychological insight of the best
leaders of that line of development, especially Kant and
Fichte. And he starts upon the long task, not even to-day
fully begun, with the joy of certain achievement. His edu-
cational creed has been summarized by his biographer, Morf ,
in the following formal statements :

Observation is the foundation of instruction.

Language must be connected with observation.

The time for learning is not the time for judgment and criti-

In each branch, instruction must begin with the simplest ele-
ments, and proceed gradually by following the child's develop-
ment; that is, by a series of steps that are psychologically con-

A pause must be made at each stage of the instruction suf-
ficiently long for the child to get the new matter thoroughly into
his grasp and under his control.

Teaching must follow the path of development, and not that
of dogmatic exposition.

The individuality of the pupil must be sacred for the teacher.

The chief aim of elementary instruction is not to furnish the
child with knowledge and talents, but to develop and increase the
powers of his mind.

To knowledge must be joined power; to what is known, the
ability to turn it to account.

The relation between master and pupil, especially so far as
discipline is concerned, must be established and regulated by love.


Instruction must be subordinated to the higher end of educa-
tion. 1

Pestalozzi works for the "development of human nature
and the harmonious cultivation of its powers and talents."
He finds that use exercise is the only means of develop-
ment these powers possess. Work activity of a construct-
ive sort is the surest of all means of growth, for "man is
much more truly developed through that which he does than
through that which he learns." But especially human na-
ture in the child must come into actual contact with the
realities of the world of experience, must get its actual im-
pressions from real experiences, must have its intuitions cul-
tivated by feeling the impress of the physical world-order
on its physical nature, the impress of the moral world-order
on its moral nature, etc. This actual intuition of the real-
ities of the world on the part of the child must be fixed in
experience by further observation and by exercise. Words
stand in the way of education, dulling the powers of the
mind and destroying the sensibility of the mind to the reali-
ties of the world. Sense-experiences must always form the
basis of all lasting education. Yet at last these "expe-
riences must be clearly expressed in words, or otherwise
there arises the same danger that characterizes the dominant
word teaching," i.e., lack of understanding of words, and
hence the erroneous use of words.

In a word, Pestalozzi, interested in nature, uses the ma-
terials of the sense-world in his teaching. But whereas the
older sense-realists had attempted to store the minds of their
pupils with the materials of nature, Pestalozzi, following the
lead of Rousseau in the recognition of the self-activity of
the child and the lead of Kant in (his "Copernican revo-
lution") in his recognition of the creative activity of the
mind in all learning processes, attempts to build up nature

i Quoted by Graves: "Great Educators of Three Centuries," p. 136.


in the experience of each of his pupils by the working of
their own creative minds. He works from the inside, not
from the outside of the minds of his pupils. Nature is not
a finished product to begin with ; it is the final product in
the experience of his pupils. The final form of knowledge
is acquired through the development of ideas. Ideas grad-
ually emerge out of a "swimming sea of confused sense-
impressions"; they become definite through critical contrast
with objects and other ideas.

All this is based on the idea of self-activity and self-devel-
opment. The teacher's real business is to give a "helping
hand to the instructive efforts after self -development. "
The child must learn how to observe carefully, since sense-
perception is the basis of all mental development, especially
of judgment and thought. ' ' We get knowledge by our own
investigations, not by endless talk about the results of art
and science." After sense-perception, analysis of experi-
ence must be developed. "We put our children on the road
which the discoverer of the subject himself took."

All in all, Pestalozzi rises rather fully to certain con-
structive details of the great psychological task. It is true
that some of his efforts are more or less unreal. For ex-
ample, his plan to psychologize education was rather fan-
tastic, at least, in so far as it involved the reducing of all the
materials of education to psychological equivalents in the
experiences of children. Such a proposal is very fascinat-
ing. But as a predigesting of educational materials it is
open to the objection that meets all proposals to feed the
world on predigested materials. It is not the predigestion
of materials that is wanted ; it is the proper understanding
of, and adaptation to, the whole process of nutrition.

