Joseph Kinmont Hart.

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cedure. We must now follow Herbart's psychology a little

Herbart is distinctly what may be called an intellectualist.
That is to say, for him ideas are the primary characteristic
of the mind the mind being in one sense just a series of
masses of ideas, each of which, with more or less persistence
and regularity, occupies the center of consciousness, rising
above the threshold of consciousness for a time and then
falling below that threshold. Ideas are the prime reality,
the real force of the mind and of the world. Will, itself, is
but a sort of special form of intellectual activity, as are also
interest, feeling, and desire. In such a system it will be
readily seen that the chief problem in moral development is
that of bringing the proper ideas into the mind, getting
them into the circle of thought, since in this way these ideas
would thus get in their work upon the will. But ideas are
forces, and those that are in the mind are in constant battle
for the possession of consciousness, fighting with each other
for the central position of power and of course joining
hands, as we might say, in their common fight to prevent the
intrusion of any other ideas not distinctly related in charac-
ter to those already within the mind. That is to say, Her-
bart conceives of these ideas as being actively engaged in
the fight for a place in the mind, combining with each other
for mutual help and attacking each other, their modes of
combination being regular and ascertainable. He even goes
so far as to work out those modes of relationships in exact
mathematical terms.

Apperception. This discussion will help to make clear
the celebrated doctrine of apperception, which two decades
ago seemed to offer the long-sought clue to the educational
millennium. Herbart conceives of the mind as being thus
constituted of masses of ideas, each with its own character-


istic nature. These various masses of ideas welcome other
ideas which seem to possess the same general character, and
which will therefore strengthen the fight of these former
ideas for their dominant position in the mind. These masses
of old ideas not only welcome all new ideas of a similar char-
acter, but they take in the new ideas ; they assimilate them
and make them part of the existent mass. So that every
new idea taken into the mind swells its particular existent
mass of ideas and makes easier the entrance of other ideas
of the same general type ; and, by the same token, this makes
more difficult the entrance of ideas of another type. These
previously existent masses of ideas are the famous ' ' apper-
ception masses." They welcome, assimilate, and organize
into themselves the new ideas. They thus give vital sig-
nificance to all new materials taken into the mind, in that
way adding to perception.

There is a certain obvious value in this doctrine of apper-
ception : it shows the tremendous importance of building up
proper apperception masses in the experience of the child.
If the present contents of the mind have such determining
influence upon later contents, educational destiny may al-
most be said to depend upon the early beginnings of the
process. But there is another item of equal importance.
Ideas not only welcome some ideas ; they also fight the en-
trance of other ideas. And this fight against certain new
ideas may not be due to any moral difference in the nature
of the new ideas, though doubtless this is frequently the
case. The reason for the attitude of conflict upon the part
of the old ideas toward the new may be due to a wide gap
in the logical organization of the new, so that even though
the new ideas are distinctly of the same general character
as the old, yet they are not recognized by the old. They
have no logical similarity of characteristics, and they are
fought on the general ground that always identifies the un-


like with dislike. This indicates the extreme importance of
making the curriculum correspond to the stages of develop-
ment of the child's experience. And this leads to several
striking results. In the first place, and in its smaller aspect,
the materials of the curriculum must be arranged in an
ascending scale of growing complexity, corresponding to the
probable complexities in the experiences of growing child-
hood. In the second place, and from the larger point of
view, it is likely that this proper organization of the studies
will show that the best presentation is that which follows,
at least in great epochs, the history of the development
of those studies in the experience of the race. Thus ap-
pears the celebrated theory of culture epochs, which finds in
the history of the race the clue to the proper organization
of the subject-matter of the modern school curriculum.
This theory is, of course, also closely related to the theory
of recapitulation, according to which the child develops a
series of native activities or capacities or instincts in the
same general order in which those capacities were devel-
oped in the history of the race. But the whole topic is far
too extensive for this present treatment.

One summary statement must conclude this topic. Her-
bart himself sums up the whole matter of apperception in
its relation to the main aim of education, that is, to morality,
in the sentence, ' ' Instruction will form the circle of thought,
and the circle of thought the character." And of such a
system of psychology and education it were not altogether
difficult to understand why a certain leading Herbartian
should say, "Teachers ought to accept it as true and to act
under the assumption that it is true, whether it is true or

Some Results. Herbart is remembered as psychologist
and metaphysician, as well as educator. Indeed, it is likely
that his educational doctrines are but elements in his gen-


eral metaphysic, and that they will suffer the fate of his
general philosophy. There is a certain moral idealism in his
teaching that cannot be escaped. And there is a certain
pious hope that he has found the clue to mental life, and
hence to instruction. But the doctrine of apperception has
passed out of the psychologies; the word is scarcely to be
found in the books of to-day. That does not mean that what
Herbart tried to describe under that name does not exist.
It simply means that it is at present much better described
from another point of view and under another title. Her-
bart 's psychology was associative in its basic features. In
an associative psychology ideas merely attach themselves to
each other like beads on a string ; there is no necessary in-
teraction among them. Herbart felt the unreality of this
conception; but the evolutionary conception of an actively
reconstructive mental life had not developed. If ideas were
to have internal relationships to each other, some special
means of action must be set forth. Perception, itself, being
but the means by which ideas became associated together,
something must be added to perception to bring them into
organic interrelationship. Hence we get apperception, or
something added to perception. To-day, however, percep-
tion is itself described as an active process which involves
all the functions of the mind in the interpretation of new ex-
periences. Hence perception now performs all the func-
tions covered by Herbart 's apperception.

Herbart 's psychology is material for criticism to-day.
Herbart 's formal method has suffered in a somewhat similar
manner. To him, as we have seen, formal method implied a
following of the generalized stages of development by which
the mind takes into itself new materials. That is to say,
Herbart himself always remained a psychologist in his han-
dling of the problems of education. But his most ardent
followers, chief of whom have been English and American


thinkers, have tended to fall away from the psychological
point of view and to once more become materialists in the
seventeenth century sense. That is to say, in the hands of
his followers method has largely ceased to be stages of de-
velopment in the learning process and has become, instead,
stages of development in the organization of materials. In
place of the four formal steps by which the mind appre-
hended the materials of the world and applied them to the
larger uses of life, we find in the later Herbartians five
formal steps in the development of the materials of the les-
son preparation, presentation, association, generalization,
and application. It has been frequently set forth that few
people seem to have the power of dealing thoroughly with
the problem of method. The greater part fall away from
that rather abstract problem to the concrete problem of
reorganizing a curriculum in such way as to fulfil the de-
mands of method as they understand it. The organization
of the mind comes to be assumed as explicit and settled.
The really constructive task is that of organizing the ma-
terials of knowledge so that these will correspond with the
organization of the mind. The Herbartians did not escape
this fate.

But the futility of such a procedure has been rather
clearly recognized. As evidence of this it may be pointed
out that in the late decades of the nineteenth century, under
the stimulus of the Herbartian movement in America, the
National Herbart Society was organized. This organization
carried on investigation of the Herbartian system and prop-
aganda for the purpose of spreading the doctrine. But
under the influence of constructive criticism from practical
school-men and from psychological laboratories the system
soon lost its dominating influence. Herbart fell back from
his rather overwhelming importance in American educa-
tional procedure, and the purposes of the organization were


so far altered by the shifting conditions in theory and in
practice that the name of the society was changed, early in
the twentieth century, from the National Herbart Society to
the Society for the Scientific Study of Education. That is
to say, consideration of the whole broad problem of educa-
tion was to take the place of the study and propagation of
the doctrines of a particular man. But it is no small testi-
monial to the values in the work of Herbart that he could
thus transmute his discipleship into the broader discipleship
of the scientific problem itself. And it may be said, in
closing this study, that Herbart did not contribute much
to the solution of the problems of educational psychology.
That would have been impossible so early in the discus-
sion. He rather contributed to a clearer conception of the
exact nature of the problem. That is to say, he did not leave
an answer to the problem ; he left a more complete statement
of the problem for future analysis.

Herbart differs from Pestalozzi in one fundamental par-
ticular. Pestalozzi was profoundly interested in the way in
which we build up a world for our uses through the activi-
ties of the senses. Herbart is primarily interested in the
world that is revealed to us through our ideas. He finds in
history a great world of social and moral values, just as
Pestalozzi finds about us a great world of nature. Her-
bart 's question is this: How shall the child be enabled to
build for himself, for the uses of his life, this larger world
of morality? Herbart sees that such a world, if it is to
arise at all, must arise in and through the thinking of the
individual. Hence he is primarily interested in the proc-
esses of our thoughts, the activities of our ideas, and how
that activity of the mind actually passes over into the
substance of our world of action. He loses sight, in large
measure, of the problem set by Pestalozzi; but he sets the
whole problem in a larger scale.