The Return to Materialism. But this proposal, while it
holds a certain valuable suggestion, is open to one other
almost fatal objection: it seems to turn back upon materials


once more. It may be but the resurgence of that older ma-
terialism which was the favored solution for the educational
problem in the seventeenth century. To be sure, thia
psychologizing of the materials seems to take mind into
account ; and it does, too, in a way, but not in an adequate
way. Or, rather, it takes mind into account in a round-
about way. For, on the whole, this conception of Pesta-
lozzi seems to use the mind merely as a sort of agency to
selection of the proper materials for education. At any
rate, we see his work gradually deteriorate, until once again
materials are dominant. Pestalozzi, himself, recognized the
danger of this return to the old ways. He says : "I cannot
prevent the forms of my method from having the same fate
as all other forms, which inevitably perish in the hands of
men who are neither desirous nor capable of grasping their
spirit." But the danger was not that others would not
appreciate the method at its full value, though of course
that happened in large measure. Pestalozzi, himself, did
not escape from this formal tendency toward the emphasis
upon old materials. In particular he emphasized the teach-
ing of words, plain lists of words, though his method had
been largely a revolt against the mere teaching of words;
and he came, through a fallacious over-emphasis upon the
doctrine of proceeding "from the simple to the complex,"
to a very curious belief that the whole process of education
could be mechanized, that is, reduced to a system that should
be as accurate as a piece of mechanism. The former of
these tendencies shows Pestalozzianism as inculcating words
that run far beyond the experience of the learner, which
Pestalozzi justifies by saying that the ' ' gain of what at this
age is so complete a knowledge of lists of names, so various
and comprehensive, is immeasurable in facilitating the sub-
sequent instruction of children." This is materialistic for-
malism of the finest sort. The latter of these tendencies


shows Pestalozzi attempting to organize "every branch of
popular knowledge or talent" in the form of a "graduated
series of exercises, the starting point of which was within
everybody's comprehension, and the unbroken action of
which, always exercising the child's powers without ex-
hausting them, resulted in a continuous, easy, and attract-
ive progress in which knowledge and the application of
knowledge were always intimately connected."

It would not be fair, however, to class Pestalozzi with the
old sense-realists. He was primarily interested in those
materials of education which come into experience through
the senses by observation. His interest in words goes only
so far as to suggest that the possession of long lists of words
in the mind will be very helpful in dealing with the ma-
terials which observation brings to the mind for use. He
feels with the sense-realists that the best education comes
from the materials which they emphasized. But he has
gone far enough beyond them to want these sense-materials
to come into the mind in a natural manner, that is, psycho-
logically. Hence he would chart out the mind as much as
that is possible ; then he would chart out these desirable ma-
terials, proceeding in them from the simple to the more
complicated ; and finally he would relate all these materials
in definite fashion to the mental processes in such detailed
and simple fashion that "schools would gradually almost
cease to be necessary. ' '

The work of Pestalozzi was a strong, constructive, heroic
effort of a brave and patient life. He accomplished much
by his inspiring work as teacher and by his insight into the
processes of experience. But his own training was not com-
plete enough to enable him to win to the far goal. Tradi-
tion was too firmly rooted in him to be easily overcome, and
he broke down under the strain of years of privation and
misunderstanding. He rose to high fame, and worthily so ;


but he fell to partial obscurity and defeat before he died.
On the side of social reformation his work had broad and
lasting influence ; and he did much to popularize the move-
ment for industrial education and the social care of juvenile
delinquents. In an incidental way his theories affected the
general curriculum, effecting changes in the teaching of the
languages and the study of nature. But he did not suc-
ceed in psychologizing education. Indeed, it may almost be
asserted that his doctrines played into the materialistic tra-
dition by showing how close the materials of the mind can be
made to relate themselves to mental processes. At any rate,
Pestalozzianism is one of the many isms from which educa-
tional theory and practice must escape. More work along
all lines, more analysis of the psychological and logical con-
ditions under which learning takes place, will be necessary
before the whole problem appears and the broader lines of
solution begin to develop. The many-sided argument runs
on from age to age; but intelligence is burrowing deeper
into the task. Nothing less than the whole intellectual-
moral life of humanity is the problem, and the process of
development of that life is the goal. Pestalozzi contributes
his share to the conversation and passes on. We turn to the

next worker in the line of psychological analysis.


The second constructive educational thinker who followed
the new psychological trend was Johann Friedrich Herbart
(1776-1841 ) . Herbart came under the influence of the new
movement in his university career at Jena. It was not
Kant, however, who first influenced him, but Fichte. The
latter was himself a follower first in the new idealistic move-
ment, but later became a constructive thinker in his own
way. Herbart became a professional philosopher, as well as
an educational psychologist, and this experience shows its


influence upon all his work. His aims are more philosophi-
cal (as opposed to being merely psychological) than are
those of Pestalozzi. Indeed, he felt it necessary to criticize
the rather raw sense-methods of Pestalozzi. He considered
the ordinary observation which Pestalozzi esteemed so highly
as being of uncertain value, because the undisciplined senses
(as he argued) were scarcely capable of giving us reliable
truth. He would correct these possibilities of error by
means of an extreme discipline of the senses, which was to
be secured, for example, by the serious study of mathemati-
cal forms.

Herbart's Educational Aims. Herbart believed that
education was worthy of becoming a science in its own
right. He felt keenly the rather superficial views of most
educators of the past. He saw that most of the educational
thinking of the past had been largely made up of uncon-
sidered generalities on the basis of naive assumptions. In
other words, he saw that educational thinking had been
largely devoted to making explicit the unintelligent prac-
tices of the folkways of the past. Herbart would make
educational procedure fully and wholly intelligent. Its
aim must be an intelligent one the actual development
of a moral personality. Its methods must go far beyond
the common practice, on the one hand, and the doubtful
theories of recent writers, on the other. Common prac-
tice was fallacious, of course, because it assumed that mor-
ality was a more or less unpredictable element, not to be
attained by any particular exertion on the part of the
teacher. Locke was a bad guide in that his whole scheme
of education was merely the cultivation of the conventional
man of the world, who, of course, would not rise above the
levels of convention. Rousseau was a bad guide because his
whole scheme of education looked to the development of a
natural man who, of course, should "repeat from the be-


ginning the succession of evils already overcome" by the
race in its progress toward civilization. Herbart would
substitute for all such inadequate conceptions and practices
the method of instruction. He would lay out before the
teacher the whole structure of the mental life, with all its
possibilities, and he would have a teacher who could then
succeed in introducing into the full workings of that human
mental life all the elements that should be needed in the
final summation of a complete moral personality. He would
have all these results come as the natural working of the
principles of instruction carried on according to the real
nature of the individual.

Herbart 's Conception of Method. The moral ideal de-
mands a certain concentration of effort toward a rather dis-
tinct goal. In order to make sure that this effort should
not result in a narrowly dogmatic type of character, Herbart
insists that education must maintain and develop "many-
sidedness of interest." Herbart does not seem to have
based this demand upon the modern conception of many-
sidedness of native capacity, such a conception had not yet
appeared as a working guide, although he does insist that
the early education of the child can best be secured through
the use of such materials as the Odyssey. Rather, he bases
the possibility of the development of a many-sided interest
on the working of reflection. Reflective thought must be so
developed as to make sure that life shall have many aspects,
many references, and many interests.

How shall this reflective thought be thus secured ? Her-
bart has worked out a definite, formal method by which to
make sure of this development. Originally this method was
based on four distinctive steps in the process of thinking,
as follows : clearing up of ideas already in the mind, pres-
entation of new ideas, association of the new ideas with the
old mental contents, and application of these new contents


in practice. We shall see later the full results of this pro-

Online LibraryJoseph Kinmont HartDemocracy in education; → online text (page 23 of 31)