Herbart's influence upon American educational discus-
sion has been very marked. It is doubtful, however, just
what value that influence has had. He certainly succeeded
in compelling educators to think about what they were
doing. He broke up old routines and traditions, and he
insisted that education should be the subject of intelligent
discussion. But while he attempts to deal with the process
in psychological terms, his psychology is so inadequate, so
mechanical, that he does not get far. Instead, he turns
aside to deal with materials, to organize materials in the
proper sequence for presentation to the mind. Professor
Dewey says of Herbart's method: "The theory represents
the schoolmaster come to his own. . . . The conception that
the mind consists of what has been taught . . . reflects the
pedagogue 's view of life. The philosophy is eloquent about
the duty of the teacher in instructing the pupils ; it is almost
silent regarding his privilege of learning." That is to say,
once more we are back among the materials. The teacher
is to inculcate; the pupil is to passively "take on" the ma-
terials ; and Kant, with his Copernican revolution in think-
ing which sets forth the doctrine that the mind is to be ac-
tive in the -construction of its own experience-world, is for-

Hence Herbart, having done his work of emphasizing the
problem, must pass on. And once more we turn hopefully
to a new adventure into the mazes of the problem.


Herbart had set the problem of educational analysis on
the high levels of intellectual and ethical realization. This
is, of course, the most important aspect of the whole ques-
tion, and Herbart advanced a statement of it which for a
time was thought to be the final solution of the problem.


But we can now see that his work was but one of the many
necessary steps in the great social discussion, a very valu-
able discussion, but one which brought with it certain er-
roneous conclusions and which is to be regarded as in no
sense really final. We must turn back upon the road by
which he came and pick up some of the threads which he
ignored. We turn to Froebel, the third of this great group
who followed the general lead of the new psychological

Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852). Froebel's childhood was
not a happy one. After a varied career as boy and youth,
he finally found the chance to enter upon the study of edu-
cation. He visited Pestalozzi at the age of twenty-three,
and later as a teacher he lived close to the Pestalozzian
school atYverdun. Later he entered the University of Got-
tingen, determined to find out how to educate human beings
in scientific fashion. Here he did not particularly study
children, or even adults ; nor did he devote his time to phil-
osophy and psychology. Rather, he assumed that the life of
man had been lived in the world, the world of objects ; hence,
he assumed that a study of the world of objects would bring
him closer to a clue to the processes of development of hu-
man experience than would a direct study of that expe-
rience. Later he did study the works of Rousseau, Pesta-
lozzi, and Fichte, thus bringing together the results of his
own study of the world within which men have grown up,
and the results of the study of these great thinkers on the
problem of the experience that has been developed within
this world. He thus brought together the two essential as-
pects of the problem of educational psychology. At the age
of thirty-four Froebel became the guardian of his brother's
children, and he conceived the idea of making these chil-
dren the nucleus of a school that should embody his growing


conceptions of education. This resulted in the Universal
German Educational Institute, to which came many leading
educators of the time.

In 1826 Froebel published his "Education of Man." In
1840 he opened the first kindergarten at Blankenburg. The
idea spread, and in a few years kindergartens had become
common in Germany. This institution was developed, it
will be noted, in Frbebel's mature years. He thought of it
as an institution which should undertake to develop the
child as an organism, knowing the nature of the organism
that was to be developed and making an environment that
should stimulate the sort of organic development that
seemed desirable. This is the most admirable statement yet
developed of the whole process of education. But it was
far too liberal. It was the fate of Froebel's work that it
should develop to this height in the days of the great liberal
movement which culminated in the revolution of 1848 ; and
it was also fated that it should be almost the first to feel
the heavy hand of reaction which followed hard upon those
constructive years. Raumer, reactionary minister of educa-
tion, felt the dangers of such an organic education. In
1851 he ordered all kindergartens closed throughout the
whole kingdom of Prussia. Froebel did not long survive
this blow at his cherished projects. He died in 1852.

Comparison of Froebel with His Predecessors. Pesta-
lozzi worked out in some degree in the field of nature the
general psychological proposals of Kant, while Herbart per-
formed a somewhat similar service in the field of history.
Each saw fairly clearly the meanings of Kant's revolution-
ary doctrines as to the aim of education, but each failed
rather conclusively in the matter of stating these new aims
in the form of new and logically organized method; and, of
course, if this psychological movement was to stand for any-
thing, it must be for method, rather than for either materials


or aims. Froebel understood, at least in some measure, the
failure of psychology to comprehend this problem of method.
In his own work he undertook to remedy the defect. All
his work is essentially in the field of method. He is not yet
master in this field, as is shown by the fact that he devotes
too much of his energy to the working out of mere devices;
but he goes far beyond any other man of his time in the
working out of the problem. However, he never succeeded
in working out the significance of his method for the years
beyond the kindergarten age; but, for that matter, those
years have not, even yet, been successfully analyzed.

Froebel's Method. Froebel accepts the psychological
point of view almost completely. The fundamental clue to the
process of education he finds in his doctrine of the self-
activity of the child. Pestalozzi had touched upon this, but
Herbart, by his emphasis upon the primary nature of ideas,
had been compelled to largely ignore it and to atone for its
loss by introducing the doctrine of apperception. But Froe-
bel holds conclusively to the rather advanced, even evolu-
tionary, doctrine that children are, in their own right, nat-
urally and natively active. It is not the teacher's business
to get them to act. It is the business of the school to
accept this principle of activity and make the most of it.
It is the teacher's work to surround the active child with
a rich world of possible experiences, so that in all their
activity the children will be choosing constructive acts and
building up a world of experience that shall be socially
and ethically desirable, a world that is in accordance with
the principles of the good life. It is the business of teach-
ers of whatever sort to live with their children, and not
merely to teach them.

But living with children means much more than mere
personal presence; it is much more than mere intellectual
performance. It particularly involves the development of


a world of action for the children within which they will
find the stimulations and the opportunities for a normal
sort of life. They are self-active, as we have seen.
Through a sort of philosophical mysticism Froebel finds
God, expressed in universal law and underlying unity, in all
things. He thinks of children as possessed of an original,
unmarred nature, which should be given proper opportu-
nity to develop. The teacher is to make possible the devel-
opment of this inner nature.

It is this expression of the inner life that marks out Froe-
bel's doctrine as of peculiar importance. He says, " Never
forget that the essential business of the school is not so
much to teach and to communicate a large and varied as-
sortment of things as it is to bring out into expression the
ever-living unity that is in all things." Education should
not command; it should nurture and cultivate. All out-
ward action is to be the expression of the inner life. In a
sense it is to be more, indeed. It is to be the expression of
that great universal spirit that underlies all existence, which
is the divine unity of existence. Stripped of its peculiar
philosophical and religious phraseology, this doctrine is not
far removed from much of the later evolutionary doctrine.

Froebel 's Psychology. Froebel's psychology shows some
wonderful insight and some strange lapses. It is too ex-
tensive a subject to be developed here ; but it may be said,
on the side of his larger insight, that he recognized the
manner in which the world of objects develops in the child's
mind. Objects do not stand forth fully-made in the per-
ceptions of the child ; they come into his experience in the
actual development of that experience and through the
slow growth of the powers of sensation, perception, and
finally of thought. But he rather curiously supposes that
all development is by a conflict between opposite powers,
capacities, and sensibilities. So he sets sensations over


against each other in rather mechanical fashion. His psy-
chology was inevitably warped by his religious interests
and his pedagogical aims.

Again, we must note that his general doctrine of educa-
tion, which grew out of his religious and philosophical in-
terests, implies a psychology of unfolding that is to say,
all that is to be in the long experience of the individual is
infolded within the child at birth; and all that a proper
education can rightly do is to endeavor to unfold this pre-
viously infolded life. There is doubtless a great truth
here that the whole career of the child is closely bound up
in the problems of his heredity. But there is also a great
fallacy that education involves no new factors, produces
no reconstructions. Perhaps Froebel did not intend this in
any narrow sense. In many respects he sets forth doc-
trines which are close to the evolutionary doctrines so soon
to be developed, but the full significance of the evolutionary
movement the work of Darwin was not presented in
Froebel's lifetime. Hence he could scarcely conceive of an
evolving environment, that is to say, an environment ex-
pressing continuous change, whose educational significance
would therefore be continuously changing. For Froebel,
like all other pioneers, was fighting his way through un-
known regions, exploring the hidden reaches of human na-
ture. He did not always find reliable results. He some-
times mistook hopes for realities, and he saw some great
highways of educational commerce, where now we can see
little but blind alleys. For example, he over-emphasized
what he calls "gifts," a doctrine which has proved itself
to be merely the older conception of a formal discipline
illustrated by means of objects.

But the general doctrine of the self-activity of the child
underlies every constructive educational theory and every
effective educational practice of the present; and the kin-


dergarten, at its best, is a complete demonstration of this
fact. That much, at least, has been gained by Froebel's
work, and it will never pass away. To be sure, some of
his followers have mistaken the husk of the doctrine for
the kernel, and they have attempted to make the kinder-
garten a place of definitely formal discipline through the
use of chosen materials. Froebel's gifts have not infre-
quently been erected into ultimate educational materials.
His doctrines have become almost sacred in the thought of
some, so that a certain type of kindergartner still takes the
literal words of Froebel with something of the sacred finality
of the medieval religious devotee. But a prophet cannot
be held responsible for the follies of all his followers.

The whole story of the work of Froebel should be taken
up in his own writings, mainly in the "Education of
Man," in which he deals with the fundamental moral and
religious problems of education and expresses his conclu-
sions in the doctrine of activity and in the working out of
a curriculum which should secure "the union of the school
and life, of domestic and scholastic life." Also in his

Online LibraryJoseph Kinmont HartDemocracy in education; → online text (page 24 of 31)